By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
4/21: St. Louis has its biggest Record Store Day ever, again. Record Store Day has quickly become an internationally celebrated holiday, but our independent record stores are better than most. And this is the day that they get to prove it. Our locals know how to throw a party, with all-day entertainment including bands, DJs, discounts, snacks and free beer. This year, Vintage Vinyl, Euclid Records and Apop Records have people literally dancing in the streets all day. And the exclusives offered can't be beat. Record nerds and casual browsers alike are overwhelmed with options. Our record stores bring us a sense of community every single day, and this is our day to show some love in return. (JL)
4/23: Pokey LaFarge appears on Jack White's Blunderbuss, continuing his march toward world domination. That Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three would eventually open some dates for Jack White came as no surprise this year. LaFarge had already released a single on White's Third Man label. But actually appearing on a Jack White album (the loose, quirky, time-shifting track "I Guess I Should Go to Sleep" on Blunderbuss) was a major milestone, as was the coup de grit of landing an excellent version of Emmett Miller's "Lovesick Blues" on the September 23 episode of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, a show that was tailor-made for LaFarge's country-blues swing. And as long as we're tallying the accomplishments, throw in hundreds of shows in Europe and the States, the release of a live album, recording for a new long-player, a gig on the NPR-syndicated Mountain Stage program and a New Year's Eve show at the Ryman in Nashville with Old Crow Medicine Show — it all adds up to one hell of a year for one hell of a band. (RK)
4/26: Shattermask lead singer Brian Dotson is arrested on five counts of statutory rape and sodomy.
5/1: UK space rocker the Telescopes bring its genre-defining brand of dizzy intensity to the Firebird.
5/18 to 5/20: Tower Groove Records releases double vinyl album and parties all weekend. Tower Groove Records would rather not be known as a "label," which is understandable, as labels tend to be hierarchical power structures, and, when not, they tend to be someone's basement where records go to mold. Though barely a year old, the collective of musicians and music fans known as Tower Groove launched its first official release, a bewildering double-LP vinyl beast of all that's valiant and unvarnished about rock & roll in River City. There's fuzz rock (the Feed's "All That I Want") and sweet country pop (Beth Bombara's "All Along"), psych-rock (Tone Rodent's "The Other Side of Town") and chamber-doom (Peck of Dirt's "Making Mud Pie"), noise-noise (Catholic Guilt's "Bob From the Dock") and melodic metal (Maximum Effort's "S.I.R.P.O."), indie rock (Sleepy Kitty's cover of Pavement's "Box Elder") and ultra-lounge (Ransom Note's "Russian Blue"), fried county-folk (Fred Friction's "I'm Goin' Blind") and twee-punk (Bunnygrunt's "Debutantes in Bondage"). What could possibly hold all of this together? Friendship, mostly, and, sentimental as it sounds, a love of making music for and with friends — and then expanding that circle of friends with showcase after showcase, scheme after scheme. The most recent endeavor involves an old-school, subscription-based singles club, set to launch in January 2013. Each month the collective will send out a new split single from familiar names like Old Lights and Magic City and new faces such as Jungle Fire and Little Big Bangs. This anti-label clearly has ambition and soul built for the long haul. (RK)
5/27: Big Muddy Records hosts a chili cook off in the sweltering heat at Off Broadway.
5/29: Having signed to the venerable Prosthetic Records last year, local metallic hardcore band Everything Went Black keeps the momentum going with an eleven-date tour with Cleveland hardcore legend Ringworm.
6/8 to 6/10: The Pulse Festival debuts at Old Rock House. Forget the big names selling out the Pageant — the surest sign of the vitality of electronic dance music in St. Louis arrives in and around Old Rock House, where local promoter Amin Mohabbat works with the venue to bring two stages full of local, national and international bass purveyors to the surprisingly robust crowd.
6/14: CBGB is forever changed by Useless Eaters. It's always a dirty, smoky, proudly disgusting bar, but now it's a dirty, smoky proudly disgusting bar that hosts the Useless Eaters. The band takes the stage, and the chaos begins immediately. Though packed in tight, the audience can't help but to jump around to the sweet garage-rock sounds. This isn't some "Nuggets" shit, though. And it isn't full Goner, either. It's better. From Nashville via Memphis, Useless Eaters is fronted by a sweet kid named Seth Sutton who is in his early twenties. He's rumored to be a Jay Reatard protégé, but his skill has far surpassed his teacher. He writes music that is driving and catchy and built for bopping, and he gives us one of the surprise best shows of the year. It's fast and surreal and hazy and sweaty, and it feels like falling in love. Many of south city's not-easily-swayed musicians are in attendance, and the merchandise table is swarmed five seconds after the last note is played. Useless Eaters records with Ty Segall, tours extensively and a bunch of other cool stuff, but nothing else could possibly be as good as it is on this night in this dirty, smoky, proudly disgusting bar. (JL)