Five Overlooked Garage Rock Albums of 2012

The Mallard. Photo: Ellen Rumel

As we move into the final quarter of 2012, we’ve already had a pretty considerable amount of spectacular garage albums cast our way. Royal Headache, King Tuff, Ty Segall and White Fence (the latter two both individually and as a tandem) already have had lots of heads turning (and nodding, and pogoing), but now the genre’s heavy-hitters (Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh & Onlys, Segall’s third release of the year) are going to be spending the autumn months swilling cheep beer and swinging around loud guitars for the remainder of the year. Before the big-name, hotly anticipated records hit stores and your favorite streaming service,  now would be an excellent time to revisit the year’s most overlooked garage records. Some of the entries are good enough to possibly overtake even your favorites.

1. The Mallard, Yes on Blood

With song titles like “You Got the Critics” and “I Listen to Lyrics Last,” frontwoman Greer McGettrick embodies garage-rock’s irreverence and humor, but she’s also a wildly creative musician who mashes traditional garage with avant-garde spates of noise (“Vines”), slyly subverts gender-specific pronouns (“Mansion”), and has a tendency to swing left into furious tempo changes (nearly every other song on the album). The Mallard sounds a little like Times New Viking if they were obsessed with Thee Oh Sees instead of worshipping at the altar of the Clean, which bodes well for Castle Face Records, partly owned by Oh Sees lynchpin John Dwyer. In terms of creativity, force of personality, and vigorous spirit, Yes on Blood easily bypasses even the spectacular highs of Ty Segall and the Fresh & Onlys’ self-titled debut records, both released on — you guessed it — Castle Face. It’s kind of baffling to witness a new band so quickly raising the San Francisco garage scene’s lofty bar on their first try, but it’s also really exciting.

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