Barley is the man behind Basick Records. Founder, Director, CEO and A&R God. Usually to be found in the office, in meetings or scouting out the latest burger bars with Sean. He’s the reason we’re all here doing what we do, when he’s not busy working his fingers to the bone in the music industry, he can be found raising money for charity, hill walking, making arse bending hot sauce, hanging out with rock stars or stuck at an airport somewhere. He’s a great guy to work for (he paid us to say that!) Here are his top picks for 2012 and a little bit about his year.
Barley Basick - http://www.facebook.com/iambarley
Location - London, UK
Team Basick - The Boss, The Big Banana, El Capitano. Owns it, runs it, pays for it.
After following this Icelandic band for a while, I finally managed to catch them live at this year’s Euroblast Festival in Germany. Not once, but twice; they were so good on the opening day of the festival, that they were invited back to play the following day - which is a first. I grabbed their CD after the show and quite honestly, it didn’t leave my CD player for 2 solid months. Even my kids know all the words to the songs. If you like big songs, with amazing arrangements and instrumentation, interspersed with moments of pure crazy heaviness, then this is a band you need to check out.
Man, I’ve been waiting for a totally killer doom-punk record to come out for ages… And this is it. Seriously, if the world is gonna end today, I wanna be riding my skateboard alongside the four horsemen of the apocalypse with this record blaring out as the soundtrack. Deathwish nail it again.
First and foremost, Keaton is an incredible artist, in every possible sense of the word. I worked with him back in 2006 when he illustrated various things for BASICK and then went on to design the cover for Enter Shikari’s first album along with a whole bunch of other cool stuff… A few years down the line I hear a song on the radio that sounds like my old buddy Keaton. Turns out, it was. Not only is he an insanely talented illustrator, he’s also an incredible songwriter and performer. This album is so delicate and beautiful, yet ridiculously morose and depressing. Classic stuff.
The level of musicianship on this record is just unbelievable. Every record they put out is a progression from the next, which is quickly establishing them as one of the front runners in progressive modern metal. If they keep this up, the next couple of years should yield some incredible returns for the band.
5. CONVERGE - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)
'Jane Doe' - that's all I ever hear from long term Converge fans. Apparently it's an album that can never be surpassed. A stone-cold classic. And of course, they're right. 'Axe To Fall' was an incredible album that had occasional moments of genuine brilliance, but for my money, 'AWLWLB' goes one step further. It's such a cohesive record. A body of work that seems to have captured the Converge 'energy' like nothing else before it. It could just be the album that finally matches its classic 2001 predecessor.
The master of minimal dub house and techno returns with what is most likely his finest hour since 2004’s ‘Neurofibro’ on Ai Records. Stripped back, chilled yet dark and groovy as fuck, this guy really knows how to delve into your soul in the small hours.
Another album that didn’t leave my CD player for at least two months. It has been an absolute pleasure developing this band and seeing the fruits of their labour being so well received and critically acclaimed worldwide. Incredible songwriting, incredible musicianship resulting in one of the best albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of releasing.
There’s nothing more to say about this record, that hasn’t already been said a million times by others with a more verbose and extensive vocabulary than myself. The masters return with yet another masterpiece. Ridiculous.
I genuinely surprised myself when I listened to this record and ended up loving it. I guess you could say that this is my guilty pleasure on this list. Beatdown central, but delivered in a very convincing fashion, with acerbic vocals, vitriolic lyrics and devastating hardcore grooves to boot. Killer.
Without a doubt, the best new UK death metal band on the scene, bar none. If this album is a taste of things to come, then this band will be world beaters. If you like classic death metal with a modern twist, then go listen to it, right now.
2012 is nearly at an end, how has it been for Basick?
This year has been fantastic for BASICK - we’ve put out some of our best releases, seen some of our highest ever sales numbers and we’ve also finally branched out into the worldwide scene, signing bands from America and India I’m order to offer up a truly international roster. It’s been a great year.
Looking ahead to 2013, what can fans of the label expect?
Next year is shaping up to be the busiest year in the label’s history, we’re going to be releasing more records than in any year previously, so it’s going to be busy! We’ve also got second records coming from most of our original artists, which is a great honour and going to be a lot if fun.
You signed 3 new bands this year, Dissipate, Alaya, Damned Spring Fragrantia – all very different but with a common thread running through all three. Tell us a bit about how you discovered each band and what they bring to the roster.
Well, first and foremost each band has an incredibly unique songwriting ability, which is the very first thing we look for when signing a new band. For me, that’s the most important thing. Without ‘songs’ a band is nothing. The truth is; good songs and overall talent will always find a way of rising to the surface through the mire. We discovered each of these new bands by remaining alert and receptive to the new bands that are making credible noise. And I can’t see this policy changing any time soon.
What has been your biggest Basick highlight of 2012
Moving into our own offices in Camden, London has been pretty huge for us. It gives us a solid base in the city to work and network from. First office of many we hope.
Any particular Basick lowpoint of 2012 or anything you’ll do differently next year?
No real low points as such, but you’re always learning things in this industry, so inevitably there will be some things that we’ll be doing differently next year.
Best basick show of 2012?
I can’t choose just one… Our HMV London showcase in February was a real coming of age for us, but to then go on and practically sellout The Underworld with Siege Of Amida this September just compounded the feeling. Our huge presence at this year’s Euroblast Festival and The Algorithm’s album launch were also great moments too.
Biggest personal highlight of 2012
For the label; it’s simply been seeing things go from strength to strength.
For myself personally; hiking 100 miles along the coast of Cornwall in aid of Cancer Research. Oh and making a conscious decision to not give any of my money to Tesco or McDonald’s for a full 12 months… Feels good.
Some big releases from the label this year. Describe each in just one word
Chimp – ARLH: GEEKSWING
7H7E – Throes: DEATHEREAL
Skyharbor – Blinding: SOAREAL
Glass Cloud - Thousand: RIFFRAFF
Dissipate – Tectonics: CRUSHTING
Algo – Morph: CHICKENORIENTAL
Circles – Another Me: CAPTAINHOOK
Favourite film of the year?
Batman: The Dark Knight Rises
Other labels you’ve admired this year?
Honestly, in this day and age I admire any independent label that can stay afloat and remain true to their morals at the same time. There are lots of us out there, so make sure you support and stay indie.
Shout outs and thanks:
Massive props to Lisa, Sean, James & Chad, without whom I’d die of a stress related heart attack, our distributors for fighting tooth and nail to promote our releases, our bands for writing incredible music but most importantly, massive thanks to TEAM BASICK; the supporters of the label, without whom none of this would be possible. Thanks so much, you fucking rule.