One band that I totally forgot to include on the 2012 list is Dark Times, from Norway. They were introduced to me on a final night in Berlin by my friend Maren, who gave me their Dark Times Tape recordings to accompany my flight back to the UK, and it's continued to follow me on travels ever since.
It's the kind of music that is either still being largely overlooked, or has slowly diminished since the late 80's/early 90's heyday, I'm not sure which I'd plump for. But it's certainly been missed in every sense. Forceful, heavy, raw and loud, and with a frontwoman who you wouldn't wanna mess with, Dark Times aren't concerned with any kind of vacuous postering or blind messages of blurred ideals. The lyrical content drives forward alongside the chugging bass and guitars; titles like 'He's A Slut', 'Dead Meat', 'Worlds Away' and 'Talk Too Much' give hints at the unease and anger that focusses the music. Like Sauna Youth's Dreamlands, Dark Times see the world for what it is, rather than conjuring up nostalgic or fanciful imagery ("Every conversation turns out the same/Waste of breath and time, slowly driving me insane").
Their new EP, Girl Hate, sees their sound and structure sharpened, the tempo upped and the fury heightened (and Maren did the artwork!). There's something about the delivery and the sound that makes me feel like a wide-eyed, pissed off teen again, and not in any kind of patronising sense; it's stirring and fearless, and after being swamped with the mainstream stylised or clichéd 'punx', hearing something a little bit more genuine (and from a woman's POV) is welcomed.