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Ugh, what the fuck can I say that I haven't already said in a year end wrap up over the past 14 years? I guess I've learned, or tried to abide by one thing: there is ALWAYS good new music out there, no matter what. If you think there isn't, then you should just stop with this shit and take up playing tennis or something. I'll admit I had to look harder this year than any before, but I'm starting to think that has more to do with me getting a little bit more out of touch and a little bit more saturated after so many years. Some 20 year old kid is definitely way more stoked than me on new punk bands, but I'm still always excited by the ones doing it right and the ones doing it different. And thank god we still have some of those types out there right now....
12" x 10 (THE LPS)
- Sometimes things have a weird way of coming into your life at the exact moment you need them. The Cowboy and their LP lifted me up when I was down and out, their songs falling like manna from heaven and feeding my soul which was starved from not hearing a new Homostupids record for so long. Not that this is a Homostupids record, it's something almost totally different and perhaps even more substantial. All that and more as some band from Clevo once kinda said.
2. Stefan Christensen "Shake Off the Village" LP (C/Site)
- I've obviously been following Stefan's music for some time and know how talented he is, but to be honest I was taken a bit by surprise with how good this LP turned out. A real masterpiece that is the product of hard work, dedication to music and someone who has their head on the right way. I think this one opened some doors for him beyond the "garage punk ghetto" I believe people sometimes relegated him to after doing Estrogen Highs for so long (and who turned out to be far more than a 'garage band' in the end). Bonus points for DIY packaging.
3. Playboy "Celebration" 12" (Negative Jazz)
- A real saucy one here, plenty of swagger and wiggle, little fanfare or information along with it. Has anyone actually seen them live? I know they're not reinventing the wheel here, but I think they did this with enough of their own vibe to make it something new. I mean, I put this on and I just want to get weird - that means it's working, right?
4. Kaleidoscope "Volume 3" LP (Feel It)
- The only thing that confused me about this record is how many people thought it wasn't weird enough or was too rock or some shit. Get outta here. I thought it was executed perfectly, full of tension and sounding opressive and claustrophobic, but never thin or light - all heavy. I want them to be a punk rock band with some weird touches, with some blasting "rock" parts, not some weird band that just has some semblance of punk rock in their sound. You know what I mean, right?
5. David Nance "Negative Boogie" LP (Ba Da Bing)
- I'm not exactly sure who I have to thank for turning me on to this LP, but I really owe them one because I don't think I would've sought this one out on my own. All I can really say is that I felt this LP was saying what I feel like a lot of us are feeling these days. If that makes it a folk record, then I'm ok with that.
6. ISS "Endless Pussyfooting" 12" (Erste Theke Tontrager)
- This shit is so genius I can't believe there aren't hordes of kids following them around like a cult. As far into the future as I really want to hear.
7. Mordecai "Abstract Recipe" LP (Richie)
- Man, these guys. I kinda feeel like Mordecai records swoop in like the seasons now, a natural sort of thing that effects me every year. If they ever stop doing it, so do I. I swear.
8. FNU Clone "Binary or Die" LP (Total Punk)
- This is what can happen when a person has no one there to rein them in - a complete clusterfuck of epic proportions that somehow works. Devastating and bizarre, and rides that fine line between too much/not enough with shocking dexterity.
9. Patsy "LA Women" LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
- Really great 12" from a band I wasn't sure we'd ever get an LP from. The only beef I might have with this is if Patsy is keeping Mystic Inane from recording more...
10. Headroom "Head in the Clouds" LP (Trouble In Mind)
- Zone out jammer of the year, and this probably would've placed even higher if I had got on board sooner.
Honorable mentions: Rays, Taiwan Housing Project, Uniform, Impalers, Milk Music...
- A late entrant, but that's why we wait for the year to actually end for these things. I'll be perfectly frank here and just come out and say it: I think Rik might be saving rock'n'roll right now between this and the new LP (which is out as we speak).
2. Warm Bodies "My Burning Love" 7" (Thrilling Living)
- A couple of people have tried to tell me this band isn't as good as I think they are. But all I can say is I only have the records to go by, and this thing is fantastic.
3. Mozart "Nasty" 7" (Iron Lung)
- Fucking savage music from some Bay Area savages. I know I will never be as punk as this record, but I still love it.
4. Stefan Christensen "Open Day" 7" (I Dischi Del Barone)
- Prelude to the LP, and a perfect little record in it's own right.
5.Cavemen "Band in B.C." 7" (Weirdly)
- I'm thankful that there is still a current band in the US that can make such a complete fucking mess sound so fucking good.
6. GG King "Another Dimension" 7" (Scavenger of Death)
- Mr. King is one of the foremost songsmiths of our time, and it's a pleasure every time we're invited into the world that is his mind. Here's to hoping that's there's another LP to come...
7. Life Stinks "Hanging From The Ceiling" 7" (Total Punk)
- I'm sad over this band's breaking up, but how could we ever expect a band playing songs like this to stay together? I feel like this band was out on the ledge of a tall building the entire timee they were together and it was just a matter of time before they jumped. But hey, they couldn't have picked a better record to go out on.
8. Eel "Night Parade of 100 Demons" 12" EP (Beach Impediment)
- I'll tell you what...whenever I got super bummed out about music this year (which happened more often than I'd have liked) I put on this Eel 12" and the sheer ridiculousness of it all just made me feel better. I love this record for basically jumping through a glass window to entertain me - so over the top and hopped up on overkill/overdrive that it just becomes genius (accidental?) and their dedciation to the Japanese hardcore aesthetic right down to song titles is a something I greatly enjoy.
9. Sun Bather 12" EP (Hjernespind)
- A sneaky little one-sided 12" that really got its claws in me by surprise. "Shouldn't Have Done It" was song of the year for a few weeks there. So simple but so effective, that's Bonneman for ya.
10. Perverts Again "My Accident" 7" (Total Punk)
- Their best outing thus far, perhaps less is more when it comes to this stuff. Either way, it would always disturb me somewhat when the lyrics to these songs would pop in my head out of nowhere.
Honorable mentions: Tropical Trash, Mordecai, Rubbermate...
The Reissues/Retrospectives/etc. (LP):
- Well, here's something I'd never have thought we would see. And I think that's the point of what makes a reissue worthy of being the tops of the year. The fact that it's just a part of an ongoing PSF reissue campaign is enough to make me weep.
2. Zoomers "Exist" LP (Mighty Mouth)
- Another sign of a hot shit reissue is when you hear something that you kinda knew existed but had never really heard until now turns out to be so good you're mad at yourself for not paying more attention.
3. Dendo Marionette comp LP (Bitter Lake)
- I'll be totally honest and admit I didn't even know this music existed...but if there ever was a year for discovering and rediscovering amazing music from Japan, 2017 was it and this LP opens up a whole new rabbit hole for me to jump down.
4. Solid Space "Space Museum" LP (Dark Entries)
- This marks the third time I've bought this on LP, and the first time it's been a legit reissue. So kudos for that. One of my favorite records (well, tapes...) of all time.
5. Cheater Slicks "Destination Lonely" LP (Almost Ready)
- This was the Slicks LP that I felt needed the reissue treatment the most. The real starting point of the truly legendary run these guys are still on.
6. Schatten Unter Eis "We Might As Well Be Dead" LP (Randstock)
- The coldest record I heard in 2017. Randstock only squeezes a record or so out every year, but man does he make them count.
7. Reptile Ranch s/t LP (C/Site)
Another one I never knew I needed. Bonus points for DIY packaging.
8. Suicide "First Rehearsal Tapes" LP (Superior Viaduct)
- I know this stuff has been available in various formats already, but my personal Suicide mania neatly coicided with this SV edition. How good is a band when you want to hear not just their rehearsals, but their first rehearsal?
9. Crystalized Movements "Mind Disaster" LP (Twisted Village)
- I've spent more time than I'd like trying to convince myself that I'm okay with only having a Psycho Records press of this LP. The fact that TV reissued this makes me feel a little bit better. But just a little.
10. Creation Rebel ""Starship Africa" LP (On-U Sound)
I've wanted this LP for a long long time. Thank you.
SPLIT OF THE YEAR: CATEGORY DISCONTINUED
COMP OF THE YEAR: V/A "Bloodstains Across Virginia" LP (Prompt Critic) - this is what I like to see. Some punk kids out there with some moxy who care about their local punk scene and the musical lineage they are a part of. Now let's see some more of this type of shit...
MODERN COMP OF THE YEAR: V/A "Horrendous New Wave" LP (Fish Records) - sure, this one ended up being hit and miss, but for as big as the hits were (and let me tell you, there werent many hits bigger than "I Am Not A Nixon" around here in 2017) the misses were pretty...horrendous as well. I think everyone was at least swinging for the fences on this one, which counts for a lot these days. The "concept" of this was a genius move by Lumpy & Co. as I haven't wanted to hear a comp this much since I was a high school dumbshit drooling over Cheap-o Crypt Samplers.
FAN CLUB RELEASE OF THE YEAR: Mayhem "Give Up" 7" (Lousy Excape Goat) - not quite 100% a fan club release, as I have a feeling this was somewhat "authorized" but I don't think the definition of "fan club" can be exemplified any better than this.
FLAT TIRE PUNK RELEASE OF THE YEAR: GEROS "Razor Dog" 7" (Secret Mission) - I feel FTP deserves its own category again this year. I'm sure Cardwell can (and will) tell you about something even better than the Geros second 7", but I haven't ordered from Record Shop Base in over five years, and if I start again I'm going to hate myself...
"ONE-SIDER" OF THE YEAR: BEATNIKS 7" (Neck Chop) - The A-Side of this was primo smoking hot budget punk rock, and "Beatnik Theme" got plenty listens from me (even though it still makes me mad that I can't peg where they lifted that guitar riff from), but the B-Side of this thing really just dropped off a fucking cliff. Trust me, I tried. ONE SIDER.
WORST BAND NAME: Surfbort was really bothering me for awhile, then I saw there was a new Bed Wettin' Bad Boys LP out and realized it's not that bad. But honestly this one goes to any band not named S.H.I.T. that is using initials as their name. Awful, and it makes people not want to bother. Do you really want to listen to C.H.E.W. or F.I.T.S. or S.L.I.P.?
BEST BAND WITHOUT A RECORD OUT: LAFFING GAS - these Indiana punk kids have already cranked out two of the best demos of the past few years and their songs on that Bloomington comp tape still get play. Yet they still do not have a record out. Every other band gets their demo pressed to 7", but one of the few actual good ones is still out there - I heard there was a 7" coming this past year but it never appeared. Someone get on this. Good kids too, they deliver live and the singer's name is Miles Grimmer! I would like to see this injustice rectified in 2018, and no I'm not doing it myself.
I DON'T GET IT AWARD: "It's The Mick Trouble EP!" - I suppose I'm the only one who found this whole thing completely annoying right?
ZINE OF THE YEAR: Cretins of Distortion #10 - CoD was sick as hell right out of the gate, let's admit it. Every issue was a pretty tough act to follow I thought - it showed the care of a DIY aficionado who knew what it took to make a zine look as cool as its contents were. Then it disappeared for a bit, but out of nowhere Issue 10 dropped on us. And the "editorial" that takes up the first coupla pages is the type of thing every person reading this website shoudl go out and find. I cant say I wholeheartedly agree with 100% of what Emmy lays down, but I'm 100% sure that it's the type of thing we should be talking and thinking about, and to know that there really still really are more people out there who take this stuff that seriously makes me feel better at night...
BOOK OF THE YEAR: Gaseneta Wasteland (Public Bat Press) - really, who knew that 2017 was going to turn out as Japan-centric as it did? This book came out of nowhere and was one of the very best things of 2017 (and the 7" didn't hurt either).
REISSUE OF THE YEAR (7" CATEGORY): O Level "The Malcolm EP" 7" (Breakout) - I had to downsize the 7" reissue category this year, but would be remiss if I didn't mention yet another crucial reissue from Breakout that made my year that much better.
TAPE OF THE YEAR: Lumpy & The Dumpers "Music to Hump A Trashcan To" (Lumpy) - shame on me for not doing a whole list of tapes, but cut me some slack. Lumpy's "tour" tapes always seem to deliver, and this one might be the best release from Los Dumpers since the 7"es. "Numbing Agent" is a Top 5 Lumpy tune (and the best song off the first LP) and is given a ferocious recorded live run here, they do a real smoker with Spanish lyrics that sounds real familiar and has some tight sound effects, and then there's "Pour A Little Sugar On Those Tears", which is one of my favorite recorded moments of the year - it's essentially a takedown/cover of Warm Bodies that I wish had a real beef behind it (which I doubt it does since they were touring with Warm Bodies at the time and there's some other clues out there if you're a dork like me...but what do I know, maybe they all do hate each other) but it's still hilarious and very clever. Lumpy wailing "I'll show you a thing or two about jazz!!!" puts a smile on my face every time. Then he adds on the best song of the then upcoming new 12", a Stickmen with Rayguns cover that I'll let slide, a couple shit-fi blasters and caps it all off with a couple minutes of digital tomfoolery. All around, this was a Top 5 release of the year for me, records included. Since you asked, here's the other tapes that rate: Hyena demo, Neon 'Neon Is Life', Fully Glazed cassingle, Rabies 'What You Know About Me', 'Marty's World Vol. II', Chiller "II"
MP3 OF THE YEAR: Skull Cult 'Stab Me With A Knife' - This damn song. I'm pretty sure Jimmy from youtube put me on this, and I feel like this one track is the perfect storm. I really don't like "synth-punk" 99% of the time, but this little ditty was put together so haphazardly I couldn't quit it. Frantic pace, nonsense lyrics, budget sound, it's all there. But I'll also put in the disclaimer that none of their other songs are anywhere close to this good, and most of it is actually pretty annoying in a bad way. So buyer beware with the records...
LIVE SET OF THE YEAR: Patsy/The Cowboy/Rik & The Pigs - October 9th @ Now That's Class, Cleveland, OH - I saw less live music this year than any other in probably my entire life. No good bands really come to Buffalo anymore and honestly there isn't all that much worth driving for. But I'll tell ya, if I wanted to show someone what punk rock is and should be in 2017-18 I would have taken them to this show. Patsy were the best dressed band of the evening, and were outstanding - Candice really is one of the best out there and she ruled the crowd. The Cowboy were nothing less than amazing and all I had hoped for. And this new lineup of Pigs Rik has backing him are some serious players - that kid on lead guitar scorches and they can both rock and roll. Perfect show at the best venue in the world in the best city. Runner Up: Cheater Slicks/Home Blitz/Liquor Store/Atlantic Thrills - April 29th @Union Pool, NYC - the Almost Ready 10th Anniversary weekend was a blast, the Slicks devastated me and it was great to see HB and LS after not seeing them in quite a bit.
BEST ARTWORK/PACKAGING: Mozart "Nasty" 7" (Iron Lung)/ Neon "Neon is Life" cassette (Thrilling Living) - not exactly the same band, but sharing members and aesthetics, these two releases and their art/packaging are perfect examples of how DIY can still be done well in different ways, and should serve to remind us all that we need to keep DIY tradition (ugh, I know, but I mean it) going and alive. Punk in its purest and true form still struggles to exist and these bands and those like them keep it from just dissolving into in the mainstream. I've never been one to debate this slippery slope, but one thing I know for sure is that I started listening to music because it was underground and something different from the norm, and I wholeheartedly believe that things need to continue staying under the radar. Anyway, I'll stop preaching and say I did not believe that every copy of the Mozart 7" had a hand-painted blob on it, but it's true. Now that is sick. And the Neon covers were made by cutting apart a painting into cassette covers (that they also used rubber stamps warms my heart). Honorable Mention: Writhing Squares Too 7" (Richie) Jacy Webster's art for various Richie Records things is always a delight, but this one was really dear to me for some dumb personal reasons (not related to band/artist/etc.) and I still have it out on a shelf. And the music was great too.
WORST ARTWORK: Feederz "What Would Hitler Do?" 7" (Slope) - I know this is like picking on the slow kid in class, but c'monnnnn...the fact that it's a Feederz record makes it even more unacceptable (not that I love The Feederz, I think they're pretty overrated..) - so this is the best thing an anarchist mastermind like Frank Discussion could come up with? Oof.
SOUNDTRACK OF THE YEAR: 'Psychomania' (Trunk Records) - like Rob, I want to kill this category as well, for all the same reasons. But there's still some good in this world. While no one was watching ol' Johnny Trunk repressed his original issue of this from 2003 that had been hopelessly out of print since about the day it came out. 1000 copies this time too, or so we're told. I had been this close to dropping too much coin on this for sometime until I stumbled across a cheap copy on discogs, and then realized that it had been reissued. So always stay frosty folks, there's a lot going on out there. But anyway, this soundtrack by John Cameron is just as sick as the movie itself. Lots of fuzzy and dank undead biker rock with all the moody bits thrown in as well.
PUNK OF THE YEAR: Grace Ambrose
YOUTUBE OF THE YEAR: Jimmy from Youtube still lives out there somewhere, but his radio shows and mixtapes have become fewer and further between and this one from over the summer was supposedly his last. I think he's still out there somewhere, but if not, thanks for everything pal, you were a real guiding light. Aside from Jimmy, my real favorite youtube "show" this past year was The Nine Club but none of you are gonna care about that.
COVER SONG OF THE YEAR: FNU Clone "I'll Be Your Sister" - fitting that a Motorhead cover should prevail with the recent passing of Fast Eddie. Mr. Clone really twisted this one into the meat grinder and had it come out sounding incredible. Talk about making a song your own.
BISTRO DISTRO MEMORIAL AWARD: NECK CHOP - So, while there might be distros out there with a smaller and more specialized catalog Neck Chop seemingly tries to stock EVERYTHING. Which is what you want in a one stop distro purchase and the customer service is top notch. And like the namesake of this award (I still have mailers from Troy that I saved...) this guy packages records like a champ. It's nice to know that this guy just really got into the distro/label game on this big of a scale not even two years ago and has made a good go of it - we need people like this now more than ever. Honorable mentions of course to Floridas Dying and Feel It, the only other two spots I order from these days.
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: If new music has been somewhat disappointing over the past year or two, things in the ring have been on a serious upward trajectory. I've reached the point where The Network is now a regular part of my life, and as much as I hate to admit it, that $9.99 is still the top bang for my entertainment buck every month. I can regularly see ROH, TNA, Lucha Underground and NJPW via my fairly cheap cable package. It's almost too much. Out of all of it, NXT is the one show that I really look forward to, and while I have confusing feelings about whether NXT itself is bad or good for wrestling in the bigger picture, it's always a good show. Lots to love this year: Johnny Wrestling going solo, Killian Dain rocking back hair, tag team wrestling becoming relevant again, Street Profits, Fashion Files, Kurt Angle back in WWe, Ultima Lucha Tres, Zayn heel turn, Elias getting over on the main roster, Jericho appearing in NJPW, Strowman tearing down sets and flipping over trucks...I could go on. And while I really want to give this award to Otis Dozovic of Heavy Machinery (hands down the most entertaining man in sport right now), but the one guy I truly crave to see on my TV (and I do not see him enough) is in NJPW, the guy who leads the best stable in wrestling, the best heel in the game, and his name is TETSUYA NAITO.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR: STEFAN CHRISTENSEN - As I mentioned above, I think this was Stefan's year. Or The Stefdog as we like to refer to him around the office. I remember first hearing that first Sudden Walks ten years ago now, back when he was Stefan Christ (which I had hoped was a nod to John Christ) and writing garage-punk blasts like "Fat Cap Blues". I probably wouldn't have guessed that ten years later he would be releasing an LP as accomplished as 'Shake Off the Village', but I didn't know much about him back then. Watching the trajectory of Estrogen Highs was like witnessing a metamorphosis - the band ran for nearly ten years and changed markedly from the early garage punk singles to where the sound ended up 'Hear Me On the Numbers Station', still rock but more drawn from Columbus and New Zealand and showing a complexity which blossomed in full once Stefan started recording solo (and with his "friends" backing him). Now, I might be wrong, but I feel like people might have had a bias with Estrogen Highs being such a long running endeavor that changed so much from beginning to end - maybe thought of him as just a garage-punk guy, which couldn't be further from where he's at now (although there's still some of there). 2016 saw a flurry of cassettes under his own name which set us up for his domination of 2017. The 'Open Day' 7" on the I Dischi Del Barone label (a label I'm pretty sure wouldn't have done an Estrogen Highs record) was his finest and most complex record to date, until 'Shake Off The Village' came out, an LP that to me seems like the culmination of everything he's done to date - one of those moments when a band or artist you've followed for a very long time truly hits their peak and even surprises you with how exceptional things sound. Not that I'm saying he's peaked here in 2017, but I feel like this is IT, he's where he wants to be, in the zone, and is writing some of the best music out there right now. I look forward to more in 2018 (which I've heard includes two new LPs at the least) and I think a lot more people will be paying attention. (And all of this on top of his label work via C/Site, as well as his helping hand in Headroom)
LABEL OF THE YEAR: TOTAL PUNK - It's hard to make a case for NOT naming Total Punk the label of the year nearly every year, 2017 is no exception. For years and year, Total Punk has lived up to their own very high standards. They do it all: quantity, quality, 7"es and LPs, DIY packaging, punk from all over the world in all shapes, sizes and sounds. The amount of work put into this alone is insane when you think about it: I'd estimate they hand stamped at least 5000 sleeves this year (probably more). And by my count they had 11 releases this year and there were maybe two that I didn't love. Insane. Thank you Total Punk (and Floridas Dying distro) for all the hard work you've invested to make life better for the rest of us bums.
To see past winners of Termbo Awards go here and to check back on full Year End lists please check the archives.
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