New Years Eve 2017 - Termbo West Coast HQ - 8 a.m.
As I sit here yearning for a gallon of Mucinex to snort into my skull, dreading the veritable gunshots at midnight and wondering what crevice of the apartment I'll have to panic-scrape the cat out of, come morning - I realize once again what a pathetic of a year-ender this is. I'm not saying all the music this go-around was bad/sad, but my shabby state of affairs has kept me from hearing most of the good stuff. My home stereo of nearly four decades lost sound capability in its left channel and the dual disc burner that was gifted to me in 2002 has also thrown in the the towel. It refuses to even dislodge the trays. Who knows what SFTRI releases lie trapped in the mechanics? I can't even remember. The cobbled together PC a friend built for me out of trash and duct tape (literally) has suffered yet another hard-drive crash, so downloads be damned. It won't allow video or audio updates to load, either. I should really give up. It's in the cards. BUT WAIT! The cassette deck still kicks - so continue to send demos, children.
The following list are faves that I actually heard a bunch before technology would no longer allow me to do so. Sorry in advance to the bands and labels who dropped great releases in the final quarter. Had I the power, things like Bend Sinister, GirlSperm and maybe even the new Lumpy woulda' rated. Some of these records were review copies (I LOVE YOU) and some were purchased with meager funds scrounged up betwixt vet bills and brake jobs. As always - the numbers don't mean shit. It's just the order they came to me.
What I'd like to see more of in 2018: Bands giving enough fucks to actually print their name on a record jacket. Not everyone's just web-ordering stuff out of yer buddies closet. Some folks actually walk into a store and try to differentiate your bland ass wallpaper LP sleeve from some other mediocre blob of nothingness. Not everyone's gonna' keep yer half-assed, dream-pop-witch-garage-gloom-punk platter either - so why not make it easier for the record store staffers to figure out if the said LP is worth more than just a kick to the curb?
What I'd like to see less of in 2018: This tip-on sleeve fetish. Yuck. Also, can we come to an agreement that naming our little basement bands after household appliances, things found in an Office Depot advert or corporate trademarked items needs to halt, pronto. Hasn't anyone learned a thing from the Melvins or Tyvek shit-shows by now?
So here we go.
1. FNU Clone - Binary Or Die (Total Punk)
So cerebral and tweaked I can't even fathom a proper description to this glorious din. Everybody around here loves it - I'll drink from the teet as well. I never thought that mixing weird punk glue snort, synth damaged Ralph-wreck, exhaust choked black metal and a crunk-funked attempt at the goddamn Spooky Kids demos (I went there) would come across GREAT. I've dived in many times, only to emerge bruised, scabbed and hopelessly in love. FNU hit me - and it felt like a kiss.
2. Michael Beach - Gravity / Repulsion (Spectacular Commodity)
Mike's done a lotta' good things, but this might be his best. My second most listened to record this year - but "A Vision Of Modern Love" alone stands as my most listened-to track by no less than ten yards. Dino Jr, Jason Molina, Patti Smith, Comets On Fire, The Boss, Can, Neil Young and a truck load of other lazy references sprout to my lobes that I could fling at y'all. Go listen to it instead. Stitch all of that and more into a compact and well composed, soul draining experience. In a world full of Kurt Vile fanatics, why can't this dude get a nod?
3. Fatal Figures - You Are Monster (Blak Skull)
Hard to top the Figures for me, this go around. I'm a tad biased since I designed the cover art, but don't let that stop you older grunts and aggro-pigfucker fans from diggin' in. Ex-Blowtops chunder that brings all kinds of hellacious garage-cum-NYC sewer crawl to your deck. A slab of co-ed trash punk, hate fueled to perfection. Blak Skull is becoming quite a beast, I tell ya'.
4. Timmy's Organism - Eating Colors (Lo&Behold!)
Timmy's a year-end "best-of" staple around my hovel. This one just squeezed in before my home stereo holocaust occurred. Crazy, ape-man riff rock and that frazzled freak, biker boogie one has come to expect from Vulgar & Co. No letting up. Ever.
5. feedtime - Gas (In The Red)
Nearly forty years under their timing belt, yet lunging back into action with a thick puff of exhaust and a creaking vengeance that few half their age could swing. 'Gas' is a dirt clod fight, even unto feedtime standards. Seasick, warped throttle punk. This is a real gut bucket o' blues. I'm more than sure this platter was polarizing when tossed in the face of younger In The Red fans, but knowing feedtime - they could care less. Get it or don't. (Just get it.)
1. Life Stinks - Hanging From The Ceiling (Total Punk)
Life Stinks broke up and all I got left with was swollen eyes, flushed of tears and this swift, final document. SF has not survived the aftermath. I'm still waiting for a band worthy of taking their reins in this ghost town of mouthwash jingles and vape-wave snore. "Hanging From the Ceiling" features prime Chad chewing vocals, clobbering riffs and the bonus of having Gary Wrong along for the ride. "Shadow Chilling On The Sidewalk" is the most Flag-esque offering I've heard since Bl'last. Pissed, hard and literally at the end of their wits. R.I.P.
2. Brain Bagz - God Hates Bagz (Sex Tape)
I've gotta' say I've been pretty lucky at choosing friends (give or take a few toothless amputees) who have had bands that don't suck. It just makes things so much easier. Bagz are no exception with their mean spirited, swampy, horrorshow stuff. Fans of 'Horror Stories' era-Dwarves, The Scientists and them ever-loved and over-looked Blowtops, perk up. Actually a really good pairing of gnar-punk vitriol would be this little fella' and that Fatal Figures LP.
Order up - just don't blame me for any alcohol induced fits or scarring incidents that occur after arrival.
3. Pure Hell - Acetate 7" (In The Red)
The story goes: Good ol' Häagen-Dazs Hank blew a months pay or more in a fierce bidding war for this long forgotten proto-punk acetate. Once the digital dust settled and his sweat dried to the creases of his jogging shorts, Hank hightailed it down to the In The Red compound (let's face it - Larry Hardy's got a better turntable than anyone) and the wheels go round n' round. Why not give the people - including that handful of losing bidders who went back to weeping in their Snuggies - a second chance at owning this piece of punker history? A partnership was forged and this past Record Store Day, multi-hued variants of the "1975 Acetate" hit the record shop racks. Now, outside frenzied collector clamor, why would someone need alternate takes of tracks already available on an sharp, less muddled reissue (or two)? Do you even ask? Are you even a follower of this site? The reason to me (at least) is to worship the balls out, breakneck and superior guitar lead on this lost "Wild One" take. It literally jumps up from the grooves, assaulting ears as if it were birthed from a yet unheard Jack Ruby recording. My gums bleed when I hear that guitar crank up. Thanks are in order to Tim Warren and his mobile-mastering minivan for giving this beast some fidelity. One of possibly two or three purchase worthy RSD titles this year (another below). No disrespect to Death, but those seeking out vicious Afro-punk rarities really need to dig into Pure Hell if they haven't already.
4. Cavemen - Band In BC (Weirdly Records)
Termbo Headmaster Rich was correct - this refuse tossed, shit-fi lumpling is perfection. A knock-yer-head around, so dumb it's drooling punk. 'Band In B.C.' lands somewhere in the fleshy folds near an ass-torn Sex Scheme, a broken Black Time, various Cle-damaged dweebs and even Kilslug - if just barely hanging on. Plunk. Chunk. Clunk. For fans of groovy hate fucking, white elephant re-gifting parties and filthy toe knives.
5. Bloodbags - Busted Chops (Stink Magnetic) // Dead Eyes (1:12)
Sometimes you come across a band on tour - sounds unheard - and you just get each other. Bloodbags are the peanut butter I dip my MUSKy chocolate in. Everything just fit. Sadly, they live on the other side of the world (depending on which way you travel) and I rarely get to see them. A bottom heavy, swamp hoo-doo and gruff evil "garage" for the lack of a better term at press time. If you dig Red Eye/Black Eye/Big Time releases, celebrate the Tex Perkins catalog and miss when a 90's garage punk show meant folks were leaving with fewer teeth than when they came, this blood's for you. They cover Union Carbide Productions for fucks sake! Hop a barge and seek these Zealanders out.
Cherubs - Heroin Man LP (AmRep)
feedtime - Billy LP (AmRep)
Me 2016: "I'm not gonna' feed into Am/Rep's boutique pressings! I can't afford art! Shit, man - I can barely afford records! It's not like Haze needs to buy more guns, sausage or any of them expensive rubber Kaiju figurines..."
Me 2017: "Oh shit. 'Heroin Man' - for real? I guess could use a replacement of 'Billy', too. Maybe just a couple LPs then..."
Me 2018: I'm twenty pounds heavier due to a diet made up exclusively of corner store one dollar roller-foods and Taco Bell value meals. I'm unkempt, raw and itchy from selling myself as rough trade to a local gaze of trash dwelling raccoons. Their squish porn has helped pay the rent,numerous times. I've sold the rear doors and glass off of my car for scrap (it's a temperate climate out here). This all hurts to some degree - but look at the swank collection of woodcut printed, rare as-all-get-out HAZEXXL pressings I've been accumulating!
Teeth will abscess and hair mats - but these Am/Rep reissues retain their beauty FOREVER.
Bloodloss LP (Sinister Torch)
Good Lord, how and why did this happen?! I don't understand it, but a few hundred weirdos (fifty I personally know) jumped up and down on the day this was announced. You could feel it, a slight shift in the earth. A gorgeous artifact of some really hard to find down-under, grunge thunder. Grunge when it wasn't a dirty word. Bloodloss long before Mark Arm wedged his way into the mix. Originally a cassette only release, this title has eluded fans outside of Australia for moons - save a few comped tracks. Femme fronted Stoogiod grunt, swing & jazz business featuring that rip-snortin', never not soloin', death rattle of a guitar strangle that only Charlie fucking Tolnay (R.I.P.) could lay down. Every self-respecting Black Eye or Aberrant filthpig should have clawed their heaving mass to a local library/free clinic, demanding some scrote help them attempt the pre-order. No excuse. Drag The Lake.
Gary Wrong Group - S/T 2xLP (12XU)
Sort of a cheat since it's a collection of older titles, peppered with a few bonus tracks - but it's so darn pretty lookin' and convenient and superbly sequenced and ...
You bought it already? Oh good. I'll shut up now.
Puke Spit & Guts - Eat Hot Lead LP (Black Gladiator // Slovenly)
There's never been a time more wrong than now, to release this record! It's not like we're on the crest of a GG Allin/Mentors upsurge in sales. Living in the Bay has made it hard to have something this caustic - yet tongue planted firmly in cheek - land securely into my clammy palms and make it home alive. Vulgar and hyper-theatrical in delivery, 'Eat Hot Lead' is what occurs when a bunch of gun-totting, Pabst blasted bikers and their foul mouth mamma opt out of poker night, jot down as many infantile lyrics as they can rhyme about killing, maiming, suicide, killing again, blowjobs and anal sex (throw in some more killing, just for good measure) - then hit the garage for thirty minutes of glorious racket. A classic slab of fakepunk is born (don't tell any survivors involved I said that) and everyone within earshot is either blushing, laughing or pissed. The idea that the Teen Idles made the trek way out West just to play with these jerks is nearly unfathomable. Then again, the spores of Dischord were supposedly pollinated over that White Boy 45. Once your little twit nephew's panties are un-knotted, throw this fucker on. The only thing 2018 needs is to see is a stage musical based on these songs. I know some people who could tackle the material. Wear plastic, people.
U-Men - S/T (Sub Pop)
The other last thing the world never knew they needed. I did, but I'm not really part of the world anywhoo. Like most recent box-sets (White Zombie/feedtime/Scientists) I personally only need a few tracks within to complete a discography, so it hurts to go binging on such herculean oddities as these. I can't afford their first EP, yet I can afford everything they recorded (including bonus cuts), remastered in a fancy box with sweet liners and photos. What gives, collector scum? Good for all. Next stop - Cat Butt! You got this, Sub Pop!
Typical Girls Vol.2 (Emotional Response)
A stellar collection of woman fronted/femme identifying punk; circa now. I'm actually quite fond of the first volume - sans a few pop ponkz and dreamy shoe-gaze snores - but this one is firing on all cylinders! Not a dud in the bunch, including a track I'm on (not telling). Camylle of B.D./Midnite Snaxxx fame has really achieved something great, taking this series to the next level and I hear there's at least two more volumes ready to birth, any moment now. Whoah. I'm sure everyone's read a track by track breakdown somewhere, so just head over to the Bandcamp and punch Paypal already.
Edie: Ciao Manhattan! (Cinewax)
I wrote off the idea of an actual soundtrack bestsies countdown a few years ago when $40 pressings of shit like 'Ace Ventura' became the new norm. I also like to put the dreaded RSD on blast, but I can't deny the pleasure I get from owning this soundtrack . The music of this pseudo-documentary/Warholian art flick has never been released on any format and it's been haunting me for years. I used to play the shopworn videotape for hours at a time, just to hear it as background around the rental store. There's Laurel Canyon beach-folk vibes and bubbling electronic freakouts featured along with a few big names bringin' smooth AM gold like Richie Havens, Kim Fowley and John Phillips - but the real reason I hyperventilated at the first alert to this pressing was the Kim Milford tune "Justice". Milford's only real claims to fame would be being buddies with the Beach Boys and performing Rocky Horror for the original Los Angeles' audiences. It's a sad and beautiful tune if your into early piano glam, Elton's best 'Tumbleweed Connection' moments and the tragic story of Jobriath. Not for every listener around here, but for me and the wife it's a guaranteed tear every slow dance we turn to.
Computer - The Internet (Skrot Up)
Two A.I. bots argue about what constitutes music on a Reddit page. They blurt out like frenzied Furbys in a violent Skype session, mistakenly building a Negativland album out of a digital dump. "The Russians" watch in awe. America shall be destroyed. It's time to contact Everything Is Terrible, for we have discovered the score to their next VHS web-surf training showcase. ED-209 butt-fucked Johnny-5 and their throes of ecstasy have tore down your protective firewall. When the batteries die and the circuit out-gassing subsides, the great hard-drive collapse of 2018 will leave the world in a state of flux, resorting back to floppy usage and Talkomatic BBS startups. Instagram has gone dark. Twitter is wiped out. People sit with pencils in hand, trying to remember what a cursive capital S looks like.
'The Internet' is here. A terrifying clot - a 12" knotted ball of patch-cords that can't be undone. It's a claustrophobic clutter of glitch, alienating scree, muddled vocals and Van Halen samples. So many samples. Picking them all apart is nauseating. How this got past the recognition software at the pressing plant is beyond me. I can only assume the program caved in - defeated - and the whole system was sucked into negative space. All that is left is a vinyl vortex filled stuttering McDonalds commercials, Iron Maiden "Trooper" beer stains and overworked spam filters ejaculating "error" messages.
Now, I know all parties involved in this act of aural terrorism (one FNU crew and a Grandpa, Sliced) - yet I walk away from this record feeling as though I've never really knew them at all. How does this happen? Should I/we worry? Christ almighty - are they really going to attempt this live?! (The answer is yes. "Instruments" are being integrated into their mainframe.) If Steven Stapleton should ever update the Nurse With Wound list, this here be a shoe-in. Bravo. Buy up. Bye bye.
Local Live Shockers & Suprises
No recordings yet and not even a full hand of shows under their belt, Drama is a trio featuring one Quaalude and some folks who I believe to have never been in other bands - though I've been wrong before (and often). They're green around the gills and already fucking perfect. Imagine the angriest that Pylon could be, blurred by some Toyland / Silverfish filters. I stood shocked and bummed, knowing I had to follow them as openers. No recordings yet. Just this static shot video. Intense. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5RLhoLxQr8
Carl With People
In a town full of twenty-somethings pantomiming crazy and trying to be subversive or (gack) arty - up rise some real freaks from the Bay trenches. Carl - once with just records - now has a full band. A gang of gender-fuck, glitter damaged Cockettes card carriers, Carl With People brought their tribe out to a recent gay bar beer bash and proceeded to school a small room of "punks". The best Thursday I've had in a long time. A strange concoction of scattershot glam, calypso-gone-noise, organ toned Esquivel wreckage and feedback laden Flying V riffs. Equal parts cabaret experiment, human puppet show and jelly dong infomercial. There's a fine line between a Tim & Eric musical skit and a the works of early John Waters. with hits like "Elevator Girls In Bondage" - I think we've found the sweet spot.
A Deer A Horse
I recently wrote a tour tape review for these folks, so I don't wanna' wax repeat. Just gonna' stop by to say this power trio can blast out quite a finely tuned noise. Quiet/loud dynamos and pay fucking attention noise. I never got to see Come, Rodan or The Pain Teens - but now I've seen A Deer A Horse. That's a pretty good consolation prize.
Total devastation. Punishing slabs of sound, near Godflesh crush and strange outsider folk mantras. Bells chiming and theremin squiggle. I had no idea the Goot were even playing my silly berg until 12 hours prior. A crowd of ten people stood floored in a fuckin' coffee shop, having a near religious experience while macrame crafts, vegan-communist coloring books and cases of organic tea tins crashed to the floor. Welcome to Oakland. The front windows bowed - punished by noise to the point of near shatter - as the coolest of locals stood on the sidewalk in shock or snark at what was blowing up inside. This was a real rural, folk-horror show. An honest expulsion, not some gaggle of tired post-punk tropes, dressed up in vintage Rugrats tees and acid washed pleated denim. Fuck you forever, Oakland. You'll never be home. The Gooter is better than you.
R.I.P. Jim Kaiser
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