TERMBO POWER RANKINGS SUMMER 2017

Hey everyone, I know it’s been long time since I last rapped at ya, but we’ve been bogged down enjoying the summertime over here. But, we’ve managed to cobble together a record reviews section for your perusal. The usual caveats apply: we tried to pack as much in as possible, left a lot of mediocre records out just to keep things moving, if your stuff isn’t included drop us a line and we’ll talk. Tape reviews are being compiled as we speak. On with the updated Power Rankings, joined in progress…

16) DAVID NANCE “Do the Negative Boogie” LP – this one’s pretty fresh out of the mail at HQ right now, and even if I kind of liked ‘More Than Enough’ I waaay more than kind of like this one so far. I won’t express feelings of unrequited love for this LP just yet, but lets just say I’m pretty serious about it. A Merle Haggard cover with a noise solo, rockin’ folk, folking rock’n’roll, that crawling kingsnake opener. I see a future for me and this record, go get one mailed to you from Ba Da Bing. It’s alos interesting to note that Nance’s teenage (?) garage rock band Forbidden Tigers might be the last good record to ever come out on Deadbeat almost ten years ago.

15) THAT FUCKING JAY BRUCE TRADE. ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TRIBE.

14) THE CITY YELPS HALF HOUR LP. This came out to little fanfare in late 2016, via UK label(s) Horsey Music and Odd Box Records, but it still has a steady place in the rotation, even getting more as the summer began. The latest evolution of British DIY rock’n’roll via NZ-pop, lo-fi but not lacking in heart, it’s been the record I put on to get back up when I’m feeling out of sorts. If you didn’t know yet this is The Hand from Real Losers’ new outfit, but there’s nary an iota of that band’s sound to be found here. I read somewhere that they’re “Swell Maps meet The Clean” and I’ll roll with that, as it’s better than anything I’m going to come up with, and it scratches that itch for genuine UK eccentricity that I used to depend on Hygiene for (though there’s not much in common between the two aside from my arbitrary mental tic). I’m fairly sure this is about to sell out of a second press (if it hasn’t already), so you should probably start looking here….

13) TAIWAN HOUSING PROJECT ‘Veblen Death Mask’ LP. Hotly anticipated LP delivers in all ways possible, and I love when everyone I follow on Instagram is posting pictures of them playing live and talking about how amazing they are and I’m sitting over here in the middle of nowhere and not seeing them live at all. At least I have the record, and the band now includes Kevin Boyer, adding Tyvek to the list of bands they’re related to that I hold in high regard. And speaking of relations, there’s a Writhing Squares connection too, whose LP I’ll plug one last time in preparation for their entry into the next Richie Records singles series (I’m talking Squares here, not THP – and to encourage further confluence of interests, the series also includes a David Nance single this time as well). Mark Feehan and Kilynn from Little Claw are the heart of this truly super group (oooff), you can discover here if you’re not yet aware.

12) CHEATER SLICKS “Destination Lonely” LP – the Slicks will forever have a place in the power rankings, and ‘Destination Lonely’ is perhaps the most important record of their long and spectacular discography. Their second full length, it marks the beginning of their decision to remain a trio after first Alpo and then Merle Allin departed the band and the inability to recruit any suitable replacements on bass left them as a trio. So began the Shannon/Shannon/Hatch line-up that still soldiers on today. Originally released on the Australian Dog Meat label, the LP documents the beginnings of what were their most productive years, with three LPs and seven singles (or thereabouts) coming in this fruitful 1991-1995 period. ‘Destination Lonely’ contains the blueprint for future releases, an unbeatable mix of covers and originals played through over-amped guitars with Dana and Tom sharing vocal duties. This is the band just beginning their long run, hitting on every possible cylinder, plunging headlong into an almost 30 year long “career” without looking backwards or forwards, to this day still unable to quench their thirst for playing the most desperate and desolate garage-rock this world has ever heard. Almost Ready has stepped in where other labels have dropped the ball and revitalized the Slicks vinyl catalogue with reissues such as this. I was able to see the band play a triumphant record release show in NYC for this reissue, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I got a little misty eyed thinking about these guys being up there doing what they’re doing. Admirable, and a good band to steal a page or two from for your own life….go get yours (and more) via the ARR site, and you might even be able to distract people from looking at your ugly mug with a t-shirt featuring the Dan Clowes artwork on it…

11) NWI – or the lack of “Marky” bands in 2017. This stuff is still on my mind though…So is the CCTV 7″ piece of paper going to be the last gasp of what was the hottest bed of punk of the past couple of years? I guess that DLIMC VHS kinda counts too, that “band” was cool. Think about this – the CCTV single on Lumpy has gone through four pressings now. The numbers dont lie, they were a great band. But things have gone eerily quiet. No more DLIMC installments. No new bands. No Marky. No news via Jimmmy from Youtube (who has a radio show now by the way: just perfect). Christi Calfornia hasn’t returned the last letter I mailed her. What gives? Here’s what I want to think: Coneheads and CCTV are still together and playing shows all the time in NWI basements, Big Zit and Ooze never really broke up, but the whole scene has gone on 100% local lockdown and total radio silence, and no one except the NWI punks know any better. SECRET SCENE!

10) SKULL CULT “Stab Me With A Knife” – so, I dont usually go for synth-punk, but this crew has a little something going on here. This “Stab Me With A Knife” song is A FUCKING HIT, I TELL YOU. And I won’t lie and tell you it’s all good, because it’s not – aside from a couple other tracks from the Vol. 1 tape (“Feel It Die” and “Black Mask”), it’s all rather annoying synthola garbaggio, especially the Vol. 2 stuff – grating keyboard sounds and a little bit of these vox go a long way. Thankfully they only write minute-long songs, and the 1:05 of “Stab Me…” is absolutley perfect – aggressive, catchy and the vox in this instance are genuinely fantastic – that puke sound he makes after the first chorus is the most punk 3 seconds of the year. Both the tapes are sold out, but those Erste Theke Tontraeger (someone translate that for me, please) guys put both tapes on one 7″, and that Weirdly Label is doing a US press as well with alternate artwork (I think two pressings is overkill, but then again this song is REALLY good, too bad there’s so much chaff with the wheat here). As an aside, ETT are supposedly doing an ISS LP, so I will give them mucho credit for being the only label thus far to sack up for vinyl for one of the best bands in the world. Weird label though. Secondly, Skull Cult are from Bloomington, IN whose resident punks are trying to pick up the slack now that Marky has apparently disappeared.

09) “Horrendous New Wave” LP – the latest from Lumpy Records, which is a concept compilation – all of these “no name new wave bands” are from the minds of players you’ll be familiar with if you’re a fan of the Lumpy roster (which I’m just assuming you are). The line-up includes Rik, Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants), Arielle from Janitor Scum/Glitter, BB Eye (Lumpy + Olivia from Warm Bodies), Gibbous, a Muff Diver, the guy from Nosferatu and “many many more”! I have to think The Wad, The Stranger and Mr. Wax might be in the dugout too? It’s hard to tell, and as I type this I’m getting excited all over again – I mean, this is a GREAT idea combined wth a GREAT label full of freaks. But to be honest, it’s a bit of a mixed bag’o’nuts. Sixteen tracks. Only one band gets two tracks (Western Civ) and they just happen to be one of the bands that suck. Really, there is some truly horrendous new wave on this, Lumpy is not lying. Half of the fun here is trying to figure out who is who (and who dropped the turds in the punchbowl), and I have to think I scored rather poorly on my guesses. But let’s not get bogged down in the negative, let talk posi here. And the most positive thing here is the lead-off shot on Side B, a little dinger called “I Am Not A Nixon” from an outfit called Leaders, and it is without a doubt one of the best songs of the year, and what you want to hear out of new wave or synthy punk or whatever you want to call it. Massive sound, huge drums, huge riff, not some squiggly keyboard shit, but sheer brute force synth, with a hook too. Lyrics are hilarious but it’s played straight and it’s one of my favorite things right now. Whoever this is wins the fucking contest (my guess is this one is Rikky and pals). Not much can stack up to that jam, but there’s a good half dozen or more keepers here – Shux (I’m not even sure there’s a synth on this one, but it is definitely punk), Protoculture (sounds like the Leaders guy(s)), Dutytoot (sounds like Shux and also sounds like it was sent here from LA 1983), Knobnoster Band (pretty sure this is BB Eye), Mick Flannel (probably the best “name” here, more of a spoken word weirdo thing that I like very much), and Neuro Bliss (a song about unsubscribing to MRR!) are all winners. The Dequantize instrumental that opens is good too – sounds like the soundtrack for To Live and Die in LA if it was reimagined as a Nintendo cart. There’s four or five real stanky ones here too, those Western Civ tracks chafed my ass in particular – just too fucking cutesy/quirky/lame, but hey there’s always a few. But overall, this thing is truly interesting and an event of an LP – not just music, but the concept, and digesting how each of them made what they thought of as “new wave” and how some soared and some crashed. Lumpy’s got himself a good bunch of pals here, a real Ralph Records for the now or something. And that’s what encourages me to keep listening, the excitement of hearing what these kids from all over the country do when they come together like this – it’s inspiring. And you should pump “I Am Not A Nixon” as soon as you can. Screened covers with art that I have to think the Janitor Scum person did. Oh yeah, and it’s sold out you boners…Lumpy put two tracks up for you to sample, and it actually fitting that one is that killer Shux track and the other is Western Civ, so you get the good and the bad….

08) THE CAVEMEN. My fascination with these Cavemen continues. And for the record just one more time, I’m speaking of The Cavemen from Boston, MA – not the Cavemen from New Zealand who moved to London and have a bunch of records out on various lo-fi garage labels. People seem to think those guys are wild and primitive, but Boston’s neanderthals are the definition of PRIMITIVE. I haven’t heard shit-fi like this in some time, just completely blown-out thud. My point of reference keeps coming back to Black Time, if BT were American and really dumb and had absolutely no artistic aspirations. The ‘Band in BC’ cassette (see, they’re funny too) was tops of the tapes in 2016, and now they have somehow convinced a little label called Weirdly Records to press the best of that tape on a must-have 7″ – seven tracks with minimal band info, and reproducing the classy art from the tape. If you don’t believe me just give “Ca Ca (My Wall)” a spin and thank me later. Order from the band(camp) or the label.

07) KALEIDOSCOPE. See reviews section for further commentary.

06) GG KING “Another Dimension” 7″ – for as hot as the ATL is right now (and it’s getting spicier by the day), let’s not forget who the elder statesman is, the godfather of ATL-punk, the Goat Ravisher himself. GG is the Burzum of the scene (well except for the murder and arson part), the template for which almost everything else is built upon/influenced by/rated in relation to. There’s most definitely an Atlanta-punk sound, and it’s undeniably been shaped by King’s work dating all the way back before the Carbonas even (see Termbo Issue #3). This latest record is a redo of “Another Dimension” from the LP – why? I can’t answer that, but it sounds streamlined and perfected – you know, GG is a perfectionist and probably just had to go back and nail this one to the cross like he originally intended to. Then there’s this “Make A Movie” thing, which is sort of a rap/spoken word collage – and you can get the ‘Full Dub Edit’ on the bandcamp, yo. The 7″ version gets cut a bit short, but you probably shouldn’t mind. B-Side is “Gilliam Park” which is another classic GG dark-punker, with an all star backing band including our pal NG and some sick backwards guitar – remember when GG was entertaining us with things like the “Two Track Party Pack”? Well, hes still entertaining us, but now it’s with this fully formed beast of a serious hard-blackened punk band. Is there a more fully realized “band”/artist out there? It’s perfect. Excellence of execution. And another instance where he borrows a bit from punk ghosts past (“We’re the kids…” is a hauntingly familiar refrain). It doesn’t get much better than this folks. And while we’re at it, there’s a laundry list of other Atlanta punk records you should be feeding on: Mutual Jerk 7″ (DIY kinda freakiness), any of these Nag records (even if the artwork blows, these are still quality punking tunes), the final(?) Joint D= LP titled ‘Intelligence’ (and that copy of Atlas Shrugged is being burned in GG King’s driveway) from the guy who unites NC with ATL and gives me a reason to shoehorn in the fact that ISS have that ‘Endless Pussyfooting’ tape out on State Laughter…and that upcoming Uniform LP should be a real nut buster if they keep up with that tape from a bit ago. By the way, test press version of this is delicious, but that anti-dimension sticker on some of the regular versions is a must-have too. Get in where you fit in.

05) PUBLIC TRUST “The Leper” EP – man, Boston has really surprised me lately. I’m usually no fan of the HC scene there, but their punk division is doing great things of late. This fucking Public Trust 7″ man, it’s incredible. The best record Unnatural Axe never wrote. With extra meathead on the vox. I have no info on this band other than the singer from Boston Strangler is involved (and possibly more Stranglas) – is it all him, or is he just the brains behind the band? “The Leper” is the hit here, a total anthem about being afflicted, but all four songs are smokers (yes, even “Everyone Smokes in East Boston”) and you won’t get better value out of a 7″ right now. I can’t believe more people aren’t as nutty about this as I am….want some aesthetic proof that this one is legit: the sleeve/record contains visual references to Joe Spinell and Combat Shock…check em out if you don’t believe me. Then head over to Feel It for your copy.

04) MOZART “Nasty” EP – ‘The Tick’ was a pretty cool tape and all, but this 7″ EP is pure mania, probably the best hardcore record released in 2017 thus far. The alliance with Iron Lung makes sense, as these are all individuals to whom integrity means a great deal, and that makes the tenacity of this record that much more satisfying. The people involved are serious about this punk shit – not that this is some overtly political thing, or has some kind of scene agenda – but it’s fanatical and raging music for a reason. And the vocals are insane, intense and right on – matched by the aesthetic tenacity of each one of these records (500 of them?!) having a hand painted “blob” on them, which I’m sure the person(s) drawing them on thought more about than most of us think about punk in a month – Sidenotes: the related Thrilling Living label has released that Warm Bodies 7″ I love so much, and I’m getting real antsy to hear this gSp 12″, which is Tobi Vail, Layla Gibbon and Marissa Magic, and not a tribute to the UFC fighter you loved to hate. Further sidenote – Grace is leaving MRR, which gives me a mild panic attack when I think about it. Not that I really have a horse in this race anyway, but MRR has once again become the best punk zine in the world (not just by default) under her guidance and I fear what might happen now…I believe the only logical course of action is to immediately install Brace Belden in the coordinators chair the second she leaves MRR HQ.

03) STEFAN CHRISTENSEN “Shake off The Village” LP – Stefan’s first official vinyl LP as a solo act, and coming off what might have been his best set of songs yet on the ‘Open Day” EP gave me some high expectations. Nine songs that document Stefan drifting further into the waters of improv and experimentation, getting closer to the Xpressway sound than ever (whereas I might have pegged him closer to Flying Nun in the immediate post-Estrogen Highs days), with a heavy dose of Shepard-esque noise wrangling still abundant. Some of this outright harsh (“Over Scrawl” sounds like twisting metal) and some of this is outright beautiful (the expanse of “Brass City Pt. II” – a recurring locale from the previous EP as well), and he still lovingly slips a genuinely warm “rock” song in there like a note slid under the door (“Norton II”). “8AM Sharp” could conceptually be linked to Shadow Ring in its construction, but far more fleshed out and American. The stylistic jumps from song-to-song are never jarring, but more collage-like, in a way that still reminds me of Sebadoh in aesthetic if not sound. “Off Minor” is a rather fitting ender, full of guitar shredding and a little tape manipulation, Stefan with a foot on both sides of the fence (rock vs art?) and pulling it off wonderfully. Available for preorder now.

02) WARM BODIES. See reviews section for commentary. I’ve been told this band is the real deal live as well, which saddens me as I will probablly never get a chance to see them. Their two singles and cassette releases have been the highlight of 2017 thus far.

1) THE COWBOY LP – No one mourns the disappearance of Homostupids more than me. No one. Which makes the emergence of The Cowboy that much more reassuring. 2/3 of the ‘stupids plus 1/2 of Pleasure Leftists. Think of it perhaps as a more refined evolution of what Josh and Steven were doing in America’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band. Perhaps a bit more finessed, due in part to Drew’s more Charlie Watts approach as compared to Dale’s Keith Moon. Both are great. One of the big differences is that you can actually decipher what Josh is singing – and an actual lyric sheet helps too. That being said, this is just what the doctor ordered – more good old Americano rock’n’rollo with that distinct Clevo flavor. Higlights include “My Champion”, “Sneaking Leaker” (!) and “The Cowboy”, but of course there’s nary a dud in this dirty dozen. Whether or not this record is actually called ‘Back on the Farm’ is up for discussion, but the artwork by Josh’s daughter is definitely the visage of titular cowboy. Fun fact – this record almost came out on Smart Guy, then didn’t, and good ol’ Fashionable Andy saved the day. Cassette version will also be available on Blow Blood some day soon for those of you who favor the people’s format.

For a full list of Power Rankings for this quarter, send a SASE to Termbo HQ. We’ll be back with those tapes and an interview before you know we’re gone.