Whoever out there that thinks there isn't good music being made these days, please remove your head from you ass. Just look around, it's everywhere. If you want to wear blinders and hide behind a stack of Z-grade "classics" from the olden days, go ahead. But don't make yourself sound foolish and insult the rest of us by saying there's nothing out there today. That's just a dumb thing to say. 2012 was the first year in a long while where I felt like I couldn't keep up. Between reissues and modern releases the selection is intimitading. The field is wide open. Some might call it a glut, some might call it an abundance of riches, but it's at times like this when smart buying is more important than ever. Know your product.
1. Hank Wood & The Hammerheads "Go Home" LP (Toxic State) There isn't one thing wrong with this record. Hailing from the guts of NYC, these young punk turks have spewed forth one of the best LPs in years. Everything is right. Possessing the same fondness for intentional slop and love of the shit-fi as all of our favorite garage no-goodniks The Mummies (with the hilarious misanthropy to match), released on what would be categorized as a hardcore label and coming from a hardcore punk scene...these kids are the poster boys for the breaking down of the walls of genre happening in punk these days. The singer is the best thing going, taking a totally gonzo approach to the gibbering frontman schtick and making it work, and his punctuation of every line with some variation of "OW!" is endlessly entertaining. The lyrics and song concepts themselves are sheer genius. It's hard on the street. Get out of my house. I don't see no future. Never has inane hate been so simply and beautifully expressed on record. Generally when I fall in love this hard with a record I want to know more about the band, why they do what they do, who they are. Not this time. I want to know nothing about these kids or how they got to be so great. It's so perfect as it is I would hate to spoil anything about it. The recording masks the fact that they know how to play their instruments just well enough, like many of the best shit-fi acts of history (again, see The Mummies). The bass player knows some tricks, the drummer is perfection and his kit literally sounds like trash cans (not to mention the cowbell, and I swear I almost hear a steel drum in there somewhere), the guitars just melt so much that you sometimes have to spend a minute figuring out where they are and what they're doing. The keyboard sound is a point of interest, a thick and often grotesque analog drive that adds perhaps the most punk element to the record. The bleating distress siren it's paired with at the onset of "Don't You Walk Away From Me" evokes the kind of Gotham menace I feel that a band like Pop. 1280 has been searching for. It sounds like the scum that the real rain will come and wash off the sidewalk someday. Hank Wood & The Hammerheads are as close to what Sam McPheeters talks about in this article that we have today. The 9-11 Ground Zero Hardcore imagery is tasteless proof. This is a dumb, ignorant and hilarious record that also provides heartwarming evidence that all is not lost on the youth of today. Last year I was left wondering where the next champions of shit-fi punk (or just punk in general) would come from. This band crawled from the sewers of an unlikely locale, swimming upstream through the heaps of musical shit strewn all over the Big Apple and let me know they had arrived.
2. FNU Ronnies "Saddle Up" LP (Load)
3. Tyvek "On Triple Beams" LP (In the Red)
4. Richard Papiercuts "A Sudden Shift" LP (Pena)
5. Uranium Orchard "1st LP" LP (Cold Vomit)
6. Lamps "Under the Water Under the Ground" LP (In the Red)
7. Bits of Shit "Cut Sleeves" LP (Homeless)
8. Cheater Slicks "Reality Is A Grape" LP (Columbus Discount)
9. White Load "Wayne's World III b/w Godfather IV" (Load)
10. The Legs "Aaaa The New Memphis Legs" LP (Goner)
Honorable mentions: Lower Plenty "Hard Rubbish", School Jerks s/t, Cheap Time "Wallpaper Music", Druid Perfume "Third Album".
I expanded this list to 15 from 10 because in retrospect 2012 was a surprisingly bountiful year for choice EPs and singles. I must note that both the Utah Jazz 7" and Brown Sugar's "Tropical Disease" EP would be high on this list but they were disqualified due to my stringent "no locals" policy when it comes to these things...I wouldn't want you to think I was playing favorites now, would I? Both records are essential, I'll just say that. There were a dozen other Aussie platters that could have made this list: Loose Grip, Souther Comfort, Ruined Fortune, Straight Arrows, Ghastly Spats...all of these are worth your time and money as well. Other notables were the Hygiene s/t 7", Homostupids "New York Jammin'", more than one Protomartyr single and the Forced Laugh EP...
1. Satanic Rockers "Eviction" 7" (Quemada)
I fell in love with this immediately and never stopped.
2. Sex Church "Somnambulist" 12" EP (Psychic Handshake) massive psych-rock-death.
3. White Load "Pig Eyes" 7" (Ken Rock) best riffs of the year. Best Black Traitor cover ever. So good it had to be released twice.
4. GG King "Joyless Masturbation" 7" (Total Punk) the B-Side was the hit on this one ("Bag") and it was one of my faves all year long.
5. Folded Shirt "Tiny Boat" 7" (Fashionable Idiots) they saved their best record for last.
6. Golden Pelicans "Hard Head" 7" (Total Punk) best garage-punk record in some time.
7. Kremlin "Will You Feed Me?" 7" (Hardware) best Canadian punk record since Fucked Up were still a hardcore band.
8. Meat Thump "Box of Wine" 7" (Negative Guest List) an incredibly visceral record made even more so due to the circumstances around it. RIP Brendon.
9. A Burning Bus "Anti-" 7" (Harvest) Howland returns with a vengeance. I've heard there's a whole LP from this band in the can, here's hoping it gets released soon...
10. Home Blitz "Frozen Track" 12" EP (Mexican Summer) more genius pop from DD and Co.
11. Unholy Two "Cut the Music" 7" (12XU) every time I listen to this record I'm reminded of Wrestlemania 10. Then I blade.
12. Martyr Privates s/t 7" (Bon Voyage) underrated Aussie rocker from a Slug Gut, which is better than any Slug Guts record.
13. Mad Macka "Adidas Tracksuit" 7" (Swashbuckling Hobo) an Aussie legend and Cosmic Psycho with two songs of balls and riffs.
14. Mordecai "Waste" 7" (Wantage USA) a great tease for the sophomore LP which has them rightfully finding a home on Richie Records.
15. The Ropes "Demo II" 7" (Youth Attack) this was great as a tape, and even better as a record.
The Reissues/Retrospectives/etc. (LP):
1. Toy Love "Live at the Gluepot" 2XLP (Goner) there was a time not too long ago where I was nearly 100% sure I would never be listening to Toy Love on vinyl unless I hit the lotto. NOw I have this and it was one of my most listened to records of the year, reissue or otherwise.
2. feedtime "Aberrant Box" 4XLP (Sub Pop) even though I own all of these records in their original versions, this is still hard to beat.
3. Factrix "Scheintot" LP (Superior Viaduct) one of many great SV releases, and their 2013 release schedule of German Shepherds, 100 Flowers, Sleepers and Martin Rev (and those are just the ones I know of!) is frightening. How about just reissuing the Chrome Box next and making my head explode...
4. Poison Idea "The Fatal Erection Years" LP (TKO) this reissue series might not get the respect it deserves from being on TKO, but the two volumes so far have been impeccable. I want to read a whole book of Jerry A liner notes.
5. UV Race s/t LP (Terminal Picnic) despite some shenanigans from the label (for shame), this finally got in my hands and it's a fantastic document of the genesis of a fantastic band.
6. Mistreaters "The Mistreaters" 2XLP (Dusty Medical) one of the most underrated outfits in sport get their due, and just in time because my CDR of this stuff was wearing out.
7. The Guns s/t 2XLP (Smog Veil) Cleveland is the #1 city in the world for rock'n'roll, and The Guns are just one more of many reasons.
8. The Great Unwashed "Clean Out of Our Minds" LP (Exiled) better than The Clean?! God, I don't want to have that argument.
9. Dead C "Harsh 70's Reality" LP (Siltbreeze) it's crazy to think this record is 20 years old.
10. Coloured Balls "Ball Power" LP (Sing Sing) a late entry, but it was worth the wait. Beautifully done.
The Reissues/Retrospectives/etc. (7"):
1. Vom "Live At Surf City" 7"(Rerun)
2. Psychosurgeons "Horizontal Action" 7" (Crypt)
3. Tav Falco & The Panther Burns "She's The One To Blame" 7" (Mighty Mouth)
4. Hot Nasties "Invasion of the Tribbles" EP (Ugly Pop)
5. The Penetrators "Teenage Lifestyle" 7" (Windian)
With so many players in the 7" reissue game putting out quality product it's getting hard to keep up. The Vom reissue back was hard to beat, although the massive liner notes and insane gatefold package on the Psychosurgeons record was real close. Tav Falco 7" is near to my heart, and Last Laugh did a lot of good as well (Knots, Mentally Ill, etc..). Hot Nasties was the best of the Ugly Pop Canadian bunch and The Penetrators reish could easily switch places with the Razar 7" on Sing Sing. But "Teenage Lifestyle" is just too heavy...
1. Psychobaits "Kills Your Boyfriend" (self-released) nobody wants to believe me about how good this is, but this tape haunted my dreams
2. Wetbrain demo (Bloodclot) they were amazing live, this tape rips and will be on Painkiller vinyl soon enough I hear.
3. The Ropes "Always Nothing" (Youth Attack) this bands "demo" tapes are better than most records out there.
4. Heavy Air "Cold Vomit #9" (Cold Vomit) more post-Dry Rot success.
5. Pure Scum demo (Sorry State) high school hardcore from the Mid Atlantic that sounds way too angry for such young bucks. One of their fathers also rules.
SPLIT OF THE YEAR: Native Cats/UV Race split 7" (Ride the Snake) - my fave Native Cats tune to date and quality stuff from the Race. Honorable Vinyl Mention: James Arthur/Alicja Trout, Mr. California/Flyin' Trichecos.
COMP OF THE YEAR: V/A "The World's Lousy with Ideas Vol. 9" 7" (Almost Ready) - it's not as if there's a lot of competiton (harhar), but it was great to see WLWI return, and that this contains both the Cheater Slicks and Ron House insures that even if there was another compilation worth a shit it would still be no contest.
FAN CLUB RELEASE OF THE YEAR: The Fall "Container Drivers" LP - fanastic sounding boot of early BBC recordings. Whoever is behind the mysterious Belgian label Arkain Filloux, thanks for the great selections and unusually (for Euro boots) well done screened sleeves as well.
WORST BAND NAME:...1-800-Band, Ghost Bikini, Husky Dudes, there were a lot as usual. And whoever the band was that wrote a song called "Queso in Your Face-O" should be strung up.
POPULAR RECORD/BAND I JUST DIDN'T "GET": Merchandise - sounds like Cold Cave to me. But worse. I also think that Goat LP was ridiculous schtick...and I generally like schtick...("a bunch of Swedish fruits parading around in masks" as someone put it rather well).
ZINE OF THE YEAR: DISTORT - Issue #37 - with the insurmountable loss of Brendon and NGL I wasn't sure what zines were still worth a shit. But thankfully DX and Distort appeared with an epic three issue return to form after a spell of inactivity/reprints, with #37 being the one I read and re-read the most. Lots of Clevo talk, Bloodclot Faggots, DX's own reflection on Brendon's passing, Bird Blobs, one of the best things I've ever read regarding the Cro-Mags and more. Honorable Mentions: Sex Before Suicide #3 - bonkers layout backed with bonkers content // Put the Music in It's Coffin #4 - this guy writes my favorite reviews section these days, plus this one had Graham Lambkin and a killer piece by "The Journalist"// Limited Readership #3 - outstanding zine that reads like a UK version of Distort.
BEST ARTWORK/PACKAGING:Flip Shit "Outgoing Rockers" EP (Reel Time) - custom made 7" jackets that were so thick they could stop a bullet (that were all hand-glued by the way), three color screen job on the sleeve, printed dust sleeves with a great design/logo ("The Quality Cut") and inserts that were copied on looseleaf to replicate study hall scribbling and each with a lipstick kiss. This is the type of mad genius dedication to aesthetic that makes Rotcore something special. Honorable mention to all Toxic State releases.
WORST ARTWORK: Moralens Vaktare s/t LP - so fucking bad I had to give it away.
LIVE SET OF THE YEAR: Puffy Areolas - May 11 @ Now That's Class, Cleveland, OH - this band, WITH Krauty on the mic, is an unstoppable freight train. One of the most intense things I've seen in years. This was also my first time seeing them with Bim on the kit and I think that helped a lot as well. Simply devastating. Close Second: Hank Wood & The Hammerheads in Rochester, NY - a mini-riot broke out between punks and the bouncers and the plan played right through. Everything I had hoped they would be after listening to the LP non-stop all year.
BOOK OF THE YEAR: We Got Power! Hardcore Punk Scenes From 1980s Southern California - David Markey and Jordan Schwartz - Bazillion Points continues their outstanding work, with another music zine retrospective that looks incredible and is priced affordably. Reprints of all five issues (plus the unreleased sixth), meaningful essays from everyone from Rollins, The Duke, Dez, Watt, Carducci and many other SST-ers to Louiche Mayorga and Eugene. Worth the price of admission just for the early Suicidal pics, but this is jammed with so many great photos of every band that mattered from the period, from SoCal and every touring band that came to the area as well.
COVER SONG OF THE YEAR: Taco Leg "The Money Will Roll Right In" - a case of a band covering a song that should never be covered and actually killing it.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS - could it really be any other band?
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: This award was traditionally given out to spotlight a non-WWE grappler who excelled outside the major fed confines, much like the music we cover. TNA...excuse me, Impact Wrestling...really sucked it up this year aside from Austin Aries' title run, which they ruined anyway. ROH provided a lot of entertainment however, including rising star Mike Bennett (who also brought his girlfriend Maria Kanellis back to our TV sets), a wonderful title chase from Kevin Steen (and a perfect jerk to take the strap from in Davey Richards) and great work in the ring and on the mic from the best tag team in the sport, The Briscoe Brothers. But it's hard to ignore the success former indie darlings are now seeing in the WWE. CM Punk's epic title run speaks for itself. But even more impressive to me is what Brian Danielson, now known as Daniel Bryan has done, going from fired to becoming one of the most entertaining characters inside the squared circle. Some might say he sold himself out or cheapened his legacy by pandering to the WWE Universe, but in reality it shows that aside from being the best technical wrestler in the game the guy also has the charisma to work a crowd (that many thought he lacked) from any side: face, heel, tweener, you name it. A man who for all intents is the definition of the "vanilla midget" making it in Vince McMahon's fed is a remarkable thing, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. The American Dragon = Termbo Wrestler of the Year 2012.
BAND OF THE YEAR: UV RACE - while no particular release of theirs totally dominated in 2012, the UV Race were on my turntable and mind for a good majority of it. A very strong LP that was only drowned out by two other exceptional releases their label put out at the same time ('Racism' vs. Lamps/Tyvek). The best split single of the year with countrymen Native Cats. An "early days" comp LP of their first single and demos. The reissue on vinyl of the fantastic live cassette split with ECSR. A soundtrack LP to their very own feature film 'Autonomy and Deliberation', which we'll hopefully be able see in the US very soon. Plus numerous great records from various members' other projects (Total Control, Lower Plenty, Straightjacket Nation). The only thing they didn't do in 2012 was tour the US, but it looks like that will be remedied in 2013 surrounding their Chaos in Tejas appearance. The UV Race, as a gang, dominated in 2012, and I have a feeling they don't plan on slowing down any.
LABEL OF THE YEAR: TOTAL PUNK RECORDS - A uniformly lo-fi packaging aesthetic used to document the punkest of modern punkdom, letting the tunes do the work and keeping some lucky rubber stamp manufacturer in business. The perfect vehicle for some of the best singles of the year. This type of dedication to an aesthetic vision is what makes a good label great. I look forward to further ventures both in the 7" and 12" arenas in 2013. TOTAL PUNK = #1.
Back to 2011 Main
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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