While the word mumbled to itself in a corner, weakly licking its wounds like a hungry rat, I strode across the vinylscape, snatching up lifelong faves and previously-only-owned-on-CDs like some sort of Norse god, bestowing Life & Death with hardly a thought.
Well, it sure wasn’t as exciting as all that, but 2010 found my record collection bulking up nicely, and with quality. I found it odd that I was making more money than I had made in a long time, while everyone else complained about the “fucking economy” (while simultaneously seeming to spend more than ever). Hey, someone’s gotta do it, eh?
Alas, it wasn’t to last, and many things came crashing down at the beginning of 2011 for yours truly. Seeing the world thru blood-tinted glasses will dull the joy of any Discogs purchase (yes this was finally the year I started buying records off of the internet). Now it’s time for this rat to lick its wounds, but at least I’ve got that “fucking” Kontakt Mikrofoon Orkest single while I do it. Small potatoes? Fuck you, mang. Tasty potatoes, and better than that high-fructose shit you got in your hand.
Pathetic personal feelgoods aside, what the hell happened in “tha fucking Dime.”
Puffy Areolas happened. Whoosh. Blitz. Frizz. Windhawking punk skree w/ former “normal” guy Krauty McSludge gnashing on white crosses right in front of your ass (even if you were listening to the record). Now how did he go and get genuine White Crosses, you ask? Cuz he was IN THE ARMY, man. 198fucking1. Aren’t you paying attention? Sheeit.
From the eroded sidewalks of the twilight Midwest to the squalid streets of The Big Crapple, the fattest rat of them all. I saw a nice n’ juicy one in the subway station the other day. He was just moseying on down the platform, barely 12 inches in front of the general populace. Not a care in the world; everyone snickered and took video with their phones. Modern day New York is still a shithole, maybe not as romantic as the 70s/80s zeitgeist subculture types like to jerk off to, with their obscuro flicks and bands and fashion and graffiti coffee table books, but the sleaze is still down here, slithering around, and Pop. 1280 capture it as well as anyone has in a long damn time. Their 12” Sacred Boner is a perfect distillation of Snake Plissken-approved cyberpunk grit and dark n’ stormy post-Oz noise rock. “Step Into The Grid” was one of the “fucking trax” of the year; a throbbing, clanging urban squall of a song with siren-synth sounds raising the hackles on the back of your neck like the Bomb Squad had discovered No Wave. Ratfucking has never been so catchy. Pop. 1280 half of their split 7” on Badmaster also yielded a dime fave: “Neon Lights,” five minutes and forty seconds of constant forward motion; all glittering surfaces, blinding you, giving you a headache, entrancing you with its gutter-beauty. This band is writing New York songs. God (or at least Bloomberg) bless ‘em. Is Bernard Goetz Pop. 1280s’ spirit animal? I dunno, but beware of the closing doors, and if you see something, for christ’s sakes, JUST RUN AWAY, as fast as you can.
Back in the real world (the Pacific Northwest), a sleeping giant awoke from its slumber: Seattle’s mighty A Frames came back for their trophy and bitch-slapped anyone who might give them trouble. The challengers came with their puny are-we-too-late-for-the-trend? Weird-punk 7”s and the A Frames went HAHAHA and slammed a triple-LP career-definer/ender on their heads. It’s called "333" and it’s on S-S and it is 42 songs comprised of their classic singles, a bunch of interesting outtakes, home recordings and various other versions of songs you may already know. It looks beautiful and it is absolutely essential. One of the best bands of the decade.
They ended up doing a two week tour with a reanimated Aussie X, and it was a nice reminder of how to do it right. I saw two of the shows; the big homecoming night in Seattle (first show there in two years I believe), and a killer set in Frisco at The Hemlock. Highlights of this trip: pills, girls, barely being able to walk, Vinnie, having “Hostage Crisis” and “Crutches” dedicated to me, meeting Soriano (but being way too fucked up to fuck with him proper), the generosity of various Termbros and broads, pills. Girls.
Oh, and hatching the plan to bring the A Frames out to the East Coast in the fall for a proper thrashing/farewell. Which went splendidly. A so-so show in Philly to start off with, but a great night at the Cake Shop followed, with a stellar line-up featuring Nice Face and Pop. 1280, to a triumphant show at Brooklyn’s #1 DIY venue, Death By Audio. It was a bit of a bittersweet night, as many bandlives were dying, including a heavy-as-fuck final NY Pink Reason show (“Bloodstains” destroyed), Golden Error’s last hurrah, and the A Frames bringing it all back home with a marathon set of classics, played with heart and conviction (they may not jump around or say “Yeah!” but make no mistake, these guys play their asses off), and the crowd went FUCKING nuts and all these people that I used to not know, and used to live far apart from each other, and thought I would never meet, all these people danced their sweaty asses right into the ground and it felt really fucking great. So, thanks.
Shit, this cheap memory-enhancing drug I crushed and snorted is wearing off, so let’s just get down to some of the records that beta-blocked my heart this year.
You’d have to be an idiot not to know that Timmy's Organism ruled the world (whichever one you care to name) this year. Possibly the last punk genius, the Human Eye frontman dropped a virtual catalog of backlogged home-recorded beauty and terror. The 2x7” is Dave E-meets-Eno bedroom art-punk of the highest caliber, while scuzz-monsters like “I’m a Nice Guy Now” show off a wry sense of humor wrapped around a rock n’ roll heart. The LP on Sacred Bones is some kind of demented manifesto meant for a race not of this Earth (don’t even try to decipher it, puny human).
The other last man standing is Roy Vucino, and he has very quickly turned Red Mass into a catch-all clearing house of the millions of ideas flying around that skull of his. You’d think that all of that material and all of those records, CDs, and tapes would yield a serious shit-to-shine ratio, but, I ain’t crappin’ you negative, it’s almost all good, and some of it is down-right amazing. The s/t EP on Semprini (CD-only originally, but released on 12” in ‘10) was probably my most-listened to record of the year. I just couldn’t pull myself away from addictive psychedelic garage rockers like “Saturn” and “Weird Mess.” Roy has a dark view of this world, but he’s a romantic at heart, and these songs of lust, sorrow, and death (LSD) are sing-you-to-your-grave lullabies that will stick with me forever. But there’s also the creeping threat of “Success for Crime,” the nihilistic party-favors of “Party ‘Til I Die” and CPC-style ragers like “Skank” and “I’m On Fire” (where Roy shouts at you to shove some blow up his nose). These two guys are the real deal, and with Mr. Reatard gone to the great punk rock gig in the sky, they’re the last of the Great Punk Songwriters. At least in my yet-to-be-written book.
Nice Face showed that the “bored guy in a room w/ a laptop” thing could result in great LPs like "Immer Etwas", a one-man Tubeway Army fighting the good fight for nervous weirdos everywhere. And then he stepped out with a band and proved NF could rock the joint better than most snot-nosed punks out there. Inspiring.
How come the Guinea Worms’ "Sorcererers of Madness (4rd Year in a Row!)" double shot wasn’t hailed as the monumental work of brilliance that it is? Can you “fucking” answer me that? Yeah, it’s a hell of a lot to take in, that’s why you’ve got a whole fucking 365 days to soak this fucker up. Drunk in your Uggs. Drunk in your Fuckin Uggs. Goddamn.
Anyway, if you like rock n’ roll (and you fuckin’ better), I can’t think of a funner, catchier, rockin’er, bad-ass-er platter-er than the Ex Humans LP on Rob’s House. In a year when I didn’t much feel like hearing some bullshit rock n’ roll, Ex Humans delivered classic-sounding songs with danger and muscle. Thanks, boys.
Ah, self-loathing, how I love thee. Trying to look on the bright side, but these can be grim times, and Drunkdriver knew that better than most. Flaming out in a series of live shows that seemed to grow more desperate and intense each time they came out, struggling with personal demons both inside and out, private and public, they still-birthed a scorcher of an LP, a vicious reminder that life ain’t pretty, it’s a teeming morass of real and virtual shit. Didja get singed?
Let me take this moment to tell you that the humble and graceful Alastair Galbraith, poet of the Southern Isles, gifted us with yet another mini-masterpiece of aching, delicate songs and bits of cloud-like abstractions that sound not so much like music, but nature itself, unfolding before you. I wanna curl up outside his cottage and eavesdrop on his recording sessions, which must be more like little séances to spirits only he can see. A truly unique musician.
It was The Year of the Reissue and there are too many to think about, much less list. Last Laugh is some kind of miracle of a label, and I intend on collecting every record on it, which is some kind of weird punk cannibalism, but we’ll approach that topic some other time. (“Son of Sam” pleeeez!!!!)
In the frenzy of incredible and unthought-of punk reissues, there other artists enjoying deluxe repackagings, such as Ba Da Bing’s ongoing Dead C reissue campaign, which yielded "Clyma Est Mort/Tentative Power" and "...Perform Max Harris". Excellent-looking and -sounding re-ups. There’s tons more (look out for CIA's "More Than a Witness" fulfilling all of your HC wet dreams); it’s the Golden Age of the Reissue, what with this wacky Word Wide Web and the ReSomething of Vinyl. I complainin’, but, kids, Rome wasn’t burned in a day.
Finally, my band managed to get in just in time for Oscar contention by puking up a 4 song 45 we recorded over 2 years ago. Progress!
Here’s some other shit I dug mightily these past 12 months:
Home Blitz 'Out of Phase' (“Two Steps” should’ve won the Village Voice’s Pazz &
Jop poll), all Druid Perfume, Banque Allemande, Rank/Xerox 7”, Sun City Girls
'Funeral Mariachi', MirrorsPolyStyrene Jass Band 45), Lognhalsmottagningen EP on Local Cross
(newest favoritest thing), legit(?) Chrome reissues, Dry-Rot 'Philistine' (a
frantically creative itch of an album), 2 different Pollution LPs, Wire '1976
Demo' (further evidence that they are inhuman geniuses), Sex Church 12” (like a
punk Gris Gris kinda), the 'New Hope' compilation reissue (Clevo bitch), This
Moment in Black History 'Public Square'LP and split 12” w/Sun God, Bassholes '…and
without a name', Crazy Spirit 7” (crust enough for the kids, weird enough for
me), Sediment Club 7” (quality youthful slashing no wave punk), Negative
Approach 7” reish, His Electro Blue Voice 7” on Batshit, Frankie Rose and The
Outs, most of the
In The Red releases (Tyvek, Demon’s Claws, etc). The Return of Universal Order
of Armageddon. 'Daily Dance' reissue. LOUIE (TV show). Oh yeah, and the Venom P.
Stinger reunion show, with Tim Evans (Bird Blobs/Sea Scouts, etc) on vocals, was
possibly the best rock show I saw all year. Even sitting down after destroying
my knee. I wish wasn’t tripping…
Things to look forward to in 2011: Liquor Store takes over the world, Human Eye drops an LP, and my voice is finally fucking heard. Seeya.
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