Jesse Conway's Best of 2005

This year's list was tough due to the lack of great new music being released. 2005 was the year of the reissue and the bootleg and my collection and wallet bulge and hemorrhage respectively because of it. This won't stop me from listing a reissue as my favorite release of the year, however!

1. REATARDS "Teenage Hate" LP reissue (Goner)
What can be said about this that hasn't been said over the past seven years it has been around? Pure sexual frustration mixed with alienation and isolation combined to create a perfect rock and roll album. Essential.
2. SELFISH "Cause Pain" 12" (Feral Ward)
SELFISH have been playing for long enough to have a mere five and a half song release make it this high. Ultimately skilled in aping various Japanese bands and sometimes giving them a good working over in their own style. Instead of dropping a few hundred on originals, hear representations of DEATH SIDE, TETSU AREI, CRUDE and others on this mini-LP.
Two one-man-bands team up to play a mix of boogie-woogie and garage rock that's fit to leak out of the back of any Silverline trailer barreling down Rt.66 at one hundred miles an hour. Hilarious lyrics, distinctive vocals and what looks like a great live show.
4. CROW "Chi Namida" CD (Mangrove)
After a few years of silence, long-running d-beat turned Japcore warriors CROW release a full-length (their second ever?) that includes re-recordings of some of their harder-to-find songs (Death of Nuclear Arms, Door of the End, etc) along with five or six new tunes. They retain the metallic japcore style they explored on the Prank "Neurotic Organization" EP and get a really powerful recording sound to make for a great album.
5. KRUNCHIES "In De Winkel" 12" (Criminal IQ)
This record was a total surprise. Judging from the record label I was assuming it would slightly-out there garage rock, but it turned out to be speedy punk with some of the harshest vocals I've heard in a while. The guitar always seems to play the right riff and the rhythm section never misses a beat, no matter how fast the song.
6. LEBENDEN TOTEN "State Laughter" 12" (Wicked Witch)
I didn't really care for their demo, so I gave it away. Then the "Nuclear Flowers" EP came out and I liked it enough to keep it. A year later I received the "Dead Noise" EP from Sash and it was raging noisecore with vocals that only work with that type of music. Little did I know it was a precursor to the 12", but when I got the 12", everything fell into place. Comprable to the ATROCIOUS MADNESS 12" not only because of Frank's guitar work, but simply from the harshness of the whole package.
7. VA "Konton Damaging Ear Massacre" LP (Crust War)
A compilation of all of last year's hottest Osaka Crust War bands and friends that finally came out this year. Huge foldout poster sleeve, up to your neck in scissors and paste, and new songs from everybody but ZOE. KRUW tracks rule, POIKKEUS tracks are the best yet and make it a real shame that they broke up before it was released - finally, two new FRAMTID tracks push it into a record-of-the-year category.
8. SLOWMOTIONS "Dial o mawase!" CD (HG Fact)
Since there's one new song on here, it's not a 100% reissue, but if that song is an indicator of what's to come, it'll be great to hear a SLOWMOTIONS full length in a couple of years. This CD compiles the garage punk band's five singles including full artwork/inserts, etc. and not a single song fails to contain a hook, riff or lick that you will hum for the rest of the week.
9. CAREER SUICIDE "Invisible Eyes" 12" (Feral Ward)
It has taken me a couple of years, but I've finally warmed up to CAREER SUICIDE. I think this 12" was one of the main factors after seeing them live two times this year - instead of being the all-fast affair that their previous releases mostly were, there was a nice long mid-paced jam stuck right in the middle of the record. More like this. One of the best English-speaking hardcore bands going today.
10. EXITHIPPIES "Hardfunk" 12" (Statement)
What are EXITHIPPIES? Housecrust. This is one of the best-recorded releases of theirs and features one track where the feedback madness hooks into thumping house music to bring things altogether. The music is simple - the lyrics are provided, but I'll be damned if that's what's coming out of the singer's mouth. Polysyllabic moans, mangled drumsets and pulsing 808s. Innovation mixed with retardation.

1. TOKYO ELECTRON “Put a Charge In You” (Shattered)
In the follow-up to their astounding debut 7”, Ryan Wong and friends give full power to a riff-based REATARDS rock monster of a release. Only three songs this time around, but their last release featuring a very hopped up sound, as the LP to follow certainly allowed for mellowing out and leg stretching. A perfect release, in my opinion.
Jack Oblivian, Rich Reatard and Shaggy get together to release four of the sweetest, poppiest stompers this year. Each song has a hook like only they know how to write and “Wenches of Turpentine St.” is my pick for the best of the bunch.
3. MARKED MEN “Nothing’s Changed" b/w "She Won’t Know” single (Shit Sandwich)
I tried to put the latest MARKED MEN release in my top 10 for LPs, but it was released in 2004, so this one will have to do its work for it. “Nothing’s Changed” is as solid as any song on “On the Outside” while “She Won’t Know” sounds like an unused EXPLODING HEARTS song mingling with the pop punk that the MARKED MEN do so well.
4. BASTARD SONS OF APOCALYPSE s/t (Distort Reality)
BSA’s second release which is doubly as punishing as the first. Their live shows do more than give them justice, but this record gives even the live shows a run for their money. Raging d-beat from a bunch of youngsters from Texas. Better than half of your DISCLOSE record collection.
5. DIRECT CONTROL “Nuclear Tomorrow” (Sorry State)
If the 12” had come out on My War this year, it would’ve been right beside SELFISH for one of the top big releases of the year. Instead, this version of the re-recorded demo tracks will have to do. Solid hardcore punk like POISON IDEA, COC, ARTICLES OF FAITH and others that never knows when to quit. It doesn’t hurt that Brandon, Bill and Bay-Bay are great guys to hang out with either.
6. FUCKED UP “Generations” (Slasher)
I joined the Slasher Records club and all I got was this 10-year record. Actually, I ordered it before I joined the club, but I’m still waiting on my 12” version of it in the mail. Surely anybody who has listened to hardcore in the past year has heard FUCKED UP and has heard of all their weird record pressing stories, etc. Whatever. The three songs on this record are their best yet (save for one that will be on the LP included on the mix tape) and are nothing but raw power.
7. BEAT BEAT BEAT s/t (Douchemaster)
I’m not sure if this was actually released in 2005, but let’s say it was. High powered rock with a touch of punk and a lot of butt-shaking grooving going on. Live, not so good – recorded? Great on this record.
8. 86 MENTALITY “On the Loose” (Grave Mistake)
While the first record had a very flat sound and most people got tired of the vocals by the end of the first song, this release sees 86 MENTALITY with better production and a different guitarist. Things are more jangly, there are more dynamics and everything is much more faithful to the live shows. Steve knows how to write catchy and memorable lyrics and the rest of the band works with him surprisingly well.
9. LION OF JUDAH “Soul Power” (Lockin’ Out)
What can I say? I saw them live in October or November and after hearing the first tune (first song on this record) I was an instant fan. Maybe it was because I was watching somebody I grew up with sing about having, “soul power,” the last thing I’d imagine him talking about – or more likely it was because of the amazing 311-meets-YOUTH OF TODAY feel I get out of the whole thing. I like it, you don’t have to.
10. LAUKAUS s/t (Pogo 77)
There weren’t many other EPs on my list, but this one came to the top of the heap out of the rest. I like LAUKAUS and it’s a shame that not too many people will be able to hear this release because of its crazy rarity. It’s a return to the sound found on their demo and first 7”, with a bit of the midpaced influence from their 12” mixed in. Solid hardcore punk from Finland-cum-Japan.

TOP 10 LIVE BANDS/GIGS OF 2005 (in no particular order):

CAUSTIC CHRIST/CAREER SUICIDE/FUCKED UP in Pittsburgh, PA – This began at the Roboto project with the bands playing (BRAIN HANDLE were no slouches either) regular sets and ended in a basement with everybody doing cover sets of each other, classic punk bands, Kelly Clarkson, etc. Don’t touch the vents, give me free beer, etc etc.

CROW/WORLD BURNS TO DEATH/CAUSTIC CHRIST at Gilman St., Berkeley, CA – CROW’s set this night was nonstop power compared to the set they played earlier in the week at a bar in San Francisco. WORLD BURNS TO DEATH I had seen three nights in a row and they had yet to bore me with their new set. I can’t wait for the full length to come out! CAUSTIC CHRIST, as always, slay live. Other bands played, but these three killed.

TOTAL NOISE ACCORD at King Cobra, Osaka, Japan – Total GLOOM worship played by a bunch of crusties from the country that most likely grew up going to GLOOM shows whenever they could. They weren’t afraid of perpetrating a little noise violence on the crowd and we loved them for it.

SKITKIDS at Warehouse Next Door, Washington, DC – Finally, my air guitar gods came to play near me! I was so happy to see SELFISH a few weeks before, then SKITKIDS come and I lose my mind. Great vocalist, great ability to play their songs with only one guitarist, etc etc.

KAJUN SS/THE KRUNCHIES/BLANK ITS/FASHION FASHION AND THE IMAGE BOYS/VEEDEE/CARBONAS/REIGNING SOUND/FINAL SOLUTIONS at the Chicago Blackout – All the bands were highly entertaining and really the first time I had seen shows by bands that play this kind of music. I liked how beer throwing entered the equation at the show. MVPs of the weekend were KAJUN SS, CARBONAS and FINAL SOLUTIONS.

KING LOUIE OMB/JEFFREY NOVAK OMB/TEENGENERATE/FIRESTARTER/RAYDIOS/REATARDS/SHOP FRONTS/HUMAN EYE/SPITS/ZERO BOYS at Dot Dash ’05 in Brooklyn, NY – My second “garage” show in a couple of months. This time I knew how much drinking had to be done, broads had to be ogled, records had to be schmoozed, etc. MVPs were the Fink + Fifi show (of course), REATARDS, & ZERO BOYS. HUMAN EYE didn’t get me in Chicago, but they definitely got me for the two songs I saw in NY.


CLOCKCLEANER/DEATHREAT/DEATHREAT BBQ/TRAGEDY/BSA/PARTY CANNON/BSA/KAJUN SS/SELFISH at Chaos in Tejas in Austin, TX – CLOCKCLEANER had previously annoyed the shit out of me at a FORWARD show in Philly, but the fireworks at 2am on a pedestrian bridge vibe made me like them a lot more this time. DEATHREAT at a BBQ? If there were real burgers there, I would’ve ended up dropping mine as my body went slack from how great this was. PARTY CANNON enabled me to party, uh, hard.

SLOWMOTIONS/PAINTBOX/AI at Antiknock, Tokyo, Japan – Out of ten or so bands that were set to play with a reformed POISON ARTS, I was looking forward to these ones the most. They did not disappoint. However, POISON ARTS bailed, being the ultimate disappointment. SLOWMOTIONS played like they were in a music video the whole time, PAINTBOX really caught on in the second half of their set, despite the new singer and AI converted me from their lackluster recordings to a true fan of their wicked attack.

LION OF JUDAH at Kay Spiritual Center, Washington DC – At Rich’s birthday party show, the FVK reunion was a real draw, but LOJ’s set killed it for me. Like I described them in the top 10 EPs, but with the most posi vibe in the room. I was smiling through their whole set.

GAUZE/FRAMTID at King Cobra, Osaka, Japan – How could these two bands not make a top 10 listing? Two of the best live bands in Japan at the moment, no matter what Mike Foster would have you believe otherwise.

-Jesse Conway

Jesse Conway
1121 Arlington Blvd., Apt. 741
Arlington, VA 22209