2008 GREATEST HITS
RICH K.(RK): Richie is the editor and the one to blame for shit always being fucking late.
2008 was a hell of a year. The Termbo banner covered more diverse acts this year than any other. The weird punk phenomenon gave way to a wave of mysterious bedroom/Myspace bands and I ended up liking a whole lot of mellow shit. Garage-punk seemed to slip into the backseat as bands mined more glam, psych and powerpop veins. Truly an amazing year for record fandom and music appreciation. I bought tapes again! My favorite record was a folk LP! I liked something John Dwyer recorded! Australia is back! I bought a ton of great records by bands from Miami! What the fuck is going on?!
1. Dutchess & The Duke "She's the..." LP (Hardly Art)- Best record of the year, no contest. Quite frankly, I'm still a little shocked by how head over heels in love I was (and still am) with this record. I thought it was going to be a flop. I'm one of those guys who hates folk/acoustic music by and large. But D&D converted me. Made me a believer. Unbelievably well written songs. Stunning. It was a pretty heavy year for me personally, and as trite as it may sound, this record sincerely helped me through it. Thank you Jesse and Kimberly, that's all I can say.
2. Thee Ohsees "The Master's Bedroom..." LP (Tomlab)- Another record I'm shocked that I loved so much. I never liked ANY John Dwyer record before this. Coachwhips never did it for me. OCS 1-4 were total suck (and still are, I'm no revisionist). But the songs on this one were so beautiful, the sound so lush, how could I not become a convert? When Jeff said that 'Sucks Blood' was the best record of 2007, I guffawed. In 2008, I ate that guffaw and began frantically searching for a copy (and it turns out it was pretty good), that's how much I fell for this LP. I think a handsome Frenchman I know summed this record up quite well when he said it sounded like "The Mamas and The Papas meets The Cramps." Wish I would've come up with that one.
3. Pink Noise "Dream Code" LP (Sacred Bones)- Hey, guess what? I'm shocked I liked this record a lot as well! I'm not one for synth-based music and I'm not totally into the whole bedroom/Myspace/homerecorder 'genre' that became de rigeur this past year. But The Pink Noise avoid all the cliches that would normally make me dismiss a record in this style. Future sounds from a unique artistic vision.
4. Ooga Boogas "Romance & Adventure" LP (Aarght!)- As a sucker for just about anything Australian, I was taken in by the rough and tumble yet also odd and slightly arty LP the Oogas produced. Like the best Oz acts of the past, this LP is a cunning combination of meat-n-potatoes sort of surface-level dunderheadness which disguises or distracts you from the sneaky intelligence behind it all. Wily fuckers. In the end, I ended up preferring it to....
5. Eddy Current Suppression Ring "Primary Colours" LP (Goner/Aarght)- So simple, so direct, so effective...it's a wonder no one could come up with this formula before ECSR did. No tricks, no posturing, no mystery, just the straight stuff. Mature songs that are easily connected with on an emotional level. I keep wanting to call it a friendly record. It's just what you want in both your rock and your friends: solid stuff that is fun yet also meaningful. A record you can rely on.
6. Cheap Time s/t LP (In the Red)- Everyone beefing about how Jeff swiped hooks and songs from glam/powerpop bands of yesterday for this record kinda made me like it even more. Perhaps because I'm not such a big fan of powerpop/glam of the past, I enjoyed his modern take on it more than your typical power pop wimp. Jeff's one of the most exciting young talents out there and it's been thrilling to watch him develop, and I eagerly await more from him. Great live as well, tight and hooky tunes, abundant energy, fantastic record from a a band that seems to be over with already. Fun while it lasted, eh?
7. The Rebel "Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable" LP (Sacred Bones) - Sacred Bones strikes again! I was disappointed in the Country Teasers side of the split LP with EZ WIDER or whoever it was. This stunning set more than made up for it. Any doubts I had over this being a live radio thing were rendered moot by the strength of Wallers' & Co. performance. I'm also thrilled this was more 'Prawns'-like than the "Snackrifice" 12". You never know what you might get from The Rebel, but this was just what I needed.
8. Human Eye "Fragments of the Universe Nurse" Lp (Hook or Crook)- Timmy Vulgar's vision is definitley one the most unique out there today. It's fascinating to hear him assemble this pastiche of future-primitive sci-fi and primordial rock ooze through a lysergic third eye. One of those guys I'm thankful exists in this world.
9. Sic Alps "US EZ" LP (siltbreeze)- Another band whose prior catalog I'm not 100% on board with that made an album so good I had to go back and see if I missed something. Mellow as all hell.
10. Black Time "Double Negative" LP (In the Red)- Lemmy really created a reverb-soaked masterpiece here. Some of their strongest and most challenging material to date delivered via an LP that both seethes and soothes.
Also considered: Love Is All 'A Hundred Things.." LP (Whats Your Rupture), The Breeders 'Mountain Battles' LP (4AD), The Pets 'Misdirection' LP (Static Impulse), Brainbombs 'Fucking Mess' LP (Lystring), King Tuff 'Was Dead' LP (Colonel), Homeblitz 'Weird Wings' (Parts Unknown).
1. Jacuzzi Boys "Island Avenue" 7" (HozAc)- "Island Ave." = maybe my favorite song of the year. Every second of this record is great.
2. Homostupids "Cat Music" EP (Fashionable Idiots)- I am in love with the Homostupids' music. Gay for it. The perfect synthesis of low-fidelity recording and lowbrow ethos.
3. Jacuzzi Boys "I Fought A Crocodile" 7" (Rob's House)- Holy shit, these guys are on fire. That bicycle bell! It kills me! So perfect.
4. Grave Blankets "Our Love Is Real" 7" (HozAc)- So fucking brutal, you'd think they were Australian. I will forever lament that they never recorded an LP.
5. FNU Ronnies "Meat" 7" (Richie)- Bizarre left-field punkfuck from what I think might be the only band that could be playing on the same field as Homostupids. Want more bad.
6. Medication "Don't Die" 7" (HozAc)- Haunting lo-fi one man echoes.
7. Catatonic Youth "Piss Scene" EP (HozAc)- Best mystery band of the year. Still listen to this all the time. Want more now.
8. Pizzas "Bad Ass Youth" 7" (Daggerman)- Best garage-punk record of the year.
9. Meth Teeth "Bus Rides" 7" (Sweet Rot)- Weird practically hippie-shit. Incredibly pleasant to listen to.
10. The Intelligence "Chateau Bandit" (Plastic Idol)- Some of the best work Lars did this year, and he did plenty of great stuff.
Also considered: Electric Bunnies "Chewing Gum' 7" (Floridas Dying), Rodent Plague 7" (Kill Shaman), Dutchess & The Duke "Scorpio" 7" (HozAc), Shoot It Up "Outta Control" 7" (Criminal IQ), Career Suicide "Cherry Beach" EP (Sewercide).
1. The Clean "Compilation" LP (Little Axe)- The packaging wasn't all that special, but music-wise, I listened to this one more than anything this year aside from the D&D record.
2. Milk N Cookies s/t 2LP (Radio Heartbeat)- So fucking gay! I love it! One of the best looking releases of the year as well. Don't get me started on how cool the promo pack was too...
3. The Nixe LP (Polly Maggoo)- Another packaging marvel, with great tunes and liners to match. I hadn't heard much of The Nixe before this LP, and now I'm bummed I didn't discover them sooner.
4. Die Kreuzen s/t LP (Touch and Go)- The second best hardcore LP of all-time.
5. Mirrors "A Green Dream" 2XLP (Hook or Crook)- Odd for a record so new to deserve this treatment, but its underappreciated synthesis of Texas psych and Makers-like garage sneer finally convinced me of Greg Ashley's genius and has inspired me to go in reverse and re-evaluate his back catalog.
Also considered: Mission of Burma LPs (Matador), Soggy LP (Memorie Relive), Hellhammer 3XLP (Century Media), Remo Voor 7" (Rich Bitch), Sick Things "My Life's A Mess" LP (Stolen).
Intelligence/Ohsees split 12" (Mt St Mtn)- Two Ohsees cuts are as good as anything on the LP, the two Intelligence originals might be my favorite stuff of theirs from the year, then they go and cover The Vulvettes and get me all misty-eyed. Really enjoyed the cover art theme too, did the Ohsees collage remind anyone else of the movie Dreamscape?
Runners-up: Shoot It Up/Analingus split 7" (Riff Raff), Wizzard Sleeve/Amber Alerts split 7" (Jeth-Row).
The World's Lousy With Ideas Vol. 4 7" (Almost Ready)- This category should really be called 'Favorite WLWI Volume of the Year'. There's no competition. This volume had me swooning with some serious FAG COP destruction, the Coconut Coolouts darkest moment, the only other Touched track I've heard and some French garbagerock from El Vicio. Other volumes might have had better standout tracks, but this one had four keepers.
Runners Up: WLWI Vol. 5 (Almost Ready), Puget Power Vol. 5 (Regal Select).
Midnight "Farewell To Hell" 10" (Nuclear War Now)- Best straight thrash release I've heard in years that had me looking back fondly on my teen hesher years and contemplating the purchase of a back patch for a jean jacket I do not currently own.
Runner up: Evil Army "Under Attack" 7' (Hell's Headbangers).
This year saw a revitalization in the local Buffalo music scene, mainly due to the efforts a few top notch local dudes and bands that have me more excited than ever about the state of our city. Seven inches from Brown Sugar and Plates would surely be in my top ten, but I disqualified them due to possible unintenional favoritism. Both records were released by local label Feral Kid Records, who also did the incredible Rational Animals 7" from Rochester, and have an exciting schedule of releases upcoming in 2009. And in possibly the biggest local move of 2009, Mr. David Anchovies opened Spiral Scratch Records, the greatest record store this city has ever seen the likes of. I'd like to say thanks and congratulations to all people involved in these endeavors and I look forward to Buffalo breaking even bigger in 2009.
First Base "First Base b/w Hard 2 Read" cassingle (Pizza Party)- Holy shit, was I ever unprepared for this. Pure, wholesome fun, and these aren't even the best First Base songs!
Runners Up: Yolks "Girl Like You" cassingle (Pizza Party), ECSR/UV Race split live tape (Stained Circles).
World's Lousy With Ideas Volume Six 7" (Almost Ready)- Lesbian Bitchcraft. Almost Ready does it again.
Dead Luke Box (Sacred Bones)- Pretty much any special editions Sacred Bones did are miles ahead of the competition, and even the regular versions look great. I think this box was coolest looking thing I bought all year and shows the most mind-blowing labor-of-love type attention to packaging I've seen in a long time. Great work Caleb. (The funny thing: I don't really like the Dead Luke songs that much. Oh irony!)
Nightmare USA - Stepen Thrower (FAB Press)- FAB Press tomes are always 100% quality, but this totally blows shit right out of the water. 500+ pages about some of the greatest obscure US exploitation films of the Seventies and Eighties and their creators, broken down in excrutiatingly incredible detail. Fifteen pages on the films of Tony Malanowski? Holy fuck. Deadly Spawn. Fight For Your Life. It's incredible someone went to the depths this books delves into and even more amazing that there is hardly a dull moment. Packed with pics, stills, one-sheets, reviews, you name it. Unbelievable.
Runners Up: Keep It Together: Cosmic Boogie With The Deviants and Pink Fairies - Rich Deakin (Headpress), Fuzz, Acid and Flowers Revisted - Vernon Joynson (Borderline).
The Dutchess & The Duke @ Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY, 9/5/2008- What would probably be considered an uneventful tour stop by D&D, was for me a life-affirming show. All acoustic, no amps, Jesse wandering around the bar while playing, accosting some broad who was obviously not paying any attention to the show at hand, getting the audience to play percussion, the songs sounding so perfect live. It was a treat to finally get to meet Jesse in person after years of correspondence, but the real treat was watching him and Kimberly play the shit out of these songs for an audience of about a dozen in the middle of a tour that had a black cloud following them around. Top fucking shelf. Top fucking people.
Runners Up: Black Time in Buffalo, Homostupids at Horriblefest.
MIX TAPE STAPLES:
(In no order and excluding Top Ten releases)
- Snakeflower 2 "Talk About It" (7" version)
- Estrogen Highs "Can't Complain"
- King Tuff "Sun Medallion"
- Career Suicide "Cherry Beach"
- Throbbin Urges "Out for Blood"/"Iconoclast"
- Outdoorsmen "You Aint Got No Chains"
- Ean Eraser "Illegitimate Love"
- Staags! - entire A-Side of 7"
- Brimstone Howl "Tunnel Of Love"
- Die Rotzz "I Got My Bandana"
- Hunx "Good Kisser"
- Hibachi Stranglers "Livin the Nite Lite"
- The Pets "Blame It On the Kids"
- Fag Cop "Automatic Kansas"
- Ty Segall "The Drag"
- Eat Skull "Beach Brains"
- First Base "Can't Stop"
- Ohsees "Kids In Cars"
LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2009:
Homostupids "The Load" LP, Rust Belt Spring Time fest mania (Totally Wired fest in Pittburgh, Horriblefest in Cleveland and The Pain in the Big Neck in Buffalo all in April/May), Dutchess & The Duke second LP(?), In the Red 2009 LPs: Ohsees, Intelligence, Blank Dogs, Haunted George, etc..., Jeff Novak "After The Ball" LP, Hozac Hook Up Klub, Wax Museums fan club on Florida's Dying, Mike Sniper and Larry Hardy's new reissue label, Cheater Slicks "Bats in the Dead Trees" LP, Sing Song Records reissue label, Z-Gun #3, A-Frames 3XLP comp on S-S, Jacuzzi Boys and Electric Bunnies LPs, more Sacred Bones special editions, and tons more...
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2008:
No Solid Sex Lovie Doll releases! Mr. Z, come back!
Bistro Distro closing down. Totally devastating. Troy, come back!
Last Baseball Furies album didn't come out for yet another year.
Didn't go to Gonerfest or Budget Rock.
Only saw Homostupids live three times this year.
BRANDON G. (BG): Sometimes called Get Mugged, BG stepped up to the plate this year and pitched in more than a few extremely well-written record reviews. This kid is the future of TB, the young ace on the staff. Does no one else notice how great his reviews are? He also does the 'Treble High, Talent Low' zine and plays is some band called Brown Sugar in his spare time.
Good year, I'd say. Lots of settling into a progressively more comfortable and engaging life of music and college and writing about all of it while sleep deprived in a city I like more with each coming day. My fancy fingerwork was pressed to wax as my vinyl virginity was gladly squandered on some dreamy band full of beards and illegals. Then we went on tour, came out in the black and played to lots of cool kids in funny clothes. I’m infatuated with the contour of contrasting cities, so walking the overgrown odor-heavy West side of Philly was ace. Eating fried catfish at some rustfucked dive next to the garage we played in Gary, Indiana was the best. Kicking it off with a basement of firework-wielding punx in the All America city of Buffalo on the nation’s birthday was epic. And stocking bananas and rotating melons at my grocery gig back home for the rest of the summer saving cash money bonez for future fun in the sun was, well, a drag. Par for the course. And here’s the soundtrack for all the aforementioned wacking off, with some extra written goods concerning the tunes I had zooming around the dome this year that never ended up seeing the light of print.
Rational Animals “Perception Becomes Reality” EP (Feral Kid)
I’d honestly chock this up with the likes of early Die Kreuzen when it comes to sheer innovation, put through a post-rockalypse strainer the likes of which Black Flag wrenched My War’s B-side out of and hung out to dry in the sun like a fish out of the polluted streams of ‘80s hardcore revival, completely mutilated in an all too forgotten vein. The skull of Hans Holbein’s “French Ambassadors” – a very honest play on perception being “Visions of Death”. The most perfectly anachronistic release of this year, for sure.
Plates “Garth Butcher” EP (Feral Kid)
Los Plates get their little platter out and blow the roof off the whole fuckin’ scene. Humorous lyrics that pull no punches – that certain Midwestern practicality and reticent, heightened intelligence coupled with an East coast offensive. Vee Dee with a bad hangover and badder creeping ulcer. Fang, Flipper, and whiskers on kittens. Some of my favorite dudes, and the best band in Fluffalo these days.
Homostupids “Cat Music” EP (Fashionable Idiots)
I’d say the “Blackman” tune and the “Key-man” cut are my favorite Homosongs as of late. I was wondering if the horns section concluding the latter was the result of coaxing the high school band into Josh’s apartment on their stroll home from class. Nope, couldn’t get a confirmation on that one. I also interviewed their bass player for Maximum Rah Cha Cha music magazine and I think it shed some light on a group otherwise shrouded in mystery and cryptic witticism, fermenting in the dank water closet on the lake. Thanks for the mixed drink, Steven.
Inmates “Now We Talkin’ Hardcore” EP (Even Worse)
I guess people with common sense make uncommonly good records. And the same goes for humor (or perhaps humour). Everyone else reads haughty literature and makes pulp for instant flushing. Inmates are great because they’re funny without being hokey, tough as fuck without growling and the frayed façade. Just good, easily likable hardcore. The question is, do they like you? Probably not, douche bag!
Brimstone Howl "Tunnel of Love" 7" (Boom Chick)/ "We Came In Peace" LP (Alive)
I like this cut “Tunnel of Love” mostly for that line involving funnel cakes. I think that sort of phrase ushers memories, thoughts and prostate-tickles that do a shit ton more justice to the record’s sound than “garage” or whatever thought descriptive adjectives some shmoe like me has floating around in the bowl of cornflakes hanging out atop my shoulders. Just so perfectly epitomizes the whole notion of county fairs, where you’ll find great deals at the meat stand over by the soggy donkey shitting its brains out. I saw these guys sometime last winter and it truly was a glorious, glorious trainwreck. May have had something to do with two of the members being MIA and the others doing what they could with the situation. There weren’t more than ten people watching anyways. And “We Came In Peace” is their tour de force, correcting all the irks of their other Natural Sound long player. Honorable mention to Forbidden Tigers too – that “Glimpse of a Ghost” shit is beautiful.
Thee Oh Sees “Master’s Bedroom” LP (Tomlab)
Lots of warm sounds here. Like they retrieved the ethos of ‘60s romp and interjected these dimensions of reverb that exalt it to astral heights. Great songwriting paired with perfect production = A freakin’ +.
Cheveu s/t LP (SS)
This shit is really good. “Happiness” is a mixtape staple here on out. My high school French teacher would be proud. She once stole a pack of cigarettes from my friend Matt.
Hollywood “Hits! An All Time Low” LP (Big Neck)
If my hometown union welder friends who had a rough time completing the requisites for their GEDs were sober and coordinated and didn’t think David Allen Coe was “the shit, bud,” this is the sort of inebriated mill-town music they’d be making. Love this stuff.
Black Time “Double Negative” LP (In the Red)
Complications. Constipation. A burning sensation. A reverb-drenched venereal disease. Coke off the urinal. Another one I’m on the nuts of.
Sic Alps “US Ez” LP (Siltbreeze)
My fave of the Siltbreeze ilk I’ve heard. I listened to this while riding a train across the Empire state this summer and watching rays of light flow through the blossomed tree limbs was either spiritual in its profound sense of correctness or totally gay.
ROB VERTIGO (RSF): Rob helped out big time in the reviews department this year, filling some shoes left empty by the departure of many of the original review staff. It's cool guys, we like Rob better anyway and he actually turns his shit in on time! He's getting married in '09, congratulate him next time you see him at Amoeba.
LP/CD/12” in no particular order:
1. Terrible Twos “s/t” LP (Criminal IQ) – Started my year off right with this seizure on a platter.
2. Evangelista “Hello Voyager” LP (Constellation) – Carla Bozulich’s finest moment comes in the form of this southern gospel no-wave jazz-bo fuck all.
3. Hospitals “Hairdryer Peace” LP (self-Released) – Most beautifully confusing piece of wax I have heard in a ‘coons age. Hate went to great in a three day span. Wow.
4. Black Time “Double Negative” LP (In the Red) – They finally hit one out of the ball park for me. Flows like a string of their best singles tracks...
5. Human Eye “Fragments of the Universe Nurse” LP (Hook or Crook) – See that Hospitals blurb above and subtract the initial confusion. Now add alien overtones. Fry.
6. Nothing People “Anonymous” LP (S-S) – Proto-goth-glam-cold-glue-whatever. Just call it ace.
7. Factums “The Sistrum” LP + 7” (Sacred Bones) – My favorite thing they’ve done. A-frame/Intelligence family tree grows a “20 Jazz Funk Greats” branch…and then threw some rocks at a window.
8. Rusted Shut “Hot Sex” 12” (Dull Knife) – Outdid the Brainbombs this year...even if it was recorded a decade ago.
9. Druid Perfume “s/t” LP (PIGs) – Like shoveling up Screamin’ Jay or dragging Beefheart out by scruff, then forcing them to throw down over the Piranhas best head scratching free-noise breaks…Jamie Easter can puke on my toes anytime.
(9.5) Hunches “Exit Dreams” LP (In the Red) – The Motherfucker I’ve been waiting for, and well…still kinda’ am. I have a promo, but it ain’t out till January proper. More of this one on next year’s list. I have to hold back my glee…so I’ll stick to the PDX family and say…
10. Eat Skull “Sick To Death” LP (Siltbreeze) – Home recorded scuz-pop of the Gods.
7”es…in whatever order:
1. Unholy 2 “Kutter” (Columbus Discount) – Cheater Slicks for the Young Gods/Neutral Records sect.
2. Anals “Commando of Love” (Sweet Rot) – Ugly throbbing goodness wrapped in the sleeve of the year.
3. Zola Jesus “Soeur Sewer” (Sacred Bones) – This is gonna’ haunt me. So much better than Kate Bush, you haters.
4. Dead Luke “Record 1” (Sacred Bones) – Way into this one. The Blank Dogs running mate in 2009 could overtake the lead…keep ‘em coming.
5. World’s Lousy w/Ideas Vol. 4 (Almost Ready) – Like Rich said…The Dope, Guns, & AmRep Jr. of the ever popular multi-sleeved series. The Fag Cop slop at the end can ruin lives.
6. Kim Phuc “Wormwood Star” (Criminal IQ) – Outta’ nowhere this caught me. Doom vibe and 80’s Midwest as all hell. Pittsburgh? That’s where they shot Videodrome…
7. Mayyors “Marines.Com” or “Megan LOLZ” (Self-Released) – Pick one. I’m not.
8. Grave Blankets (Hozac) – A heavy Drags meets Pussy Galore in a Gun Club way? Essential.
9. Black Time “Hate Songs…” (Hate) – Yeah…the LP made the list too, but this “Fascist Bathroom” track is the “Stairway to Heaven” of shit-rock™...at this moment.
Year ain’t over as I write this, so there could be a ringer in the mail...but for now, I’d go with:
10. Subtle Turnhips "Fuck the People" (Hozac) – More inept slop than ever expected. WoW. A-side won’t die and the flip feels at home on Flying Nun. I should clean my needle.
Random track that eats away at me like sugary cancer:
The Dutchess & The Duke “I’m Just a Ghost” – Wanna’ make fun of Jesse and his yee olden scene hating garage rock staunch-itude, but this song kills me. Awesome job you folksy fucker. I bet Kimberly wrote it all! A-HA!
Soggy “s/t” LP (Memorie Relive) – A damn expensive import that I don’t regret at all. Punk damaged, uh,
NWOFHM…you shoulda’ bought it. Dig the hair...and the poster.
“Life is a Problem” - Gospel Comp. LP (Mississippi) – The label that does no wrong, even if you don’t like it all. Out of everything they press at a reasonable price, this is the one I go back to. Tracks like “Seat in the Kingdom” by the pre-pube Crumb Bros. almost make me wanna’ be religious…like kissing snakes and speaking in tongues style.
JTIV “Cosmic Lightning” LP (Drag City/Galactic Zoo) –
The DVD couldn’t ruin it (I really didn’t want know what Jerry Lawler looked like in drag), there’s a chunk o’ fey glam on here I don’t dig, yet the 4 songs that stick out are so damn good…I don’t care! What am I gonna’ do? Get the original singles or something? When it melts, it melts.
Honeymoon Killers “Till’ Death…Blam!” LP (Unsound) – Technically not a re-ish, but since I didn’t know it was even on vinyl, and they supa-deluxed the package, I was 7th in line to buy one (the band was probably the first 5). Proud to have been a little twig on the family trunk. Under-rated as all get out.
Lee Moses “Time & Place” CD (Castle) – Holy Grail? Some say…I don’t know about that, but it was my fave soul score since the Baby Huey & Betty Davis re-ishes a while back. All the singles & the LP in one place. One of TWO CDs I paid for this year. “Bad Girl” is in my top ten songs, so it’s nice to have a physical copy in possession. There’s a vinyl version out there? Greasy.
1. Pieces (Grindhouse Releasing) – The label that gave you I Drink Your Blood & Make Them Die
Slowly pull another badass maneuver with this sick puppy. It’s never looked so good. Or worse. Awesome trash. “You don’t have to go to Texas…”
2. Human (Skin) Lanterns (Image) – Shaw Bros. Splat-Fu classic that now has gore back intact…tho’ they still can’t get “skin” in the title…Ed Gein inspired high wire martial arts mayhem?! Sign me up!
3. The Orphanage (New Line) – Quality depresso-thriller-ghost thing. Made me cry. Visually stunning. Stick a deformed kid in a potato sack and I’m always down for the ride.
4. In The Folds Of The Flesh (Severin) – A garbage can of Eurosleaze delights. Even for a Giallo, it makes little sense…but who cares with this much incest, decapitation, nazisploitation, and garish color caked on.
5. The Ten (City Lights) – Folks of The State/Stella/Wet Hot/Reno 911/etc. Tackle the commandments in a Monty Python/Mel Brooks/Woody Allen mash up. Trunk Butt returns…someone shoulda’ seen this in the theater other than me.
There’s probably a lot more…but I fell behind due to record buys. I could use a copy of Criterion’s Vampyr if you care to donate. Oh yeah…and Sweet Movie! The holidays, folks…
Tales of Times Square by Josh Alan Friedman (Feral House) – Revised edition of short stories, interviews and observations of the pre-Disney-fied deuce. Burned out porn stars, door men, sideshow freaks, elderly vagrants, and film distributors all get a nod in this filthy tome. Essential if you dug “Sleazoid Express” fanzine or “The Other Hollywood”.
Hubert’s Freaks by Gregory Gibson (Harcourt) – Early Americana collector and rare book dealer falls into a pile of unseen freak photos by Diane Arbus. Frustration, Elation, and some hilarity ensue. A true story still hung up in litigation. Rings true in anyone digging for that ultimate find or dealing with the severe collecting bug. Plus: Sideshow history & 42nd Street trash! (There’s a theme here…)
Nightmare USA by Stephen Thrower (FAB Press) – One time member of Coil throws down volume one (!?!?) on the history of American indie horror films, churned out in the glory years: 1970-1985. Video's first wave. The dirt on so many directors of so many under praised flicks, it’ll make you spin. Death Bed, I Drink Your Blood, Don’t Go Into The Woods, Pigs, Barn of the Naked Dead…you think of it, it’s in there…and getting The Criterion treatment. FAB press knows how to make a book. Thick with ad mats, stills, and box art. Good heavy bathroom reader.
Mario Bava: All The Colors Of The Dark by Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog) – Nope. I don’t have it. Can’t Shell out $260 for a book. But, I do know it’s the be-all end-all on Bava with Lucas at the helm. Have you heard his commentary tracks? The guy should be teaching at Harvard. Obsessive, yes…but not unreadable like, say…Russ Meyer’s A Clean Breast. 10 years in the making, it’s the Chinese Democracy of Italian fantastic film. Interviews with anyone who crossed paths with the man. It’s probably got a graph chart to Mario’s bowel movements...and yes, I do want to know. Buy it for me.
Best appetizer I have yet to eat that I know exists and willing to travel by plane to eat it:
Chicken Fried Bacon served with a side of Sausage Gravy (Tempest Speakeasy, Seattle WA) – Seriously, who came up with this? My Great Aunt Gertie? This sounds likea 100 proof Missouri death ride…and I want it so badly. Stick this shit on a burger (or pork tenderloin) and I’ll move back to the Pacific North West.
DAVE HYDE (DH): David reviews records for TB and also does the infamous CHEAP REWARDS column. I'm expecting big contributions from him in the 09 (cough....Mutha Records retrospective...cough..)
My Favorite New Shit:
1. Dutchess and the Duke “She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke” LP (Hardly Art)
2. Nobunny “Love Visions” LP (Bubbledumb)
3. Nerve City various cassettes & “Bars” 7” (Severed Hand)
4. Meth Teeth tour cassette & s/t 7” (Sweet Rot)
5. No Fucker “Conquer the Innocent” EP (No Real Music)
6. Wizzard Sleeve “Mommy’s Little Baby” 7” (HoZac)
7. Dead Section EP (Pissed Misanthrope)
8. Mayyors s/t 7” (Waste of Oil)
9. Meanwhile “Reality or Nothing” LP (Feral Ward)
10. Brown Sugar EP (Feral Kid)
Bonus: Medication “Don’t Die” 7” (HoZac) [Relegated to bonus status since I am biased]
My Favorite New Old Shit:
1. Dave E & Cool Marriage Counselors 7” (Christmas Pets)
2. Tommy Jay “Tall Tales of Trauma” LP (Columbus Discount)
3. H100s “Dismantle” 12” (SYG/Stained Circle)
4. JTIV “Cosmic Lightning” LP (Drag City)
5. Leuzemia s/t LP (Lengua Armada)
ICKI (IS): Icki still remains as one of our original staffers. He's back in the Bay Area, takes great pictures and is the best dude.
OOGA BOOGAS "Romance and Adventure" LP
Top of the list. Of the records that came out this year, the Ooga Boogas' LP on Aarght! has spent the most time on my turntable – and the record didn't come out until October. Sharing a guitar player with EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING gives the Ooga Boogas a similarly dry, deceptively simple sound. The Ooga Boogas' sense of fun comes through though in the lyrics and sometimes boarderline silly songs. Did I say silly? I mean lighthearted. Or unexpected. Whatever. The songs are varied enough to provide a little surprise on each listen. All around awesome. (Aarght! Records)
HUMAN EYE "Fragments of the Universe Nurse" LP, "Rare Little Creatures" 7"
I'll go ahead and list the LP, though the knockout song on the album, "Rare Little Creatures," was released as a near-perfect single on Disordered Records. Ultimate Detroit weirdo outer space punk. And this mess of music is the real deal. If you've ever met Timmy Vulgar, you know this stuff, this music, this aesthetic just seeps from his pores. Out there, but grounded enough that the songs still get lodged in your head. Also, one of the best live bands. (Hook or Crook/Disordered)
BRAINBOMBS – "Fucking Mess" LP
Okay, I'll admit this doesn't quite match the skin-crawling intensity of their earlier releases, even the brilliant singles released in 2007. Still, a mediocre Brainbombs release clubs most other bands' best efforts to death. Dark riffs, darker lyrics. The Brainbombs are one of those bands that, if you're having one of those days (or months or years), they help you get one foot in front of the other. Fucking mess, indeed. (Lystring)
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING "Primary Colours" LP
Sure, I like the first album better, but Eddy Current knocked out a totally solid follow-up, an album that stands tall above lots of other stuff released this year. I didn't get a chance to grab any of the singles they put out this year, and would love to hear 'em (hint, hint). Hopefully they'll make it back to the States again soon. (Goner)
DRUID PERFUME s/t LP, 'Goat Skin Glue' 7"
Following the Soriano principle of "Of course it was a favorite, that's why I put it out!" rule, the Druid Perfume debut released by Mitch Cardwell and myself makes my top ten. Nepotistic? Sure. But the newest from three former members of the Piranhas should make at least some of you curious. More grounded than the Piranhas' controversial third album, Druid Perfume are another real deal Detroit weirdo band that doesn't just freak out for the sake of freaking out. The music sticks to your ribs. Their "Goat Skin Glue" 7" was released on New Years Eve by Italy Records, so it just squeaks under the wire for 2008. The title song also appears on the LP, but the single version has completely different, brilliant instrumentation. (PIGS/Italy)
CATATONIC YOUTH "Piss Scene" 7"
Okay, I'll fess up. I bought this when it came out (it was a buy-or-die HoZac release, so of course I jumped on it) and…hadn't listened to it until I was rounding up releases from 2008. Wow. I mean, this 7" has gotten it's fair share of hype and since I'm cynical and jaded and all that, made me suspicious. I've been burned one too many times by ye old hype machine. (HoZac)
SWEET FACES 7"
I like the Fevers okay, but the nasally vocals, which some people really like, keep me from giving the records much time on my turntable. The Sweet Faces though, this 7" hit the spot! Great, current power pop. (Douchemaster)
HEX DISPENSERS "My Love is a Bat" 7", "Lose My Cool" 7"
Their debut LP was a favorite from 2007. The Hex Dispensers' two 7"s released in 2008 easily make my top ten. Tough, simple, great, in the best format. Looking forward to more from them in '09. (Alien Snatch/Douchemaster)
MAYYORS "Megan's LOLZ" 7”
I'm pretty sick of the impossible-to-find, pre-order, buy-or-die trend in releasing records these days. Unless you have deep pockets (or a credit card) to pay going eBay prices, the Mayyors' two singles are gone, out of print, impossible to find. Too bad because these Sacto boys are pushing music into new boundaries while keeping a firm handshake. Chris Woodhouse (and his hair) on guitar are just part of the magic of this band. And while the 7"s are good, the live show is where its at. (Mt. St. Mtn.)
SHIRKS "Dangerous" 7”
Sir Alec Budd, longtime Black Cat bartender, Indiana native, PROBLEMATICS alum finally makes a return to music with the Shirks. Their debut release on Big Neck snuck under the radar, being released to zero fanfare. It's a sleeper, but a great 7", virtually picking up where the Problematics left off. It's like these songs have been rattling around in Budd's head for ten years. (Big Neck)
CLEAN "Compilation" LP
I'm a latecomer to this New Zealand band. And though at times they tend more to the Indier side of the spectrum than my taste often runs, the Clean absolutely hit the right spot. My understanding is that this LP is more or less a best of type thing, collecting their finest moments from the early/mid-Eighties. And like all well put together best-of compilations, I'm left wanting more. (Little Axe)
EASYBEATS "Easy", "It's 2 Easy", "Vol. 3", "Vigil" LPs
A whole slew of classy repo reissues of the Easybeats LPs! What's not to love about these? Okay, the price. They're expensive. But they're excellently done, nice packaging, great sound quality. If you're a fan, they're must-haves. All are limited to 500, so if you haven't gotten on these yet, and have the dough to spend, you better get on it. (Downunder)
1977 Records from Japan continues releasing incredible reissues of some of the best, but not necessarily most hyped KBD ragers and power pop gems, like this one. (1977)
13th FLOOR ELEVATORS "Psychedelic Sounds..." MONO LP
Perfection done right. Sure, it's a nerdy thing, but the mono reissue of the 13th Floor Elevators first album is long overdue. Such a killer record. I can't ever get enough. (Sundazed)
CHANTS R&B LP
Crazed New Zealand '60s garage, fueled by a strong love of the Pretty Things. What's not to love about Chants R&B??? The live LP that came out a few years ago was good, but this, complete with a full side of studio cuts is outright killer. Plus you get the as always extensive Norton liner notes lowdown. (Norton)
I've said it before, I'll say it again – any reissue Jeroen Vedder puts together, I'll buy. A Dutchman with impeccable taste and a deep knowledge of his country's punk history, Vedder helped compile this deluxe reissue of Netherland's first all-girl punk band. Gatefold sleeve with lotsa liner notes and photos. (Poly Maggoo)
MILK N COOKIES – 2xLP
Totally fey power pop, in the "Is that a guy or girl singing?" vein. Another dee-lux packaging job, this time care of Radio Heartbeat. It gets the gatefold, double album treatment. (Radio Heartbeat)
V/A 'AK-79' 2xLP
One of the best punk comps turned 30 this year, so New Zealand punks threw a party. The reunion show was accompanied by reissues of the SCAVENGERS LP, a PROUD SCUM 7" and this, a 2xLP version of the AK-79 comp. Fuuuuuuuck. It's about time! The extended CD is nice, but to have all that on vinyl, with nice, big art, photos, liner notes, the works. Since you missed the reunion show, you owe it to yourself to track one of these down. (?)
JEFF G.(JG): Jeff has been with us since day one and I'm sad to see him finally turn in his record reviewer credentials. One of my favorite record reviewers since back in the BG days, he's still going to do some interviews for us in '09 and will maintain his post at the Canadian TB Embassy.
It could be the fact that 2008 was the busiest year of my life, but it really did seem that the onslaught of records released was unrelenting and difficult to keep up with. Here is my attempt at weeding through the field to pick out the ones that made the biggest impression on me. And no Sweet Rot or related stuff as that would be cheating.
Top Ten Singles of 2008:
10) The Wiggins “Feed the Ghost” 7” (Dull Knife)
Really cool one-man lo-fi twang from Texas on the quite excellent Dull Knife label.
9) Defektors “Secret Trials” 7” (Nominal)
It was nice to see people start to pay attention to some of the bands from Vancouver this year. The Emergency Room LP that Nominal put out was a well done snapshot of the scene circa 2008 and is a good place to start for those looking to hear some of the finer local sounds. But better yet is this Defektors 7”. Their single on Hockey Dad is also well worth picking up. Vancouver’s best band by a long shot.
8) Pink Reason “3:16” 7” (Columbus Discount)
The Columbus Discount Singles Club was one of the greatest things to happen in 2008. The quality control on the first four has been unreal and here’s hoping the streak continues. “Sweet Sinister” is my favourite Pink Reason song I’ve heard yet.
7) Dutchess and the Duke “Never Had a Chance” 7” (Hozac)
A really nice single to go along with the LP. D&D are batting 1.000 so far. R.I.P. D. Ferducci.
6) El Jesus De Magico “Unclean Ghost” 7” (Columbus Discount)
I’ve only heard the first single and this one from EJDM but I’m still shocked that more people don’t talk about this band. Addictive and hypnotic.
5) V/A “The Harrisburg Players – Vol. 1” 7” (Columbus Discount)
Four way split 7”s have to be one of the worst formats ever, but if all four songs are as amazing as these ones are I can forgive it.
4) Wooden Shjips “Vampire Blues” 7” (Sick Thirst)
Best thing they’ve done since the first two records. The raunchy guitar is back and it once again feels like bombs are being dropped on my head when I listen to this.
3) Jacuzzi Boys “Island Ave.” 7” (Hozac)
All three songs are great, but “Island Ave.” is just unreal. LP is eagerly anticipated.
2) Eat Skull “Dead Families” 7” (Skulltones)
The title track was probably the best song I heard all year.
1) Catatonic Youth “Piss Scene” 7” (Hozac)
Catchiest 7” I’ve heard since The Sneaky Pinks single, which is saying something.
Some other 7”s from this year that were better than most:
Autodramatics s/t 7” (Goodbye Boozy)
A/V Murder “Missile Command” 7” (Dusty Medical)
Barbaras “Summertime Road” 7” (Goner)
Black Time “I.C.U.” 7” (Skulltones)
The Electric Bunnies – both 7”s (Columbus Discount + Florida’s Dying)
Intelligence “Debt & ESP” 7” (Plastic Idol)
Mayyors – both 7”s (self-released)
Medication “Don’t Die” 7” (Hozac)
Nodzzz “I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana)” 7” (Make a Mess)
RFTO Bandwagon “New Jack” 7” (Dull Knife)
Sic Alps “United” 7” (Important)
Times New Viking “Stay Awake” 7” (Matador)
The UV Race s/t 7” (Aarght!)
Vermillion Sands “Mary” 7” (Rijapov)
Top Ten Full Lengths of 2008:
10) Times New Viking “Rip It Off” LP (Matador)
Not as good as the first two LPs but I just started listening to this again recently after forgetting about it for about six months, and it still holds up.
9) Frustration “Relax” LP (Born Bad)
Creepy and cold French-wave that kills all their earlier output. Great live show too.
8) Thomas Function “Celebration” LP (Alive)
Well crafted, played and produced, but I think it’s the unique vocals that make this one stand out for me.
7) Cheveu s/t LP (S-S/Born Bad)
Was kind of hoping for more new songs after hearing most of these on last year’s tour CD-R, but there’s no denying that everything here is top notch.
6) Dan Melchior und das Menace “Christmas for the Crows” LP (Daggerman)
The prolific Mr. Melchior strikes gold again and thankfully it looks like he has a gargantuan batch of new songs posed for release in 2009.
5) Ooga Boogas “Romance and Adventure” LP (Aarght!)
Bad name, horrible cover art, and a weird mix of styles, but somehow they manage to pull off a classic sounding record that should stand the test of time. Incredibly addictive.
4) Sic Alps “U.S. EZ” LP (Siltbreeze)
Took a while to grow on me, but glad it did. Drug jamzzzz.
3) Nobunny “Love Visions” LP (Bubbledumb)
Retardedly catchy. Justin rules. Enough said.
2) Dutchess and the Duke “She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke” LP (Hardly Art)
Evidence that there’s something to be said for simple, well written songs. If I caught myself singing out loud this year, there’s a good chance it was from this record.
1) Thee Oh Sees “The Master’s Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In” LP (Tomlab)
Two years in a row at the top, even though this one took a bit longer to speak to me. The “Peanut Butter Oven” EP and the split w/The Intelligence (both sides) were also brilliant.
Some other LPs from this year that were better than most:
Black Time "Double Negative" LP (In the Red)
Brainbombs “Fucking Mess” LP (Lystring)
Davilla 666 s/t LP (In the Red)
Eat Skull “Sick to Death” LP (Siltbreeze)
Eddy Current Suppression Ring “Primary Clours” LP (Goner)
The Feeling of Love “Petite tu es un Hit” LP (Yakisakana)
Lili Z. “The Two of Us” LP (In the Red)
Nodzzz s/t LP (What’s Your Rupture?)
Nothing People “Anonymous” LP (S-S)
The Pink Noise “Dream Code” LP (Sacred Bones)
The Rebel “Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable” LP (Sacred Bones)
Teenage Panzerkorps “Games for Slaves” LP (Siltbreeze)
TV Ghost s/t LP (Die Stasi)
The Wax Museums s/t LP (Douchemaster)
Top 10 Reissues of 2008:
10) Tommy Jay “Tall Tales of Trauma” LP (Columbus Discount)
9) DNA “DNA on DNA” 2xLP (No More)
8) Ruth “Mon Pote” 7” (Poutre Apparente)
7) V/A “IVG – Futur Anterieur France 75/85” LP (Poutre Apparente)
6) Mayo Thompson “Corky’s Debt to His Father” LP (Drag City)
5) The Nixe s/t LP (Polly Maggoo)
4) The Nerves “One Way Ticket” LP (Alive)
3) The Velvet Underground “Live at the Gymnasium” LP (boot)
2) Animals + Men “Never Bough Never Sold” LP (Missippi)
1) The Clean “Complilation” LP (Mississippi)
RFA’S TOP SHIT OF 2008...DEAL WITH IT: The almighty Richard Fucking Adventure is the founding Knight of the Rock Table and a total fucking rocker. He does reviews and a column when he has spare time. He is a brother like no other.
This is shit that I’ve been listening to all year. Seriously.
1. Feeling of Love – “Petite tu es un Hut” (Yakisakana)
2. Terrible Twos - s/t (Criminal IQ)
3. A.H. Kraken – s/t (In the Red)
4. Billy Bao – “Dialectics of Shit” (Parts Unknown)
5. Human Eye – “Fragments of the Universe Nurse” (Hook or Crook)
6. Nothing People – “Anonymous” (SS)
7. TV Ghost – s/t (Die Stasi)
1. Wizard Sleeve/Amber Alerts - split (Jeth Row)
2. Homostupids - “Cat Music” (Fashionable Idiots)
3. Dead Luke – “Record One” (Sacred Bones)
4. Pink Reason – “Winona” (Woodsist)
5. Pink Noise – “Sun King” (Almost Ready)
6. Meth Teeth – “Bus Rides” (Sweet Rot)
7. Fag Cop –“I’m Fucking Dead” (Eat)
Wrestling Show of the Year
I can say that I don’t really get into wrestling these days. Vince McMahon is the biggest piece of shit slimeball wrestling has ever seen. I refuse to watch anything WWE related. The wrestling is worse than G.L.O.W. and the acting is on par with a porno starring Joey Silvera. TNA isn’t too bad. A lot of former ROH wrestlers work there, or used to wrestle in TNA. TNA have decent matches, but overload on too many gimmick matches. The last couple of years it was hard to pick a wrestler of the year, so this year I decided to pick the best wrestling program on TV. The best wrestling show on TV right now is AWA on ESPN Classic. You have to stay up a little later at night to watch it, unless you have DVR or Tivo. Watching classic AWA brings me back to my youth. The show mostly airs matches from the Eighties, and if you’re lucky you can catch matches from the “Team Challenge Series”, “Super Clash III”, AND ‘Wrestle Rock 86.” It’s great to see guys like Nick Bockwinkel, Stan Hansen, Colonel DeBeers, Larry Zbyszko, “Rock-n-Roll” Buck Zumhoff, Jerry Blackwell, along with many others. Watching it on Youtube is fine and all, however it is nice to wind it up late at night and watch on the TV. Deal with it.
ACAPULCO (AR): The newest member of our review staff and NYC tastemaker.
Back when I did a weekly radio show, the studio was a great place to audition records, take stock of recent acquisitions and give them a close, considered listen, figuring out how they fit together, how they color and inform one another. Now that I don't, it seems I'm buying more records than I can ever listen to and evaluate carefully.
The year-end "top ten" list that I put together for the WFMU blog ended up including some sixty records or so. I suppose I could simply reiterate that list here, adding a few records that I forgot to mention the first time around. Or I could attempt a scientific ranking of those records from best to least-best. Meh.
Under these conditions, ranking one's favorite records at the end of the year seems even more pointless and arbitrary than usual, especially in a year in which there wasn't a record like The Drift, or Human Animal or, if I may say so, an Ordination of the Globetrotting Conscripts -- i.e., a monolithic release so galvanizing, so definitive, so au courant that it stands like a giant, luminous phallus issuing polemical jism over a forest of stubby lessers, marking its territory, throwing down its gauntlet, demanding satisfaction, shaming fellow alphas into submission. Seriously, what record this year even aspired to that kinda grandeur?
That said, I heard about a hundred new songs this year that fizzled in the ol' membrane like bacon on hot shit, a few dozen singles that clammed my chowder when I threw 'em on the first, second, even tenth time, and about a dozen albums that forever braided themselves into my memories of this year. Half of those are probably on other folks' lists, too, so you already know where to go from here if you're a casual TermBo reader or Pitchfork scout or MTV gopher looking for the next thing to shock and awe your colleagues at the water cooler.
Insteada throwing in my two cents about the relative "sickness" of The Hospitals' 'Hairdryer Peace', reminding you that Tommy Jay holds the keys to the kingdom, imploring you to see Drunkdriver live, or yammering on in vain about the radical perversity of Billy Bao, what I thought I'd do here is talk about a few platters from 2008 that have given me especial joy, records from which I learned something about how music is put together, records that articulated or even provoked a sensation I hadn't experienced until then, bands that made me chuckle with recognition or just plain admiration -- and which maybe haven't already been discussed to death in these pages. Don't say I never did nothin' for you.
Jason Crumer: "Ottoman Black" CD (Hospital Productions)
Anyone who's ever vacationed on the island of Noise can tell you its beaches are awash in awful, undifferentiated gunk, the detritus of a thousand lazy, ill-conceived "projects" by dudes (mostly dudes) with cloth ears, lots of gear, and abominable social skills. It's rare that an artist emerges from that dreadful little ecosystem with both the technical wherewithal to spin out a palette of interesting, unexpected sounds and the clarity of purpose to shape them into a satisfying artistic statement. Jason Crumer is a creative descendent of MB, Merzbow, Whitehouse, Marhaug, Giffoni, Wiese, and Fernow. Their Noise courses through his brain and into his gear like electricity through wire. But unlike so many others, he's also a master synthesist who understands how to shape that inherited vocabulary into an original aural narrative. That's his Ottoman Black, a full-length piece of audio psycho-theatre in which he gives shape to the unnamed nightmare scenario depicted in the cover. MB attempted sonic narratives on this scale at various times but he simply wasn't as subtle or as sensitive as Crumer, who can conjure horror and dread through negative space, through pregnant pauses and sonic insinuations -- without even turning up. There are moments on Ottoman Black that I can't listen to around my 1-year-old son and that I hesitate to play around my wife. Once as I was playing the disc on the air I had to ask myself, should I press the delete button? Is this suitable for airplay? The CD is instrumental. Does this guy listen to Scott Walker? I bet he does.
XYX: "Sistema de terminacion sexual" 7" (S-S)
The northern Mexico of my childhood -- the provincial, corrupt, insecure, desperately industrial North of the seventies and eighties -- was no place for artists. Even its major cities -- Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey, Hermosillo -- were palpably hostile to new ideas, to eccentricity, and especially, to the participation of women in all but the most polite bourgeois cultural activity. 'Sfar as rock & roll was concerned, it seemed to me incapable of anything but resentful, off-brand homages to the lowest common denominator of imported fashion. Needless to say, the Monterrey underground's irruption on da' global rock scene this year caught me by surprise. I mean, hot damn, and huh?! Who knows, maybe this shit was going on forever and we simply never heard about it before the advent of MySpace. But I doubt it, because the records that XYX, Los Llamarada, and Ratas del Vaticano spewed into the ether last year sound like the work of people who have just discovered something fertile in themselves and in their environment, whose Eureka! moment is fresh in their memories, who are just starting to feel comfortable in their own skin. Of those three bands -- who, it should be said, are related only tenuously by geography and by one common member (or lack thereof, tee-hee!) -- XYX are the strongest, the most focussed, the most original, the one to have most thoroughly digested its influences and rendered them fresh, steaming, vital. The band structure is as stripped-down as can be: just bass, drums, and vocals, with a hint of tweaking and processing. They've clearly learned something about dynamics from various recent U.S. noise duos, but the intensity here is mainlined from a strict postpunk tradition. The result is a dense, propulsive little record that contains more musical ideas and more polemics across its two sides than your favorite band can muster in a full-length elpee. TermBo's Pookie Adams took the lead in nominating XYX's 7" for single of the year, and I join in that application. Take heed, fuckers.
V/A: "XXperiments" LP (Die Stasi)
The mark of a good anthologist is her ability to strategically disperse the highlights amid the just-okay stuff. By keeping things brief and drawing a smart seating chart, Die Stasi's 'XXperiments' compilation coheres beautifully and awards the luminaries (Circuit des Yeux, Cro-Magnon, Zola Jesus) their place in the firmament, where they brighten up the dull spots (everything else). To call the artists on this compilation "experimental" is, frankly, to strain the definition of the term. The music on XXperiments is noisy, f'sure, and eerie and often spare, but it leans too heavily on well-trod songforms and approaches borrowed from No Wave, the New Zealanders, Corwood Industries, the Industrialists, et al, to lay claim to artistic risk or novelty. Nor am I convinced that the seven projects represented here appreciably constitute a scene or (=choke=) movement. What's more important is that Die Stasi has suceeded here in assembling a compelling argument for the vitality of music by women in the current U.S. underground -- and that's a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere that all too often reeks of stale mushrooms, spoiled milk, and dirty socks. Furdamore, it's an excellent introduction to a handful of intriguing, idiosynratic, and mostly unknown players who will likely blossom into major artists before we know it... I mean, Cro-Magnon -- fuck! Comp of the year, hands down.
Menstruation Sisters: "Ma" LP (No Fun)
A "reissue" of early-nineties recordings that barely existed in the first place, 'Ma' is a real eyeopener, particularly in light of drummer Oren Ambarchi's subsequent lowercase guitar meanderings through the land of Touch records and Stephen O'Malley-sponsored amplifier tributes. The official word on MS is that they practice a sort of retardo-improv, making spontaneous, degree-zero non-music, playing as though music never existed. For once, the one-sheet jive is actually pretty close to the truth. Menstruation Sisters defy description 'cos there's really no point of reference for what they're doing, except to say that they're rooted in the same post-art brut approach that propelled both the chromosomally incorrect Reynols and Harry Pussy, Hasil Adkins and The Gobs, though the results here somehow come closer to a primitive, reductio-ad-absurdum version of Aufgehoben. Or something like that (the participants are, after all, well-tutored musicians playing "dumb"). Somebody mentioned Henri Chopin and The Boredoms. Fine. They sound like cavemen "singing" and "playing" "guitar" "and" "drums," an' dude, that's just what I wanted to hear.
I'm almost outta time here and I don't wanna wear out my welcome, but I would like to express my admiration for Home Blitz's 12", "Weird Wings" (Parts Unknown), which bears witness to the growth of a great rock & roll intelligence; for R/S's "One Snow Mud Rain" (Erstwhile CD), which came out in '07, and which contains some of the most powerful, kaleidoscopic washes of digital noise ever committed to disc; for Blood Stereo's scrapheap, DIY musique concrete work, "The Magnetic Headache" (Bottrop Boy CD); oh, and of course...
Vivian Girls: various singles (Plays With Dolls / Woodsist / In the Red / Wild World)
I was as skeptical as anyone at first, 'cos I sure as hell didn't care about Tiger Trap or Black Tambourine the first time around, and I was sure I'd had my fill of anything that smacked of indie-rock, of an earnest dedication to making pretty sounds and writing songs about stuff and playing it all together and a-one-two-three-four. What can I say? Vivian Girls won me over with their second single, the sublime "Tell the World," which had to have been written while one of 'em had "Melt With You" bouncing around in her unconscious, 'cos the hook is pretty much the same. The minor-key moodiness of that tune revealed a layer of headstrong depth that caught me off-guard, and from there I developed a mad crush on all of their 45's, from the unassuming "Wild Eyes" to the confident "I Can't Stay," so that by the time their lovely Surf's Up single arrived in mid-December, lovingly packaged with a cheery t-shirt and two postcards, I couldn't care less that they sound like the Shop Assistants, or that their LP sold out overnight thanks to a buncha Internet-lurkin' goobers, 'cos their songs are punk-rock simple and punk-rock great, 'cos their sweet harmonies conceal a knowingness and depth of feeling that most bands would kill for, and 'cos they had the single strongest run of 45's of anybody this year.
Can I go write for Dusted now?
BEN LYON: Ben does artwork and stuff for TB and it was nice to see a lot of records and posters with his work on it this past year. A really talented and incredibly nice fella. You can see some of his work here. Keep him busy in 2009!
2008...That's a year I won't miss. At all. Watching my home state crumble and
nearly everyone I know lose their job wasn't too fun. Losing the best music
venue in my area (which as still over an hour away), Kraftbrau, was no good...so
I only got to see a fraction of the amount of bands that I normally see in a
year. Boo. Crypt Records closed down US operations. Booo! Seemed like every
other day, a hero of mine would drop dead...though so far, '09 is even worse,
RIP Ron Asheton. Plus, I don't know about everywhere else, but I think Michigan
had a total of about 2 weeks of summer...and a whole lot of cold and gloom.
Booo! And I totaled my girlfriend's car. Boo! Hiss! At least watching McCain
not win cheered me up for a few days.
Like every year, I'm gonna bitch that I was broke in '08...but never has it been
more true than it is this time around. I bought very VERY little in the past
year, and missed out on all sorts of stuff I'm sure would make my list...Hell, I
didn't get the Wax Museums LP until last week. I hear the Ohsees are good, but
still haven't heard them, so I wouldn’t. I missed the Ooga Boogas LP, both Hunx
and his Punx singles (which I'm especially sad about), the new Live Fast Die LP,
The Nodzzz 7" and LP, the Dutchess and the Duke LP, countless singles, the list
goes on forever. But I did manage to scrape up enough loose change for a few
goodies, so enough of my bitching...
In no order...my top 7"s.
The Yolks "Wandering" (Bachelor): The title track made it onto at least two of my mixtapes
this year. Great oldies-ish super poppy punk greatness. "Don't Blame Me" is a
little Lookout Records-ish to me, in a good way, with another helping of old
time rock n roll greatness slathered on top. I was lucky enough to make it to
one of their shows in '08, and the whole place was a dance party the second they
took the stage. You'd think Marty Mcfly was filling in for Marvin Berry. The
B-side is an instrumental, which I usually don't dig from bands in the 00's, but
"Mob City Hustle” sounds like it came out in 1964. Very Ray Charles (at his
best) and very Booker T and the MG's and very awesome!
Menthols "Miracle Slips" and "848" (UFO Dictator/Florida's Dying): I love the Menthols, and it's good to see a
local band putting out great records. Both records come from a recording
session with Jim Diamond. And both records are great. "Rats and Insects"(flip
from Miracle Slips) and "848" are my two favorite Menthols songs. Much Cheater
Slicks-ey rock n roll coolness on both discs. They have a full length on the
way in 2009, and I cannot wait.
The Dutchess and the Duke "Never Had a Chance" (HozAc): The A side on this is good,
but for me, it's all about "Scorpio" on the flip. When I got this record, it
made me digging through my dad's old folk records...I like when a record makes
me go searching for stuff I otherwise wouldn't check out. I have the gold
edition, but I like the cover art on the standard edition a lot more.
Night of Pleasure/Day Creeper split (self-released): Night of Pleasure are pretty noisy.
"Spasm Chasm" is what I guess you might call 'Weirdpunk', whatever that means.
"Hipster Damage" is catchier and better, and reminds me of the Hunches a little,
but with some other stuff mixed in...Yep, I didn't learn to write in '08 either.
On the other side, Day Creeper. "And How!" made it on a comp that I make and
give away at this record nerd x-mas party I go to. It's a catchy kinda
minimalist-ish song...kind of like Guinea Worms "Box of Records"(another record
I don't own), or a Tyvek song. "My Blue Screen" is a little more busy...and
pretty good, but I like the other song better.
The Rantouls "Chug-A-Lug" (Chocolate Covered): The Rantouls are the
bubblegum I used fill the void in my soul left by the premature breakup of the
Tuff Bananas. Fantastic 60's bubblegum in the vein of Ohio Express, with some
Brentwoods thrown in for a shot of snot...and some other good stuff...Can you
tell I'm not a writer? I hope I get to catch these guys/girl live
sometime...bands don't seem to visit Michigan so often these days.
Live Fast Die/Lover split (Douchemaster): LFD's offering, "Sick As Shit Of Shit" is the same
retarded bedroom GG stupidity I've come to expect and love from Camero and
company. Always tops stuff, in my opinion. Lover kill it with "Booger In My
Asshole"...probably the most stupidly genius song I heard all year. I haven't
heard too much Lover, I hit a point a while back where I got burned out by the
plethora of Lost Sounds member's bands' releases, and in my inability to keep
up, I stopped paying attention for a minute...but this song made me wanna run
out and find all things Lover! I dig the cover art on this record a whole
bunch, by the way.
Pure Country Gold "P.C.G.E.P." (Dirtnap): I really like these guys a lot. They write
really catchy, meat and potatoes rock n roll songs in a 90's Crypt Records vein,
that sadly isn't being done by many bands these days.
The Barbaras "Summertime Road" (Goner): Lofi-trash pop meets Phil Spector in a dark
alley and after a bloody gun battle, go back to his place for a night of
debauchery. Nine months later, out pops the Barbaras. I know this record didn't
do it for a lot of people...but I think its fun stuff, and am looking forward to
Slippery Slopes/Johnny and the Limelites "Party Bus" split (Florida's Dying): No, this isn't on
my list because I did the sleeve...even though I do think it came out looking
real sharp (and I don't envy Rich for having to cut out all those windows by
hand). As you can see from other records on this list, and my lists of past
years, catchy budget rock is kind of my bag. The Slippery Slopes turn in two songs
that belong in my favorite Z-grade 1980's teen movie lost gem, "Computer Beach
Party". Fun Fun Fun! On the flip is Johnny and the Limelites with anthemic
"Summer of Fun". All of the songs these Chicago folk have committed to
vinyl have sounded like a party pressed on wax. You cannot have a bad time
listening to this band. Plus, when I saw 'em in Detroit, they had pizza
delivered on stage mid-set...and shared it with the crowd. Who can argue with
"Wild About Jenkem" comp (Killer Diller): 10 songs by 10 bands, all about the media sensationalized
wonder drug, Jenkem (fermented poo and pee gas). Of course this record kicks
off with LiveFastDie, and of course it's great. Nice Face is next. I don't know
anything about this band, other than they have a record I don't own out on
Hozac, but I dig it. Sound effect laden catchy punk. Coconut Coolouts offering
is pretty good, but I've heard better from them. I like the King Khan-esque
backing vocals a lot though. The Back C.C.s "Jenkem Stankem" is great. I really
like the hot-doggin guitar. Kinda reminds me of the Devil Dogs. This is the
first I've heard these guys, but I'll keep on the lookout for more stuff from
'em. Party Cannon's song is a short little punk blast from another band that I
was previously unaware of. The flip side starts with the fantastic Gaye
Blades...and this song is as gay and catchy as anything else they've done. Nick
Storella is next, with a wall
of sound recording, "Bottle and Balloon"...another newcomer to my
consciousness. Wizzard Sleeve brings more Alabama damaged creepyness that's
made 'em famous. Clean Teens have my favorite song on this hunk of wax, the
retardabilly "It's in the Bag". Forks&Knives&Spoons "Ballad of Leroy Jenkems"
is a swampy blues song with spoken lyrics and creepy hillbilly laughing. I like
it. I dig the cover on this, and the sewage colored vinyl. I dig the absurdity
of the whole thing. I only wish Nobunny would have sent his song out in time to
be included on this.
Batman and Robin "I'm A Bat! I'm A Rock n roll Animal" (Bachelor): This record is the same
as their last record, in that it has the same skits, similar cover art by the
same artist, four songs of budget trash in a heavy Austrian accent...and this
platter is as essential as the first. Plus, it comes with a neato issue of the
Gotham Gazette, and a fake mustache. This my favorite 45 of 2008. Now please
COME TOUR AMERICA!!!
I didn’t buy enough new LPs to do a top anything. Of what I did buy, the
standouts are TV Ghost, The Okmoniks, Terrible Twos, Feeling of Love, the newly
obtained Wax Museums…but the absolute stand out best thing ever in 2008 was
Nobunny’s “Love Visions”. I saw Nobunny three times in 2008, and every time was
killer. No less than two of his songs have gone on a mixtape I’ve made since I
got the record. Right after I bought it, and was taking it to my car outside
the Empty Bottle, I was mugged. I gave ‘em some money ($1…lied that it was
everything I had), but I guarded the record with my body. It’s that good.
Justin is a hit machine. Well...That's it until next year...Anyone with TB
comic strip ideas, IM me!
KEMP BOYD: You know him, you love him. P had a busy year, perhaps you saw him on tour with Feeling of Love or pulling in chicks around his new hometown of NYC.
2009. Another year, another crapload of records sitting here and there. What are you gonna do ? Buy 'em, download 'em, etc...It was kinda rough to keep up with most of last year's batch, mostly cause you can barely get it when it comes out. Therefore the following is obviously a sum up of my 2008 picks (in no particular order. C'mon guys, let's not even go there... ), but also contains some random discoveries from previous years. Deal with it. Hope that helps. Also, 2008 was a year of flying dicks, dark wizard, smut puppies, dialectic nonsense, broken bones and full of amazing reunions with many many long lost friends...Y'all know who you are...ALLEEI
TOP SEVEN INCHES
- Unholy Two "Kutter" (CDR)
- Anteenagers M.C. "( Illusions of the) Teens" (Plastic Idol)
- Live Fast Die/Lover split 7" (Douchemaster)
- Pink Reason "Winona" (Woodsist)
- Mayyors "Megans LOLZ" EP (Mt. St Mtn)
- Catatonic Youth "Piss Scene" (HozAc)
- Robot Assassins "reissue" (Sweet Rot)
- Leper Print EP (Die Stasi)
- Christmas Island/Le Jonathan Reilly split 7" (FDH/Shit in Can)
- A.H. Kraken "Gianna Michaels" (Sweet Rot)
- LiveFastDie "Buzz Buzz Buzzard" (Goodbye Boozy)
- Wizzard Sleeve/Amber Alerts split 7" (Jeth Row)
- FNU Ronnies "Meat" 7" (Testostertunes)
- World's Lousy With Ideas # 5 (Almost Ready)
- Electric Bunnies "Chewing Gum" 7" (Florida's Dying)
- Pizzas "Bad Ass Youth" 7" (Daggerman)
- Tony Sagger "One Bad Man" 7" (Terror Trash)
- The Feeling of Love "Rapeman" (Florida's Dying)
- Cocobeurre/Chocolat split 7" (Goodbye Boozy)
- Girls of the Gravitron "Malthusian Lovesong" (Boom Chick)
TOP TWELVE INCHES
- V/A "IVG: French Futur Anterieur" (Poutre Apparente)
- Home Blitz "Weird Wings" (Parts Unknown)
- Human Eye "Fragments of the Universe Nurse" (Hook or Crook)
- The Hospitals "Hairdryer Peace" (Hospitals)
- Pink Noise "Dream Code" (Sacred Bones)
- Eat Skull "Sick to Death" LP (Siltbreeze)
- Billy Bao "Dialectics of Shit" (Parts Unknown)
- Thee Oh Sees "The Master's Bedroom..." (Tomlab)
- Drunkdriver "Born Pregnant" (Parts Unknown)
- Terrible Twos s/t (Criminal IQ)
- Black Time "Double Negative" (In the Red)
- Sexy Prison "Filth Flarn Filth" (Occult)
- TV Ghost s/t (Die Stasi)
- Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle "Sturmer" (Zickzack)
- Psychedelic Horseshit "Magic Flowers Droned" (Siltbreeze)
- Children's Hospital "Alone Together" (Sacred Bones)
- Russian Tsarlag/Blue Shift split LP (Mimaroglu)
- Shit and Shine "Küss Mich, Meine Liebe" (Load)
- Rusted Shut "Rehab" (Emperor Jones)
- Shearing Pinx/Mutators split LP (Ugly Pop)
- Ego Summit "The Room Isn't Big Enough" CDR (Old 3c)
- Scavengers LP
- Caetano Veloso s/t LP (Lilith)
- Sick Things "My Life's a Mess" LP (Stolen)
- Debris "Static Disposal" (Anopheles)
- The Bags "All Bagged Up" (Artifix)
TOP TAPES, CDs, CDRS etc
- Francis Harold & the Holograms "Who said these were happy times ?" CDR demo
- Excited Delerium tape on Jerkwave
- Talbot Tagora "Volcano Girls" CDR
- Secret Museum of Mankind Vol. 2 on Yazoo
TOP LABEL STEPPIN' IN HOTTER THIS YEAR: Sacred Bones. Best 2009 release roster, hands down. Just wait...
(click to next for TB friends lists...)
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