A couple of highlights from the last year in no particular order:

i. Early in the year, I caught Purling Hiss who were playing a benefit for Letha Melchior at Cake Shop. The lineup was excellent — Home Blitz and Mad Scene were on the bill — but it was PH, who I was totally unfamiliar with, that left the biggest impression. This is actually quite telling considering some pro-wrestling moves during the Home Blitz set left HB's head honcho in need of medical attention that night. It was spectacular. Nonetheless, it was the sheer volume of sound and unshakable-ness of "Run From the City" that were creeping into my dreams that night. Literally. I woke up mid-sleep with that riff in my head more than once. And after I tracked down all of the PH records and identified the song that haunted my dreams, it became an anthem for the year.

ii. Art Yard "The Law" b/w "Something In Your Eye" 7" (Ride the Snake) - I first heard these tracks when Al Quint included them on one of the CD compilations that accompanied Suburban Voice fanzine. Art Yard released just these two tracks on a 1981 cassette comp and otherwise had no releases of their own. Both tracks are good, but "The Law" is a gem of shoulda-been-a-classic proportions. A Mission of Burma styled smartpunk ditty of the highest caliber. The song has been a mix tape staple for years, but I've always kinda hated the fact that it was buried on a (very good) comp CD. Ride the Snake rectified that by giving this a sharp reissue; hopefully this will give these tracks a new life and they'll make it to a few more mix tapes over the coming years.

iii. Blank City (Celine Danhier) - Another film about the glory days of NYC; the tough, gritty streets and the artistic endeavors that they inspired. I'll admittedly eat up anything that fulfills that premise, but this did a bit more. Instead of tracking the typical storyline wherein the heroes triumph over the odds to create music or paintings, Blank City takes a fairly deep dive into the films of No Wave. Of all art, film seems like the most effort for the least reward, and BC catalogs a fairly substantial scene of no budget, labor of love films. Inspiring stuff.

iv. Mordecai s/t LP (Killertree) - Cleveland '75 by way of Montana '11. That sounds dumb and I apologize for the simplification, but this is a stellar debut and would appear on my top ten even if Hesske didn't make an appearance. But he does. Stun guitar!!!

v. "Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip Hop 1979-1983" (Stones Throw, 2004) - An absolutely brilliant compilation of first-wave hip-hop that proves the genesis of the genre extended out of The Bronx. Most of the tracks here originate from New Haven and Bridgeport artists whose legend may have been overlooked in the shadow of their NYC counterparts. Choice cuts from Mr. Magic and Pookie Blow not only outshine their contemporaries but call out to "a brand new dance…they call the Punk Rock." Beat that, NY. Sampled disco beats, call-out lyrics, and a hearty amount of shouts to the "party people" "rocking' to the break of dawn." This was my Summer '11 soundtrack.

vi. Lebenden Toten came to the east coast for, I believe, the first time in their existence. Their set at The Archeron was transcendent; whitenoiserocknroll played by a band at the top of their game. A personal aside: the last time I saw LT was eight-ish years ago when they were starting out. I believe they were all relatively new to their instruments and, while timid, had a reluctant awesomeness. The band I saw this August were well-practiced performers, playing off the crowd as much as their distortion pedals. This was a top-ten all time live set.

vii. 540 Records reissues of the Shake/Savage Records catalog. No words will do justice to describe how great it is that Timmy has committed to reissuing these Australian gems. While cult classics, the Shake/Savage catalog can be quite challenging —not obvious records that are ready to play for ma like Fun Things. Nope, these require some time and thought…I don't know that another label has released as strong a string of releases as these (Dangerhouse, XClaim!, and a select few rank alongside). To date, two Just Urbain singles, two Young Identities & Bodysnatchers have been released with more on the way.

viii. The Maysles Cinema in Harlem, NY, hosted a night of films curated by graffiti artist Steven Powers a/k/a ESPO entitled "Under the Influence of ESPO". ESPO has achieved acclaim in the art world over the years and presumably has enough commissions for his work that he no longer needs to don workers' outfits and re-appropriate a storefront incognito. At Maysles, Powers screened a handful of films including some vintage '60s/'70s era Philly wall art footage, early ESPO camcorder shots, and some later "ESPO meets the art world" and “ESPO uses art to beautify the real world" cinema. Months later, I was ecstatic to find that Powers had painted a series of murals in a downtown Brooklyn mall.

ix. I'd been passingly familiar with Destroy All Monsters for years. Detroit punk with Asheton, Niagra, etc. Covered by GG Allin. Blah blah blah. They were stock and I never really gave them much thought until Terminal Escape posted a live set that caught me by surprise. It was just amazing stuff and I did the all too familiar scramble to acquire their back catalog post haste. The band also issued their own magazine, which was reissued in book form over the last year. This is fantasy material for zine/print nerds as the volume is full of Xerox art at the highest caliber.

x. Pink Reason "Shit in the Garden" LP (Siltbreeze) / Psandwich "Northren Psych" LP (Columbus Discount) - I'm grouping here out of sheer convenience. Both groups have ties to Columbus and begin with the letter "P" so it's cute and lets me limit this list to ten (assuming I don't add on any stupid “bonus material”). But these were my two most listened to new releases. PR here give awesome, moody, smart tracks that leave me in awe and crossing my fingers for a tour, or at least my deciding to up and move to wherever the fuck PR is located these days. I got spoiled by all of the NY shows. And Psandwich! Truly awesome debut LP from House and co.

bonus material. Sunday night Asssscat, Monday night Hot Tub and Whiplash, Tuesday night Best Show, Wednesday night Chris Gethard Show live, Thursday night RISK! or The Rejection Show, Friday night Stepfathers or Night of the Living, Saturday night Big Black Car. A perfect week in NY.

bonus material ii. I nearly forgot to mention: Religious War, who released my favorite post-first wave hardcore EP, finally played NY 10 years later and were phenomenal. Herpes, from Utica, released a sterling demo tape and I hope I get to see them soon. Estrogen Highs released a 12" and single that left me wanting more…LP in 2012? The Medication 12" on Sacred Bones seemed to fly under the radar but was quite strong. Nerve City came to the Northeast for a brief, outstanding tour. Crazy Spirit had a few releases and I can't think of a better band playing right now.

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