1. GG KING “Esoteric Lore” LP (Scavenger of Death/Rob’s House)
I’m sure everyone else will do a masterful job of crowning this one supreme, so I’ll leave it at Fuck

1. TOTAL CONTROL “Henge Beat” LP (Iron Lung)
Can to the Future, Numan in 2050, but really just pure downer vibes piped through a bunch of brilliant musicians from the Nation of Criminals. Every cut that re-appears is twice as nice, every song is immaculate, the cover art “doesn’t look like music”. DX deserves extra credit for writing songs that seem self-pitying and down when taken at face value, but a quick scouring of some interviews (wassup Lars http://lineout.thestranger.com/lineout/archives/2011/11/29/track-meet-total-control) reveals his desire to shit on anyone identifying with them. No bibs.

3. TV GHOST “Mass Dream” LP (In the Red)
The perfection of apocalyptic Bunnymen vibes. I was unschooled in the ways of this band until I saw this video of “Doppleganger” and heard the sounds of a Manson family copulation (wherein they also out-Mayyors the Mayyors). This thing is ruthless in its entirety, well-paced, entirely memorable, and totally hands the performance of the year to Tim Gick - the step-up in songwriting and delivery from the previous efforts is mountainous. Perfect for any occasion, though works best as the score to a Berlusconi-in-the-Vatican sex nightmare.

x. CONDOMINIUM “Warm Home” LP (self-released)
This band gets so much better with every record, so much more twisted and creative, so much harder to decipher. “Life is Amazing” is the best Condo song yet (though “Gag” remains a close second), the reappropriation of my favorite NA song title for an obtuse noise experiment is starkly brilliant, and just listening makes me feel as cold as the nearly Siberian oasis of Minnesota probably is right now. On top of all that, they somehow pulled the heroic purveyor of Bistro Distro out of retirement to help distribute it to the masses. Their whole catalog is essential and it’s all fucking genius. I can’t wait to see how they top this. Peerless.

x. SEX CHURCH “Growing Over” LP (Load)
I was floored by a third of their 12”, still liked the rest of it - but this one hits me all the way through. They’ve created the sounds of the horribly depressed yet terribly attractive, clearly showing the ability to create something gorgeous but following the noble path of endless disappointment. Brilliantly paced, weirdly uplifting, they walk the line most cleverly between the soundtrack to an NBSD “Bleed Me” and a late Hunches-like hypnotism in the title track. A most killer of bass tones by the other Nick G. Wonderful artwork by J. Lortz (whose Case Studies LP is close to making this list).

x. UV RACE “Homo” LP (In the Red)
Mangled jangles from down under, subtle flirting with skronkiness, with many songs flaunting my favorite conversational/overheard dialogue-as-vocals since the Direct Control tape. The way Marcus says “soy lattes” alone seals its place on the list. They pull off playing slower better than you ever thought they could, they pull off conveying emotion better than you’d probably expect, and the drums still sound absolutely massive. “Homo” is the real rager on the album, and even though I hate how it lets up and dissolves into pretty much nothing, I hate more that I’ve come to love it. And that the Australian pronunciation of “H” is way better than ours. Eye openers, man. As always, the insert and song explanations are worth their weight in nachos and read like the clearest sober morning of a crazy person, or the most succinctly abstract thoughts of a mourning laureate. This man and this band know how to express themselves, and they keep getting fucking better at it.

x. CRIATURAS “Oscuridad Eterna” LP (Lengua Armada/Trabuc)
Completely blazing. Some of the most talented people in Austin constantly drawing on their other bands (Vaaska, Deskonocidos, etc), plus Judgement and the Comes, to put together something completely fuckin rippin. Mel Brooks level of blazing in every fashion, and drunk-mosh inducing to the fullest. This takes the toxic sugary dessert for best hardcorepunk record of 2011, and “Anarkia” is one of my favorite songs I’ve heard all year. Bitter and chock full of hooks, the lyrics are great, the guitars are beyond common comprehension. Everything fleshes together so damn well, particularly thanks to young Hans, who apparently can’t do anything but make bands sound excellent.

x. ESCROTO DE RATA “Punk Rock Sex Basura” LP (La Vida es un Mus)
I’m unsure how to sum up this record beyond just dropping the words “retarded” and “sex pistols”. Scratches the dumbest of itches. Some of the best lobotomy-in-process vocals I’ve ever heard. Ridiculously anthemic songs about thee dumbest shit. I think every song on the record has a “ha ha haa” line, which somewhat stunningly works. If you dig what the Secret Prostitutes are doing but are OK with slowing it down for a minute, you really oughtta hear this thing.

x. CRAZY SPIRIT “I’m Dead” 7" (Mata la Musika)
Another set of hits from New York’s finest band of former art majors/former bowl cut rockers. It’s a welcome return to their mutant recording style (I’ve said it before - all bands should consider the use of a melted Simon as a lead guitar). Part of what makes this band so enjoyable is that I have no goddamn idea where this shit comes from, though Sam’s other band Dawn of Humans mines similar territories of ugly genius. Confusing and alluring in a gross way - they might be the Juliette Lewis of punk. The first time I heard transition between songs on the B-side was a highlight of my record listening “experiences” in 2011. I love great weird punk that you can’t trace back to anything else. And of course it looks absolutely stellar. I’ve also said this before, but make a fucking album already, you hosers.

x. DOUBLE NEGATIVE “Hardcore Confusion" Vol. 1 & 2 7"es (Sorry State)
The best set of songs from -/- since “Mein Trappe” and “Redshift”. There’s nothing else like ‘em on this earth and nothing that can kill them. This is Walsby’s final outing, in which he departs in a glorious viking funeral. Completely barreling, jiving Airplane-ly with the guitars’ insistence on mimicking the strangulation of a T-1000. So much going on in every song, and they continue to reference all kinds of shit that’s completely foreign to 99% of people listening, to even more success than last year’s excellent Daydreamnation. I am kind of nauseated by the use of McDonald’s colors in the layout, but this has been addressed on the second press.

in the running: VIDEO “Leather Leather” LP, SHITTY LIMITS “Speculate/Accumulate” 12”, TOTAL CONTROL/OH SEES 12”, anything LOS MONJO was on this year, SOKEA PISTE 7” and 12”, SUDOR 12”, OBEDIENCIA 7”, DEATHCHARGE 12”.




1. KRIEGSHÖG @ the Broken Neck, Chaos in Tejas
Complete insanity. One of the most vicious, gnarled sets I’ve ever seen. This was their US debut (and way better than the next day’s show), 3 AM at the sublime Broken Neck - a squattish warehouse with a kitchen, street basketball videogame graffiti, purple lights straight out of a Prince video, a woefully placed skate ramp at the foot of the stage, and a front lot littered with shitty old speedboats. 300+ people crammed inside, probably twenty drunk and sped up Japanese dudes shouting and starting fires out back. The vocalist Masaki was sporting a haircut much too similar to the one on that Execute record people make shirts of and a shirt straight outta Lemmy’s (or Goebbel’s) closet, the (fill-in) guitarist and bassist both looked like Damo Suzuki in an H&M advert… the drummer looked twelve. Their set was almost German (certainly almost Fascist) in robotically destructive, nonchalantly cool, and extremely unsexual delivery.The kind of show where the anticipation and “hype” is gonna make people hyperbolic about its quality, but then the band delivers and surprises even the people who were only looking forward to bragging about being there. The only times I’ve felt like I did in the thick of things during the bridge of “Burn” all involved witnessing fatal car accidents. Whoa mama. In the same league as the transcendental Bastard set the previous year, for sure, and it completely knocked everyone in the room on their collective (and total) arse.

2. GG KING @ 529, Atlanta
Completely overwhelming. This lineup (as pictured on the 12”, four ex-Carbonas and an ex-marine) was the earthquake to my Fukushima. Erased the times I saw em a year or two ago completely from my memory (other than the ladies circle pitting in spike heels). Partially because I love the album so much, partially because I was wasted, mostly because they were tight as shit and fucking mean. Opened with the Johnny Moped cover and played most of Esoteric Lore, closed with not only the best version of Fix “Vengeance” I’ve ever seen (as a young man into the No Wayve of hardcorepunk I probably saw a dozen), but one that actually did it justice. I lost my shoes to “Metaphysical Problems”, I lost my beer to “Acid”, and I lost my ability to see and walk clearly after the set. Genteelman Jesse and other Atlantans claimed Greg was overly humble and had no idea how well-received the LP was gonna be, but the whole room let him know that he had created a staggering work of genius. I had just made it back from Chaos in Tejas and it was better than everything there but the aforementioned Kriegshög. God damn.

else: Double Negative @ the Broken Neck, Chaos (caught a tooth in my arm) / Total Control @ Krankie’s (unbelievable)/ White Lung and Nü Sensae @ Sewercide / and Sex Church was the best sounding band I’ve seen this year.

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