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(RSF)


2014: The Year Punk Broke (Me)

It’s official. My frustration has been building for a while and this was the year I finally cracked. Far too many new releases were dropping and I’ve had nowhere near enough cash to keep up with the game. Adding insult to injury, the retail cost of a basic LP has nearly doubled over the past twenty-four months. The idea of dropping $50 every time I walk into a store - and not just on used “raers” - left me cold. Major labels finally caught up with this new-fangled vinyl trend as well, setting about to clog up pressing plants with piles upon piles of unnecessary reissues and unworthy RSD glop. I never knew there was such demand for big buck, 180gram copies of Kenny Rogers or Norman Greenbaum re-releases. Best get your ass over to the Whole Foods© record section and snatch one up – ‘cuz if you weren’t aware - vinyl is back!

The following “Best Of” ramble is split almost equally between things I received for review (danke!) and things that I purchased. I can say - without a doubt - I brought home less music this year than any since I started writing for these pages. Actually, this was the least amount of music I’ve picked up since my high school days. Back then I was feverishly amassing a hefty thrash cassette collection on a $4 hourly wage. Nowadays, I’m living in the Bay that Journey built, trying to eat something better than your average microwavable pizza roll and taking fewer chances. Even with this - the shortest stack of recent times - more than half of my blind buys (based on blog blab recommendations or internet previews) ended up getting purged off to the used bins. It’s all just fundraising fodder towards medical bills or car repairs-to-be.There were a few things I woulda’ loved to snatch up, but in this age of the thirty minute buy-or-die shopping window, it just wasn’t meant to be. Time to start the New Year off right and begin sifting through that Discogs wreckage, praying the price of these instant collectables aren’t too inflated. Sob story gripes aside - what new releases stuck, stuck pretty fuckin’ hard. Locals took up most of my time in 2014 and they make up a hefty portion of this list. The usual suspects make it as well, with some safe no-brainers. Hopefully there are a few things below some of you didn’t hear or take that chance on. It may have been penniless and thin times, but these are the joints that continued to get my goose, repeat after repeat. I don’t believe I have shit between my ears (nor do most of you) – so when all y’all are done chuffing-off over the Total Control/Ausmuteants/Watery Love three-way love axis, try some of the following..




LPS & 12”s

I’m starting things off with a late 2013 import that took most of the past winter season to reach my mitts – Gravel Samwidge and their “Medicinal Requirements” EP on Swashbuckling Hobo. This record filled the noticeable gap where there’s usually a huge stack of Aussies on my list. “Medicinal Requirements” is full of slide guitar oddities, 80’s meat & potatoes throb and that outback, roo-punching sentiment. A burly churner that surprisingly got very little fanfare around here. I’d suggest y’all clean the dirt off your needles and try it again. Give their immense Bandcamp back catalog a twirl as well.

Next stop is the springtime trifecta of grating bombast, brought on by 12xU. I’m speaking of the Burnt Skull “Sewer Birth”, Obnox “Louder Space” and the Unholy Two “Talk About Hardcore” LPs. Jesus Crispies, what a pleasure to open the mailbag to such a feral stack of noise. Burnt Skull - being the unknown of this batch – left me battered about the face and neck, doing some serious cerebral damage along the way. Imagine the ugliest “God’s Balls” meets “Bleach” NW mulch getting caught up in the rusty gears of that early Godflesh machine. As corrosive of a record as yer gonna’ come in contact with. The Unholy Two pushed their punishment even further than before with this modern classic of wrassle-rock, and it was no surprise to see it jotted down in my year-end notepad. Obnox is something you can always count on being a heady score - and for a dude as prolific as Bim, this is his choicest slab yet. A barn burner of stoned psych, fuzzed garage, soul shout and hip hop that locked the ‘nox down as a list shoe-in here at Termbo HQ (West Coast Chapter).

Local Oaklandish music theorists YI released their “Crying” 12” on their own, and it’s almost as much of a genre blender as that Obnox LP. Thrash band, pogo-pop and No Wave crashing headlong into weird punk and (dare I say) funk bass? Yes. All of that. This band could do no wrong, especially in a live setting. At least a few fellow schwoogs reviewed ‘em positively out East and helped them move some units. A great short player and quite a striking last testament. RIP YI.

Has anyone heard that Uberkroppling “Godt Jul” LP? No?! We need to fix that, pronto. Knock on Bat Shit Record’s bungalow and demand this stupidity unleashed. “Godt Jul” is a Chrome wrapped, confounding mess of foreign shore-core and space/punk/blues gobbly-gook that chaffs like a meaner, downright fuckered Rajayttajat outgrowth. Too good to be left festering in a damp crate like some Creepshow devil-thing.

PC Worship gave the world the “Social Rust” LP on Northern Spy/Dull Tools and it’s every bit of a messy, creak and garble filled full length as one could hope for. Twisted and skewered pop downers – sorta’ like early Pink Reason – leads the way to a pulsing, sax punch of a crescendo that’s way more effective than the last batch of Swans offerings. The closest I’ll ever come to loving a Captured Tracks record (due to the Naomi Punk related guitar squalor) and that’s saying something.

Once again, Timmy Vulgar came along and spilled his electrified bucket of fish-piss all over the collective Termbo hive. His demos, outtakes and such seem to be everywhere (see the 2xLP collection of Timmy’s Organism singles and more now available on Hozac) and the folks at American Tapes took notice. The “Genetic Armageddon” EP brings more of his outsider scree and bedroom tomfoolery we know and love to the table. This guy should be wearing the TB Championship Title belt by now. The only bummer to this record is that it’s one sided – because we all know there’s enough gunk in his trunk for multiple boxsets.

Speaking of art-farts and modern weird-beards, the Gary Wrong Group went for the gold again with the “Floods of Fire” EP in two collector scum variations. The Bat Shit version came with (for a while at least) a bonus 7” of added Action Swingers and Pink Reason cover moves. The Jeth-Row abridged edition features some of Gary’s Bogglin© approved, demon-hobgoblin screen printed art and looks as great as it sounds. Good enough to buy both (I did). King Glue (Gary) melts down a pile of discarded Radioshack electronics, busted Weird-Ohs model kits and probably a few of those cheaply made Collegeville Halloween masks into a cast iron skillet - then foolishly tries stirring the rubbery contents with plastic utensils. The fumes, man - the fumes. Shove that warped, chunky burnt patty into a Hawkwind sleeve and call it a day. As good of review as any.

Last but definitely not least, I give you something personal; The MUSK “S/T” LP on Holy Mountain. The record I listened to more than any all year – because I had too. Incessantly. For six months. Maybe even more. Still, I didn’t unleash this lumpy bastard because I thought it sucked eggs. It’s the first record I’ve appeared on that I was 100% happy with the outcome (alright - more like 98.5%). Some wise soul on the forum once said that if your favorite music or art isn’t your own, then you probably shouldn’t be making it. Hear Hear. We wear our influences with pride, like some sorta' Class of ’93 Letterman Jacket (think Chrome Cranks, Cheater Slicks and The Beguiled). Granted, this jacket’s pretty damaged - suffering various swamp muck stains (ala’ 80’s Aussie thugishness) and it's badly frayed at the seams. Punk-blues infused with a fried disdain for almost everything, MUSK is for those bitter old coots who complain about “tha’ scene” constantly. But hey – I’M BIASED. Plus, did you see that special edition latex sleeve? Please, by all means try topping that. I need the excitement to return to record collecting again.

Runner Ups:
Baus “Idol Minds” LP (self-released) / Piss Test “s/t” LP (Jonny Cat) / Hank Wood & The Hammerheads “Stay Home!” LP (oxic State) / Shovels “s/t” LP (Homeless) / Also props to Exhaustion, Low Life and Ukiah Drag who might’ve placed had I found or afforded their releases prior to this psychobabble.




7" SINGLES

Hands down and middle finger up, Life Stinks “Portraits” on Total Punk takes the top honors. I got drunk, did jazzercise cartwheels and left the needle worn to a nub after the initial month long spin cycle. Like Flipper knocked off its rocker on the topside and something you could dare to call a pop number on the flip. An ugly, hateful pop but catchy nonetheless. I can dig this stank. Never lets me down - unlike San Francisco.

Total punk continued their string of chart toppers (and I’m sure the ones I didn’t include are allover the other lists) with The Manatee(e)s “Seek Help” and Lumpy & The Dumpers “Gnats In The Pissa”. These gems took home the second most rotations. “Hate On Parade” is the ‘Tees recorded high mark of mean-spirited perfection. Lumpy stretched out his defective appendages, blowing some minds with a saxophone and it continues to tickle just fine. Bring on the slime.

Next stop: Goosebumps “Scared To See A Doctor” EP on Katorga Works. This band morphed into some severely gluey shit since I last took notice. More burly-slurred and No Trend wracked than their basic hardcore before, but still remains bestial. Backwards solos, collapsing under static and screech. Lurching basslines and barking vocals that punctuate the drum pound. All violently heading towards AmRep turf. Seven tracks doused in hog offal. Spread the disease.

For number five I’m gonna’ go with a late minute, just under the wire entry - the Surgeons “Headache” EP on Bat Shit. This thing is a deadly sleeper featuring off-kilter and frantic spasms that should appease those gnarly inner demons y’all have and the Functional Blackout fanboys out there. I never saw it coming.

Runner Ups:
Had I not gotten lazy, these here would make up the rest of the top 10 shorties this year.
Cuntz “Cooked” (Total Punk) / Pesadilla Distopika “No Hay Ninguna Manera De Eskapar” (Verdugo Discos) / Bad Daddies “You Ain’t Right” (Negative Fun Singles Club) / Nudes “s/t” (Iron Lung) / And I’d probably say the Umbilical Cord record on Video Disease which may have come out last year or the fresh Cal & The Calories if I’d nabbed it.




REISSUES:

Starting this stack off is the Loose Heart “Paris 1976” single on Danger Records. An unheard nugget of KBD goodness that truly lived up to all the hype and them some, Loose Heart throttles about like the French Crime armed with a whammy bar. Unreal – and the best of this sort since the unearthed Jack Ruby single a few years back.

I actually own something new on Alternative Tentacles thanks to their Frantix “My Dads A Fucking Alcoholic” compilation LP. This contains all their studio single tracks plus some pretty swell live and demo stuff for the nice price. That Ed Roth rip-off artwork looks great on that groady oversized pink sleeve as well. (Spoiler Alert: Can’t wait for AT’s upcoming Cheetah Chrome Mother Fuckers set. Hawt.)

Balletto Di Bronzo’s “Sirio 222” LP was unleashed quietly this fall, but worked me into a fine froth. This Italio hard rock progger and psych-blues whatchamacallit has been eluding me for most of two decades; ever since hearing cuts from it in Mario Bava’s Five Dolls For An August Moon. $22 is better spent than $500 plus for an original.

Homeless Records has been busying themselves, pressing up miniscule batches of modern overlooked and criminally forgotten Australian bands like Deaf Wish, Yes I’m Leaving, The Stabs, etc. This time around, The Dacios “Monkey’s Blood” LP was the one that pushed all my buttons. Originally a 2009 CD release, “Monkey’s Blood” left me fuzzy with its indie-gone-punk shimmering guitarworks and a Geraldine Fibbers cowpunk swagger. I recommend it to random squares at the record shop at least once a week.

It took forever to come together, but what a payoff - The X-X “XstickyfingersX” LP on Ektro Records. It had my Cle-bound heart ah’ thumping for quite some moons. Containing all the studio single tracks, a live show and more – it’s a blunt force. Less piercing than the eels before, but just as violent of skronk. A panic attack never felt so good. In a deep sea of the electric eels reissues of the electric eels reissues (that I still bought, mind you) it was nice to grasp this just as important collection. Featuring John Morton’s finest cover illustration – Period.

Runner Ups:
The only reason most of these ended up as runner ups is because I have originals or various pressings or alternate versions of these titles already. If you don’t own any of the following – adjust your miserable life now: Flesh Eaters “A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die” LP (Superior Viaduct) / electric eels “Die electric eels” LP (Superior Viaduct) / Crime “Murder By Guitar” LP (Superior Viaduct) / Fang “Land Shark” LP (Boner) / Bobby Soxx “Hate In The 80’s” 7” (Cheap Rewards) / Jack Ruby “Vol.1” LP (Feeding Tube) / Lumpy & the Dumpers “Discography” LP (Space Ritual) / Timmy’s Organism “Singles” 2xLP (Hozac) / Ice Cross “s/t” LP (Rockadrome)




CASSETTES:

No surprises here. Freak Vibe battled Freak vibe for this years cassette win. Their self-released “Demo 1 & 2” and “Prostration” tape on Casino Trash are both equally important. The Vibe makes a pummeling chunder of the pigfuckered variety and it’s the best around. Grunt muddled gloom with self-loathing Crampsian tendencies that rattle nerves deep within in my bowels. I’m one digit on a handful of jerk offs that seem to lap this shit up, though it seems like they might stand a chance at world domination soon - or at least take control of their own feral pack of Toxic State scenesters.

Civil Union may have come to ‘merika only to get drug through the mud three times over, but at least they were good enough to leave behind some of their fine, fine recorded wares. This stellar New Zealand youth crew delivers their brand of Roland Howard/Lee Renaldo sonic depression in spades on this imported demo cassette. Way better and beyond their years, I can imagine big things in the future - as long as they don’t travel.

Local spew gurglers, Violence Creeps set loose an onslaught of dunderheaded punk in two separate demo forms as well. Female fronted hater-rage where the “Scavenger of Death” stagger meets the Fang potty mouth mentality. A band that’s growing into their britches, one popper at a time (Jalapeño or otherwise).

Holy shit. A double dose of unreleased mixes, lost and live tracks from the mighty Monoshock. “Lost Shock Vol.1 & 2” are available through Silver Current (on CD as well, if your stereo’s isn’t so archaically challenged). An extremely blown out and bubbling trip through various forgotten freak-outs and phree-jamz, not to mention some demented cover attacks. I’m checking my mailbox daily as I write. Seriously. I’m looking out the window for the USPS right now. This needs to be in my deck ASAP. I’m tired of hitting re-load on the Bandcamp page, so stop toying with me.

Speaking of Bandcamp, slow mail carriers and toying games; Fleshy Mounds would wrap this stack up nicely, had they actually taken the time to send me the cassette I ordered over two months ago. The Mounds are really simple, sloppy femme/dom lurch that sounds like a failing ’85 era White Zombie trolling The Shaggs outside a Philadelphia brew pub during their weekly Piss Jeans cover night. Go back and read that run-on again. Whoa. Grandly inept and featuring some seriously frothing multi-tracked vocals. I know you gals are busy Saran© wrapping that mongoloid front-goon of yours, then dripping wax all over his floppy scrotum - but when you’re done with this S&M shit show, could you be dears and smack some postage on that bubble envelope that I so richly deserve? Ok? Thanks!




SOUNDTRACKS

I bit down hard on the first wave of the soundtrack reissues, but now I’m finding most of the newer releases to be totally cringeworthy. With their re-imagined cover designs (usually for films that had amazing press art to begin with), unnecessary expanded bunk (two double LP volumes of Breaking Bad? Who’s buying this stuff?) and overpriced editions mastered directly from old video sources – it’s gotten pretty tiresome. Add to this those ridiculous, sweaty palmed preorder flameouts that the internet provides and the fact that Troma’s trash gets precedent over stone cold lost genre classics (Where’s my Femina Ridens?!). The following batch is a few I still found to be irresistible and reluctantly joined in on the feeding frenzy.

First up is the Slumber Party Massacre LP by Ralph Jones, available through Death Waltz. A cheeseball horrorshow concocted with a dimestore Casio, a pre-programmed pipe-organ setting and a bottle of cheap wine. Maximum minimalist fun. The new sleeve ain’t too embarrassing, though the original one sheet image was unbeatable.

Next, props go to the Cannibal Ferox LP by Roberto Denati, unleashed by the fine folks at One Way Static. Terror pulses and disco sleaze abound, plus the label hit it out of the park with the gatefold packaging. My favorite of all the Cannibal films, score or otherwise. I even bought the cassette version, which came with added radio spots and specially packaged in a screenprinted barf bag. A class act shower for a total gutter flick.

Props to not one, but two releases of Fabio Frizzi’s score for The City of The Living Dead (aka: Paura Nella Città Dei Morti Viventi) this year. The Death Waltz version comes with one of their sharpest sleeve images and insert, painted by Graham Humphreys (who also did their House By the Cemetery release) and the import version on Stella features the original 1983 LP artwork along with two folded daybills for the gorehounds with too much wallspace in their mommies attic. If that’s not enough of a reason to grab both, there’s different track listings with each having exclusive music. What’s it sound like? Fabio Frizzi! Just get it. Either one.

The No Wave sax jammers and downer grind of Joe Delia’s Ms. 45 score also made its debut on Death Waltz this year. Featuring off-kilter synth workouts as well as that never-ending, nerve damaging disco number you won’t be able to shake from your skull. Again, the jacket isn’t so much of an embarrassment but the one-sheet is hard to top. It’s funny how both this and Slumber Party Massacre originally had images of “crotch-cam” as their sales campaign.

Bringing up the rear is something I don’t even have. It’s just so beautifully stupid that it needs to be mentioned. I’m talking about the Black Devil Doll From Hell theme, released as a 45. Chester Turner’s dumbshit “music” – a one chord plink & blip synth-wreck oddity – has been pressed to wax by the foul folks at Poisoned Mind in four different color and sleeve variants. I can do a pretty spot-on impersonation of the said score with my mouth and a dictation recorder, saving you the hassle of tracking down the vinyl. The real reason you would want to snatch this up is the uber-limited collector scum version that came with an honest-to-god Black Devil Doll hand puppet. Yes. That exists. Quite a shocking reality we reside in. Feel free to send me a copy as I sneezed when I should have PayPal’d and they all disappeared before the snotrag hit the trashcan. Bummer city.




FIVE RANDOM TRACKS

Here are a few tunes that drove me crazy, even if I didn’t latch on to the record as a whole. “Face The Door” off of everyone else’s pantshitting year ender, Watery Love’s “Decorative Feeding” LP. I found the In The Red LP to be okay overall, but this song - with its ground into dirt Stoogeoid simplicity and that clincher final tag “Unlike You Fucking Dickheads, I welcome Death” repeated ad nauseum - got more spins than most of my full length faves. I let it play no less than thirty times in just one day at work, yet I still manage to have a job. The feel bad/feel better jam of the summer. Sex Scheme’s “Expectations” thwacked me about pretty hard this fall as well. To quote a friend: “Reminds me of Nirvana without all that pesky songwriting ability or Beatles influence.” Yeah, pretty much. Plus some added Frankie Teardrop/family homicide fun to the lyrics. Continuing along this sex theme is Sex Tide - a band that Jay Hinman got his goat choked upon and I punched the buy-it-now button on his prose alone. As an LP, their “Flash Fuck” didn’t quite stick (where does the Scientists sound come into play?) but a couple of their tunes made me pull it out again and again. “Morning Meeting” especially, being the perfect union of “One Yr Live”-era Pussy Galore and that tub-thump of the early Honeymoon Killers. The vocal delivery and skuzz fidelity reminds me of that first Jeff Evans piloted Mr. Airplane Man record, too. They’ve gone and recorded some new tracks for cassette, seeming to raise them up from the filthy production values and somewhat stunted song craft. Good things are afoot. Mississippi Records released a compilation of bummer garage and lowly psych called “Anxious Color” this spring, and the addition of Jimm Olsen’s long lost rarity “Last Drop Of Wine” was a damn good one. This 60’s track features organ and drums done up one man band style as Olsen showcases his talented croon, but couldn’t keep proper time with his bass foot to save his soul. Heart-achingly beautiful and pleasantly inept. I can imagine there will be a haunting and skewered Cheater Slicks adaptation within the next year or so. Lastly, I gotta’ give props and cyber hugs to (here’s a surprise) Kathleen Hanna for her Julie Ruin (another shocker) Record Store Day release. I can say without a doubt that “In The Picture” did some uplifting mojo that pulled my wife out of a serious depression and began to mend our ailing relationship. All of this stemming from one initial spin on the home stereo. That’s some quasi-spiritual hoopla, but I gotta’ thank her/them for this.




Am I done? I hope so. As for next year - who knows? I already sold my car. Maybe if I drop my heath insurance, I can open up enough funds to work on that Best Of 2015 list. Only time will tell. Have a pleasant 2015 and remember - friends don’t let friends buy Mac DeMarco records. -Robvertigo


Back to 2014 Main


To see lists from years past check the Termbo archives.



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