Well, welcome to hell.

The soundtrack to the barrel slowly heading over the Niagara that was 2016 was not great, but there's plenty worth discussing. Most importantly, three out of four Hunches returned to prominence - Chris Gunn & Ben Spencer on the Lavender Flu, Hart with the Sleeping Beauties. 'Heavy Air', the Flu’s double LP , is atmospheric in a Venusian way, fragmented missives that all have their own character... It begs comparisons to 'Hairdryer Peace' at times (which Gunn also played on), and while each song is an amalgamation of intriguing ideas and a certain weird warmth, they're all similarly fleeting. Trying to remember the parts you like best about this record is like trying to remember visual details from a dream. It's hypnotic and more rewarding with each attempt to process it. The Sleeping Beauties LP is not exactly one of my favorite records of the year - it's kind of weird to hear the rest of the band totally ape the Hunches' sound at times - but is very much worth talking about because Hart's re-emergence is so important. The line "I clam up... just like a clam!", delivered in a budget Osterberg drawl, is just so incredibly perfect and one of the high points of art in general in 2016. Whatever pithiness the Lavender Flu record lacks is brought hard on this record. The Hunches also played a couple shows, and all the video footage of the first one is handily my favorite release of the year.

As usual, most of the stuff I found to be supreme this year was released by La Vida es un Mus, who has been relentless with releases lately. Es's 'Object Relations' 12” is my favorite. Only four songs, each pushing in a different direction, all of them bleak and urgent. “Resuscitate” is easily the best song of the year. They share some level of personnel with Primetime, who return with a perfect 7” that blows their previous output away. “Pervert” is a total hit, lyrically stellar. The main riff on “Anyway” is such a worm. Rounding out the London releases, world heroes Good Throb managed to eke out a final 7” that is probably their finest material, the recording sounding somewhat timeless (as well as the song titles, hopefully “The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock” will never sound dated). Belgrado’s 'Obraz' LP is a complete package - perfect execution of worldly post-punk with brilliant packaging and supplied artwork that completely fits. A vision realized. And Barcelona’s second release, 'Pueden ser Ellos', is just as strong as 'Extremo Nihilismo', with a cool shout out to Teo on “Infierno de Cobardes”. Genius artwork and presentation on this one, too.

I hadn’t heard the Shifters until 2016… their “Creggan Shops” 7” (and the tape that it was originally released on) is the kind of shameless early Fall re-enactment society spittle that I would move mountains for. Someone needs to put “Algeria” on a single, stat. The Heavy Metal LP is both brilliant and idiotic, both German and Australian. A total shambles. Solely Australian is Terry - 'Terry HQ'. The requisite Al Montfort record of the year, it’s typical deadpan semi-jangly aggressive popular music that you need in your life. “Don’t Say Sorry” is the most massive riff anyone produced in 2016. Fellow Australians Chook Race (absolutely one of the best bands I saw this year… crushing) nailed the sound of jangly bummers on 'Around the House'.

Uranium Orchard deserves praise for creating a record that inspires 3-5 seconds of genuine shock and incomprehension. Tyvek gave us two of their finest songs with “Origin of What” and “Real Estate and Finance”, but I’m still deciding on the rest of it. The Haram 7” and Chroma 12” both deserve attention and praise for providing both unique perspectives and propellant, ugly hardcore that inspires Bruce Roehrsisms. And of course, Midnight Mines’ 'If You Can’t Find A Partner Use A Wooden Chair' is an excellent entry in to Lemmy Caution’s catalog - more of the tape/sound manipulation he used to such great lengths on 'Double Negative' and 'Aerial Gobs of Love', with songs in slow and/or different motion.

Brainbombs dropped a new one, and 'Souvenirs' is their best since 'Fucking Mess', if not maybe one before that. There’s more… nuance. The opener is the best song they’ve written in two decades. Also making an appearance from the At Times Offensive league was The Rebel - “As Pants the Hart” is a mystical, mesmerizing four-part suite that includes America’s favorite refrain, “She told me she was thirteen.” Obviously, a work of genius.

Back to 2016 Main

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