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2016 - I don't think I need to get into how shitty it was. One of those (thankfully few and far between) years that even impacted one's ability to enjoy all the fine sounds emanating from the underground. I usually have no problems at all cobbling together a list of hits (and misses) but this year was the first it proved to be a bit of a chore. Luckily, there are still enough good ones out there that once I dove into it things took shape. The new breed are really holding things together: Lumpy and his roster of freaks, Rik with and without the Pigs, Shiva and his NYC cohorts, whatever is left standing of the NWI bands, Calgary punks (Glitter, Janitor Scum, etc..) and some new blood from the Bay (The World, Pleasure Gallows, and more). More surprisingly, this year also provided plenty of treats from the old guard: In the Red released their finest schedule of LPs in quite a few years, including Tyvek, The Double, Danny & The Darleans and Sleeping Beauties (The Hunches and their post- projects were a continuing theme this year), Total Punk just keeps on killing it, Richie Records continues to bring us the greatest in American Guitar Rock and Ron House's band released the best 12" of the year. Most disturbingly however, was how timely 12XU's release of two LPs of live Stickmen With Rayguns was - those records provided the most fitting soundtrack to most of 2016. Let's just move ahead to 2017 now and get 2016 in the rearview...
12" x 10 (THE LPS)
- This one came out in January, and as testament to its power stayed on top all year long. Some of the best work of Ron House's already legendary playing career. This cagey veteran even headlined the Total Punk festival, beating the kids at their own game.
2. Midnight Mines "If You Can't Find A Partner..." LP (Mystery Plane)
- This one materialized out of the London fog like an apparition. I had no idea it was coming, and it's a treat to still be surprised when a record comes out these days. Bonus points for DIY packaging.
3. Heron Oblivion LP (Sub Pop)
- Near perfect guitar rock. Another one that stuck for nearly the entire year. Meg Baird might be the most versatile talent in the game right now.
4. Mognoloid "Plays Rock And Roll" LP (Deranged)
- Total punk smasher from Rik's "other band". Well worth waiting for, and bonus points given for having shows cancelled by PC punks because of their name.
5. Tyvek "Origin of What" LP (In the Red)
- Welcome return from Detroit's finest. Adds two more "classics" to the already long list of essential Tyvek songs. Still one of the most important bands on the planet.
6. The Double "Dawn of The Double" 12" (In the Red)
- I honestly thought this was not going to be good, but man was I wrong. Perfect in both concept and execution.
7. Honey Radar "Blank Cartoon" LP (Whats Your Rupture?)
- Another band/record I was totally wrong about. The perfect lo-fi DIY storm.
8 . Sleeping Beauties LP (In the Red)
- Hey, I like garage-punk, so what? The other side of the coin in the post-Hunches landscape, and while I liked the Lavender Flu record, this one I actually craved listening to.
9. Janitor Scum "Scenes From The Grocery" 12" (Lumpy Recs)
- Calgary punk is not a joke. This is a ridiculous record in the proper ways. Best insert of the year as well.
10. Writhing Squares "In the Void Above" LP (Siltbreeze)
- Philadelphia, PA: home of the best in guitar-rock-skronk.
Honorable mentions: Musk, NSU, Uranium Orchard, Messrs, Tapehead...
- The best record of the year and the most exciting and potential-having band in operation right now. Couldn't be more excited about their 12" in 2017.
2. Rik & The Pigs "Life's A Bust" EP (Feel It)
- The most punk band on the planet, Rik and his Pigs do punk rock'n'roll as it should be played. Eagerly anticipating the step up to a 12" in 2017.
3a. Homostupids "Richie Records Sumer Singles Series" 7" (Richie)
3b. Watery Love "Richie Records Sumer Singles Series" 7" (Richie)
3b. Mordecai "Richie Records Sumer Singles Series" 7" (Richie)
- This might be cheating a bit, but how can you pick just one from the Richie Records Summer Singles Series? All killer.
4. Rik "Baked Transformer" 7" (Lumpy)
- Oh Rikky. Even without any pigs it still destroys.
5. Pleasure Gallows "Positivity" 7" (Pelican Pow Wow)
- I was told these guys were good but I always temper my expectations when it comes to Bay Area punk. Thankfully, they are even more of a trainwreck than I imagined and I hope they hold it together for more records.
6. Glitter "Joy of a Toy" 7" (Lumpy)
- Seriously, these Calgary bands are something for Canada to be proud of. Punk that is excitingly weird and unhinged.
7. The World "Managerial Material" 7" (It Takes Two)
- The Bay scores again here with another exciting group. When someone says "post-punk" these days, this is what I want it to sound like.
8. Patsy "Eat It" 7" (Total Punk)
- "Eat it" was one of my favorite tunes of the entire year, and I hope Patsy (and Mystic Inane) have more coming in 2017.
9. Bad Noids "It's A Doggie Bag World" EP (Feel It)
- Cleveland, OH. "Into the Future" was the soundtrack to a good portion of my 2016.
10. Urochromes 7" (Lumpy)
- So much bang for your punk buck on this six songer and they can do it live as well.
Honorable mentions: Tommmy T & The Classical Mishaps (2015?), Lysol (2017?), Erik Nervous, Concealed Blade...
The Reissues/Retrospectives/etc. (LP):
1b. Stickmen With Rayguns "Property of Jesus Christ" LP (12XU)
- It was only fitting that Bobby Soxx provided the score for many months of the shitshow that was 2016. 12XU doing the Lord's work here and I hope these records bring Bobby some more of the recognition he deserves as one of the greatest punk frontmen of all time. And for the record "1000 Lives..." is 1a by a nose because he just sounds so grim on it...what a difference the 3 years between the shows made...
2. Sandra Bell "Dreams of Falling" LP (Straight to Video)
- A record that I never thought I would be able to own, right here in my hands. That's the feeling you should get from a reissue.
3. Halo of Flies "Music For Insect Minds 2XLP" (AmRep)
- It's about friggin time HazeXXL took some time away from doing Melvins lino-cuts to finally release this compilation of some of the greatest music ever recorded as a 2XLP set.
4. Landlords "Fitzgerald's Paris" LP (Feel It)
- Pre-Happy Flowers punk from VA that really knocked me out by surprise. I should've known...
5. The Hunches s/t LP (Almost Ready)
- It was a pretty good year for Hunches fans at least.
6. Angry Angles LP (Goner)
- Much needed compilation of the AA catalog, makes you teary eyed thinking about what that LP Jay recorded and lost on a hard drive crash contained. Also fulfills the Reatard record of the year quota - that he's "released" an essential record every year since he passed just reaffirms what a monumental talent he was.
7. Dow Jones & The Industrials "Can't Stand the Midwest 1979-1981" 2XLP LP (Family Vineyard)
I caught a pretty bad case of Hooosier Hysteria in 2016. Plus the DVD! And the 7"!!
8. Cheater Slicks "On Your Knees" LP (Almost Ready)
- Even though I spent a lot of time tracking down an original of this years ago, I still welcome the reissue. This will hopefully reignite the rumoredreissuing of 'Dont Like You' with bonus material and 'Forgive Thee' as a 2XLP/box on In The Red.
9. True Sons Of Thunder "A Spoonful..." LP (Jeth Row)
- I feel like people didn't even realize this was "reissued", but I also feel like people dont realize this LP is one of the high water marks of post-2000 punk rock. A massive LP.
10. Terminals "Uncoffined" LP (Hozac)
Not that most, if not all, NZ bands of this time period don't deserve the reissue treatment, but The Terminals REALLY deserve it.
The Reissues/Retrospectives/etc. (7"):
With 7" records becoming a harder sell these days there's thankfully still a few labels out there willing to take the chance for us. Zoomers 7" was the out-of-nowhere head blower. Airship was on the most confusingly likeable records of the year. Der Stab fulfills the All American KBD-punk bonzer quota for the year. Slow Death was the best of both shit-fi and Canadiana genres. Hollywood Killers the glam-punker of the year, Scabs the UK punk jammer of '16. And St. Vincent & The Grenadines was a unique record that should remind us we might have some classics buried right there in our backyards...1. Zoomers "From the Planet Moon" 7"(Mighty Mouth)
2. Airship "Get Out..." 7"(Mean Bean)
3. Der Stab "Tracers" 7"(Negative Jazz)
4. Slow Death "1985 Demo" EP(Unknown Coast)
5. Hollywood Killlers 7" EP(Mighty Mouth)
6. Scabs "Amory Builing" 7"(Hosehead)
7. St. Vincent & The Grenadines "Look Tp See" 7" (Randstock)
- See 7" comments = possibly the best release of the year over all formats.
2. Medication "Daily Affirmations" (C/Site)
- The return of Mikey Hyde. Devastating.
3. Rik & The Pigs "Volume II" (Chapel of Crimes)
4. CCTV "Practice Tape 3.6.16" (self-released)
- unreal that their practices are this good.
5. Lumpy & The Dumpers "Live in Wisconsin" (Lumpy Recs)
- Not even sure if this came out in 2016, but that's when I got it. Talk about entertaining.
6. The Cavemen "Band in B.C" (self-released)
- Not to be confused with the UK/NZ Cavemen. These idiots are from MA, and this tape is hands down the dumbest thing of the year. Love it. Shit-rock/budget rocks.
7. Lemonade demo (self-released)
- Pretty savage, I like the name, and I like that the 7" should be here any day...
8. Oil Wave Surfers "II" (C/Site)
- Stefan rescues this one from total obscurity and it's shockingly good.
9. Tropical Trash "Live at The Fillmore" (self-released)
- Pretty much the LP played in full and it sounds incredible.
10. Equipment Pointed Ankh s/t (Sophomore Lounge)
- Louisville weirdo conglomerate.
SPLIT OF THE YEAR: ESTROGEN HIGHS/FRUSTRATIONS split LP (Safety Meeting) - notable for the last set of Estrogen Highs recordings ever. Frustrations side ain't too shabby either. Runner Up: Wizzard Sleeve/Urochromes (Jeth-Row)
COMP OF THE YEAR: V/A "Subnormal Girls" LP (Waiting Room) - DIY Post-punk from 1979-83, almost mirroring the timeframe of last year's best comp ('Cease & Desist') with the focus on female-fronted bands. Even if this LP is of dubious origin, a second volume is planned for 2017 and I still applaud the effort here.
MODERN COMP OF THE YEAR: V/A "Tie One Off" tape (Chapel of Crimes) - I'm still trying to figure out the tracklisting for this one, but despite not even knowing which band is which (except for maybe Soft Cheek) this compilation of Chapel of Crimes acts (most or all from the PNW I assume) was a treat.
FAN CLUB RELEASE OF THE YEAR: ALEX CHILTON "Dusted in Memphis (and Elsewhere)" 2XLP - well worth the price tag, this collection of Chilton is a portrait of an artist as close to the edge of disaster as one can get.
FLAT TIRE PUNK RELEASE OF THE YEAR: XL-FITS "Hakata Slasher" 7" - FTP deserved it's own category this year, as there seems to be a new wave of bands obsessed with raw KBD sounds, of which this XL-Fits platter was the perfect example of. Runner Up: The Geros "Genocide or Suicide" 7" (Killer Boy).
"ONE-SIDER" OF THE YEAR: LIQUIDS "E.p." (Yeah You) - "Hurt My Feelin'" was probably a Top 3 tune of the year for me but I'll be damned if I can remember any of the other songs....
WORST BAND NAME: Carl Sagan's Skate Shoes really bothered me this year.
ZINE OF THE YEAR: Maximum Rock'n'Roll - kind of a no-brainer, but under the current coordinator(s) MRR is the best it's been since I was a kid. With the recent archives project undertaking, anyone who thinks MRR isn't deserving of being the institution it is, and still at the forefront of the battleground is just talking somedumb shit. MRR will be here long after all of us are gone. And Grace's interview with The Media and the discussion of the punk underground (for lack of a better term) and our place in it is something we should all be thinking about.
BOOK OF THE YEAR: Total Chaos - The Story of The Stooges - another no-brainer here, and a hundred times better/more interesting than that Jarmusch doc. Slash: A Punk Magazine from Los Angeles was massive as well.
REISSUE OF THE YEAR (CASSETTE CATEGORY): Watery Love "Nine Songs with Meg Drumming" cassette (Richie) - a handy little package for when you're driving to the liqour store which thankfully includes their track from that Pitchfork split 7" wth KV.
MP3 OF THE YEAR: Holt Bodish 'Waiting for Nothing' - Holt's solo record (also available as a CDR, but it counts says me) "straight from the living room of Bodish HQ". Nuf sed.
LIVE SET OF THE YEAR: Counter Intuits - June 4th @ Will's Pub, Orlando, FL - third time I've seen Ron, Jared and Co. and the best set of the three, including Ron out-punking all the kids. Rik & The Pigs were a close second as were Life Stinks and Urochromes at the Final Fuck. Runners Up: Unholy Two/Jayfish/Stefan Christensen/Richard Papiercuts at Lokifest 2 but I am totally biased on that...
BEST ARTWORK/PACKAGING: Musk "Musk 2: The Second Skumming" LP (12XU) - even though Rob didn't bust out the latex for this one, to see his artwork in glorious full color is spectacular. Honorable Mention: Giorgio Murderer "Holographic Vietnam War" LP for a different Rob's use of real life Vietnam artifacts and/or possible time travel.
WORST ARTWORK: The Goodtime Aussie Bogalars "A Slab of Liquid Cunt" LP - I'm all for dumb shit, but it has to be "good dumb" or "funny dumb" or whatever and this record failed on all accounts.
SOUNDTRACK OF THE YEAR: 'Pinball Summer' - I revived this discontinued category to show that you can still reissue a soundtrack LP the proper way, despite what Mondo/Death Waltz etc.. have done with the form - with the original LP artwork intact and conceived via a love for some good tunes - not with some heinous cartoon reimagining of the artwork in day-glo colors to exist as a "vinyl" so Rue Morgue readers can display it on their walls.
BISTRO DISTRO MEMORIAL AWARD: FEEL IT - Aside from running one of the best labels in the land (Feel It was the runner up for label of the year), Sam also has one of the best distros on the interweb - acting as importer for all of your Australian punk needs, stocking all the zines you should be reading and a supporter of the "people's format" (that means tapes), he has an impeccable selection available at the nice price. Plus he knows how to pack a record. Go check it out and support the type of person we need more of.
PUNK OF THE YEAR: Brace Belden - no contest.
YOUTUBE OF THE YEAR: Jimmy from Youtube - the unsung hero of 2016 (and beyond), I suggest immediatley subscribing to Jimmy's channel for uploads of all the tapes/demos you're never going to have the chance to own or hear and to often catch new records from the nation's hottest young acts before their "street date". I have no idea who you are, but thanks a lot Jimmy and keep up the good work.
COVER SONG OF THE YEAR: Beasteater "Wood Shampoo" - a TSOT cover by two ex-Blowtops, the drummer from The Dirtys and Tom Potter. It's like something I made up, but it's true...
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: Another great year between the ropes. I was able to fully appreciate NJPW in all of its glory for the time via the AXS TV show and some kind souls who uploaded the big shows to youtube almost immediately. ROH still seem to be treading water - the tag division still seems hot, but I'm not a fan of O'Reilly/Cole and I'm also not sure how the NJPW alliance is helping ROH in any way. TNA almost died, yet through it all Matt Hardy somehow turned himself into one of the most interesting/ridiculous talents in the industry. Finally caught up with Lucha Underground, and I like it despite what Jim Cornette tells me. WWE is still the biggest stage, and going into Rumble weekend we had Kevin Owens and AJ Styles as our champions - both deserving men, but who woulda thunk that 5 years ago? And speaking of Styles, the guy was undoubtedly the performer of the year, even with that haircut. AJ STYLES = THE FACE THAT RUNS THE PLACE...
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: ERIK NERVOUS - "Not from NWI, not on Lumpy" says Mr. Nervous, and that's cool with me. He seems too nice to be palling around with those weirdos anyway. But the demo tape/7" and the recent single on Neck Chop have me digging his brand of off center punk rock that is on the same level as the peers he's attempting to distance himself from.
BAND OF THE YEAR: RIK (& THE PIGS) - not a tough decision at all. Rik & The Pigs are the best punk band out there, Mognoloid are an incredible hardcore band and that solo RIk 7" might have been his best record yet. Caught a live set down in sunny FLA and that band he has knocked 'em dead. Whether he's writing the songs, singing them, playing the guitar or just doing everything, Rik has delivered like few others have over the past couple of years. He is the future of punk, and the future is now.
LABEL OF THE YEAR: LUMPY RECS - Lumpy Recs has somehow become one of the most trusted labels out there - at least for me and my love of the shit-fi aesthetic in general. But that's not to say Lumpy is just releasing lo-fi slimepunk bands wrought in his own mold. The diversity of the label is both amazing and confusing - from The Wad to Mr. Wax to Trauma Harness to Soft Cheek there's barely a thread of continuity aside from the fact they're all from the outer fringes of punk freakdom and they fall under what seems to be Lumpy's one criteria to be a part of the Spotted Race: no bullshit. I know everything that sports the Lumpy logo is going to be of interest at the very least, and more often something that ends up in the rotation consistently. And his alliances with bands from across the continent - Urochromes, Glitter/Janitor Scum, Marky and NWI and more - speak to the fact that it's not just one little scene of weirdos he's documenting, but the a whole world full of them. The best part is that Lumpy could care less what I think, and will definitely think this whole thing is lame. Which he is probably right about. Congrats!
To see past winners of Termbo Awards go here and to check back on full Year End lists please check the archives.
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