Is this a thinly veiled Prince reference or a direct command to batter the ever-loving shit out of the calendar year? I'm uncertain, although I do know I couldn't be bothered to call it a "Best Of" this time out. That would be like a disservice to the universe. Anything remotely good that sprouted up along these last twelve months would gleam in the sun for a mere moment or so, only to wind up trampled under the weight of political despair, global wide depression or that relentless wave of death which occurred on both a personal and celebrity level.
So here it is. Adios, fucker. I'm willing to take a bat-whack at 2016, dropping it like a fifty pound sack of Idaho Russets left to whimper in a ditch. Not that I believe 2017 is gonna' be something glorious to wake up to. We're a short-hair shy of living out a dystopian nightmare and it's looking to be nowhere as cool as The Road Warrior. Sure, there'll probably be violent marauders roving the wasteland - but they'll undoubtedly be some sorta' hot trash combo of hillbilly hate and those mustache waxed jackasses rolling about on hover-boards, all searching for an endless supply of vape juice. Sigh. Stay home, snuggle some elderly animals. Drink cocoa laced with bourbon. Pray we don't need to stock up on Pat Robinson's thirty year life-span Fiesta Buckets and cry ourselves to sleep.
These releases that follow were more than just music. They acted as tiny pockets of oxygen in which I violently gasped at, sucking them in while desperately trying to stay buoyant in this murky, shit-tainted tide. Perhaps some of them will help you through these upcoming draconian days as well? Have at it - and here's to hoping we can make it to another roundup of wasted petroleum, come next December.
Did you buy a MUSK II LP?
Good for you.
Civil Union "Seasick Lovedrunk" LP
No one wants to talk about this record as much as I do. I babbled about its greatness to all who could stomach my froth for months, hoping it lead to at least a few Bandcamp sales. Civil Union has harnessed all that American despair felt during their disastrous 2014 tour, leaving it to stew in their damp, bedraggled womb until ripened to a rank perfection. And out plopped 'Seasick Lovedrunk' - a grim, Brood-like, Cronenbergian manifestation made by Kiwi youths that should fulfill anyone's dream of hearing Blixa Bargeld moonlight on the 'Disintegration' recording sessions. Could this band - barely of age - give Crime & The City Solution a run for their money in the bleakest of bleak sweepstakes? You bet. Teeth grinding, gut churning, feedback fevered melancholia. There's no getting outta' bed with this spinning on the hi-fi. A stellar package, from the music production quality all the way down to the Young God inspired artwork. This looks to be gone from the source, but I'm sure there's plenty still sitting around the usual US distros. Check over at 12xU, mayhaps?
(Melted Ice Cream // meltedicecream.bandcamp.com)
Sleeping Beauties LP
The band voted most likely to implode before even completing their first West coast tour. They didn't (well, a little), all are still alive (I think) and we have this fabulous document to be thankful for. Combining members of the past decade's finest scene cleaners - The Hunches and Hospitals - the Sleeping Beauties found a way to make glam swagger gross again. These Beauts are self proclaimed glue merchants, shoveling heaps of broken Dolls and Thunders riffs on top of something similar to Lou Reed's 'Take No Prisoners' - only it's much more terrifying, spun or agitated than that. Vocalist/ringleader Hart Gledhill drags the tracks by their wastebands, kicking down back alleys and through the mud puddles of Portland, all the while ranting like some hobo dumpster digger that's living out a fantasy via moldy Suicide albums. Insert my Exile on Main Street Hassle joke here (no one is amused). Churning dust storms of multi-tracked guitar jut forth, ricocheting between Robert Quine's 'Blue Mask' high points and the most jolting work of (fuck you) Dick Lloyd. The two times I caught them live, they were the polarizing beast I'd hoped for. Rob Enbom plowed backwards, clearing a semi-circle with busted guitar onto an unsuspecting LA crowd. Hart chucked his shoes at panicked photographers and came within an inch or so of elbowing label honcho Larry Hardy in the eye during his goosestepping pit parade. Their twenty minute set sounded as if two Electric Eels were playing simultaneously (off time) and rifling through Red Krayola covers. I have to say, this brought a smile to my cranky old maw. A smile of the likes I ain't cracked in nearly a decade. The SF show wasn't too far off center, either. Bonus saxophone bleat and the occasional electronic texture was added as Hart took some quality time out to drop a wily drunk (wearing a Fat Records hoodie) in a sleeper hold. Terry Funk would be proud. Now, don't that all sound good to you? It sounds great to me. Godly, in fact.
(In The Red // intheredrecords.com)
Another super-er group for a select section of elder TermBored dwellers. I'd douse y'all in heavy verbage and overwrought hyperbole, had I not just completed a review of this record yesterday. Just go back and read that instead. This almost didn't rate on my list, since I honestly thought it came out years ago. I've been spinning an unmastered CDr of these shit-kickers for a few moons. Anyways, it legitimately dropped this past October (near my birthday!) and now everyone can finally have a whack at it as well. One Bantam Rooster, two Blowtops (er, Fatal Figures) and a lone Dirty = earbleeding caterwaul. A brutal noiserock vs. agresso-garage that should bring the fans of Action Swingers, Crypt records' violent streak and even certain Dope, Guns and Fuckers to a messy climax.
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Wilful Boys "Rough As Guts" LP
I'm fully aware my illustration work graces this LP sleeve, so maybe I'm a bit biased. But I did say yes to the job for good reason. This rekkerd flat out smokes. Strong, ugly meat and potatoes punk on deck with little to zero gristle or fatty deposits. Barked bluntly and hammered into your head with enough force to rattle any rotten teeth loose. A tad 80's Aussie (duh), a tad NY noise (duh) and maybe even a bit of burly street punk or Dischord to their grooves (whoa). Think of them as the fastest, angriest Watery Love offerings paired with a stripped down Pampers - if that helps give the under 35 crowd something to cling to. Whatever the deal, I'm proud to be attached in some way. Here's to hoping they'll tour out of their cramped borough one day.
(Ever/Never Records // evernever.bigcartel.com)
Mommy "Songs About Children" LP
Sure - I say "I'm so over hardcore" at least a handful of times every week, but I MEAN IT. Honest. I've been D-beat to death by so many like-minded CHUDs, yet this record seems special. Maybe it's the fact there's no guitar screech cluttering the premises? Simpletons will throw about Peni references like wedding rice, yet there's so much more going on here. Primal, off kilter beatings and proto-industrial clangor helps to find the common ground where ESG meets Savage Republic - within the hardcore confines. Jesus H. Chrysler - seriously - listen to the fucking drums on this mother (er, mommy). The blown out bass is barely more than a hornets nest of sonic dis-pleasantries, circling that rapid kit battering and those coughed up vocals are a hell of a lot creepier once you read them liner notes. A total rhythm machine. War dance. Toxic state still has some aces in their deck, evidently. Damn you, hardcore. You win this time.
(Toxic State // mommynyc.bandcamp.com)
Violence Creeps "Gift Of Music" 12" and "Soul Narc" LP
Some of you get it, some of you don't. Baby's first band is now a scene-star powerhouse. Dan Sh...er, "Shrimp Ripper" has most locals jealous with his unconventional, unhinged and seemingly never-ending guitar leads. Amber's so goddamn unassuming - especially when seen toting around a candy colored Hello Kitty handbag in matching attire - it's bonkers to hear her spew forth this vocal shrapnel with such dirtbag aplomb. If Paul Leary tearing ass over The Slits punkier moments sounds like a boat floater to you - then by all means, give this a whirl. Choose one or the other or both. I'm too lazy to decide for you. As of next month they lose their rhythm section of seasoned profesh's and are hooking up with hopefully some more awkward folks to make more awkward musics to scramble the minds of all awkward teens, everywhere. A toast.
(Total Punk // floridasdying.com) (Digital Regress // digitalregress.storeenvy.com)
Eyes Ninety s/t LP
A late in the year, mailbag wonder to my ears - Eyes Ninety are the perfect drunk-on-rock shenanigans I needed. Landing on the beach somewhere between those Snooty Garbagemen and Detroit's late, great Rocket 455. I just reviewed the damn thing, so I'm keeping this short. A glorious Brisbane slop played thru faltering gear by failing minds for those with Hamms soaked lobes. Done.
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghoborecords.bandcamp.com)
Vincas "Deep In The Well" LP
Some well dressed, southern dandies kicking up a deep psych and swamp noise. Another one I was glad to have gotten in the mailbag. I honestly didn't know they were still a band. More Roland Howard corpse-hump and heartache swing to help the lovelorn losers drink deeply into the night. There's great use of restraint vs. high fired screech up in here - and a vocalist willing to actually sing (something I'd like to hear more of these days) Ballroom broke up and Degreaser's been put on hold - I guess I'll try to talk my band into a trip down south and see if these peaches are up to play. Plus, I could finally visit that Waffle House Museum.
(Learning Curve // learningcurverecords.bandcamp.com)
Midnight Mines "If You Can't Find A Partner Use A Wooden Chair" LP
This record is such fresh meat, I'm typing this blurb while listening on its second time around. Life just ain't worth one's salt without a bit o' Lemmy Caution in the air. Even though Black Time made a Brexit, the Midnight Mines have their deep feels all over 'em. There's gnarly soundscapes and dub rattle in the mix along with the usual scrapyard punk and Link Wray mood n' gloom one would expect. It doesn't hurt that the package is real pretty too, like a low-rent Folkways release.
(Mystery Plane // midnightmines.bandcamp.com)
Danny & The Darleans "Bug Out!" LP
Others that stuck to my fillings this round would include: James Arthur's Manhunt "Digital Clubbing" LP (12XU), Lavender Flu's "Heavy Air" 2XLP (Meds), Azna De L'Ader's "Zabaya" (Sahel Sounds) and the Writhing Squares "In The Void Above" LP (Siltbreeze). I bet I'd be losing my shit over the new Sex Scheme LP had I even ordered it. Oh well...
A no frills, solid return to the Budget Rock ass shake and 'Scum Of The Earth' styling by the muy importante - if not king ruler - of the throwback scene. Bug Out!'s one greasy party platter, amping up the production quality over their first outing. There's thicker fur around the edges and a bombastic bottom thump that comes through, very loud and clear. Seeing them play a year or so back just cemented the fact that no one can hold a candle to Danny in this arena - and frankly no one really ever could (other than legit sixties folk and Rob Vasquez, perhaps). Imagine if Van Morrison sobered the fuck up, quit all the jazz-scat drool and got back to belting blue eyed soul. Just imagine. Obviously that bloated trainwreck ain't gonna toss his fedora into the Starbucks waste can any time soon, so be thankful we got a guy like Kroha out there belting it for the bulk of us.
(In The Red // intheredrecords.com)
Whipper "Shit Love" 7"
A perfect single. You got your throbbing X-ish tune. You got your cock-in-pocket rocker taking jabs at the Saints and Birdman catalog. You got your near hardcore projectile, covered in globs of Sick Things spittle, rumbling along as if feedtime went metal. These lil' Whippers scurry about the historic Aussie punk terrain, hitting most of its landmark sounds square in the jaw and still manage to come out fresh. Why was this so stupidly hard to find in the states? Shit Love should be prominently displayed on every record shop wall from San Francisco to - I dunno - some shithole in Arkansas. Features members of Cuntz and Bits of Shit, so I can only hope you own it already.
(Aarght! // whipper.bandcamp.com)
XL-Fits "Hakata Slasher" 7"
A deranged scorcher from Japan that Mitch Cardwell insisted I order, sound unheard (when Mitch talks, people listen). Yes, the cover does look like "Gacy's Place". Yes, there's even a bit of said song permeating flip-side. If you're gonna' steal, steal from the best. There's more than a tad of The Mad influence running through this squelch as well. The guitarist never seems to do what you think he should do, often opting for notes that if played by lesser hands could knock the earth out of axis. The bass jazz's about and the drummer seems to have forgotten to tune his heads. Bong. Bong. Bong. So good. So grody. Now I gotta' find their first record. This sounds like a job for Flat Tire Punk! (MITCHELL!!)
(Episode Sounds // episodesounds.bandcamp.com)
Rik & The Pigs "Life's A Bust" 7"
I think most of the Midwest stuff that's been goin' on is certainly cool. Spotted Race built its own punk empire one dirt cheap tape at a time. Slowly it seeped out, taking over the minds of music nerds, spreading across forums and filling blog-oligists pore by pore - Lumpy & Co. are the hardcore equivalent of black mold. The way they built their cities on these warped scenes, slime art and basement demos is a feat noteworthy enough for its own chapter in the Decline Of Western Civilization series. Now, Rik may be tied in by blood - but he's way out here on the rainy coast. Older, drunker and more rockin' in the redwoods. Their cassettes and earlier single output have been pretty fidelity challenged up til now - and maybe it's got something to do with the Vexx connection on hand - but here The Pigs really hit it outta' the pen. "Life's A Bust" and "Nothing" are eardrum slayers of the highest regard. Color me stoked for his upcoming solo single as well.
(Feel It // feelitrecords.bandcamp.com)
Pleasure Gallows "Positivity" 7"
Seriously, I know. It's crazy. But this is the dawn of Trump's America - there's much worse that we can be held accountable for. This little single nailed it and nailed it hard, crossing the line between ratty basement KBDing and Gulcher proto-sounds. Maybe someone will let them play your town before the red hats burn it to the ground? Lord knows they have to Skype their Bay Area shows around here, broadcasted secretly from some dom-cellar near the outlying Richmond district. Drink the piss. Live the life. The end is near anyways. Go out classless.
(Pelican Pow Wow // pelicanpowwow.com)
The Wad "Ron Is Wrong" 7"
Too stupid to not be included. The Wad is like a toddler trying his hands at the Screamers catalog on a Playskool xylophone. Better than the CCTV/Coneheads trash heap y'all been crapping yourselves over - but none'ya fucks would listen. This is a primo Devo brat/chowder-brained Residents mishmash. The new Normal, but dripping in drool. Thank you, my tender Lumpling. (I have a dream that this blurb will start an inter-label scuffle that can only be sorted through a Martin vs. Mark barbwire death match to air on pay per view cable, Summer 2017.)
(Lumpy Records // spottedrace.bigcartel.com)
Some close runner-ups: RubberMate "Rub 'Em All" 7" (On Saucepan - I still need their cassette dammit!), Glitter "Joy Of A Toy" 7" (Lumpy) and The Beatniks 7" (Goodbye Boozy).
Stick Men With Ray Guns “1,000 Lives To Die” & “Property Of Jesus Christ” LPs
Last year ended with the first proper full length of Stick Men recordings. I wept. I cheered. I vibrated with excitement. So how you gonna’ wrap up one of the most crippling, downright awful years since the fucking ice age drifted in? Not sure about y’all but I’ve been drinking to access, threatening to carve an "X" into my forehead with a pen knife and basking in the sounds of not one - but two - Stick Men live LPs. The studio tracks left a deep infection, for sure - but this double live gonzo collection comes along to bluntly remind everyone of what a goddamned punk band should sound like. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster enough energy to even flop anything else on the turntable since their arrival. Why bother? That other shit ain’t punk. The Stick Men knew the recipe. They practically invented it. Guitar as rototiller. Bass rattle distorted to nothing more than the crackle of a tire fire. Bobby Soxx's - his voice, acidic and raw - is probably the gnarliest man ever to antagonize Texans, or at least since "Chop-Top” Sawyer fell to his demise at the end of Chainsaw II. He's a human grizzly bear of bad vibes. The undisputed king of bible chopping, speed snorting, Shiner swilling, potty mouthing, rifle sporting, cop hating, outlaw hatepunk - and he did it all while dressed as Buddy Holly (or Lester Bangs, closer to the end). I'm willing to stumble through the upcoming headache named 2017 if there's a chance of a Teenage Queers retrospect package or even a (quality) feature length documentary.
(12xU // 12xu.net)
White Zombie "It Came From NYC" 4XLP Box
This ten pound brick is either one of the greatest chunks of archival fodder I own - or the dumbest gallery ready clump of noise ever tossed in the face of the Waxidermy crowd. Personally, I think it's just too fucking nice. The hardcover book is chock full of good stories and info, yet seems so sterile in appearance and approach. Numero shoulda'/coulda' sullied it up with more band pics and flyer art clutter so it didn't feel like a stuffy Sotheby's auction catalog. I mean, that dumpster baby CD set that dropped in 2008 may have been a sonic letdown, but at least Rob Straker - er, Zombie - knew to add the proper amount of mildew and dayglo goo when assembling the liner notes. The thick as sheet rock, high gloss tip-on sleeves are also pretty silly when you think of the pit-stained, bed-dreads and scumfuck leanings enclosed. Still, these are just dumb gripes from a collector scum with shallow pockets - and one who could never in a million paychecks nab either of the original EPs prior to Psycho-Head Blowout. And that, my friends, is how it ends up on the year-end list. Thank yous are in order for allowing both the casual fans (I.E - those who didn't play dress up like crusty clown cowboys or space-ravers during the 90's) and the obsessive noise rockers an opportunity to spin this garbage on their turntables. We all can move beyond those lackluster, tin-eared CDs or Soulseek share files. For me, the only record I needed in this crate was that one featuring the two early singles and a few unreleased tracks. 'Gods of Voodoo Moon' yelps like the teen angst era-Redd Cross combining surf goth antics with Rob's then fresh, boiling cat yarl. Sloppy, strange and unfocused but still pleasing in a stumble-through-the-scrapyard sorta’ way. An original "Pig Heaven" 45 won't set you back a years worth of car insurance like Voodoo Moon, but it’ll definitely still weigh heavy on your bankbook. Those songs are where the band starts to shine; leaning backwards and stumbling like a boozed up Ted Nugent battering his way through a junked-out Kiss covers soundcheck. I'm pleased as punch to be holding these, even if the sleeve is glossier than a new set of Korean gel-nails. For the unaware, the meat of the package lies within the 'Psycho-Head Blowout' EP and the 'Soul Crusher' full length. This is the sound of Lower East Side art-school rejects trying to emulate Blue Cheer and “Speed King”-era Deep Purple (or whatever else their weed dealer was diggin’ at the time), but magically come off sounding like Pussy Galore spinning their tires in loose gravel or Sonic Youth adapting to a stuttering, busted prog. Very little “YEAAAAHHH” in these here works. The inclusion of 'Make them Die Slowly' is undeniable, though there's really no helping the sackless sound of Bill Laswell's mix. What could’ve been a pretty great thrash crossover (I’ve heard live radio shows of this era and they were monsters) ends up bottomless, reeking of an early A.I. software attempt to imitate Voivod. As for the 'God Of Thunder' EP, it is what it is. Dumb fun, unessential and the beginning of the end. Other’s like it, and that’s cool. Have at it. For me, just getting those first singles waxed up - and the band's willingness to revisit these frowned upon years - makes it a worthy package. To anyone left who hasn’t heard 'Soul Crusher' or 'Psycho-Head Blowout', yet knows the name Warton Teirs or has a healthy stack of Neutral Records on their shelves - prepare to ride the pigfuck snake of enlightenment.
(Numero Group // numerogroup.com)
The Hunches "First Demo" LP
C'mon - you had to know you weren't gonna escape it? I've been waiting a hard copy of these tracks for nearly ten years and have spent the last six listening to glitch laden MP3s. Now all you lucky listeners get a chance to hear it cleaned up, magically enhanced and free of all encryption defects. Here lies a powerful, still green around the gills Hunches boogie, that's leaning towards a straighter R&R sound. The art-damage hadn't sunk in yet, but with lost essentials like "Pamela" and "You'd Better Think Twice" in the mix, I'd find it very hard to live without. Their Dead Boys and Tombs apes might seem obvious to most, though these are possibly some of the best Dead Boys and Tombs apes to be spat out by non-Ohians. An essential a chunk of the 2000's time capsule has been excavated. Bring on their second batch of demos and perhaps a square-bound set of the Horizontal Action zines - then I'll be ready to retire to my wicker deck furniture and leave this babbling behind.
(Almost Ready // almostreadyrecords.com)
Lord High Fixers "The Beginning Of The End..." 2xLP
Another 90's CD-only messterpiece finally comes to vinyl fruition. Not much to say here - just go back and read my In The Red 25th anniversary write up if you need the details. A celebratory champagne toss-back is made to the folks at Omentum for pressing up some of the most violently skewered interpretations of blues, soul, jazz and, yes - even Mudhoney - ever brought to existence. Bonus points for the extra tracks on side four. This means I can finally purge that final goddamn Carbon 14 compilation from my singles box! Putting my vote in early that the Fixers be the next in line for Tim Kerr band resurrections!
(Omentum Records // omentumrecords.net)
Gazoline "Sally" 7"
It pains me knowing I dropped $35 via Discogs to get this import delivered by year end. I missed the two day window to order this reissue from the source. I also had no idea beforehand that this band even made another single besides "Killer Man" (I'm a BAD PUNK). Blame my lack of internet trolling or the alternate name spelling. This record ain't "Killer Man", but it is a perfectly putrid, jazz infused, rudimentary run of some single riff, freak funk. Probably not for everyone, but in my favored world that features the recent Jack Ruby unearthing and a fourth time around for Metal Urbain appreciation - this stuttering skronk is an ear-worm I warmly welcome.
(Chameleon Records // 45vinylvidivici.net)
Other crap that enriched the world’s new arrival bins would be the much needed AmRep reissues of Cows, Halo Of Flies and Unsane titles. I was glad to see all those ltd edition Melvins records helped to fund some solid shit. TAD. TAD? TAD!! Soggy is back in the racks!! That's something to cheer. The Horrors "Strange House" finally got a US vinyl release ten years too late, but I bought it anyways. Don’t you judge me. Some of you fuckers even like Sleaford Mods. (Snooze)
B.D. (Bad Daddies) "Demo 2016"
'Dis here outfit is truly ruling right now. Blazing, noisy, strong headed punk screech. Hopefully someone will take a chance and press some or all of this to vinyl in the coming year. The home-recording panache on display is definitely something most of the hardcore lesserlings could learn from these days. Give it a chance and read my real review elsewhere.
(self-released // baddaddies.bandcamp.com)
Brain Bagz demo tape
I hear this Utah outfit has a single dropping before winter's thaw - and if it's anywhere as good as this tape or their Bandcamp tracks, I'd suggest all the baloney breathed stalwarts of Team Termbo start flaking the mayo glaze off their palazzo pants now, 'cuz you got a record store errand run in your near future. Seething and ugly like the Manateees on a Cramps tip or the Lamps hovering above Pussy Galore's 1 Yr Live recordings. Bath-Salt Lake City R&R has arrived.
(self-released // brainbagz.bandcamp.com)
Jazz Destroyers “New York City Burns While Cleveland Sleeps”
This should probably live in the reissue or archival section of this list - but fuck it. Last years finest and most listened to upload around my house now exists on a flimsy plastic hiss-trap with a cool J-card. A damn fine soundboard recording of Destroyers’ rarities ("Bagful of Garbage” ! "Have A Nice Day”! Etc!), sloppy Eels covers and forays into amphetamine warped jazz. This should be considered as worthy of LP treatment just as much as the X__X recordings. Dave E. would never write off on it, but desperately need the option to spin their Ramones covers at every sock-hop I DJ from here on out (Not many, I know.)
(fan club release // Check the ‘scogs, fool.)
I love, LOVE, lurve getting handed something totally unheard of and being blown away by it. I think Rich & I's back-to-back reviews of this small surprise said it all. Metallic edged scunge with witchy woman overtones that meld Babes In Toyland brattiness to the Melvins brashness and comes off psychotically spectacular.
(self-released // towanda.bandcamp.com)
Teeth Gnashers “Queer Trees”
Another metal thrash churner, giving up a heap of blackened bedroom damage and some stellar nuthouse cover choices. Delirious times to be had. Just like Towanda - mail bag specials. Keep these sorta' things coming at me. Thanks!
(self-released // teethgnashers.bandcamp.com)
Props also to be given for the somewhat unnecessary Lysol two track live cassingle (Chapel Of Crimes) - it's good takes of a couple road-worn, newer tunes - but the gigantic map-mess of a tour poster wedged into its J-card space is a thing of beauty, even if I fail to fold it up right ever again. I'd also really like to mention the quieter side of Life Stinks, who dropped a collection of acoustic and sad songs on tape for their summer tour - and I didn't get one. 2016 is truly a cruel, cold bitch. This is getting vinyl treatment or so I hear, so maybe that'll perk my pansies up a tad in 2017.
RIP Cara Joy. RIP la Bete.
Back to 2016 Main
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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