Columns - "Mindless Contentment" 12.29.03

            2003, The Year in Review: This past year was a mixed bag for me. There was an abundance of great records; so many that I actually had to think about my top ten lists this year. But there was also an abundance of crap out there. The whole neo-new wave, art damaged, weirdo schtick grew pretty thin on me after a while. There are so few bands that do it well, and so many that make it sound like a bad joke. Sometime over the summer I couldn’t take it any more, and retreated into a Back from the Grave/ Spaceshits/ Sexareenos/ Supercharger shell that I didn’t emerge from until the fall. In all actuality, the two “new” records I listened to most this year were the two Mummies reissue CDs. Maybe I was burnt out after getting my head blown off at the Chicago Blackout, or maybe that “Dirtnap Across the Northwest” mega-compilation pushed me over the neo-new wave edge, or maybe I’m just getting old, but I couldn’t listen to anything new for weeks and weeks. Records were bought and shelved with a half-hearted listen. I totally lost it, either through disgust or overload, and during what, in retrospect, turned out to be one of the best years for music ever, I totally hated music. I snapped out of it after awhile, but I guess when there’s so much out there it’s tough to handle all the crap you have to wade through to find the real gold. And there was plenty of gold to be found it turned out. If anything, my tolerance for crap has become lessened and my vitriol for garbage music greatly increased.
            And I’d actually really like to thank all of the bands, labels, and distros who provided with me great music. Theirs is the thankless job. Without them, we, the record reviewers would not exist. It takes guts to play live, or invest your cash in putting out a record, or record music for the masses. It takes nothing for a boob like me to listen to it and promptly rattle off a paragraph or two about how good or bad it is. I have no qualifications to review records, other than the fact that I own and listen to way too many of them, and have wasted a good amount of what could have been productive time thinking about what to say about them. And I really do love music it turns out. Really.
10) Cheeraks “Miss Bretzel” – One of the most fucked up records of the year. Very, very weird, but without being “arty” or “New wave”. (Yakisakana Records)
9) Kill-A-Watts/Sweet JAP split – This one is just for the Kill-A-Watts side. Two of the best KAW songs ever. Ryan Kill-A-Watt = hit machine. (Nice-N-Neat Records)
8) Neon King Kong “Get What’s Going Around b/w There’s A Party” – I know, I hate all this art-wave crap. But these guys were really good at it. I miss them already. (Vinyl Dog Records)
7 and 6) The Ponys “Wicked City” and “So Sentimental” – Both of these platters were outstanding. They’ll be the band of 2004. (Big Neck and Contaminated Records)
5) Bassholes “Out in the Treetops” 2x7” – Howland & Bim returned in force with this monster that is already fetching ludicrous sums on eBay. (Dead Canary Records)
4) Operation S “Delinquante” – A great year for the French, Cecelia and Co. returned to the punk rock and created one of the best things I’ve heard in years. And French lyrics are always cool. (Wild Wild Records)
3) The Lids 7”- This one came to me out of nowhere, a great early Rip Off style blast that has me drooling for an LP. (Die Slaughterhaus Records)
2) VOLT! Maxi-EP – Synth punk done right: mean, sexy, dark, and French. (Polly Magoo Records)
1) Catholic Boys “Brainwash City” EP – Some of the best punk ever. It was these tracks that convinced me of their greatness. Fucking kids. (Kryptonite Records)
Notes: The Clorox Girls, Memphis Break-Ups, and Broke Revue almost made the list, but I’m sure they’ll have a chance again next year.
10) Turbonegro “Scandanavian Leather”- Say what you will, more Turbonegro is better than no Turbonegro. Still one of the greatest bands ever. (Burning Heart)
9) A-Frames “2” – Still innovative, and doing it very well. Really nice guys too. (SS Records)
8) Tie Reds “Holy Crap…” CD-R – Not really an official release, but it was too good to be ignored. Too bad they broke up. (self released)
7) Thee Flying Dutchmen “Caveman Sessions” LP-  It warmed my heart to see Budget Rock still alive and well. Ook! (Boom Boom of Renton)
6) Functional Blackouts s/t- The best of the new breed, as good as I always wanted the Clone Defects and Piranhas to be. Best production job of the year for Jim Hollywood as well. (Criminal IQ Records)
5) Zodiac Killers “Society’s Offenders” – Lowery and his ZK mk.III androids managed to create the second best Rip Off LP of the year. (Rip Off Records)
4) BBQ s/t CD – Mark Sultan does no wrong in my book. True rock and roll all the way. Infectious. (Alien Snatch!)
3) Henry Fiats Open Sore “The Parallel Universe of…” CD –  The best non-American band in operation at the moment. This will sound even better on vinyl. (Coldfront Records)
2) A Feast of Snakes s/t LP- The Beguiled and Necessary Evils were two of my favorite bands ever. This reminds me of both, obviously. (In the Red Records)
1) Marked Men s/t LP- The best rock/pop record in years. I listened to this for a month and a half straight, and I’m still not tired. Yes, better than The Reds ever were. (Rip Off Records)
Notes: The Catholic Boys full length was disqualified because it was not officially released; either Mummies CD could have placed number one, but reissues don’t count; Lost Sounds Demos & Outtakes II was disqualified because it’s just not fair; haven’t actually heard the new Buff Medways LP yet, so for the first time in ten years Billy Childish doesn’t make my year end list; Dirtbombs new LP was disqualified for lack of Tom Potter; Tyrades, Final Solutions, Firestarter, Husbands, Mr. Airplane Man, Anteenagers, and Black Lips had a shot at cracking the list, but missed out for one reason or another.
10) Clorox Girls LP- I was VERY intrigued by their 7” (Jonny Cat Records?)
9) Big Neck Compilation CD- It’s about time. (Big Neck, duh)
8) Crash Normal LP- I just can’t get enough of the French. (SS Records)
7) Blutt LP- More underrated French slop. (Version City Records)
6) Thee Flying Dutchmen “I Got to Shake” LP- The world always needs more shit-fi production. (Screaming Apple?)
5) Necessary Evils live LP- This ought to sound like murder. (702/Slovenly Records)
4) Operation S LP- Yes, more from France! (Les Troubadors du Chaos in France, and some Japanese label, probably 1+2?)
3) Armitage Shanks “Urinal Heep” – Dick Scum is back. (Damaged Goods)
2) Karate Party LP/CD- The best band most people have never heard of. Woodhouse is a genius, and it’s only right this stuff gets a proper release. Two of them. (Omnibus/SS Records)
1) The Ponys “Laced With Romance” CD/LP – They are going to be huge in 2004. Is this shit out yet? (In the Red Records)
Also: Lids, Sagger, new Kill-A-Watts, Lost Sounds, Hunches, A-Frames 3, more VOLT!, CPC Gangbangs, more Solid Sex Lovie Doll obscurities, King Khan & BBQ Show, Ghetto Ways (out now!), and more I’m sure….
10) Dirtbombs- first there’s no Tom Potter, then that stupid Australian Bee Gees cover record, and then they stink up the joint live so bad I put a self-imposed ban on their new LP. Fuck.
9) Oblivians/ Cheater Slicks on Halloween- How could this suck? Because I wasn’t fucking there! Whaaaaaaaaa!
8) Wauwatosa Blues- we were deprived of both the new Kill-A-Watts LP and Sagger LP for yet another year. I need more Ryan Kill-A-Watt and Tony Sagger in my musical diet.
7) Les Sexareenos- It appears they are officially broken up, and the compilation CD on Sympathy has been scuttled. Fuck again.
6) No one officially released the Guilty Pleasures LP for yet another year. One of the all-time unreleased gems.
5) The Fuse! and Hospitals records. I still love In the Red though.
4) The fact that there is not an Amoeba Records in every US city.
3) The Catholic Boys LP still languishes in Trickknee’s house. Somebody needs to finish the damn artwork already.
2) Only four records from Rip Off all year.
1) People are actually going to see and buying records by The Epoxies. Have you people no shame?
            Thanks everyone for playing, thanks to Joeee for giving us all the chance to contribute to the site, and extra special thanks to Horizontal Action, not only for being the best mag since Pure Filth, but for all the work they put into the Blackout, which was one of the greatest things I have ever been witness to.

© 2003