This was the year I fell behind: new releases, correspondence, movies, travel, and so on. I lost a month or two and never caught up. I guess life can be that way, eh? So I’m not qualified to opine on the year’s best releases. Two thirds of them, I’m sure, passed me by entirely, and half of the rest are sitting in piles on my floor, unplayed. I’ll catch up soon or die trying. But I am a meticulous list-maker, subjects spanning “Household Chores” to “Terminal Boredom To-Dos” (coming soon Rich, I swear, as always) to “Record Acquisitions 2009.” Perusing over that last one just now I figure I should just write about records—some old, some new, but all new to me—that I’ve spent a lot of time with in the ‘09.

Johnny Demon & the Devils – "Shut Your Mouth" b/w "You Make Me Spew" 7" (no label, 1980)
You Make Me Spew?!?! No one really talks like that, do they? Surely “spew” is a tell-tale indicator of pseudo-punk cash-in, right? If so, how successful the ‘cash in’ must have been! As fun as it is to speculate about others’ motivations the bottom line is this hardrock crossover (a.k.a. thug/biker/chain punk) nugget hits the spot. Oz punk rules all.

Manikin - "Stop the Sirens" LP (Super Secret Records, 2009)
Manikin were my favorite local band once, but now I live far away and have to keep up via recorded output, which hasn’t been as frequent as I’d like. Quality takes time; I know, I know. I miss having a band as good as this playing five minutes away on any given night…I’m glad to know they’re still at it, still writing great songs, presumably still playing Beerland twice a week.

Estrogen Highs – "Tell It to Them" LP (Dead Beat Records, 2009)
It’s not too obvious or cute, but Estrogen Highs are really onto something. Songs are well written and a little more ambitious than they might seem at first glance. The results are rare: an album worth continued listenings. They’ve been one of the better live bands I’ve seen this year, too.

Kevin Boyer – "Something’s Gonna Come Up" 7” (What’s Your Rupture, 2009)
The A-side is as good a pop song as I’ve heard this year. Like the Strange Division single from a while back, the melody is great but the guitar steals the show.

Epileptics – "1970's EP" (Spiderleg Records, 1982)
I was on a big Crass kick for the first time in a long time and it sort of reminded me that it’s been a while since I’ve romanced the genre. So I kept an eye open and started picking up peace punk records here and there when I found them on the cheap. I know I’d heard it before, but I’d forgotten just how brilliant this Epileptics release is. Rank it alongside Honey Bane and the first two Flux of Pink Indians records for best in show.

Beyond the Implode – "This Atmosphere" EP (Siltbreeze, 2009 [1979])
Sure, this is an imperfect and incomplete reissue of one of the great snapshots of the UK underground but the bottom line is that the music here is perfect and before this it was completely unavailable. Now I have something to listen to and before I did not.

Blank Its – "Johnny’s Tongue" 7” (Band Its, 2004)
Help me, I’m sick: this was an instant favorite upon release and has stayed in rotation ever since. I caved in to my record collecting demons by going out of my way to pick up each of the three first press sleeve variations — the band’s website attributes each design to a member of the band. I smiled a secret smile after turning up a used copy of JonPaul’s cover to complete the set a couple of years back. Or so I thought until my discovery this year of a full-color version of Betsy’s sleeve. Any other variations I need to know about? (Anyone wanna get rid of their Blank Its necktie? I’ve got a wedding coming up.)

Inanimate Objects – s/t EP (Freeway Records, 1982)
Some friends and I were hanging outside Beerland during the Shattered Records showcase during SXSW a few years back. I think this was the show the Reatards played that insane, great set that’s been mentioned a lot this week (thanks for all the great music, Jay. RIP). I could see Final Solutions were about to start so I split to make my way up front. Two minutes later a pal walked in with a grin and a Turbonegro LP…then revealed his ace in the hole by sliding out a copy of the Inanimate Objects EP from inside the LP sleeve where he’d stashed it for safe keeping. In the minute that I pushed my way to the stage someone had set up outside with a box of records for sale that included this one, priced at $15, which was until very recently my most coveted TX treat. Four years later at ten times the price I finally found a copy to call my own. It’s so fucking good.

Mike Rep - "Donovan’s Brain" 7” (Columbus Discount Records, 2009)
I suppose Rep is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s always nice to see the man dig up some new ‘lost’ recordings and this round was especially sweet. I was going to mention Sandwich as well, but really it’s the CDR singles club as a whole that has stood out with a string of excellent new and archival releases. Keep ‘em coming, please!

Silla Electica – "Hundir" EP (Blind Owl Records, 2009)
There’s been plenty of great hardcore coming out of Spain lately but this was the one I spent the most time listening to. (Anyone got a copy of the third EP? I missed that one.)