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MITCH CARDWELL'S BEST OF 2005

Outside of unemployment, crumbling relationships, money trouble, depression, laziness and pissing everyone off, I did manage to listen to every punk rock record (98% at least) made this year, courtesy of my vinyl assigning gig over at MRR. That’s a lot of shit. Here’s what stood out…although I’m sure I’ll forget something.

REISSUES

I’ve heard a lot of folks bagging on reissues lately. “Too expensive!” “Who cares?” “Who? Never heard of ‘em!” I dunno. They’ve always been a staple of my diet, so if you have any interest in the past, please consider the following:

10. THE PENETRATORS – “Basement Anthology” CD (Swami Records)
Believe it or not, the allure of this band never really clicked with me until I got this. I can’t explain or justify this oversight, but I do admit mistakes. This is great, but everyone already knew it (‘cept me).

9. GEORGE BRIGMAN – “Jungle Rot” LP (Anopheles Records)
The “Holy Fuck!” wallop this LP made on the first several listens waned considerably as the months wore on, but this is still primo psych-punk nerd stuff. I suspect that a jug of wine, a fair amount of brown weed and this LP blaring out your speakers would make for an incredible day home alone. Not that I would know or anything...

8. AS MERCENARIAS – “O Comeco Do Fim Do Mundo” LP + EP (Soul Jazz Records)
I enjoy around half of The Sexual Life Of The Savages 2xLP, which is more than most people. However, I’m in total agreement that everything on there is dog shit compared to these tracks. Not for everyone, but if you can appreciate The Slits, Delta 5 or even a bit of good ol’ No-Wave, this is worth getting.

7. THE SHIT DOGS – “World War III” LP (Rave-Up Records)
Much more my speed compared to the more-hyped La Peste or Epicycle reissues Rave-Up released in 2005. They were already one of my Killed By Death faves, so I was all over this immediately. You can almost trace the line between these guys and King Louie, and I’m not just talking looks.

6. THOUGHT CRIMINALS – “Chrono-Logical” 2xLP (Ascension Records)
What a package! While the majority of Aussie punk from this era relies on Motor City inspiration, these guys seemed far more line with UK early punk and DIY than any of their contemporaries. There is enough great stuff on here to cover all four sides too.

5. JACK AND THE RIPPERS – “I Think It’s Over” LP (Dirty Faces Records)
While the single is enough to please most (and admittedly features the two finest songs on this LP), this album filled me with the same form of glee that those Ivy Green and Kids bootleg LPs did years back. This is absolutely top-notch first wave Euro punk. I even like the reggae song!

4. DIRTBOMBS – “If You Don’t Already, Have A Look” 2xCD (In The Red Records)
Sometimes it’s just nice to have everything all in one place.

3. NERVOUS EATERS – “Eaterville, Vol. 1” LP (Penniman Records)
Can you imagine the impact this LP would’ve made had they released THIS over that fucking garbage Electra debut? Fucking Christ! It boggles the mind! “You Smell Like Fish” is rude Stonesy GENIUS!

2. KARATE PARTY – “Black Helicopter” LP (S-S Records)
The additions to the original 7”EP are just mind-blowing, as one would expect. We all know who took inspiration from this, but you can go ahead and put that outta your mind and enjoy this on its own…because it’s too fucking good to go on ignoring.

1. ICKY BOYFRIENDS – “A Love Obscene” 2xCD (Menlo Park Recordings)
If I could only recommend one release from 2005 to purchase, it would be this. “A Love Obscene” was easily my most listened-to release of the year, which might be why my life completely fell apart soon after its release. Every man, woman and child should be exposed to this at least once in their lifetime. Like chicken pox.

SINGLES

There were a lot of great ones this year, so it’s really hard to pick only ten. Fuck all that “Honorable Mention” shit. I’m not a pussy. Buy all of these:

10. FORMALDEHYDE JUNKIES – “Are A Total Wreck” 7”EP (Firestarter Records)
If 2005 was the year where TB geeks started buying HC records, then I’d like to submit this for your perusal. This is just better than the Direct Control or Career Suicide releases from 2005. Period. It also boasts a guitar sound that makes me want rip off my face and yours. Fast enough to be called hardcore, but punk enough to not confuse the timid.

9. BEAT BEAT BEAT – “Cheap Time” 7”EP (Douche Master Records)
It’s incredibly difficult to do this kind of Thunders-fused stuff and not come off like a complete fucking cartoon. These guys did it and made it look easy. Sure, there is fashion and kicks...but the tunes and balls clearly come first. Can’t wait to hear what’s next.

8. LIVE FAST DIE – “Guitar Star” 7”EP (Your Permanent Records)
Ryan Wells thought he could pull a fast one on me by sneaking this into his MRR “best-of” list and leave me stuck with putting this on my 2006 list. Foolish, foolish man. BEHOLD THE GLORY OF THE INTERNET! Anyways...Big, dumb and blaring punk with scientifically perfected amounts of rudeness, hopelessness and fun. When Matt Coppens turns 30, he’ll feel how this sounds.

7. NIX – “Down The Tubes” (Self Released)
One of those singles you can tell is gonna rule just by looking at it. I correctly hypothesized in my review that this would be the single that the collectors would be drooling over. I am ALWAYS right. The scum factor isn’t the only thing to get excited about here...

6. HAIRCUTS – “Haircuts Are No Fun” b/w “Never See Her Again” 45 (Sack ‘O Shit Records)
Fuck you. This is good. Fuck you. This is good. Fuck you. This is good. FUCK YOU! THIS IS GOOD! You people just aren’t as disgusting as me, I guess.

5. LYME REGIS – “It Starts With The Band” 7”EP (SmartGuy Records)
My obsession with these guys is well documented, and there are plans for a Raw Deluxe release, so I’ll keep it brief and say that you should buy this because it’s perfect. Thanks.

4. KNAUGHTY KNIGHTS – “Death Has Come Over Me” 7”EP (Goner Records)
Where the fuck did THIS come from? The Solid Sex and Perpetrator singles were good, but THIS? Fuck, this is outstanding! Memphis does buzz-pop and comes out waaaay ahead of anything I expected. For 2006, I want more records like this and less of EVERYTHING ELSE.

3. CARBONAS – “Blackout” 7”EP (Shattered Records)
Another one I should shut up about. Perfect.

2. RAT TRAPS – “Tennessee Rock’Roll” 7”EP (Your Permanent Records)
With the Goner crew, all the Atlanta bands and this lot, you gotta make this region ground fucking zero for the best American punk rock right now.

1. BUSY SIGNALS – “Love And Dust” 7”EP (Douche Master Records)
Staff allegiances aside, I knew there would be no single released in 2005 that could top this one. As soon as the needle dropped, the race was over. This is EXACTLY what I look for in a 7”. Well fucking done.

ALBUMS

I found myself really diving into albums this year, which either means I was extraordinarily contemplative in 2005 or that the crop of LPs released were of incredibly high quality. I think both counts are true. Please immerse yourself in these:

10. COUNTRY TEASERS – “Live Album” CD (In The Red Records), THE REBEL – “KIT” CD (Hook Or Crook Records), THE REBEL – “Prawns” LP (Junior Aspirin Records), THE REBEL – “Rocket Breaks Down” CD (Pecan Crazy Records)
I know, I know. Pretty liberal use of one slot in a top 10, right? Sorry, can’t be helped. It was a good year to be a Wallers fan and I simply can’t imagine making it through last year without these discs telling me that the hatred I had for EVERYTHING was OK. The guy's a fucking genius.

9. INTELLIGENCE – “Icky Baby” LP (In The Red Records)
Finally. The world hears what the west coast had seen live countless times: Lars’ Intelligence as interpreted by a monster band. The addition of two Popular Shapes really kicked the songwriting into overdrive.

8. PISSED JEANS – “Shallow” CD (Parts Unknown Records)
I was never much for the whole AmRep scene (which these guys aren’t strictly aping), but if more of that shit was like this, I’d be all over it. Again, desperation, torture, violence, shame and anger rear their heads and I eat it up with a spoon and ask for seconds. Do you get how horrible of a year I had yet???

7. JEFFREY NOVAK ONE MAN BAND – “Southern Trash” LP (P.Trash Records)
“Teenage Hate” as reinterpreted by a one-man-band. The songwriting, mood and frustration are all there in proper amounts. It’s also a welcome PUNK deviation from the tried and true blues cues so often found with one man bands.

6. A-LINES – “You Can Touch” LP (Sympathy For The Record Industry)
The best Childish-related project I’ve heard since the first Buff Medways single..and that was fucking Hendrix covers, so you know that this was a long time coming. This is unmistakably punk and packed beginning to end with great songs. Let’s hope it’s not a one-off.

5. GRIS GRIS – “For The Season” LP (Birdman Records)
When they all got back to Oakland after recording, the rough mix of this circulated among all those interested in a matter of minutes. The consensus was that they had really outdone themselves. My opinion of this LP has only grown since then and I think this band is deserving of (and ready for) all the big-time acclaim they are currently receiving. All four of the Battleship guys are on it too!

4. THE KING KHAN AND BBQ SHOW – “S/T” LP (Goner Records/Hazelwood Records)
For once, a record that is as good as everyone says it is. “Tie Your Noose” and “Mr. Supernatural” could just as easily be deserving of inclusion on this list, but there’s something timeless and classic about this particular pairing. Yeah, I said classic.

3. A-FRAMES – “Black Forest” LP (Sub Pop Records)
This is a brilliant record by a band that, given their strict framework, never stops evolving. Superb songs, execution, mood, recording and timing. The best band going today?

2. THE TIME FLYS – “Fly” LP (Birdman Records)
The punkest album of the year.

1. THE BLACK LIPS – “Let It Bloom” LP (In The Red Records)
Time to add “Flower Punk” to the lexicon. “Let It Bloom” is a no-filler, neo-classic Rock’N’Roll album that sounds as innovative as it does timeless. They’ve moved past their astute studying of Pebbles, Nuggets and Back From The Grave and onto something completely of their own invention: a piss’n’bile drenched brand of psychedelica that’s unmistakably punk.

Mitch Cardwell
letsgethurt-at-yahoo.com
P.O. Box 23882
Oakland, CA 94623
U.S.A.

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