2009, year six for Termbo. It's been a long haul so far. Plus all those Blank Generation years really add some mileage to this jalopy as well. Staffers have come and gone, updates are still for shit, my html skills seem to be getting worse, I feel like I'm constantly repeating myself in reviews, that pile of to-review records/tapes/CDs just keeps getting larger, I still find myself asleep at the computer wondering what the hell I just wrote...but every time I'm tempted to throw in the towel, I can't think of what else I'd do. Like a salmon swimming upstream to spawn, I have some deep-seated urge to do this that I can't repress. I think The Year End list is something I always feel obligated to do, something any "zine" should do anyway, and something I have always enjoyed, but for some reason it seems less urgent this time around. Maybe the fact that I've done this like three times already this month for other "publications" (with different results each time, somehow...) and I'm getting tired is clouding my head. Termbo getting the shaft from me again...


1) The Hunches "Exit Dreams" (In the Red) - The Hunches "Exit Dreams" really defined the year (with "Home Alone 5" in tow as well). 2009 was one of the more turbulent years of my life, obviously economic considerations left me reeling, going to work everyday and wondering how long your job was safe for cast a pall over many months along with other personal concerns. No major disasters, but just a trying year in general, constant distractions and stress that never seemed to be there before. How do the Hunches fit in? Well, I think it goes without saying this is rather unanimously the Record of the Year for most TB readers, but aside from its general musical prowess, it was the baggage that came with it that made it exceptional. Exceptionally difficult at times, gut and heart wrenching, a record capable of sending me into a daydream haze of awe at what they had wrought, and equally capable of sinking me into the depressive depths of my psyche as well. Never has a record nearly instigated more panic attacks. Their ability to dredge up buried emotions, summon wistful remembrances of my past, to make meaningful connections with my life was both wonderful and frightening. I wrote and threw out at least four long reviews of this record for TB over the course of the year. I already want to throw this one out. It's almost impossible to put into words the impact this LP had, to describe what the Hunches were capable to do to me with their sounds. I can and will never do it justice in print. I had to take this record off the turntable on more than one occassion because it was gnawing at my insides too deeply. Making my mind travel in directions I couldn't or didn't want to go in at certain times. How amazing is that, that a record made by people I have no personal connection to could grab me that tightly? An album with a power such as this, on both the visceral and emotional level is not something we are gifted with often. As maudlin as it may sound, this record made me think about my life, past, present and future in ways art in any form is rarely capable of doing. Excuse me while I dig myself a hole here, but I have to at least finally say some things about this record. Often it made me think of my childhood, not exactly specific moments, but deeply planted remembrances of things I felt back then and the melancholy that visiting those thoughts and feelings evoke. Sunlit afternoons, the haze of the heat and warm backyard grass, the freedom of thought that innocent years allowed us. Days and summers when we were still unaware of the trials life had in store, when cool evenings and humid afternoons were spent running and exploring and knowing the next day meant more of the same. Free of pressures, jobs, stress. It's a feeling I think we spend much of our adult lives wishing we could experience again, and the consolation that we know we never will. I'm reminded of my best friend of those years, who passed away in 2009, a kid who I spent every nearly every day of my adolesence with and who I rarely encountered once we "grew up". I think the combination of his passing combined with this record cut too deep at many a juncture. The Hunches at once made me revisit those days and miss them even more than ever, creating an overwhelming sadness and an equal sense of happiness that I at least had them to remember. This year I finally tracked down a copy of the pre-Hunches Conmen single. Seeing a young Hart and Chris Gunn on the sleeve, from a teenaged 1998, almost a dozen years ago, it made me think of how this album touched me and how the people that made it saw it from the inside. And I thought of these two, and how much "Exit Dreams" might be the summation of their friendship and the similar years gone by. Something we've all experienced. Were they living these emotions out creating the music as much as I was by listening to it? So staggeringly human. Beautiful and ugly, reaching apexes of pure guitar rock fury, Hart's dead frog croak coaxing feeling out of me that something that raw has no business doing. It's one of those records that will forever stand as landmark or signpost along my life's path. The perfect record at the perfect time, a zeitgeist on wax. Truly powerful music that cannot be underestimated and something I'll probably remember for the rest of my life.

2) Homostupids "The Load" (Load) - When I wasn't being such a pussy about the Hunches LP, I was busy with Homostupids. There really isn't a modern band I'm more excited about or enamored with. "The Load" proved to be a high-water mark from these fellas, a record that I think fully encapsulated what they're about. What that is I'm mot 100% sure of, but I love it nonetheless. Whereas The Hunches visceral oil and blood paintings hit me one level, the 'stupids stickfigure drawings hit me just as equally on another level. In 2009, they are the sum of all things I want in a band: immediacy, simplicity, inane humor (of some sort), and ripping tunes. They take the superior elements of the three rock genres I love the most: punk, hardcore and garage (and yes, these three things exist separately and categorically in my head) and fuse them into one undefeatable whole. Something as equally spectacular as 'Exit Dreams' but on another plane entirely, but of the same import. The Hunches made me go places I might not have wanted to visit, but Homostupids take me exactly where I want to be: fucking awesome-ville. One of my favorite things about songs like "The Animal" is how they've built this pattern that they change ever so slightly, perhaps even unaware, the feedbacky intro, drum roll, and then they kick shit in just at the right moment, that yelp that instictively makes you want to punch something, then vers-chorus-verse, slam the door. So effective, no matter how many times I hear it. I think "The Load" best showed off their capability for sheer kick-ass punk rock sub-two minute tunes, and the "experimental" side, as if sometimes they're purposefully trying to be irritating, having a joke at your expense, but you're happy to be in on it in some way. I'm going to stop now, because Homostupids aren't for over analyzing. I've probably thought about this record more than they guys who made it. It's pure enjoyment, and I thank them for this load in '09.

3) Home Blitz "Out of Phase" (Richie) - Home Blitz makes me happy to be a human being. I'm glad to be part of the same species as a being that could create such a wondeful and ambitious piece of work. A record that never failed to make feel elated about modern music and its future. There are still great kids out there, even though they might not live in my neighborhood. The future of rock'n'roll, this DiMaggio kid is on another level entirely. I think he's gonna seriously bring the pain in 2010.

4) Pissed Jeans "King of Jeans" (SubPop) - I was kinda miffed I couldn't include Pissed Jeans on my MRR list, due to their assocaition with Satan, so I need to mention them here. 'King of Jeans' is a great and heavy record, most definitely their finest work, beating every other bigger and more "hip" band (that TB doesn't cover anyway) at their own game. It's sort of hilarious that people into Harvey Milk, or some Southern Lord heaviness dont even know they're about to get rocked by this. Heavy metal production was dead-on and a genius move, giving them the depth they needed and they decided to to just bring the rock throughout the whole LP and left some of the weirdness out. Great shakes.

5) The UV Race s/t (Aarght!) - For sheer dunderhead fuck-yeah-ness, The UV Race LP made great strides. The progression from their first 7" to this LP was a great stride. The mandatory awesome Australian LP of the year, and these kids really earned it. I can't wait to see this Marcus kid in person.

6) Thee Oh Sees "Dog Poison" (Captured Tracks) - Everyone loves to hate Thee Oh Sees, but I refuse to sing along. Whatever it is in their Kool-Aid, I'm drinking with aplomb. A guess a common criticism seems to be that they're making "generic" garage-psych or they lack "soul" or some other ridiculous nag about releasing too many records. In my book, a band can release as many records as they want as long they're good and different. And 'Dog Poison' was different enough, with Dwyer putting aside the rocking and going for the old acid-folk attack on this one. I give the guy a lot of credit. It takes a lot of nerve to release two good LPs in one calendar year, but he did it. People seem to paint Dwyer as some sort of dickhead trend-hopper, and hey, I don't know the guy personally, but during the brief meeting I had with him this year he seemed like a good fella who was just legitimately stoked on people digging his band and music. And live, they were a total fucking party. A crafty little batch of songs that I think will have more enduring power than 'Help', and honestly, I don't even think they've released their best LP yet...

7) Dry Rot "Philistine" (Parts Unknown)- These kids proved that hardcore is still alive and well and weird. Full of surprises and bloody rippers. And I really enjoy the fact that they represented themselves well and managed to stay above the fray regarding their beliefs that arose unnecessarily around this release. Thinking-man's-core.

8) El Jesus De Magico "Scalping The Guru" (Columbus Discount) - 2009 was definitely the year I used the word 'psych' in more reviews than ever before. El Jesus De Magico made the 3:00am tripping balls records of the year with 'Scalping The Guru', a surprisingly exciting foray into the outlands and dragging along some dub-n-drone krautiness as well. Dark and intriguing.

9) Factorymen "Shitman" (Richie)- Equally funny, scary and confounding. I think no one likes this record, and I admit, it's hard to get along with. But for sheer what-the-fuck-ness, it couldn't be beat. Listening to this thing is like doing a crossword you can't finish because half the clues are missing.

10) Vee Dee "Public Mental Health System" (Criminal IQ) - Speaking of dark psych, Vee Dee finally released their double album opus, and it was a record that was actually worth the wait. A real earful for one listening session, but once you broke it down and got comfortable you had on your hands one of the better examples of a modern rock band playing with the trappings of dark retro-rock and still sounding invigorating. A great total package as well.

11) The Oh Sees "Help" (In the Red) - I still think 'Help' was a superior LP, with an opener that pounds right out of the gate followed by a fine selection of neo-psych rocking and rolling. They ditched much of the ethereality of 'Master's Bedroom...' and decided to play the straighter role of garage-rock band this time out. Worked for me.

12) Baseball Furies "Throw Them To The Lions" (Big Neck)- Buffalo's finest released their swan song to little acclaim, which should be expected at this point. The greatest band to consistently catch bad breaks and go unnoticed amongst a sea of inferior competition, one of the truly great and truly rock'n'roll bands of out era went to bed and the people didn't even care. When we look back in ten years, I think then the Furies will finally get their due as a punk rock band that made timeless records.

Honorable Mention: DC Snipers, Factums, Wizzard Sleeve, Ty Segall, Vegetative State, Jeff Novak...I could go on and on...


For the first year in quite some time it seemed like the year's LP crop exceeded trhe quality the singles bunch, which either means bands are honing their craft or my attention span is getting longer. Or I'm getting old. Or all of the above.

1) Chinese Burns "Can Dig"(Must Destroy Mankind) - this is NOT a blatant "I'm gonna pick an obscure Aussie 7" as #1, haha!" me-thinking-I'm-cool move. I honestly spun this single more than any in 2009, because it's just an all-around great record. All four tracks are hits, the execution is haphazardly brilliant and dangerously fast and just oozing the punk. Well done.

2) Watery Love "Debut 45"(Richie Records) - Skull Music continues to evolve as do the mutants making it, and "I'm A Skull" is the rallying cry to the troops in the face of the 'cleaner's sink into the abyss.

3) VCR "Code C"(Die Slaughterhaus) - Another story of a fantastic young band doomed to a future of obscurity. At least we got this record and the previous split 7" material. So good they self-destructed. A lyric sheet would've been great ("Strictly Business" has lyrics funny enough to match the slop'n'roll perfection of the music, if I remember correctly...), but fuck, that's a hell of a lot to ask from a band that couldn't even make a fucking sleeve for this damn thing (although Sarim swears there is one). Naked or not, an absolute ruler of a single from a band I think coulda been somebody.

4) Kim Phuc "Weird Skies"(Dear Skull) - Second single from these PGH monsters of rock, and it ups the brootality level from the debut. Currently recording an LP, I think these heavy dudes are gonna be big 2010. Dark, jagged and again, HEAVY.

5) UV Race "Malaria"(S-S Records) - The record that really got me thinking about how good these kids are which the LP proved later in the year. Frantic.

6) Charlie & The Moonhearts "Drop In, Drop Out"(Tic Tac Totally) - Total dude garage-surf reverbation, these kids make a pretty cliched and tired genre sound fresh, exciting and energetic by not forgetting to add some young dumb punk to the equation. The flip side even gets a little "weird". As much as I dig Ty Segall's stuff, I'd gladly trade any of his LPs for these guys to make a jamming full length along the lines of this record. Here's hoping...

7) Personal & The Pizzas "Brass Knuckles"(Bubbledumb) - Everyone hates a joke band and pizza-garage as a "genre", but this joke really is entertaining and the songs are such perfect knock-offs of all we hold dear (Ramones, Dictators, Stooges, etc...) you can't help but order the extra cheese. "Brass Knuckles" is so good they had to do it twice. The fact there is a message directed at me in the dead wax did not sway my opinion whatsoever.

8) FNU Ronnies "Golemsmoke"(Night People) - I always condone labels seeing fit to give good cassette releases their due by giving them the wax treatment, and doing it in silkscreened faux-picdisc fashion is going above and beyond the call of duty. A truly frightening paranoiac tour-de-force of weirdpunk madness, made even more scary if you've ever seen what these degenerates look like in person.

9) Fresh & Onlys "Imaginary Friends"(Chuffed) - A band that I think drew more ire than Thee Oh Sees from the peanut gallery, but their debut single made a lasting impact on me nonetheless. Containing three "hits" (title track, "Come Dance With Me" and "Endless Love") that I had in constant rotation all year long, this was certainly a unique sounding band I didn't expect to fall for. I sort of lost them after their fifth release or so, but this one still stands tall.

10) GG King "Adult Rock"(Douchemaster) - If you loved The Carbonas (I did) you're going to love GG King (I do). Two ATL-rock standards, and any band who drops a Termbo reference on vinyl is a shoo-in.

11) Predator "Honest Man"(Rob's House) - Along with GG, Predator make up a devastating ATL one-two punch for the new decade. Dark and hooky and having a bonafide Cali-punk edge a la KAOS, Skulls, Eyes and other members of the What? Records roster.

12) Primitve Hands "Split Mind"(Tic Tac Totally) - Demon's Claws side project (drummer Brian H.) turns out to be pretty goddam great. Acoustic but not folky, gutsy Seventies-ish minimal guitar rock. The follow-up didn't really deliver the same quality, but this was a sleeper/keeper.

Honorable Mention: First Base, Cave Weddings, Outdoorsmen, Pheromoans, Hygiene...shit, there really were a lot of good singles this year, what the hell was I talking about up there?


SPLIT OF THE YEAR: Ty Segall/Black Time LP (Telephone Explosion) - Hey, if you're going to do something as ill-advised as release a split record, you might as well make it a 12". Some of my favorite (and "punkest") Ty cuts are on this ("Schwag" [or "Swag" if you prefer], "Goin Down", a great romp through "Be A Caveman") and not one of these tracks is a clunker. It was a genius move to wrap Segall's California sun with the stark black-and-white newspaper of Black Time fish-n-chips style, and a public service to put this cassette-only material to vinyl for posterity. "Glass Shatters" gets me every time.

REISSUE OF THE YEAR: 13th Chime "The Lost Album" LP/CD (Sacred Bones) - It's sort of a mystery to me why I like this one so much. Well, the fact that it's great is no mystery, but that it's not really a genre I'm generally too keen on is a bit weird to me. Sparse and dark deathrock/post-punk from a some blokes that coulda been contenders. A band with an interesting story and sound, "Two As A Couple" hooks you right from the get-go (it's that xylophone run!) and as a whole, it works wonders for past-midnight litening. Catch the Singles Collection from SB as well. It was a tough call between this and The Mirrors LP, but I had to give it 13th Chime for being a band I'd never heard before. Runners Up: Mirrors "Something That Would Never Do" (Violet Times - it's great someone put all this stuff in one place), Hul "Den Danske Ungdom" LP (Hjernespind - pre-APA/NHFTK total punk attack), both Kim Fowley LPs on Norton (whatta genius), Crushed Butler "Uncrushed" LP (Radio Heartbeat - just wish it was longer), and the work Sing Sing Records is doing in general.

TAPE OF THE YEAR: Butcher Cover demo (self-released) - I always feel a bit strange giving awards to staffers, as I imagine people will think there is some bias here at HQ. Or I at least dream that people pay that much attention...anyway, Butcher Cover served up some ultraviolence beholden to every nasty band/genre in their record collections: Japcore, power electronics, ye old punk rock, pigfuck, Drunks with (Dope) Guns (and Fucking in the Streets), etcetera etcetera. Place/Show: Landlords "Wheelchair Night" (self-released - Upstate NY hate), Homostupids "Our Best Shit" (Drug Money).

BEST CD ONLY RELEASE: Pistol Whip "Terminal" CD/DVD (Smog Veil) - it's a real shame this category still exists, but it at least gives me another chance to talk about Pistol Whip for a minute, whose unreleased LP comped on this thing is a really listenable collection of Dictators-ripping proto-punk dum-dum rock. I still haven't watched the DVD...

COMP OF THE YEAR: World's Lousy With Ideas 8 LP (Almost Ready) - a real no-brainer, but even if there was more "comp"-etition (bwahaha!), the best Pink Reason song to date, a killer Oh Sees cut, and the fact no one really mailed it in on this one (well, Sic Alps maybe...) made it so this LP couldn't be beat anyway.

"COLLECTION" OF THE YEAR: Demon's Claws "Lost in the Desert" LP (Telepone Explosion) - a band I really liked in the past turned into a band I really love this year based on this collection (and the 'Sick Chili' tape that preceded it) and a couple good-to-great singles/songs (and side projects), perhaps running parallel to The Hunches in my mind, as I'm not sure how active the band is anymore (and if they are, it's pretty far from the original line-up from what I've heard...). This LP has some of their lewdest punked-up stuff (the wonderfully eerie "...Sunday Dress", "Kicked in the Cunt", "Itchy Uterus"), a DM Bob guest shot, some cool covers and other diverse sounding tracks (some C&W, some Sixties garage, some hardsike), without live material padding. Runner Up: Hunches "Home Alone 5" (In the Red - obviously), Homostupids "Our Best Shit" (Drug Money - a dual category contender! These guys can do it all!).

BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR: Ivy Green LP - sure, it's been done before (and so has the runner-up Dicks' record), but it's good to know there's someone out there listening to record nerd demands and grabbing their nuts. Things are looking good for some more releases to be crossed off the Most Wanted list in the near future as well.

WORST ARTWORK: Meth Teeth LP (Woodsist) - The artwork on this thing just bummed me out so much. I felt so bad for this record, as I think they made a good LP here, but that art is just soooo awful it actually pains me to pull this one out and impairs my ability to enjoy the music. I imagine (or hope) they didn't have much say in it, but isn't the guy who runs Woodsist an actual artist of some acclaim? And this is what he came up with? So bad, and the fact that it's bad in a boring way compounds the awfulness. Dishonorable Mention: Smith Westerns LP (HozAc - not funny), Rhino 39/Black Randy split (Artifix - this would have been too easy a choice to win - at least the label isn't run by an artist), more than a few Captured Tracks releases (The Beets and German Measles in particular, and any Woods-related "Let's cut an eyeball out and stick it on a found picture!" nonsense from another label run by a (good) artist).

WORST BAND NAME:Frank And The Can I Speaklys - And "they" are from SF and sound like a bad Blank Dogs rip off to add insult. Nuff sed. At least The Last Rapes of Mr. Teach are European.

POPULAR RECORD/BAND I JUST DIDN'T "GET": Box Elders "Alice and Friends" (Goner) - Really? I thought it might be a "live" thing or something. Nope. But I hate "cute" bands/music and always thought the Dead Milkmen and Ween sucked and weren't at all charming. Dishonorable Mention: Smith Westerns, Ganglians.

CDR SINGLE OF THE YEAR: Cheater Slicks "Erotic Woman" - yep. A Singles Club good enough to warrant their own category. Puffy Areolas was only half good (and is actually CDR-SC-Y2, but it came out in 2009, further blurring the lines here...), Unholy Two wasn't as good as their first, Harrisburg Players was a contender, Guinea Worms and TV Ghost were stellar as well, but how can you not give it to the Slicks. "Erotic Woman" is a killer Dana-punker, and they pull off an obscure cover as they are known to do flip. This would be in the regular Top Ten if I hadn't made this catgeory up...

BEST ARTWORK: World's Lousy With Ideas Vol. 7 ("Sound of Music" cover - Almost Ready Records) - biased? Yeah, sure I am. But it came out really good! But seriously, I'll give it to the Flight 10" on Kill Shaman, as I really enjoyed the appropriation and composition of all the elements involved. Runner Up: the drawn wackiness of the Jacuzzi Boys LP (Florida's Dying), the incredible silkscreen on the Factums 'Flowers' LP (Sacred Bones) and the outstanding Ilth collage work on the Wizzard Sleeve LP (HozAc) which fit the record/band perfectly.

BEST DISTRO/ONLINE SHOP: Permanent Records - with the sad door-closing of Bistro Distro, many were left scrambling for a new online record-peddler of choice. With a great shopping cart system, outstanding customer service and an impeccable selection of releases from all genres at the NICE PRICE, Lance & Co. have made me miss Troy a little bit less. Their label ain't too shabby either. IN STOCK NOW! Honorable Mention: Ethan and the new-ish All Day Records got plenty of my business this year as well (and they still kick it old school without a cart) and Rich at Florida's Dying is always reliable and well-stocked.

SONGS I'D JUST LIKE TO MENTION: Flight "Unpredictable" (they had some other good ones too, the cream of the "mysterious" one-man-band crop), Idle Times "Get Your Feet off The Ground" (their only good song, the B-Side of this is a piece of shit), Tortured Tongues "Extension Cord" (from a good overall single), Brilliant Colors "Sixteen" (not a band I really endorse, but they nailed this one), Drunkdriver "Fire Sale" (feel good hit of the year), Puffy Areolas "Lutzko Lives" (the whole LP better sound like this and not the flipside), Outdoorsmen "Hey Jessica" (snotty and hooky), Personal & The Pizzas "I Don't Wanna Be..." (Ebenezer & The Bludgeons + Dictators = hit) and that one Woven Bones song...


COVER SONG OF THE YEAR: Wounded Lion "Bad Moon Rising" (In the Red) - they did a great job on this, and I think I've really only heard one other CCR cover ever pulled off successfully (that'd be Killdozer, folks). They followed the rules for a proper interpretation and made it their own, imbuing it with a doom-laden whomp that really seems obvious when you think about it. Bonus points for a swell Wild Man Fischer cut as well. Too bad their originals are all pretty lame (see: Bands I Don't "Get", 2010 edition). Runner Up: Home Blitz "Is Anybody There?" (Cocksparrer)

BAND OF THE YEAR: The Hunches - going out with a bang and plenty of class, releasing by far the best LP of the year and a first rate odds-n-sods collection. Even if they weren't breaking up, they still would've took the statue. I'll always regret not being able to see them live one last time. I remember in the waning Blank Gen days, when ITR released their first 7" and no one really had any idea who the fuck they were. This was before every band had a Myspace page and had demos circulating online before they even played a show. That single was the first chance most people outside their locale had to hear them, and it made an impact. This was also before I was on the ITR promo list, and everyone had a copy before me and I couldn't mailorder that fucking thing fast enough. Exciting times. I mention this, as I loved the band throughout their entire run, and their performance at the Chicago Blackout was one of the best sets I've ever been lucky enough to catch (I swear, Chris Gunn was parting the crowd with his guitar squall, the sonics of which I actually thought I could "see" due to various substances). But this year was the year it actually hit how special of a band they were, obviously due to the finality of it all, but mainly becuase of the staggering resonance of 'Exit Dreams', a record I'll take to the grave. RIP and thanks for the memories.

Richie Records - In the Red makes a serious bid for this title every year (and has won more than once), Almost Ready is always a sentimental favorite and Columbus Discount Records did some seriously great work in 2009, but I think Richie Records//Testostertunes really hit their stride this annum. Not a label to release a bunch of mediocre records, but a label that releases only a few truly great slabs. Make 'em count. That's what I like. Quality control. And the diverse mix of Factorymen, Watery Love and Home Blitz (was that KV record 2009 too?) actually works and makes total sense. This is a label I wish I could say I was running (and some people actually think I do apparently...there's more than one Richie in the world folks, but we're both A+ dudes though). Congrats to Richie, all the bands, the Phillies and everyone else involved in making it happen.


(in no particluar order)
1) LPs from No Talk, Predator (Rob's House or Douchemaster?), Charlie & The Moonhearts, ECSR, Dead Farmers...
2) someone steps up and releases the Shoot It Up LP that is just sitting there waiting for a label...(there's an unreleased VCR LP too, you know...)
3) the return of PLATES!
4) ROTCORE bands get some records out there and get some people outside of WNY to care...The Narcs in particular...Insubordinates LP too...
5) some brave label will release something by Mordecai...
6) Solid Sex Lovie Doll returns?! I know you're out there Zanutto!
7) World's Lousy with Ideas Vol. 9
8) Thee Oh Sees will release a bunch of good records and bum everyone out even more...
9) Coloured Balls reissue!
10) Home Blitz will take over the world and/or Homostupids will take over the world.