Another year down the shitter, but what a great one it was. Year of The Reissue. The Year of Australia (again). The Year of the 12" EP. I thought this year's list would be a breeze, but as always, the more you go back and think the more you realize how difficult it is to choose. I always try and avoid sentimentality and just try and judge it on how many times I actually played these records. Next year I think I'm getting a counter next to the turntable and compiling some actual data. The numbers won't lie! It's a shame I couldn't figure out how to shoehorn releases from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Thee Ohsees, Real Numbers, HPP, The Young, Purling Hiss, Pluton, Ozzie, Milk Music, Electric Wizard, The Moles, Moonhearts, Mantles, Condominium and so many more. I should also mention that I spent a good portion of the year obsessing about and delving into the past catalogs of The Smiths, Brother JT and the Twisted Village family of bands more than most modern records. Looking back in regards to Termbo itself, I'm a bit disappointed at the amount of updates I managed to actually finish. But I'm also thrilled with some of the best content we've ever had via Lars' interview with Chris Gunn of The Hunches, enlightening chats with label cats like Larry Hardy, Richie Charles and Rich Evans, Hyde's article/interview with Stefan of Estrogen Highs and further Cheap Rewards installments, anything Rob Vertigo touched and more. I'd like to thank everyone on staff for their hard work (and Nick Goode should get a special nod as Termbo review staff rookie of the year). I'd like to thank all the bands and labels who send us review materials and then have the patience to wait for us to write about them. I'd like to thank all you readers out there for your time and patience as well. And I'd particularly like to thank everyone who donated to the Termbo Telethon to keep us up and running for another year. Without all of you Termbo would be nothing.
10. Insubordinates s/t LP (Cowabunga)
WNY pride slips this one into the ten spot. I live less than an hour away from Rochester, yet the kids of the Rotcore scene seem miles away at times...mentally at least. One of my favorite little "scenes" in the world, and I'm extremely happy I get to see these kids live out their ideas up close. Like all insular and brilliant little musical pockets, they're protective of their own, sometimes to a self-defeating level...such great ideas, but at times it seems as if they're unwilling to share them with the rest of the world. Rochester, NY is their ground zero and everything that happens outside of the city limits matters little to them. It's wonderful. The Insubordinates might be the de facto "flagship" act of the scene, as guitarist/singer Brett is certainly the ringleader of the pack, they're the first to release a full length (on a national label no less) and might be the most "together" of the lot. Surf-punk from the shores of Lake Ontario. "Cuckoo Cass E" is just a MONSTER of weird-punk that's more Armand Schaubroeck than Agent Orange. "Rockin' Rochester USA" is a fitting cover tribute to the city they live and love in. And tell me "Pier Pressure" isn't just a brilliant. Just the tip of the iceberg as far as what Rotcore has to offer the world, should they decide to join the rest of the world...
9. Feeling of Love "OK Judge Revival" LP (Kill Shaman)
I've long been a fan of whatever Guillame has churned out under the Feeling of Love guise, but he really stepped up to the plate here and went above and beyond expectations. "God Willing" was the #1 song around these parts for quite some time, and the rest of this LP didn't fall very short of the monster that track is/was. He folded the VU-style drone seamlessly into weird-punque, Glue Wave, organ bleats, blues guitar, Dylan moves, you name it...staggeringly creative stuff and one of my favorite French records of recent vintage.
8. Druid Perfume "Tin Boat to Tuna Town" LP (Bumbo)
Everything that I ended up wanting the Piranhas to become once they stopped being a straight-ahead punk band. My history with the Piranhas and crew is fraught with tension (both in my head, and also via the scathing e-mails we received from the panning of 'Piscis Clangor' upon release so many years ago), but this year it all came full circle. Quite simply the weirdest record of the year, which is a rather exceptional accomplishment when you consider how hard people are trying these days. Druid Perfume make it seem effortless. I wasn't such a fan of their singles even, but on this LP they manage to fulfill the dream of a truly great jazz-punk LP, chock full of Beefheartian digressions, nauseous saxophone and a ridiculously great vocal performance from Jamie Easter. And fuck Frank Zappa while we're at it.
7. Sex Church "6 Songs By..." (Convulsive)
Rookie of the Year candidates came creeping out of Vancouver with some hot singles and an even hotter LP (which some people seem to be mistaking as a 12" EP....technicalities, I know). Even though they dislike the "Death Rock" descriptive some have tagged them with, I think it rings just slightly true. But not as true as the VU/Spacemen 3 amalgam they really seem to be at their core. Real guitar rock that drones/jams/rocks in the right places and deserves the word psych thrown in this capsule somehwere as well. Oh Canada.
6. The Intelligence "Males" LP (In the Red)
I really think this is Lars' best record. It's sometimes tough for me to review Intelligence records, as Lars is a good friend of Termbo. But that also makes me want to be nothing if honest. I try not to be the type to bullshit pals. I always felt 'Icky Baby' was the high point of the discography, and the following couple of LPs were diminishing returns (and I should mention that The Intelligence were a fucking stellar singles band in this stretch as well). Good but not "as good". But then he goes and outdoes himself with 'Males", ironically the first record actually recorded with a full band. Which perhaps made all the difference. The culmination of years and years of work, the weird-pop voice Mr. Finberg cultivated through miles of tape reaches its apex. Few records this year made me happier to listen to. I almost hope that "Males" (the song) ends up being the last recorded moment of The Intelligence's catalog. Because it would be the most absolutely perfect way to end this musical relationship. Someone get me a tissue...
5. Straight Arrows "It's Happening" LP (Juvenile)
I hate to have mention the Black Lips here, but I feel like I have to. The Lips were one of the greatest acts of the past decade, and in their wake they inspired more than their share of other bands mining similar territory, sounds and aesthetics. Perhaps no one did it as well, and they certainly can't be totally credited for inspiring any band blasting through the BFTG catalog with reverb to burn, and even if they did open the book there're plenty of great bands still out there turning the pages of the tome the Lips themselves have seemingly abandoned. Straight Arrows might be cut from the same cloth, but a hemisphere away and with their own ideas of what garage-psych can be in today's musical landscape. They released a fantastic single what seems like years ago, made brief appearances on a split 7" and the World's Lousy Aussie single, and pretty much laid low until unleashing this fantastic trip of an LP in the waning moments of 2010. Haunted garage, druggy pop-sike, trebly punk...mellow fucking gold and mushroomed guitars with production from my dreams. It just "sounds" great, and the bonus being there are actually great songs going along with it.
4. Dead Farmers "Go Home" LP (RIP Society)
Perhaps my favorite Aussie record of the year, which is saying a lot, because I love that fucking country. Rock and fucking roll that certainly possesses the same meat-n-taters spirit of the Cosmic Psychos, even if they don't necessarily sound like those behemoths of Antipodean rock. Another band that had a great single forever ago, and then laid low while they worked on a monster LP. Guitar jammers, wah overload, rural burl. Music for men. Heaving. Muscular. Thick. Tasty.
3. Birds of Maya "Ready to Howl" 2XLP (Richie)
It's almost unfair to judge this epic concept double-slabber against all other LPs this year. There's just so much of it. Yet somehow not enough either. Aesthetically sound yet completely ridiculous as well, this "soundtrack" to a lost weekend made my summer that much more interesting. And they lived up to this record live on stage as well. Sprawling guitar chaos and even some total fucking wank coated in motor oil, canned beer, cigarettes and dopesmoke. THE trip of the year.
2. Puffy Areolas "In the Army 1981" LP (Siltbreeze)
I remember when these guys were just a "have you heard these guys?" band with a questionable name. Quickly making their presence felt with a stunning debut 7" and the most attention-getting performance on that Siltbreeze 10", the set us up perfectly for the atomic drop of this LP. We've gone over this numerous times already, Monoshock, Hawkwind (and Monoshock did cover Hawkwind, let's not forget), prescription meds, brown liquor, Krauty and The Road Warrior(s) (the film and the Legion of Doom). The aural equivalent of Brock Lesnar superplexing The Big Show and breaking the fucking ring.
1. Tyvek "Nothing Fits" LP (In the Red)
Undisputed #1 in my office at Termbo HQ. Fulfilling their legacy by releasing a truly magnificent record, and changing their style up in the midst of doing so. Meaning they went "punk". Impeccable guitar sound with Swell Maps DIY-itude, a Chrome-y few minutes, strangeness, quirk and charm. And PUNK. I was unprepared for how good this record turned out.
BEST EPs (12" and 7")
10. Bits of Shit "Dirty Bomb" 7" EP (Lexicon Devil)
Renegade members of Sailors, Ooga Boogas, Onyas and more make this momentous slab of vinyl teeming with Australian punk rock history. Just think of everything encapsulated in this record: Dropkick Records, GOD, Tim Hemensley, Powder Monkeys, David Laing, Dog Meat Records, sleeveless denim jackets, beer...this thing stinks of Aussie Rock power and is sure to be a highly sought after piece of the Down Under-ground vinyl puzzle in future days. And it's punk as fuck to boot.
9. UV Race "I Hate You" 7" (Fashionable Idiots)
UV Race had a great 2009, and that tear continued in 2010 with the release of this fantastic 7" and a US Tour that won the hearts and minds of millions. Marcus' always exceptional liner notes carry even more meaning after meeting the guy in person. Don't fuck with the UV Race.
8. Wiccans "Teenage Cults" (Pass Judgement)
My favorite hardcore record of the year came from Denton, TX of all places. Adam Cahoon gets an MVP nod here for his overpowering vocal performance. Hesher vibes abound with a healthy nod to PI and YDI. OMFG.
7. Puffy Areolas "Rock'n'Roll Express" 7" (Die Stasi)
Hell in a fucking Cell. Curlier than Jimmy Garvin's locks and as hard as Kevin Von Erich's bare feet. The Puffys take the brawl into the crowd here with wonderful results and perhaps a double DQ for a true Dusty Finish.
6. His Electro Blue Voice "Worm/Wolf" 12" EP (Holidays)
One of the most stunning things about this record is that it was made by an Italian. Go figure. Eddie Burroughs and Phil Dick decide to start a punk band and inadvertantly build a time machine out of guitar feedback. A front-runner for this year's Nebula Award.
5. Puerto Rico Flowers "4" 12" EP (Fandeath)
The one good thing to come from the demise of Clockcleaner is John Sharkey III's "solo" project known to us as PRF. The real genius here is that I think no one knows whether these songs are supposed to make you laugh or cry.
4. Folded Shirt "F/S" 7" EP (Fashionable Idiots)
I think someone called them the Traveling Wilburys of retard rock. Four of the greatest minds of modern rock'n'roll come together for a mind-boggling set of tunes here, and it's frightening to know that the best is still yet to come.
3. Home Blitz "Perpetual Night" 7" (Almost Ready)
Daniel Dimaggio's talent knows no bounds. One original, one cover, one perfect single.
2. Clockcleaner "Auf Widersehen" 12" EP (Load)
Swan song. I weep every time I listen to this record, if only because I will never get to see Richie, Sharkey and Karen play "Chinese Town" accompanied by a slowly blinking strobe light flashing like a beacon of hope on a shore of shattered dreams.
1. Homostupids "Night Deacon" 7" EP (Fashionable Idiots)
America's Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band top themselves once again with my most listened to platter of all of 2010. "Sea Wolf" may be the ultimate 'stupids number. Seal this one in a time capsule so future generations may know the genius of these three wise men from the Cleve.
10. Brainbombs "Urge to Kill"/"Singles" LPs (Load)
What can you really say? It was great to have these last couple of pieces to the puzzle as these Swedish angels faded into the night...
9. A Frames "333" 3XLP (S-S)
A TRIPLE FUCKING LP OF A FRAMES. Thank you Erin, Min, Soriano, Woodhouse, Lars and everyone else in the family that made this happen.
8. Endtables s/t LP (Drag City)
Man, this little Drag City label has been unearthing some serious shit these past couple of years. Trick or treat.
7. Dolly Mixture "Demonstration Tapes" 2XLP (Germ of Youth)
Despite being hurtfully and unrightfully limited, it's as exact a repro as you can get, right down to the stamps and signatures. Or at least enough so that I can cross this off my want list after a decade or so.
6. Sing Sing Records
My personal faves of this year's batch: Tunnelrunners, Jeff Hill Band and Tinopeners. And that wasn't even half of what they released. Impeccable packaging as well.
5. Monochrome Set "White Noise: Early Recordings" LP (Captured Tracks)
My favorite Set songs are here. "Flesh Trash Heat", "Insdie Your Heart", "Private Dick". Thank you Mike Sniper, I forgive you for also releasing all of those Beets records. I kid!?
4. Sybille Baier "Colour Green" LP (American Dust)
I guess this is a cliched record to like? The one female folk record that everyone is into or something? Hey, me too. It's stunning and beautiful.
3. Clyde & The Nightswingers "Enormous Midnight" 7" (Arcania International)
Maybe some people didn't think this was as big of a deal as me. Hey, fuck off. Around here it became an instant classic. I think we played it on our radio show every week for about three months straight. Fantastic.
2. V/A "The New Hope" 2XLP (Smog Veil)
Everyone should know by now that the only thing I love more than Australian rock and local WNY rock is Cleveland rock'n'roll from all eras. One of the best "scene" documents of all-time (and underappreciated ones at that) is given the loving reissue treatment with a bonus LP of material that is just as good as the original LP's worth of material. The Guns, The Dark, Spike in Vain...bands you should all know and love. Clev-O #1.
1. LAST LAUGH RECORDS
Harry Howes cements his place in heaven and in the hearts of music fans the world over. Lovingly legitimate repros of KBD classic done with class and quality. An impeccable line-up so far with even more tasty treats to come. Now even the lowliest of record hogs can at least own previously untouchable slabs of collectorscum-only rarity on vinyl. And it's an All-American operation, no foreign junk. Take that 1977 records and your $15 import singles! My wish list for 2011: Chain Gang, Vomit Pigs, Shit Dogs, Berlin Brats acetate....
CASSETTES (I STILL HATE THEM, BUT...)
5. Lowlife s/t cassette (Harbour City)
The dark side of New South Wales.
4. Sex Killers s/t cassette (self-released)
Sweet, sweet garbage.
3. Women in Prison demo (Sick Thought)
Punk rock is back.
2. Avon Ladies demo (Circle of Shit)
Hardcore punk is also back.
1. Droughts "Stopping A New Start Again" and "They'll Grow All Over" cassettes (self-released)
droughtsmusic.com if you don't believe me. The best music not released on vinyl this year. Invertebrate downer rock taken to extremes of ineptitude and depression. I spent too much time this year trying to figure out who is behind this magic. I think I now know, and I think the joke's on me....
SPLIT OF THE YEAR: Black Lips/Pierced Arrows split 7" - as much as it pains me to give a nod to this due to the circumstances of the "label" behind it, this has the best Lips song I've heard since the glory days, with perhaps the worst title ("Best Napkin I Ever Had") and "The Doorway" is the greatest tune Fred/Toody have recorded in at least a half-dozen years, proving they still have "it". I played the shit out of this and kinda feel guilty about it....
BEST CD ONLY RELEASE: Tractor Sex Fatality "Bloodeagle" CD (Big Neck) - again, it's a shame this category has to exist. It's a double shame that the magnificent artwork on this was squandered on a CD booklet. But hell, you still have to own what might just be TSF's finest hour (or so), format be damned....
COMP OF THE YEAR: V/A "Judge's Cave" cassette box set (Never Heard Of It) -
A fanatical look at the underground rock scene of New Haven, CT. Medication full band recordings, Estrogen Highs, Sudden Walks LP sessions all in a ridiculously elaborate and lovable DIY package. If only every small town in the US had this sort of documentation, or at least some who cared as much as Stefan...
FAN CLUB RELEASE OF THE YEAR: The Cramps "Memphis Poseurs" LP (Embassador Records) - I spent a good month or two not buying this thinking it was yet another shoddy boot and/or stuff I've heard before...but guess what? It's fantastic! I'd also like to credit the masterminds behind this whole operation, as it seems to be the same "label" that released the exceptional Eno "BBC Sessions" and Smiths "Old Guard" LPs as well. Thank you Euro(?) bootleg mafia.
WORST BAND NAME:...there's just so many these days. Wet Illustrated, Best Coast, Ghost Coast, Rayon Beach, Beach Fossils, Dirty Beaches, Beaches, San Francisco Water Cooler, Bipolar Bear, Bipolar Express, Ducktails, Call Me Lightning, Gay Witch Abortion, Men, Women, Woman...just pick one...
POPULAR RECORD/BAND I JUST DIDN'T "GET": Wounded Lion - I dunno...I liked the cover songs on that ITR 7" last year. Maybe that should've been a sign. Calling a song "Muppet Babies"? It's just beyond my comprehension... Dishonorable Mention: Smith Westerns (again).
ZINE OF THE YEAR: Negative Guest List - Issue #19 - the Dana Hatch penned Cheater Slicks history is the best thing I read all year, with bonus insight from heavies like Laing, Hardy and Hinman adding some gravy so an already bountiful portion of meat. This issue also contained one Steven Peffer reviewing "Le Noise", interviews with Subtle Turnhips, Banque Allemande and Circle Pit, a conversation between Richard Charles and Kurt Vile, Prindle reprints with Cows and Killdozer, a reviews section that was 100% spot on, and even some kind words about the other best zine of the year (cough...Scratch'n'Sniff...cough). And MORE. The most essential 36 printed pages of 2010.
BEST ARTWORK: The Outdoorsmen "Decapitated" 7" (Goodbye Boozy) - this triptych of sleeves really took the Outdoorsmen's aesthetic to another place. Wonderfully vulgar. The attention to detail is stunning; the carefully rendered pubic hairs and veins, the intimate sense of perspective, the narrative flow...all components that make these sleeves something you'll want to pass on to the next generation as both impressive works of art and dick-kicking garage-punk records. Well done sirs. Runners Up: Sacred Bones should just win this every year for their incredible screened LPs, this year's Timmy's Organism LP was a particular delight and the 4-panel Ben Lyon art from the one-sided singles quadpack on Leather Bar might be one of the only times I've ever seen the "connect-the-covers" concept actually work out exceptionally (and honestly, the regular sleeves for the Inservibles and Chinese Burns records were pretty damn cool in their own right...).
LIVE SHOW OF THE YEAR: Eddy Current Suppression Ring/Kim Phuc - June 22 @ Gooski's, Pittsburgh, PA - ECSR put out the best live set I've witnessed since the Country Teasers so many years ago. They were every bit as good as I expected and then some. And Kim Phuc were heavy as hell. Bonus points for getting to enjoy it with Termbros like Manchovies, Get Mugged, kasanovich, STEVE and more....Also of note: Homostupids/Drunkdriver/Flying Trichecos @Mormon Underwear - Cleveland, OH; Saturday night of Horriblefest (Birds of Maya, Homostupids, Trichecos, Puffys, Timmy's Organism, Cock ESP and more...); Oh Sees @ Bug Jar - Rochester, NY.
BOOK OF THE YEAR: Why Be Something That You're Not? - Tony Rettman - extremely well researched and written, concise and not over-reaching, ultra-informative and just fun to read. The fact that the Detroit hardcore scene is something that did not interest me as much as many other regional delicacies upon reading this oral history is further testament to the strength of the author/editor. Runners-up: the Touch-n-Go compendium, Cheetah Chrome's "A Dead Boy's Tale", 'Destroy All Movies!'...
WORST ARTWORK: I suppose just saying "any Beets record" is taking the easy way out, but it's also the truth...
SONGS I'D JUST LIKE TO MENTION: Chinese Restaurants "Summer Romance" (perhaps my favorite single song of the year...), People's Temple "You Don't Know (Just Where I Been")" (if they pack their LP with cuts of this caliber, look out...), Destruction Unit "Time Traveler" (loving the kraut/desert rock approach Ryan is shifting to...), the first song on the White Fence LP (forget about the rest...at least I did), Femsickliver "Weed Whore" (INSTANT CLASSIC), Chinese Burns "Rohypnol" (one-sided 7" of the year), Meercaz "Never Too Late Learn" (proving I should've paid Muzz more attention from the get-go), The Narcs "I'm Dangerous" (great on record, God-like in the live setting), Pheromoans "Midnight Watchdog" (so English), The Whines "To Be True" (truly beautiful), Rot Shit "Dead II" (the joke gets serious), and any Inservibles song...
YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE YEAR: Milk Music practice space jam.
COVER SONG OF THE YEAR: John Wesley Coleman III "Minor Wes" EP (Sick Thought) - JWC III (who released a great LP this year as well) Colemanizes a trio of Minor Threat tunes ("Guilty..", "Minor Threat" and "Straight Edge") to great effect on what is also probably the best side of a split single all year. Lo-fi weed-handguns-and-beer rock'n'roll.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: PUFFY AREOLAS - was their first appearance the CDR single or the Siltbreeze 10"? Both of which I believe were November 2009 releases, but the ROY race takes into account the first full season played by a band, and 2010 was it for the Puffys who have risen from Parts Unknown, OH to become one of thee most crucial practicioners of Rock Moderne. Stay on the drugs fellas, you'll be fine...
BAND OF THE YEAR: TYVEK - Tyvek did have quite the year, never falling off the radar with non-stop touring, a scattering of cassette and CDR tour releases, the release of "Blunt Instrumental" on vinyl that straddled 2009/2010 and the "Live at Third Man" LP doing the same at the end of the year, with the "Skyin'" LP put out to some bitching and moaning from the peanut gallery (myself included) in the midst of it all. I recall reading a review somewhere that made a statement along the lines of Tyvek somewhat teasing their fanbase with releases of dubious quality, almost daring people along the lines of "Hey, you like our band? Well how about this...". And it rings true in the way that everyone knows what a great band Tyvek is, yet were left waiting for them to catch up to themselves with quality recordings after the Siltbreeze LP (however unjustly) seemed underwhelming to many after a succession of great singles. But if you consider Tyvek just lining up empty bottles with the release of demos, live stuff and constant re-recordings of "old" songs, I don't think anyone was prepared for them to smash them all to bits as forcefully as they did with the release of 'Nothing Fits', the best long player released by any band this year and the record that I think we (or at least I) always felt they were destined to make. A nearly flawless LP that saw them take on added edge, that turned everything they had done in the past sideways and that saw them come out of the smoke as one of the strongest and most confident bands in sport today. No band or record made as big a statement as Tyvek did with "Nothing Fits" in 2010, as they fulfilled the prophecy and took the mantle of top dogs in the underground rock kennel.
LABEL OF THE YEAR:FASHIONABLE IDIOTS RECORDS - the race boiled down to In the Red (yet again) and Columbus Discount (moreso via their Columbus-centric archives and current bands, less so via the kinks in this years singles club) with Load and Richie making some serious runs. Last Laugh was considered, but the rules do state that reissue labels are not allowed in contention. My apologies. Yet, in my constant search for quality vs. quantity, one label released my absolute favorite record of the year and two others in top contention. That label is Fashionable Idiots, whose aesthetic has come around to encapsulate all that is good and holy about hardcore punk rock. Stupid. Fun. Ripping. Fucking awesome. Any man who loves Homostupids and Folded Shirt as much as me deserves this title. And the effin' UV Race. The man has built a fine catalog over these past few years and should be commended. And alongside the fine vinyl releases, it should also be noted that Andy has done serious service as tour manager/driver for overseas phenoms like UV Race, Hjertestop (or was it Masshysteri? Or both?) and more and also acts as frontman for the distribution of Distort subscriptions int he US. Just doing God's work. Fashionable Idiots = #1.
10 WISHES/WANTS FOR 2011
(in no particular order)
1) Kim Phuc "Copsucker" LP
2) Wiccans full length
3) Mordecai LP
4) GG King LP
5) Great Unwashed reissue(s) and just Flying Nun vinyl reissues in general
6) Peter Laughner series and Guns retrospective from Smog Veil
7) Homostupids "Strawberry Orange Peach Banana" LP and anything else remotely Homostupids related
8) the return of the Country Teasers?
9) UV Race "Homo" LP
10) Do-overs from last year: Predator LP; the return of SSLD; World's Lousy with Ideas Vol. 9; Coloured Balls reissues; someone releases the VCR and Shoot It Up LPs....it's not too late people!!!
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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