1. Hunches - "Exit Dreams"/"Home Alone 5" (In The Red): The BIG ONE. Last years “cheat”, since I had a promo of it in December ‘08. Well, it sprouts up again here (and I’m sure on a lot of other lists). Forever in the making and me forever waiting…like a piss scared American schoolgirl awaiting the ‘64 Beatles tour arrival. No shame. Heart-achingly beautiful AND the ugliest garage noise LP, simultaneously. A mutt grown out of NW indie rock despair and Electric Eels-style nihilism. The epic production skills of a newfound homegrown madman. Who is this Justin Higgins? The new go-to guy. I listened to "Street Sweeper", "Deaf Ambitions" and "From This Window" no less than 150 days this year. Just an estimate. The Odds n’ Sods 'Home Alone 5' companion piece shows off the live BBC experience as well as giving me another personal fave: "Floating Sinks". Not just happy as a top tenner in 2009, the band solidifies themselves as my favorite group of the decade for everything they’ve done. Even the shitty shows they had were prolly better than your bands best. Deal.
The rest are in no particular order:
2. Anals – "Total Anal" (Permanent): Even if it does contain one of my favorite ‘08 singles in its entirety, the rest of these waxed grooves wrap around it nicely. French D.A.F.antics and glue sniffer elite pull a stream-of-conscience fuckmonster from their ascots. 'Total Anal' wretches’ desperate electronic minimalism out of the Normal template and some good ol’ fashion Brainbombs hate surge. Cold noise for the footloose and leg warmered. I think that means GOOD dance punk. Or something.
3. Greg Carwright – "Live @ The Circle A" (Dusty Medical): Live document of one (great) man alone with a guitar, singing in a small room, somewhere in the cheese curd capitol of America. I’m 100 percent behind this sucker. Into it more than the Reigning Sound LP at this point. The crowd helps out, Greg is kindly, and the set list is pretty stellar. Greg O. can get me to tears with just a few notes of "Better Man Than Me". It’s like if Elvis Costello had a soul. Throw in some Gamblers blues and Oblivians gospel and let it soar. Read Rich’s review last update for mo’betta details. Bonus single with Goodnight Loving ain’t no slouch neither.
4. Vee Dee – "Public Mental Health System" (Criminal IQ): Not to be a dick, but it’s almost too much of an album. Now relax gents, it still made my top ten. Epic and sprawling to the point of total exhaustion…BUT if you play the records individually; it’s a hell of an easier ride. A ride that shoulda’ coulda’ been two separate records over the course of a year, so it’d be easier for all to digest. This is a small complaint (and kind of a stupid one) when you think how awesome most of this package is. Music of the simpleton-fun Ramones/Misfits variety sits down, stares into the void, smokes a ton of weed, listens to Hawkwind and gets burly with some Cheater Slicks-style rave ups. Great idea! First record starts with the single track that was a precursor to the madness to come. They hit a stride on LP 2 that keeps my ears to the rail. Nose to the rail? Speed. Crazy train. Epic blasts of psych-punk that held my interest deep into the summer months. Way to go kiddos. A job well done.
5. Nothing People - "Late Night" (S-S): 'Late Night' is right. Orland CA's one (and probably only) rock band releases a totally different animal this time out. The Twinkie-glam-spacejunk has been replaced with a more minimal down home recorded drone. I was initially surprised by the subtleness of the record...with some organ keys downplaying the guitars into a quiet laid back strum; the presence of drum machine made much more apparent. They even cover Syd Barrett. Or This Mortal Coil, fer Goths sakes. You choose. It all starts to make sense when you think back to 'Anonymous'' closing track, the sprawling
"I-5". It’s really just a natural continuation. Great for long, long Northern CA drives in the early morning hours, jacked up on truck stop coffee, lulled in a Nyquil geltab haze...and snacking on stuffed olives. That one might just be me.
6. Hex Dispensers – "Winchester Mystery House" (Alien Snatch/Douchemaster):
I gotta’ say, it’s been years since I gave a listen to catchy straight ahead R-n-R and ‘77 CBGB outings, but something about this record just set back my clock. Wipers despair? Misfits “woah-woah” horror themes? Put it together with the mean slide work of Alex Cuervo, who’s been in half my top ten In The Red Records releases and you’ve got something better than the Ramones. Oh snap. Heavy meatage without any of that power pop stank or reverbed Beach Boys bullshit that’s so Termbo today. The middle of the record ("Your Funeral…" thru "Brain Inside a Jar") stuck to my ribs for months after the initial digesting. Some of the most memorable chorus/riff combos I’ve heard in forever. No slack live, either. I still say it’s like seeing the Testors…or so I’d assume. Never saw ‘em. Sorry. You can’t give me shit for picking friends and/or ex-bandmates records for this list. Dave knows I can’t stomach the catchy punx, and he’s only at the helm of, like, one song. So there. Pffft.
7. Oblivians – "Live Barristers ‘95" (In The Red): How many live Oblivians records do I need? Evidently, all of them! I was blasted in Memphis during the reunion show and picked this up for the hell of it. So glad. Tons of covers (Monks, Gamblers, Pendletons…Doll Rods?!), some that ain’t ever seen the light of day. Lots of pure punk scree and southern drunken fury that gets me grinnin’ ear to ear. Shocked at how slop-shitty yet awesome this is. Listen to that violent take of "Clones". Total carnage this good is hard to top. Early versions of familiar tunes ("The Leather") twisted in whole new broken ways. A scary yet heartfelt "Teardrop For You" included. The great stage banter helps it along too. Blows the sorry state of “garage” today out of the water. Between this, The Necessary Evils, Mummies, and the like coming back around…young bucks aught’ go unplug their gear.
8. Magnetix – "Positively Negative" (Slovenly): Very little mention about these folks around here nowadays. Sad. They even graced TB with an interview back in its fledgling days. So maybe it’s not cool to listen to GaragePunk these days. Kopper is gonna’ get pisshed. This record is thick in fuzz and heavy in rumble. A really good ol’ school (if ol’school is 1998) throwback to what got me on this site in the first place. Guitar and drums duo (and an occasional organ) with some ugly angles and a surfed up swamp attitude to swim through. French ain’t all plink-squeal-art-clank, you know. Regurgitated rockabilly slug and some downright (uh oh) “grunge” overtones layered on surprising no wave change ups. Metal Urbain cut a Cramps record? Man the fuzz can be thick. Did I already say that? Great clean-ish production. It’s kinda’ cool when ya think about it. I did. And now I listen to it...a lot. More than most this year.
9. Home Blitz – "Out Of Phase" (Richie/TestosterTunes): The ONLY shitpop trashcan punk band I need in the bumper crop of today. This Daniel kid is a gem. Blah-blah (Modern Lovers) blah-blah (Clevo-punk) blah-blah (Half Japanese) etc-etc. We all know the story by now. Rambling shambling rock and roll with out any posturing or…anything. Just a messy love/hate for the craft. "Nest of Vipers" could spin all day in my brain. Sad that the cover art hurts so much…who drew that, The Vivian Girls?
10. Factums – "Flowers" (Sacred Bones): Why, yes I went to art school. Graduated in ‘92. Why do you ask? After some time away, out in the soundscape sea, Factums came back to the weird punk fold with this one…one that screams Subterranean catalog references loudly all up in your facehole. I’m so down for when these cats get there Gristle/Pink Dot art-fart on. And this is the best of all those worlds. Space punk, art mess, industrial strength, post-noise, etc. Even some trashed out Pyramids (er, Love Tan) moments. Glad to know that the genre of bedroom odditude still has some fresh meats in the fridge. One of the best looking regular edition sleeves in the Sacred Bones family helps it too.
"Shiftless Decay" (X! Records): One of the micro-label leaders released a golden package of Motor City modern madness. Spaced out weirdness, metal-tinged, jerky pop, frantic blasts and some downright head scratchers up in here…and really not a true dud in the bunch. Some of the best bands around anywhere come together for the sake of their State pride. The vibe is akin to LP’s like S-S’s 'Babyhead' compilation a few years back. I don’t even mind the fact I had the Human Eye tune on a LP already. Top Notch Vulgar artwork holds it together. Do yourself a solid and pick this up.
1. Mirrors – "Something That Would Never Do" (Violet Times): A “Best Of” situation through the early Mirrors material on wax, split into two halfs. One side: The Velvety goods. Other side: The snot punk. Great on both sides of this coin. Excited to have the 'Different Times' 10” mostly in my possession now. One of the best sellers I pushed on folks this year. Old school thick pasted jackets help out when you drop records stupidly on the BART trip home.
2. Abner Jay – "True Story of..." (Mississippi)
3. Bishop Perry Tillis – "In Times Like These" (Mississippi): Let’s stop harping about the scenester white kids finally “getting” the black blues and cut Mississippi some slack. If only long enough to exclaim how awesome this pair of records are. Two far out outside of the box artists doing it their own way…and waiting years for an audience to catch on. Abner’s a one man band, with electric banjo in hand, speaking out on depression, cocaine and bad marriages. The sound of his "Saint James Infirmary" take and its wary relationship breakdown sends chills through to my coccyx. Awe inspiring and beautiful. See also: really odd. Sometimes country, sometimes comedy, sometimes riding on Screaming Jays coattails, but it’s all an honest journey into a mind that might have done gone mad.
The B.P. Tillis el-pee is similar due to the singular vision of it all. Blind and at this point home ridden, Tillis recorded gospel tunes daily with a hand held tape recorder, overdubbed the “angels” who visited him thru a boombox and played guitar leads on what sounds like a telephone receiver. Raw shit. Ghostly and ethereal rural worship. 3 solid days worth of recordings made close to his death materialized during an estate cleansing, and they were whittled down to make this record. The man had a lot of time on his hands. Blood of Jesus never failed him yet. Both come with a ridiculous amount of extra ephemera: Promo stills, live show fliers, comedy transcripts, interview booklets…High class.
4. Dead at 24 – "Blast Off Motherfucker!" (Ride The Snake): Or I assume…still waiting for it to arrive in the mail. But hey, those MP3’s sure got me excited. !!!
5. Crushed Butler – "Uncrushed" (Radio Heartbeat): Second time around and I made damn sure I wasn’t gonna’ miss it. After the total record store burnout of the Death LP, I held this’n close to my chest on arrival. I figured if it made it to the playstock at Amoeba, people would blast it into repeat oblivion. I still want the 10” version…to be honest the extra tracks do nothing for me (I never listened to "High School Dropout" anyways), but to own physical vinyl of the "It’s My Life"/"Factory Grime" 1-2 punch is all I needed to plunk down the dough. The remaining three tunes shouldn’t be shrugged off neither.
BEST 7"/12" EPs
1. Sex Church -"Dead End" 7” (Sweet Rot): Great spaced out 33speed platter that got me excited for the tour cassette. ?!?! That’s some backwards stuff, there. Played for a coworker and he believed me when I said it was some obscuro JapRock 70’s thing I picked up at Aquarius. Ha. Sucker. More please. Soon to take over the wurld.
2. TV Ghost – "Fiend" 7” (CDRY1): The band that keeps winning me back over with their short players. And what seems to be a live show to end all live shows. I was out of town last time. Lame, I know. Angular and f/x laddened frustration leads to straight up noise deterioration of some Fall/Frame-ish proportions. Short and sweet and sharp edged. Small doses seem to be the answer to these guys maladies.
3. Hot Guts – "Ballad of Jon Simon" 7” (Badmaster): I feel like I just wrote this review. The
A-Side is for the big BIG thick sounds of alterna-daze past. Like if the Telescopes, MBV, or Bardo Pond had some different drugs (well, Bardo prolly had the drugs) and played it all at the wrong speed. Still catchy even if it’s way overblown into a static fed oblivion. Liars-esque electro-flirting builds into the garbaged poptune of track two. Flip it: an industrial drone for indie folks who think they hate all things with industrial leanings. Great building stuff here. Love the guitar lead that takes over towards the end. These guys take up my void for new Dead Luke, I believe. I’d like to hear a LP and see what they can do with more room.
4. Timmy’s Organism- "Squeeze The Giant" 2x7” (Sacred Bones): The king of the Squidpunk fishriff comes out of the tide with a confusing and distorted solo view of how pop musik should play out. Alien marches, way out glam-jizz, and mid-west retard JTIV worship. Three solid acid casualty rockers and one off kilter waltz thing I still have yet to grasp. Not an everyday listen, but I like the challenge. Plus, the rockers smoke. The first time I sold off a limited version for a regular SB release…because Tim’s art is essential.
5. FNU Ronnies - "Golem Smoke" 12” (Night People): I had the CD for this for like 6 months prior, and prolly listened to it more. The 12” is so darn pretty I just stare at it and it never makes it to the rekkid player. It could be one song or three songs or even more depending how you look at it, or what yer on. Aluminum sided and hypnotizing; a sprawling descent into sheer dumb thuggery. Robot psych that is pretty grinding. Lots of weirdness that sounds like a pagan ritual staged on a shitty BBC sci-fi series of the 70’s. Gerry Andersons UFO? Yeah like that. But more stoned and drunk. Skull.
6. Drunkdriver - "Knife Day" 7” (Fan Death): Unrelenting pound. Metal for the limbless savant. Say what you will about the LP (a lot of folks don’t dig it…I do), but this single is the peak of their powers.
Man, this just cleans the room of any or all bullshit. Homeless man ranting in the park, cutting his chest all to hell with a butterknife, is this what you hear inside your meth addled brains? I hate my job. Bring the noise. Bring the funk.
7. Feeling of Love – "Suck/Soul/Porn" 12” (HBSP-2X): I just reviewed this so I’m gonna’ be brief. Noisy sloppy French garage band bangs out an inspired and downright awesome tribute to Julie Cafritz, Pussy Galore, and the Pig Fuck genre as a whole. The reason I buy records is searching for the sound on this one-sider. So keep me posted if there’s any more of this ilk, m’kay?
8. Condominium – "Barricade" 7" (Fashionable Idiots)
Pygmy Shrews - "Lord Got Busted" 7" (Fan Death): The A-Sides! Two newish noise rockin’ hardcore graduates hit it on the dick head for me with their A-sides, and then…well…have alright B-sides. But MAN, those A-sides! I just like to dream of this as a split single. Condo’s Hammerhead rotgut blowout tag teamed with the Shrews throw-it-all-in-a-refuse-barrel and agitate to hate. Aural hard-on. The B-sides consist of a late Flag-like instro & a (really good) Pussy Galore cover, respectively. Really they’re not slouches, just not as hard of impact. Do what you wilst. I just hit repeat.
9. Red Mass stuff (pick something…): They got the year ah’ rolling with a red sleeved 12” and after that RM didn’t really stop the momentum. A CD here, A single there, a really expensive 10” to the right, a vending machine 3” CD-r to the left…Not as bulky a discog as Thee Oh Sees, but a shit ton better by my notebook. Sounds like a conglomeration/collaboration with every form of popular music in the past 50 years tossed into a Shake-n-Bake bag, and then set on fry. The only constant is that Choyce voice that might make or break it all for everyone. I’m into it. Obviously. Ballads, post-punk, rockabillied blues, hash psych, vaudevillian no wave and straight up jabs of noise…all at least interesting to my ears, even if I don’t get where it’s always coming from. Keep it coming. Or maybe slow it down a tad. Just don’t start to suck.
10. Electric Bunnies/Pink Reason split 7” (Die Stasi): Easy to digest good times a rolling two-fer/two-fer that offers up a varied palette of sonic delights. PR shows some almost happy Sebadoh roots, as well as the classic downer sound you already love, and the Bunnies make a mess of the slop-n-fast variety to go with their off kilter pop. Total joy-toy of a release. I should listen to this weekly, at least.
Bonus single of Honorable Mention:
Pigeon Religion – "Scorpion Milk" 7" (Parts Unknown): The other stuff by them hasn’t grabbed me like this one, but this one here has a couple of solid noise-core pummel n’ grunts. Title track on the A is of the 80’s NY scum variety, might give Kim Phuc fans some love. The B-side has the batshit hits in 2 tribal percussive blowouts with manic pushed to crazy man vocals; awkward change ups and piss poor organ play. It reminds me of The Touched channeling Butthole Surfers. Yeah. Like that. Wish there was more to the first side. The song is over before I sit down in my reading chair, pipe in hand. I hope these guys haven’t blown their creative (or at least propulsive) wad too soon. Like Francis Harold or a bazillion others cut form this cloth (my bands included). It’s a tough market to corner and a lot of new bands just punch the reverb and fall flat after their initial run. With the Pigeons, I Hope not. Best of luck to ya.
1. Nobunny - "Raw Romance" (Burger): As good as (and in some ways, better) than the initial Bunny LP, Raw Romance has a bunch of odd ducks lined up in a row that are as off putting as they are ear pleasing. Alternate takes, country shtick, sample heavy variations and live sing-a-long messes. Creepy Kids LP for perverts and punks. Kudos for the whole “Surrender Dorothy” bit. WTF? LOL! Love this dumb thing.
2. Sex Church - "False Alters" (self-released): Lo-fi & low buck tape that shows off what kind of monster these Canucks have become, and it all translates well to a live setting, believe me. Acid damaged jangle pop tracks peppered between skyward 70’s Jap/Kraut explosions. A few death rockers in the mix to hold you solid till you can flip the tape again & again. Ace.
3. New Flesh – "2003 Demo (Re-issue)" (FanDeath): Didn’t hear this the first time around, so glad to see it sprout up again. Saw these guys a few times a couple of years ago and they are a force live. This is pretty accurate. AmRep? Kinda. Early Unsane? I feel it. Death rattle and overblown noise that just gets nastier when layered in tape hiss. I think it might make me return to and order more of the back catalog.
4. Red Mass – "Scars" (Campaign For Infinity): Solo outing (I think) of the Mass front man with a 4-track exorcising inner demons of the broken Stooge-blues and art-fuckered tape variety. Off balance porch stomp, Tupelo redux and solid 90’s garage barrage team up for a pleasant mix. I lurve this band.
5. Something-something by or featuring Black Time: The guys who got me on the tape wave all over again. This year alone I have received 4 cassettes of Lemmy Caution and pals related outings. A noodled and dub-take live show, the cassette variant of the Ty Segall split, a career sprawling Best Of, and a couple of related projects (Black Mamba Beat/Work That Skirt)…most sent for LESS than actual shipping from the UK. Krazy Kats. All have gotten maximum play and enjoyment in the ‘84 Honda Civic stereo.
Bonus Cassette of Honorable Mention:
Dead Luke – "Black Plaguein Mono No.3" (Jerkwave): Almost forgot about this little black cased hiss trap. Pressed play on it a lot this past spring. Heady 30-minute trip into various Luke-isms that run the gamut of electronic glue, acoustic psych, and what could be Dead Hookers demos. Lots of variation that keeps it moving along nicely. Is it dead yet? More records soon?
BEST RECORD CLUB
Columbus Discount - Year One Singles Club: Sub Pop couldn’t pull together a list this tight to save there lives, and most of their bests this time were throwaways. The Reatard interweb meltdown was bigger than the Y2K scare. Bughouse went belly up before half the pressings were sent out (mucho gracias to Termbo John Juan for picking up the dropped ball and setting the project right). Hozac? Seems like most everyone joined it just to flip those lil’ bitches. Lame. But CDR gave me a solid stream of hits, and bonuses, all year long…and on time. The only one that let me down (preparing for the shitstorm) was the Guinea Worms, but I never got them in the first place. Who cares. I got freebees to make up for it. Year Two looks like/is a doozy so far...Thanks! I feel special.
BEST DVD RELEASES
1. Repulsion (Criterion): A movie so great that the wife threatens getting a back piece of the poster art. Watch as a young Catherine Denuve spirals into psychosexual madness, left alone in her apartment for days with nothing but an overactive mind and a cooked rabbit gone to spoil...The first of Polanski’s “Apartment Horror” trilogy, and by far the most surreal. Criterion has released it with gloriously re-mastered black and white tones and a bunch of bells and whistles… lying to waste those sub par faded bootlegs out there. Even contains a making of TV documentary from when it was made. Roman, you can touch my child inappropriately whenever you like.
2. Black Magic 2 (Tokyo Shock): The best of the Shaw Bros. horror films finally gets a stateside uncut release. Stomps a hole in the brains of its predecessor’s namesake. Tons of spikes thru the head corpse resurrections, eye popping zombie-fu, animal gutting witchcraft, and bug puke demon possessions. It’ll do nicely with the Mystics In Bali you BETTER own by now. Damn.
3. My Bloody Valentine (1981) (Lions Gate): For years the Fangoria magazine images of the lost gore scenes haunted me. Like The Burning and a lot of other well crafted (if not all too original) 80’s slashers, MBV was missing its guts for far too long. Here it is. Crunchy. Deleted footage left in the raw, not cleaned up or re-imagined. The shower head scene, the pickaxe to the jaw and out the eye, all lovingly shown in close up, no CGI or jump cuts to ruin it like that hack-ack-ack job 3D remake attempt…which only appealed to me for a second with an adorable tiny pooch running straight up out of the screen. And maybe the midget violence. Always a plus. There are a couple of shocks that I never saw coming in this, and I’ve seen it umpteenth times since its VHS heyday. Viva Harry Warden!
4. The State: The Complete Series (MTV): Well, that took forever. After long battles with music rights, The Brainiacs at MTV finally let this show out of the vaults and into the marketplace. The roots of all things funny (Reno 911, Viva Variety, Wet Hot American Summer, Stella…shit the show even ties in with soda commercials). Many college years were wasted watching these slackers and their better than the best SNL catch phrases. Better than The Ben Stiller Show, on par with Kids In The Hall, and not too far removed from Mr. Show or Pythons’ Flying Circus, the entire cast and crew has gone on to bigger things. ‘Cept for that one guy. Yeah, he’s most likely homeless and AIDS riddled. That sucks. But…yeah, a high point in Nineties TV. I’m sure Rich is bummed by the Breeders music lacking in the infamous “Pants” skit. Oh well.
5. The Rock-Afire Explosion (Connell Creations/Window Pictures): A last minute entry fighting for list placement. Closest thing you’ll get to this years King of Kong, folks. A bittersweet documentary on the rise and fall of the Showbiz Pizza empire, and it’s resurgence due to some overzealous fans. The life and times of animatronics mastermind Aaron Fechter plays out along side uber-collector Chris Thrash’s dream of owning and operating the Showbiz robot band…The Rock-Afire Explosion. Movie hits me pretty hard, not because I was a huge fan of the pizza chain or angered at the half assedry that Chucky Cheese lowered it down to; it’s because I worked for a contracted sculpture house in the early Nineties retooling and keeping his little robotic bandmates alive. Memories. Lots of old promotional shorts are interspersed with news reports, interviews with fans, and Fechter himself, sitting in his deteriorated workshop and warehouse. Now in Alabama, the Rock-afire fan club has opened a restaurant with an original band up and running. Sad but warm look back at the bygone childhood of many (including me) and how pop culture can change up over night. One mans hula-hoop is another mans Sega Genesis.
42nd Street Forever V: Alamo Drafthouse Edition (Synapse): Another last minute job that needs to be mentioned. I’m a movie trailer obsessed nerd (last count I had around 30+ hours of the 2 min. artifacts) and it pleases me to no end to see this fine series pay tribute to The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin Texas. Why, you ask? I ain’t never been there…it’s true. But I know they have amazing weekly showings of the oddest of the odd and trashiest of the trash, as well as an ongoing roadshow theater program. Look it up. What’s really bringing this to the spotlight is I got a friend who does commentary on this disc. Zack Carlson, ex-Video Vertigo/Scarecrow employee, once R‘n’R madman, is all over this swill and now he’s curating evenings down in the Lone Star State. Total Dude. Respect and hugs.
PREVIOUS PAGE HOME NEXT PAGE