My heads a little swimmy on cold meds (actually sick – not for funsies), but I’m trying to pull this list together, nonetheless. I guess a “Best Of” would constitute what records stayed under the needle the longest this year. So here ya’ go. Shit that weighed a ton and I obviously didn’t have the man-strength to lift them from the stereo. In no particular order...
1. Slices "Cruising" LP (Iron Lung)
Already praised this in the reviews section. I’m sure it’s on everyone’s (with taste) list. What hardcore should sound like. Weird and meaty. Weirdmeat. Yeah.
2. Paul Cary "Ghost of a Man" LP (Stankhouse)
A mostly laid back solo outing from a dude who ruled the roost in abrasive garage clatter. Son dun proud.
3. Drugs Dragons s/t LP (Dusty Medical)
The Sag-bagger brings a refuse bin of influences to the table and dumps them all over the fine china. Midwest monster. Cloney-D’s meets AC/DC. Glam that don’t suck. A singer that gives the wack job from the Mentally Ill a run for the money…impressive.
4. Grids "Kansas" LP (Made In Kansas)
No idea where these cats came from, but they were all up in my grill this year. A single here. A tape there. Not one, but two 12”es. Busy beavers. Burly, heavy, crunchy shit. Loud and ugly stuff that should scare even the heartiest Big Business loving poofster into the corner. Real men.
5. Woman s/t LP (Bang!)
Australians seem to have a problem pulling off Aussie rock as good as these NYsCum. Pig fuck 2010: Ground zero. So bummed I didn’t get to play the show in SF with them. Stupid bad decision, right there.
6. Red Red Red "New Action" LP (Big Neck)
Ryan Sabatis returns with a punk-punk-punk & roll record. As catchy as it is off-putting. The lead guitars swerve in and out of control so often it’s as though they relish in unhinging the whole damn project. Thank God. Any Motor City band willing to gunk up proper things with squiggly electronic buzz or some wonky saxophone bleat gets an A-OK in my book. Well recorded and full of unusual guests…like what sounds to be a NES Frogger sample…?
7. Puffy Areolas "In the Army 1981" LP (Siltbreeze)
8. Unholy 2 "$$kum of the Earth" LP (Columbus Discount)
Here are two entries in the maximum aural damage department, set back to back. Psychotic drug-punk. The Puffy's LP comes off like mid-period Black Flag glazed in a thick Monoshock slime and dripping of Hawkwind’s soiled bong water. All that and the Brainbombs drive to never cave in. Now take those references as a starting point. Add some Cheater Slicks guitar work and Whitehouse power electronics to the mix. Ok, got that squared away? Pull the backbone from the remaining carcass and leave the rest to dangle on the exposed nerves. Twitching. Spasmodic. In need of fresh gauze. That’s the Unholy 2 record. Both bands are from Ohio. Both bands will whup yer ass.
9. Unnatural Helpers "Cracked Love & Other Drugs" LP (Hardly Art)
Left field, last minute switch-a-roo that made me rethink this year’s gotta’ have list. (You thought I’d put the Drunkdriver or Timmy wrecks on here, huh?) Seattle sooper-groop (members have been in no less than 20 bands) makes a summertime jammer full of PacNW garage, pop, and indie noise…and yet, I still like it. Love it, actually. Even the song that sounds like Pond. Seriously. Thanks a lot, kids.
10. Tyvek "Nothing Fits" LP (In The Red)
I didn’t think it’d hit me that hard, but BAM. One frantic and hyperventilating punk record. Some of Tyvek’s finest moments, cohesively glued together on a well crafted (and amazingly produced) long player. Greasy Clearasil® rock fueled by methamphetamines, riddled with Swell Maps riffs and that Feelies rhythmic propulsion. Yeah. That sounds okay to me.
Runners up: Nothing People "Soft Crash" LP (S-S); Timmy’s Organism "Rise of the Green Gorilla" LP (Sacred Bones); Druid Perfume "Tin Boat to Tuna Town" LP (Bumbo); Drunkdriver s/t LP (self-released); some other’s I can’t remember…
1. Condominium "Gag" 7" (Deer Healer)
This years OTHER Slices. Every single they unleash gets better and better. If bands like these keep it up…I may claim to be PUNK after all.
2. Timmy's Organism "I'm On a Hunt" 7" (Douchemaster)
3. Timmy's Organism "Timmy Zorganism" 7" (Batshit)
Two out of four on my hit-list. Not a bad average, I’d say. If he was going the more trad-rock/proto-punk route with the top single, then the bottom EP exists just to chuck us back into the primordial pool of grunt and puke. The Seventies riffage and soaring guitars of "I’m on a Hunt" tag-teams nicely against the sounds of "Can & Bottle Return Smile"’s psycho-derelict slams, bubbling scree and some of the most shit-banging stupid drum thwacks imaginable. If you were one of the lucky folks who got the adorable limited edition collectors box (made to house all 5 Timmy singles so far), good for you.
4. Druid Perfume "Don't Eat 'Em..." 7" (X!)
My favorite thing by them. Two quick throbbing jabs at Beefheart/Birthday Party perfection. And unlike Rich, I think 'Piscis Clangor' is near perfect. This comes real close to that’n to my weakened, old-foggie ears.
5. Nice Smile "Building" 7" (South Director Street)
To quote my own ass: “Music so pure and haphazardly written - so half assed yet fully baked - it just comes off as cool. The Pacific Northwest finally got their Electric Eels by the way of Dead Moon.” Nothing else to say. Rock. Sputter. Collapse. Drag it back. Repeat. Awesome. More.
6. Black Time "More Songs About Motorcycles & Death" 12" (Wrench)
The final say in Lemmy Caution’s long run of jagged garage trauma. The UK’s Messthetic answer to the US’s lack of a good horror show. Overblown and shoddily recorded music for the shit-fi rebellion. Songs about motorcycles. And death. Another great theme record by a band that rarely disappointed me. R.I.P.
7. Red Mass "Split Brain Experiment" 10" (Rococo)
8. Red Mass s/t CD-EP (Semprini)
Something from the Mass had to make the list. A constant barrage of recordings released and stylistically, they’re all over the map. Some I didn’t get. Others I COULDN’T get. Vending machine CD-Rs?! Give the collector a break, people. These are the two (of umpteen-bazillion) that I hovered over the most. The "Split Brain..." 10” is thematically their most solid, me-thinks…of the weird stuff. The CD-EP is their most CPC sounding offering and it flat out rocks. Still looking for the vinyl version…anyone?
9. Daily Void "Eclipse of 1453" 12" (Sacred Bones)
Darker and somehow nastier, even though it seems like they’ve slowed down a tad. At least for this release. Hey it’s on Sacred Bones…it’s gotta’ trudge thru some Gothic waters. But Eighties deathrock channeled thru UK squat punk can be a beautiful thing. Even if it hails from Chicago. Purr-fect.
10. Tortured Tongues "Let Me Down" 7” (HoZac)
Last minute brain-fry-punk entry that blew my skull cap clean off. Had no inkling in my brains that this’d be so good. I bought their first single last year for pennies, and dug it just fine. But this…THIS…borders on stupid genius. I’m sure ya’ll know about Richie’s love for that Folded Shirt record by now. The best single of the decade…the cake topper to the pillar of Clevo-snot greatness…or something to that degree. Welp, this is my F/S single. Not the best record of all time, but as for right NOW…I feel 30 again. Like the giddy vinyl-nerd coming home from Fallout one afternoon, a sound-unheard Clone Defects’ 'Scissors Chop' in hand. Faith in new music. If you miss the HoZac magazine years; zines littered with tits, Lost Sounds articles, vomit, and Catholic Boys reviews, this’ll shut ya’ right the fuck up. My god. Just buy it. There is life in this shit strewn land of loft pop we now call garage punk.
Runner up: Sex Church "6 Songs" 12” (Convulsive)
Hard to count it, since it’s a re-vamped version of the cassette I drooled over last year. But that was a cassette. And that would be unfair. So buy this one. Someone you respect more than me will tell you to do the same.
1. Grids "First Year of Garbage & Noise" (Kinnikinnik)
2. Landlords "Wheelchair Night" (self-released)
Couple o’ great tapes from new(ish) guys on the block. Grids were all over the place this year. Rich said to jump on the Landlords wagon, and he was right. All other noise rock outings you freaks yodel about are seeming pale in comparison to this little hiss-traps. These are MY Mayyors. Where’s the Butcher Cover/Landlords split? LET’S DO THIS.
3. Puerto Rican Crime s/t (Sanity Muffin)
Odd man out freaky folk and porch-creak gloom. Stream of consciousness, mental patient field recordings that I didn’t even see coming. Quite a pleasant surprise.
4. White Cop "Smack Based" (NGL)
And why not? Messy, barely in control (or audible) thwack and scree from the retired, “best band in Australia”. Might’ve came out last year, but I didn’t get it till this spring. Deal.
5. Slicing Grandpa "Chaos Midnite Demos" (self-released)
Barely even counts as a release. I think they only made 12 to 20 copies, just to take with them on the mini-West coast tour. Outtakes and alternate mixes of the strong stuff from their strongest release to date. Some of it is so good (and so painfully rare) that I’m doing a split tape with SG, just to get more copies of the tracks out there. Prepare.
This’n. Right here:
Varioes Artists "Acid Dreams" LP, Dwarr "Animals" LP, Endtables s/t 12”, The Pack s/t LP, Rhino’s Alice Cooper "Easy Action" and "Pretties For You" LP re-ishes (for dirt cheap), the three-way Mirrors/Electric Eels/Styrenes 7” punch, Last Laugh Records' growing discography, The 2XLP Gibson Brothers set on Columbus Discount...and so on. Not gonna’ even try to pick faves.
Mike Rep & the Quotas "Stupor Hiatus" 2XLP (Siltbreeze)
Glad to have this back in my arms. Especially with a bonus LP attached. Cover is a helluva lot nicer too!
1. Night of the Hunter (Criterion)
Top-tenner film gets the mighty all-star treatment. Unbelievable two-and-a-half hour making-of disc comes along with it that needs to be seen to be believed. Evidently director Charles Laughton kept hours upon hours of rushes, outtakes, and gaffe reels in his garage. And thank the celluloid genies-that-be who made his wife hold on to them. This is a whittled down Greatest Hits package from over eight hours of deleted footage. This isn’t a documentary or behind the scenes puff piece (oh, this disc has that too…don’t worry), this is a YOU ARE THERE on the set; work it all out for the whole duration of shooting. See Robert Mitchum flub lines. Watch unused footage of alternate actors. Hear Laughton verbally upset Shelley Winters. Intense. Speechless. Somehow this cutting room floor footage manages to look as crisp and clean as the feature presentation. And let us not forget that the film alone is possibly thee most beautiful one shot since talkies were invented. Yes, including Avatar. Jerk.
2. Cannibal Girls (Shout! Factory)
Just four months ago I was writing my video column, lamenting on how this film still escapes my eyes.
I guess the nice folks at Shout Factory really do care…or maybe read my writing. Doubtful, either way. Ivan Reitman’s (Stripes/Ghostbusters) first foray into feature cinema comes to DVD looking sharp and feeling like a dark improv sketch from a lost SCTV season. Cannibal hatchet girls. In the snow. Hippies getting fed to cult leaders, along side the Manson-gal vampires. Far from perfect. Hell, I’m hardly sure of what’s going on. But if you dig things like Werewolves on Wheels or Deranged, there’s something in this for you. Awkward Seventies trash, first time on ANYTHING.
3. Best Worst Movie (New Video Group)
This year’s Rock-Afire Explosion. Which, in turn, was the follow up fave to The King of Kong. A touching documentary that goes in deep (to some places ya don’t wanna go) to the lives and times of cast and crew guilty of the Troll 2 atrocity. Watch as the cast relives (and re-enacts) the films memories, come to relish in the glory of making such a dank (yet enjoyable) pile of shit. See as the director gets irate, insisting the film and its “message” are great…just lost in bad acting and subhuman American cultures. Fun when it’s fun and terrifying when you think it’s gonna’ end in blows. Wowsers. I laughed. I cried. It was better than Cats. Also: A huge pile of extras, including films made by fans, rap videos and more interviews with Zack Carlson…who you all think I’m in a bromance with by now. Jealous.
4. Hausu (Criterion)
What happens when a popular Japanese commercial director asks his young daughter what she’d like to see in a ghost story? Well, she rattles off a grocery list of absurdities. But damn it all…he’s gonna’ put ‘em all in there! Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s “House” is a maddening journey into childlike horror, pervy pinky violence and odd daytime drama. More skewered ideas than an early Max Fleischer cartoon. In Technicolor. A piano eats a girl. Construction paper cut-outs of limbs attack from all sides. Psychedelic cats vomit up Tempura paint. Garish wall paper burns your eyes. A man turns into a pile of bananas. It just keeps coming, with all the gusto of bad J-pop music video. Just the Criterion cover image alone haunts me at night. I can see it shelved from down the hall. Now I close the door when I sleep. Fucking clown-cat.
5. Humanoids from the Deep (Shout! Factory)
Plenty o’ places to start with the new Roger Corman Collection flooding the bins these days. I could have said Suburbia, Deathrace 2000 or R&R High School and played it safe. Great they may be, but I’ve already owned them all before. So I went with the uncut, STRONG on the gore and boobity-play edition of Humanoids. One of the last classick AIP-styled monster flicks from the dying drive-in generation. See it for the queer mind numbing ventriloquist scene, if for anything at all. I suggest following it up with the stupid and yet highly entertaining mess that is Galaxy of Terror. The space-worm rape is everything you’d expect from the Freudian-twisted noggin Corman…
Best VHS release: House of the Devil (Dark Sky)
I couldn’t let this go. I really couldn’t. A (nearly) great throwback to the Eighties demonic horrors and babysitter stalker genres that clotted the rental shelves in olden times. House of the Devil gets the look and feel down better than any Tarantino wanna-be grindhouse trash. Even the somewhat hokey ending makes sense when you think back to the glory days of Vestron Video. Pitch perfect score, title sequence and a who’s-who of cult film in the supporting cast (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov). Simple yet effective, and with a love for Polanski that doesn’t go unnoticed. So what gives? Why is this on the list? Because the makers insisted on the Special Edition being released as a VHS and DVD combo-pack! That’s right…available in a clamshell, big box release. With simulated shelf wear and tear and one of those big clunky "New Release" stickers affixed to the front, just like the ones in the lost Mom-n-Pop video stores everywhere. Sniff. Sniff.
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