Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Best Of 2018

Here we are, face to face, a couple of silver spoons. Brought together to indulge my personal prejudices and predilections. Another year, and another attempt to prove some sort of cultural relevance that nobody was asking for in the first place. But nevertheless, she persisted.
The usual caveat remains this year, just as in previous years; the ordering of these records is based on how I feel at that one precise moment that I actually decided to take a running list I keep over the year (#organizedAF) and list off from most to least favorite. Tomorrow would be different. As would the day after.
Regardless though, I would point out that it was another great year from music (if that's what you're into), and as much as I basically listen to the same Black Flag, Rod Stewart, and Public Enemy albums that I've been listening to for four decades, if you keep your ears open, Jah provides. It's still fun to get that charge you can only get when something brand new comes blazing out of your speakers for the first time, so I'm happy to share the records that charged me up the most this year (not counting the ones I forgot...or will finally hear next year).

*please excuse any misspellings and/or grammatical took so long to pull this together that the last thing I want to do is go back and proofread it. Besides, mistakes are "cute". Right?

35. Reissue Roundup - new records of old songs that are as good as most new records of new songs

Pile - Odds And Ends
I sorta think the last Pile record is the best record to have come out in 2017...even though I had the chance to say so in 2017, and instead ranked it as ninth. #oversight. This band is seriously fucking incredible, and I can't understand for the life of me why they aren't selling out theaters every time they go out on tour.


Child Bite - Burnt Offerings
Like Dead Kennedys doing a set of Gun Club covers. Or the lost Amphetamine Reptile band that would have been released somewhere between U-Men, Casus Belli, and Guzzard. Demento hardcore that reaches out and grabs wildly for you. 


Napalm Death - Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs
Tracks culled from 2004-2016, a time I was, admittedly, not keeping up with Napalm Death. Something I did at my own peril apparently, cause this collection is grade-A quality grinding metal, just as expected from the masters of grade-A grinding metal.


The Glands - Double Coda
Recordings from 1996 through 2003 from the tragically underrated Athens, GA indie rock institution. Lead songwriter, and vocalist Ross "The Boss" Shapiro, unfortunately passed away in 2016, so this compilation will undoubtedly mark the final chapter of the bands history making impeccable rock music.


34. Hip Hop Roundup - cause y'all aren't interested in reading a list of 35 rap records, so here's 5.

Pusha T - Daytona
If we're being honest, this is probably the record I listened to the most this year. It's near perfect, and King Push (as the kids call him) is most definitely at the top of the heap of current rappers. Add in some of the grimiest beats Kanye West has made since Yeezus, and a diss against Drake so brutal that he didn't even have to mention dude's name...shit man...this record is fucking bullet proof.


Action Bronson - White Bronco
I know we aren't supposed to like this, cause maybe Action Bronson is in some way "false", or a Ghostface Killa rip, but I don't know, I like it. It's just weird enough and funny enough to work. I think.


Nas - Nasir
Top 5 MC of all time, right? Right. I'm right on this. Like the Pusha T record, this one os also pretty short at 7 songs, most of which are in the 3 minute range. But hey, no filler.


Swizz Beatz - Poison
Got a soft spot for the staccato type, concussive, aggressive beats that Swizz Beatz specializes in, plus he's responsible for introducing contemporary art to the hip hop, respect. Couple half clunkers on here, but the highlights are solid. Lil Wayne, Nas, Pusha T, Jim Jones , and Jadakiss are the standouts, but even the younger dudes turn in some good shit.


DJ Shadow - Live In Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen
Career spanning live set, that fuuuuuuucking slays. Live hip hop is generally terrible, but since DJ Shadow has no live vocalist, this avoids the pitfalls of having twelve dudes yelling on top of each other. Plus, he messes around with some of the arrangements to give them a new sheen. 


33. Hardcore Roundup - my closet will forever be stocked with XL Champion hoodies, therefore you will forever be subjected to my X thoughts X on this stuff.

Candy - Good To Feel
Super satisfying harsh ripping. Some of the downtuned D-beat hammering of bands that came out of the Cursed school of violence, but with less dogmatic rigor, and more fast-and-loose blur that teeters on collapse. And that makes it all the more thrilling. Best hardcore record of the year by a mile.


Shiners Club - Can't Have Nice Things
John Coyle of Outspoken, Dan O'Mahony of No For An Answer, Colin Buis of Mean Season, and Doug McKinnon of Speak 714 got together to proclaim their collective love of Black Flag, B'last!, COC, and growing up in the early days of hardcore. It's exhilarating. And always fun to hear Dan O' barking.


Ex-Youth - Oakland Intervention
Blink and you miss it stomping street fight from guys in Ceremony and Loma Prieta (and I'm sure others). Raw and righteously belligerent in a Side By Side kind of way. Crucial!


Jesus Piece - Only Self
About as metal as hardcore can get and still get credit for being hardcore. Obscenely heavy and unrelenting. Cro-Mags meets Integrity meets Bolt Thrower meets a commuter train derailing into your living room.


Tragedy - Fury
Hardcore lifers belt out six songs in sixteen minutes, and it's exactly what you expect. Or want. Or should want. Crusty Amebix inspired weathered squalls, that shoehorn in the sneakiest of melody underneath the blackened venom. Masters.


32. Red Hare - Little Acts Of Destruction

Swiz 4.0, and I couldn’t be happier. Jason Farrell (Swiz, Bluetip, Bells Of, Fury, Sweetbelly Freakdown, Retisonic) and Shawn Brown (Swiz, Fury, Sweetbelly Freakdown, Dag Nasty, Jesuseater) back again to rekindle that very specific harDCore flame. With Dave Stern (Swiz, Sweetbelly Freakdown, Bluetip) and Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety, Retisonic) in tow, this band pick up where Sweetbelly Freakdown left off. Hell yes I cheated!


31. Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals - Choosing Mental Illness As a Virtue

Let’s agree that Phil Anselmo is personally a dipshit (probably). Ok? He seems like a burnt out hick who flirts with some unsavory personal politics, and his Overdrive Rollins ego is tough to swallow. But (let’s talk about your “big butt”) to be fair, if you’re into any form of heavy metal (and it’s cool if you’re not), then Phil Anselmo has more than likely released at least one ripping album of your preferred micro-genre. In this particular incarnation, he has teamed up with dudes from Superjoint Ritual, Warbeast, and Flesh Hoarder to releasing a swarming, vicious take on all things extreme metal. Hardcore, grindcore, black metal, sludge…it’s all in the mix. Common denominator being a vicious relentlessness. Which, these dudes are old enough to know better, yet here they are, laying it out there. So, you know, I guess I have a soft spot for this type thing, regardless of how unpopular that opinion may be. And for the record…I don’t think Phil Anselmo is a racist…I truly don’t. He’s just a lovable buffoon. 


30. Great Falls - A Sense Of Rest

This record will inevitably move up the charts (at least, the chart in my heart) as I have more time to spend with it and digest its massive, hulking, sprawling, noisecore offerings. A few songs had trickled out weeks ago, and those alone had this thing on the year end list, but now that the balance of the double lp is out there…good Lawd. Total annihilation. Taking up residence in the house that Deadguy built, and that Botch renovated, Great Falls are converting the basement to a rumpus room decked out with Neurosis posters and a set of Rorschach coasters to protect the ping pong table. 


29. Denim Casket - Demo

Low end that is over the top. Bass-centric noise x powerviolence barrage that goes for it. No mercy. Would have fit right in on Bovine Records or Satan’s Pimp alongside Thug, Pachinko, Gob, and those types. Massive, unapologetic ugliness, for a massively unapologetic ugly life.


28. Pet Brick - Pet Brick

File this one under: “Not Expected”. It’s a duo made up of Wayne Adams (Death Petals, Shitwife, Melting Hand) on side, and Igor Calavera (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy, Burning Phlegm, Guerillha) on the other. What they have come up with is a four song, self-released, cassette tape of grinding, attacking noise. Abrasive in an industrial meets Atari Teenage Riot way, not in a Merzbow way. These are definite “songs”, not freeform static patterns by any stretch. Which makes this “enjoyable” in a “I’m sticking my head out the window of my car as I hurdle down the freeway at 120mph” kind of way. A “does this stereo go any louder?” kind of way. It’s not all blasting, there is respite tucked into pockets here and there, to be fair. But I can say with confidence that no one else in your immediate family will want to hear this. I’m into it. 


27. Youff - Et Cetera

An unknown quantity for me until this album, but they have a few other releases under their belts (behind their suspenders?) that preceded this one. All I do know is that they are from Ghent, Belgium. They seem angry at either something in particular, or everything in general. Their music is ugly enough to support a song title such as ‘Jerking Myself to Jesus’ whilst not trafficking in the pornogrind sub genre. Strictly overdriven, full monty noise rock. Like the sound you would hear opening your front door to see that the Apocalypse is outside. Roiling, feedbacking, pounding, and bellowing. You know?


26. Wrong - Feel Great

Taking a slight side step out from under their Helmet influence (tribute?) to incorporate more 16 style nihilistic battering ram of hate-boogie. There are still plenty of staccato sledgehammer riffs, and some of the “smooth” Page Hamilton type vocals interspersed. But with this one, it would seem Wrong are ready to establish a new take on an old classic. Familiar (like herpes), but satisfying (like bulimia induced weight loss). Riffs on riffs.


25. Corrosion Of Conformity - No Cross No Crown

The tale of two C.O.C.’s has been told one hundred times before, so there is no sense in litigating the merits of each incarnation of the band beyond, “yes, C.O.C. up through ‘Technocracy’ is absolutely untouchable, ‘Blind’ was a weird anomaly of a record, but if fucking slays if you listen to it with open ears, and the Pepper Keenan fronted version of Southern Boogie has a spotty track record.” But then this new Pepper Keenan fronted album comes out, and by god if it isn’t a nasty (‘ot ‘n nasty), gnarled teeth version of the band’s stoner rock. Maybe a couple missteps, and a one or two riffs that sound tired, but the majority of this one has real grit and power. Maybe it’s the North Carolina birth certificate in me willing to give this Tarheel treasure the benefit of the doubt…but the dudes bring the heat, and I’m here for it. Eye for an eye indeed!


24. Uniform - The Long Walk + Uniform / The Body - Mental Wounds

Uniform are straight up brutal. Like, egregiously so. Aggressively so. They take an industrial approach to a post-punk animas, layer on some completely punishing noise, and…there you go. You’ve found the perfect band for your niece’s Bat Mitzvah. Mazel. She likes Killing Joke and Godflesh and Dead, doesn’t she? Ex-members of Pygmy Shrews and Drunkdriver, no less. So, extra points. Two full lengths this year, both essential annihilation.


23. Tongue Party - Looking For a Painful Death

As compelling a case for “Noise Rock 2018” as there is. Tongue Party check a lot of different boxes on that list of “What Defines Noise Rock” that I believe they keep under lock and key at Amphetamine Reptile HQ. They start with a hardcore base. They distort the low end so that it keeps a throbbing, gut punch of a rhythm. They let the guitars shriek with overdriven feedback and slashed punctuation. And the vocals appear to be an airing of grievances which somehow you have made it on. They have song titles such as; “I Can Shit Anywhere”, “Make A Friend, Earn A Debt”, and “Hot Garbage”, so you know that they are sweet, sensitive boys. Just like the guys in Big Black.


22. Pig Destroyer - Head Cage 

Even when Pig Destroyer take their foot off the gas, it still feels like being run through a meat grinder. That’s how suffocating their version of music is. And sometimes, that’s the only thing that speaks to your emotionally vacant, soulless, blackened heart. If you have a heart to begin with, that is. 


21. Super Thief - Eating Alone In My Car

Free wheelin’ bad times are to be had here, and you’re welcome to join. Assuming you like the caterwauling wail of a band like Die Kreuzen getting frisky with the unsettled agitation of Scratch Acid. We can assume that, yes? Not to get into your personal business or anything, but, frankly you did come HERE, didn’t you? So maybe I should weigh in on your specific aspirational follies and familial failures. Might do you some good. Toughen you up a bit. (P.S. – written while inadvertently staring into a mirror…just realized.)


20. Them Teeth - Succumb To Life

U-G-L-Y, Them Teeth ain’t got no alibi. This shit is an all systems go attack on your parent’s sensibilities and worldview. Combative in delivery, direct in intent, and singular in result. Full throttle fuck-you’s all around. 


19. Elephant Rifle - Hunk

This is a band on the ascent, improving from record to record, not afraid to fuck with the formula. I mean, don’t overthink it. There’s still a good deal of lumberjack thud rock, Tad meets Killdozer type stuff. It’s the cadence of a hunched, ape-like, beast prowling the backcountry of the Toiyabe National Forest. Sweaty, hungry, and increasingly desperate. Luckily though, the album isn’t a one trick Sasquatch. Elephant Rifle have added new colors to their palette in order to highlight and intensify the darkness. It’s not all primitive man bludgeon, primitive man is learning to work with tools…and reason.


18. Christian Fitness - Nuance The Musical

The pride of Wales (fuck off Gareth Bale), Andrew Falkous, moves to London and has a kid and makes yet another record under the Christian Fitness moniker. And we are still in awe that his output continues at this level of quality. One album a year for the past five years, not a clunker in the bunch. This time around he stretches out a bit, away from the immediacy of his work with mclusky, but no less potent, and no less recognizable as his voice. I think he's making fun of us. Or me. Or you.


17. Exhalants - Exhalants

Churn and burn rumble on one hand, driving guitar rock on the over. Which, sure, is a nuanced difference to a civilian, but you fair reader, it’s a distinction of merit. Not every band can bring you the Unsane styled volley of headshots mixed with the shouty jagged melodies of a Drive Like Jehu or Slint. Actually, Cherubs did…and there are very Cherub-y moments on this record. The blend helps accentuate the moments of thunderous tumult, and gives the songs extra layers of depth. How deep is your love? And P.S. they have a split with Pinko that came out this year, that's well worth tracking down.


16. Heads. - Collider

Cop Shoot Cop dark lurch meets Girls vs. Boys noir sheen meets Bitch Magnets restrained tension, meets Retribution Gospel Choirs’ cinematic barren landscape expanse. Make total sense? It does. You will hear it in the eroding moods set by the slow unfurling of each track, or when they drop a blunt club across your back to jar your attention back to the fore. It’s a sophisticated touch for the more…discerning listeners out there (JK, pull my finger).


15. Protomartyr - Consolation

You would be excused if you thought Protomartyr were from Devonshire, and not Detroit. They have a nervy, gray, detached Englishness about them that reeks of afternoon tea. Reminds me of Ikara Colt. Who actually were English (I think...[yes, I fact checked...they were]), and who reminded me of The Fall. This four song ep has some added instrumentation (neat), and added vocal accents from Kelley Deal (very neat). 


14. Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch

There's just no point in trying to defend Nine Inch Nails anymore. And frankly no need. Like, if you're still hung up on the fact that husky Mall Goths co-opted the band back in 1992, then dude, I can't help you. It's not Trent Reznor's fault. In fact, he seems hellbent on alienating those very people with every release. He seems hellbent on only making music that does something for him. If consequently, that does something for you, then, great. But probably doesn't matter much to him. Besides, you're just jealous that you yourself are too husky to fit into your old mesh t-shirt from 1991...ya bitter motherfucker.


13. Deaf Wish - Lithium Zion

Total left field (if you consider the Southern Hemisphere “left field”) discovery for me. Had never heard of this band, even though Sub Pop released a couple records from them in 2014 and 2015, both of which are excellent (as, again, I am recently discovering for myself). Hear lots of Sonic Youth, but also hear some of the ebullient bounce of the Wipers-cum-Hot Snakes, some of the dark post punk death drone of someone like P.J. Harvey, and some of the dissonant angularity of Unwound. Good company if you can get it.


12. Bummer - Holy Terror

Did you like the band Cable? Do you like the band Whores.? Do you wish someone would morph those two behemoths into one gross, scarred up behemoth? Cause Bummer sorta did. But also scab on some of their Learning Curve lablemates like Plaque Marks, Multicult, and Blacklisters. Viola! Modern noise rock. Enjoy!


11. Tile - Come On Home Stranger

Straight out of the gate with a beefy, burly, blend (B sounds!) of Poison Idea meets Janitor Joe meets Floor. Very unfriendly sounding at first blush, but more approachable as the album unfolds (I would still exercise caution though when exposing children to this lp). The distortion threatens to overwhelm the basslines on occasion, but it's all wrangled into near submission by a furious volley of noise rock rabbit punches and tarpit sludge rock swing. All according to plan, I'm sure. Fast and loose, but effective and energetic at the same time.


10. Eagle Twin - The Thundering Herd: Songs Of Hoof And Horn

Tectonic riffing, collapsing star drumming, and the raspiest throat baritone vocals this side of a Tom Waits album. Eagle Twin come correct with the album you were hoping Sleep would deliver this year. Slow motion churn and burn, but enough thunder boogie to keep the songs pushing (not trudging) forward. Nobody does slow and low better than Gentry Densley. Sorry Matt Pike...still love your body tho.


9. Stove - Stove's Favorite Friend

Smash yer head on the indie rock. With assistance from members of Fond Han, Dirty Dishes, Pop Art, and Ovlov, Steve Hartlett (of Ovlov) knocks out another collection of off kilter pop songs wrapped in a fuzzy, jangly, noisy, nonchalant, Lou Barlow kinda way. Addictively catchy, but weird enough to keep this record out of the wrong hands. 


8. Author and Punisher - Beastworld

Talk about fucked up...this is fucked up. Beyond brutal, and completely unstoppable. A savage reanimation of Godflesh's syncopated stomping, and Controlled Bleeding's claustrophobic noisescapes that render total warped darkness. Insane heaviness.


7. Eric Bachmann - No Recover

Honestly, if next year Eric Bachmann released an album of him singing the phone book, it would still make this list. That's just the way it's always going to be. I love Eric Bachmann in every single incarnation he cares to offer up.  He can deftly pluck out some of the most gut wrenching and simultaneously uplifting slices of bare folk damage better than anyone else out there. If your dad was really into Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska' record (should be), then play him this one, and let him know you're not a total lose. You got some good taste.


6. Pretty Please - Fur Model

Lesser known than some of their Atlanta (and area) contemporaries, Pretty Please have stayed true to the pursuit of the Ghost Of Grunge Past. That sweet spot between Nirvana, Melvins, Tad and Slughog...but mostly on the Nirvana end side of the spot. Which, coming up on the 30th anniversary of 'Bleach', isn't a bad spot at all. We should be so lucky, actually. And hopefully this record gets the band out and in front of the people who need to see them, because they truly are phenomenal.


5. KEN Mode - Loved

Brothers Matthewson's hot streak continues. KEN Mode deliver on the building promise of each preceding album, fine tuning a dense amalgamation of noise rock, metal, and hardcore that commandeers every square centimeter (I went metric on account of them being Canadian...and cause I'm so inclusive) of your ear holes. Completely gnarly, chaotic, disorienting and antisocial in every way. Just like your mom.


4. Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens

Can't really go wrong with the formula that Hot Snakes have mastered. John Reis and Rick Froberg will hopefully continue their creative partnership as long as they are physically able, because as of 2018 they have yet to release anything that isn't completely bulletproof. 100% enjoyable, rock solid discography. 'Jericho Sirens' is no exception. Pure fun, delivered with the highest quality parts. 


3. Ovlov - TRU

Along with the aforementioned (assuming you read in order) Stove, and bands like Meat Wave, and Cloakroom, and Happy Diving, and Pile (to a lesser degree), there is a niche of groups playing a version of catchy, upbeat, fractured, skewed, and mildly heavy indie rock/pop that I’m super into in. It takes me back to my beloved late 80’s/ early 90’s NC indie rock heydays when Archers Of Loaf and Polvo and Raymond Brake were ruling over all they surveyed (in my mind). Super into that. It’s a weakness. Ovlov work off that foundation of grungy Dinosaur Jr type lethargic pop-sludge, and weave in some Weezer-ish fuzzy dynamics that ramp up the “fun” factor, and roll it up with their own modern take on a 20 year old formula. It’s working. I love it. 

2. Easy Prey - Teeth

Goddamn. This band is monstrous. Hulking, punishing, pulverizing. All that. They've melded modern hardcore and classic noise rock into a jarringly direct lightning bolt of fury. It draws as much from the Hydra Head heyday as it does the Amphetamine Reptile heyday, leaving no method of attack off the table. By any means necessary...emphasis on "mean".

1. Big'N - Knife Of Sin

Well, leave it to these ole wily bastards to resurrect out of nowhere and put out the best record of the year. Who would have guessed? Who even knew they were still a band? Who would have thought that twenty six years later the band would still be as aggressive and wild as ever before? Relentless. Funneling their peers Shellac, The Jesus Lizard, and Craw into an unholy roar, this band came back with the seemingly singular purpose of kicking your ass. Well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The (Almost) Best Of 2018

Is it December again, already?
And we all thought last year was a kick in the nuts...fucking 'A, 2018 was a nonstop shitshow. Everyday seemed more ridiculous and disappointing than the last, but the days they kept on coming. Humanity continues our accelerating slide into oblivion (homo sapiens in 2100 is looking pretty far fetched, huh?) according to climate scientists (try reading a Bible every once in awhile, egghead), and I for one and am ready for the ride. Bring it on Nature!
Despite the mind numbing political landscape, the degrading environment, culture being dictated by memes, and the continuing celebration of idiocracy, 2018 wasn't ALL bad. I mean, I had a pretty good year personally. Work has been mostly successful. My beloved Atlanta United won their first MLS Cup (can't say my beloved Manchester United is doing jack shit though). Everyone in my family is healthy and happy. Just got all new furniture for the living room (cozy AND stylish). And, we (royal 'we') were treated to another year of fantastic new music coming from all angles. Turns out, against all odds, there are still people willing to sacrifice, hustle, and labor over creating songs for the royal 'we' to enjoy. Isn't that nice? It's really nice, I think.
So to reward those efforts, I take it upon myself to be "that asshole" who pretends like he (it's always a he) knows which ones are more valuable than the others. Cause I know something that nobody else can figure out on their own, or something. Isn't that nice of me? It's really nice of me, I think.
The following entries are records that I listened to a bunch of times this year, and got immense pleasure from, but if I was to make a list ranking my absolute favorite musical experiences of this most recent calendar year (oh, hey wait...I am), these would be juuuuuust outside the margins. For today. Ask again tomorrow and I'm sure my mind will have changed. But for today, these are the 35 NEXT best records of my own personal 2018.
(notice that every year the list keeps expanding?)

35. Tomb Mold - Manor Of

A whole album of Booger from Revenge Of The Nerds belching over Dismember death metal.


34. Graveyard - Peace

Dusty tube amps and even dustier Blue Cheer and Grand Funk riffs.


33. Voidhanger - Dark Days Of The Soul

Unpleasant Polish men making misanthropic D-beat crusty death-adjacent kinda metal. Crossing my fingers they aren't saying anything they sorta look..."bad".


32. Precious - Sick Rooms

New hardcore from old hardcore dudes (Threadbare, Adamantium, Mean Season, Stickfigurecarousel, etc.) that weaves in some shimmering shoegaze relief between Burn/Snapcase-ish head bobbers.


31. Unholy Two - The Pleasure To End All Pleasure

How are your ears doing? Cause if you ever want to dull them down, you could crank this album of maxed out overdriven noise rock (emphasis on noise), and that should do the trick.


30. Leech Beech - Bled It Bleed

Paul Erickson of Hammerhead/Vaz acclaim brings his golden pipes (and golden bass) back into action, with Jem Ponussamy from Inappropriate Tough Guy Behavior / Dead, and Adam Marx of Seawhores / Power Takeoff in tow. Fucking legit shit.


29. Throat - Bareback

Widescope noise rock that pulls no punches, and refuses to be confined to any one catalog of sounds. Throat has harnessed up a feral dire wolf, and they ride that motherfucker hard.


28. Goggs - Pre Strike Sweep

To call Ty Segall prolific would be a gross understatement. To call me a fan of Ty Segall’s discography would also be an understatement. But this band…this one, I dig. Spiky post punk with some raw garage squall, some proto metal thud, and some general all around “pep”. Can’t be mad at “pep”.


27. Nothing - Dance On The Blacktop

High quality shoegaze-cum-90's-emo that’s less visceral than the previous album, but it’s growing on me with every listen (much like my unchecked back hair).

26. Gnod - Chapel Perilous

Ten years and counting of collective weirdness from this nebulous assemblage of musicians. Immersive and ambitious soundscapes that skew towards “heavy”, but are much more about creating a mood than palm muting an E string. It’s like a sheer walled concrete spillway carrying human sewage cutting through a lush, misty, forest floor.

25. Not Of - Hypocritic Oath

Two man champagne jam dealing in punk-y, abrasive, noise rock that covers a lot of ground considering the personnel limitations. And oddly enough, one of those two men is from the band Broken Social Scene…which is weird. Or, at least, out of character. 


24. Sewingneedle - User Error

Midwestern quality burl in a Tar kind of way, that occasionally brings in a thundering power chord lurch a la Chavez, and weaves (and bobs) in some Girls Vs. Boys self-aware swagger. Hefty, but kept honed. 

23.Warp And Weft - Patience

Math-y noise rock that banks on a frenetic intensity fore fronting a manic ride of raucous, jagged, sharp agitation. I respect that they can maintain a discernable structure whilst (I am smart) delivering such a whirlwind of energy. The guards are up, and that’s a good thing. Keep ‘er between the lines, boys.

22. Life In A Vacuum - All You Can Quit

Shouty, punchy, post punk influenced indie noise. Has some of the catchy elements of, like, a Meat Wave, but has an overall darker, more hectic sense (and sensibility) with songs swelling and pushing and pulling as if they want to hurtle off into 50 pieces. But they don’t. You don’t need to shield your eyes. It’s cool.


21. War Brides - Complacent

Only four songs, but its four songs of rock solid Chicago bred noise rock (with a hardcore backbone…which I realize all noise rock has, but, this one is more pronounced), that sounds like it could have been released on Escape Artist Records circa 2001 right alongside Playing Enemy. I would make some sort of “deep dish pizza” analogy, but it turns out I’ve never actually had Chicago deep dish pizza. And as a Vegan American, I kinda don’t ever see it happening. So, I do apologize to War Brides, and to you, the reader, for that missed opportunity, but it’s a lifestyle choice that I am adamant about.

20. High On Fire - Electric Messiah

Matt Pike spoils us, and this year I took him for granted. The American Motorhead still churns out the highest quality biker metal pounding, but I didn’t listen to this one as much as I normally would have. Riff fatigue? I did try hard to like the new Sleep record, but it’s juuuuuust tooooooo booooooring.

19. Brant Bjork - Mankind Woman

Slow burn sneaky grooves. Brant Bjork is a national treasure as far as I’m concerned, and this time around he brings the high desert heat with Nick Oliveri, Sean Wheeler, and Bubba Dupree (fucking Void!), so it’s basically unfuckablewith.

18. Sumac - Love In Shadow + American Dollar Bill... (w/ Keiji Haino)

Lots of new material…emphasis on “lots”. Hard to wade through at times. The collaboration with Keiji Haino skews more to a really heavy free jazz, while their other release stays on course with more protracted, mountain-moving pummel. Long winded at times, but impeccably executed as expected.

17. Fond Han - Wronked

Expansive, shambolic, and jubilant in a way not unlike Animal Collective, but with a more aggressive intent. I mean, there’s a goddamn bassoon credited on the album…doesn’t that sort of tell you what you need to know?

16. Barren Womb - Old Money/New Lows

A far less tongue-in-cheek version of ’68. Remember that conversation we had about them last year? Two guys. Minimalist maximalists.

15. Coilguns - Millennials

Noise-core throwback to the turn of the last century, when riffs were trafficked in density, and there was a sort of suffocating vibe cause everything is just …”loud”. And “on”.

14. Secret Cutter -Quantum Eraser

Collapsing Star-core? You know, that big, warm, all consuming style of Rorschach meets Neurosis meets Entombed type of roar? I do. It’s this.

13. Haan - By The Grace Of Blood and Guts

NYC grungy sludge that draws from a long lineage of legendary dirtbags. If you really miss Fight Amp, then I would say, get down with this one.


12. Worse - Love Is In The Earth

And more NYC black tar scrapings. Presumably from the ashtray shared by Dave Curran and Chris Spencer. Plus, FTW
*the song above is from the last record...couldn't find a video to anything off the new one.


11. Culture Abuse - Bay Dream

After going nutter over the last album, this one left me less nutty (medical condition). But my nuts kept circling back to it out of some weird nut allegiance, and wouldn't you know it (nut it?), it's growing on me with every listen. I assume in the future I will "get it", and my nuts will be swollen in tribute.


10. Drug Church - Cheer

Hey, and on the same subject; Drug Church was also a surprisingly revelatory discovery to me on their last record, and then this one affected my nuts the same way as the Culture Abuse one did. But then one day it started to come around, and things were back to their normal, disgusting self (My balls...we're referencing my gonads here)


9. Bruxa Maria / Casual Nun - split

Coupla bands, handful of songs, and a shit ton of vitriol. Bruxa Maria is like a hornet's nest tuned to drop D, and Casual Nun are the strained arteries in your neck when you finally remember that you forgot your wife's birthday. Again.


8. Jeff Tweedy - Warm

Unapologetically ride or die for Jeff Tweedy. Dude does it right every time, and if you aren't seeing that...well, got some living to do.


7. Kal Marks - Universal Care

Sludgy, slacker, indie pop that doesn't hold back on the fuzzy oomph. The vocals are gonna be the thing that you may say, "hold up Playa, what?" on, but I think it adds to the whole unique delivery.


6. Big Ups - Two Parts Together

Post hardcore that gets into some Les Savy Fav territories, toys with some mid 90's Dischord type combinations, or some way abbreviated Slint-isms. But is a weird way.


5. Pressed - Anxiety Dreams

This is my one, "oops, this came out in 2017" fuck up. Sorry. The thing it though, it's a really good version of the type of blown out noise rock hammering that I like. So it gets a pass.


4. Big Bite - Big Bite

Matt Berry from Happy Diving, who I get into a bunch, with a band that sounds like they listened to a lot of late 80s college rock, and now want to give that template a bigger, rocking-er, fuzzier stomp.


3. Meatwound - Trash Apparatus

Really gnarly. Lord, these were churned up from some fetid Tampa detention pond behind a tire burning store. The opposite of "nice".


2. Idles - Joy As An Act Of Subversion

Twitchy, agitated, noisy, post punk rave ups that manage to channel the joy referenced in the albums' title despite an noted undercurrent of seething restlessness. Completely English in every way (except the "joy" part, I suppose). Reminds me of Ikara Colt, which is appreciated, if unintentional on their parts.


1. Breeders - All Nerve

Man, fuck you if you don't love this record. After some wilderness years, the Breeders deliver the distinctive left field, fractured, playful, pop damage that they perfected in the 90s on their first two albums. This band is so goddamn good at this shit. And after seeing them touring this record, it clicked even more. Essential.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Slipknot - Slipknot

Label: Revelation
Year: 1989

Last post (probably) until we (me) start with the "Best Of 2018" ridiculousness. I'm about done pulling all that shit together, and in celebration of unleashing even more of my worthless opinions on the world (or at least the couple thousand inhabitants of the world who read this darkened corner of the internet) I wanted to listen to something released nearly 30 years ago, not 30 days ago.
Behold, Slipknot.
The original Slipknot. Not the hicks who dress like custodial clowns and play the kind of metal that appeals to state fair seasonal employees and middle schoolers that cut themselves for attention.
This Slipknot was the red headed stepchild of the Revelation roster, who, in the midst of the comparably polished releases by Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Shelter, and Bold, came out of the proverbial gutter with a Corrosion of Conformity-meets-The Accused slashing knife fight of a crusty hardcore punk ep. Seemed way more Profane Existence than Revelation at the time, but for those of us raised on 'Animosity', it hit a familiar chord. A similar chord that Life's Blood and Nausea were hitting. In retrospect, it's all hardcore, but to a 15 year old who was contemplating a letterman's jacket and brushing up on his Wild was gnarly. But gnarly is good.
Underrated but essential.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Grizzlor - 5 Wasted Years

Label: self released
Year: 2018

Still in the headache-inducing throes of the "Best Of 2018" list making mode (it is still 2018, isn't it?) and still having to make Sophie's Choices all over the dang place to whittle my list down to a manageable number (still being determined).
Grizzlor hit the chopping block today. Unfortunately for them(?), but fortunately for you, cause now you're listening to it now. Hopefully. You should.
This is only three songs, and apparently they were written and recorded and kinda "released" back in 2013. Five years ago. Get it? But, for reasons only distinguishable to the gentlemen (lowercase "g", mind you) in Grizzlor, this year they decided to drag the material out of the proverbial gutter and re-record it. 2018 style. Five years later. Get it?
If you do get it, you should get it. Total power thud noise rock that seems to have true north in AC/DC's older works. Meaning, it gross and heavy, and out of control, and most definitely not suitable for the elderly, but, it has a wink and a smile. And alcoholism. I'm guessing.
I'm saying there is something Australian sounding about Grizzlor that belies their Connecticut mailing address. Australian like King Snake Roost, Feedtime, Lubricated Goat...not INXS. Their spirit animal is that dingo that ate your baby.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Rival Schools - Unreleased Album

Label: bootleg
Year: 2003

Alright, fine. Since we're doing it, let's do it.
The aforementioned unreleased and previously "lost" Rival Schools album, that was recorded after Ian Love left the band and Chris Traynor (Orange 9mm) was recruited in 2002-ish. These were the demos that the band were working on when the label "didn't hear a single", the band got burnt, and the whole project was unfortunately shelved. An Island Records employee leaked them to the internet and they floated around as the lost album for many years until in 2013 the tracks were mastered, sequenced, retitled, and properly released as the album 'Found'.
So, same songs, just different names, different running order, and polished mastering job. Maybe you will prefer this, or maybe not, but here in America you are afforded the freedom to make that choice. Snap a salute, patriot.


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