Monday, December 19, 2022


Another one in the books. 2022 was filled with ups, downs, ins, outs, and the Top Gun sequel (which was fantastic…way better than it had any right to be). I tried really hard this year to stay somewhat organized and keep up with new music as I listened to it. Making notes in my phone when something really grabbed me, or when something was bad news, or maybe when something seemed like the type of thing I should go back and listen to a few more times later on. I was pretty good about that. This year I started playing shows again with a band, putting the proverbial money (current value: just under $78 USD) where the proverbial mouth is. That’s been a lot of fun. Switched jobs, but nobody really cares about that. Argentina just won the World Cup, and in a bizarre twist of fate (cain) I was rooting for Messi to take the title. The former President of the United States started hawking Garbage Pail Kids trading cards the week before benign referred by Congress to the Justice Department for criminal indictment. That somehow didn’t seem strange. A lot a really good people died, and not enough shitbirds for my tastes. Would like to see a few more shitbirds go. But that doesn’t really jibe with my current campaign to be nicer and less negative all the time (still a work in progress, and I still find hate to be the great motivator…but working on it). A lot happened, but maybe not that much in the grand scheme of things. 

Regardless of historical context, here’s what I was listening to this year more than other things, if you don’t count all the old shit that I listened to way too much. Quick thank you to all the bands, the record labels, the promoters, the artists, the managers, the lawyers…whoever it took to get these tunes to my ears. I really appreciate it. And at the risk of falling back into my (patented?) negativity, a quick “no thank you” to all of the profiteers gumming up the record pressing plants with unwarranted and shamefully exploitative vinyl releases of bullshit like, Home Alone soundtrack, or Rick Springfield reissues, that are pushing new music out 8, 9 months in the queue. Sucks. I’ll be very happy when “vinyls” are no longer “a thing” with “squares.”

So, ok, here they are. If you hear something you like, by all means, go buy it, go see them play, grab a tshirt, whatever. Just get involved and let’s keep it going!

29. THE BLACK ANGELS - Wilderness Of Mirrors

Nearly twenty years into their psych-rock haze, and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that the lead vocalist is a man and not a Grace Slick type of lady. I mean…I’ve SEEN that it is a man, but…it’s weird, my brain keeps telling me that cool delivery is more feminine than masculine. And ultimately, who cares if my old ass has issues with gender, The Black Angels are still the best of the best when it comes to creating that Velvet Underground smoke, with a side of stoner riff thunder from under a veil of black goth gossamer. I’m always up for it, regardless of the vessel.



Late entry into the countdown, this record squeaked in on a December 9th release date, and we’re glad it did. Two bands that your mother would have a hard time differentiating, but you, as a seasoned noise rock aficionado, will no doubt find a favorite between the two. They both bring the ruckus in a most satisfying way. A bombastic way, but not a completely over the top way. Know what way I mean? Ask you mom.


27. BIRTH ORDER - Farewell, Square Horse

Rock solid noise rock that has all the noise rock bits and pieces that make it what you like. You got your low rumble of a bassline that drives the song along. You got your thundering drums that crash all over the place and keep the song teetering on total collapse. You got your slashing guitar that weaves in and out of the rhythmic throb, and lays down a heavy hammer blow to the back of hand as required. And you got your vocalist who sounds as though he’s rambling through a fever dream about something you did to his car or something. And then they will take the whole mess and just rip through a punked out maelstrom. It’s all that stuff. 

(The All Consuming Child)


26. MR. PHYLZZZ - Cancel Culture Club

A throwback to the adventurous early days of Amphetamine Reptile Records, when “noise rock” was still a loosely defined confederation of loud music that maybe was sorta based on classic 70’s rock as translated by folks raised on first wave hardcore. Kinda. Not yet beholden to any genre codifications or sonic regulation. Just going for it and letting your imagination (and distortion pedal) lead the songs wherever they want to go. Mr. Phylzzz also continue the tradition of two pieces making far more racket than one would anticipate, which is wonderful. As far as contemporary comparisons, I suppose you’d have to look at Melvins, and by default, Big Business. Or ignore those comparisons altogether and just live your life in the moment.


25. WENT WHITE - Went White

A quick, six song dose of furibund volume. As the good lord intended. It pummels where it needs to pummel. It yells at you as you often need to be yelled at. It blows your hair back regardless of how much time you spent working on it today, or how much you’ve realized over the last few years that your hair is really one of the few bright spots in your decaying life, and messing it up is sort of a dick move. I know they didn’t write these songs with my coif in mind, but it just should be noted that I didn’t have a hair out of place prior to listening to this, and now? Now I look like a goddamn hobo.


24. OPTIONS - Swimming Feeling

As I age (gracefully) into the twilight of my life, I am able to admit more that melody has become a larger piece of my personal musical pie. Or personal pan pizza. Whichever. Especially if the melody comes wrapped in fractured sensibility, with loose ends  and noisy predilections. I can say this outloud now. 


23. DEMONS - Swallow

Four songs, so extra points for brevity, of chaotic agitation that flies most closely to a modern hardcore sound, but has the nuance you’re going to want to hear in order to make the parts shine off of each other. If you get down with a band like Easy Prey, then I’d say you’re in good hands with this Demons record. 


22. CANDY - Heaven Is Here

To describe this record as “unrelenting” might be an understatement. Candy have taken what was already an abrasive Integrity-esque hardcore pummel, and seemingly mechanized it into military grade assault weaponry. Fucking nuts. 


21. DOOM BEACH - Copperhead

Talk about relentless. Good heavens, this one just goes fucking nuts from the get-go. Even when they drop the tempo, the song still jumps out of the speaker, all blown-out and fucked up and hateful like. Mean shit. Seemingly intentional in its animosity, which you may or may not choose to take as a personal affront. 


20. FACES - London ‘71

I can’t speak to the validity of this release being available for purchase, since it popped up on Spotify for a brief time, and then disappeared (Spotify, in its infinite and unquestionable wisdom [algorithms] recognizes that I listen to an obscene amount of Rod Stewart, and thereby Faces, more than a man of my age should. So when a “new” Faces release pops up, they know where to go with it.). Discogs doesn’t acknowledge it exists, but it was there. I listened to it a whole bunch for about a month before it was gone. I don’t know what the deal is, but assume it has to do with rights and royalties. Anyway, the material is a BBC broadcast concert from the Paris Theater in London from 1971 (duh), highlighting Faces at the top of their game, when, if we’re being honest, they were pound-for-pound better than the Rolling Stones. Unimpeachable. Maybe this record will show up again? 


Hip Hop Corner

Still convinced that hip hop and punk rock are essentially two sides to the same coin, and I’m suspicious of anyone who claims to love one but not the other. Or, for whatever reason my home cable provider in Winston-Salem, N.C. was an early adopter of the B.E.T. network, and they happened to program Rap City (shout out to the original mayor Donnie Simpson!) to come on at the exact time General Hospital ended (shout out to Frisco Jones!) after school, and I was indoctrinated at an early enough age that it just became part of my musical lexicon. Doesn’t matter really. 

Slap - Busta, Conway, Kane

Honorary “Best Jam Of The Year” goes to this single that came out of the blue and reminded people that Big Daddy Kane has still got it, Busta Rhymes was never a novelty act, and the future is in good hands with Conway The Machine. 

Dalek - Precipice

Never really gave Dalek much of a listen (despite having seen them maybe twice before?) until this record, and now I feel pretty stupid (or, more stupid than normal) for having not paid attention.

Action Bronson - Crocodrillo Turbo

Who would have ever guessed that this dude wasn’t a joke, playing around with Wu Tang tropes? Turns out, for all the baggage, he’s legit, and he makes really fun records. Keep ‘em coming!

Conway The Machine - God Don’t Make Mistakes

Grimy, noir, booming , and lots of collaborators. The wildly prolific Conway The Machine had a million singles and features this year, and managed two full lengths of his own. Putting in that work, and we applaud that.

Marlowe - Marlowe 3

Third album of super infectious, bouncy, bangers from Solemn Brigham and L’Orange. Very few skips on this one, no time wasting skits, pound for pound might be their best record yet. Has Prince Paul vibes all over it.

Nas - King’s Disease III

Sort of a cop-out to pick a record by a Top Five All Time MC when there’s so much new stuff constantly being released, but as long as Nas decides to put out records of this caliber, I have no other recourse.

Your Old Droog - The Yodfather

This fucking dude had FIVE full albums this year, plus showing up here, there, and everywhere, and random singles. Crazy. The last two albums of the year were my favorites, with Yodfather edging out Yodney Dangerfield, but it was the standalone single he did with Madlib that was the highlight of a bountiful year. (*edit: a sixth Your Old Droog full length dropped on December 16th)

Black Star - No Fear Of Time

Would of been super cool had Black Star not buried this release in a podcast streaming service, but, I guess controlling the product is important. Just means this one was tough to find. Once you did though, it was wonderful to hear Black Star back. In their 24 year’s off (as Black Star) both members have kept busy and kept sharp, which is evident on the album’s high points. Couple spots that drag a bit, but on the whole this is a welcome return, and I’m hoping they stick around.

Nord1kone and DJ Mrok - Tower Of Babylon

Complete and utter Golden Age Boom Bap throwback with thundering NYC beats and rugged bars. Tons of guests show up to amp the record way way up. Pretty close to perfect!

Pusha T - It’s Almost Dry

My son loves hip hop, and most of it holds no appeal to me…it’s not “for me.” But when this record came out, my son texted me (actual transcription):

“Favorite white rapper” - son

“Favorite white rappers are 3rd Bass. You know this” - dad

“No, I meant like white rapper. Not caucasian rapper. Like cocaine white” - son

“I’m your father…I’m not out here talking about ‘cocaine rappers.’ But I mean, yeah, for the record Pusha T is the best at cocaine based hip hop.” - dad

Danger Mouse and Black Thought - Cheat Codes

Still flummoxed that after only recently coming across Black Thought’s solo work, that “that dude from the Roots?” is quickly becoming an all-time favorite MC. I would have never thought that to be the case, but look at us now! This record is top to bottom bulletproof…all killer, no filler. 

*back to our normally scheduled entertainment*

20. DAYJOB - Be A Friend, Make A Friend

Seems like every year there’s one record that I deem “the quintessential noise rock record of the year.” And for 2022 it just may be this Dayjob album. Which is in no way a knock on them, it is simply a way to describe a sound that is imprinted deep onto your lizard brain that we (me?) have been chasing since about 1987 or so. It’s what I like to hear, and since you’re reading this, I assume you like to hear it too. Dayjob also did a split with Wipes this year (more on them later) which is also essential.


19. THE GRASSHOPPER LIES HEAVY / WOORMS - Various Plants And Animals Under Domestication

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy remind me of both the band Shallow North Dakota and Easy Prey, maybe getting together for a good time. Or a bad time. I don’t really know how that would go down. It’s a heavy time, however you slice it. Woorms, on this release anyway (a single 20+ minute song) give off Thrones meets leaving-your-television-on-while-you-drift-off vibe. Obviously 20 minutes allows them to cover a lot of ground, and they do. And they take you with them, like it or not. Hope you have on comfortable shoes.


18. WEIRD NIGHTMARE - Weird Nightmare

Being out of touch is awesome, because it means that you can really like something for a few months, and it isn’t until the very day I am writing this that I bother to look up Weird Nightmare to see where they are from, and realize it’s Metz guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins who is responsible for this glorious slice of hooky dream pop that I’ve been listening to on repeat all this time. Ignorance is bliss? Or just a red flag of stupidity? This album, and the handful of singles also released this year, have been jangling around that dumb, empty head of mine over and over, which seems to indicate a lasting quality of product. But who am I to say, I didn’t even know who the fuck this was until right now. So, why would you listen to me?


17. STILL/FORM - From The Rot Is A Gift

Was happy to see that one of the folks from Marriage+Cancer had bounced back from the dissolution of that band to become one third of this newly constructed nightmare machine Still/Form. In this band they take elements from the noirish Young Widows ghouling, and charge it with a healthy rumbling punch, not unlike what the band Tunic specializes in. It comes together as a propulsive menacing, the dark shadow that follows you down the hallway and makes the hair on your arms stand on end. 


16. COORDINATED SUICIDES - This Could Be Heaven

This one took a couple of listens to settle into the ‘ole mushy gray matter in my skull-hole. Not, that there aren’t some very immediate, visceral moments (the lead-off track being one of them), but something wasn’t exactly clicking until a few more returns. Worth noting that there was something there that made me want to return…which should tell you(me) something. And now I’m rewarded with this burly album that combines some Today Is The Day with more straightforward heavy riffing. Works out.


15. COLONIAL WOUND - Easy Laugh

Fucking-a this record is mean. Straight out of the blocks it’s a fucking assault on all that is peaceful, calm, or smiling. This thing is just savage, and not “savage” in the way a teenager would have meant, but in an unbridled, out of control, vicious way. The way we like.


14. KAL MARKS - My Name Is Hell

Previously I would surmise that your ability to enjoy Kal Marks lived and died on your ability to process Carl Shane’s distinctive vocal delivery. A sort of dour yowl that narrated a series of unfortunate events from a worldview that didn’t seem to put much stock in the future. I liked it. Or rather, like it, present and past tense. And I love this new record. The musical delivery has amped up and maybe darkened up a bit since we last heard from Kal Marks, but it’s still a blend of testy post-hardcore muscle and worming, fuzzy melody.  


13. BLACKLISTERS - Leisure Center

Only four songs are offered to us this year from Blacklisters, but when they are this damaging, maybe paucity is warranted, lest we become spoiled? It is worth noting that 2022 may go down as the year of the noise rock sax, with more and more bands incorporated the woodwind instrument to pepper their songs with all manner of bleats, squeals, drones, and squeaks. Blacklisters don’t overdo the saxophone, but it’s there to help make ugly songs even less attractive to the average ear(s). It’s appreciated.


12. ZZ TOP - Raw 

Did you catch the insanely essential documentary on ZZ Top, ‘That Little ‘Ol Band From Texas?’ If not, what the fuck? If you didn’t watch it on purpose because you feel, for some reason, that ZZ Top are not “cool” or something, then please pull your sanctimonious head out of your fucking butthole. ZZ Top are of the highest quality, and have been since the day they began issuing the greatest boogie rock lessons known to man. You need to watch the documentary. For it, the band played a selection of their songs in a very…raw…stripped down blues heavy way. And it sounds like they enjoyed doing it, so they recorded more than what could be used in the movie, which they kindly packaged up for us here. It’s a master class, the band sound amazing, and Billy Gibbons remains an undisputed master of his craft. He was Jimi Hendrix’s favorite guitar player after all. Also, RIP to Dusty Bottoms.


11. BITTER BRANCHES - Your Neighbors Are Failures

Thirty plus years on from the No Escape demo and Tim Singer still brings the seething rage like no other, and it feels so good. As “good” as listening to a man’s spiraling litany of disappointments and complaints can be. Which, in this case, is good. The band aren’t fucking around either, and this record reacts accordingly to the mind-numbing cultural/political/socialogical disasters we’ve collectively been witness to the past few years. They weave and bob their way through a litany of scathing intonations that range from the tightly wound to the overhead haymaker. You sorta know what to expect, but that does not diminish the efficacy of the delivery when it shows up. 


XXX Hardcore Roundup XXX

I was jogging (humble brag…and truthfully it’s more of a sad trot) and thinking about how ridiculous it is that people define themselves so thoroughly by the university they attended (or just fanatically support). I can absolutely understand the allegiance and fond memories and even continued financial support (if you have the means) to some degree, but the overarching sense that the time spent at whichever school in whatever town is the singular factor dictating your identity is nuts to me. And honestly sorta sad. 

And then, I started thinking that tying yourself to a narrow subculture of music you discovered when you were 12 years old, is…maybe just as sad? Equally pathetic?  Or…and hear me out, is it further proof positive that you’ve always had the best tastes ever, and there’s just no way that you’re not the absolute coolest? Hard to say.


Hints of melody, not unlike Verbal Assault or Engage, but stays with foot firmly on the gas. 

(there was REALLY no evidence of this band on, nothing even close, so, you'll just have to go listen to it)


COMBUST - Another Life

The current generation of hardcore raised by (whether they realize it or not) circa 1988 NYHC comes correct via Combust. Like an updated version of Killing Time meets Outburst.


SUNTOUCH HOUSE - Demonstration

I get Deadguy vibes from this, and I won’t ever complain about those types of tingles. Suntouch House aren’t a rip-off though, just so we’re clear. This demo is fucking great, regardless of whatever touchstone my old brain can come up with. Well worth seeking out.



Very solid and punchy with just the slightest hint of catchiness (which, let’s be honest, we like things to be catchy even when we don’t want to admit it sometimes). Has a very early 1992 “feel” to it, which, as a wizened person, appeals to me.


SCUMFIRE - Two Songs

As advertised, it’s a two song ep, which does the proverbial “leave them wanting more” showbiz trope. This is hardcore that’s in the same family as the blast furnace bellow of someone like Easy Prey. It’s a super big, full, punishing sound. Everything cranked. (this release is not on Bandcamp, so the link below is to their general Bandcamp page)


RABBIT - Halo Of Flies

Rabbit had a demo at the beginning of the year which most likely would have gotten them on this list (I bet they are so thrilled), but then, just under the wire they dropped the hammer on this ep of big, gnarly, Bolt Thrower x Amebix x D.R.I. hardcore. 



This is the new project from Mike BS of GO! (and SFA) with two friends from Hungary, and…surprise, it sounds like GO! And, no surprise, that fucking rules! Super stoked on this one, and hoping they can keep it together and keep the music coming. (sorry, but there is no visual evidence of Two Worlds One on youtube, apart from a clip of Mike BS talking about the record. So, instead here's Go! doing Holy Roller and being awesome)


THROES - New Gods / Miserable Being

Complete scorched earth, down-tuned, assault. Way mean. Love it.



Extra points for having Jason Griffin on drums, but on it’s own merits, this is a beautifully ugly amalgam of metallic thrash that avoids any and all retro pitfalls, but pays sufficient homage to the source material (of which they were there for). 


FAIM - Faim

Nothing flashy, just 100% hardcore that completely levels everything it comes up against. Absolute destruction. And yes, this was originally released as a 7" already, but it was re-released as a 12" this year, and this year I finally heard it. So...sue me.


*back to the not-specifically-hardcore countdown stuff*

10. WIPES - Making Friends

Continuing in the vein of preceding project Tiles, Wipes deliver on a really rich vein of loud rock music. You can tell that they have good record collections that cover hardcore, punk, noise rock, alternative rock, post-whatevers, country AND western. Mostly they go with a bass-forward, mid tempo stomp, but Wipes know how to kick out the jams and/or drag them behind their car as they slowly drive across a gravel parking lot.


9. EASY PREY - Unrest

These fucking guys…holy shit. Total catharsis via volume and mass. It’s a sustained roar that pushes you up against the wall and soils your shirt with its blood-flecked spittle. But you needed it. You’ll be better for it afterwards.


8. NERVER - Cash

You know those records that jump immediately out of the gate to wrap their hands around your throat? Yeah? Cause this is one of them. Not a whole lot of space in which to catch your breath, or recover before the next barrage comes raining down. 


7. OFF! - Free LSD

It goes without saying that Keith Morris is a goddamn national treasure, and we are lucky that he continues to provide entertainment. It should also be noted that Dimitri Coats is a riff machine, not easily rivaled in this day and age. And while the past OFF! records proved how much Black Flag research Dimitri had done, and somehow mastered (which is a fucking difficult thing to do, since Greg Ginn is one of the most unique and…peculiar guitarists of all time), this time around the riffs start to circle back to Dimitri’s Burning Brides days. There’s still a very healthy dose of hardcore machine gunning, but now the band spreads out and allows the songs to get weird. They’ve got a rhythm section that can take those opportunities and run with them in ways a “traditional” hardcore bassist and drummer just don’t see. It’s exhilarating, and really fun to see this band push and pull on what a “hardcore” record can be.


6. ARCHERS OF LOAF - Reason In Decline

It will come as zero surprise that this one is here. May be a shock it isn’t number one, but you had to know it was coming. If it was possible to somehow quantify, I’ve probably listened to more Archers Of Loaf over the years than any other band. I find a great comfort and pleasure in their unmatched noisy pop. They mastered the genre in a time when the genre was pretty competitive (the underground is overcrowded), and they did it in one of the highest per capita noise pop markets to boot. So, here they come, a couple decades later to give you a new version of the same band. It’s admittedly not as explicitly visceral, or overtly rocking as the 1990’s output, but…what the fuck man, that was years ago. And if you remember, a record like ‘White Trash Heroes’ wasn’t overtly rocking upon first  listen either…and that album is incredible. These songs worm around and latch onto your ears after a few listens to illuminate themselves as absolutely worthy continuations of the band’s canon. Sure, you can also compare some of these tracks to things Crooked Fingers might have put out, but this is in no way an Eric Bachmann solo effort, the band shimmers and fills everything out with that propulsive energy that the band has always relied on. My only complain is that they didn’t include recent single ‘Raleigh Days’ on the album, as that’s quickly become one of my favorite Archers Of Loaf songs ever. Minor quibble. All hail the Loaf! Forever!


5. KEN MODE - Null

Hey, how does one take an already claustrophobic and utterly nihilistic body of work, and up the ante? Well, you can add some art damaged saxophone squalls. That helps. You can lean into a near industrial percussive pounding. That seems to put people on edge. You can ratchet up the intensity to a near blood vessel popping level of anxiety. That’ll work. I suppose Ken Mode already knew, as they seem to have this all well under control. 


4. CHAT PILE - God’s Country

You really have to hand it to a band that can show up with a completely original sound that works out some of the same neurosis we’ve all been trying to work out for decades, and distills it into such a distinct sonic signature. Those martial  percussive machinations set against the deadpan, detached vocals, and driven home by the hammering guitar and bass generally in a lockstep. It’s a bracing sound, but exhilarating at the same time. The hype in this case is absolutely justified. This band rules. They also managed to release a movie soundtrack on their Bandcamp page towards the end of the year that covers a really wide spectrum of ideas and sounds.


3. HAUNTED HORSES - The Worst Has Finally Happened

I’d completely missed the previous albums by this band, which appears to have been a real oversight on my part. This one came out of the blue (to me anyway) and knocked my head clean off. Haunted Horses have based their sound on a survey of industrial music, post punk, noise, and hardcore, which allows them to go from the wide open, dusty landscapes of Swans, to the bristling menace of KIlling Joke, to the drilling pound of Godflesh, to the massive weight of Isis. It’s truly a spectacular record, that makes me feel like a real dipshit for not noticing until now.


2. MEAT WAVE - Malign Hex

The local (Atlanta) music monthly (Record Plug) made the astute observation that it should have come as no surprise that the worlds of Meat Wave and Swami John Reis would inevitably collide. It hadn’t previously dawned on me that their sound did have a lot of Drive Like Hot Snaking Pitchforking in it. Certainly they retain some of their own Midwestern lineage of Tar and Arcwelder and Poster Childern, and some Shiner (they don’t really count as Midwestern do they?). The whole album is pretty much perfect


1. OVLOV - Buds

My favorite record of 2022 came out in 2021, and even though I had it in 2021 I 100% spaced on including it last year, and over the course of THIS year I listened to it nonstop…so…this is where we are. I’m sorry if that breaks “Countdown Rules” or etiquette, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and ya’ll, my heart wants to go listen to Ovlov some more. It’s been my most listened to album since I got it, so that’s just the deal. It’s Ovlov’s year y’all.



Anonymous said...

Some very useful stuff here as usual... not just the bands from the lists but the ones you dig up along the way. The Ghost Is Clear Records have a pretty interesting catalogue. Happy New Year, and good luck with the band!

grrrr arrgg said...

Almost any list featuring the Archers of Loaf and Black Angels is a very fine thing indeed, it's going to take me the rest of 2023 to listen to all this stuff I didn't hear though so thank you! @amyblueband

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