Monday, December 30, 2013

F & L Reader Top Tens 2013

Continuing an annual tradition of mine, I have solicited year-end top tens from readers of this blog. I always enjoy this project. It reminds me of records that I may have forgotten to write about and makes me aware of some bands that I should check out. I never think of myself as a "critic".  To me, F & L is more along the lines of social networking. I just like to spread the word about music I like. And today, you're telling me what you like. I think that's really cool. So let's get to it! 

Joe Keller's 2013 Top Tens

1. Culo - My Life Sucks and I Could Care Less
These thalidomide children sure make some racket. You know what you're getting into when the first track starts off with a sound clip lifted from The Truth About Devolution, the short film by Devo (yeah, yeah, I know it was originally in the song "Mechanical Man") and said song is titled "Gestapo Boots of a Mutant". This record is painfully dumb (see grammatically incorrect album title) and brilliant in the best ways possible. Musically, Culo alternates between mid-tempo Ramones-like rockers and full-bore hardcore thrashing. If they only did one of these styles throughout the an entire LP it might get old, but mixing them up really makes this long player cool and has thus earned many repeat spins on my turntable. The lyrics are filled with self loathing and humor and there is definitely at least one dick pic in the rather sizable lyrics zine that accompanies the record. My only gripe is that there is no bass. I HATE records and bands with no bass which means this record is so good, I am willing to overlook my hatred for no low end. Someone call up that guy in Redd Kross who overdubbed bass parts onto that White Stripes record.

2. Nervosas - self-titled
Columbus Ohio’s Nervosas are my new favorite band, and this 3-sided LP set (the fourth LP side is blank with a screen print) will tell you why. Nervosas are an amalgam of goth-y guitar riffs, complementary male-female vocals, and the classic Ohio raw punk tradition. Mickie Mocnik's guitar warbles and snarls with chorus effects, front-man Jeff Kleinman has a cool punchy, midrange bass tone as well as a distinct singing style, and drummer Nick Schuld thrashes with speed and precision. Check out "Uncanny" and "APAB" - both are ragers of the first order.

3. Pissed Jeans - Honeys
Without a doubt, the best record of 2013 in terms of submarine sandwich eating soundtracks. I could dine on many a #44 from Elsie's (turkey, salami, and provolone) to this superb record. This one is a banger on par with King of Jeans, their 2009 tour de force. Honeys also contains my favorite couplet of 2013: "Now you wanna say that I'm lazy/When it comes to sleeping I'm a talented man". Tracks such as "Bathroom Laughter", "Romanticize Me", "Vain in Costume", and "Cathouse" all deliver the goods in signature Pissed Jeans style.

4. Radioactivity - self-titled
Jeff Burke from the Marked Men returns and puts out a melodic pop punk record which puts everything else in the genre to shame. Nothing new going on here. While Jeff's trademark melodies, guitar riffs, and vocal style are there, the tunes have a feel that separates them from his other bands (Marked Men, Potential Johns, The Novice, etc). One song is partially in Japanese and there are some falsetto notes on another track. I cannot stop listening to the song "World of Pleasure". I am not exaggerating - I replay that damn song over and over again. Apparently, there is already a 2nd LP in the can. Come on, 2014.

5. Nuclear Santa Claust - Order of a New Age
Brooklyn's favorite slack jawed bozos deliver a crushing, riff-laden boat-load of histrionics tunes that will knock you on your ass. I don't need to say anything else about this one other than make sure you pick up a sixer of your favorite cheap brew on the way home from the record shop when you get this bad boy - you're going to need it!

6. Steve Adamyk Band - Third
The good ship Adamyk manages to put out a third LP without sounding sounding stale or messing up the formula. That is not an easy feat when you're in the power pop/pop punk/whatever-you-want-to-call-this-stuff business. "Katacombs" is easily my favorite tune here.

7. Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band - Promises to Deliver
...And deliver it does. Nato Coles has a pretty spotless track record by my count. Modern Machines, Used Kids, Radio Faces - all good stuff. His newest combo has been knocking around for a few years now so all of these jams at least feel as though they are road tested. Tracks 2 and 3 ("Julie" and "You Can Count on Me Tonight" respectively) are the jams. Great song arrangement and pacing throughout this fab debut record.

8. Vacation - Candy Waves
I got into this one just before the bell. Fuzzed out indie-ish pop punk that goes along well with contemporaries Tenement. I also have a soft spot for singing drummers. I dare you to listen to the opening and closing tracks of this record and not be hooked.

9. Iron Reagan -Worse Than Dead
Tony Foresta and Land Phil of Municipal Waste fame bust out with this new side project. Less metal, more punk, very sensual. More overtly political lyrics than the ‘Waste typically rocks. Kudos for calling out Harold Camping. Fuck that guy.

10. Big Eyes - Almost Famous
Kate Eldridge & co. (an all new "co." since their last LP, mind you) serve up another healthy dose of rocking, rolling, power pop-ish, punk jams. It's easy to rattle off the usual reference points when discussing Big Eyes such as The Muffs and The Fastbacks (I'm guilty of comparing Big Eyes to these two bands myself), but Big Eyes has their own sound. There is pop in the song structure, but there are some hard riffs to back it up, sorta like the Cheap Trick song that they took their band name from. GO FIGURE!

Other awesome LPs: Sugar Stems - Can't Wait, Rough Kids - The State I'm In, Dead Mechanical - OK Night, My Bloody Valentine - MBV, Robyn Hitchcock - Love from London, Drag the River - self-titled

1. Copyrights - Shit's Fucked 2XLP
2. Neighborhood Brats - singles collection LP
3. New Bomb Turks - Destroy Oh Boy reissue LP
4. Dirt Bike Annie - Hit the Rock reissue LP
5. Replacements- All Shook Down reissue LP

1. Rev Norb & The Onions - 707077 7"
2. Replacements - Songs for Slim impossible to find 10"/digital tracks
2. Sickoids - No Home 12"
3. Tenement - Cowabunga Records 7"
4. Whiff - "Warm"/"Left At Princess" 7"
5. Toys That Kill/Future Virgins split 7"
6. The Livids - "She Likes Zits" 7"
7. Sick Sick Birds - "All The Fins in the Sea" 7"
8. Neighborhood Brats - "Birthright" 7"
9. Red Dons - Notes from the Underground 7”
10. Tenement/Screaming Females split 7"

Peter Santa Maria's 13 for 2013
Not necessarily in any specific order, all of these albums are great and got many repeat plays from me over the past year (and surely will for many more years to come).

Night Birds - Born To Die In Suburbia
From the apocalyptic surf sounds of the first track "Escape From New York" (yes, the theme song from the cult classic John Carpenter film. BEST. COVER SONG. EVER!), Night Birds come bursting forth from the toxic suburban wastelands of NJ and set the tone for the next 30 minutes of shorter, louder, faster blasts of punk rock on Born To Die In Suburbia. Whether it's a minute and a half thrasher or a more mid-tempo hardcore stomp, each song is a sonic powder keg ready to explode. Night Birds take their influences from '80s punk and hardcore and mix in SoCal surf sounds with an East Coast "You talkin' to me?!" attitude to make their own original glorious racket. Born To Die in Suburbia could easily be the album of the year for this year or ANY year!

The Bamboo Kids - Safe City Blues
Real rock 'n' roll from the Big Apple! The Bamboo Kids unleashed Safe City Blues this past year--a whopping 30-song double LP--and it's really the only record you needed to pick up this year. The whole album is like a walk through of the last 50 years of rock 'n' roll music: '50s doo-wop and pop ("Privacy"), '60s garage punk stompers ("Digging A Grave", "No Fool No Care"), glitter and glam rock ("Batshit Crazy"), '70s NYC punk ("You Can't Trust Me", "Dumb For Life"), Stonsey rock 'n' roll swagger ("Ain't A Man", "The Way Things Are", "Wrecking Ball"), and Springsteen rave-ups ("Streets of New York City"). Hell, there are even two slower, veering on ballad territory numbers in "Don't Believe All You Hear" and "Back To Brooklyn". You'd be hard pressed to find a clunker in this whole collection of songs. I'll go even further and say this is The Bamboo Kids' London Calling. And if you aren't hip to the rock, then you best get hip, son!

Neighborhood Brats - No Sun No Tan
Don't you just hate when you get hipped to a band (thanks Mr. Rutledge!) and then seek out their music and find out that all of their releases are sold out? I do! Sure, I could go listen to the tracks on Bandcamp (and I did!), but I want to own the record! Thankfully this comp of all of Neighborhood Brats' sold out EPs came out this year, so I can get my fix anytime I want now. Vocalist Jenny Angelillo is a modern day Penelope Houston and propels each song with the utmost urgency and excitement, through every scream and wail, all the while never losing any melody. West Coast punk is alive and well with bands like Neighborhood Brats, whose razor sharp songs with stun gun guitar and breakneck speed will bowl you over as soon as the needle hits the record.

Ravagers - Living in Oblivion
Ravagers serve up some full-tilt, amps on 11, trashy punk rock 'n' roll straight outta the gutters of Charm City on Living In Oblivion. Snotty vox and big sing along choruses mix with dual guitar leads, like if Johnny Thunders fronted Hanoi Rocks. The title track here is the standout, with its big arena rock spell-out-the-chorus chorus! Collector scum alert: 1st pressing on glow in the dark vinyl already sold out!

Bad Sports - Bras
As I've said many times before in reviews, if a band is from Texas, they are worth a listen and are subsequently usually pretty great. Bad Sports confirms my statement once again on their newest album, Bras. A fusion of fuzzed out power pop, '70s NYC punk, and rifftastic guitar reminiscent of Buzzcocks at times, Bad Sports make their third album their best and most experimental songwriting-wise. Produced by Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke from Marked Men, sonically the record sounds great in a '70s tape saturated sorta way. The standout tracks here for me are the Bowery proto-punk of "Eddie Bender", the fast garage blast of "Washed Up", the melancholy guitar pop of "Free Spirit" and "Terrible Place", and the pure punk frenzy of "Hypothetical Girl". But really, there isn't one stinker on this whole album, a truly great listen from start to finish. Also, a shout out to Dirtnap, who continues to be one of the finest record labels releasing music nowadays!

Mind Spiders - Inhumanistic
Another great Dirtnap release this year was the newest record from Mind Spiders, which consisted of more DEVO worship filtered through Texas garage rock from Mark Ryan and cohorts. Each Mind Spiders record is better than the last, and Inhumanistic is the best to date, ratcheting up the melodic factor of the songs while still keeping a lo-fi vibe overall. The album starts with synthy doom that sounds like it is right out of a slasher flick, then careens into "Inside You", a pretty straight ahead garage punker. More straight ahead garage punk thrashers that veer close to Screamers territory are "They Lie" and "Pictures". Other standout tracks include the sad love song "City Stuff", with acoustic guitars and overlaid synth static, the electro-countrified "I Want You", "Oblivion", a song that sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to an '80s b-movie, and "Electric Things", about an actual b-movie, From Beyond!

v/a - Songs for Slim: Rockin' Here Tonight A Benefit Compilation for Slim Dunlap
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring the people you love the most back into your life. Or like The 'Mats lyric goes, "The ones who love us best are the ones we lay to rest, visit their graves on holidays at best. The ones who love us least, are the ones we're dying to please. If it's any consolation, I don't begin to to understand them." When Slim Dunlap had a debilitating stroke in 2012, the former guitarist and Minneapolis music staple could have never guessed the outpouring of support from his old bandmates, friends, and well-wishers. First up, The Replacements reformed (kinda, Paul and Tommy showed up, but Chris declined) and recorded a new EP with two Dunlap covers and some other choice covers as a benefit release to help raise funds for Dunlap's care. That then snowballed into other artists stepping up to record covers of Slim's songs, people like like Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, John Doe, Curtiss A, Craig Finn, Frank Black (w/ The Suicide Commandos!), You Am I, and Young Fresh Fellows, among others. I have to admit, I didn't really know any of Slim's solo stuff before this compilation. It's no surprise that his influences ranged from Americana to folk to blues and pub rock, and all of the songs on this comp are played with a ton of energy and soul. A great record and a great cause!

Obits - Bed and Bugs
Obits are a guitar rock band in the way that Television was a guitar rock band: weird chords, defiant strumming, chimey and crunchy all at the same time. On Obits' 3rd record, Bed and Bugs, they move away a bit from the garage rock slop and stomp and explore more surf, blues, and psychedelic sounds from the sonic palette. No matter the style of song, Rick Froberg can scream with the best of them, but can also croon when called upon. Bed and Bugs is drenched in reverb and soul and has a vibe that you don't find it most modern bands or records.

Man or Astro-man? - Defcon 5...4...3...2...1
A new Man or Astro-man? record?! What year is this again?! The sci-fi space surfers are back with a new record, and they thankfully haven't lost a beat. Dissonant reverbed-out chords and synthy surf licks collide with robotic voices and miscellaneous electronic interference and noise. As with any Man or Astro-man? record, it's best to experience it from beginning to end in one continuous listening session, so download this series of 0's and 1's from the digital cloud and program your stereophonic device for the speed of sound!

Night Marchers - Allez Allez
This record just snarls and rips from the first drop of the needle! Jon Reis and company (3/4 of Hot Snakes) are back with their 2nd full-length with a sound that is out for blood. There are more straight-ahead rockers and barn burners on this album ("Loud Dumb and Mean", "All Hits", "(Wasting Away In) Javalinaville", "I Wear The Horns", and "Fisting The Fan Base") than the previous. There's also some experimentation with more swampy and train-kept-a-rollin' sounds on "Tropical Depression" and "Ned Lud". "Pain" is a heartfelt and melancholy number with some great lyrics ("I think I'm falling in pain with you"). No matter the song, Reis belts out lyrics with dripping snot one minute and gruff croon the next. Rock 'n' fuckin' roll!

Broadcaster - A Million Hours
Super catchy and rockin' tunes from this power trio out of Long Island, NY. Musically, think of a more polished sounding Jawbreaker: more rock and power pop, less punk. A Million Hours was recorded by J. Robbins of Jawbox fame, and the album sounds very clean and big. 15 years ago, this band probably would have been all over alterna-radio (I'll let the reader decide whether that is a good or bad thing). 10 mid-tempo songs full of great songwriting with angst-ridden lyrics, solid melodies, and catchy hooks for days.

Oblivians - Desperation
The long awaited return of one of the most rockin' and influential bands of the past 20 years, Oblivions do not disappoint on their first new album in 16 years. The Oblivians' 2 guitars, no bass, stripped down drum kit rawk 'n' blooze sound is alive and unwell on the songs "Woke Up In A Police Car", "Fire Detector", and "Mama Guitar". Their revved up and fuzzed out cover of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's "Loving Cup" with Jack O. on vox is one of the better tracks on the album. Jack O. also shines on the relentless drum-machine backed "Run For Cover". A number of songs like "Em", "Pinball King", and the title track come off like Reigning Sound castoffs, but still

Lovesores - Bubblegum Riot
While technically an EP (a 10 inch slab of vinyl no less!), Scott Drake and Jeff Fieldhouse pack in enough rock action on this release for a double album! The former Humpers tear through six sick songs full of four-on-the-floor pounding drums as guitars slash 'n' burn 'n' crash into each other. "Bubblegum Riot" kicks things off into high gear, the guitar solo on "Flamethrower Chic" is indeed h-o-t, "82nd Avenue Breakdown" is attitude personified, "Her Majesty's Ass" will have you shaking yours, the boys invent a new dance craze with the "Chinese Twist", and "Theme to the Lovesores" is that special type of earworm song that will get stuck in your brain pan for daze!

Rob Sheley's 2013 Top 10ish 
1. Livids – 5 Singles 
One of the best things released in years. Leaner & more powerful than the New Bomb Turks if that is possible. A must-have, essential!

2. Savages – Silence Yourself 
A fully formed debut. You hope all bands set the bar this high for themselves. 

3. Lovesores – Bubblegum Riot/Formaldehyde EPs
After 20 years, Scott Deluxe Drake & Jeff Fieldhouse STILL show you how it's done. Thanks, I only wish there were more tracks. Thank God for The Humpers!

4. Shannon and the Clams - Dreams in the Rathouse 
Perfect mix of trash, girl groups, lo-fi, and bubblegum. Awesome indeed.

5. Dirtbombs – Consistency Is the Enemy & Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-blooey 
It has Mick Collins. How could it not make my list?

6. Imperial State Electric – Radio Electric & Reptile Brain Music 
Sweden's own. From the ashes of the Hellacopters rise this incredible rock & roll band with more emphasis on the roll. Seek it all out.

7. King Khan – Idle No More 
Well worth the wait!

8. Night Birds – Born To Die In Suburbia 
What can you say that isn't already stated? They are the best thing in punk rock today. They always deliver, and this one is no different.

9. Big Eyes – Almost Famous 
Shows you that you can make a great racket with just a 3 piece. See 'em live- it's even better!

10. Spiders – Flash Point 
More rock from Sweden. It's great - more people should know about it.

1. Waldos- Rent Party 
Under-appreciated lost classic. It is a wonderful thought to consider that if he & Johnny could have made it, it might have sounded like this or better. Add this to your collection today. 

2. Johnny Thunders - Hurt Me/LAMF 
Masterpiece- the alpha and omega of what everyone strives to create.

3. Roky Erickson – Evil One, Gremlins & I Have Always Been Here Before 
Three gems that stand up to all the 13th Floor Elevators' stuff.

4. Nikki Sudden – The Boy From Nowhere Who Fell From The Sky 
If we all could only write songs this good.

5. Masters of Reality – self titled & How High The Moon 2 CD set
The same year Rick Rubin did Slayer & Danzig, he did this one. So far ahead of its time. 

Danny Dysentery's 2013 Top Ten 
1. Oblivians - Desperation 
Finally a reunion record that doesn't suck, disappoint, or annoy, but just flat out rocks. 

2. No Tomorrow Boys - Bad Luck Baby Put the Jinx on Me 
Like a firecracker in yr pants! 

3. Hunx and His Punx - Street Punk 
Everyone's a Pussy, Fuck you, dude! 

4. Kitten Forever - Pressure 
And forever and forever. Meow! 

5. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines 
Best song of the year: "Break It To You Gently". 

6. NERV - Life? EP 
I Don't Wanna Talk About It.

7. Lydia Loveless - Boy Crazy EP 
Love her big voice. 

8. Nobunny - Secret Songs: Reflections from the Ear Mirror 
When opportunity knocks, you gotta piss in its face.

9. Neighborhood Brats - No Sun No Tan 
Plays like a greatest hits collection. Wait, isn't it? 

10. Bad Sports - Bras 
All kinds of good. 

11. (Erika Ebola's extra choice) Video - (Join The) Hate Wave 
Hate! Hate! Hate! Love?

Schneck Tourniquet's 2013 Top Five
1. L.A. Drugz - Outside Place EP
2. White Murder - "Arteries Are Flexible" b/w "Shutter Speed" single
3. Sex Crime - Night Vision EP
4. Denizenz - self-titled tape
5. Bellicose Minds - The Spine LP

Ryan Manigault's 2013 Top Ten
1. Swingin' Utters - Poorly Formed LP
2. Shocked Minds - self-titled LP
3. Sydney Ducks - Death Toll EP
4. Superchunk - I Hate Music LP
5. Livids - (Some Of Us Have) Adrenalized Hearts EP
6. Big Eyes- Almost Famous LP
7. Missing Monuments - self-titled LP
8. Voigt Kampff - self-titled LP
9. Criminal Damage - Call Of Death LP
10. Night Birds - Born To Die In Suburbia LP

Scott VonRocket's 2013 Top Ten
Mind Spiders - Inhumanistic
Night Birds - Born To Die In Suburbia
Radioactivity - self titled
Sick Secrets - self-titled
Modern Pets - Sorry. Thanks.
Bad Sports - Bras
Autistic Youth - Nonage
Prostitutes - unreleased album
The Love Triangle - Clever Clever
BOATS! - Black & White

Best live show of the year:
Marked Men at Dirtnap showcase, hands down, no

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this post! It appears that I missed out on a whole lot of great music in 2013!


No comments: