I had a big crisis as to whether I should pick my ten most listened to records, or do the usual endless write up of ten EPs and LPs, then spent an epic amount of time freaking out about what to include / what to write about it, all totally fascinating contextual information I am sure. Punk rock is an endless vacation. Writing about music is turgid and wretched. I put a few things that woulda made my YETT last year if MRR had gotten them before 2013 ended, and in that spirit I am going to mention the GG KING LP and the WITCHING WAVES LP which are reviewed in this issue, both technically came out in December, thusly missing the mark for full 2014 consideration / total and complete jamage throughout 2014, and thus will be entered into consideration for 2015 assuming we are not post-nuclear sewage by this time next year. I am also a terrible replicant human that recycled some of my record reviews from the magazine into this list format rather than coming up with more fascinating insights into aural technologies in the face of my useless and incapacitating woes. Alright!
NOTS – “We Are Nots” LP (Goner)
After two perfect 45s of URINALS/KLEENEX insurrection a nation of rabid fans wondered how a full length was gonna transform our lives… Continuing onwards into the fluxus continuum with added nihilistic keyboards, it’s a new future for rule breakers and drool makers everywhere. I think when I reviewed this I said it was like watching Daisies with ELECTRIC EELS as the soundtrack. In short the recordings of my dreams. If I can’t have what I want, I don’t want anything…
GOOD THROB – “Fuck Off!” LP
Was there a better record summing up this shoddy mindless existence in our blissful neo-liberal end times? Aggressive and antagonistic, idealistic / nihilistic, pinning up the microaggressions of the modern female experience to the inside of yr eyelids like no other group. Like a musical version of Laura Oldfield Ford’s incredible Savage Messiah fanzine, walking through the brutalist wreckage of post-Thatcher Britain littered with plastic bags and casual violence and somehow transforming it into a cut up punk masterpiece… I’ve said it before but any group that can somehow bring to mind NO TREND if they were on Crass Records with a front person that has the charisma and power of fucking “Girl on the Run” meets JOHN BRANNON gets to be the kings of punk.
TOTAL CONTROL – “Typical System” LP (Iron Lung / Aaarght / La Vida Es Un Mus)
I found this an impossible record to write about, I agonized over my pathetic five line review for this very rag and in the spirit of that feeling I am going to replicate a couple lines from said review here: “’The Sound of Fear in the Western World,’ Vintage Violence, Berlin ENO / motorik collisions with late era BLITZ. This is a fucking classic, like reading Phillip K Dick on a commuter train in end times capitalist reality, it feels nostalgic and current at the same time. Forever prescient, ironic, but also true enough that it stays with you through these tiresome times.For many reading this Typical System is not going to be "punk" enough, whatever that means, but I can't stop listening to it. It feels both personal and subversive, romantic and dispassionate.”
FLESH WORLD – 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus)
I think technically this came out in 2013, but its December release date meant we didn’t get it until 2014 so it gets included! Urgent declarations of post-punk abandon from my current favorite San Francisco liberation force. Propulsive dark excursions which have an early Factory Records appeal, and are lit up by Jess’ voice, which flits from a PYLON like yelp to a perfect C86 SHOP ASSISTANTS lullaby… This record is so incredible, atmospheric and danceable, doomed and eternal. Soundtrack to the devolution of San Francisco.
VEXX – LP (Grazer / M’Ladys)
Best Oly band since WEIRD TV… Watching the singer perform is otherworldly, like some new Alice Bag / Isadora Duncan formation… Every aspect of VEXX is exactly right, like if the PATTI SMITH GROUP were on Dangerhouse, so tough and transcendent. That wild psyche/punk guitar sending shards of light direct from speakers into brains, and then there’s the fucking rhythm section! Most incredible current punk drummer!? Cannot wait for the next installation of action and light…
EAST LINK – LP (In the Red)
The repetition and totality of sound employed by EASTLINK make all their records perfect for daily commutes, a 59 guitar orchestra with only one riff played eternally until the entire world mutates into a singular beat with dollar store CHROME guitar solos spurting out onto your fellow commuters when necessary for survival.
LOW LIFE – “Dogging” LP (RIP Society)
Debased ruminations on decay, lust, inaction over alternately deflated / thuggish post-punk dereliction. The lyrics are almost like a cartoon, a Clockwork Orange / High Rise take on the lives behind the headlines, what the “we’re all going to the dogs” hand-wringing net-curtain twitchers think the maggot filled streets of modern life are teeming with… In musical form.
WATERY LOVE – “Decorative Feeding” LP (In the Red)
Further explorations into the impossibilities of Skull Music. VENOM P STINGER and SPIKE IN VAIN if they listened to BREAKDOWN in the metaphorical blender of a literally very useless writer. Why do skulls fall in love.
RAKTA – LP (Dama Da Noite / Nada Nada Discos / 540)
Another thing that technically came out in December 2013 that we didn’t review until 2014 so… in it goes! Almost everything anyone has written about RAKTA would make them seem to be something I would avoid; deathrock, tribal polyrhythms and yet… This record is so cool—it looks and sounds incredible, and watching this band destroy SF was one of the highlights of the year. In his MRR review of this record Ray Suburbia references Maya Deren, psychedelica and girl driven deathrock incantations and I wholeheartedly concur. Layers upon layers build up to create a totality of sound, where most post-punk advocates investigate the sparseness of the genre, RAKTA veers away from that, creating an airless space out of dissonance and a complete wash of sound, wild vocals over doomed and danceable auralscapes. So sick!
EX-CULT – “Midnight Passenger” LP (Goner)
A stark attack, reflecting lean cruel times; a paranoid, skulking sound with a total speed-for-blood road movie feel; lyrics read like a dime store novel circa 1965, a noir-ish effect enhanced by their economical use of words, desolate landscapes and plummeting human experiences adding to the feel. The music is claustrophobic, with dense layers of guitars and rhythm creating a back to mono punk savagery. Relentless and swaggering, putting the punk back in the garage, this is a taut, high tension sound that mines from fifty different punk ideals.
HUMAN ABFALL – “Tanztee Von Unten” LP (Sounds of Subterrania) / IVY – LP (self-released) / TERCER MUNDO – LP (Cintes Pepe) / LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS – “Collection” LP (Erste Theke Tonträger) / BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS – “Culture Demanufacturer” LP (Total Punk) / NUN – LP (Aarght) / JUANITA Y LOS FEOS –LP (La Vida Es Un Mus) / SHOPPING – “Consumer Complaints” LP (Milk) FARANG – 12” / TRASH KIT – “Confidence” LP (What’s Your Rupture) / PRIESTS – LP (Don Giovanni)
PANG – “Young Professionals” EP (Grazer)
I heard a rumor this record wasn’t going to come out, as PANG broke up as all the good ones are wont to do… but the universe prevailed, the fans recoiled in horror and here it is, blowin’ apart society as we know it. Or rather my brains and internal organs were reordered. I have waxed eternal about the genius sounds created by this group enough in these pages, but it’s all true, their genius is eternal, and must be expounded upon! Picture MAGAZINE as all female group, ENO obsessed art school types crafting perfect nerve-y pop at the snap of a finger. Or maybe picture four maniac WIRE fans destroying all art and culture in one 45. This is better than GIRLS AT OUR BEST!
NOTS-Fix/Modern 45 (Goner)
Further dada-punk destruction outta Memphis, NOTS will ruin you. More gassed in the garage than the first 45 but if you want total kicks, total action, a record that signifies that now is the time, or rather what now is next, then play this on repeat until it all falls into place! Fervent and furious.
SHEER MAG – “What You Want” EP (Wilsons RC)
How to write about a record that is indefinably great, that sounds like good classic rock, but is also scrappy and real like a basement punk band?! It’s low down, mean and eternal, street smart, wild, desperate and assured… And what a voice! I keep thinking this is a power pop record, but not power pop in that vile Power Pearls wimpy milk shit manner, it’s tough city street stomp, “All I do is sit and cry / Living in the city and I don’t know why.” Capturing the dirty summer in the city feeling; couldn’t be anywhere but here, oh but I gotta leave right now or I’m gonna lose it. “Hard Loving” and “What You Want” are the scene stealers for me. Low fidelity end of the summer sounds for troublemakers and broken hearts everywhere. Gimme more.
MYSTIC INANE – “Deep Creep” EP
This features at least one ex-NECRO HIPPIE going off in a fried hardcore SACCHARINE TRUST vs. SPIKE IN VAIN wormhole, total tripper maniac sound! Both songs on the A-Side will have you doin’ the creepy crawl round your room in an uncontrollable fashion, so classic and venomous and sick! Candice’s guitar sound brings to mind so many of the greats, eerie and nihilistic and true, formed in a cave somewhere beneath the CRUCIFUCKS and RUDIMENTARY PENI. The vocalist has a death sneer like JACK BREWER meets MARK E. SMITH and even KEITH MORRIS... The rhythm section is tireless and doomed, and fuck, this record is great! The B-side is like slowed down syrupy NEOS.
RAKTA – “Tudo Que É Sólido/Serpente” 45 (Dama da Noite / Nada Nada Discos / La Vida Es Um Mus / 540)
Continuing their penchant for creative expansion, avoiding cliché and aiming for the hypnotic over the predictable path… Transcendental, almost MALARIA! like sickness!
GIORGIO MURDERER – “Primitive World” EP (Goner)
Post-apocalyptic synth-infused basement punk anthems for dislocated garbage brains, this sounds like it was recorded in 1983 by a maniac-minded miscreant with only dollar store synthesizers and garage sale guitars. All of the songs are insanely catchy and malevolent, and last approximately a minute each. Perfect! What more could you want? Nihilistic Oscar the Grouch destruction sounds. There’s even a spoken word number for all you beatniks…
PIECE WAR – “Apathy” 10” (Epic Sweep)
This is a frustrating one to write about because it came out in an edition of 30 lathe cut only, I mean thirty! C’mon! And guess who didn’t manage to get one. I have heard a US label is attempting a reissue so there is hope! Doomed New Zealand punk that I can’t stop listening to, reminds me of GUN OUTFIT and the WIPERS, powerful and sincere, stark and beautiful. So fucking great.
PIG DNA – “Control You Fucker” EP (Night Rider)
Apart from being the Bay Area’s only living punk band, PIG DNA have taken it upon themselves to destroy the concepts of punk, noize, music, the internet, good art, bad art, insects, the patriarchy, the government and whatever else you got. Total incendiary sounds, formed in the furious underbelly of noize not music, but this grouping of humans has personality. They swiftly dispense of the problem many practicing this style of music suffer from, that of being a boring clone. The drumming is a manic cloud of fury and enchantment that the rest of the band build upon eloquently and destructively, feedback adding to the totality of experience rather than just being another weak signifier. The artwork and lyrics are further evidence that what is happening here should be studied, expounded upon and used to prevent boredom and settling for second best. The lyrics to the song “Fly” say it better than anything my puny mind could come up with “Oh / You like that shit / Don’t You? / Bad Taste / Shit liker.” I need a PIG DNA t-shirt, mouth guard, breast plate, bubble gum card set, flick knife etc etc Watching them play is the coolest, but if you are not able to do that right now, buy this record instead and shut yourself in a windowless room and play it over and over and over. Nothing is real. America’s only punk band, with the only record that came out in 2014.
PRIMETIME – “Tied Down” EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
If you feel unsure just listen to the title track over and over again and then it will all make sense. Sounds like they could have supported the SLITS but so much cooler and more hilarious than the DELTA 5 or AU PAIRS ever were.
DESTRUYE Y HUYE – “Oscura Sociedad” EP (Verdugo Discos)
I was so psyched on this when I got it for review I immediately sent off for a copy of my own. Super sick rudimentary ULTIMO RESORTE style ragers from LA, the insert/lyric sheet poster looks like something that woulda come out with an LA punk band circa 1982, eternal and classic ruckus.
PURA MANIA – both EPS (CVR)/ HYSTERICS – “Can I Live” EP (M’Ladys) / IN SCHOOL – “Praxis of Hate” EP (Kill Test) / BIG ZIT – “Electric Zit Vol. 1” EP (Not Normal) / OOZE – “Big Angry” EP (Not Normal) / LA MISMA– “Arete” EP (Toxic State) / DOWNTOWN BOYS – 45 (Sister Polygon) / LAS VENAS – EP / LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS 45 / FRAU – “Punk Is My Boyfriend” EP (Static Shock) / UNA BÈSTIA INCONTROLABLE- “Nou Món” 45 (Iron Lung)
So many reissues punk is a nostalgic parade:
ELECTRIC EELS – all items!/ OWEN MAERCKS “Teenage Sex Therapist” LP / BIKINI KILL – “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” LP / SLANT 6 – “Soda Pop*Rip Off” LP / SIN 34 – “Do You Feel Safe?” / BOBBY SOXX – 45 /MICHAEL PSYCHO – LP / C.O.M.A – LP/ AUTISTIC BEHAVIOR – LP / CODE BMUS-12″ / CURTIS SEALS / CHRISTIAN D’ORBIT-split 45 / CRIME – “Murder By Guitar” LP / THE SHIVVERS-LP / PLASTIX – “Konsumier Mich” EP / X_X – “Sticky Fingers” LP / DISHRAGS – LP / AMADOTS – LP/ SHOES THIS HIGH – LP / CRISIS 2xLP / REMAREMA – 45 / NEO PUNKZ 45x2 / HUMAN ERROR – LP
Coneheads / Penny Machine / Family Outing / Vial / Nandas / The Stops / Cool Bands comp esp CCTV trax / Hagface / Timmy Vulgar /Wet Drag / Slender