Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bests of 2013

2013 was an odd music year for me primarily for missing loads of live gigs due to money and some other issues. But still I managed to hear a lot of great records, discover quite a few new bands or rediscover bands I hadn't heard in awhile. I also started reviewing for Maximumrocknroll which has been a great way to keep up on things. This year was a really good year for punk/psych and garage rock as well as powerviolence and grind. As for, well I liked a few metal records this year, too but a LOT less than most years due to continual burn out from that scene. Anyway, here ya go. 

For starters here's my MRR list:

 1. VENKMAN – “s/t” EP (Cow Catcher) Well ya know Mean Gene…lemme tell all th’ brothers n' sisters sumthin’! These SF fastcore/power-violence sillies are making a great racket in the vein of SPAZZ and LIFE’S HALT. With “Burritos and Wrestling” they continue long running punk and squared circle tradition. Though I do hope "Throwing Rocks at Cats" is just a joke.

2. WARM SODA – “Someone For You” (Castle Face) Perfect blend of power-pop, 70’s glam choruses and a slice of punk. “Strange As It Seems” is a fantastic daydream tune. No bummer moments whatsoever.
3. PERMANENT RUIN – “Mas Alla de Murte” EP (Warthog Speak) Punishing as fuck San Jose powerviolence/grind with really intense vocals.
4. ABUSE – LP (To Live A Lie) – Crushing grind/powerviolence from North Carolina. No Scions, no masters!
 5. FULL OF HELL / CALM THE FIRE – split EP (A389) – Raging power-violence/death grind with really cool vocals. The flipside is a tripped out mix of noise rock and hardcore. Can’t go wrong with either.
6. TERMINUS – “Graveyard of Dreams” CD (Boss Tuneage) - UK anarcho band from 1982-96 who seamlessly merged the sounds of: 80’s death rock, THE DAMNED, ZYGOTE, NWOBHM style guitars and made all of this into a collection of super-catchy punk songs.
7. PIG DNA – “Controluuufucker” – tape (self-released) – Unhinged G.I.S.M. / Disclose influenced noisy hardcore from Oakland by way of Philly. Love their cryptic oddness of their titles and websites.
8. QUAALUDES – tape - (self-released) – Rhythmic riot grrl/post-punk sounds from S.F. Excellent live band, too.
 9. LAS OTRAS – “Devolver El Golpe” 12” (Discos Sense Nom) –Kick-ass and rippin’ punk via España. Heard this at MRR house in-between doing my reviews and just love it. It sucks I didn’t get to see them live, though.
10. COSMIC PSYCHOS – “Go the Hack” LP (Goner) / NEW BOMB TURKS – “!!Destroy-Oh-Boy!!” LP (Crypt) – Double dropkick of reissues that reiterate how damn great both bands


1. DESTRUCTION UNIT - "Deep Trip" (Sacred Bones) – Incredible psych-punk from Arizona by way of one the greatest cities in pro wrestling history (Memphis, that is). D.U. has been running for quite awhile now and I even reviewed their 1st album in 2004 – "Self Destruction of a Man" for KZSU. Back then they were a raw garage rock act in recent years they’ve jammed down a similar path as White Hills only more punked out instead of spaced out. KFJC played "Bumpy Road" a bunch of times and blew me away with its slow twang and fuzz that's one part CRAMPS and another part 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS coupled with the total death rock weirdo vocals 'ala THE BIRTHDAY PARTY or BAUHAUS makes for a unforgettable tune. The rest of the album is filled with more heavy wah-pedal goodness. You WON'T be disappointed.

2. TERRY MALTS  - "Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere" (Slumberland) A bit more varied 2nd effort by the S.F. power-pop/punkers. Still rather catchy but admittedly didn't grab me completely like their 1st one did or at least right away but it pays off. The Ramones-y "They're Feeding" is great and has a classic sample from "River's Edge". "Buy Buy Baby" deals with consumerism and mixes poppy punk with a speedy 90's true indie sound (not far from their inspirations, Henry's Dress). Good to hear guitarist Corey sing on this as it adds a new flavor to their sound.

3. MUDHONEY  - "Vanishing Point" (Sub Pop) - I have yet to hear a bummer Mudhoney record and well, this one sure as hell wasn't it. Their timeless guitar tone from Steve Turner and Mark Arm is all over the place. The single and lyrics to the single "I Like it Small" explains the band's philosophy perfectly. "minimal production, low yields, intimate settings..." Also "What To Do With The Neutral" is another one that mixes through provoking lyrics and really good mid-paced playing. This also includes the anthem for Silicon Valley and neo-San Francisco, "Douchebags on Parade".  I always though that Mudhoney was the best of the Seattle grunge rock bands and this just reiterates my opinion.

 4. WHITE MYSTERY - "Telepathic" (White Mystery) - Fantastic sibiling duo with the ginger hair that flys around when they play. Nothin' fancy -  just pure rock n' roll guitar/vocals/drums cranked up without the corporate pandering. (*cough* *cough*, Black Keys)

5. DAVID LYNCH - "The Big Dream" CD (Sacred Bones) I'm not a Lynch expert but I have seen most of his movies and all of Twin Peaks. I heard his first album and while good, odd and interesting it didn't captivate me like this one did. Here we have lots of moody tunes and Lynch's strange but very compelling voice. Plus, I really liked his "Ballad of Hollis Brown" cover which I mostly know from Nazareth.

6. NEKROFILTH - "Devil's Breath" (Hell's Headbangers) Cleveland unclean (duh!) freaks don't hold anything back here and once again conjure the raw spirit of 1st wave of death metal and by way of hardcore sound 'ala SLAUGHTER (Canada), REPULSION, and SHEER TERROR. Ugly and uncompromising yet also easy as hell to follow songs and vocal parts.

7. F.U. 2 – "Punk Rock" (1-2-3-4 Go!) – UK “fake punk” by several members of 60’s beat band Dowliners Sect jobbin’out in the name of punk with a blues infection and doing a fine job of it. “Fake punk” proves to be a helluva lot better than “fake metal” more often than not. 

8. ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE - "Doobie Wonderland" (Paralax Sounds)  - Unshockingly it sounds like a "normal" Acid Mother's Temple record - trippy, at times silly, free floatin' heavy psych jams and the grooviest tune about Satan you've heard in quite awhile.

9. CARCASS -"Surgical Steel" (Nuclear Blast) - A newer version of "Heartwork" mixed with "Necroticism..." ? I'm down for this ! I love how the intro "1985" sounds like it easily could've been off a 1985 Omen or Agent Steele record. And hell, when I saw the title I thought of this band from "Metal Massacre II. Anyhow, they manage to mix melodic death metal, thrash metal with heavy metal extremely well as they've done for years and really better than anyone else. Huzzah for them to giving back money to their former drummer Ken Owen

10. RANGER - "Knights of Darkness" (Ektro) Raging steel, proper falsettos and speed while maintaining melodies and a strong influences from AGENT STEEL, "Show No Mercy"-SLAYER and SAVAGE GRACE. Nothing revolutionary but in a way it is when considering they're up against the shitheaps of all this "atmospheric/sludge/blackened/post-/depressive" nonsense. 

 Other Albums  - (not all from 2013)

MOLLY NILSSON - everything! (Dark Skies Association) This Swedish woman's voice is just so perfect - total melancholy, truly heartfelt and totally catchy. All set to a minimalist synths and beats. 

ORGASMO SONORE -  "Revisiting Obscure Film Music Vol. 1 & Vol.2" (self-release/Cineploit) - If the names MORRICONE, STELVIO CIRIPANI, GOBLIN and BRUNO NICOALI mean anything to you then you might wanna get your giallo groove on with these cats, dig? 

RODION G.A - "Citadela [The Lost Tapes]" (Strut) Spacey, futurist electronic/prog from Cold War-era Romania.

RED DONS - "Auslander" 7" (Dirtnap) - I've been really into these guys sound since I first heart them when I reviewed "Death to Idealism" in '07 for KZSU.  Though, unfortunately they've been in the "great bands that I don't catch up enough with" camp. So, I got this 2012 7" that's filled with killer guitar parts and fantastic infectious vocals. In the recent years these guys along with the MARKED MEN RADIOACTIVITY are some of the best melodic/poppy punk going right now (and for me granted that's often a short list but...). Hopefully, I'll see these guys live in 2014. 

BAT - "Primitive Age" demo (self-released) - If VENOM existed (yes, I know they still exist's more like Cronos and the two Venom-ish guys) in the 21st Century they'd sound like this. Members of MUNICIPAL WASTE and D.R.I. mixing VENOM and metal-era ENGLISH DOGS. Love that "Rule of the Beast" nicks the opening guitar lick from Venom's "Heaven's on Fire" but manages to sound nothing like it after.

ANNA VON HASSWOLFF - "Ceremony" (Kning Disk) Mostly interesting mix of dark organ tones and minimal, guitar twang. Very soundtrack-sounding but her voice is kinda odd as it reminds me of Kate Bush - who I've never been a big fan of crossed with a bit of Victoria Legrand from Beach House. Also there's occasional bits of funeral doom sounds without the boring-ass growling dude vocals. Need to listen to this one a few more times to let it fully sink in but it's interesting.

THE CRYPTICS - "Black Lucy" (self-released) UK band doin' a mix of 90's stuff like NEW BOMB TURKS/NY DOLLS mix on "Ghost Riders" and then do a very TANK (as in the NWOBHM one) /DAMNED/ COWS (!) mix in the fantastic "Gold"

Even more stuff I loved in 2013:
HAWKWIND, SISTERS OF MERCY, NY DOLLS, MIDDAY VEIL, STEREOLAB, MARTIN DENNY, ULVER. BASS DRUM OF DEATH - who surprised me as I thought they were gonna be some kinda Sleigh Bells type bullshit but were far more Jay Reatard/early Pixies. Also, WHITE HILLS' - "So You Are...As You'll Be" (Thrill Jockey) and SUMMONING's - "Old Morning's Dawn" (Napalm) were both a letdown but just a bit above average.

Live / Other Stuff – I didn’t see a whole lot this year but this stuff rules, ok? 

2. PIG DNA / MORAL HEX /RAPID LOSS / VIVID SEKT at The Fortress. A solid noisy punk, fast hardcore and anarcho/post-punk bill and a super good D.I.Y. venue with their own bar and patio.
3. WARM SODA/HELLER KELLER /WHITE MYSTERY/BURNT ONES at 4/20 Psych Fest at Brick and Mortar. Power pop/garage and psych goodness all day and into the night plus free whiskey shots with each beer.
4. MONTE/STILLSUIT / QUAALUDES / PERMANENT RUIN at House of the Dead Rat. Post-punk, mid-paced punk, angular sounds, grindcore and power-violence on the same bill and every band was great. D.I.Y. shows in San Jose rule! I need to see more shows here – it’s a helluva a good time.
5. BLACK SABBATH at Shoreline Amphitheater – Yeah, I know it was 3/4ths of Sabbath & Andrew WK was doing a stadium sized DJ set (which my friends & I mercifully missed). but the spirit was certainly there and hell, can’t go wrong with “Into the Void”, “Dirty Women” and “Under the Sun”. Added bonus: I only paid $30 for a ticket that was within 100 yards or so of Tony Iommi.
 6. SECRET CHIEFS 3 / GOBLIN  at The Warfield – 10/20. Secret Chiefs did their usual running between metal, surf, various musics of the world, and Morricone (who’s they did a cover of). My only disappointment (albeit a mild one) was they didn’t play “Barakel". Goblin played an incredible set that went through a bunch of their career: “Suspiria”, “Tenabre” and song or two from their 90’s work for Argento. They also played a number of clips from the films they’ve worked on and had a woman dancer to reenact the themes of certain songs. My friend John has a great review here.
7 and 8. (tie): SAVIOURS / WINO at Bottom of the Hill and ANGRY SAMOANS at Thee Parkside – both 1/12 – first show of the year and both on the same night. Saviours reminded me of how fucking good they are – huge guitars and melodies and just totally non-stop rockin’ (to make a generic point). Wino did some nice acoustic numbers and later jammed with the Saviours guys. Later my friends and I went down the street to see Anrgy Samoans rip through a ton of songs in a short time. I got to talk to “Metal” Mike Saunders for a bit about writing for Creem and the origin of the band name.
9. HOT LUNCH  / MUDHONEY at Slim’s 12th April – Hot Lunch did an ace cover of ELP’s “Barbarian” and the rest of their set was killer heavy 70’s jams. I read somewhere that they had connections to the band Men’s Club whose drummer I went to jr. high & high school with but it turned out it was the guitar that was in Men’s Club not the drummer (who oddly looked like Tom from Men’s Club). Mudhoney were stunningl – still after all these years filled with a ton of energy and they a lot of the newer tunes “I’m Now”, “Chardonay” as well as the classics like “In and Out of Grace” – the first song of theirs I ever heard as well as “Touch me I’m Sick” Plus, TWO encores with Fang’s “The Money Will Roll Right In” and Black Flag’s “Fix Me”.
10.  TJUTJUNA / 3 LEAFS / ACID MOTHER'S TEMPLE  – 10th May - A great night with my usual partner in-crime Wyatt and 2 of our friends originally from Iran who we had Indian food with that night. Over dinner I was showing them some video of The Iron Sheik because yes, I am part of the REAL ROCK n' WRESTLING CONNECTION!. Tjutjuna played some really good rhythmic psych, 3 Leafs were good but maybe a bit too crazy on the droning stuff. Acid Mother’s started a bit slow and built stuff up as usual and didn’t disappoint. Got to see Kawabata chokeslam his guitar a bit, too. The next day I went to Wrestlefest and met Rowdy Roddy Piper, Terry Funk, Bret "The Hitman" Hart & Colt Cabana and walked right next to RVD and Mickie James in the parking lot. 
11. MIDDAY VEIL - "Live on KEXP" - Really good etheral-prog-space rock band from Seattle doing this stuff in the right now. Another current band I really need to see live. 
 12. GREG PROOPS* at S.F. Academy of Science 1/31 and 2/2 at The Punchline. The first show was Proops riffing on all kinds of things: the Super Bowl, how people are walking around with open containers near sea anemones and a lot of other really funny stuff. The second show was for his podcast “Smartest Man in the World” (link) which was also fantastic minus the fact that I didn’t get to ask him a question near the end. Well, there’s always this year’s Sketchfest. OK, it’s not music but he talks about music whether it’s seeing KISS on the day Elvis died, great soul and funk songs and so on.

1. SAVAGE DAMAGE - Winter 2013  Really solid read outta the island city, Alameda. Chock full of info on punk/garage/power-pop/glam bands of the past and occcasionally the present. Not too info in their pages to where it's overwhelming like say, Ugly Things (who at times go overboard with their obsessions). Current issue has THE AVENGERS, LARRY WALLIS (MOTÖRHEAD - 1st album, PINK FAIRIES, DEVIANTS, NICK LOWE, etc.), THE SAVAGES - Bermudian garage rockers from the mid-60's, and also reviews Murder in the Front Row:  "Testament's Alex Skolnick (great memoir for  being in such a boring band)" I couldn't agree more. Plus, there's a reviews of recent/reissued stuff and a neat-o crossword.

2. DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE - Issue #1 Really well put-together mag from Hedonist Jive blogger Jay Hinnman who's written extensively on punk, post-punk, garage rock, and the like. Although, this isn't only Jay's doing this is also him with contributing writer Erika Elizabeth and whoever's behind the Fuckin' Record Reviews tumblr thingy where they cover old fanzines. This has a lot of stuff I didn't know about and an in-depth interview with Chris D. of THE FLESH EATERS, and others with SALLY SKULL, SEX TIDE, HOUSEHOLD and BONA DISH. The music reviews and book reviews are also really done with a lot of knowledge and intelligence - especially the books on San Francisco history particularly David Talbot's Season of the Witch and how Jay sees that as the generic history with no grey areas (which is likely very true) and Talbot's stupid 60's cliches in overrunning his writing. 

3. ACID DRAGON - Issue #60  - French prog zine in a half-sized format. Hell, even as deep into issue #60 they're still addressing the "prog is/isn't pretentious?" question. More to the matter at hand, I got this for the rather good HAWKWIND cover story and interview with Dave Brock. Along with this there's an interview with QUASAR, and the rest is album and live reviews. It's kinda short and to the point (yeah, how "un-prog" of 'em!). One thing I've found with the prog scene is it's parallel with punk, psych and metal scenes - loads of bands that while they're good not too many people have heard them and this zine is doing just the right thing by exposing them. For every ELP and YES there were tons of bands like ARGOS, FM, HAPPY THE MAN and so on.