Sunday, January 24, 2016

BEST OF 2015

 Dave Kendall knew what was up in 1989

Sentient thing sayer Mr. Shitpeas, speaking on 2015 

Somehow I left this place dormant since oh, say early 2014. Welp, getting my writing back in action is one of my New Year's Resolutions for '16 so let's get to it. Here's the lot of the music/movies/books I liked in 2015.

Before I get there though, I should tell you that the first half of 2015 was a very trying and often agonizing time as I had no job until late July and had to continually go to job networking classes (which sometimes REALLY sucked and felt phony as hell - I swear they brought in some dork who was all about going on about mega-memory like Shingy) but eventually in July I finally got a new job which I'm still at  - thank gords as rent in the Bay Area is at Emirates levels and lord knows how much the bank gouges from me. Regardless, I was able to keep up somewhat from reviewing at MRR and No Friends. The latter a new mag/zine venture by my Chicago buddy, Ray who's been in boatloads of bands: AUTONOMY, CHINESE TELEPHONE, SCHLEIM (now: TRASH CAN), and a gazillion more I'm now forgetting. He's a super rigteous dude who is one of thee best people I'm thankful to have met in the last 2 years.

Anyhow, here's what I loved in 2015 and yep a lot from a certain wrestlin' obsessed Florida label

 Walkin' up with my list like

1. KILLING JOKE - "Pylon" (Spikefarm/Universal) Hard to believe a big-ass label like Universal would even want anything to do with KILLING JOKE but it's likely the label's partnership Finnish heavy rock/metal label, Spinefarm is a huge part of the deal. That aside, this just proved to me that KILLING JOKE are one of the rarities of bands - to have been this consistently great on so many albums for so many years. Plus, Jaz Coleman is still pissed off at the state of the world as he was in 1980. Moreso, the sound of this album brings forth more of the KJ intensity on "I Am the Virus" and "Dawn of the Hive" to more melodic but still potent-as-hell fare on "New Cold War" and the kinda VOIVOD-ish "Panopticon". 

2 . RIXE - "Coups & Blessures" 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus) - Hard as hell sounding Oi! from France. Grated, my knowledge of this style only goes so deep so I have no idea if this is in the same ballpark as RAS or L'INFETRIE SAUVAGE much less CRIMINAL DAMAGE. BUT I can tell you this is action pact and tough as nails.
3. ACTIVE MINDS – “New Puppets – Same Old Machine” (LOONY TUNES)
From my MRR review: Very pissed off UKHC that’s super ON TARGET! Interestingly, I got this a mere two days after the UK elections only to see the doofy, conniving manipulative faces of Cameron, Miliband, and that other knob-end, Farage looking at me from the cover. Musically this is a FUCKING STEAMROLLER of hardcore and metal riffs done all proper.  Granted, I don’t know A.M.’s music that well sans an unfortunately abused flexi a college station I used to DJ once had. Loads of sounds I love in the mix: Anthemic punk/HC, NWOBHM riffs  - the latter especially on “Economic Migrants” which really reminds me of VENOM! This slags off the hysteria of the Daily Mail, UKIP party, and the lot. The lyrics are like a one paragraph essay followed by very on-point details –all of which is as good or really better than anything you’ll read in The Guardian and  certainly explain at lot more than fucking Vox and other click-baiters. I was also very impressed with“1,000 A.P.R.” and how it digs its claws into the payday loan scumbags and the cost of everyday life. This plays off a riff very similar to THIN LIZZY’s “Cold Sweat” which threw me for a curve but what the hell - it works. Whereas, “We’re Still Angry” is a killer, traditional Oi! number. Really impressed with the range of things ACTIVE MINDS can do. Perfect timing for this 7”.  I only wish this was played with a related video right after Charlie Brooker’s “Election Wipe” on BBC 4.  Otherwise, this is spot bloody on!

In case you ask me about SUFJAN STEVENS or DRAKE...


4. ABYSS – “Heretical Anatomy”  (20 Buck Spin)
This is how death metal should be played and really the only ways I like it now: short, sharp and to the point. Nothing too fancy or bloated no more appellations  needed – just Death Metal in the same way that REPULSION, RIGHTEOUS PIGS, DEATH STRIKE and MASTER laid it out. Though musically it’s that plus brings memories of a variety of early 90’s Swedish bands mixed with even NAPALM DEATH-circa: “Utopia Banished” tone. There’s even a parts of traditional doom metal in the slower parts – so it isn’t all 1 exact sound/reference point on every turn. These guys totally slayed when I saw them with PERMANENT RUIN, SERPENTS OF DAWN (sludegoid metal with some classic rock/metal parts) and CONCRETE WALLS (excellent local HC/power-violence band)  at The Knockout. These Canadians know their steel as I found out at same afternoon at The K.O. that David is also ½ of the tag-team that runs the excellent comic/zine  “Chromium Dioxide” (link) which is TOTALLY worth aread. ABYSS seem to play for more with hardcore/pounk bands wihich is really nice to see but they’ve also played with thrash legends RAZOR  

5. DYSENA BOYS - "Find Water/"Mind Stories" (self-released) - I reviewed this at MRR sight unseen. When I looked further and I found this is German-American band with the incredible vocals of Jason Honesa from SOCIAL UNREST. The rest of the band are no slouches either and are members of bands I've never heard of "but the resume looks good" level of acumen. Anyhow, this is somewhere between old USHC like AGENT ORANGE and DR. KNOW and even a wee bit of early T.S.O.L. Wowza! 

"But what about the REFUSED reunion shows?" 

 6. HAFNER - "Boyos" - (self-released) Like I said in MRR: (and yeah, while it's technically a '14 release we didn't get it 'til '15) Slow to mid-paced, often brooding, noise rawk from S.F. In the realm of: UNSANE, JESUS LIZARD, SHELLAC and COWS. Sure, it’s familiar territory but don’t let that stop you for 1 second!  HAFNER puts the right notes in the right places and the vocals are just spot on for this kind of racket.

7.VLASTA POPIĆ– “Kvadrat” - (Moonlee) Sometimes when I ask my local punk scene friends "what band 'x' 'y' and 'z' sound like?" and they tell me: "post-punk", "post punk and yes, "post punk". While I like that style jus' fine there's only so many times you can heard just right. So, here's a band from Republika Czecha who nails it. Plus, they don't make me think "this would be better as just a 7"  but on every song is worth your time. Never a bummer moment here.

8. MIDNITE SNAXXX - "Don't Wake Me Up"/"Pull Down the Shades" (Total Punk) Timeless yet classic punk from the Bay Area with guitarist/vocalist Dulcinea (from LOUDMOUTHS) and now recent-ish bassist Camylle (from B.D.) and the rad drumming from Sammy. Maybe it's me olde ears but Dulcinea sounds at times British and other times like she's got a New York accent either way it's great punk with a spot-on sound on both sides. I gotta (finally!) see them live in 2016.

9. BORN LOOSE - "Blowout" (Hound Gawd!) Totally charged up and fast-as-hell garage rockers from NYC. Reminds me of DIDJITS but even faster and with more wailing guitars + intense screamin'. Or maybe a more raucous DEVIL DOGS? There's also the very relate-able lyrics of "Ain't Coming Tonight" which deals with the indecision about going out then going out and having even more indecision. A rather good rock n' roll resume, too with members of CANDY SNATCHERS, IRON PROSTATE who did the college radio hit, (well at my old college station, anyway) "Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia"), HEROIN SHEIKS and GHETTO WAYS.

10. DEATHMAN - "3 Track Heavy Metal Tape"  (Lockyard) 4 fellers from Östersund, Sweden making some of the BEST traditional HM I've heard in a long time. This pairs perfectly with the Svenskmetal classics of HEAVY LOAD and GOTHAM CITY with a hint of more recent-time bands like S.F.'s SLOUGH FEG. I also love how they have a non-doom metal song with the word "doom" in it. "Bells of Doom" instead relies on dual guitar harmonies and soaring vocals instead of some Nth gen. dork playing half-baked doomplod.

11. GOLDEN PELICANS - "Oldest Ride, Longest Line" (Total Punk) These Florida mofos are STILL knocking me out well into 2015 and now 2016. Why the hell do ya need a Bums N' Hosers reunion at Goatsmella in 2016 when you can watch and listen to a totally killer, real deal, raw n' righteous rock n' roll band like Orlando's GOLDEN PELICANS? (Also, they could probably tell ya a thing or two about OZ legends, ROSE TATTOO). 

"Actually, IGGY AZAELA's music is under appreciated. As a Slate writer, I..."  

12. DECEASED - "Cadaver Traditions" (Hell's Headbangers) - I'm certain King Fowley & co. are one of the most underrated bands in metal and ALSO the best cover band in metal. Here they take on M.D.C., KROKUS, EXCITER, BAD BRAINS, XENTRIX, N.O.T.A, RAVEN, THE DOORS, PLASMATICS and RUNNING WILD among many others. This also proves why King Fowley is a great, great vocalist who you should pay a lotta attention to.

"MAJOR LAZER'S the best band ever! I saw them at Jocky Dickweed Festival..."

Older Stuff: BOWIE (R.I.P.), THE GUNS (CLEVELAND), ACTION SWINGERS, BONNIE ST. CLAIRE, KILLING JOKE, J.A. CEASER, LES RALLIZES DENUDES, MALIGNANT TUMOR, ROXY MUSIC, UK/US/EURO-GLAM (TEARS, WALKERS, GUMBO, IRON VIRGIN, etc,etc,etc), NEW BOMB TURKS, ZAM-ROCK (Witch, Christy Zebby Tembo, etc), Northern Soul in general. Cleveland/Columbus soul/punk/garage rock. 

BUTANNA in Redwood City (top) + VIAL at Burger Boogaloo (below)

Live Shows: 
Once again I saw fuck all this year but I did love what I DID see so here ya go:


2. BUTANNA @ Mardi Gras Bar, Redwood City. Daaaag, I try to tell so many people that Redwood used to have a punk/HC/grind/powerviolence/loud-ass music scene and everyone looks surprised. Well, get onto them 976/SLOBBER/PLUTOCRACY records, kids! Anyhow, I saw a wee bit of the first band THE MENGZ who I had seen in this dive before and they were rather good, straight up punk whose line up once included local pro wrestler Kaka Meng who SHOULD be also known as one of the main peeps that trained NXT Women's Champ and HUGE fan fave, Bailey.

3. SCHLEIM (now TRASHCAN)/VWLS/BUTANNA and THROWING ROCKS at Tulare and 3rd, S.F. Generator Show in June. Holy fuck this was a hella fun show and I even cut a promo for it the week before in Vegas with my buds from T'ROCKS. Plus, I got to MC this thang while channeling my inner Cronos from Venom/Dusty Rhodes/Ric Flair(s). Anyhow, all the bands laid down some killer jams and it was really fun to have each band play twice in a round robin format. Also, there were zero cops trying to break up the gig. Aaand listen here -  go see ALL these bands - lest I forget the gawd-like power of San Jose heavy rawkers VWLS 'cause they're one of the best fuggin' bands I heard in '15.

4. JOHN WATERS mc-ing, PANDORAS/MAGNETIX/NIKKI CORVETTE/APACHE//VIAL/GOOCH PALMS/DANCER/AUDACITY/5,6,7,8's, BLACK LIPS and the 3 or so songs I saw of THE MUMMIES all at Burger Boogaloo, July 4 and 5th in Oakland. So many killer music crammed into 2 days and the price was right even though the two stages instead of one (like 2014) took awhile to get used to. Still a good time in watching a lot of great punk/garage/power-pop bands that spanned several generations and some that are are just getting started. Plus, it was great to be in the same place as a legendary director and trash-fiend as John Waters.

"When you tell me in 2016 'Funeral Doom is totally awesome, dude!''"

Books and Zines
 Japrocksampler - Julian Cope - I HATE the name of this book - would it kill 'em if he just wrote it Japanrocksampler? Sounds like it's half appreciation and half "ironic" WWII propaganda bullshit. Anyhow, Cope does a mostly good job on the history of Japanese psych and the zeitgeist of the '67-'75 or so time. Plus, this clued me into bands like J.A. Ceaser and more info on the excellent yet mysterious Les Rallizes Dénudés along with their strange but true connections to the Japanese Red Army and plane hijackings.
 Al' America - Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots - Jonathan Curiel and The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigratns Threaten the West by Doug Sanders. Both excellent reads and both definitely, seriously good re-examining of what the media and our insane politicians, celebrity atheists, as well as dopey bacon obsessed TCOTs* tell us about Islam vs. what the research shows and people actually living their lives tell us instead. (*TCOT - Top Conservatives on Twitter - usually Dante-like levels of hellish, sad dickweeds really who've likely never met a Muslim much less read more than 2 books on Middle East history). Also, do yourself a favor and read the writing of  Roqayah Chamseddine (Mondoweiss,  Al Akhbar English, etc, etc).

King Cat  – A wonderful but sad tale about the life and passing of a fantastic cat in the author John's life and the trials and tribulations of life and life with kitties.

Oslo City Rockers – DAMN, I've been in long need of an update on the Norsk punk scene and here it is! Thick paper and super-quality photos and interviews with a viking boatload of Oslo, Bergen and elsewhere punk/HC bands. A lot of interesting viewpoints too and disgust with the ultra-rich getting more and disdain for the growing anti-immigrant hysteria and racism in the Norway (and I'd add in Sweden, Denmark & Finland). Kontakt:

No Friends  - OK, I'm biased here as I'm a reviewer/columnist BUT it's not just my doing - it's the vision that editors/creators Ray and Jim have put forth and the true D.I.Y. spirit without the "insider's club" bullshit of some zines. Jam packed with interviews with comedians, musicians, labels, etc. From the Midwest to the Australia to wherever else. Totally worth your time. And (*toots own horn*) the next ish will have a History of Danish punks, THE BRATS and their eventual overlap into MERCYFUL FATE and more shit about the square circle of course! Extra bonuses: Issue #1 comes with a killer split flexi between LUMPY and THE DUMPERS and AUSMUTEANTS. Issue #2 will be out super soon. So get on it!


Street Fight Radio: I started listening to this while looking for an anarchist podcast that was just about theory and such (and would likely be hosted by Libertarian dorks or some doofuses from this tired rag). Sure enough I stumbled upon this show which covers: partyin', pro wrestling (!), Pantera, regionalism, TV/pop culture aaaand putting what really could be called "practical anarchy" into your everyday life and "not believing in the kayfabe of Republicans and Democrats". To top it off, they're outta one of my all-time fave rock n' roll cities, Columbus, Ohio (see: GAUNT, OBNOX, SCRAWL). Plus, they have talks with others from the worlds of activism and everyday good times on the tweetin' machines and play some interesting tunes at the end.

The Best Show with Scharpling and Wurster - I got to see these guys live in January last year as part of Sketchfest in S.F. Jon Wurster himself got "Bad Companied" by his pianist/singer John Darnielle. Darnielle later played some originals with Wurster which were uh, very "contemporary John Denver"-y though we did get some pretty good tunes from Bob Mould which marked the only time I've seen him live in any form. Anyhow, Scharpling + Wurster had some real gems in '15 namely this hilarious bit with tribute band booker Alder Lansingdon. And if I forgot this one about with hippy extraordinaire, Bryce you'd lose your collective crotch marbles.

MLW Radio with Kevin Sullivan and MSL - both of these dudes may both be a wee demented but they are a good, entertaining listen on issues in current-era WWE (Usually it's a WTF? Uh...? or hmm..) and how Sullivan booked a top rated-WCW Monday Nitro program for over a year which they've been reviewing show-by-show. Jim Cornette's still on the network as well and uh..welp some of his shows can be OK (that is when he isn't preaching his goofy atheism and talking to the awful Kenny Bolin).

2000 A.D. Thrillcast - Since I was 17 and listening to shittons of ANTHRAX's "Among the Living" I've been kinda obsess-o about Judge Dredd and the vast universe(s) of the UK's finest comic series, 2000 A.D. which also includes the excellent female hero, Halo Jones, Slaine the Bezerker, D,.R and Quich and so on. All of these I often pour over at S.F.'s excellent Comics Experience before I jam over to MRR to work on my reviews. Now if the Comics Experience kids could just swap out that shitty 00's emo for something more moshable...

- Peep Show - Season 9  - Still top notch comedy after all these years. Bummer that it came to an end but I hope like mad that Mitchell & Webb do another show soon.
- Mad Max: Fury Road - I've heard the complaint that it's "not truly a Mad Max movie" but I really didn't give a fuck about that - this was a fantastic action movie with a strong feminist undercurrent though there were a few strong female characters in even in "The Road Warrior (1982) so this to me seem to be a continuation in a way of the larger world of this. Plus, there was a connection to Judge Dredd as artist and designer of Dredd comics Brendan McCarthy worked on this while with director George Miller and crew in Namibia.

- w/Bob and David - The bulk of the cast of "Mr. Show" doing a 1 season run and some hilariously great parody of: Shingy "Digi'taaaal!", rich-ass pop country guys "Banes and Dunfrey" and making crazy and not so crazy resolutions.
- Black Power Mixtape - Incredible documentary from a few years ago that culls some incredible footage of the Black Panthers and related Black Power movements (Malcom X, Angela Davis, George Jackson, etc) from a ton of news coverage the Swedish media did. I had no idea Malcom X went to Sweden and gave speeches there but I believe this was part of his speaking tour that also included the British Parliment.
- Master of None - Aziz Ansari and co's mostly solid comedy/occasional drama that deals with ethnicity, generational divides between Indian and East Asian sons and parents, dating, sex and so on. The thing I didn't get was how the hell did he have a decent-sized apartment in Brooklyn in 2015 when he was just a temp worker? Plus, it was very hard to suspend my disbelief when he went on an entire weekend date with a woman he hasn't seen in ages - to Nashville. Anyway, this also made great use of music with Chicory Tip (covering glam-rock-era Giorgio Moroder), Joy Division, Madlib & MF Doom, Bo Diddley, Jacques Dutronc (who I never heard of 'til this show), etc.

- BBC Northern Soul docco. Ace stuff on the advent of Northern Soul and how the Brits latched on to not just Motown but loads more soul music from in out of Detroit including Cleveland, Chicago, etc. Still amazes me how much killer music that's made right in the USA that we overlook and Europe totally loves.

Wrestling and Other Sport

- Wrestle Kingdom 9 and G1 Climax - New Japan Pro Wrestling - A top to bottom solid card everything was really interesting to watch unlike many of the deadspots that WWE and moreso nowadays WWE has had.A fuckin' hell SHINSUKE NAKAMURA - YEA-OHHHHHH! My dude came out like the KING that he is! (Please don't ruin him WWE, please don't...) The English broadcast was made good with the addition of  Good 'ol J.R. and Matt Striker who did a mostly top-notch job in dealing with the cross-cultural issues. G1 Climax also like WK9 was stacked with great matches and works a bit like the NCAA basketball tournament only way more complex  In all, it also helps you with inter-cultural understanding with the different style of audience (and no it's no always "quiet" as the stereotype supposedly says), the various names, imagery and backstories. New Japan is the DEATH SIDE to WWE's NOFX. 

 -  Regardless of the craptastic output of much of the WWE, there were some real ighlights. Namely, Rusev coming into Pants Stadium in Santa Clara at Wrestlemania 31 and Seth Rollins sneakily winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title and thus making their last several champs (sans Block Lesnar) former ROH stars.
- Rollins vs. Cena at Summerslam - John Stewart EVISCERATES Cena! (Only good use of Stewart on TV in like forever). Plus Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro was a pretty solid line up as were the twists and turns in the Lesnar vs. Undertaker headlinematch. Summerslam was made best by watching it on the big screen in the company of several friends that are regulars at S.F.'s excellent punk bar, The Knockout
- US Women's soccer team. I'm not a big "rah-rah America" type but THIS team was so great and waaay better than any US men's soccer team ever and the crazy-good abilities of Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd. and Alex Morgan made it even better.
- Ohio State winning the National Championship in football. FINALLY a team that's NOT from the goddamn SEC or called Florida State (or even USC). Sure they biffed it this season but at least it was a good run and the one positive Ohio sports story since uh...the Cavs going to the NBA Finals uh, never mind. 
 - Teams NOT called the SF Giants, Yankees or Red Sox getting in the World Series - even if the wrong team won but then again the Mets owners are a trash fire and next season it's likely that I won't bother with baseball 'til maaaybe mid-September as the season's just too long, too much to pay attention to and statistics I don't care or have the brain power to understand.