Shut Up and Deal With It: Year in Review
Getting old really sucks. This is theoretically my birthday month and this year I’ll be turning 28. “That’s 28 years awesome, people!” Ha ha, I love that mentality but seriously, it’s just one more year closer to death. Which is the inevitable fate of man, the price of living—so I might as well wallow in my own self-pity for a pint or two, while the clouds are still hanging low, then by morning I’ll be back to work, back on track. Caer está permitido; levantarse es obligatorio.
I have heard a lot of records this year, and normally it’s one of the hardest things to do, compile this list. However, my existentialist personality and experiential nature mean that the records I consider the best are usually the ones that make my heart flutter. Hopeless romantic? Irrational favouritism? Or just subjective selection? Whatever you wanna call it, here are the records that help me make it through another year of chaos control.
Epic Bleakness: ΠΑΝΔΗΜΙΑ / PANDIMIA – “Μοντέρνα Πανούκλα” 12″
This record was the one I played the most on repeat over and over again. Super well written, a fair production that gives this band’s anarcho/post-punk sound enough space and grit to make your bones quiver, and the best fucking vocals and lyrics in Greek punk since the Antimob record in late 2012. Superb! I can’t wait for their next expulsion of negative energy! “There is no yesterday. There is no tomorrow.”
(Scullcrasher / Scarecrow)
Raging Spirit: BURIAL – “Renegade” 12″
Ugh! What to say about this energized, pissed off, snotty hardcore from Germany? The production is amazing and they churn out one trudging rager after another, with reverbed vocals that spit venom, guitar work that’s a perfect mix of energized Japcore solo noodling, mean chugging riffs, and frantic drumming that have you in a frenzy! The tracks on this 12” just make me want to run wild in the streets and ramble into decadence! Grab this, bang your head against a wall, smash your TV with a baseball bat or kick that fucking cop in the balls—it’s an adrenaline kick like no other!
Melodic Lament: QUOD MASSACRE – “Kje Je Odgovor!” LP
+ GOLA JAJA – “Naked Bollocks” LP
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: NE! Records was the star label for me this year, releasing stellar slabs of wax from ex-Yugo bands. There is no doubt that region was highly prolific during the ’80s and Slovenian Quod Massacre and Croatian Gola Jaja confirm this statement. With deeply melancholic tones, pensive lyrics and compositions that go well beyond the classic punk cannon, this band made some statement tracks that will twist their way into your heart and stay with you forever. Small pieces of a punk history well worth preserving!
Punk Extraordinaire: KAOS – “Betonska Djeca” LP
Holy shit was this Croatian band some kind of revelation! You hear so many bands trying to sound like this today and then comes along this record, containing within all the sonic experimentation and blissful post-punk eeriness you ever wanted, ad you think, “shit, this is fucking punk! The vocals on this are absolutely enchanting, spooky and spine-chilling and the whole record transports you to its own surreal world of deformed melodies and reconstructed realities. Avant-garde punk.
Exciting Discovery: KLAXON – “1984” LP
Thanks to Justin Briggs for playing this record for me! This Italian band plays such a beautiful yet intense mix of proto-punk, proto-Oi! and rock’n’roll, yet still deeply catchy, sensitive, festive and political. Excellent!
Purposeful Strike: VOCO PROTESTA – “Neniam Konfidu al la Stato” LP
Excellent chaotic Japanese punk, summoning the very best elements of distorted Japanese hardcore with some added early European stress! Esperanto anarchist lyrics. Love this sound and love the urgency and demanding nature of every track! Haunting guitars and crashing drums that make my insides tingle, with menacing, hypnotizing vocals and a production that storms the room like a mob of revolutionaries! Fucking fantastic!
(La Vida Es Un Mus)
Energized core: ABSURDO – flexi + 12″
Damn, what energy these guys have! I missed all their Bay Area shows because I was working (of course!) but fuck is this some driven, tight stuff! This has a sort of vintage sound, but with a very modern earnestness and the way they just go into every track just grabs you. Pissed off and passionate! All elements merge and you feel it surge through your whole body and off you go!
Maggie Thatcher Rot in Hell: GOOD THROB – “Culture Vulture” EP
I don’t know if it has anything to do with my English punk half feeling rather undernourished, but I just fucking love everything this release! The vocals and lyrics are so powerful and in your face, they really have that essential punk element that sets apart certain bands. Intellectuals, nihilists, smart asses, darlings, bearers of stark realism? Whatever they may be, they have taken simplicity and drawn it out; twisted, bent and pounded into a phenomenal pièce de résistance.
Chaos in my Brain: D.H.K. – “La Krudeza No Muere” LP
Another anarchist D-beat rager. There is something primal about this that just makes so much sense! The vocals are gruff, the drums are relentless, the bass throbbing and the melodies are simple but effective. Infectious and commanding, this puts me in the right mood to face the day! It’s noisy and scary and is what you should play it at top volume for your idiot neighbours next time they piss you off!
(La Vida Es Un Mus)
All Around Rad: V/A – “Welcome to 2013” LP
This was one helluva comp! Oh my! With such bands as INSERVIBLES, HONDARTZAKO HONDAKINAK, ASPIRINA INFANTIL, CÜLO, BROWN SUGAR, PORKERIA, GOOD THROB and many more, how could this not be included! An excellent one to pick if you want a good mix of jams and ragers!
Very Honourable Mentions:
PROXY’s Police Car EP was probably the perfect mix tape jam; DEFEKTNO EFEKTNI D/A 45 has a couple of the best bass lines I heard all year; I’m super happy about the Greek reissues V/A Diataraxi Koinis Isixias LP and EX-HUMANS Anofeli Epiviosi LP. The PLEASURE LEFTISTS Elephant Men/Not Over 45 and SHOPPING Customer Complaints LP made the perfect back-to-back listening experience, the GLAM Veneno en Sus Flechas 12″ spun me through many a heavy workload, while