Sorry folks, no downloads today. But here's my 2012 top tens as is printed in the new issue of MRR...
When I first started thinking about my top ten favorite releases of 2012, it seemed too ambitious a list for me. I have this kind of irrational aversion to most bands/releases that get a lot of talk and hype, and often don’t check ‘em out til like 2 years later, if ever! You can call me a snob, but I typically look for a little more in a punk release than what other people are saying about it. I wanna feel something, like a personal connection, or be moved by it. Lots of records are “awesome,” or “raging,” or “killer” or whatever. But many of those, especially the blatantly contrived ones, just get filed and, for the most part, forgotten while we move on to the next batch of new stuff. So, without any further ado, a list of ten releases that left a lasting impression on me:
This is definitely the #1 standout hardcore record to me this year. Genera-defying hardcore with the perfect balance of straightforward raging, innovative transitions, and guitar/vocal melodies. The couple brilliant mid-paced melodic tracks, one on each side of the disc, really just tie it all together and make it a perfect LP. These sounds will surely stand the test of time in the way bands like ARTICLES OF FAITH, SO MUCH HATE, or UPRIGHT CITIZENS have.
KALTE LUST – Somewhere Outside The Circle LP (Self Released)
Many of you probably never got to hear this French postpunk record - quite a shame because it’s a masterpiece! They take the 80’s goth/postpunk template and really produce something fresh and memorable with the eight dark movements on this LP. Some tracks are spacious and ghastly, droning on and repetitious in a delightfully rhythmic and haunting way. But tracks like the opener, “Once Bitten Twice Shy,” or “Über Die Grenze” are beautiful postpunk gems that will hook you at every turn. The vocalist exhibits an undeniable Siouxsie influence, but really belts it out in her own way. Fans of all forms of dark punk – if you haven’t heard this yet, seriously track it down!
SADICOS – Self Titled Cassette (Silenzio Statico)
Having already enjoyed all of the members’ previous bands, I knew I would dig this tape. However, the urgent riffs and excellent songwriting pushed this into regular rotation on my stereo and became my favorite release (well, currently) on the always dependable Silenzio Statico label roster.
ILEGAL - El Aire Libre Fuera De Los Dientes Del Monstruo Tirano Y Canibal LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
After a demo and a few great EPs, ILEGAL totally blew the roof off with this monster. My turntable was on fire for a week straight after obtaining this LP. I do like their previous efforts, but it seems like they saved up all the best guitar riffs and weird hooks for this one. There are some straight up danceable moments on here (note- I said “dance”able, not moshable), which is pretty rare feeling for a full on blistering hardcore band to create. Every time I play this I discover new cool shit going on. Amazing!
ANTIMOB – Demo 2012 Cassette (Εξωτικός Παροξυσμός)
I have already spilled enough ink raving about this one, so I’ll keep this short. Intense, passionate, brutal, dramatic, and purely excellent hardcore from Greece. You probably won’t be able to find this tape now, but they just released an LP with the same material, but re-recorded and yes I have heard it – and yes, it is fucking brilliant too.
REPLICA – Demo (Self Released cassette, Flexi reissue by Radical Punks Never Die)
A perfect hardcore blend that doesn’t ever seem to get tired. It seems like there’s been a decent buzz about this band, but it’s hard to tell if it’s just local or if they have reached anxious ears worldwide. Well if they haven’t, 2013 should be the year because REPLICA are always on fire. The five songs on this tape are perfect hardcore exhibiting originality, and with just the right touch of the classic Bay Area sound. Instant classic!
DRAPETOMANIA – EP (Silenzio Statico, Todo Destruido)
Another killer Statico Ponk release capturing everything that is punk. Gruff, raw, honest, and fun hardcore punk from the backyards of LA. I cannot stress enough how inspiring that scene has been for me, and I’m always thrilled to hear more new shit from these folks. This 7” also get my vote for “best looking record cover/layout” of the year! I pulled a DRAPETOMANIA t-shirt out of the free bin at the MRR compound – it was huge and white and totally swamped me, and had a big bulldog on it. I put it on one day and my girlfriend said it looked like a rap t-shirt (if you know me, you know this is not how I typically dress), but I said “fuck it” and wore it all day anyway. That’s how much this band rules!
NEON PISS – LP (Deranged, Cut the Cord That…)
This one was a long time coming…That demo got a lot of play on my tape deck over the last couple of years, so I welcomed this LP with anxious open arms. Most punk bands just can’t write such captivating tunes or develop such a unique melodic style the way NEON PISS has, and this LP is the ultimate testament to those qualities of this Bay Area quartet. Chances are if you live in North America or Europe and are tuned in to current punk shit, this band has blown your face off live and you bought this record. If not, pull your head outta your ass and get into it!
DICTADURA - Bajo La Sombra Del Miedo LP (Stomp Records, No Thanks!! Records)
At the tail end of a long European tour, I had the privilege of seeing this Basque band half an hour or so outside of San Sebastian. I remember watching them and thinking that this was exactly the kind of snotty, aggressive hardcore punk I live for. I wondered if I would ever hear of them again, and a year and a half later I got in touch with their vocalist, only to be informed of the new DICTADURA LP! Pure aggressive punk with an incredible snotty vocal attack, a tight solid rhythm section reminding me of ECONOCHRIST, and flying guitar leads in all the right places - and a song about making punk mix tapes!! Top it off with excellent twisted artwork, and you’ve got a “top ten-er” for sure.
ARCTIC FLOWERS – Procession 12” EP (Self Released)
I’m gonna be honest here – though I initially liked it, this one didn’t fully grab me right away like their previous stuff did. And I am biased because they are dear friends of mine, and Stan’s got a distinct way of writing melodic guitar stuff that I have always really connected with – so I guess this one’s more of a personal thing. Anyways, after recently seeing them play again (their live energy is incredible), I spent a little more time with this and really grew to love it. The softer, mellower moments on this record really stand out to me because though they cut back on the aggression, it still retains the “punkness,” if that makes any sense. “The Sleeping and the Dead,” for example, is anything but lively or upbeat, but can’t be described as anything but a moody punk masterpiece – much like a lot of the tough-to-label UK anarcho punk bands from the 80’s. But let me wrap it up by declaring that it bugs me when people simply categorize this band as “Anarcho punk,” or “Goth punk,” or whatever safe labels people use right now, because it’s 2012 and ARCTIC FLOWERS have been on their own path of evolution all along, and to me, this record is far too unique to deserve to be pigeonholed like that.
There were so many reissues of great classic releases from all over the place that I am very grateful for! Off the top of my head:
NEUROOT 12” from Havoc Records, ALL the great Finnish reissues on Svart, INOCENTES and LIXOMANIA EPs from Nada Nada Discos, MISSBRUKRNA discography from Skrammel (finally!), QUOD MASSACRE LP from NE! Records, MARIA T-TA Y EL EMPUJON BRUTAL 7” (Sin Temores Records/ Discos Huayno Amargo/ Rock SVB Discos), ANTI… LP on ειρκτή, STRESS “Athens Burning” I & II from B-Otherside, PARALISIS INFANTIL 1987 Demo 7” from Canal 9, CAMERA SILENS LP from Sydney Town, ABADDON “Wet Za Wet” LP from Warsaw Pact Records