Saturday, December 10, 2016

Best of 2016

Celebrating new music is important. In the subculture, we are constantly faced with a chorus of people who will tell you that the genres are dead and that there is nothing good coming out anymore. This opinion alone indicts how out of touch a person can be. There is a deluge of incredible new music coming out every year and it is important to take the time to praise the work of those who contribute to the subculture's sonic archive.

Adam Whites - founder of NYC record label Katorga Works and owner-operator of Brooklyn's Material World Records

New Releases

Mommy - Songs About Children LP

- This might be the most singular and unique punk record to be released in 2016. An incredible example of the true spirit of what made the contemporary NYC punk scene so special, as it is a completely enveloping experience that brings the listener into the harrowing an unwelcoming world of mental illness in ways few bands ever have, which spiritually aligns Mommy with a bands like Rudimentary Peni without feeling the need to try and sound like them. Punk should be difficult and challenging, not tepid rehashings of former glory, and this record is certainly challenging.

Warthog - S/T 7"

- Warthog has been one of the best live bands in the hardcore punk world for a minute, but this is their first release that truly captures that spirit and energy. Definitely my favorite punk record of the year.

Rakta - III LP

- I'll be totally honest: I used to think Rakta was awful. The first 12" REALLY bored me and I saw them play a disastrous set when my friend Nay and I booked a show for them on the ensuing tour. Well, I guess the band lost their guitar player to a cross-Atlantic move and, instead of replacing her, revamped their sound into something really special. No longer tepid post-punk revival, the band draws way more heavily on krautrock and psychedelic music, even with a touch of dub here and there. I honestly think that Rakta being marketed to punks is a huge misfire, as this band should be playing to a different type of audience that would care more this style. Either way, I will eat my words and say: I love this record and I love Rakta.

Blood Incantation - Starspawn LP

-This is the death metal record of the year for me for sure. Celestial and atmospheric, just nerdy enough. What a great band!

Uranium Club - Who Made The Man 7"

-Here's a theory I have: the most influential release for the midwestern punk sound of the moment is the reissue/first legit release of Hardcore Devo in 2013. Ever since then, there have been a huge wave of bands that have either tastefully taken influence from that era of Devo or have just completely aped the style. Uranium Club is the best example of the former, who take the influence and are still able to do something special with it AND write real songs. The older material was cool, but this single is a perfect punk single and the LP that this is on will surely replace this on my list once it comes out.

Framtid - The Horrific Visions 7"

-This is probably my least favorite Framtid release (still getting used to the new drummer), but it's still better than most other bands happening today! Framtid is the best.

Green Beret - Standing At The Mouth Of Hell 12"

-Oh hey, a band with riffs. This seems to be a novelty in 2016 hardcore punk, but Green Beret continues to be one of the most impressive AND under-appreciated bands in hardcore punk today.

Triage 7"

-Speaking of riffs, here's one of the most unexpectedly amazing releases of the year! I guess I had thought the best Toronto had to offer was S.H.I.T., but thank god I was wrong! JK actually, the new S.H.I.T. songs I've heard sound REALLY good. Anyway, if early-era Sacrilege had an Instagram, this is what they would sound like. Very contemporary with a classic touch to it, these songs are some of my favorite punk to come out in some time. Triage forever!


Queen - On Air 3xLP

-Queen, the most glorious band to ever exist! I'm a huge Queen nut, so this release certianly speaks to me. Three LPs of BBC sessions? Yes please! I think this release is notable to most casual fans for containing the first studio release of the fast version of "We Will Rock You," which has been floating around YouTube for years. The definitive version of that song is on Queen Rock Montreal (best concert footage AND best Queen recording IMO), but this is still awesome to have on vinyl.

Thiam, Mor - Din Safarrar (Drums Of Fire) LP

-I honestly hadn't heard of this record until this reissue came out, but it's blown me away. Spiritual jazz with an Afro-centric and funky atmosphere. Also notable is that Mor Thiam is Akon's father. I guess the original goes for four figures, so, thanks to this reissue, I'm very grateful to have yet another unattainable record to have to search for now :(.

Breakdown - '87 Demo LP

-This is my favorite Breakdown material, so I was obviously excited that it was released in full instead of an abbreviated 7". NYHC at its finest. The b-side is an amazing WFMU recording with some of my favorite banter. 

Cirith Ungol - Paradise Lost LP

-AW YEAH. This is the first legit vinyl release of Cirith Ungol's final studio album, Paradise Lost, which was released only on CD in 1991. Not quite as good as their masterpiece King of the Dead, but despite this being their most misunderstood album, I truly believe this stands up to their other work. JOIN THE LEGION.

Gas - Box 4xLP + 4xCD 

- Gas was one of my favorite ambient techno acts when I used to listen to this stuff a lot more in my adventurous teens and to have all of this material compiled into one boxset has been a godsend, because I wasn't buying vinyl at the time. This stuff is just beautiful. 

V/A - From Minimal Wave With Love CS 

-Yet another Minimal Wave comp? You'd probably think Veronica would have run out of relevant material by now and, yes, there's some stuff on this that's appeared elsewhere, but if you want masterful synth curation like no other, Minimal Wave is the place to go. You can never own enough releases with the song "Russia" by Elisa Waut, I might add. 

Mystic Inane - The EPs of M/I 12" 

-One of the most unique hardcore punk bands of the past five years. Everything Candice does is amazing and to have their EPs compiled into one LP is exactly what my lazy-ass needed. Go Mystic Inane!

AZOK - S.A.F.N.P. 7"

As General Speech stated in their official description of this cult Japanese punk obscurity, it’s nearly impossible to reissue something people haven’t heard before in the age of both reissue label culture and internet omnipotence, yet here we have AZOK. I believe the original release was limited to a mere 10 cassettes, but has now reissued in a limited run of 200 7”s. With a sound akin to G.I.S.M. being played through a blender, Azok should appeal to any fans of the classic dark and violent sounding 80's hardcore punk bands of Japan. This is a truly unique punk experience that I am so glad has seen a slightly wider release.

Brian C. Crozier - guitarist of Vanity and Pox, bass player of Lion's Cage

Maxime Smadja - drummer of French band Rixe and sole performer in Digital Octopus

Top 2016

Arms Race - New Wave Of British Hardcore LP
Anxiety - ST LP
CC Dust - CC Dust LP
Vanity - Don't Be Shy LP
Uranium Club - Human Exploration LP
The Cowboys - ST LP
Urochromes - Anthology LP
Pierre et Bastien - Musique Grecque LP
Rendez-Vous - Distance LP

Barcelona - Pueden Ser Ellos 7"
Triage - Power Beat 7"
Warthog - Warthog 7"
C.C.T.V - Piece of Paper and Audiocassette Tape 7"
Uranium Club - Who Made The Man 7"

DLIMC - November Cassingle Tape
Uranium Club - Beat Session Vol.1 Tape
Exotica - Musique Exotique Tape
Impalers - Promo Tape

Top Classics 2016

Cro-Mags - Age Of Quarrel LP
Thin Lizzy - Fighting LP
Kiss - Hotter Than Hell LP
Brainwash - Etat D'Urgence 1982 - 1986 LP
Doctors Cat - Feel The Drive Maxi
Elli et Jacno - Tout Va Sauter LP
Rich Kids - Ghost Of Princes In Towers LP

The Chills ‎– Kaleidoscope World LP

James Khubiar - founder of Justified Arrogance

Top 10 Hardcore / Punk LPs
1. Crown Court - Capital Offence (Katorga Works / Rebellion)
2. Omegas - Power To Exist (Beach Impediment)
3. Mommy - Songs About Children (Toxic State)
4. Absolute Power - Absolute Power (Youth Attack)
5. Green Beret - Standing at the Mouth of Hell (Side Two)
6. Latishia's Skull Drawing - Romanticized (Iron Lung)
7. Cinderblock - Cinderblock (Brain Solvent Propaganda)
8. Arms Race - New Wave of British Hardcore (Painkiller / La Vida Es Un Mus)
9. The Repos - Poser (Youth Attack)
10. Lumpy & The Dumpers - Huff My Sack (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Top 10 Non-Hardcore Punk LPs
1. Dark Blue - Start of the World (12XU)
2. Nothing - Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse)
3. Vanity - Don't Be Shy (Katorga Works)
4. Belgrado - Obraz (La Vida Es Un Mus)
5. Merchandise - A Corpse Wired For Sound (4AD)
6. Croatian Amor - Love Means Taking Action (Posh Isolation)
7. Lust For Youth - Compassion (Sacred Bones)
8. Cheena - Spend The Night With... (Sacred Bones)
9. Psychic Mirrors - Nature of Evil (Cosmic Chronic)
10. Puce Mary - The Spiral (Posh Isolation)

Top 10 Hardcore / Punk EPs
1. Framtid - The Horrific Visions (Brain Solvent Propaganda)
2. Warthog - Warthog (Beach Impediment)
3. Rixe - Les Nerfs A Vif (La Vida Es Un Mus)
4. S.H.I.T. - I (La Vida Es Un Mus)
5. Paranoid - Punkdemonium Hell (Suede)
6. Pollen - EP (Brain Solvent Propaganda)
7. Sunshine Ward - Order (Feral Ward)
8. JJ Doll - JJ Doll (Katorga Works)
9. Kriegshog - General (La Vida Es Un Mus)
10. Vaaska - Futuro Primtivo (Vox Populi)

Hardcore / Punk Demos
1. JJ Doll
2. Krimewatch
3. Exotica - Musique Exotique #01
4. Reckless Aggression - 2nd Demo
5. Malcontent

Top 5 Shows of 2016
1. The Stone Roses @ Madison Square Garden, June 30th
2. Death Side / Warthog / S.H.I.T. / Vaaska / Mommy / Indignation @ Le Poisson Rouge, April 16th
3. Aspects of War / Warthog / Indignation / Conspiracy / Porvenir Oscuro @ The Acheron, July 8th
4. Anasazi / Crazy Spirit / Pawns / Dog @ Sunnyvale, October 31st
5. Hank Wood and Hammerheads / Sheer Mag / Haram @ Sunnyvale, September 11th