Tuesday, December 29, 2009

AFS v. 249 ~ Thee Best of 2009!

Here's a two-hour podcast featuring most of my absolute favorite records of 2009, another fruitful year for outstanding underground rumblings in punk, rock, and outer-zoning tangents (see below for best of '09 lists and AFS Awards winners)...

Download this program within two months at this link...
CLICK HERE for 192kbps rate.
CLICK HERE for 320kbps rate.
, if you have a slower/20th century connection
STREAM IT HERE by next Monday night!

There was so much for me to be excited about in 2009! See me straight-up fist-pumpin' Jersey Shore-sytle, son???...It was like that all year long!

(Email me if there are any downloading problems, please!)

The Pheromoans | Radical Courrier | Open for Business 7" | Yakisakana
Wounded Lion | Friendly? | Friendly? 7" | In the Red
Silver Shampoo | Dogs | Jethro Skull 7" | What's Your Rupture?
Flight | Flowers | Flowers 7" | Sweet Rot
Vibes | Dead Horses | Psychic 7" | Not Not Fun
Little Claw | Frozen in the Future | Human Taste | Ecstatic Peace/Not Not Fun
Talk Normal | In a Strangeland | Sugarland | Rare Book Room
XYX | Momento Acido Contemporaneo | Momento Acido Contemporaneo 7" | Skulltones
Ratas del Vaticano | Himno al Rock n' Roll | Mocosos Pateticos | Siltbreeze
Audacity | Price Check | Power Drowning | Burger
Happy Burger | Pizza All Around | Pizza All Around 7" | Douche Master
The Magnetix | Real Man | Positively Negative | Born Bad
Cheveu | C'est ca L'amour | Like a Deer in the Headlights 7" | Born Bad
The Intelligence | St. Bartolomeu | Fake Surfers | In the Red
Dan Melchior und Das Menace | The Post Office Line | The Post Office Line 7" | Columbus Discount
Dan Melchior und Das Menace | Smut! | Obscured by Fuzz | Topplers
Dan Melchior und Das Menace | Blue Tentacles | Thankyou Very Much | SS Records
Nothing People | Another Rattle | Late Night | SS Records
Moon Duo | Speed | Killing Time 12" EP | Sacred Bones
Agent Side Grinder | Pulse | Irish Recording Tape | Enfant Terrible
Mattress | Remember | Low Blows | Malt Duck
Impractical Cockpit | Guru's Plume | Facilidad? | Turned Word
Black Pus | Bark of the Tree | Down Down the Drain 7" | Skulltones
Dudu Geva | Pupu Blues | Retrovulva 2003 | Galerie Pache
Druid Perfume | Weird Wally Wigwam | Other Worlds 7" | Italy
High Castle | Scary Things Are Everywhere | You're On Your Own Way 12" | Zum
The Bassholes | Tough Luck Roy | ...and Without a Name | Columbus Discount
Sonny & the Sunsets | Death Cream | Tomorrow Is Alright | Secret Seven/Soft Abuse
Eat Skull | Dawn in the Face | Wild & Inside | Siltbreeze
Meercaz | Defeated at Home | self-titled | Gulcher/Tic Tac Totally
Hunches | Not Invited | Exit Dreams | In the Red
Pink Reason | Watching You Fall | split 7" w/ Electric Bunnies | Die Stasi
Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones | Cry | Cry 7" | Static Wagon

The zeitgeist of reverb-drenched fractured pop by fuzz-loving garage-punks and deep-V-necked trendies kicked into super-saturation mode as the tide of Black Lips and Oh Sees apers and overly self-conscious name-droppers came flooding in like a tsunami wave. Or was that the album Wavvves by the band Wavves? That most hyped indie album of early 2009 was already obsolete by summer due to unsubstantial and utterly forgettable songs. Haters have let that flavor linger to keep hating on it even more, but the shimmery endless-summer psych-pop of my hometown Sacramento's Ganglians issued four records--highlighted by the Monster Headroom album--which are the antidote to the lo-fi pop doldrums. While the Ganglians are part of the "glo-fi" or "hypnagogic pop" movement named by Pitchforkmedia.com, they are emerging from the backlash against this unfortunately-named subgenre because of the strength of their songs, their genuine funloving spirit, and the indubitable fact that amongst all the contemporary bands which critics compare to the Beach Boys, the Ganglians are the best at those vocal harmonies. They criss-crossed the continent playing second billing to Wavves during their first nationwide tour, and now the future's bright for them with a new label for 2010 and a planned European tour in late spring. While their future is bright, they truly became a local treasure when they strengthened a link to our past; one of the true highlights of all the live music I saw in 2009--approximately 400 bands--was the Ganglians' cover debut of "Aliens in Our Midst" by late-70s Sacto legends the Twinkeyz.

The most momentous local record of 2009 was the Deads 12" EP by the Mayyors, and its B-side opener "Clicks" was the most integral full-band achievement following two earlier EPs in 2008. The most tenacious mach-speed motorik drumbeat drives forward a supremely nifty interlocking bass/guitar riff while singer John Pritchard is in his very best and most aggressive form, and that's just describing the first verse! As the band varies from the riff, it becomes even more thrilling as the Chris Woodhouse's arcane guitar synth device is deployed to warp waves of perfectly tuned guitar scree in time with the constantly stout cadence, and as a grand finalé, the rhythm section flourishes with thundering tumbles and divebombing bass slides. Each member is achieving optimal performance simultaneously within a stunningly arranged and peerlessly produced song. The Mayyors remain elusive to most Sacramentans due to limited live local activity and zero web presence. If you would like your noise-rock to be as partyhardy as it is pugnacious, then you should find these Mayyors.

While the Mayyors and Ganglians sound nothing alike, they share many fans here in Sacto and Davis because of their propensity for rocking the same intimate living rooms and basements, and because the ever-expanding definition of "psychedelic rock" actually bridges their music. Indeed, the weird, wild, and far out has crept into every cranny of underground music, and that has brought a wide variety of music closer together, as well as fans. Tastes have become eclectic enough to endure--if not embrace--a four-band bill of glittery pop, thuggish sludge, fancy-free improv-scribble-jazz, and a weirdfolk troubadour from start to end. As the bands influence each other and the fans share it together, you know something important is brewing. Music that is broadly influenced has a tendency to be broadly influential (and vice versa...just think of how the ska-punk of the 90s became an evolutionary dead end). A few bands can blend nearly all of it together on one album, such as Wild & Inside by Eat Skull. The Portland band is best known for a style that cakes punky scuzz around a pure jangle-pop kernel, but on this second effort, they summoned the ghosts of Syd Barrett, Joe Meek, and Bruno Nicolai for some chilling moments of filmesque beauty.

Among the best albums of 2009, many ghosts of psychedelic's past flew into the future over a field of punk, garage, lo-fi pop, and even minimal synth and industrial music. On Low Blows by Mattress, the macabre croony warble of Rex Marshall's posi-self-help lyrics over a bed of downer darkwave sounds like an odd mix on paper, but it flows outta the speakers dazzlingly and seemingly very naturally. Facilidad?, the sixth album by Impractical Cockpit, harkens back to the earliest days of industrial music, but reflects the experience of the last decade and a half of no wave and noiserock damage, the cultural experience of living in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and coping with Katrina's after-effects. Little Claw's third album, Human Taste, brilliantly bridges awesome post-riot-grrl ladypower with primordial ooze of the protopunk era. Talk Normal's Sugarland brings similarly striking ladypower to stridently atonal yet seductive artrock. Purling Hiss burns brightly on his self-titled album with blown-out white-hot guitar crunch and pyroclastic leads. Meercaz achieves the same on his self-titled, but varies the pace with a protopunk stew with a hint of every type of spice. Sonny & the Sunsets revive a fancy for Donovan alternately with Jonathan Richman on their alluring debut, Tomorrow is Alright. On Men Are Talking, the Life Partners playfully dish perplexingly dubious lyrical matter over clever rock with surprising AM-gold flavors. Best of all, the local SS Records label unleashed a stunning double-LP by Dan Melchior und Das Menace and the most enchanting album of dark wonder, Late Night by the upper Sacramento Valley's Nothing People.

Top 20 full-lengths...

Meercaz self-titled
Mattress Low Blows
Hunches Exit Dreams
Purling Hiss self-titled
Talk Normal Sugarland
Eat Skull Wild & Inside
Little Claw Human Taste
Audacity Power Drowning
Nothing People Late Night
Dudu Geva Retrovulva 2003
The Intelligence Fake Surfers
Ganglians Monster Headroom
Impractical Cockpit Facilidad?
The Magnetix Positively Negative
The Life Partners Men Are Talking
The Bassholes ...and Without a Name
Ratas del Vaticano Mocosos Pateticos
Sunny & the Sunsets Tomorrow Is Alright
Dan Melchior und Das Menace Obscured by Fuzz
Dan Melchior und Das Menace Thankyou Very Much

The Anals' Total Anal was the toughest to cut, and I'm still pondering who else to cut to make room for Agent Side Grinder's Irish Recording Tape which I heard for the first time in the last couple of weeks.

Top 20 EPs...

Vibes Psychic 7"
Flight Flowers 7"
Mayyors Deads 12"
FNU Ronnies Golem 12"
Pheromoans Revamper 7"
Red Mass self-titled CDEP
Moon Duo Killing Time 12"
Wounded Lion Friendly? 7"
Puffy Areolas Lutzko Lives 7"
Silver Shampoo Jethro Skull 7"
Druid Perfume Other Worlds 7"
Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones Cry 7"
Happy Burger Pizza All Around 7"
Black Pus Down Down the Drain 7"
Pink Reason/Electric Bunnies split 7"
XYX Momento Acido Contemporaneo 7"
Cheveu Like a Deer in the Headlights 7"
High Castle You're On Your Own Way 12"
Hammer of Hathor Tooth Eeth or Teeth Ooth 12"
Dan Melchior und Das Menace The Post Office Line 7"

Best cassette releases

NoBunny Raw Romance
Butcher Cover self-titled
Michael Stasis self-titled
Warm Climate Edible Houses
Rank/Xerox / Grass Widow split
Crappy Dracula The Lockhorns EP
Absinthe Minds The Song of Returning Light
Tyvek Blunt Instrumental 2: True to the Game

Most outstanding live performances...

Tyvek @ Bomb Shelter House in Davis
The Cysts @ Funcastle in Sacramento
XYX & Rank/Xerox @ Mama Buzz in Oakland
Mayyors & Hunches @ Funcastle in Sacramento
Eternal Tapestry & Ganglians @ The Hub in Sacramento
Coconut Coolouts & Personal & the Pizzas @ DAM House in Davis
Mayyors, Thee Oh Sees, & Eternal Tapestry @ ORMF VII, Plainfield Station in Woodland
Quartet of Davy Bui, Chad Stockdale, Nick Julian, & Kevin Corcoran @ Funcastle
A Burning Bus, Box Elders, Sonic Chicken 4, & Davila 666 @ Gonerfest 6 in Memphis, TN
Traditional Fools, Grass Widow, HPP, Nodzzz, et al @ Wizard Fest, Wizard Mountain in SF
Defektors, Sex Church, & Charles Albright XXXperience @ 300 Room in West Sacramento
Necessary Evils, Box Elders, Wounded Lion, Slippery Slopes, & Wild Thing @ Budget Rock in SF

Art for Spastics Awards '09...

Best Overall Album.... Wild & Inside by Eat Skull
Best EP.... Deads 12" EP by Mayyors
Best brainworm pop hit...."Flowers" by Flight
Best song for headphone listening..."Blue Tentacles" by Dan Melchior
Best cover version..."Late Night" [Syd Barrett] by Nothing People
Best late-night listening album....Late Night by Nothing People
Best festival....Gonerfest 6
Best singles club... Columbus Discount Singles Club, Year One
Best reissue... Something That Would Never Do by Mirrors
Best new local band in Sacto/Davis....GGreen (the full rock band version)
Best new bands on west coast....Rank/Xerox, Sonny & the Sunsets, and The Whines
Best song about pizza (and there were a lot of them!)...."Pizza All Around" by Happy Burger
Best song for cleaning out ears...."Golem Smoke" by FNU Ronnies
Best overall live band....Thee Oh Sees
Best band to hang out with....XYX
Best band to party with....Dadfag
Best new trend in music right now....FUN!
Best trend that I hope gains more momentum in '10...."They're rather like industrial music of late 70s/early 80s"
Best album cover art....Electric Bunnies board-game gatefold
Best drone....???? (Squim didn't make an album this year, as far as I know!)
Best irreverent band name....Juavves
Best song titles for future band names....The Pheromoans
Lifetime achievement award....Michael Yonkers
Most vinyl-worthy cassette....Edible Houses by Warm Climate
Most face-melting psych-rock scorch-fest....Eternal Tapestry
Most humorous between-song banter....Cave
Most sweltering show....Coconut Coolouts @ DAM House in Davis (my fingers got pruney!)
Most physically taxing band (for me literally)....The Hunches @ Funcastle, Sacto
Most surprising "the old guy still rocks" moment....Paul Collins' Beat @ Fire Escape in Citrus Heights
Best energy drink....NOS punch (red top) in blue 24oz canister
Best-value burger overall....Faisal's Halal in Sacramento
Most sinful burger....Back on the Block in Sacramento's "Italian Combo Burger"
Best Mexican food here in Sacto or maybe even anywhere....Lalo's or Toledo's Market
Most ridiculous place to see a show....Loco's Only in Oakland
The band I wish I coulda started....Puffy Areolas


Anonymous said...

Best radio show: Art For Spastics

Mark said...

I join that last comment. Well done, Rick. Again.


20jazzfunkgreats said...

Best list: this one.

Andy said...

Rick, listening to your show at work is trouble for my bank account and potential trouble for my job. Moon Duo, whoa, hello Faust IV! Dan Melchior Post Office Line, curse you OOP CDSYr1!!!


Anonymous said...

Yes, I've spent probably 3000 USD by following your suggestions. Thanks for this disease you have given me!

Mark said...

to Andy - you know Mr. Melchior himself had extra copies of that 45 he was selling on his myspace page. Haven't checked in a while, but...


stellar year...
cheers! mail coming soon.

Blaaamderson said...

"The band I wish I coulda started....Puffy Areolas"

Man, that's exactly what I was thinking the first time their track on the Siltbreeze 10" came on my stereo. Little Claw and these guys should go on tour together forever and ever as a public service to those who need their minds blown.

Anonymous said...

I always knew my band's name was the most irreverent band name of the last year of human existence. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

t-shirt said...

My 2 favorite of your list are Happy Burger and Douche Master
The Magnetix. Great list by the way

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