8 Songs for 2014

1. The Wet – “Bad Habit”
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All the bands on this list aspire to make a song like this. A synthesis of every euphoric insight about performance and rock n’ roll. Drugs, alcohol, addiction, love. Good music has always been about liberation, physically, but also cerebral. “I’m so fucked up, I’m so fucked up” says the chorus, like a self-loathing remark, or is it an an existential statement? This is the oscillation of the binary mind put to music. And this feeling of reckless abandon is universal.

2. Numb Bats – “Tummy So Hungry”
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A dirty low-frequency grunge riff drives this anecdotal blues ditty about a greedy store owner. Full of storytelling anticipation, and adult angst, this is the perfect song to get drunk, and high, to. It is grunge, blues, and punk. The cavernous vocal harmonies elevate it to a vintage soul/R&B level. You never heard something like this before. It reminds me of a few bygone eras, but this is not revival, just the continuity of the secret sub-underground making itself known intermittently.

3. Golden Pelicans – “Hard Head”
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How does it feel to be a Golden Pelican? The best party rock band in the world? Dirty and greasy guitars, penetrating basslines, incredibly uncontrolled crowd-wetting live shows with Champagne squirts and beer streams. Sweat, sex and tears, bruises and black eyes. A synthesis experiment of AC/DC rock radio and underground Gun Club grooves. A song about taking hits (to the head), war scars, and a glorification of learned pain. Pure pleasure.
(This song is actually from 2012 but was first released on vinyl in 2014)

4. The Abandos – “Speedball”
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A close shot to number #1 but bumped three spots because of too-short length. This song glorifying the euphoric high of amphetamines. “I know that it’s bad for my health / but I don’t really miiiiinddd…..” The Abandos are the perfect band fit for a full-length album. They have the vox down to a reasonable echo level. The bass has decided prominence, and the guitars run along as if trying to not let the seams burst. Everything is held together uptempo. They are from Philadelphia, and dirty and run-down as expected.

5. Nots – “Fix”
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Nots are so everchanging that even their early 2014 single sounds nothing like their current album. Part of the new Nots pandemonium is the added Korg synthersizer, which is unfortunately not present here. But even without it, we have a real minimalistic rocker. A revolutionary protest song about self-empowerement and DIY aesthetic. It passes through early 80’s European punk influences but transcends them through their recording technique. I hear late 70’s Jamaican dub in the echo and reverb, calculated lo-fi but with an undefined mysterious aesthetic range. It is actually quite unique and a testament to their open experimental approach. It feels composed, and decomposed. Classical, yet alien.

6. Frau – “Punk is my boyfriend”
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Frau is the moniker of four frantic Brighton punk rockers. Britannia swag is full-on present, with these shit-talking street bullies. Songs that deliberately confront your sense of aesthetics. Fast as fuck, straight up chaotic, ready to tear off the roof. Real adult angst, and outlawness. Underground misfits with a bone to pick. Spanning all levels of musical appreciation, from academia to underground. Creating new templates of sound. Hard to believe this song is a mere 46 seconds long.

7. Useless Eaters – “Dungeon”
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The genius of Seth Sutton is finding the perfect frantic guitar loops and musically excavating its tribal powers. Not since Bangladesh’s “A Millie” has a bassline unleashed such physical tantrum. That this comes from the mind of one young man makes him the equivalent of an underground punk Mozart. But fuck that classical shit, this is radical. The solo gets all cooky and loopy, and the chorus comes in stabs that literally knife you. The album is called Bleeding Moon.

8. Sick Thoughts – “I Got Hands”
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The 16-year old prodigy Drew Owen aka Sick Thoughts, living in a post-Reatard world, has this year alone covered The Necros, The Gizmos, The Stoogers, The Zeroes, and even released a 7″ on Goner Records. “I Got Hands” is a teenage masturbation anthem, and an essay on gender relations with a riff dirtier than unprotected sex. If you can excuse the teenage ramblings over it, you might want to co-opt this kid into the ‘cool zone’ of what you allow only a mere few. “Fuck most people / cuz they don’t undersand” is a lyrical couplet that describes the reason this music blog even exists.

Nots – Live at WFMU Radio


I know these songs from the Gonerfest show, and from the Orlando show at Uncle Lou’s on YouTube. What’s different here is that there is no studio reverb trickery, so it sounds surprisingly “unplugged”. I never heard such a version of “Fix”, which sounds like a cool jazzy lounge tune! Critics will call their style aggressive, corroded, vindictive. But it’s just fast! Fast basslines, fast drumming, and some fast yelping punk style, but with mysteriously subtle echoes of Memphis and the bayou.

“Dust Red” gets a completely different treatment. As if they are a 70’s funk band, making early nineties Belgian underground punk with Japanese influences.

“Get Along” is pure joy. A futuristic’s.

“Black Mold” is complete destruction, late 70’s john carpenter with early 80’s sinister cold wave but seemingly put together in an early 90’s rap production style (mpc-filtered loop baseline and crisp Premier snare drums).

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