Top 16 of 2016

1. Bonehead – “You” EP

Detroit solo project of Alexandra Lee. “You” is lo-fi garage pop perfection w a bouncy bassline and jazz stickin’. “Gone Girl” flips the script and sounds like a 60’s take on a 90’s tune via The Gories (electric KBD blues). The flip side is a pure lo-fi electroclash jam recalling my college days before I left academia for the real world. Real, rugged, ballad pop, with spunk.

2. Counter Intuits – “Sunglasses After Death”

I didn’t know who Ron House of Thomas Jefferson Slave Appartments was before listening to Counter Intuits. In the 90’s he was considered a kind of 70’s punk. This would make him a 90’s punk today in 2016. And that’s what this album sounds like!!!! Pure 90’s underground pop-punk. Totally humourful and at times mournful, with a dense wall of sound. “Sunglasses After Death” is both homage and satire. “Monosyllabilly” swoops in voodoo depths via Tav Falco. “Actors Running Sound” is existential power pop for someone who doesn’t like power pop. Great songwriting, balance and emotion, Ron House has put in more than 10 000 hours in his career, more than 10 000 years ago, which technically certifies him as genius.

3. Nots – “Cosmetic”

The year of Nots! European touring, reviews from the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia. Praise for their evolved psych-punk sound. Nots added political gravitas to their message, like a cinema-verite of our times. “Inherently Low” made fools out of dance clubs. “Rat King” called for presidential impeachment. “Blank Reflection” warped reality for its duration. But the coup de grâce came on the title-track, “Cosmetic”, which has two time signatures. I’ll say it again: the most important and pertinent American rock band.

4. Giorgio Murderer – “Holographic Vietnam War”

The best performance at Gonerfest 13, undoubtedly was Giorgio Murderer’s ultra-secret after-party (at 3 in the morning) at local dive bar, Murphy’s in Memphis. Only the most hardcore rock and roll fans were in attendance ready to see the genius beatsmith behind Buck Biloxi, Black Abba, LSDOGS, and Weapon Man. Giorgio Murderer wasted no time, running through hits like a pop star in between banter about chewing gum jingles, and the intoxicated state of most of the audience. Giorgio Murderer assaulted the crowd with the one-two electronic thump rock n roll rhythms of his futuristic warnings of impending doom like some kind of angry alt-right woke robot singer. Favorite track: “Get Murdered By A Robot”

5. Urochromes – “I Don’t Want To Be Like Me”

Drum machine hardcore pop-punk. Urochromes finally got a drummer after almost a year of performing with an iPod in tow. I had the opportunity to see them 3 times, and their lead singer is a true performer in the sense of a rock and roll unhinged performance. Much cooler than the usually standoffish hardcore performers. Urochromes are funny, and full of hooks (‘All I See Is Ugly People‘, ‘Trapped On A Planet‘, ‘I Don’t Want To Be Like Me’). Records released by Lumpy and Northampton artist weirdo label, Feeding Tube Records!

6. The Submissives – “Do You Really Love Me?”

The only reason I leave the house nowadays is to see The Submissives play live. Experimental warped pop, country ballads on psychedelic drugs, and to quote underground noise rock Boston artist Gordon Gritty, “Guitars that sound like they are dying, and God…those stoned vocals”. This year, The Submissives released two consecutive albums, performed regularly, and got distribution through Fixture Records.

7. The World – “Loser”

Bouncy Oakland funk, post-punk, cool 80’s no-wave. Andy Human of the Reptoids, Alexa of Pang, and Amber, of that recurring dream I keep having! Aloof post-punk, lo-fi à la B-52’s, with weird noisy angular sections. Rinse and repeat! I saw them in Toronto and got to talk to Andy afterwards. Amazing cool laid back relax standup dude.

8. CCTV – “Piece of Paper and Audiocassette Tape “

The robotic-funk of CCTV (incl. members of Coneheads) captivated the entire globe this year! Devo-like rhythms, lo-fi renditions of synth-funk jams but w more guitars than synth.

9. Vital Idles – “My Sentiments”

No-Wave Pop with the best vocal performance of the year!!!!! I suspected Vital Idles was special after hearing their jangly pop rendition of a hardcore classic (Negative Approach’s “Ready To Fight”). The b-side is luscious pop, which gives me the impression that Vital Idles are to be kept under close surveillance for innovating genres and extending influence.

10. The Staches – “I Don’t Bother”

The Staches are like a young The Limiñanas, who run the gamut between early Cramps thump, Swiss 80’s post-punk, and contemporary L.A. garage. I saw the lead singer perform in Memphis as part of Couteau Latex and wow she was amazing. She also writes awesome French lyrics, which I photographed here.

11. Honey Radar – “Blank Cartoon”

If hip-hop producer Madlib made experimental garage rock it would sound like Honey Radar. Ultimate texture collagist and uptempo grooves. I played this for a friend who doesn’t listen to garage rock and he immediately noticed the experiments in tone and depth. A rocking record that sounds really warm.

12. Useless Eaters – “Relaxing Death”

The lines blur between electronic and garage, and coldwave without the goth posturing. Seth Sutton’s robotic effects-laden vocal delivery evokes the pop stars of stadium concerts. America’s largeness is contained within. Like Kendrick Lamar, Useless Eaters critique-by-excavating overlapping sounds and genres into a pop art statement.

13. Sex Tide – “Pussy Kills”

Can’t help but think how political this song is, specially after this US election. All the fuzz, jet-propeller riffs, desperate howls, barren-land solos, must come out of sense of deep frustration and desire to destroy.

14. Suburban Homes – “iPhone Suicide”

15. Archie and The Bunkers – “Mystery Lover”

Someone in the crowd at Murphy’s in Memphis pointed out that Archie and The Bunkers were “Barely legal!” as they were performing during Gonerfest. One of the gifted brothers answered “Barely legal?  We are ILLEGAL!”. The hard-hitting rhythms of this teenage drum-synth-organ duo could only be the product of completely mad parents who raised their babies on The Stooges, The Damned, and The Cramps. In fact, Nick Knox is credited as an advisor on this record.

16. Uranium Club – “Small Fry”

“I’m a small fry, why should I try?” And this concludes the TOP 16 of 2016.

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