Website exclusive: 2010 Top Ten from John Fahy


February 15th, 2011 by

Here’s the next in our series of bonus year-end top tens for 2010 (as seen in the current issue of MRR magazine). This one’s from MRR columnist John Fahey!

This was a pretty awesome year. I’m really excited about the originality on display lately from all corners of punk rock. I’m bridging three categories to create A True Top Ten: LPs, singles and cassettes. Still happily riding the crest of the cassette onslaught, a trend I hope continues as bands experiment more freely and release more often on an inexpensive format.

LPs:

NEON BLUD – B Girls 12″ (Drugged Conscience)
This record starts with a long, atmospheric noise intro before dropping into the frantic, disturbed, catchy punk. Samantha’s vocals have so much personality and force, they’re so accusatory and haunting! I fear this band is undergoing some changes since the record’s release — a potential bummer, but then again I thought the same thing about MERCHANDISE’s transformation. This record is essential. Truly original, artful and commanding of attention, any description will fail to do this justice. Silk-screened covers look appropriately trashy in color scheme. Is this the record of the year? The band’s earlier work and cassettes could easily take places in the EPs and tape sections, but this is their crowning record. A group of people who can’t stop eating culture and art, regardless of the trans fat contained therein.

POLLUTION – Registered Smut LP (C6 Recordings)
Consistently knocking me on my ass the last couple of years, POLLUTION change only the sound on this record. The atmospheric, haunting noise tracks are still here, along with the short, raging hardcore numbers, but the tracks that truly kill me are the ones that place you in the gutter with their sleazy, hypnotic riffs. I hope this band continues for some time, they’re doing something fresh and doing it well. Appropriately disturbing artwork sets the mood. This is the kind of record that brings uncomfortable thoughts to the surface. A raging bummer, a bulldozer of bad vibes.

CLOUD RAT – s/t LP (Otherwise Dead/Midwestern Decline/IFB Records)
A beautiful cover that looks Art Nouveau and DIY at the same time holds a record of pulverizing viciousness. This record has ’90s-esque, emotional, melodic parts that give way to furious, fast, bludgeoning hardcore. Madison’s vocals are absolutely shredding and brutal. The amazing thing about this three-piece is that live, they completely pull off the devastating impact this record conveys. Heavy, thoughtful, important hardcore that will fucking kill you with speed, impact and precisely executed fury. Great music made by awesome people.

MERCHANDISE – Strange Songs in the Dark LP (Katorga Works/Drugged Conscience)
Dark, noisy, haunting music with gorgeous vocals. Simultaneously haunting and uplifting, the ambling noise covering up the melody on here is what makes it genius. A left turn for this band that ended up working in their favor, Strange Songs is at its best for me when venturing into darker territory like the creepy tune, “In the Dark.” Living in a shitty house in Tampa and consuming all forms of youth culture, past and present, with a steady diet of NEW ORDER brings out music like this. Also, perhaps record of the year? Lots more to come from this outfit — they’ve already released a tape of alternate mixes and new songs.

RESURRECTIONISTS – s/t LP (IFB Records)
Furious, swirling, emotive, hardcore panic. Sounds like ORCHID listening to lots of very heavy metal. Lars writes frantic, insane riffs with feelings of despair and doom behind them. Sabine’s shrieks destroy the high end of the vocal spectrum while Bjorn carries the burden of beasting up a lung with growl duties. The energy of these songs simply reeks of fear and panic — not a bad thing! People watching the world go to waste should make music that sounds this way. German lyrics and English explanations, this is militantly political hardcore that means every word. A beautiful, crushing EYEHATEGOD cover will have you replaying the B-side time and again.

Singles:

LIBYANS – “Paralyzed”
Lyrics of the title track etched beautifully into the B side, housed in a translucent sleeve, this is a gorgeous package for a one-sided single. Two songs here, but the title track is an instant hit. Maybe one of the most infectious choruses ever, Liz’s vocals are hauntingly catchy. LIBYANS sound right at home alongside the Dangerhouse catalogue of yesteryear, with a clean guitar sound and a raw approach to songwriting. Well worth the packaging, this is a classic fucking punk song. Top notch.

DADS – “Invisible Blouse” (Soft Languages)
Ah, DADS. A fucking mess. One of the most fun bands to see, ever, Dave, Carson and Cammy keep it really loose and somewhat sleazy. Insulting their friends and fans alike, this band still manages to keep their charm and here they pull off their best song yet, a tune that soars above their own crappy expectations and delivers a noisy, whaling, rocking tune with just a hint of nostalgia to give it some depth and emotion. Get this record, it is superb.

PIGEON RELIGION – “Scorpion Milk” (Parts Unknown Records)
A dark groove permeates the A side of this record that I can’t shake. The lyrics have such a shitty, bratty ambivalence to them that I find so charming for some reason: “It doesn’t matter/Stupid losers everywhere/Go watch your boring movies/Go eat your shitty food.” All I’ve heard about this band is that their lineup is routinely changing and they have been banned from several venues in their home state. Hopefully, there’s more output like this single — this is great music for a bummer mood.

Cassettes:

FOREIGN OBJECTS – Live at Dead Air (Drugged Conscience)
A preview of their upcoming LP?? This band is stellar. Live, Terry is such a great, commanding singer to watch and the music is so rife with hooks that you can’t help but get into it. Great songs, catchy vocals, and an excellent overall sound. Their cover of THE EYES’ “Disneyland” on here is fitting and wonderful. The new songs here are a big step up from their demo/7″ material and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next. Track this tape down!

SHOPPERS – Demo I
Hard to pick between their two tape releases but I think this one is just slightly better. Another band I’ve talked about at length, this material needs to get to vinyl in a hurry. Their music is so chaotic and yet they pull you in like an undertow with the hooks and frenetic energy on display. Vocals are loaded with personality and emotion and their songwriting is definitely coming from a simple yet fresh and original perspective. Like much of what I like, their inherent beauty is covered up by a thick layer of noise and frustrated playing. Terrific work.

Honorable Mentions Are Many:
THE MEN – Immaculada LP, CERVIX – demo cassette, YEUNG – demo, BLANCHE DEVEREAUX – demo, DARK TIMES – demo, NATURAL LAW – EP, XTRA VOMIT/TROPIEZO split EP, ESCALATOR – Performance Anxiety demo, SWAMP TEASE – Mysterious Attractions cassette, WHITE GUILT LP.

One response to “Website exclusive: 2010 Top Ten from John Fahy”

17 02 2011
JR (15:05:49) :

If you like this kinda stuff you should check out Birth from Chciago. New LP on Dead Beat.