Did Germany invent Post-Punk? I feel like it’s a super German type of music. It sounds so natural in that language. Emerging from the Goulash-ridden streets of Dortmund Germany (Home of the Juicy Beats music festival) this is Lügen (Lie). A barrage of black turtle-necks and even blacker lyrics. This feels like really serious music. The lyrics are no joke. Holy crap it rips though. Lots of unhappy energy here. If you’re in a really good mood and you’re just goddamn sick of it, these guys can probably help you out. The whole process is gonna sound amazing too. Don’t listen to this while you’re walking in the rain or you might end up punching someone in the back of the head.
A year ago I started this quest. My goal was to dig. That’s the word I use for it. I dig and I dig, through hours and hours of music I find online, and that’s what it takes nowadays to find the music that really matters to me. In 2017 everyone and their moms dog has the ability to release their music to the masses. There is more music now than there has ever been for our consumption, and it’s increasing rampantly. This means that there are more hidden gems to be discovered than ever before. It also means there is more godawful bullshit than ever before. You have to leap into the breach and start digging through it. It’s the only way. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past year. I finally decided I need to put in the work and stop relying on algorithms to find it for me.
This blog is a personal record of what I’ve found, for future reference, so I don’t forget. In the meantime you, my friends, might use this blog as a resource, the way I use so many others as resources, to start your own digging journey. After much personal deliberation, these are the 10 releases from 2017 that have had the greatest impact on me. Some of them were just sitting, all shiny, atop the piles of musical-crapola that came out this year, some were buried deep deep deeeeeep beneath it. I hope you find something that matters.
Briscoe – Good Time Riffs For Bad Times
This little EP of 5 poorly recorded songs (from a band that, for all I know, doesn’t even exist anymore) is, in fact, the best thing I’ve heard in 2017. It’s hard to put into words why exactly. I mean what’s so great about it? Sonically it’s all kind of mushed. It’s hard to even make out the lyrics, but the vocals are perfect and you can build your own narrative to them. It’s choose-your-own-adventure. For me it’s songs about summer, about running away, escape, and it’s about falling in love on a hot night. It’s inspirational. The more you listen to this the more the murk settles, and eventually it’s crystal clear. It’s perfect and I wouldn’t have it recorded any other way. I still have no information whatsoever about this band. I can’t find anything on them. It’s kind of a mystery and maybe that makes it even better. Listen on Bandcamp
Standard Rat Fuck – ST
I’m surprised this blog doesn’t come up when you google ‘Standard Rat Fuck’. I’m pretty sure I’ve used those 3 words more than any others on this blog. In real life too. I can’t shut up about this EP. I’m not even going to try to use genres to describe it. It’s beyond genres. It’s intense and it’s smart, but it doesn’t take itself that seriously. The lyrics are somehow senseless and exactly on-point at the same time, the way only a mad poet could write. They called themselves Standard Rat Fuck. I don’t think they’re trying to make it big with a name like that. They should be big though. Everyone should be talking about this as much as I do. All the pissed off kids should be wearing SRF shirts. Freedom Fries is the best song of 2017. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Conor Oberst – Salutations
I had to exclude Conor Oberst from my top songs of 2017. It could have been a top 5 instead of a top 3 if I’d included Napalm and Mamah Borthwick, but my OCD wouldn’t allow the imbalance. A lot of people say 2016’s Ruminations was the better version of this album. Those people are what I like to call fools. Salutations is the album in it’s completed form. This is how these songs were intended to be heard and they sound magnificent with the band behind them. Ruminations is like the director’s cut or something. It’s like bonus tracks for Salutations. Yeah it’s neat, it’s stripped down, it’s like a little peek into the songwriters process, but it’s not the album. It’s just not the album, sorry. Salutations is the album. Listen on Spotify
Strange Ranger – Daymoon
Given the sheer mass of their 2016 masterpiece, Rot Forever, I think it’s fair to assume Daymoon is the long awaited outro to that album. It pales in comparison, yet it’s still my 4th favourite release this year. That’s sayin’ something. You know what else is sayin’ something? Everything that is said is sayin’ something. Is this coming across as sarcastic? It shouldn’t cuz this is still my favorite new(ish) band. Even if they do hate Canada. That’s fine cuz I hate Portland. I’m just kidding. I love Portland. I don’t know what their problem is. Is this coming across libelous? Look, Strange Ranger hates Canada. There’s nothing we can do about that. We’re still going to listen to it. They could cheat on us with our best friend and we’d keep coming back for more. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Pinky – Mood Swings
I’ve been waiting a while for someone to do the whole Title Fight- Floral Green thing properly. Title Fight isn’t doing it anymore so someone’s gotta step in. These guys pretty much pick up where they left off. I shouldn’t make this out be just a Title Fight wannabe band though. They have their own thing going. I’m just saying, if Floral Green was your bread and butter, these guys are gonna be your toaster oven. You know what I’m sayin’? Toast. Toast is what I’m sayin’. This is toast. Listen on Bandcamp
Local Programming – Seymour Glass
This is likely the most upbeat album on the list. It’s a lot of fun to listen to. I think every song reminds me of a different band.. Kudrow, Minto, Forming.. If you enjoy any of those bands, chances are you’re going to find something here that piques your interest. It’s just nice uncomplicated indie rock punk. It’s not breaking the mold or anything, but that’s ok because it has that something that makes it stand out. A lot of the best bands are like that. It’s un-put-your-finger-on-able. There’s just something about it you know.. Something! Listen on Bandcamp
Basement Revolver – Agatha
This is the band I’m longing to see live. They have that sound that would just fill a room to the gills. You almost feel like you need to get out of the room to make space for the music. You just have to stand in the doorway or something, just past the threshold. Give these guys some fuckin’ space I said! Damn! If you haven’t seen their performance on Audiotree Live, you need to check that out immediately. You go ahead and do that. I’ll wait here.. Oh! You’re back already? That was fast. You didn’t actually watch it did you? Well now you’ve offended me. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Tigress – ST
Another release that went under my radar when it came out in June, which is a shame because the only thing my summer listening lacked was some quality hardcore. I’ve been playing this a lot lately though. Trying to make up for lost time. This is the kind of band you can build your scene around. Proof that hardcore will always have a purpose. “Fuck the police I hate them all” and “fuck your goddamn brotherhood” are lyrics I can really get behind. Call it juvenile if you want, and you’d be right, and your point would be? I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m feeling so combative right now. The truth is, we need angry young people making angry blanket statements. Especially after a year rife with angry old people making angry blanket statements. Listen on Bandcamp
Shepards – ST
Right now if you go to their bandcamp page you’ll see a picture of me in the ‘Supported by’ section. I’m the only one there. I hope maybe someone reading this will go and join me. It seems this has been grossly overlooked. I guess it’s a side-project of sorts. My advice to these guys is to do Shepards full time, but change the name. Shepards is a stupid name. Standard Rat Fuck is taken by the way. Listen on Bandcamp
Dead Man Winter – Furnace
Yee haw! Bang bang! Giddyup! Budweiser! I’m just kidding. It’s not Country, but it does have more twang than anything else on this list. It’s that good twang though. Like the way The Band had twang. It’s a straight up country-blues rock record, and executed perfectly. This thing goes down so smooth. It’s the perfect way to wash down the bass-akwards randomness of this top 10. I suggest you turn down the lights, lay on the floor and turn this one up. It’ll take you away to your happy place. Then, once you’re in your happy place, turn the lights down in said happy place and lay on the floor. It’s like Inception but with really good music. Or if you have a special someone you can dance on your front porch to it. If you don’t have a front porch, a back porch will do. If you don’t have any porches, just put the Tigress EP back on and start smashing stuff. Listen on Spotify
That’s it, so hey, if you’re thinking your favourite genre is dead.. Whatever it might be, punk rock is dead, hip hop is dead, ratfuck is dead. Don’t be so sure. Your new favourite band is out there right now, somewhere in a dingy basement recording your new favourite album, and if you’re not searching you’re going to miss it. Shoot, my favourite album of 2017 is probably still out there and it never reached my ears, but at least in searching, I found a lot of great stuff in the process. Stuff that I’m gonna keep listening to for years to come. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to help. Check out my monthly top 5’s for more. Thanks for reading and never stop digging. Please write to me!
2017 has brought (widely-disputed) proof yet again, that SOME songs don’t actually suck. According to Spotify I listened to more than 30,000 minutes of music this year. I do the vast majority of my listening on Bandcamp though, so lets say (wild guess) my total is something like 100K minutes (69 days). That’s not accurate though because 80% of the songs I go through get skipped within the first 60 seconds. I try to give them all at least a 60 second benefit-of-the-doubt window, but I have to admit, many don’t even make it that far. You know it’s the bad times that make the good times seem so good. For me there’s no better feeling than when you find one of those diamonds in the piles of spew. Here are the 3 most beautiful spew-diamonds I suffered to find this year.
Daddy Issues – Dog Years
Holy crapola this is a bully of a song. I’ve had this thing in heavy rotation since it came out back in May. It’s been a good year for fuzzed-up dreampop bands, but I think Daddy Issues is leading the pack. ‘Dog Years‘ is my case in point. This song will take you back to 1993 and then be like “HEY! Wake up motherfucker! Stop living in the past!” Yeah don’t let the pleasant voices fool you. This song will tear your face off. It will stalk you like a cheetah you big dumb wildabeest you. It will hunt you down and then come out of a dark corner like a screaming banshee with fangs! It’s a direct threat. Do not fuck with this band. Unless you’re fucking with them in a good way like “yeah I fucks with Daddy Issues”. That sounded weird.
Standard Rat Fuck – Freedom Fries
You know what you’re in for just by the title, and it does not disappoint. Few times throughout history has America flexed as hard as it did in 2017. Not in almost a century has it flexed so hard on such repulsive ideals and downright poisonous rhetoric. This song is about how that roid-monkey of a nation will pound you into whatever form it sees fit, even when you think you’re resisting, it’s slowly getting you. Slowly melting you down into a gloopy puddle of ratfuck. At least if you listen to this song and scream along to the chorus line, you’ll feel a little bit better about it all. Everybody now.. BIG – FAT – GOLD – COCK! – SANCTIFIED – IN – THE – VEGAS – SKYLIEEENE!
Phoebe Bridgers – Smoke Signals
So here’s a weird story. Somehow the Phoebe Bridgers album Stranger In The Alps slipped under my radar when it came out in September. I don’t know how this happened. I’m usually on top of things. I’m sorry ok. I make mistakes. I’m not a fucking robot! Here’s the weird part. I actually saw Phoebe IN SEPTEMBER, open for Conor Oberst in Bellingham WA. How did she still manage to slip under my radar then? Oh good question! I had no idea who she was at the time. Her name wasn’t listed on the bill and oddly enough, her first song, which I’m pretty sure was ‘Smoke Signals’, caused my friend to have a severe vertigo attack. That’s how powerful this song is guys. Ok maybe my friend is prone to vertigo attacks and he already had one earlier that day, but I’m pretty sure this song set off the second attack. It nearly set one off in me for fucks sake! I mean it’s one of those songs that’s just overwhelming. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear the whole thing, and I missed the rest of her set because I had to get my friend out of there and find him a cab so he could go back to the hotel. Never did catch her name and forgot to look it up later. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago when I saw the album listed on some bandcamp best-albums-of-the-summer thing. Imagine my surprise when I give it a play and the first song is ‘Smoke Signals’ and suddenly I’m having flashbacks to my friends crippled escape from The Wild Buffalo in Bellingham. I called up said friend and had him listen to it and he had ANOTHER vertigo attack! Ok I made up that last part. Everything else is true though, and this song is a cold force.
[This is where there would be some kind of summary if I cared to write one]
Desmasiada Presion (Too Much Pressure) have been at it for a while now, kickin’ up dust and rock ‘n’ roll pop punk from the streets of Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it is the same Comodoro Rivadavia where the Museum of Petroleum is located. I don’t know, I can’t really find much information on these guys. They appear to be car enthusiasts, but as far as I can tell, none of their songs are about cars. Oh well. If you’re in Patagonia, check them out. They seem fun. I have to go because the way I’m writing right now makes me wanna barf.
Standard Rat Fuck – Self Titled
We can’t go any further until we talk about the name, Standard Rat Fuck (or SRF for short). It’s not some elaborately intricate rat fuck we’re talking about here ok, it’s just your everyday standard rat fuck. Alright, moving on. Ratfuck is officially a genre now, because there’s really no other genre we can put this in. Years from now when everyone and their cat is in a Ratfuck band, people will look back on the early days of Ratfuck music, and they`ll talk about this album and they’ll say “That was it. That was the EP that set the standard for what Ratfuck would be”. Really, I can see that happening. If it wasn’t 2017, that is exactly how this would play out. It’s that groundbreaking. Right now track 5, Freedom Fries, is in my top 3 songs of the year, and it’s not just because of the line “Big fat gold cock sanctified in the Vegas skyline”. Though I can’t say that wasn’t a factor. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Amigos Subterraneos – Self Titled
Adjust your ears to lo-fi and prepare to be bum-rushed with fantastikness. I always find that it takes a minute or two for your ears to get there, but once they do, this smooths right out and there are so many goodies to be discovered. The lyrics are all in Spanish, so I went and translated some of them. They’re vague for sure, or maybe it just doesn’t translate well, but powerful none the less. It’s not about the lyrics here anyways. Don’t get me wrong, bad lyrics can ruin any band, but with this I’m drawn more to the melodic qualities of the vocals since I don’t understand the words and that’s working out just fine for me. I could listen to this all day. Listen on Bandcamp
Shepards – Self Titled
You ever have one of those days where, you know, you’re listening to a lot of ratfuck and you just need a break from it for a while? Something to chill you out a bit? This here EP is gonna be perfect for that. It’s like some laid back indie/post-punk stuff that isn’t too aggressive. It just sort of hangs out and keeps you company. Minds it’s own business, but occasionally goes on mind blowing guitar tangents. You know what I’m sayin’? It’s nice. You like it. It’s good. It’s really good. Listen on Bandcamp
Red Tank – X
A lot of EP’s this month. This one grows on you as if you were a sloth and the music was jungle fungus. Just all matted up in your fur etc. At the beginning you’re like “meh, idk” but each track seems to get consecutively more awesome, and then when you go back to the beginning you’re like “wow wtf? All of these songs are awesome”. I mean the cover art lacks creativity, sure. Someone just took a picture of their feet, but what I’ve learned is, some bands are just too busy making killer tunes to give a shit about album art. If you give so many shits about your music there sometimes are no more shits left to give about anything else. These guys are plum out of shits. Also top-notch bandcamp description. Listen on Bandcamp
Going Under – Never Not Down
It might sound kind of predictable at first, but there’s a lot more to this than just your standard ratfuck. I mean pop punk. Don’t be put off by the threatening language at the beginning either. I think they just got carried away. They have a song on here called $hark Attack which, incase you were wondering, is far better than the Bouncing Souls song by the same name, and not just because theirs is spelled with a dollar sign instead of an ‘S’. Though I can’t say that wa$n’t a factor. Listen on Bandcamp
Back in the 90’s, before everyone and their dog had a skateboard, punk rock and skateboarding were pretty much synonymous with each other. Most skaters were punks and most punks attempted to be skaters. That’s how it was where I grew up anyway. Out in Flint Michigan (home of poisonous water) the skaters were punks too. It’s all chronicled here on this stupendous comp of live recordings in the late 90’s from a Flint skate shop called Empire Of One. The Get Up Kids, Hot Water Music, even Jimmy Eat World all got their start there. Ok they didn’t get their start there but they played there and it was amazing (probably).