PRINT December 2018

top ten

Polly Watson

Baby Grande, 1976. Photo: Stan Kadlo.

1 BABY GRANDE, 1975–77 (HoZac) Chicago’s HoZac Records specializes in glammy power pop—modern (Mama, Velveteen Rabbit) and master-level (check out the incredible Julian Leal!). This album of previously unreleased tracks finds the Church’s Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes wasting their pre–Blurred Crusade (1982) talent on derivative, stomping glam, and it is fucking AMAZING!

Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail, 2018. Photo: Jenn Five.

2 SNAIL MAIL, LUSH (Matador) Just this year, Sunflower Bean’s twenty-two-year-old Julia Cumming sang of her age as being one at which a woman is viewed as “busted and used.” Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, at nineteen, probably has a few more months left in her as far as the patriarchy is concerned: Fortunately for Jordan, her spare, unvarnished vocals, articulate guitar playing, and ability to write heartfelt, incandescent songs should carry her a good sixty years beyond that.

Witchtrial performing at Sunnyvale, Brooklyn, NY, July 21, 2017. Photo: Angela Owens.

3 WITCHTRIAL, DEMO 2017 (Beach Impediment) I have somehow managed to miss seeing this band at 100 percent of their NYC shows, so I’m grateful their 2017 cassette demo found its way to vinyl this year. Once you get past the goofy Stranger Things intro, you’re plunged into an impure welter of hardcore and evil, shrieking metal. Unique and weird.

Haram performing at Brooklyn Bazaar, Brooklyn, NY, September 11, 2017. Photo: Angela Owens.

4 HARAM, WHEN YOU HAVE WON, YOU HAVE LOST (Toxic State) Wrathful, shuddering hardcore from New York City that puts a boot to the throat of the Man, as good punk (and the rest of us) should—and all in Arabic. Extra points for the glorious album artwork.

Still from Dumb Punts’ 2018 video Mad, directed by Darcy Kinna and Scott Marrinan.

5 DUMB PUNTS, THE BIG ONE (Pissfart) This brother-and-sister-fronted no-frills trio from Down Under offer up guitar-heavy outta-the-garage punk that’s snotty, brash, and occasionally anthemic, coated with a sweaty sheen of IDGAF, the kind that Australian pub rockers began perfecting nearly half a century ago. (See anything by Cold Chisel, or early AC/DC bassist Mark Evans’s description of HIS ENTIRE LIFE.) Good-time stuff that doesn’t break ya brain.

Still from Slender’s 2018 video Walled Garden, directed by Robin Pak.

6 ROBIN PAK’S VIDEO FOR SLENDER’S “WALLED GARDEN” (La Vida Es Un Mus) The very talented Robin Pak delivers a haunting, wild, and dustily colorful Claymation video that lifts the stripped-down primal-punk thrum of NYC’s Slender out of the shadows and into the sun.

7 NYLEX, NYLEX (Tenth Court) Chilly, driving post-punk from Adelaide, Australia, channels the wistful, cloudy-day angst of progenitors Sad Lovers and Giants and “Beep”-era Pylon via chiming guitars and bare-bones drumming.

8 PORVENIR OSCURO, PORVENIR OSCURO (Always Restrictions) These NYC Latinx raw punks took their name (which means “Dark Future”) from a song by early Spanish screamers Cocadictos and their guitar sound direct from UK D-beat monsters Discharge, but the resulting fiery squall is all their own.

Cover of Sinister Witch’s 1988 Sinister Witch (Cult Metal Classics, 2018). Originally released on cassette in 1988 as Cranium’s No Exit.

9 CULT METAL CLASSICS Greek label committed to rereleasing rippers—often mastered from cassette—by underknown metal bands of all stripes from the golden age of the genre (i.e., the early 1980s). This year’s torrent of terrific releases includes those by Canadian speed metallians Sinister Witch; St. Petersburg, Florida, power metallers Messiaxx; and New Wave of British Heavy Metal never-rans Zeb Dragon.

10 RAVAGE RECORDS, SINGAPORE Residents of the Lion City’s Golden Mile Complex, where this dime-size extreme-metal mecca is located, voted this year to sell their building “en bloc.” Not for sale: the unquenchable spirit of Ravage’s owner, Khaal, of “Singahell” black-metal beasts Balberith, who drives a truck all day so he can open his shop for a few hours each night.

Polly Watson is a former entertainment editor at High Times. She currently performs with 1-800-BAND.