TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT December 2022

top ten

POLLY WATSON’S BEST MUSIC OF 2022

Polly Watson is a musician, writer, and editor based in New York.

Tamio Shiraishi performing at the 67th Avenue station, Queens, NY, October 2, 2021. Photo: NYC Noise/YouTube.

1
TAMIO SHIRAISHI (67th Avenue station, Queens, NY, March 26)

The experimental saxophonist will occasionally issue last-minute announcements, via his Instagram, that he’s playing the vast columned mezzanine of the subway station near his home. I caught him on a chilly Saturday evening, firing discordant shrieks into the icy ether. A few girls in high suede boots hurried by giggling, covering their ears.

2
SUBVERSIVE RITE, THE END IS NEAR (Chaotic Uprising)

Just a fucking wind tunnel of a cassette channeling early UK warp-speed crust progenitors Sacrilege but swapping vocal rasp for outraged clarity and keeping the bass player working overtime on melody. Charged!

Subversive Rite performing at Earthdom, Shin Okubo, Tokyo, July 21, 2019. Photo: Teppei Miki.

3
NYC NOISE (nyc-noise.com)

An invaluable resource for those living in or visiting NYC who would like to hear the strange and wild sounds of the likes of Steve Reich, Kowloon Baby, or the New York Review of Cocksucking in places ranging from Carnegie Hall to a desolate stretch of Brooklyn train track.

4
OHIO HISTAIRICAL MUSICK SOCIETY (OHMS) ARCHIVES (YouTube)

A cathode-ray-tube rainbow of comet-hot videos compiled by Jimi Imij, of the great early-’80s Akron rippers Zero Defex, and spanning decades of weirdo bands playing drywall drop-ceiling dives throughout central Ohio and the surrounding regions. Highlights include Cleveland sax popsters the Adults on local TV in 1984; a collaged video by Imij of late-’70s Akron surf punks the Nelsons; and a Crucifucks/MDC yardshow getting broken up by East Lansing, Michigan, cops in 1983.

5
HEATHER BENJAMIN

The artist and zine maker took time out this year from relentlessly drawing and painting candy-colored butterfly girls weeping blood from every orifice to design tourtees for the sweet and buzzy Brower and direct a video for synthy dreamer UV Rapture, and that’s why I’m able to mention her in a music top ten. You should really check out her work.

Heather Benjamin, You Are Hurting Me Still, 2020, acrylic and gouache on paper, 22 × 15".

6
THE REFLECTORS, “ALL MADE UP” (Neon Nile)

Sugary, heartbreaking, Raspberries-level power pop so polished and professional that I was blown away by the childlike naïveté of the accompanying video, which I didn’t click on until I’d listened to the song three hundred times.

Still from the Reflectors’ 2021 video All Made Up, directed by Eddie Baldasaro. Ryan Miranda.

7
PAMELA Z, “POP TITLES ‘YOU’” (Freedom to Spend)

Originally released in 1988, this brain-smashing track features the pathbreaking Bay Area artist flatly pronouncing the titles of various songs, each beginning with the word you, by artists ranging from Sharon Redd to Supertramp. In the background, a stuttering array of electronically manipulated “yous” falls like rain.

Pamela Z, San Francisco, 1991. Photo: Alan Finneran.

8
GEL/COLD BRATS, SHOCK THERAPY (Convulse)

Eight tracks divided by two blistering hardcore bands, one from New Jersey and the other from Romania, equals one long hull-breach-warning siren!

Gel performing at the Camel, Richmond, VA, September 23, 2022. Photo: Michael Thorn.

9
HÜSTLER (Project Reach, New York, October 29)

Dark, screaming, whiplash punk blasted out at tear-inducing volume inside a Chinatown youth center populated by circle-pitting Halloween-happy ghouls splattered with fake blood. I nearly took one in the teeth from a child dressed as an MTA worker.

10
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE REUNION TOUR

The emo monsters tapped comparatively underheard acts like Philly thrashers Devil Master, self-described “nü jungle, digital hardcore U.S. grime band” Ghösh, and incendiary ragers Soul Glo to open for them, proving you don’t have to be bad to be big.