Ten Raddest Records of 2015

I’m 47 years old and have the musical taste of a teenager. I make no apologies for that. I generally like my music fast and loud and this was a good year for that. Sophisticated? No. Obsessive? Yes. I listen to records on my turntable, tapes in my car, and digital files on my laptop and phone. Ready? Let’s go…

10. “III” Hex Dispensers (Alien Snatch) LP

The first full-length from the Hex Dispensers in six years. Some of these songs originally appeared on a split from Razorcake’s sister series, and if I’m not mistaken they were a bit faster, and I’m not totally crazy about the slowdown. This iteration feels poppier then previous releases but no one does spooky with more hooks than the Hex Dispensers.

9. “All Faded” Digital Leather (FDH) Digital

Legendary synth rocker’s latest release isn’t quite as manic as in years past but “All Faded” displays a pleasing range of edgy pop and distressed rock. “Razor Glob” rips along full of doom and dark majesty, like a carriage ride through the forest with Thomas De Quincey. “I am standing at the window watching you disintegrate.”

8. “Angst” Cheap Drugs (In Dogs We Trust Records) tape

I ordered this cassette from these Belgian street punker dunkers on the strength of one song I heard on bandcamp. The tape is ok, but the looks I’ve gotten cruising my local supermarket parking lot with the windows rolled down while the vocalist screams, “ALL I WANT IS A BRU-TAL DEATH!” have given me more pleasure than entire novels.

7. “S/T” Wavves x Cloud Nothings (Ghost Ramp) Digital EP

Some day I’ll grow out of the WAVVES but this isn’t the year. This little teaser to the WAVVES new album, which I still haven’t properly digested, got its hooks into me and refused to let go. My infatuation with this band year after year is as much a mystery to me as it probably is to you. It’s like getting caught in my mom’s closet wearing high heels and panty hose pulled down over my head. Stick ’em up?

6. “Weirdo Shrine” La Luz (Sup Pop) LP

La Luz comes off like the love child of Portishead and the Mermen: surf music compressed into something dark, druggy and deliciously hypnotic. Like admiring the sparkling edge of the black wave that drags you to the bottom of the deep. “Sleep Till They Die” is the soundtrack for quietly preparing to murder your lover. The Pulp Fiction soundtrack ruined surf music for a solid decade but these Portland rockers have made it cool again.

5. S/T Nervosas (Dirtnap Records) LP

Icy bat-wing guitars, full-throated yelling, bass lines tumbling down the ossuary steps. It’s a funhouse, it’s a funeral party. I don’t fucking know. The sophomore record by these Ohio punk rocks is kind of nuts. Songs like “Temporary Address” skid along and one can barely keep up with itself while others are more somnolently circumspect like a speeded-up Bauhaus that seriously shreds. The opening track perfectly sums up our times: “We’re living in a moral panic.”

4. “Negative Feedback Resistor” Destruction Unit (Sacred Bones Records) Digital

Do you like noise? Do you like feedback? Do you like psilocybin? Do you take your astral twin on night voyages across the desert looking for coyote people to dance with until the end of time? Destruction Unit is the answer to a question that is still being formulated. Just close your eyes and feel that solar wind wash over you, man…

3. “Bleeder” Mutoid Man (Sargent House ) Digital

A perfect crossover of metal, punk and stoner rock. There’s so much I like about this record. Sludgy bass, rapid-fire beats and surgically precise fretwork. “Some day I’ll learn / Someday I’ll learn / a.k.a. never / Never!” The last 30 seconds of “Bridgeburner” are a thunderous cavalcade of adolescent ecstasy. The sonic equivalent of doing a bong hit in the back seat of your best friend’s older brother’s muscle car between two girls in jean jackets wearing too much perfume with the stereo going full bore and the engine rumbling through the liquefying meat in your intestines and you wonder if you’ll ever be the same again.

2. “Silent Kill” Radioactivity (Dirtnap Records) LP

What can I say? If you don’t already know that Radioactivity picks up where Marked Men left off then I don’t know what to tell you. “Silent Kill” is even better than their debut.

1. “Slime” Zig Zags (Famous Class Records) 7”

It’s rare for a four-song 7” to reach my top ten but I played this record on my turntable more than any other this year, basically wore it out as soon as it arrived in the mail. Fast and ferocious crossover punk-thrash-stoner rock. There’s a point in “Slime” that rips so hard I stop whatever I’m doing when it comes on. I went to see the band play live earlier this month and when it came to that precise point in the song it was like someone jabbed a needle in the back of my skull and doped me on the spot. It was that good and for that one moment in time it was everything. There is no replacement for live music. I repeat: there is no replacement for live music. Get out of your house. Get out of your car. Take out your earbuds and go stand in a dark room front of some smelly guys and girls who are only good at one thing and let them do it to you.

2014. 2013. 20122011.

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