#30 Pylon – Gravity (1980)

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Formed initially in 1978, and with a liking for Talking Heads, these guys produced an early-80s American punk funk sound in the vein of Liquid Liquid, Bush Tetras, ESG, Konk, and others, which you could actually dance to. This propulsive, angular, but rhythmic, sound was in stark contrast to the unstructured dissonance of the short-lived so-called No Wave movement, which had immediately followed the American punk explosion of 1976-78. This track , Gravity, was from their 1980 debut album, Gyrate, (they went on to record only two more), which was only recognised as a classic years later. Despite failing to come anywhere near matching the commercial success of their Athens, Georgia, compatriots, R.E.M. and the B-52s, their influence on the city’s music scene, and beyond, was significant. R.E.M., for example, regularly cited Pylon as an influence on their music, and when in 1987 Rolling Stone magazine named R.E.M. “America’s Best Band,” drummer the band argued that the honour should belong to Pylon, even although the group had disbanded four years earlier. They have also been a clear influence on a generation of newer bands, such as Deerhunter, for example, who happily admit to their liking of the Pylon sound and aesthetic.

My Top 10 Punk and Post-punk Songs of 2018

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In Alphabetical Order:

Bruised – Psychic Stain (Digital-only release)

Hairband – Bubble Sword

Helter Skelter – I Need You (Re-release of 1971 single)

Thurston Moore – MX Liberty

Pentas – Safety Blanket (Digital-only release)

P.M.S. – Cocaine Cunt

Public Practice – Fate/Glory

Shame – One Rizla

Squid – The Dial

Well Yells – Crawl (Cassette-only release)

 

 

 

My Top 20 Electronic and Dance Records of 2018

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In alphabetical order:

Alessandro Adriani – He Who Harnesses the Souls

Altin Gün – Cemalin

Assailants – Effort 7

Bo’ vel – Check 4 U (re-release of 1996 recording)

Claude – Future

Marie Davidson – Burn Me

DJ Oil – Heritage

Dwart – Taipei Disco

Factory Floor – Wonder

Giant Swan – The Rest of His Voice

Catherine Christer Hennix – The Well-tuned Marimba (re-release of 1976 recording)

KWC 92 – Night Drive (re-release of 2013 recording)

Love Hrtz – Classic Case

Mint Field – Quiero Otono de Nuevo

Doris Norton – Warszawar (re-issue of 1983 album)

Oneohtrix Point Never – Last Known Image of a Song

Paranoid London – The Boombox Affair

Talking Drums – Courage (re-release of 1982 album)

Gloria Ann Taylor – Deep Inside of You (re-issue of 1973 recording)

Throwing Snow – Simmer

My Top 10 Punk Records of 2017

Every year always brings a clutch of interesting punk releases, and 2017 was no different. I’ve listed the ten best punk records that I heard in 2017, but realise that there were undoubtedly a number that slipped through the net. I would therefore be happy for any suggestions from readers as to other 2017 punk records that I should look out for. It’s a mixed list, in the sense that there are a few styles of punk music represented in the selections, ranging from hardcore punk, to 60s garage punk, to post-punk, to trap-punk. It’s also mixed in the sense that it’s a fairly international representation of artists, including Americans, British, Lebanese, Spanish and Norwegian performers. It also ranges from the much-hyped to the truly obscure. Indeed, some of these releases are cassette-only releases in very small numbers, so if you like them, I would hurry up and track them down before they become difficult to find, and ludicrously expensive. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them. (The records are listed alphabetically, according to the artists’ name):

  1. Barcelona – Los Astrados

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Ear-bleeding hardcore, sung by someone who sounds like a Mexican serial killer. Unsettling sound and sleeve.

2. The Creation Factory – Let Me Go

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Obsessive copiers of the 60s garage punk sound and aesthetic. (The Chesterfields and The Thanes come to mind quickly).

3. Flat Worms – Petulance

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New band featuring members with strong ties to Sic Alps, Ty Seagall, and Thee Oh Sees. A bit like a 1970s punk 7″ covered by Pavement.

4. Girls in Synthesis – Suburban Hell

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Post-punkish noise merchants on the Blank Editions label. A bit of Swell Maps in there.

5. Haram – Blood

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A 1983-ish, Dead Kennedys hardcore sound. Sung in Lebanese Arabic.

6. Ho99o9 – City Rejects

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Lots of hype about these guys, and with some justification. This is off the album. Trap  (hip-hop’s even angrier cousin) mixed with punk.

7. Italia 90 – Competition

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Art / post-punk. Cassette-only release. (They’ve obviously listened to a few Wire records).

8. Krimewatch – 小便 たれ 

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The title means “Pissed” in Japanese. Great hardcore punk.

9. Nekra – Sisters of the Yam

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More female-fronted hardcore. Cassette-only release.

10. Purple X – Awaken

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Unsettling, tempo-changing hardcore from Norway. Just manages to stay the right side of the punk/metal divide. Cassette-only release.

#29 The Cortinas – Fascist Dictator (1977)

Not in the mood for any musings or content here – I’m too angry. This one is in “honour” of PM Rajoy’s Spanish government, and their fascistic crackdown, using riot police, on unarmed civilians, (men, women and young people), who are trying to vote in Catalonia. The fascist philosophy of Franco clearly lives on in Madrid. Rubber bullets and batons will never beat democracy, you utter tossers.

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#28 Rocket Men – Rocket Man (1974)

I decided to post this because the name of the song is topical right now. “Rocket Man”. As in the insult that Donald Trump, the orange-tinted and crypto-fascist President of the US, recently used against Kim Jong-Un, the bat-shit-crazy and portly dictator of North Korea. Seems as good a reason as any. Rocket Men were also the same group as “Rockets”, “Rok-Etz” and “The Rocketerrs”, a French glam and space disco combo from Paris, who appear to have alternated between these names over the years. (In fact, as “The Rocketerrs”, they released a more rocky version of this single in the same year). This song, B-sided by the instrumental version, is a trashy, junkshop glam, electronic disco number, which has the feeling of a novelty record. Nevertheless, it’s a good ‘un. I first heard the record on the Killed by Glam – 14 Euro Glam Rock Gems compilation on Moon Boot Records, and it was the perfect way to kick-off the A-side. The song presaged the band’s most successful era, as “Rockets”, from 1977-1982.

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#27 The Raindrops – Hanky Panky (1963)

The Raindrops were a 1960s pop group from New York, associated with the so-called “Brill Building” style of 60s pop. This term referred to pop song-writing which originated in the Brill Building in New York City, where numerous teams of professional songwriters penned material for 1960s pop groups. The term has also become a catch-all for the period in which those songwriting teams flourished.

The Raindrops existed from 1963 to 1965, and was made up of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, who were also both famous songwriters in the Brill Building mode. Barry and Greenwich wrote Hanky Panky when they were in the middle of a recording session for the Raindrops, and realised that they needed a B-side to the single, That Boy John. Legend has it that they penned this song, Hanky Panky, in 20 minutes. Some unkind souls might say that it sounds as though they had spent only that amount of time on it, because it is an unbelievably straightforward piece of music – but that’s kind of the point…It’s a lightweight, fun, smutty piece of candyfloss 60s pop, which gets people on the dancefloor. Job done. Even Barry and Greenwich themselves, however, were among those who didn’t rate the song, and deemed it inferior to the rest of their work. Barry commented to Billboard’s Fred Bronson that, “As far as I was concerned it was a terrible song. In my mind it wasn’t written to be a song, just a B-side.”  (The status of the B-Side has surely never been so cruelly dismissed!) Nevertheless, I love it, and I’m not the only one, because the song has been covered a few times, by the likes of Tommy James & Shondells, and the Summits, to name but two.

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#26 La Düsseldorf – White Overalls (1978)

La Düsseldorf were a German Krautrock band, who released three albums in their lifetime. The band, which was made up of former Kraftwerk drummer and Neu! multi-instrumentalist, Klaus Dinger, and Neu! collaborators Thomas Dinger and Hans Lampe, came together after the break-up of the legendary Neu! in 1975.

This track, White Overalls, is taken from the band’s second album, Viva, released in 1978 on Teldec Records. A proto-punk sensibility had first begun to develop on Neu!’s Neu! 75 album, and White Overalls represents an interesting point in time, when Krautrock began to cross over more fully into New Wave, with washed-out synthesizer sounds combining with trademark Krautrock 4/4 Motorik rhythms. Indeed, there is an unmistakable Plastic Bertrand sound to the song, but there are also still influences from a previous era working away too – namely Roxy Music. (There seemed to be a mutual love-in at work, because Brian Eno considered the band to be influential on him). Great stuff.

 

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