My Top 10 records of 2007. Originally appeared in issue 298 of Maximum Rock N Roll.
I have a love/hate relationship with year-end Top 10 lists. I hate reading them and I love complaining about them. I really enjoy when I haven't heard one record on someone's list. Yeah, those must have been great records. No one ever seems to get it right anyway. Except me, of course. Here are the Top 10+ records of 2007.
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING - "You Let Me Be Honest With You/ We'll Be Turned On" 7" (White Denim)
I can't say it enough, I LOVE Eddy Current Suppression Ring. I am so happy to still have some old school type friends who call me on the telephone to tell me a great band is playing at a club I don't usually go to, opening for bands I never see. 'Cos if I didn't I would have missed Eddy Current Suppression Ring and that would have been devastating. This 7" is just one sampling of ECPR's greatness. Two revved-up punk rock tunes that sound very first wave. Not like the band is imitating, but that the music has seeped into their beings and has come out in a new and exciting, but familiar way. While other bands are going for more noise and extra levels of distortion, it is extra nice to have a band with no need to cover up the songs. The songs are just too good!
HEAD - "Spend The Night Alone/ Killed By Death" 7" (Goner)
Side A is a decent cover of semi-obscure English new wave band The Fatal Charms. But it is Side B that makes this one of the best records of the year. The song is absolutely fantastic. It is short, concise and very catchy. The lyrics are amazing and hysterically funny:
"When it came out we couldn't give the things away
But now it sells for five hundred dollars.
The only records you buy are on eBay.
Just buy some records, I'll send my kids through college. "
"Don't put your records out 'cos no one' s gonna care when a record's only good because it's rare."
The record collector mentality has so permeated the present punk scene that new bands put out records in such small editions that before you can even try to buy one, they are sold out and selling on eBay for ridiculous prices. Wasn't punk supposed to rebel against this kind of shit? Thanks to Head for summing up my feelings perfectly and making them into a very catchy, very cool song. You've been killed by death.
CHEATER SLICKS - "Walk Into The Sea" LP (Dead Canary)
20 years and still going strong, the Cheater Slicks are a band after my own heart. Their music has remained consistent throughout the many musical fads of the last decades. It is rare to find a band that sticks to their sound, yet manages to always release an album of great new songs. Cheater Slicks do it. I was afraid they had finally thrown in the towel in 2002 with Yer Last Record, but I am so happy to see they have resurfaced with another great album. The two-guitar assault with the pounding drum emphasis makes them one of the most exciting bands ever. Every day my favorite song changes, but right now it is "Crackin' Up". The desperation in the vocals is what gets me. When it comes on the stereo I just stop what I am doing to listen to it. Absolutely fantastic! An extra bonus with this album is the free MP3s of every song. Why every band doesn't do that? It makes no sense to me.
MARY WEISS - "Dangerous Game" LP (Norton)
The former lead-singer of the Shangri-Las Mary Weiss released her first record in over 30 years. Impressively she didn't go the traditional oldies route. She hooked up with Greg Cartwright who produced, wrote songs and backed her up with his band The Reigning Sound. Norton Records head Billy Miller, The Dictator's Andy Shernoff, Real Kids' John Felice, among others, wrote some of the other songs. The result is an amazing collection of garage songs with a tough girl sensibility. Mary Weiss makes every song her own. Even the ones originally recorded by The Reigning Sound seem like they were written for her.
SONIC CHICKEN 4 - "s/t" LP (In The Red)
The singer of Sonic Chicken 4 sounds kind of like a demented Lou Reed. I of course mean that in the best way possible. The music is an odd combination of garage and new wave. The songs are simple, but very catchy. Combine all of those elements and you get one great record. Unlike anything else around. The LP includes a free CD. Too cool.
THE COATHANGERS - "s/t" LP (Rob's House)
Most people tell me they like the music on this record, but the vocals turn them off. I love the vocals. Screeching female singers with a lot of anger, but in a fun way. They have a good sense of humor. The music is simple punchy punk with keyboards. My favorite song "Haterade" is amazing catchy song that screams (literally) of hate. There is a danceable sing-a-long anthem called "Shut The Fuck Up". Plus any band that writes a song about how misunderstood Tonya Harding is is OK with me. And that's only the first side of this great record.
THE VATICANS - "Guardia Svizzera Pontificia" CD (Pure Filth)
One of the great musical tragedies of 2007 was the break up of San Francisco's The Vaticans. They're one of my favorite bands. At least they put out this record before doing so. A collection of excellent girl-group style garage songs. Timeless pop songs that get better with every listen. There are some fast ones, some slow ones and an excellent cover of The Shangri-Las "Out In the Streets".
COCONUT COOLOUTS - "The Spin Around/ Swim Spin Swim" 7" (Heads Up)
Two extremely catchy and fun songs. Punked-out garage that makes even the lamest person dance. Coconut Coolouts were also one of my favorite live bands of 2007. Two stand-up drummers in front with two guitarists and a bassist dressed like banana. Too much fun!
NEON NAZIS - "Problems/ Fangs" 7" (Going Underground)
Probably the noisiest record in my Top 10. What has happened to me? Messy, trashy and fast with a nasally lead singer. Yet, the songs end up sounding very catchy. Neon Nazis are the bastard children of Crime. I have no idea what they are singing about, but I don't care. I am singing along anyway.
TYVEK - "Summer Burns" 2x7" (What's Your Rupture?)
Post-punk the way it was done back in the '70s. Urgency, guitars and really great songs. When I saw Tyvek live I had to have the song "Give It Up" which is on the 2x7". Ever since that purchase I have had to buy everything they put out. What a great band.
THE SKI INSTRUCTORS "Kids On The Street/ Horoscope" 7" (Dulc-I-Tone)
One of those ridiculously limited edition 7"s that really piss me off these days. I was torn between putting this on my list since it may be hard to find by the time this comes out or leaving it off. But this record is just too good. Very catchy songs from ex-members of NAR, Pretty Girls, FM Knives, Los Huevos and many other Sacramento bands. Two perfect pop songs.
(postscript to this entry, the label tells me that even with the limited pressing this single isn't sold out so get yourself one ASAP.)
THE JAILBIRDS - "Going To Stab the Killer Gang!!" LP (Repent)
Over the top rock'n'roll the way only the Japanese can do it. The music is crazy, loud, overblown, and raucous: everything I want in a band. They put on a great live show too.
Honorable Mentions (I can never just pick 10!):
Crime "Exalted Masters" LP (Crime Music)
Thee Double D's "Dillybar/ Groce Out" EP
Wooden Shjips "s/t" LP (Holy Mountain)
Lamps "s/t" LP (In The Red
Mika Miko "666" 12" (PPM)
Boston Chinks "Coltrane" EP (Goner)
Busy Signals "s/t" LP (Dirtnap)
Oscars "Jump For Joy" EP (Goner)
Pets "Let's Go/ I Want Fun" 7" (Douche Master)
Fiptops/ Yokohama Hooks - split EP (Iron Goat)
Johnny Moped "The Bootleg Tapes Vol.1 and 2" 2xLP (Damaged Goods)
The Eat "It's Not The Eat, It's The Humidity" 2xLP (Alternative Tentacles) - all these unreleased tracks! Yay!
Gits - "Frenching The Bully" and "Enter... The Conquering Chicken" LPs (Broken Rekids) - back on vinyl where they belong.
Bags "All Bagged Up" LP (Artifix) - all their recordings, plus live, demos and outtakes. Hurray!
Heart Attack "God Is Dead" EP (Broken Rekids)
Best surprise of 2007:
Wreckless Eric with Amy Rigby live at thee Parkside, San Francisco. I wasn't expecting much knowing his reputation for not wanting to play old songs. His new songs are pretty good and the audience was so into his performance that he gave us a few older songs and finally gave in to audience demand by doing "Take the Cash (K.A.S.H.)" and "Whole Wide World".