This controversial year has finally come to an end. No gigs, no days out and all friends locked up at home. However, there was enough strength for a good amount of good records, we took some time and chose our top ten, originally published in the website of our partners www.mixtapelovers.org
10.- Litige – En Eaux Troubles (F) Destructure Records
Litige is about a direct confrontation against patriarchy, an angry shout against decades of abuse and mistreatment, about vindication, Litige is about the message and also about the music, directly from Lyon. Litige is about punk and feminism, Litige speaks and we just shut our mouths.
9.- So cho pistons – Kunckleheads (JP) Monster Zero
So-cho Pistons are an old band from Hiroshima, their drummer is the fastest in the world and they play like Ramones but better than Ramones. Sadly, they weren’t born in the US and that’s why no one knew from them. Nass has a record store in Hiroshima that also sells food and is a bar, all in one. They sing in Japanese and as we can’t sing along we limit to translate them in Google. In addition, the hardly speak any English, but it doesn’t matter, the record is great, songs are short and intense, and Nass is the most humble Japanese in the world and the fastest in the universe. Released by Monster Zero, the Ramone label in Europe.
8.- Drain – California Cursed (US) Revelation Records
It’s hard for me to be impartial with Revelation Records, it’s like looking to contradict yourself and an important part of our life’s soundtrack. I have to confess that I listened carefully this record when it came out, and inexplicably I didn’t catch up with it at first try. I left it for a while until I felt the need for a hc/crossover injection. Then I understood all the California imagery put into what Drain is about: a mixture of surf, skate and hardcore. Anyway, Drain is not only crossover but could also be the soundtrack for a wild underground movie, or for a sweaty set at some west coast basement gig. Luckily we still have Revelation records to save a shitty year, let 2021 come.
7.- Biznaga – Gran Pantalla (SP) Slovenly records
Camping in Italy we met a Spanish couple who traveled to watch Airbag’s gig at Punk Raduno Festival, they told us about Biznaga from Madrid and their garage punk. Dani went crazy for them immediately but I wasn’t fully convinced when I listened to their first record while still in Italy reflecting about which word was better in Spanish between aguacate and palta or damasco and melocoton. Recently I knew about this new record and I gave it a chance, and resulted to be truly a banger. I told Dani and she said she already had them considered for her top 10.
6.- Cuir – Single demo (F) Offside Records
Last year gave room for a lot of things. Creativity boosted by confinement produced tons of art and new projects. Amidst this collective catharsis, the lead singer from the Oi! band Coupe-Gorge released a solo synth punk EP with solid references from Oi!. Right, synth with true keyboards with the added anger from radical punk like early Blitz, concise and direct songs, decorated with keyboards. Freak but, most importantly, danceable.
5.- Cable Ties – Far Enough (AUS) Merge Records
I knew about Cable Ties through an English webzine whose name I forgot, they published a playlist that included a song from this, unknown to me, Australian band. With a similar evolution to The Beths, two LPs and a debut just two years ago, they made a deal with Merge Records (label for big bands like Superchunk or Arcade Fire) and public recognition was just a matter of time. Amazing voice and a sound a little noisier than their New Zealand mates, which reminds me of the success from the garage punk sound by Ex Hex the previous year.
4.- Cromo – En otro lugar (SP) Co-release by 6 Spanish labels
We met Jose a while ago while he was touring with EMD. He has a very eclectic label called Walking is Still Honest, where he has released some relatively big bands in Spain such as the post hardcore band Viva Belgrado. However, Cromo are a punk band who got straight into my heart since their first EP. I was surprised about the minimalist garage punk, with signs of The Wipers according to the nerds, although I found them more similar to the mythical Marked Men. Sarcastic lyrics plus some submarines and UFOs to complete the scenery. A couple of listens in Bandcamp were enough for them to make it in my top 10. New band, new addiction.
3.- The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers (NZ) Carpark records
The Beths are a quartet led by Elizabeth Stokes who made a very successful debut in 2018 and returned this year with their sophomore LP, which helped gain massive attention in their homeland. I missed the opportunity to get their first album, as only one copy arrived to the local record store and Dani bought it while I was talking to the salesperson. We were surprised about how fast their second album came out, which follows the same fresh indie/pop pattern and the homemade like videos. The Beths announced a European tour this year and the pandemic left us waiting for their gig, as we want to watch them before tickets start costing a kidney when they play big arenas.
2.- Chubby & the gang – Speed Kills (UK) Static Shock Records
I felt like an orphan after Violent Reaction split up and The Flex wasn’t enough to quench my thirst for this very British hardcore/Oi! sound, partly calmed down by the promising EP by The Chisel, released by La Vida es un Mus. Chubby & The Gang are a group of people from the aforementioned bands, plus members from Big Cheese, Arms Race and Gutter Knife. These guys carry the torch of London hardcore and Speed Kills is a super album that was easily one of the best records of the year. A debut LP released by UKHC’s finest Static Shock, surefire.
1.- Spectres – Nostalgia (CA) Artoffact Records
I listened to these Canadians’ previous record at a French friend’s house, he hosted us when we were passing through Toulouse. The cover was very dark, post punk looking, and the band sounded very accordingly, not only to the design but also to their label, Deranged records. At the moment I thought with that record they reached their peak in the genre, however, they made more than a couple of aesthetic twists and came back with Nostalgia, their fourth LP. As the name implies, it sounds very nostalgic, without losing their characteristic post punk sound, this time mixed with multiple signs of 80’s British new wave.
Here some other records that were left out of the list, not because they weren’t good enough, just because I didn’t have enough time to pay the attention they deserve:
• The Chisel (UK) – Deconstructive Surgery 7 »EP
•Rotten Mind (SWE) – Rat City Dog Baby LP
• War on Women (US) – Wonderfull Hell LP
• Dream Wife (UK) – So When you Gonna LP
• Drakulas (US) – Terminal Amusements LP
• Worriers (US) – You or Someone you Know LP
• Touché Amoré (US) – Lament LP
• Rat Cage (UK) – Screams from the Cage LP