So THAT was something, wasn’t it?
2017. Let’s NOT reflect on it. Some of you had a great year I’m sure. Some on the other hand, didn’t. This final send off is absolutely not how the blog was intended to end. It isn’t even my blog. I’m the helper. And we haven’t done a thing on here for over a year. But doesn’t that just encapsulate everything about this past 12 months? Shit isn’t going to go the way you planned. And I think a lot of people are starting to get that.
I didn’t plan to do something like this until a little over a month ago. I’m one of those assholes on twitter who shits on everybody’s lists about whatever & says they’re too awesome to do that. But of course I do my own lists in my brain because i’m a dumb fuckwit who loves music like everybody else. No matter how cynical or stressed out or depressed I get about whatever, I’ll always love it. Of course it’s a total bummer sometimes. All the little side dishes that come from music and the internet and creepy cringe-worthy fandom, it’s become a necessary part of that world for most people, and maybe just an annoyance for others. But if you really are a genuine fan of music then no part of any scene or circumstance is going to prevent you from enjoying sounds that pleasure your brain. That’s a given. And that’s what we’re here to celebrate, even if things don’t go right, like this blog post.
I had about 10 people planned and supposedly ready to submit a top ten of the year list and ended up with 2 dudes + myself. Even our prestigious GK founder is oddly absent from the list (temporarily gone but not forgotten, we will both be spearheading the new incarnation of GK VERY soon). Several contributors were no shows, a couple disappeared from the internet all together, shit, one guys mom died last week an his life kinda fell apart. Holy shit, 2017 taking names! But we soldier on. It’s about quality, not quantity. And I believe there’s a boat load of quality music listed below. You may just find something amazing you missed this past year so get clicking on those links. Huge thanks to Nolan & Ucchy for coming through & participating in what is to be the final nail in the coffin before Gonzo Karaoke moves on to it’s next phase. Here’s to bigger and hopefully better things in 2018 for everybody out there.
BEST OF THE YEAR 2017
In no particular order, except maybe the first one.
Japanese punkers pretending they’re cholos playing hardcore but actually playing extemely heavy powerviolence with down tuned death metal riffs,mega steamroller blast beats & hip hop intro/outros. Truly a sight to behold.
Cracked out midwest Devo worship album about food, America, girls & daddy’s pasture. An underrated rock gem for the ages.
Canadian queer grind with a perfect new school/old school blend. Grating high end vocal attack & unrelenting fast drums. Dark, weird, hilarious & fucked up.
Bay area legends meets the new breed of noisy San Jose ultrakill fuckery.
West Coast G-funk is back.
Slovakian noisegrind saviors with their first of what has to be the most impressive string of releases in 2017. Must own for anyone who loves sloppy noisy garbage.
One of many Brad Smith (Umbilical Tentacle/Internat Rot/Blarghstrad) backed bands. Ten years in the making. Pure noisegrind annihilation.
Underrated heavy release of the year. While everyone frothed at the mouth over Necrot & the new Morbid Angel, Ohios own Ethereal crafted a low key grinding death metal masterpiece.
Absolutely crushing grindcore on both sides of this 7″. Nothing sucks about this whatsoever. Bodybag comes off like a beefed up Spanish Repulsion & Earth Federation sound like the personification of an avalanche made of exploding death robots.
If you don’t know you should. Massgrav have been holding it down for over 20 years. They’ve never released a dud. One of the few bands that don’t seem to slow down or get stale playing hyperpunk bulldozer thrash. This absolutely rocks.
Ten favourites of the year
Northern English dirtbags making music for other Northern English dirtbags.
Dancehall from Kingston Jamaica that goes to some strange places without telegraphing its weirdness to the listener by jumping up and down and demanding you acknowledge how weird it is.
Another winner from Carte Cartel in particular and Australian underground hip hop in general.
Fast, frantic and hate filled, which has pretty much been the underground death metal style du jour for a few years now, this one stands out because there’s some great song writing going on and things are not buried in way too much reverb or an inability to put a high pass filter on the guitars, which usually renders everything as an indistinct blur. The indistinct blur style (Cavernous Death Metal/ War Metal/ whatever) is often used to hide sub par songs so that the right aesthetic choices alone can carry the band, this is not the case here, every song is memorable and it sounds like a lot of time was spent writing and practicing this release.
This one took a while to sink in; I love Jam Baxter as an MC but I didn’t really understand the compositional choices by producer Chemo on my first few listens. Much like the Equikknox album there’s a lot to take in and it’s never signalled to you as “check out how weird we’re being”. Low slung drugged out 808 boom mixed with field recordings, drones and samples of traditional Asian music. Favourite line of the year: “She smiled once and now you’re bragging that she wants the D, I smiled once, it was horrid G”
Hardcore over the last few years has bored me to tears, it’s become an exercise in simulacrum with too many bands spending forever to get that paint-by-numbers perfect 7” then being unable to follow up with anything. Lots of hyped one tape bands who don’t tour, lots of bands that can tell you everything about what made United Mutation great but can’t write a song to save their lives. This record makes me want to punch holes in cops.
Gems from the Equinox snuck up on me, I loved the song Murder Rap instantly, absolutely loved the rest of the album on repeated listens, lots of atypical production choices for hip hop in 2017.
Radiophonic Workshop’s first commercially available music since 1985, absolutely masterful.
Gloomy post-punk done by Germans with (I assume) connections to the metal scene. Dark and dour, but with a focus on songs, not style.
Honestly High Focus didn’t release a bad record in 2017. Stange U is the always interesting producer Zygote matched up with Kashmere on the mic. Kashmere is sometimes described as the UKs answer to MF Doom or Kool Keith, but to me that’s dismissive, the similarities are that all three are highly literate, take on personas, and make a lot of references to sci-fi and superhero fan culture, but Kashmere is doing his own thing. If you’re going to investigate anything on this list cue up Strange U’s Bulletproof Mustache on YouTube (which also features Lee Scott, my favourite contemporary UK MC).
Other music I absolutely loved in 2017:
＊Top 10 releases of 2017
(not released this year,but I often listened⇩)
Bachikaburi – “85 Live”(CD)
Kokeshi Doll – “Kokeshizm”(CD)
Omokage Lucky Hole – “Dairi-Haha”(CD)
17 8/13,Moribund Punishment live in Kouenji Studio DOM
10/21,Beer Belly live in Kouenji Studio DOM
11/26,Social Porks live in Shin Sakae Day Trive