In 2007 I picked out my highlights of the punky year and put them in the news section of the site. Now I have decided to put them here - in a section all of their own and hopefully where they can stay as evidence of some darn good releases and performances by bands. So without further ado...
SONG OF THE YEAR - As ever I am churning through a never-ending pile of thrilling noise and reviewing many flavours of sizzling sonica. This year I have drifted even further outside of the usual musical sphere and am still coming up with many considered and rewarding tones. As always the choice is going to be a difficult one having spent each and every day of the year listening to something new and fruity. One song though has been spun within many mixes since the day it came my way and the title of the track seems to sum up both the music scene, many attitudes within it, a lot of what goes on and even the world in general. The song is one of those rare jewels that keeps everything lo-fi but then has every ingredient needed to make it a swinging jaunt. It is a crisp and street smart effort and blends pub rock, a smattering of punkism and may I had, erudite thinking, into one small parcel of tantalising entertainment. For these reasons and a few more I suspect the award of Song of the Year goes to 'Piffle' by The Mobbs. All I request of you is to chase it up, if intrigued then purchase the superb album it is taken from and maybe book the band to play a show. Not a lot to ask is it?
BAND OF THE YEAR - I keep my peepers and earholes peeled and alert at all times and get through a good burst of music in the each and every annual upheaval. This year I have come across the usual high standard of music makers and despite the bullshit in the scene the quality level is as good as ever. Picking a band of the year is no easy task but the criteria I use is as follows. Who has blown my socks off both on CD and in the 'live' pit and who is looking set to have the most potential. I have pondered these two posers and have come up with an answer. The verdict goes to that sex laden, sinister sharp two-piece from Hull known as Chambers. The band have me convinced, I think their future is rosy and the fact that it isn't your regularised boom, tit, bang, wallop punkism and has an unsettling depth borne from inner rage appeals to me no end. There is a definite unity between the two players that goes far beyond the flesh and as long as they play things slowly, steadily and with focused spirit they will be set to blow off many heads along their tuneful travels. Keep at it ye two minstrels and I hope our paths cross again soon.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - I love mooching about in the musical mire and going down the many acoustic avenues we have at our disposal these days. It is nice to vary the mush, avoid getting zombified like the many rut-fillers out there who miss out on so much noisy goodness due to overfeeding in the same old trough and becoming somewhat apathetic and indolent. Not good! Whilst putting gigs on I also like to maintain my ethos and keep things assorted which forces me to keep chucking in new bands and see what they can do. You would be amazed at how many times this proves fruitful and I walk away smiling to myself happy in the knowledge of another fine crew uncovered. This year has been no exception and many bands have graced the shroomed stage but for me Pardon Us brought me a bumper bonus and came, conquered, fucked off and left me wanting more. During the performance the band were feisty and happening and really moved with some mighty fluidity reinforced by some twat happy sticks and twang struck guitars as well as some zoned in vocal duties. Something hit a home run within my sonic soul during this outpouring and I have already got em' on another gig for the forthcoming year. I hope it is a repeat performance, that would be just a treat and I also hope they get a few more noggins looking their way and taking heed - one is never afraid to dream.
PUNK PEDDLER OF THE YEAR - Despite not being able to attend every gig (due to not being able to drive, having many interests, there being 24 hours in a day etc. etc.) I do keep watch on what transpires in the murky music scene and see many peeps just going through the motions without a true punk rock heart and just putting on the same old names over and over again ad infinatum. That cannot be said about a fellow comrade who puts on gigs with the right ethos and has an appreciation of all things overlooked and underdog. He has brought some bands to the fore whom I would have certainly overlooked and so would many others for that matter (I like that). He his a lovable gent, a real trier and one who gets his hands mucky and puts on some bloody fine shows for fuck all, now you can't ask for more than that surely. Sometimes he gets good deserved results, other times he gets kicked in the teeth by many so-called fans who prefer to wander off and pay bigger money for the usual repetitive shite, overall though I think he does a fuckin' good job. So, without any fannying or dicking about (keeps the anti-sexism twats happy) step forth Mr Keith Willocks and recieve a fuckin' grand nod of appreciation from one manky bugger who likes yer style. Keep on keepin' on is the message, fuck em' all and do it for those that love it. Cheers bro - onwards and ruddy sideways mate!
SONG OF THE YEAR - I usually review about 120 CD's per year, which on average is about 10 tracks per CD that results in the fact that I have listened to over 1200 individual songs by the year end. Add to this the fact that each ditty gets between 5 and 10 spins each (sometimes more) and the other CD's I constantly have on the turntable (old classics, Northern Soul, bit of classical etc) and you may have some clue has to how far my head is in the acoustic addling process. You could add in the 'live' viewings of bands too but that would just be silly guffaw, guffaw. So, in truth, picking a special song of the year is a complete bastard and has me scouring about and wondering what peaches have whet my appetite and spoke to me aurally and internally. Again there has been an avalanche of minor classics but this year it has been a latecomer that has nipped in and stolen the show with some inspiring earthy goodness that kind of reflects what the fuck I am about, what I believe in and what the whole ethos of the scene should be. I shall dally no more but tell you that this track is from a CD that has no track-listing, no cover and is daubed with some scribbles that say 'No idea what is on this' (I like that). I questioned the singer regarding the title of the chosen track, was given the answer and sat on it until a final decision was reached - here ya go - Cosmic Slop take a big well earned bow and thank you for the classic of 'DIY' - it is music for the soul. Now all I ask is that you get it released ya tinkers - nudge, nudge!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - It is a hard task to pick out an album of the year as I get through so much during the 52 weeks that my ears are utterly fuckin' soaked through with sonic bombardments. It goes without say that in this prestigious underground era where there is so much to applaud and appreciate that one is always changing ones opinion and pondering several choices over many weeks. This year though I have had one album in mind and have wondered if it can be topped, which in truth, hasn't happened (it has been a close shave on many occasions). The release has shown that much sought after factor every long player needs – longevity - and has proven to be a delightful disc of discordance I like to go back to over and over again. The consistency is superb but there are one or two behemoths that I wouldn't expect the band in question to keep replicating, such are the tunes magnitude. The choice, with hand on heart and with utter DIY belief is that the pick of the pops for 2015 is Nine Lives by the quite bloody grand Nine Bullets. Get a copy, go see em' 'live' and offer me an argument - I am more than confident with my selection, a tuned in Tour de Force to wallow in.
SONGS OF THE YEAR - I like thought, I believe in a song that has heartbeat sincerity borne so naturally as to be almost imperceptible and yet, at the same time, paradoxically knocks you off your sonic feet. I was initially tossing up between a short list of 3 but eventually picked one when another contender popped in at the last minute and had me on the back foot. Rather than ponder the point and stick to any sort of rule I decided to give both a nod of passionate Fungal praise. 'Flatline Town ' by Headsticks is one of many folked up classics by a quality band and a song that deals with much gritty grime that many of us who come from the gutter and have eyes looking forth into reality can truly relate to. In truth I could have chosen one of a few gems from this band but after much deliberation I opted for this - I hope ye concur. The second song is a reggae-esque episode of juicy excellence and goes by the name of 'Eat The Rich' and is delivered by the thoughtful crew known, quite self-effacingly as The Fuckwits. A marvellous effort and deep in texture and so accurately delivered. It is a perfect partner for the previously chosen ditty and I hope, by reading this your interest and curiosity is provoked and you check out these two choice units further.
PUNK PIRATE OF THE YEAR - I ain’t no twat, I ain’t no distracted bastard blinded by cute underplay, shifty insincerity and butter-me-up bollocks, no, I know a good trooper when I see one, I recognise a stout punk heart when I hear one ticking – I pride myself on this, think on. These testing gems are a rare commodity in today’s ravaged scene, in fact they are fast becoming an endangered species and if we don’t wake up and get these passionate buggers noted and enthused they may die out altogether - oh no, surely not! You better believe it idle head! So the first winner of this new medal of recognition goes to a dude I am thoroughly convinced by and who has enough awkward angles and deep rooted spirit to make many a music lover shudder in their seats - spot on I’d say. The fact that this dude knows that punk is not about ticking boxes, is not about rule, regulation and self promoting masturbation is a joy to my heart and if you couple this with the fact that he is marvellous company, interesting to chinwag with and forever putting something back into his many passions makes Eagle Spits a thriving facet in a pond of potential piss. Step up sir, take my congratulations and have my sincere belief in what you do. May your wings keep on flying and the buggers never get the chance to clip em’ – Oi, Oi.
LABEL OF THE YEAR - Long overdue this award and it goes to a label that sits outside the radar of many circles in which I find myself much to the punters loss. The glorious glut of tuneage that comes my way via this productive conveyer belt of solid sonica is quite astounding and over several years now I have had the pleasure to listen to and assess much outpouring from the likes of such gratifying noise makers as Thee Exciters, The Dustaphonics, Johnny Throttle, De Keefmen, King Salami and the Cumberland 3, Kneejerk Reactions, MFC Chicken, The Despondents, The Revillions, The Thanes, The Vicars and The Youth to name just a few. The list is mesmerising and as I write I have several releases to review and each one is sounding bang on the mark - what can I say. Oh yes - Dirty Water Records take the praise and take my advice - keep doing what you are doing - quite simply, it's superb!
MOST OVERLOOKED UNDERDOGS - I judge this by the contrast of sheer talent on show and the amount of recognition it gets and so, in a roundabout way, pay due acknowledgement and give due credit to where it is undoubtedly deserved. The band I am picking here are wonderfully charming people with smiles a plenty, good chat and warm and friendly natures that are a joy to be around. The music they make has, for me at least, been absolutely lapped up and is of a quite cultured state mainly combining elements of ska, reggae and punk. Wherever I have seen them the feedback has been most excellent but still I feel a full on flow of gushing praise hasn't been had and that, in many ways, rankles me. So the band I choose is The Stopouts, and I hope and pray that 2015 is the year that sees them crack many souls of indifference and gets their name out there and their fine sonic produce recognised - check em' out, you will be utterly rewarded for your efforts and, if you book the odd gig or two, you need look no further for a most obliging and exciting band to work with.
BAND OF THE YEAR - Never easy, so much good stuff out there, it is a case of putting yer tuned testicles on the line and worrying about em' later when the train of disagreement runs over them again and again. Hey ho, I am always up for a gamble though - ouch me nuts. So this year I am giving the vote to a band I have seen 3 times, on each and every occasion and trembled my todge with many delightful ditty and, just as importantly, have supported all bands they have played with and been just darn fine folk to deal with. The fact also that their album was a corker adds to the weight of the decision and so, the crew who have much ado about something, who seem to be on a good roll despite a few nigglers along the way, and the dudes who are just a pleasure to work with - dum, de, dum, dum - come accept thy prize Hung Like Hanratty. Next year I am expecting bigger things to come, with a little care and a 'fuck it' and see outlook and of course with the same 'support, suck it and see' approach I reckon a roll will develop and no matter what, they will be bringing a smile to many a face wherever they go. Remember too that comedy punk has never been my thing but, when its done this well, I am happy to lap it up. Gotta mention here that The Franceens and Headsticks pushed this category mighty close and if my undies didn't fit so well they might have got the nod - both class units for sure!
PUNK PEDDLERS OF THE YEAR - This year, well like every year really, I am relying on my inner DIY instincts and seeing through the general presentations and instead am looking at the inner heart behind the pushing of good wholesome noise. There are many good shovelers of sonic shit out there who are pissing in the wind and who know they are on a hiding to nothing but do it because, well just because they love it and can't really help it. Over many years on the scene I have watched many come, many go, some trying to make a quick buck, some in it only when the going is good and a few who are just doing it for all the right reasons. This years choice stand out above the rest simply due to the fact that they do it in a totally unprofessional way, with DIY balls bared and a genuine natural patchwork simplicity that threatens to tear apart but, as I well know, never does and never will. It is simply punk as fuck and very fuckin' real. Please give a big hand and your real spiked support for the dream team that is The Wingnut Warriors and thank goodness for all their efforts and long may they continue. Rik Munchie, Jason Douglas and Ev Brew take a bow you rum buggers and have a genuine nod of sincere noised up appreciation. Never give in!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - It would be totally blinkered of me and somewhat cretinous if I overlooked a work of acoustic art that contains much forethought, a superfluity of generic craft and an overspill of erudite wordage that is delivered via many a fine tune. The decision for this took place earlier in the year but of course numerous threats would arise and so flexibility would be tested. Since hearing the album and spinning to utter buggery I am still of the belief though that the selected offering is the best release of the current year and has a whole variety of weight to consider over and over again. The album is called 'Muster', the creators are Headsticks, a superb band that blend issues, emotions and raw honesty into one well scripted package that has a superabundance of naturalness. If you ain’t heard this delectable dollop of folky brilliance then you need to get tuned in - it puts many routine punk bands to shame and highlights how anger and energy need not always be blasted out at 100mph with a vulgar 'fuck this' stance. Subtlety and insight are the key here and of course...talent. A masterpiece to stand the test of time and I am hoping the crew can go from strength to strength. It will all depend on the punters of course and as long as they don’t get too bogged down in one scene I can see this band rising to considerable zeniths – here’s hoping.
SONG OF THE YEAR - What I look for in this category is quite simple, a song that instantly bowls me over and immediately brings a sense of joy and unassuming intrigue. I also look for something that mixes things up a little and avoids sticking to the expected, the norm, the too fuckin' predictable. Mainly though I desire a song that captures the essence it aims for and not only satisfies me but satisfies itself. There are many, many songs that float the Fungal boat each and every year but the one that brings back fine memories and that feelgood factor is undoubtedly 'Secrets In Me' by The See No Evils. The band knocked me for six when I first saw them and on purchasing a CD and duly playing so did this song. Every time I play it the whole mood inside brightens - everyone needs some innocent escapism and politics free vibes - get some of this.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - Not an easy task as I see so much worthwhile stuff out there and so many noise makers who really do the business. As per, my heart is always on the look out for an Underdog band who has made the transition from being overlooked to one who are suddenly, through their ever improving on stage talent, cannot be ignored. As I ponder my mind flits back to the 16th June at The Star and Garter when 3 bands played, the opening act a cracking band, the headliners duly effective but in between was a band that I have dealt with on numerous occasions and have supported since first seeing them way back when. Many have got clued in, many are now agreeing that this is a dandy bunch of cacophonic creators and the set on that night absolutely fuckin' ripped it. From first to last this powerhouse unit made a statement and moved and grooved with utter relish. I was absorbed, my heart was filled with pride and I couldn't help thinking 'about bloody time, the buggers are right in the zone and getting credit for it' - it was a memorable showcase - The Senton Bombs - you get my sincerest thanks and of course, continued support.
PEDDLERS OF THE YEAR - Notice the extra 's' in this year’s choice - it makes all the difference. Each year I become more and more disillusioned with the utter bullshit out there in each and every sub-generic shithole and the many hoops people create and jump through just to get things moving and to tick all the expected boxes - it really does leave a sour taste. Sometimes a pusher of noise comes along who really does float my boat for all the right understated, unprofessional reasons. Imagine when I come across 3 such bastards with a rich vein of passion and DIY ethics and who get up, have a go and look for no reward other than all having a good time and enjoying the racket. The choice this year has to go to Wingnut Promotions - a sonically sexual ménage de trois of musical mayhem with members who cobble together cacophonic collections and make such merry hell in the process. There is something very real and untidy about these affairs and the 3 gents in charge are very loveable rogues with their tickers all in the right places. Every time you turn up to these events a certain chaos is just apparent but no matter what - all goes well, bands get their noise heard and people fuckin' appreciate it. I like the whole approach, the lack of ambition, the determination to keep this acoustica approachable - up the Wingnut crew and long may it prosper - and thank you from Fungal for a bit of reality.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - This, again, is no easy task as I get through more than my fair share of noisy CD's. In fact, as I pick this effort I notice that I have reviewed 135 CD's this year, 80% of which are albums, and that doesn't include other stuff I buy and listen to without any request for an assessment. I have pondered, I have examined various criteria and I have fucked off all that punk rock point scoring bullshit and general expectations so many sub-generic scenes have - let us keep it honest at least. The album I have opted for was reviewed early in the year and left a marked impression and since then it has had much to be held against and yet still comes out as a fine piece of work. 'The Wakes' by Dischord is a work of art as well as a cutlet of fine musicianship and exposes a band who are willing to diversify their threads, pick up on testing tones and duly belt forth an eruption from the pit of their guts. Having seen them several times 'live' I have always come away convinced and given the right encouragement and purist backing they can only get better and better. The album was, I feel, a bold initial debut and could so easily have fell apart at the seams (as so often is the case with these more complex offerings) and it is not by luck that the end composite was a classy cutlet of cacophony. Screamed and scorched with numerous scene setting touches and enhancing interruptions this is a bold offering of high rank and even though it will leave the less discerning standing, for those who like the obvious frequently mentioned spice, this is intense and intriguing listening. One that will stand the test of time and not be a quick thrill like so many fairground rides in the bands hometown of Blackpool - this is far from a one trick donkey and they get a big vote of confidence from me personally as well as a full on thank you for another musical high in my life.
BAND OF THE YEAR - Fuck, here we go, another bout at putting my head on the chopping block and having all those doubters cough up the same old, same old instead of getting to work and doing their own bit for that which they have been impressed by. Hey ho - here goes nothing. Many bands have crossed the Fungal radar again and more than a few have knocked me for six - to all I offer humble thanks. One band though has just stood out a little more than the rest and they go by the name of The Franceens. This lot could be in danger of floating by so many sonic listeners due to their marvellous lo-fi, stripped down, under-frilled, superbly thrilled sonic output - a style very much overlooked by the many. However, due to an ear for the accurate, a talent for constructing believable garage tunes and a cohesion as a unit they are slowly cracking a few nuts and getting noted here, there and everywhere. 'Live' they rock it hard, they have 3 players who look the part and seem as though they are on a mission - on CD (thus far) they have backed up their potential. Now signed to TNS Records (and here's me thinking that lot were tone deaf ha, ha - I just can't help my little japes - sorry chaps) they are set to move things on a little swifter next year and really make a name for themselves inside the sonic shitbowl…and out – I have my fingers crossed. There ya go - that's my choice - I believe it 100% - discuss.
BAND OF THE YEAR - I hate this choice, it impinges on my decency as an awkward twat but as always, honesty must rule and the restraining boundaries that punk (and any other sub circles) forces upon one (or at least tries to) must be avoided. The criteria for the choice must be on progress made and impact therefore, despite my skunked soul wanting to opt for a crummier crew I give the verdict to...dum, dum, de, dum - oh ok - Dirtbox Disco - I cannot deny thee. Look they are knocking out good tuneage, they are a decent set of souls, they even played a backdoor Fungal gig and are pulling in some big crowds albeit to the mass market. What they do they are doing very well indeed and I can't argue with that. Their CD release this year has been a pleasure to listen to and during a Fungal Charity gig earlier in the year even my wife and daughter said they were good (and they are fussy as regards their sounds). I wish thee all the best chaps and thank thee for good vibes and good gigs - long may it continue.
MOST OVERLOOKED UNDERDOGS - I have many, many bands I could go on about all day long here and so will be short and straight to the point before I get carried away on another passionate and heartfelt rant. The band I am choosing is Obnoxious UK, whom I first dealt with back in 2008 when giving them a gig at The Shay in Halifax. I loved that and the bands initial release 'Songs For The Dead', a montage of sub-horror tunes with an easy listening edge that had subtle suggestions of quality. Moving on and the crew have recently performed for me again and have upped the tempo and yet still appear to be off many peoples radars - what the fuck? Hopefully with this vote of confidence and my obvious belief in the crew some will take note and give them a piece of the pie - fingers crossed. 2013 could be the year OUK kick down a few doors and if they need any help then I am always up for offering a swing of a steel capped boot too.
NEW BAND OF THE YEAR - I primarily base this option on a band I haven't seen before but having said that the band chosen will not be one that has been on the circuit for any length of time. I always have much to choose from as my snout is always sniffing out new noise makers and so my decision is always harder to make. I look for things slightly awkward, slightly out of routine and something that delights my aural openings - boy it is difficult. Luckily at the back end I caught up with a crew who made just such a racket and after one viewing had me booking them for a show which once again I thoroughly enjoyed (a headline slot it was too). The band are a 3-piece, it is up to you to debate whether they are punk or not but one thing I can guarantee is that the noise is unpredictable, almost with an ad libbed feel, undulating with power and gentleness and liable to derail at any moment. The grungy opera they are building on looks like it could be a grand tale provided they stick to their beliefs and don't get caught up in the woven nonsense of the many shitty sub-scene. So without further ado - Buddhist Anarchist I thank thee and here's to a long and successful (and annoying to the masses) future - great racket indeed!
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - A difficult one this as I have racked up numerous bands on a 'live' basis and seen some very good stuff out there (whilst getting in 60+ all time new outfits). The main criteria I have to go with is not how well the band delivered the noise but rather with what desire and belief did they do it! A slip up here and there bothers me not one jot as professionalism and all things groomed and squeaky clean are not important. The essential ingredients are the passion, the spirit and the impact of the din and so for those reasons, as well for a performance that showed pure lust and nitty gritty punkage, I give the vote to the Septic Psycho's and their delivery at a recent 4 bander in Bradford. The band are a tight-knit squad of sonic slayers and pour forth punk with such vigour they are always worthy of attention and never disappoint. At the helm is a man pumped on adrenalin and on the night in question they moved up another notch and stole the show (despite playing with 3 solid bands). There is no affect, no bullshit - just unadulterated joy in what they do and I hope from here on in they can go from strength to strength - I love em' and a big well done from me for making another scar in the old memory banks.
BEST OVERSEAS ALBUM - I have much to ponder this time around with noise coming my way from all over the planet. It is no easy task to pick out one specific CD has the flavours which come are quite opposing and stand proud in their own sub-generic pool. Everytime I consider the final outcome though one album comes to mind and for that reason, plus the great song writing, solid packaging and just high quality production and level of tuneage that doesn't necessarily follow strict routine then the 'Self Titled' effort by Biting Elbows from Russia gets the verdict. It is a totally polished outpouring and the initial impact instantly had my curiosity levels niggled as to what would come next. It could be disappointing, it could be magnificent but so far, with the offerings here, we would be wise to predict the latter option. A very worthy winner this one!
MOST INTRIGUING BAND - a section made up due to my love of noise that gets me pondering, makes me pleased and just stinks of being something just off kilter and out of sync with the usual fare I recieve to assess. Colin's Godson run away with the vote here due to several marvellous releases that come in rock opera format and tell a tale whilst making a tune. The mix of noise is wonderful, the alteration of styles both conflicting yet perfectly complimentary and if anyone asked me, on any given day of late, what one unit they should check out whilst in search of something different then this band would be the first to drop from my lips. I do hope they continue with their collection and keep pushing themselves as regards style and outlook but for now I am more than happy to just give em' a heave ho here and suggest to all and sundry to go chase em' up and enjoy the tales of Colin's Godson.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Once again I am more than a little bowled over by the vast amount of talent out there and general good song writing - good on you all that mean it. As I pondered what had passed my aural openings over the previous 12 months I realised that the end decision wasn't going to be easy but nailed it down to 2 CD's. Gentlemen and Hooligans' by Night of Treason is a gem, as is 'Legend's by Dirtbox Disco and both are worthy on mention (job done). Alas only one winner there can be and despite the fact I don't consider DBD to be a punk band (which I couldn't really give a fick about) and the fact that many will agree (bastards ye be ha, ha) I have to give them the nod due to the unrelenting quality of tuneage and downright winning factor that appeals farther and wider than the NOT offering. It may be cliched and full of whipped rhythms but it is wonderfully produced, played with preciseness, and done by a nice bunch of blokes on a bloody good well-deserved roll. Dirtbox Disco - thy get the Fungal nod you set of rock and roll nobbers!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Some very good stuff out there yet again but for me East Town Pirates by East Town Pirates is a an album that was given an obvious theme and absolutely nailed. The whole sea-faring essence comes together on an effort dripping with sing-a-long melodies, great rhythms and consistent riffage. Sweetly produced so as to compliment the band and their billowing sails this one is worth anyones bag of gold coins and if you don't like it may you walk the gang plank of justice you scabby tone-deaf scumbags!
SONG OF THE YEAR - I have heard some seriously good noise this year with many a band producing the odd one off classic to be listened to over and over again. Usually these accolades pay tribute to the underdogs but for once a bigger band has nipped in and stolen the limelight and in this instance I really don't fuckin' mind. 'This Chaos' by the UK Subs is a gem I just can't stop playing and it comes from an album where the Subs have found their true form once more. Without Charlies voice at the helm this song just wouldn't work but that shouldn't detract from what a jolly good creation it is - co written by Lars Frederikson of Rancid fame too for all you name droppers out there. Massive!
LIVE SONG OF THE YEAR - A new category brought into the mix due to the fact that the song I heard (in the flesh) prompted me to pay homage to it. Without to much ado let me tell you that after hearing the chosen ditty I gave the creators a gig, attended and had very high expectations. When the song rattled out the hair on my nape (well I don't have much on me head) stood on ends and throughout the cacophonous roar I was enthralled. The band were Total Confusion, the song was 'Chaos 2000AD' - a memorable moment and one I am forever thankful for - up the punk rock racket.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - As per usual I have been out there and clocking up some good performances but a couple stand out as truly fuckin' rewarding for myself who has a love of all things Underdog. Firstly what The Murderburgers produced back in March whilst supporting The Queers was fuckin' amazing and even though The Queers played a good un' The MB lads shone mightily bright that night and fuckin' nailed an absolute beauty. For me having pushed these dudes early on it was a sincere joy to watch them come good and really put in a masterclass of fast ass pop punk. The second performance/s that left a solid impression was by an outfit called This Is Turin - a strong thrashy metal band that exploded into my radar with a ramming set at Satan's Hollow and then another one a couple of weeks later at the same venue. Both outpourings were on Battle of the Bands nights that were filled with quality galore but these guys slam-dunked it hard into the onlookers listening baskets and how they didn't win the whole affair was beyond me. Excellent! Besides the 2 above there are many more memorable moments and if you read my reviews, listen to my gob when the pen isn't used then you know who you are and, as per, all I can say is carry on and thank you for brightening up my own personal noise laden journey - you make it worthwhile!
BAND OF THE YEAR - I nearly overlooked this section - boo, hiss for busy minds. Well the choice is not easy but now I've made it I am more than satisfied. Nice people, nice music and a band with a frontlass who can sing - result - Leather Zoo get my vote. There are plenty of female fronted bands out there at the mo but this crew get the nod for 2010 and I am sure they can go on to better things in 2011. I hope so but that is more dependant on you!
NEW BAND OF THE YEAR - I thought I'd done this category before but I haven't - hey ho. Anyway I'll keep it brief. This is given to a new band whom I have seen twice to date and enjoyed both times. The frontman stinks of the punk rock spirit and the songs that the crew are knocking out are very much in the traditional mould. I hope 2011 will be kind to them and have many punters pushing them along on a wave of sucess. So, all it leaves for me to say is Crack Shot - go forth and make ears bleed.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - I have seen some fuckin' good stuff this year with many a band impressing in the 'live' bowl. Looking back over so many outfits the end decision has been difficult but there are two sets which I am going to pick out this time around. The first is by the band Broken Teeth and their outpouring opening up The Mongoloids show in Manchester. Lively, whipping the crowd up and full of hardcore intelligence this was an underdog masterclass and I for one was very much taken. The second effort I am choosing is by China Shop Bull at the Star and Garter where the band created their unique trance/dance/punk and skank reggae mush and whipped it up into such a frenzy as to be just totally awesome. Two good bands, two good sets - there were many more but these are the two standout moments - cheers guys!
SONG OF THE YEAR - The ditty I have chosen was first discovered on a Still Dying compilation CD (see they do work) released via those magical musical mitts of Mark Sesin - top bloke tha' knows. Despite the CD and its counterparts being packed with sexy sonica this one stood out due to a classier edge, some haunting undercurrents and a general feeling of sincerity towards the task in hand. Of course it isn't a typical punk rock tirade, if punk at all, but Fungal has never been keen to be predictable. This is just a good, solid song, executed well by a nice bunch of people. The song is 'Fleur Du Lys' by Leather Zoo and has done well to stand out from a year full of classic tracks. As of writing this I have a more favoured track called 'Serial Killer' by the same band but somehow I feel the chosen song is something special and always will be, thus, a change of mind was avoided. Not easy but the right decision in the end for sure!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - This is no mean task and to pick one album out from all the disc's I have spun is almost impossible. Looking back I have to admit it has been another stunning year with numerous outfits producing the goods over the longer stretch and really contributing to a healthy and diverse scene. Other criteria is taken into consideration besides the general quality of the noise but first and foremost one has to consider how much the outpouring effects the Fungal punky spirit. So, after much deliberation, I go for an album that is stunning from first to last, has a thrust to awaken the spiked passion and retains enough of the dirty edge to appeal to my festering desires. With a 'Self-Titled' album I asked The Despondents to take a bow.
MUSICAL STATEMENT OF THE YEAR - Well, many say things but keep their views a little under wraps so as to maintain their meaningless position in the popularity stakes. A few with passionate gobs let loose and wear their hearts on their sleeve with unashamed belief. To actually put something into song that you know darn well will create a downturn in your fan base is quite a bold thing to do and to reflect the opinions of the few rather than the many is fuckin' bang on the mark. Having the tag OMD and never afraid to spout off an opinion or two I can give nothing but utmost respect to Citizen Keyne for their anthemic outburst 'Punk Not Fashion'. The lyrics are simple and to the point and seethe with hatred at the Rebellion circus and many of the glamour punks who attend and seem in hibernation the rest of the year round. The song is a poisonous little piece and frontman John certainly gives the extra spite. So from your friendly neighbourhood bigot who ain't short of passion and spirit and the odd cheeky wind-up of course - Citizen Keyne I salute you.
PUNK PEDDLER OF THE YEAR - What makes a good punk peddler? Well 2 things really - to give the spiky tops what they want but more importantly to be a decent dude and do it your own way for all the right reasons and see what transpires. This year for me there is no contest with Stu Taylor of STP winning by a country mile for giving many an underdog band the chance to strut their stuff and for remaining the most approachable chap on the block. The bloke never gets bogged down by politics, never seems to let the odd hiccup trouble him and just plods on with his big heart beating and his thoughtful eyes smiling and assessing. He has taken a rough delivery this year but hey no-one is immune from that in the punk rock basin but the question is has it fazed him? Not a bit of it and despite having to up sticks and promote elsewhere due to a local lack of interest the guy still goes forth and does his bit in the true spirit of punk. I have attended everyone of his shows this year and have loved the diversity, the belief and the general organisation. The turn-outs may have not been the best but they were fuckin' good gigs nonetheless and I appreciated them - end of. Nice one dude - 2011 lets have some more!
Also, to be fair, I feel I must mention Dean 'Slitboy' Diggle once again who, despite putting on a few bands who aren't particularly favourites of mine, is really doing the odd sub-generic pool a world of good with his frequent Manchester-based gigs. Turn-out wise the business has been done except with the occasional underdog tester that fell a bit short. Some reports have been stunning with The Aggrolites gig raising many an eyebrow as regards attendance. Ok not my style but credit has got be given - the lads pulling them in and long may it continue. I'll dabble here and there and give support when I can but I think the odd ones I do miss won't be really noticed by anyone anyway ha, ha.
MOST OVERLOOKED AND UNDER-RATED OUTFIT - In truth this section is the hardest as there are so many fuckin' good bands out there not being given true reward for their talents and efforts that it really does defy belief. How many tell me that 'such and such are a good band' and yet the band in question fails to pull in a crowd deserved of their status. For me the criteria for this section is based on attitude, desire, ability, entertainment value and, most importantly, my exasperation at them not getting 'out there'. So after much thought, much deliberation and much questioning my choice is The Kingcrows. I love what these dudes do and the show they put on whilst doing it! My self, good lady and equally good daughter have enjoyed their performances quite a few times now and both on and off stage they come across as darn decent dudes. They have a solid diversity of tune and overall deserves this accolade. If this helps them go on to better things, try a little harder and increases their CD sales by 1% then a happy Fungal I'll be.
PUNK PEDDLER OF THE YEAR - Hey lets get straight down to it here and again give it to two riotous retailers. First I give a nod to good old Vincey boy at the Studs and Punks website. The initial embryo that has hit the cyberspace circuit seems destined to just get better and better and really is a nice piece bit of website design. It covers many areas of punk and most importantly peddles the underdog. He's a grand lad with a decent attitude and that will do for me. Hopefully the site can grow and grow and he can really shift some arses into action. Nice one fellar and keep crackin' away. On the promoter front look no further than Punkined the unassuming punker that puts on gigs for all the right reasons. Great nights out, great value, great lad - hows that! By the way that's two years in a row mate - the pressures on for 2010.
BAND OF THE YEAR - To be honest the band I am picking this year are always in my thoughts and really get sold short by this fuckin' scene. Great people with no egos, no pretensions and no attitude and really supportive of each and every gig they attend. Always willing to supply gear, always hanging around watching other bands and always good company. They are not outgoing in yer face twats but a bunch of honest lads just trying to spread some good music and give people a darn good time. The music they write is subtle genius and put together with consideration to both melody and lyrical content. The band is Most Likely To Fail and Joel, Martin, Dave, Sean and Paul I thank you for being great lads, keeping the faith and carrying on despite the odds stacked against. Through thick and thin I hope we can carry on and I hope a few more punk peddlars will showcase these guys and enjoy everything they do. It has been my pleasure and these guys are the ultimate SAS band. Do yourself a favour - check em' out in 2010. I may (most probably will) achieve very little with the SAS Tour but one success for me is meeting this crew - the small things essentially matter - fuck the empty flash trash so many seek - I know the score!
MOST OVERLOOKED AND UNDER-RATED OUTFIT - Fuckin' hell the way punk scene is there are many bands I could give this too. Unfortunately I am only going to pick one and that is to be the mightiliy impressive 3 Black Dwarfs. A very talented crew who have tampered with their line-up but never paused in the progress they are making. All they need now is to just spend 12 months basically playing here, there and everywhere and just getting their name spread even further and than move it up a notch. The bands style may not be orthodox punk rock and that, as well as their excellent musical application, gives them my vote. Don't just take my word for it though check em' out on Myspace and then in the 'live' arena you scumbags.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Much deliberation has been taken over this years choice (as is the norm) and it really has been a close run thing. Dun2Def, The Murderburgers, Citizen Keyne and Crashed Out amongst many others all had a shout in the final melee but, and perhaps controversially, I am opting for an album that mixes streetwise attitude, skanking reggae accuracy and cheeky chappie nouse and comes out smelling of roses. 'Keep On Keepin' On' is an overlooked classic and really was a pleasure to review. Add to this a nod of agreement from my wife and daughter and it seems the album has scope to transcend many boundaries. I like it and despite the disagreement that may come my way am sticking with it. Seriously - check this one out and listen with an open ear. The band by the way are called DILE and 2010 could be a very bright year indeed for this impressive crew.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - There has been, as usual, some darn good shit to view in the underdog arena and so I have the same self-inflicted annual struggle when it comes to pinpointing one very special outburst that deserves this accolade. Kings of the Delmar have put in a couple of exquisite bursts and The Murderburgers headlined the SAS Spillage with aplomb. The Stopouts impressed me big time in Bradford and Citizen Keyne gave me a great memory from the SAS 3 dayer. The Kingcrows deserve a mention because they are bloody good as do the consistently pleasing Most Likely To Fail. The Terrors, The Senton Bombs and the Pop Fosters raised my spirits but the one stand out effort has to go to the Madri Gras Bombers and their stunning set at The Retro Bar back in late summer. This embryonic band knocked me for six with my initial viewing but this was a real treat. 2010 looks a big year for these twats as long as they do not over-expose themselves - they get my support whatever they do - quality in abundance!.
SONG OF THE YEAR - Once again I have heard some really impressive stuff this past twelve months with 'Sick Scum and Apathy' by Born To Destruct, 'The Murderers Shoe' by Wonk Unit, 'Stop Staring At Me' by The Murderburgers and 'Come And Get It' by Freedom Faction all worthy of note. There are a whole lot more than this but one song that has stood out from the pack and is nothing short of an anthem and like I have said on many occasions - if this was written by a so called bigger band the adulation and sycophantic nonsense would be pouring the bands way. In case you are curious the band is Citizen Keyne and the song is the quite magnificent 'Stand Proud'.
SONG OF THE YEAR - 'This Town' by Wild Trash, 'Junkfood Generation' by Mispelt 2.0, 'A Country Fit For Heroes' by Gimpfist, 'Bastard' by The Scabs, 'All One Riff' by May Contain Nuts are all pipped at the punky post by a real emotional piece of gifted punkology. The song deals with subject mater rarely touch upon and the heartfelt upset and eventual defiance comes across by the bucketload. 'Time To Go' by One Man Stand is a great song from a band who never get the credit they deserve - well in this instance they do and I am well proud of em'.
BAND OF THE YEAR - 2 Sick Monkeys - why not indeed - hard work, great noise and no fuckin' pretensions - that'll do for me. Just released their best shit to date as well so next year these guys could finally get their just rewards.
PUNK PEDDLER OF THE YEAR - A last minute inclusion this one and it goes to two great promoters and peddlars of the cause. Firstly Dean 'Slit Boy' Diggle of Slit Records. A fuckin' great lad who is reawakening the Manchester scene with some crackin' gigs. He's making slow and steady progress and his 2009 gigs deserve support for the fact that they are quality and done for the right reasons. The other joint winner is a real Spit and Sawdust urchin who does it for the sheer love of it - Bradfords finest Punkined (aka Leon). Loves his punk and has no hidden agenda and is one of the few genuine 'erberts I meet on the scene - can't fault him. He helped The Shay in Halifax put on some stunners and now he has got a new venue on the go and if there is any justice these gigs should be fuckin' rammed. Support these two fine pushers of the punk drug and the future will be healthier by far. I for one am proud to know these guys and will help their cause all I can - respect!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - I have seen a lot of codswallop lately about this album and that album getting pushed for an accolade here and there due to it being released by a big name. Well fuck that - the album of the year for me goes to D' Corner Bois/Barse split 'Everything's A Mess'. This is fuckin' brilliant and combines two bands with very different flavours but both oozing punk spirit. There ain't one bad song on the whole album and that for me is something very special. There is a review here on my site on Page 25 of the CD reviews - check it out. Mention must be made to several other gems who were in the mix namely by One Man Stand, The Scabs, Gimp Fist and The Murderburgers - maybe next time but full marks for some real stunning efforts.
GIG OF THE YEAR - Well I will get stick for this I suppose but I really couldn't give a toss. The SAS afternoon gig at The Thatched House recently really raised my spirits as did the Bradford SAS gig a few weeks before. But, once again, the 3 dayer at The Thatched House in Stockport was a personal high. I put on gigs that I want to enjoy and this I surely did. Lots of personal faves and plenty of variety - it was a pleasure throughout.
MOST OVERLOOKED AND UNDER-RATED OUTFIT - Well this is a tough one but I am going to opt for a real classy outfit who go by the name of The Senton Bombs. When I first saw these I was of the opinion that they were just OK. Don't ever be fooled by first impressions - these guys fuckin' rock and have really blew me off my feet with their cultured songs that are blasted out with both barrels blazing. Unorthodox and emanating a classy edge that really has pleased me no end this year. Check em' out as soon as you can - you won't be disappointed and if you are see them a few more times to really get to grips with their heavy duty artillery.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - 3 performances stand out that really made an impression for me. 2 Sick Monkeys rattled off a blasting set despite only 2 punters being present at The Dog and Partridge in Bolton and that for me highlights belief to the cause. In fact this was the best I'd seen 2SM (and that is saying something) so there really isn't much to add. Flat Back Four have just produced a fuckin' gem at The Thatched House in Stockport with the most organised and well delivered outpouring I have seen them do. I knew they were capable of attaining new highs and the work I have done with these guys has been plentiful and when you see performances of this stature it makes one real proud. The pick of the year though goes to Mispelt 2.0 for their soul raising effort at The Mannville Arms in Bradford where they lifted my lowly spirits with the scene no end by dishing out a set with faultless energy and accuracy. Add to this the fact that every song I deemed a pleasure and with the new lead vocalist Gen being a delight to watch you will know why I have opted for this lot. The fact also that all the other bands on the bill played a solid set made the finishing shine that little bit brighter. Oh and my young daughter thought they were ace too.
OVERSEAS ALBUM OF THE YEAR - 'Vaporised My Brain' by The Mome Raths - because the blend of the simplistic innocence, pop punky edge and darn fine melodies all verge on a garage-esque sound which adds a subtle rawness and beauty to each and every track. This is indeed a disc to savour over and over again and with only a hundred copies in distribution I do consider myself extremely fortunate. A hidden diamond for punkers of all leanings and ages.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - 'Persecute The Weak, Control The Strong' by Riot Squad - This really made my hair (what's left of it) stand on end. If you are going to be full-on and raucous then this is the way to do it. A full album of balls-out, throat shredding violence that is a classic of its kind. Utterly faultless and one of the highs of punk history.
SONG OF THE YEAR - 'More War Stories' by Gimpfist - a simply superb offering that captures both old and new influences in one quality track. If The Clash would have wrote this number then it would have been deemed a classic by the entire punk community - for me it still is. Now go check it out somewhere or buy the latest Slit and Sawdust compilation where this track features. Really proud to have this song as part of the CD! Couldn't believe my luck when they agreed to it but there you go - a nice early Christmas present for me!
BAND OF THE YEAR - Well after much debating and consideration I have come to a conclusion about who deserves to be be given the fungalpunk title. It goes, most deservedly to The Shadowcops. The reasons are many but for four young 'erberts to stay so level headed and approachable and produce such a sonic blast of rampaging riffage as this has truly left my jaw on the ground at every performance. They really are a stunning outfit and time and again they amaze me with the energy and power soaked performance.
GIG OF THE YEAR - well without being biased it has to be the 3 Day SAS Fest at The Thatched House in Stockport. The reason is simply because all bands contributed some excellent performances, the gig ran as smooth as butter and the beer was abundant.
MOST OVERLOOKED AND UNDER-RATED OUTFIT - must surely go to Most Likely To Fail. I love this outfit and the song writing and composure is second to none. Great guys too which is always a bonus and surely things can only get better for this fantastic band in 2008. In fact add these lot to myspace friends now by going to http://www.myspace.com/mostlikelytofail.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR - its gotta be The Objex for two crackerjack shows at Manchester and especially Bradford. The music was a tight and efficient show with enough on-stage passion to match. A cracking band and definitely ones to go and see again when they are over this way.