It's A Living… But It's Not A Life #12.97
J Church/Honey Bear/Whatever - Fuck 2004!!! - I could be in heaven...

 

BEST OF THE YEAR

It was a bad year. I'm not depressed. I'm just telling it like it was. A bad year. But even in bad years there's some good shit. So here is what I can make of the best of 2004…

 

BEST MOMENT OVERALL

What can I say? When the Red Sox won Game 7 against the Yankees, I couldn't contain my happiness. I was at work. The store was empty except for Rachel and me. I let out an uncontrollable roar of elation. I can't think of the last time I was suddenly filled with so much glee.

Keep in mind that I'm a huge baseball fan. Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot of you close-minded punkers can't stand sports and think it's not punk and blah, blah, blah. It's the same argument punks used to give me about being vegetarian. Nobody could believe you were punk if you didn't like burgers and pepperoni pizza. Well, I love baseball. I don't preach and I don't try to force it down anyone's throat. I dig baseball and some of my fondest memories from childhood involve watching the World Series or going to see the Hawaii Islanders with my Dad and Grandfather. The Red Sox (along with the San Francisco Giants) are my team and I've been following them for nearly 30 years.

It's 2004 and that might already be my best moment of the decade.

Runner Up
Red Sox sweep the World Series

 

BEST RECORD

Did I like any records last year? I must have liked something enough to say it was the best album of the year… I really don't know. So much crap and so much disappointment and so much failure. I enjoyed watching some bands crash and burn. But what was the good stuff?

It's a sad state of affairs, but easily my favorite record of last year was a collection of singles from the good old days of Indie Pop. Another in their great series of compilations, Rough Trade released Indiepop 1, an amazing and sentimental collection of singles that pretty closely sum up that genre.

The liner notes from Sean say it all. Indie Pop was like punk rock all over. I loved collecting all the singles. There was a time when I thought I needed every title on Sarah. The music is perfect counting on some of the best from the Shop Assistants, the Wedding Present, Heavenly, the Flatmates and loads more. As is the case with the other Rough Trade comps, also included are more current bands carrying on the tradition such as the wonderful Juniper Moon and Dressy Bessy.

It's a great comp and it's really the only record that came out this past year that I've listened to over and over again.

Runners Up
Signal Lost - Children of the Wasteland
Les Savy Fav - Inches
Franz Ferdinand
Iron And Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake The Sheets

 

BEST MOVIE

There were actually quite a few films that I really liked this year. What can I say? The ones I like aren't usually the ones on the critics' polls. I didn't really think anything of Before Sunset even with my dislike for Ethan Hawke. I thought Eternal Sunshine was okay but basically the film equivalent of an emo record. Hero was pretty to look at and that's really all.

So I thought about the one movie I watched over and over and even though it drove a lot of people crazy, my favorite movie of last year was Coffee And Cigarettes. It was back to basics Jarmusch. I am a big fan of Jim Jarmusch. But that is mostly based on his early work like Stranger Than Paradise (which is one of my favorite films of all time). In fact, the last film of his to really blow me away was Mystery Train. So for me, this was a more than pleasant return to form while spanning time in the way Vincent Gallo only wishes he could do. I really think hacks like Gallo are sick with envy when they see films like this. But they'll never admit it.

It looks beautiful and as always he gets the oddest, most interesting performances out of people. It's like they're half caught in the headlights and half projecting Jarmusch's own oddity. I love every moment of this movie and can watch it over and over.

Runners Up
The Saddest Music In The World
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring
Control Room
Shaun Of The Dead
Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle

 

BEST TV SHOW

Arrested Development in its first season was smart, daring and very funny. The cast of the show is perfect. It is one of the few exceptions of a show that tries to rise to the occasion rather than dumb down. Portia De Rossi is becoming my favorite lesbian celebrity.

Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you punkers. TV is bad. Kill your TV. I hate commercials too. The first season is out on DVD so check it out on your own time. It's worth it.

Runner Up
Scrubs

Aw, fuck it. It was a bad year. I've got no more best of anything. Fuck 2004!

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

EXPERIMENTAL DENTAL SCHOOL - Hideous Dance Attack LP

This record came out a year ago. But I just got it while we were in Germany. I like vinyl, so…

Yeah, this is pretty great. I kind of was freaked out by this the first time. It's a startling record. Everything seems to be jumping at you at once. But once you get into their groove, it's really cool.

I guess you could say that there are elements of the Ex or Dog Faced Hermans with the beautiful and brittle guitar sound. The vocals are something like the Pop Group in the early days or, I dunno, a young Danny Elfman being set on fire. The whole band is great. The bumping and jabbing organ/keyboard is not as extreme as some groups of their ilk (Les Georges Leningrad come to mind). It's more like Casino Worker-era Fall or maybe the criminally underrated Shrug. I dunno.

The artwork is really fantastic as well. I highly recommend you track down the vinyl as you are gonna want that front cover as big as is possible.
(The Company With The Golden Arm)

 

HARD SKIN - Same Meat, Different Gravy LP

It's finally out and I was lucky enough to have seen them live in London a few weeks back. Thirteen new tracks and they're all brilliant. You love the first album? You will love this one. It sounds huge and the songs are still catchy as hell. I've seen it live. It's a sound prediction. The new hit is definitely Copper Cunt. You'll be humming it all day long.

To step away from the shtick, I think it's worth mentioning that it is funny that it took Hard Skin for people to finally start realizing what a brilliant songwriter Ben Corrigan is. He's a friend. But I've been very much a fan of his songwriting from the first moment I heard Thatcher On Acid's Curdled. That to me is still one of the classic anarcho records defining the non-trash music from the late `80s. He was consistent throughout Thatch's existence and continued with the Tone. I just find it funny that it takes Hard Skin for people to start noticing what a knack that guy has for great, catchy tunes.
`Ermit Records, PO Box 309, Leeds LS2 7AH, UK

 

SUBHUMANS - Live In A Dive CD

Hey, second live CD in a row I've gotten from the good folks at Fat that I've been intrigued by (I'm a sucker for Sick Of It All). Fuck, these bands play long sets! This one is 26 songs in total, all of it raging.

I always change my mind about live records. I sort of like bootlegs and weird fan-only documents. But I usually don't think much of official live releases. They usually smack of a cheap way to make some cash. That's probably true with this release, but the product more than makes up for it.

First off, the sound on some of the original Subhumans singles, I mean, I love that shit. God knows they're one of my favorite bands of all time. I'm glad you can still hear the singles collection in its ragged glory. But it's great to hear the band storming through an incredibly tight version of the classics with real quality in the recording.

I think this live recording really captures why I still love this band and will always go out of my way to see them live even 20+ years on. As a serious fan, I could pick at little things like certain songs I would have rather wanted (no Cradle To The Grave?) but I can't think of what I would have left out. Definitely something for fans of every era of the band.
(Fat Wreck)