MY Top 10 Albums Of 2016

soundwave-mad_2Picking your “Top 10” albums, based on any criteria, is hard. Not because there was so much great music released this year but because “Top” often depends on time, place, emotion and circumstance. An album that got me through a particularly tough June might not illicit the same response in November. Add to that the fact that I run a record label, and listing your own stuff in a “top 10” is immediately dismissed as self-indulgent pandering, and it’s a real challenge. But, hey. Fuck it. It’s my list. Maybe you need to get your own penis showing game.

So, dear friend, if you’ll indulge me, I have decided to select my magical unicorn list of 10 albums based on two simple criteria: Five albums I’m glad we released in 2016 … and five albums I wish we’d released.

Five I’m glad we released:

  1. jimsJust Punk Enough by The Damnit Jims – Man, I love this record. It’s honest and funny and has all the elements that make a great punk album. It’s serious when it wants to be but makes fun of itself as often as possible. To dismiss the album as anything but awesome means you simply aren’t in on the joke … and that sucks for you because it’s damn funny. Oh, and the Jims probably don’t care. When you add in the fact that the guys who made this record are really likable fellas and lifelong friends with a ton of talent you get the perfect storm of skate punk goodness.
  • Favorite tracks: “1%”, “C.U.N.T.”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. the-quitters-no-big-dealNo Big Deal by The Quitters – I’ve told my story about the now fabled Quitters a million times. One of the first bands I ever saw in Las Vegas, an inspiration for starting the label in the first place, and one of the few bands not only still standing after all these years but still making amazing music. I’ve known these boys a long time and to have this recorded timeline of their progress is like getting a lesson in how good bands become great. Give “No Big Deal” and “Contributing To Erosion” a back to back listen. It’s liberating.
  • Favorite tracks: “Paper Street”, “Gulf Coast Beach Party”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. gashersIn Trust We Bleed by The Gashers – The Gashers were the second band we ever signed and their debut, “Law Is Not Order” set the tone for the label in those precious early days. They are also our first band to release a true sophomore album … (c’mon Dirty Panties … I’m not getting any younger.) This wasn’t just a band making a record … it was the heart and soul of the beloved Peccadilloes trying to get out of the shadow of their former band and do something new. Be something … else. Well, what “Law Is Not Order” promised, “In Trust We Bleed” truly delivers. The Gashers feel more comfortable in their new skin with this record. The songwriting is solid and polished. The chops are honed and evolved. You can still hear their influences loud and clear – which is a hallmark of good punk anyway – but the Peccadilloes are firmly in the rearview mirror. This is a real punk album by real punks.
  • Favorite tracks: “Utopian Misery”, “Bender”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. punksexy.jpgPunkSexy: A Las Vegas Punk Rock Tribute To Prince – Wow. What to say about this. If you know me then you know how deeply I am influenced by Prince. I added and removed this from my list about 50 times before deciding to include it. Just like I removed “Blackstar” by Bowie and “You Want It Darker” by Leonard Cohen from the list below. In the case of those albums – which I love and do count among the year’s best – it just didn’t seem right to light another candle in the proverbial park that obscures the message. Is it great because it’s great or because they died? Is “Dirty Work” a “great Stones album if they would’ve died a week after its release? The gray area of bandwagon grief makes it hard to say. But this. Ah, this. I love this record and I refuse to let the untimely death of its inspiration cloud what it was meant to be about in the first place. This is a celebration of genius as interpreted uncut and unfiltered by people I respect and care about. The bands did an amazing job, and I think, in the end, came out of the experience understanding, if not appreciating, why Prince is so important to music and so important to me. So, if you didn’t like this album. That’s cool. I didn’t make it for you. I made it for me and in the end I guess I made it for Prince too.
  • Favorite tracks: “Sister” by The Negative Nancys, “Purple Rain” by Mercy Music
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. nnSorry, Not Sorry by The Negative Nancys – Say what you want about Kate Outenreath but she’s as tenacious as she is prolific … and no one … I mean NO ONE, puts themselves more into their music than she does. She was great in the Seriouslys and she’s even better here. Add the personalities and talents of Kelley, Eva and Penelope to the mix and you get my pick for my favorite album that we released this year. It’s fun. It’s gritty. It has attitude. I listen to this record a lot and every single time I hear some new nuance. Some new accent. It’s albums like this one that remind me why we put out albums in the first place.
  • Favorite tracks: “Headsick”, “So What”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE


Five Albums I WISH I’d released:

  1. raynerIn Circles by Rayner – So much passion and power in this record – and it all boils down to just plain good songwriting. With hooks, riffs and sheer reckless energy, Rayner capture moments in song better than any Polaroid picture ever could. They take you back to that particular summer when your biggest worry was getting a fake ID … or to that long car ride to nowhere just for the hell of it. If I have any complaint about this album it’s simply that it makes me feel old, which, I suppose I am, but damn them for making me want to be young again.
  • Favorite tracks: “I Owe Me”, “Stairset”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. fredward.jpgYou’re Only Here Because You Have To Be by Fredward – The first time I heard this album it reminded me of the first time I heard Mercy Music’s epic “When I Die I’m Taking You With Me” … not just because they are stylistically similar (which they certainly are … sorry fellas if you’re sick of hearing that) but because there is so much angst and pain here that it makes you feel bad about whatever experiences led to these songs … and secretly glad they did … because the music is so fucking powerful. Where the lines blur is that with Mercy Music you see longing, regret and grief through the eyes of a man alone in a room that he doesn’t wish to leave. With Fredward it’s all of them, angry and hostile, in a room they desperately want to get out of. Again, great song writing and solid musical performances (the drumming is spectacular) make this absolutely shine. Listen to this – front to back – with headphones on if you dare and make sure you’re using the safety scissors to cut out pics for your weird, stalker, wall collage.
  • Favorite tracks: “Right Fix”, “We’ve Been Sick”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. ouroOuroboros by Ray LaMontagne – This one is simple. I really like Pink Floyd and this is quite frankly the best Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here. I didn’t know jack about Ray LaMontagne prior to this – except that annoying “Trouble … trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble …” song – but I went to see him live and he played Ouroboros in its entirety. I went home and bought the record … listened again … and I really dig it. It’s spooky, atmospheric and deeply dark. Sometimes music paints you a picture. This once dumps paint on you and lets you figure it out from there. If I still got high this album would never leave my turntable.
  • Favorite tracks: It’s all one big crazy track.
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. rcGive It Back To You by The Record Company – I love new music, even when it’s old. The Record Company are a straight up, barefoot, dirty truck windows blues band. It’s all slide guitars and harmonicas and sadness. Girls leave. Crops die. Creeks dry up. In the end, if you have your guitar everything just might turn out alright. Nice to see new bands still turning out albums like this. If the Record Company makes just one kid listen to and possibly learn to love John Lee Hooker … then it’s all good. I listen to this album when I’m sad … because I’ve never been this sad.
  • Favorite tracks: “Rita Mae Young”, “Turn Me Loose”
  • Don’t take my word for it: CLICK HERE
  1. hqdefaultHardwired… to Self-Destruct by Metallica – Just kidding. This album sucks.



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