Top 5 of 2012: Mackenzie Menkins

Picture 1I can safely say that 2012 was the single worst year of my life for many different reasons, but it was a damn good year for music. It has also been great doing the radio show with Frankie B. He is a really really good dude and a good dad. Anyway, it was really hard to choose the best ones because there was so much good music put out this year, so I made a few different lists to try to fit them all. Excuse my nerdy-ness.

Top 5 SHOWS/FESTS of 2012:

1. CHAOS IN TEJAS 2012 – This was, by far, the highlight of my entire year. Four days wondering around a city I have never been in with thousands of other punks roaming the streets, crashing on the couches of old friends who moved there, seeing at least 100 or more awesome bands in 90 degree weather. I went from watching U.K. anarchopunk legends THE MOB to shaking my ass to BIG FREEDIA right next door immediately after that – where else would you ever have that experience? Other amazing sets included: NO STATIK (three different times!), NEGATIVE STANDARDS,  ANTISECT,  TEAR IT UP, CÜLO, CHELSEA WOLFE, THOU, MOSS ICON, BRAIN KILLER, MINDSET, DROPDEAD (twice!), BOSTON STRANGLER (twice!), HOAX, CRAZY SPIRIT (at a 2am warehouse show!), MAUSER, NO TOLERANCE, JOYCE MANOR, TOYS THAT KILL, WICCANS, and closing out the fest with a rad newer nyhc band CREEM. Holy shit, dude.

2. HALLOWEEN COVER SHOW @ The Garfield House, Portland – I thought nothing would be more fun than trick-or-treating (it was straight-up like the 2nd year I had gone without doing it haha), but this was a fucking blast. Old Portland friends covering amazing bands flawlessly. The lineup was: AGAINST ME! (Our First Brains performed the entire Reinventing Axl Rose record!), NIRVANA UNPLUGGED (with all the members dressed up as The Spice Girls), AT THE DRIVE-IN (performed by Duck. Little Brother, Duck!), CONVERGE (played by The Sky Above and Earth Below… the real Converge had actually played a couple nights before this, and I feel like the cover set was just as good, if not better. They played more of the songs I wanted to hear at least!), and THE MISFITS performed by hometown heroes Cower! All in a super packed basement. Amazing.

3. 8/16: RAPE REVENGE, HYSTERICS, AGATHA, RAGANA, BODY BETRAYAL @ The Black Lodge in Seattle – Absolutely flawless line-up. The only drawback was that Outlook was supposed to play but had to drop off due to James, the guitar player, breaking his wrist skateboarding. Good vibes at the show – everyone was really into all the bands, and there was only one instance of “bro-mosh” during Hysterics where some crusty dude kept falling into Stephie, the singer…which the other members dealt with abuptly by pushing him out of the venue by force. There was also a big banner hung up in the venue in solidarity with the Grand Jury Resistors that said “UP THE WITCHES – FUCK THE GRAND JURIES.” On top of all this, I rode my bike to this show from Olympia with two really awesome people!

4. NEW DIRECTION FEST 2012 – It’s super admirable to see how much work went into this fest. So many great bands from all over, including, but not limited to: La Bella, Rape Revenge, Oi Polloi, Resist And Exist, Latterman, Mary Christ, Poison Planet, Reivers. There were also a ton of awesome workshops – especially the “Exploring Radical Consent” workshop, was a really cool thing to have at a hardcore show.

5. OUTLOOK, REPLICA, WHITE WARDS, BIG KIDSADJUSTMENT TO SOCIETY @ The Palace Flophouse – A basement show full of solid Oly HC along with one of the amazing hardcore bands coming out of the Bay these days: REPLICA. Seriously so brutal and energetic. Also Outlook, my favorite band to come out of Olympia since I have lived here, played an amazing set too. Big Kids, a bit more poppy punk band also hopped on last minute, which was a pleasant surprise!

TOP 5 RECORDS of 2012:

1. GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
Their first record in a decade, and it absolutely blew me away. Beautiful packaging and artwork, too. This band has informed so much of my aesthetic style as an artist. They prove you can be anarchist punks without screaming protest lyrics over redundant d-beats. They are extremely mysterious, yet when I listen to the songs and look at their imagery, I connect to their catharsis as if it were my own. That is some serious fucking magic right there.

2. SWANS – The Seer (Young God)
This probably falls out of the realm of “punk”, but god damn it is beautiful, dark, and epic. The Seer really covers the breadth of Michael Gira’s composing with some gothic folk, symphonic post-rock melodies, dark ambient noise, and some weird yet luring noise rock songs. Some moments are punishing and creepy, and others are beautiful and joyous. This album will make you see life in a different light.

3. SOURPATCH – Stagger & Fade (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)
This was my summer soundtrack. Über catchy melodic pop melodies that get stuck in yr head all damn day long. I got to see them TWICE this summer, in Seattle and in Olympia, and they were great both times. I played this record at least once a day after I bought it.

4. LA BELLA – Recomposition 7″ (Valley Press)
These guys had been on my radar for a while, and when I finally got to see them play this summer, I was blown away. Their energy, their fresh sound, and their message all really resonated with me. Every song on this record has a very raw hardcore punk vibe, laden with screamo, latin, and jazz influences – along with radically political lyrics. Seriously keep an eye out for these young SoCal gentlemen.

5. RAPE REVENGE – Paper Cage 7″ (To Live A Lie)
Highly anticipated record for these radical Canadian grinders, and it totally satisfied. 16 songs crammed into one 7″, screaming about personal and political lyrics that are all really fucking relevant. Really cool record insert that has detailed song explanations too, which is a really nice touch. “This system has fucking failed you, don’t fail yourself.”

Top 5 Local-ish Releases:

1. RAGANA – “All’s Lost” Tape
Holy crap. This is something totally unique and exciting and different and could only possibly be conjured under the grey skies of Olympia. Two womyn playing atmospheric black metal and doom with heavy 90’s post-hardcore influence, creating a seriously epic, beautiful, untouchable sound. By now their new tape, Unbecoming has already come out and my heart and brain have exploded. Just listen to their two tapes, then learn to conjure a spell to bring the end of civilization.

2. DISPARATE/BODY BETRAYAL – Split Tape (Hissy Fit Music)
Two totally brutal hardcore bands who both have queer, feminist, and anarchist tendencies. . . I really can’t ask for anything more.

3. DICK BINGE – “Listen Hard” Tape
Smutty yet pissed-off, no-frills Olympia queercore. Really happy this band exists.

4. OUTLOOK – Our Time Is Now (self-released)
Outlook was an important band. They played ripping youth-crew era influenced hardcore, incorporated with weird surf and prog parts, along with radically political lyrics. They made an effort to play in small towns outside of Olympia, spreading their message of radical resistance to kids that have maybe never heard anyone talk about things like gender as a social construct or the exploitation of capitalism before. And in their own town, this is going to sound corny, but I feel like they really brought a sense of unity to the punk scene that I no longer feel since they have broken up. R.I.P. and may Olympia one day have a band as special as Outlook was.

5. MARGY PEPPER – Golden Webs LP
It’s crazy to see how much this band has progressed since their inception. So many catchy melodic melodies that transition beautifully into angsty mid-tempo punk, with deep, heartfelt lyrics. Every song is great in its own way and will be a timeless Olympia gem.

Honorable Mentions:

DREAMDECAY – Raw, visceral, reverb-laden noise rock made by three awesome Seattlites. Keep an eye out for their new LP on Iron Lung sometime this year.
DARTO – Members of Dreamdecay, also really loud and noisey, but a little more melodic and more of a 90’s post-hardcore feel. Really great.
THE CHAIN – Holy shit! Hail Seizures transformed into electric punk and its so god damn amazing! Can’t wait to get my hands on a tape.
CLOUD RAT – Both live and their amazing split LP with Republic of Dreams from Germany!
FALSE – I had never heard of them until they contacted me to help them set up a show, but holy shit, it was worth the risk. Epic, depressive black metal that blew away everyone who witnessed them play back in October at Le Voyeur.
CARRION SPRING – Their highly-anticipated A Short History of Decay LP was finally released on vinyl this year, and it fucking rules. Super solid dudes putting out arguably the best screamo record of 2012.



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