The Best Albums of 2014

Hey there ponx, punx, punks, ballers, dirtbags, freaks, geeks, normies, and subculture photographers. How's it going? No, seriously, how's it going? Leave us a comment or send me an email or Tweet at Nathan or whatever and let us know how you're doing. We hope you've had an incredible Holiday season, and that the new year will be off to an even incredible-er start. (PS-I basically just copy 'n' pasted this from last year but we are genuinely interested in what you've been up to and wish you nothing but the best.) 

This marks the first of our 2014 year-end best-of coverage. In the coming days you can expect best-of lists covering punk/HC, rap/hip-hop, reissues, and cassettes. If you've been around here for a while now you know this is primarily stuff Nathan has written for other outlets that we just re-post here. As well, we'll be tossing in some random odds 'n' ends of notable things from the past 12 months. So please stay tuned for all of that. In the meantime, here's a collective list of our 25 favorite full-length albums from 2014.

Uncle BNB

1. Watery Love – Decorative Feeding (In The Red)
Much like fellow Pennsylvanians Pissed Jeans, Watery Love play loud, heavy punk that's driven by an unsettling vocalist (formerly of Clockcleaner) who screams the type of scathing admonitions that dig their way deep into your brain matter and set up shop. On "Face The Door" Richie Charles repeats the line, "unlike you dickheads, I welcome death" so many times that by the end of the song you're like, "yeah me too!"

2. Run The Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) – Run The Jewels 2 (Mass Appeal)
There's a common misconception that Kim Kardasian and her bare naked cosmetically enhanced buttocks broke the Internet. But that's impossible because the Internet was already broken by Run The Jewels 2. El-P, for all his titled cap buffoonery takes hip-hop very, very seriously. And Killer Mike, well he just goes hard. One of the things that makes Run The Jewels work so well is the personality that that pair have cultivated as a duo. While their music is tough-as-nails hip-hop, their outwardly appearance is a satirical caricature-like ode to a much more dangerous time in rap music.

3. The Murder City Devils – The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again (Murder City Devils)
Off-stage Spencer Moody is a quiet, awkward if not unassuming man. But when he takes center stage for The Murder City Devils he transforms into a rascally, howling maniac. On this album, the Seattle-based band's first full-length since 2000, he's more hoarse-throated and irate than ever before. The White Ghost, in all it's eerie, emotive garage punk glory, is quintessential Murder City Devils.

4. Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron (Top Dawg Ent. / Interscope)
Oxymoron is the first album out of the TDE/Black Hippy camp since good kid, m.A.A.d city catapulted Kendrick Lamar to stardom. And with its arrival, Schoolboy Q has emerged much in the same way: a conflicted individual whose rhyme scheme and subject matter is as varied as his beat selection.

5. Padkarosda – Szabadulásom Művészete (Wake Up And Live)
Hungarian band that plays a ’80s-influenced style of punk. They use vocal effects and dissonant guitars to push the sound beyond the confines of simple genre tags like ‘raw punk’ or ‘hardcore.’ I’m not real familiar with the old Hungarian bands these guys claim to be influenced by but I hear discernible bits of other international hardcore acts in there; like Italy’s Stinky Rats, Finland’s Riistetyt, and Spain’s Glam. This is a cassette-only version for release in the US. It’s really nice packaging, all done in various shades of purple, which really adds to the aura of the music contained therein. The bass is distorted and subbed to death, which I love, while the drumming is both frantic and on point. But it’s the uniquely atmospheric guitar effects at play here that standout as the band’s defining sound.

6. Apollo Brown & Rass Kass – Blasphemy (Mello Music Group)
If you've heard one Apollo Brown loop you've heard them all. And that's a compliment. Dude is so consistent it should be illegal. Paired with D.I.T.C. legend OC and fellow Detroiter Guilty Simpson, he's made some of the best hip-hop in recent memory. This year he teamed up with veteran Cali emcee Rass Kass and the results are no different. Rass Kass been in the game for a minute—with releases dating back to ’96—and is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence thanks to Blasphemy. The synergy between the two is irrefutable; recalling rap history’s most revered deejay & emcee combos.

7. Dark Blue – Pure Reality (Jade Tree)
This Philadelphian trio traverse in the dark-punk/post-punk/gothic style that's risen in popularity in the last few years. John Sharkey III nails the Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldritch harrowing baritone style in a way that will make you forget a band like Interpol ever existed.

So if I understand this right, this dude John moved his family from Philly all the way across the world to Australia where he worked as a night watchman on a college campus. It was cool kinda cool. After two years he moved them back to Philly where he hates his neighborhood and his life, which is not cool. Somewhere in the midst of all of this he wrote this really fabulous album about it.

8. Dilated Peoples – Directors of Photography (Rhymesayers Entertainment)
Continuing the revitalization that began with 2011's Cats & Dogs on through to Lord Steppington, his Step Brothers collaboration with Alchemist earlier this year, Evidence regroups with fellow emcee Rakaa Iriscience and deejay DJ Babu for the first Dilated Peoples album since 2006. The result hearkens back to those early underground backpack days: hard beats, record scratching, and slick dual emcee interplay.

9. White Lung – Deep Fantasy (Domino)
Word is singer Mish Way doesn't like when you compare her band to a certain other now-defunct PNW-based band, which is weird because it's pretty much undeniable and usually meant as a compliment of the highest regard.

If there's one album from this year who's songs I walk around humming even when it's not on it's been this one. This is this Vancouver punk’s third and most spirited album to date. Chock full of anthemic melodies and pulse-manipulating guitar work that sticks with you long after the tone arm has returned to its resting position.

10. Has-Lo & Castle – Live Like You're Dead (Mello Music Group)
Two relatively unknown emcees coming together to create an album that is rooted in boom-bap but has a fair amount of experimental parts interwoven throughout it. Live Like You're Dead recalls Native Tongues legends like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest in a way that sounds unmistakably current.

11. Ex-Cult – Midnight Passenger (Goner)
Like the majority of the bands on this list, this Memphis crew—led by Chris Shaw of Vile Nation on vocals—understand that the best punk is a result of mashing a whole bunch of styles together to create something uniquely original. They take Krautrock, post-punk, psych, anarcho-punk and whole bunch of other stuff and throw it all in a blender. Then they pour it in a turkey baster, jam it in your ear, and force it deep into the recesses of your brain. You’re totally fucked but you feel kind of tough. Like a lanky punk walking down the street in the dead of winter, smoking a cigarette and wearing an open leather jacket with no shirt underneath.

12. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata (Madlib Invazion)
Piñata is straight-up gangster rap. Madlib’s beats, which are culled from old-school soul, funk, and blaxploitation, are the backdrop to Gangsta Gibbs signature misogyny, drug dealing, and pistol play. He’ll give the listener a glimpse of his softer side but he always holds back just enough as to not compromise his rugged ghetto-hardened exterior.

13. Lumpy & The Dumpers – Collection (Space Ritual)
These St. Louis dirtbags have had a prolific couple of years. Thanks to a handful of slimy demos and singles and noteworthy live shows they've caught the attention of purest-of-heart punks and taste-making culture vulture media conglomerates alike.

This LP brings together all of their recorded material to date, including the Total Punk 7", which features the punk song of the year, “Gnats in the Pisser." It's hard for me to continue talking about this band without using the F word multiple times a sentence, so I'll fucking quit right the fuck now.

14. Ratking – So It Goes (HXC / XL)
Ratking is a group of youngsters from NYC made up of rappers Wiki and Hak and producer Sporting Life. They mix an alluring cocktail of post-everything/no-nothing (punk, wave, EDM, graffiti culture, whatever) noise that is strangely and undeniably hip-hop. So It Goes is their debut full-length LP.

15. Boston Strangler – Fire (Boston Strangler)
One of the more anticipated albums of the year that nobody knew about. And by nobody I mean me, until I heard about it on Twitter, at which point I began anticipating it being sold out everywhere.

All the angry, punishing hardcore mosh from Primitive is still intact, but they've expanded their sound  somewhat. These songs are more melodic (think Blood For Blood) and there's even a touch of Oi! in there, which is likely the result of being from the same area as legendary groups like The Bruisers. This is tough guy stuff but not in a shoving-kids-in-lockers-y way.

Good luck finding this one. Maybe sell plasma or something so you can pay collector scum prices on Discogs.

16. Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild – Silk Pyramids (Thrice Great LLC)
Meyhem Lauren, the man responsible for the standout mixtapes Respect the Fly Shit and Mandatory Brunch Meetings, returns with an official album alongside legendary D.I.T.C. beatsmith Buckshot. And as expected from these two New Yorkers the result is straight boom to the bap. Silk Pyramids is the perfect soundtrack for a transit commute through the city, which is a great way to judge a rap record's worth.

17. The Estranged – Self Titled LP (Sabotage)
The Estranged’s members are associated with crusty hardcore acts like Hellshock, From Ashes Rise, Lebenden Toten, and Remains of the Day so it might come as a surprise that they play post-punk, death-rock, and other subgenres that require hyphenated descriptors that sounds textured, un-cold, and, well, fun.

18. Iron Hand – Injected Fear (Safety Meeting)
D-beat hardcore that swims in the Scandinavian / Portland epic crust end of the pool; in the instrumentation at least. The vocals lend it some tough-guy-metal-core vibes, but not in a way that conjures up images of varsity logos, sXe calf tattoos, and Nike Cortez’s. Nike Cortez’s are dope though.

19. Eastlink – Self Titled (In The Red)
Featuring members of Total Control, UV Race and other Melbourne acts, these guys bring fuzzed-out, droning punk weirdness to the forefront and then slather it in laborious riffs and monochromatic dual vocals for maximum LSD brain burn.

20. Creative Adult – Psychic Mess (Run For Cover)
Moody, reverb-heavy post-punk/post-hardcore with flourishes of goth and garage rock. Underneath everything lays a pulsing rhythm that allows them to hop in and out of genres while maintaining a cohesive tone.

21. Nots – We Are Nots (Goner)
I'm kind of sick of the term "weird punk" because punk by nature is supposed to be weird. That being said, Nots is weird punk (i.e., they have a keyboard player). Also, I predict Nots will blow up and become a band that's not supposed to be cool to punks anymore. And oh boy will that ever be a shame for those silly punks.

22. Brain F≠ – Empty Set (Grave Mistake / Sorry State)
Angst-y, bouncy punk rock. Melodic male-female vocal tradeoff gives it a sense of charm that’s hard to ignore. Close your eyes and let the fuzzy basslines, driving drums, and spirited guitar transport you to some damp basement party in 1993. Also, the cocaine guy just showed up.

23. Teledrome – Self Titled (FDH / P.Trash)
How many hardcore bands screaming about “until the day we die” can you take, am I right? When some super ’80s style digi-punk comes along, it gives my eardrums a boner and my actual boner a hard-on. Dark, moody, and synth-heavy one man gig out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

24. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – I'm Your Mind Fuzz (Heavenly / Castle Face / Flightless)
I'm not exactly sure what it is that I like about this so much. Maybe because it reminds me of watching the original Woodstock movie with my dad. Or maybe because it reminds me of driving to Woodstock '94 with my dad. Or maybe because it reminds me of getting really high my freshman year of college and listening to my friend Matt's Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cassettes in the dorms. Especially the one that had the song "Woodstock" on it. I wanna call this hippie shit, or, maybe, hipster shit, but it's not totally either. Kind of like a combo of both but with punk tendencies and awash in psychedelic burnout vibes galore. In short, I'm not at all surprised that this came out on Castle Face. I'm only surprised that I like it.

25. Merchandise / Destruction Unit / Milk Music – USA '13 (540 Records)
A three-way vinyl split commemorating the tour these bands did together back in 2013. Merchandise and Destruction Unit both contribute two songs, while Milk Music goes the extra mile and does three. I think this marks the third release that "Thrashing Into the Unknown" is on. Honestly could do without the Merchandise songs on any other day but they work really well here alongside Destruction Unit's psychedelic sunburn and Milk Music's guitar-for-guitar's-sake Mascis/nu-grunge vibes. Some heavy drone and groove throughout the whole thing here. Listening to this reminds me of reading Nuts! fanzine, however that works.  

So, what do you think? Any glaring omissions?  Are we full of shit?  We want to know. Let's hammer this out, ya'll!  Also, we were serious before; we do really want to know how you're doing. Comment below, Tweet, or email.  Thanks, and Happy New Year!


Scene Report: Run The Jewels, Ratking live at The Fine Line

Run The Jewels, Ratking live; The Fine Line Music Cafe; Minneapolis, MN; 11/20/14
By Nathan G. O'Brien for Scene Point Blank

Earlier this week I attended an artist’s talk/writer’s workshop-type thing here in Minneapolis. Kevin Bowe, who’s toured with Paul Westerberg, recorded as a member of the Replacements, produced the Meat Puppets, and written award winning songs for people that can’t write them themselves, was interviewing Jon Bream, the lead music critic for the Star Tribune. Bream has been writing about music since 1974, so he’s pretty much seen, listened to, written, and read it all.
In a rather leading manner Bowe asked Bream about his approach to writing concert reviews, following up his question by stating, “I don’t want to hear about how many beers the reviewer drank; I want to know if the show was good.”

Bream said that even though he doesn’t write that way, mostly because he works for a daily, that he thinks it’s totally legitimate to interject oneself into the story. “An event review is ultimately about the experience of the person who’s writing about it.” Said Bream. “If the reviewer drank four whiskey Cokes it is likely going to affect their experience. Why choose to ignore that?”

I had six beers tonight.

By the time I arrived at the Fine Line I was already three beers deep. I had a Fat Tire Amber Ale and a Fixed Gear American Red at home prior to leaving. I also had can of Hamm’s which I mainlined in two ginormous chugs in the parking lot behind the venue. Upon entering I stopped to take in the scene for a moment, opened my arms wide, and declared vociferously, “HIP-HOP!” A few people looked at me sideways, and a few others raised their drinks in agreement. It felt good to be out, as up until very recently I’d been sidelined for nearly four months as the result of a ruptured achilles tendon. I quickly made my way to the bar and got myself a Summit Saga IPA.

...Read entire review here, including fancy set list, beer count, and things like that.


Nathan's Zine Review II

Nathan's Zine Review: 99mm, Jerk Store, Throat Culture
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Tuff Gnarl

“You! Hands on the hood! Now!”

That’s Police Officer no. 1. He has just exited his squad car with one hand on his gun and the other pointing a firm finger in my direction. This comes just moments after he had driven said squad car across an opposing lane and up onto the curb directly in front of me where it has screeched to a stop just inches before crushing my legs.

“Sir…whoa…wha…what’s going on?” And then, “Ouch, that hurts!”

That’s me. I have just had my hands cuffed behind me and they are now being aggressively pushed up towards my shoulder blades. He’s pushing well beyond my allowed range of motion and into what I think must surely be ligament-damaging territory.

He asks me what I was doing in the train yards. I reply quickly, “Taking photographs.” But that’s only half of the truth.  ...Read entire article, including zine reviews here.


Get Dead By Living Fanzine OUT NOW~!


Half-size, 20 pages, photocopied, full-color. Graffiti, beer, food, and other shit that kills you.

Only five copies in existence. Get them from Nathan at: @OMG_NOB


The 10 Most Important Things That Happened In The NBA Last Night

The 10 Most Important Thing That Happened In The NBA Last Night
By Nathan G. O'Brien

Hi, my name is Nathan and I’m an Elite Basketball Mind. Notice I didn’t say I have an elite basketball mind. It’s capitalized because it’s an official title. Whether it be playing, watching, coaching my fantasy team, making dope mixtapes for pre-game warmups, or being called upon by my friends to determine the legitimacy of a pair of Jordans or Nikes, I’ve been involved in basketball in some facet for my entire life. Same as with punk rock, rap music, and probably pro-wrestling, I know all there is to know about basketball. I don’t like to brag about it though because that’s not really my style. Plus people tend to get intimidated by my wealth of knowledge which makes conversation, partying, and sexual encounters difficult. Even though I’m in a class with guys like Jalen Rose, Mike Krzysewski, and DeLaSalle Head Coach Dave Thorson, I prefer to maintain a casual, unassuming persona, as to not alienate pretty much everyone around me at any given time. Well enough about me. Here’s the 10 most important things that happened in the NBA last night…
Spike Lee Sat Courtside in Cleveland
Clearly the only thing bigger than Spike’s love of basketball is his bank account. How this guy continually does shit like this is beyond me. I can only assume he goes on Craigslist like,
“Hey, this is Spike Lee. I’ve got hella money. I will give some of it to you in exchange for your courtside seat. I mean I got so much money that it will like, change your life homie. I get that it would be fun for you to be courtside at LBJ’s second first home game in Clevo ever but just think about how comfortable it will be watching it from your couch while you’re sittin’ on a cool mil. Hit me up. One Love, Spike.”

LeBron James and Kevin Love Flexed
The increasingly unlikeable Kevin “Knuckle Pushups” Love threw a dope full-court pass to the mostly still unlikeable LeBron James which resulted in not only an easy two points, but these completely likeable bicep-riffic screen caps that I took with my cell phone.

Mike Miller Had a Hairstyle
Mike Miller continued the longstanding tradition of white NBA players with fucked-up hair understanding that having fucked-up hair is the one way for white NBA players to get any sort of attention whatsoever by coming off the bench looking like Mad Men meets early ‘90s hip-hop.

Jason Smith Made Me Aware That He’s a Thing That Exists
Until he did that little dick move to LeBron where you try to slap the ball away after the whistle has been blown and then acted like he didn’t do anything at all—even going so far as to say to the ref, “I didn’t do anything at all”—I had no idea who this big goof of a white guy was. On top of that he sealed the Cavs loss with a couple free throws. OK, Jason Smith, I see you.

The Cavs Lost
I’m sort of mad at LBJ and chronic weight fluctuation-er Kevin Love for making me cheer against Kyrie Irving. And also for making it way more expensive to go see the Cavs when they come to Minneapolis for their matchup with America’sTeam.

I attempted to see Kyrie play in person two seasons ago but he was hurt. So instead my friend Matt and I kept ourselves entertained by spending the entire game drinking expensive light beers and talking about whether or not that curly-haired white guy on the Cavs bench was Luke Walton. We could have just looked up the roster on our phones but that would’ve ruined the fun. Turns out it was him and holy shit were we ever overjoyed when he checked in to the game.

Although it’s not the same type of 2010 Miami Heat hatred, I am casually rooting against the Cavs now. Sorry Kyrie. It’s not you, it’s me.

Russell Westbrook Channeled His Inner Eddie Murphy
Never mind that Russ fractured is hand last night or that he attempted confront a Clippers fan who was yelling “UCLA” at him. (I mean, come one dude, you did go to UCLA and you were in Los Angeles.) That’s nothing compared to his pre-game arena arrival where he dressed in the most Westbrook-y of outfits. I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to say he’s one vanity scarf and a drunk dad joke away from being Eddie Murphy in Raw.

Evan Fournier Had Hair Potential
Wait, what the fuck year is it? I’d really like to see Evan continue to grow out the top while still shaving the sides and back. You know, go with the full-on ‘90s white guy who listens to alternative music hairstyle. There’s a college freshman who wears Doc Martens and long sleeves under his tee shirts and ties flannels around his waist still in me somewhere that will really love it.

Paul Pierce Wore a Wizards Uniform
This is so fucked up. I could handle him on the Nets last year, mostly because he was still playing with KG and because the Nets unis aren’t that different from the Celtics. But seeing him in the Wizards uni is like having a migraine or seizure or taking a hit off of a nitrous balloon; you have to squint to concentrate and the lights are really bright and there’s a ringing in your ears and then you black out because you can’t breathe.

Jordan Farmar Played for the Clippers
Aside from a couple seasons Jordan Farmar has somehow managed to play his entire career in L.A. He played HS ball at Woodland Hills, went to UCLA and did two stints with the Lakers before landing with the Clippers this season. Farmar comes to Lob City right from the Fakers, much like Matt Barnes did in 2012.  As a certified Lakers Hater and an OG Clipper Flipper I can’t not like this.

If you’ve ever been to a Lakers vs. Clippers game you know that shit’s real. Lakers fans HATE that the Clip Show has taken over L.A. Two years ago I went to the season kickoff game between the two at the Staples Center. The Lakers were the home team, so they had all their shit plastered everywhere, including a giant canvas photo of suspected anal rapist Kobe Bryant hanging up outside the arena. I had my buddy Dan take a picture of me giving it the middle finger before the game and it damn near got me killed. Dan was so scared he didn't want to inside after that.

Zack LaVine Checked Into His First NBA Game
After recording a DNP in America’s Team’s loss to Memphis, Internet dunk sensation Zack LaVine checked into his first NBA game. He only played 4 minutes and 30 seconds, resulting in a stats column that would make Mark Titus proud. But that’s not important. What’s important is that he’s not named J.J. Barea. 

Welcome to America’s Team, Big Zach. As they say in your native Seattle, mass dope!

Honorable Mentions: Kevin Love started going gray; Trey Burke made me interested in the Utah Jazz for the first time in, oh, probably forever; Coran Butler and Mo Williams made me wonder why anyone has ever traded them; and the free League Pass trial brought “Handsome” Chandler Parsons back into my life after a long summer away from each other.

Oh, and this weird thing happened at the end of the Clippers vs. OKC game...

Have a good weekend, you guys.


HDD Radio #24: Reggae Rap Soundclash

Long time no talk, guys. Hope you've all been doing really well. Here's the latest edition of HotDogDayz Radio. In addition to filling us in on what's been going on his life (mostly getting fat) Nathan spins all vinyl sets that includes reggae, dub, dancehall, and deejay-centric hip-hop. Check it out and let us know what you think. Thanks for listening!

Follow Nathan on social media: @OMG_NOB and @nathangobrien

Zine inquires and other stuff can be emailed to BNB at: bnb@hotdgodayz.com

The Clash – Bankrobber/Robber Dub
Burning Spear – Resistance
Dennis Brown – Joy in the Morning
Third World – Ride On
Messenjah – Summer in the Winter
Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers – A Who A Say
Eek-A-Mouse – Treason
Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus – None of Jah Jah Children No Cry
Resident Alien – Pum Pum Master
Sugabear & Silver – Boom Fi Di Red Alert
LF Peee – Who’s on the Turntables?
Semi.Official (I Self Devine & DJ Abilities) – Crime
Eydea & Abilities – The Architect
DJ Godfather – On Da Flex
Cutty Ranks – Living Condition
Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus – Give Love
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Time Will Tell

Subscribe in iTunes here. Direct download here.


Nathan's Zine Review

Nathan's Zine Review: Hug It Out, Tinted Windows, Bacon In The Beans
By Nathan G. O'Brien for Tuff Gnarl

The first zine I ever laid eyes on was one my mother gave me when I was very young. It was an art zine that was filled with collages and spooky line drawings. As I slowly thumbed through the visually mesmerizing pages, I had the same type of hey-I can-do-this realization that’s birthed a million punk bands.

I wrote my first zine in junior high school. My friend and I, both being somewhat artistic—he more than me—and heavy into professional wrestling—me more than him, decided it would be cool to make our own wrestling newsletter. Using standard notebook paper we drew pictures of guys like Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zukhov and wrote small paragraphs about “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan’s debut on WWF Superstars. It lasted all of one issue and nobody saw it except for us but boy did we love it. Fast forward through a few ill-fated attempts over the years to the present day and I am a full-fledged zinester. I read, make, trade, buy, sell and actively seek out zines.

So the purpose of this column will be to shed light on some the zines I’ve acquired.  ...Read entire article, including zine reviews here.