Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Comics/Graphic Novels of 2013 Pt. 2



As I said for Part One (see HERE): I read a lot of comics this year, stuff from all over the history of the form. As a result, I certainly didn't read any significant fraction of the year's new material. Here, comics differ from music, my usual beat; no music critic has covered a significant percentage of 2013's releases but some comic critics probably have. So, this list is by no means a definitive run-down of all the essential sequential art but just a heavily biased look at some good work that arrived this calendar year. My biases are; I'm writer-centric but am drawn to artists with a strong individual style, I'm a Marvel-ite but think Image is on fire of late, I think less of DC but some of the best older stuff I red this year was from DC and Vertigo. Oh, and I like a series with a sense of humour but dark undertones. My final caveat is that I read more trade paperbacks than individual issues, so a few things here may have been published in single-issue form in 2012 but it's TPB came out this year. For more cultural awesomeness (music, comics, film, politics etc.)




11) Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla (Archie Comics)

A shocking idea executed with just the right amount of creepiness due to the perfect teaming of Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla.


10) Something Terrible by Dean Trippe (Web-comic)
A poignant-as-hell comic about child abuse that Trippe needed to write but we also needed to read.


9) Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (Simon and Schuster)
Brosh's web-comic has made the jump to the Big Leagues without losing any of its charm, humour or sadness.


8) Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Not only is this brilliant and beautiful domestic sci-fi story on everyone's Best of the Year list but I'm wary of anybody who'd leave it off theirs!




7) Tales Designed to Thrizzle V. 2 by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics Books)
Back in the eighties we called this strangley smart, randomly obscure and non-sequitur-ious style of cartooning at which Kupperman ex-cels, "college humour" now that that's the name of a run-of-the-mill frat-video site we'll just call it "Thrizzly Humour".


6)  Captain America by Rick Remender, John Romita, Carlos Pacheco (Marvel Comics
It sucks following up a defining run like Ed Brubaker's, a version of the character so definitive that the second Captain America film is already adapting it. So Rick Remender decided, with little fanfare, to banish Cap to an extremely hostile dimension and then gave him a kid to take care of. Instead of getting sappy or unbelievable, it turned the title into the comic book version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.


5) It Came! by Dan Boultwood (Titan Comics)
It's Tim Burton's Ed Wood film, Alan Moore's 1963 comic, every MST3K commentary and that Monty Python sketch where the pilots talk in outrageous WWII slang all mashed together! If you missed this, as many did, do us all a favour and BUY IT NOW!!!


4) Goddamn This War by Tardi and Jean-Pierre Varney (Fantagraphics Books)
A sequel every bit as brutal and every bit as necessary as "It Was a War of the Trenches".


3) Todd the Ugliest Kid on Earth by Ken Kristensen and M.K. Perker (Image Comics)
Heinous and hilarious, satirical and snide, this twisted comic that didn't really hit its demented stride till it became an ongoing series.



2) Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Francesco Francavilla (Marvel Comics)
This is a superhero comic, one part of a massively successful big-budget franchise, done in a lo-fi indie style. It's a futzing great concept and it's executed perfectly, bro.
 

1) March by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)
March threatened to be dry, history but instead it resurrects an era - the end of Jim Crow - in all its beauty and all its ugliness.

Honorable mentions
FF by Matt Fraction, Lee and Mike Allred  (Marvel Comics), Manhattan Projects by Jonathon Hickman (Image Comics), Daredevil* by Mark Waid and Javiar Rodriguez + Daredevil Dark Knights 1-3 (Marvel Comics), Sheltered by Johnnie Christmas and Ed Brisson (Image Comics), Velvet (Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (Image Comics). Also thanks to Peanuts (Boom Studios) and Bongo Comics in general for always giving my kids something to read (even Sergio Aragones!)

* I'm not even into the 2013 part of the series yet but I now it stays good.

 

 WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THESE COMICS?

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE COMICS OF 2013?

WE LIVE AND DIE BY FEEDBACK HERE, SO PLEASE SAY YOUR PIECE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!






Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Comics/Graphic Novels of 2013 Pt. 1



I read a lot of comics this year, stuff from all over the history of the form. As a result, I certainly didn't read any significant fraction of the year's new material. Here, comics differ from music, my usual beat; no music critic has covered a serious percentage of 2013's releases but some comic critics probably have. So, this list is by no means a definitive run-down of all the essential sequential art of 2013 but just a heavily biased look at some of the great work that arrived this calendar year. My biases are; I'm writer-centric but a huge fan of artists with a strong individual style, I'm a Marvel-ite but think Image is on fire of late, I think less of DC but some of the best older stuff I read this year was from DC and Vertigo. Oh, and I like a series with a sense of humour but dark undertones. My final caveat is that I read more trade paperbacks than individual issues, so a few things here may have been published in single-issue form in 2012 but it's TPB came out this year. For more cultural awesomeness (music, comics, film, politics etc.)



20) The Black Beetle by Francesco Francavilla  (Dark Horse)
Francavilla spins an entertaining pulpy yarn but it's the moody, dynamic artwork that really gets under your skin.


19) Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics Books)
Lust's story of sex, travel and poverty is so finely detailed in word and image that the reader becomes completely shifted into her world.


18) Private Eye by Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martín  (Panel Syndicate)
Fucking hell, does Brian K. Vaughan have any bad ideas?  Even his slight adaption of Michael Chabon's The Escapist was loaded with deft flourishes like the jock who just wants to be letterer. This ten-issue digital only series concerns the world of 2076 where after the internet bursts open privacy must be maintained by way of secret identities and it promises to be another Vaughan success.


17) Dial H for Hero by China Miéville and Mateus Santolouco and  (DC Comics)
One we lost in 2013 was Miéville & Santolouco's dark, twisted, funny and deeply bizarre take ("heroes" like Boy Chimney, The Iron Snail, Hole Punch, Captain Lachrymose and Cock-a-Hoop must be seen to be believed!) on the gimmicky Silver Age title "Dial 'H' for Hero".


16) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)

Y'know sex in comics is almost never well-handled; if The Guardian gave out a Bad Sex in Comics Award, they'd be too swamped with awkward nominees to ever declare a winner. So with all the forms' issues with human sexuality, how can Matt Fraction create characters who have the ridiculous ability to have magic orgasms, which they use to rob banks and say ludicrous lines like "Jon..is your dick glowing" and still have it be insightful, relatable and laugh-out-loud funny? God, I don't know but clearly Matt Fraction is one dangerous bastard!


15) Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver (Monkey Brain)
We've seen a lot of faux-Superman stories over time, we've even seen a few faux-Superman stories where the faux-Lex Luthor vanquishes his foe but none have been done with more heart, inventiveness and, yes, wit then Robertson and Culver's Edison Rex.



14) Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
It's a character-driven fantasy story that's light on the exposition and heavy on the satire, kinda like early Cerebus only with four homicidal female leads ("Take that, Dave Sim!"). Rat Queens manages to be both gory (sensitive eyes be doubly-warned) and funny ("Come on! Candy is awesome..." says the blonde, lesbian Smidgen who's packed the rations for the quest).



13)  East of West by Jonathon Hickman Nick Dragotta (Image Comics)
Jonathon Hickman is insane and we are all the beneficiaries of his madness. Whether it's the historical-disemboweling of the scientists involved in The Manhattan Project, imagining a religious war that follows the return of a deity in God is Dead or the sci-fi western about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that is the fucked-up East of West, Hickman and his allies have spent the year delivering the mad goods.


12) The Fifth Beatle by Vivek Tiwary , Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker (Dark Horse)
A landmark work that acts a political statement on the right of people to love whoever they want and an argument for the importance of the men and women who love the music enough to work out of the spotlight. Sure, there are some moments where the dialogue grows awkward (in that way they did in Walk the Line or Ray) but in those moments Robinson and Baker's inspired art carries the story.


11) The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber (Marvel Comics)
Sure a comic done from the villain's point of view has been done before but never with the piercing wit and attention to small detail that Spencer and Lieber bring to this title. If Elmore Leonard had ever written a superhero comic, this would be it!
#10- #1 coming in the New Year




 WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THESE COMICS?

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE COMICS OF 2013?

WE LIVE AND DIE BY FEEDBACK HERE, SO PLEASE SAY YOUR PIECE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

All the Small Things: Top Singles, E.P.'s etc. of 2013


If you missed our Best Albums 
of the Year list, please go HERE!



Our second BotY list covers all the releases too short for that "Best Underappreciated Albums That Rocked 2013" (see HERE). Once again the list is a little punk/pop-punk heavy due to the fact that both genres worship at the altar of brevity plus I'm old and set in my ways. For more musical awesomeness



(All artist name links go directly to a homepage - or some such thing.)

The New Trocaderos - Money Talks/The Kids CD single
Geoff Palmer & Kurt Baker form their own Rockpile!




Jeffrey Lewis &The Rain - WWPRD EP
An ode to Pussy Riot from the New York ant-folk cartoonist/singer-song-writer Jeffrey Lewis.




Teenage Bottlerocket - American Deutsch Bag 7"
A German language original, a fun throwaway HC song and a Tony Sly cover from Wyoming's finest.




The Livids - (Some Of Us Have) Adrenalized Hearts  EP
A return to gunk-rock glory from Eric Davidson, formerly of The New Bomb Turks.



7 Seconds - My Aim Is You/Slogan on a T-Shirt 7"
Who-oah it's a comeback for Kev. & co.




Science Police - You Are Under Arrest In The Future EP
The Name Merry-Go-Round that the members of The Steinways have ridden since the band broke up five years ago (See Skinny Genes as well), makes for some bewilderment but ultimately the ride brings us a shitlot of great lo-fi and low-self-esteem pop-punk.




Bad Religion Christmas Songs EP
Bad Religion have been doing Christmas songs for years in live settings ("KROQ"S Agnostic Christmas") but till they recorded this fierce set of traditionals you had to track down bootlegs to hear them!




Young Rochelles - Cannibal Island E.P
Y'like hearing a juvenile phrase sung repeatedly over chugging guitars with a strategic key change? God, I do.




Anchovy: Get It Wrong EP
Did I mention The Power-Pop?




Barracudas - God Bless the '45 7"
A class of '79 band gets back on the board and 




The #1's S/T E.P.
More Songs About Chocolate and Girls from Ireland!


The Blendours - Here We Go Again split EP
C'mon "I Was a Teenage Drag Queen" is a good song title AND a fun sing-along, a combination at which The Blendours just rock!



The Slow Death - No Heaven EP
If Crimpshrine had moved to Minneapolis to get Paul Westerberg to produce their album of Merle Haggard covers, it might sound like just a bit like The Slow Death.






WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THESE SINGLES/E.P.'S?

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SINGLES/E.P.'S OF 2013?

WE LIVE AND DIE BY FEEDBACK HERE, SO PLEASE SAY YOUR PIECE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!





Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Story Of The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York "



Just watched this amazing BBC documentary on the Pogues & Kirsty McColl's "Fairytale of New York ". Highly recommended for the early (or late) hours of Christmas Day.







Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry R​.​A​.​B.S. XMAS - Vol 8 (Free Download!)



If you missed our Best Albums 
of the Year list, please go HERE!


Whatever your seasonal preferences, enjoy this Christmas-themed collection of artists from the U.S.A, Australia and the U.K. as a free gift from Rock Against Bullshit. Thanks to the way-too-cool Maria from Undecided By Default for her work on this comp.  For more musical awesomeness








Free download HERE


Monday, December 23, 2013

Fifteen Underappreciated Albums That Rocked 2013


The TL;DR version of all previous lists (see HERE) is: indie rock doesn't, so MRML vouches for the under-valued rocking and/or rolling albums of the year, based on our scatter-shot listening experience. Speaking of scatter-shot, there's an above average number of entries that straddle the years but that's just the nature of the fluid times we live in. For more musical awesomeness




All artist name links go directly to a homepage - or some such place - for your further listening pleasure.)



1. M.O.T.O. - Pack Your Troubles In Dreams
Paul Caprino's one man assault on American mediocrity has taken on ever greater force recently. Sure the recording/release date of this album is a bit muddled but whatever their vintage, these songs are timeless, fire-breathing rock n' roll.



2. Dirt Box Disco - People Made of Paper
Attitude-driven British punk rock with both a metallic edge and a pop coating. Early Wildhearts or Troublegum-era Therapy? would be workable points of reference. I heard PMoP and the the late-2012 album Legends this year and both deserve your attention now!




3. The Connection - Let It Rock
If Nick Lowe ever took a pop-punk band under his tutelage,  Portsmouth, NH band The Connection ("garage rock for now people" as they put it) is exactly how they'd sound!




4.  Upset - She's Gone
This new L.A. band, featuring members of Vivian Girls, Best Coast and...Hole [!], got some decent indie-press for the their first K Records meets Lookout! Records retro-riot grrl sound but were soon ignored for more typical indie fare




5. Veronica Falls - Waiting for Something to Happen
Pretty, echoey second album by this British band who sound a lot like what would have happened if a C-86 band had stumbled into The Batcave.




6. Willie Nile - American Ride
The troubadour of New York, Willie Nile, has been putting out fantastic rootsy rock n ' roll albums records for years to wide acclaim but limited fame. I hope that's gonna change one day soon...




7. BarrenceWhitfield & The Savages - Dig Thy Savage Soul
Bostonian Barrence Whitfield has been showing off his explosive garage-rock/R&B amalgam for years but may just have perfected it with this record. 




8. First Base - S/T
As the tags have it; "rock, bubblegum, garage, lo-fi, pop punk, Toronto".





9. Bad Religion - True North
These veteran LA punks have never disappointed (hey, I heard "Into the Unknown ten years after the fact and was surprised at how much better it was than I'd been promised!) in their thirty years+ and this return to No Control era speed-rock kept their streak alive, especially the classic Mr. Brett style-song, "Robin Hood in Reverse".




10. Louise Distras - Dreams From The Factory Floor
Winner of this year's Dylan Was A Punk Award (Cate Blanchett Division), Londoner Louise Distras rocks an acoustic so forcefully that she's the very image of what the offspring of Joan Jett and TV Smith would be!
Sidenote: I first heard of Distras when she followed me on Twitter before unceremoniously dumping me but spite ain't enough to make me ignore this record! 



11. The Crunch - Busy Making Noise
Punk supergroups are justly viewed with suspicion butt this album, dominated by support players, Dave Tregenna of Sham 69 and The Lords of the New Church, Mick Geggus of the Cockney Rejects and Terry Chimes of The Clash is innocent of nostalgia-mongering. Rather the band works in subtly and powerfully in service of the songs by Sulo Karlsson of nineties Swedish rock band, Diamond Dogs.




12. John Moreland - In the Throes
Country album of the year (along with Kasey Musgraves more mainstream but justifiably celebrated, Same Trailer, Different Park) comes from this Oklahoma City singer-songwriter who's punk rock roots keep this album grounded and clear-eyed, as tracks like "Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore" prove.




13. Phil Odgers - The Godforsaken Voyage
Phil Odgers, founding member of The Men They Couldn't Hang" put out a historically and traditionally minded Brit-folk album that doesn't need loud guitars and bashing drums to keep moving.



14. Badger - Stars, Guitars and Motorcars
This rocking power-pop album by Norwegian band, Badger arrived late 2012 and is hence our Anachronism of the Year.
 



15. Undecided by Default - Totally Undecided 
While Holdover of the Year is not a tradition I want to start, this was the year that Undecided by Default's Totally Undecided  physically came out on CD and you should all go listen to this band as they show the fucking hipsters how the rocking is done!!




Fin




WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THESE ALBUMS?

WHAT ARE YOUR UNDERAPPRECIATED ALBUMS THAT ROCKED 2013?

WE LIVE AND DIE BY FEEDBACK HERE, SO PLEASE SAY YOUR PIECE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!

 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Mockers - (There's No War On Christmas) When Christmas Is In Your Heart



Virginia's The Mockers 2012 track "(There's No War On Christmas) When Christmas Is In Your Heart" continue their thirty-year old tradition of power-pop with an attitude (or in their words, "Powerpop with a twist of bitters").





Let us know what you think of this pointed pop song in the COMMENTS SECTION!





Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Very Anchovy Christmas EP



Toronto power-pop-punkers Anchovy (see HERE) have released a spiffy, catchy Christmas single, all proceeds of which will be donated to the Médecins Sans Frontières emergency relief fund. Good times for a good cause!





Let us know what you think of this nifty little EP in the COMMENTS SECTION!





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Comics Rock!



As a kid, I loved rock n' roll and comics with equal abandon. Both were gifts of escape; the comic books came from my older brother, the rock n' roll records were left behind by an American draft-dodger my parents had offered sanctuary. In both cases, I don't remember my first contact; the coloured pages and the black grooves were things I began picking up and exploring long before my permanent memories were formed.

By the earliest and most awkward phase of adolescence, comics and music both dominated my attention; I recall one summer that revolved around my love for both The Doors and The X-Men ("People are strange...").

But girls. As girls went from being bewildering remote creatures, to close but still bewildering creatures comics became a mark of immaturity that I could ill afford to bear. I never stopped reading comics entirely but I poured so much of my obsessive nature into music that there wasn't much left over. When I did visit comic shops, I was often put off by the gimmick-driven garishness of the nineties glut and then again by steroid-and-revenge addled comics of the post-9/11 era.

Things have changed, though. Nowadays, the women who matter to me consider comic books and rock n' roll albums as equally quaint. Rock n' roll, as I love it, is at a low ebb (and I survived the late eighties!) not dead by any means but still short of a few invigorating scenes or sounds. Comics, on the other hand are in a particularly strong phase with Marvel, Image and the always-dependable Fantagraphics putting out a fairly rich array of material. Plus there's the massive trove of material I missed since the eighties ended!

I'm a phase driven man, my obsessions wax and wane, so I think of this as just another of the never-ending shifts in my cultural proclivities. But the comics are back for the long run. So, dear readers, (are there any of you left?) you can expect some comic coverage on here from now till when I pack this blog away. But, worry not the life-ruining power of music will never be neglected here!


Now it's your turn, MRML readers, do you read comics? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section!






Monday, November 18, 2013

Dot Dash: Half-Remembered Dream (2013)



It seems like the members of Dot Dash are in a race to build a mighty discography. In two years the band have released three albums (see here), each possibly better than the one before, that showcase their unusual power-Brit-pop-punk hybrid. At this rate we can exorcise the ghost of their past bands  (Youth Brigade DC, Swervedriver, Modest Proposal, Julie Ocean) and focus on the future, after all as the band reminds us,  "You can't turn back the hands of time!"





While the band is pushing for a larger audience, nothing on their new album, "Half-Remembered Dream", seems like the nostalgia-mongering, 'era-recapturing' men of their age might wallow in. The songs range from pretty, ringing mid-tempo tunes like "(Here's to) The Ghosts of the Past" to absolute rippers like "A Light in the Distance". There's a fiery sense of mission on each of the ten tracks that the band spits out in 29:00 minutes. When Terry Banks sings "I was losing track of time/I was turning water into  brine" while the rest of the band (Bill Crandall, Hunter Bennet and Danny Ingram) thunder behind him, you just know these are men dead set on making up for lost time.


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Toxic Reasons: Nobody Tells Us (1980)



We've had a slew of Toxic Reasons (see HERE) posts, which is all the more Reason to offer up one more Toxic rarity. This 7'' was released in 1990 on Selfless Records, though the recording was done on June 18th, 1980 at Sam's Club in Dayton, Ohio.




What makes this single so fascinating is that it adds so much to the little we know about the early, Ed Pittman-led version of TR (to see Selfless' other early TR rarity go here). Not only do we get two originals never recorded, we also get a Ramones and a Clash cover - a perfect indication of the Anglo-American sound they would develop over the decades to come!





Whatever you do, don't miss the violent, belligerent, yet touching liner notes on the back sleeve (see below)!





A1 Chinese Rocks (Dee Dee Ramone, Richard Hell)

A2 Nobody Tells Us

B1 48 Hours (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones)

B2 Tommy


Let us know what you think of this early TR rarity in the COMMENTS SECTION!


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