February is the month when everyone posts their year-end lists, right? I guess not, but "better late than never" is one of our mottoes here at Sorry State. Before I get to my own list, though, I thought I'd have a bit of fun poking around Sorry State's sales records for 2018 so you could know how SSR's customers voted with their dollars this past year.
All Things to All People Vol. 29: Best of 2018
We'll start with an obvious one: here are the 10 best-selling releases of 2018 at Sorry State. These are dominated by releases on our own label, which makes sense given that we're the best and cheapest place to get those. I'm shocked to see Libyans' Expired Language LP so high on the list. That's one of the worst-selling releases in SSR, mostly because the band broke up pretty much right when it was released. We had so many copies hanging around the warehouse that I practically gave them away through most of 2019, but hopefully a bunch of people listened to that record because I still think it's great.
1. ISS: S/T 7" (Sorry State)
2. The Number Ones: Another Side of the Number Ones 7" (Sorry State)
3. Libyans: Expired Language 12" (Sorry State)
4. Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: S/T 12" (Toxic State)
5. Rixe: 3 Titres promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
6. Totalitär: 1986-1989 12" (Skrammel)
7. No Love: Choke On It 12" (Sorry State)
8. Christian Club: Final Confession 7" (Sorry State)
9. Kaleidoscope: 2017 7" (D4MT Labs)
10. Ruleta Rusa: Viviendo Una Maldicion 12" (Sorry State)
Next up we have the five most popular labels, based on sales at SSR in 2018. Not too many surprises here.
1. La Vida Es Un Mus
2. Drunken Sailor Records
3. Toxic State Records
4. Iron Lung Records
5. Lumpy Records
This isn't very punk, but I'll post it anyway. These are the top-selling used records at Sorry State for 2018. Of course the items on this list are at least as reflective as what is available on the used market as it is of what people want. I'm sure that if we had 100 used copies of Rudimentary Peni's first EP that would top the list. But, by the same token, I'm sure we could have sold five times as many copies of Dark Side of the Moon and Rumours if we had them too.
1. The Police: Synchronicity
2. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
3. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
4. The Who: Who's Next
5. Billy Joel: The Stranger
Here's a list of the top-selling reissues of 2018 at SSR:
1. Totalitär: 1986-1989 12" (Skrammel)
2. The Execute: S.L.A.S.H. (Euro Import)
3. Ghoul: Night Out 12" (Euro Import)
4. The Child Molesters: I'm the Hillside Strangler 7" (Meathouse)
5. Various: Why Are We Here? 7" (Schoolkids)
And the top-selling cassette releases of 2018:
1. Rixe: 3 Titres promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
2. Impalers: Beat Seassions cassette (Shout Recordings)
3. Judy & the Jerks: Roll on Summer Holidays cassette (Earth Girl)
4. Various: Greek Punk '82-'91 cassette (Euro Import)
5. Vittna: 2 Songs + Live at the Hive cassette (Bunker Punks)
And finally, since we love international punk so much here at Sorry State, here are 2018's top-selling releases by bands from outside North America:
1. The Number Ones: Another Side of the Number Ones 7" (Sorry State)
2. Rixe: 3 Titres promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
3. Shipwrecked: We Are the Sword 12" (Foreign Legion)
4. Rata Negra: Justicia Cosmica 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
5. Snob: S/T 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Now on to the meat of this thing! The following are my 10 favorite releases of 2018. They are presented alphabetically rather than in order of quality. If my descriptions seem a little more terse than usual, that's because this was originally written for publication in MRR's Best of 2018 issue. Given that trees were dying for this, I thought I'd keep things brief. While most of these releases are long since sold out, I've included streaming links for everything in case you missed it the first time around. Note also that this list excludes reissues, Sorry State releases, and major label distributed releases (otherwise I might have tried to squeeze Hot Snakes' Jericho Sirens on there). Here goes:
BB & THE BLIPS: “Shame Job” LP (Thrilling Living)
Thrilling Living Records has been a staple of my year-end lists ever since they started. You should get everything they release, but if I had to pick one from 2018 this LP from Australia’s BB & THE BLIPS would be my choice. Incisive, insightful lyrics, a through-the-roof energy level, perfectly raw production, and hooks for days… this record has it all.
BLOOD PRESSURE: “Surrounded” LP (Beach Impediment)
Pittsburgh’s BLOOD PRESSURE follow up their first LP with an even more powerful statement. A little less frantic than their debut, “Surrounded” sacrifices a touch of speed but gains a lot more power. If you like being steamrolled by your hardcore records, this is probably your favorite record of 2018.
DARK THOUGHTS: At Work LP (Stupid Bag)
Philly’s DARK THOUGHTS are the melodic punk band that it’s OK for people into hardcore to like. That’s not just because they wear cooler band t-shirts than most pop-punk bands (though they do), but rather because they have everything that’s great about RAMONES-based pop-punk and none of the corniness that made a lot of us grow out of that scene.
DEADLOCK: S/T 7” (Painkiller)
This transatlantic project record featuring members of VIOLENT REACTION, ARMS RACE, and NO TOLERANCE came and went without a lot of fanfare, but it’s a sleeper hit. Packing nine tracks onto a 7” with spot-on, Don Zientara circa 1981 production, this one is highly recommended for the 80s USHC purist.
HOLOGRAM: S/T 7” (Hysteria)
I love hardcore bands that experiment with different sounds and textures than your typical guitar / bass / drums / vocals setup, and I also love loose and wild-sounding 80s Italian hardcore. HOLOGRAM combines both of those things on this record and it’s one of the most exciting and forward-thinking things I heard this year.
IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO: S/T LP (Static Shock)
Speaking of 80s Italian hardcore, Germany’s IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO is certainly rooted in that sound. However, in addition to the wildness and dissonance that comes from bands like WRETCHED, NEGAZIONE, and CCM, IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO’s ability to get deep in the pocket is rivaled only by contemporary bands like S.H.I.T., BLAZING EYE, and IMPALERS.
KALEIDOSCOPE: “2017” 7” (Feel It)
KALEIDOSCOPE has been one of the most exciting bands in punk since they started, but their latest EP is their best stuff yet. We already knew they were a great hardcore band, but who knew they could write a Krautrock-influenced dance floor banger like “Scorched Earth,” which might be my single favorite track of 2018?
PERSONALITY CULT: S/T LP (Drunken Sailor)
North Carolina’s PERSONALITY CULT sounds like the BUZZCOCKS with a dash of TUBEWAY ARMY. Those aren’t comparisons to be thrown around lightly, but the songwriting and performances on their debut record warrant them. Like DARK THOUGHTS, PERSONALITY CULT prove that it’s still possible to make great melodic punk in 2018.
PUBLIC ACID: “Easy Weapons” LP (self-released)
Like HOLOGRAM, PUBLIC ACID sound both savage and progressive. The drums come from the no-flash school of early POISON IDEA, but the wild, G.I.S.M.-esque riffs, frightening vocals, impressionistic lyrics, and fuzz and noise-drenched production all contribute to a uniquely sinister atmosphere.
WARM BODIES: S/T LP (Lumpy)
One of punk’s guiding principles is that technical proficiency isn’t necessary to create powerful music. However, WARM BODIES prove that being really good at your instrument doesn’t disqualify you from making great punk either. This LP is a total shred fest, but it’s also one of the wildest and most energetic records I’ve ever heard.
Because ten is never enough, here's some honorable mentions. These are all things that I liked a lot, but not quite as much as the stuff above. On any given day most of these could have easily been in the top 10:
Bad Breeding: Abandonment LP
Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens LP
Rubble: S/T LP
Itchy Bugger: Done One LP
Lithics: Photograph, You of 7”
Gen Pop: II 7”
The Dark: Demons 7”
SBSM: Leave Your Body 7”
Scythe: S/T 7”
Warthog: 4th 7”
Erik Nervous: Nervoloid 7”
The Cool Greenhouse: London 7”
Civic: Those Who No 7”
Cruelty Bomb: demo cassette
Ammo: demo cassette
I rarely brag about my used / collectible record buys online, so I'll finish this post by bragging about some of the coolest collectible records I acquired in 2018. In no particular order:
Poison Idea: Kings of Punk LP (Portland edition with all inserts)
Anti-Cimex: Victims of a Bombraid 7" (1st press)
The Fall: Marquis Cha-Cha 7" (the hardest to get Fall record from their early period and the last one I needed to complete my collection... thanks Ellis!)
Negazione: Tutti Pazzi 7"
Various: Yes LA 12"
Crude SS: Who'll Survive 7"
Sin 34: Die Laughing 7"
J.A. Caesar: Kokkyou Junreika 12" (an original will set you back a few grand, but I managed to find a really nice early 00s Japanese repress)
Possessed: Seven Churches 12" 1st press (for $5!)
Bathory: The Return 12" original US press (for $25!)
Can: Monster Movie 12" (2nd German pressing)
Faust: The Faust Tapes 12" (1st UK pressing)
I'd love the following to appear on my list of favorite acquisitions of 2019, so if you're holding please get in touch:
Amon Düül II: Yeti LP (70s German pressing)
Government Issue: Legless Bull 7"
Aburadako: first 12"
Chicken Bowels: S/T 7"
Faust: So Far LP (70s pressing)