Top Singles of 2021
1. Blawan Woke Up Right Handed 12″
2. Horrendous 3D The Gov. And Corps. Are Using Psycho-Electronic Weaponry To Manipulate You And Me… 7″
3. Sweepsculp Sweepsculp 12″
4. Electric Chair Social Capital 7″
5. Game Legerdemain 12″
6. C.I.A. Débutante Music For Small Rooms 12″
7. Gombeen & Doygen D’Americana / Auto-Lies 12″
8. Tara Clerkin Trio In Spring 12″
9. Bunzinelli Godspeed 12″
10. Fairytale Fairytale 7″
11. Container Creamer 12″
12. The Tubs Names EP 7″
13. Omar S feat. John FM Music For Hot Babes Only! 12″
14. Public Trust Dirt In My Eye 7″
15. Blawan Soft Waahls 12″
16. Al Wootton Maenads 12″
17. Cousin Drumtalk / Toad 7″
18. CZN Luxury Variations 12″
19. TVO Alive! 7″
20. Deck In The Pit In A Lane 10″

Honorable Mention:
Alpha Maid Chuckle 12″
C.I.A. Débutante Pier 7″
Burial Chemz / Dolphinz 12″
Child’s Pose Eyes To The Right 7″
Jürgen Ratan Ringtones 7″

Top Albums of 2020
1. Waste Man One Day It’ll All Be You
2. Monokultur Ormens Väg
3. Sam Gendel Fresh Bread
4. Aaron Dilloway & Lucrecia Dalt Lucy & Aaron
5. Jean-Luc Guionnet & Will Guthrie Electric Rag
6. MMM On The Edge
7. Natural Information Society with Evan Parker Descension (Out Of Our Constrictions)
8. Anne Gillis <<...>>
9. Quarantine Agony
10. Gotou Gotou
11. Lavender Hex Bunch Of Flowers
12. Jana Rush Painful Enlightenment
13. Emily Robb How To Moonwalk
14. The Reds, Pinks & Purples Uncommon Weather
15. Rosali No Medium
16. Decha La Vida Te Busca
17. Eli Keszler Icons
18. Ulla Limitless Frame
19. Yu Su Yellow River Blue
20. GFOTY Femmedorm

Honorable Mention:
Andy Stott Never The Right Time
Goldblum Of Feathers And Bones
Vacant Gardens Obscene
Maxine Funke Seance
M Ax Noi Mach American Evil

Trying my absolute hardest to come through with any sort of positive spin on today’s state of affairs. Was anything good this year at all? In any way? See there I go, I’ve practiced writing this little intro like three times and I still can’t help myself. Anyway, I continue to listen to music all day every day, and it remains a joy even on my crappiest days. Unfortunately, even moreso than last year, it’s quite evident that the current social climate has taken a profound toll on artists, from the logistics (records are drastically more expensive to make and riddled with delays each step of the way) to the emotions involved (no explanation needed). Though YGR is basically a vinyl-only endeavor, I really don’t blame anyone moving away from vinyl records in the coming months and years. It’s costly, particularly in an industry where even our middle-aged population is used to years of enjoying any and all music for free. Never has the “love” been put to a greater test in the phrase “labor of love” than right now when it comes to running an underground label. Still, I sincerely love buying and playing records, I love their little art and purposefully listening to them and giving them my time, and I’m going to keep doing that as long as people I appreciate keep making them.

On a different and more positive note, I figured I should mention that I started a separate Substack newsletter earlier this year for talking about other stuff (how’s that for a sales pitch? “Ooh, he talks about other stuff, this I gotta see!”) called This Not That. Kind of on a hiatus with it right now, but if you haven’t already peeped there are a decent number of entries to check out. And speaking of writing, I should give a quick shout-out to my two favorite newsletters I’ve discovered this year. The first is Snake America by Sam Reiss, and it’s a joyous collision of hardcore, furniture design, weightlifting and vintage clothes. Sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but Reiss puts it all together seamlessly, and does so with a calming sense of care and sharp subtle humor. The other is the Joint Custody Record Freak Newsletter, written by the friendly and knowledgeable staff of the DC record shop Joint Custody. While I’m nauseated by the $499 South Park t-shirts they inexplicably peddle, their weekly newsletter discusses records they’re selling from a deeply personal and loving perspective, and it is always such a good read. Makes me wish I was hanging out with that crew, discussing Cannonball Adderley and Side By Side with equal enthusiasm and nuance. If you like this website I’m almost certain you’ll enjoy both of those. And lastly, while I discuss my favorite releases of the year below, I need to include the brief caveat that my actual favorite “new to me” record of the year is without a doubt Frigate’s Dreams Of The Deep, an ultra-obscure 1977 release recently reissued. I refuse to ever become a Reissue Guy but goodness gracious, the absolutely narcoleptic, barely-hanging-on-by-a-thread grooves they laid down resulted in the perfect soundtrack to my 2021. Highest recommendation!

Blawan Woke Up Right Handed (XL)
Terrible year for everyone else, but a helluva year for Blawan! He started the year with the speedy and playful Make A Goose EP, continued with the dazzling studio tour of Soft Waahls and ended it triumphantly with Woke Up Right Handed. A relaxed (or non-existent) live schedule surely resulted in more time puttering around the home studio, and I’m thankful for it. The five tracks of Woke Up Right Handed are the finest Blawan’s made since the immortal His He She & She EP, exhibiting his particular brand of corrosive crunch, dark humor and a willingness to explore any unconventional combination of sounds and effects. Opener “Blika” sounds like ants crawling over hi-hats paired with a Beau Wanzer-esque monster vocal – a real stunner – and it’s followed by the woozy carnival funk of “Under Belly”, perhaps the highlight of an EP of highlights. If Insane Clown Posse dared to drop some bars on this one, it’d be their biggest hit, of that I am positive. Perhaps closer “No Rabbit No Life” deserves the spotlight, filled with more ear-tickling techno static, a lurching slug of an acid bass-line and the creeping sense that the club is about to cave in. Truly, you’ll have to hear them all.

Waste Man One Day It’ll All Be You (Feel It)
Starting to feel like a Feel It shill, seeing as my favorite album from last year was their Sweeping Promises debut, but it’s not my fault they keep releasing the best punk around! I swear it’s a coincidence. Now I’m putting my eggs in Waste Man’s basket, a group I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else get particularly excited about. What gives? Sometimes punk is perfect, and while I wasn’t expecting that sort of perfection to come from a band called Waste Man (though I’m not surprised such perfection is borne of New Orleans), they came pretty damn close with this full-length debut. At this point, I’m exhausted by punk that relies on irony or costume or some combination of the two, bands who come out of the gate daring you to hate them more than they already clearly hate themselves, or bands whose total lack of effort is worn as a badge of honor, a race to the bottom to see who can use the worst pencil drawing as a cover. Waste Man are the opposite of all that, writing songs with sincerity and fire, but also cynicism and snark and a slight dash of nihilism (as our times demand). And some truly crafty, stunning hooks. They sound like Saccharine Trust covering Rites Of Spring covering Shattered Faith (or Bruce Springsteen performing the American Youth Report compilation), and they do so in a way that feels effortless yet thoughtful. It’s a record that has failed to elicit social-media buzz because its merit is within the songs themselves, not cheap gimmicks built to elicit strong internet-comment engagement. Let’s all get back to that, I beg you.