Conan Neutron’s Top Records of 2018

Conan Neutron’s top records of 2018:
1. Tropical Fuck Storm – a Laughing Death in Meatspace (TFS Band)
2. Lung – All the Kings Horses 
3. sewingneedle – User Error
4. Screaming Females– All at Once 
5. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
6. Body Futures– Maybe It’s Just the Weather 
7. Poster Children – Grand Bargain
8. Christian Fitness – Nuance the Musical 
9. Haunted Heads – Everything We Agreed About 
10. TONGUE PARTY – Looking for a Painful Death

Honorable Mentions: 
BLAHA– Survival Climb
The God Eaters – Fading Horizons
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
WORK – Strictly Cruis’n
Mister Dude – Party Tape
The Messthetics – s/t
Dale Crover – Fickle Finger of Fate
(the) Melvins – Pinkus Abortion Technician 
Lung – Bottom of the Barrel 
The Hand – When All Of The Shit Hits All Of The Fans (The Hand Vol. 3 & 4)

I listened to a LOT of records over the year, but these were the ones that that I listened to the most. And at some point, you have to just let the train leave the station.
I’ll put the links below

I’m sure I missed a few, that’s fine. The point is: there’s a ton of amazing music out there. Go listen to it! And I guess, like the show’s FB page if you support this kind of deep dive. 
Note: this is slightly different from the best of 2018 show, which was a team effort and will be a different post

1. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meat Space
Absolutely powerful stuff. Great songs with incredible left turns. Moody, claustrophobic and staggeringly self aware, like a sentient computer raised on Bill Hicks comedy specials, Howard Zinn, Black MIrror and Twin Peaks. I heard this blind, knowing nothing of any other or previous bands and loved it. Maybe you will too? It’s a hell of a ride. Possible record of the year.
RIYL: the pAperchAse, Dead Rider, Leonard Cohen, the Knife

2. Lung – All the King’s Horses
LUNG are back with a new album. You’ll never believe that a band with just Cello, vocals and drums can sound so full. Propulsive, Heavy, tuneful and thoughtful. Incredible lyrics, powerful arrangements and songs that stick with you for long after you stop listening. 

The only problem is they have a very unique sound, which isn’t always rewarded. I need you to trust me when I say that this is WELL worth your time and one of the best records of 2018. 

Bonus: a timely David Bowie cover.

3. sewingneedle – user error
Remarkably acrobatic musicianship paired with gorgeous harmonies. Musically, sewingneedle can hold their own with the fiercest noise rock band, yet there is melody and harmony. What madness is this? Great songs, great repeated listenability. 

RIYL: jawbox, slint, Polvo, Chavez, Shudder to Think, Shiner.
https://sewingneedle.bandcamp.com/album/user-error

4. Screaming FemalesAll At Once
Probably the best Screaming Females record yet… totally rips. A consistently great and hard working live band delivers their go-to record on record, what. 7? Not counting the live one. Incredible. These’s an adventure rock song on here and a song that legit sounds like it could be played as a prom. (I mean that as a compliment.)
As an aside, this is one of the records on my list that was probably most widely heard, yet wasn’t on that many lists. That’s really dumb. It’s great!
RIYL: Dinosaur Jr. Pixies, Silkworm
https://screamingfemales.bandcamp.com/album/all-at-once

5. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
Hello! Do you live under a rock? Yes? Ok! This is the long awaited 4th record by the formerly dead, now living rock quartet HOT SNAKES. It’s fueled by the riffs of John Reis and the vocals of Rick Froberg. A certain magic happens with these two powerhouses together. The music is an inheritor of bands like the Wipers and Crime, while bringing some of the academic polyrhythms/punk-prog of Drive Like Jehu too. It’s exactly what the Doctor ordered.
https://hotsnakes.bandcamp.com/album/jericho-sirens

6. Body Futures – Maybe it’s Just the Weather
B-52s and Shudder To Think superhero team-up, Dismemberment Plan covering the New Pornographers. Whatever! Body Futures play music as unique as their name, it’s catchy it’s angular and it’s absolutely vital. Let’s get down to it boppers. 
https://bodyfutures.bandcamp.com/…/maybe-its-just-the…

7. Poster Children – Grand Bargain
First Poster Children album in years and it’s an absolute corker! Intelligent lyrics, catchy riffs, hooks for days and frantic energy are all on deck. Music for the modern revolution. RIYL: Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Husker Du
https://store.posterchildren.com/album/grand-bargain

https://store.posterchildren.com/album/grand-bargain

8. christian fitness – nuance: the musical 
Nuance makes heavy use of strings and adult arrangements? (not pornography, you understand.). There aren’t any “candle in the wind” style ballads, or any regrettable ska numbers, but after 3 rock-solid, rockers certain to please fans of mclusky and fotl. This one is different, denser, & a little more challenging. Delivered with a smirk of sardonicism and a twinge of dystopian theatrical heights. There’s a lot here, but it keeps me coming back to listen regularly. Fantastic album.
https://christianfitness.bandcamp.com/…/nuance-the-musical

9. Haunted Heads – Everything We Agreed About
Unforgettable hooks, raucous riffs and superior songwriting. In a different time Haunted Heads would be the darlings of the indie rock world. RIYL: Built to Spill (at their least jammy!), Sebadoh (at their most stable) and the Thermals. 
https://hauntedheads.bandcamp.com/…/everything-we…

10. TONGUE PARTY – Looking for a Painful Death
Minneapolis purveyors of the heavy come through with their best effort to date! Bringing forth the boundless energy of KARP along with a mid-period AmRep sensibility, Tongue Party’s brand of relentless touring and hard work has resulted in their most badass and immediate record yet. Learning Curve Records
https://tongueparty.bandcamp.com/…/looking-for-a…

HONORABLE MENTIONS!

HONORABLE MENTION 1: BLAHA – Survival Climb
Mike Blaha of the Blind Shake has a hell ass rock quarter, this is their most raucous to date and it’s sure to please those that like their rock both wiry and engaged. Worthy of a listen to anybody interested in the cross roads of post-punk and garage rock. 
https://nocoastrecordings.bandcamp.com/…/blaha-survival…

HONORABLE MENTION 2: The God Eaters – Fading Horizons
the pride of Marquette Michigan come out with another ep of noise rocky solid rippers! Ferocious, Precocious and that’s my prognosis. RIYL: Minutemen, Vaz, The Big Boys
https://thegodeaters.bandcamp.com/album/fading-horizons

HONORABLE MENTION 3: Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
A fascinating band! Sometimes hardcore, sometimes a bit more noiserock… strong songs and a powerful lady singer. A band to watch!

HONORABLE MENTION 4: WORK – Strictly Cruis’n
WORK are back, w/a tight new slab of some serious rock ‘n roll. (Well, not so serious if you consider the song titles… ) nevertheless, wry wordplay, clever songwriting & an intent to bring the damage w/ rock solid rhythms and hooky leads are on deck. Fans of the Minutemen, Spoon at their brattiest & loudest, Obits, & early ZZ Top can get stoked. This is ROCK music (ROCK, all caps, just like the band name WORK.) coming from a punk place. It’s well worth your time. Gotta gotta get to the show!
https://workmke.bandcamp.com/album/strictly-cruisn

HONORABLE MENTION #5: Mister Dude – Party Tape
WHAM! Mister Dude upside yo’ face. Deep feeling good about bad time jams, with some heavy Octave radness from two of the fellas from Police Teeth. The rock pedigree of SEMINARS, USS Horsewhip, etc. is as notable as the music itself. It’s a fun listen and a damn good ride. Party Tape indeed.
https://misterdude.bandcamp.com/album/party-tape

HONORABLE MENTION #6: The Messthetics – s/t
Killer instrumental goodness with one of the best rhythm sections of all time, Joe Lally and Brendan Canty of fugazi. Guitarist Anthony Pirog may not have the same level of punk rock notoriety, but he more than makes up for it with a level of acrobatic guitar exploration that rivals some of the greats. A great starting position for a worthy and notable new band. RIYL: Nels Cline Singers

HONORABLE MENTION #7: Dale Crover – The Fickle Finger of Fate
He’s not just half of the core of the Mighty Melvins, he’s not just the drum genius who makes things happen with me in Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends, he’s a talented songwriter, guitar player and singer and this is totally and completely worth your time! Cool songs, a little more classic rock than you might expect and worth a listen. Check it out, chocky. Awesome, vibe-y record with hidden hooks. 
https://melvinsofficial.bandcamp.com/…/the-fickle…

HONORABLE MENTION #8: (the) Melvins – Pinkus Abortion Technician. 
Mo’ Melvins! Long may they run, some fun covers and Don’t Forget to Breathe is one of my favorite Melvins songs in years.
https://melvinsofficial.bandcamp.com/…/pinkus-abortion…

HONORABLE MENTION #9: Lung – Bottom of the Barrel
What? Lung again? Yup.
Frenzied and furious Cello, Vocals and Drums badassery. Absolute earworms that comes at you from an aggressive punk/post-punk place but has an incredible sense of melody, hooks and purpose. This is legit plus stuff and I can’t think of a single band they really sound like. Just get it.
it’s technically 2017, but on the 2018 list for a technicality. Whatever! it’s still a great record. 

HONORABLE MENTION #10: The Hand – When All Of The Shit Hits All Of The Fans (The Hand Vol. 3 & 4)
Mysterious, elusive and irresistible, the HAND has done more than any band since the Residents in putting together a band image that forces you to judge them on the merits of the music. It’s quite the feat! However, I will say that this is zak sally, karl tebeest, and dale flattum. Zak played in Low and Enemymine, and Dale played in Steel Pole Bathtub, Milk Cult and Novex. Anyway, that’s a lot of front loading, this is raucous and hooky noiserock that can simultaneously evoke the Birthday Party, the Velvet Underground, the Melvins 

The HAND pull off a very special thing, by making all of their releases very limited edition and HYPER unique, hand made and limited edition. It’s easy to tell that multiple members of the band come from the world of comics, because this is a world to be invited into. 
https://the-hand.bandcamp.com/…/when-all-of-the-shit…

https://gougeawayfl.bandcamp.com/

Protons and Electrons: Atom 6 – Petulant Messiah / Rally – HVAC

Rally, a simple one word name, but a hell of a band. They are both catchy but have some skronk and grind. Michael from Rally has been a NeutronFriends sideman on the guitar numerous times, drummer Dan not only ran Conan and Tony’s old label… but he has sat in with NeutronFriends on drums as well. I’m pretty sure this is their first release, looking forward to many more!

Oh yeah, NeutronFriends side is about messianic figures that turn out to be total jerks. It happens. The badass leads at the end are all NeutronFriends live guitar player Erica Strout of Motherfucker.


Protons and Electrons: Atom 5 – This is the Line / Reptoid – No Human

Protons and Electrons: Atom 5 – This is the Line / Reptoid – No Human

What is there to say about the magificent Reptoid? A sight to behold and the only live act I can think of that sounds like an actual alien invasion. There’s a human that has a passing similarity that has held down the drum position in some live Neutron Friends outings. Said human is a tireless runner of sound and pizza aficionado, but that has nothing to do with the absolutely terrifying alien presence that is the mighty REPTOID. Prepare yourself humans! Prepare yourself.

Oh yeah, our song features the Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander heavily. However, it does not sound like Lardo. Adjust your expectations accordingly.


Protons and Electrons: Atom 4 – Paved Age / Nonagon – Saffir​-​Simpson

Atom 4 of the Protons and Electrons series is now available. The Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends side is a song called “Paved Age”, which is a song that is ostensibly about the founding of the Interstate Highway System.

The other side features the mighty Nonagon, with their song Saffir-Simpson.

Atom 4 of Protons and Electrons features the inimitable of Chicago, a scrappy and joyous noiserock/post-punk trio whose heart and tenacity have been as inspiring as their songs. A particularly blisteringly and badass set in 2014 that reminded me of everything I loved about making music was the clinching factor for putting together what would become Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends. I’m not saying you can blame them DIRECTLY, but… partial blame, sure. -Conan

Like all of the Protons and Electrons series, this is a digital single, paired with a physical 7″ release that is available to mail order. There will be 12 of these in total. As per normal, free to listen to… $2 for a download and you can preorder the limited edition 7″ (only 300 ever!) all at the link. Spread the word around…


Protons and Electrons: Atom 3 – RECANT! / Thoughts Detecting Machines – Alllies

Atom 3 of the Protons and Electrons series is now available to listen and order. As always: Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends is Conan Neutron, Tony Ash and Dale Crover (of (the) Melvins​) providing the A-Side: RECANT! and on the B-side is Mr. Rick Valentin of Thoughts Detecting Machines​ (and Poster Children​… of course) with Alllies.

Like all of the Protons and Electrons series, this is a digital single, paired with a physical 7″ release that is available to mailorder. There will be 12 of these in total.

RECANT! is riff heavy rumination on heresy and the process of heresy becoming fact.

Rick contributes an excellent guitar track to a future Protons and Electrons release, but most importantly he is part of this series because of what Thoughts Detecting Machines is.

A one man band in the sense of being a self-contained live and recording unit, not in the “bass drum strapped to back and cymbals between legs” sort of way, the way Thoughts Detecting Machines operates has been an inspiration to Team Neutron Friends.

Find a way to say “yes” to awesome opportunities, strip things down to their barest essentials and challenge yourself to dig deeper, try something different and let go of familiar anxieties.

In any case, you can listen to it here and you can order the 7″ as well. Thanks!

https://neutronfriends.bandcamp.com/album/protons-and-electrons-atom-3-recant-thoughts-detecting-machines-alllies


Protons and Electrons: Atom 2 – Hate Secretary / Quivers – Master of Dirt

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – Atom 2 is available to listen to and purchase!
Secret Friends is Conan Neutron on guitar and vocals / Tony Ash on bass and Dale Crover of the Melvins on drums. Toshi Kasai engineers and produces. This song trends towards the poppy/hooky side of the band and is called “Hate Secretary”

Atom 2 of 12 in the Protons and Electrons split single series.
Side B is the excellent rock band Quivers from San Francisco, California

“Although nobody in Quivers has yet played in Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends, all members of Quivers have been playing together in some capacity before coming together in this Voltron like formation of excellent rock.

As one continues “in the game”, more and more people fall off or become a soft parody of what they once more. These rockers have doubled down and are doing some of their most interesting work. It’s a delight to have played with these fellas and their irresistible hooks in any permutation over the past 18 or so years, and I look forward to doing so for years to come!”

In any case, check it out. They don’t ship until the 1st… but the SF Secret Friends show will be the 7″ release show as both bands are playing. here it is:

https://neutronfriends.bandcamp.com/album/protons-and-electrons-atom-2-hate-secretary-quivers-master-of-dirt


Protons and Electrons: Atom 1 – Litany of Grievances / Trophy Wives – Tomorrowland

Hello! This is “A Litany of Grievances” the new single from Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends (Me: guitar/Vocals, Tony Ash: Bass, Dale Crover: Drums). This is Atom 1, the first volume of a 12 volume series called “Protons and Electrons”. Each Protons and Electrons volume features a great band on the B-side that either plays in Secret Friends, Records with Secret Friends or has some heavy relevance to how Neutron Friends came to be. In this case the other band is TROPHY WIVES, their first release in quite some time. Trophy Wives features the low end majesty of Mr. Tony Ash. Tony and I were label mates with previous bands and toured on multiple occasions. If I am the brain of the Secret Friends, he is absolutely the heart. It would probably exist without him, but I wouldn’t want it too. As per always the incredible Toshi Kasai is in the producer’s chair on this one, engineering and mixing as well, and in this case Cristy Joy provided some excellent background vocals.

The B-Side song: Trophy Wives – “Tomorrowland” was always a favorite of mine live, and it’s a pleasure to have it associated with this series. It’s an ass kicker.
Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering Company mastered and cut the lacquer.

This 7” is available for immediate purchase at $8 each, each one comes in a limited edition hand screened jacket by Christopher Williams of Plastic Flame Press, shipping later in March.
You can also purchase a digital version through bandcamp or through any of the usual ways one does that (as of later this week).

To say that this is a massive undertaking is an understatement of the highest order. It has been a grueling and involved process that is now just beginning to pay off with the actual release. Take all of the hassles of one release and multiply it by a dozen, and then involve other bands as well… yeah… let’s go ahead and say I have some tales. Yet, this is the way we wanted to present this material to you, as singles… months by months as part of this series.
What you will see is a digital single every month, followed by a physical single of the same song the next one.

If you wish you can purchase a “Friends of the Neutron” subscription and guarantee yourself a copy of each one as well as copies of the entire back catalog digitally, a custom t-shirt and another fun surprise. Either way, this is here for you to listen to now, and that makes us very happy. Spread the word!


Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track

Hello everybody!
There’s a quick and dirty B-Sides collection from Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends available to listen to here:

Perhaps that will be of interest to you?

Next up: Protons and Electrons