It’s the time of the year when most of the online mags seem compelled to give their ‘best of’ lists, often coming as rankings (yuck!). We’re not big fans of zero-one selections that tend to diminish or ignore loads of worthy works of art, but, as all of us, we certainly did experience a bunch of amazing records that had us tapping our toes, wrenching our hearts or wiring our nerves in 2017. In our End Of The Year Lists Series this list, we team up with some of our collaborating labels, who agrred to revisit many of the records and artists they’ve been supporting this year and recommend some additional works that could be dubbed as one of the most significant recordings of this year. The following round #3 is provided by Rhode Island’s DIY label Tor Johnson Records, an amazing venture that celebrated its 15th Anniversary earlier this year and checked in with an insightful interview for IDIOTEQ (GO HERE to check it out).
Run by Paul Dechichio, Providence, Rhode Island based DIY punk/metal label Tor Johnson (est. 2002) is known as home for BLOODPHEASANT, WEAK TEETH, DEATH TO TYRANTS, SAINT JUDE, TYLER DANIEL BEAN, ANEURYSM, LATE BLOOMER, LUNGLUST, RATSTAB, and NOW DENIAL.
Paul commented on the passing year:
This year was full of extreme ups and downs for me personally. It was the 15th year anniversary for the label; we did a special RSD Exclusive release; a huge 15th birthday party show with a new comp; started a benefit shirt series with my print shop Teeth Like Swords Printing & raised over $500 for various charities; in May the apartment building I living in & used as TJRHQ had a fire and left us homeless; and then in Sept we were able to close on a house! its been a wild rollercoaster ride but thankfully it ended quite positively.
… and lifted the veil of secrecy on Tor Johnson’s 2018 releases:
2018 will see the debut LP from Twin Foxes (go here to see more details on that), a one-sided LP from Baton Rouge’s Heavy Mantle, and maybe one more release. we are mostly going to spend the year building out the new home’s basement for the new TJRHQ & concentrating on building new distro and store relationships.
ELDER – Reflections Of A Floating World
I’ve been seeing & playing with this band since the members were all in high school. Its crazy to see their sound progress in such a manner. I’m a sucker for stoner-y metal bands like this. Like Dinosaur Jr but metal instead of indie. The record sounds amazing, looks awesome, and is just a good listen all the way through. I will say, i hate when one side of a record only has one song….but that’s cause i’m lazy.
OPEN CITY – s/t LP
From the second this band got announced, i knew it was going to be awesome. members of Bridge & Tunnel, Ceremony, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, and of course Dan Yemin channeling Torches To Rome?!? and they did not let down. this record is so good, front to back. The power and urgency behind it…really reminds me of what i love about punk & hardcore.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Soul Of A Woman LP
Every single Sharon Jones release is amazing. When she passed, along with Charles Bradley, it felt like the recent soul revitalization was going to come to an end. Daptone Records was able to shine a little light into this time by releasing the final Sharon Jones record that was just recorded. It is such a powerful record on its own, but being posthumous just makes it hold so much more weight.
Open City, Sweet Jesus, Weak Teeth, Hairspray Queen live at Aurora in Providence.
Open City was doing a little tour before their LP dropped. All the bands played on the floor. Everyone killed it, but Open City was just so good. Watching the drummer for the Pharmacists play this type of music was just awesome!
Now Denial, Sneeze, Weak Teeth live at Great Scott, Allston, MA
Now Denial started the same year as the label, so they were also celebrating 15 years….except they haven’t played live in about 5 years. Holy shit it was amazing to see them again. They sounded just as tight as ever. The venue was sold out and full of so many friends we’ve all made throughout the years. It was just high school reunion, but better since you actually like all of these people.
Clutch, Lucero, The Sword live at Lupo’s, Providence
This show was a week after the house burned down. I was listening to Lucero on repeat and just generally being a sad bastard about my life. The Sword was…ok, but i was there for one reason. Seeing Lucero after all this shit was just awesome. It was a weird crowd for them but i was in my own world during their set. I left after they played and saw the guitarist outside. I thanked him for a killer set which was made better when I told him that I hadn’t seen them live since like….05 at a place called Jake’s (which he remembered). Anyway, it made for a very cathartic night.
The Last WEAK TEETH Show live at Aurora in Providence
Damn what a night…. I have more fond memories involving the members of Weak Teeth than almost anyone else. This whole show was good, but Weak Teeth’s set…damn. I stood off to the side mostly behind Jon’s cab. I love this spot to see a band. You get to see them completely with no one in the way, but more importantly, you get to watch the crowd reactions. It was amazing watching them tear through almost every song and watch so many people scream along, cry along, and just really feel what was happening. It was another very very cathartic night.
The TJR 15th Anniversary Pre-Show & Show
So we did a little “secret” pre-show at the print shop with Twin Foxes, Late Bloomer, and our friends Darklands. It was so much fun. We BBQed on the back porch. It really set the tone for the weekend. This is a party, this is a celebration. The main show was so amazing. Revival Beer made an exclusive variant on one of their beers, I made stupid limited shirts with various logo homages for each band (a Converge rip for Lunglust, Nirvana for Aneurysm, Bongzilla for Now Denial, etc). the show was amazing. aAl the band killed it and it was just great celebrate with everyone.
Pg.99, Majority Rule, Kindling live at Great Scott, Allston, MA
Holy shit. I saw pg99 a couple times at some VFWs in the early 00’s. They were a band that always hit me as a perfect live band. They could control the emotions of a crowd so well. Seeing them again just confirmed it. They were still so full of emotion as they were when they started. The major thing that hit me was that this didn’t feel at all like some sort of cash-grab reunion (even more nailed down by the fact each show on the tour was a benefit!!). And Majority Rule… oh my god!! I never saw them when they were active and fuck did i miss out. They destroyed everything. I actually feel bad for pg99 for needing to follow that (but they killed it too, so it worked).