Koenji, the world and elsewhere


The 50 Best (Western) Punk Songs Ever

I found this old post in the Internet Archives on November 16, 2015. Originally posted March 22, 2009. A lot has changed since then. Grooveshark is no more. Also, after another six years in Japan, I now notice how Western this list is. However, this is not an update to the list – so I won’t be adding any songs by The Stalin, Hi-Standard, GISM or any other worthy Japanese bands. The only change I will make to the old post is adding some YouTube links. And the title of the post.


Three events led to the creation of this list.

Last year, on a hot Tokyo day in September 2009, my laptop screen bid me farewell. It gave up. Our relationship had been a sham for years anyway, almost from the beginning. Anyone who’s had a Toshiba Satellite can probably relate.

I was therefore forced to buy a replacement. But after five tenuous years it really was time to get out there and find something new. Fortunately Toshiba’s hard drive had been insufficient for some time, so I had most of my stuff kept on an external drive. This made the move much easier. And even though my new HP has a lot of space, I still keep most of my stuff on the external drive.

However, one thing I did lose was a large selection of music. Because Toshiba was so weak and pathetic, it preferred to play music off the hard drive. But I still had a lot of that music on my iPhone, so I didn’t worry too much.

I got my new HP and plugged my iPhone into it, planning to sync them up. I then got the pop-up message telling me that Apple hates it customers. In order for me to sync MY iPhone to MY new laptop I would lose all the music on my iPhone. “But my old laptop died,” I told Apple Support. “We don’t care. Fuck you,” was Apple’s response. So, I decided not to sync my iPhone. All my good music was on my iPhone and I had no desire to restock my collection.

Five months later, on a cold Wednesday in February, I lost my iPhone. Somewhere between Koenji Station and Dynamo. The Koban told me 90% of lost items make their way back their owners. I don’t think iPhones are on this list. After 10 days of waiting and hoping, I was once again forced to purchase consumer electronics I already owned. More or less.

I had some music on my external drive by now, and ripped a couple CDs, to get some tunes on the new phone. But the collection was a skeletal shadow of its former self.

Six days later, I got hit with a fever that lasted five days and kept me pretty much bed ridden for the better part of a week. I hadn’t had much time to replenish my digital music collection, so in my more lucid moments I set to downloading all I’d lost. And as I gained strength I gained motivation. I would expand my collection to new levels. I had mostly been searching for old vinyls and CDs I have back in Canada. But days of searching for songs and albums I hadn’t heard in years got me thinking. And as such, a broken laptop, a lost iPhone, and a 39.42C fever resulted in the creation of this list.

This list is obviously not definitive, as no list is. It’s a list of really good songs and that’s about it. Some songs I left off because I didn’t want too many songs from the same band. After all, I could easily make this list with only four bands. But that would be boring, so I decided no band could claim more than two spots. Also, I make no distinction here between punk rock, hardcore, postpunk, protopunk, neopunk, pop punk, or whatever. People who say “that’s not punk” are pretentious douchebags. Who gives a fuck? Although I think anything below falls under the “Punk Umbrella” well enough. I’ve also listed them in chronological order, because #1 is a ridiculous concept, and most of them should come as no surprise.

I’ve added most of these songs to a palylist on Grooveshark. There are still a few I’ve uploaded but am still waiting to get into the system.

  1. 1969 I Wanna Be Your Dog The Stooges (YouTube)
  2. 1975 Politicians in My Eyes Death (YouTube)
  3. 1976 Anarchy in the UK Sex Pistols (YouTube)
  4. 1976 I’m Stranded The Saints (YouTube)
  5. 1977 Chinese Rocks The Heartbreakers (YouTube)
  6. 1977 Orgasm Addict Buzzcocks (YouTube)
  7. 1977 White Riot The Clash
  8. 1977 New Rose The Damned
  9. 1978 I Wanna Be Sedated Ramones
  10. 1978 Do They Owe Us A Living? Crass
  11. 1979 Bloodstains Agent Orange
  12. 1979 London Calling The Clash
  13. 1979 Where Eagles Dare Misfits
  14. 1979 Bomb The Boats And Feed The Fish Forgotten Rebels
  15. 1979 Fuck You Subhumans (Canada)
  16. 1980 Holiday in Cambodia Dead Kennedys
  17. 1980 Jesus (Entering From The Rear) The Feederz
  18. 1980 Police Truck Dead Kennedys
  19. 1980 World War 3 DOA
  20. 1980 Warhead UK Subs
  21. 1981 Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie Black Flag
  22. 1981 Punks Not Dead The Exploited
  23. 1981 Minor Threat Minor Threat
  24. 1982 Pay To Cum Bad Brains
  25. 1982 Moral Majority Circle Jerks
  26. 1982 Religious Wars Subhumans (UK)
  27. 1982 Time Bomb / This is Boston Not LA The Freeze
  28. 1982 Suburban Home Descendents
  29. 1982 Moral Threat Social Distortion
  30. 1982 We’re Only Gonna Die Bad Religion
  31. 1983 Coup d’Etat Circle Jerks
  32. 1983 Institutionalized Suicidal Tendencies
  33. 1984 Cannibal Cafe SNFU
  34. 1984 New Aryans Reagan Youth
  35. 1984 When The Bomb Drops Subhumans (UK)
  36. 1984 Walk Together, Rock Together 7 Seconds
  37. 1985 Salad Days Minor Threat
  38. 1986 Argh Fuck Kill Dayglo Abortions
  39. 1986 I Against I Bad Brains
  40. 1986 One to Two Dag nasty
  41. 1986 The Devil’s Voice SNFU
  42. 1986 Dad Nomeansno
  43. 1989 Start Today Gorilla Biscuits
  44. 1991 Bro Hymn Pennywise
  45. 1992 Welcome To Paradise Green Day
  46. 1994 Inner Logic Bad Religion
  47. 1995 Roots Radicals Rancid
  48. 1996 You’ve Got to Die for the Government Anti-Flag
  49. 1997 Murder The Government NOFX
  50. 2001 Fuck Authority Pennywise

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Why people steal music (and other media). Part Two.

Dear Anything you’ve got in your store I can get on The Pirate Bay for free. And it is a whole lot easier and faster than you make it. So please tell me, why should I pay to go through all your bullshit? – Anonymous

I recently joined Audible after years of hearing it promoted on my favorite podcast, Hardcore History by Dan Carlin. I generally prefer to read books than listen to them, but due to recent events (and the offer of a free download) I decided to give audio books a try. Given that I already had an account, registering with Audible was simple enough. However, right off the bat I was weary. Audible required my credit card information AND after my free one-month trial, if I do not cancel my subscription, I am charged for a full month. On a monthly basis. Until I cancel it. I thought these “opt-out” or “negative option billing” systems were no longer employed by reputable companies. I guess Amazon doesn’t include Audible in its reputation portfolio.

Visa, the BBB, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced they have joined forces to alert consumers to online deceptive marketing practices associated with free trials with a negative option feature. – Silver Planet

Here are your rights and responsibilities (in Canada) concerning Negative Option Billing according to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Negative Option Billing is no less shady than those pop-ups instructing people to “Click Cancel to stay on this page”.

The company also takes every opportunity to remind me that I need to update my credit card information, to the point where it feels like spam.

Undaunted yet cautious, I proceeded – but not before setting a reminder in my phone’s calendar for five days before the cancellation deadline. (NOTE: If a service requires you to set a reminder in your calendar to cancel said service – it’s generally best avoided altogether.) Once my registration was complete it only took me a few minutes to find something I felt I’d enjoy on audio book: “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” by Stephen Colbert. Using one of my two free book credits, “purchasing” the audio book was simple enough. But actually “receiving” the item was another thing altogether.

Seems clear enough

After my purchase was completed I went to “My Library” and clicked on the big orange DOWNLOAD button beside my new audio book. A file downloaded to my PC. It was quick and easy enough and I went to the download folder, double-clicked the file and… nothing. I checked the file size and saw it was too small. There must have been an error so I went to the big orange download button again. I got a new file. Same thing. So I went and took a long, hard look at Audible’s ‘My Library” page. There was an option to choose my preferred audio format, but that wasn’t the problem. i looked around the Audible website for an answer. For a good 30 minutes. And found nothing. So I did a web search and found some forums discussing (or mostly complaining about) Audible. Only there did I discover that I required the Audible Download Manager to actually get my audio book. Nowhere on the Audible site was this clear. There was no pop-up informing me to “Get The Audible Download Manager” when I clicked that big orange button. I was surprised that a company owned by Amazon – one of the pioneers of web-based business and key proponents of The Cloud – would require an install. It took 60 minutes for me to finalize that simple purchase – that would have taken 2 minutes on The Pirate Bay. Or on Amazon for that matter.

So after 60 minutes of aggravation and cursing I finally had my first audio book. I was now ready to enjoy it on my computer, phone or Kindle Fire. With my Kindle firmly plugged into my USB slot and recognized in Windows Explorer, I attempted to sync my Kindle with newly-installed Audible software. (The software, I might add, has a look & feel that looks and feels like it hasn’t been updated since the late-90’s.) Surprisingly, yet less so at this point, the software (by Amazon) did not recognize my hardware (also by Amazon). Eschewing the desktop client, I was in fact able to access my audio book via the pre-installed Audible app on my Kindle. No thanks to this useless software I was forced to install though. I assume the purpose of this Audible software program is to enforce their DRM. The audio books download in “filename.aa” (AudibleAudio) file format and are listened to via the Audible player.

Unable to connect my Kindle (the hardware made by the same company that owns the software), I had very low hopes for success in syncing my Samsung Galaxy S-III with my wonderful new Audible software. I was not prepared, however, for the jump back in time I experienced when selecting “Add New Device”. The UI issues aside, the list did not include any Samsung devices. Although, it did offer to sync with any Palm Handheld, SanDisk or RCA digital players I might have in the bottom of a closet somewhere. Perhaps they should change the wording just a titch to “Add Old Device”.

Once again abandoning this ridiculous, archaic desktop client, I downloaded the Audible player in the Android market directly from my phone. It’s a simple app so there’s not much to critique, although, it does not turn off the way I want. Its icon remains in the notification bar. It won’t even close when I KILL IT with a Task Manager, like every other app does. Only when I use Audible’s prescribed “Quit” button, does the app fully close. Now, a lot of people may not have issue with this, saying “Sure, use the Quit button to quit the app. Makes Sense.” And they are right. But this restrictive and specific way to exit the app exemplifies Audible’s linear, close-minded, customer-defocused way of thinking. It’s the “Have It Our Way” philosophy that Steve Jobs demanded at Apple. And Audible doesn’t make any shiny products to attract customers, so it may not be the best strategy for them.

In a world of pay-per-use, view-on-demand and download-easily-but-illegally-for-free options, Audible offers its customers the amazing flexibility to choose from three different memberships: $14.95/month, $22.95/month, or $149.50/year. This is where they diverge slightly from Apple’s totalitarianism. At least you can get an iTunes account for free and pay only for your purchases. Audible wants to charge its customers money regardless if they use it or not. It’s a paid subscription, like the New York Times, except that you can access and read a lot of the New York Times for free, Audible is much more expensive, and Audible doesn’t actually create anything. Paying 15 bucks a month to Audible is like paying a cover charge to enter a book store. And who would do that?

I have four days left in my “free trial” subscription to Audible. I will, without a doubt, cancel it and never buy anything from Audible. Not that I’m a huge audio book (or ebook) fan anyway. I still prefer the look, feel, and smell of paper and card stock. But I do not understand how the execs at Audible think this is how they are going to remain competitive and relevant. For a purely digital business, they’ve surprisingly got a very brick & mortar mentality.

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Why people steal music (and other media). Part One.

I just bought Bob Mould’s new album Silver Age from (US store), my first solely digital music purchase ever. I had listened to it a few times on Grooveshark and knew I liked it so it was a no-brainer. Especially at five bucks. (Which, incidentally, is what an album should cost.) I bought it through my Amazon US account for a few reasons:

Amazon Cloud Player in Google Play

In Amazon, The Cloud has borders

1. I have a Kindle Fire and it only connects to the US store (thanks Amazon!).
2. The US store has a cloud player where I can keep my music and stream it on my devices.
3. Fuck Apple.

After purchase, it was immediately available for me to download or to stream through the Amazon Cloud Player built into the Amazon site. It was also immediately available in the same ways on my Kindle Fire as its music player has a native cloud player. Brilliant. All very simple, friendly and handy. Until I stepped outside the narrow bounds of digital “ownership”.

My Kindle Fire, of course, was purchased in the US as I Am Canadian and living in Japan. As such, all my digital purchases must be made through my American Amazon account. This requires me to consider currency exchange rates which is naturally something I’d prefer to avoid. But so be it, the banks have got to make money somehow (or everyhow). But that is not what annoyed me here. What pissed me off with this purchase was that when I went to listen to it on my Samsung Galaxy S3 (Japan Edition) I discovered the Amazon Cloud Player is not available for this device. Because… I am in Japan and The Cloud is… not really “the cloud” as perpetuated by all these cloud companies. Granted, it is not a huge hurdle for me to listen to my purchase on my Galaxy. I simply need to download the MP3s of the album and transfer them to my phone. But that is not the point.

The Cloud: Your data. Anyplace. Anytime. (Available with internet connection only. Some restrictions apply, including international boundaries, model of phone, model of PC, model of portable media player, model of economics, model of particle physics, country of purchase, country of residence, bandwidth restrictions, whims of the artist, whims of the capitalist, and/or whims of the pirate. Some charges may be incurred depending on service provider, location, time of day, weather, and genre.)

In a time when Newsweek has just announced that it is shedding it’s dry, paper skin and going purely digital next year, the move from hardcopy to softcopy is but a foregone conclusion for most. After all, dead tree media received its unflattering sobriquet for a reason. However, traditional industry thinkers have been scrambling about for the past 15 years wondering how they are going to charge people for their product if it’s not something tangible you could use to squash a bug. And they think Digital Rights Management (DRM) is the answer. It is not. All DRM does is piss off the people who are paying for their product. If The Pirates had to devise a scheme in which they could convince everyone to eschew paying for content and download their free stuff instead, they could not come up with something better than DRM.

Other content companies could learn something from Comedy Central. While watching The Daily Show (legally, online, for free, in Japan) I was inundated with MTV ads featuring American pop duo Karmin. As I am not a huge fan of such pop music I complained about the annoying ads to a friend of mine. She’d never heard of them before. Later, she searched for them online. Then heard their music. And bought their album. In Japan. Because of an ad from America viewed online in Japan by a Canadian who didn’t even like it.

To be continued in Part Two.