November 23, 2012
Josh Vanek’s TOP List of 2012

(Josh holding what looks like a living, breathing creature)

Dr. Vanek needs little introduction if you’re familiar in any way with Missoula’s amorphous underground music scene(s). He’s kicking off our series of Best Of 2012 posts by some handpicked local luminaries. Here he goes:

Josh Vanek does a radio show on KBGA called Josh’s Ultramega Ultrablast ( helps with Total Fest, Missoula’s annual music festival ( and a label called Wantage ( This is his top list for 2012.

Oldest — S/T (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia) Mick Barr from Orthrelm, Krallice etc. and Brooks from Universal Order of Armageddon play mind-fucking technical skree with song names like Survivalist Compounds.

Multicult — Spaces Tangled (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia) Flawless noise rock from Baltimore, with clanky, cold tones and lots of err, post whatever angst. I kept thinking about that Steel Pole Bath Tub side project Milk Cult when I saw their name, but it’s nothing like that.

Slug Guts — Playing In Time With the Deadbeat (Sacred Bones). Sorta Birthday Party worship, done super well by this Brisbane degenerate outfit. Lots of sunken cheeks and scoliosis here.

Diat — 7” (Iron Lung) The Iron Lung and Sleeping Giant Glossalalia labels delivered a ton of excellence this year. Both are diverse, and give hope that the idea of a label, as I grew up knowing it can continue and really thrive. Diat, however, are Australians, living in Berlin, making music that sounds like a faster Warsaw. Good as hell.

Total Control — Henge Beat (Iron Lung) A 2011 release, but I got into it last year, and this ain’t fuckin’ Rolling Stone, bro. This record twisted my cap around. Cold, fast new wave punk from Australia.

Nu Sensae — Sundowning Something I’d read a fair amount on the internet, then Dane got it on the playlist at KBGA. It’s a ripper, in the way western canadians can rip. A little bit of the same vibe I loved with Pygmy Shrews. Savage drummer, great singing, rad riffs. I’m hooked.

Vaz — Chartreuse Bull (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia) This might have been on my 2011 list, or maybe I forgot it, but it did come out in 2011. It gives me hope that there might continue to be good, thoughtful, weird loud music into the future. It’s noisy, mathy, bleak, futuristic and rocking, all in one album. Their best since Demonstrations in Micronesia.

Thee Oh Sees — Putrefiers (In the Red) Another great, and not quite as samey as some of the past ones have been, though I dig it all. Has the dude form Mayyors on the recording end of things.

L.U.N.A.R. Revolt — Mind Losers (No Man) The party punk bros from Philly get sci-fi, and continue to rampage.

Brain Tumors — S/T (Deadbeat): Fuuuuuuuck! Confront of distort! So great.

Gay Witch Abortion — Opportunistic Smokescreen Behavior (Learning Curve) this Minneapolis band is so firmly planted in the 90s, and err, I know that’s kind of the thing to say, but from song tiltles like Cult Chimaera and err Hornet Japonica to their crusty rayon Dickies, they look like a couple of Cows roadies who stepped into a timewarp. This record makes me think of a Rick Simms (from the Didjits) song name generator. This is their third record, and while I like the first two fine, this is the real deal. Lots of thought/time put into these jams. Noise rock gemstone.

Moredecai — 7” (Wantage) This band’s output has got a way of just aging well. Like Bordeaux or something. Always something kind of refreshingly rough and weird about it. I’ve spent a lot of time replaying the Killertree record this year too, and that thing, let me tell you, always something new to like about that thing.

Dead — Idiots (We Empty Rooms) Vinyl’s just arriving in Australia, I guess, but I’ve got the MP3s and they are radical. Noisy, nomeansno-style riffs and great pounding. Stoked to get a full-on vinyl version.

Late discovery: The Consumers (late 70s Phoenix band re-issued by In The Red).


Milk Music: Sounding like the Grateful Dead and Meat Puppets at the VFW, playing to about 15 people after getting written up in the New York Times Total Fest bands: Buildings, White Walls, Criminal Code, Walls, Harkonen, Lozen, Dream Decay, lots of groups. Mordecai: 7” release show at the VFW. They covered Neil Young savagely. Monster w/ 21 Faces, My Two Dads, Mike Watt and the Missing Men, Thee Oh Sees, Skin Flowers at the ZACC Block Party. Magpies (Lots of shows). VTO (Jester’s in Helena). Birds Mile Home opening for Tragedy. Tragedy. Needlecraft (lots of shows). Dan Deacon at Total Fest.

Records I want to get, but haven’t yet:

Kromosom LP
Useless Children LP
Neon Blud LP

August 21, 2012
TFXI Re-t #3 Epic Party

What the hell just happened? Total Fest this year actually meant more to me than it ever has. I might have missed most of the live performances but the TOTAL feeling was more alive than ever. It was a serious weekend of love no matter what I could or couldn’t see. Some dude quipped that Total Fest was three days of hipsters giving a shit about “loud” music for three days of the year. I’d like to counter that Total Fest is just about music. Every genre has good music. Good music straddles genres like air flows over water. It’s inevitable that Total Fest would book bands that aren’t metal, aren’t punk, etc. Good bands are everywhere. Tags are just tiresome, inevitably inaccurate, and annoying. Go fight your battle in the past, anti-hipster-true-metal-guy.

If it makes you feel any better, TRUE NOISE WARRIORS are about as puritanical as your really crazy metal fan. They’re both juvenile and probably insane. Same goes for purists everywhere: garage, punk, you name it.

Saturday was the day I could work, hear some Total Fest bands, and still be required to stand in one spot for at least four hours. It’s a job so hell, I’m not gonna complain about working but dude…Total Fest at the VFW was killer. Did you see Drew (from Brain Tumors) cover himself in temporary tattoos, waltz around, greeting everyone with, “Hello Fellow Punks.” ??? It was fucking amazing. There was talk of them dressing up in Best Buy uniforms at one point but yeah, that didn’t end up happening.

I couldn’t see much else. Thankfully I managed to get off early, change, and head down to the Badlander/Palace complex and catch a little bit of the International Playboys and Bacon & Egg. While it might seem a little surprising I caught a total of six bands at a 45 band festival, I gotta mention that watching live music is only a part of Total Fest that makes it mean anything to me. All the pre-partying, the hanging out, the BBQs, the river(s), the post-partying, and random late-night shows…one continuous three-day-and-night cavalcade of the weird, the DIY, and the awesomeness is what I like to think of when I’m reminiscing about Total Fest.

Even made it to the Lab for an epic show late Saturday night. As is the case, I’m usually the guy that shows up super early. This happened. In fact, I got to the Lab and I was the only one there for some time. No matter, some folks finally showed and we started dancing in the unlit living room to a bunch of 70’s soul and disco. I love doing things like that. Funeral and the Twilight showed up just as the dance was winding down and they set up around us, played a killer set in the dark, and set down. It was around that point in the evening I decided that it was probably time I went home.

I’m not gonna forget this Total Fest. I never forget the Total Fests. This is my third one since moving to Missoula and frankly, it’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve stayed. Be proud of who we are, Missoula.

June 18, 2012
Total Fest XI Update(s)

Did you know that Total Fest XI is happening this summer August 16th-18th? Did you know that? It is, in our estimation, the best music festival in the region. We could really care less for your Sasquatches, Bonnaroos, or LYMEs…TF is what we live for every year. The Total Blog has finally awakened from its 10 month hibernation and updates are popping up nearly every day. Check there often if you’re interested in the weird, the punk, the loud, i.e. the kind of murk Total Fest regularly wallows in.

Here’s the list of bands announced so far:

Abe Coley
Bacon and Egg
The Be Helds
The Best Westerns
Big Eyes
Big Fiction
Brain Tumors
Broken Water
Criminal Code
Dan Deacon
Dikes of Holland
The Funeral and the Twilight
Gay Witch Abortion
Guantanamo Baywatch
Iron Lung
Lecherous Gaze
No-Fi Soul Rebellion
Pins of Light
Rock n Roll Adventure Kids
White Walls

As far as we know, tickets have yet to go on sale but we’ll re-post any pertinent info once they do. Stay tuned, folks! Total Fest XI is gonna be a Total Fucking Blast!