4. Chewy Cannon – ‘Palasonic’

December 28, 2017

It takes balls to soundtrack your video part to a bouncy PM Dawn song, and more so when you’re not even the first to use it. Chewy Cannon ricochets into Palace’s inaugural full-length with caution to the wind, as is his custom, but beyond the expected staccato wallie 180s, nollie 360s and switch frontside boardslides, he went in after a few years of relatively rote output. Shit like the backside 50-50 hop-up to another backside 50-50 and the fakie backside 50-50 to switch manual could be yanked from many of-the-moment videos, though probably not with such panache — the switch backside nosegrind at South Bank should be hung in a museum — but Chewy Cannon digs deeper this time out, pulling out stunts like the switch backside noseblunt and repeated spaghetti-man spins on the frontside noseslide, dredging up some of the gully tech he plied in the Blueprint days.


5. Oskar Rozenberg – ‘Elite Squad’

December 27, 2017

Yung ‘Oski’ came as the transition-frying secret weapon last year in Polar’s ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind,’ and his capacity to brutalize ramps and bowls and lesser beings in general only grew this year as he took his all-the-way-up approach to the European contest circuit, the Brooklyn Banks, China and various points in between. In return for a monochromatic sneaker with a semi see-thru sole, Oksar Rozenberg gave to Nike nearly five minutes of high-definition heaters, careening off walls, backside 180ing out of frontside smith grinds, impossibly charging a high bar out of vert, and doing doubles with Hjalte Halberg. That reservoir kickflip is perfect in every way.

6. Dylan Sourbeer – ‘Sabotage 5’

December 26, 2017

Putting up two parts for each of the last two ‘Sabotage’ releases, and several before that, Dylan Sourbeer has maybe drawn more tricks out of Love Park’s now-mothballed granite blocks than anybody else, and their consistent quality gives hope for seasons to come across the way at Philadelphia’s Municipal plaza. It was already happening as Ryan Higgins and Brian Panebianco made ‘Sabotage 5,’ with Dylan Sourbeer’s ample footage largely split between Love, Muni and deconstructed Love — backside noseblunting the entire Muni bench easily ranks up there with his backside nosegrind flip out on the long out-ledge at Love, and his two-hitter line on the benches with the shirt in hand will be remembered long after our computer systems gain sentience and begin optimizing efficiency by minimizing human involvement and interference. The lines and tricks seem to pour out of this dude and you could watch it all day. Perhaps in some fashion, forcing these dudes out of Love Park will wind up opening another new Philly chapter.

7. Mike Arnold – ‘Lloyds’

December 25, 2017

Like a console savant whose muscle memory and Mountain Dew intake fuse to create an equilibrium capable of mastering a video game down to each pixel, so did erstwhile Skateboard Cafe-goer Mike Arnold sing a poem of knowledge and devotion to Bristol’s Lloyds Amphitheatre, a waterfall of blocks and stairs that functions like a Rubik’s Cube in Mike Arnold’s scabby hands. Lloyds offers comparatively less to work with than some others in a recent spate of one-spot parts, but Mike Arnold puts his imagination to work, screeching and switch kickflip 360ing across steps, clamoring straight up the blocks both regular and switch, banging on trash cans (that wallie ender) and at least once, heaving himself into the drink.

8. Cole Wilson – ‘Oddity’

December 24, 2017

A new crop of handrail jockeys is busily refining what this fall’s podcast braintrust termed a ‘calculated’ approach to locking onto angled bars, producing monstrosities such as Riley Hawk’s Shep Dawgs curvatures and Jamie Foy’s much-discussed 50-50 body varial 50-50. In terms of sheer risk tolerance and poor judgment, few can match Ketucky’s Cole Wilson, who in this year’s Foundation vid — one of those unfortunate and increasingly common cases of a worthy full-length picked up and discarded days later — seemed to purposely pick the hairiest and hoariest rails on offer across the American underbelly. Many of his tricks defy comprehension and good sense, justifying double and sometimes triple angles as he grinds up and through multiple kinks, nosegrinds down some more, and straps in for a maximum-turbulence ride down some particularly poorly maintained iron toward the end. Cole Wilson also pushes forward the handrail 50-50 gap to 50-50, which once eluded Powell Peralta gap-tamer Frankie Hill, boated by Silas Baxter Neal in Transworld’s Perpetual Motion, bringing it to a couple round bars.

9. John Shanahan – ‘Mean Streets’

December 23, 2017

Half the fun in John Shanahan’s increasingly sick video parts is analyzing, placing and appreciating the attention to detail in his sometimes fairly ludicrous outfits, which show an hands-onness maybe not seen since Ali Boulala, Jim Greco and Dustin Dollin were trolling thrift stores for vintage leathers. John Shanahan’s curatorial efforts extend to his tricks and spots too, constructing something greater than the sum of several very good parts over the last couple years. He’s polished his 360 flip over the can, of course, and his backside nosegrind pop-outs and switch k-grinds, but in his VX part for LurkNYC he puts himself out there a little but more with a straight-up hubba noseslide, goes big out of a bank and shows some deference to post-2000 trend gyrations when he hippy jumps away from an otherwise textbook noseblunt.

10. Joey Guevara – ‘Pyramid of the Sun’

December 22, 2017

‘Right to Exist’ was last year the title of a Santa Cruz video, amusingly suggesting a chip on the shoulder of a decades-deep stalwart once more having to assert itself amid a barrage of smaller, hipper upstarts. The title could just as easily apply to Alien Workshop, whose untimely implosion beneath overleveraged corporate bloat and fairly rapid resurrection — sans prior teamriders — brought on any number of reprisals and bad feeling. Three years down the line, it feels like Mike Hill has reestablished a footing with Yaje Popson, Frankie Spears, Brandon Nguyen and Joey Guevara — this last with the velvet-soled feet and affinity for Detroit’s crumbling foundations. His going-pro part this year, which could’ve been ported straight out of ‘Inhabitants,’ trades in mainly basic ingredients that Joey Guevara can craft into uncommonly satisfying-to-watch tricks — the frontside tailslide shove-it, the nollie backside 180, the fakie shove-it. It’s maybe a little bit long but gets over on the little touches, like the quick switch 180 up the step and the mild surf action following the bar-hop backside 180.

20 Years of Ty Evans’ Musical Supervision Genius, Which Also Has Included MuskaBeatz

December 17, 2017

Ty Evans has a sprawling new skate Film and this week sat for a similarly sprawling interview with the Nine Club, which helicoptered among his many career high points as well as satellite dish fetishization vehicle ‘Transmission 7.’ In it, Ty Evans discussed at some length his enduring and roundly criticized love for ‘electro’ and ‘drum-and-bass’ music, an unfortunate fondness that brought him closer to the Muska yet banished permanently some otherwise sterling video parts to the mute button or remix treatment.

Across a towering catalog spanning more than two decades, many of Ty Evans’ musical missteps are immediately apparent: the teeth-aching tweeness of ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,’ for instance, or an out-of-tune indie rock band jangling their way through a Schoolboy Q number. Also, Moby. But these barrel-swimmers obscure rarer and more precious fish, such as the mysterious coelacanth, which are Ty Evans’ sporadic yet undeniable feats of music-supervision genius, deserving recognition as we gird for another techno-slathered opus.

‘Genesis’ – Stereolab, ‘Three-Dee Melodie’ (Richard Angelides)
After learning the ropes of basic video construction making Planet Earth’s ‘Silver,’ Ty Evans stepped out on Rhythm’s excellent ‘Genesis,’ turning up to the Chemical Brothers’ block-rockin’ beats and introducing an MTV-esque hyperactive editing style. But he also indulged a partiality toward atmopheric indie rock that played well off Richard Angelides’ spindly tech, for a sort of soothing/reassuring stoke that stands up two decades on.

‘The Reason’ – Fugazi, ‘Smallpox Champion’ (Matt Mumford)
Fugazi stands alongside Dinosaur Jr, the Rolling Stones, Public Enemy and Gang Starr as a skate video staple, and 1999’s TWS entry exposed a rapidly growing skate video audience to ‘Smallpox Champion’ for Matt Mumford’s El Toro-taming curtains-closer. At a time when Ty Evans’ deepening technophilia already was testing the patience of VCR owners worlwide, he was not prepared to abandon a standby that had earlier soundtracked Arto Saari’s ‘Feedback’ part and several in ‘Silver.’

‘Modus Operandi’ – MuskaBeatz, ‘Master B’ (Brian Anderson)
Ty Evans’ resume shows an affinity for nurturing and promoting young up-and-comers through his Films, a generosity of spirit that also extended to electrical techno music. In addition to Atiba’s credits-scoring bleepers of the early aughts, Ty Evans also prominently featured several MuskaBeatz productions, a bold move that helped to document a singular and surely weird era in skating that, despite revivalists’ best efforts, never will be replicated.

‘Yeah Right’ – David Bowie, ‘Fame’ (Chocolate montage)
With Ty Evans behind the lenses and handrails much in front of them, Girl’s ‘Yeah Right’ may as well have come from a different planet than the soulful schoolyard lines of ‘Mouse’ and ‘Paco,’ but David Bowie’s lightly psychadelic funk stroller would’ve slotted in seamlessly alongside Herbie Hancock, Cymande and Bob James.

‘Hot Chocolate’ – Andre Nickatina, ‘Ayo for Yayo’ (Mike York)
As Alien Workshop has produced Dinosaur Jr pro models, and Zorlac Metallica ones prior to the Gulf War, so should Crailtap have bestowed a pro model on the onetime Dre Dog. Here, Ty Evans nods to both Mike York’s Bay heritage as well as Andre Nickatina’s prior inclusion in a Chocolate vid, while further setting the stage for some other inspiring audio songs about selling cocaine in future videos.

‘Fully Flared’ – Mannie Fresh, ‘Real Big’ (French Connection)
Lakai’s landmark 2007 full-length is generally and correctly regarded as the peak of the Crailtap/Ty Evans partnership, and song-for-song is probably the strongest in terms of musical accompaniments earning his blessing. This urgent, shouty Mannie Fresh anthem, a sort of primal materialistic scream from within a sumptuously appointed mansion, stands as the best song in any Ty Evans-helmed Film to date; paired off Lucas Puig’s luxury-brand tech, it makes a strong argument for the greatest song in any video ever. Hearing it gives one the sense something important is happening, and the repeated, blaring synthesizer line at the end is one instance where Ty Evans’ careerlong overindulgence in slow-motion makes perfect sense.

‘Fully Flared’ – Tear Da Club Up Thugs, ‘Triple 6 Clubhouse’ (Mike Carroll)
On this week’s ‘The Bunt,’ Alex Olson recalled — with some disappointment as a fellow techno devotee — Ty Evans’ rap fixation during this period, including a taste for Three 6 Mafia’s classic flip on the chipmunk soul era, ‘Stay Fly.’ Mike Carroll’s Lakai section, which remains a career top three, wisely avoids such an on-the-nose pick and breaks for the more menacing ‘Triple 6 Clubhouse.’ Built around an erudite theme about killing people, the song includes enough cinematic transition to appeal to Ty Evans’ dramatic leanings, and the hardheadedness required to get viewers through the mewly Band of Horses sounds to come.

‘Pretty Sweet’ – Beastie Boys, ‘Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun’ (Alex Olson/Mike Carroll/Brian Anderson)
This combo Girl/Chocolate Film was pitched partly as a transitional feature focused on Crailtap’s newer generation, such as the Trunk Boyz, with many veterans relegated to shared parts. Orienting one of those around Alex Olson was sensible, since he comes off as sort of an old soul, making it worthwhile to throw back via the Beastie Boys, who soundtracked a seminal MC part in ‘Questionable’ and got money with Spike Jonez on several nonconsecutive occasions throughout the 1990s.

Was Jamie Foy’s Yellow-Shirted SOTY Surprise an Implicit Rebuke Of Overt Trophy Hunting or Gasoline for More?

December 11, 2017

In an age where fortunes are made and dashed again with the fateful tapping of a touchscreen or a practiced turn before the correct lens, does anything remain inevitable? The SOTY campaign, one of Thrasher’s sturdiest tentpoles in a domination of new media forms that other, older publications could learn from, is proving increasingly tough to pin down as potentate pros’ lust for the Rusty statue tilts video releases toward a year-end glut and dudes go all in with bones and ligaments as autumn shrivels the leaves to warmful tones.

Throughout much of 2017, a heavy whiff of inevitability trailed yung Louie Lopez, once derided among Flip 3.0’s crop of hard-to-watch tween pickups, now a fully formed ATV testing the limits of his considerable powers in all the correct venues. Even before his Spitfire part hit, rumblings could be sensed that this was Louie Lopez’s year (or major sponsors believed so), a concept that seemed more and more certain as he ripped the SPoT to pieces en route to first place, joined Jake Phelps and co. in a cobranded Thrasher and Spitfire trip, and bounded up and across massive walls and onto the mag’s cover*. Hash tags endorsing his candidacy piled up and in recent weeks, following his searing ‘West End’ part, he was positioned as an Arto Saari heir apparent, while an interviewer wondered about a post-SOTY life for Louie Lopez.

What happened? With a meaty thud, much is swept aside by a buzzer-beating trip down a double-digit sized stair set, same as the multi-kink hulk that Kyle Walker conquered to gazump Evan Smith last year. Fate opened a lane for Fred Gall-shaped Floridian Jamie Foy this year, dispening tickets to Thrasher’s KOTR and Am Scramble trips, and Jamie Foy pushed the pedal all the way down. It is difficult to remember or indeed, imagine a faster rise — getting on a board company at the start of the year, a pro board a few months later, and then Ty Evans’ ‘Flat Earth’ film, providing a ham-going fourth-quarter opportunity that Jamie Foy took once again, carving two notches into the famed El Toro set. If Skater of the Year campaigns are evolving into meticulously planned, months-long efforts to strategically release footage, get your guy onto the right trips and pump up the IG volume, is there a certain allure in getting behind the bowling ball barreling toward all the carefully set pins?

Is the speed of Jamie Foy’s ascent, from amateur to pro and SOTY the same year, a reflection of or reason behind the breakneck pace driving skate media these days? Will a starring turn on Thrasher’s Viceland series become a prime propulsion toward future SOTY titles, as Vice veers frighteningly close to MTV territory in terms of thirstily mining skating for TV fodder? Could the nod to Jamie Foy also serve as a quiet acknowledgement that it shoulda been Fred Gall one of those years? Do we, the slack-jawed viewer, remain the ultimate winners even as Skater of the Year campaigns grow more overt and assertive? Do all the stair counts and smoothly executed pop shove-it reverts fall by the wayside when considering the way another perennial contender, Tiago Lemos, forces the world to reimagine what is even possible?

*With The Skateboard Mag gone away, does Thrasher revert to the shorthand “the mag” again?

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

November 19, 2017

In the 1990s, when skateboarding grew old enough to cadge cigarettes and thrill to petty crime, power derived from personal networks. Such networks were built of blood and bodily tissue, pulsating to the sounds of East Coast rap tapes, testing slang proficiencies and stiff-arming those deemed not ‘with it’ enough to merit tribal admittance. Over time, as these fleshsome blobs ingested hard currency and heaved themselves into shapes resembling semi-functional business apparatuses, they drew the eye of larger, more heavily weaponed entities, and they fought one another for pride of place and insubstantial dollar figures. All the while, their squishy amoebic forms stiffened and sparked, hardening into circuits and coagulating around wifi hot spots.

It’s a story learned by many at a young age, laying down to sleep upon straw piles and inside comfortable caves with natural stalagmite transitions. But power these days is welded to influence, a sword toted only by a certain few — those who earn it through questing, and those bloodthirsty and wily enough to acquire it by force. And, it is always sharp.

Nowadays, ‘moments’ flit by more fleetingly than ever. In our current one, the largest and most fearsome blade of influence is wielded by the Ted Barrow-curated Instagram account ‘Feedback_TS.’ The outlet punches far above its 5,700-follower weight, drawing into its orbit street-skating GOATS who yearn to be down, style magnet pros fresh off this year’s front-running full-length, and countless droves of aspirant comer-uppers lured by those juicy twin carrots, momentary fame and internet validation.

@Feedback_TS is more than a despotic judge, jury and executioner baptized in ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Mouse’ trick selections with a firm grip on format and presentation. Ted Barrow is not a pro, notwithstanding a memorable part in 2005’s ‘Lurkers 2’ alongside Jason Dill and Charles Lamb. He doesn’t get money from the skate industry. Harsh judgement and unvarnished opinion sometimes are served up, but no meanness or bitterness. Similar to the largely self-directed Slap board thralls, to skatepark heroes and strivers and the occasional professional, it is told like it is. To an extent, @Feedback_TS embodies the info-age singularity that has turned the skate biz inside-out, as the internet provides the world’s double-set early grabbers a platform on par with annointed worthies such as switch backside co-practitioner Miles Silvas and loveable oldster Jeff Gosso. Here lie isolated meadows and abandoned box canyons for creatures such as Revive and New Jersey bodybuilding manual regulator Weckingball to mutate and thrive, independent of the well-worn cart tracks, gladhanding and favored bazaars of the established skateboard business. In this turbulent realm, retired blog proprietors function on the same level as Eric Koston.

Is the right analogue to @Feedback_TS that of a wizened older brother, or maybe more accurately that worldly, well-meaning but unapologetically subversive older neighbor who probably smokes drugs and for sure operates beyond the bounds of the established family hierarchy? Between Ted Barrow and the resurgent Brian Wenning, have we entered a head-spinning and somewhat demoralizing era where switch backside smith grind shove-its rank as ‘old guy tricks’? Does the growing influence amassed by this instagram account raise concerns that it has become systemically important, with any deletion or protracted absence leaving impressionable kids adrift and guardrail-less, while parents, significant others and non-skating ass roommates wonder what happened to the deadpan voice dispensing trick terminology and occasional bursts of art history from behind the bathroom door whilst the fan is going?