2013 was all about maturation, blurring musical boundaries, and remembering the powerful fundamental of a great song. It was a great year, perhaps the best in recent memory. Left and right, I found releases that would become favorites, from both new and established artists.
This is the third end of the year list I’ve made in my time at Dying Scene, and I’ve got to say its been a pleasure to write. The thing about punk rock is that it’s a fluid movement. It reflects whatever malcontent is relevant at the time. It represents independent spirit, and whatever it means to do-it-yourself on a personal level. I’m excited to see where it takes us in the coming year.
Check out what I loved this year here.
10. Worlds Scariest Police Chases NOFX And Out Come the Wolves… Dookie
I believe that it was director Jean-Luc Godard that said, and I’m paraphrasing: “The best way to comment on a film is with a film.” Its a statement that I hold as a truth, and can be applied to music, or any art, as well. Punk is ripe with enough histrionics and hypocrisies (and not to mention lyrical dead horses beaten to this very day) that it could stand to be taken down a notch. Worlds Scariest Police Chases is a bizarre concoction of absurdity and excess that masquerades as a band, dead-set on mocking the very genre they play. Taking the adolescent “fuck you, maaan” attitude to the extreme, this album has no less than three songs with ‘dad’ in the title, multiple songs about cops, and two more about being punk. It’s honestly some of the most fun I’ve ever had with an album.
I think the whole thing is summed up best with a line from “Fuck You Dad”:
“No Dad, I’m not gay… I’m straight edge!”
9. Paint it Black Invisible
Coming off a long hiatus, Invisible was a reminder of Paint It Black’s mastery of hardcore. Blistering, melodic, and socially conscious, this was a return to form that served as a high water mark for the genre as a whole. But more interestingly, it served as a reminder of the EP’s vitality. For an art form as brief and angry as hardcore, it’s fitting that such a brief and primitive format serves it best as a delivery method.
“Little Hands” proved that the screams of hardcore could be used to express anger positively and constructively. Its a song so smart and passionate that in comparison, most other hardcore bands come off as trite and limp.
8. Restorations LP2
Restorations is hard to describe. If their was one common thread through punk journalism this year, it was reviewers trying and failing to describe the combination of genres that makes Restorations’ unique sound. For the uninitiated, classic rock, post-hardcore, and sludge metal are the most championed, but none of them can quite do justice to the musical and lyrical accomplishments on LP2. Behind the athletic fretwork and impenetrable atmosphere is plain and simple great songwriting.
7 .Absent Minds The Misery of Correcting Past Mistakes
Absent Minds play melodic punk that takes its cues from bands like NOFX and Bad Religion, but with cello. The Misery of Correcting Past Mistakes is one of those great records that will sadly be overlooked by many, but will become a favorite to others. It’s that good. These Portland punks balance tones like champs, bringing a sense of fun to the usually dour Northwest punk scene with songs like “Skinny Jeans” and “Crazy Eddie” and more serious topics in songs like “Smokestacks.” For me, this was one of the best surprises 2013 had to offer.
6. Direct Hit! Brainless God
Domesplitter was an album that evoked the sweet smell of beer and vomit. It was as in your face as anyone could be, and rallying behind the battle cry of “Fuck you, get pumped!” it was exactly the adrenaline rush the scene needed.
In comparison to Domesplitter, Brainless God is meditative and exploratory. It’s still loud, and it’s got that sense of relentless bravado in spades, but now it’s accompanied by a sense of scope and ambition. Easily one of the best concept albums that punk has had to offer, Brainless God explores its apocalyptic scenario with a dark sense of humor and musicality that actually goes somewhere. Brainless God is catchy, fun, and cathartic and shows Direct Hit! progressing beyond their most accessible tendencies.
5. Crusades Perhaps You Deliver This Judgment With Greater Fear Than I Receive It
Crusades’ anti-religious pop punk is something to witness. Its dark, cryptic qualities are amplified by its anthemic sound and punk rock gusto. After a year of great releases, I thought I had seen everything 2013 had to offer, but Crusades blew me away and reminded me that under-the-radar is still the best place to find challenging, interesting, and fun music.
4. Off With Their Heads Home
The unvarnished spectacle that is Ryan Young’s emotional turmoil has never been darker or as thrilling as it has been on Home. The songwriting is as strong as it ever was, maybe even stronger, with Young delivering every syllable like a stab in the gut. I love honest art, and I’ve always believed the best music is written so purely, that it becomes awkwardly confrontational. Home reads like the saddest, angriest diary you ever wish you hadn’t accidentally opened. There’s no way around it, Home is a masterpiece.
3. Comadre Comadre
Comadre’s volatile, energetic, and sunny take on hardcore was a scene shaking presence. Comadre have a sound all their own, and their self-titled album found them exploring it in new and interesting ways. The Spaghetti Western inspired “Drag Body” became one of my favorite tracks this year. While its unfortunate to know that Comadre broke up soon after this, making it their final release, its an inarguable high point in their discography, as well as the year as a whole.
2. Red City Radio Titles
While The Dangers of Standing Still never resonated with me as soundly as it did with the rest of the punk community, it was immediately clear that Red City Radio was a band to watch. Titles is their second full length, and first on Paper and Plastick and it shows a band coming into their own musically and lyrically. Songs like “Joy Comes With The Morning” and “Show Me On the Doll Where the Music Touched You” show a heightened level of songwriting and dynamics that set Red City Radio apart from being just another punk rock group with gravelly vocals. Titles is a great record pure and simple, communicating emotion as well as rock ‘n roll ever could.
1. Captain, We’re Sinking The Future Is Cancelled
The Future Is Cancelled is the melting pot of everything I love in punk given a voice. It’s by turns angular and emotional, fed by experience and shaped by musical daring.
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