Sup punk fans. I’m Dave and I founded this here website 6 or 7 years ago. Some of you might recognize me by my pen name Johnny X. I won’t waste your time telling you about the trials and tribulations of 2016 or how much the punk scene means to me. That’s not why you’re here. You’re here because you’re curious what an a-hole like me might have selected for his Top 10 Releases of 2016. You want to know if any of my selections overlap with your own or if you’ll discover an unknown gem or two. Well, find my list below, and I encourage you to stream tracks as you go.
10. The Taxpayers – “Big Delusion Machine”
Appealing to my love of folk-punk, The Taxpayers have always been a really interesting band to me. They’re capable of some of the most amazing songs but usually their albums need to be listened to all in one sitting to fully appreciate. “Big Delusion Machine” is no exception so if you’ve got half an hour give it a listen here. If you’re curious but short on time just stream the track “The Bottom” below.
9. The Bumpin’ Uglies – “Fuck Up My Whole Weekend”
Not to be confused with the Annapolis reggae-punk act of the same unfortunate band name Winnipeg’s The Bumpin’ Uglies are my favorite skate/pop-punk discovery of the year. Their debut “Fuck Up My Whole Weekend” is the only EP to go on this list and assuming they follow it up with a full-length next year you can officially put that on my Most Anticipated Albums of 2017 list. Fellas, if you’re reading this, make sure to send those demos to Dying Scene Records if/when you record them ;).
8. Mickey Rickshaw – “Behind The Eight Ball”
When Mickey Rickshaw‘s “Behind The Eight Ball” hit my inbox I immediately judged the album by it’s band name, expecting another mediocre release from some singer/songwriter claiming a tenuous affiliation with the punk scene. What I discovered was a hard hitting Celtic punk album delivered by an 8 piece band whose influence falls somewhere between Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys though “Behind The Eight Ball” is better than anything those two bands have put out in years. Oh, and its free!
7. NOFX – “First Ditch Effort”
What first struck me about NOFX’s “First Ditch Effort” was the surprisingly anti-drug/pro-sober themes of a good portion of its songs. I’d actually been finding the irreverent, cocaine promoting lyrics of previous albums a bit tiresome so the change-up was really refreshing and even a bit hopeful, especially after reading “The Hepatitis Bathtub…” On top of that I gotta admit the band can still crank out a few skate-punk gems on every album and “First Ditch Effort” seems to have a few more than the last two or three NOFX releases.
6. Useless ID – “State Is Burning”
I’ve appreciated Useless ID releases in the past but I never considered myself a huge fan of their music. Their albums were always just a little too… “poppy” maybe. But after hearing the first single from “State Is Burning” it was very clear the band had cranked up the aggressiveness meter many notches for their latest effort, and it definitely caught my attention. The rest of the album was not a disappointment and I don’t think there’s a single skippable track on the entire release.
5. Get Dead – “Honesty Lives Elsewhere”
When I heard “Honesty Lives Elsewhere” I instantly recognized it as Get Dead‘s best work to date but for whatever reason it fell out of rotation fairly quickly. It might have fallen just short of making it on this list had I not caught the band live when they passed through Brooklyn a couple months ago. Holy shit, I was blown away by how good these guys sound live! “Honesty…” immediately went back into rotation and while it got better with each listen (enough to move it to #5 on this list) I still have to say that Get Dead needs to be seen live to fully appreciate how good they are.
4. Direct Hit – “Wasted Mind”
OK, I’m just now noticing that putting “Wasted Mind” by Direct Hit as my #4 choice makes 4 Fat Wreck Chords albums in a row on this list, but before you judge me a fatophile I want to say that when I launched Dying Scene 7 years ago Direct Hit was the very first band to be featured in the Band Spotlight module reserved for unsigned bands I thought more people should know about. Basically, what I’m trying to say is I was listening to Direct Hit before you were and therefor I am cooler than you. Got it? Now that that’s established, hands down “Wasted Mind” is Direct Hit’s best album to date by a long shot, and that’s saying a lot.
3. Davey Dynamite – “Holy Shit”
Since Davey Dynamite‘s “Holy Shit” wasn’t released until today you’re not likely to see it on many Top 10 lists for 2016 but that is the only reason! Well, that and the fact that you might mistake the band name for a cheesy DJ on your morning FM radio show. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be putting this album out on Dying Scene Records. Partly because as a human and as an artist Davey represents everything I love about punk rock, but mostly because I just think this album is so damn good. The level of intensity and sincerity is not easily found or replicated in today’s punk scene and I’m not exaggerating when I say that almost every other song on this release has given me goosebumps.
2. Problem Daughter – “Fits Of Disorganized Boredom”
When I received an email last January from Problem Daughter imploring me to give their newly recorded album a listen I dutifully plugged in my headphones, clicked a play button and prepared to halfheartedly listen while I moved on to the next email. Thirty seconds in I had to stop typing and turn up the volume. By the end of the first song I suspected I had stumbled onto something special and by the third song I was sending the album off to a few trusted DS reviewers demanding they give me feedback. When the sixth song ended I no longer cared what my reviewers thought because I knew I had to put “Fits Of Disorganized Boredom” out on Dying Scene Records.
And yes, it seems self serving to put two DS Records bands in my top 3 but all I can say is if they weren’t good enough to end up in at least my top 5 I wouldn’t have bothered signing them in the first place.
1. Brian Fallon – “Painkillers”
Some might think its a little “unpunk” to choose Brian Fallon‘s “Painkillers” as my favorite album of 2016 but I wanted to keep this list honest and perhaps its just a sign that I’m getting older. From Gaslight to his solo stuff, Fallon’s lyrics have always resonated with me and this album especially hit home. I dare say its my favorite Fallon album since The Gaslight Anthem’s “Sink Or Swim”. Stream the entire album here or listen to my favorite track “Red Lights” (yes, I know it first appeared on a Molly And The Zombies album) below.