Another year-end is upon us! As we prepare ourselves to deal with family, long lines and fistfights over parking spaces (wait…does that just happen in Boston?!), let’s blow off some steam with some of the most badass punk albums of 2015. I think I missed the deadline for both 2013 and 2014, so this is my first Top 10 List since I’ve been on staff at Dying Scene. A few caveats to my list:
1. I tried my best to stay away from the major albums of 2015. While there were some really good ones, my intent was to highlight some awesome up-and-comers.
2. I did include EPs as well as albums. Some were just too damn good to pass up, and I couldn’t resist.
3. They are in no particular order. Comparing two totally different genres or calling an EP better than an album just seemed nonsensical to me (or maybe I was being lazy?). Hey, it’s punk rock–no rules!
Keep reading to see my Top 10 of 2015, in no particular order.
The Kenneths: E
I discovered these Brit punks one Friday afternoon while working, and I was immediately hooked. This album is everything you want in punk music: short, fast songs with blazing guitars and good lyrics. Nothing too serious here, but if you want to get a quick dose of punk, blast through these 6 songs. “Cool as You” and “Bad in Bed” are particularly awesome.
Civil War Rust: Help Wanted
Pop-punk isn’t usually my thing, but these guys aren’t quite pop-punk, so I guess that makes sense. The vocals hit the edge of that pop-punk/emo inflection that some people hate, but it never goes over the edge. Overall this is a really solid plain-old-punk album. For favorites, I’m torn between “Riverside” and “Revenge Therapy.”
Darkbuster: No Revolution
What can I say, I’ll always love this band. Despite a lineup change that leaves only lead singer Lenny Lashley among the original members of the band, Lenny’s distinctive vocals bring back memories of Darkbuster’s boozy, brash past. These new songs have a bit more serious tone than the old stuff, but the quality is all there. Add to that the addition of a horn section led by Kevin Lenear of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and you’ve got the recipe for a killer album.
The Radicals: This Place is Fucked
The Radicals are one of my favorite bands, and their 2014 release (One for the Ditch) has some of my favorite songs on it, so I was nervous that my expectations would be too high for their 7-song EP, This Place is Fucked, but that was not the case at all. If I’d had one complaint about Ditch, it was that the album was a little long with 14 songs, a few of which seemed like they didn’t quite belong. They avoided that issue on This Place is Fucked. By releasing less songs, they were able to fine-tune everything and really curate the songs, leaving only the best. The Radicals’ biggest asset, in my opinion, is their ability to write really thought-provoking, concise, and evocative lyrics that say a whole lot (and make a lot of sense to me). The album starts off with the haunting little acoustic tune “Ghosts,” which holds its own as a song and also serves as a drawn-out introduction to the rest of the (much faster, harder) songs. Sadly, The Radicals broke up shortly after this release, and although this album is a great finale to their 10-year tenure as a band, it does make me wonder how much further they could have taken their sound. While the band’s ending wasn’t ideal, this EP is one of my go-tos when I want to crank the volume and think a little. You can name your price and download their whole catalogue here.
The Digs: Manic
The Digs pack a whole lot of sound and technical acumen into the package of a 3-piece punk band. With their guitarist and drummer sharing duty on vocals, their style can shift song-to-song from straight-up punk to alternative grittiness to a hint of pop-punk, while still maintaining consistency and cohesiveness from start-to-finish. You have to hear “Green Line” and “1564,” and as luck would have it, you can stream it right here.
Girth Control: What Got You Stoked in the First Place?
After The Slaughterhouse Chorus went on hiatus in 2015, 3 of the 4 members teamed up to form Girth Control, a ska and reggae-influenced 3-piece punk band based in Albany, NY. These guys are all very talented musicians (although they will tell you they suck if you ask them), which makes their tongue-in-cheek lyrics and general lack of seriousness all the more funny. Songs like “Too Many Dudes” and “Beer Me” are well worth checking out when you’re wondering “what got you stoked in the first place?” Keep in mind that this album was recorded in a basement, but that just adds to the weirdness in a good way, trust me.
toyGuitar: In This Mess
As a Swingin’ Utters fan, I knew I had to check out side-project toyGuitar. I was really surprised by the difference in sound and theme, and although they almost swing into alt-rock territory, I had to include them on my list. My favorites off of this album are “Roller Coasters,” “I’m In My Head,” and “Human Hyenas,” but really, they’re all pretty damn good. Full disclosure: I interviewed Jack Dalrymple shortly after the album was released, and you can read that here.
The American Myth: YourSelf
I saw The American Myth live before I had ever heard their album, which was released this past August. I love reggae-inspired punk, and these songs are just so damn good. You can hear it for yourself here.
Various Artists: Hooligans United: A Tribute to Rancid
This pick may not quite follow the normal “rules” for the Top 10 lists, since these aren’t new songs, but I’ve been listening to it pretty consistently. This is a huge album, a collection of 55 songs, and it’s awesome to hear Rancid classics performed by other bands that I love, like Noi!se, The Interrupters, and Far From Finished. I love the new take on classic songs, and you can’t help but be amazed at the influence Rancid has had on these bands and our scene in general.
OC45: Burn It
Maybe I write about this band too much, but I don’t really care. OC45 has been putting out consistently great songs for the past few years, and Burn It is no different. This fast little EP (only 9 minutes!) packs a huge punch with songs like “S.C.A.B.,” which offers commentary on the police shooting scandals that occupied the headlines for much of 2015. After a last-minute drummer change, the band has reunited with original drummer Kory Boutin, and I’m hoping to see great things from them in 2016.
So that’s it! I hope you give each of these albums a listen and find some new favorites to blast into 2016! From my amazing little family to yours, I hope you all have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!