I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but 2016 has been a weird year. But through it all, at least there’s always new bands to discover, new releases from old favorites, and of course plenty of shows to attend (FEST was amazing as usual.) Here’s some of the music that helped get me through this year.
Cult Values takes the dark garage punk foundation that label Deranged Records is known for, and then throws in some hardcore for good measure. It’s a mix that actually works really well, and this is a great record.
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9. Nots – “Cosmetic”
Dark, synthy, and weird are some words that come to mind when describing Nots’ sound. They take a garage punk foundation and layer on all kinds of effects to get their unique sound without ever losing sight of what makes a good song and just going completely experimental with it.
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8. The Steve Adamyk Band – “Graceland”
The Steve Adamyk Band makes simple and super catchy garage/pop/punk, and they do it masterfully. Graceland is their 5th album in 6 years, and I for one hope they keep going at that pace.
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7. NAILS – “You Will Never Be One Of Us”
When I first saw the video for the title track of this album, I was floored. It was so heavy that I didn’t quite know what to make of it. It’s like they took what they learned from their first 2 releases and said “yeah, but how can we pulverize our listeners ears even more?” You Will Never Be One Of Us is NAILS at their best. Ridiculously heavy hardcore punk and metal that still has an undercurrent of catchiness through it despite all the madness.
6. PUP – “The Dream Is Over”
PUP’s first album took a while to grow on me and didn’t end up in my top albums the year it came out because it hadn’t fully gotten its hooks into me yet. However, between then and the release of this sophomore album, I have become a bonafide PUP fanatic. The Dream Is Over picks up where their debut left off and then ramps up the fury and passion even more.
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5. Problem Daughter – “Fits of Disorganized Boredom”
“Like A Dog” is my favorite song of the year, and once I heard it, I knew this album was going to be on my top 10 list, it was just a matter of where. The rest of the songs on the album are good as well and pull the whole thing together, but I could listen to “Like A Dog” a hundred times in a row and still want to listen to it a hundred more times.
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4. PEARS – “Green Star”
While this sophomore release (and first for Fat Wreck Chords) from PEARS may not have been the gut punch to the punk scene that Go To Prison was, Green Star is still a damn good album. They still have their perfect blend of hardcore and pop punk on display, but add to it with some new song structures and even some piano. They are definitely still a band to watch, both figuratively as their career progresses and literally, as in if you haven’t seen them live yet, you need to fix that.
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3. Mind Spiders – “Prosthesis”
Dark and catchy with lots of synths. This project from Mark Ryan of The Marked Men and Radioactivity fame takes the catchy garage punk Mark is known for and just gets all weird with it. Good stuff.
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2. Daylight Robbery – “Accumulated Error”
This is a case where you listen to an album simply because of the label it was released on and end up loving it. Mixing post-punk atmosphere and driving garage punk, Daylight Robbery released a collection of songs that are sure to earworm their way into your brain after just a couple listens. The dual female and male vocalists give them a modern day X feel as well.
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1. White Lung – “Paradise”
The first time I listened to this album was after a party, so I was already good and intoxicated. I remember putting this album on and all I could think the whole time was “Holy shit, this is so good!” Once I sobered up, I listened to it again and again, and that thought never left my mind. This album sees White Lung shake up their normal dark, jangly, fast, and heavy music with even more spacy, post-punk influenced guitar work and softer ballads. The band pulls it all off perfectly making for what I feel is hands down the best album of the year.
Other Notable Releases: Spots 8, 9 and 10 were up in the air for me, and I know as soon as I post this, it will likely change. Some of the albums that were in contention for those spots include: Spectres – Utopia, My Pizza My World – What The Fuck Is Going On?, Stick and Poke – Never Going Back, Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me, and Direct Hit! – Wasted Mind
Some EPs I likes this year: Blackbird Raum – Nevermind the Ballads and Aree and the Pure Heart – Heartsongs