DyingScene’s resident molotov cocktail waiter, AnarchoPunk here with my Top Ten Albums of the Year! Before subjecting you to my woefully myopic and biased opinions, I’ll give you the skinny on what I do around here. When not attempting to destroy the system from within, I write for the Original Content team. You may have read some of my inebriated ramblings in our monthly Hidden Gems of Bandcamp lists. From time to time, I also chip in with album and show reviews as well as the occasional band interview. All of these things I do, I do poorly. I’m a jack of all trades and master of jack shit but, I’m a warm body who can piece words together to form semi-coherent sentences so they keep me around. Now that we’re properly acquainted, onward and upwards! While there were a number of releases from more established bands this past year, we knew that there would be a bit of a lull due to the amount of stellar albums that were released in 2014. Lucky for me, my main job function here at the ‘Scene is uncovering newer, up and coming acts and lesser known bands, so the lack of output from the more seasoned, well known acts didn’t hinder my search at all! If you were one of those that thought there weren’t many great album released this past year, you just didn’t dig deep enough! Check out my Top Ten Countdown to the Best Album of 2015 below.
10. Atlas Losing Grip – Currents
Forgot about this one, didn’t ya?!?! In January this Swedish quintet released their fourth studio album, which ended up being the swan song for legendary vocalist, Rodrigo Alfaro, a vacancy that has now been filled by new front man, Niklas Olsson. Although most fans seemed to enjoy their prior album, State of Unrest, more, this album has a sense of maturity and wisdom that wasn’t found in earlier offerings. The lyrics have a higher level of intelligence and the tracks seem more cohesive and thought out which is one of the main reasons it made my list. You can stream it for free and buy the album here.
9. Boss’ Daughter – Songs Are Songs
When the Vampirates aren’t touring or in the studio, guitarist Chris Fox keeps himself busy with solo and side projects. His most recent side piece, Boss’ Daughter, released their debut album in October and it hasn’t left my playlist since. The album has a few new tracks but my favorite songs are the ones that carried over from Chris’ solo albums. I liken it to watching a close friend’s kid growing up before your eyes. I got to see the songs in their most pure state, a lonely, acoustic guitar strummed violently with labored, hollow vocals, totally uninhibited. Now with the full compliment of instruments, the songs are more refined and thorough with a little more sense of purpose. Give it a listen here.
8. Lashing Fred – Biker’s Review
If you haven’t heard of these French phenoms, you’ve been missing out. Their debut album released in August didn’t get that much attention here in the States despite it’s inherent fun and energetic nature. This is an ole’ fashioned, feel good poppy skate punk album. I probably look like a tool when one of their songs randomly pops up on my playlist while I’m walking down the street. I seriously cannot help myself, I bop around and silently scream the choruses just as passionately as if I was on stage at a crowded venue with these lads from Lyon. For being an emerging band, the quality of the music and songwriting is exceptionally high. My expectations for these boys are through the roof. They also just uploaded a new single in response to the Paris terrorist attacks. If you haven’t already, “Try It”, you’ll love it. Check them out here.
7. We The Heathens – Regicide
Ever wonder what Jethro Tull would sound like if they were homeless crust punks? Well wonder no more! This three piece from Wausau, Wisconsin is an offshoot of the splendid skacore act, Atrocity Solution, and they take crust folk to a whole new level. In addition to some pretty dope flutes on a few tracks, the standard folk fare is ever present. String shredding banjo riffs, street weary, worn out vocals, and wailing violins. But where these guys really diverge from the rest of the pack is in their overall music composition and story telling. Some songs sound like they’re the opening theme to an epic odyssey or the soundtrack to a massive medieval siege (“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our crust folk!”) And when it’s not an epic, sprawling saga, it’s a perfectly executed ballad like my personal favorite track “When It’s Gone” or the almost pop-like anthem “Radio”. Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, there’s a track for everyone. Don’t sleep on this one. This masterpiece as well as their other albums are are available for streaming and purchase here.
6. G.L.O.S.S. – Demo
Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit. No ambiguity there, at all! Like a brick upside the head, G.L.O.S.S.’ demo came out of nowhere and left everyone a little loopy after it’s release in January. It’s five tracks of pure, uncut, seething anger and hostility. Hardcore seems like an understatement, but Blunt-Force-Trauma-Core seems a mouthful. I was so confident in this one that I added it to my list, in PEN, after hearing it way back at the beginning of the year. In a year where the Transgender Movement finally seems to be getting some attention, this Olympia, Washington product has planted their collective feet firmly and fearlessly, refusing to be put back in their closets. Stream the whole album here. If you like what you hear, it’s available for Name Your Price!
5. Splitfist – Stright Outta Halton
Need a pop punk fix? Look no further than Toronto’s, Splitfist. As far as I’m concerned the artist of the year in their category and everything you want in a younger group. They’re fast, aggressive and angsty. Although the content is slightly different, I keep comparing this freshman four piece to New Jersey punk act None More Black as far as the sound, although that may not be the most direct comparison. The album consists of seven tracks, all expertly produced and performed. The precision in which these young’uns play is probably the most glaring trait of their music. Some LPs are still good despite having a track that may not be up to snuff, or misses the mark. This album hits on every track. It is a must have for fans of the genre, so go pick it up here.
4. Leftöver Crack- Constructs of the State
You knew with a name like Anarchopunk that my list wouldn’t be complete without some STZA! The food stamp line must have been pretty long because it’s been eleven years since we’ve heard anything new from these sultans of skacore. While it didn’t live up to their magnum opus, Fuck World Trade (but then again, what ever will?), it is good enough to break my Top Five for 2015. The album is filled with guest artists, spanning multiple genres, which gives it a great level of variety as each song tends to take on a slightly different personality with each different featured guest. That increases the replay value significantly. Some tracks are so different, it can sound like a Fat Comp. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait another decade plus for new material from these mavens of muck. Stream and buy it here.
3. Fat Mike – Home Street Home
As far as originality goes, this Musical Score ranks #1. I’m not even taking into consideration the fact that there was a whole stage production written to go along with the album. Just on it’s own merit, the score is exceptional. We all know that Fat Mike is a songwriter and wordsmith extraordinaire, but the point is driven home with this, his latest endeavor. When others said that he couldn’t write a punk rock musical or that it would never work, he set out in typical Fat Mike fashion to prove them wrong. He did exactly that, with the stage production garnering rave reviews from both inside and outside the theatre community and the score getting a ton of attention globally. It always warms my heart when outsiders take a peek into our community and can actually appreciate something. It’s a rare occasions when there’s a spotlight on our scene, so it’s nice when that fleeting opportunity is used to showcase something positive. Pick up this masterful musical score from the Fat Wreck Chords website.
2. Good Riddance – Peace in Our Time
Another veteran act that we haven’t heard from in quite awhile, some of my favorite SoCal skate punkers finally came storming back in 2015! I can never remember which came first, my love of GR or my hatred of government but over the years each has proven to only strengthen and reinforce the other. The album is exactly what you’d expect which to some, might actually be a mark against them or disqualify them from their list. But for me, their music always feels comfortable and familiar, like home. I would slap the hell out of someone that brought me a feta and fried egg grilled cheese sandwich with a tomato bisque, “No, asshole, that’s wrong!” It’s sliced american cheese and canned, condensed tomato soup, nothing else. I would put Good Riddance in the “Don’t Fuck With It” category along with a few others. The apex is a great place to be. This LP along with all of their material is available for streaming and purchase here!
1. Strung Out – Transmission.Alpha.Delta
I’ve tried to write this little review three times now and each time it keeps reading like Jordan Burns homo-erotica, so let’s all just agree that the drums are incredible and move along so I don’t get sent to HR. Strung Out is by far one of the most beloved Fat Wreck Chords bands. Much like Good Riddance, the album is familiar but in a good way. But unlike the aforementioned, these Simi Superstars have always shown a natural progression throughout their careers, albeit in minor increments. Every album get slightly more complex and deliberate, almost at an evolutinary crawl, barely noticeable. This release is no different. The songwriting, as always is a high point as are the impassioned, recognizable vocals of front man Jason Cruz. The guitars are as fast and crisp as I can remember hearing them and the drums are….oh man….ohhhhh….the drums….Ummmmm….look gang, I gotta go….Just go give it a listen over on the group’s Bandcamp page. You won’t hate it.
*Honorable Mentions: Radical Failure – When Everything Collapsed; Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves – Scars; The Hempsteadys – El Amor De Los Muertos; Mischief Brew – This is Not For Children; War on Women – War on Women