DS Staff Picks: Midwest Punk’s Top 10 Albums of 2016

There’s been a lot of talk about how shitty 2016 has been, but I don’t get it at all. It was a pretty damn good year for me for the most part, and I think 2016 was an excellent year in music. I was lazy and late in 2015, so I didn’t get a list up, so I figured I better get it done this year. Three or four of my top five bands (depending on where my top five sits on any given day) released new albums this year, and one of them didn’t even make the list, because the year in punk music was just that good.

Whatever you thought of 2016, you can see my full top 10 list below, for whatever it’s worth.

First, here are my top 5 that didn’t make the final top 10 list. An ‘honorable mention,’ if you will (in no particular order): Wonk UnitMr. Splashy, The FalconGather Up The Chaps, Jeff RosenstockWORRY., Revenge Of The Psychotronic ManColossal Velocity, Useless IDState Is Burning.

There are many, many more, but I won’t list them all here. Here’s my top ten, in a loose and constantly changing ‘order’ of sorts:

10. Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate

When a band has a dozen years between albums, it’s hard to tell what you’re going to get. Thankfully for all of us, Descendents did not disappoint, and the wait was worth it when I heard the first single off this one.





9. PEARS – Green Star

After being completely blindsided by how awesome Go To Prison was, I had my hopes set high for this band’s sophomore album. I’ll be honest, it didn’t hit me as hard as their debut, but maybe that’s because I already had a glimpse of what these guys are capable of. Great album, and you couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of dudes.




8. Arms Aloft – What A Time To Barely Be Alive

For me, this is an example of a perfect Midwest punk album. Listening to it just ‘feels’ like living in the Midwest, and I absolutely love it. The guys put forth a raw, gritty, blue-collar feeling 12 tracks, that flow perfectly together.





7. Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

Much like AJJ, I find it hard to listen to an Against Me! album without carefully studying the lyrics and the message, and I always find myself automatically wanting to put it in my top 10. This one is no different. I’m never sure exactly when I hear one of their albums for the first time, but I’m almost positive I’m going to love it.




6. The Lippies – The Lippies

This one gets my ‘most bittersweet’ release of the year. Just a little over a month after putting out this completely rad debut album, the band decided to call it quits. That’s a total bummer, because I really would love to hear a lot more of what this album had. The first song had me thinking, “They led the album with the best song?” Then the next one came on, and I thought the same thing. It didn’t go that way through the entire album, but every song is a winner.




5. AJJ – The Bible 2

I’ll probably put this band on my top 10 list every time they release an album. I’m really big into lyrics, and Sean Bonnette is one of my favorite songwriters, right up there with John Darnielle. You can almost feel the words reaching inside your soul, and listening really becomes a full experience. Couple that with the ability to switch from catchy, fast music on one track to almost hymn-like music on the next, and you’ve got a solid album. Plus, I’m always one for poking fun at the ridiculousness of religion.



4. Davey Dynamite – Holy Shit

This one is the only album on my list from a band I had never listened to before this year. Dying Scene head honcho, Dave, sent us the Bandcamp link and asked what we thought of it, and it absolutely blew me away with its sincerity and raw emotion. The album title is exactly what I thought before I was even a full two tracks in. Two weeks later, Dave announced they were the latest Dying Scene Records band, and I’d say that was a very excellent decision.




3. Get Dead – Honesty Lives Elsewhere

Most years, I’d probably have this album as my number one album of the year; it’s that damn good, from the opening track to the closer. When I first got the record in the mail this summer, I listened to it front-to-back multiple times straight. It didn’t leave my turntable for a solid week, and it’s still in heavy rotation.




2. The Murderburgers – The 12 Habits Of Highly Defective People

I had a really hard time not putting this album at number one. I had their previous album, These Are Only Problems, on my first top 10 list for Dying Scene, at number nine. I’ve grown to like this band and more in the past three years, and still listen to that album frequently. The new album is every bit as good as the previous one, if not even better.




direct-hit-wasted-mind1. Direct Hit! – Wasted Mind

Also on my 2013 list for their album, Brainless God, these guys just keep going; some might even say they don’t know when to quit? I hope they don’t stop, because it seems just about everything they do is like pop-punk perfection. This album also spans out in so many unexpected, yet totally rad directions. I’ll be spinning this one for years to come.




Here’s a bonus for making it this far, a Spotify list with all the albums in their entirety.

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