I admit, I’ve been out of the game a while. I grew up, had kids and musically treaded water for a couple of years. Then in 2016, I found pockets of time to listen to the odd track, then the odd ep and finally I found the time to throw myself fully back into the punk pool. What became clear was that after a couple of years with my finger off the pulse, I had an insatiable desire for the music I love. I was hungrier than ever and 2016 saw plenty of great new music to satisfy my appetite. So below are my picks. They mean more to me than just a list of records, they signify a year of rediscovery.
10. Bucky Harris – Three Wolves
A roughly hewn diamond of an album that wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve as it spills beer on your shoes. This is an album that begs to soundtrack good times and heartbreak as the band veer from good time street edged punk to skeletal and emotionally fragile numbers.
9. Nopes – Never Heard Of It
4 guys from San Francisco, pissed off with the erosion of community by the growth of multinational companies, decided to channel their frustrations into a hardcore firestorm. You can almost feel the blood, sweat and tears drip from the speakers as they pummel their way through these furious anthems.
8. Ship Thieves- No Anchor
Ship Thieves finally became their own band on this release. They are not looking to reinvent the wheel, just play meaningful songs that connect with the listener. They do so with aplomb, producing some of their finest, singalong anthems that stand shoulder to shoulder with Chris Wollard’s finest work.
7. White Lung – Paradise
With the overt misogyny that characterized the Presidential election, we should all be thankful for strong women like Mish Barber-Way. On this visceral and at times brutal album she howls her way through whilst channeling her inner riot grrrl. The resolute and steadfast self belief is wrapped in some of the hookiest songs of the year.
6. Beach Slang – A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings
Before the band seemed to implode they produced their finest record to date. It’s an angst ridden ride without an age limit, as James Alex continues to sing for those who feel alienated or discontent. Let’s hope they can roll with the punches and come back stronger than ever.
5. Planes Mistaken for Stars – Prey
10 years since their last album, Mercy, Planes Mistaken For Stars released this haunting and harrowing epic. An album that looked to America’s rust belt for inspiration and shone a light on the dark and broken heart of middle-America.
4. Face to Face – Protection
This was unexpected. After the slightly poppier “Three Chords and A Half Truth”, the band looked to the past and remembered what made them great. That said, this is no regressive, nostalgia trip. This is a fresh sounding batch of songs that sees the band as lean and as focused as they’ve ever been.
3. Touché Amore – Stage Four
This is a difficult album to listen to. After losing his mother to cancer frontman Jeremy Bolm worked through his grief on record. As expected this is a heavily emotional album with the cathartic lyrics accompanied by a furious sonic assault. It might be weighty but it’s also the best thing they’ve ever done.
2. Pup – The Dream Is Over
If you still had any notion that being in a band was a glamorous experience, then this is the album that totally skewered that idea. Pup laid bare the frustrations, punch-ups and collapsing relationships that come with playing in a band but do so with a set of inescapable, anthemic punk songs.
1. Brutal Youth – Sanguine
Brutal Youth settled on their own sound on “Sanguine” beautifully. It featured one of the finest anthems of this or any year in “The King” which demonstrated perfectly how to knit chaos, noise and emotional weight together. The album fizzles and cracks, lurches and roars and just as easily grabs you by the throat as the heart.
Add Brutal Youth to My Radar