Hey guys, Dustin here. I was originally going to do a top 10 things that happened to me this year, but other than joining the Dying Scene team in February and having Ian MacKaye acknowledge that he read my Punk Rock Trivia post about him on my birthday there wasn’t enough excitement in my life to fill up a list of 10 things. So here are some of my favorite albums and EPs released in 2012 instead.
Check out my list here.
Honorable Mentions: The Sidekicks – Awkward Breeds, Cheap Girls – Giant Orange, Hostage Calm – Please Remain Calm. If I had decided to make this list go up to 13, these three would’ve made it. Aspiga‘s Every Last Piece and Green Day‘s trilogy as a whole would’ve been 14 and 15, respectively. And then the Dan Vapid and the Cheats album would have been 16. Enough of that though, on with the actual list:
10. The Evens – The Odds
The Evens have been around for a few years, but this is the first album of theirs in which almost every song has really clicked with me. Maybe it’s because it sounds more like Fugazi, or maybe it’s just because I’m older now and I’m open to listening to less aggressive music.
09.Various Artists – The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore
Consisting of bands that were handpicked by the former Lookout Records founder, The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore does more to defend pop punk than Man Overboard ever has by emphasizing the music rather than tired slogans. And Night Birds have a song on here too. That’s mega important.
08. Classics of Love – Classics of Love
Do high school punks still listen to Operation Ivy, or has Mitch Clem put an end to that? I ask because it seems like no one ever talks about Jesse Michaels anymore, even though they totally should be talking about him now that he’s just put out the best album of his career. You should listen to this if you haven’t already.
07. 16 Hundred Pound Pig – Main St. Idle
Okay I’m biased because I know these guys in real life. In my defense, I was already a fan of the music before I met them. Think Bad Brains meets The Germs in the modern era.
06. Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds – I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever
I think it’s rad that Brendan Kelly has no shame in admitting he’s a Gaga fan, even as a punk rock icon. Also, the music is pretty cool.
05.The Dopamines – Vices
Despite being their third album, Vices plays a lot more like a follow up to their debut. This can only mean that the Dopamines are releasing their albums out of order, proving that time is not a strict progression of cause-to-effect, but rather, from a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff.
…but I digress. Vices is a fantastic sophomore-but-not-actually-sophomore album.
04. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
The punk influences in The Gaslight Anthem’s music have all but vanished since their inception, but in spite of that the band is (oddly) still widely accepted by the punk community. Handwritten is the band’s heaviest album to date (Sink or Swim is their loudest but it’s not really “heavy”… there’s a difference). The guitars are crunchier, the songs aren’t always fixated around 50’s nostalgia, and Maria is nowhere to be found, but at its core Handwritten is still a Gaslight Anthem album.
03. Teenage Bottlerocket – Freak Out!
Sometimes bands never evolve their sound and it gets stagnant. Other times they never evolve their sound and they pull it off extremely well. Teenage Bottlerocket belongs in the latter camp. No other band could write a song about Top Gun like these guys.
02. Mixtapes – Even on the Worst Nights
There’s absolutely no reason for me to actually like Mixtapes. In fact, I think I should hate them. Their music is simple pop punk and they talk shit about other bands constantly. Yet they’ve still put together one of the finest pop punk albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Even on the Worst Nights bridges the gap between the two factions of pop punk by featuring guest spots by both Grath Madden (The Steinways, House Boat) and Dan “Soupy” Campbell (The Wonder Years). Not that I expect to see Dear Landlord and The Story So Far on a bill together anytime soon, but if Mixtapes continues on this path that could very well be a reality one day.
01. The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
What Handwritten lacks in nostalgic songs about a blue-collar lifestyle, On the Impossible Past makes up for in numbers. Perhaps it’s my secret desire to want to be old enough to feel nostalgic, or perhaps it’s because I recently started living a blue-collar lifestyle, but there’s something about The Menzingers’ third disc that kept me listening all year long.
Five Pretty Good EPs, or Whatever:
05. Domestikated – 5 Minutes in Time Out!
“Suburban dad” punk brought to you by members of New Found Glory and Relient K. It’s more of a novelty listen than anything else, but it’s really funny.
04. Great Apes – Great Apes
Another wonderful project brought to you by Brian Moss. Whereas his projects are usually more “post-hardcore” in the vein of Fugazi or early Hot Water Music, Great Apes is straight up punk.
Two of the finest pop punk bands of today that weren’t included on The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore got together and released a split. It can’t get much better than this. (Unless, you know, they had also been included on the previously mentioned compilation).
02. Irish Handcuffs – stubbs.
Melodic punk rock for the bearded kind. This EP is so good that I can’t even really describe it. Remember how you felt the first time you listened to Sink or Swim? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
Another fine split released between two excellent pop punk bands. I’ve already raved about Mixtapes enough, but it’s the Broadway Calls side of this split that really shines anyway. Their ability to combine infectious hooks with bittersweet lyrics has them on the fast track to becoming the next Green Day. Get into them now before they get their own broadway musical.