Your favorite molotov cocktail waiter, AnarchoPunk here with my Album of the Year List for 2016! For those unfamiliar with my work, I write the monthly Hidden Gems of Bandcamp piece and manage the Exclusive Premieres and sometimes, you may even hear me on DS Radio doing band interviews. On last year’s AoTY list, I cheated a little bit and included EPs. I’ve held myself to a higher standard (yuck!) in 2016 and limited my selections to LPs only. With that being said, I did include a brief list of my favorite EPs because there were so many rad short albums too. Astute readers will notice a few big names like NOFX, Blink 182 and Descendents missing from my annual list. Good observational skills! With a ton of superb younger acts filling up the ranks, it wasn’t difficult finding bands to replace some of the bigger names who released slightly disappointing albums this year and it took me awhile to whittle it down to just ten records.
So, without further fanfare, check out my Top Ten Albums of 2016 below!
10. Brutal Youth – Sanguine
Up until this year, this hardcore act from Toronto had been on my radar but near the edges of my effective range. Then, I got my hands on Sanguine! Probably the most violent album on my list, all of the fourteen tracks are brilliant in their brutality. Much like Boston melodic hardcore all-stars A Wilhelm Scream, it’s not just mindless carnage either, the songwriting is pensive and provides an extraordinary depth that isn’t always found with some of their contemporaries.
9. Danvers – Jazz Standards
If you haven’t heard of these Pittsburgh pop punks, you’re not alone and that’s OK. I’m here to change that! This fantastic fivesome has all of the passion of an emo band without being ‘sad bastards’ and so mopey all the damn time. The fourteen tracks are mostly about missing good times with friends and growing apart, but the way in which that’s conveyed is the real art. It hits home on multiple levels and is one of the most relatable and engaging albums I’ve heard in a long time. I think Jazz Standards will quickly become a seminal album for these Stell City punks.
8. The Lucky Eejits – Do It Again
This trio from Oakland, California has been playing since 2007, so they’ve been at it long enough to know how to put together a great album and it seems they’re hitting their stride! These Bay Area brigands play a masterful style of old school 90’s skate punk, tossing in a dash of Celtic from time to time. That unique blend along with an ever present nostalgia for EpiFat era bands like NUFAN, et al. has helped propel this act to the top of their category. When it’s done as flawlessly as it is on this album, nothing can beat that basic, three chord punk rock.
7. Up for Nothing – Swindled
This traditional pop punk quartet from Brooklyn, New York has been shredding up the scene for about fourteen years now but recently decided to call it quits. While I was a bit saddened to hear the news, I was excited knowing that the four piece had decided to get back to their roots and went out with a bang. What you got yourself here, is a bonafide ripper! For others that were a bit disenchanted with 2016’s offerings from big name pop acts like Blink 182 or Green Day, Swindled rivals either with it’s energy and enthusiasm.
6. Useless ID – State is Burning
Near and dear to my heart is the political punk genre which over the past decade or so has been somewhat mollified by a more liberal ideology that had taken root in a large swath of the geopolitical arena. Despite the generally apathetic attitude which has infected the scene, Isreali melodic hardcore stalwarts Useless ID have never let me down and always kept the flame of revolution fanned since forming in ’95. Their newest endeavor, the fifteen track, LP State Is Burning continues this tradition of being a combative, anti-establishment, anti-fascist sounding board for the proletariat.
5. Wolvesx4 – Cross and the Switchblade
Another young act, although you wouldn’t know it by the maturity they display on every album, these Carolina boys have grown leaps and bounds in their six years as a band. Their newest full length is the pinnacle of this sophistication, filled with passionate, approachable lyrics and a diligence to music composition that is unparalleled in the genre. Everything about the album from the structure of the songs to the track listing shows thoughtfulness and a deliberate nature, taking you along on the author’s personal journey as he loses his attachment to religion.
4. Get Dead – Honesty Lives Elsewhere
San Fran street punk has a certain, identifiable grit to it. It hits harder than most and can almost be heard echoing it’s unique sound off of the concrete gutters of The Tenderloin. Get Dead’s newest twelve track LP embodies this blue collar culture with frayed edges and imperfect harmonies laced with blazing punk rock guitar riffs. The fivesome has been in the game for about a decade now and over that time they’ve always put a premium on maintaining authenticity. So, even though each album is distinctive, I’m always delighted to know exactly what I’m getting with these guys.
3. Makewar – Developing A Theory Of Integrity
This ten track, debut album resonates with me mostly because of it’s powerful, evocative lyrics, delivered by the distinctive, unsteady vocals of Jose Prieto. Technically MakeWar is the newest band on my list but their prior folk incarnation Sad and French was a few years old before adding a third member and plugging in their instruments to become MakeWar. Add to that, that most of the songs on the LP are carry overs from their acoustic days and the album feels a little more seasoned than it actually is. Regardless, this LP got me in the feels on more than one occasion and that’s no easy feat!
2. PEARS – Green Star
Green Star is probably near the top of everyone’s list this year. You know ’em. You love ’em. So, since we’re all familiar, can I just take a second to exalt “Great Mt. Ida”? This is by far my most played track of 2016 for me. Everything about it makes my hair stand on edge. From the instant thump of the bass drum as the track kick off with PEARS-esque flair all the way through the end, as the tension slowly builds until coming to an abrupt, deafening silent end. If there were a song of the year list, this track may just bring home the gold. I cannot get enough. You can see why I dubbed these boys the Heartthrobs of Hardcore.
1. face to face – Protection
2016 marked the twenty-five year anniversary of this venerable act (although there was a major hiatus crammed in there). Coming off of a couple subpar offerings, I wasn’t sure what to expect when learning they had a new album coming out, Luckily, the veterans from Victorville didn’t disappoint. Every single one of the tracks is a hit and brought back memories of my salad days. Protection garnered the highest rating of any LP for me this year, nearly fetching a perfect, Five Star rating in my notoriously stingy point system. If you want to read more about why this album took the #1 spot on my list, just read my embarrassingly gushing review.
Add PEARS to My Radar