DS Playlist: Jay Stone’s Favorites of 2023 (Samiam and Bouncing Souls and the Hauses and Sammy Kay and Lucero and Chris Cresswell and more!)

As I was sitting here in my spacious corner office at DS HQ fanning myself with our quarterly profit-sharing checks earlier, it dawned on me that the close of 2023 brings with it the close of the first full calendar year since the resurrection of Dying Scene a couple of summers ago. It’s still a […]

As I was sitting here in my spacious corner office at DS HQ fanning myself with our quarterly profit-sharing checks earlier, it dawned on me that the close of 2023 brings with it the close of the first full calendar year since the resurrection of Dying Scene a couple of summers ago. It’s still a colossal work in progress (seriously – buy some of our merch so we can keep feeding the hamster in the wheel) so whether you’ve been reading us for years or you just checked in for the first time in 2023…thanks! Now let’s get on with the wrap-up!

I know what you’re thinking: “Jay usually does a super long Top 25 or whatever at the end of every year so I can’t wait to see how many he listed this year!” Well the joke is on you! I looked back at a lot of my old year-end lists and realized how many albums I had ranked super highly and then never listened to again, and how many albums I missed or ranked like #22 that became desert island albums over time, so I decided to go a different route. Yes, Samiam is a clear #1 “Best Album Of The Year.” The rest…well…you’ll see! Every release mentioned appears in the handy dandy little Spotify playlist at the bottom, so maybe pull that up while you read, yeah?

#1 HANDS DOWN BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR

SAMIAMSTOWAWAY

Much like its predecessor, 2011’s Trips, Stowaway had me hooked from the opening alarm bell guitars in the opening track “Lake Speed.” By about the 30-second mark, I had pretty much made up my mind that Stowaway would be my favorite album of the year, and ten months later that’s still the case. That’s not to say there weren’t other killer full-length records this year. You’re probably aware of my love of all things Lucero-related, and Should’ve Learned By Now is another dynamite album in ever-diverse catalog. The Fiddlehead record was excellent as always, and the debut Codefendants record has been in constant rotation since the summer. The new Bollweevils record is a welcome addition to any diehard punk-rock record collection. The Crossed Keys record rips. The new Gaslight Anthem record is not only great, but also great to have because it means they’re back and as good as ever. Northcote‘s new record was a great, stylistic departure that brought him in some new songwriting directions. Both Hause brothers put out home runs. Even the new Rancid record was super enjoyable. But this was Samiam’s year. This album is damn-near perfect in just about every tangible way.

COVER SONG OF THE YEAR

ULTRABOMB – “SONIC REDUCER”

This was a tough one. The national treasure that is Joshua Ray Walker put out a pretty killer album called What Is It Even? that consists of eleven covers of tracks made popular by female pop artists like Lizzo and The Cranberries and Cher and Whitney Houston. The other national treasure that is Austin Lucas also put out an EP called Reinventing Against Me! that is – you guessed it – an album of reworked Against Me! classics. But as a standalone song, I had to go with UltraBomb’s take on the Dead Boys’ classic “Sonic Reducer.” It’s the one song Greg Norton actually sings on the record, and it’s a cover of one of the first punk rock songs I remember ever hearing.

BEST SOLO RECORD BY SOMEONE WHO USUALLY FRONTS A PUNK BAND

CHRIS CRESSWELLTHE STUBBORNNESS OF THE YOUNG

This was another tough one. Jason Cruz put out another Howl record this year, and while I have loved Strung Out for many, many years, I really dig the Howl project and I’m glad he leaned back into it this year. But my goodness, the Chris Cresswell record floored me. Granted, it would probably floor me if Cresswell put out a record of him reading the York, Ontario phone book, but still. His voice is unique and his careful attention to the way he crafts a melody and a song is as tremendous here as it is in his “day jobs” with either The Flatliners or Hot Water Music.


BEST BOSTON AREA RECORD

REBUILDERLOCAL SUPPORT

This was another tough one, as there are so many cool bands in a scene that is growing ever more musically interesting and diverse. Fiddlehead obviously put out another amazing record this year. We can sorta claim Warn The Duke, and their record was great as well. Jesse Ahern has long been a personal favorite and he put out his best record to date. Cape Crush and Trash Rabbit and One Fall and Trailer Swift were all new on my radar this year. The K.C.U.F. record is super enjoyable in a throwback Lawrence Arms sorta way. Matt Charette‘s “4×4” is one of my favorite individual songs of the year by anyone. But I’ve gotta give the nod to Rebuilder. They capped off their tenth year as a band by releasing their long-long-long-awaited new full-length, Local Support. Their sound has grown – matured? – over the last decade and they’ve damn near perfected their melodic pop-punk thing. Stellar job, fellas.


BEST EP OF THE YEAR

SAMMY KAYINANNA

Another bang-up year for releases of the sub-full-length variety. Depressors released a few new songs for the first time in way too long and they’re wonderful and Rachel Quarrell is a wildly talented songwriter. The new Proper. EP is wild and aggressive and raw. Grumpster put out a new single that has me eagerly-awaiting their new record, which is exactly the point of releasing a new single, isn’t it? The Space Cadet Suede Originals record is so, so fun. I love those guys. The Drowns continued their flawless run. But the nod hear goes to Sammy Kay. You may have heard some of these songs in other iterations, but the work-ups on Inanna are raw and sparse and allow Kay’s one-of-a-kind voice to add layers of depth and gravity to the material.


BEST GOOD OLD-FASHIONED PUNK ROCK RECORD

TESS & THE DETAILSRUNAWAY

We should probably talk about the surprisingly solid Rancid record here. We could definitely tip our caps to the new Bollweevils record here. We could definitely give some love to the Grade 2 record here. We could definitely give props to the new Bouncing Souls record here. But holy hell, the debut record from San Francisco’s Tess & The Details rules. I have to admit that I had no real prior knowledge of this band before I heard the record, which landed in my email inbox which is and always shall be embarrassingly full of stuff I haven’t gotten to. I decided one day back in September to start sifting through it and came across a press release that started “Punk Rockers Tess & The Details…” and decided that’s what I’d listen to as the soundtrack for sifting and what a great choice. This album hits like a buzzsaw. The melodies are tight and catchy and the rhythm section keeps the pedal down and Tess’s voice and storytelling are honest and raw and compelling.


BEST RECORD I’M NOT REALLY SURE HOW TO CLASSIFY EXCEPT TO SAY IT’S GREAT

CODEFENDANTSTHIS IS CRIMEWAVE


The Codefendants’ record gets a category of its own because realistically, the Codefendants band exists in a category that’s all their own. Sure they’re probably best known in these parts for being Fat Mike’s latest side project, but the real stars of Codefendants are Get Dead‘s Sam King and New Haven’s own Ceschi Ramos (shout out to the Elm City). King has long brought his hip-hop background and sensibilities to Get Dead’s unique sound, and Ceschi is a compelling storyteller and songwriter in his own right. Plus, the album features cameos from Onry Ozzborn and the incomparable Stacey Dee and the one-and-only D.O.C. (no one can do it better).


BEST COMEBACK ALBUM

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM HISTORY BOOKS


Is it weird that even though I think the Samiam record is my hands-down favorite record of the year AND that it marked their first record in eleven years, I don’t really consider it a “comeback” record? Samiam didn’t really break up or go on an official hiatus. They still toured periodically – or at least played a handful of shows most years – so they didn’t really “come back.” But Gaslight did. They went on an official hiatus and then kinda got back together for the ’59 Sound anniversary shows, but stayed busy putting out solo records (Brian) or joining new projects like Mercy Union and Dead Swords and Bottomfeeder, and so it seemed like they were really gone. But now they’ve returned older and no doubt wiser and with new sounds and textures and perspectives to refresh their sound. I already reviewed the album earlier this year, but it’s good enough to deserve mention on this list.


BEST ALBUM BY A HAUSE

TIE: DAVE HAUSEDRIVE IT LIKE IT’S STOLEN & TIM HAUSETIM

Okay, yes, I took the easy way out here. Whatever, it’s my website, and if you’ve ever checked in here previously – say, over the course of the last dozen – you’re no doubt aware that Dave Hause is one of my favorite songwriters and performers and, frankly, people in this scene. Drive It Like It’s Stolen is my favorite of his solo records since Devour, and that’s high praise in my book. His personal and songwriting relationships with his younger brother Tim have been nothing short of admirable to watch grow and develop, and Tim has turned into a powerhouse songwriter and melody crafter in his own right. I hope they continue to write and record together for many, many years because it seems to me like they’ve got different enough styles and influences to continue to grow separately as artists while collaborating on their core.

There are definitely a few albums that didn’t fit into one of the above categories but are no-less worthy of mention too. The Nathan Mongol Wells record is super fun. Lydia Loveless’ new record is a grand slam home run. The Le Big Zero album is solid post-punk garage rock goodness. Oh wait, the new Sincere Engineer is awesome too. The Billy Liar album is a great listen, especially that song with Frank Turner. Oh, and let’s not forget the Structure Sounds record. The best thing to come out of Rhode Island since Del’s Lemonade or at least since Dave’s Coffee Syrup. The Inciters are a great DapTone-style soul group. The new Flying Raccoon Suit is probably the best ska record of the year. Wait, why wasn’t that a category? Next year, I guess. Check out all that and more in the playlist below (if you haven’t already)!


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DS Staff Picks: Dylan’s Favorite Punk Albums, EPs & Things of April, 2023 (Presented by Punk Rock Radar)

Hello, and welcome to the April, 2023 edition of Dylan’s Favorite Punk Albums, EPs & Things! This is the column where I, Dylan aka Screeching Bottlerocket, tell you what new punk rock albums, EPs and singles I enjoyed the most this month. This is a collaborative effort with our friends at Punk Rock Radar, with whom I’ll […]

Hello, and welcome to the April, 2023 edition of Dylan’s Favorite Punk Albums, EPs & Things! This is the column where I, Dylan aka Screeching Bottlerocket, tell you what new punk rock albums, EPs and singles I enjoyed the most this month.

This is a collaborative effort with our friends at Punk Rock Radar, with whom I’ll be doing a video version of this Best Of wrap-up each month. If you like discovering awesome new bands as much as I do, be sure to follow Punk Rock Radar on Instagram and YouTube, and keep tabs on their Upcoming Release Calendar.

Here’s our video for April (let us know what your favorite releases of the month were in the YouTube comments):

FRENZAL RHOMB
The Cup of Pestilence

Australia’s finest Frenzal Rhomb pick up right where they left off on Hi-Vis High Tea and Smoko At the Pet Food Factory. I had this penciled in as one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and unsurprisingly, it did not disappoint. Read my album review here.

NOT
Stop the World

Here’s another one you’ve probably seen a lot of hype for on the pages of Dying Scene (and elsewhere) over the last few months. NOT is a new ALL / Descendents inspired project featuring members of Mercy Music, Sharp/Shock & others. This record is excellent and reminds me most of Chad Price-era ALL albums like Mass Nerder and Problematic, while still sounding fresh and original.

CLAYFACE
Ailments

Manchester, UK’s Clayface made a great first impression with their debut album Ailments. Some of the songs have a cool Lawrence Arms-meets-Dead To Me kinda feel, but I’d place the overarching sound into the “orgcore” category. Fast and loose, rough-around-the-edges punk. Listen below and get it on vinyl here (US) / here (UK).

WASEI
Vulgar Misplay of Burkett

If you like basically anything Epitaph or Fat Wreck Chords released in the 90’s, you’ll wanna check out this new record from Italian skate punks WaseiVulgar Misplay of Burkett aces that classic Epifat feel without feeling stale or unoriginal in the slightest. Listen to the album below and get it on vinyl / CD here.

DEBUNKER
Misfortunes

Here’s another one for the orgcore enjoyers (ya know, that used to be a dirty word around these parts, but I’m using it quite liberally now!). It’s another debut album, this time from Texas punks Debunker. Misfortunes reminds me a lot of early Banner Pilot, especially the Pass the Poison EP. Super fast, great hooks, cool guitar parts. I like these guys and I think you will, too! Listen below; buy on Bandcamp.

FOOL’S ERRAND
Big Up The Impact

I’m not usually a big Oi! / street punk guy, but I’ll make an exception for this record from Las Vegas’ Fool’s Errand. Songs like the album opener “It’s a Problem” are slower and bordering on pub rock; others like “Know What I Mean” and “That’s Yer Lot” are fast as fuck and closer to a mix of Rancid and Bombshell Rocks. The whole record’s awesome, though. Get it on limited colored vinyl here.

OLDIE HAWN
Missing Time

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge old school pop-punk fan. If you like any band that was on Lookout! in the 90’s (Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Squirtgun, MTX, etc.), I have no doubt you’ll like this debut album from Corpus Christi, Texas’ Öldie Häwn. Nothing revolutionary going on here, but this is an extremely solid Ramonescore record.

FIGHTS
Scampirock

DS Band Spotlight alumni, Oslo, Norway’s Fights showcase their signature “boogiecore” (hardcore punk mixed with boogie rock) sound on their debut album Scampirock. It’s hard to explain what that sounds like, so I’ll just advise you to listen to it. This is a bad ass record.

TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET
So Dumb / So Stoked

I’mma be honest, folks. I wasn’t that stoked on the last Teenage Bottlerocket album; it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special either. So when I found out all four songs on their new 7″ So Dumb / So Stoked were tracks that didn’t make the cut for that album, I wasn’t too stoked on it either. Surprisingly, though, I like these songs more than most of that record. I think “It Wasn’t Enough” is the best of the bunch. Listen below; get the 7″ here.

THE MALPHS
Sometimes I Think About You

Australian pop-punks The Malphs‘ debut EP Sometimes I Think About You delivers six tracks of Ramonescore perfection. Check it out below, get the 7″ here (US) or here (AUS) and download the EP on Bandcamp.

LONG DISTANCE
Left For Dead

Look, another debut EP from an Australian pop-punk band! Newcastle’s Long Distance plays a very different kind of pop-punk from The Malphs, though. The band cites influences like Blink-182, Sum 41, New Found Glory, etc. and that’s evident in the sound on their four song debut EP Left for Dead.

JUGHEAD’S REVENGE
“Bridges”

“Bridges” is the second single from SoCal skate punk veterans Jughead’s Revenge‘s comeback EP Vultures, which is is due out May 5th on SBÄM Records. Pre-order the 12″ EP here (US) / here (EU), and check out the last single “I’ll Be Seeing You” if you haven’t already done so.

RANCID
“Tomorrow Never Comes”

Rancid caught everyone by surprise with the announcement of their new album Tomorrow Never Comes, and I’ve seen a lot of people lauding the album’s lead single (and title track) as a return to form for the band. I agree – this song is better than anything on their last two records – and I’m excited to see if the album makes the grade when it releases on June 2nd through Hellcat Records

INK BOMB
“Theme Song”

We hosted the exclusive premiere(!) for Dutch punks Ink Bomb‘s music video for their new single “Theme Song”. The video’s awesome, the song’s great. Can’t wait to hear the new album these guys (and girl) are working on.

ACID SNOT
“Biopsy”

I’ve been waiting for some new music from Barcelona’s Acid Snot since their debut album Attitudes was released in 2016, so I was really excited when I saw the band signed to Thousand Islands and Lockjaw Records. “Biopsy” is their first new song in 7 years, and it’s a real ripper. This is a big step up from that debut album. Looking forward to more to come from Acid Snot!

REHASHER
“Rabbit Hole”

Roger Lima simply does not miss, folks. The Less Than Jake bassist / co-frontman’s melodic punk side project Rehasher has long been one of my favorite bands. Their new single “Rabbit Hole” is the latest in a long line of bangers. I honestly can’t name a single bad Rehasher song.

BORDERLINES
“How Many Hours”

Here’s another one we hosted an exclusive premiere for! “How Many Hours” is the lead single from Portland, Maine pop-punks Borderlines‘ upcoming album Keep Pretending. Check out the music video below and lookout for the record coming this summer on Hey Pizza Records (LP), Mom’s Basement Records (CD), and Memorable But Not Honorable (Cassette).

FLYING FROGS
“Fenix”

“Fenix” is the latest single from Barcelona skate punks Flying Frogs‘ upcoming album WTF Is Going On, due out later this year on 20 Chords Records and Melodic Punk Style. It’s been 7 years since their last record Playing Again came out, but they haven’t missed a beat. Check out the music video for “Fenix” below.

STRIKE TWELVE
“Smart Phones, Stupid People”

Another recent pickup by our friends at Thousand Islands Records, SoCal melodic punks Strike Twelve are gearing up to release their new album new album Last Band Standing on June 30th. Check out the music video for the lead single “Smart Phones, Stupid People” below and pre-order the record here.

Hi-STANDARD
“I’m A Rat”

“I’m A Rat” is the final song Japanese punk veterans Hi-Standard recorded with drummer Akira Tsuneoka before his untimely passing in February. It’s a super fast skate punk song (supposedly written by Fat Mike) that recaptures the raw energy of albums like Angry Fist and Making the Road. Fat Wreck Chords is releasing a 7″ picture disc for the song and donating profits to Tsune’s family.

That concludes the April installment of the column. Thanks for checking it out! Keep your eyes glued to Dying Scene for all things punk rock and follow our friends Punk Rock Radar on InstagramYouTube, etc. Join us again next month!

Here’s a Spotify playlist with songs from all the releases featured in Dying Scene & Punk Rock Radar’s Best of 2023 series so far:

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