Written by Sarah Williams.
Another year, another deluge of arbitrary Top 10 selections. We punk rockers love a list, and it’s fun to take a nostalgic look back at the past 12 months.
I’ve mapped out a lot of 2019 in records that are a far cry from the punk rock genre, although ethically they’re still subversive and alternative. My true Top 10 of 2019 would include albums by P Money, Lizzo, Loyle Carner and Kevin Abstract. You can read it over at the Lockjaw Records website.
Nonetheless, there have been some great punk rock releases this year. Here are my Top 10 Punk Rock Records of 2019. Yes, it starts with #9… the reason will become clear at the end.
#9: Dankeschatz – Ein Lamento
At KNRD Fest 2018, Dankeschatz sparked a big discussion about whether a European hardcore band could ever be popular while still singing in German, rather than English. I’ve seen them turned down for UK shows because of their native voice, but I think it adds so much depth and venom to their bitter, cacophonic songs that it’s foolish to overlook them.
Dankeschatz have nailed it musically. They convey a weight of anger and emotion through torn vocals and grungy guitar-and-drums simplicity. It’s a sonic call to arms, rather than an easy listen. Ein Lamento is a superb EP, even better when twinned with their earlier release Jaja… on the 12″ vinyl they pressed both onto.
#8: Disaster Forecast – Another Day, Another Disaster
Many things land in the Shout Louder inbox and we make an effort to listen to all of them, however Disaster Forecast were the most stand-out email of the lot.
A relatively new modern skate-punk band from Sheffield, I was won over within a few bars of listening. It’s the energetic, complex punk rock I want to hear. I caught them live at Nice As Pie Fest and they absolutely lived up to the recorded materials.
At only five tracks, I’m also very excited to see what Disaster Forecast put together in future.
#7: Wolfrik – Skeleton City
Technically this was released in Canada in 2018, but Lockjaw Records released it in Europe in early 2019, so it counts!
Wolfrik are absolutely stunning, insane melodic thrashers from Edmonton, Alberta. Their Skeleton City EP was deemed ‘shit yourself good’ on first listen. I’ve never really heard anything like it, and I’ve definitely not gotten sick of it since.
The EP’s got a lot of variation. Predator and Sarcophagus are huge, huge bangers. The title track is a hopeful, glittering coda. Crowbar is my ultimate tune though: it the heaviest on the record, descending into dirty, distorted riffing at the end. Bloody good live as well.
#6: Much The Same – Everything Is Fine
I was excited to hear new music from Much The Same, but Everything Is Fine exceeded my expectations by a mile (and echoed my most-referenced memes of all time).
More than a well-written skate-punk album with pop-punk sensibilities, lyrically it’s a weighty and important record. It discusses battling with cancer, struggling with a broken home (both your own and your parents), and overcoming adversity.
It’s an excellent album, worthy of many a repeat listen, with a lot of talent and time baked in.
#5: Burnt Tapes – Never Better
Burnt Tapes’ debut album is the follow up to one of our favourite EPs of 2017: Alterations. I always knew it would be good, but the band have created a rounded, considered record that holds your attention for every song. Their production and the depth of their compositions is now second to none; they’re pros at this.
This could easily have been my favourite album of 2018, as I rinsed it in September (privy to a pre-release copy), but it wasn’t made public until we released it on Lockjaw Records in February 2019. It’s likely that this would hold a top slot in my albums of the decade, if I were inclined to write one.
#4: Triple Sundae – Glow
TripSun (as they’re more often known) bring a modern heartbeat to each of their releases. Their 6-track Glow is a small-but-perfectly-formed package, expressing emotion, discontent and hope in an envelope of enticing melodies.
Glow has everything that I want from a melodic punk EP: gruff vocals, layers of guitars, a considered rhythm. It contains some of the most tattoable one-line lyrical gems I’ve heard all year: “How do I focus on my breathing when I’m running out of breath?”
Triple Sundae are one of the most talented bands around. Get swept up with them.
#3: Fabled Mind – Passenger
A hidden gem of a release, the first album from new Danish melodic-punks Fabled Mind has captured my imagination.
They’ve weaved skate-punk technicality into tuneful story-centric songs. They’ve released excellent videos this year, played UK and Danish tours and we’ve booked them to fly over for Do It Together Fest.
Passenger was strong on first listen, but it’s continued to grow on me; I’ve stuck it on two or three times a week, and on every listen I hear something new.
#2: Press Club – Wasted Energy
I wrote a detailed article about my love of Wasted Energy, and how an album can sometimes capture a distinct moment in your life.
I found myself listening to Behave on the 142 bus down Manchester’s Oxford Road one morning when it hit me. Press Club express a deep, frantic energy inside me – anger buried in riffs and melodies.
The raw passion of Wasted Energy is a treat to listen to; not unnecessarily polished, still teeming with restless live electricity. This is a special album, one well worth discovering if you haven’t already.
#1: Not On Tour – Growing Pains
Not On Tour’s brand is short, energetic tunes delivered at pace, with a snappy, sassy humour that sparks an instant joy. I challenge any punk rock fan not to enjoy this perfect package of punchy songs.
This Israeli band have gone further and grown larger than ever this year. As they’ve gained the recognition they deserve for years of hard work and positive attitudes, it’s not changed them. They’re still writing solid, infectious songs, playing raucous shows, and grinning through everything.
Growing Pains also tackles some difficult topics, bringing a positive light to them through their upbeat composition. When there’s challenges in our personal and political universes, we need bands like Not On Tour to keep us smiling.
The truth is that my #1 Album Of The Year is (for the first time ever!) not from a punk rock band. Slowthai‘s Nothing Great About Britain has been top of my listening list all year, far exceeding everything else I’ve heard.
For those who aren’t familiar, Slowthai is at the top of UK alternative hip hop. Although his wheelhouse is grimy bangers, his lyrical themes are every bit as subversive as punk rock should be. Each song is a brutal social commentary about UK society, government, police and culture. It’s one of the best album I’ve ever heard.
I love that DIY punk rock has opened me up to other genres and made me less of a musical snob. Our punk culture has a lot in common with hip hop and grime, and we should be open minded enough to integrate the two in our listening.
Here’s to a great new year, and a great new decade. I’m excited to see what comes.
Written by Sarah Williams.