Shout Louder’s Top 10 Punk Rock Records of 2022

Written by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Hold My Pint.

2022 has been a great year for full-length punk rock records. Bands that sat on their album launch through the pandemic years, either by delaying recording or by waiting until they could tour to support the release, let loose in 2022 with a plethora of punk, hardcore and alternative rock gems. 

I’ve discovered a lot of new music this year. Looking at my friends’ recent Spotify Wrapped posts, it’s clear that Outbreak Fest had a major influence on our 2022 listening. Outbreak 2022 is destined to be a turning point in our collective cultural history – as Turnstile breach the mainstream, a rising tide lifts all the hardcore ships. Outbreak introduced a lot of folks to the likes of Drain, Scowl, Zulu and One Step Closer, as well as playing host to well-established artists with stellar 2022 album releases like Drug Chuch and Counterparts. Artists from Outbreak formed a big part of my listening in 2022, and three have made this top 10 listicle.

If I wasn’t limiting my list to ‘punk rock’, as Shout Louder’s raison d’être, my true album of the year list would include Ezra Collective’s Where I’m Meant To Be, Kojey Radical’s Reasons To Smile and a whole lot of noodly, jazzy math rock. Special mention also goes to some of the year’s other notable releases from the likes of NEXO, Press Club, Forever Unclean, ALLDEEPENDS, Fatalist, Sniff, Martha, Jamie Lenman and A Wilhelm Scream.

The Top 10 list below highlights my personal favourite new releases of 2022, however, it’s important to remember that music isn’t a competition. It’s available for everyone whenever we need it, and everyone’s subjective taste should be celebrated.

P.S.: For those who prefer to use their ears rather than their eyes, I’ve made a playlist of 2022’s Best Punk Rock Releases.

#10: Making Friends & Shackleford – Making Friends With Shackleford Split EP

This is straight-up EpiFat punk rock at its finest. Two bands with the sharpest talent for writing hooks, joining forces for six tracks of fast, fun punk. 

Making Friends is one of the most exciting emerging bands to make waves in the UK this year; a tight Brighton four-piece with a fresh take on all your old favourite skate-punk stalwarts. Their three songs on this EP are a fast sampler of more fun to come; I’ve had them on repeat this year. Full-length in 2023, please.

Shackleford surprise me every time I hear them – truly underrated, superior harmonies and self-deprecating singalong verses. They’ve got two new songs on this EP, plus a great cover of Bad Religion’s You.

Top Song: Die Trying

#9: The Latchkey Kids – 6/8 Sessions

The Latchkey Kids are a brand new band from Manchester, self-described as North West emo, a genre I didn’t know I needed. A distinctly British take on the mature Midwest emo tradition, Latchkey draw on years of experience in bands like Pendleton, Upstream Colour and Me & Three Others to create an accomplished, mature sound. 

The trio captured my heart with The 6/8 Sessions in the blend of vocal melodies with nuanced layers of guitar harmonies. They’ve got a knack for creative composition, underpinned by solid rhythm. Mike Hayes’ observational lyrics are a record of growing up and its challenges and responsibilities. It’s honest and insightful; a snapshot of life in your late thirties that brings to mind Soupy’s songwriting on The Greatest Generation and Suburbia

Top Song: Everything Is Fine

#8: SKIV – No Context Bangers

A wildly underrated pop-punk band, South London/Kentish punx SKIV lost their laddy veneer and dropped this intelligent, reflective collection of future anthems. Bangers is the perfect descriptor for this album full of solid gold, memorable tunes. 

The production on No Context Bangers gives the band a stadium-size amount of room to fly, channelling rockstars on certain solos and pure rock ‘n’ roll chugging rhythm guitars. With Jordan Harris and Conor Yates sharing lyrical and vocal duties across tracks, the album overall has more depth and variety than your average punk rock release. Themes range from homelessness to suicide, to lovelorn romance and all things in-between, clever and poignant throughout with occasional nods to the humour that drives the band. 

Finest lyric? “I’m Mario, you’re Bowser, emulate me in your browser.” Laugh all you want, but I can’t stop listening to this album.

Top Song: Thumbprint

#7: High Vis – Blending

High Vis is poised to conquer the world in 2023; the release of Blending in 2022 is a huge leap forward, forging their path into the mainstream. At certain times, a band’s sonic identity fits so cleanly into the cultural zeitgeist that there’s no trajectory apart from up – High Vis is that band right now. 

At the core of High Vis’ sound is a melange of emotive swathes of guitars and feedback; picking up where Johnny Marr left off. Graham Sayle’s coarse Scouse accent sits back in the mix, almost in a room of its own. The combination of the two lends Blending the nostalgia of recent memory: a sprinkle of Brit Pop stardom, the barbs of sweat-stained basement hardcore, and the aspiration of a working-class childhood. Blending is excellent, integral post-punk with a heart. I predict that the lyric ‘tears on my GoreTex’ will be the tattoo of the year 2023. 

Top Song: Trauma Bonds

#6: Catbamboo – Fervour

Punk rock? Maybe not. Math rock? Hell fuckin’ yeah. Whether it fits on this list is moot, because of all this year’s releases it’s gained the most repeat listens in Shout Louder HQ (barring album #1). This is an album not to be listened to but to be felt. Turn it up and let the rhythms and harmonics course through your veins. 

Catbomboo‘s Fervor is a delightful, inspiring romp through a polyphonic realm of riffs, runs and pitch-bending waves. The album is one of the finest of its genre in recent years, featuring a plethora of guest slots from the likes of Moray Pringle, Elephant Gym’s KT Chang and Fall of Troy’s Thomas Erak. Whilst mostly instrumental, Crave, featuring vocals from Kurt Travis (previously of Dance Gavin Dance) is probably the outstanding track on the album, perhaps after the opening song, Swindle (feat. Rafa Rodriguez). I’ll be sinking into the welcoming arms of this jazz-influenced math rock gem for years to come.

Top Song: Swindle

#5: Darko – Sparkle

Sparkle is four tracks of tightly-wound, complex melodic hardcore, demonstrating a shift in direction for a band that’s still hyper-charged with skilled musicianship. This is Darko’s first release with new vocalist Tom West, who brings clarity of both voice and message, communicating political intent through the bold use of metaphor. 

Musically, Sparkle is at its most glorious in its dynamic interludes. Lead single The Ladder drifts briefly into a reflective reverie; nestled in Quite are tense moments of near-silence and a bridge with an intensely satisfying guitar solo. My favourite moment of the whole EP is a jazzy breakdown in Cruel To Be that I’ve had to rewind and repeat – it’s got an addictive groove. After Bonsai Mammoth topped my AOTY list in 2017, I was a tad sceptical about receiving their new material, but I grow to love Sparkle more with every listen.

Top Song: Cruel To Be

#4: Roughneck Riot – Burn It To The Ground

The rising intro on We’re Still Here is enough to send chills up the spine of any punk rocker, before Burn It To The Ground hurtles through twelve tracks of exceptionally elaborate, riotous folk punk. Roughneck Riot are known as one of the country’s rowdiest live bands, but the quality of their recorded material far exceeds their peers as well. 

During an interview earlier this year, Roughneck told me that they’d recorded this album prior to their one-year hiatus. Post-pandemic, they revisited it, decided they could do better, and re-recorded the whole damn thing. Every drop of hard work that’s gone into creating Burn It To The Ground can be heard in the meticulous detail of every instrument: the banjo and mandolin are snappy, the double-kick wound tightly, and the backline a hard-driving force throughout. The vocals – particularly the gang sections, harmonies, and Cait Costello’s additions on tracks like Tired Eyes – are what really set this apart. Anyone can get a lead vocal right, but they’ve taken time to craft something exceptional with the additional parts.

An incredibly strong and ambitious release, compelled by passion, talent and political ire. 

Top Song: Fuck’s Sake

#3: Borts – Preach This! 

Preach This! has the polished energy of all the ‘the’ bands we loved in the early 00s – think The Vines, The Strokes, The Zutons  – with a distinctly modern facelift. Borts is a relatively new group from Salisbury that boasts a talent that far exceeds their tenure as a band. The quality of both production and songwriting on Preach This! alludes to a band with a lot more money and time than you’d expect from a little act playing support slots at The Joiners.

Borts have the clever, polished take on pop-punk that’s common to British artists like Martha, Fresh and Muncie Girls. Get Sold, Broke Alone and Like, Music Again are modern classics. If Borts stick to their guns and keep producing much that sounds this fresh and exciting, they’ll be topping festival bills in no time.

Top Song: Broke Alone

#2: Anxious – Little Green House

Little Green House is nothing short of incredible. When my mate Dave casually recommended the band in my Insta DMs back in February I wasn’t expecting to fall quite so completely into obsession, but Little Green House has everything I look for in an album. The vocals strain to a growl in moments of passion; the guitars are a waterfall; the lyrics hide little relatable gems.

Anxious play alternative rock that toes the line between emo and post-hardcore, creating accessible angst that’s refreshing and engrossing all at once. Whilst it’s got the hallmarks of a popular throwback (think Basement, think Jimmy Eat World), it doesn’t feel out of date, erring on the side of fresh rather than nostalgic. Big anthemic tracks like In April and Your One Way Street are an affirmative stamp of emotional intent. The sparkling melody that opens Growing Up Song is akin to dipping your toe in an ocean of transcendent hooks that are the undertow of the whole record. Little Green House is a record that’s easy to fall in love with.

Top Song: Speechless

#1: Militarie Gun – All Roads Lead To The Gun

Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes with me this year will have heard about Militarie Gun. I can’t stop listening to them; I can’t stop talking about them. I spend all my spare time hunting for new music, but nothing has captured my attention like Militarie Gun. 

All Roads Lead To The Gun is a combination of two EPs the band put out in 2021, plus a few choice new tracks. Frankly, it’s a travesty that it doesn’t include Pressure Cooker, which has to be one of the single finest punk rock songs ever written. 

Nevertheless, energy is what sets Militarie Gun apart. Even as the songs meander lazily through slower build-ups, the teeth-grinding tension of hardcore lurks in the background like a tiger waiting to pounce. The vocals take on a lo-fi quality, lackadaisical and laid-back through some of the verses, but barking concise choruses that will get trapped in your head. It was only on the 400th listen that I got truly analytical about it and decided the guitars are my favourite part of the whole record – there are some experimental tones coaxed from those six strings that are very much of the now; you’re not hearing them elsewhere. 

All Roads Leads To The Gun veers from relaxed to intense. The whole album feels very current; it’s worked hard for its slot at the top of the 2022 album of the year list.

Top Song: Ain’t No Flowers

While you’re here, check out our playlist of 2022’s best releases. You can also read my round-up of the year’s best gigs.

Written by Sarah Williams.

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