Top 10 Punk Rock Albums Of 2018

The punk rock albums that have endured the most repeat listens in 2018.

Written by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Cold Front Photography.

There have been an overwhelming number of excellent releases this year, and there’s no chance at Top 10 list will ever do justice to the talent out there. I have based this list on the punk rock records that have had the most repeat spins on my stereo this year, as I think it’s that long-term connection that gives an album real weight.

As Burnt Tapes once said, “This year’s been a weird one.” That lyric rung true enough for me in 2018 that I got it inked on my arm, and it’s really only gotten weirder since then.

One of the strangest things to happen to me in 2018 was being invited to join the crew at Lockjaw Records. As a result I’ve been able to work with some of my favourite bands. Clearly I’m incredibly biased towards bands I’ve worked with however I felt like I’d be lying if I didn’t include them here – I wouldn’t have volunteered my time and effort into the releases if I wasn’t completely in love with them.

Note: I’ve restricted this list to punk-related records, however my ‘true’ top 10 includes other genres as well. I’ve written a Top 10 Releases for the Lockjaw Records site that gives an even more accurate picture of my top picks. Notable mentions go to Kali Uchis, Jorja Smith, Tim Loud, Incisions, The Human Project, Nosebleed, Call Me Malcolm, Eat Defeat, Not Scientists and Spanish Love Songs.

#10: Tim Loud – Salvation

Tim Loud Salvation Album Cover

Since his days in Bootscraper, Tim Loud’s been a consistently entertaining songwriter and performer, however 2018’s Salvation is his darkest release to date. The record becomes a window into his soul at times, especially as it skips from genre to genre. The first and second halves of the album are distinctly different releases. Continue reading “Top 10 Punk Rock Albums Of 2018”

Top 5 Punk Rock EPs of 2018

Sarah’s Top 5 picks of this year’s shorter punk rock releases.

Written by Sarah Williams.

There’s a true beauty in a short, snappy EP. Whether is a new band looking for a cost-effective way to showcase their talents and learn how to record, or a more established act wanting to immortalise some of their current material, EPs are often better than full albums.

To me a full album is an experience. The longer playing time allows the music to breathe and have highs and lows. Conversely, the short, sweet EP is typically a relevant blast of the band’s most recent material: a audio snapshot of this moment in their career, with no room for filler, fuss or faff.

Speaking to Lasse from Forever Unclean recently, I asked him whether they were considering doing an album. “We prefer doing EPs,” he said, if I remember correctly (I was drunk, so let’s paraphrase). “That way we can put out music that we currently enjoy playing, without having to wait for a full album’s worth of material.”

The albums released in 2018 were probably written and recorded long before. With that in mind, the shorter, more manageable EPs offer a more current insight into the musical landscape. That’s why, to me, some of this year’s most memorable releases are the short ones.

#5: Layman’s Terms – An Invite To The End

Bristol shredders Layman’s Terms produced an absolutely superb 6-track effort early in 2018.  An Invite To The End opens with some heavy guitar-work that quickly develops into urgent, frantic fast-punk. Like Fair Do’s, they’ve taken a lot of elements of double-time classic skate-punk and blended some of the heavier elements of metal. It works. Really well.

The whole EP keeps you on the edge of your seat with some adrenaline-loaded riffs and momentary heavy breakdowns. It’s unrelenting, ferocious and suggests there will be some great things from the band in future. I cannot wait to shout along to this live.

If you want to hear melodic hardcore done right, listen to Cut The Line and Letters To The Dead. Layman’s Terms have nailed this. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock EPs of 2018”

Top 10 Live Bands That Blew Us Away in 2018

There’s nothing more exciting than live music and these are the best of the best.

Written by Sarah Williams.

A phrase that’s been whispered in the dark corners of venues this year is that we’re onto something big. We look back upon golden ages when underground scenes were thriving, like the late 90’s Household Name days, but there’s been a tangible undercurrent of something unique and special in 2018 that’s convinced me that we might be in the middle of one of those golden eras. I cannot begin to describe the feeling I get at a gig when I’m surrounded by friends and enjoying a band I love; there’s an electricity and a sense of community that cannot be rivalled.

Although we all bang on about our Top 10 Albums at this time of the year, I think live music is much more essential than the recorded variety. It’s live shows where you get to spit and scream and sweat with your fellow punks. You meet likeminded people, enjoy the bands you love and discover new ones. Live shows are the most essential part of our scene and our primary goal at Shout Louder has always been to get more people to go and support their local bands, venues and promoters.

I have seen an lot number of incredible bands this year, but here are the acts that really stood out. Go check them out in 2019.

Mad Caddies Punk Rock Holiday cred Silvy Maatman
Mad Caddies @ Punk Rock Holiday 1.8. Cred: Silvy Maatman

#10: Mad Caddies

I’ve caught Mad Caddies quite a few times in the past and, although I like them, I can’t say I’m their biggest fan. Perhaps as a result, I was absolutely blown away by them this year. Continue reading “Top 10 Live Bands That Blew Us Away in 2018”

Top 5 Punk Rock Festivals of 2018

Sarah’s favourite punk rock weekends of 2018.

Written by Sarah Williams.

2018 has been the year of the festival for me. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy quite a few.

One of the uniquely brilliant factors about the punk scene is that you develop close friendships with people in far flung cities and countries. Our community relies on big events like these to bring everyone together – there are some friends that I would describe as ‘close’ despite only seeing them at musical festivals every couple of months. There’s something about forgetting an entire weekend together that brings you even closer.

Human Project KNRD Fest 2018 cred Josh Sumner Cold Front Photography (63)

It feels a tad unfair ranking punk festivals when, clearly, I can’t go to every single festival. Notably, this year I was unable to make it to Pie Race Festival, Wotsit Called Festival or Level Up Festival, which I suspect might feature highly if I had.

Similarly, I went to some absolutely brilliant festivals that deserve some love that haven’t quite made it onto the list here. Specifically, I’d recommend Belgium’s El Topo Goes Loco to everyone – it’s small, sunny and always has an incredible line-up. I also fell in love with Belgium’s Brakrock Ecofest – anothering stunning location, easily accessible with an excellent roster of bands (looking even bigger in 2019). I also enjoyed Dugstock and Polite Riot at The New Cross Inn, plus handful of smaller fests around the country.

These were the five best experiences of my entire year:

Sbäm Fest_Astpai_Copyright_Andreas Wörister_Slihs Photography

#5: SBAM Fest – Wels, Austria

Going to SBAM Fest was a somewhat impulsive decision, in an effort to overcome the MPF post-festival blues. However, with Propagandhi, Iron Chic, Satanic Surfers and No Trigger it was a no-brainer.

After a seriously long trip (Manchester to Stansted, Stansted to Salzburg, train to Wels) I found myself in a cool location miles away from home; a converted slaughterhouse covered in graffiti and filled with affable punks. I caught bands from closer to home like Darko, Wonk Unit and The Murderburgers, plus some foreign highlights like Astpai and The Bennies. I also did some catastrophically hard partying that led to the worst hangover of the year – typically a sign of a good weekend. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock Festivals of 2018”

Top 5 Predictions For 2018

We cast our minds to the future to predict the trends in UK DIY punk for 2018.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Warning: this article is 70% ambitious, 20% self-indulgent and 10% late. Also, trigger warning: some mention of sexual assault.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for big, sweeping generalisations. How many times have you recently heard that ‘2017 has been a great year for music’?

In 2016 the big news in the entertainment industry was the unprecedented number of celebrity deaths. Last year focussed more on the aftermath of two disappointing votes: in wake of Brexit, Trump and the disappointing UK general election I found my ever-dwindling faith in humanity diminishing further, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

The world of DIY punk was even more uplifting than usual in the context of the depressing political climate. The creativity, talent and camaraderie present in our insular music haven is what gives me hope for society as a whole, and it has flourished in response to the shitstorm around us. I think that creative growth is likely to continue in the new year, which made me consider what else might be on the horizon for 2018.

Through a process of extreme guesswork and mild narcissism, below I’ve compiled my top predictions for 2018. I would love to know whether you agree and what your predictions would be.

#5: We’ll see some weird and wacky merchandising ideas

I encountered a plethora esoteric merch in 2017: miniature vinyl, hats based on obscure in-jokes, a band-branded jars of vegan honey…. There is a tradition within DIY punk to offer something other than the mainstream, but the rise of digital formats and pay-what-you-want releases pushes bands to invent new ways of staying afloat financially.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having more band t-shirts that will actually fit in my wardrobe (I recently spent 30 minutes debating whether to organise them by genre, alphabetically or by size – suggestions welcome). Although I want to financially support small bands at every opportunity, there are only so many shirts I can handle. Patches and badges are obvious; lighters and hats aren’t uncommon; Pizzatramp and Wonk Unit have baby-grows but I don’t think they’ll fit.

Colourful vinyl variants are now standard issue, satisfying the need for a physical product to accompany an album release however, with legions of DIY bands out there vying for our attention, there’s a demand for more unusual products.

I like to think that Andy Davies of Revenge of The Psychotronic Man is ahead of the curve in terms of creative and utterly ridiculous merchandising. In 2017 they’ve brought out an EP on cassette only, created a lift-up and reveal Mr Blobby themed t-shirt (below left) and produced two lines of baseball caps based on a drinking in-joke (below right). That’s on top of their epic ‘it’s fucking booze time’ clock.

Andy’s not alone in his endeavours. In 2014 Darko included ‘essential’ beard oil in some US releases of Sea of Trees, although I’m still waiting to be sold a Bonsai Mammoth plant. In 2015 Random Hand proved that punks love mugs, and yet I haven’t seen a DIY band selling mugs since (Mug are seriously missing a trick on that one).

Some things will be cost prohibitive but we can dream big. Matilda’s Scoundrels branded inflatable dinghy, for all your crowd-sailing needs? A plastic bobble-head version of Faintest Idea’s trombonist, Robin ‘Bobble’ Smith? Grand Collapse could have the monopoly on Jenga knock-offs. On the other hand, perhaps bands like Shit Present should stick to t-shirts… Continue reading “Top 5 Predictions For 2018”

Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

Descendents 2

This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”

Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017

Shout Louder’s selection of the most raucous punk get-togethers in the UK and further afield.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The only thing better than an all-day punk show is multiple days of punk shows. Festivals are undoubtedly the most important part of my year. You get to see your favourite bands, discover new ones and if it’s a bigger event there’s a good chance that your friends will travel from far and wide to party together. I love how punks from around the UK are drawn to gigs like Manchester Punk Festival or Wonkfest like a big punk rock Mecca; there’s nothing better than weekends spent watching bands, catching up and crashing on mates’ floors.

Admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of major festivals this year. This Top 5 is intended to be a personal and somewhat self-indulgent recollection of my favourite bigger events of 2017. Hopefully reading it will bring back some positive memories for you too.

#5: Wotsit Called Fest

  • When: September 29th – 30th
  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • Festival Highlight: Matilda’s Scoundrels’ riotous set

Wotsit Called Fest.jpg

2017 saw the second Wotsit Called Festival – a little DIY fest run by a collective in Hastings. It was a wonderful weekend away by the seaside, without a dull moment musically.

Friday was the huge party, serving as Matilda’s Scoundrels‘ release show for As The Tide Turns. They played an absolutley storming set full of dancing, crowd-surfing, human pyramids and all that malarkey. Following them were Nosebleed who caused their usual well-dressed ruckus, including a stage-invasion, getting out into the crowd and generally causing chaos. Getting to witness two of the UK’s best live acts all in one place in such an intimate setting was really rewarding.

The diversity of the line-up was what bumped Wotsit Called into the Top 5 for me. I greatly enjoyed starting the day with some skiffle covers, followed by melodic gruff from The Dead Anyways and then gradually descending into the entropy of Riggots via PizzatrampNatterers and The Crash Mats, among many others. This is still a relatively small punk gathering, but definitely one to watch for next year.

Check out our reviews here: Friday and Saturday.

 

#4: Wonkfest

  • When:  June 1st 2018
  • Where: Tufnell Park Dome and The Boston Arms, London
  • Festival Highlight: The raucous Pizzatramp pit

Wonkfest.jpg

At the start of Wonkfest I was joking with a friend that it might be funny to find the drunkest person at the festival at attempt to interview them. Later in the evening, I reached the unfortunate conclusion that the drunkest person at the festival may actually be me. As such, my memory of the headline bands is a tad hazy (Wonk Unit played, right?) and on the way home I fell backwards over my own bicycle and got trapped in a hedge for ten minutes. I’m not proud, but I did greatly enjoy waking up bruised, broken and covered in gold glitter. In hindsight, perhaps drinking vodka on the train at 9.30am wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Although it’s the drunken debauchery that will stick in my memory, the festival itself was as fantastic as it is every year. The gig is split between two stages, running 20 minute sets back-to-back with few breaks. It’s a format that works well, although you do have to skip a band if you want to eat, smoke or drunkenly make out with someone. Matilda’s Scoundrels opened the show with an aggro-folk riot, Spoilers were the closest things to Snuff that you’re going to find apart, perhaps, from Simon Wells playing a sweet acoustic set downstairs. Nova Twins were my highlight for the second year running; they’ve got an unprecedented amount of swagger. Aerial Salad and The Kimberly Steaks played exciting and energetic sets, between them managing to be so close to early Greenday that I felt justified in jeering at all the people paying to watch Greenday at Hyde Park the same night. Finally, the pit for Pizzatramp was one of the most wonderful, enjoyably violent experiences I’ve had all year. We got a huge rowboat, people crowd-surfing on inflatable pizza slices and general elbow-dodging chaos. What an incredible rollercoaster of punk fun. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017”