So this year is over and we're not dead yet? fuck you Nostradomus! This year has seen lots of great releases and narrowing it down to ten is difficult. I noticed, first of all, that there are a lot of Epitaph releases on my list (including Hellcat and Burning Heart), however that's simply a testament to the great stuff they've been releasing lately (especially Hellcat). This has been a year when a lot of bands have moved around, plenty of signings / member changes / hype for upcoming releases. With most of punk's powerhouses slating releases for 2002 it's looking to be an amazing year. Anyways, here's my list of what I enjoyed in 2001, I say "enjoyed" because I'm not going to put down the music which I haven't heard. I'm sure there's plenty of great stuff out there I've yet to discover‚?¶
Who Rocked The Casbah in 2001
(In no particular order)
Fugazi - The Argument
(October 15, 2001 on Dischord)
I was late on picking this up but I'm so glad I did. Fugazi continue to innovate, to grow and to improve their sound.
Much more melodic than previous releases, but still retaining the amazing energy
the band captures, once again proving that they're worth all the acclaim they get. Really a beautiful album by one of the best uncompromisingly independent bands out
The Nerve Agents - The Butterfly Collection
(July 24, 2001 on Hellcat Records)
The Nerve Agents tear through a half hour of hardcore and Misfits-style imagery on this release.
More in line with classic hardcore then the current crop of
metal-saturated bands. As AFI brings a similar combination to the mainstream, the Agents prove they can do it faster, better and with more heart.
Strike Anywhere - Change Is A Sound
(August 14, 2001 on Jade Tree)
Fantastically well written melodic hardcore. The band's socially relevant lyrics touch on everything from police brutality to the anti-corporate movement to women's rights. A big departure from recent Jade Tree signings but one of the best releases of 2001, hands down.
Randy - The Human Atom Bombs
(April 09, 2001 on Burning Heart)
This is how pop-punk should be, with ridiculously catchy choruses and just enough production to compliment the songs. Lyrically the band is smarter and more relevant then any of MTV's
favourites. Along with the garage-punk sounds of the Hives and T(I)NC, Randy is yet another example of the great music coming out of Sweden today.
Leftover Crack - Mediocre Generica
(September 11, 2001 on Hellcat Records)
Leftover Crack embodies many of the same qualities of the Dead Kennedys in their prime: Strong urban politics dealing with (in
LoC's case) homophobia and poverty, as well as sarcastic humour. Stza and the crew deliver an album ranging from 3rd wave ska to hardcore to thrash and punk rock. The band embodies the nihilistic punk spirit better than anyone.
The (International) Noise Conspiracy - A New Morning, Changing Weather
(October 15, 2001 on Burning Heart)
Read my review here. The Swedish neo-political scene has had a fantastic year with T(I)NC and Randy both on top of their games. "A New Morning" improves on the weaknesses of their past releases... Now everybody dance...
Propagandhi - Today's Empires. Tomorrow's Ashes
(February 6, 2001 on the G7 Welcoming Committee)
This Winnipeg trio returns a changed band. John Samson took the pop aspects with him to form the amazing Weakerthans, and was replaced by Todd Kowalski of Swallowing Shit. Propagandhi calls their present sound "progressive thrash" and with the addition of Todd's grindcore influences the band pulls it off. Fantastic guitar work, great political lyrics and a multimedia feature full of intelligent activism make this one of the best releases of 2001.
Hot Water Music - A Flight And A Crash
(June 5, 2001 on Epitaph)
I'm not an old HWM purist, and in that respect I really enjoyed this release.
Good, original, passionate post-punk songs with great lyrics and a refreshing
instrumentals. If fans who have followed this band for ages think that this is a
downward turn, then hell their older stuff must be amazing.
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Global A Go-Go
(July 24, 2001 on Hellcat Records)
Read my review here. One of punk's pioneers releases a worldly collection of songs covering many musical genres. Experimental but not pretentious, activist but not without a sense of humour, Strummer is still on top of his game.
Constantines - S/T
(June 5, 2001 on Three Gut Records)
Yeah, that's right, I'm amending my Top 10 list almost half a year later... The
Constantines debut album is some of the most interesting and original "post
punk" I've heard. Think Fugazi with roots rock influences. Subtle but far
more interesting than the latest crop of "screamo" bands out there.
This band is getting a huge amount of well deserved buzz by the Canadian music
press right now... check them out.
Grade - Headfirst Straight To HellI was at the release party for this and Grade tore it up. The album is not altogether a disappointment and has some great songs, but after "Under the Radar" expectations were much higher. The band has turned away from its pop side, however they have replaced it with an obsession with death that can be seen in the lyrics and artwork. Not bad, but not great either.
(August 21, 2001 on Victory)
Dead Kennedys - Mutiny on the Bay I wish this album could have come about under better circumstances, instead it is another blow in the war between Jello Biafra and East Bay Ray. These tracks were compiled from a series of shows between `82 and `86. That formula for a live album that worked better for the Clash when they attempted it. Biafra's vocals are mixed extremely poorly compared to the brilliant instrumental work. Unfortunately, the DK's work best as a sum of their parts, the squabbles between ex- members should have ended in the courtroom, not with this album.
(April 24, 2001 on Manifesto)
H2O - GoH2O's fantastic live show is betrayed by the major-label production put into this. H2O are still fantastic songwriters and a terrific group of guys, but they have certainly done better than this album. I miss the band's melodic hardcore, which has been traded (in some cases) for a more timid new-wave influence. I still have faith in Toby and the guys, but this just didn't make the grade‚?¶
(May 15, 2001 on MCA)
Anticipated Albums of 2002
Hot Water Music / Alkaline Trio - SplitEverything I've heard from it has been on par or better than the two bands latest releases. This should be one hell of an EP‚?¶
(to be released on January 22 on Jade Tree)
Nekromantix - Return of the Loving DeadPsychobilly is growing on me and Hellcat seems to be leading the invasion. If Nekro's past releases are any indication, this should be a riot‚?¶
(to be released January 29 on Hellcat)
Thrice - The Illusion of SafetyLots of positive buzz has been building around this release, we'll see if it lives up to the hype‚?¶
(to be released February 05 on Subcity)
Bad Religion - The Process of Belief no shit‚?¶
(to be released January 21 on Epitaph)