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Bryne

Bryne: Best of 2009Best of 2009 (2009)
staff picks

Reviewer Rating: 5


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBryne
(others by this writer | submit your own)

What a difference a year makes. In 2009 I quit a cushy, high-paying job, sold my car, moved to a new city, was struck by a car on my bike which left me wheelchair-ridden for nearly a month, collected a massive amount of debt, and most importantly, slid into a news editor position here at Punkn.


What a difference a year makes. In 2009 I quit a cushy, high-paying job, sold my car, moved to a new city, was struck by a car on my bike which left me wheelchair-ridden for nearly a month, collected a massive amount of debt, and most importantly, slid into a news editor position here at Punknews.org. It's really been the best and worst year of my life, but I don't know where else I would be without this website and the opportunities it's given me, as well as the sense of community it has fostered over the past decade. Writing and editing news articles for Punknews.org has been really fun and extremely rewarding so far, and everyone on our staff has been extremely helpful to the 'new guy,' and most of the commenters have been okay, too. Thanks, buddies.

On another bittersweet personal note, my webzine/podcast What We Hate effectively ended in 2009, making way for my latest project, Overheated, which is slated to launch on January 4. It's going to be more Florida-slanted than my previous work, and I hope you'll check it out, even if you're not a resident of The Sunshine State.

As you'll read, 2009 was an awesome year for music. Put it this way: When I wrote my first draft of a list, it had sixty-five full-lengths on it. That's more than one release per week that I found to be at least decent. Cutting said list down to twenty was extremely difficult, and there isn't much of a gap from 1-20 here. Nevertheless, the mathletes on staff insisted that they be ranked, so here we go.

The Best 20 Records of 2009 (so says I)

         

20

    

Hellmouth: Destroy Everything. Worship Nothing.

    

January 6 on Ferret

    
If you thought Jason Navarro sounded pissed on the final two Suicide Machines records, his vocal work in Hellmouth brings to mind a man possessed, driven by nihilism and misanthropy, and most importantly of all, reborn. I'm a sucker for well-executed thrash-punk, and DEWN has it in spades.
    
 
         

19

    

Red Collar: Pilgrim

    

March; self-released

    
Red Collar's sound on Pilgrim takes the boisterous bar rock 'n' roll of the Hold Steady and fuses it with the angular guitar trappings made most famous by Fugazi, and it sounds awesome. These guys are definitely one of the most unique, innovative and thoroughly exciting bands in the underground today.
    
 
         

18

    

Broadway Calls: Good Views, Bad News

    

August 18 on Side One Dummy

    
Hooks aplenty, glossy production and heartfelt lyrics help Broadway Calls display a ton of focused growth with Good Views, Bad News.
    
 
         

17

    

Riverboat Gamblers: Underneath the Owl

    

March 10 on Volcom

    
Simply put, this is the Gamblers' potential fully realized. The production, the songwriting, the vocals, it's all amplified and improved on Underneath the Owl. See this band live if you ever have the chance; Mike Wiebe is the most entertaining frontman in punk right now.
    
 
         

16

    

Austin Lucas: Somebody Loves You

    

March 10 on Suburban Home

    
The barren wasteland that is country music still has hope, and it rests solely on the vocal chords of Austin Lucas. Somebody Loves You is fun for the whole family, and definitely the only record on this list that my grandma (or yours) wouldn't yell at me to turn down.
    
 
         

15

    

Banner Pilot: Collapser

    

September 1 on Fat Wreck Chords

    
Better production, a stable home in Fat Wreck Chords and a year of maturation did Banner Pilot quite a bit of good. Collapser has all the elements of Midwestern punk that many of us have come to enjoy -- gruffness, fuzzy melodies and plenty of heart -- but the genre has become so saturated in the past couple of years that it's doubly refreshing when a band does it right.
    
 
         

14

    

Castevet: Summer Fences

    

June 9 on Count Your Lucky Stars

    
I'm anxious for the band's supposedly shorter, more direct material, but despite a good amount of wanky musicianship, Summer Fences hits far more than it misses.
    
 
         

13

    

Shook Ones: The Unquotable A.M.H.

    

June 15 on Paper + Plastick

    
Every list like this needs at least one 'fun' record, and for this one The Unquotable A.M.H. is it. Tons of melodies, tons of "whoa"s, tons of fun. What more do you need?
    
 
         

12

    

City of Ships: Look What God Did to Us

    

July 21 on Translation Loss / Sound Study Recordings

    
No band this year did a better job of pairing sweeping, heavy, chaotic compositions with massive, throaty vocals than City of Ships. Here's to hoping they get out from under the radar soon.
    
 
         

11

    

Dear Landlord: Dream Homes

    

June 30 on No Idea

    
While the Copyrights -- the best pop-punk band in America, for those of you keeping score at home -- didn't release a full-length this year for the first time since 2005, Adam and Brett (along with Brad and Zack, formerly of Rivethead) helped ease the pain with Dream Homes, a quick listen meant to be played loudly and snottily sung along to in the room of one's choice.
    
 
         

10

    

Cheap Girls: My Roaring 20s

    

October 6 on Paper + Plastick

    
Another year, another awesome record from Lansing, MI power trio Cheap Girls. This time around, the band's on a more visible label, but their sound -- '90s-influenced alternative rock rife with unbelievably catchy melodies and Ian Graham's distinctive croon -- remains intact.
    
 
         

9

    

Guiltmaker: Dilemmas

    

June 24 on Kiss of Death

    
A last-minute addition to this list, Guiltmaker and this record, Dilemmas, have flown completely under the radar. It's a shame, too, because this is how good post-hardcore should sound. It's chaotically beautiful, dramatically engaging and the best record none of you have heard this year. Those disappointed in the surprisingly direct and somewhat derivative nature of Moneen's The World I Want to Leave Behind should sell back that record and use their store credit to buy Dilemmas instead.
    
 
         

8

    

Cobra Skulls: American Rubicon

    

July 14 on Red Scare

    
These guys were right to ditch the 'Cobra in every song title' gimmick. American Rubicon is an impressive collection of folk-tinged punk rock that never drags despite its large number of songs and somewhat long running time.
    
 
         

7

    

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed

    

September 7 on Epitaph

    
Frank Turner is the Mack truck on the road of punk-influenced Americana-by-way-of-England, and Poetry of the Deed is an unstoppable force of heartfelt, poignant folk that confirms the importance of Mr. Turner's voice in the scope of the scene.
    
 
         

6

    

Fake Problems: It's Great to Be Alive

    

February 17 on Side One Dummy

    
Naples, FL's favorite sons largely abandoned the folk punk tendencies of their earlier work and made an undeniably weird record in It's Great to Be Alive. What's even weirder is how well it worked.
    
 
         

5

    

My Heart to Joy: Seasons in Verse

    

June 30 on Topshelf / Asbestos

    
The band's decision to ditch their screamo leanings and embrace melody really helped them craft one of the year's best and most interesting records. Seasons in Verse will be difficult to top, but something tells me My Heart to Joy hasn't shown us all they're capable of just yet.
    
 
         

4

    

Thrice: Beggars

    

October 13 on Vagrant

    
Thrice's thoroughly interesting career arc continued with Beggars, a cohesive, heavy, bluesy, dissonant record that, surprise, sounds like nothing else in the band's catalogue. This band's refusal to remain stagnant and fall into a pattern perpetuated by a small, yet vocal number of fans (which a lot of bands can't escape) is admirable.
    
 
         

3

    

Bomb the Music Industry!: Scrambles

    

February 15 on Quote Unquote / Asian Man

    
Those who have dubbed Jeff Rosenstock the voice of a new generation aren't as misguided as one might think. No one in the scene does poignant commentary -- be it personal, political or otherwise -- as well as Rosenstock right now, and it doesn't hurt that his compositions are always original, engaging and throughly interesting, not to mention catchy.
    
 
         

2

    

The Sidekicks: Weight of Air

    

September 15 on Red Scare

    
Folks in my generation are just now beginning to hit that age where the '90s nostalgia rears its head, and the Sidekicks took all the best parts of that criminally underrated era and wove them into a sound all their own, replete with heartfelt sentiments and enough charmingly off-key yelling to excite anyone who remembers rock 'n' roll radio.
    
         

1

    

The Swellers: Ups and Downsizing

    

September 29 on Fueled by Ramen

    
Naming another band that made bigger strides this year than Flint, MI's the Swellers would be difficult. The group's relentless touring schedule (including a willingness to play anywhere with anyone) and hard work paid off huge dividends in the form of a deal with massive indie label Fueled by Ramen and an album, Ups and Downsizing, that saw the band refine their sound into something less wanky, more anthemic and more memorable overall.
    

Honorable Mentions

There were so many good records released in 2009 that could've easily cracked the top 20 in any other year. Here's just a sampling:

Heartsounds - Until We Surrender; Polar Bear Club - Chasing Hamburg; Dead to Me - African Elephants; Person L - The Positives; Teenage Cool Kids - Foreign Lands; Andrew Jackson Jihad - Can't Maintain; American War - Rhetoric; Teenage Bottlerocket - They Came from the Shadows; Used Kids - Yeah No; The Thermals - Now We Can See; Tegan and Sara - Sainthood; The Takers - Taker Easy; Strike Anywhere - Iron Front; Soul Control - Cycles; Shark Speed - Sea Sick Music; Set Your Goals - This Will Be the Death of Us; Russian Circles - Geneva; Red Fang - S/T; Paramore - brand new eyes; Orphan Choir - S/T; The Only Sons - Steel Hearts; O Pioneers!!! - Neon Creeps; Nothington - Roads, Bridges and Ruins; North Lincoln - Midwestern Blood; Noise by Numbers - Yeah, Whatever...; No Friends - No Friends; Nakatomi Plaza - Ghosts; Lucero - 1372 Overton Park; Low Red Land - Dog's Hymns; Jon Snodgrass - Visitor's Band; Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown; The Golden Age - Unlock Yourself; Doomriders - Darkness Come Alive; Converge - Axe to Fall; Dave House - Intersections; Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen; Mariachi el Bronx - Mariachi el Bronx; Brand New - Daisy; Attica! Attica! - Napalm & Nitrogen; Annabel - Each and Everyone; American Steel - Dear Friends & Gentle Hearts; Alexisonfire - Old Crows/Young Cardinals.

EPs/7"s/Demos

         

10

    

Lemuria: Ozzy

    

Hex

    
Get Better was one of 2008's finest full-lengths, and the sort of adorably awkward indie rock Lemuria perfected on that release is continued here.
    
 
         

9

    

Sakes Alive!!: Act II 7"

    

Cavity

    
It always seems like the second chapter of a trilogy is superior to the other two, and while we've yet to hear Act III, the second 7" from Sakes Alive!! in as many years is another engaging slab of pissed off, raging political hardcore.
    
 
         

8

    

Transit: Stay Home

    

Run for Cover

    
Transit's only been around for a couple of years, but they've already ascended to the top of the melodic hardcore heap with Stay Home. The title track is absolutely massive.
    
 
         

7

    

The Menzingers: Hold on, Dodge 7"

    

Red Scare

    
Hold On, Dodge could've been released as a one-sided 7" featuring just "Sunday Morning" and it still would've made this list, but the rest of the songs here showcase a growth for the Menzingers that, above all else, is exciting.
    
 
         

6

    

Red City Radio: To the Sons & Daughters of Woody Guthrie

    

The Independent Record Company

    
Get acquainted now, because once To the Sons & Daughters of Woody Guthrie sees a re-release through Eyeball Records, Red City Radio will suddenly become everyone's favorite band around these parts. Are you ready for the not-too-distant future?
    
 
         

5

    

A Wilhelm Scream: A Wilhelm Scream 12"

    

Paper + Plastick

    
I'm still not a fan of the production, but the songs, as per A Wilhelm Scream's usual, absolutely rip. Good luck trying not to play air guitar whenever "Skid Rock" hits your speakers.
    
 
         

4

    

The Lawrence Arms: Buttsweat and Tears 7"

    

Fat Wreck

    
I haven't spent as much time with this record as I would like, but it's the Lawrence Arms. It's catchy, it's gruff, it's densely intelligent, and it's a worthy addition to the band's impressive catalogue.
    
         

3

    

Defeater: Lost Ground

    

Bridge Nine

    
Engaging hardcore that manages to sound interesting and intelligent without getting too samey or wanky. It's a fine line, kids, and on Lost Ground Defeater makes toeing said line look elementary.
    
 
         

2

    

Farewell Continental: Farewell Continental

    

Paper + Plastick

    
Delightfully dreamy, often weird shoegaze worship from a mysterious Minneapolis supergroup that elects to use pseudonyms lifted from famous characters played by Harrison Ford.
    
         

1

    

Tigers Jaw: Spirit Desire 7"

    

Tiny Engines

    
Hyperbole aside, Tigers Jaw is the most promising young band on the planet right now. The title track of this 7" is the best song of the year. Get familiar.
    

Honorable Mentions

The Wild - The Wild; Cave In - Planets of Old; Iron Chic - Shitty Rambo; Lipona - Pigeonholed; Make Do and Mend - Bodies of Water; How Dare You / The Knockdown - split 7"; Young Hearts - Nowhere Kids; We Are the Union - The Gun Show Must Go On; Such Gold - Stand Tall; Small Brown Bike - Composite, Volume One; Kudrow - Lando; Psyched to Die - Sterile Walls; Only Thieves - Greetings from Levy Park, T.L.H.; Balance and Composure - Only Boundaries

My 2009 mixtape

    SIDE A
  1. Tigers Jaw - Spirit Desire
  2.  
  3. The Lawrence Arms - The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City
  4.  
  5. Paramore - Ignorance
  6.  
  7. Castevet - Space Jam: The Return
  8.  
  9. The Swellers - Fire Away
  10.  
  11. Lemuria - Ozzy
  12.  
  13. Frank Turner - The Road
  14.  
  15. Bomb the Music Industry! - Sort of Like Being Pumped
  16.  
  17. Banner Pilot - Starting at the Ending
  18.  
  19. Sakes Alive!! - The Open Maw
  20.  
  21. Broadway Calls - The Wake Up Call
  22.  
  23. Austin Lucas - Somebody Loves You
  24.  
  25. Defeater - The Red, White and Blues
  26.  
  27. My Heart to Joy - Seasons in Verse
  28. Farewell Continental - Do You Wanna Tangle?
    SIDE B
  1. Guiltmaker - Convocation
  2. Red City Radio - We Are the Sons of Woody Guthrie
  3. Transit - Stay Home
  4. The Sidekicks - Small
  5. Thrice - Doublespeak
  6. Dear Landlord - Last Time I Checked
  7. Red Collar - Hands Up
  8. City of Ships - Wraiths in Flight
  9. Fake Problems - Heart BPM
  10. Riverboat Gamblers - Catastrophe
  11. Hellmouth - Crooked Teeth
  12. Cobra Skulls - There's a Skeleton in My Military Industrial Closet
  13. A Wilhelm Scream - Skid Rock
  14. Cheap Girls - Ft. Lauderdale
  15. The Menzingers - Sunday Morning

Records that will be out in 2010 that are verifiably awesome

Gatorface - Wasted Monuments; Native - Wrestling Moves; Pianos Become the Teeth - Old Pride

Most anticipated in 2010

2010 looks to be a fantastic year on paper, with new material expected from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Against Me!, Motion City Soundtrack, Bayside, Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion, Tim Barry, Crime in Stereo, Castevet, Dillinger Escape Plan, the Menzingers, Murder by Death, Look Mexico, Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves, forgetters, Swingin' Utters, the Riot Before, Hostage Calm, the Thermals, Spanish Gamble and probably several others.

Thanks for reading.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Pinhead Gunpowder - Compulsive DisclosureArmalite - ArmaliteThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Paint It Black - New LexiconRed City Radio - To the Sons & Daughters of Woody GuthrieBroadway Calls - Good Views, Bad NewsParamore - Brand New EyesThe Flatliners - CavalcadeThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangOff with Their Heads - In Desolation

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
xshoutoutx (December 31, 2009)

SO happy to see Red City Radio on here! They fucking rule, and Garrett is honest to Satan the craziest motherfucker on either side of the Mississippi! I would also like to mention 10-4 Eleanor's "Too Bad," which was also a great 09 release!

insinceredave (December 31, 2009)

Nice to see My Heart to Joy getting a mention. It really is a great record and helps to fill the hole left by Texas is the Reason.

icapped2pac (December 29, 2009)

"Those disappointed in the surprisingly direct and somewhat derivative nature of Moneen's The World I Want to Leave Behind should sell back that record and use their store credit to buy Dilemmas instead."

Once again, you speak the truth. I really hope more people check that record out because it's damn near flawless.

telegraphrocks (December 29, 2009)

FUCK YES! to two of my Top 3 in your list (Hellmouth and Cobra Skulls).

You get the TelegraphRocks Award... I jerk off into your butt while we both eat pizza.

chrisss (December 29, 2009)

I have never heard the term "wanky" before in my entire life, and I'm like 90 years old or something

jeremyRVN (December 29, 2009)

who knew so much shit this year was "wanky"

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