Rich is a staff reviewer. - ed.
Favorite 20 Album Releases in 2011
Whereas I find a lot of the melodic punk a bit too generic for my liking, Surrounded By Thieves managed to produce an album with enough variety and gear changes to make it highly enjoyable. With a good guitar sound and a decent lyrical content, this is not to be sniffed at.
One of the better pop-punk records this year, with the Copyrights displaying a slightly more mature approach and sound. Who needs Screeching Weasel any more when you can listen to bands like this?
A varied piece of work which highlights that melodic punk can be used as a backbone for exciting music which can make your pulse race and your arms flail playing any number of air instruments. To classify this just as "punk" would be wrong as it has so much more going for it and I'd recommend you seek this out and immerse yourself in the world of Police Teeth--seriously good musicians.
Night Birds: Fresh Kills Vol 1
A wonderful collection of Night Birds' early work. Thinks â80s SoCal punk and that gives you a massive clue as to what they're like but without being nostalgic rip offs.
I Surrender Records / Xtra Mil
A massive step up from their debut album. A harder edge, massive melodies and probably closer to sounding like the Movielife than perhaps they'd like to be but that is why I like this record so much more over their first effort.
Big Eyes: Hard Life
One of those special finds: total Ramones/Muffs worship with attitude to boot brought to you by this female-fronted threesome. Simple, straightforward and effective.
Welcome back! Face to Face are purveyors of fine melodic punk. They don't overstretch themselves as they know where their strengths lie: melodic punk rock with some great singalong parts. If they were from the U.K. they would come with approval from the Queen.
Omegas: Blasts of Lunacy
A tremendous assault on your ears--a classic, thrashy hardcore (non-chugga chugga) sound which is delivered with more gusto than should be allowed from one band.
Descendents worship doesn't come much better than this record, especially when mixed with a hardcore edge. This features great production too.
Fuzzed up, tuneful punk from these Bostonians. A wonderfully warm sound that wraps around you like a favorite sweater, with the added bonus of having catchy pop-punk songs to top it all off.
Ah, the Cornish boys release their first long player and it's a cracker. A great mix of all that is good about U.K. and U.S.A. melodic punk.
Locket Love Records
This bunch corner the Chicago sound perfectly with hints towards Naked Raygun throughout. However, don't discount the Husker Du and Stiff Little Fingers influences either. Features some great catchy songs and with any luck they'll be playing in the U.K. in 2012.
Bombed Out Records
The unprolific U.K. punks unleash a heady suite of songs on the world and in doing so thrust themselves right back into the public eye. I played this almost non-stop for three hours on the first day I had it and still find it a hugely enjoyable listen.
Samiam--one of the best bands to ever meld punk rock with melody and as usual they top the package off with some great lyrics. A massive return to form, both on record and live in 2011.
The WIFS are THE best party band in the world. If you want some musical rabble rousing, then call 1-800-WIFS: you won't be disappointed. Despite this album having a slightly different vibe to previous efforts it doesn't take it long to worm its way into your consciousness as the quality of songwriting is as high as usual.
Foreign Objects: No Sensation
Foreign Objects deserve a huge audience but will probably get cruelly overlooked. Eight tracks of punk/hardcore with a hint of new wave which readily brings to mind Dangerhouse Records output back in the day. This is impossible to ignore and totally lacks conformity and pretentiousness.
Night Birds' first full-length eclipses their earlier work and shows a band which is easily keeping one foot in the â80s whilst not missing out on the 21st Century. If only they had played in the Southwest of England when they toured the U.K., this might have made the top three!
Exene Cervenka has a serene voice and this is a timeless collection of country style songs. The word "beautiful" says it all and whilst many will say this isn't punk rock, it's Exene bloody Cervenka who is more punk than you, me and anyone else you care to name.
If this is to be Fucked Up's last proper album for a while then they've gone out with a bang. A massive wall of sound, as always, but with layers of complimentary guitars adding the intricate melodies from start to finish. Once again the vocals are provided by the behemoth who gargles glass for fun. I'm sure I won't be the only person here on Punknews who places this highly in their list.
Crazy Arm delivered the best album of the year by creating a sound that takes it influences from many sources. With some of the best lyrics around at the moment and a fantastic production job, for me this was easily the release of the year. Crazy Arm are no one trick ponies and can trade in high octane punk rock, like the track "Bandalito," with the best of them whilst being able to switch effortlessly to something more subdued like the gorgeously sentimental like "Little Boats," all interspersed with more of their quality roots-punk songs. Also the best live band I witnessed in 2011 by a mile. Someone should really be championing this band in the U.S.A.
Favorite 10 Singles/EP Releases in 2011
The Magnificent: 1981
The Magnificent are quintessentially British and "1981" is a cracking punk rock tune which points to their new album due out in 2012 being an obligatory purchase.
A sound that brings to mind such luminaries as Punchbuggy and All Systems Go!. Great pop-punk that would not be out of place on the Boss Tuneage label.
Black Lungs: Valley Of The Dolls
An abrasive duo of songs which go some way to matching the onslaught of the band's live show.
Louise Distras: Heartstrings on a Hand Grenade
The female Billy Bragg/Frank Turner. Louise Distras delivers a handful of songs which come across as both bleak and cheery in equal measure. This one woman show is on the up--catch her on the ascent.
Crow Bait: Three Tickle Guys
A week before the deadline for my first Punknews lists I came across this beauty. Within days of frequent listening from the Bandcamp page of the U.K. label involved (there's a total of six labels behind this cracker) I was hooked and a vinyl copy was winging its way to me. This shows that within the gruff melodic punk rock genre there are still some people capable of producing something highly enjoyable and far from generic
Dissociates: Drown This Town
The Dissociates are a band driven by a groove that will take over your body, causing jerky moments of madness. This EP captures their sound perfectly and is their best release to date.
Xtra Mile Records
Nervy, edgy, unconventional and at times quite dark (in subject matter) punk rock from Wales.
Post Teens: Post Teens
Sound Study Recordings
Furious. Frantic. Fast. Frenetic. Frenzied. Fun. Six tracks go by in a blur but what a hell of a blur it is.
Hmm, a tough one as I'm not sure seven tracks counts as an EP but what the hell, the band called it an EP so it features here and not in my top albums list. Careers In Science produce songs that are catchy and have an undeniable sense of humour attached to most of them. This is an enjoyable release from these Canadians and I always end up with a massive grin on my face when listening to this record and for some reason I REALLY love the drum sound on this. This is punk and rock.