[Ricky Frankel is a staff reviewer at Punknews.org.]
Hey Punknews! Itâ€™s Staff Reviewer â€œTrickyâ€ Ricky!
2014 was a huge year of change for me. I was brought onto the Punknews.org staff in
late January as a staff reviewer and a podcast panelist, which has been insanely fun and
rewarding. I graduated college in May, which meant that I had to move from the Bay Area
back to Los Angeles to launch my own online business leaving behind awesome friends and
a great punk scene. How big of a change between school and getting into the â€œreal worldâ€ is
a completely understated.
This summer I made it my mission to get back into the LA scene now that Iâ€™m back for good.
Before I started writing this I counted that I have been to 26 punk shows so far this year.
Iâ€™m pretty sure that the LA shows have out numbered the amount of Northern California
shows I have been to by now. I will never forget the shows I saw at 924 Gilman in Berkeley
and The Phoenix Theatre in Petaluma. I will always love NorCal punk!
However, one of the best weekends of my life happened this year from Friday, May 23 to
Sunday, May 25. For a graduation gift (from me to myself), on Friday I saw Night Birds and
Leftover Crack open for The Adicts at The Observatory in Santa Ana and on Saturday and
Sunday I went to both Against Me! shows at The Roxy in Hollywood. I even managed to go
to the signing the band had in Echo Park on Sunday before the show. It was exhausting, but
totally worth it.
2014 was also a really great year for new releases; some of which I had been looking
forward to for at least a year and some caught me completely by surprise. Iâ€™m pretty sure
my vinyl collection has doubled in size because this.
Hereâ€™s to another great year of releases in 2015!
For the first Body Count in eight years this was exactly what I was expecting;
over the top lyrics with crunchy guitar chords, fast drums, and wailing guitar solos.
What I wasn't expecting was that their cover of Suicidal Tendencies song
"Institutionalized" was going to be SO GOOD. They updated the lyrics to be more
relevant and I found them to be pretty funny. "OPRAH AIN'T GOT NO MAN!"
It's amazing that SLF are still going strong after being a band for more than
35 years. They have kept their unique sound even with this latest album. I always
felt that the scene had a habit of overlooking them. Big mistake if you have!
I didn't get the appeal of this band when they first came onto the scene until I
saw them live. It totally changed my mind and hearing M.I. for the first time sealed
the deal for me. The band upped their vocal complexity, while keeping their Ramones-
esque musicianship top notch.
Here's another band that totally took me by surprise. As soon as I heard
the phrase "Eat rocks Mom and Dad!" in "Don't Tell Me Don't!" I knew this was going to be great. Shit Week is angst-y, in-your-face and the
band has no problem taking on any kind of punk subgenre on this album from folk punk to
Since I heard "Cigarette Reflections" on the Punknews Podcast a few
years back I've always been a fan of this band. This album in particular though is a
milestone for them because you can hear just how much they have matured as musicians in
I really like how diverse the band got on this album from the awesome melodic
street punk material like "We Are Your Garbage" to the folky stuff like
"Spanish." They took a bit of a risk on this album and it definitely paid off.
The Menzingers are four for four in my book. I love all of their releases. Their
sound has evolved really nicely and they have grown so much as a band. Yes, I do really like
the song "I Don't Want To Be An Asshole Anymore," but I have to admit that
the "The Talk" is my favorite track off this one.
Anything Brad Logan is involved with there's a more than likely chance
I'll be on board. Dead End is no exception. I remember seeing Rats In the Wall
open for Leftover Crack in April 2013 (before they had released anything) and after seeing
them play I couldn't wait for them to release something. This album has an incredibly
dark sound and it is extremely lyrically provocative -- Â¦exactly what I was hoping for.
This is hands down my favorite Gimmes release to date. They have always been
able to make (what I think are) horrible original songs into kick-ass punk rock jams. I
never thought I'd ever find myself listening to "I Will Survive" or "I Will
Always Love You" without being forced.
Andrew Jackson Jihad is another band that had a very big year: a new label, a new
sprinter van, a new record, a Fest edition EP and three new permanent band members.
It looks like the duo era is over, but they just keep chooglin' along and
putting out some great folk-punk. They still have their dark sense of humor and really great
imagery in their lyrics, i.e. my favorite song off this record, "Children of God."
Eight years since their last full-length and The Lawrence Arms easily picked up
where they left off. "Seventeener" especially is such a great song, but the music
video they made for it made it even better.
I've always been a bigger fan of The Dwarves' aggressive melodic songs
more than their hardcore stuff. That's probably why I was so into this album when it
came out. I'm really looking forward to the Gentleman Blag EP that is coming
out on Fat Wreck Chords next year.
Admittedly, I'm a bit late with World/Inferno, I have had to do some catch-
up listening to their earlier material, but I've always liked Addicted to Bad
Ideas and Red-Eyed Soul. But seeing them live this year for the first time and
constantly listening to this album has sealed the deal for me. I have become a devoted
Infernite. Alternative Tentacles is clearly a great home for this band. They have that sort
of weird edge/attitude that Alternative Tentacles embraces. To those who think concept
albums don't work, here is one that is executed masterfully. I absolute love the tracks
"Dolce Far Niente," "American Mercurial" and "Taken Down a
Peg I Help Out the Squatters in the Subway," but the whole album is fantastic. Who
knew the universe spoke Spanish? I'll tell you who -- only Jack Terricloth could have
I don't care what Adam White says! Pup's debut album was released
in America in 2014 so it definitely makes my list! Here is another album and band that
caught me by surprise. Admittedly, I didn't know of them when they were called
Topanga, but once I heard the song "Reservoir" later on when they were PUP
I was hooked. This album is so musically dynamic and that's what I love about it.
There's "Guilt Trip," "Reservoir" and "Back Against the
Wall" that just rip, there's "Yukon" which is sort of bluesy, and then
there is "Mabu" which has that indie sound, awesome guitar work, and suddenly
goes into these incredible vocal harmonies towards the end. I saw them play live twice this
year and let me tell you, Pup puts on one hell of show.
I couldn't sleep one night, so I decided to listen to Ryan Young's
Anxious and Angry podcast and it as the episode where he introduced PEARS to
the world by playing "You're Boring." I was in utter disbelief of what I had
heard. So I rewound it and listened to the song three more times. I couldn't believe
how the band was able to combine hardcore and melody into one song. I bought the digital
version immediately and then pre-ordered the white vinyl copy. Obviously, this was a
record that was a complete surprise to me. It literally never gets old. I find something new
that I like about it almost every time I listen to it. The song "Terrible" and their
cover of "Judy is a Punk" are so great. There's a ton of replay value here. Not
to mention the fact that it's self-released which gives me hope that DIY punk is not
dead. I saw them live and had the pleasure of meeting them at the show. It was one of the
best shows I have ever seen. Zach Quinn was born to be a frontman and the rest of
band was born to shred.
Against Me! is a minor obsession of mine. I saw them four times
this year and I own at least one copy of everything the have put out on vinyl. It's been
a big year for them. They had a major line up change, they released this record (along with
two other EPs), Laura filmed True Trans and they have been touring non-
stop. This was one of those albums I knew that was going to be awesome. When I saw
them in 2012, only a few weeks after Laura came out, they played early versions of the
new songs and it was spectacular. After over a year of waiting and searching through the
Internet for news on Transgender Dysphoria Blues, it turns out was totally worth
the wait. This album rocks from the title track to "Black Me Out," the best way
to end such a heavy record. And it has great message of self-acceptance without being
preachy. I can't wait to see what they release next.
I have always been a huge fan of Morning Glory's earlier material and I really
liked Poets Were My Heroes, but I wasn't prepared for this even after listening
to "Pet Monster," the Always Alone EP and the Born to December
EP (over and over again) in 2013. If there were a category for "Best Album
Cover of the Year," this would be my pick. When I listened to War Psalms all
the way through for the first time I was speechless. I couldn't believe how musically
complex the instrumentation was. All of the songs transition seamlessly. They seemed to
have transitioned from ska-punk to this juggernaut-of-a-band with incredible anthemic
melodies. In this album they have brought back the horns and violins and cranked up the
distorted guitars, while mellowing it all out with just the right amount of piano. Ezra Kire
and the band are some of the most creative and talented musicians in punk right now.
Regardless of whether this is M-Glory's new sound or it keeps evolving, I think we can
expect great things from them in the future. I have always wanted to see them live, but now
I am dying to.
This was a perfect follow up to Wasted Years and my favorite (April)
Record Store Day release. It's loud, mean, and rowdy and it's OFF! at their finest.
The fact that Shepard Fairey did the album art for this EP is just the cherry on top.
Usually opening bands don't get my full attention unless I know who they are
beforehand. But when I saw Bad Cop/Bad Cop open for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes in
March they completely blew me away especially with the song "Rodeo." I bought
this 7-inch immediately after the show ended. It's melodic punk done right. Great riffs
and extremely great vocals. Their upcoming full length is one of my top most anticipated
albums of 2015. Can't wait!
Against Me!: Laura Jane Grace & Atom
Willard: The Daytrotter Sessions
This was the only (Black Friday) Record Store Day release I really wanted. Only
Daytrotter members can listen to the full EP so I was dying to hear what this sounded
like. I liked the electric version of "500 Years" on this EP more than the original.
There's also a slower, solo rendition of "Pretty Girls" that I found extremely
To be completely blunt, I think "Reservoir" is one of the greatest songs
of the year. If it's not perfect, then it's pretty damn near perfect. It's that
excellent main guitar riff that I think can get any punk rock fan totally hooked. I also hope
they do more covers like "My Shadow." They put a cool spin on the song on this
EP. Check out their live cover over of the Beastie Boys' song "Sabotage" on
YouTube if you can. It rocks!
Direct Hit!/The Priceduifkes: Split [7-inch]
Red Scare Industries
I've been a fan of Direct Hit! since #4 and #5 were released.
I became an even bigger fan of the band when they did the split with the Mixtapes.
"Werewolf Shame" is still my favorite song of theirs. But after Domesplitter
came out they released a bunch of split EPs like the ones with the Tit Patrol, The Jetty
Boys, etc. and all of them were really good. This split they did with The Priceduifkes though,
is great. Not only did Direct Hit! write another awesome aggressive pop-punk song, but at
the same The Priceduifkes wrote a great song and did a great cover of Direct Hit!'s
song "Boredom Addict."
This was definitely an unexpected gem for me for 2014. I say
"unexpected" not because I didn't think it wasn't going to be any good
or I had no idea what it was, but because I wondered what made Dischord decide to release
this demo now? That being said, for a demo this sounds amazing in terms of its sound
quality. The alternative version of "Merchandise" especially just blew me away.
Who would have thought that it originally had a piano part in it?
I'm really glad that this box set came out this year because I wasn't on
the staff when Brainless God was released. This was my number one album of 2013.
It's got that perfect mixture of pop-punk sound, anger, humor, and aggression that
Direct Hit! does so well. I never buy box sets, but this one I had to have. I'm totally a vinyl nerd (usually my reviews include "Note to my fellow vinyl nerds" at the end
of them) so the fact that the album came in translucent red is awesome, not to mention the
very cool lyrics/comic book and the DVD of all the music videos they made for all of the