[Mark Little is a contributing editor at Punknews.org]
After many years of participating in the Punknews community, 2014 marked my first year as one of the strange, slow and old editors of the â€˜Org. As the kind of music fan that can border on the, you know, obsessive, itâ€™s been a pleasure to be able to nerd out on the podcast with Adam and John, as well as the opportunity to hear and write about new releases on a regular basis. Going to Fest for the first time was a huge highlight for me, finally realizing a lifelong dream seeing the legendary Descendents. Tom Waits, youâ€™re next.
Markâ€™s Top 20 in 2014
together PANGEA: Badillac
Earlier this year I sent a message to my pal Derek who may or may not be in Fake Problems. It was a simple premise: Give me something new to check out. He didn't hesitate in recommending Badillac. It was only a few songs in that I was furiously sending Twitter messages for people to check them out. Furious garage rock with fuzz and distortion aplenty, together PANGEA got my attention in a big way. Check out "Alive," "River" and the title track if you think Derek and I are lying to you.
Beach Day: Native Echoes
Kimmy Drake (vocals, guitar) and Skyler Black (drums) have been at it since 2011. Bonding over a mutual love of fun and '60s girl groups, the duo (with a revolving door of bassists) has been churning out bubblegum anthems evoking Ronnie Spector, her Ronettes and the entire Spector Wall of Sound. Their 2014 release, Native Echoes, finds the duo bringing the '60s into the modern day, with "Don't Call Me on the Phone," "How Do You Sleep at Night" and the Punknews podcast-featured "All My Friends Were Punks." Light the tikis and hold the one you love close, Beach Day wrote your soundtrack.
Mariachi El Bronx: Tres (III)
Tres? Three? MEB3? Title it whatever you want, but it's only going to be one of the biggest surprises of your year. What perhaps started as a joke a few years ago has turned into a full-fledged phenomenon with their third full-length. What was originally viewed as an alter-ego to the LA hardcore band The Bronx now threatens to overshadow them entirely. The hardcore-cum-mariachi combo simply nails it on their third release, with the album opener "New Beat" instantly sucking you in. If "Sticks and Stones" isn't stuck in your head for hours after you've heard it, you're a better person than me. Here's your party soundtrack.
The Coathangers: Suck My Shirt
Forming in 2006 as a joke, Atlanta's The Coathangers have turned into anything but. Their fourth full-length, Suck My Shirt, sees the trio amplifying their grrrrl punk rock dance party. "Follow Me" hooks you from the beginning with its grit and driving beat, the surf guitar of "Merry-Go-Round" keeps you moving and shaking, while "Derek's Song" combines all of the above making you shake your head and fist and any other appendage you may want to shake. Just like the band on the cover. THEY CAN'T STOP SHAKING!
Poison City / SideOneDummy
Red Scare Industries
World/Inferno Friendship Society: This Packed Funeral
Me and the Inferno, we've got history. I've been a fan for the better part of a decade, following the band through huge lineup changes and subtle stylistic ones. Their 2014 was one I had eagerly anticipated, and I wasn't disappointed. This Packed Funeral continues more of the interplay between Jack Terricloth and Sandra Malak's vocals seen on their previous release, The Anarchy and The Ecstasy, with the emphasis on horns, violin and piano giving it a moodier feel. The Inferno doesn't quite sound like the anarchists of before, but as long as Terricloth is in charge, you know it's going to be just close enough so as to be dangerous.
So there you have it, my top 20 of 2014. Iâ€™ll see you next year at Fest for the Fugazi reunion. Iâ€™m starting the rumor now.