Best of 2017 - Sean Crawford's Picks (Cover Artwork)

Best of 2017

Sean Crawford's Picks (2017)

Staff picks

This is my first year end list for Punknews, so it’s likely the one I’ll be disassociating myself with for the rest of my life (and there are a couple of picks in particular that I foresee perpetuating that), but, the ordering of a good chunk of this list is pretty irresolute; think of this as a vaguely ranked collection of albums I like. Enjoy!


20. LCD Soundsystem: american dream

DFA Records

The fact that LCD Soundsystem is still making year end lists with their worst record to date is truly a testament to the aptitude of lead visionary, James Murphy. Comebacks are hard, and, with such a celebrated discography preceding it, it's amazing how well this record came together. Though American Dream lacks some of the more driving cuts I've tended to prefer on previous LCD Soundsystem releases, songs like "call the police" and "emotional haircut" prove they're still going strong.

19. The Smith Street Band: More Scared of You Than You Are of Me

Pool House Records

The Smith Street Band finally clicked for me with their fourth full length release, More Scared of You Than You Are of Me. The band has become an archetype for the SideOneDummy sound with their bright, indie production, emo-tinged lyrics, and anthemic pop punk instrumentals. Though More Scared of You Than You Are of Me didn't quite hit me upon my first listen, I've come to appreciate the the record's charming lyrical affectations and epic refrains.

18. Backtrack: Bad to My World

bridge 9

Bad to My World is 20 minutes of no-frills NYHC, and, aside from being a tad basic, this record is essentially flawless: just straight hardcore mastery. The brutal conviction of vocalist, James Vitalo, drives this record's pummeling instrumentals, which mostly consist of breakdowns on top of breakdowns on top of breakdowns. Suffice to say, if NYHC is your thing, Bad To My World is not to miss.

17. Paramore: After Laughter

Fueled By Ramen Records

Set aside any preconceived notions you had about Paramore and give this record I fair shot. I have to say, I was by no means expecting Paramore to produce something of this caliber, but After Laughter came together incredibly well. Lead single, "Hard Times" exhibits the some of the record's most inventive minutiae, "Told You So" is a great illustration of the band's engagingly playful temperament, and "No Friend" accommodates a surprising amount of artistic ingenuity for this point in their career. If this is the future of Paramore, consider me a fan.

16. At The Drive-In: in•ter a•li•a

Rise Records

in•ter a•li•a got an unjust amount of hate. Was it a bit redundant? Sure, but At The Drive-In's sound is too intricate to offhandedly rehash; it takes a lot of heart to put together an album like this, and that translates into eleven incredibly strong entries for the band's discography. It's pretty clear from the attention to detail, filling out every auditory nook and cranny on in•ter a•li•a, that this wasn't just halfheartedly thrown together. The complexities that the band intertwines with poppier sensibilities help to keep in•ter a•li•a fresh with each listening experience: be it casual or attentive.

15. The Eradicator: The Eradicator


No matter how you slice it, The Eradicator is a novelty act, but this record is so well put together, that labeling as such feels like a disservice. The Eradicator is overflowing with catchy hooks, enthralling aggression, and plenty of other subtle details along the way to round the edges. Nuances like the drum machine interlude at the end of "Squash Man", or the band's general tendency to underline hardcore instrumentals with grimy synths, contribute to the establishment of a rich sonic landscape for The Eradicator to squash pussheads atop.

14. Show Me The Body: Corpus I


I"ll admit, I may have overhyped Corpus I a bit when it first came out, but it's truly too insane to be indifferent on. Show Me The Body's debut wasn't productionally purified by any means, but Corpus I takes things to a new level. This album rarely leaves the red. Moments like the grimy punk rap banger, "In A Grave", or the straight up hardcore closer, "Proud Boys", exhibit the band's potential in sonic exploration. It's abrasive, it's heavy, it's constantly clipping, and, whether you like it or not, there's no denying that this thing is pushing boundaries.

13. Sincere Engineer: Rhombithian

Red Scare

Truth be told, I found Rhombithian to be a pretty hit or miss debut overall, but when this record hits, it's dead on. While the later half of its tracklist tended to leave little, if any, impact on me, apathetic anthems, "Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7" and "Shattering", are absolute essentials of the modern pop punk landscape. Furthermore, back-to-back singles, "Ceramic Tile" and "Overbite", are refreshingly upbeat divergences from the overwhelming despondency of the emo revival. These singles, along with "Screw Up" and "Here"s Your Two Dollars", demonstrate Belos' songwriting capabilities as well as a lot of promise for her career.

12. Joan Of Arc: He's Got the Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands

Joyful Noise Recordings

I completely understand people who write off Joan of Arc for being too artsy or conceited, but something about them just keeps pulling me back. There's something admirable about the notion of responding to the constant accusations of pretentiousness by getting even more esoteric. He's Got the Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands is comprised mostly of loops salvaged from studio jam sessions and padded out with colorful embellishments and impossible to decipher lyrics, but, even regardless of its conceptual absurdity, I found this record to be a genuinely immersive listening experience overall.

11. Color Film: Living Arrangements

Epitaph Records

Before 2017 I was completely unacquainted with the name, Color Film. I was never a huge fan of Glassjaw, and, thus, I wasn't following the musical endeavours of Richard Penzone when his synthpunk side-project first burst onto the scene in 2012. Living Arrangements presents a spastic reimagining of new wave without all the fluff, commonplace in the oversaturated market of new wave revival. Color Film embraces a more jagged approach to electronic instrumentation, to create a record that plays like a modernized Talking Heads.

10. Direct Hit! / PEARS: Human Movement

Fat Wreck Chords

I won’t sugarcoat it: the sheer credentials of the bands on this split almost guaranteed it a spot on my year end list, but the end product’s placement is more than merited. Direct Hit!’s side acts as a sampler platter of the band’s discography, displaying their aggressive and melodic versatility. Pears, on the other hand, uses their side to branch out a bit from their newly established niche, by experimenting with elements more prominent in the contemporary melodic hardcore sound. The two play off of each other excellently, contributing their unique assets, while still fashioning a coherent 25 minutes of music.

9. Power Trip: Nightmare Logic

Southern Lord Records

Crossover thrash is a genre I tend to favor more in concept than execution. Aside from a select few acts, it just tends to leave a dry taste in my mouth (which is why you won't see thrash co-contemporaries, Iron Reagan accompanying them here). Powertrip, on the other hand, came through with a sound that I can actually sink my teeth into. The drums are punchy, the production is roomy and, overall, this album just feels big. It's amazing what a splash of reverb can do for a band when they've got the talent to back it up.

8. Neil Cicierega: Mouth Moods


Okay, hear me out: I know that, at first glance, this may seem like nothing more than an hour long meme mash-up, but Mouth Moods is far more profound than meets the eye. There's so much creativity bursting at the seams of every moment on this thing, that its near hour-long runtime (of which I've subjected myself to an unjustifiable number of times) flies by. The amount of precision evident in Neil's meticulous editing to make Linkin Park sound halfway decent on top of The Doobie Brothers or Smash Mouth smoothly integrate into a Queen instrumental, is just as delightful in practice as it is pathetic in premise.

7. Buildings: You Are Not One of Us

Gilead Media

You Are Not One of Us is the album on this list I've had the least time with. And that's a shame, because I'm a real sucker for post hardcore when done right. This is post hardcore done right. Reaching a happy medium between Drive Like Jehu and Big Black, Buildings molds cluttered soundscapes into rousing noise anthems, underscored with reverby feedback to evoke that distinctive Metz feel. The final product's palate walks the beautifully fine line between vibrancy and cacophony.

6. Converge: The Dusk In Us

Epitaph Records

For whatever reason, I never really got into Converge. I listened to Jane Doe a while back, and, to be completely honest, it didn't quite resonate with me. I've repeatedly put off on giving them another shot ever since, but The Dusk in Us provided me with a greater appreciation of the band's proficiency at arranging mesmerically erratic compositional structures. Gems like the epic opener, "A Single Tear", and the massive post hardcore masterstroke, "Trigger" have compelled me to take another run at Converge's celebrated back catalogue.

5. Western Addiction: Tremulous

Fat Wreck Chords

This is how you make an effective comeback. True to legacy, without succumbing to qualitative stagnation, Tremulous took the charged riffing and hardcore edge of the band's 2005 debut, and kicked things up a notch to create an exhilarating half hour of melodic hardcore euphoria.

4. Remo Drive: Greatest Hits


I undersold Greatest Hits when it first came out, but its inclusion on this list has a lot to do with staying power. Pretty much every song here has remained in regular rotation since its release, relatively close to the dawning of 2017. "Crash Test Rating", "Yer Killin Me" and "I"m My Own Doctor" demonstrate the band's knack for catchy, but meaty hooks, as well as some witty lyrical chops, early on in their career. As far as 2017 debuts in the emo/indie/pop punk sphere, Greatest Hits takes the cake for most promising.

3. Propagandhi: Victory Lap

Epitaph Records

Victory Lap is Propagandhi at their best: biting political commentary -- comprehensive without being vague -- delivered with palpable anger and thrilling instrumentals. From the title track's killer opening riff to kick everything off, to the concluding bass noodlings, this is another 44 minutes of Propagandhi repeatedly posing the question of whether they'll ever pass their prime.

2. Telethon: The Grand Spontanean

Halloween Records

It's right there in the title; there is truly no way to describe this record without reference to its grandiosity. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, The Grand Spontanean is Telethon's power-punk rock opera, chronicling the implications of an apocalypse in the modern era. It's a pretty ambitious undertaking, but Telethon pulls it off without exuding a shred of pretentiousness. In fact, The Grand Spontanean remains surprisingly intimate for its colossal thematics, and comes through with some great tunes along the way.

1. Idles: Brutalism

Balley Records

Brutalism compacts the appeals of every breed of punk into one infectious sound. With its simultaneously aggressive and animated delivery, found in the punk classics of the late 70s to early 80s, and an instrumental palette composed in a style commonplace in the current crop of sludgy garage rock acts (such as Pissed Jeans or Bleached), this 41 minutes of post punk gold covers every base; from traditionalists, to hardcore junkies, to noise aficionados, to more adventurous pop punkers, Brutalism has something for everyone.

2017 was a big year for big names with bands like Anti-Flag, Rise Against, The Flatliners, The Menzingers, Hot Water Music, and Rancid all releasing full lengths, but I found my list was dominated by bands of mid to low notoriety. About a quarter of my list was comprised of debuts, and they all exhibit quite a bit of promise. I look forward to seeing what the what the future of these careers hold.