Best of 2017 - Ricky Frankel's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2017

Ricky Frankel's Picks (2017)

Staff picks

"Tried To Get With The Millions, But The Uniform Was Way Too Tight."

- Ezra Kire

Wew fam! 2017 was one hell of a year for the punk scene. Some truly excellent albums and EP’s came out this year and I went to some amazing shows and festivals that I will never forget. My fourth year at Punknews has been a blast. I am incredibly grateful to be the one bringing you Navel Gazing every week along with the usual reviews, news articles, premieres, interviews and podcast episodes. The podcast especially has been so much fun to do this year. I was very stoked to write the article about the unfortunate closing of the SoCal DIY venue VLHS and that admittedly dopey article about those punk icon-inspired Instagram accounts.

For 2018 so far, I am really looking forward to getting the news that Dead To Me will finally be releasing a new full-length (PLEASE!), hopefully seeing Morning Glory live at some point, hearing what Direct Hit! have been working on in the studio just after releasing their split LP with PEARS, hearing what PUP have been working on and hearing the new Dwarves album. I am also really want to make it out to Punk Rocking Bowling once again (maybe FEST 17, too?). It is always so much fun to hang out with my awesome friends out there in Las Vegas while seeing an overwhelming amount of bands perform. Though I did go to quite a few, the overall amount of shows in Los Angeles was pretty light this year. I’ll probably go to three or four more later this month after I send this list in (or after it gets posted) though. However, I will be seeing Hot Water Music and Dead To Me to start off 2018 right, which I am incredibly excited for. It has been way too long since I have seen either band live.

Anyway, here are my top 20 albums and top 10 EP’s/Singles of 2017, plus the top 15 shows that I went to this year. Also, be sure to look out for the fourth annual Best Album Art Of The Year Award! The winner may surprise you this time.

Here’s to another great year of new releases in 2018!

My Top 20 Albums Of 2017

20. Svetlanas: This Is Moscow Not LA

Rad Girlfriend Records

I had become aware the Svetlanas when their album Naked Horse Rider came out in 2015. Then in 2016 I really liked that split 7-inch that they released with The Dwarves. After seeing them a couple times I definitely became a fan and was looking forward to what they were going to release next. I was happy to hear This Is Moscow Not LA was much more thrash-y than I had anticipated and the Mortöheard cover was a very nice added bonus.

Favorite Track:"Negative Approach"

19. Dead Ending: Shoot the Messenger

Alternative Tentacles

I had only been introduced to Dead Ending when Punknews premiered one of their new tracks a couple months ago. I figured that since I recognized the names of the band members and that it was being put out through Alternative Tentacles it would be worth at least a listen. But I have to admit that my ignorance and curiosity let me to one of my favorite hardcore albums of the year. Shoot the Messenger is a super brutal (in a good way) record.

Favorite Track: "Bring On The Mob"

18. Cock Sparrer: Forever

Pirate's Press Records

It has been 10 years since we got a new Cock Sparrer album and after all these years these Oi! legends still got it. Forever is a super catchy record with some very wise and learned lyrics. Seeing them headline Punk Rock Bowling this year was absolutely amazing. It was the best way for me to see them perform for the first time. I hope it doesn't take another decade to get some more material out of them.

Favorite Track:"The Contender"

17. The Bombpops: Fear Of Missing Out

Fat Wreck Chords

The Bombpops are a local band for me that have been really fun to watch gain so much success and popularity this year. They are also a band that I had seem play at small venues and bars around town and then they managed to get signed to Fat Wreck Chords, which seemed like a totally obvious fit. What I found pleasantly surprising about Fear Of Missing Out was that the band didn't just stick with one sub-genre which in turn made it a very dynamic and very fun record.

Favorite Track: "Brake Lights"

16. Decent Criminal: Bloom

Dodgeball Records

For Bloom Decent Criminal really upped their musicianship and vocal game and made quite the surf/garage punk album. It is a bit of a roller coaster because it there are some very chill songs while others such as"Deviant" rock super hard. If you haven't checked this out yet be sure to especially if you like bands like toyGuitar or others in that realm. Stellar work guys!

Favorite Track:"Deviant"

15. Bad Cop/Bad Cop: Warriors

Fat Wreck Chords

It has been an absolute pleasure watching Bad Cop/Bad Cop explode in popularity over the last few years. Since they are another native Los Angeles band, I have seen them play small bars, mid-size venues and open for some very big acts. The band’s confidence in the studio and on stage has exponentially grown this year. Seeing them open for Propagandhi in November and releasing Warriors totally proves that. As a long-time fan, I am really happy to see them be so successful.

Favorite Track:"Retrograde"

14. Teenage Bottlerocket: Stealing the Covers

Fat Wreck Chords

Recording a whole album of cover songs by bands relatively unknown to the general punk scene I think was a very cool idea. Stealing The Covers introduced me to some bands that I probably would never have checked out. It also made for one of the more unique and interesting albums of the year. I remember seeing Teenage Bottlerocket do a covers medley of famous songs a few years ago, but I think that the approach the took for the for this album was a better route than covering songs that most people know. Overall this is a very enjoyable record.

Favorite Track:"Why The Big Pause"

13. CJ Ramone: American Beauty

Fat Wreck Chords

CJ Ramone has continued to be the torchbearer of the Ramones’ legacy with his album American Beauty. He is the one keeping it alive. In addition, every time he releases a new record it is better than the last one. I really like how he keeps the Ramones’ sound, but still adds his personal influences on top of it. His cover of Tom Wait’s"Pony" is fantastic along with the songs"Run Around" and"Girlfriend In a Graveyard." If you get a chance to see him perform it is a really great show. Not only does he play his material, but he'll also throw in a bunch of Ramones songs into the set list as well.

Favorite Track:"Run Around"

12. Hot Water Music: Light It Up

Rise Records

I wish we could get a Hot Water Music record more often then every four years or so. They are one of the few bands that I always look forward to listening to when they release something new. Light It Up has some seriously good jams on it like"Bury Your Idols,""Vultures" and"Complicated." I haven't seen the band live since 2012 so I cannot wait to see them with Dead To Me in January.

Favorite Track:"Bury Your Idols"

11. Mobina Galore: Feeling Disconnected

New Damage Records

So for this record I have to thank fellow staffer Stevie Allen for introducing me to Mobina Galore earlier this year. She showed me the band a little while before Punk Rock bowling and I was immediately enthralled when I heard"Suffer." All of Feeling Disconnected is so raw and so dynamic that it is hard to believe that there are only two members in the band. They were one of the highlights of {unk Rock Bowling and I wish I had found them sooner.

Favorite Track:"Suffer"

10. The Eradicator: The Eradicator


You know, when a band has some sort of shtick it can be hard to balance keeping up the act and still write quality music. For The Eradicator’s first full-length the band managed to not only be hilarious, but they also recorded some really great, angry pop punk. I seriously can't wait to see how far Andy Slania and co. are willing to take this project. Hopefully they just continue to double down because the results are always fantastic.

Favorite Track:" I Am A Squashman"

9. Heartsounds: Dualistic Nihilist


I have to say that I owe fellow editor Samantha Barrett a big "thank you" for turning me onto Heartsounds. I had seen them throughout the years open for Hot Water Music and A Wilhelm Scream, but I kept seeing Samantha talk about this band on social media and dug through their catalogue and I found some really amazing songs in there. So when Heartsounds announced that they we're putting out a one-track album I was a little bit hesitant about it. I don't typically like those kinds of records, but Dualistic Nihilistic is quite the exception. The guitar work is top-notch, the shared vocals between Ben and Laura are great and even after a listen or two you can't really tell where the song is going to go next which kept it extremely interesting.

Favorite Track:"Dualistic Nihilistic"

8. Sciatic Nerve: Sciatic Nerve

anxious and angry

Sciatic Nerve was by far the biggest surprise record of the year. This band came out of nowhere with an album that has a very unique take on hardcore. It’s a real kick in the teeth when you first hear it. The energy and the pure rawness that they got on this album is something that is really hard to do well, but this band hit it out of the park. And I think that because all the members come from such different, but remarkable bands that in turn helped make Sciatic Nerve such an outstanding release. Ryan Young has once again found another gem for Anxious And Angry roster.

Favorite Track:"Buy A Horse"

7. The Lillingtons: Stella Sapiente

Fat Wreck Chords

The Lillingtons are a band that I was super late on discovering. So when they signed to Fat Wreck Chords I figured that 2017 would be the perfect time to check them out. I was extremely surprised by how awesome Stella Sapiente came out. I had a vague I idea of what I thought it was going to be, but I was absolutely blown away by guitar work (especially on"Insect Nightmares" and "London Fog") and by the overall dark and creepy vibe of the record. This was yet another very unique album that was released this year and this is yet another discography I need to explore later.

Favorite Track: "Insect Nightmares"

6. The Menzingers: After The Party

Epitaph Records

It has been an absolute pleasure following The Menzingers’ career for the last eight or so years. I have never been disappointed by one of their releases, After The Party included. I have no issue saying that tracks like"Charlie’s Army,""Telling Lies,""Bad Catholics" and"Lookers" especially are some of their best songs to date. It was absolutely amazing seeing them twice this year — once with Jeff Rosenstock and then later at Punk Rock Bowling with The Lawrence Arms, Bad Cop/Bad Cop and others.

Favorite Track:"Charlie’s Army"

5. Propagandhi: Victory Lap

Epitaph Records

I don't know what it was, but I could not get into Propagandhi as much as people that I know who are die hard fans. That all changed with the release of Victory Lap and seeing them for the first time ever this year. It all finally clicked. The guitar work and vocals are absolutely stellar and I love how tightly the band members play together. Especially on this record the mixture of thrash and melody worked incredibly well for them, making Victory Lap clearly one of the most unique records of the year. I absolutely love the title track, "Lower Order (A Good Laugh)" and "Failed Imagineer." Now excuse me while I go listen and re-listen to their entire back catalogue.

Favorite Track: "Failed Imagineer"

4. Bloodclot: Up In Arms

Metal Blade Records

New music from John Joseph? Yes please! Up In Arms is album that I had no trouble letting play all from front to back through out 2017. The fact that the rest of the band are also notable musicians in the punk scene made me extra curious to hear how this would sound when it was first announced. I have to say that John Joseph has still got it and this record easily holds up when compared to the Cro-Mags catalog.

Favorite Track:"Life As One"

3. Western Addiction: Tremulous

Fat Wreck Chords

I'll be honest I wasn't too familiar with Western Addiction’s material until about a year or two ago. So when Tremulous was announced I went in with a pretty blank slate and a ton of eagerness. This is one of those rare albums where all the songs flow so well together and at the same time you can pick and choose some really great jams for a playlist. I found myself listening to this album all the way through very often throughout the year without any trouble or skipping ahead. I had the pleasure of seeing Western Addiction open for Good Riddance in April and they were easily one of the best performances that I saw in 2017. My mouth pretty much hit the floor one or two songs into their set.

Favorite Track:"The Rockery"

2. Ezra Kire: Speakers In The Sky

Anxious And Angry

Ezra Kire is easily one of the most talented songwriters in the punk scene. I practically worship his entire catalogue. Seeing how Morning Glory has been on a bit of a break, I was thrilled to hear that his solo album that we heard him talk about on the Anxious And Angry podcast over a year ago was finally going to be released and I was nowhere near disappointed with it. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to hear the softer side of Ezra’s music writing. Speakers In The Sky is not Morning Glory, INDK nor is it anything in between. It is much more personal and focuses more on piano, but you still get the awesome power and soaring music and melodies that he is known for. This record truly blew me away. It would be amazing to hear these songs live at some point (or have M-Glory get back on the road wink, wink).

Favorite Track:"Let It Go"

1. Direct Hit! / PEARS: Human Movement

Fat Wreck Chords

I make it no secret on the Org that Direct Hit! and PEARS are two of some of my favorite bands, but when I heard that they were putting out a split album together I was completely taken aback. I was incredibly excited the two bands that I have been following and writing about for years were going to be joining forces. Both sides of this LP are examples of both bands’ best work, plus their covers of each others’ songs are absolutely fantastic. It really seems like both PEARS and Direct Hit! went harder, meaner and faster this time and in return they easily made one of the best albums of 2017, the top of my list and some of their best songs to date. I can't wait to see what we get next from both of them.

Favorite Tracks:"You Got What You Asked For" by Direct Hit! &"Hey There, Begonia" by PEARS

My Top 10 EP’s/Singles Of 2017

10. Mean Jeans: Mountain Dew (I Need It)/You're The Light Of My Life (Coors Light) [Digital Singles]


Over the last couple of years I have become very fond of Mean Jeans. However, who would have expected the band to release beverage-themed singles and then send them to the companies that make them? The fact that they got some sort of deal with Mountain Dew is not only awesome, but also hilarious. Plus both songs are really good. I'm hoping at some point that if they continue to record these brand-themed songs that they will put them together on some sort of limited compilation or something like that. ( Note: Yes, I know these came out at somewhat different times, but they both fit in same category basically and both of them deserve to be recognized).

Favorite Track: "Mountain Dew (I Need It)"

9. Nothington: Cobblestones [7-inch]

Red Scare

This was one of my Record Store Day 2017 purchases."Cobblestones" was my favorite track off of Nothington’s In The End so I really made sure to grab it during the chaos that is Record Store Day at Amoeba Records. The vocals on"Cobblestones" really made the song for me. More specifically, I think that they did the gang vocals in the chorus extremely well. The B-side is an acoustic version of the song"The Last Time" which made this 7-inch overall a very nice collector’s piece.

Favorite Track:"Cobblestones"

8. Class Of 86: Volition [EP]

Bird Attack Records

Class Of 86 is a band that I wish I have been aware of in 2014 because that year they released their second album Future On Fire, which I would have easily put on my list that year. Voltion is a really cool follow up especially for those who like the thrashier, more musically intricate side of punk rock. I think the fact that they found a home at Bird Attack Records is a great fit for them. Class Of 86 is a band that should absolutely not go unnoticed.

Favorite Track: "Dead Hands & A Living Will"

7. Teenage Bottlerocket: Goin’ Back To Wyo [7-inch]

Fat Wreck Chords

Yes, the concept behind Stealing The Covers is really cool, but I am really glad we got a little bit of original material from Teenage Bottlerocket this year, too. These are two very fun songs (one with Ray on lead vocals and the other with Kody on lead vocals) that should not be ignored.

Favorite Track: "Goin’ Back To Wyo"

6. The Last Gang: Sing For Your Supper [7-inch]

Fat Wreck Chords

When it was announced that The Last Gang signed to Fat Wreck Chords, it totally made me remember that I had seen them open for Tartar Control and Rats In The Wall in late 2015. I lost track of them for whatever reason, but now I’m stoked to have found them again.These two incredibly powerful songs were a perfect way to get back into this band. It should be really interesting to see what they do next.

Favorite Track: "Sing For Your Supper"

5. The Lillingtons: Project 313 [EP]

Red Scare

Don't get me wrong. I really like this EP, but it totally threw me off because overall it is much more brighter-sounding than Stella Sapiente, which turned out to be much darker. I'm not complaining at all though. I think it is good that we got to hear both of those sides of The Lillingtions’ sound. It turned out to be a great, contrasting addition to the full-length.

Favorite Track: "It's On"

4. Against Me!: Stabitha Christie [7-inch]

Total Treble

This was my number one pick for Record Store Day 2017 and I was so happy to be able to nab a copy after waiting six or seven hours in line. It is a really cool, limited edition and pink picture disc with one really upbeat song and another that's a little more chill. The highlight of this 7-inch for me is the build up in the chorus of the title track. It is one of Against Me!’s poppy-er tunes. Overall, this is a great little follow-up to Shape Shift With Me. On a separate note — I really wish I could've been at FEST this year to see them play all of Reinventing Axl Rose. That looked and sounded amazing.

Favorite Track:"Stabitha Christie"

3. The Dwarves: Julio [EP]

Riot Style Records

The ROCK LEGENDS are back at it again causing all sort of mayhem. This time they are doing it with their Julio EP. The Dwarves is one of the few bands where I believe they do pop punk and hardcore equally well. For this EP they went on the poppy-er side and I am totally fine with that because these songs rock. I can’t wait to hear their new full-length next year.

Favorite Track: "Julio"

2. Ezra Kire: Stadium Songs [Flexi Single]

Anxious And Angry

This is a really great B-side tune that came out the same time as Erza Kire’s solo album Speakers In The Sky. I really didn't appreciate a person singing along with just a piano until I first heard some of Morning Glory’s later material. Somehow Ezra got me hooked to the way he does it. The way he sings with such dark feeling in this song in particular is what makes it so great. The fact that Ezra is able to record tracks like this that are easily just as good as the ones with a full band shows just how talented of musician he is in just about any genre.

Favorite Track: "Stadium Songs"

1. Natterers: Toxic Care [EP]

Boss Tuneage Records

When I heard Natterers’ Demo ‘16 EP last year I was really taken aback by how good it was. I thought that this relatively unknown (at the time) hardcore band out of England had a ton potential and I believe I was right especially with the release of Toxic Care this year. I love Emma’s incredibly powerful and authoritative vocals and Thomas’s riff-filled hardcore guitar work on this 7-inch. I think that we can expect more great things from them in the future. Also, I am giving this release the annual Best Album Art of The Year Award. This is the first year that an EP has received it. Artist Hal Mundane did a really excellent job personifying the title in the cover. I would really like his comics-influenced style and how painstakingly detailed it is. Great job to everyone involved in putting out this release.

Favorite Track: "Surf Off!"

Top 15 Shows That I Attended In 2017:

15. The Bombpops (Record Release Show)/Murderland/True Rivals/The Ex-Gentlemen/Bradley Riot - The Redwood Bar & Grill - Los Angeles, CA - February 10, 2017

14. The Mr. T Experience/Teenage Bottlerocket/Nobodys - The Roxy Theatre - West Hollywood, CA - April 9, 2017

13. PUP/Dave Ross/Dimber - Moroccan Lounge - Los Angeles, CA - September 19, 2017

12. CJ Ramone/Big Eyes/Stand/The Two Tens - Alex’s Bar - Long Beach, CA - April 27, 2017

11. The Bouncing Souls/Get Dead/The Bombpops - The Roxy Theatre - West Hollywood, CA - March 17, 2017

10. Andrew WK (Full Band)/Prima Donna/Easy - The Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA - September 29, 2017

9. Heartsounds/Western Settings - The Garage - Ventura, CA - July 28, 2017

8. The Menzingers/Jeff Rosenstock/Rozwell Kid - The Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA - March 14, 2017

7. NAILS/Negative Approach/Bloodclot/Final Conflict/HAARM - The Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA - August 4, 2017

6. Against Me!/Bleached/The Dirty Nil - The Fonda Theatre - Los Angeles, CA - September 14, 2017

5. Good Riddance/Union 13/Western Addiction/Spanish Love Songs - Troubadour - West Hollywood, CA - April 15, 2017

4. Leftover Crack/Naked Aggression/Starving Wolves/Bad Cop/Bad Cop/Informal Society - The Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA - March 25, 2017

3. Propagandhi/RVIVR/Bad Cop/Bad Cop - The Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA - November 19, 2017

2. It’s Not Dead Fest 2 - Glen Helen Festival Grounds - San Bernardino, CA - August 26, 2017

1. Punk Rock Bowling 2017 (Club Shows Included) - Downtown Las Vegas - Las Vegas, NV - May 27 to May 29, 2017