Best of 2017 - John Gentile's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2017

John Gentile's Picks (2017)

Staff Picks


Whew! Whew! Wheeeewwww weeeeeeeeee!!!!! Yowza.

I don’t even need to say it, but 2017 was a year of tumult in the US of A, people. Man! To that end, it is said that conflict and turmoil generates great art, and for 2017, that proposition held true. There were a lot of great albums and a LOT of awesome shows this year. And I tried to do my share in contribution. In 2016, I said I was going to swing for the the fences in 2017 and I really did give it my best.

After two years of work, I was able to release the long lost, unreleased Flames album from 1980. This was a really neat, very weird record that I found in the discount bin at a used record store! In the summer, I threw my first ever concert which was basically my dream bill. World Inferno, Posers, Crazy and the Brains, and Pushin’ It 2 the Limitkicked out amazing sets, Adam and I wore tuxedos, we played the Punknews trivia game live, and even gave out goodie bags! WOWIE!

Through my record label, I put out SIX different mixtapes and I was pretty proud of each of them. Also, Dom Davi of Tsunami Bomb interviewed me about my first, my favorite and my least favorite show ever on his cool podcast.

Journalism wise, I did one of my most extensive interviews ever- I spoke to that punk champion Jello Biafra about what makes him tick!(FYI- if you want the real deal in punk rock, Jello is THE MAN). I interviewed Osamu of Sticks and Stones about moving from Japan and starting a punk band with Jack Terricloth. Buzz Osborne made a connection between science and religion. John Joseph told me about A LOT of things. I got to interview the Coathangers and they are now one of my favorite bands of all time.

And so, without further adieu and forgiving my long winded intro, let’s talk about my favorite jams of 2017!!!!

Thee Top Twenty LPs of 2017 (Non-Melvins Division)

20. Queen Ifrica: Climb

VP Records

The Fyah Muma returns with her first album in eight years. But, whereas we expected the erupting, berserk dancehall attacker of "Me nah bleach," instead, we received two handfuls of soul and r & b. Where there once was holy aggression, there is now a spiritual peace. If anyone has the pipes to issue divine proclamations, it’s Ifrica.

19. Itchy-O: From the Overflowing

Alternative Tentacles

Whirling, spiraling, intergalactic marching band sonic destruction- and that’s just the first track! Itchy-O really is one of those bands that defies all categorization… is it punk? art rock? psychedelic freak out? high school music? From the Overflowing is aptly named as the band is overflowing in all these aspects, but despite the MAXIMUM AMOUNT of everything here- the volume, the noise, the rhythms, the instruments, the chaos- I still want more!

18. Downtown Boys: Cost of Living

Sub Pop Records

The DBs returned, supplemented by the production power of 1/4th of Fugazi. The effect is palpable. Where DBs were once shattering, exploding, crazed bombastic punk, they are now steely, cool focus. Cost of Living is slower and more encompassing then its predecessor, showing that while fiery declarations are at the band;s forefront, calculated analysis is at the base, which makes them even more compelling.

17. Career Suicide: Machine Response

Deranged Records

After too long away, Career Suicide snap back with 22 minutes of much needed, unapologetic, cracking hardcore frikkin punk rock. The band is as frantic and disheveled as ever, but they've added a little bit more thunder to the legs of the band, making this both their hardest and sharpest release yet. 22 minutes is exactly how long an album like this should be and the band jump in, wreck the place up, and then run out in the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Urkel. Punk perfection.

16. Ezra Kire: Speakers In The Sky

Anxious And Angry

We knew he had it in him the whole time- Ezra goes full on singer-songwriter. Whereas most punkers hide their hearts behind feedback and screaming, Kire puts it on display for all to see. It doesn't hurt that the exhibition is supplemented by Kire's unparalleled songwriting and those wonderful, soaring Whoooaaaaaaoooaaaaooaaas! Hall and Oats, y'all better go fill out Micky D applications.

15. Family Pet: Family Pet

Self released

Family Pet are masters of Lo-fi, buzzing, ragged punk. The band blends a sardonic take on socio-politics all while keeping a wry humor in the background and in doing so, make a mighty strong case for their point of view. Of course, the fact that it ROCKS THE HELL OUT is also very convincing.

14. Arnocorps: The Unbelievable

Alternative Tentacles

"Reading, writing, arithmetic!" Let it not be said that Arnocorps doesn't preach positivity and a dedication to bettering oneself. So, to that end, it's good to see that this band of heavy metal Austrians have bettered themselves by taking back their ancient tales from a certain actor and restored these important fables to their rightful height. If you don't think there are powerful lessons in a song called "Kindergarten Cop," then you missed an important lesson before first grade, and that's the importance of LISTENING.

13. Hiccup: Imaginary Enemies

Father Daughter records

Charging, three chord punk for adults! And by "for adults," I don't mean some anemic, toned down strumming- this band is kicking out the jams! But rather, while Hiccup storm forward, there is a certain reflection and introspection on this record that is heard so rarely in pop-punk this energetic. Have you ever moshed and thought about your place in the world... AT THE SAME TIME???

12. Nik Turner: Life in Space


The original space rocker returns to earth with a potent message for us all. Nik Turner, that trans-dimnesional weirdo, ain't gettin' any younger, so, in is infinite LSD-drenched wisdom, he takes a somewhat unexpected turn, looks inward, and shares with us the secrets to life. Turner has done it all and seen it all, and if there's one guy to listen to, it's this astral titan... comforting that he reflects, "somehow it will be alright."

11. Green Meteor: Consumed by a Dying Sun


Sleep meets Hawkwind... WHAAAAAAAT?!!!! This album is HEAVY and TRIPPY. As you listen to it, it just gets more and more thunderous, but it makes you feel like as a feather as you soar over sonic valleys. It's probably against NASA regulations to fly a shuttle on acid, but that's what this record feels like.

10. Bloodclot: Up In Arms

Metal Blade Records

The Cro-Mags' John Joseph teams up with an ex-Danzig sidekick and a current Dwarves gunslinger and blasts out 40 minutes of cross-over punk/metal. It sounds like a match made in Seventh Heaven and, frankly, it is. Finally, JJ has found the band that knows how to match and utilize his Bad Brains-influenced attack and the result is a record fit for both Nirvana and Kali Yuga.

9. Ariel Pink: Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

Mexican Summer

No, it's not the complex, schizophrenic puzzle of Pom, Pom. Instead, it's a more clam, nuanced look at fame and finding happiness within... but it doesn't hurt that Ariel still drips in some of his trademark weird goth tics. "Time to Live" sets the line "Time for death" to the rhythm of the Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star" and time to meet your God is about getting whacked... I think. You can never tell when this guys is being serious or when he is laughing at you behind your back and that's what makes this record so fascinating.

8. Open City: Open City


Awwwwww yeahhhhhh!!!! Rubino, Yemin, Nelson, and Wilson team up for a record that sits between "hardcore" and "post-hardcore." Call it... pre-post-hardcore? What I am saying is this record takes the thoughtful aggression of Mackaye, throws in a splash of gleeful bleakness ala Ing & Dagger, and then spits it out in trademark mature-thoughtful-but-still-kind-of-an-angry-teenager Rubino/Yemin venom. What does it mean when a band sounds this furious and frantic after taking time to sit down and think about the state of the world?

7. KRS-One: The World is Mind

Self released

Like clockwork, the Blastmaster comes back with another boom-bapping release that once again proves that he's the hardest working man in Hip Hop. This record kicks like a mule and KRS' sounds as huge as ever. And as always, he juggles street knowledge with metaphysical philosophy resulting a release that i both grounded and in the clouds. Once again, KRS-One... ROCK ON!

6. Morrissey: Low in High School


After some twenty some years of being told to "Shut up about politics! Just sing love songs!" Morrissey has the last laugh. Almost every song on Low in High School has a love song-ish title, and almost every song is actually an anarcho-punk screed. He sings about how much he hates copes. He goes on at length about how shitty the monarchy is. He mocks an enlisted soldier that gets killed in the line of duty (Damn Moz, that is cold, even for you). I think he even tries to solve the Arab/Israeli conflict... and he also includes a lot of sex jokes in the album. Crass, eat your heart out.

5. Public Enemy: Nothing is Quick in the Desert


PE returns with their best album in ten years... and they give it away for free! In an ironic twist, the album was cut during a time of internal squabbles over financials, but they sound the tightest and fieriest they have in a long, long time. Despite apparently being unaware that he was recording an album when he was laying down vocals, the Flav not only turns in some of his finest performances, but ties this album together with his unique ability to spin silliness to seriousness to showmanship. And to boot, Ice-T shows up and turns in his best Hip Hop verse since the early '90s. This album is HARD.

4. Run The Jewels: RTJ3

Run the Jewels, Inc.

Who said the third segment of a trilogy always sucks? RTJ3 is RTJ's best album and also their most consistent. Killer Mike and EL-P blend humor and philosophy like none other, and spitting out these deep thoughts with nearly unparalleled skill. For the life of me, I can;t fathom why people are freaking out about "Bodak Yello" when "Legend Has It" is the hardest hitting Hip Hop track of the year and could wreck a skyscraper... and then, just as the dust settles, they come back with "Call Ticketron!" THIS is modern Hip Hop.

3. Danzig: Black Laden Crown

Nuclear Blast

Forget the questionable cover. Forget the questionable production choices. Forget "Devil on Hwy 9." Finally, the 'Zig goes all in on the doom and cuts eight tracks that are as heavy and as dark as he has ever been. The slow burn of "Last Ride" underscores the depth of Danzig's skill as well as his unwaveringly dark view of the world. This album is haunting and by the time it gets to the earth quaking, closing track "Pull the Sun," it is sublime.No one can do what Danzig does.May he reign for another 40 years.

2. Tau Cross: Pillar of Fire

Relapse Records

Hit. The. Deck. On their second LP, Tau Cross increase their storming, metal attack and dive ever deeper into frontman Rob Miller's cosmic exploration. Miller wonders not just what is beyond, but he wonders what is beyond the beyond, all while keeping an eye on that demented ape called humanity- is that bumbling being worthy of its place among the other animals? Maybe its because he lives in waaaaay North Scotland, or maybe it's because he has seen hard times, or maybe it's because he's got one of the coolest voices in punk, but Rob Miller is the kind of poet that you can;t help but agree with, no matter how far out his musings get. An album like Pillar of Fire can only be crafted after decades of tumult and astral searching and this band is the perfect conduit to such revelation. On the record that band comments on New Testament's Pillar of Fire as a tool of both enlightenment and bondage... ironic that thisPillar of Fire serves much more as the former than the latter.

1. Integrity: Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume

Relapse Records

HOLY SHIT! This album was so good that it caused my entire head to explode and ricochet throughout the cosmos. My flailing body had to hire paradaemons to warp throughout the galaxies in order to re-collect my brain atoms and reassemble my consciousness. Listen, it's one thing for a band to put out an album that completely changes the game (For Those Who Fear Tomorrow). But then, it's an entirely different thing for that same band to put out an album that just completely burns away everything that came before it (Humanity is the Devil). BUT THEN, it's a whole other thing for that same band to put out an album that goes to the next level from that previous next level and puts out what might be their very best LP (a double/triple one at that!), some 30 odd years into their career!!!! Dom Romeo thrashes on his guitar, layering fractured solo on top of fractured solo. Josh Brettell slams the skins like Lombardo on speed. Meanwhile, Integ mastermind/madman Dwid Hellion opens a vortex into a seance being held by artist Francis Bacon, pulls him up into the multi-verse, drags him throughout time like a cacodaemon-ed Jacob Marley, and forces him, throughout the aeons, to bear witness to humanity's perpetual, unending fall from grace, time and time and time again!!! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIIIIT!!! HOLEEEEEEEEEEEY SHEEEEEEEEEEE----- *Brain explodes for a second time*

Thee Top Ten Singles/EPs of 2017 (Non-Melvins Division)

10. Sneakers Award: Demo

self released

Plow United's Brian McGee is back with a set of power-pop charged rockers. He can try to deny his scrappy, 90s punk leaning all he wants, but these tracks bear his trademark gruff all while being juiced up with a little Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello style sensibility. Ace.

9. Ellen and the Degenerates: Herb Alert

What's for Breakfast

THIS is what modern punk should sound like. Classic '77 bounce mixed with harder Amphetamine Reptile smash mixed with a touch of West Coast mania. It's rare that a band is so perfectly "punk" all while sounding so fresh, but EatDs found that sweet spot and cranked out five perfectly formed, edged songs. I want to hear music like this all day long.

8. Vice Squad / The Droogettes: Split CD

Rebel Sound

Somehow, Vice Squad is releasing their very best material in their 39th(!) year! "Beautiful Toy" is an absolutely perfect, compact classic punk snapper, Meanwhile, newcomers the Droogettes are just killing it with their pogo punk meets Oi! style. "Bovver Girl" is as violent as it is fun and their acoustic cover of the Oppressed's "Hooligans" sounds like Peter, Paul, and Mary doing Oi! and it sends chills down my spine.

7. Abrasive Wheels / The Up! Up! Ups! : Split 7-inch

Rebel Sound

Um... 2017 was the year of classics meet up-and-comers... and this was a mighty fine pairing. Long loved cult punkers Abrasive Wheels cut two jams that harken back to their classic LP and proceeds to go even a little further back with some power pop influences. Meanwhile, the Up! Up! Ups! mix classic 50s rock with the berserk mania of the earliest punk bands. Sometimes, straight up rock and punk are perfect matches- ask Mick Jones, Paul Weller, and Pauline Black. These four songs are PERFECT.

6. The Garden: U Want the Scoop? [EP]

Epitaph Records

Just when I thought the Garden couldn't get any weirder, they went and got weirder. U Want the Scoop is five tracks of pure synth-punk mania that sounds like the Screamers playing circus music covers of Bob Dylan in a Japanese video arcade... or something like that. i love this band and the fact that the force me to come to their level (located somewhere on a remote part of Vada Vada, I believe), rather than vice-versa, only shows how they are fueled by the purest drive.

5. Morrissey: Spent the Day in Bed


Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side. Morrissey covers the Ramones on the B-Side.

4. Fucked Up: Year of the Snake


Fucked Up go on an acid trip and contemplate death and then rebirth at the other side. If it all sounds kinda karmic to you, it might be because guitarist Mike H went on a trip to India before recording this. More then ever before, Fucked Up are combining their far out experimental side with their love of classic rock/punk and the results are as grand as we all hoped they were. It's difficult to be both hard and trippy, but here we are... or there we were... or there we will be... life is like a cycle or something, maaaaaaan...

3. The Dwarves: Julio [EP]

Riot Style Records

The Dwarves are going to their extremes- pure pop perfection and hella herculean hardcore. Julio, which serves as a precursor to their upcoming album, proves that they have mastered both forms like no other band before them, and to that end, they are interested in elevating both styles from chewing gum to food for thought. Fewer and fewer bands are willing to stray outside the norm these days and in these times, the Dwarves are proving themselves as fearless as they have ever been.

2. Gnarboots: F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

self released

Gnarboots at the end of time. On their most complex release to date, the G-boots mix punk with electronic with acoustic with sound clash with musings on death and cults and life and control and the contrasting feelings of freedom and slavery when staring into the face of the void. All bands wish they could be this incredible. Sadly, only one is: Gnarboots. The good news is, WE ARE ALL GNARBOOTS.

1. The Coathangers: Parasite [EP]

Suicide Squeeze Records

2017 was the year that the Coathangers caused my head to just explode. Damn, this band is so good. Raging punk attack. A motown-Stooges mashup style! Patsy Cline circa 2017!! Videos with death metal cheerleaders and severed doll heads?!!! Three women that each excel at their respective field to an amazing degree and lock together like Voltron in the bests power trio since... since... The Buzzcocks? Rush? Those three cro-magnums that beat antelopes with clubs? What I am saying is that Parasite cherry picks the very best aspects of the C-hangs and distills it down into an mind-blowing 12 minutes. Parasite is fitting because this ear-worms climbs in your brain and NEVER CLIMBS OUT.

Thee Top Five Melvins Releases of 2017 (Melvins Division)

5. Dale Crover: Thunder Pinky

Joyful Noise

The greatest drummer in modern rock cuts a 107 second heavy rumbler that slithers like Sabbath and swaggers like Judas Priest. Also, it is literally pressed into an actual cymbal, so you can both play it and play it. Genius.

4. The Melvins: Steven McDonald

Amphetamine Reptile

Finally completing their KISS inspired quadrilogy, the Melvs push newest bassist, Steve Mcdonald of Redd Kross/OFF! and let him do his thang and, apparently, his thang his busting out KICK ASS rockage. Famously a fan of the history of Rock n Roll, Stevie nods to AM pop, Cheap Trick, Southern Boogie Woogie, and quite tastily, the nascent stage of west coast punk rock. This release is the band just having a ball and McDonald's inherently likable personality shines through- he's grinning along with the rest of us and the fun is infectious.

3. Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy

Ipecac Recordings

OH SNAPS. The Melvins teamed up with Teri Gender Bender and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and blasted out a rampaging platter of smashing rock and roll! This record starts at volume 10 and 90mph and stays there for the duration. Ripping riffs! Maniac vocals! So rarely do super groups gel so well, but this is a unit in full force. I wouldn't have anyone else would have thought like Buzz, or Dale, or Teri, or Mario, but great minds think alike, apparently.

2. Dale Crover: The Fickle Finger of Fate

Joyful Noise

After 25 some years of teasing us with a solo slab, DC comes out swinging with this spinner that slides between classic rock styling and total weirdo freakouts- check out the crunched, processed, warped drum solos that punctuate the proper "Songs" on this record. Deftly, Crover doesn't focus on his drumming so much as his warped view of strange song composition. This isn't a drummer's record, this is a master musician's record. The fact that the world's bets drummer is also on it is just the icing on the cake... and if that's the icing, just think how amazing the main course is.

1. Melvins: A Walk with Love & Death

Ipecac Recordings

Perhaps tired of hearing that Melvins albums are "Weird," Buzz Osborne often likes to throw out the nugget "I don't think what we do is that weird." Well, that being said, this double (!) record IS weird. Or, at least the second half. For the Love Portion, the band turns in the avant-garde soundtrack to an unreleased movie. One part Throbbing Gristle, one part pure noise, one part collage, the record is as much a puzzle as it is a spectacular mobile. Finding the hidden, moving pieces and understanding how these seemingly random elements work in tandem s half the fun. By contrast, Death is the Melvins sinking their teeth in a tearing out high energy, crushing metal. This time they are supplemented by the pop-stylings of Steven Mcdonald and it just goes to show, now many how many guises the Melvins assume, they are always the Melvins in the very best sense. Unquestionably, one of the very greatest bands of all time.

Thee Top Five Narmer Records Releases of 2017

5. The Bullshit Collector Mixtape

Narmer Records

Most of Narmer Record's releases balance big name, heavy hitters, with medium size bands, with unknowns, with totally left field picks. As a way to get involved in Cassette Store Day, I had the completely original idea to rip off Crass and put out a comp of mostly unknown bands. Honestly, I was blown away with how good all these little known bands were. Don't let anyone tell you "there's no good music these days." Also, I think most people missed the Crass reference with this tape...

4. The Punknews Holiday Spectacular Mixtape

Narmer Records

This one was so cool to do. Both Cassie Ramone and Colleen Green were so cool AND they each contributed some exclusive recordings. WHOA. And then... the people's champion, Joe Jack Talcum contributed THREE unreleased songs including one recorded waaaay back in 1979. They say never meet your musical champions for fear of meeting the "real" person, but in my experience, my music champs are even cooler once you get to know them.

3. The Punknews Summer Soiree Mixtape

Narmer Records

Wow, what a night! I am so glad we got to make this memento. Exclusive songs form World/Inferno dating back to their earliest days as well as brand, brand new tracks, Crazy and the Brains covering Lou Reed, plus amazing tracks by Posers and Pushin' It 2 the Limit. To me, this is what punk rock is all about- limitless whimsy, fun, and art appreciation.

2. The Punknews Banned from the P.C. Mixtape

Narmer Records

I was very pleased with the My Org tape, but it had a few minor things that nagged me. For Banned from the P.C. I went all out and tried to make the PUNKEST tape I could- with "punk" being weirdo, daring, and totally rocking music. Honestly, with exclusive and rare tracks from Ari Up, Steve Ignorant, DFL (first new song in 17 years!), Chris Gethard, and more... an appearance by Jello... AND AN INTRO BY KEITH MORRIS HIMSELF, I will go ahead and pat myself on the back with this one. It's rare that a project comes out exactly as you envisioned it, but I am so proud of this release and don’t mind saying so. Of course, the most important thing is to thank all the bands that made this tape possible with their generosity. We literally could not have done it without you.

1. The Flames: The Flames

Narmer Records

This was one for the books, and frankly, a part of me is a little sad to be closing this chapter. In 2015, I found a cool used record at Jupiter records. It was weird and unique and really, really good. I called the 30 year old number written on the back and somehow wound up in contact with the guy who recorded the album, but never actually put it out! Thanks to Michael J. Richards generosity, I was finally able to put this record out into the world and boy what a thrill that was. THIS is what punk is all about- not worrying about how something will be received, not worrying about the business aspect, just doing it for the sake of art. Now, it's your turn! Go out and do something awesome!


Even though 2017 was jam packed, 2018 already has an insane amount of cool releases on deck. First up, I am ULTRA-PSYCHED for the new Screaming Females record and I am TURBO-PSYCHED for the new The Dwarvesrecord. If their recent super-charged live shows have indicated anything, this record will be HARDCORE. Word is that OFF! is working on LP #4. Harley Flanagan has been hinting at some new stuff. DFL has been posting studio updates with Greg Hetson which is very, very exciting. Tsunami Bomb is working on their first LP in almost 20 years, including Dom Davi and Oubliette, and that will be a ripper, no doubt. Rats in the Wall have a new EP on the horizon which is sure to be killer. Jesse Luscious’ The Pathogens have been active and let’s hope they put out something as now is the time! World/Inferno and Mischief Brew have both been teasing at some reissues, which should be very cool. Op Ivy’s Dave Mello has joined Kicker so hopefully we get something from THAT killer combo. Let’s hope for some new Crazy and the Brainsmaterial. It’s time, boys! There will likely be some more The Rolling Stones archival material, and Eagle has been doing an amazing job with that curation. Of course, the reigning champs Melvinsare sure to put out an album or two or three… and JELLO, how about a new album, dawg? It is time!

For my part, I plan on doing more longer form interviews, though I’d like to also do some more unexpected, unusual interviews, too. So, for 2018, I will be going for super detailed, quality pieces, and not so much quantity. I definitely plan on doing some more Punknews shows- I just want to try to make every show special and unique. At Punknews, I think we have a good vibe going and have a good angle on things, but I’d like to tighten up the ship a little and widen our coverage a little bit. To that end, I will be bringing in a TON of new writers at Punknews in 2018, so if you want to join up, NOW is the time: Also, feel free to write to me with your thoughts.

I usually try to end my Best Ofs with some wisdom gleaned from the year or something inspirational. Unfortunately for me, more and more, I gravitate towards the nihilistic view of Early LA punk and the unflinching salute to the void a la Rudimentary Peni…

So, I will say this. Do what you love. Try to make the world a better place, Put out interesting art. Be nice to people. And, frikkin go for it, man. Who knows how much time we have left, so the time to do it is NOW. To quote the J-man, start a fire!

HEY! HO! 2018, LET’S GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!