Best of 2018 - Pete Vincelli’s picks (Cover Artwork)

Best of 2018

Pete Vincelli’s picks (2018)

Staff Picks

This was way more difficult than I expected because there were so many awesome releases this year. I know I’ve left off some major releases and I’m sure that some slipped under my radar, but these are my favorites; some are rookies, some are veterans, and some are all-stars. I’m not going to claim that these are the best albums or singles of 2018. Rather, these are the songs that I’ve listened to the most this year.

My Favorite EPs/Singles of 2018

10. Useless ID / Tarakany!: Among Other Zeros and Ones


This is a split record from Israeli punk mainstays Useless ID and Russian punk veterans Tarakany. The Russian release is 7 songs on which each band covered 3 of their counterpart's tunes, but translated them into the language they normally sing in. It's pretty cool to hear Useless ID songs sung in Russian. The 7th song was collaboratively written and performed by both bands. The US version contains 4 of the 7 tracks. It's a pretty cool release for fans of either of these bands.

9. Red City Radio: Sky Tigers

Red Scare

This was a slower, more subdued version of Red City Radio, but it was still nice to hear that the band was releasing something new in 2018. And while it was relatively different than their early releases, it still maintained that same ole' gruff.

8. CJ Ramone: Christmas Lullaby

Fat Wreck Chords

I'm always excited when CJ Ramone releases new music, though this isn't entirely new. You pretty much know what to expect on his albums, and this 7-inch is no exception. The a-side contains that classic Ramones sound, while the b-side is a cover "Father Christmas". This probably isn't a record that I will listen to all the time, but it's definitely a pretty cool addition to my collection and it has some pretty cool artwork as well.

7. The Hangups: The Hangups (EP)

Monster Zero

This is a great four song ep from this Swedish 3-piece, which shows a love of the Ramones and early Lookout Records releases from Green Day, Screeching Weasel, and the Riverdales. At times, it is also reminiscent of other Swedish punk bands like Randy and Bombshell Rocks. All four songs are short, catchy, and aggressive with a lot of melody and harmony.

6. The Menzingers: Toy Soldier/The Freaks


I love the early Menzingers releases, but I also love how they've matured and evolved. These two tracks portray that evolution clearly. Both songs evoke nostalgic imagery accompanied with melodic vocals and show an ability to play softly as well as aggressively. These songs were a nice little surprise after the very successful full length, After The Party.

5. Swingin’ Utters / Nothington: Bird Party

Red Scare

A split 7-inch between 2 solid San Fran area bands. The Swingin’ Utters side is a rowdy ,jangly track that clearly shows the influence of Jack Dalrymple's songwriting, but it still maintains the usual gravel of Johnny Peebucks. Nothington's song is great as expected and contains vocals from both singers with a really catchy chorus. Both songs are good, but the focus is definitely on Nothington, particularly because it's their last official release. Sad, but this is a nice little parting gift.

4. The All Brights: The White Album EP

Red Scare

The White Album EP is another corny, yet witty release from these punk rock vets, though that's kind of the point. This is obviously a joke, but the songs are well-written and extremely melodic. It's tough to take seriously, but it's still fun to listen to.

3. Useless ID: 7 Hits from Hell

Fat Wreck Chords

7 songs in less than 5 minutes. Useless ID has been releasing a lot of great music lately and this is no exception. I really love how the band has become more aggressive as they've matured over the past 20-plus years and this release is a good combination of old and new Useless ID. The only downside is that the songs are super short, but that's obviously the point. I love the artwork on this also.

2. The Follow Ups: The Half of It

No Affiliation Records

I'm glad I stumbled onto this band and their fledgling record label because I absolutely love the ep from this Canadian 4-piece. Their influences clearly range from the Ramones to '90s era punk with imagery from the 1950s. It is a near perfect blend of various decades of pop culture and punk rock aesthetics. The songs are soaked in nostalgia, but they all still sound fresh. Can't wait to see what they put out next.

1. Goodbye Blue Monday: Misery-Punk Ruined My Life

Make-that-A take Records

This is another release that I stumbled upon thanks to Punknews. This is my favorite ep of the year because it was so refreshing to hear. The 3-song release is cohesive, yet not too repetitive. The lyrics are purposely dark, but the gravely melodic vocals are a perfect contradiction. All three songs are loud and angry, but despite the theme, they are extremely pleasant to listen to.

My Favorite Albums of 2018

10. The Sensations: Just Let Me Turn You Up

Paper Plastic

The Sensations are not a new band, but they were new to me. The band draws from a lot of different musical influences, but generally you can call it ska-punk in the same vein as Potshot. Overall, the album has a nice little party vibe with loads of energy. The vocals are a little rough around the edges and the lyrics are tough to understand, but the gang vocals and vocal harmonies make up for it. Loose, jangly guitars and rapid snare shots add some urgency to the album.

9. Nine Eighteen: Twelve Fluid Ounces


Twelve Fluid Ounces is an energy packed record with loads of sing alongs and catchy hooks. Scratchy vocals and well written songs are the highlights on this album. With loads of Jersey references and personal lyrics, it's clear that the band is influenced by groups like The Gaslight Anthem and The Scandals. The band has the ability to play loud, raucous punk rock, as well as stripped down melodic tunes.

8. Captain Kaiser: Dog Days On Deck

Bearded Punk Records

This was the debut album from Belgium's Captain Kaiser, yet somehow this didn't sound like their first attempt. It is a record steeped in energetic, razor sharp songs with raspy vocals. The songs are powerful and catchy at the same time. The band plays with a sense of urgency most of the time, but has the ability to tone it down while still maintaining the passion.

7. Alkaline Trio: Is This Thing Cursed?

Epitaph Records

There's not much to say about Alkaline Trio that hasn't been said already. But this is one of my favorites of the year, mainly because I was hoping that it would sound like the band's early albums (as promoted/reviewed?). And for the most part, that was true of this record. The band has obviously evolved over the years, but there are hints of early Alkaline Trio on here, which was a welcomed listen for me. I particularly love how the album ends with a Skiba-led acoustic tune, just like some of the older albums.

6. The Bar Stool Preachers: Grazie Governo

Pirates Press Records

The Bar Stool Preachers seem to be working their butts off to promote this album and for good reason. The record bounces around from punk, to ska, to straight up rock, but overall it still seems fluid. The songs are catchy and passionate thanks to skilled musicianship and songwriting, as well as powerful vocals. The lyrical content varies as much as the music, which makes each song sound somewhat unique.

5. Direct Hit!: Crown of Nothing

Fat Wreck Chords

This is another album that I was anticipating for a while and was super stoked to hear. The band's sound has clearly changed over the years, particularly since they moved to Fat, but overall you can still hear their unique sound bleed through on Crown of Nothing. I love the imagery that is evoked from the lyrics and I love how well thought out this record is. This album has cemented Direct Hit! as one of my favorite bands, even though it may not sound as punk as their old records.

4. Doc Rotten: Illusion to Choose


Doc Rotten is on a tear lately. They released an album and toured Japan, Europe, and America; all in the past 6 months or so. Illusion to Choose is a blistering, aggressive, and melodic collection of songs from this Jersey 4-piece. With great songwriting and skilled musicianship, the band has put together a great blend of melodic '90s era punk and '80s hardcore with catchy singalongs on their first full-length record.

3. Hit The Switch: Entropic

Bird Attack Records

With releasing Entropic, Hit The Switch has returned from a fairly long hiatus. But this was the first time I had heard the band and I was blown away. I was a little disappointed in myself that I had never heard of them before I listened to the song "North Star." I was hooked in less than a minute. I love the vocals. I love the urgency. And I love the songs. Super fast, aggressive tunes with a ton of melody and passion. Great album!

2. The Hempsteadys: Seance! Seance!


Seance! Seance! is probably the album that I've listened to the most in 2018. This Connecticut 11-piece outfit draws influences from The Clash and blends an early ska/rocksteady sound with a punk rock attitude to make a nearly perfect sounding record. These songs, packed with sweet melodies, genuinely make you feel good when you listen to them. This is a record that deserves to be heard.

1. Tightwire: Six Feet Deep

Red Scare

I listened to this record for 3 days straight when I first heard it. Tightwire's debut release, Six Feet Deep, contains 13 songs in under 20 minutes with a ton of singalongs and memorable tunes. The band has a grittier, yet more polished Ramones sound that's super catchy with vocal harmonies on almost every song. I absolutely loved every song on this record.

So there it is. My favorite releases of the year. They may not be for everyone, but almost every record on this list subsequently proves that 2019 is shaping up to be another awesome year for punk rock!

~Pete Vincelli