“It's shoved in your face... Everything's fake!!”- Dead To Me
Well that year went by fast. 2018 was filled with some of awesome releases, great shows, and plenty of accomplishments for the ol’ Org. We hit 400 episodes of the podcast, and along with the usual news posts, interviews, and reviews, I managed to write a book. Since I know I won’t be in a band, I consider it my contribution to a scene that has given me so much even before I was ever on the Punknews staff. And it’s still so much fun bringing you Navel Gazing every week. Though my most anticipated record of 2018, Dead To Me’s American Son Cholo, was not released like I had hoped, we did get a couple of amazing singles from the band, plus (as you will see below) a ton of awesome releases came out this year. I went to a ton of shows including Punk Rock Bowling, Descendents (twice), The Lawrence Arms, Dead To Me, Western Addiction, as well as Bad Religion, who played Suffer in its entirety.
So without any further ado, here are my top 20 albums and top 10 EP’s/Singles of 2018, plus my honorable mentions and the top 15 shows that I went to this year. Also, be sure to be on the look out for the fifth annual Best Album Art Of The Year Award!
Here’s to another great year of new releases in 2019!
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
You're Not Alone by Andrew WK - Entropic, by Hit The Switch - Euringer , by Mindless Self Indulgence - Turn It Around Story: Of East Bay Punk - A Compilation Inspired By The Documentary, by Various Artists - Fat Music For Wrecked People Punk: Rock Bowling 2018, by Various Artists - Subsonic Dream [7-inch], by The Darts - Dear Beer [7-inch], by The Bombpops - Skytigers, by Red City Radio - 7 Hits From Hell [7-inch], by Useless ID - The Essential Antarctigo Vespucci Vol. 1, by Antarctigo Vespucci - The Court's Closed on Christmas by The Eradicator - Leftover Leftover Crack: The E-Sides and F-sides, by Leftover Crack - We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of, by The Lawrence Arms - Christmas Lullaby [7-inch], by CJ Ramone - Dwarves Meet The Sloths [split 7-inch], by The Dwarves and The Sloths - Ugly Spiral: Lost Works 2012-2016, by AJJ - Surrender [Digital Single] (Cheap Trick cover), by The Dirty Nil - Who We Are [7-inch], by Descendents - Character Actor [7-inch], by Character Actor
Top 15 Shows That I Attended In 2018:
15. Andrew WK/King Dream - The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA- September 6, 2018
14. Youth Brigade/Fiends!/Informal Society - May 18, 2018 - 5 Star Bar - Los Angeles, CA
13. The Lillingtons/The Last Gang/The Two Tens -The Viper Room - West Hollywood, CA - January 31, 2018
12. The Damned/Radkey/The Darts - The Fonda Theatre - Los Angeles, CA - November 2, 2018
11. Hot Water Music/Dead To Me/Racquet Club - Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA - January 5, 2018
10. The Dirty Nil/Casual Friday - Moroccan Lounge - Los Angeles, CA - June 29, 2018
9. The Lawrence Arms/Red City Radio/Sincere Engineer - El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA - May 5, 2018
8. PEARS/Fireburn/Vultures United - Toxic Toast Theater- Long Beach, CA - May 19, 2018
7. Descendents/Audio Karate/Radkey - Ventura, CA - Ventura Theater - May 3, 2018
6. The Menzingers (with VIP acoustic performance before main show)/Tiny Moving Parts/Daddy Issues - The Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA - November 3, 2018
5. Lagwagon/No Fun At All/Western Addiction/A Vulture Wake - El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA - September 22, 2018
4. Bad Religion (performed all of Suffer)/Tartar Control - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA - May 2, 2018
3. Dead To Me/Western Settings/DFMK-The Echo- Los Angeles, CA- February 2, 2018
2. Musink Festival (Day 1 only) Descendents/FEAR/Strung Out/The Adolescents/Spanish Love Songs -OC Fair & Event Center - Costa Mesa, CA - March 16, 2018
1. Punk Rock Bowling 2018 (club shows included) - Downtown Las Vegas - Las Vegas, NV - May 25, 2018 – May 28, 2018
My Top 10 EP’s/Singles Of 2018
10. The Re-Volts: Wages [7-inch]
Pirates Press RecordsAfter over a decade we have finally gotten a new release from The Re-Volts. Both tracks on this 7-inch are some of Spike Slawson and co.’s catchiest material to date. If this is only a small taste of what we'll get the future, then I'm really excited to see what The Re-Volts will do next. Pirates Press definitely has a winner on its hands here.
Favorite Track: “Earth Trembles”
9. Rats in the Wall: War Bound [EP]
Favorite Track: “Hopelessly Mediocre”
8. The Dwarves / Surfbort: Split 7-inch
Favorite Track: “The Giver” (by The Dwarves)
Favorite Track: “Wasted Time”
6. Ursula: Meet Is Murder
Indecision Records/Programme Skate & SoundI'm a fan of Whitney Marshall’s band Homesick Abortions. Their last full-length made it on to one my prior end of the year lists. But when I heard she had formed Ursual, I was pretty intrigued. Having a pretty good feeling that the band would release some great, crusty, hardcore, I made sure that Punknews manage to get to premiere some of their material early on, which I managed to put together earlier this year. The band’s seven-track EP Meet Is Murder totally blew my expectations away. Though I've not seen them live myself yet, I consistently see them absolutely killing it on stage from video footage taken at their shows.
Favorite Track: "Todd Darsh (Life Sucks)"
Smartpunk RecordsI totally regret finding Debt Neglector’s Atomicland too late to put it on my 2017 end of the year list. However, The Kids Are Pissed, shows that Atomicland was not a fluke. On this release Debt Neglector continued there unique approach to pop punk with their now-signature, politically minded lyrics. Keep an eye on these up-and-comers. My guess is that they will continue to put out awesome tunes like the ones on the EP in the future.
Favorite Track: “New White Roses”
4. Swingin' Utters / Nothington: Bird Party [7-inch]
Favorite Track: “Shout It At Dem Culture” (by, Swingin’ Utters)
La Escalera RecordsI kept hearing about this release on social media when it came out earlier this year. After seeing it pop up on my screen so many times, I figured I would give it a shot. On Pity Party’s Bandcamp page, they describe themselves as an “emo pop punk” band. I'm not a huge fan of emo, but I do love my share of pop punk. So I gave Are You Happy Yet? a listen and I thought it was pretty good. I checked out some of their other releases and thought the same. But through out 2018 I kept finding myself listening to this 7-inch and it really grew on me and became one of my favorite EP’s of 2018. Especially after seeing some of their live footage from FEST this year, if I had to make a bet, I would put my money on Pity Party being considered one of the more notable up-and-coming bands in the very near future.
Favorite Track: "Traphouse X-Mas"
2. The Menzingers: Toy Soldier/The Freaks [7-inch]
Self-releasedLast year The Menzingers release the magnificent album After The Party. Thankfully, they did not leave fans hanging in 2018 and released a 7-inch with two fantastic songs for their tour this year. Both “Toy Soldier” and “The Freaks” were great tunes to follow up After The Party with. It seems as if The Menzingers are on a long-time hot streak both in the studio and on stage. After being a fan of their’s for ten years, I still can't wait to see what they do next
Favorite Track: "Toy Soldier"
1. Dead To Me: Fear Is The New Bliss/Would It Kill You? [Digital Singles]
Self-ReleasedThough Dead To Me’s new album American Son Of Cholo did not come out this year, we did get two new awesome tracks from the band. “Fear Is The New Bliss” is a classic and aggressive Dead To Me tune, while “Would It Kill You?” is slower, but much more hard-hitting. Both tracks are phenomenal and make me even more excited for the new full-length whenever they decide to release it. I had the pleasure of seeing Dead To Me three times this year and at every show they performed “Fear Is The New Bliss” and “Would It Kill You?” If you like the studio versions, wait until you hear the songs live! On a slightly different note, I did want to mention that seeing Dead To Me cover One Man Army’s song “All The Way” at Punk Rock Bowling 2018 was not just the highlight of the festival, but a major highlight of 2018 for me. It was a truly special moment.
Favorite Track: “Fear Is The New Bliss”
My Top 20 Albums Of 2018
Favorite Track: "Sizzler"
Live! From The Rock RoomThe Drowns were an unexpected find this year. Made up of members of Success, The Shell Corporation, and Coyote Bred, their debut full-length View From The Bottom was definitely one of the surprise albums of 2018 for me. The record is a really great example of contemporary melodic punk rock. It’s filled anthemic vocals, killer riffs, and clever lyrics. Keep an eye on this trio because there is so much potential here.
Favorite Track: "View From The Bottom"
18. Brogues: Metropolitan Blues
Self-ReleasedYou have to understand, Brogues features ex-members of Morning Glory, which means I will absolutely give anything that passed members of that band put out a chance. While Metropolitan Blues is not anywhere near the same style as Morning Glory’s material, the songs on this record are very unique approach to melodic punk rock. I have always credit Morning Glory for having massive amounts of musical creativity and that has clearly been continued with Brogues, especially on this album.
Favorite Track: “Metropolitan Blues”
17. The Damned: Evil Spirits
Spinefarm RecordsOver four decades later The Damned are still releasing some of their best material of their career. Their 2018 album Evil Spirits proves that. The record is very dark and even leans goth at times, and yet it still has the same raw energy that the band has had since the 1970’s. Clearly, they still awesome in the studio and I can personally attest that the band still has an amazing live show, and the songs on Evil Spirits fit perfectly into their set list.
Favorite Track: “Sonar Deceit”
Favorite Track: "She's Kerosene"
Favorite Track: “Sing For Your Supper”
14. Crazy & The Brains: Into The Ugly
Favorite Track: “Feng Yuan”
Favorite Track: "Shitty Margarita"
Favorite Track: “Reality Bites”
Favorite Track: "All These Nights"
La Escalera RecordsLike I said in my review of this album, “Fucked is quite the accomplishment for The Shell Corporation and it is easily one of the best records to come out in the early months of 2018.” I think for the most part that statement rings true except I think that Fucked is one of the best albums to be released all year. After a pretty long hiatus, The Shell Corporation returned with a massive and incredibly catchy album that was well worth the wait. This is another band that is making those of us in the Los Angeles scene very proud.
Favorite Track: "Make It Rain"
9. No Love: Choke On It
Sorry State RecordsIt's funny, I almost missed this album entirely had it not be shown to me by Thomas Witty of Natterers. No Love’s approach to hardcore on Choke On It is a total breath of fresh air for the sub-genre. It's got fierce vocals and some really intricate and sharp riffs. This is another band I think people should definitely keep an eye on and one I hope to see perform live soon. This record is killer!
Favorite Track: “Open Mouth“
8. Neighborhood Brats: Claw Marks
Dirt Cult RecordsI definitely had the chance to get into Neighborhood Brats before, but for some reason I never dug through their discography. I totally regret that now. When they released the first two singles for Claw Marks I immediately preordered it. I love their style. It has hints of melodic punk, garage rock, as well as a little bit of hardcore. This is another record that is incredibly easy for me to listen to from front to back. The show will have happened once this list is posted, but I'm really excited to see them for the first time with Night Birds in early December.
Favorite Track: "Misery Parade"
7. Shook Ones: Body Feel
Favorite Track: "You Missed A Button"
6. Swingin' Utters: Peace and Love
Favorite Track:"Human Potential"
Burger / GreedyROCK LEGENDS, The Dwarves graced the punk scene with their new album Take Back The Night pretty early on this year. It’s a classic rowdy and wild Dwarves record. What I really liked about it was that they skewed a little more towards hardcore while sit remains true to their melodic/pop roots, but there were a lot more instances of Blag and Nick Oliveri switching off lead vocals. That added so much more to the record. Their different singing methods bounce off each other so well. Long live The Dwarves, ROCK LEGENDS!
Favorite Track: "City By The Bay"
Favorite Track: "Bathed In Light"
Favorite Track:"Perfect Black"
Favorite Track:”My Dad Is The BTK“
Boss Tuneage RecordsWhen Natterers guitarist Thomas Witty sent me the band’s first released Demo ‘16 in the summer of 2016 I thought the band had a good amount of potential. Then in 2017 they released the Toxic Care 7-inch in 2017 and that was even more impressive. 2018 was a pivotal year for Natterers. An EP is one thing, but a first full-length is an even bigger deal. Looking at it as a fan and critic, Head In Threatening Attitude was a “make or break” release for the band. When I gave it a spin for the first time, I was in awe. Natterers made a record that easily out-competes with some of the scene’s favorite veteran bands. They mastered their surf/80’s West Coast hardcore style beautifully with this album. It’s an incredibly enjoyable listen front to back filled with angry, yet catchy tunes that contain some awesome riffs. Hardcore and even pop punk fans a like will really enjoy Head In Threatening Attitude if they haven’t heard it yet. I am also giving the Best Album Art Of The Year Award once again to Natterers’ album artist Hal Mundane. I love how the simple yet, dark album cover personifies the album title. If you see the physical version of this record, you will definitely agree that the other artwork and overall layout was done superbly. Head In Threatening Attitude is truly one of the stand-out albums to come out in a while, and for me, it is the best one to be released in 2018.
Favorite Track: "Power Tripping"