Best of 2018 - Ricky Frankel's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2018

Ricky Frankel's Picks (2018)

Staff Picks

“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 Records

After 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]

Indecision Records

There's no question that Rats In The Wall is one of the most remarkable contemporary hardcore bands in the scene. If Brad Logan is involved, then you know that the music going to be awesome. War Bound proves that from beginning to end. Though this was the last release with the band’s original lineup, I am still very hopeful when it comes to the future of Rats In The Wall.

Favorite Track: “Hopelessly Mediocre”

8. The Dwarves / Surfbort: Split 7-inch

Riot Style Records

ROCK LEGENDS, The Dwarves didn’t only put out one of best full-lengths of 2018, but they also released a couple awesome 7-inches later on. In classic Dwarves fashion their song on this release, “The Giver” is rowdy, angry with some pop punk sensibilities. IT was also really cool to hear Stacey Dee of Bad Cop/Bad Cop on yet another Dwarves tune. This EP also exposed me to the chaos that is Surfbort with their song “Fetus.” Great stuff as usual from The Dwarves and Riot Style.

Favorite Track: “The Giver” (by The Dwarves)

7. Beach Rats: Wasted Time [EP]

Bridge Nine Records

Members from a few different awesome bands came together to form one of this year’s surprise bands that put out one of the surprise releases of the year. I mean seriously, who could've seen this coming? Beach Rats’ Wasted Time is a fantastic throw back to early hardcore with an updated edge. I hope that they will make it out west some time soon.

Favorite Track: “Wasted Time”

6. Ursula: Meet Is Murder

Indecision Records/Programme Skate & Sound

I'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)"

5. Debt Neglector: The Kids Are Pissed [EP]

Smartpunk Records

I 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]

Red Scare

The Bird Party split 7-inch is probably my favorite release to come from Red Scare this year. Swingin’ Utters’ “Shout It At Dem Culture” is a fantastic bonus to Peace and Love and Nothington’s “Covering My Tracks” is classic Nothington with big guitars and anthemic vocals. For Nothington this is a hell of a release to end on and for Swingin’ Utters it just shows that they continue to release great material after all these years.

Favorite Track: “Shout It At Dem Culture” (by, Swingin’ Utters)

3. Pity Party: Are You Happy Yet? [7-inch]

La Escalera Records

I 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]


Last 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]


Though 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

20. Mean Jeans: Jingle Collection

Fat Wreck Chords

For those of you that have been listening to the Punknews Podcast for a while, you will recall that I voiced my support for Mean Jeans to write a whole album of jingles after the first two were released and I am so happy they actually went through with it. Jingles Collection is fun, silly, and contains some fantastic satire. But the songs are taken to a whole other level of “ridiculous” (in a good way) when you see the band play some of them live, which I managed to do in earlier this year. Having these jingles played in between Mean Jeans’ longer songs makes the show unlike most pop punk acts that you will see.

Favorite Track: "Sizzler"

19. The Drowns: View From The Bottom

Live! From The Rock Room

The 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


You 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 Records

Over 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”

16. The Interrupters: Fight The Good Fight

Hellcat Records

For those of you that have been reading Punknews for the last few years, you know that I have been pretty critical of The Interrupters basically since their inception. But all that changed this year with the release of their third album Fight The Good Fight. This was the album I was wanting from the band. Fight The Good Fight is a really fun and positive record that has some incredibly catchy skapunk and pop punk tunes. For years I was confused as to what people saw in the band. I reviewed plenty of their records and live shows, but I just didn't get it. Then after my first listen of Fight The Good Fight it clicked. This is clearly The Interrupters’ best material of the band’s career thus far.

Favorite Track: "She's Kerosene"

15. The Last Gang: Keep Them Counting

Fat Wreck Chords

It's crazy to think just how much progress The Last Gang has made in the last few years since I saw them open for Tartar Control and Rats In The Wall at the tiny (but awesome) Redwood Bar in late 2016. They put out a fantastic 7-inch the following year and then things really took off for them. They've opened for amazing acts such as The Lillingtons, FEAR, and Street Dogs, but more importantly they released their full-length Keep Them Counting, which contains some of their best material so far. The Last Gang is making those of us in their hometown of Los Angeles extremely proud.

Favorite Track: “Sing For Your Supper”

14. Crazy & The Brains: Into The Ugly

Baldy Longhair

I've always admired Crazy & The Brains’ incredibly unique take on punk rock. When I first heard them I thought it took a lot of guts to include a glockenspiel (xylophone?) in their music and overall talking those has paid off a ton. Into The Ugly is some of their best work yet. It's weird, funny, but a little bit more aggressive than what they usually have put out and that's what I was definitely looking for when they announce this album. Have you seen the live yet? If you haven’t, the reviews are true. They put on one of the best performances at Punk Rock Bowling this year, hands down.

Favorite Track: “Feng Yuan”

13. Brendan Kelly and The Wandering Birds: Keep Walkin' Pal

Red Scare

I'll just be completely honest. Anything that Brendan Kelly is involved with, I'm usually on board and that includes Keep Walkin' Pal. There are so many different genres that he and The Wandering Birds touched upon on this album, plus the lyrics have his signature twisted sense of humor that I love. I found myself laughing out loud several times during my first listen of this album, but I also really enjoyed how “out of the box” it sounded. I can't wait to catch his solo show this coming January.

Favorite Track: "Shitty Margarita"

12. Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers: Bought to Rot

Bloodshot Records

When Laura Jane Grace announced Bought To Rot I was excited, but it wasn't totally sure what to expect. Would the album be a continuation of Heart Burns or something totally different? When the record arrived in the mail I put it on my turntable that night it was pleasantly surprised by how each song sounded so different from one another. There are so many genres packed into this album. You hear elements of punk, blues, folk, classic rock, and a bunch more. I will always love Against Me!, but Bought To Rot is a great alternative where you can still hear Laura’s signature, powerful vocals and wonderful lyrics that we all know and love.

Favorite Track: “Reality Bites”

11. Antarctigo Vespucci: Love in the Time of E-Mail

Polyvinyl Records

It's no surprise to me that every Antarctigo Vespucci release has made it on to my end of the year lists. The talent between Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren is off the charts. For me though, Love In The Time Of Email is the band’s best work thus far. I have absolutely no issue listening to it from front to back. The melodies are so catchy, the musicianship is fantastic (with each listen I find something new that I missed), and the lyrics are very relatable. Now all this band has to do is announce a West Coast tour… please!

Favorite Track: "All These Nights"

10. The Shell Corporation: Fucked

La Escalera Records

Like 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 Records

It'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 Records

I 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

Revelation Records

To be completely honest, I had no idea that this band existed until they announced Body Feel. But once they released the first single for the album, I was hooked. I preordered this album immediately and absolutely loved what I heard throughout it. The sharp vocals mix with the rowdy and “in-your-face” musicianship just works spectacularly well on this record. I’m incredibly stoked that I'll get a chance to see the Shook Ones perform in January. Now excuse me while I listen to the rest of this band’s discography.

Favorite Track: "You Missed A Button"

6. Swingin' Utters: Peace and Love

Fat Wreck Chords

I have always been a passive Swingin’ Utters fan. I listened to them on occasion and seen them live plenty of times. But especially after interviewing Johnny Bonnel earlier this year, I thought I'd really give Peace and Love a shot when it was announced. When the record was officially released I had it spinning on my turntable and playing on my phone constantly. Johnny’s piercing vocals, Darius’s killer guitar techniques mix so well with the rest of the band. What I also really like about this record, is Jack Dalrymple’s (who can do no wrong) influence on it. The whole album comes together so well, yet each song is significantly different from the other. I am no longer a passive Swingin’ Utters fan — I am a full-fledged one now.

Favorite Track:"Human Potential"

5. The Dwarves: Take Back the Night

Burger / Greedy

ROCK 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"

4. The Dirty Nil: Master Volume

Dine Alone Records

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Higher Power, but Master Volume was the Dirty Nil album I was waiting for. It captures their intense musicianship, but they went more melodic on the vocal side. That in itself paid off a ton for them. Master Volume is a perfect example of a band venturing out just enough from their first full-length with the result taking them to a whole other next level. The band doesn’t only record amazing songs, but having seen them twice this year, I can say that they put on one of the best shows in the scene today.

Favorite Track: "Bathed In Light"

3. Direct Hit!: Crown of Nothing

Fat Wreck Chords

With every album, the members of Direct Hit! truly strive to do something great and different to out-do the record they released before. Nicks Woods and crew are really one of the best and most innovative bands in the pop punk realm, and Crown Of Nothing proves that. They have a fantastic style when it comes to their hardcore songs, which they have mastered since debuting it on Brainless God back in 2013. As a fan of the band for just shy of a decade, I can say that it has been an absolute pleasure and a blast watching them grow musically with each release and to watch their popularity explode. Crown Of Nothing is yet another remarkable contribution to the pop punk sub-genre that will influence future bands for quite a while.

Favorite Track:"Perfect Black"

2. Night Birds: Roll Credits

Fat Wreck Chords

One of the highlights of 2018 was when Night Birds returned from their break and announced Roll Credits. Over the last few years they have quickly become one of my favorite contemporary bands. Mutiny On Muscle Beach is still very much one of my go-to albums to throw on my record player. Though Roll Credits is a bit shorter, it really packs that “Night Birds punch.” Tracks like "My Dad Is The BTK" and “Onward to Obscurity” are classic, ripping Night Birds tunes and their cover of “I Need A Torch” totally turned me on to the Suicide Commandos. Overall, Roll Credits blew my expectations away just like every new release of theirs. After one listen, I knew that it would easily earn one of the top spots of my list.

Favorite Track:”My Dad Is The BTK“

1. Natterers: Head In Threatening Attitude

Boss Tuneage Records

When 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"