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

Best of 2018's Picks (2018)

Staff Picks

Is it February? I suppose I should post the overall year-end list.

Let the late arrival of our Best of 2018 list underscore just where it sits in the Punknews editorial psyche. Our volunteers labour extensively over their personal write-ups, and as a decentralized un-organization that only exists due to the efforts of those people, their articles are the ones we want to celebrate. The overall Punknews list is an afterthought compared to those. It's busy work.

This list is the result of tallying up the scores of the contributor lists. You can find the spreadsheet doing that right here if you want to scrutinize it. It features 158 different records picked by the 12 editors, reviews, and writers who participated. The individual lists are weighted so that a person's #1 pick is worth 20 points, #2 is 19 points, and so on down. I'm not too confident that this is the most revealing way to survey the consensus, but as Nate Silver refuses to write us a statistical model I'm all you've got. Also note that Punknews contributors barely talk to our loved ones, let alone each other, so there have been no back-channel discussions on the merits of any particular album. It's been 20 years, and we've never managed to hold an editorial meeting regarding the bands we cover, so why start now? - Adam White's Top 20(ish) LPs of 2018

20 (tie). War on Women: Capture the Flag

Bridge Nine Records

With their sophomore LP, War on Women definitely upped the stakes in their sort-of-punk-hardcore brand of socio-political music. Jargon aside, I love their genre-bending style because it blends so well with the band’s political messages. They are not to be pigeon-holed by anything, musically or lyrically. Capture the Flag resoundingly reflects that ethos. The guitar sound is a bit more tempered here, and it works really well in allowing Shawna Potter to shine as the vocalist. The record pounds with thoughtful anger and urgency. - Mike Musilli

20 (tie). Foxing: Nearer My God

Triple Crown Records

I can’t speak highly enough of this album. It’s glitchy and electronic. It’s emotional. It’s political. It’s all over the place yet still so tightly contained. Foxing upended their sound and the results are spectacular. Nearer My God is damn near perfect, every song standing out as its best yet easily fitting into the clear narrative Foxing so carefully crafted. “Slapstick” is one of my favorite songs this year while “Gameshark” is one of 2018’s strangest. Nearer My God is ambitious and exciting and my favorite album of 2018. - Nick Poyner

18. 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! - Ricky Frankel

17. Nervus: Everything Dies

big scary monsters

I"m always on the lookout for queer punk, particularly trans punk, which, despite the presence of Against Me!, remains sadly rare. But Nervus, with trans frontwoman Em Foster, is one of the best out there for those who want their trans punk a little lighter than Against Me! or HIRS. The piano parts really make Evertyhing Dies that rare punk album that has a classic beauty to it. Lots of the songs deal with the tough realities of being trans, but none more so than the phenomenal opening track, "Congratulations." If you don"t listen to this whole album (you should, though), at least listen to "Congratulations." - Julie River

16 (tie). 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. - Ricky Frankel

16 (tie). Basement: Beside Myself

Fueled By Ramen Records

This record turned up at a point in the year where I'd be listening to almost exclusively metal (not by design) for a month or so ' and made me realise exactly what I'd been missing. The pacing, the production, the vocal lines are just so undeniably pleasing that it took over my life for about a week. As someone who was a big fan of Colour Me In Kindness but less so the last record, I couldn't be happier to see Basement absolutely smash through the level of quality I was always hoping they'd reach again. 12 tracks and 39 minutes of pure enjoyment. - Sam Houlden

14 (tie). Gouge Away: Burnt Sugar

Deathwish Inc.

The hype machine was in overdrive in the lead up to the release of Burnt Sugar. Nearly everyone I talked to had an opinion about this album, many before it was even released. It seemed to capture a moment in the hardcore scene. For me personally, this album connected when I saw them play days after its release with Culture Abuse in Philadelphia. It was clear the band was not quite comfortable with playing these songs live yet and it also underscored what a sonic leap forwards this record truly is. The band even addressed it throughout the set, but they didn't shy away into older material. That type of vulnerability is heavy. As I write this, I'm hours away from seeing Gouge Away again and couldn't be more excited now that they've toured on this record for months to see how these songs have grown their live show. Expanding their sound from their debut, Gouge Away successfully brought in bits of indie and alternative rock to create a soundscape of paranoia. - Eric Rosso

14 (tie). Drug Church: Cheer

Pure Noise Records

2018 has been a big year for Pure Noise Records. This band just keeps getting better. I probably would have argued that I preferred End of a Year before this - now I'm not so sure. - Dan Donald

13. Shame: Songs of Praise

Dead oceans

I was recommended Shame by a friend whose stylings are bit outside of the hardcore punk sound. And to be clear, the band doesn’t really draw at all from that well. They, however, do play high-quality indie rock with just enough of an edge. Songs of Praise is a standout record because it’s cohesive. The band straddles between lo-fi rock and the more mainstream UK indie sound most popular in the late-90s. But the LP is infectious. Give “One Rizla” a listen, and I’m sure you’ ll find yourself looking for more from Shame. - Michael Musilli

11 (tie). Shook Ones: Body Feel

Revelation Records

Here is my album of the year. A fantastic punk rock record with all the right parts aggression and emotion. If you haven't given Shook Ones a shot, you definitely should. - Dan Donald

11 (tie). Fiddlehead: Springtime and Blind

Run For Cover Records

Springtime and Blind is about as poetic and hauntingly emotional as a release can get without stepping anywhere close to cheesiness. What Pat Flynn and co. have achieved on this record is a delivery of utterly personal lyrical content matched up with ambient indie rock. The LP is cohesive too in that one gets the sense that it’s meant to be played through in its entirety, rather than listening to a song here and there. But the mastery of this record is Fiddlehead’s ability to delicately meander through sounds that are at once aggressive, melodic, ambient, and dissonant. Churned together one might worry of producing an LP without identity. Springtime and Blind is anything but. “Poem You” is a favorite here, and a song that does well in introducing all that the LP has to offer. - Michael Musilli

10. Deafheaven: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Anti- Records

This album only gets better with each listen. The guys in Deafheaven are so good at balancing beautiful guitar melodies with brutal screams and double kick drums. I don’t know how many bands are really attempting shoegaze-y black metal but Deafheaven knows no boundaries. That freedom results in Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. - Nick Poyner

9. Turnstile: Time & Space

Roadrunner Records

I honestly couldn't imagine Turnstile making a record that I don't like at this point. It's not like they've got a vast back catalogue under their belts, it's just that what they do, they do so well. Also, their genre-hopping approach means that they don't sound like anyone else and their live show is absolutely killer as well. Cover of Kerrang magazine, appearances at a broad spectrum of festivals/events whilst still maintaining their NYHC credibility would be impossible for almost any band, but it seems there's little Turnstile aren't capable of. - Sam Houlden

8. Nothing: Dance On The Blacktop

Relapse Records

Not to take away from the excellent mix of swirling guitars and 90s alternative rock nostalgia found on this release, but this is an album that sound tracked a very specific time and place for me. I was not hip to Nothing before this album came out, so this was my first entry point for the band. In late summer, I found myself frequently driving back and forth between Philadelphia and Brooklyn via the New Jersey turnpike. The desolate highway lights and endless concrete urban sprawl tracked perfectly with the dark city vibes that make up Dance On The Blacktop. With Nothing claiming ties to both Philadelphia and New York City, it's easy to see how the record synced perfectly with my drive. It will always sound best on that turnpike. - Eric Rosso

7. Night Birds: Roll Credits

Fat Wreck Chords

One of the few modern punk bands that everybody seems to like, and for good reason. They're a killer combination of punk, hardcore and surf with great snotty, antagonistic vocals. If there were a few more songs on this record, it would probably be closer to the top of the list. Check out "My Dad is the B.T.K.". - Tom Trauma

6. Culture Abuse: Bay Dream

Epitaph Records

Over at my house, Culture Abuse’s Bay Dream has become the soundtrack to the summer (partial thanks to my husband). This album is incredibly poppy, catchy and full of PMA. Singer David Kellings, has a way with emoting the feeling of good vibes with his lyrics. Bay Dream is a great album to jam out to at any summer BBQ or cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway. - Samantha Barrett

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. - Peter Vencilli

3 (tie). The Dwarves: Take Back the Night

Burger / Greedy

The Dwarves have never compromised. They have never bent to the mandates of the time. They have always done what they do, which is, more often than not, doing something that they haven't done before. The result is that they are a band of true integrity, that has outlasted many of their peers. The road has been rocky for them, but it has been righteous. Few other bands deserve a spot in the pantheon like this band, who has rampaged forward for over 35 years, all while cloaking a profound sense of intellectualism behind an animalistic facade. The argument perpetually is, with them, who is the true master, the brain or the brawn? The mind or the wang? And, on this record, they reach their final conclusion, that is, the opposite of what one might expect. While Dwarves are Born Again and the classic Blood Guts fairly clearly stated that man is driven by his base instincts, no matter how he may try to push against this impulse with his cerebellum, HERE the step back from carnality, and instead of reveling in destruction, ask WHY. Closing track "Trace Amounts" doesn't salute a person on a party death trip, nor does it condemn, rather, it studies and reaches out to the cosmos and the universal architect, rather than joining in on the frenzy. This album rocks the hardest in their catalogue, it's one of their snappiest releases, and most bizarrely, perhaps argues that the Dwarves have "matured." Now of course, they still like drugs and naked ladies as much as before, but instead of dancing around a phallic totem, they question man, instead of berating him. In this age of decadence, disease, and deception, how is it that the Dwarves are emerging as the voice of reason? I'm afraid that the, perhaps, ugly truth is that they always were. - John Gentile

3 (tie). Alkaline Trio: Is This Thing Cursed?

Epitaph Records

Has it been 5 years since an Alkaline Trio album? As we waited 5 long years for a new Alkaline Trio album, they guys have been busy on other projects. Is This Thing Cursed? seems more focused in honing into their own vintage sound than in the more recent albums. They seemed to nail carrying a nostalgic feeling throughout the record that is reminiscent of older Alkaline Trio albums while still remaining new and fresh. - Samantha Barrett

2. Fucked Up: Dose Your Dreams

Merge Records

THIS is what I want from Fucked Up: a huge, spiraling, weird-as-hell, totally whacked out mind trip of a record. Apparently, this one is about trans-dimensional time traveling in order to confront the future ghost of yourself or something like that. Also, there is a sax on it. What I am saying is that punk NEEDS to be daring and risky and weird and sometimes difficult, and this record excels on all marks. This is the kind of album that you can get totally lost in as it weaves in and out of genres, themes, and weird diversions, which makes it one of the most interesting, and surprisingly, one of the most listenable records of the year. Don't do acid kids. DO do Fucked Up- it’s a waaaaaay better high. - John Gentile

1. The Dirty Nil: Master Volume

Dine Alone Records

Higher Power arrived after the Dirty Nil had gigged independently across Ontario for more than half a decade on the strength of a prolific string of 7" singles, EPs, and other short-form releases. A proper full-length, promoted traditionally and issued with the full support of a label, felt like uncharted territory at the time. In my review, I was incredulous that this band was even putting out full-lengths. The very act felt alien to the Nil I knew from dozens of sweaty bar shows. We're well into in the career cycle now (shit, the Dirty Nil have opened for The freakin' Who), but there was new uncertainty this time around: Higher Power would be the band's first record without Dave Nardi. Don't get me wrong, I'm cool with Ross Miller, and he's been a fixture of the Niagara music scene for longer than I was ever a part of it, but Dave's one of my favourite performers and any band's rolling the dice when swapping out a third of their personnel. My fears were, thankfully, unfounded, as Master Volume found the band crafting a big, universally acclaimed power-pop record in an era when so few of those seem to make an impact. Years ago, back before I first saw them live at some bar stage in St. Catharines, the promoter pulled me aside and claimed the Dirty Nil would be the biggest band in the world. I brushed it off as superlative at the time, or at best some home-team pride, but I sure as hell believe it now. - Adam White