This was definitely one of the best years for new music in recent memory. In 2019, we had veteran bands release some of the best music of their long careers. We also saw new bands put out some great albums that sounded both fresh and seasoned. What follows is not necessarily a “best of” list. Presumably, there are a lot of great albums that are missing here. Rather, these are simply my favorite releases of the year.
But first, here’s a few quick hitters:
Favorite live show: Tie between Anti Flag at the Asbury Park Brewery and the Bouncing Souls at the Stone Pony. Favorite veteran label: Fat Wreck Chords Favorite middle age label: Red Scare Favorite new label: SBAM
Some of the presumed favorite 2019 albums that I haven’t listened to yet: Millencolin, Bad Religion, Off With Their Heads, The Menzingers, and The Reaganomics
My Favorite EPs
3. American Steel: State of Grace
Monster Zero RecordsThe past couple of years, I've started to dive back into that early Lookout Records sound and I think these Swedes are partially responsible for this. All four tracks on their 2nd EP are catchy and super fun to listen to. I can't wait to hear more from them.
1. Bouncing Souls: Crucial Moments
My Favorite LPs
15. Not On Tour: Growing Pains
SbamThis was my first time listening to this Israeli punk band, though it is their 4th release. I love how aggressive and powerful the songs are. The vocals are gritty and raw, but also equally poppy and sweet. The song structures are complicated, though none of the songs pass the 2-minute mark. Growing Pains made me a fan of Not On Tour after just one listen.
Stardumb Records, Rum Bar RecoHe's a veteran in the punk scene, playing in various bands (The Queers, The Nobodys, among others ) throughout his tenure, but this is his first release as Geoff Palmer. The album is a solid mix of pop punk and early rock 'n' roll with clever lyrics and doowop harmonies. The album is stacked with mostly lighthearted song topics, but they are still profound enough to make you think.
13. Booze and Glory: Hurricane
Scarlet Teddy RecordsThis is probably the best sounding live band I've ever seen and I think it's partially because the songs are written with a live audience in mind. The super catchy melodies, gang vocals, and positive messages are all evident on Hurricane. My favorite songs on the record are the ones that I can picture being played in a sweaty dive bar with the entire audience singing along. And there's a lot of those songs on here.
11. Make War: Get It Together
10. Latte+: Next to Ruin
Phocomelic MusicThe Italian trio has yet again produced an album that is slick, catchy, and powerful. The band has continued their efforts to write tunes in the same vein as the Ramones, but with this album, they seemed to step up the aggression. Despite this though, the melodies remain. Consequently, many of these songs tend to pop into my head pretty periodically, even if I hadn't listened to the album recently. This album deserves to be listened to loudly.
8. Tommy And June: S/T
SBAMThis album is amazing. It was my first time hearing the band and I was hooked immediately. The ska-punk collective from Nevada threw together a passionate collection of tunes that keep you on your toes. Short, aggressive ska songs that shift gears often. I find myself returning to this record often.
5. The Follow Ups: ...Don't Like You Either
Punk and DisorderlyI really love this band and their songs keep getting better with each release. This album is the perfect mix of Ramonescore, horror punk, and '90s skate punk. A romantic, nostalgic feeling emanates from this record and every song is catchy. The tunes are both familiar and unique, which is part of the lore. I've probably listened to this record over a hundred times since it came up a few months ago.
Self ReleasedThis Boston based 8-piece band kind of flies under the radar. They recorded this album with Pete Steinkopf of the Bouncing Souls and released it themselves. The band put together a pretty solid mix of traditional Celtic music and barroom punk with extremely catchy melodies. Some of my favorite songs of the year, like 'Drag' and 'Soldier On', are on this album.
So that’s it. My favorites of 2019. I hope 2020 shapes up to be just as good. Happy New Year everyone!