Best of 2019 - Pete Vincelli's Picks (Cover Artwork)

Best of 2019

Pete Vincelli's Picks (2019)

Staff Picks

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

Fat Wreck Chords

I've always loved the way American Steel wrote and structured their songs. So I was pretty excited to see that they were releasing a new 7-inch this year. Both songs are slow to mid tempo, but neither lacks any aggression or feeling. I hope to hear more songs from these guys soon.

2. The Hangups: No Expectations

Monster Zero Records

The 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

Rise Records

It's hard to believe that the Souls have been around for 30 years. This EP is a pretty good map of how far they've come, though their sound hasn't changed much over the past 3 decades (with the exception of their really early stuff). And I love how the record was released with an accompanying book full of anecdotes from bands, friends, and fans which gives the songs a lot more depth.

My Favorite LPs

15. Not On Tour: Growing Pains


This 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.

14. Geoff Palmer: Pulling Out All The Stops

Stardumb Records, Rum Bar Reco

He'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 Records

This 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.

12. Strung Out: Songs of Armor and Devotion

Fat Wreck Chords

One of my earliest memories of listening to punk rock is buying Strung Out cds through the Fat Wreck Chords mail catalog. So anytime they release an album, it comes with a sense of nostalgia for me. And it's even better when the album is awesome. I have all of their records, but for whatever reason, I've listened to Strung Out less and less over the years. This album brought me back in.

11. Make War: Get It Together

Fat Wreck Chords

I had no idea that these guys were putting out a new record this year, so I was pretty excited when they announced it. What always stands out with Make War is their ability to write passionate tunes with true emotion, which is not an easy task. The new tracks seem to be a bit more aggressive than their previous records which is awesome, but the songs still maintain some form of simplicity that dates back to when they were known as Sad and French.

10. Latte+: Next to Ruin

Phocomelic Music

The 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.

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

Red Scare

t's safe to say that this probably isn't a popular choice, but I really like Brendan Kelly's second LP with the Wandering Birds. I always enjoy trying to dissect Kelly's lyrics and that's particularly true on Keep Walkin' Pal. I'm not really a fan of that '80s synth sound, but for some reason it doesn't bother me here. The low-registered draw of the vocals match the weird serial killer-esque lyrics to make a surprisingly smooth record.

8. Tommy And June: S/T

Fat Wreck Chords

This record, produced by Fat Mike, was released under mysterious circumstances. The duo, an Israeli Jew and a Colombian Arab, churn out 10 short, mostly acoustic melodic songs with loads of harmonies. This isn't really a punk sounding album by most standards, but both Tommy and June are members of punk rock bands who have toured extensively and their experiences seep through lyrically and sonically. I've been drawn to listen to this record at least once a week since it came out and it never gets old.

7. Be Like Max: Save Us All


This 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.

6. Teenage Bottlerocket: Stay Rad!

Fat Wreck Chords

Understandably, Stay Rad! is a record that could go either way with Teenage Bottlerocket fans. But I love it. The sound more or less remains the same, but it shows maturity with a wide range of song topics. There are still comedy driven songs, yet some tunes are serious and profound. And as always, I love how well the dual vocal approach works with this band. I'm pretty late to the party, but this is the album that catapulted Teenage Bottlerocket to the top of my 'favorite band' list.

5. The Follow Ups: ...Don't Like You Either

Punk and Disorderly

I 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.

4. Mickey Rickshaw: Home in Song

Self Released

This 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.

3. Billy Liar: Some Legacy

Red Scare

I find myself listening to this record often. I absolutely love everything about it. There's so much raw passion and thought put into this record and it's clear right from the beginning. Billy's got a knack for writing songs that can be personal, yet universal. And I love how the record can shift from loud and aggressive to soft and somber without losing any emotion. I'm excited to see what he puts out next.

2. Lagwagon: Railer

Fat Wreck Chords

There's not much to say about Lagwagon that hasn't been said already, but this record feels like the perfect mix of everything that's best about the band. They've released some great albums over the years, but I'm pretty sure that this is their best record since Hoss. And there's a good chance that, over time, this is going to become my favorite Lagwagon album.

1. Good Riddance: Thoughts and Prayers

Fat Wreck Chords

It's so cool to see a veteran band producing their best record so late in their career. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I saw that they were releasing a new album. It seems to be a perfect combination of all of their best attributes: melodic hardcore with catchy riffs and thought provoking lyrics. This one will never get old. It's definitely my favorite Good Riddance record.

So that’s it. My favorites of 2019. I hope 2020 shapes up to be just as good. Happy New Year everyone!