Best of 2023 - Sammies B's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2023

Sammies B's Picks (2023)

Staff Picks

“If I’m being honest… If I’m being true…”

This March I celebrated 10 years with the Org. This is a weird little milestone for me but, in the words of Spiritual Cramp… “I don’t know where I would be… If I never met you”. Punknews has given me so many opportunities and has led me to some cool bands and likeminded friends. Thank you for giving me this space to do weird things and thank you forever for reading.

Personally, I have endured an emotional rollercoaster at the end of year. Traveling back to my happy place, Japan, and ended up in the UK (and may secretly love it there) this summer. I saw a bunch of magical things this year including Lagwagon and Waterweed out in Japan. I also saw Restorations celebrate a damn fine album, finally saw Blink 182, Slowdive, The Cure, Chinese Football in Dublin, Madonna, Death Cab and Postal Service celebrate some of my favorite albums. I closed out the year with the best New Jersey mooches, The Bouncing Souls.

I would like to thank John and Em for being the best editors on staff in this hovercraft office, my life partner in crime and the best evil little terrier in Brooklyn for dealing with my chaos all year. Look forward to a whole new year of standing by the pit being a perpetually jaded punk and potentially being in a better place.

Top 10 LP of 2023

10. Good Grief: Sad Station

Good Grief

Tokyo, Japan’s sad pop-punkers Good Grief put out a stellar album this year. Sad Station is the bands first full length album, fun straight foward pop-punk and is for followers of Real Friends and Bearings.

9. Slowdive: Everything Is Alive

Dead Oceans

Everything Is Alive may have been one of my most anticipated releases this year. Having loved their 2017 self-titled release, their announcement back in June with the release of “Kisses” ringed me in with their dutifully crafted shoegaze. With members of the band having lost family members in the time of pandemic lockdown, you can sense that was hinted lyrically in the album, as well as dedicating the release to Goswell’s mother and Scott’s father.

8. Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loveliest Time

School Boy/Interscope Records

We are definitely having the loveliest time here with Carly Rae’s latest release. Apart of her ongoing B-Sides series, The Loveliest Time is a companion to her 2022 The Loneliest Time. The latest record is pure joy and is a great mood booster in comparison to its darker companion. “Psychedelic Switch” is my overall favorite from this album, harking back to so many feels from 1990’s dance tracks. If you cannot tell by now, I do really love some pop music.

7. Spiritual Cramp: Spiritual Cramp

Blue Grape Music

Having come from various hardcore bands, with Spiritual Cramp, they pivot to a more polished catchy and fun rock vibe with moments of punk, hardcore, power pop, garage rock, and reggae. Super catchy songs that I wished were out way sooner.

6. Fiddlehead: Death is Nothing to Us

Run For Cover Records

This year had remarkably similar feelings for me as it did in 2021. The overwhelming end to the year which led me grieving the loss of my grandmother this past November (same feels as I had in my loss of my other grandmother in 2021). Fiddlehead’s Death is Nothing to Us did not insert itself into my life until the back half of this year as it helped me process the grieving process. I have not fully dealt with the death of my other grandmother from 2021 and with this death it opened up a whole new world of hurt, loss, love and other emotions that one never really knows how to deal with. Having this album as an inadvertent trilogy of Fiddlehead’s discography shows me that there will be a moment of being ok at the end of all this grief.

5. Paint It Black: Famine

Revelation Records

Ten whole years since their last EP and about fifteen from their last full length, Famine came out this year picking up from where they left off last. True to the authentic ethos of the band, the furious and sheer perfect delivery of this album comes at the most perfect time for some of us putting into context America from the last few years. Yemen belts “Not everyone is free, and that doesn’t feel safe to me” as the closing lyric to ”Safe”, resonates with me tenfold with the rise in hate during the pandemic and especially now with the current political happenings in this world.

4. With Honor: Boundless

Pure Noise Records

A couple of reunion shows later and here we are in 2023 with Boundless. I am so happy With Honor is back! And after 18 years since Heart Means Everything they have brought a new record to us. This melodic high energy hardcore/punk album remains authentically true to the With Honor back catalog with a tinge of their later project Ambitions. This album perfectly combined the musical art of the two bands.

3. Militarie Gun: Life Under The Gun

Loma Vista Recordings

Born out of the pandemic, Militarie Gun released the most infectious and fun summer rock album this year. Coming from a hardcore background, Ian Shelton wanted to make a rock album and they most definitely succeeded. The album is filled with catchy guitar riffs and “OOHS'' that can catch listeners from a wide range of genres. Also, this album may have been the unofficial soundtrack to my whole summer.

2. Bearings: The Best Part About Being Human

Pure Noise Records

Canadian pop punkers Bearings took the second spot on my list this year. The Best Part About Being Human really encapsulates the feelings of fun youthful summer crushes gallivanting around sorting out new feelings. From front to back, this album is full of pure pop-punk joyful nostalgic feelings, bouncy songs and anthems that fit so perfectly into this pop-punk world. Also how has any of these songs not been noticed in any teenage movie yet? The shining star on this album is a dreamy track titled “Ocean Dreams” which features a stellar sax track that really ties in the whole song.

1. Koyo: Would You Miss It?

Pure Noise Records

Long Island is a place that churns out so many prolific punk/hardcore bands around these parts. You can tell that Koyo grew up in this scene and definitely pulls influence from that pool of prolific bands, but is also doing it their way. Their debut LP Would You Miss It? is a dam gem here with anthemic choruses and precise vocal deliveries that perfectly matches the guitar riffs. Having spent half my punk life in the greater NYC punk scene and many hours racing to Amityville/Lindenhurst for shows, you would pass by Sayonara Motel heading to a show, and it was then I would know we are close to a show when seeing this motel. I am so glad that Sayonara Motel is now preserved in the most Long Island way…in a punk song.

Top 5 EP of 2023

5. Private Mind: The Truth You See]

Triple B Records

Keep an eye on this Long Island hardcore band. They released this four song EP and pressed it along with their 2020 self-titled EP over at Triple B Records this year and it is a banger. Songs wane from emo hooks to screams with hardcore riffs at times, super catchy verses and fit right into place in the current Long Island Hardcore sonic landscape.

4. FeverSleep: FeverSleep

Thirty Something Records/Ashtray Monument

FeverSleep consists of ex members of Young Livers, Dikembe, and Lock and Key. Having said that, they have seamlessly integrated the best of all of these bands into one. Floating somewhere between punk and post-hardcore they pull enough familiar musical influences to create something new with a familiar flair.

3.Swear Jar: Swear Jaw II

Early Onset Records

Having members of Rest Easy and Parting Ways and having really enjoyed their 2018 self-titled EP. The second installment did not disappoint. Swear Jar is a super catchy melodic hardcore/punk band for followers of Daggermouth and Kid Dynamite.

2. Balance and Composure:Too Quick To Forgive

Memory Music

I do love this band a little too much. The band is back and have recorded two new songs. These two songs “Savior Mode” and “Last To Know” may be the most emotionally vulnerable tracks to date. I did wish that there were more to this release than two new tracks, but it does leave me wanting to hear way more from the band.

1. Spiritbox: The Fear Of Fear

Pale Chord Music

Continuing on their progression of a band from their full length Eternal Blue. The Fear of Fear is a perfect six songs that flows one into each other that perfectly complements the vast vocal range of Courtney LaPlante’s fiery growls to the heavy metal breakdowns and to her tender singing voice matched with some heavier electronic musical parts.

I have an End of Year Playlist for you all of my favorite tracks this year. Check it out of you like.

I also, did some cool interviews…

Punk Rock Museum

The Punk Cellist

Crossed Keys