Tyler Barrett is a reviewer here at Punknews.org -ed
In 2007, I was invited to be a staff reviewer and graciously accepted. Though I had published music reviews before I started writing for Punknews, joining the staff proved quite a learning experience. I learned the position is a mostly thankless job, finding myself on the other end of the comment button for the first time. Of course, I continue to welcome any suggestions or criticisms, but I can definitely say that disallowing anonymous posts has made the experience much better, I believe, for all parties involved. I also learned that perks one generally associates with music reviewers are few and far between at my place on the totem pole, as the bulk of what came to me with a "please review for Punknews" were various bands of the local and sometimes dreadful varieties. Yet still, I have remained overall fairly passionate about spreading awareness of good and bad music, and somehow managed to pump out over 100 reviews in 2007 without sacrificing my girlfriend, my jobs, or my grades. So I guess you could say it's been a good year. Not as good as 2006, with perfect full-lengths from Dead to Me, the Lemonheads, None More Black, Bouncing Souls, Street Dogs, and the Draft...but still a good year.
And yes...like any music nerd...I do like making lists.
Top 20 Albums
20. The Tossers - Agony
March 20 (go figure) on Victory Records
I have no Irish heritage at all, but I still felt like part of the action listening to the Tossers' 17-song clinic on how to do Celtic punk right. No tough-guy posturing or reliance on alcohol subject matter -- hell, there weren't even any electric guitars on Agony, but the diverse offering still maintained an impressive flow and turned out near-perfectly.
19. Career Soldiers - Loss of Words
May 15 on Punk Core Records
The first time I heard this I hated it. With each listen it's gotten better, and the band's enthusiasm and articulate sense of outrage is nearly unmatched in street punk.
18. Hot Cross - Risk Revival
February 20 on Equal Vision Records
Post-hardcore? Screamo? I don't listen to this style much but when it's as political and aggressive as Risk Revival it proves quite agreeable.
17. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living with the Living
March 20 on Touch & Go
The production on this was not good. The percussion sounded like the drummer was hitting a pillow, and some of the songs were way too drawn out. Also, if I ever meet Colleen I'm going to punch her in the face for inspiring such a cheesy song. Still, Ted Leo hasn't lost a step, providing the wonderfully catchy "Who Do You Love?", the energetic "The Sons of Cain" and controversial "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb," which reminds me of a chaotic, yet effective Fugazi/Crass hybrid.
16. Tim Armstrong - A Poet's Life
April 17 thru May 22 on Hellcat Records
Proving that he hasn't lost his penchant for ska/reggae since Rancid's 1998 masterpiece Life Won't Wait, Armstrong enlisted the Aggrolites as his backing band, crafting one of the few pure pleasure albums of `07, and better yet, made it free through the Internet. Though I could have gone for a few more socially/politically-involved lyrics, there was still far more substance than what appeared on this year's Aggrolites LP.
15. Mad Caddies - Keep It Going
May 1 on Fat Wreck Chords
A bunch of new sounds for the Caddies (eastern European, unbacked acoustic, dancehall dub, etc.), but Chuck's voice seems like it's starting to weather under all the smoke and drink. However, the music is all spot on and Keith Douglas still kills it on the horn.
14. Clorox Girls - J'aime les Filles
April 17 on BYO Records
Is it England circa 1978 in Portland? Either killer production or terrible recording gave this album a totally retro vibe and it worked wonderfully. Part street, part power pop and California surf punk, wholly awesome and a ton of fun.
13. Between the Buried and Me - Colors
September 18 on Victory Records
If you had told me a year ago that I would be listening to 15-minute songs that weren't called "The Decline," I would have laughed and done a silly dance. But somehow, BTBAM's brand of operatic metalcore is able to stay interesting and engaging for attention spans I never knew existed.
12. Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell
July 10 on Epitaph Records
Possibly the most consistent band on the planet. Even with ridiculous guest spots like Vanna, Bad Religion continued to refine and perfect the genre they pioneered.
11. Leftover Crack / Citizen Fish -Deadline
March 6 on Fat Wreck Chords
Citizen Fish drummed up the ska like nobody's fucking business and Leftover Crack continued on with that whole "we don't write bad songs" concept they've been fine-tuning. Jello Biafra also makes a larger-than-life contribution on LoC's "Baby-Punchers," one of the best songs of the year.
10. Moros Eros - Jealous Me Was Killed by Curiosity
October 22 on Victory Records
When I reviewed their 2006 debut, I challenged the band to evolve without losing their enchanting, atmospheric yet jagged post-punk sound, and amazingly, they did. Totally different and unique, but still Moros Eros.
9. World/Inferno Friendship Society - Addicted to Bad Ideas
September 11 on Chunksaah Records
Perhaps a fresh serving of cabaret punk to go with that red wine? Addicted to Bad Ideasmay have been a little too good...I played this for my mom and she didn't believe it was punk.
8. Far from Finished - Living in the Fallout
July 17 on Think Fast! Records
Dropkick Murphys may not have been completely on top of their game in 2007, but Boston's Far from Finished were there to fill in the gap. Catchy street-styled punk with some daring compositions and stuck-in-your-head melodies made Living in the Fallout worth the delays.
7. River City Rebels - Keepsake of Luck
September 25 on Silver Sprocket
After salivating over demos of "Farmhouse Blues" and "Icons and Rosaries" for over a year, Silver Sprocket released the best RCR record yet. Eclectic and skilled, chock full of horns and auxiliary instruments this "Tom and Huck"-sounding record made living in the Midwest feel like something to embrace.
6. Bomb the Music Industry! - Get Warmer
July 31 on Asian Man / Quote Unquote Records
Jeff Rosenstock and his ensemble pieced together a diverse and fun offering that sounded as urgent as it did comforting. Oh crap, this reminds me, I still need to make my donation....
5. Comeback Kid -Broadcasting...
February 20 on Victory Records
There's no such thing as too many gang vocals. There is such a thing as songs being slightly too long though...butBroadcasting‚?¶ is still an epic record by any measure. (Video)
4. Streetlight Manifesto -Somewhere in the Between
November 13 on Victory Records
Seems like we waited forever for this and then all of a sudden it was here in all its glory. Energetic ska-punk with the insight only Tomas Kalnoky can provide, with sing-alongs like on no other album this year.
3. Filthy Thieving Bastards - I'm a Son of a Gun
March 27 on BYO Records
Who knows if and when the Swingin' Utters will put out a new CD, but in the meantime its members are meshing a variety of eclectic styles to perfection in Filthy Thieving Bastards. Best line of the year: "I propose another haunting toast to losers slain / And I propose another daunting roast to the winner's gain."
2. Big D and the Kids Table - Strictly Rude
March 20 on Side One Dummy Records
Maturing is generally equated with becoming substantially more crappy. Not so here, as the lyrics improved tenfold and the compositions seem thoroughly thought-out. Oddly enough, there were some duds on here: "Deadpan," "Strictly Rude" to name a few. However, the good songs were my favorite of the year: "Shining On," "Raw Revolution,""The One," "Try Out Your Voice" and the epic 7-minute "She Knows Her Way." And even more oddly, some of these songs‚?¶not that good live. But on Strictly Rude, they're next to perfect.
1. Lifetime - Lifetime
February 6 on Fueled by Ramen / Decaydance
The triumphant return! Ari Katz, Dan Yemin and the rest of the gang haven't lost a step in ten years and even though this was my first Lifetime record, I still felt like it was part of a much broader picture. With eleven flawless melodic-hardcore-pop-punk mini-masterpieces, this disc rarely left my car's CD player.
Bad Brains - Build a Nation, Strung Out - Blackhawks Over Los Angeles, Chelsea - Faster, Cheaper, and Better Looking, Pissed Jeans - Hope forMen, Wednesday Night Heroes - Guilty Pleasures, Piebald - Accidental Gentleman, Smoke or Fire -This Sinking Ship, Tiger Army - Music From Regions Beyond, Bedouin Soundclash - Street Gospels, the Unseen - Internal Salvation, Darkest Hour - Deliver Us and the Weakerthans - Reunion Tour (yes, even though it shows up in my disappointed list).
Top 5 EPs
5. Anti-Flag - A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crime
October 2 on A-F Records
Following the murder of Chris #2's sister and her boyrfriend, this EP was a positive way to react and support a great cause in the process. Fun and punchy, these five previously unreleased studio tracks are standard Anti-Flag all the way.
4. Media Control- Tax on Freedom
May 15 on Obscene Records
Dishing out hard-nosed and politically-charged street/hardcore punk from Los Angeles, Media Control's Tax on Freedom EP shows hella promise. Definitely looking forward to hearing more from these guys.
3. The Draft - The Draft
May 13 on Epitaph Records
When this EP was released, there was no hope of a Hot Water Music reunion. While I suppose that may have changed in lieu of recent events, this was still a much needed dose of the dirty punk rock Chris Wollard and company do best.
2. Oh No Not Stereo - Oh No Not Stereo
February 20 on Takeover Records
Easily the most surprising entry on this list, ONNS have come up with a pleasing blend of post-hardcore, pop-punk and radio rock that is outrageously catchy. Think of a much poppier version of the Bronx and you've got Oh No Not Stereo.
1. The Hatepinks - Tete Malade / Sick in the Head
January 9 on TKO Records
All you need to know: Seven songs in nine minutes, with song titles like "Your Ass Is a Stereotype," "Sexual Liberation Is for Animals" and "Should I Kill Myself or Go Jogging?". Get this EP!
The (International) Noise Conspiracy - Live at Oslo Jazz Festival
March 13 on Alternative Tentacles
Who knew T(I)NC could be so entertaining? With Jonas Kulhammer on sax and Sven-Eric Dahlberg on Fender Rhodes, this was about 20 times better than any other T(I)NC showing.
Paulson - All at Once
reissued March 6 on Doghouse Records
This band's dreamy, catchy post-punk haunts me while I sleep and stalks me while I'm awake. With three bonus tracks, this reissue is the perfect place to get a first taste of Paulson.
Botch - American Nervoso
reissued July 10 on Hydra Head
Though We Are the Romans is generally considered the defining work of Botch, American Nervoso shows the band at their most raw and has always been a personal favorite of mine. With the unearthing of "Stupid Me," several unreleased demos and a fresh coat of re-mastered finish, Botch is still alive in my heart, now more than ever.
5. The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
September 25 on Epitaph Records
One of my favorite bands of all time, and they just didn't deliver here. Of course, they're held to an insanely high standard, but after the first four tracks (which were great), the album plunges into a snoozefest. Samson is one of the best lyricists out there, but the music on Reunion Tour could have been much better.
4. Throwdown - Venom &Tears
August 7 on Trustkill Records
Though the lyrics here are far more intelligent than anything the band's released in the past, it isn't nearly as enjoyable as the straight-edge slugfests of Haymaker and Vendetta I've recently found are excellent for time at the gym. More hardcore please, less mediocre-to-poor attempts at thrash metal.
3. Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre
October 22 on J Records
"ButGlassPipeMurder," you say, "didn't you give this album a 7 out of 10?" Yes, I did. But Bemis and co. are capable of much more than that, and In Defense falls significantly short of expectations.
2. Against Me! - New Wave
July 10 on Sire Records
Disappointed, but not really surprised. In their pursuit of crafting a great "rock" album they lost nearly all the qualities that made them unique and enjoyable in the first place. And if I want to hear bitching about the music industry, I'll get the Gene Simmons spoken word.
1. Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & Water
October 16 on Vagrant Records
I have a Thrice shirt. Still wear it sometimes. But outside of watching infomercials with my roommate and his fianc√©'s mom for two and a half hours last Saturday, listening to this CD was the most boring experience all year.
1. Steve E. Nix and the Cute Lepers - Terminal Boredom
July 3 on 1-2-3-4 Go! Records
Top 3 Shitstorms on PunkNews
Innocent until proven guilty
Opinions & Assholes
Top 3 Record Labels
3. Fat Wreck Chords
Mad Caddies? Strung Out? American Steel? NOFX? Leftover Crack and Citizen Fish? Yeah, FAT's got 'em all and put out great music in 2007, just like they always do.
2. Victory Records
Really only gets points for releasing great albums by great bands; I can't make any judgment about the label itself. Sure, they put out a huge number of bad releases, but 2007 also brought excellent albums by Streetlight Manifesto, the Tossers, Comeback Kid, the Warriors, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Between the Buried and Me, Moros Eros, Ringworm, Thursday and Darkest Hour from Victory.
1. BYO Records
In its 25th Anniversary in 2007, BYO is still punk as fuck. Some of my favorite releases of the year came from BYO bands dedicated to independent punk like Filthy Thieving Bastards, Clorox Girls, the Briefs, Wednesday Night Heroes and Nothington. Great bands, great people, great label.
Top 5 Pleasant Surprises
5. Madball - Infiltrate the System
August 21 on Ferret Music
Like this category in its entirety, I went in not expecting much and was pleased to find something worthwhile. Most notable was more than a few politically-conscious songs among Madball's NY/tough guy approach.
4. Soldiers - End of Days
October 22 on Trustkill Records
I didn't think I could take this band seriously after I found out they were into professional wrestling. Okay, maybe I still don't take them seriously, but this is a pretty good album.
3. Carbon/Silicon - The Last Post
October 1 on Caroline Records
Members of the Clash and Generation X. Aged 30-odd years. Granted, the lyrics are a tad immature for guys 50+, but The Last Post embodies a spirit that hasn't been lost over the last three decades.
2. Automatic 7 - At Funeral Speed
November 13 on Mental Records
Channeling the ghost of Jawbreaker and the future ghost of Social Distortion, Automatic 7 reemerged after a six-year absence to deliver an album that's rough-edged, yet emotional (in a good way).
1. Spoiler NYC - Grease Fire in Hell's Kitchen
June 26 on SOS Records
I've never heard Life of Agony, but apparently Spoiler NYC frontman Alan Robert plays bass for them, and apparently they're a fairly well-known hard rock band. What I do know is that in Spoiler NYC, he delivers a thoughtful, well-written and composed performance, and I can't help but hope Spoiler NYC holds a future for him.
Peelander-Z - Peelander Is Fun!!
October 30 on Geykido Comet / Eat Rice Records
Words cannot describe my girlfriend's face when I popped this DVD into my player. Part Japanese punk rock circus, part superhero catastrophe, Peelander-Z are a spectacle to behold. For the entirety of this DVD my jaw did not ascend from the floor.
3. Hey Mike! - Hey Mike!
2006 on Takeover Records
What's wrong with poppy, positive skatepunk? NOTHING! Hey Mike! is an excellent replacement for Inspection 12 while I-12 remains mostly inactive, but with enough of their own style to not sound like a carbon copy.
2. The Nice Boys - The Nice Boys
2006 on Birdman Records
Founded by the sole surviving member of the Exploding Hearts, the Nice Boys play the catchiest blend of `60s rebel rock and `70s glam punk I've ever heard.
1. Paint It Black - Paradise
2005 on Jade Tree Records
Nothing but intelligent, socially-minded hardcore. Fourteen songs in twenty-one minutes? Paradise indeed.
- A Wilhelm Scream - Career Suicide (Nitro)
- Nothington - All In (BYO)
- Modern Life Is War - Midnight in America (Equal Vision)
- Akimbo - Navigating the Bronze (Alternative Tentacles)
- Mustard Plug - In Black and White (Hopeless Records)
- Cobra Skulls - Draw Muhammad (Red Scare)
- American Steel - Destroy Their Future (Fat Wreck Chords)
- J Church - The Horror of Modern Life (No Idea)
- The Low Budgets - Leave Us a Loan (Chunksaah)
- Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil (Vice)
- The Lawrence Arms / American Steel / The Falcon - live in NYC @ the Rocks Off Boat Cruise, October 19 (Video)
- The Bouncing Souls / Lifetime / Modern Life Is War / Low Budgets - live in NYC @ Webster Hall, October 16
- Blood Brothers - live in IA City @ the Picador, March 20
- The Weakerthans - record release/tour kickoff in Minneapolis @ Triple Rock Social Club, September 25
- The Hold Steady - New Years show in Chicago @ House of Blues, January 1
- J Church (RIP Lance)
- None More Black
- Good Riddance
- Cheap Sex (RIP Chris)
- Blood Brothers
- A Global Threat
- Hot Rod Circuit
- Lucky Stiffs
- Hot Cross
- The Explosion
- Drag the River
- Expired Youth
- Groovie Ghoulies
- The Ducky Boys
- Fifth Hour Hero
- Paint It Black - New Lexicon
Mixtape (srsly try this, the flow is amazing)