Overall, this has been a dramatically different year; not just for music, but in
general. First of all, this is the first economic downturn since I joined the
workforce (albeit recently) and the biggest act of war on the United States
since World War II, if ever.
Punk has identically responded to a changing world, with more diverse and challenging musicians taking up the cause. Innovative artists like Cursive pushing what we accept as punk or emo, and risky new albums from established acts like Strife and Saves The Day and seem to be more the norm this year than any year I can remember.
While pseudo-punk rock remained in the mainstream with bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182 continuing to sell records by sticking to the formula Bad Religion and NOFX came up with ten years ago, the underground seems more vibrant than ever.
These are in no particular order.
1. Saturday Supercade - Everyone Is a Target (Liberation)
A nearly perfect pop-punk record. They don't really contribute anything to the genre, but the urgency, and honesty of the music is undeniable. Plus, I can't stop listening to it.
2. Inspection 12 - In Recovery (Honest Dons)
Arguably one of the most interesting and clever takes on Fat Wreck Chords-style punk. Adding a range of instruments without losing a catchy pop core is a feat in itself, but making a cohesive and strong record is another.
3. Strike Anywhere - Change is a Sound (Jade Tree)
Not since Lifetime have I enjoyed a pop-hardcore record this much. The lyrical content is dead on:
- When they broke down the door
and put their guns in the face of your wife and child
and as they pinned you to the floor
did you say "officer, i am not resisting you. " ?
4. As Friends Rust - Won (Doghouse)
Pure, ass-kicking rock and roll. Everything I love about punk rock; passion, energy, aggressiveness, melody.
5. Thursday - Full Collapse (Victory)
Beautiful and harsh; discordal and soothing. A real gem in a sea of post-Sunny Day Real Estate emo. This is what real emotion sounds like.
6. System of a Down - Toxicity (Sony/Columbia)
Flying in the face of everything nu-metal. An angry, but simultaneously compassionate record. I probably wouldn't even have listened to it, if my metal friends hadn't nagged me, but I'm happy I did. Arguably the most challenging mainstream metal record this year.
7. Alkaline Trio - From Here to Infirmary (Vagrant)
I know a lot of people weren't happy with this record, but as much as I love old Alkaline Trio (their self-titled disc is in permanent rotation here), From Here to Infirmary is just a great pop record.
8. Saves The Day - Stay What You Are (Vagrant)
The joke in the album title is obvious; this is a completely different band than the one that released Through Being Cool, and while I liked their old stuff, this is a more mature, more talented band doing what they wanted to.
9. Leftover Crack - Mediocre Generica aka Shoot the Kids at School (Hellcat/ Epitaph)
This is what it would sound like if John Zorn was in a ska band. Complete insanity, with absolutely no respect for convention. From soft piano interludes to raging grindcore, this is one of the most important records simply for the creativity shown throughout. The fact that it's so listenable doesn't hurt either.
10. Planes Mistaken For Stars - Fuck With Fire (No Idea)
Intense, violent and poetic. One of the most visceral records I have ever heard. Honourable Mentions
Things to Look Forward To