Ben - Best of 2009 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Best of 2009 (2009)

staff picks

So that was 2009

Hey there, thanks for stopping by. Punknews has come a log way since I joined the editorial board a few years ago, and of course, much further since I started reading the site right around the time September 11 changed the way we understand the world. In the eight years since then, the event continues to make an impact in how we make and hear music, including records on this list.

2009 was a big year for me. I got married at the very end of 2008, earned my third (and hopefully final) university degree, and entered the "real world." Music continues to guide me through the events in my life. I made not have made as many road trips to take music in as in years past, but my stereo allowed me to discover a pile of great music. I'd like to share it with you.

Thanks for sticking with us at Punknews. We really value your readership, input and continued support. We hope you enjoy the new site design as we do. Stick around, there's some great stuff lined up for 2010.

Top 20 Albums


Lucero: 1372 Overton Park

Universal Republic

Alright, Lucero ain't the country band many of us came to know them as. That said, change doesn't have to be a bad thing. I've been enjoying listening to Lucero embrace more melody and larger sounds over the years. Lucero's sound is larger than ever on this record, and the band is great at straddling their roots with a more ambitious sound.


Nothington: Roads, Bridges and Ruins


It took me a while to get into this record. After sitting at the bottom of my "to listen to pile" for much longer than was necessary, it finally made its way into my CD player and has yet to work its way out. Jay Nothington's vocals are amongst my favorite in punk rock, and he and the band urge us to sing along nearly all the way through this great record.


Mastodon: Crack the Skye


This is the only metal album I'll listen to while going for a long run. Mastodon's ability to string an epic storyline over the duration from an album amazes me whenever I listen to any of their albums. Crack the Skye sees the band continuing to raise the bar for what a concept album can be.


NOFX: Coaster

Fat Wreck Chords

It's a new NOFX CD.


Shook Ones: The Unquotable A.M.H.

Paper + Plastick

The world's greatest hybrid of hardcore and pop-punk returned in 2009 with The Unquotable A.M.H., while demonstrating that it doesn't have to be an uncomfortable oxymoron to place those two genres side by side.


Propagandhi: Supporting Caste


Canada's resident dissidents continued their trend of releasing really solid punk rock records year after year. While the Winnipeg band continues to use various amounts of thrash, metal and punk to craft their songs, they continue to mix up the formula enough to keep people interested in more than just their message.


Fake Problems: It's Great to Be Alive

Side One Dummy

Fake Problems make me feel 10 years younger, excited, and terrified of what the world holds for me. The band avoided becoming an Against Me! clone that many had pegged them destined to become. Instead, they've tirelessly crisscrossed the country as a hard-working band, and the dirt under their nails has worked its way into their songs, most of which are an off-balance mix of alt-country, punk and folk.


Alexisonfire: Old Crows / Young Cardinals

Vagrant / Dine Alone

The band single-handedly responsible for kicking off screamo in Canada has grown up plenty over the years. Now with three singers and numerous songwriters in the band, the band is becoming as diverse as their influences. With the larger presence of guitarist Wade MacNeil on vocals, Alexisonfire is no longer a back-and-forth between vocals from George Pettit and Dallas Green. It's a careful balancing act Alexisonfire walks, but they've done it well this time around.


The Mountains & The Trees: Hop, Skip & A Jump


Who knew folk music could be so exciting? The band's use of banjo, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, bells and drums comes together to create lovely lo-fi folk that could only have occurred thanks to artists such as Hayden, Iron & Wine and Julie Doiron, who showed that it's completely possible to be young and hip while still wanting to write music that fits best in a log cabin next to a wood stove or by a campfire on Victora Day's long weekend.


Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed


Frank Turner has a way of saying things with such simplicity that it's easy to describe him as a no-frills folkster. But the British singer/songwriter routinely covers some of the most important subjects that people can talk about -- and he does it in such a wonderful way.


Brand New: Daisy

Interscope / DGC / Procrastinate! Music Traitors

Once again Brand New has reinvented itself into an entirely new band. With a lot of Modest Mouse and Blood Brothers steering the way influentially, this band seems to have very little in common with the Brand New we were first introduced to earlier in the decade. Nevertheless, Brand New can still pen a fiercely thought-provoking song.


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


Not since the Strokes have I heard a band that captured the spirit of 20-somethings who just don't seem to give a fuck; who just want to have fun and be young. What's not to love about that?


Converge: Axe to Fall


Can these Bostonians do no wrong? Converge continue to hold the crown as the most important heavy band of the genre (sorry, Mastodon) by challenging them and their listeners at every step in their career.


Bomb the Music Industry!: Scrambles

Quote Unquote / Asian Man

This is a punk music website, right? Nobody captures the spirit of punk rock better than BTMI centerpiece Jeff Rosenstock. His songs capture excitement and the spirit of youth better than any of his peers, and he's able to write about seemingly simple topics with enough depth to make one value his thoughts. By giving his music away for free / by donation, there is no good reason why BTMI! shouldn't be a part of everyone's music library.


The Swellers: Ups and Downsizing

Fueled by Ramen

The Swellers had a lot of hype to live up to going into the release of Ups and Downsizing. After touring for years behind their incredible My Everest the Michigan band built up a hefty fanbase and signed to Fueled by Ramen, a move that surprised more than a few people. The only thing that should stand between the Swellers and stardom should be the opportunity to expose themselves to more people, because the songs are absolutely fantastic. With a heavy dose of mid-'90s skatepunk, the Swellers are the leaders of their generation's take on straight-up punk rock. I'm right behind you, fellas.


Gallows: Grey Britain


Just as punk rock arrived at a safe, predictable destination, Gallows enter the picture ready to tear down the genre and rebuild it in whatever ugly, angry fashion they choose. Grey Britain, the Watford, England band's second album, shares as much in common with the Sex Pistols' snotty attitude as it does with the experimentation and genre pushing of Refused's classic The Shape of Punk to Come. Gallows might not be out to rewrite the rules of punk, but they're certainly injecting it with a much-needed dose of excitement.


The Sidekicks: Weight of Air

Red Scare

The Sidekicks are a tough band to categorize. They're a pinch short of alt-country, but the band's brand of indie rock feels like a product of rural middle-America. Like a younger version of the Weakerthans, the Sidekicks write great songs that are as mature as they are catchy. They're far too young to be writing songs this good, leaving me excited for what's ahead.


Joel Plaskett: Three

Maple Music

Canada's greatest songwriter is finally getting the recognition he deserves. The ambitious Three is (go figure) a three-disc collection of songs, each with its own identity, from great pop-rock to the quiet and acoustic. Plaskett has a way with words that few can match and he fills up three albums worth of music with nary a piece of filler in sight.


Teenage Bottlerocket: They Came from the Shadows

Fat Wreck Chords

If a fan of Teenage Bottlerocket knows anything, they know that the band is totally reliable. The flip side of that might be that they are totally predictable, which would be a fair complaint about most bands accurately described in such words. But who in their right mind would want or expect anything else from the best writers of Ramones-core since the Ramones? They Came from the Shadows is fun, fast and catchy as hell.


Broadway Calls: Good Views, Bad News


Portland, Oregon's Broadway Calls don't take more than a few seconds to let it be known that they have arrived ready to announce themselves as one of the most melodic punk bands of recent memory. They're also establishing their own identity, and it's looking like one of a band as ready to write thoughtful lyrics as they are able to craft incredible hooks and choruses. Good Views, Bad News is the best album of the year, if only because its songs have been stuck in my head for over half of it.