2010 wraps up the first decade of the new millenium, and what a year it was. As you'll read in my list and the lists of other staff members, there were a lot of really great records to contend with this year, which in the Internet age seems to be becoming a recurring annual theme. Too much media, too much information, too many bands. Can one really have too much of a good thing, though? Who knows; I'm just glad to be alive to see it and hear it.
On a personal note, 2010 was a big year for me. In addition to it being my first full year as a part of the editing staff here at the 'Org, I rounded up a freelancing gig for Alternative Press as well as a curator position for MySpace Music. Here at home, we launched the Punknews Podcast back in July, a project that was months in the making and remains very near and dear to my heart.
I also moved from the 'burbs to downtown Orlando, quit my job as a janitor/barback in one of the sleaziest "ultra lounges" in town, and, at 25 years young, enrolled in college for the first time. Pretty good year.
Two Worlds would probably be much higher on this list had it come out earlier in the year. I'm only just now getting my head around it and realizing how good it is, but the calendar simply ran out of days. Still, Two Worlds is morose and moody and catchy, which is all I or anyone should ever want from a Tigers Jaw release.
This band will never get their due solely because of how ridiculous their name is. It's a shame, too, because Let It Sway is a fun record that combines Midwestern emo with Southern-tinged folkiness that would please most fans of pre-"Stacy's Mom" Fountains of Wayne.
I thought the hype behind Chamberlain Waits was a tad overblown, but it's hard to deny the hooks and just overall uniqueness of it. Add those components to the unrivaled vocal harmonies of Tom May and Greg Barnett, and it's a winner.
Four years after the classic-but-grower This Is Satire, None More Black have returned in a big way. I wasn't expecting this album to just plain rock as much as it does, but I'm glad these guys can pull off those riffs without it sounding forced. Jason Shevchuk's intensely personal lyrics are great, as always.
The Dissent of Man isn't a great Bad Religion record in the way that Suffer, Generator or The Process of Belief is, but it's still an impressive release for a group that stands alone as far as continued relevancy and staying power within our scene.
Generally, we're supposed to be wary of major label debuts, right? Isn't that what the punx handbook says? Well, My Dinosaur Life is the best MCS release since I Am the Movie, because unlike so many other major label debuts, it's fully realized and not watered down.
Raise your hand if you thought the Gamits would release a comeback record like this. After the elaborate brilliance of 2004's Antidote, six years and what sounds like thousands of cigarettes smoked by Chris Fogal later, the band's reunion is, more or less, a straight-up (but lyrically intelligent) Midwestern-influenced pop-punk record with little frills. The fact that it's so awesome despite what could be perceived as a creative regression makes Parts all the more impressive.
It's almost unbelievable how much better the Wonder Years became after they started taking themselves seriously, began writing lyrics about social issues and problems within the scene while simultaneously upping the hooks and infectiousness. I can't remember the last time I looked forward to a Hopeless Records release as much as I do the band's next album.
An unexpected, quirky album from a bunch of guys who sound like they don't like each other or their band very much, with that dissent yielding a finished product that's just crazy and unpredictable enough to be great.
Real Ghosts Caught on Tape is both a far cry and a massive improvement over 2009's overblown (but still great in its own right) It's Great to Be Alive. Taking a more austere approach to instrumentation has allowed Fake Problems to really put their talent on display, and they're better off for ditching all the bells and whistles.
The best band associated with Latterman, including Latterman. People talk about the cheesiness of some of the lyrics here, but it's conducted in a manner too earnest for me to notice. Don't you hear those lead guitar parts?!
Brian Fallon and the boys keep churning out the hits, but this time around it seems like the hype that surrounded The '59 Sound has largely vanished from the punk community, when American Slang is not only just as great as the band's prior work, but perhaps even better.
Extremely talented, criminally underlooked. Don't let the Kiss of Death logo fool you here–this is far from the usual gruff pop-punk with which the label is mostly associated. It's smart, catchy, fuzzy punk rock with great vocals and killer hooks.
While Tom Gabel has become a pariah to so many folks hopelessly jaded by the band's rise in popularity, his songwriting has never been more intelligent, personal or brave than on White Crosses. Against Me! finally and unabashedly incorporated some of their biggest influences (Springsteen, the Replacements, the Who) into their sound and the end result is nothing short of fantastic.
If there was a category for Band of the Year on this list, these guys and girl would top mine. Out of nowhere (seriously, they've been together less than a year), Mixtapes exploded onto the scene with great male/female harmonies, catchy melodies and relatable lyrics that don't feel contrived or overwrought. Even more impressive is the overall quality of the group's discography despite their prolific nature (in addition to Maps, the band also released two EPs and one split 7-inch with Direct Hit! in 2010). I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.
The Flatliners became an exponentially better band when they largely abandoned the ska trappings of their previous work, which is funny considering the one ska track here, "He Was a Jazzman," might be the strongest song on the record. Cavalcade is a thoroughly engrossing album without ever feeling too encompassing or heavy; it's the sound of a band finding their niche without the growing pains usually associated with such a transition. It's the best punk record of 2010.
Smoke or Fire: The Speakeasy; Hostage Calm: Hostage Calm; Anchors: Bad Juju; Rumspringer: Empty Towers; Falklands: Think About It; Two Cow Garage: Sweet Saint Me; Nightmares for a Week: Don't Die; Antillectual: Start from Scratch!; Mayflower: Second Best Sunsets; The State Lottery: When the Night Comes; Tim Barry: 28th & Stonewall; Look Mexico: To Bed to Battle; Far: At Night We Live; The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack; We Are the Union: Great Leaps Forward; Go Rydell: The Golden Age; The Riot Before: Rebellion; Everyone Everywhere: Everyone Everywhere; Surfer Blood: Astro Coast; Dead Mechanical: Addict Rhythms; VRGNS: Manimals; Gatorface: Wasted Monuments; End of a Year: You Are Beneath Me; Ceremony: Rohnert Park.
Records that will be out in 2011 that are verifiably awesome
How Dare You: The King, The Clown and the Colonel; Cobra Skulls: Bringing the War Home EP; My Heart to Joy: Reasons to Be 7"; Reaganomics: Lower the Bar; One Win Choice: Conveyor.
Looking forward to 2011
On paper, 2011 looks to be a monster year with new material either already announced or expected from Hot Water Music, Bayside, Lemuria, Joyce Manor, the Get Up Kids, Cave In, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Transit, Chixdiggit!, Smoking Popes, Screeching Weasel, No Friends, the Swellers, Daytrader, Laura Stevenson and the Cans, Frank Turner, SHARKS, the Wonder Years and a slew of others I'm likely forgetting. Can't wait to dive into those, as well as discover great new bands. See ya in 2011.