A Fat Wreck is a new documentary about legendary independent punk rock record label Fat Wreck Chords. With its DVD/Blu-Ray/VOD release happening on the 22nd of November I thought it would be a fun idea to pick my top ten releases from the label. I looked through the list and could only narrow it down to twelve. I refuse to take any off of this list, so this is now a top twelve Fat Wreck Chords releases. I've done the list in a chronological order rather than in order of favouritism, as I couldn't decide on an order without changing my mind twenty seconds later. Have a read - I'm curious to know everyone else's top twelve Fat releases!
Mad Caddies - Duck and Cover (1998)
Road Rash was the first Mad Caddies song I ever heard and I instantly fell in love with the band. This was a time when Fat Wreck were mostly putting out melodic skate punk albums and the Mad Caddies offered something completely different, combining punk rock, ska, polka, reggae and a whole host of other genres to create their own unique sound. Other favourites on Duck and Cover are One Shot, Macho Nachos and The Joust.
Less Than Jake - Borders and Boundaries (2000)
Borders and Boundaries completes the trio of what most people think are Less Than Jake's best albums. Borders and Boundaries is the Gainesville band's first release on Fat Wreck Chords after releasing Losing Streak and Hello Rockview via Capitol Records. Borders sees the band slowly start to drift away from the upbeat ska punk of their early career and develop a more serious edge. Classic songs include Gainesville Rock City, Look What Happened, Pete Jackson Is Getting Married and 1989.
Anti-Flag - Underground Network (2001)
Although the Fat Wreck release The Terror State features my two favourite Anti-Flag songs (Turncoat and Rank 'N' File) I've always felt like Underground Network has more songs overall that I like - thus making it a better album in my opinion. This was one of my first times listening to a proper political punk rock album. I felt like a proper punk rocker listening to the serious political music, even though my favourite track on the album was Spaz's House Destruction Party. Other favourites are Underground Network, Stars and Stripes, Watch The Right and Angry, Young and Poor.
The Dickies - All This and Puppet Stew (2001)
This was my first introduction to The Dickies. The first song of theirs that I heard was Donut Man and I thought it was fantastic. I forget where exactly I heard it but something about this silly but ever so catchy song made me want to hear more. I went into my local HMV and bought All This and Puppet Stew and smiled my way through the album. Recently I picked up this album on vinyl whilst visiting Exeter and was reminded just what a fun album this is. Check out See My Way, Howdy Doody In The Woodshed II and, of course, Donut Man.
NOFX - War On Errorism (2003)
This was my first proper exposure to NOFX. I'd heard bits and bobs in the past, but this was the first proper album I checked out and it began a big love affair with NOFX. It mixed politics and humour brilliantly. It was smart and fun and no two songs sounded the same. This, kind of importantly, was the band's first full length album on Fat Wreck - kind of surprising given that it's Fat Mike's own label. The album is the beginning of a whole new chapter in the legendary and completely crazy story of NOFX. The Separation Of Church and Skate, Franco Un-American and Idiots Are Taking Over are still staples on NOFX set lists all these years later.
Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - Take A Break (2003)
Putting a covers album on a top twelve list feels like a strange thing to be doing but Me First & The Gimme Gimmes' fourth studio album is just so much fun and, I don't know about you but, I like it when my punk rock albums are fun. The Gimme Gimmes have a go at covering R'n'B songs and pull it off brilliantly. Lead singer Spike's voice is spectacular on this album. I'm quite convinced that The Gimme Gimmes can take on any genre of music, make it punk and improve it. Their versions of I Believe I Can Fly, End Of The Road, Isn't She Lovely and Nothing Compares 2 U are brilliant.
Chixdiggit! - Pink Razors (2005)
In my opinion Chixdiggit are the most underrated band in the entire history of Fat Wreck Chords. This opinion was solidified after seeing them at The Fest last month. Pink Razors is my favourite Chixdiggit album and one of my all time favourite pop punk albums. It's fast, it's fun and it's oh so catchy. Check out the songs I Remember You, You're Pretty Good, Geocities Kitty and J Crew and try not to smile. I also loved that on the CD version of Pink Razors there was a bonus track where the band listened to the album and did commentary on it.
Descendents - Cool To Be You (2004)
It's the Descendents. I don't think I need to say any more than that.
Against Me! - Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!! (2006)
This is my favourite live album of all time. It served as a best of album for a time when, for me, Against Me! were at their very best. As much as I love their newer stuff I don't think they will ever top the feeling these raw and powerful early songs still give me today. Against Me! were at the forefront of a new wave of punk rock bands that took punk rock to new heights in the underground scene. This is a collection of songs that are incredibly important to me in a setting where they are at their best - live!
The Loved Ones - Keep Your Heart (2006)
The Loved Ones took the punk scene by storm with the release of Keep Your Heart. Since then Dave Hause has gone on to become a superstar of punk rock, with everything he touches becoming golden. Whether it was later Loved Ones albums, his solo work or his recent work with The Falcon. This is sing-a-long punk music at its finest. Jane, 100k and Player Hater Anthem are all classics.
Dillinger Four - Civil War (2008)
Civil War is the fourth album from Dillinger Four and the second to be released on Fat Wreck. It's an album that was delayed for two years so it had to be great. It was. There was a shift in the D4 sound - it's a heavier, slicker-sounding album with more of a more mature and thoughtful approach to song writing. Gainesville is among my all time favourite songs and Parishiltonisametaphor, The Art of Whore, Fruity Pebbles and Ode To The North American Snake Oil Distributor are also all well worth your listening time.
Masked Intruder - MI (2014)
I plumped for this Masked Intruder rather than the first self-titled one as that was originally released by Red Scare Industries. Masked Intruder are becoming one of the most popular pop punk bands in the world at the moment and it's due to these brilliantly written songs. Getting past the whole gimmick thing and thinking of the band as songwriters I think that it's amazing that they can write so many entertaining songs about not getting the girl and getting into trouble with the law and still stay interesting and varied. I Fought The Law, Crime Spree, Hey Girl and Most Beautiful Girl all get massive reactions at Masked Intruder gigs - and rightly so.