Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Colin's Top Ten Albums 2016

I always struggle trying to do a top ten albums of the year list. Doing this blog I am constantly listening to new releases and feel like I definitely listen to more new albums than I do old favourites. Because of this I have a hell of a lot of choices for my best ten albums of 2016. A lot of very good music has been released this year. It makes me sad that only a small percentage of people will ever hear some of the quality music the punk scene has been pumping out this year. After much deliberation and stressing, I finally settled on my top ten. (There's every chance I will change my mind after this list is published.)

10. Nervous Tensions by Hot Mass

I only heard Nervous Tension by Hot Mass because I noticed it was cheap on All In Vinyl and figured I'd check it out. What a great decision that was! The Welsh quartet released Nervous Tensions in June. Nervous Tensions is a record full of powerful alternative punk rock music. If you like great vocals, they're here. If you like hooks and catchy lyrics, there is loads of them. Fantastic live, you bet it is!

9. Developing A Theory Of Integrity by MakeWar

New York's MakeWar managed to make my top ten albums of the year two years in a row! Most bands don't put out a new album two years in a row, so to do it and have two of such quality is a massive testament to how good a band MakeWar are. On Developing A Theory Of Integrity, their first release on Red Scare, Jose, Ed and Greg created an album of raw and emotional punk rock music that will get you singing along at the top of your lungs.

8. Wisdom Machine by The Bennies

When The Bennies released Wisdom Machine back in March I can't imagine they realised what a breakthrough album it would be for them. From being somewhat of a unknown to most of the world, they are now known and loved everywhere. Wisdom Machine is an album that mixes punk, ska and reggae to create one massive party. The Bennies have a reputation for being somewhat of a party band but are also known as one of the most creative, innovative and best live bands you'll ever see.

7. Fits Of Disorganised Boredom by Problem Daughter

Released on Dying Scene Records way back in February, Problem Daughter's second album, Fits Of Disorganised Boredom, blew me away. The thing that caught my attention from the start was lead singer and bassist Regan Ashton's distinctive vocals. Problem Daughter have taken melodic pop punk music and made it sound so fresh. If they can find their way over to the UK at some point soon I'd be very happy.

6. Increasing The Minimum Rage by Faintest Idea

Faintest Idea are the best ska punk band in the UK. When I first sat down to listen to the band's fourth album, Increasing The Minimum Rage, I was expecting big things but I wasn't expecting this. Faintest Idea have always written raucous street punk mixed with ska songs but on this album the band have expanded their sound. This created a much more varied album than they had previously released but none of the energy that accompanied their music in the past has gone.

5. Habitats by Foxtrot

Australian punk rock is slowly taking over the world. Bands such as The Bennies, The Smith Street Band, The Decline, Luca Brasi, Local Resident Failure and Camp Cope are all turning heads throughout the world of punk rock. One band that maybe isn't quite as well known but definitely just as good as those bands are Melbourne's Foxtrot. Their album Habitats was one of those wonderful clicking around aimlessly on Bandcamp discoveries for me and I haven't looked back since. It's a wonderful album of sing along punk rock tinged with folk music. In particular, Miner Bird is one of the best songs I've heard all year.

4. Pharmacie by Apologies, I Have None

Pharmacie was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Previous album London is in my top five albums of all time so I was so excited and a little scared to hear this second album from Apologies, I Have None. Since London was released, AIHN have undergone a bit of a change in line-up and sound but are still as hard hitting with their lyrics as ever. There is such a big atmospheric sound on Pharmacie that you can't help but be moved by. An incredibly emotional piece of work.

3. Tens by Tens

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have people send me music to review. Sometimes I'm extremely lucky to receive my, soon to be, favourite band's new album. That was the case with Chicago's Tens self-titled album. They play an upbeat brand of mid-western punk rock that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. There are so many great bands that play this style of punk music but none have captured my attention quite like Tens did on this album. It's honest, full of heart and jam packed with energy.

2. Fizzy Brain by Ducking Punches

I was in a bit of a conundrum about whether this album was actually eligible for this list because technically it was released to me and anyone else who pledged for it last November before it was given it's big release by Xtra Mile early in the year. Then I remembered that I didn't include it last year because it hadn't been released to the masses last year. Fizzy Brain is an incredible piece of music from start to finish. Ducking Punches' frontman, Dan Allen, is an incredible lyricist. Fizzy Brain is an album about dealing with loss, mental health and growing up. It's that album that when I'm not sure what I fancy listening to I put on.

1. Pkew Pkew Pkew by Pkew Pkew Pkew

I had a hard time picking this album as my album of the year. I'm thirty-one next month. Should I be picking an album that's about skateboarding, getting drunk and partying as the best album of 2016? Especially as it's not something I can even relate to - I can't skateboard and I don't drink. But after thinking that, I remembered why I love Pkew Pkew Pkew. It's the most fun I've had listening to music this entire year. When I first started listening to punk music I loved it because I thought the music was fun. It's loud, brash, in your face and simple. I don't have to think when I listen to it. There's a bit of escapism here. I put this on and shout along and forget about all of life's stresses and problems for twenty-one minutes. This is why I think anyone enjoys any type of music - it's a great distraction from the world. 2016 has been a year where the world has needed to be distracted. An album about skateboarding, getting drunk and partying seems like the perfect thing for it.

You might be thinking there are some glaring obvious releases missing from this list. Those being Hypercaffium Spazzinate by the Descendents, Worry by Jeff Rosenstock, Simplicity by The Bouncing Souls, First Ditch Effort by NOFX and Wasted Mind by Direct Hit. I loved all of those albums and are great additions to the respective back catalogues to the bands involved but I just didn't feel the need to go back and listen to them lots after deciding "yeah, these are great records." The Descendents put out their first record in twelve years and it was incredible. Both The Bouncing Souls and NOFX put out their best records in years but I just didn't get the urge to listen over and over again. I'm sure I will in future though. Who knows I may look at this list in a years time and decide all of those records deserve a place on my list.

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