Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Colin's Top Ten EPs and Top Ten Albums of 2017

Doing end of year lists is something that I find fun and terrifying in equal measure. Of course it's a lot of fun going back and looking at all of the amazing releases of the year and picking my favourites. There was a ridiculous amount of fantastic punk rock music in 2017 and that's why doing an end of year list if also so terrifying. As someone who spends a huge portion of his spare time reviewing new music, I had a lot of releases to consider. At one point I had a shortlist of thirty albums I was trying to choose from and it was agonising. A lot of my favourite artists released new music this year, including Less Than Jake, The Menzingers, Iron Chic, Hot Water Music, ONSIND, Anti-Flag, Spring Heeled Jack, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, Goldfinger, Great Cynics and The Smith Street Band. Astonishingly none of these bands made it onto my list - that really shows just how good 2017 has been for new punk rock music. I decided to do two top ten lists for releases this year, one for EPs and one for albums to show off as many of the great 2017 releases as possible. I hope you enjoy my lists, if there's something on there you haven't listened to I really hope you are inspired to do so because I think it's great.

Before getting into my lists, I want to give a quick honourable mention to Holy Shit by Davey Dynamite. This album was released at the very end of 2016 during that strange week between Christmas and New Year thus meaning I'd already completed my end of year lists. My 2016 album was Pkew Pkew Pkew's self titled album, however if I had heard Holy Shit beforehand it would have taken the top spot. It's raw, powerful, passionate and simply stunning punk rock at its finest.

Now, introductions and honourable mentions out of the way, let's get on with why you're reading this post. The lists.


10. Nuking Candyland by Fast Food Society

London based punk label Disconnect Disconnect Records release some outstanding skate punk from all over the world. When Nuking Candyland by Spanish band Fast Food Society found its way into my mailbox and eventually to my speakers I was hooked on this extremely powerful EP. Showcasing the band's politics in a way that will not only get you amped up but also get you thinking, Nuking Candyland is essential listening for anyone for anyone who loves their punk to have a strong message.

9. Adult Braces by No Trigger

No Trigger's first new material in five years was met with much excitement. When I first listened to Adult Braces, released by the always excellent Bird Attack Records, I thought it was decent. But after hearing the songs played live at The Borderline in London for No Trigger's only UK show of 2017, I was sold. This is sing-a-long melodic punk rock at its finest. Lead singer Tom Rheault's vocals are a particular highlight, some of the best raspy vocals around.

8. Buffalo Buffalo by Spanish Love Songs

One of both mine and Emma's favourite new discoveries of the year is Spanish Love Songs who hail from Los Angeles, California. Their 2015 album Giant Sings The Blues has featured heavily on our record player and we were both stoked when the five piece released a new EP titled Buffalo Buffalo just before Fest this year. It features three superb songs that are not only sad but also very uplifting at the same time. Buffalo Buffalo has that superb cathartic feeling to it when you shout along as loud as you can to these songs.

7. Life Is Ruff by Dollar Signs

Life Is Ruff by Dollar Signs is the only pick on either of my list that hasn't been reviewed by Colin's Punk Rock World. This was because it was released back in March and I only found out about it in November. At first I was instantly attracted to the EP's cover art which is, as you can see, a dogs face. I always want to check out albums with animals on the cover. The five songs on Life Is Ruff remind me of Bomb The Music Industry with the chaotic looseness of it all. It's a fun EP that doesn't take itself too seriously and puts a smile on your face.

6. Side Effects by Fastfade

Discovering Fastfade is something that really sticks in my memories of 2017. It was a really wet day and we'd gotten soaked making our way to the Unicorn in Camden to see Forever Unclean. When we arrived there were three young lads covering a Lagwagon song and I was instantly cheered up. Those three young lads were, of course, Fastfade. Later in the year they released a brand new EP Side Effects on the always excellent Umlaut Records that really blew me away. As someone who grew up on 90s skate punk Epi-Fat bands, I immediately fell in love with Side Effects. It somehow mixes a feeling of nostalgia with a freshness that works brilliantly. Also they are great fun live.

5. Float by Forever Unclean

Speaking of Forever Unclean… I've been championing these three Danes since the release of their debut EP Shreds in 2015. Newest EP Float was co-released in March by Disconnect Disconnect Records and Make-That-A-Take Records to rave reviews everywhere. It shows a growth in songwriting, musicianship as well as production for the band. Float (for lack of a better word) floats between the realms of pop, skate and indie punk brilliantly. It's been wonderful for me watching this band evolve and I can't wait to see what's next for them. I also can't wait to see them at Manchester Punk Festival next year.

4. Dorkmonteau by Sixteen Scandals

Aside from deciding to listening to albums because they have animals on the cover I also am a sucker for punny names. This is the exact reason I decided to check out Dorkmonteau by Sixteen Scandals, a three piece from Toronto, Canada. Dorkmonteau can best be described as a mix of pop punk and alternative rock music. By that I mean it's slightly harder in sound than most pop punk music but is full of catchy hooks. Adolessons is the stand out track on the EP and is one of my favourites of the entire year.

3. Call In Sick by Toodles & The Hectic Pity

Call In Sick by Toodles & The Hectic Pity is indie punk at its finest. This three piece from Bristol came out of nowhere to put out what is in my opinion the best folk punk release of the year. Call In Sick tackles topics such as mental health, relationship troubles and fitting in brilliantly with each song telling a little story that also has you singing, smiling and dancing along. I'm expecting huge things from Toodles & The Hectic Pity in 2018 and beyond.

2. Why We Fight by 24 Hour Punks

Most bands take weeks and months to write, practice and record songs before releasing them into the wild. 24 Hour Punks however took a different approach. The band, which is comprised of members of Call Me Malcolm, Bar Stool Preachers, Millie Manders, Popes Of Chilltown and Skaciety, did this in just twenty four hours and did an unbelievable job. All three tracks are fast, hard hitting punk rock bangers that for me are as good as almost anything that has been released this year. And let's remember that they were all written, practiced and recorded in twenty four hours! This was also all done in aid of charity - ammf.org.uk, who are a cancer charity.

1. Alterations by The Burnt Tapes

I think anyone who has been a regular reader of Colin's Punk Rock World this year would have guessed that Alterations by The Burnt Tapes would be number one on this list. In truth it's my number one release of everything combined of the year. It really is just superb in every way. I was lucky enough to get an early listen of the EP and immediately was blown away. I happened to bump into Tone the band's bass player, and the friendliest guy in punk rock, at a Jeff Rosenstock gig that same day and gushed to him about just how good it was. All six songs are an introspective look at life as someone approaching their thirties and dealing with the struggles that it brings. Along with the brilliant lyrics, musically everything is spot on. On Alterations Tone, Phil, Pan and Jordan take you on an emotional ride that will move you as you're losing your voice screaming along to these brilliant songs.


10. Leonard by Deforesters

I've mentioned countless times this year about just how strong the Canadian punk scene is at the moment. Toronto's Deforesters are a band I've been aware of for a little while thanks to my friend Lauren Mills of Mills On Wheels PR. Deforesters' first full length album Leonard was released back in February and well and truly lived up to the promise of their earlier EPs. Melodic pop punk is very popular in the scene currently and Leonard features some of the very top songs in the genre. If you love sing-a-long punk rock that will have you throwing your fists in the air, then Leonard is an album for you.

9. Good Night Memories by Quitters

I've found so many great bands through Bandcamp discovery in 2017. One of the best has to be Quitters who released their debut album Good Night Memories in April. Quitters are a French band who play fantastic sing-a-long punk rock. Something I really loved about Good Night Memories is how the album is split into two sections with a more upbeat, cheery sounding side and a harsher, darker side. I'm really looking forward to checking Quitters out live next year. (Also Good Night Memories wins the award for best album artwork.)

8. Saying Goodbye by Plan 37

Here's my second entry for the great punk rock nation of Canada - Saying Goodbye by Plan 37. Coincidently Plan 37 share a member with Deforesters. Plan 37 play fantastic in your face buzzsaw pop punk with shout along vocals. On my first listen of Saying Goodbye I knew that it was going to be one of my favourite albums on 2017. There aren't enough pop punk bands of this ilk around. Each and every songs fills me with an unstoppable energy that has me wanting to start a one man mosh pit in my living room. I can only imagine how much fun they are live.

7.  Never A Dull Movement by Kid You Not

Let's not beat around the bush, Never A Dull Movement by Saint Augustine's Kid You Not sounds an awful lot like Not Like This era Iron Chic. That's not a bad thing for me, Not Like This is one of my top five albums ever so anything that sounds like that is fine by me. Never A Dull Movement is packed with ten fantastic sing-a-long punk rock songs about growing up and learning how best to live your life. This may get me a little bit of hate but Kid You Not surpassed Iron Chic's new album You Can't Stay Here for me. Never A Dull Movement is the album I wished Iron Chic released.

6. Unfrightened by Hateful Monday

This is another album I discovered due to Lauren Mills' Mills On Wheels PR. Hateful Monday are a long running skate punk band from Switzerland. The opening track on Unfrightened is named As Far As I Can Remember and is the best song of the year. It's a storming song about finding strength through punk rock music - we all relate to that I'm sure. The rest of the album is packed with fast and intelligent skate punk music. If you grew up listening to skate punk you'll find the album relatable and musically you'll be filled with nostalgia from the glory days of the genre.

5. Roach by Aerial Salad

What a surprise this album was. I'd heard only good things about Roach, the debut album from Manchester pop punk Aerial Salad but I wasn't quite prepared for just how good it was. Unashamedly wearing their influences on their musical sleeves, the trio put together a superb album that focuses a lot on the struggles of living with mental health issues as well as being stuck in a job you hate, not fitting in and life in a small band. Roach is in my opinion the best album by an English band in 2017. These boys are only just getting started and will continue to get better and better.

4. Broadcasting To The Nations by Authority Zero

From talking to a lot of my punk rock pals we can all agree that Broadcasting To The Nations by Authority Zero is one of the best albums of 2017. I've been a long time fan of Authority Zero ever since hearing Revolution on an old Warped Tour compilation in the early 2000s. Andiamo is another incredible album and one of my all time favourites. So when I say that Broadcasting To The Nations topped that album it's not something I say lightly. Authority Zero have played around with different sounds within the punk rock genres over the years jumping between skate punk, reggae, ska and, at times, acoustic punk rock. On Broadcasting To The Nations they have taken the best of all of those genres and created an album that is quite incredible. Also singer Jason DeVore still has my favourite vocal in all of punk rock.

3. A Good Day For The Damned by Jaya The Cat

Continuing the theme of bands topping what was previously one of my all time favourites. Jaya The Cat put out their first album in five years this November and blew away all expectations. A Good Day For The Damned is just superb. It's full of drunken reggae love songs that really get you in the feels. Geoff Lagadec is on fine form here and the rest of Jaya The Cat show why they are one of the best bands in the business. We got to see some of these songs live recently and I was completely blown away not only by how well they fit into the band's live set but just how positively the crowd reacted to them. Clearly it's not just me who loves A Good Day For The Damned.

2. Coitus Interruptus by Flabbercasters

I was so close to picking a silly pop punk album as my top album of the year for the second year running. I'm such a sucker for silly songs that put big smiles on my face. This was also the most random review I've ever written. Coitus Interruptus is the debut album from Baltimore based band Flabbercasters. It features sixteen pop punk songs about life as a wizard and the trials and tribulations that that lifestyle involves. I used the word silly a lot in my initial review of the album and it's a word that I stand by. In a world that is falling apart more and more everyday it's fantastic to find bands like Flabbercasters who are just the most fun. A big part of my enjoyment of music is the escapism that it brings. On Coitus Interruptus I get to escape to a world where I can pretend I'm a punk rock wizard. That's the dream that is.

1. Dream Gig by Dead Bars

The big thing that has always attracted me to punk rock music is the everyman feel that it gives. Trying not to sound too clich├ęd but it's music for the people by the people. This is why Dream Gig by Seattle based punk rockers Dead Bars is my number one album of 2017. Dream Gig is simple gruff pop punk with singer John Maiello's raspy vocals giving the songs such an interesting sound. Maiello is not the strongest singer but this is what really gives the album so much of its everyman charm. This is that brilliant punk rock that will have you screaming along to every song as if your life depends on it. The songs cover a range of topics such as love, growing up, mental health and going after your dreams. I found the whole album extremely relatable as I'm sure many punk rockers in their late twenties and early thirties will. Dream Gig is an album that is full of cathartic moments that just make you feel better and that is a wonderful feeling. No other album released in 2017 has made as big of an impression on me and that is why it's my 2017 album of the year.

This end of year list was written by Colin Clark.

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