2017 was a great year for music and 2018 has proved to be just as good, if not even better. This is great for your ears but not so good when it comes to putting together your end of year lists. I’m being slightly more ambitious/productive this year and writing about my Top Ten EPs as well as Top Ten Albums – last year I did Top Five EPs – so, please, read on…
Top Ten EPs of 2018
10. This Place Matters by The Capital
The Capital were one of my favourite live discoveries of 2018 when they played the New Cross Inn supporting Red City Radio back in July. They completely blew me – and most of the audience – away with their huge sound. Perhaps more rock ’n’ roll than punk rock, I’d liken them to Crazy Arm meets Pearl Jam. This Place Matters is five down-to-earth, relatable and singalong-able rock tunes played by a highly talented bunch of musicians – and did I mention singer Seamus Mcloughlin’s voice? So good!
Favourite song: This Place Matters
9. Good Friends, Bad Luck by The Run Up
It’s no secret that we love The Run Up here at CPRW. We didn’t expect a new EP from the band so soon after their debut album (which was released last year) but were more than happy to lap it up. The Run Up play great singalong punk rock tunes about having the best of times with your friends, carrying on despite whatever struggles you may have and just generally finding the positive in any situation. Also, the band are such lovely chaps who always look like they’re so happy to just be able to play music together.
Favourite song: The Upside Of Being Down
8. Learning How To Lie by Katie MF
Like The Capital, Katie MF is another artist who wowed me when seeing her (and her band) live for the first time this year. Firstly, her voice is ridiculously good. Secondly, her anti-folk tunes with just the right amount of attitude and plenty of passion are right up my street. Learn How To Lie is the right balance of upbeat tunes and slower more heartfelt songs with themes ranging from politics to break ups. A very promising debut EP.
Favourite song: Feelgood Films
7. Reasons To Breathe by Uniforms
This recently reformed Scottish foursome released three excellent new tracks this year in the form of Reasons To Breathe. Before releasing said EP, they made a triumphant return at MPF – closing the whole festival with a raucous performance. I wasn’t too familiar with the Uniforms back catalogue before seeing them live but since Reasons To Breathe was released in August I’ve become a big fan. This is excellent slightly gruff, super melodic punk rock.
Favourite song: Get Me Out Of Here
6. Desire And The Need To Live by Crushed Veneer
I came across a London-based band called Crushed Veneer whilst browsing new punk stuff on Bandcamp. Their debut four track EP, Desire And The Need To Live, soon got added to my review list. Incidentally, I also saw them live shortly after discovering them supporting the aforementioned Uniforms – it was a great show all around. This EP is that perfect blend of punk rock with a country-tinged folk style that I love so much. There’s also hints of The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers in their sound which again is a big hit with me – with them being my two favourite bands and all.
Favourite song: Sew Me Up
5. 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything by Jake Martin
Jake Martin is a DIY singer songwriter who plays lively acoustic punk tunes and in 2018 he released a four track EP called 1,555 Syllables That Mean Everything. I was originally drawn to the Dan Allen artwork but was really hooked in by the lyrics of Jake’s songs. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and, at times, violin or banjo, these songs have some important messages in their lyrical content – not wanting to lose another independent music venue to corporate giants, trying to live your life to the fullest and the difficulties of having a ‘normal life’ as a touring musician.
Favourite song: May Your Venue Never Die
4. 1,000 Daisies – Stöj Snak
If you read our end of year lists last year (and you have a good memory), you may recall that one of my absolute highlights in terms of live music was Danish band Stöj Snak’s performance at MPF. I was a fan of their album, ScreamerSongwriter, which was released in 2016 but after seeing the band live for the first time I was so keen for their next release. 1,000 Daisies was released in September to raise money to help save the 1000Fryd venue in Denmark. The three tracks are each quite different in sound with subject matters ranging from supporting independent live music (similar to Jake Martin in fact) to political frustration – all top stuff. Stöj Snak returning to MPF next year and I am super excited to see them again.
Favourite song: 1,000 Daisies
3. TRVTH by O’Holy Ghost
O’Holy Ghost were a band I had been following for a little while before the release of their debut EP, TRVTH, in July. It was a debut that I was very much looking forward to and so when CPRW got sent an early copy, I quickly snapped it up for myself. I was not disappointed by these six songs, in fact I was maybe even a little bit surprised just how much I loved it. O’Holy Ghost play emotional and passionate punk rock that has you wanting to sing along instantly. Unfortunately I haven’t seen them live since this EP was released but I can’t wait to sing the lines ‘Well don’t say that it’s over, When the pen has run dry and you scream, Just one more verse.’ from I Am Jinx back at the band when I do catch them again.
Favourite song: Across The Pond
2. The White Album EP by The All Brights
There’s quite a contrast between my number two and number one EPs this year. The White Album EP by The All Brights is not a particularly serious piece of punk rock but it is a collection of insanely catchy and ridiculously fun pop punk tunes. With songs about hanging out with your pals at the beach, love in the age of social media and instant messaging, a paddleboarder being bullied by some surfers and a boat-buying themed break-up, The All Brights are a band that definitely don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re also amazing musicians and the lyrics, although mostly silly, are actually quite cleverly written. There’s also one ska/reggae song amongst the pop punk which shouldn’t work but oh my gosh it does.
Favourite song: Stand Up Pat L. Board
1. Misery-Punk Ruined My Life by Goodbye Blue Monday
And so we go from cheery fun times to the miserableness that is Goodbye Blue Monday. But misery is what they do best and the three song EP, Misery-Punk Ruined My Life, is so fucking good – note the swear word for extra emphasis. I guess the only bad thing about this EP is that it only consists of three songs but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to those three songs on repeat. A lot. There’s no shying away from the fact that Goodbye Blue Monday’s lyrics are pretty dark, twisted and brutally honest but it’s all wrapped up with infectious melodies and beats that will have you smiling despite the apparent unhappiness. I had no doubts about making this my number one. The lines ‘I tried to write a miserable song, But the chords hit a stroke and it came out wrong, Lock it up lock it up with a major key, So nobody can understand the misery.’ pretty much sums up Goodbye Blue Monday. I can’t wait for their debut full-length release… whenever that may be!
Favourite song: Misery-Punk Ruined My Life
Top Ten Albums of 2018
10. For The Sake Of The Bit by Elway
When it comes to singalong-able gruff punk rock, there are not many bands better than Colorado four piece Elway. After seemingly disappearing for a while, they were back in April this year with eight brand new songs. For The Sake Of The Bit features a selection of melodic, mid-tempo and faster punk rock tunes that will have you wanting to sing along with the band from your first listen. The songs are honest, bitterly nostalgic and heart-felt with Tim’s excellent storytelling lyrics setting quite the scene in your head. There’s also some shredding guitar moments that would give Red City Radio a run for their money.
Favourite song: Inches
9. Aphorisms by Tragical History Tour
Derrick Johnston – the person who features in both my top EPs (Uniforms) and top albums list this year. Aphorisms is Tragical History Tour’s debut album and it was, well, quite a long time coming. Thankfully it was well worth the wait – even better than I expected, in fact. This is an album of brutally honest and personal, raw country/folk punk songs. Covering some pretty tricky subjects in his lyrics, there is a darkness to the whole album but there is also a light that shines through and proves that there is also a great positivity to Tragical History Tour. ‘If I make it through the day, I swear to you I will change my ways, All I need is to hear you say, “You’re not alone”, Give me strength now to be strong, And together we can conquer anything.’
Favourite song: Three Two
8. How To Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope
I hadn’t really listened to Camp Cope properly until they released The Opener last year. I was absolutely hooked on the track so when it, appropriately, turned out to be the first song on their second album How To Socialise & Make Friends, which was released in March this year, I was keen to hear what followed. I liked the album after a few listens but it was seeing the trio live in September that really had me sold on these songs. As I said in my live review, Camp Cope’s songs are more thought-provoking and powerful than particularly upbeat or lively – it’s the lyricism that really makes this album a great one.
Favourite song: The Opener
7. Reach Out by New Town Kings
I didn’t really expect an album that’s more ska/reggae than punk rock to make its way into my top ten albums of 2018 but Reach Out by Colchester’s New Town Kings is just that good. Colin reviewed the album back in the spring and it had me dancing around the living room singing ‘Mango, papaya and tangerine…’ and other such fun lyrics. It was a great album to listen to over the summer and I had it on repeat a lot when I just wanted something catchy, fun and happy to listen to. That said, not all the songs are cheery. There are plenty of tracks with more serious subject matter that make you think but what holds it all together is this band’s incredible musicianship.
Favourite song: Why You Always Take
6. Roundabouts by Spoilers
Having only listened to this album in early November, Roundabouts by Spoilers is probably the latest entry into my end of year lists but I guess that just means that I was very quickly hooked on it. I didn’t actually realise until I decided to review the album myself that this was Spoilers’ first full-length release – I figured they’d been going for years! There’s something for all types of punk fan here, from pounding drums, fast guitar riffage and punchy, aggressive vocal sections to upbeat poppy melodies and infectiously catchy choruses. Spoilers really have a knack for writing immensely catchy, feel-good tunes, even if they aren’t always entirely feel-good subjects and I love it.
Favourite song: The Same Again
5. Salvation by The Penske File
Before Salvation was released at the beginning of this year, my main experience of The Penske File was Colin singing the ever so catchy line ‘I wrote a book.’ (from their song Damned on their previous album Burn Into The Earth) over and over and over again. I got pretty sick of it to be honest – Colin’s singing, not The Penske File – but was very excited to hear Salvation, particularly after they were likened to both The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers on this very blog. The music that I like the best is that which I can sing along to and ultimately lose my voice to. Throw some catchy hooks, multiple vocalists and a bit of harmonica into the mix and I’m well and truly sold. That’s what I love about Salvation and The Penske File.
Favourite song: Golden Futures
4. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs
This is where things get tough because the next four albums are all, in my eyes, deserving of being my number one album of the year. It feels like a crime to put Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs at number four in my list when this is the band I have literally obsessed over in 2018 – I guess it just goes to show how good the next three are. From start to finish, Schmaltz is a masterpiece of heart-on-your-sleeve, honest punk rock. For the most part, these are sad songs but the feeling of catharsis that I get from singing along to them at the top of my lungs makes me happy. I was a big fan of SLS’s first album, Giant Sings The Blues, but hearing songs from Schmaltz played live for the first time this year (on two separate occasions) has convinced me how much of a step up these songs are for the band. I feel I could go on and on but I still have three more albums to rant about…
Favourite song: The Boy Considers His Haircut
3. I Was Broken When I Got Here by Call Me Malcolm
And then there’s Call me Malcolm – the band who have a song that is basically a tribute to the New Cross Inn ska punk scene, of which myself and Colin play a small part in. But it’s not just All My Nameless Friends that kicks butt on this album, the whole thing is a triumph in ska punk and it simply becomes more addictive the more you listen to it. Talking about mental health has become more common in punk in general but I think not so much in the world of ska punk. For Call Me Malcolm to really open up about this somewhat taboo topic is incredibly important. They team this honesty up with insanely catchy horn lines and hooks that have me dancing like no other band – Colin insists I have a Malcolm specific dance move that I only crack out when seeing this band live. Call Me Malcolm deserve all of the hype and praise for I Was Broken When I Got Here. It is my SKA punk album of the year, even if not technically my overall number one – I know it will be for plenty of others.
Favourite song: All My Nameless Friends
2. I Think We’ll Be OK by Eat Defeat
When Eat Defeat played with Rehasher at the New Cross Inn last month I was definitely more excited to see the Leeds foursome play than Roger from Less Than Jake. If Call Me Malcolm released the ska punk album of 2018 then Eat Defeat released the pop punk album of 2018 in the form of I Think We’ll Be OK. I’m not really a big user of the term ‘banger’ but ever there was an album full of bangers this is it. It’s not only full of snappy, melodic, fast pop punk tunes but it also spreads a great message of optimism and positivity. It’s not just the song Smile that has me smiling but the entire 31 minutes of the album – I wish it was longer in fact but that’s pop punk for you. I feel like, of all the albums on this list, this is maybe the one that I know the most words to and sing along to the most – although it does help that everything is so darn catchy. I liked Eat Defeat before I Think We’ll Be Okay but it feels like they really stepped things up a notch with this release. Eat Defeat are the best.
Favourite song: Not Today, Old Friend
1. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays
Way back in January of this year, I stumbled across an Australian folk punk band’s debut album on Bandcamp called This Is For You. To say I was blown away by it wouldn’t even begin to do it justice. Put it this way – I knew that, despite it being only the first month of the year, this album would almost definitely be my album of the year come December. And wow, the competition has been tough. This Is For You by The Suicide Tuesdays is an album of emotional and genuine songs that are equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking. The lyrics are a real highlight – I want nothing more than to be able to belt them back at the band when they’re playing live. These lines in particular: ‘We’ll sing these songs for the broken hearted, To help them find their way, We’ll raise a glass for the dearly departed, We’ll carry on the fight screaming their names.’ Unfortunately I won’t ever get to do that. Not just because the band is from Australia but, the sad thing is, The Suicide Tuesdays broke up back in the summer. If just one person goes and checks out This Is For You after reading this then I’ll be happy. It’s so damn good and it deserve more attention.
Favourite song: Leave Us Be
City Of Strangers by Five Minute Major, Traverse by Traverse, Fight The Good Fight by The Interrupters and Awareness Songs & Side Stories by We Bless This Mess. Plus Authority Zero in general because not only did they release a brand new album, Persona Non Grata, just a few weeks ago (that I still need to listen to some more but I think it’s pretty darn great from what I have heard) but also because I stupidly missed them off my 2017 albums of the year list yet Broadcasting To The Nations is one of my most-played albums this year – I was late to the party.
These top tens were written by Emma Prew.