Thursday, 9 January 2020

Top Tens: Dan#2's Top Ten Releases Of 2019

10. III by Masked Intruder
If you don't know Masked Intruder, they take the idea of making fun of how creepy most love songs are to the extreme: they are stalking you and are known criminals singing you sweet love songs about breaking into your house! This album is a continuation of the style of rock-and-roll-super-poppy-punk their last EP put them on the path towards. I love the guitar licks and singing these hooks on this record to myself (not too loudly though – the other people on the train wouldn't get the joke!)

9. Operation Exodus by Adrenalized
In the summer at a Hit The Switch show in London, I was chatting to another person enjoying the show who recommended this album by Adrenalized as the best skate punk record to come out so far this year. I took his recommendation and he was damn right about this record being a delight to listen to. It contains so many face melting riffs that leave your jaw well and truly dropped, and it's impossible not to be blown away by the last 50 seconds of "Decide". All this is topped by tight-knit production that brings out every little lick. Put simply, this record is awesome.

8. Flash Gordon Ramsay Street by The Decline
This is another banging skate punk record! I went into this one with the same expectation as I did for Adrenalized, what I got was a little more personal – it's full of takes on certain mental health topics with a touch of humour to keep it from getting too miserable. It's still full of great skate punk riffs but the songs’ lyrics connect deep: "Get Hyrule, Save Zelda" alludes to bad depression spells – skipping out of work to just escape into video games. The record is full of really deep takes like this. I'm a massive Decline fan after this record and can't wait to see them when they're next in the UK!

7. Interrobang by Bayside
So many people sleep on Bayside, they dwell in the emo scene but have a habit of writing some of the best minor chord punk rock songs. Interrobang is another perfectly produced record dripping in misery. The heavy guitar and beautiful vocals are a combo that my ears just can't get enough of.

6. Complaint by Watsky
The only rap record to make my list this year. Everything this guy makes I love and when he announced a 9 track album, I was a little disappointed that it would be too short for me to get my full Watsky fix. However, I'm glad to report that everything on this record hits hard and feels deeply personal. "Welcome To The Family" makes me cry on every late night train ride; "Mean Ass Drunk" is a party piece I love rapping along to; and "Limo 4 Emos" reminds me of friends helping me out of bad head spaces. The lyrics are poetry as usual and he has really improved his singing voice while trying new styles of songs with different production, which leaves the whole thing sounding fresh and which stands out from his last release. I can't wait for the next Watsky record, 'cause every single one seems to make my top 10 lists.

5. Morbid Stuff by PUP
Morbid Stuff is a perfect follow up to a record that I already thought was perfect! It expands PUP's sound wonderfully, adding more chorus-y pop-punk to their set list. My personal favourites are: "See You At Your Funeral" the lyrics for this made me burst out laughing on my commute to work (rhyming "produce section" with "healthy selection" is silly but inspired); "Scorpion Hill" blends a clean country hook with a punk rock song, broaching a beautifully depressing subject; "Sibling Rivalry", with one of those super shouty choruses, hit close to home when I think how I fight with my brother; and finally, "Full Blown Meltdown" is the angry jam that I needed to get me through my year. To reiterate: this record is perfect. Each song feels different, but still contains the PUP sound. Like their previous record, this one is a tough act to follow – but I bet they will.

4. Glow by Triple Sundae
Although I may have heard all these songs live before hearing this EP, it still hit me harder emotionally than anything else on this list. Triple Sundae have a way of writing really meaningful, personal lyrics, plus their songs are catchy while standing out from the other stuff I have heard this year. The melodies are so good. "Swisher" and "Safe" still sometimes make me have a cry and I always shout the bridge to "Everything's Cool" when it comes on in the car. It's great watching people I know making amazing music, and I will repeat what I have already said to them: "Please keep making more music!"

3. Never Better by Burnt Tapes
Speaking of watching friends’ bands flourish, when the first single "Yuzi" was released I knew we were in for something special from Burnt Tapes. The production was perfect and the song had dropped right after the end of a long term relationship, so the lyrics really hit me at the right time. When the full record rolled around, there were so many stand out tracks that weren't singles. To me, its amazing blend of punk-pop instrumentation with rough-round-the-edges punk rock vocals hits all the sweet spots – creating the ultimate sing-along regret punk! This record has made many people's end-of-year lists for all the right reasons. If you haven't yet, go pick it up!

2. Passenger by Fabled Mind
This is exactly how I like my punk rock: fast, political and unpredictable. My first listen to Passenger by Fabled Mind turned into multiple back-to-back listens, as I played it through front to back, then again, then again, I honestly love to listen to this record on loop, the vibe it gives off reminds me of early Rise Against. The writing is great: every song is single-worthy and I also love how the vocals perfectly match with the riffs. Also, this is some of the best drumming I've heard this year – not a drum beat out of place. I can't wait to see what these boys do next if this is only their first record. It left me craving more!

1. Maximum Effort by Just Say Nay
So I stuck this on on the day it came out, on the way to the dentist. Then on the way back. Then I found myself then going to Just Say Nay’s album launch show the same day. I had started the day having no intention of going to a gig. That's how much draw these songs have to me: I just had to see them played live, especially "Kuromouri" which is a ska Decline-esque (the NOFX track, not the band that also made this list!) song clocking in over 8 minutes. To me, it's the best song to come out this year. I love everything about this record: the song structures are clever, the riffs are banging, the basslines are killer, the harmonies are awesome and the lyrics are theatrical but still connect deeply. There isn't a boring moment on the record. When I listen to Maximum Effort, I want to see it all played live again. I will definitely be seeing Just Say Nay at every opportunity!

This top ten was written by Dan Kilvert of Tape It Shut.

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