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Best Punk Releases of 2012

What we rocked this year.

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From ska to street to hardcore, 2012 saw some great punk albums, eps and compilations. Here are our favorites.

10. Young Skin - Sticky Pages EP

Young Skin
Paper + Plastick Records
With their made up names (Beau Disregard, Artful Dodger, Black Donald, and Liz Unphair), Young Skin sounds like a made up band. But the sound from these musicians (aliases for members of bands like The Ergs!, Lemuria, Hunchback, Failures’ Union, Black Wine, Full of Fancy, For Science, and more) is quite real, loaded with rio-grrl inspired intensity along with fast jangly punk rock.

Consisting of four songs that were each written by a different member, the record is an inspired creation recorded in just four days in December of 2010. Why it then took almost two full years to see release is a mystery to me, as the sound is raw, pure and loaded with fun.

9. Scandals - Trenchknife EP

Scandals
Baldy Longhair
With amazing releases from the Disconnects, whose ...Are Healthy topped our list of the best punk albums of 2011, New Jersey's tape-only Baldy Longhair Records is currently and consistently one of my favorite labels. They're commitment to DIY and great music shines through on all their releases, and the Trenchknife EP from The Scandals is their latest and greatest.

With an EP Recorded and produced by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls in Asbury Park, NJ , and mastered by Stephen Egerton of The Descendents, The Scandals play punk rock in the true New Jersey way - gritty, fast and hard, with a no-nonsense East Coast blue collar work ethic that bleeds through on every single note. With a vibe that takes cues from the Ramones, Bouncing Souls and Gaslight Anthem, they draw from some serious influences and do them all proud.

8. Reel Big Fish - Candy Coated Fury

Rock Ridge Music
If you were a fan of Reel Big Fish's first two records, or their excellent live release, 2006's Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album, then you'll dig Candy Coated Fury. Despite frontman Aaron Barrett being the only original member of the band, it's an intentional throwback to the energy and self-deprecating humor of their early releases. Barret himself said of the album that, "We’re finally just doing what Reel Big Fish does best, and that’s what we did on those first two albums." His words ring true, and Candy Coated Fury offers up what the first two offered, ska that smooth and sometimes silly.

7. Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood Of Colour

Hopeless
I may not really know what dubstep is, but I know what I like. So if it happens that dubstep happens to be one of the elements mixed in with the addictive hardcore melange that Enter Shikari whips into a frenzy on A Flash Flood Of Color, I can dig it.

What I do know is that, along with this now-infamous dubstep sound, the band blends political hardcore and danceable electronica into a sound that makes crowds shake booties and raise fists, and makes me excited about the ways that UK scene is starting to twist and distort hardcore influences into something much better that we're getting stateside, where brokeNCYDE and "crunkcore" are mutilating music.

6. Street Eaters - Self-titled

Street Eaters
With a sound that combines Bay Area punk rock and Olympia Riot Grrl, the Street Eaters breathe new life into classic sounds. Consisting of Megan March on drums and John No (AKA Johnny Geek of Fleshies and Triclops!) on bass, they rocked it last year with Rusty Eyes and Hydrocarbons, following it up this year with a self-titled release.

With a jittery intensity, the band offers up a nostalgic look at classic sounds, but grabs hold of it with an enduring vitality that never sounds played out.

5. TRC - the Story so Far

TRC
No Sleep Records
Another British band that melds hardcore with various diverse influences, TRC takes aggressive hardcore with a metallic influence and piles on a hip hop influence that's laden with lyrical tightness. With anthems to the DIY scene where they got their start, along with a self-professed claim of their own cockiness, the band has wit and credibility, and The Story So Far sounds like Enter Shikari's cousin who is into the harder stuff, and is another example of the shining future of UK hardcore, as well as a wake up call for the US scene.

4. Punk Aid - Aceh Calling

Evacuate Records
In response to the situation in Banda Aceh, Indonesia,, Michael "Mike Virus" Rothstein, former frontman for The Virus, Cheap Sex and currently of Evacuate started a discussion on his Facebook page that turned into Aceh Calling, a 72-band compilation to benefit the punks in Aceh.

With bands from all over the world donating tracks to raise money to deliver music to the Aceh punks and let them know they're not alone, it's probably the most important album on this list. And with the quality of sounds that include hardcore, street punk and serious thrash, it's also one of the best.

3. Jawbreaker - Bivouac

Jawbreaker
Blackball Records
While it may not technically be a new release, the 10th Anniversary re-release of Jawbreaker's classics Bivouac album and Chesterfield King 12" top the list of influential remasters in a year that also saw Andrew WK's 10th Anniversary release of I Get Wet and the 20th Anniversary special edition of the self-titled debut from Rage Against The Machine.

A remastered sound and the addition of bonus tracks breathe new life into a classic essential, and remind me of a time when emo wasn't a bad thing, before hardcore riffs, well-written lyrics and well-written music made way for a sound that was simply a forum for boys to scream about having broken hearts.

2. Gaytheist - Stealth Beats

Gaytheist
Good To Die Records
In 12 tracks that come in at under 26 minutes with true old-school hardcore fashion, Portland's Gaytheist knocks you over with abrasive 80s-influenced hardcore, the occasional Sonic Youth-inspired noisy chaos, driving riffs that would have made Jawbox proud, metallic pushes, and big psychedelic punk rock. It's a lot to cram into a record so short and that, combined with a howling frontman who's equal parts David Yow and Birthday Party-era Nick Cave, is the reason why Stealth Beats are anything but stealthy, as well as the reason that Gaytheist are musical super predators and the musical equivalent of Shark Week.

1. Birds in Row - Collected

Vitriol Records

One of France's best kept secrets, Bird In Row, are a collection of proficient musicians who mix up tempos and sounds with an instrumental complexity that shows that they play hardcore because they believe in it, not because it's the only thing they know how to play, and Collected is a required introduction to the band. Consisting of the band's entire catalog up until now - their Rise of the Phoenix 7” and Cottbus EP, along with the previously unreleased "Phoenix" (the first song the band ever recorded) - Collected is a vinyl-only release from Vitriol Records to serve as a primer for anyone new to the band, leading up to their debut full-length on Deathwish Inc.

With a sound that is always mixed up enough to not get repetitive, they blend metallic crusty bits with punk hooks and melodic hardcore instrumentals. There are anthems and sludgy grinds, and the overall release is both intricate and raw, and loaded with hardhitting power.

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