Overall, 2010 was a great year for punk rock in it's purest form, with heavy emphasis on the old school. If you bought any albums this year, these albums should have been part of your purchases.
With their 2007 release, Sink or Swim, Gaslight Anthem emerged from the Jersey Shore that did little to defy the conventions of its traditional sound, and for good reason -– classic blue-collar rock mixed with punk sensibility works well, and has grabbed them a lot of attention over the years.
With years, the band has improved without losing touch with who they are, and 2010’s American Slang still presents us with punk rock’s answer to Bruce Springsteen, and I’m incredibly happy for it.
The years spanning 1986-1990 saw the existence of a quirky little duo from Glasgow called the Vaselines, a folksy/garage punk duo (Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee) that wrote quirky little songs, often laden heavily with tongue-in-cheek innuendos that were sweetly passed off with McKee's cherubic voice.
Now, 2010 is like a new era, with the Vaselines returning with Sex With An X, a studio release for the first time in what has been way too long - and as much as I have eagerly awaited the return of this band from my youth, I was also a bit apprehensive, filled with questions of whether new material from the band this much later would be like the original, and whether or not I wanted it to be. I didn't need to be.
NOFX is prolific - with a career that has so far offered up 11 studio albums, two live albums, 13 eps and so many 7" records that collecting them all is a vinyl junkie’s dream/nightmare. Fortunately, with that many releases, they’re not opposed to making sure everyone has access to even their most obscure tracks.
The Longest EP collects 30 songs from the majority of the band’s EPs over a stretch of time that runs from 1987’s The PMRC Can Suck On This all the way to last year’s stellar Cokie the Clown EP (which spawned frontman Fat Mike’s alter ego and lead to his infamous SXSW performance as Cokie the Clown. There are also eight tracks that have never been released digitally, and a pair of songs that have never been released.
Since their inception in 1978, Vancouver’s D.O.A. has been credited with being one of the founders of hardcore punk, alongside their contemporaries from south of the border. In fact, their second album, Hardcore ‘81, is considered to possibly be the first time the scene was officially called hardcore. Over 30 years later, D.O.A. is still around with a new release called Talk – Action = 0, and with it they’re proving that not only are they still relevant, but that 2010 is proving that the old school is still alive and well.
It’s not much of a secret that I’m not a big fan of the current crop of post-hardcore that slips into the screamo or metalcore sound. For the most part I think it’s repetitive, unimaginative and unlistenable. I mean they play some metal riffs while one guy whines about his broken heart and another guy screams along in an unintelligible stream of nonsensical gibberish? Count me out.
But every so often, you find a band that takes this sound, embraces it and realizes what it’s truly about, and then channels into a unique, effective concept album – which is what The Devil Wears Prada has done with the Zombie EP.
Mike McColgan was my favorite frontman for Boston's Dropkick Murphys, and I was bummed when he left the band to pursue other directions (joining the army and becoming a member of the Boston Fire Department like his father and grandfather before him). I was alternately very happy when he decided to pursue his Boston blue-collar punk music again with the Street Dogs.
Five albums in, McColgan and the Street Dogs have released their self-titled album, and it was probably a good choice that the band chose this one. It's their best album yet, showcasing the sound of Boston street, and doing it best. The sound that the band excels with is, as always, their brand of fist-pumping, rabble-rousing punk anthems, and Street Dogs has them by the score.
In the world of pop punk and hardcore, it’s rare to find a band that just cuts through the clutter of all the mediocre music to become something that’s fun, interesting and worthy of repeated listenings. On Fight With Your Fists, Dallas outfit Kid Liberty do exactly that, but not by doing anything new.
Instead they take a lot of stuff that has all been done before and mix it together just right, and perform it just perfectly enough that they’ve reached the perfect combination of hardcore, pop punk and a just a little bit of metal riffage.
3. The Batusis
This is a supergroup, pure and simple, fronted by a pair of punk rock legends.
Cheetah Chrome of Rocket From the Tomb and Dead Boy and Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls are two guitar-fueled powerhouses, that when side by side become a bit of incredible punk rock magic, and the complete package - two blistering songs sandwiched between a pair of smoking instrumentals - makes you realize that rock and roll was once all about rock and roll, and that there is a large segment of the musical world that would do right by all of us by abandoning their posturing and getting back to the gritty foundations that were laid down for us all in the first place. These guys invented this sound, and they're here to remind us what it was like again.
Gogol Bordello veritably burst on the scene in 2005 with Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike (incidentally, our pick for best punk album of the past decade), an album that broke through the walls, exposing the punk scene to a refreshing sound that combined Eastern European sounds, traditional Gypsy music and punk sensibilities into a heavily brandished sound played by a band that was known for frenetic live shows and a staunch message about melting pot politics and their inclusion on the punk scene. Trans-Continental Hustle is probably the band's most musically dense and fleshed out album so far, a record that showcases a band thick in the exploration and evolution of its sound and entirely unwilling to sit still.
Back in 1978, Charged GBH hit the scene, and with the release of their iconic 1982 album, City Baby Attacked By Rats, they were one of the bands that defined the British street punk sound, which would have been enough alone to place them firmly in annals of punk history.
Only one thing has changed over the years – the original sound that forced its way through low production values has received the quality recording it deserves, and Perfume and Piss delivers true punk sound and attitude in crystal clarity, making it readily accessible to the young punks today who have always been part of the digital era, but holding onto the spirit of those of us who first heard our punk on muddy, moldy, hissing cassette tapes.