This top 10 list has changed and altered over the last month or so, looking quite different in some places but solid in others. The extraordinary rise of Idles is simply phenomenal and they deserve all the praise and accolades going. Drug Church have steamrolled out of nowhere with 10 tracks of brilliance, as have Tiny Moving Parts and the raw scrape of The Royal They.
There’s some stuff that missed the top 10 cut: Daughters – too fucking scary, somewhere in the top 20 though; Jericho Sirens by Hot Snakes (cracking album) and the manic, dizzying pandemonium of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Anyway, here we go….
10. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake! (Rough Trade)
For me, this is the best Parquet Courts album. For one thing, the production is superb – Danger Mouse has done an incredible job on these songs; they sound so fresh, vibrant and ultimately, fun. Wide Awake! is quite an edged album though, it’s jagged and angry at times, but brimming with light and wonder in others. From the stomping Total Football, the glorious Freebird 2, the moody Back to Earth and the dance-party of a title track, everyone should hear this record, it’s brilliant.
9. Henry Blacker – The Making of Junior Bonner (Riot Season)
A dirty, filthy record of excellent sounds – this is their best work to date, combining Henry Blacker‘s trademark sludge-rock riffs, with huge slabs of melody which hit just as hard. In fact, tracks such as the anthemic and fuzzy Two Shapes and the poignant Keep It Out Of Your Heart are easily some of their best tracks to date. I even described this in my review as essentially a pop song that’s been corrupted by time and decay. The lyrics are also hilariously dark and claustrophobic, especially on the sinister Roman Nails and the depressingly hollow Cell Mate.
Top track: Keep It Out Of Your Heart
8. The Royal They – Foreign Being (King Pizza)
So excited by this album. The Royal They are a three piece from New York and they are fucking pissed. Foreign Being is 11 tracks of snapping, gleefully wicked, jagged, angular post-punk rock delivered with a malevolent grin. This shifts through many styles though, taking on a booming stoner rock vibe in places, to a more scuzzy and taunt Pumpkins-esque tone. It oozes tension, razor-sharp guitar lines and boiling with raw, snarling emotion. Tracks like the blistering Weekender, creeping dread of Flying Naked and the discordant Needler make this a fascinating and impassioned second album. Awesome.
Top track: Sludgefucker
7. American Nightmare – S/T (Rise Records)
Thanks Wes for this. Even though this is only 19 minutes long, American Nightmare have delivered what I described in my review as “9 tales of brutally honest, impassioned, chaotic, diverse and gut-wrenching rock, sealed with a heart to the world of hardcore.” This term will be twisted, reworked and spat out as we move on, but American Nightmare have crafted the kind of comeback album that needs to be heard – it sounds absolutely huge, the drums, guitar and bass melt walls, but it’s singer Wes Eisold’s unique, garbled howl that is the star of the show. He’s never sounded better on the splatter punk of The World Is Blue or on the starkly different goth-rock of Colder Than Death, making this an important return to the world of sweaty basement shows and screaming.
Top track: Lower Than Life
6. Drug Church – Cheer (Pure Noise)
Patrick Kindlon is an interesting chap. Whilst not spending time with the Self Defense Family collective, he fills your ears with biting humour fronting Drug Church. From starting chemical fires to pushing your sister’s boyfriend down the stairs, Kindlon and Co. create 10 anthems of crunching, emotive punk rock that stampedes from the stereo with brutal, impacting force. Tracks like the outstanding Weed Pin, shift through so many different movements, it sounds like five songs mashed together, whilst Unlicensed Hall Monitor is a rabid dog of guitar-destructing noise. Such a beautiful and ugly sounding record all at once. Fuck you, at $12.50 an hour.
Top track: Weed Pin
5. Tiny Moving Parts – Swell (Big Scary Monsters)
Every single track on this album could be a single. Tiny Moving Parts have created a massive hug of a record, laced with melancholy, hope, joy, sadness and wonder. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of sounds and feelings that rushes to greet you. The Jimmy Eat World embrace of Smooth It Out is gorgeous, whilst the tappy-emo punk of Caution is absolutely grin-inducing and the superb “YOU WANTED… AN OCEAN!” cry on Whale Watching and roars of “BRING ME BACK!” instantly cement every track on this as an absolute classic in a live setting. Stunning work, an absolute gem of a record that hopefully has been recognised and applauded. It’s a message, it’s a message.
Top track: Malfunction
4. Carpenter Brut – Leather Teeth (No Quarter)
There’s loads to love on Carpenter Brut’s Leather Teeth. It almost operates as a weird fake-film soundtrack and moves on from his horror-loving worship that was seen on the Trilogy album. This taps into the retro-wave guitar kaleidoscope of Myrone, (Sunday Lunch) absolute hams it up in the campest way possible on the strutting Beware The Beast and goes full turbo-rave-metal on the anthemic destruction of Hairspray Hurricane. More people need to hear this absolutely glorious slice of cheese that is uniting synthwave and metal in an unholy match in hell.
Top track: Beware The Beast
3. Turnstile – Time + Space (Roadrunner Records)
This is such a powerful record – not just the content but the meaty, slab-thick production. Taking the template from their debut, Nonstop Feeling, Turnstile crank it into overdrive on Time + Space. It’s a chaotic, party record of stage dives, Status Quo riffs and feel-good, rampant energy. Moon might be the best song recorded this decade, whilst the keyboard-stabbing hardcore shriek of High Pressure is an antagonistic blast of fiery chaos. How they got Diplo to produce one track on this (the ridiculous Right To Be) I’ll never know, but it works! My only beef is the short running time, 25 minutes? More time and more space please.
Top track: Moon
2. Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance (Partisan Records)
Silver medal goes to Idles for their second album, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, which must be cemented on nearly every end of year list. It’s an incredible achievement and equally superb album. Tearing apart toxic masculinity, mouthing off about Brexit, tips on fighting men with perms (don’t) and doing coke at a funeral are all present on this angry, joyful roar of mangled emotions and scornful destruction. From the tense build of opener Colossus, through to the heartache of June, all the way to the scrambled distortion of Rottweiler, it’s fucking stunning. Actually, it’s all about the rampant joy of Danny Nedelko. Listen to that. Right now.
Top track: Danny Nedelko, obviously.
1. Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams (Merge Records)
I’ll say it: this is our Shape Of Punk To Come. This will be remembered, this deserves to be remembered. It SHOULD be remembered. Toronto’s Fucked Up have created a beautiful, expressive, incandescent masterpiece of music with Dose Your Dreams. This should be lauded, celebrated and placed on a huge pedestal to the heavens. On every listen it keeps getting better and better, from the Rocket From The Crypt-esque None Of Your Business Man, to the melancholic rock of The One I Want Will Come For Me, to the punching beats of Accelerate, it’s difficult to pick a standout track, as it works as this rich, cohesive tapestry, this thunderous masterpiece. Everyone should experience this record; it might seem weighty at 80 minutes long, but it absolutely flies by – truly an exemplary body of work. Enjoy, absorb and shout yourself hoarse.
Top track: All of them. Seriously.
Other great albums to shove in your ears:
Black Moth – Anatomical Venus
Chiller – S/T
Christian Fitness – Nuance – The Musical
Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Come & Chutney
Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Dead Now – S/T
Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose
GosT – Possessor
Haggard Cat – Challenger
Heads. – Collider
Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
Hysterese – S/T
Irk – Recipes From The Bible
Munice Girls – Fixed Ideals
Nervus – Everything Dies
Oh Sees – Smote Reverser
PABST – Chlorine
Pig Destroyer – Head Cage
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – King of Cowards
The Dirty Nil – Master Volume
The Men – Drift
The Xcerts – Hold On To Your Heart
Workin’ Men Noise Unit – It’s Not Nothin’