What a year. In many regards. It’s been a real emotional rollercoaster. I’m properly in my 40s now. I’ve seen my kid turn 1 year old, and I’ve relocated from south east London to Leeds. This does mean that I’m currently unemployed, so if anyone wants to give me a Leeds-based job, I’d welcome it. I specialise in criticising other people’s creative output, reading science fiction and high fantasy novels, and perhaps least usefully of all, grants administration and management related work and database management.
Also, if anyone wants to take pity on me and send me free stuff I’m very much open to that, too. I wear a size large for T-shirts etc. due chiefly to having a neck and shoulders like Henry fucking Rollins, but that’s where any similarity stops. Physical copies of records are most welcome too. Hit me up through the Apathy and Exhaustion Facebook page (which I’d appreciate you giving a “like” to), or the contact page on this very site.
At this point, I will take the opportunity to extend special thanks to Graeme Philliskirk at Little Rocket Records, Alex Johnson at Plasterer Records and Jason Tesinger at Belladonna Records, all of whom have already sorted me out some swag this year. Your largesse is exceeded only by the size of your hearts, my friends.
Anyway, you readers are here to find out what was the veritable creme de la creme, the literal nectar of the gods etc. etc. so let’s get to the matter at hand, and cut the shit.
10. Worst Witch – Toil & Trouble (Alerta Antifascista)
Fantastic. This sounds pretty much exactly as you’d expect the ugly mutant bastard progeny of Poison Idea and His Hero Is Gone to sound. When those utterly unexpected compulsive dirty skank breaks hit… mate… U R MOSHING. Trust.
9. BiteMarks – Sucia (Belladonna Records)
This lot play a gnarly brand of what ignoramuses, like me, term as angular, Dischord Records style post-hardcore. The main sound likenesses here to my ears are Red Hare, Rites of Spring, Bluetip and Embrace (not the shit one from Huddersfield, the DC one). This is twelve minutes or so of raging, emotional turmoil set to music. Pure, unadultered FIYAH mate.
8. Goodbye Blue Monday – Misery Punk Ruined My Life (Make-That-A-Take)
These lads play finely crafted grufty melodic punk in a similar vein to Iron Chic and Arms Aloft. There is also more than a casual nod to mid-west punk heroes such as Off With Their Heads and Pegboy, not to mention the rugged yet poppy antics of Witches With Dicks and The Slow Death.
7. Headlines – MMXVII (Dead Broke Records)
For me this brings back fond memories of listening to stuff like Discount. It also has a flavour of Retirement Party and the classic riot grrl act Bratmobile too. If you are into shit like Lemuria, The Measure (SA) and Slingshot Dakota (who sound very different from each other, obviously), then I feel like you need to be getting on this immediately. Y’know, if the veritable who’s who referenced above isn’t enough to whet your whistle as it stands…
6. Vanilla Poppers – I Like Your Band 7in (Drunken Sailor Records / Feel It)
This is faster than nine motherfuckers, and manages to be both as chirpy as hell and harder than three bastards at the same time. If you think along the lines of Huggy Bear or Bratmobile bashing out garage punk with the urgency of Minor Threat, then you won’t be too far off the mark, to be honest.
5. The Phosphorus Bombs – Blank Slates (self-released)
This is angry as shit, faster than fuck and if there is any justice in the world (well, the jury is still out on that as a concept!), then every time these guys play these cuts out live, people should be hurling themselves about like a flash flood of flailing limbs and raised fists. When releases like this drop, it reminds me why I got into this punk thing in the first place. These jams be both righteous and socially conscious. If you dig on Kid Dynamite and Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes by Propagandhi then this is your shit right here. Only add in that classic Bad Religion vibe circa Against The Grain, Suffer and Generator and you’ve nailed it.
4. The Parasites / The Raging Nathans – split 7in (Rad Girlfriend Records)
The Parasites evoke that whole Beach Boys influenced take on emulating the Ramones through sappy love songs that made The Queers one of the most enduringly appealing bands in the genre. It’s absolutely golden, this. One of my favourite things about the Raging Nathans is that they seem to bring something new to the table with each release that keeps their sound fresh, without making huge changes to their core sound. For example on their last split (with Pizzatramp, which you can read about here), they brought something of an RKL inspired flavour to shake things up a bit. This time out, they seem to be bringing an overt slab of vintage Screeching Weasel to the table (without Ben Weasel egregiously starting fisticuffs with a female audience member to no real purpose and succeeding only in taking a righteous fucking kicking from said heroine). But anyway, these two cuts (Spoiled Brat and Signals) are snotty, catchy, endearing and angsty in all the correct proportions to appease my current needs.
3. American Steel – State of Grace (Fat Wreck Chords)
If you are legit enough of a person to like the idea of Against Me! circa Reinventing Axl Rose partying down with Hudson Falcons and the Pinkerton Thugs, then this my friend is your shit right here. It’s fucking glorious.
2. Question The Mark – Nightmare on Misery Street (Little Rocket Records)
So what should the burgeoning listener expect from this? Apart from a massive fucking treat, well this has a real feel of a British take on the New Jersey style of emotive melodic punk rock as played by Lifetime and Saves The Day (although in the case of STD before they were poo), only fed through a sawmill. There’s a real flavour of mid-West style punk rock ala Pegboy and Arms Aloft running through these tunes like a vein of mould through a lump of blue cheese. It’s obviously rounded out by a true idolaters level of worship of the likes of Hot Water Music, Nothington and Leatherface.
1. Chain Whip – Chain Whip (Dirt Cult Records)
This has it all – chewed off and spat out snotty vocals, thrashy speed, and stripped back pummelling rhythms. No holds are barred here, and there’s definitely no time wasting going on. Which is as it should be. Tough as old boots, straight down the line gnarly punk rock. This is what you assholes should be shredding bowls to. I could certainly imagine the current iteration of Mad Max (i.e. Tom Hardy and not that total racist Mel Gibson) razzing this into his tape deck and mowing down bozos in a radioactive desert… So what’s not to like?