Who said punk’s dead? It may have stepped out of limelight in recent years, but it makes finding a great track, album or band, that much more rewarding. Here are our top punk record finds for 2015.
Jeff Rosenstock We Cool?
“When your friends are buying starter homes with their accomplishments / Drinking at a house show can feel childish and embarrassing” confesses Jeff Rosenstock on the opening to his debut album We Cool?. An electronic drum beat straight out of a chiptune track joins the acoustic guitar, before exploding into a full band moments later. It’s technically a debut, but it’s a continuation of sounds and themes that Rosenstock has been building on for over ten years as the frontman of Bomb The Music Industry!
After years of leading one of punk’s best DIY bands, Rosenstock is on the otherside and middle age is staring him in the face. People are still asking him when he is getting a “real job” and settling down (expressed in ‘Nausea’), and there’s a moment of panic as he figures out the rest of his life (evident in ‘You In Weird Cities’). It’s an honest and emotional record, and filled to the brim with strong production choices. Rosenstock creates a sound that is expansive, interesting, and clean; but never polished.
Can you believe that this is only a Demo? G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit) debut release is all said and done in 484 seconds, but is the very definition of “All Killer, No Filler”. People may recognize them as the band that caught the transphobic ire of c-brade buzzband Whirr, who were rightfully dropped from their label following the outburst. But G.L.O.S.S. are so much more than that.
Frontwoman Sadie Switchblade delivers real-life experiences through tearing vocals while the rest of the band offer a frantic pile of D-Beat hardcore influences. “This is for the outcasts, rejects, girls and the queers, or the downtrodden women who have shed their last tears”, Sadie delivers in ‘Outcast Stomp’. They are one of the many transgender voices that are rising in the worldwide punk scene, and it delivers on every front.
Clowns Bad Blood
Melbourne band Clowns are hell bent on complete domination of the Australian punk scene. Now celebrating their 5th year as a band, they’ve toured Australia, China, and the US, as well as releasing three Split 7”s and debut LP on Poison City Records, and now their sophomore released Bad Blood; where they tear through 14 tracks in under 40 minutes.
From the discordant opening of ‘Human Error’ to the Power Violence influenced ‘Derailed’, It’s a punk album that takes inspiration from across the board. The styles and sounds of The Bronx and Red Fang to Minor Threat and Frenzal Rhomb all linger with release. Each track is an attack on the senses, the embodiment of short, fast, and loud. Clowns have been relentlessly touring all year, supporting bands such as The Meanies, The Hard-Ons, and Bodyjar, and it won’t be too long until they are considered the peers of those acts.
Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love
After nearly a decade apart, influential 90’s indie/punk band, Sleater-Kinney returned to deliver No Cities To Love; their first record since 2005’s dark and experimental release The Woods. While ‘maturity’ is surely the death knell for the majority of punk bands, this album is mature in the best sense of the word. Sleater-Kinney have lost none of their fire and passion, but gained experiences and new influences that make this a triumphant return.
There’s less darkness on this album than previous releases, no tracks such as ‘The Size Of Our Love’, but it’s made up for by energetic and invigorating jams. ‘Price Tag’ and ‘No Cities To Love’ feature indelible choruses and their signature dual-guitar attack. Albums after such a long time apart are never this damn good.
Foley! Ascot Vale
Foley!’s debut rides the incredible wave of songwriter-driven punk bands coming out of Australia at the moment. Courtney Barnett, The Smith Street Band and Royal Headache have all broken through with intense songs, strong Australian accents, and a very honest and poetic style of songwriting.
Ascot Vale is no different; the three-piece deliver fast and loose folk punk while frontman Mick Porter delivers the rapid stream-of-conscious musings of a Melbourne millennial. Sing-a-long moments are across the album; ‘Friends Who Are Lesbian’ is the song that Rivers Cuomo wishes he could still write, while ‘You Sunk My Battleship’ is a not-so-acoustic breakup song. Foley! are a garage band in the purest sense of the term, it’s three friends just jamming it out at home.