Should I do an EP list and an LP list? Should I break it up into genres? Should I put it in a carefully considered order? How many releases should I mention?
Eventually, I just curled up in the corner with a bottle of Sailor Jerry and a carton of egg nog, banging my head against a wall until I decided that it didn't matter how my list is structured. Which is why it WON'T be structured.
Here, in no order, are 10 music releases that I dug this year. I'll throw up another batch a little later.
Masked Intruder - Masked Intruder
Because lots of punk bands are smart and angry. Lots of punk bands are stupid and fun. Some punk bands even manage to be stupid and angry. But precious few are legitimately clever and exuberantly, almost defiantly, fun.
Masked Intruder’s singular brand of lighthearted stalker punk hit a niche that I hadn’t realized I was aching for. You can overthink it as a commentary on the subtext of large swaths of pop music. But you can just as easily turn off that part of your brain and get lost in the fast, melodic and undeniable songs that make up this 13 track masterpiece.
Yeah, I said it.
Frost Giant – When Myth and History Merged Into Mystery
Because there aren’t a ton of records that legitimately surprise me anymore. Frost Giants EP caught me completely off guard. It fused disparate genres, many of which I had no previous affinity for, into something new and fun and, above all, greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Usually, when people slap the word “experimental” on a record what they mean is that it’s kind of unlistenable and they don’t want to admit that they don’t get it. The opposite is true here. Maybe this wasn’t an experiment. Maybe Frost Giant knew EXACTLY what they were doing.
Either way, no other record this year left me hitting repeat, and scrambling to tell as many people as would listen, to listen to it.
Yellow Stitches – Good Times and Violent Crimes
Because I feel like Oi! is something of a lost art these days. When a Cock Sparrer tour generates more excitement than anything being done by a current band in this style, I think its safe to question the health of the genre. Bottom line: Oi! needs new blood.
This album delivers 16 fast catchy anthems on the subject of working, drinking and fighting HARD. Continuing the proud legacy of New England Streetpunk which includes the likes of the Ducky Boys and The Bruisers.
If you find a record this year that makes you want raise a fist and a pint while screaming along more than this one, I’d fucking LOVE to hear it.
Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Because I always end up liking Converge records. It usually takes a while though.
This was the first time since Jane Doe that the immediacy and chaos that this band brings connected with me right from the start. Putting “Aimless Arrow” first probably had a lot to do with that. That song is downright infectious by Converge standards.
All I know is that when I finished All We Love We Leave Behind, I needed to hear it again immediately. It’s probably not as good as Jane Doe. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s the closest they’ve come.
Rival Mob – Mob Justice Tape
Because The Mob continued their long standing tradition of releasing a promo tape to build anticipation for their forthcoming LP, even though it was blatantly unnecessary. That record is gonna be the biggest thing in hardcore when it comes out no matter what.
The tracks included here provided ample fuel for pit lunacy, and definitely leave you needing more. It’ll have to do until Revelation drops the full length early next year.
I predict that when the first Rival Mob shirts with the Revelation Star on the back come out, kids will be knifing each other for them like they were Air Jordans in 1986.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
Because its a rap record that argues FOR gay marriage and AGAINST buying Gucci. If this record did nothing else, it would have caught my attention on those two points alone.
Fortunately, it’s also a damn fine album that takes chances with it’s sound and it’s content. It reminds me most immediately of the first Kanye West album. A distinctly introspective record that still manages to get your head nodding. It’s also probably the most accessible (in the sense that normal people would like it) record that I fell in love with this year.
This is fucking awesome.
Mindset – Leave No Doubt
Because, when it’s being done right, this kind of youth crew revival hardcore is probably the most invigorating sound that there is. And make no mistake, Mindset does it RIGHT. This record blends rage and positivity and straight edge in that very specific way that makes me wish I wasn’t such a drunk.
Mixtapes – Even On The Worst Nights
Because I’ve been in love with this band since Maps came out in 2010. While their previous releases (and there have been a bunch) were always great, this album feels more mature without sacrificing any of the catchiness and fun. Balancing silliness and seriousness is a tough line to walk, but Mixtapes do that here.
Plus, the dual vocals from Ryan and Maura have never sounded so tight before.
Bad Religion – Fuck You (Single)
Seriously? Because this is all that Bad Religion put out in 2012.
Frankly, 30 years in, this band has every reason to be terrible, and they’re not. I can’t think of too many bands, punk or otherwise, that have been this good for this long.
This one track, which will appear on the next full length, manages to sound like classic Bad Religion while still coming off as fresh and vital.
Fucked Up – Year Of the Tiger
Because Fucked Up continues to drag hardcore, kicking and screaming, in new and interesting directions. I know they insist they’re not a hardcore band anymore, but the elements are always there. Besides which, Damian has probably my favorite hardcore voice out there right now.
Granted, the “Year of the…” records are generally the most experimental and indulgent things these guys put out, but it works amazingly well.
More to come!