spring/summer will never get finished. Frankly, I'm amazing I bothered to finish these at all.
OFF! - Wasted Years (April 8)
genre: punk rock
California's OFF! deliver classic heavily distorted punk rock so effortlessly, you might think they're among the many old school bands experiencing a revival. Though that's mainly because all the members have been in the punk game for decades. With short songs, bending riffs, and a politically charged "fuck authority" mentality, Wasted Years is not one to be missed.
My favourite tracks: 2 - Red White and Black, 5 - Over Our Heads, 8 - Exorcised, 12 - Time's Not On Your Side, 16 - Wasted Years
The Menzingers - Rented World (April 24)
genre: pop punk/emo
The Menzingers offer up a blend of the usual emo themes: heartbreak, loss, apathy, and hope in self loathing. Emotional without being overly whiny, they don't skimp on the pop punk sounds with a couple anthem-type tracks and a lot of jumping rhythm. When You Died hits really close to home, even three months later, and while my current life experiences may make it impossible to be objective over things addressing the subject of death, I'm pretty confident in saying that it's a fantastic song regardless.
My favourite tracks: 1 - I Don't Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore, 8 - Nothing Feels Good Anymore, 12 - When You Died
Brody Dalle - Diploid Love (April 28)
genre: alternative rock
I've had the biggest crush on this woman since I first saw the video for "The Young Crazed Peeling" on the Punk Show when I was 13. The Distillers are still one of my favourite bands, I will take my copy of Sing Sing Death House with me to the grave (baby the hell outta that thing), and Dalle remains one of the few people I'll give the title of "idol" to. So when I saw she was coming out with her first solo album, it was a no brainer to get it.
Upon first listen I didn't really like it, but that's a classic case of expecting something from 10+ years ago and being in a bad mood. Through the years Dalle has grown and left behind most of her youthful rage, and while her vocals and writing style may be softer, the lady has not lost her edge. Her punk past is very evident in this poppy alt rock collection. The songs might be more accessible, but she's still got her gritty voice and things to yell about. Sure they're more emotional than raging against the machine these days, but just as powerful.
Buzzcocks - The Way (May 1)
genre: punk rock
Old school punk rockers the Buzzcocks are how they've always been with their recent release, and that's not a bad thing. The Way might not be anything close to innovative, and a bit on the side of repetitive, but it's still a quality offering. With basic drum beats and the usual guitar tones, it's simplicity all around. In the very low key and mellow spectrum of punk, they remain true to their sound.
My favourite tracks: 1 - Keep on Believing, 3 - The Way, 7 - Out of the Blue, 9 - It's Not You
Mad Caddies - Dirty Rice (May 13)
Oh upstrokes, be still my heart. The newest from the Mad Caddies opens up strong right away, with some old timey piano and a full but not in your face horn section, a little singalong tune about one night stands and breakups. The album has an excellent swing to it with the drums and guitar riffs, and they don't go overboard on the trumpet and trombone like many ska bands are prone to, leaving them mostly to buildups and choruses. It's no secret there's some reggae influence to ska, and they brought that to light perfectly on a few of these tracks (namely 4 and 10). They also take some time to focus on the punk rock side of things with their guitar hooks, the flowing bass following the drums with a bend of its own. If you've yet to get into the Mad Caddies, this incredibly well-rounded selection of songs is a great way to introduce yourself to them.
My favourite tracks: 1 - Brand New Scar, 4 - Shoot Out the Lights, 6 - Bring It Down, 8 - Little Town, 11 - Back to the Bed
Me First & the Gimme Gimmes - Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! (May 13)
genre: punk rock
As if this punk cover bands wasn't already enough ridiculous fun to begin with, they went and did an album full of diva pop star hits. All those overplayed pop love songs you've grown to hate, tolerate, love, and then hate again over the years. Just when you think you've heard Cher's abuse of autotune in "Believe" enough times you'll know it forever, these guys go and completely reinvent it. Turning radio-friendly polished pseudo-ballads into a few minutes of ridiculous upbeat fun, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes keep doing what they do best - flipping hits upside down and making them exponentially better. I'd go into this more but I neglected to take notes, this is the last one I'm doing, it's no longer on my phone, and I just want it done. But I promise, it's fantastic.
My favourite tracks: 1 - I Will Survive, 3 - Believe, 5 - My Heart Will Go On, 6 - I Will Always Love You, 9 - Karma Chameleon
Mongol Horde - Mongol Horde (May 26)
genre: hardcore punk // listen to it
This album is easily my most listened to spring release; it has not left my phone since I got it, and probably won't for another few months still. It's choc full of of angst, and not in the whiny pubescent way -- in the "fuck you!" calling people out on bullshit kind of way, with the age and intelligence to insult someone by calling them a "weak fucking handshake".
You could easily be forgiven for not recognizing Frank Turner on vocals, but yes, that lofty English voice is the same one tearing your face off through this. Even if you're familiar with Million Dead, his young aggressive voice has grown darker and full of the fury that was missing to pull me in to that band. But beyond the recognition factor attached to Turner's name, lie the rest of Mongol Horde.
The drums (Ben Dawson, ex-Million Dead) and guitar (Matt Nasir, The Sleeping Souls) play off each other so well you don't even notice the absence of bass. Spaces between cutting riffs are filled with crashes on the cymbals and beating snare and toms, melding together in a heavy-hitting groove. Amid the calculated hectic nature of the instruments, are smart words on varying notches of the insanity spectrum. To quote Turner "Lyrically it's very different from what I do now, it's kind of depraved. The first song we wrote is about Natalie Portman's tapeworm using her as a glove puppet to lead an uprising in Hollywood".
7 Seconds - Leave A Light On (May 27)
genre: punk rock
7 Seconds have always been one of those bands that I liked, I just never owned anything of theirs to know them well because Belleville's selection of music was dismal at best, at a time when buying things online was impossible for a 15-year-old. And I've been too broke since moving to Toronto to buy anything, let alone anything new. Nevertheless, they've always been a band I've enjoyed greatly, when they'd come on the radio from that one Rochester station that only came through in the Wal-Mart parking lot with either punk or metal, and I'm rambling. Point is, these guys have been around since the 80's, and have survived this long by being fantastic at what they do. Punk Rock at its finest, Leave A Light On is packed full of simple chord progressions and short solos, fast drum beats, and the bassline holding balance between the two. Their lyrical subject matter is all over the place. Hate for a crumbling system with faith in the individual, rage over political ignorance, music is life. They even addressed their own longevity, and love and longing. Basically, every usual subject for punk rock songs.
My favourite tracks: 1 - Exceptional, 4 - I have Faith In You, 6 - Leave A Light On, 7 - Empty Spots , 10 - Rage Quit
Rise Against - The Black Market (July 1)
genre: // listen to it
Well fuck, if you had a couple friends die recently, there are a few songs on this album that are perfect for you. Or really if you've faced any sort of tragedy that's made you question everything, listen to Tracks 2, 3 & 4 a whole bunch. In true Rise Against fashion, it's not just heart-wrenching emotions for subject matter, but anti-war political tirades as well. Still sticking to their usual format without being tired, from slow and passionate to fast and angry, they know what works for them and how to keep it fresh. While I do love the album, as a loyal fan often does, I could've lived without "Sudden Life". It doesn't seem to fit with everything else.
My favourite tracks: 3 - Tragedy + Time, 4 - The Black Market, 5 - The Eco-Terrorist in Me, 9 - Zero Visibility, 11 - People Live Here
Handguns - Life Lessons
genre: pop punk // listen to it
I wish I'd been paying attention a couple months ago, turns out they played KOI Fest this year, but oh well. They'll be here with Comeback Kid in January, so I'll see them soon enough. Life Lessons has a strong foundation in pop punk instrumentation, with just enough whine in the vocals to lean them towards emo with the lyrics, not quite enough to put them into a crossover. They've got simple and catchy riffs, fast jumpy drums, and all the whoa-oh's you expect from pop punk. The songs are about heartbreak and loss, identity as a concept, not wanting to be here and questioning the point of existence. All extremely good for dealing with loss, I can tell you that much for sure.
My favourite tracks: 2 - Sleep Deprived, 4 - Heart vs. Head, 8 - Give and Take, 9 - Waiting For Your Ghost, 10 - New Years Resolution
Told ya I'd get to it eventually. I cut out a lot of releases, pretty sure I'm forgetting something that happened within my circle of friends, but I finished the post! Finally. Metal will come soon (I hope), then Rock/etc, then I'll get started on Fall/Winter posts. No top picks this year. Just a long game of catchup.