Best of Punk Albums 2020

2020 was the absolute worst year for concerts and festivals since all every single event was cancelled this year. So what do we even have left to savor? Just media and merch for this year. Some bands really stepped up and brought us their best within the worst year to date for music. There were many diamonds in the rough across several genres of punk and here’s our top picks of 2020.

WEAR A DAMN MASK. SOCIAL DISTANCE. TAKE THE VACCINE. YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS WANT TO PLAY, SURVIVE FINANCIALLY, AND BE HEALTHY WHILE DOING IT.

Pears: Pears

It is no secret I am a fan of this band. The quality of how Pears has continually built up their sound up from their first album is impressive. This album definitely sounds like the classic Pears sound we have grown to love. Thrashy, fast, and tongue in cheek lyrics. There are some experiments with different sounds for certain songs such as Traveling Time and Daughter. I also enjoy the small musical jokes they put in songs for example in Dial Up. I don’t think I could have gone any further without a Pears album. Also Naptime is my new anthem.

NOFX/Frank Turner: West Coast vs. Wessex

If you are in the Venn diagram of liking these two artists like me, this was a surprise album this year. My initial thoughts were they might be too different in styles to make this work. Frank Turner is a true singer/songwriter and it would seem too polished for NOFX to cover. Not that Frank Turner can’t get gritty when he wants with his musical background but NOFX has some lackluster covers in their catalog. I think they both picked songs that weren’t the hits and made them their own. I still can’t get over Frank Turner making Bob sound so beautiful. NOFX gave new life to Ballad of Me and My Friends. Plus the video for Bob for this album is truly funny and tribute to the original video.

The Drowns: Under Tension

This band grows on me more and more I listen to them. I am a huge fan of Pirate Press bands and this is no exception to that rule. What I appreciate about this album and sound of The Drowns, is that they take the best parts of the classic punk sounds and breathe new life into them. They sound like several other band stylistically but you distinctly know when you hear a Drowns song though. The lyrics are smart and political in the right ways, which is needed in this current age. This album is great front to back. I really also enjoyed the video for “Them Rats” and “Black Lung” which added to this release.

Idles: Ultra Mono

This band is not for everyone. It is honestly one of my favorite music debates of this past year due to people thinking it either being too mainstream, not punk enough, or just outright hate their sound. I love it and I wish I had a better explanation of why. I think what I love about this band is the main point is to scream about positivity and be chaotic. There is not much more to it. If you overthink it, you could over complicate who they are overall. Their lyrics are funny, well thought out, and politically charged in all the right ways. I really enjoyed Joy as an Act of Resistance but I honestly didn’t think they would top that album since I wrote them off as a one-trick pony. I am eating those words now and Mono just picks up where they left off with even more energy. Grounds and Mr. Motivator give me anxiety in the best way possible.

Laura Jane Grace: Stay Alive

This albums is a collection of songs that might had not seen the light of day and it took a pandemic for them to see the light. It is a stripped down album but has all the essentials needed to demonstrate the song writing talents of Laura. I have been a long time fan of Against Me! since the Crime EP and have been hooked ever since. I was afraid some of the magic would get lost in translation without the band and the punk rock crowds in venues. The songs are hopeful even when it seems bleak, it has some poppy pieces, and is very clever lyrically. This album was also recorded by Steve Albani, which automatically makes this an album worth hearing because he has created so many classic albums. Laura, much like her fans are just trying to stay alive and make it work the best way we know how.

The Chats: High Risk Behavior

The Chats are something missing from the American punk scene. Australia has been killing it the last two years with amazing club style punk. They take playing shitty venues and made that translate to their album. It is raw punk at its finest. Songs are short, funny, and to the point. This was also done on their own label and they probably drew this cover. Which is as punk as it gets. “The Clap” reminds me of the song from Get Him to The Greek but if The Chats wrote it originally. Which is pure genius.

Bad Cop Bad Cop: The Ride

Bad Cop Bad Cop is the crown jewel of the current punk genre. They are a group of extremely talented musicians and added a much needed sound to Fat Wreck Chords. I have enjoyed their previous albums but there is something special about The Ride. It is raw, personal, and very sophisticated songwriting. It talks about going through it and coming out stronger on the other end. Whether it is a battle with cancer or being a child of immigrants, these things change our life perspectives and make us ultimately stronger individuals. It’s about the journey or “the ride”. It still has the classic Bad Cop Bad Cop sound with poppy hooks and beautiful harmonies among the band.

Days N Daze: Show Me the Blue Prints

To be quite honest my folk punk knowledge is slim but one record always makes it onto my best of lists each year. I believe Fat Wreck took a little bit of a gamble when signing this band but definitely gained a lot by doing so. It shows that their idea of punk can include folk punk, which it should because it is punk music. I feel this album carries equal parts of bleakness and optimism, so be prepared for an emotional ride throughout the album. I loved that they used more of Whitney’s voice on certain songs even though the duel singing is an impressive quality of this band. I loved tracks “Fast Tracks” and “My Darling Dopamine” from this album.

Liquid Death: Greatest Hates, Vol. 2

If this album wasn’t for a water company it probably would be album of the year. It would win all kinds of awards. Needless to say, this album is shockingly good. The original Greatest Hates is a metal classic and the punk version lives up to the same hype. Honestly, I did think this company was alcohol and not a water company, which this comment has a whole song about it. The album has punk heavy hitter such as Pinkshift’s Ashrita Kumar, Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms, Anti-Flag‘s Chris #2, Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, Jen Razavi and Josh Lewis of the Bombpops, Jer Hunter from We Are The Union and Skatune Network, Joe Principe and Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and ex-Death By Stereo member Paul Miner. I wish all these artists had a real band together because it would be a hit machine.

Field Day: Opposite Land

If you are a fan of Dag Nasty and melodic hardcore punk, this release from Field Day is the EP you have been sleeping on this past year. What makes this album special is not only the members that makes up the band but I miss hearing more positive messages of unity. I know it is a common theme within hardcore but I would say in the state of the world right now we could really use this type of mindset. This album takes a lot of self reflection and looking within for the answers. Going back to these hardcore roots paid off for this EP and I love when music is passionate and really means something at the end of the day. I can’t wait for a full release and more from this band.

Jeff Rosenstock: No Dream

If anyone is winning 2020 somehow, then it has to be Jeff Rosenstock. It is beyond me that he is not a bigger artist than he is when his fans are Mike Park, Seth Myers, and other musical artists. This man made me love Neil Young even after many attempts throughout my life. My favorite album by Jeff Rosenstock will be hands down Worry. but this makes the top 3 best albums he has recorded in his career outside of Bomb the Music Industry! I don’t know how he will top himself but I alway anticipating what he does next. I also hope he does a future tour of this album because I want to hear Scram live more than anything.

Spanish Love Songs: Brave Faces Everyone

This is actually the first album I have listened to by this band. Spanish Loves Songs usually tours with other bands I really love and it was about time to sit down and really give this band a shot. I was blown away by the song writing because of its brutal honesty and being musically refreshing. I haven’t listened to album that really spoke to my generation like Spanish Love Songs has. It is a specific type of dread and worrying about surviving in a world where you are set up to fail. This album blends each song beautifully into the next, which makes it so effortlessly to listen to it front to back.

War on Women: Wonderful Hell

This is exactly the album I needed to get through this political climate and keep me motivated for the future. War on Women always hits the nail on the head when it comes to writing songs about issues and leaves no subtly about what their messages is. The album is a bit of a cleaner sound and deep dive into who they are as a band. Shawna does have a badass scream but she really gives us her strong voice in this album. This is an album that represents the winds of change and revolution. I would hold Wonderfull Hell up to any other politically charged classic albums any day of the week. If this album doesn’t give you goosebumps when you listen to it, then listen closer.

The Lawerence Arms: Skeleton Coast

The Lawerence Arms is a band that took me a while to get into. They have a lot layers, can be serious, and are musically complex in all the best ways. I think they are a band you have to sit down and really listen closely or you will miss the magic. Their style is purely their own style and they created another killer album with Skeleton Coast. I love how they steal their lyrics and really know how to pull at your heart strings. It’s a dynamic album full of fun, cleverness, and sadness which makes it worth listening front to back.

Kill Lincoln: Can’t Complain

Kill Lincoln takes the best parts of pop punk and ska, then takes it to a whole other level. I would say this album is a palate cleanser for me. The albums that came out this year were either political consciousness or attempting something new. When I wanted to escape into music, this definitely helped. The gang vocals reminded me of singing with my friends and music fans at shows. It has fun songs, a cover, and a few conscious jams. Kill Lincoln has just begun to show us what they are made of.

Anti-Flag: 20/20 Vision

We expected and needed an album from Anti-Flag during this election year. In a year full of political discourse, there needed to be a soundtrack to it. I think we will look back at this year when we hear this album and hopefully see how far we have come. And in true Anti-Flag fashion, they will remind us how much further we have to go. The best elements about this album is that it has optimism as well as universal truths. I revisit Anti-Flags discography to have some fun as well as to feel the unity during bleak times. They gave us songs to dance to as well as to march to on this album.

The Shell Corporation: Told Ya So

The Shell Corporation is all the things we need from a political punk band. The fast paced music, the lyrics are clever, and just the right amount of snideness. They summed up the year 2020 in this album with songs like Hot Bleach Injection and Unfollow. Why isn’t this band bigger? Seriously, give this band all your money.

Radkey: Green Room

Radkey is going to be on every alternative festival when those hopefully start back up. Mark my words. Their sound is fresh, leaves all the sweat and blood on the stage, and you can hear it on this record. This album came out this year digitally and is due out in physical media due to their Kickstarter (link above). The fact that a band this talented and are creating their own space in the music world is a very punk move in 2020. If you don’t believe me, then listen to Seize and see what the hype is all about.

Honorable Mentions: Night Birds: Fresh Kills Vol. 2, Metz: Atlas Vending, Western Addiction: Frail Bray, The Keeper Class: States Away, The Damned: The Rockfield Files , Death By Stereo: We’re All Dying Just in Time, PUP: This Place Sucks Ass, Goldfinger: Never Look Back, Raging Nathans: Oppositional Defiance, Alkaline Trio: E.P , Red City Radio: Paradise, Touché Amoré: Lament, Less Than Jake: Silver Linings, Strike Anywhere: Nightmares of the West, The Bombpops: Death in Venice Beach

Here are some videos I made about the best of list if you hate reading or made it this far:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/7KL3hX1mhAHNyMRzEWEsp8

Best Albums of 2019

This hasn’t been my favorite year for punk albums. The past few years have been really hard to beat in comparison. We will still shine some much-needed light on the albums that did break through the competition in 2019.

This definitely has been the year of awesome concert tours. Most of my music listening has been in venues and not in headphones. I firmly believe the local Austin scene has been very active with releases this year and my top favorites are below. Also, check out the Spotify playlist with all the artists listed below and then some!

Top Picks of 2019

Pup: Morid Stuffpup_morbid_stuff

This was a much-anticipated album for Pup and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.  It gave off a lot of the angsty fed up vibes which was the theme of 2019. They are touring into 2020, which I am looking forward to seeing this album live.

Favorite Tracks: “Kids” and “Morbid Stuff”

The Menzingers: Hello Exilea0671515294_10

I will never understand how The Menzingers became one of my favorite bands. I felt like some weird music inception happened in my sleep and now I am obsessed with every album they put out. This is a great release for this year. Personally, After the Party and On the Impossible Past were perfect albums in my opinion. Hello Exile is my third-place choice, which isn’t a bad place to be. This is still a very memorable album and worth the listen.

Favorite Tracks: “Anna” and ” America (You’re Freaking Me Out)”

Bad Religion: Age of Unreasonbad-religion-age-of-unreason-1556896181-720x536

2019 definitely needed a Bad Religion album to get us through the year. This album is a good mix of what Bad Religion does best with some fun new tricks. What I like most about this album is that they didn’t take themselves too seriously and it seems like a natural progression for this band.

Favorite Tracks: “My Sanity”, “Chaos From Within”, “What Tomorrow Brings”

Lagwagon: Railerlagwagon-railer

This album definitely wins my favorite cover for the year. Lagwagon has a great way of nailing their album covers which really speaks to the overall theme of each one. They open this album with the important question “what’s another word for fuck?'” Which ultimately makes you want to find out more. I really loved the last album Hang due to it being a heavier side of Lagwagon. I feel this album is a good mix of heavy sound, sad Joey Cape lyrics, and the clever sides of Lagwagon as a whole.

Favorite Tracks: “Surviving California” and “Bubble”

Strung Out: Songs of Amor and DevotionSO_Armor_Fat112_3000pxl_2000x

Strung Out was one of the top shows I went to this year and where they debuted this album. As a band who has an extensive discography, this album holds up among them. There were tracks that I clung to more than others on this album but whenever Strung Out creates a great song it is truly a master class within itself.

Favorite Tracks: “Under the Western Sky” and ” Ulysses”

Amyl and the Sniffers: Amyl and the Sniffersa3824714544_10

Amyl and the Sniffers are all the things I love about the classic punk sound. It is in your face and has simple yet very clever lyrics that are fun to sing along to. This is their debut album and I hope they do some more touring stateside. I don’t know what is happening in the Australia punk scene this year but I am ready for more of it in 2020 for sure.

Favorite Tracks: “Cup of Destiny” and “Got You”

Clowns: Nature/Nurturea3139792815_10Clowns were exactly the band I felt I was missing in my life.  Clowns/Mean Jeans/ Teenage Bottle Rocket was hands down the best tour of 2019. This album is hauntingly beautiful and raw. It is in your face and is here to shake up what you think about the punk genre.

Favorite Tracks:  “Freezing in the Sun” and ” Bland is the New Black”

Teenage BottleRocket: Stay Rad

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Teenage Bottle Rocket puts out albums at an almost Prince level pace. Luckily this one didn’t slip under my radar which has happened in the past. The video for “I Wanna Be a Dog” was a great promo and introduction to the album. Like I said before, this tour couldn’t have been a better combination to support this rad album.

Favorite tracks: ” I Wanna Be a Dog” and “Anti-Social Media”

Millencolin: SOS87671_Millencolin.jpg.925x925_q90I sometimes forget how much I love Millencolin until they release a new record. When I listen to this album it is like falling in love all over again with this band. It has the riffs, pop sensibility, and fun that Millencolin encompasses. They have remained golden throughout their years and I will also look forward to every release they put out.

Favorite Tracks: “Sour Days” and “Yanny &Laurel”

 

Pkew Pkew Pkew: Optimal Lifestylea3395329665_10

Pkew Pkew Pkew has the most singable songs in the universe. This album and most of their catalog are about being broke, too old, and restless. Especially when this feeling remains into their older age and realizing that there are no fucks left to give.

Favorite Tracks: “Passed Out” and “Adult Party”

Honorable Mentions:

These albums are not exactly punk albums in a traditional sense but definitely are in the same spirit.

Frank Turner: Tales From No Man’s Land -jx1ztubf-ft_talesfromnml_3000_mainart4

This is a project by Frank Turner was very interesting and fun to follow along this year. If you are into history and the songwriting process, Frank Turner released a podcast that went along with the album release. I thought I knew a decent amount about women’s history but it was interesting to see it through an international lens. I highly recommend listening to this podcast and then the album if you haven’t already

Favorite Tracks: “Lioness” and “Jinny Bingham’s Ghost”

FIDLAR: Almost Freefidlar_almost free

I don’t exactly know how to categorize this band but  I do know that FIDLAR is a way of life. I loved their self titled release so much that I wanted to see if this band would live up to the hype. FIDLAR takes you through all the stages of partying, recovery, and relapsing throughout this album. But just remember, fuck it dog life’s a risk.

Favorite Tracks: “By Myself” and “Alcohol”

Best Local:

The Butts: Nightmare at Area 51a3955632133_10

The opening of this album reminds me of the opening to Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Science Fiction/Double Feature”, which is epic. This album was definitely on trend this year with the supposed raid of Area 51. I also can stand behind any band that takes on Alex Jones. The theme runs throughout the whole album, which makes it worth listening to all the way to the end.

Favorite Tracks: “Down You Go” and “Alex Jones is One of Them”

Dylan Disaster: Remissiona1635388135_10

Dylan Diaster’s Remission is a much-needed breath of fresh air when it comes to 2019 releases. It’s pure and simple musical tracks with complicated themes of self-discovery and reflection. This album has a sophisticated sound with layers of instruments and guest stars throughout each song. ” Milestone”, which was the single from this album really got me through the rough patches of 2019 and made me optimistic about what was ahead.

Favorite Tracks: “Milestone” and “Sun Came Rising”

Hans Gruber and the Die Hards: Hans Gruber and the Die Hards 2a3759970576_10

If you didn’t get enough of Hans Gruber in the first installment, welcome to the sequel! I am obviously super bias when it comes to my love for this band. The members of Hans Gruber and the Die Hards work really hard at their craft and concepts which are showcased throughout their live performances and albums. Whether it is explaining flat earth theories or making a theme song for the Antique’s roadshow, we are all in on the joke.

Favorite Tracks: “The Ballard of Boro the Man” and  “Real Life Walter White”

Nowherebound: Morning Glory

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What can I say about Nowherebound that hasn’t already been said? It is a supergroup of the best Austin has to offer. There are a lot of layers of vocals, multiple instruments, and musical styles on Mourning Glory. I think this is an album that encompasses hope and unity in a very unique way for a punk album.  I think this is why this particular album made it on several best of the year lists. It was obviously a labor of love.

Favorite Tracks: “Featherfist” and ‘Love to All”

All Opposed: A New Clear Life a1681381460_10

This is album cover is a masterpiece of American life. It is like Norman Rockwell painting that went in a terrible direction. What I love about All Opposed’s A New Clear Life is that it marries street punk elements with the right amount of melodies, which makes their music is very dynamic and enjoyable all around. I am definitely ready for a full-length album from All Opposed in 2020? Stay Tuned.

Favorite tracks: ” A Life Recycled” and ” Plurality”

Pickles: Pickled Remaina0291981595_10

Pickles is a band that I discovered in the beginning in 2019. I am not the biggest folk-punk person but I can’t deny their charm and clever song lyrics. It is the right amount of political consciousness, self-depreciation, and humor. There are a lot of personal touches within the album art and storytelling. I look forward to seeing this band again and what they come up with next.

Favorites: “Hate Mosh” and “An Upbeat Song About Depression”

Sober Daze: The Seasona2148927867_10

This was an album I was looking forward to listening to in 2019. Austin definitely needs more skate punk within its city limits. This album has been a long time coming and years of grinding it out in the Austin punk scene. The Season definitely has skateboard anthems but also covers some deep personal growth. I hope this band continues to do releases in the future because the Austin scene hasn’t been the same since their relocation.

Favorite Tracks: “The Sums of All Beers” and “Seeing Change”

****Happy 2020! Thanks for the constant support for my blog from the punk community around the world. I have many things to share this coming year and look forward to another year of Punk Rock Anthropology.****

Where to See Punk at SXSW 2018

You might not associate South by Southwest with punk music since indie rock dominates the festival. Without the Fat Wreck showcase this year, there is a major void to fill. Fear not, we have you covered! I have spent weeks researching a lot of bands heading to Austin for the music conference. Some parties are free and some require wristbands/badges. Here are my top picks for this year:

Local Punk Favorites:

BLXPLTN

Wednesday March 14 at 8:00pm at Cherrywood Coffee House for The 6th Annual UGLYFEST: More Info

Capitalist Kids

Wednesday March 14 at 9:25 pm at Cherrywood Coffee House for The 6th Annual UGLYFEST: More Info

Fight Plan

Thursday March 15 at 10:35 pm at The Liberty for AFHC & FXFY Presents: More Info

Worm Suicide

Thursday March 15 at 10:00pm at Kick Butt Coffee Airport: More Info

Saturday March 16 at 7:25 pm at The Heart of Texas Rockfest: More Info

All-Star Punk Acts

The Dwarves

Saturday March 16 at 11:45 pm at Hotel Vegas for Burgermania VII (Offical SXSW): More Info

Sunday March 17 at 3:30 pm at Hotel Vegas for Burgermania VII (Acoustic Set): More Info

Altercation BBQ

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Saturday March 16 music and comedy starts at 11am: More Info

Life  (If you enjoy British punk)

Friday March 15 at The British Music Embassy at 9:00pm at Latitude 30: More Info

Saturday March 16 at Barracuda Backyard at 11:10pm: More Info

No Parents

Thursday March 15 at 4:25pm at Spiderhouse for Wienermania IV: More Info

Friday March 16 at 1:15 at Pearl St. Co-op for Burger Records: More Info

Saturday March 17 at Hotel Vegas at 10:15pm: More Info

Tissues:  (Female Influenced Post Punk)

Tuesday March 13 at 8:45pm at Barracuda Backyard: More Info

Saturday March 17 at 4pm at The Sidewinder: More Info

Grim Streaker

Friday March 16 at 9:45pm at Barracuda Bar: More Info

Friday March 16 at 12:30am at Container Bar: More Info

Saturday March 17 at 4pm at The Sidewinder: More Info

The Ghost Wolves: (Austin’s Version of The Cramps)

Tuesday March 14 at 11:00pm at 720 Club: More Info

Friday March 16 at 3:00pm(best guess) at Spiderhouse for Peelander-Fest: More Info

Saturday March 17 at 6:30 at Okar Blues Brewery: More Info

Surfbort

Thursday March 15 (Friday) at 1:15am at Spiderhouse for Wienermania: More Info

Friday March 16 at 8:30pm at Hotel Vegas Patio: More Info

Friday March 16 at 1:00am at Waller Ballroom: More Info

Saturday March 17 at 11:05 at Spiderhouse: More Info

Riverboat Gamblers

Saturday March 17 at 4:00pm at Jackalope: More Info

Punk Adjacent Bands

Andrew WK

Thursday March 15 at 4pm (best guess) at Mohawk: More Info

Friday March 16 at 2:00pm at Barracuda for Pitchfork: More Info

Friday March 16 at 6:00pm at Container Bar: More Info

Saturday March 17 at 2:15pm at Cheer Up Charlies: More Info

Frank Turner

Thursday March 15 at 1:05am at Palm Door at Sixth: More Info

Friday March 16 at 12:30am at Barracuda Backyard: More Info

Friday March 16 at 3:30pm at The Blackheart: More Info

Peelander-Z

Thursday March 15 at 4:00pm(best guess): More Info

Friday March 16 at 6:00pm (best guess): More Info

Saturday March 17 at 3:00pm (best guess): More Info

Jeff Rosenstock

Thursday March 15 at 1:00am at Cheer Up Charlies: More Info

**Set times may or not be available as you can see but I have linked all party info to keep updated. Also some of these are official SXSW showcases especially if they are after 5pm.  BUT you can pay cover if the venue is not at capacity so it is worth the wait in line  sometimes.**

DISCOVER NEW MUSIC AND LOVE OLD FAVORITES!