Best Punk Albums of 2022

JER: Bothered/Unbothered

This is a very unique ska album in many ways. It has all the fun and adornments of third-wave ska punk but the content is deeper than some bands are willing to go. Obviously, ska discusses racial issues but in this case, this is based on lived experience, which makes the truth hit home. It also discusses gender roles, decolonization, and so much more. I think this a special moment for this genre due to artists like JER being willing to push those boundaries, especially on a debut solo effort like Bothered/Unbothered. Plus those horns were always on point!

Bruce Lee Band: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Seriously, how cool is The Bruce Lee Band? This band has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the ska genre. Even though they are seen as a third-wave ska act, they play around with traditional ska sounds and even experiment with other genres, languages, and themes. This album is like a time stamp of who we are as a society as well as some life lessons Mike Park wants to pass on to us. What’s fun about this album is the all-star cast of ska musicians and how danceable this album truly is.

1876: Pow Wow Punk Rock 3 (EP)

This is the 3rd installment of Pow Wow Punk Rock from the band 1876. What is surprising and great about this release is that it doesn’t hold back. It is very straightforward on the struggles of being indigenous in this current hellscape and that their voices will be heard with a punk rock soundtrack in the background. The songs such as the “DGAF” and “Great Escape” are the standouts on the record but also complement the project as a whole. If you want to know more about this album please see the previous blog post with a full interview on this album and the band.

Stop the Presses: Got it

Stop the Presses is another band I would put in the “ridiculously cool” category. They have such a fun and inviting sound for each of their records. This release, Got it, is no exception. A lot of people want to view ska through this silly lens but they seldom forget that it also sounds like this. You will be dancing around in your brain and/or in your kitchen every time you listen to this album. The vocals are infectious with multi-part harmonies and the decorated rhythms from the organ on each song make it undeniable. Even the ambitious cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” hits the mark for making a famous song your own style. 

The Linda Lindas: Growing Up

It is crazy to think that this band went from the public library to the national stage in just a few years. Even though this band does have ties to the Los Angeles music industry, the message remains the same: we are young women and we have a lot to say. This band has been the soundtrack to coming-of-age films and television with good reason. This album is about the pains of growing up and learning about the world. The awkwardness and tenderness of this age are splashed throughout the album. It also has so many catchy lyrics and pop guitar licks, that make this album so infectious.

Joyce Manor: 40 oz. to Fresno

This album seems like a return to form for Joyce Manor but without the youthful angsty but more of a coming-of-age approach. It has fun poppiness, catchy lyrics, and hooks but with some learned life experience behind it. Kind of like they are in on the joke now instead of making fun of the rest of the outside world. It works in both aspects for this band and you feel some of their musical growth on this album. It has all the charm that Joyce Manor brings: singalong chorus, confessed late-night thoughts, half-punk/half-power pop musical arrangement, and all under 20 minutes. 

Viagra Boys: Cave World

I will say this band was the best discovery for me this year. Their sound, the images, and the media attention on this band made you want to be a part of whatever they were doing at the moment. It gives me slacker, glam trash, and post-punk all rolled up into one album. The lyrics are very clever and very real-world examples of how dumb society can be. But in the great tradition, Sweden has always been ahead of the curve on coolness and pop culture. This album gives me theme songs to disorders, trolling humanity at its finest, and some real thoughts on de-evolution.

Vision Video: Haunted Hours

In my opinion, following up to an album like Inked in Red was going to be a hard comparison. It had some hard-hitting very danceable songs within that release. But with Haunted Hours, we did the grave a little deeper to find out the meaning of life. What do we leave behind when we are gone? It has beautiful emotional tracks such as “Beautiful Day to Die” and “Haunted Hours” but it also contains politically conscious tracks we come to love from this Athens post-punk band. Also, the cover for “Transmission” fits well into the theme of this album. If you want to learn about this album, the interview from Vision Video will be posted in the blog this coming month.

Cigar: The Vistors

Cigar put out one of the best skate-punk albums I have heard in years. It makes sense due to this band making its return this year on Fat Wreck Chords, the label that defined that sound in the 90s. I have this working theory that this kind of punk will resurge in the next few years and it will probably be due to bands like Cigar making music like this. The drumming, vocals, and fast pace of this album are infectious and I think 23 years was worth the wait for this record.

Drug Church: Hygiene

Drug Church has been climbing and building as a band for years. They are very much a chill and fun version of a traditional hardcore band. It has the consciousness of how rough the world can be but with a burn-it-all-down kind of energy. Hygiene is kind of a gift for anyone suffering adult anxiety in late-stage capitalism this past year. It gives us this mental state to thrive in with its uplifting guitar work and insightful lyrics. I have been a fan of this band since Cheer in 2016 but Hygiene gives us growth and even some optimism. Drug Church will keep its audience guessing but also captivate them all at the same time.

OFF: FREE LSD

This is the longest release by Off at the 38-minute mark. If you are a fan of this band, you know that their specialty is getting to the point. They start out the gate running on every song they write. Honestly out of all of Keith Morris’ bands, this feels the most representative of his voice. All the musicians are excellent in this band which is important in order to keep this train going at full speed. What I like about Free LSD is that is kind of a concept album and there is a lot more experimenting going on than in the previous releases.

Escape from the Zoo: Countin’ Cards

Escape from the Zoo is the ska punk sibling to the folk punk band Days and Daze. Depending on which side of the coin you land on will be which band you relate to more. Honestly, I’m of the Escape from the Zoo variety. This album has been sneaking under the radar this year and was one of the handfuls of releases Fat Wreck Chords put out this year. This album gives an honest look at self-worth, recovery, and accepting love. The beautiful message from Countin’ Cards is to look at your past self with kinder eyes that even though you fucked up but you got yourself to a place of recovery to find a better path.

The Flatliners: New Ruin

It has been a minute since The Flatliners released an album. And if you know anything about this band they will deliver on two promises: catchy songs you want to scream to and pure unabashed sad songs that cut deep. The Flatliners have done it all: ska, punk, acoustic ballads, and every type of song you could ever imagine for a band. This album starts with just a kick in the teeth with songs such as “Performative Hours” and “Rat King”, then smoothes the pain thereafter. It has some amazing moments throughout the album and has shown what is like to be an evolving band even from a young beginning. This album was much needed this year.

Soul Glo: Diaspora Problems

This album is going to be on a lot of “Best of the Year” lists for this genre. Not only is hardcore having a Renaissance these past couple of years but this is the album that stood out the most and with good reason. Soul Glo gives you everything they have: old-school hardcore, horn sections, spoken word, rapping, and breakdowns. When initially listening to the song “Gold Chain”, it gave me Minor Threat vibes, specifically “Salad Days”. It has a simple guitar build-up into the song and describes your daily life but with that power behind it. This band caught the eye of Epitaph and was signed in June 2021, which makes total sense due to where they were headed artistically. They have been touring with bands like Show Me the Boday, Gel, and Front Bottoms but I have a feeling that will change this coming year. This is a festival and headlining band going into 2023 so see them if you can at your local spots now.

Honorable Mentions:

The Chats: Get Fucked

Bob Vylan: Presents the Price of Life

Hot Water Music: Feel the Void

Billy Talent: Crisis of Faith

Ho99o9: Skin

Otoboke Beaver: Super Champon

Frank Turner: FTHC

A Wilhelm Scream: Lose Your Delusion

Proper. : The Great American Novel

Ignite: Ignite

Pup: The Unraveling of Pup the Band

Show Me the Body: Trouble the Water

La Armada: Anti-Colonial, Vol 2.

Zeta: Todo Bailarlo

Magnolia Park: Baku’s Revenge

Local:

Rad Gnar: Dead Strings (EP)

An insightful indie punk release filled with fun synth moments. Great guitar work and lyrics throughout the album and a welcomed change of pace in the local punk scene.

Dropped Out: Get Lost!

Heartfelt lyrics wrapped up nicely in a pop-punk package. It has themes of heartbreak, self-doubt, but is still full of such optimism, which is rare in this type of genre. Plus this is a well-produced album chock full of catchy hooks and harmonies. Literally can’t wait for the next album from this band.

The Butts: So it Goes

The Butts continues to grow and surprise their fans with their evolution throughout their albums. So it Goes tackles complex themes while still keeping its dark humor at the forefront. This album reminds me of what someone would write after wearing the “They Live” sunglasses on for a week.

Nothing Lost: Nothing Lost

100% face-melting skatepunk on this record. It has fun pop moments as well as thrash to create a fun musical journey. Great chorus chants, woahs, and melodic harmonies help build their storytelling through the album. You can genuinely feel this band having fun while making this record.

Hans Gruber and the Die Hards: With a Vengeance

Warning: this a very biased review. This album gives you multiple genres much like your multiple personalities. It gives you an education on things you didn’t know about and even a cover song. Song titles 10/10. In the tradition of Madonna, Hans Gruber and the Die Hards might be the next queen of the reinvention that is able to keep up with the changing times.

The Wee Beasties: Party with Us!

This is an accurately named album. The Wee-beasties ARE the party. You can definitely feel the vibe through the album. This band reminds me of the band Fucked Up but if they got into ska and were also influenced by Kiss. One of the best live bands in Texas currently and this album allows you to have that joy whenever you listen to it.

Urban Heat: Wellness (EP)

One of the most honest yet danceable albums of this year. There is a moment happening in post punk scene in Texas and this band is at the forefront. Even with the breakout hit of “Have You Ever?” the album is a testament to how we survive on a daily basis and come out on the other side.

The Holophonics: Lavos

The Holphonics have always been on top of their game and this album is no exception. It gives ska, pop, and metal then shakes it out into something completely new. This album sounds like it could be a soundtrack to a movie of some sort, which I would pay money to see.

Young Costello: Stories Told, Some New, Some Old

Young Castello makes ska music seem so smooth and flawless as a genre. All their musicians are top-tier within this band and it shines through on this release. Young Costello could sing the ending credits of a movie and I would listen to it. Looking forward to a full album release from this band in the future.

Breaklights: Wind Down

This is exactly how modern pop punk should sound so please take note. It has fun musical moments and catchy hooks while also digging deeper into our psyche.

Punk in Austin Project

I started this project during the pandemic to help local businesses to keep their doors open and raise awareness in the community. Austin is a forever-changing landscape and has lots of culture to provide. But due to political, economic, and socio-economic changes throughout the area, things tend to disappear or have to move elsewhere. This was a very real occurrence in 2020 and even has repercussions going on still in this recovery period.

I wanted to take a moment to stop and appreciate the things in this city that make it special. People that build businesses and spaces for us to go and enjoy. I wanted to promote shopping local and getting to know the people around you even in better times. This is just part one and hopefully will have more to celebrate in the future.

Sidenote, a lot of businesses did get attention and increases in business for this in 2020. Thank you to everyone that drew attention to these places and helped keep some lights on during a very dark time.

List of places visited:

Kickbutt Coffee

Stubbs Amphitheatre

Secret Oktober

The Parlor

Aaron’s Rock and Roll

Waterloo Records

Hole in the Wall

Punk Yoga at Mohawk

Piranha Records

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

The Queers: MTX and The Queers Tour 2019

In the final chapter of this three part series, we got to sit down with one of my favorite bands: The Queers. Joe Queer has been the longest member of The Queers and has carried out the vision of this band from the 1980s to the present day. There has been many changes from this band when it comes to labels and members but many albums later The Queers have stood the test of time.

Mr. T Experience and The Queers might be the peanut butter and jelly of the Lookout era days. They are different in styles and personalities but something about this combo really works for this pop punk fan base. The Queers have always had an allure with their bratty and tongue in cheek lyrics but has some real thought behind what they say. They want you to be in on the joke or to be offended by it. With these clever musical stylings, you can’t help but get an ear-worm from time to time.

The main focus of this interview was to find out why this fan base has been coming back to these two specific bands year after year. I have seen The Queers countless times in my punk rock career and it is just a staple of my diet. I am sure a lot of fans can say the same about both these bands. And this is coming full cycle due to their fans bringing their kids with them to have the same experience.

I wanted to know from Joe what the secret is to his success is. The Queers tour constantly and somehow make it work tour after tour. They still have relationships with bands they came up with and they also try to highlight some of the up and coming punk bands they meet on the road. I will say that was the refreshing part of this interview, is that this particular punk ethos is still there and thriving after all these years. It was a short but fun conversation but you can tell he is still a fan of the music that influenced him and wants to keep going back on the road.

Check out the interview below:

Grant Announcement: PRA needs a new face and podcast!

This year I plan on rebranding this blog. I really want to keep writing, posting photos and videos, and discussing punk music as it evolves. It takes a lot of time and a lot of sacrifices but it is worth it at the end of the day.

Bossbabes, a women’s creative collective in Austin, Texas is giving away 3 grants to women-owned businesses that need to take it to the next level. For this blog, my dream is to add a podcast and new branding to make the necessary changes needed for this project.  I want to shine a light on the rich Texas punk scene and be able to share that with the rest of the world. If you know anything about audio production, you know that price tag is steep. I currently pay for this website out of pocket. I work several jobs just to keep this website and my life afloat.

So needless to say, I made a video about this website and my qualifications. I discuss what it means to be a woman in a punk world and how this conservation about punk itself should have different narratives. If I gain support behind this video, I will more than likely be considered for this grant. If you are reading this, or have been a reader in the past, please take a second to comment and let them know the importance of women’s voices within the scene and supporting women-owned businesses.

This is my first video EVER online so be kind. I am excited to revamp this website and add new content this year! Thanks for your love and support.

If you liked what you saw or heard please reach out to Bossbabes, comment on Youtube, repost, tweet about this project.

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