Top 25 of 2017
25. Pennylane - From Paradise to Parking Lots (2017 Remaster)
This EP was originally released in 2004 with an additional 3 live tracks and even live footage of some of the bands' set. Now re-released, once again, through Indie Vision Music, From Paradise to Parking Lots, referencing Pennylane's move from the island of Kauai to Portland, Oregon, receives remastering, new cover art and a layout as it was originally intended. A nice mix of clean guitars and aggressive riffs made these six songs punk/screamo gold, one of the best you never heard of. It certainly reflects a time period when emo/screamo dominated the airwaves, and these guys just did better than most.
24. Sacred Fire - Promo
23. Rotten Blossom - Get Lict
Eight tracks of riot grrl, punk rock make up Get Lict, a nice, proper debut from this Kailua 4-piece, Rotten Blossom. Big time fans of one of the pioneers of riot grrl herself, Kathleen Hanna, Get Lict is laced with traces of her inspiration throughout the album from guitar riffs to vocals and a rawness that spews up a hostile front. They also cover Bikini Kills', Suck My Left One, as a closer. Overall, this album is angst filled, fun, and determined, and you'll probably get lict at one of their shows. For real.
22. Toxic Kid - Toxic Kid
This self-titled album features 16 tracks of lovely punk, Ramones style, rock tunes. Loads of catchy anthems from this Portland, Oregon 4-piece. The songs are simple, sometimes 3 or 4 chord structures, but Toxic Kid brings a unique and fresh approach to each individual track. The melodies are intact, the tone is bright, and they lyrics often bring up adolescent themes – songs about a girl, doing chores, and beer in general. It's tons of fun and lots to go around with as many tracks as this album offers.
21. Ghost Police - Keep it to Yourself
This album is a follow up to their 2013 self-titled release. On Keep it to Yourself, they hold nothing back, bringing in more hardcore noise punk with an emphasis on thick basslines, lots of it. The vocals are a lot more rough and raw this time around, sometimes too chaotic for its' own good, a nice reflection of the instrumentals too, more often than not, aggressive and a mesh of sonic fury. But it sounds like they're having fun with these songs, as noisy and rough as they sound, and I'd imagine the live show is equally chaotic too and a damn good time. This might be a last release for this band, or for a long while, but they've certainly marked their territory in San Antonio, Texas hardcore.
20. Oceans Deep - Oceans DP EP
I think this project formed earlier this year and they've been making a lot of noise since then. Made up of members from around the country, they quickly put together a self titled EP, recorded it and released it through Safe Inside Records. The EP is made up of five stellar tracks of punk and hardcore. The vocals are piercingly intense backed by a solid rhythm section that's mosh friendly and heavy on the breakdowns. The tunes themselves are readily fit for a live audience, packed with lots of energy and gang vocals. Take caution when attending live shows.
19. Stolas - Stolas
Lots of big changes happened in Stolas in the past two years or so. Carlo Marquez took over lead vocals, once behind the drum kit, now at the forefront of the band. We heard his voice before, now we just hear more of him, and although there is quite the distinction between him and original vocalist/guitarist, Jason Weiche, Marquez brings an intense familiarity associated with the progressive sounds of the band. With this change, a new drummer has been added, but no no replacement bass player as of yet. Another big change as well, the band has released this new album with Equal Vision, a label fit for such a sound (or not?). Stolas has always pushed the boundaries with regards to their songs, always pushing forward with a unique sound of progressive rock, experimentation and hints of funk. It really is hard to categorize their sound because they pretty much incorporate whatever they can into their compositions. And with this new lineup and new album, they can take their sound wherever they please. It'll only get better from here on out.
18. Canker Blossom - In Space
Canker Blossom are a three-piece punk band from Baltimore, Maryland. Their latest release, In Space, marks the bands third album and first for Snubbed Records. It's 14 tracks of catchy punk-pop and rock. It bears the sound of mid to late 90's punk rock (probably best heard on the song, Cold Coffee) – simple song structures, lots of sing-alongs and a good amount of tunes to last until the next album. Themes are plentiful and cover a range of topics too, such as songs like The Burrito Song, which is exactly what you might think of it. They also have a song titled, Freebird (Fuck It). Careful when requesting that one. But what Canker Blossom have here is a solid set of songs layered with loads of na-na-na's and whoa-oh oh's (in some fashion). Join in on the fun.
17. Conveyer - No Future
What I like most about this record is its simplicity. Conveyer's latest album No Future, (third album, second for Victory Records) is all sorts of heavy, furious and intense. It's a nice balance of hardcore and punk, heavy on breakdowns and speedy riffs. It's a clean execution with tight melodies and mosh friendly guitar work.
16. Emmure - Look At Yourself
Since the departure of all members of Emmure in 2015, Frankie Palmeri was later joined by Josh Miller (drums), Joshua Travis (guitar), and Phil Lockett (bass). The bands' seventh album, Look at Yourself, is a fresh start for the band, with both Palmeri and Travis writing and arranging all the new material. It's 13 tracks of violent deathcore packed with furious mosh parts and killer riffs that will keep you dancing till the end of the record. The album opens big with You Asked For It, following up with Shinjuku Masterlord, pounding its way forward with dissonant guitars and stadium size breakdowns, and Palmeri leading the way. The overall tone feels better on this album, mostly because it seems there is harmony between the members of the band. Everyone is on the same page and they're going to make Emmure work. And no controversial song titles here, we have tracks like Ice Man Confessions, Russian Hotel Aftermath, Turtle in a Hare machine and Gucci Prison. Just a batch of sick tunes with massive downbeats and a drive to move forward.
15. Neaux - Chain up the Sun
Neaux is a duo made up of Sierra Kay and Nick Fit. Both are from previous projects that sound nothing like their current one. That's neither a good or bad thing, but Neaux's newest album, Chain up the Sun is all sorts of amazing. It's consistently uptempo, with a plethora of effects to go around and shoegaze to boot. The tunes can fall into the noisy category, but not too much, as at its core, there's a calmness to be heard in their songs, with serene melodies and pristine vocals. I'm so happy to have heard this record.
14. Skullcrack - Full Blast
Skullcrack are four-piece hardcore/thrash punk band from California. Not one song on this album exceeds the two minute mark, so they pack in as much as they can into one song – and there's a lot going on. Skullcrack are intense and fierce, and painfully so, as the name may suggest and Full Blast is the perfect title to such an album. The tempo is consistently at high speeds, paving the way for killer guitars and blast beats galore. The album does take a break though when it hits the track, Skullcrack, a bit of a breather and a slow burn of a song. But it picks right back up on the proceeding track, One More, showcasing some double pedal action and aggressive riffs (a bottles cracking in the background). The guitar and bass work are (especially on the albums' closer, Uphill Battle, some choice guitar leads and solos on this one) tight on this album as is the vocals too, much chaos to be heard from track to track. Crank this one to 11.
13. Clowns - Lucid Again
Clowns follows up 2015's Bad Blood with Lucid Again, a rock album of sheer epic proportions. It features nine tracks of rock based tunes with a punk attitude layered across psychedelic riffs and mayhem. The songs are longer on this album with more structure and expanded instrumentals showcasing a progression in the bands' writing. It's a real treat, especially with an opener like Lucid Again, which slowly builds into a rock anthem, striking chord after chord falling in place on the follow up track of, Like a Knife at a Gun Fight. And I feel that's where the album truly begins, and the Clowns take over. The tunes become progressively heavier and close the album with a 9 minute plus rocker.
12. Go Jimmy Go - "A Hui Hou" 20th Anniversary & Farewell Show
Go Jimmy Go, the rock steady ska band with an island sound known the world around, played its last show on January 16, 2016. This setup was a pretty epic, and a very long show as the band played selections from all four of its albums (not including the Christmas album). One the opening song began, Go Jimmy Go played non-stop, keeping the banter in-between each song to a minimum. On top of that, they played two (or three?) encores with a total of 32 songs. The show also included former Go Jimmy Go playing their parts on respective albums, so it was cool to see Tino and Tyson playing during the selections for Slow Time. The show picked up once they began Soul Arrival, and that Push Me Out/Good to You combo was probably the highlight of that era. But for as long as the show was, it seem it didn't phase anyone (until like the last two songs, I think the alcohol was getting to some people and the standing for four hours got to others) for the majority of it. It was the final show for a local band that went on for 20 years. And they went out strong. If you weren't there, well, too bad.
11. Unfair Fight - False Walls
Unfair Fight finally release a proper full-length with its second album, False Walls. It's a concept album of sorts, mainly based on a shorty story written by lead singer, Dan. The instrumentals reflect this concept, mostly a brutal aggressiveness that rarely resolves. Songs like Inferior Future is a pulse pounding track that opens big and stays consistently heavy, with a brief moment of chaotic serenity as the words ...in your eyes everything is so beautiful, are screamed. It's a really nice bridge in the song. Other songs like Lethargic Metamorphosis and Elegant Suffocation take the lead on vicious chord structures and harmonies. It's an album of pure heaviness and thrash, one where you can almost feel the walls crumbling around you. Yeah, it's that heavy.
10. Clit Kat - Clit Kat Worldwide
Still not sure how to categorize Clit Kat's sound and that's probably the main reason why I dig this Clit Kat Worldwide a lot. It's different, it's all over the place, and it's chaotic as it is absurd (in a good way of course). The electronics in the background are a nice touch, it helps to convey an eeriness in tone and the gang vocals feel like they belong in a hardcore band. Again, the songs are all over the place. But where there's an odd sound or a misunderstood chord in the song, there's comfort in knowing that Clit Kat ain't trying to conform to any particular sound or genre, but rather doing their own style of punk and indie rock. Take it to the dome (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?)
09. illicitor - illicitor
Illicitor's self-titled opens big with the first track, Little Birdie, with a heavy, funk driven, bass line. The guitar and drums chime in, escalating into a speedy punk verse with Zabi Naqshband (bass, vocals) screaming, The little birdie told me that something fierce is coming. Bob Gates also shares vocal duties and guitar with Micah Malcom completing the lineup on drums and vocals. The song, Little Birdie, is a banger of a track, commenting on the direction the world is heading to only to be followed up with City of Gold, a song telling of period in history. Other songs follow suit, with cold openings that jump into a clash of power chords for big choruses and dual vocal harmonies. Very aggressive instrumentals, featuring a chaotic ride of hardcore and punk structures, often resolving on a high note. A very strong debut for band with a lot to talk about and continuing drive to create.
08. Unloved - Under the Veil
Did ya'll hear Ruin by Unloved? That EP was released in 2014 through Dog Years Records. And not too long ago, this Connecticut based 5-piece released their latest effort, Under the Veil.
You ever put on a pair of pants and find $20 in your pocket. Finding out about this album was similar to a moment like that...Hells Yesh....
This new album is a lot more metal than Ruin, clearly with a tighter sound and with more legroom to explore musically, but that same heaviness and fierceness is still apparent. They came to destroy and pummel with their sound.
07. Citycop. - The Same Stories that Never Get Old
Recorded back in 2015, the newest album by Citycop, The Same Stories Never Get Old, found light in 2017, through Small Mammal Records. It's a great piece of work and it's hard to believe that the songs are 2-years-old, what does current Citycop sound like? But what I love most about this album is that it reflects everything I've come to know and hear of Citycop – this album has the aggressiveness of The Hope in Forgiving & Giving Up Hope, the organic tones of Seasons, and the intensity of Loner. They stick to a structure and sound that’s unlike any other act, an acoustic guitar layered on very aggressive drums and bass, with a singer that can lead with a forceful voice and a calm, smooth tone.
06. Perennial - The Symmetry of Autumn Leaves
Perennial's debut, The Symmetry of Autumn Leaves (on Howling Frequency) meshes electronics with raw guitars and drums, backed by dual vocals that are both calm and hostile at times. It's a nice breath of originality that boasts styles of art-punk and noise, bordering a fine line of experimental to avant-garde. But it's not all weird, odd sounding songs - there's structure and balance amidst the chaos, just don't expect too much of that. Much praise to the creative minds of Perennial for composing tunes that are both fresh and imaginative. Still, I don't know if I should be dancing or standing if I were to see Perennial perform live. These tracks be slamming though.
05. Anti-Matter - From Here to Anarchy
Anti-Matter released a great batch of songs on From Here to Anarchy which includes a Sin 34 cover and a revised, Drop the Bomb. Whether it's the drum/bass intro to Death to Hypocrisy or the amped up opener of Flashback, the songs are always fast, pit-friendly and rowdy. The funk instrumental for I Don't Like the Taste is a favorite and a damn good track for some call and response with a crowd. The same goes for System Overload which is intense as it a slammer of a track. And as fast as this band likes to keep their tunes, the members themselves aren't slowing down. They're always playing shows and writing music. A new album is set to come out sometime next year all ready. Chill yo.
04. Jay Som - Everybody Works
Jay Som's Everybody Works is ten songs of indie rock and pop goodness. From fuzzy guitars to lo-fi type jams, Jay Som, who is Melina Duterte, wrote some of the best songs of the year. And aside from some additional vocals, Duterte wrote, performed and arranged everything on this record. They're a treat to listen to with no real common ground on structure or sound. It's a mesh of different kinds of styles and she makes it work. Maybe it's her dreamy vocals, or the subtlety of her songs that pour out lighthearted vibes when heard that made it to this spot on the list. Either way, if indie pop needed a second album to help define it, yes, it would be Everybody Works.
03. Helpless - Debt
02. Fleshkiller - Awaken
Fleshkiller are a four-piece supergroup of sorts which includes members of Extol, The Burial and Schaliach. Their debut, Awaken (Facedown Records), is 10 songs of driving tech metalcore that's both progressive and heavy. The amount of guitar leads and solos are plentiful, and the drumming at a technical high with blast beats and sheer syncopation maxed out. The musicianship on this album is top notch and inventive, and songs structured along similar lines as, lets say, August Burns Red. Within the layered chaos, clean guitars may appear out of nowhere, but you won't be hearing a horn section or anything like that. It's not that experimental. The songs are as brutal as the name, Fleshkiller, may suggest, but at its core, it bleeds positivity.
01. Vultures United - I Still Feel Cold
The idea of this album was conceived well before recording began or any of the other members of the band knew, according to Jordan, lead vocalist of Vultures United. I think it was thought of during the making of the Girls EP, five years ago. It was a long time in the making and the end result – a double album of 30 songs, both angst filled and progressive. The first side of the album, Memory Loss, carries a lot of the heavier tracks and structure we've come to hear of Vultures pre-Girls. Its fuzzy guitars and feedback come in large amounts, on top vocals that can be harsh and raw. But within the songs are hints of pop sensibilities and a swagger that feels Girls-ish (Tropic of Youth and Just Look at the Flowers). It slowly works its way through the tracks, keeping a heavy front on songs like Black Teenager and Holograms, until the closer, Weatherman. Now on the Adulthood side, as the name may suggest, features a fresh sound of the new. They don't entirely drop the heavy sounds of before, but rather take on a more structured, steady tempo to the bands songs. There's maturity in the tone and more personal flare in the lyrics. Some key tracks on this side include She Never Sleeps and Tiger Lily that touch base on family members. But overall, Adulthood showcases solid song writing all the while exploring new musical territory. I waited years for new original music from Vultures United. Yup, it was worth it.