By: Charlie Daffron
If 2018 was good for one thing, it was good for music. I listened to a lot of music that was released this year, these were my favorite records:
Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds-Keep Walkin’ Pal
Where do I even start with this one? I guess if I had to describe it, I would say It’s like The Lawrence Arms and The Falcon, except nothing like either of those projects at all. Already confused? Me too. It’s appropriately sleazy, with songs about everything from Buffalo Bill to being a drunken loser (typical of any of Kelly’s projects). The dark and nihilistic humor is contrasted by musical arrangements that are just… bizarre… Some of the songs are stripped down, dusty, almost folky sounding tunes, while others are rock songs that have synth parts that sound like they got lost on their way to that one 80s pop album your mom really loves. Keep Walkin’ Pal may not be for everyone, but if you liked the last Wandering Birds record, I’d definitely give this one a try.
Favorite Tracks: “Black Cat Boy”, “Shitty Margarita” and “The Ballad of Buffalo Bill”
World’s Scariest Police Chases-Album 3
Well, the album that’s been “coming soon” since 2016 is finally here and it was worth every second of the wait. The band’s songs are as sharp-witted and obnoxious as ever and in case you were wondering, they still don’t give a shit about anything. I found is hard to listen to Album 3 without grinning. It’s impressive how WSPC somehow managed to make fun of almost every punk stereotype in just 12 boisterous and ultra-sarcastic hardcore tracks. Here’s to hoping we’ll hear more from them soon. I think they said it best in their song “Adolf Hipster”, “Life is shitty music is fun.”
Favorite Tracks: “Modernbaseballiswar.”, “Burdened by Stupidity” and “No Friends”
Alkaline Trio-Is This Thing Cursed?
Let me set the scene for you: it’s around 2 A.M. on a Wednesday night in July. I’m laying on the couch listlessly scrolling through Facebook and pretending to do work as one does at 2 A.M. on a Wednesday. As I’m scrolling, something catches my eye. It’s an old fashioned red telephone with A3’s logo on the dial and the words “Is This Thing Cursed”. Since A3 had just released live recordings of all of there studio albums my first thought was it was probably some half-assed greatest hits record that would be missing half of my favorite songs, but I clicked the link anyway. I was shocked to discover that not only was it a new full length that would be out in a month, but there was also a new single to go with it (“Blackbird”). Before I had even listened to the song I sent the link to my best friend accompanied by an all-caps message that read, “SWEET MOTHER OF FUCK ALKALINE TRIO JUST RELEASED A NEW SONG AND THEY HAVE A NEW RECORD COMING OUT NEXT MONTH!!!!” The rest, as they say, is history.
Favorite Songs: “Demon and Division”, “Worn So Thin” and “Pale Blue Ribbon”
Night Birds-Roll Credits
As a friend of mine once said, “It must suck to be a punk band right now that’s not Night Birds.” They absolutely proved him right with Roll Credits. Even with a slim runtime of only about 17 minutes, the band still managed to deliver an absolute powerhouse of an album that would have made punk legends like The Ramones proud. It was worth every damn second of the three year wait.
Favorite Songs: “Radium Girls”, “Onward to Obscurity” and “My Dad is the BTK”
Spanish Love Songs-Schmaltz
I’ve written about this record a couple of times already, so I’m sure no one is surprised to see it on my top 10 list. Schmaltz was probably one of my biggest surprises of 2018. I had been meaning to check SLS out for quite some time and seeing all of my friends rave about Schmaltz was the final push I needed to do the damn thing. Trust me, it doesn’t disappoint. Schmaltz is full of catchy, fist-pumping anthems with lyrics that will hit you like a punch in the gut. To put it simply: Schmaltz is pop punk done right.
Favorite Songs: “The Boy Considers His Haircut”, “It’s Not Interesting” and “Buffalo Buffalo”
Swingin’ Utters-Peace and Love
When I was in middle school I listened to The Swingin’ Utters almost constantly. I listened to them so much in fact, that I think I inadvertently burnt myself out on them, because when Peace and Love was announced I realized it had been about four years since I had actually listened to the band. A month or two later, I got the Bandcamp notification that the album had been released, so I decided to give it a listen. I figured it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to blow me away like it did. I listened to it five more times that night alone. Not only is Peace and Love one of the best records of the year, it also reacquainted me with a band that shaped so much of my music taste growing up, which made it that much better!
Favorite Songs: “Deranged”, “H.L.S.” and “Yes I Hope He Dies”
Direct Hit!-Crown of Nothing
Some bands can’t even do pop punk or hardcore right, so the fact that Direct Hit! can pull of both genres so seamlessly it almost isn’t fair to everyone else. Crown of Nothing is an absolute monster of a record (and I mean that in the best way possible). There’s just so much to digest that it actually took me a few listens to fully wrap my head around it. It’s weighty lyrical themes are perfectly balanced against terrific musical arrangements that help it stand head and shoulders over most of this year’s punk releases. If you skipped out on this one, you’re fuckin’ up big time, trust me.
Favorite Songs: “Perfect Black”, “Altered States” and “Losing Faith”
Like every album in my top three, chances are if we’ve talked about anything vaguely music related, I’ve tried to convince you to listen to Happy Place. It was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and goddamn did it deliver! It’s a near perfect skate punk record, packed full of more fast-paced and wickedly catchy songs than your ears will know what to do with. The number of times I’ve listened to this album since it came out is probably obscene, but it still holds up, even after all those replays. Fans of the greats like No Use For A Name, Good Riddance, Frenzal Rhomb, Lagwagon and Millencolin need to pick this one up!
Favorite Songs: “German Wings”, “Underrated” and “Contagious”
War on Women-Capture the Flag
My second favorite album of the year, and also (in my opinion) one of the most important releases to come out this year, Capture the Flag. What’s the best way I could describe Capture the Flag to you? It’s basically the sonic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail being hurled directly at the patriarchy. With songs covering a wide array of topics from the orange one to gun violence and the injustices committed against enslaved women to advance medicine in the 1800s. It’s a hard-hitting album that’s a rallying cry in a world filled with so much shittiness and injustice.
Favorite Songs: “Predator in Chief”, “Lone Wolves” and “Childbirth”
The Raging Nathans-Cheap Fame
Who would have thought that my favorite album of 2018 would come from a band whose name is a dick joke? Cheap Fame was an obvious standout though, not just because of the sheer number of times I’ve listened to it (I think on average I’ve listened to the record from front to back at least once a week since I got it), but also because it managed to shatter every single one of my high expectations. Cheap Fame marks a new maturity for The Raging Nathans, in terms of both song and lyric writing. The resulting 28 minutes of fast, ultra-catchy and emotionally impactful punk rock has been something I just can’t get enough of. Here’s to hoping we’ll here more from those guys soon!
Favorite Songs: “Sucker Punch”, “Dayton” and “CTRL+ALTRIGHT+DEL”
1.We Are The Union-Self Care
Albums like Self Care are so important in times like this when everyone is so divided over literally everything. We Are The Union are back to remind us that sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is take a minute to let go off all the bullshit that drags us down and try to live our lives the best way that we can.
2.Gouge Away-Burnt Sugar
My favorite memory of this album was when I was sitting in my living room blasting it and my roommate came in, listened for a couple of seconds, and said, “I don’t know who this is, but I’m intimidated.”
3.Chuck D-Celebration of Ignorance
Somehow I totally missed the fact that Chuck D put out a new album last month, but goddamn he doesn’t miss a beat. I only wish it had been longer!
4.Tierra Whack-Whack World
Thank you to Tierra Whack for releasing the only 15 minute long album I listened to that wasn’t by a hardcore band.
Ok, I know this came out in 2017, but no one told me Hi-Standard put out a new record, so I didn’t find out about it until September and have been jamming on it ever since. Plus, it’s my list, so I’m including it!