10. Dorkatron / 7 Years Bad Luck split (Monster Zero)
Not all that long ago, my favorite thing about Austria was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since then I got to know DeeCracks, Dorkatron, 7 Years Bad Luck and the label behind those bands, Monster Zero Records. Needless to say Arnie is still my favorite thing about Austria, but all this punk rock goodness is now a close second.
One of Monster Zero’s latest releases sees Dorkatron and 7 Years Bad Luck teaming up for a solid split action-packed with twelve slices of punk rock bliss. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything you haven't heard before on this split but damn, this is melodic punk rock done right and it is just too much fun.
9. Ditches - Ditches (Drunken Sailor)
On their self-titled full-length, Sweden’s Ditches blast through eleven songs worth of highly melodic and garage-y pop-punk meets power pop goodness. There are plenty of Marked Men influences to be found throughout the album, but dismissing Ditches as a mere copycat would be cutting them short. They simply wear their influences on their sleeves but instead of getting stuck at the worship phase, they ended up writing songs that probably had Denton’s finest wondering why they hadn’t come up with them themselves.
8. I Am The Avalanche - DIVE (I Surrender)
Six years after the release of 'Wolverines', Vinnie Caruana is finally back with another I Am The Avalanche album. Recorded just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the whole world, ‘DIVE’ is a glorious pick-me-up with a strong message of community and togetherness, Caruana’s signature growls, powerful rhythms courtesy of drummer Brett “The Ratt” Romnes, and big, crunchy, melodic riffs by Brandon Swanson.
7. Deftones - OHMS (Warner)
‘Ohms,’ Deftones’ ninth studio album saw them reunite with producer Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera), who previously helped them shape ‘Around the Fur’, ‘White Pony’, and 2003’s self-titled album. The result? 10 tracks that sound like... well, Deftones. Not sure what else you would be expecting from one of the most instantly recognizable bands around. Going into ‘Ohms’, the only question I wanted to know the answer to was if it would prove to be better than 2016’s slightly disappointing album, ‘Gore’. And the answer is yes. It sure is.
6. Fake Names - Fake Names (Epitaph)
As soon as opening track ‘All For Sale’ kicks off, Fake Names’ debut exudes this almost effortless cool that doesn’t need to be announced with a lot of fanfare or grand gestures. It’s just there. Solid beat, strong basslines, great riffage and the kind of melodies that are memorable without being too obvious about it. Guess that’s what you get when you get Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion), Michael Hampton (S.O.A., Embrace, One Last Wish), Dennis Lyxzén (Refused, International Noise Conspiracy, INVSN), and Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys, Soulside) write punk rock songs with big dollops of powerpop and new wave-y synths. Want to read more? Check out our interview with Baker and Hampton.
5. Bob Mould - Blue Hearts (Merge)
Barely a year ago, Bob Mould was in a happy place. Hell, the album he released back then was called ‘Sunshine Rock’. But album number five with bassist Jason Narducy (Split Single) and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk) finds the Hüsker Dü/Sugar frontman cranking out some of his angriest songs in decades. Something he was happy to talk about in our interview.
4. Lo Tom - LP2
Lo Tom’s second album comes with just eight songs. Quality over quantity? Hell yeah. This time around, David Bazan (Pedro The Lion, Headphones), Trey Many (Velour 100, Starflyer 59, His Name is Alive), Jason Martin (Starflyer 59, Bon Voyage) and TW Walsh (Pedro The Lion, The Soft Drugs) threw everything but the kitchen sink at the songs. Multi-tracked guitars, ambient synths, and layered vocals... it’s all present and accounted for on ‘LP2’. And I’m seriously liking this richer, more textured sound that makes their melodies shine even brighter.
3. The Drowns - Under Tension (Pirates Press)
Already off to a pretty good start with 2018’s ‘View From The Bottom’, Seattle’s The Drowns have truly come into their own with the release of ‘Under Tension’. The albums feels a lot more well-rounded and confident than their previous outing and these former members of The Shell Corporation, Success, Time Again and The Briggs pull it off with an almost effortless flair.
2. Be Well - The Weight And The Cost (Equal Vision / End Hits)
Every now and then you come across this album where you know right away that it is something special. Doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, it reminds you of everything that made you fall in love with music in the first place. And Be Well’s debut full-length is one of those albums. For Battery frontman/producer extraordinaire Brian McTernan it was not only a return to music, but with the help of Bane’s Aaron Dalbec, Darkest Hour’s Mike Schleibaum and Fairweather’s Peter Tsouras und Shane Johnson it is a glorious one.
1. The Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast (Epitaph)
‘Skeleton Coast’ packs all the sweat-drenched greatness, melancholy and singalong choruses The Lawrence Arm could muster and neatly divides it over fourteen songs that are nothing but pure and unadulterated punk rock bliss.