The Best of the 2010s, Part One
We asked MRR shitworkers, contributors, friends, and extended family to write about their picks for the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Every decade has made its mark on the entity we know as “DIY punk,” expanding on what was good and what worked while attempting to change course on its past missteps. But as these lists show, despite DIY punk being a decades-old worldwide phenomenon at this point, it also exists and plays out in highly regional, local, and personal contexts. There are of course a number of records that spanned multiple lists—well deserving of their praises—but each person also includes records (or scenes, labels, etc.) unique to their list, in combinations that offer a glimpse into a variety of punk lives worldwide.
Here is part one.
The ’10s in short: understand DISCHARGE! If the most influential band of the ’00s was the WIPERS, I would give the ’10s to DISCHARGE. Just remember the cover of the final print issue of MRR. Not forgetting the understanding of raw noise part. Punk is naïve art that requires your mind and sense to appreciate. I would recommend consuming it after you have gained knowledge of the context of the bands, information which you are willing to lose in the swirl of primitive emotions. For me, the second half of the decade was mostly spent expanding my interest in music and listening to non-US, radical hardcore bands. The conclusion is that even though this decade was sick, that the regional sounds, the personal angst, and the boldness of not giving a fuck became a rare thing. Shout out to the few cool heads who were making shit happen, and a wake-up call to the rest of the world who do not see the previously mentioned as influences, but as providers of sounds to be aligned to, thus having them do all the work. This work has to be done by all of us.
RÁKOSI – Dobó EP (Lengua Armada, 2010)
RÁKOSI broke up in 2019. What they did before that was nothing less than revitalizing the Hungarian punk and hardcore scene. Their shows brought sub-scenes together, and all of their records were amazing: all self-recorded and different from the previous ones, while they maintained a distinguishable sound. The biggest lesson this decade has taught me was that punk is best when it’s local. RÁKOSI started out as solely focusing on the crazy stories of their hometown, and kept mostly writing songs of marginal topics they were passionate about. This was perfectly translated sonically, and thus they sounded global. The freedom they have shown us: that you can be a total beast of a band with not giving a fuck, just recording yourself, writing songs about what you care about, writing songs the way you feel like you should sound, to gain creative control over your thing, not only made them great. This lesson made the Hungarian scene better, which made punk better.
WHITE BOSS – White Boss 12″ (Perennial, 2010)
The first time I heard this record, I thought this is going to be the future of hardcore. It came from a nest that included mindblowing bands: SEX VID, GUN OUTFIT, SON SKULL, MILK MUSIC and later HYSTERICS, GAG, and WHITE WARDS. Then, by time, it seemed to remain unnoticed by most, but I still remember that moment when a few of us were listening to this record in Berlin when I visited my friend Lennart, and we thought, “this is something else.” Hardcore was crazy in this decade, with LPs from HOAX, LOWEST FORM, and GUTTER GODS, but WHITE BOSS remained this mysterious one-record band that never really disappeared from the back of my head. While it breaks away from all the restrictions of hardcore, it still is angry, radical, and smart, feels personal, and makes me happy. I love how its repetitive riffs float around, connecting us, people betrayed by societies to nature. Explaining how life is a fucked up hectic interaction that is, after all, fun to live. It is a bold record that channels personality, I have found out in this decade that it is enough for me.
TOTAL CONTROL – Henge Beat LP (Iron Lung, 2011)
Maybe this sounds obvious now, but when this record came out I was not really varying hardcore records with krautrock, and anything left field. I have only learnt the adjective “left field” last year. TOTAL CONTROL appeared and conquered the world with this record that includes in its sound even tunes beyond what was recorded. It is a love letter to music, and I cannot help but think how exciting the process was to create this record. There is a smart force at the heart of it, whether it’s one man’s mania, a common effort, or a strange orchestra—this record is a masterpiece that makes you appreciate music better. This forms and inspires me. This record sounds more adult than anything else on this list, but its seriousness excludes mannerism. It includes fun, danger, frustration, late nights, and crazy journals. It sums up my last decade.
BARCELONA – Extremo Nihilismo en Barcelona 12″ (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2015)
I have pondered a lot the connection of art and punk. This record is the closest for me that punk got to art—as in, this is way beyond an accessory of a subculture. All instruments are living their own life, interweaving perfectly, not only being each other’s addition, but each becoming more due to this coexistence. As the record breaks all walls as it moves unstoppably, the guitar creates a great vortex that sucks in my focus. This record rages, and it destroys in a beautifully creative way. No wonder this has not been copied by hordes of bands: it is hard to make such a great record that also feels obvious when you would like to fuck up the world.
ISTERISMO – Follia Verso L’Interno 12″ (La Vida Es Un Mus / Crust War, 2012)
I have spent most of my decade listening to noisy international hardcore. ISTERISMO sounds if I were playing all of these precious records at the same time. Based on their aesthetics, they are paying a great homage, but it is more than recycling. They indeed made future sounds with grabbing whatever they liked, taking them to another level. The noise creates a futuristic place and gives a strange density to the record that is fun to explore. I had a hard time finding such noisy records in the last ten years: most of them relied on way crazier influences, while ISTERISMO just had the will to switch up to eleven. ISTERISMO dared to distort, and it is sick.
PIG DNA – Mob Shity 12″ (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2015)
The second half of the decade was about LVEUM. I love how wild some of the records that Paco put out were. PIG DNA stands out from that empire of chaos as D-beat, power electronics noise mixed with The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks type of liberated sonic anarchism. This record makes zero sense, as it is a huge nuclear pulp that sounds like hardcore, like crasher crust, like noise, like experimental music. And yet it is also simple, but it does not mind being simple and super harsh noise. It sacrifices everything. Just imagine how many riffs they’d written that got drowned into the pool of cacophony. It’s worth it.
FIRMEZA 10 – El Grito De La Tierra LP (self-released, 2010)
Not as crushingly radikal as their previous record, but if I have the opportunity to include FIRMEZA 10 in any list, I would be a fool to miss it. It’s unique to tell this much with this little. They are presenting the core of punk—the madness, the enthusiasm, and the rage—and it does not even sound thought out, but extremely visceral and so fresh. A reduced love letter to DISCHARGE. A perfect rehearsal of a new band. As modern art: you could have done it but you did not. They did it and it is a serious lesson. Everything and everyone who makes noise on this record sounds just as radical as a sonic manifesto. This is hardcore.
LEBENDEN TOTEN – Mind Parasites LP (self-released, 2017)
LEBENDEN TOTEN could be an institution. They were the best band that I saw in the last decade—an incredible powerhouse. It is also inspiring how they have stuck to what they always liked and led it further. Mind Parasites mixes melodies with total noise and yet it makes no compromises. It is amazing what LEBENDEN TOTEN makes with noise, how they present it as a versatile element of our life, not just annoyance. Most of the bands on my list are ones who expanded punk and LEBENDEN TOTEN is no different. With the longest existence they still sound fresh as the next new band, although in every note they play I hear such a character, one is only capable to possess when they had few decades mania for noise.
GOOD THROB – Fuck Off LP (Sabermetric / SuperFi / White Denim, 2014)
The guitar sound alone should be on the top ten things of the ’10s, and that is only the beginning. The title of the record tells it all: fuck off everyone, GOOD THROB is here to play whatever they want, and it sounds brilliant. The familiar yet unreal melodies that are on full blast here mixed with life-fueled rage. The creative primitivism of it still encouraging me to go out and create what I feel right, how I feel it right. This is relevant.
RANK/XEROX – LP (Make A Mess, 2011)
RANK/XEROX is violent, crazy, funny, and smart. Instead of overdosing post-punk gimmicks, they have made a record of paranoia, frustration, and catharsis. This is a special record: it sneaks into my mind, it rages there, and leaves with great memories. I can dance to it, I can walk to it, I can melt to it, or I can sit still to its practicing discipline. It is also timeless, just a great record floating among us in existence.
Mi nombre es Daniel Alvarez, tengo 28 años, soy Mexicano y soy maricón. Toco en un par de bandas como Cremalleras, Heterofobia y Máximo Fracaso. 10 favoritos en los últimos diez años:
RIÑA – demo EP (CDMX; Cintas Pepe, 2016/2017)
El demo de RIÑA me parece un excelente ejemplo de lo que es el punk latino, punk sin pretenciones y letras que hablan sobre la realidad que se vive día a día en México, de mis favoritos sin duda.
DAVE RATA – Hallucigenia cassette (Monterrey, México; Niños Idos, 2011)
Esto fue lo primero que hizo Dave solo después de tocar en grandes bandas como RATAS DEL VATICANO y MOCKINPOTT, aqui podias notar totalmente cual era la parte que el metia en sus bandas, aquí eran canciones más oscuras, pero sin dejar la misma crudez en las letras que siempre tienen, para mi este disco es una joya.
CHROMA – Cuerpos Dóciles LP (Barcelona, España; Dê o Fora / Hysteria / Nada Nada, 2016)
Este LP lo sigo escuchando hasta hoy en día muy seguido, es un disco que nunca me ha aburrido y me ha servido de inspiración en mis peoyectos. El sonido me parece un punk bastante oscuro y primitivo, las baterías, las guitarras, los bajos, todo en este disco se acompaña de una manera tan siniestra que para mi gusto lo coloca indudablemente en mis discos favoritos de punk en los últimos años.
LAS OTRAS – Las Otras EP (Barcelona, España; Discos Sense Nom, 2012)
No puedo pensar en otro mejor disco que este para estar en una lista de los mejores discos de punk en la última década, no creo que necesite hablar tanto de este tremendo demo, quienes lo conocen saben de lo que hablo y quienes no le han escuchado, pues no dejen pasar otro día.
SATÉLITE – demo cassette (Madrid, España; self-released, 2016)
SATÉLITE para mi gusto ha creado uno de los mejores discos de post punk en la última década, tiene muchísimos detalles que hicieron que cayera perdidamente enamorado de esta banda, algo que me gancho es que hay algo en esta banda que me recuerda bastante al clásico sonido del rock siniestro que surgió en España a finales de los ’70s, principios de los ’80s, recomendable de principio a fin.
LEATHER DADDY – Inside EP (Boston, MA; Failure, 2015)
Recuerdo haber viajado siete horas para ver un show en vivo de ellas después de escuchar este demo y fue lo que esperaba, es hardcore, es punk, es sencillo y es agresivo, tiene todo lo que necesitas para cuando tengas ganas de sacar tu coraje gritando con unas rolas.
FORRA – Mostrame Lo Peor (Londres; La Vida Es Un Mus, 2018)
FORRA es de esas bandas que desde que escuchas por primera vez su demo, te quedas emocionado por todo lo que sucede en esos minutos, el caos, el ruido y el enojo que se percibe en sus canciones es WOW, mujeres de distintas partes del mundo haciendo punk como se debe hacer, no hay de otra y no hay duda que es un disco muy importante para el punk, la gente debería conocerlo más.
TERCER MUNDO – Depresión EP (Monterrey, México; Cintas Pepe, 2012)
Este me parece uno de los mejores discos de punk mexicano y no solo hablo de la última década, en lo personal es un disco al cual le tengo mucho aprecio, las letras de este EP hablan de toda la violencia que estábamos viviendo en ese momento en nuestra ciudad, es un disco que cualquier persona amante del hardcore punk debería conocer.
MUERTE – demo cassette (CDMX; self-released, 2013)
El demo de MUERTE creo que es algo que todos en las tocadas de punk en DF llegamos a corear en algún momento, fue una banda LEGENDARIA, verles en vivo era OTRO PEDO, punk oscuro muy bien hecho, una banda con puro músico que pasado de verga.
SOGA – Demo 12” (CDMX; Iron Lung, 2019)
Soga es actualmente mi banda de punk favorita en México, y es que no creo que NADIE en este momento este haciendo lo que ellas estan haciendo, ellas me parecen otra gran banda para hablar sobre punk en latinoamérica, si algun dia pueden verles en vivo, no se las pierdan, es de los mejores actos de punk en vivo que he visto en los últimos años.
Eleven classics from the 10s.
ZONE INFINIE – Zone Infinie 12″ (Bisounours Prod / MALOKA / Senseless Acts Of Anger, 2015)
By now strangers spraypaint these choruses on walls.
TRAITRE – Discographie LP (Les Choeurs De l’Ennui / Lada / Une Vie Pour Rien?, 2019)
Not a “Oi!” band, otherwise they wouldn’t be on this list.
TAULARD – Les Abords du Lycée LP (Et Mon Cul C’est Du Tofu?, 2014)
Personality goes a long way.
NOIR BOY GEORGE – Metz Noire cassette (Tanzprocesz, 2011)
Biggest mystery of the decade is that no one reissued this on wax.
LIFE STINKS – Life Stinks LP (S-S, 2013)
They broke up and buried the corpse of San Francisco punk.
MOZART – Nasty EP (Iron Lung, 2017)
They took the corpse of San Francisco punk out of this grave, put some weird makeup on it, then threw it back in there without a care.
TOTAL CONTROL – Henge Beat LP (Iron Lung, 2011)
Nothing I can do if you don’t already know this one by heart.
GOOD THROB – Fuck Off LP (Sabermetric / SuperFi / White Denim, 2014)
“It’s kind of the completely ridiculous and funny aspect to Monday morning tantrums, blown into existential proportion.” –Ellie
IRREPARABLES – Demo 2011 cassette (Cintas Irreparables, 2012)
Youngsters from the ’20s will discover this and wanna start a fanzine.
HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS – Go Home LP (Toxic State, 2012)
It’s hard on the streets.
THE SHIFTERS – demo cassette (Comfort 35, 2015)
Melbourne at its best.
PUFFY AREOLAS – In The Army 1981 LP (Siltbreeze, 2010)
What hardcore could have become.
Hi, I’m Daniel and I run Sorry State Records, a label, distro, and store based in Raleigh, North Carolina. While our store is only a little over six years old, our distro has been going since about 2004, so I’ve been keeping a close eye on the scene throughout this decade. Here’s a list of bands and releases that still sound great from my 2020 vantage point:
KRIEGSHÖG – Kriegshög LP (HG Fact / La Vida Es Un Mus, 2010) / IMPALERS – everything
The ’10s were full of excellent D-beat hardcore, but for my money, Japan’s KRIEGSHÖG and Texas’ IMPALERS were the most powerful to play the style. While both bands outclassed everyone in terms of heaviness, both also pushed the style forward in subtle but important ways. They also both raged live.
GOOD THROB – everything
GOOD THROB isn’t the heaviest band on this list, but they might be the meanest, rawest, and most free. Their music seethes with anger, but GOOD THROB could also be playful, fun, gloomy, and a whole lot of other things. I also love their topical lyrics, something too many bands avoid nowadays. I’d need a book to enumerate everything that’s great about GOOD THROB, so just get the records, OK?
CRAZY SPIRIT – everything
CRAZY SPIRIT was the first great band to emerge from the NYC scene centered around Toxic State Records, and they set the tone for how many of those bands would combine art school-honed creativity with the visceral immediacy of the rawest punk. From their first demo to their last EP, everything CRAZY SPIRIT did was great, and I’m stoked to see that there’s a whole new generation of New York bands following their lead.
TOTAL CONTROL – Paranoid Video / Real Estate 7” (Smartguy, 2010) / Typical System LP (Iron Lung, 2014)
“Paranoid Video” blew my mind when it came out. Before that, I tended to listen mostly to guitar-based music, but that song was so good it prompted me to search for other things like it. Eventually I found a whole world of great synth music (including “Warm Leatherette” by the NORMAL, which “Paranoid Video” shamelessly rips off), but I still love “Paranoid Video.” Typical System expanded the palette even further, not only giving us another great record but leading us to the undiscovered riches in the other sections of the record store.
D-CLONE: Creation and Destroy LP (540, 2012)
A lot of bands in the 2010s tried to be as raw and as wild as possible, but D-CLONE’s Creation and Destroy was the rawest and the wildest. This gets at the same unhinged intensity of something like early NEGAZIONE, but it comes at it in a completely different way. Probably the single best hardcore record of the decade.
C.C.T.V. – 4-Track 7” Diameter Record EP (Lumpy, 2015) / CONEHEADS – L.P.1. LP (International Players Club, 2015)
Mark Winter’s bands were a bona fide underground phenomenon, and with good reason. He’s an incredible guitar player with an instantly identifiable tone and a great songwriter to boot. I’d start with these two records, check out Mark’s other projects like BIG ZIT, DLIMC, and HAIR LONG ’N’ FREAKY, then wade into the ocean of bands those projects inspired.
PURA MANIA – both EPs (Cvrecs, 2014)
Vancouver’s PURA MANIA sounds like BLITZ’s New Age / Fatigue as seen through the scratched lens of street-level life in Central and South America, and I played their records to death this decade. They didn’t get the attention they deserved, but I thought this band was magical.
SAUNA YOUTH – False Jesii Pt 2 / Oh Joel (Static Shock, 2013) / THE LOVE TRIANGLE – Splendid Living EP (Dire, 2010) / QUANGO – Fatality EP (First World Problems, 2013)
Here’s a three-pack of incredible singles that came out of the UK this decade. There isn’t a bad track here, but each of these singles contains one absolutely perfect song (“Oh Joel,” and the A-sides from the other two). If, like me, you have a treasured, well-played collection of ’70s punk singles, these are the records from this decade that could slide onto that shelf and not feel out of place.
MIDNITE SNAXXX – everything
Speaking of perfect songs, MIDNITE SNAXXX have a bunch of ’em. A singular combination of amped-up Budget Rock and classic power pop, this band’s music always puts a mile-wide smile on my face. Start with their “A Guy Like That” single on Total Punk, then get all of their other records. They’re all great.
WARM BODIES – everything
Another band with a spotless discography, WARM BODIES came out of the gate with a fully-formed, utterly distinctive sound. If you like your punk fast, wild, weird, complex, and inventive, this is a band you should be listening to.
Because there’s just too much great music in this world, here’s some other stuff it pains me to exclude from the list:
HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS – Go Home LP (Toxic State, 2012)
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING – Rush to Relax LP (Goner, 2010)
GG KING – Unending Darkness LP (Scavenger of Death, 2014)
SHEER MAG – What You Want EP (Wilsuns, 2014) / Fan the Flames EP (Katorga Works / Wilsuns, 2015)
WYMYNS PRYSYN – Head in a Vise LP (Drugged Conscience, 2014)
VAASKA – Todos Contra Todos 12″ (Beach Impediment, 2015)
INSTITUTE – Catharsis LP (Sacred Bones, 2015)
偏執症者 (PARANOID) – Satyagraha 12″ (D-Takt & Råpunk / Konton Crasher / PND, 2015)
DIÄT – Positive Energy LP (Iron Lung, 2015)
BLAZING EYE – Ways to Die EP (Overdose, 2015) / Lonely Corpse EP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2016)
JANITOR SCUM – Scenes from the Grocery 12” (Lumpy, 2016)
LITHICS – Photograph, You Of EP (Thrilling Living, 2018)
S.H.I.T. – I EP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2016)
TESTA DURA – Lotta Continua EP (Even Worse, 2017)
EEL – Night Parade of 100 Demons LP (Beach Impediment, 2017)
ISS – Endless Pussyfooting LP (Erste Theke Tonträger, 2017)
NASA SPACE UNIVERSE – everything
PARQUET COURTS – Light Up Gold LP (Dull Tools, 2012)
Natha (Rakta, Pessimists, Vitima) is from from São Paulo, currently living in Buenos Aires.
I finally got down to ten, it was very hard to do. I apologize to some friends’ bands that have been so special during these years, and if this was the top 50 for sure it would still be missing people, bands, and moments. So here we go:
G.L.O.S.S – demo cassette (Not Normal, 2015)
What can I say? This band was absolutely amazing while they existed. I got the chance to see them play when RAKTA was at Berserktown in 2016, where I escaped a moment with Ste to see them, and it was incredible. The place was packed and the show was very impressive. I’m really glad I did that.
UNA BÈSTIA INCONTROLABLE – Metamorfosi LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2017)
This is a special band that I heard a lot during the decade—always thinking about how much I like the drums. I was fascinated by this beat, and I still feel influenced by it. Gracias Letxon, mirlo.
MURO – Ataque Hardcore Punk LP (Fuerza Ingobernable, 2018)
Meeting the Rat Trap gang in Bogota was just an overdose of punk love. How much energy and quality in everything they touch, it’s understandable why everything they do is so good. Their show in Toronto at Not Dead Yet was breathtaking.
SPEED KILLS – Como Fogo EP (Nada Nada, 2014)
There was a very good time for the punk scene in São Paulo, and one day this amazing band had the idea to play in a basement with torches on fire. The show was crazy and dangerous, but it was worth it to have the memory forever.
URANIUM CLUB – All of Them Naturals LP (Static Shock, 2016)
I think that this band is me nowadays, and I’ve heard a lot in the last year, and I’ve tried to meet similar bands. I really appreciate that my friend Pris introduced me to this record when I was staying at her house in Seattle—it was life-changing.
INSEPARABLES – demo cassette (self-released, 2018)
When I moved to Buenos Aires, I had to acknowledge that things here are different from what I was used to, and that the RAMONES are really, really, very important to people here. There are also a lot of Ramonera-style bands—as in influenced by the RAMONES. It was impossible not to put this band, a remarkable point in my life around here.
SHEER MAG – Sheer Mag LP (Wilsuns, 2016)
We played together in Philadelphia, and I missed half the show and regretted it very much, but luckily I was able to see them play many more times later in various situations. A very unusual band, and I think that’s the secret for the music being so addictive for me. I really hope they come to South America someday. If they do, give me a call.
HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS – Go Home LP (Toxic State, 2012)
Again, this band comes back to my top ten, but I was really impressed when I saw a video of them playing, and I think I always took this into consideration when I was playing drums and looking for something different. It impresses me how punk can do so much with the keyboard/percussion, and still be aggressive.
GUAST! – demo cassette (self-released, 2014)
This band was almost non-existent, but extremely representative for my decade. GUAST! was born three blocks down from my house, and every time I walked to catch the subway and go anywhere in the city, I passed by the garage where they rehearsed, never imagining that one day I would see them playing some amazing gig in the back of a friend’s house.
CADAVER EM TRANSE – Cadaver Em Transe LP (Dama Da Noite / Nada Nada 2014)
I confess, I didn’t like CADAVER EM TRANSE the first time I heard them. I was slowly digesting and gaining sentimental love for this band. For a while, they were a partner band with RAKTA and we even recorded together, but besides being musically representative, I also carry many affective memories of this record.
2010’s Top 10.
ANDY HUMAN & THE REPTOIDS – Andy Human & the Reptoids LP (S-S, 2015)
REPTOIDS rule! Their debut LP is an out-of-time killer. Is it a decoding of proto-punk intangibles or a buncha adventurous, future-gaze globs of antagonism? Both, sez I.
ANGEL – 2017 LP (Faro, 2016)
A ripped & torn vision of zero compromise, pureeing new age, hair sleaze, and punk-fucked freakdom pulled into a teetering masterpiece. As inspiring a work as you’re likely to encounter in DIY music this millennium.
BÄDDAT FÖR TRUBBEL – Det Här Är Inte New York LP (Punks Only, 2010)
Cool-as-fuck harnessing of pub rock tactics for our modern era. It’s telling how BÄDDAT FÖR TRUBBEL was so free of bells/whistles, yet still capable of imparting actual punk thrills.
BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS / GIORGIO MURDERER – Split EP (Holotrash, 2013)
Any item bearing either of these names is essential, but the extract of each is smeared across this split. Kill-yourself-level genius.
C.C.T.V. – 4-Track 7″ Diameter Record EP (Lumpy, 2015)
A lot of the related herk-jerk goofin’ of this era made me feel old and past it (my fault, not theirs), but C.C.T.V. truly delivered on all fronts. My copy = Community College Teenage Valedictorian.
GOOD THROB – Fuck Off LP (Sabermetric / SuperFi / White Denim – 2014)
Everyone hates themselves, everyone else, and Earth too. Rightly so, we’re all fucked scum. A beautiful, terribly ugly record that still prompts how’d-they-fahkin’-do-it? head-tripping with every listen.
ROSS JOHNSON & JEFFREY EVANS – Vanity Session LP (Spacecase, 2014)
My go-to parlour-partyin’ soundtrack since its release. Optimum conditions for this are when vision begins to blur. Imbibing aside, these gentlemen are among the only living beings capable of delivering this kind of supremely broken racket. Trust them and no one else.
LIFE STINKS – Life Stinks LP (S-S, 2013)
Band of the decade, no contest. I’d happily include all their other releases here if space allowed, they’re all worthy. Powerful, negative, and troublesome punk that’s so brutally honest with itself that you can’t help but be wrecked by it.
SECTOR ZERO – Guitar Attack / Hiding In My Car 7” (Goner, 2013)
A perfect punk rock 45, maybe the one true short-form killer of the decade. Come for the A-side, stay for the B-side: both glorious hits that’ll cave your fuckin’ skull in. Glad I saw ‘em (twice!).
WOUNDED LION – IVXLCDM LP (In The Red, 2011)
Los Angeles’s ’LION excelled with sharp art and bubbling joy, but never seemed to sufficiently chafe the aggro-leaning sect. Here’s where I say I’m right/they’re all wrong. This band’s every move, especially this peak recording, was quite miraculous.
Vaca has written for MRR, played in a few bands, released tapes and records on Cabeza de Vaca Records, and has helped make shows happen in his area for the last fifteen years.
This is hardcore punk that surrounded me and my people over the last ten years. These records are cheap and you should get them now.
RAYOS X – Mi Desorden EP (Lengua Armada, 2010)
RAYOS X was a fast and catchy punk rock band from Los Angeles, California. Three songs make up this legendary 7″ that changed a lot of things for the Spanish-speaking punks everywhere. These ESKORBUT-ines knew exactly what they were going for in 2010: bouncy drums and bass, sick-ass simple guitars, and a gnarly vocalist that makes you stop believing in everything and hit the streets. From the “problems” in the recording (weird/awesome fade-out/fade-ins), to the exceptional musical craftsmanship behind this beast of a record, a musical achievement for the punks that sing in Spanish, and a great moment in punk Americana, captured in a single piece of plastic by Lengua Armada.
GAS RAG / BLAZING EYE – live at the Black Lodge, Seattle, 7/14/2014
BLAZING EYE, the LA nightmare, was going for everything that night. That summer of ’14, they played their dancy and uncomfortable metalized pogo-friendly hardcore that I have been obsessed with since their self-released demo. This powerhouse put out a handful of releases, focusing on quality and not quantity during the following years. The leather freaks in GAS RAG from Chicago, with a young underage playing the drums and a tall hobo on vocals, flipped everyone in the room with the first notes that night. This boot hardcore band became viral as soon as its first tape came out: teenagers making drum cover videos on the internet, and bringing a glue-sniffing generation back to life in their city. GAS RAG was shock, exploitation, wild and good songs, one after another, never stopping, always ahead, making people go insane. Anyway, both bands played sets under ten minutos, as it should always be. Hardcore definitely has to be experienced live in DIY venues, not on the internet. I was a happy punk that night, for sure. ☺
LAS OTRAS – Las Otras EP (Discos Sense Nom, 2012)
LAS OTRAS didn’t give two fucks about what you think, how cool your hair is, or how many new tattoos you have on your arms. A clear, sharp, and well-positioned punch in the stomach of every person that wants to keep this surreal status quo. LAS OTRAS’ intensity comes from their honesty and message, accompanied by catchy, super good punk songs. Part of the ultra-politicized side of the scene in Barcelona, anarchist at heart, LAS OTRAS was a band that had something to say in a moment when punk was empty as fuck. It’s all about meaning, right? And this band means it.
MYSTIC INANE – E/P’s of M/I cassette (self-released)
Uncomfortable, ugly, nasty American hardcore. MYSTIC INANE pushes and reflects a state and moment of the poor United States of the south. Ultra-capitalism, inhumanity, depravation, hedonism, UFOs, and eggs are part of the context in which the band moved and lived. I can smell the humidity just from listening to their compilation tape they released a few years ago. You can find a 12″ version of this on the almighty La Vida Es Un Mus and, like me, become a greasy monster while cleaning your house. I heard there is a posthumous LP happening, can’t wait to listen to it!
CRIMEN DE ESTADO / SUDOR – split 12″ (Mal Sonido, 2010)
A hardcore punk masterpiece of our times. CRIMEN DE ESTADO from Barcelona plays so fast, it’s almost incoherent. These squatters, honest punks, and uncontrollable songwriters leave me with my mouth open every time I play them. Fucking ferocious!!! SUDOR, still playing, is the band with the most attitude in the whole Castellano language. The three-piece from Toledo, Spain plays aggressive and extremely catchy hardcore like no one else. The perfect mix of ESKORBUTO, DISCHARGE or early ANTI-CIMEX, with a big spit of personality and originality. This record is up there with the ESKORBUTO / RIP 12″—the lyrics, the artwork, the music, and the quality of people involved in this release takes it to another level in the punk imaginarium.
CRAZY SPIRIT – The Burning Churches EP (Toxic State, 2010)
I read about this band in zines, and heard about this band from punks. I was going cuckoo when I found out that something like this was possible at the time. So menacing, so original, just fucking wild punk shit. Personally, I connected immediately with this 7″— how the hell could a band make punk in 2010 and still sound fresh? I know for a fact that a lot of people started bands because of this sound. Let’s face it: this past ten years of hardcore in the US and part of the world wouldn’t be the same sonically and visually if it wasn’t for CRAZY SPIRIT’s catchy riffs, wild galloping drums, and a madman of a vocalist. Couldn’t decide between this and their demo from 2009, which got repressed after as a fabulous 12″ by the NYC label Toxic State. But come on, “Cool Death”…
LOS MONJO – Mexicanos Al Grito De Mierda EP (Solo Para Punks, 2010)
One of the most singular and exquisite bands that ever came out of America Latina, LOS MONJO didn’t belong to any scene, they were their own monster by their own means and that is extremely hard to do on this side of the planet. LOS MONJO on this 7” stayed with their ultra-simple brand of Rock Basura, but injected a variety of topics: anti-militarism, nationalism, immigration, poverty; basically a picture of the Jalisco territory from a punk perspective. The way Tucho Monjo navigates the Spanish language is so simple, yet so effective and honest. For real, it makes me really happy to share the same language as them and be able to understand the details and emotions that translations often don’t get. Last time I saw them, they were selling tacos in their spot in Guadalajara. Go visit them and pay your tributes to the punk legends, or at least eat a taco or two.
FIRMEZA 10 – El Grito De La Tierra LP (self-released, 2010)
Pfff! No words can describe the intensity of this LP. The beautiful artwork, the simplicity of their music, the necessity to change this reality, the desperation, and the geniality of expressing it via hardcore songs. While other bands try so hard to be political, artsy, or classic with their meaningless artwork and superficial lyrics. FIRMEZA 10 archives it without even trying. Style just oozes from these hardcore songs, one after another, like rocks landing in the faces of politicians. Long live political music! Long live FIRMEZA 10!
S.H.I.T. – I EP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2016)
If there is a band that can define a sound of the last ten years in the hardcore scene, it’s S.H.I.T. It’s a perfect representation of our times: extremely aseptic and extremely aware in a hyper-globalized hardcore scene. Saw them a few times by luck, they were exceptional, and people went bananas every single time they played live. Ryan Tong’s stage presence and the level of tightness the band has live made my skin crawl, you believe you are witnessing something really special; a rock and roll band is playing with everything they got. S.H.I.T., the band that went from having a single hit and a silly name, to becoming how hardcore punk sounded in the ’10s. Don’t believe me? Check all the bands that sound exactly like them nowadays. Even Teodoro Hernandez knows it: the small yellow record is the best record, and you should get it now! This is one of the few bands still playing on this list. S.H.I.T. needs the industrial LP ASAP!
ESCROTO DE RATA – Punk Rock Sex Basura LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2011)
I am a sucker for my punk records from Barcelona, I know, I know… But just tell me a band as good as ESCROTO DE RATA? What started as a one-man band writing every piece of song, artwork, and idea, later became a full crew for this record, from what I heard at least (?). Punk Rock Sex Basura is not a concept record, it is a world, a trip into someone’s reality of punk. You English speakers miss so much of what’s going on here, you might think something sounds cool, like “Punk Is Death” on this record (which is insane), but understanding the subtleties of the language, the emotions behind the tones, it just adds another layer and makes you wonder of the freaky quality control behind this piece of wax. This record takes punk to another level that has never been before; to weird places, like punk should. This just doesn’t sound punk, this is punk in the 2010s.
A few words about other bands that couldn’t fit in the list:
DRAPETOMANIA 7″ (In the top ten for sure), DHK (del Peru, para el mundo!), LIMP WRIST (Facades B side es otra cosa), SPECTRES (no trends, just nerds with sick tunes), BELGRADO (Obraz record and the Panopticon 7″ were fucking crazy!), GOOD THROB (your band is awesome), LA MISMA (Bum! na tua cara), HOAX (crazy live, people always went nuts), CROSTA (peoples anarcho-punk, so catchy!), SECRET PROSTITUTES (terribly underrated, catchy as hell), the CONEHEADS (you guys are in every top ten and you know why, right?), LA TERMINAL (a well-kept secret from the Basque country), BROWN SUGAR (stay groovy), MURO (hardcore, hardcore, hardcore!), the DARK (I am scared of you), PIÑEN (uffff! Salvaje), WARCRY (live, it was so crazy), THEE NODES (SCUM!), ELECTROCUTIONER 7″ (you guys are so sick!), CULO (one of my faves, but you will be in every top ten, too), CADENAXO (viva el cadeneo intenso!), SPECIAL INTEREST (the future!), IGNORANTES (a revelation in hardcore Latinoamericano), DAWN OF HUMANS (in my top ten forever, mind bending), LAS TIMIDAS (pop y mas pop para siempre!), NOSFERATU (hardcore de locos), MORBO (grandes!), GENERACIÓN SUICIDA (play faster!), SKIZOFRENIA (I am a fan of your band), BIG ZIT (shit my pants when I heard you), LEONOR SS (demasiado guapos!), CRIATURAS (una vaina loca!), KRIEGSHOG (scary as a machine gun pointed to your face), VEXX (soooooo sick), MALA LECHE (payaso o muere), LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS (your band sucks ☺), David Rata (Everything he has made with all his bands has been so fucking good), WARTHOG (Hello Larry!), and KADENAZO (nos llaman robots).
RED DONS – Fake Meets Failure LP (Deranged)
There are few days that go by where I don’t wish there were more RED DONS songs to listen to. Doug Burns’s voice captivated my full attention from the first moment I heard it. If his previous band the OBSERVERS had put out a release in the past decade, for sure it’d be on this list, too. RED DONS are fast, dark, angry, and melodic as all get out. I’ve listened to this record countless times and am nowhere near getting sick of it. In fact, I often subconsciously find myself humming along to their songs long after I’ve listened to them.
THE ARRIVALS – Volatile Molotov LP (Recess)
Making this list is just making me miss bands that are inactive now. The ARRIVALS not only had Paddy from DILLINGER FOUR, but Little Dave and Issac Thotz from TREASURE FLEET. If you’re learning about this band by reading this, stop what you’re doing and put on “Simple Pleasures in America.” I dare you to have a bad time listening to that song. Every time I hear it, I’m in a much better mood. Honestly I probably played it a hundred times in a row when it came out. The rest of the record is full of super solid songs as well (looking at you “Two Years,”and “Positively Wall Street”), but nothing touches “Simple Pleasures in America.” Please come back to the Northwest. It was one of my favorite shows of all time.
THE GATEWAY DISTRICT – Perfect’s Gonna Fail LP (It’s Alive)
My first waking moment of 2020 was putting this record on and blasting it. Shaking off the last 365 days can be quite the cathartic release, and listening to Maren scream about the pains of life really does it for me. Besides the fact that the lead-off track “Run Away” is one of the catchiest tunes of the past decade, the rest of the record is no slouch. There’s something about Maren’s voice that shows strength, wear, hardship, and beauty. And that element is my Achilles heel in music. It’s an earnestness that’s impossible to fake.
TOYS THAT KILL – Fambly 42 LP (Recess)
I was late to the game with TOYS THAT KILL, having only found the Control the Sun LP after I moved back to Washington from Los Angeles in 2008. That’s right, I was living in San Pedro territory and completely unaware of the fun I could have been having. So I was ready for Fambly 42 when it came out it did not disappoint. I’ve seen TOYS THAT KILL many, many times now, and they’re one of the few bands I will always go all out for. The amount of times I’ve had to gasp for air to sing along for “Mobbed by the 3’s,” you’d think I’d quietly listen from the back by now. Nope, I dance around with intense PMA to these songs every time. It’s near impossible to not.
RVIVR – The Beauty Between LP (Rumbletowne)
By luck of my geography, I’ve been to tons of RVIVR shows, and I’m so grateful for it. I picked up the first LP at a record shop in Olympia because I’d heard some hype about the band, and it was screen printed on the back of a MODEST MOUSE LP sleeve, which I thought was amazing. But the songs on this record hit me hard. Sometimes I sing “Paper Thin” in my car as loud as I can without even having the record playing. I cried to “Spider Song,” lost my voice to “Rainspell,” and danced to “LMD.” This album absolutely got me through some tough times, and I’m almost looking forward to the next disaster because I know I have this in my toolbox.
THE CREEPS – Eulogies LP (It’s Alive)
I can’t. I just don’t have the words for how important this record is. It’s one of those that feels like someone spent a lifetime getting to know me, and then curated ten songs for me specifically. The songs are poppy, hurt, dark, lonely, hopeful. Like the RVIVR record, this also got me through some really bleak moments. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to these songs because of how close to home they get. Also, Skottie has one of the greatest singing voices in punk. Life-changing record here.
WORRIERS – Imaginary Life LP (6131)
Look, there are some pivotal songs on this record that legitimately changed the way I see the punk scene. I mean, they really shifted something in me to get deep into the lyrics of many of these tracks. This was released less than a year after Michael Brown was murdered by Darren Wilson, and “Yes All Cops” really fucking spoke to me in a way that most ACAB songs don’t. Hearing a voice that feels like my own speaking out about real life issues. There’s a nonbinary anthem here with “They/Them/Theirs.” This record captures a zeitgeist, and a turning point for conversations I was witnessing and starting in between bands at shows. These songs really made a difference to me.
APOLOGIES I HAVE NONE – Pharmacie LP (Animal Style)
Oh boy, this record came out of left field for me. I don’t exclusively listen to music under the punk umbrella, but it’s easily the majority of what I like. APOLOGIES I HAVE NONE branch out from the typical melodic punk tree. They dip their toes into emo, borrow some moves from hardcore, and could hang out with indie kids. They’re anthemic and deep with layered harmonies. This record covers mental health issues pretty head on and they don’t hold back, which is something I think we all need to hear.
MARTHA – Blisters in the Pit of My Heart LP (Dirtnap)
The marvelous darlings from Pity Me, UK! It’s kind of funny looking back now that my 2016 brain was hijacked by this record, since my other favorite (APOLOGIES I HAVE NONE) was as dark as this one is absolutely charming. There are pretty love songs about giving each other stick-and-poke tattoos and getting sunburns and hating The Man. In a way, it’s like your younger sibling just finding punk and highlighting all the things that called to your anarchistic heart, but there’s this inherent sweetness to their songs as well. It’s very poppy and so wonderful.
CAVES – Always Why LP (Dead Broke)
Another British release! CAVES are incredible. They lift me up just when I need it most. They layer harmonies over some very heartfelt lyrics where no punches are pulled. Plus the guitar leads mimic the vocal melodies beautifully, and the wall of sound is as strong as this record makes me feel while listening to it. Favorite track is “America,” not for the obvious reason, but for laying out what’s important about being free. I recognize that comes off as overly patriotic, which I am not, so please know that I mean not being in custody or a mental prison of your own making. I’ve always loved Lou’s voice as well. She could sing the ABCs and I’d somehow be in tears.