The Best of the 2010s, Part Two
Second installment of our favorites from 2010–2019.
Part one is here. Part three will soon follow…
Dave Hyde lives in The Bronx with one human and one goldfish. While all parties love FLIPPER, Gill feels he has a real connection.
Researching this was exhausting. Looking back at a decade of life, or at least a decade of life-absorbing music, flashing back to when everything was new and where I was when I heard them, only now with the knowledge of what would come next—it’s daunting. There are a couple dozen more records that easily could have been on this list had I chosen them on another day, so I’ll skip the “ranking” portion of the exercise and present these ten great punk releases from the 2010s alphabetically.
CRAZY SPIRIT – LP (Toxic State, 2012)
The epitome of DIY hardcore in NYC during the first half of the decade. CRAZY SPIRIT put out a handful of releases, including this gem of an album, and inspired a generation of kids younger than them to start their own bands. CRAZY SPIRIT were kindred spirits with fellow degenerate punks in Barcelona and around the world, were hip to the BEDBOYS 7″, grew up during Giuliani’s New York, and had a singular vision for the visual elements of being in a band, all informing the uniqueness and brilliance contained herein. I do not think their influence on hardcore today, at least here in New York, can be overstated.
DAWN OF HUMANS – Slurping at the Cosmos Spine LP (Toxic State, 2015)
Running concurrent to CRAZY SPIRIT and sharing a couple of members, albeit manning different instruments, DAWN OF HUMANS were responsible for some of the best sets I’ve seen in my life. The live experience was as thoughtfully considered as the tunes, and DAWN OF HUMANS staged chaotic performance art in DIY venues. Slurping at the Cosmos Spine is inventive and punishing hardcore full of unexpected twists. Fully realized and endlessly fascinating.
HOME BLITZ – Foremost + Fair LP (Richie, 2015)
Another NYC artist, if relocated from Jersey. HOME BLITZ is the brainchild of Daniel DiMaggio, who has collaborated with a rotating cast of members under this moniker since the mid-’00s. Foremost + Fair is infectious power pop that would’ve hit on the radio during the break of New Wave. Hooky tunes, sharp production, and unquestionably unique touches (harpsicord?!), this is another one that’s gotten consistent play over the years. There is a definite Ren Faire vibe on this one, so you have been warned, but I hope it doesn’t scare you away.
JJ DOLL – demo cassette (D4MT Labs Inc Neurosonic Research, 2015)
If you blinked, you may have missed JJ DOLL, who formed from the ashes of IVY and were the best band in town for about a year or so until they called it a day and focused on new fantastic groups like KALEIDOSCOPE and SISTER ANNE, among others. Their demo was a favorite—six tracks of raw, wild thrash with crushing guitar, killer vocals, and great tunes. I wore out my copy of this tape.
SPECIAL INTEREST – Spiraling LP (Raw Sugar, 2018)
“Trust No Wave” –SPECIAL INTEREST
One of the meanings, I suspect, of this lyric is a view into the band’s aesthetic philosophy. In the spirit of No Wave, SPECIAL INTEREST is abrasive and eclectic, drawing as much from punk as disco and industrial—a declaration that anger and groove are not mutually exclusive. They may go to some unexpected places but have faith—trust No Wave—it will be a fascinating journey.
TERCER MUNDO – Depresión EP (Cintas Pepe, 2012)
Ferocious, furious hardcore from Monterrey, Mexico, written and recorded with maximum urgency in the midst of a devastating drug war that brought havoc to their hometown. The lyrics and artwork express a violence and brutality present in their daily life that is unfathomable. This EP, a reaction to those surroundings, packs in a half-dozen tracks of desperation, raw in emotion and fidelity.
TYVEK – Nothing Fits LP (In The Red, 2010)
TYVEK are reliable stalwarts who have been active throughout the entirety of the preceding decade, having released a number of albums full of hits, any of which could have been interchangeable in this slot. Nothing Fits is perhaps their most abrasive and driving album: full of anthemic, fist-up tunes bordering on hardcore territory, particularly with “Blocks.” It is comforting to have TYVEK around and making new creations, still as inspired as they enter 2020 as they were coming into 2010.
UNA BESTIA INCONTROLABLE – Observant Com El Món Es Destrueix LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2013)
Anarchists experimenting in pushing the boundaries of hardcore by focusing on repetition and noise, finding a groove and hammering it for a bit before finding the next. Punishing and raw but not quite like any of their predecessors, which makes UNA BESTIA INCONTROLABLE a singular experience.
WARM BODIES – LP (Lumpy, 2018)
WARM BODIES embody unhinged joy. Maniacal, lefty-playing-an-upside-down-righty guitar matched by wild vocals with silly lyrics, and it seems for a second like there’s no order until everything comes into focus and you realize it’s all perfectly balanced. And then you spend a week singing “I Need a Doctor” to your coworkers. Another record that spent a lot of time on the turntable and never failed to bring a smile.
XV – LP (Life Like, 2019)
This just came out and, frankly, the task at hand with the reflective practice of Decade End Top Tenning is weighted for older stuff that’s had time to live as mix-tape staples and soundtracks for big life events. XV produced this remarkable album of stripped-down art punk, recorded and written with an urgency to get it down before they either forgot or learned the songs. The result is a tightrope-walking DIY masterpiece that I suspect will be a mainstay in my playlist for some time to come.
PAOLO BON TEMPO
Ten years since Dom Mallary’s death and HAVE HEART’s last show means it’s been ten years since I got into, or at least realized, that modern hardcore punk or anything cool was real and still happening. I’m grateful I got to experience some of the greatest shit ever in multiple heydays at Rad Skatepark, Anchors Up, The Democracy Center, the Boiler Room, Hardcore Stadium, and more dumbass spots in and around Massachusetts. This ain’t too diverse, but these are some of the recordings that have truly resonated with me and kept me listening over the years and, as far as I can tell, for years to come. Thanks to the inferno bike squad, John Romiglio, Jake Kaufman and the Rad family for my youthful glee, Danimal and Carms for encouraging me to come to Boston, Nate Thompson for handing me the FLACCID 2012 demo, every Boiler Room key holder, and everyone I ever traded letters or zines with. Contact email@example.com to trade zines and gush more about this stuff, and I will link you up with Nate Thompson and Sam Zimmer who are two of the last punks I know who are down to trade cool shit. Sorry I didn’t hype any zines from the past ten years (Chunks, Cretins of Distortion, and Not For Everyone). Shout out to “Hopeless” by Immolate. If it ain’t hardcore get it out of my face.
1. V/A – Joy Boy Mix: Part Two cassette (self-released, 2011) / V/A – Harsh & Hard: Vol. 1 cassette (Harsh Reality, 2013) / V/A – The Stomp-I-Lation cassette (Stupid Records, 2014) / V/A – Ohio’s Greatest Obscenities cassette (Oretun, 2015)
Joy Boy Mix was purchased at a show with OMEGAS (who compiled it), KIELTOLAKI, MIND ERASER, SCAPEGOAT and three(!) Mike Assatley openers at Rad Skatepark, while the B’s battled in the playoffs. This is an incredibly fun listen that showcased Toronto, Montreal, and historic shit. Harsh & Hard showcased most all the raging Boiler Room bands, all of whom deserve their own adoration. The Stomp-I-Lation was the ultimate New Scene flex. Ohio’s Greatest was a historic bootleg made by one of the best zine makers of the past ten years as well. All astonishing.
2. BROWN SUGAR – Brown Sugar Sings of Birds and Racism LP (Feeble Minds / Feral Kid, 2011)
Unequivocally the best and most inspiring punk album to come out the past ten years.
3. OMEGAS – Blasts of Lunacy LP (Parts Unknown, 2011)
A unity album inciting everyone in bandanas, chains, boots, Nikes, Champion sweatshirts, and North Face jackets to adopt a new and improved dance style. Psycho Dives on Slam Skank Anthems may be their best, but this is extremely well-rounded and surpasses most anything with an ignorant style and flair all its own.
4. KREMLIN – Drunk in the Gulag LP (Beach Impediment / Bad Vibrations, 2013) / IVY – LP (Katorga Works, 2014)
Drunk in the Gulag is an ultra-appealing, furious record that adds inventive touches to an overdone style. I wish “Destruction Mindless” were included on it. The IVY record just stands the test of time. They were raging, inventive, and incredibly smart, and the only band I was so enamored with that I drove to a different city the next night to see them again.
5. DEATH WISH – 12” (Disclaim, 2014)
Words can’t describe this one. God I love that Radiobeat shit.
6. CHRONOPHAGE – Prolog for Tomorrow LP (Cleta Patra, 2018) / CONSTANT MONGREL – Living in Excellence LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2018)
Two absolutely great recent releases that I haven’t been able to get away from. Both extremely refreshing in sound and style. Both dualistically lighthearted and dark. Not hardcore, but still amazing.
7. TERCER MUNDO – Ser Nosotros Mismos LP (Cintas Pepe, 2014) / IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO – LP (Static Shock, 2019)
Two international ragers. TERCER MUNDO had an incredible catchiness. They could whip out a furious pace, and the breakdowns stand with the hardest of the hard. I’m embarrassed to say I still don’t own a copy of IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO, but I’m enamored with it. They succeed in playing exciting hardcore that’s predicated on unexpected twists and turns, and they pull it off with pure intensity. Shout out to both CREMALLERAS albums, ’cause those battled for a spot here.
8. GEN POP – On the Screen EP (Lumpy, 2017) / LEMONADE – Pink EP (Not Normal / Thrilling Living, 2017) / HOLOGRAM – Build Yourself Up So Many Times Only To Be Brought Down Again And Again EP (Hysteria / La Vida Es Un Mus, 2018)
One of the hardest parts about writing a zine for me was trying to admire stuff that didn’t fit inside the predetermined box of acceptable hardcore punk. The listed records were forward-thinking and unacceptable by whatever limp hardline standards prescribed by people who only want to perpetually hear AGNOSTIC FRONT, DISCHARGE, and POISON IDEA. These are really good without having to rip anything off. Hardcore of the future.
9. METER FEEDER – Decision to End Rock cassette (Gut Freak, 2016) / MONGOLOID – Plays Rock and Roll LP (Deranged, 2016)
Rock’n’roll music of the incredibly stupid, hard, fun, and catchy variety. Maybe not as dumb as “Pathetic” by ANXIETY, but still raging. Speaking of: shout out to The Leper by PUBLIC TRUST, which didn’t make the cut.
10. MALE NURSES Wanna Play Doctor? / GI Jock 7” (Cowabunga Sick Club series, 2012) / LEATHER DADDY – Inside EP (Failure, 2015) / EXIT ORDER – Seed of Hysteria LP (Side Two, 2017)
The first MALE NURSES 7” sounds like most records from that time: a folly attempt at ’80s hardcore that sounds a tad too polished, with playing that’s too inventive to be a direct ripoff. Their ability to write a catchy tune was showcased here, as “GI Jock” stands out as one of my favorite Boston tunes. LEATHER DADDY were unassuming, but their bouncy stomp in tunes like “Head” blew everything else out of the water, and provided some of my absolute favorite sets of the past few years. No band progressed and grew into their sound like EXIT ORDER. They went from fine to great to one of the actual best in the world. “Still Water” is undeniably my favorite song from the past few years.
BB, A Barn in Wales, 2019
In the 2010s, I gorged on the fruits of punk world as participant not observer, and did what I could to share the juice. To avoid retconning my taste like many a coward, I’ve pulled these ten records from the hundred that I’ve written up for my MRR Year End Top Ten each year since 2010, adding just a bit of hindsight seasoning. Look. All writing is time travel, all love is subjective, all truth is contingent, and all of our lives are happening all of the time. I’m off to perform a risky premature caesarean on a brighter tomorrow, baby.
TOTAL CONTROL – Henge Beat LP (Iron Lung, 2011)
Nothing else made winter in the grey concrete undercarriages of economic meltdown (again) seem romantic. Grinding ominous keys meet driving krautrock anti-rhythm, careering down space highway to sweet oblivion. Robotic angularism, future paranoia b/w insistent and irresistible melody. Daniel’s all gangeloid X-barbiturated on this, Howard Devoto in a cosmic blender, Alan Vega on an all-night bender. Everything tastes like you said it would.
THE UV RACE – Homo LP (RIP Society, 2011)
VU fused with the Danielson family. Drugs, food, guitars, and trampolines. The UV way is how you make deeply fun music without ever being wacky or anything but deadly serious. Playing this record; jumping headfirst into a barrage of horns and keys and “A kilo of cocaine / Burn that cat!” feels like pure escapism even though, as Marcus’ song explanations show, these songs all come from real life things, even if those are real dreams, abstractions, real fantasies. Now if only they would procreate, there’d be hope for the human race, too.
WOOLF – The Right Way to Play LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2012)
It’s really important to my sanity that this band exists. WOOLF throws out conventions to create something jarring, noisy, spacious, and new; where what isn’t said is just as relevant as what is, and that also manages to be insanely catchy despite being the opposite of sing-song. A lot of it is in the bass: a buzzing texture rumbling under a Metal Zone trading off with stand-up drums working twice as hard without kick drum, and every other unexpected juxtaposition you might get when four fully-formed humans weave a new fabric with no compromise. Dulwich witches scratching uncontrollable itches.
GRASS WIDOW – Internal Logic LP (HLR, 2012)
Hope music for super séance sessions, a haziness that’s intriguing, never irritating, like a dream you clutch at to half-remember, a tip-of-tongue answer, no clues. “Disappearing Industries” was one of the songs of the year. Internal Logic feels like a big answer, indeed. As they pivot between lace-delicate melody and sledgehammer bass thwang, this is in many ways a solo record, a lesson in how to make a new multi-limbed single voiced-being from three souls. The RAINCOATS with sunburn.
HYSTERICS – Can’t I Live? EP (M’Ladys, 2014)
Proof that hardcore bands can leave a spotless legacy without ever resorting to (shudder) writing an LP, this swansong fused the DC spirit of the Flex Your Head cohort with the crushing raw speed of NEOS and piss and vinegar of JERRY’S KIDS into a tornado of well-directed fury. They undertook a Process of Weirding Out here, venting out a total head fuck of explosive build ups and breakdowns. In May 2014 I booked a tour for HYSTERICS that left me changed. Or maybe I had really just been waiting a long time to meet women who want to talk about BIOHAZARD with me. Mosh out the tall wall.
BARCELONA – Extremo Nihilismo en Barcelona 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2015)
“Nada. Nada. Nada. Nada / There is no more hope for meaning / And without a doubt this is a good thing / Because meaning is mortal.” Barcelona / Baudrillard. Naming a group after a city was always going to invite a certain reading. Each song throbs like a popped blister coated in the brick dust of urban turmoil, pissing lymph in the face of Europe’s neoliberal consensus. Picture punks grown to building size, mouths open, daubed with red, black and blue paint, stamping down half-built luxury developments, squeezing bailiffs ’til they pop, playing ping pong with their skulls against government buildings. The teasing drums and bass on this record often end mid-bar like a row giant booted feet dangling off a precipice. Stunning.
PIG DNA – Mob Shity LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2015)
Twelve inches of ritual chaos and libidinal feedback from the little pigs that could, doin’ it like a street gang with analysis. Uncompromising vision, naught schemes. The New Aesthetic ain’t so new anymore, but they’re poppin’ pixels and gleefully firing rubbers in the total noize war. This does not drag for a second or turn into the pastiche of other bands worshipping this fervently at the altar of Kawakami can sometimes do. Somewhere in the ’90s punk anarchy got co-opted by hair-shirted wankers, but PIG DNA has pressed reset. No future. Utopia now.
CC DUST – 12” (Perennial, 2016)
“Never Going to Die” is a cast-iron anthem of arpeggiated hope that will outlast us all. The rest of this record does not try to trade on the same euphoria of that song, because the size of the space carved out your grief determines your future capacity for joy. Trench is mountain, void is matter. For a while, every post-gig dance party started with this. Everyone was holding each other. Performing like she’s carefully and deliberately breaching a restraining order, Mary Jane’s crypto-choreography is a one-of-a-kind movement counterweight to her voice, both backed with enough force to knock a bass head from an amp with a perfect, concrete pirouette. We might, after all, escape.
IN SCHOOL – Cement Fucker EP (Thrilling Living, 2016)
IN SCHOOL: retributive, zero clemency, no-country-for-bold-men hardcore. A tasteful reminder that the hardcore 7” executed correctly is a completely unfuckwithable format. Turning the crosshairs on scum on their second single, which builds on the first but pulls, if this is somehow possible, even less punches. At the close of the decade where too much hardcore felt performative in the bad way, this one was a reminder that, done right, it’s still the only sound capable of scratching the forever itch for revenge.
SPECIAL INTEREST – Spiraling LP (Raw Sugar, 2018)
I was underneath Alli when they gutted a laundromat, shaking on the washing machine in the swamp city, a hail of hot fury laid down hard. The gauntlet: What are you willing to give up to make this stop? Sucker punched by gravity. Antagonise to survive. PrEP and Ketamine. Against consensus, pro faggot. We got the new beat, laser-sharp solidarity. You will be humbled. SPECIAL INTEREST brings the eternal yet absolute now-sound, the truth that the youth need. No room for platitudes. TRUST NO WAVE.
Ryan Hertel was a shitworker and record/zine/book reviewer for MRR for about three years. He’s now living in Portland, OR in search of new wonders and magic. See him do things on Instagram @RyanRHertel and follow his movie obsession @NudityAndExplosions.
In general, the 2010s started strong and then really shit the bed there at the end, but there were a few albums that really helped through the worst parts. Some are healthy diversions and some are good and angry. As fascism is creeping back in all over, much of the world is in shambles, and large parts of the planet are literally on fire, I’m glad to have these releases as a soundtrack to trying to fight for being able to even complete another decade. This is also a much more personal list than I’d typically do, so please forgive all the “I”s.
ALL DOGS – Kicking Every Day LP (Salinas, 2015)
I cherish moments to see Ohio kicking ass on a national scale, and ALL DOGS from Columbus came around and put their boots to many butts this decade. They almost collapsed the roof at Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco playing for just about 35 people headlining after an opening act consisting of Jason White (CALIFORNIA, PINHEAD GUNPOWDER), Adam Pfrahler (JAWBREAKER), and Billie Joe Armstrong (GREEN DAY). They had a power to them, and I hope to see them return in a big and scary way. Bonus: their Little Elephant Session 12” of three tracks from this album is also an amazing release.
BAD COP/BAD COP – Warriors LP (Fat Wreck, 2017)
This has been my album of pure anthems since it came out in 2017. Every track is magic. It was a massive improvement over their previous album, and whatever they do next will likely break brains. They’re also my favorite live band of the decade after seeing them a ridiculous amount of times.
C – Dear Fuckin’ Shit All Fascists +2 LP (Hardcore Survives)
A review for this CRASS-inspired band from Japan was the first MRR review I read after moving to the Bay Area, and it inspired me to start shitworking. I had just returned to the US from three years in Japan, and CRASS is one of my favorite bands of all time, so this was my kick in the ass to do something. This whole album can hold up next to any anarcho punk release from any country or era.
G.L.O.S.S. – Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit EP (Nervous Nelly / Total Negativity, 2015)
I feel like this is the most obvious inclusion on my list, and I fully expect to see G.L.O.S.S. on other similar lists. I can’t think of any other musical releases that I heard more people absolutely go rabid for this decade. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said in the dozens, if not hundreds, of write-ups this debut has already received. I was very thrilled to be able to catch them live before their breakup.
IRON LUNG – White Glove Test 2xLP (Iron Lung / Prank, 2013)
I listened to this album on repeat preparing to see IRON LUNG in Nagoya, Japan in 2014. I don’t know for sure, but I assume that that show at Huck Finn was the only time they’ve ever been forced to do three encores. The audience would not calm down, even after many hours and six openers. This is some necessary power violence.
KITTEN FOREVER – 7 Hearts LP (Atlas Chair, 2016)
This was one of the albums I randomly picked from a pile to review when trying to become an MRR reviewer. This trio of ladies, frequently switching roles between bass, vocals, and drums, exploded my brain instantly. I’ve been lucky enough to see them three times and pick up their more recent release since then. This album is absolutely not to be missed. Check them out when they get to you, because it seems like they play everywhere all the time!
PANSY DIVISION – Quite Contrary LP (Alternative Tentacles, 2016)
In the year before this album, Jon Ginoli kept telling me “it’s not really a punk record” as if I had expectations that they would suddenly go super hardcore. However, Quite Contrary is exactly what I wanted and expected from some of the most influential queer punks of all time. You can get older and smarter, and still be fun and snarky. “Blame the Bible” has been one of my top politi-punk anthems of the decade.
S.H.I. – Struggling Harsh Immortals EP (Crust War, 2013)
This supergroup of seven-plus Japanese hardcore veterans (ZOUO, DANSE MACABRE, DORORO, and many others) took their experience and threw in an industrial/noise flair for this loud and aggressive debut. Their live show matches the aggression, and allows you to feel like you’re about to be beaten up by some really killer musicians who will then buy you cheap beer all night. Start here and dig backwards to find a lot of necessary Osaka punk.
SKATING POLLY – The Make It All Show LP (El Camino, 2018)
This album begins its first few seconds like a poppy, radio-friendly snooze fest while hiding a couple more discordant notes for those paying attention. Then, you’re suddenly slapped in the mouth and forced to ride along with this trio of music makers as they punk rock you in the face with some twee seasoning and more than a little riot grrrl topping. They’ve been popping up everywhere the last few years and are going to take over.
V/A – (Soðið) Pönksafn cassette (Erðanúmúsik, 2016)
This collection of rare tracks from the early 1980s is a must for anyone whose knowledge of Icelandic punk ends at the SUGARCUBES. This was released for the Icelandic Punk Museum, which opened in 2016 in an old public toilet in Reykjavík. Where many compilations can struggle to maintain momentum, especially for nearly an hour, this veritable encyclopedia demonstrates the diversity of the early Icelandic punk scene with unending vibrancy. The museum itself is worth a visit just to grab this.
Daniel runs Byllepest Distro.
SIEVEHEAD – Buried Beneath EP (Static Shock, 2016)
The most mind-breaking, nerve-shattering post-punk of the decade. This EP turned my world upside down and brings in the best of the SMITHS, CAREER SUICIDE, and FRUSTRATION all at once. Basically RAT CAGE playing post-punk. One of the only modern punk EPs that actually makes me feel something.
MURO – Ataque Hardcore Punk LP (Byllepest Distro, 2017)
I’m really happy I got to be a part of this, and don’t think I’ll ever forget this record. The purest, most credible band in punk to date, and the ones who put Colombian punk on the map and into history where it belongs. They also dare to be lyrically political without being explicit, which I really appreciate. Probably one of the best punk records ever.
SPECIAL INTEREST – Spiraling LP (Raw Sugar, 2018)
The SLITS are posers. SPECIAL INTEREST threatens everything in punk, musically and aesthetically, while doing everything better and with more authenticity. Some of the most powerful songwriting and obnoxious lyrics in American punk to date.
IGNORANTES – Demo Buena Onda cassette (Tobi, 2015)
Their second cassette EP, and still the defining IGNORANTES release. Unaffected by trends or waves. They’re all over the place, but no one cared about them internationally during their almost ten years of existence. Basura hipster!
SKIZOPHRENIA – This Fucking Skizophrenia! Still A Raped Ass (Hardcore Survives, 2011)
Still their best work. “Attack” is one of the most iconic raw punk bangers ever, ’80s or not. Never surrender!
LICKERS – Demo 2017 (self-released, 2017)
AXE RASH and POWERFACE are great, but pure magic is accidental. Less than ten shows and never released physically. Pure snot.
EEL – Endless Fucker 12″ (Mind Cure / Konton Crasher, 2014)
Hanzai O Okasu! The best American interprentation of Japanese hardcore to date, and the only English-speaking band who can get away with this level of illiteracy. I was so into this EP when it came out, and it’s still the only contemporary band I ever painted on a leather jacket. “Like an evil monty python of punk for people who don’t have real life things to do.” I own four different editions of this.
BLAZING EYE – everything
Few bands have had such a concentrated, charged, and short lifespan as BLAZING EYE. I can’t choose an EP because it all belongs together and should probably be on some discography LP (I think it even was at some point). The most evil band in hardcore punk. I think almost all their songs are about death or murder, and that’s pretty sick.
BABY’S BLOOD – Everybody Looks Like a Fucking Idiot EP (Blast of Silence / Neck Chop, 2018)
Drew Owen probably releases ten new records and ends five new bands every year, but I’m glad he stayed in Finland long enough to squeeze out the BABY’S BLOOD releases. Outstanding and classic punk aggression without ever being “hardcore.” Six songs about suicide, sex, dead cops and, sexual frustration. Kinda like ACHTUNGS, just better and no garage influences.
SAVAGEHEADS – demo (self-released, 2013)
UK82 worship while it was still considered cheesy, but with better songs, delivery, and energy than anything that came after. Way up there with the PMS 84 demo. Everyone is doing this now, but SAVAGEHEADS was a really fresh breath when this demo came out, and I can still return to this frequently.
Erin Yanke is a longtime MRR shitworker and a host of Life During Wartime on KBOO in Portland. She was an editor of last year’s massive DEAD MOON book and plays in NOXEEMA.
DEAD MOON – Live at Satyricon LP (Voodoo Doughnut Recordings, 2015)
The best band ever in the history of the world reminds us of their amazing live energy. Recorded at the scuzpit punk club that also doesn’t exist anymore, in 1993. They played the soundtrack to my life. They have style, perseverance, and charm. They had bad roads, great songs, hard luck, boundless independence, and each other. Pure Love.
GOOD THROB – Fuck Off LP (Sabermetric / SuperFi / White Denim – 2014)
When Fuck Off came out and came into my life, it moved right onto the turntable for months. The perfect metamorphose of real life bullshit to art. Now that it’s been years, it’s a flawless representation of our very flawed society, culture, times, and of the energy and fun in resistance.
HARAM – بس ربحت, خسرت = When You Have Won, You Have Lost LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2017)
An important and ragin’ record by this important and ragin’ band. Bringing a visceral soundtrack to surveillance culture and Islamophobia, the people’s art where for so long, the mainstream narrative has suffocated out the alternative views. Rad as in radical, totally essential punk for our times.
LEBENDEN TOTEN – Mind Parasites LP (self-released, 2017)
Literally the sounds of a mind fighting itself for survival through feedback, screaming, noisy unidentifiable bits, a solid rhythm section, and children’s audio, it is a triumph! Literally the best band in Portland and probably in punk. Longevity and dedication.
LONG KNIFE – Meditations on Self Destruction LP (Long Knife, 2014)
A perfect Side A, great songs, great nihilism; great lyrics, riffs, and rhythm. Powerful and sinister. Shredding, full-on, all rage and destruction and free will. A hardcore masterpiece that stands up with the best work of their map makers: POISON IDEA.
REIGNING SOUND – Shattered LP (Merge, 2014)
Greg Cartwright is an incredible songwriter, and proves it again with this record that really was a soundtrack of my life when it came out. Lots of fucked up shit happens, but you just get through it, and then you move on, and you’re not ever the same as you were before. Greg Cartwright turns the life wounds into scars into songs, and then makes a record that provides the perfect soundtrack for my loss and love, dead friends, collaborations, new responsibility, changing minds and changing hearts, and some settling in and some peace and some closure. Incredible.
SHOPPING – Consumer Complaints LP (Mïlk, 2013)
This record continues to delight and amaze me. Danceable and smart, anti-capitalist post-punk that doesn’t hold back on creativity. Lively. Great.
SPECIAL INTEREST – Spiraling LP (Raw Sugar, 2018)
What an awesome band! They are the best of the post-punk jerk hurk but with the garage lo-fi. It embraces life: loud and rambunctious and true and blow-out fun, the opposite of the no wave cold shoulder. Grimey groove and rowdy aggression!
UNA BÈSTIA INCONTROLABLE – Observant Com el Món es Destrueix LP (La Vida Es Un Mus, 2013)
Hardcore with depth and groove, that doesn’t hold back on the rage and cathartic aggression. Having the ability to dance in the destruction and pain of the times while also feeling the rage is a delicate balance that this record manages perfectly.
UV RACE – Homo LP (In The Red, 2011)
Genius band with catchy songs and the delight of not fitting the expectations. Murky and sloppy, interruptive, unpredictable, hilarious, thoughtful, messy, collaborative—so fun! Simple and complicated. Human. Alive. Truly fucking totally alive.
Nic Warnock runs the R.I.P. Society Records record label, or at least he did, but things have been quiet in the last few years as he splits his energy between operating the retail haven Repressed Records and nurturing a small human. He lives, laughs, and loves on Gadigal Land (Sydney, Australia).
I’m setting some loose parameters for this best-of-decade list. Instead of trying to argue that Jlin or Triple Negative were the true manifestation of punk in the ’10s, my list is a celebration of limitations! How should-be redundant guitar music can feel as urgent as ever. When two or more people let their personalities and idiosyncrasies mutate together creativity will forever bloom! (Note: R.I.P. Society releases have been barred from the list)
GOOD THROB – Fuck Off LP (Sabermetric / SuperFi / White Denim, 2014)
Like most of the music on this list, I can imagine GOOD THROB forming over some cosmic-kinship between the members, as opposed to having aligning adengas of executing a particular micro-genre of punk. Sounds like the cheekiest bands of the Crass Records camp, i.e. FATAL MICROBES meets Australia’s X. Feels like hearing the SEX PISTOLS and X-RAY SPEX again for the first time. The EPs are just as good, but I’m including the LP for the new territory covered on the song “Pale Grey Suits.” Another reason I’m grateful for GOOD THROB is because they were my gateway to other fab UK groups such as HYGIENE, PRIMETIME, and FRAU.
DOUBLE NEGATIVE – Daydreamnation LP (Sorry State, 2010)
It would be in bad taste to include BLAST’s Blood! LP (remixed by Dave Grohl) in this list, so I’ll settle for some other older people that I’m pretty sure have a long legacy in punk but I don’t remember those details, and really, who cares. DOUBLE NEGATIVE’s postmodern approach to album artwork and titles hints at the music within. DN manage to fit within the parameters of first wave hardcore, while still sounding very of this millenium. I’m not sure exactly what makes them sound of this millenium, maybe it’s the chaotic-yet-hi-fi equilibrium of noise to power? Instead of being a period piece, they accept and reflect the disinformation-filled new world. A powerful and disorientating sensory overload.
CONDOMINIUM – Warm Home 12″ (Condominium, 2011)
Upon its release, this record didn’t do much for me. Their previous 7”s take on “outsider hardcore” immediately appealed to my slightly-too-small-VOID-t-shirt-wearing 23-year-old self, but this 12” was listened to once, filed, and forgotten. Re-discovering it five years later, the whole package clicked. The opening riff that’s as good as any on an X-Claim!/early Touch & Go release, the contemplative inversions of typical hardcore subject matter, the suspensful, lurching passages that remind me of DRIVE LIKE JEHU’s Yank Crime—heck, even the sound-art aspects felt purposeful! An truly considered conceptual hardcore record.
HOMOSTUPIDS – Night Deacon EP (Fashionable Idiots, 2010)
We are in climate crisis. We must ride the bus.
MORDECAI – Neil’s Generator LP (Richie, 2014)
It’s very hard to explain the endearment I feel towards this band. With overly-considered aesthetic curation becoming the norm for underground music, the way in which MORDECAI embraces their idiosyncrasies makes their music feel especially pure and deep. I don’t think they sound like anyone in particular, nor do they sound particularly cutting edge. They manage to make seemingly disparate groups from the rich tapestry of North American counter-cultural rock make complete sense side by side, e.g. the VELVET UNDERGROUND, URINALS, MIKE REP, GRATEFUL DEAD, MEAT PUPPETS. While all their records rule, this one has a slightly more sentimental slant that fills me with hope.
ANGIE – Free Agent LP (Glenlivet-A-Gogh / Rice Is Nice, 2015)
To me, ANGIE fits in a very small category of rock’n’roll with Fred & Toody Cole and Roky Erickson. Timeless sounding, but out of sync with the world. Straddling ’60s garage and classic rock’n’roll in a seemingly orthodox manner, while there’s some inexplicable, otherworldly forces at play. In a world of shapeshifting panderers, ANGIE can only sound like ANGIE.
WATERY LOVE – Two Thrills EP (Negative Guest List, 2011)
WATERY LOVE are a band that gets the appeal of BREAKDOWN’s most lunkheaded-ly perfect riffs without being anywhere near a NYC hardcaw style-band. I’d say their general approach to repetitive rock music is much closer to CHEATER SLICKS or FLIPPER. They are the modern masters of dark-humoured social observations, and while all their records are filled with hilarious nihilism, I want to single out “A Condom” off of their Two Thrills 7”. The suspenseful chug of guitars, hypnotic drums, an engaging narrative and that riff…perfecto! Rest in peace, Negative Guest List label-head Brendon Annesley, it’s a much worse world without you.
RED RED KROVVY – LP (Helta Skelta, 2018)
To make a comedy analysis: music needs more Larry Davids, and less Gallaghers smashing watermelons. RED RED KROVVY is a Larry David in this scenario.
COUNTER INTUITS – Monosyllabilly LP (Pyramid Scheme, 2016)
On COUNTER INTUITS’ first album Sheets of Hits, Ron House (THOMAS JEFFERSON SLAVE APARTMENTS, EGO SUMMIT) applied his words and voice to Jared Philps’s (TIMES NEW VIKING) Dragnet-esque four-track demos. On their second LP Monosyllabilly, much of the album is a traditional band-in-a-room recording, but it doesn’t lose any of the rudimentary charm. Shambolic-but-artful takes on pre-punk rock’n’roll that are deserving of the FALL comparison, and continue the exceptional legacy of Ohio underground rock! Ron is at his lyrical best on this album: see “Sunglasses After Death,” “Deep Storage Space,” and the high point of lyricism for the decade (tied with HOMOSTUPIDS’ “Swearing Sammy”): “Password (Is Password).”
IMPALERS – Psychedelic Snutskallar 12” (540, 2014)
I pledge no allegiance to the crossed-out treble clef symbol. I respect the dedication to the cause, but usually it’s not for me. Unlike the rest of this list where I sing the praise of amateurism, IMPALERS are true scholars and executors of post-DISCHARGE music. The Stephen Hawkings of apocalyptic skull-with-mohawk music.