2015: Year End Review by Dustin Blumhagen

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ThePunkSite.com’s Best Of 2015

Best-of-2015It’s that time of year again where we sit back, eat food, drink beer and reminisce about the past year’s best and worst, highlights and lowlights. The albums that forced us to sing our hearts out, the shows that struck a chord and the moments reverberated through our collected consciousnesses. We here at ThePunkSite.com, like everyone does this time of year, and looked back at our listening habits for the past 365 days and determined these the albums that truly left an impact with us.

Without further ado, select a contributor and see their year in review for 2015:

Bobby Gorman | Cole Faulkner | Steven Farkas Dustin Blumhagen | Tom Liveyns

2015: Year End Review by Dustin Blumhagen

I spent this year focused upon obtaining my Master’s degree, spending countless hours buried in research and writing endless essays. I was busy and I was ridiculously poor, so live shows were painfully rare in 2015. But 18 hour days spent on the computer and Spotify finally coming to Canada allowed for streaming of 1000s of albums this year. Some of my favourite bands were active this year, but my favourite part of listening to so much music was discovering new bands, which is something that I haven’t done in this capacity since I was a teen. Both Nothing Gold Can Stay and Sudden Suspension were surprisingly great pop punk releases this year and Casey Bolles’ acoustic songs are sure to delight City & Colour/ This Wild Life fans. Weaning the list down was insanely challenging this year, as I initially started with a 100 great albums, whittling down to one for each month of the year. I hope you find something on here that you haven’t listened to yet, give it a chance and fall in love with something new. Music is awesome that way. Thanks to Bobby for letting me hang around for another year!

Top Albums Of The Year

Frank Turner Positive Songs for Negative People

12. Frank Turner – Positive Songs for Negative People X-tra Mile Records

It almost feels weird to think of Frank Turner in a punk context these days. He has successfully risen from the underground to become a mainstream radio artist, equally liked by college kids and their moms. But damn if he doesn’t write a good song. I admit that the last couple of releases from Turner didn’t impress me as a fan, but this one captured my attention once again. The evolution from solo troubadour a la Woody Guthrie to full literate rock band a la The Weakerthans had a couple stumbling points, but Positive Songs successfully reminds us why we fell in love with the self-deprecating, thick accented singer in the first place.

War on Women - War on Women

11. War On Women – War On Women Bridge Nine Records

Propagandhi have a new guitarist which gives hope that we might see a new album sometime in 2016. For now though, there are some great political punk bands filling the void. War on Women are a great recent discovery. This album is a solid collection of punk songs with purpose and a must listen for every douche bro out there copping feels at Blink 182 shows and spouting misogynistic garbage in their overly loud drunken slur.

Teenage Bottlerocket - tales from wyoming

10. Teenage Bottlerocket – Tales From Wyoming –Rise Records

The boys from Wyoming put out a solid slab of pop punk this year. The songs are exactly what long-time fans want. There are fun songs and serious love songs and it’s just a great time. Sadly, this was also the year that the world lost Brandon Carlisle, a fun loving staple in the punk scene.

Anti-Flag - American Spring

9. Anti-Flag – American Spring – Spinefarm Records

Some people grow out of caring about the world. They leave their teens and become obsessed with their job, stocks, raising kids, chasing the American Dream. But lots of people stay true to their ideals as they age. Not every adult is a right wing racist piece of shit. It isn’t an inevitable de-evolution toward a moronic Neanderthal state that ends with them shitting their pants all alone and forgotten in some rural old folk’s home. For those who refuse to sell out to the Capitalist system and still give a shit about their fellow human beings, bands like Anti-Flag and Propagandhi are here to empathize with the state of the world. The band sound reinvigorated on their latest release, which is their strongest in the past decade. This is a passionate piece of punk music from a band that still means something. Fat old men can dress up like clowns and snort coke, making a joke of the punk scene, but there are still artists with substance out there in the trenches. On top of this album, they released two other great albums (acoustic & B-sides) this year.

Isotopes - Nuclear Strikezone

8. Isotopes Nuclear Strikezone STOMP Records

Writing catchy pop punk songs about baseball is the forte of Evan October and his roster. Their debut full length is a little more polished than their previously released collection, but the charm remains.

H20 Use Your Voice

7. H20 – Use Your Voice – Bridge Nine Records

Those who love H20, love them a lot. Those who hate them won’t be swayed by their latest. Staying true to form, Toby Morse and company dish out an album of straightforward skate punk and melodic hardcore. It is criminally short, but definitely welcome. The songs are catchy and fun and have the classic H20 attitude in full display. Knowing that it may be the final album from this long running band adds additional weight to the music.

Night Birds – Mutiny At Muscle Beach

6.Night Birds Mutiny At Muscle Beach – Fat Wreck Chords

Fast, dirty and fuzzy. Scaling back on their surf tendencies, Night Birds hit hard with a classic punk sound. This was a pleasant surprise that stands up well to repeated listens.

Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes- Blossom

5. Frank Carter & the RattlesnakesBlossom –  International Death Cult Records

After stumbling onto a live set from Frank Carter’s Gallows on a Warped Tour sidestage a few years back, I was blown away. Not once since has a live band come close to matching their passionate fire. Grey Britain was a brilliant album, something that comes along once a generation, but they burned up before breaking through. The band members drug their name through the mud with a derivative mess that is best ignored and forgotten. Carter did an equally forgettable project, but has resurfaced with the Rattlesnakes at his back and holy shit is this a great album. Where Grey Britain interspersed moments of beauty with the rage, Blossom focuses more on a fast and angry blast of hardcore with little reprieve. Not as essential as his Gallows peak, but definitely one of the best hardcore albums of the year.

Youth Decay - The Party's Over

4. Youth Decay – The Party’s Over – New Damage Records

There are ragged throated party anthems that are reminiscent of the best Canadian pop punk bands, Living With Lions and Daggermouth. There is blistering hardcore speeds that make Comeback Kid sound like your grandpa’s favourite band. These guys announce their debut on the scene with a strong full length that shows up most of their peers. The relentless assault and tight musicianship of their live show is successfully harnessed on the recording, which is a rare feat.

Fire Next Time - Cold Hands

3. Fire Next Time – Cold Hands – STOMP Records

Cold Hands is Southern Gothic poetry at its finest. The sprawling songs swoop and weave between beauty and chaos, as the gruff throated vocals tear at your eardrums and heartstrings. Titus Andronicus may get the headlines, but Fire Next Time are the best band pushing the limits of punk rock.

The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven

2. The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven – Hopeless Records

It is hard to believe that this band also released the ridiculous “Get Stoked on It!” They have moved well beyond the confines of the pop punk genre, broadening their sound and improving the lyrics with each release. While bands like Blink 182 and NOFX seem content to exist as perpetual juveniles (& have strong fan bases of similar eternal manboys), it is heartening to see that bands can mature and still excel.

Defeater - Abandoned

1. DefeaterAbandoned Epitaph Records

A cathartic examination of the existential weight that accompanies loss of faith. The story arc continues through the viewpoint of a fallen priest, as Defeater continue to craft an engaging long form concept. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Very few bands could pull of such an intense art project, but Defeater seem to improve with each album.

Top Eps

  1. Nothing Gold Can Stay- Familiar Faces
  2. Sudden Suspension– There’s A Bigger Picture Here
  3. Modern Baseball– The Perfect Cast
  4. The All Brights– …Are Wild For the Night
  5. Casey Bolles- Freshmen

Best Non Punk Release

John MorelandHigh on Tulsa Heat

There is a punk subculture that contains a group of scrappy songwriters who have the ability to create the most beautiful pieces of art. Artists like Chuck Ragan, Neko Case, Ben Nichols, Austin Lucas and Jason Isbell fit in this scene. But none of them approach the pure distilled emotion of Moreland’s songs. If you are open minded and like to balance your punk music with something a little mellower, check this album out. It is a melancholy piece of art that should not be ignored.

Dustin Blumhagen is a reviewer, interviewer and news contributor at ThePunkSite.com