I have been making it a point to keep doing my "Best of" posts. If you used to follow this blog before, I used to regularly post record reviews, but I just don't have the time to dedicate to that anymore, so do it once a year now. Lots of good releases this year, it was hard to choose. There were a few records that came out in like December of last year, so I just rolled them on to this year for argument's sake. I'm sure the same will happen this year too. A lot of sick cassette only releases, though I tried to keep that section for demos only, there were some sick promos and EPs this year.
On the label front, Bleeding Edges Label was a little more slow than I would have liked. I lost my full time job in Feb, and have been working random freelance gigs since. While not ideal, or stable, I had to scale back operations. I did however release my first flexi disc, for The Flex, which started as a joke idea that became a reality (also containing 2 amazing songs). There were some cool projects I had to turn down, but hopefully things will get rolling again now that I have a steady job again starting in January.
Best 7"s of 2015:
1. Pure Disgust- Chained (Katorga Works/Quality Control)
I may be a bit biased as I did a promo tape for this record, but that being said, I obviously love this band. Their demo and previous 7" were great, but this record really stepped it up. What I always liked about Pure Disgust is that they have a definite UK 82/ Oi influence musically, but their lyrics are actually intelligent. The members in this band are pretty young, and all seem to play in a bunch of other killer bands. NWODCHC!
2. Arms Race- Gotta Get Out (Painkiller/Quality Control)
Arms Race's demo blew me away, so I was really looking forward to this new record, and it definitely didn't disappoint. The band plays HC in a style of early Agnostic Front, but with the brutality of YDI. The singer's voice is really rough, with a thick British accent. I got to see them on their US tour earlier this year and they didn't disappoint. They had a promo tape for their LP, which will surely be a contender for 2016.
3. The Flex- Don't Bother With The Outside World (Lockin' Out)
The Flex have been consistently releasing new records each year, with each one better than the last. Between releases, releasing cassettes (all awesome, all very red). The new material takes a heavy cue from the late 80's NYHC/ New Breed bands, which was of course hinted at on previous records. Some hard mosh parts, while staying punk. This record was recorded at the same time as the flexi I released.
4. Protester- No Identity (BBB Records)
Protester has really grown to be one of the best edge bands out there now. While still a one man project band, the live lineup have been playing around a lot. This new release on BBB will hopefully open them up to a broader audience. On this release there is a heavy Confront influence, and the songs sound fuller. They will have an LP next year, and just dropped a promo tape for it.
5. 2x4- Eight Song EP (Twerps)
This came out of nowhere, and blew me away. I would categorize this with bands like Boston Strangler and Chain Rank, in bands from Boston that sound like the old Boston X-Claim bands. This record fucking rules, very catchy but not melodic, in a Jerry's Kids sort of way. Hope to see more from them.
Crown Court- both 7"s, Ajax- both 7"s, Shrapnel- "Frenzied State," Straight Razor, Correction- "Weaken the Stronghold," Rixe
Best LPs of 2015:
1. Chain Rank- Up Against A Wall (Side Two/Twerps)
This is perfect, their demo was incredible and this LP certainly didn't let down. Making the jump from demo to LP can be risky, though it seems a bit more common now, but Chain Rank deliver. A friend of mine described them as Lemmy singing for DYS, and I can't argue. It is heavily Boston HC influenced, and has very tight and thick riffs.
2. Violent Reaction- Marching On (Revelation)
Holy shit, Violent Reaction is on Rev, and their first international band. I have loved VxR since getting their demo years ago, and saw them tour the US a few times and establish a steady lineup. Musically it still straddles the early 80's USHC meets UK oi, though the band has been leaning more towards oi (no complaints here). Hopefully it opens them up to people more familiar with Rev's earlier releases.
3. Night Birds- Mutiny At Muscle Beach (Fat Wreck Chords)
You would think that after 2 LPs a band would start the downward slide, not release possibly their best LP 3rd. I know the band spent a lot of time practicing/writing/recording for this, and it really paid off. Being on Fat will no doubt open them up to a new crowd, and frankly they'd be doing them a service. For those uninitiated to the Night Birds sound, think Dead Kennedys meets Agent Orange meets horror movies. This is great!
4. Foreseen- Helsinki Savagery (20 Buck Spin/Take It Back)
I got to see these guys on tour this summer with power Trip and Red Death, which was a perfect setting for their first US tour. They have a very thrash metal/crossover vibe, but definitely stays within a HC realm. If Slayer had short hair, and wore Agnostic Front shirts, it would be like this LP.
5. SPINE- Time Has Gone (Bad Teeth/Assault)
Spine has been consistently releasing awesome records over the past few years. Their sound is a somewhat cross section between Infest and Outburst, late 80's NYHC mixed with some blast beats and some brutal vocals. It definitely straddles genres nicely, and I'm stoked on their new 7".
Red Death- "Permanent Exile," Obstruct- "Loss of Blood", Warhead- s/t, Impalers "Psychedelic Snutskallar,“ Forward “Against Their Insanity”
Best demos of 2015:
1. Pressing On
I'm a huge Talk Is Poison fan, so when I heard about a new band with the singer, I was sold. 2 songs into streaming the demo, I placed my order for a tape. Very similar to TIP's approach to HC, which also has very memorable, and at times melodic choruses. Glad to see the over 30 crowd still raging hard. Hoping they keep it up, and come east.
Re-released as an LP on Even Worse/ Way Back When
if you haven't heard about this band by now, you have been living under a rock. The band's very forceful with their pro-fem/queer lyrics, which have offended and/or confused some in the scene. Politics aside, the music on here is killer, very fast and tight early 80's USHC influenced. Their uncompromising DIY ethic is also something to admire, and it is hard to believe they only have a demo out, as they have been so productive in their first year. They will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years for sure.
Re-released as a 7" on Total Negativity/Nervous Nelly
3. Concealed Blade
Some members of Hounds of Hate (as well I'm sure other cool Pittsburgh bands) did this new band, which reminds me heavily of Life's Blood, but with the whammy bars of Breakdown. They also released a tour tape with some new songs which sounded killer. Hoping for a new 7" or LP in 2016.
Re-released as a 7" on Beach Impediment/Hardware.
4. Night Prowler- Stalin's Boots
Can this be considered a demo? Night Prowler have 2 other tapes out, and both are equally great. The band is a one person project band, heavily influenced by bands like Deep Wound, Youth Korps, Neos, and early Boston HC. Killer shit, hopefully this project continues with anew tape every couple of years. Maybe a touring lineup one day?
5. Night Force
Night Force has been turning some heads around Europe. Some heavy Omegas vibes here from this new German band. The cover art is very much looking like the Abused 7" art as well; a winning combination in my book. Some real good mid-paced hardcore punk with lots of reverb. Keep an eye out for them.
Violent Minds- Paincave Sessions, Arms Race- New Nonsense, No Parole, New Vision, Regiment, Firewalker, Protester- Paincave Sessions, S.L.I.P., No Time promo, Sentenced- Euthanasia, Stuck Pigs
Metallica- "No Life Till Leather" cassette, Agnostic Front- "No One Rules" LP, Ultra-Violent- "Crime For Revenge" 7", Youth Brigade demo 7", Sand In the Face- "Music Made To Riot" LP, Charred Remains comp LP, AFI- "All Hallows"10", Terrorist- "Post Mortem"
Anticipated Releases for 2016:
No Tolerance- "You Walk Alone" LP, Freedom- "USA Hardcore" LP, Arms Race LP, Barge LP, Brain Slug- "Live In Power" LP, No Parole 7"s, Pure Disgust, Magic Circle- "Journey Blind" LP, Adult Crash 2 comp 7", Bricklayer LP, Spine- Deny 7", Response- "There's No Choice" 7", Protester LP, Blood Pressure- "Need To Control" LP, No Time LP, GLOSS 7", Gag- "America's Greatest Hits," Death Side reissue LPs