Year End Fat Wreck Chords Happenings
We know you’re probably exhausted from trying to get your hands on a Playstation 5, but, we wanted to tell you about some end of the year happenings here at FAT. We are closing for the holidays from December 21st thru January 4th. Any orders placed in our webstore during that time period will not be shipped until after we get back. If you want something shipped before we leave for the year, please order by December 15th, and be mindful of which shipping method you choose, to ensure timely delivery. Additionally, on the sly, we posted a brand new a gym bag! Why? Because we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to fly, tour, workout, and be human again soon!
Before we go, some FAT bands put together a list of their top ten albums of 2020, that resonated with them in some way or another. Check them out below. Stay safe, and have a great holiday. – Love, FAT.
Fat Mike / NOFX:
Get Dead - Dancing with the Curse
Days in Daze -Show me the Blueprints
The Bombpops- Death in Venice Beach
Bad Cop/ Bad Cop- The Ride
Doug Stanhope- last of a dying breed
Home Street Home, Vol 1
Suicide Machines - Revolution Spring
NOFX/ Frank Turner – West Coast vs. Wessex
Miguel Chen - Teenage Bottlerocket:
1) The birth of my son, Nolan.
2) Recording new TBR tunes and getting to see my band for the first time in 8 months
3)Getting a bike trailer so my daughter Olivia can cruise with me and the dogs
4)TBR/Tightwire tour in February right before the world shut down.
5) Learning how to make pasta with my wife Émilie (wink, wink)
6) MXPX/TBR shows literally right before the world shut down.
7) Filming a new Yoga for Punks course (blossomyogaschool.com)
8) A bunch of our friends putting out records to get us through the twilight zone year: Giant Eagles, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Get Dead, Lawrence Arms, Kurt Baker, The Bombpops, Bad Operation...uh, probably forgetting someone
9) Recording audiobook versions of my first two books
10) That one time Nolan slept for 6 hours straight
Chad Williams - Western Addiction
1. SEIZED UP - Brace Yourself (Pirates Press)
Fast Asleep entered that permanent sleep last year, then recruited Bl'ast! vocalist Clifford Dinsmore and put together a smokin' 2020 take on the classic Bl'ast! sound. Plenty of killer riffs, time changes, focused aggression, and biting lyrical content. This is the punk rock that we need right now. No gloss, no sheen, no sugary pop melodies, no autotune, no fashion, no pretension, no bullshit, and no fucking around.
2. MIDNIGHT - Rebirth by Blasphemy (Metal Blade)
Fourth full-length from this Cleveland (!!!) based, Venom-inspired band. Speed metal riffage, concise, memorable songs, all with a sharp hardcore punk edge.
3. CIRITH UNGOL - Forever Black (Metal Blade)
'80s metal band with only really a cult following makes a new record in 2020 and not only is it genuinely great, it gets the attention of the metal world at large. No longer cult, now just classic.
4. GROSS POLLUTER - The People Get...What the People Get (Garage Rock)
From the ashes of criminally underrated OC punk legends Smogtown comes Gross Polluter. More punk rock tales of suburban decay from the writer of the (perhaps unsurprisingly) prescient Führers of the New Wave and Domesticviolenceland opuses. The people get a worthy continuation of those classics.
5. SPELL - Opulent Decay (Bad Omen)
Equal parts BÖC and classic metal, this record has tight, hook-laden songs from start to finish.
6. VAMPIRE - Rex (Century Media)
The perfect evil, melodic synthesis of black, thrash & classic metal elements. Immortal, Kreator, and Priest fused together into a maelstrom of heavy metal goodness.
7. SPIRIT ADRIFT - Enlightened In Eternity (20 Buck Spin)
With a couple solid but overlong records of traditional doom under their belt, Spirit Adrift cut the fat and made a modern heavy metal classic. Plenty of weighty Candlemass-style riffage here, but in the context of more succinct and catchy songs, in a Maiden sort of way.
8. NECROT - Mortal (Tankcrimes)
Another record where a band takes a more extreme subgenre of metal and injects some of those classic heavy metal elements; in this case resulting in one of the most listenable death metal albums in ages. Still brutal, but also memorable. Not only that, they're local, on a local indie label, and have a fellow Chad on drums. \m/
9. BÜTCHER - 666 Goats Carry My Chariot (Osmose)
Metal is supposed to be fun, and this is 100% pure spikes 'n' leather, 45 RPM speed metal fun.
10. AC/DC - Power Up (Columbia)
Perhaps not actually the 10th "best" record of the year, it is however getting way more spins than everything that didn't make this list combined. I suppose that amongst all the darkness of the shitstorm that is 2020, this slab of feel-good rock 'n' roll was way more necessary than I expected. Something about a killer rock 'n' roll riff, a solid groove, and the reunion of a splintered group of old rockers that provides a nice reprieve and a little bit of hope.
Spike Slawson / Me First and the Gimme Gimmes:
1. Cardi B - WAP
2. Naked Roommate - Do the Duvet
3. King Crule - Man Alive
4. The Oh Sees - Protean Threat
5. Run The Jewels - RTJ4
6. Sylvie Simmons - Blue On Blue
7. Necrot - Mortal
8. Princess Nokia - Everything Sucks
9. R.I.P. - Dead End
10. Molten - Holy Macabre
Like many of us I've had no choice but to spend the better part of 2020 extricating myself from up my own ass, and expanding my aesthetic parameters. I urge you to do the same. Happy 2021.
Jarret Nathan / Pears
- The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers
You know when you slowly start to become detached to your relationship with music from excessive touring and desperately need something to bring back that spark? That's The Beths for me. They have definitively become my favorite band over the last two years. It’s the most unique, thoughtful, and emotionally beautiful music I’ve connected to. Their last album Future Me Hates Me brought that bug back to my ear with a stellar performance, and this new album continues that love I feel for them. This album is filled with bangers, ballads, and countless songs simply make me feel. I think this band’s vocal harmonies are properly unique, and I could point to countless examples on the album, but specifically during the bridge on “Dying to Believe”. It’s a more shouty than singy harmony that just crescendos to such a satisfying explosion, and I think it’s a perfect moment that captures the essence of what The Beths have done the last few years. The musicianship is out of control. In my opinion they're about as close to a perfect band as you can get. Liz’s singing is effortless and affecting. The drumming is so damn tasteful (and with exemplary posture). And the leads man, the leads. In a year where we’re all longing for connection, The Beths has given us an album that makes me want to listen whether I’m feeling lonely or hopeful.
- Ratboys - Printer's Devil
Continuing the trend of albums that make me feel, Ratboys’ Printer's Devil just makes me so damn happy. It’s such an excellent combination of a 90’s alt rock vibe with more modern indie punk songwriting. Ratboys, to me, represent everything that is positive and progressive in this fucked up music industry. Between their virtual tour on twitch with guests, a green screen, and jokes, and their mega Halloween Telethon featuring 25 straight hours of virtual performances to benefit The Equal Justice Initiative and Girls Rock! Chicago, their uniqueness and inventiveness is unmatched. It feels like Printer's Devil is just hit after hit and it’s one of the few records this year that I’ll keep on repeat for a few hours. Like The Beths’ album, there’s always new things to notice the more you listen. I love finding something not just new, but the kind of new that makes you can’t believe you didn’t catch it earlier.
- Soul Glo - Songs to Yeet At The Sun
Every year Soul Glo puts on such reliably explosive and meaningful music. They’ve been praised countlessly for their ability to write immaculately large, aggressive music full of prescient social commentary. They’re just true fucking rippers. They contain so much power and distinction, and they keep elevating themselves. I love this band so much.
- Gladie - Safe Sins
Augusta and Matt continue to amaze me by the way they inject so much tenderness and care into their music. It seems every other month they’re releasing a new album or EP, and their productiveness is part of the reason Gladie resonates so much with me. It’s the sort of project I wish I could get to the level of. Safe Sins is a delicate, introspective work of art, that shifts between full on indie rock and lower-fi ethereal pop. Augusta sings with such strength and it's that charge that leads this record. It feels like proper poetry. Gladie is a duo in complete control and their productivity is inspiring (they’ve put out three EP's since the full length). Another record this year that just makes me feel good.
- Disheveled Cuss - Disheveled Cuss
Nick Reinhart is one of my favorite songwriters of all time. Tera Melos and Bygones have been insanely influential to me. I’ve always thought that if Nick decided to write a more straightforward record, a more poppy record, with his unmatched guitar style, it would be so fucking good. On IDIOMS vol. I he hints at it, as well as various parts of Patagonian Rats. Disheveled Cuss is everything I wanted it to be. A non obtrusive, less invasive masterclass in songwriting with all the twinges and quirks of a quintessential Nick Reinhart project. I love the simplicity of the lyrics. I love Nick’s wacky brain extrapolated into a pop album. I love the restraint. Man this record fucking rips. Every time I listen to something this dude makes I hear sounds I’ve never heard before.
- Bartees Strange - Live Forever
I’m new to Bartees Strange, and this record just hit me the right way. It’s soothing and generous, it’s rocking, it’s arranged beautifully. It’s emo, it’s bluesy, it’s soulful, it’s experimental. It’s so many things. His capital V Voice is commanding in the way that it feels like he takes you on a journey the way an album is supposed to. Live Forever feels like a complete tapestry. It’s an album that’s hearty and satiating, a favorite meal that doesn’t leave you too full, just full of warmth and satisfaction.
- Bob Mould - Blue Hearts
This record reminds of why I fell in love with music in the first place. At its heart it's just really well crafted songwriting. It has so much power, and Bob Mould’s voice is smooth and constant. It’s a really consistent record that barrels forward and continues the theme of this list - it just makes me feel good.
- The Superweaks - Teenage Blob
Okay this record is one of the coolest and innovative releases this year. The Superweaks put out a split record with a fucking video game. Teenage Blob was a joint effort between the band and South African video game developer Team Lazerbeam. 6 songs, 6 levels in the video game. The game is an ode to live music and friendship, and each song correlates to a different part of the journey to get to the gig. The songs on the album certainly speak for themselves, The Superweaks are masters of power pop punk and the songs shred. But I highly recommend getting the video game for all you people who have Steam. Years of love and effort culminates in a truly unique product with quirky animation and ripping songs.
- Nate Dionne - Love Is Always Worth It
Another one of my favorite songwriters, Nate Dionne came through with a surprise record that’s so sonically pleasing it’s like butter in your ears, if the butter was Nate-sized and ran through your bloodstream creating a Nate-sized vascular system to play you these songs and make your body vibrate. It just sounds so good. His deep voice paired with his guitar leads, like all the other albums on this list, just make you feel fulfilled. And it wouldn’t be a Nate release without Dan Angel, whose drumming and style is so distinctive, it makes for an unparalleled pair. Previously exhibited in the world-famous Gunk, these two share something special when it comes to collaboration. This album makes me so glad I’ve never worked in construction, and makes me reflect on all the shitty jobs I’ve had. But it also affirms that love is, in fact, always worth it.
- Cave People - Looking
There are certain records that are just made for sitting in your room on a rainy day and staring at your plants. I do this from time to time. When you want to reflect and listen to a record that makes you feel, this is the one. Dave Tomaine is a kind soul, a good friend, and a wonderful songwriter. It’s nice to have people like that in your life. Looking isn’t over-indulgent, nor is it excessive in its nature. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. It’s a 40 minute poem - a personal, dignified, and vulnerable exploration of all the mush inside your brain. This record is bursting with love and friendship, with collaboration from Spenser Hogans (Three Man Cannon, Early Animator), Mimi Gallagher (Eight), Russell Edling (Cherry, Kite Party), Kian Sorouri (Loose Tooth, Greg Electric), and Sean Hallock (Slow Mass, sean h). Looking is dedicated to Spenser, who passed away last year. A staple of the Philadelphia music scene, Spenser was such a beloved member of the community. A month-long Lame-O Records residency at Boot and Saddle in January turned into a celebration of Spenser’s life, each show packed and emotional and full of communal joy and sorrow. In a year where live music has ceased to exist, Cave People’s performance for Spenser remains such a memorable and moving part of this year.
Jesse / Days n Daze
- The Difference Between Thieves and Crooks - Chatterbox and the Latter Day Satanists
Chatterbox & the LDS fuckin' killed it with their latest release. Thirteen beautiful, often driving, compositions slathered in the artfully crafted, poignant, lyrics I've come to expect from this roster of folk punk colossi.
Favorite track: "Hands in your pockets"
- Ugly Is Beautiful - Oliver Tree
I've only recently stumbled across the otherworldly pop rap enigma that is Oliver Tree, but I am here for it. Irreverent, energetic, fuckin' brilliant shit.
Favorite track: "Bury Me Alive"
- West Coast vs. Wessex - NOFX/Frank Turner
Two kickass artists covering each others' kickass songs? What's not to like?I grew up with NOFX tunes. I found Frank Turner's "Get Better" while traversin' a pretty rocky road a while back.
Honestly, I didn't see this one comin', but I'm glad it's here.
Favorite track (NOFX side): "Glory Hallelujah"
Favorite track (Frank Turner side): "Bob"
- Not lost - GoldWolf
Haunting tunes, thoughtful lyrics, and brutal vocals from some of the sweetest folks I've ever had the privilege of callin' friends. They even let me yell some stuff on track three!!
Favorite track: "Six Sick Sips"
- Silver linings - Less Than Jake
2020's been fuckin' dark. Thanks so much to Less Than Jake for a perfectly timed dose of catchy ska-punk introspection!! Relatable lyrics and that signature LTJ sound helps to inject some much needed ebullience into the final days of a somber 12 months. The whole album makes me feel like I'm a kid again. Makes the air in the mornin' smell fresher.
- Burn It All! - Rent Strike
Rent Strike's May 1st release is only comprised of three tracks, but they pack more "Holy shit, that's rad." into nine minutes and forty-two seconds than alot of bands can pepper into an entire LP. The clever placement of instruments staves off any sense of stagnancy in the songs, and it certainly doesn't hurt that everything is recorded and mixed incredibly well. Burn It All! would be a great EP if it were just John and a guitar, but when all the other instruments and vocals kick in as they do in the closing swell of the titular track, perfectly panned in your headphones, it's just fuckin' killer.
- Solar Opposites
A couple months into being quarantined in Texas Solar Opposites, from Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland, released and it was the perfect distraction. I wouldn't say it's quiiiiite as clever as the aforementioned animated cultural phenomenon, but sometimes I just wanna shut my brain off and laugh at the antics of some cartoon aliens, ya know?
- The Umbrella Academy season 2
Based on the comics of the same name created and written by Gerard Way (Yeah!! That one. The My Chemical Romance dude) the second season of The Umbrella Academy somehow improved on the already fantastic first 10 episodes. Great cast and an absolutely bangin' soundtrack!!
- Lovecraft Country
Lovecraft Country's a wild fuckin' ride with more twists n turns than Lombard and it's definitely worth your time. I don't really wanna say anymore because I'd hate to spoil anything, but trust me it's great. Again, phenomenal cast and soundtrack.
- Demon's Souls remake
This is a bit of an expectant entry on this list as at the time of typing this I've not yet had the chance to actually try out the Demon's Souls remake for myself, but I've played the original and I fuckin' adore it so I can't see how some updated graphics, new items, and the PS5's new DualSense controller wouldn't only serve to improve upon an already impeccable experience.
2020 has been pretty shitty, and havin' to buy a new calendar isn't gonna magically fix everything, but we'll be fine so long as we try our best to look out for one another, keep pushin' forward, and keep our eyes peeled for all those diamonds in the rough. Hope 2021 treats ya well!!
Hum - Inlet
Strokes – The New Abnormal
Taylor Swift – Folklore
Vulfpeck – The Joy Of Music, The Job Of Real Estate
Beck – Hyperspace
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over
Brasstracks – Golden Ticket
Dzambo Agusevi Orchestra – Brasses For The Masses
Drive By Truckers – The New OK
The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast
Russ Rankin / Good Riddance
Brian Fallon “Local Honey”
Norah Jones “Pick Me Up Off The Floor”
The Pretenders “Hate For Sale”
Da 5 Bloods
The Psychedelic Furs “Made Of Rain”
Erasure “The Neon”
The Killers “Imploding The Mirage”
Bob Mould “Blue Hearts”
Seized Up “Brace Yourself”
Trial Of The Chicago 7
Jason Hall / Western Addiction:
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions)
When I think of “punk,” I don’t think of mohawks or safety pins (and as it turns out, that is just a falsehood and caricature, listen to this). I think of people like Sturgill Simpson, a person that believes what he says and says what he believes, regardless of consequence. He does exactly what he wants AND respects other humans. A true artist, a true musician, a true punk. You may not like real country or bluegrass, but I can assure you, there is some absolute shredding on this record. The mandolin player is incredible. And Sturgill’s voice is just angelic warmth.
Old 97’s – Twelfth
One of my favorite bands and Rhett Miller is among the best songwriters on Earth. Their twelfth record and still making fantastic songs and melodies. They picked the wrong single though, “Diamonds on Neptune” is the one. You rarely meet and like your heroes, but I met him once and he’s a good, kind man, everything I hoped for in a human, and everything I strive to be as a person. Exactly what this world needs.
The Avett Brothers – The Gleam
I almost feel like this band flies under the radar, just a little, but it shouldn’t be that way. They write perfect songs with beautiful melodies. I may scream all the time but I love good songwriters and this band is unparalleled. Listen to “Prison to Heaven.”
Jesse Daniel – Rollin’ On
KEXP in Seattle is the best radio station on Earth, hands down. There is a specialty show called “Swingin’ Doors” and they play real country and Americana that is expertly filtered for quality. Sometimes when I hear something I like, I write the band a letter, just like I did when I was a kid. I sent Jesse a direct message and he responded immediately, and it turns out, he’s a punk from Santa Cruz and knew of our world and band. I’m always impressed when someone can take a genre that has seen everything under the sun and still make a solid, catchy, fresh record.
Shopping – All or Nothing
Listen to the song, “Initiative.” A great angular, indie pop record. Again, heard this on KEXP. I had tickets to see them and Automatic, but it was the day that every show on the planet was being canceled and it was just too risky to go.
Spirit Possession – Spirit Possession
I love witchy black metal, the screechier the better. There are SO many metal releases but this record feels different. There is something exotically chaotic and comforting about it. One thing that bothers me about the genre is that you can’t really learn anything about the bands and members because everything is so mysterious, understandable, but I am a fan who likes to explore and learn. As it turns out, a member of the band is also in this band Mastery who put out a great record called Valis. I had no idea this person was also in Spirit Possession but I instinctually felt it I guess. Funny story, I was in Amoeba a few years ago in my square-guy work clothes in the metal section. I was chatting with the guy who runs the section and I asked him if he ever heard the Mastery record because it’s insane. He said, “Yeah, I’ve heard it, it’s my record, I made it.” I recommended his own record, to him. Slightly embarrassing.
Idles – Ultra Mono
This is the modern, socially conscious, big production Jesus Lizard. I completely understand why they are so big. They took what Jesus Lizard did and added great melody and excellent choruses. I like really interesting lyrics and his strong accent is so fitting and wonderful. They feel dangerous in the best way.
Bright Eyes – Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
Another solid record from a premier songwriter. He knows how to construct a song, pure and simple. I’ll listen to everything he does, forever.
Dragged Into Sunlight – Terminal Aggressor II
This is the most exciting band in metal. I saw them live once and couldn’t believe what the singer was physically and humanly capable of. A mix of black and death and it’s absolutely brutal and scary. They had a very public falling out with their record label. I like bands that are fearless.
Belle & Sebastian – What to Look for in Summer
B&S are in my top five bands of all time. Stuart is one of the best, most consistent songwriters in music. They have interesting lyrics and the best vocal melodies. This comes out in December but I know it’s going to be great. High Fidelity was on TV the other night and I was reminded of when I first heard them. Love at first listen. This is a live record and they are a great live band. The shows are so fun and life affirming.
All of these releases below have merit. I listen to so much music, but these jumped out to me. Meth Drinker is the best band name I’ve heard in a long time. So good.
Äkth Gánahëth – From the Cursed Glades, Crowned in Shadows, Shadows Dance Under the Crimson Moon
Dearth – To Crown All Befoulment
Deradoorian – Find the Sun
Drouth – Excerpts from a Dread Liturgy
Evoker – Evil Torment
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Lifvsleda – Det Besegrade Lifvet
Meth Drinker – Oil + Discography
Moaning – Uneasy Laughter
Napalm Death – Throws of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
Nimbifier – Demo I&II (Compilation)
Paralysis – Mob Justice
Run the Jewels – RTJ4
Silver Knife – Unyielding/Unseeing
Skeleton - Skeleton
Strike Anywhere - Nightmares of the West
Tom Petty – Wildflowers and all the Rest
Uada – Djinn
Witchcraft – Black Metal
Jose Prieto's (MAKEWAR) Top 10 favorite records of the year. In no particular order.
I Am The Avalanche - Dive
I Am The Avalanche and MakeWar go way back. We were friends way before MakeWar was even a thought. We were friends way before I even knew who I Am The Avalanche was. I think that is what makes this band so special to me. I consider them family. We've shared many stages, bars, drunken walks, and sunrises. I am so happy they are in our lives. "DIVE" to me is the best avalanche record. DIVE is what I am the avalanche is about. DIVE is a record full of anthems. It's a record of friendship. It's a record that reminds you that you are not alone. It's a record that reminds you that you matter. Not just to yourself but to the people around you that love you. DIVE is the perfect record to sing along with your friends. DIVE is the perfect record for these weirdest and saddest times. DIVE will be the most perfect record to sing out loud with all your friends around you when this shit show is over and we all can go to shows again. DIVE is my favorite record of this shitty ass year.
The Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast
I have to be honest, I am a fairly new Larry Arms fan. I can't really tell you why, because I think they are amazing. But for some reason or another, they were never in any of my mixtapes or inside my old caselogics in the early 2000s. My love for The Lawrence Arms started after meeting Beex and joining Red Scare back in 2016. To be honest, if I was a huge fan I would've probably punished Brendan too hard the day I met him and he probably would've not signed my band. So I think it was a good thing I waited so long to really listen and become a fan of TLA. Brendan, Chris, and Neil write perfect songs. I know everyone likes "The Greatest Story Ever Told" or "Oh Calcutta!" the best. But I personally think "Metropole" is/was my favorite until I heard "Skeleton Coast". The sound, production, songwriting, and drums are perfect. I always admire power trio bands. You always have to do some magic on the guitar or the bass to make you sound bigger than you are. I think The Lawrence Arms does that flawlessly.
Bad Cop/Bad Cop - The Ride
We were lucky enough to tour at the beginning of the year with Bad Cop over in Europe. We had to cut the tour in half because Covid was becoming a real scary thing then, but it was one of the best European tours we've ever had. Back in March, The Ride was not out yet but I saw them play at least 3 or 4 new songs every night and the songs were so fucking good. I knew it was going to be a great record. I think my favorite thing about Bad Cop is the different yet similar energies every song has. Jennie, Stacey, and Linh each have their own powerful and unique voices and lyrics and they all sound so good together on this record. This is a powerful record that still gives me chills when I listen to it. Same chills it gave me when I was drunk somewhere in Europe listening to these songs.
Growing Stone - I Had Everybody Snowed
I was introduced to this record by my friend Sam of the wonderful Chicago band Kali Masi. I also just learned that this is Skylar Sarkis' solo project. Skylar plays in Such Gold and Taking Meds; two rad New York bands. This record reminds me of the sound of Mexican singer-songwriters like Alejandro Filio or Fernando Delgadillo or even Silvio Rodriguez. They call the genre "Mexican Trova" I don't know if Skylar is a fan of these fantastic Mexican singer-songwriters but a lot of this record reminds me of them. I think this record is wonderful. I want to thank my friend Sam for this introduction and Skylar for the tunes.
DFMK - SELF-TITLED
Speaking of Mexican trovas! DFMK!!! Fuck! This record rips so hard. Covid made me lose my job and all my tours but it also gave me a lot of free time to do things I love. I love surfing. I've been surfing nonstop this fall/winter. I've been playing this record almost non stop on my way to Rockaway Beach. It gets me pumped! To me, DFMK - SELF-TITLED is the 2020 surfing record of the year. It should be in all of the surfing videos coming out next year. I wonder if there's surfing in Tijuana. I'm sure there is. I don't know if the guys in DFMK surf. Even if they don't. I always thought of surfing as a state of mind as much as a state of ripping waves. New DFMK is rad as fuck. Check it out!
Owen - The Avalanche
I love American Football but I was not really into their last record (LP3) So I was really happy when I heard this new Owen record. It reminds me of American Football (LP2) which is funny because I said the same thing when LP2 came out. LP2 sounded like a full rock band version of Owen. And listen, I know it's the same singer. But Owen and American Football didn't sound so similar before. Now they do and I don't think it's a bad thing. Sometimes you feel like listening to Owen and sometimes you feel like listening to AF. I'm very happy they are both there. I really like "The Avalanche". It's so chill and powerful. It's dark, sad, and dreamy.
I used to think of Pears as the sound of all your favorite bands combined. That's a good sound. I also used to think of Pears as the new age Descendents. That is also a great thing. This record makes me think of Pears as Pears. I'm glad it's a self-titled. To me, this is the best Pears records. I used to like Pears. This record made me love Pears. This record hits you in the stomach so hard and then when you choke and can't breathe it hugs you and tells you everything is going to be fine.
Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher
It took me a while to get into this record. I think mainly because Strangers In The Alps was one of my favorite records of 2018. I listened to it so much on repeat that I almost got annoyed by it. I did the same thing when the singles for Punisher came out. The singles on this record are so fucking good. I liked the singles so much that on the first two passes on the record I thought the rest of the songs weren't as good. But boy was I wrong. Most of my favorite records always take a pass or two sometimes even 10 passes for my brain to be like "oh fuck, I get it. This is genius" It happened with Punisher. It also happened with "Hello Exile" by The Menzingers. I love Punisher. But I'm going to be careful this time and spin it sporadically.
Kesha - High Road
Listen-- if you know me, you know I love Kesha. I've been trying to convince my band to cover Kesha for the FEST for like 4 years now. I like High Road but I don't like it as much as Rainbow. But if Kesha has a record out it will always make my top 10 list. Plus Lili really likes this record and she likes Kesha way more than I do so I'm also putting this record on the list for her. Now can we finally do a Kesha cover set for the fest, please!
Maxwell Stern - Impossible Sum
Max is a dear friend. We met a long, long time ago. One day back in 2013 maybe? Two friends asked me to put their friend Max from Ohio on the bill for my shitty weekly acoustic punk night at Grand Victory (RIP) I used to throw with my friend Patric Salt Ryan (RIP<3) I said yes only because I really like these two friends and said He can maybe play a song or two at the beginning because the bill is full haha... Who the fuck was I?. Anyway, these weekly nights were usually a mess. A beautiful mess, with too many drunks in the audience and too many drunk old punks on the stage. I'm really glad that night happened because it was the start of a long-distance friendship. I booked many shows in Brooklyn for max or his many versions, signals midwest and Meridian. They crashed at my spot, I got them pizza. They broke my sink. Impossible Sum is a beautiful sum of very well written stories and when you listen to max sign on this record you can almost see exactly what he is talking about. It makes me miss my friends. It makes me miss tour. Sitting in someone's apartment far away from home telling stories, laughing, drinking, eating shitty pizza or crunch wrap supremes. I know I said this way too many times on this list. But this record is perfect.
Stevie / Clowns
- Private Function - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
If you want to understand what's going on in the Australian punk scene right now you'd best listen to this album. The songs are fun and catchy. The music is raw but palatable. The lyrics are tongue and cheek and it's all wrapped up in a quintessentially Australiana package. People overseas are often perplexed by the cover art of which it appears like a picasso-esc illustration of a whale performing felatio? I will send $5 to the first American that can DM me what this artwork truly is, HMU @steviewhatever.
- Teenage Joans - Three Leaf Clover
A killer feel drenched single by one of my favourite bands to be born from the Adelaide punk world. It's gritty guitars meeting tasty vocal hooks and a lyrical punch in the heart. Great tune for singing your heart out under a few wines whilst spending most your life livin' in a lockdown paradise. Can't wait to hear more from this band!
- Kvelertak - Splid
Holy moly - This album is gold. It sounds like if Fucked Up were from Norway and just released their best record. This is the kind of music Satan listens to when he goes to the gym. It's so sick. Can't wait to see it live.
- Ocean Grove - Flip Phone Fantasy
Dayum, this album took me by surprise. On this album they've moved away from the nu-metal worship they've become known for and made an album that IMO doesn't really sound like any other band I can think of. It's like if someone got nu-metal and threw out all the bad bits and replaced it with sick bits. It's classier than nu-metal - It's metal that sounds like, new... or something? Sunny is. such. a. bloody. track.
- Pears - Pears
Pears are a great band that everyone knows and whose greatness is epitmosed in their most recent self titled release. It's everything you want from the band. It's fast and fun and punk and angry and it'll make you laugh and cry and feel and then all of a sudden it's over and all I want is MORE! It reminds me of cruising the streets of Melbourne without a care in the world, released just before some guy in China had a bat and fucked everything up.
- Lady Gaga - Chromatica
It would be wrong of me to not give this record an honourable mention. After the apocalypse caused all the clubs in Melbourne to close indefinitely, I've had an exposed a gaping hole in my heart that is usually comfortably filled with sniffing poppers on sweaty dancefloor. So thus the many twists and turns of 2020 have now lead me to frequent nights in my living room, with some amyl nitrate and as many friends in my quarters as legally allowed with the disco light on and this album blaring. Our restrictions in Melbourne have just been eased to allow 30 people over at one time, if you are in Melbourne or a friend is in Melbourne you should come over!
- DMA's - The Glow
This album rules. Good listenin' for sitting on the porch and smokin' a cigar.
- Taylor Swift - Folklore
Thoroughly enjoyed this record and definitely helped push me through some of the tougher moments of 2020. Love ya work, Tay Tay.
- The Chats - High Risk Behaviour
A band that needs no introduction. Loved this record for its gritty garage exposé on some classic Australian culture. Queenslandahhhhh.
- Ytiet - 41
I'm not usually one to get too fixed onto internet sensations but for some reason I'm still not super annoyed by Ytiet and in fact I find him quite entertaining despite. I came for his cover of Linkin Park's Numb but I stayed for... well, I'm not really sure anymore. Like most of us, my screen in time in 2020 soared exponentially. Any silly new meme or internet trend has been a warm welcome through the harsh Melbourne winter in lockdown.
Bad Cop / Bad Cop:
- IDLES "Ultra Mono"
- DEATH BY STEREO "We're all Dying Just in Time"
- NOVA TWINS "Who are the Girls?"
- PEARS Self Titled
- Get Dead " Dancing with the Curse"
- The Bombpops "Death in Venice Beach"
- Suicide Machines "Revolution Spring"
- Run The Jewels " RTJ4"
- Hayley Williams "Pedals for Armor"
- NOFX/ Frank Turner " West Coast vs Wessex"
Neil Wayne / The Bombpops:
Peach Pit - You and Your Friends
Beach Bunny - Honeymoon
The Midnight - Horror Show
The Strokes - The New Abnormal
Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast
The Frights - Everything Seems Like Yesterday
Get Dead - Dancing with the Curse
Red City Radio - Paradise
Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts
Operators - Radiant Dawn
Jen Razavi – The Bombpops
The Bombpops - Death in Venice Beach
I realize it’s a weird move to put your own album on the best of list but, holy shit, I’m so proud of this album and my band, it’s my number one for 2020. Sorry, not sorry.
Taylor Swift - folklore
Still can’t get enough of this album. The storytelling and delivery on folklore inspired me to pick up a guitar immediately after hearing it for the first time. It was a personal nudge to me to keep writing and telling stories from the heart, no matter how painful they can be sometimes.
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
Punisher is dreamlike and haunting, both her lyrics and the tones on the album are so unique. This album has also been a huge inspiration for me this year, it’s been the soundtrack to the tail end of my 2020 for sure.
Bad Cop/Bad Cop - The Ride
Back in 2019 and in the beginning of 2020, I had the pleasure of touring acoustically with Jennie and Stacey of Bad Cop and was lucky enough to hear some of these songs in their beginning stages, to hear how they’ve evolved and been given full band life is really amazing. This whole band is a message the world needs.
Get Dead - Dancing with the Curse
The first track on this album is so fucking cooll! Hands down one of my favorite songs of 2020. The whole album is great. If we were on the road this year touring, this would be the album we’d rock on long drives for sure, it’s a road dog.
The Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast
TLA can do no wrong. Skeleton Coast is dark and lonely as hell, therefore it made a perfect soundtrack to 2020 as a whole.
Anti-Flag - 20/20 Vision
We were in a different world when this album came out back in January. Anti-Flag consistently put out great records but 20/20 vision had a mobilizing effect on me and even though the year took a turn for the absolute worst, this album pumped me up to hit the road and play when it came out.
Alkaline Trio - E.P.
The surprise drop of this E.P. was the most exciting thing to happen to me in the early days of quarantine. Alkaline Trio is my favorite band and there’s nothing by them that I don’t love with all my heart.
Liquid Death - Greatest Hates vol 2
Another album of mine! Again, not sorry. Making this album was too much fun. Being able to make an album for a water company with Chris #2 from Anti-Flag, Brendan Kelly from The Lawrence Arms, Josh from The Bombpops, and Paul Miner at Buzzbomb studios, is something I still can’t believe even happened. On top of that, we had Tim McIlrath and Joe Principe from Rise Against, Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio, Ashrita from Pinkshift and Jer from We Are the Union join us as guests? Making this thing was like 2020 music therapy for me.
Days n Daze - Show Me the Blue Prints
Addvice is such a jam! I’ve been a fan of this band since I discovered them on Spotify last year, they would always come on after listening to Amigo the Devil, but Show Me the Blueprints is so stellar because it has a shiny, big production sound to it that some of their earlier stuff lacked. Don’t get me wrong, their older stuff is brilliant and has so much character, but for me personally, I love that this band put out a record that has more clarity in its production, it really makes everything they do pop out even more.
Tony, Western Addiction:
1. IDLES - Ultra Mono
2. Oh Sees - Protean Threat
3. Cloud Nothings - The Black Hole Understands
4. METZ - Atlas Vending
5. Fontaines D.C. - A Hero’s Death
6. Tom Petty - Wildflowers and All the Rest
7. Soul Glo - Songs to Yeet at the Sun
8. The Strokes - The New Abnormal
9. Shutups - 5 EP
10. Stuck - Change is Bad