Hello ‘dere Ladies & Gents! Happy New Year! I trust you enjoyed the Favorites Albums of 2018 episode of ABOG. Sorry I couldn’t be there but work tends to get in the way of life sometimes. The always incredible hosts of the show were kind enough to read my picks, but I thought I’d take an opportunity to add some explanations. Enjoy!
10. (tie) Mad Caddies Punk Rocksteady / Burn The Priest Legion:XX - I don’t normally use ties, I also don’t like to put cover records on a top of the year list, but if I’m honest, neither of these two albums were absent from my cd player that much this year. Mad Caddies did an album full of reggae/ska covers of punk songs and turned them into a fun, breezy summer album. Burn The Priest (Lamb of God using their original band name) recorded a more straightforward version of punk and metal songs that influenced them as a band. Still a fun listen, and a couple of leftfield covers thrown in there that kept it fun.
9. Jon Spencer Spencer Sings The Hits! - The first ever solo album from Jon Spencer of the mighty Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Spencer has been a fixture of the New York rock scene since 1985, working in such bands as Pussy Galore, Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, and Heavy Trash. Spencer brings a chaotic, trashy, garage punk attitude to his new songs. Different band, same attitude. Nice to have him back.
8. Starcrawler Starcrawler - New band out of L.A. released their debut album last January. Their music is a mix of glam, punk, and White Stripes style rock. Singer Arrow de Wilde is a wild fury in concert, jumping on top of bars and kicking drinks and getting in the face of audience members who aren’t fully invested in the show. Incredibly, the band was able to capture this energy in the studio and produce a tight, melodic and at times chaotic 30 minute record.I’m hoping for a midwest tour, but so far, no luck.
7. The Last Gang Keep Them Counting - Another female fronted punk band on Fat Wreck Chords that brings the goods. At times sounding like the Distillers, this debut album is a quick burst of great songwriting, crisp production, and punk energy. I look forward to hearing more from them and seeing them live.
6. Smoking Popes Into The Agony - The Chicago pop-punk band blazes back with it’s first album with the original line-up in 20 years. While I wasn’t a huge fan of these guys back in the 90’s, this album has definitely pulled me in and made me one now. Great songwriting and some catchy tunes pull everything together. Melodic AF.
5. The Longshot Love Is For Losers - Yet another side band for Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. It’s nice to see that he has a home for all of the energetic poppy, fun loving, hand-clapping songs that have not been bogged down by self-important lyrics and concept albums - something that has plagued the most recent Green Day albums. And hearing Replacements-styled tunes is always welcome. Oh, and the fantastic cover of “Goodbye To Romance” that closes out the album was a touch of genius.
4. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers Years - Second album from the outlaw country singer and her band continues on the promise that was delivered by her first album. Another set of top-notch tunes. My only (minor) complaint is that the production has shaved off some of the rough edges to the songs. Not enough grit for my taste, but definitely not that distracting. Looking forward to a long career from Sarah.
3. Fu Manchu Clone Of The Universe - Another great album from stoner rock kings Fu Manchu. How they keep coming up with such great riffs time after time is beyond me, but they rarely disappoint. This album includes an 18 minute song called “Il Mostro Atomico” that features playing from none other than Alex Lifeson of Rush. The fact that there are only 3 lines of lyrics to the song does not distract at all - in other words, it ain’t gonna bore ya. The 6 songs that comprise side 1 are all winners too.
2. The Interrupters Fight The Good Fight - What can I say about this album? Front to back it’s a solid listen. Not sure that I would label it a guilty pleasure - not all music has to have meaning. It’s ska in the style of Rancid (no horns to be found here) and a frontwoman with a great set of pipes. This one literally has me hopping around within a few moments of the opening chords. And it doesn’t let up until the end. Great stuff, can’t wait to see them this spring.
1. Alkaline Trio Is This Thing Cursed? - Another band that I have always liked, but never been a huge fan until hearing this album. This one just hit all the right notes for me. Catchy songwriting with some interesting turns of phrase, great playing, and just an infectious energy that runs through all of the songs. You can tell that they were having a good time making this album, and that energy was captured well. Start to finish not a bad song in the bunch. Once I put this album on, it’s hard for me to turn it off. Thank you, Matt Skiba, for not deserting this band while helping out in Blink-182.
2018 runners up: Clutch Book Of Bad Decisions; Dog Party Hit & Run; Pennywise Never Gonna Die; Pagan Black Wash; Mudhoney Digital Garbage
Current Listening: Grosse Pointe Blank Soundtrack; The Clash Live At Shea Stadium; Queen Live At The Bowl; Motorhead No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith; The Hateful Eight Motion Picture Score