2022 Year End Top Tens, Part Three
And now, the conclusion of 2022 Year End Top Tens!
Ben Perkins publishes Another Subculture, a gig listings calendar zine, and edits Alternative Strategies, which is not a magazine. He works in the MSM and lives in London, England.
It’s been a productive year, although it hadn’t started that way. I’ve gone from selling my guitar in a fed-up haze to booking a second practice with my new band; there are hundreds of sold copies of Alternative Strategies, an idea that started out as a “haha, unless?”; I completed the Capital Ring with my partner and we’re walking to West Wickham in the frost next week. Everything is hurtling forward again—new bands, familiar festivals, flu case rates, and £7 pints alike, and another wave of consolidation is threatening to squeeze out ways of making your own racket; what would Tim Yo have thought of Tencent, eh? There are some great bands who, by dint of going down the label route and becoming Massive I can’t list here, but are nonetheless bringing thousands of fresh faces to the joys of the punky. I just hope they all get on stage and blow us out of the water.
This top ten was a challenge because there’s a fair bit to consider, and also because I once again listened to more radio (music, cricket, John’s Shame Well) than records, it took a little time to gather, but here we go:
CHRONOPHAGE – Chronophage LP (Bruit Direct / Post Present Medium)
Since their previous record was recommended to me as a prime example of Perks Music, I’ve been an intrigued fan of this lot, and I’m happy to say that the tomato disc is a juicy and melancholic number. Reminds me of everything I love about early R.E.M., the non-fascist members of the SMITHS, and whether they’d consider doing a tour with GUN OUTFIT.
FINDOM – Pay, Pig cassette (Gob Nation)
One of the new saxophone bands gracing the capital, this tape has been ricocheting around my head all year. “The Only Good Tory” reminds you of both the RAPTURE’s “House of Jealous Lovers” and that you should [redacted] the fucking [redacted] all at once.
GLAAS – Qualm LP (Static Shock)
I remain jealous of Berlin bands’ output, and this is a motorised, anxious post-punk bag of joy that followed the winning formula from their demo tape from last year. Songs where the bass and the drums and the synth run away, “Ode to Ravachol” is a dub banger in disguise.
JUDY AND THE JERKS – Live + Hardcore cassette (self-released)
Putting their European tour cassette on this list instead of their long-player Music to Go Nuts (on Thrilling Living) for an easy reason: best punk set I watched this year. You know those bands that remember that punk is inherently ridiculous and lean into that, while also remembering to play at a hundred miles an hour? Hard as nails, singing about nonsense—my favourite combination, and the tape captures that to a tee.
MORREADORAS – Morreadoras digital (self-released)
Another new London band whose style is one I’ve missed: creepy Casio, lots of catchy chorus rIffs, and what I am going to inaccurately call “gang vocals from the sesh.” A little garage, a lot of post-punk, and one of the most fun demos to come out of the UK in years.
NEUTRALS – Bus Stop Nights EP (Static Shock)
Sitting along HYGIENE as effusive studiers of the early ’80s DIY jet-set, in that I wonder what Americans do with some of the references (a band from Oakland, but this record has a British Steel logo on the cover, but Allan’s from Lanarkshire so it all makes sense?)—what can be agreed is that this disc contains gorgeous choruses and tales of wrong-uns, a great single amongst many from this lot.
RIBBON STAGE – Hit with the Most LP (K / Perennial)
Of course there was My Favourite Shrine, but this record has more of a nervous depth, more reasons to sit down and appreciate that jangle. If there wasn’t the punk DNA (check the CVs of RIBBON STAGE’s members to see what I mean) and a desire to combine that classic C86/SHOP ASSISTANTS influence with a little more heft and lyrics that look forward with a little anger, then it wouldn’t have been as memorable or enjoyable as this record has turned out to be.
SNIFFANY AND THE NITS – The Unscratchable Itch LP (PRAH)
Speaking of heft and anguish, but presented in almost the reverse way—you’ve got the rhythm section that have cut their teeth on wistful indie pop (JOANNA GRUESOME, EX-VÖID) as much as scatterbrained punky, and combine with SNIFFANY’s odd genius (get reading her comics, you’ll end up with an enjoyable headache!) and what felt like a gig every three days and you’ve got this bouncy, nervous record that gets it all down. Yes!
STRAW MAN ARMY – SOS LP (D4MT Labs Inc. / La Vida Es Un Mus)
There’s an underarching theme to all of these records, isn’t there—another fine LP that reminded me of both the finest moments of WIRE’s Chairs Missing and that dog sitting in the room engulfed in flames. (Although then there’s that sense that the band would disagree with the pessimism: “not a distress signal,” as they say in the liner notes…)
V/A – Get It Right: Afro, Dub, Funk & Punk of Recreational Records, 81–82 LP (Emotional Rescue)
Compilation of the year from a record label whose releases continue the old tradition of rummaging through the ’80s and giving us what we’ve missed. I keep wondering whether we’ll run out eventually, especially as the Year Zero generation enter retirement age and we risk losing gems like those on this LP (is this compilation basically here due to the ELECTRIC GUITARS track, maybe?), but for now keep digging and look forward to our teenage demos being resurfaced by young guns in the year 2056.
BEN C. TROGDON
NY, NY / @vbdbct / email@example.com / drums in ABISM / DIY punk lover
Happy new year! Here’s a few of my favorite punk shows I went to in 2022:
The show was in an empty bus drivers’ union building in Santiago, Chile. The room where the bands played was dark except for a flashing walk/don’t walk signal that had been stolen off the street. SEX HAIL was a noisy mess of sweat and slobber. The vocalist was wiggling and sliding all over the floor like a fresh-out-of-the-dirt worm. The music was a heavy, inconceivable, inescapable jumbled pit with moments of triumph :)
They played on a sunny, hot afternoon under a huge palm tree at a public park in Chillan, Chile. It was a beautiful day and the band was crude and angry. The bassist has the most beautiful hairdo I’ve ever seen—a bright blue, combed and clean pompadour mohawk. He was wearing wrap-around sunglasses and a studded black leather jacket. The band is so good—blasting loud, noise punk. I relaxed in the shade while they thrashed and wailed.
Crazy-ass Midwesterners worship D-beat with their whole soul. They played at a youth center in downtown Manhattan and had people throwing themselves against walls and on the floor.
Played a show last spring in Maria Hernandez park, Bushwick, Brooklyn. I got to see a modern classic crust band explode with bright pink cherry blossoms bursting all around us! Nature and music were in tune. It was a celebration of the earth!
Just a fun, rockin’, no-BS Oi! show. Nothing wacky or weird, just good friends earnestly bouncing to the beat. I couldn’t stop smiling :)))))))
Billiam is a Naarm-based musician known for projects like DISCO JUNK, TOR, and BILLIAM, as well as Under Heat Records and Magnetic Visions zine.
These are my ten most-listened-to records of the year. 2022 was exciting and I got a lot done, but I also lost sanity at least eight times—better than last year, but still not great. Honourable mentions go to releases by FROG PARTY, O.R.C., FUTURE SUCK, PLEASANTS, the PRIZE, SPREAD JOY, GEE TEE, CHERRY CHEEKS, and GLASS. Fuck, this year was good for music, why did people tolerate me?
SPODEE BOY – Neon Lights EP (Goodbye Boozy)
At this point, Spodee should have a cowboy hat permanently stitched to his head, because he somehow, back-to-back, managed to put together two of the best cowboy-themed punk records of the short decade, leaning closer to COUNTRY TEASERS rather than SOCIAL DISTORTION. It goes from tight to loose, sane to insane, and fun to fucking horrific in two sides of a 7”. It’s so captivating without ever letting you crack its hard shell, leaving some element of mystery in the neon lights.
DELIVERY – Forever Giving Handshakes LP (Anti-Fade / Feel It / Spoilsport)
I think everyone was waiting for DELIVERY to arrive and be dropped on their doorstop, the next generation of kids who grew up listening to 2000s indie rock and warped it into a palatable yet uncanny form of punk. These songs sound like they’ve been played a million times at house shows and kick-ons, with a razor-tight crafted sense of wonkiness. Every little weird riff and unexplainable lyric makes this the next record to be put on loop in every hip record store from here until the needle wears out.
THE UGLIES – Planet Uglies LP (UGL)
Have you ever heard the phrase “commit to the bit”? Well, the UGLIES have, and they’re committed to being so stupid, you hate how much you like their record. Self-described as “the best band ever,” they are possibly correct. Planet Uglies has no symbolism or subtext to be gained—you know what you’re in from the song titles and it’s as glorious as you think it will be. Any band with a song about keeping your kid on a leash is worthy of being here.
1-800-MIKEY – Plushy LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)
What would end up becoming my “pre-job” soundtrack, Plushy is perhaps the daggiest punk record we’ve gotten in a while, and I say that with the utmost respect and awe. Everything here is biohazard levels of catchy, no shame or second doubts. It’s honest in how cute and silly it is—I don’t know if “:3-core” is a thing, but if it is, this probably is at the top of the list. Fuck, what an incredible record to scare the hardcore kids off my lawn.
LASSIE – Behold LP (Phantom)
We were blessed with two doses of LASSIE’s signature brand of surrealist technical punk this year, finally getting a full-length out of them. Behold is their most lively record yet, sounding like a single omnipotent microphone was placed in a rehearsal studio on a spaceship heading for a party in the sun. The ideas here are insane, funny, and amazing, with some song titles too genius not to get it on this list.
GHOULIES – Halloween Special Vol. 1 cassette (Loopy Scoop)
Can GHOULIES do anything wrong? No, that is the answer. For what is essentially an outtakes compilation meant to tease their new records coming out next year, it’s a tight and sarcastic riff-driven punk record that never slows down—you have to feel sorry for their drummer Alex for having to keep up with these songs. Disgusting synth punk for space rats caught in a cage. And I also hate kids and can’t stand them, so music that appeals to that itch is a Billiam-approved release!
GUT HEALTH – Electric Party Chrome Girl EP (Marthouse)
This 7” takes the prize for “quickest time to pre-order expertly-carved plastic” for the year. GUT HEALTH jumped the fuck out of nowhere in Naarm, having formulated a theatrical and threatening sound, seeping into any corner of your mind. I knew all the lyrics to this record before it even came out—it was that much of a leather-clad brainworm. Maybe this is what SUBURBAN LAWNS would’ve sounded like if they ended up on MTV, or what aliens think TALKING HEADS on coke syrup would be like.
R.M.F.C. – Access / Air Conditioning 7” (Anti-Fade)
I have this theory that Buz is some kind of punk-mind collective hologram designed to make all of us fall head over heels with riff power whenever he presses record and puts out a new release. It felt like the world stopped when Buz gained Access to the mainframe: the song seems like it’s always been there, waiting for someone to come out and write it. Scratching some kind of caveman nodule on the brain when that riff comes in, along with an insanely genius cover on the flipside. I wonder how many twelve-string guitars were sold because of this.
SPLIT SYSTEM – Vol. 1 LP (Drunken Sailor / Legless)
An endless ray of sunshine that spreads its warmth across every set of speakers it can, Vol. 1 feels like I’ve already heard it played at every kick on I’ve been at, sitting right next to EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING and HOODOO GURUS in its good feeling and rock-solid approach to masculine rock. All the previous projects these top rockers have been involved in come through and blend into something that maybe surpasses them, becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Just writing about it makes me want to put it back on.
ILL GLOBO – If the Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me digital (self-released)
The final breath from the band that eternally deserved better—no Naarm hardcore band ever grabbed me quite like ILL GLOBO dragged me down the drain. This is their most gripping and incredible record, insane riffs with a sickly synth as a bass and off-the-wall drumming while Tom goes absolutely off on the mic. There’s a haunting aspect to this music (maybe it’s the post-mortem nature of how it was released), but it’s frighteningly beautiful hardcore.
THE FLEX – Chewing Gum for the Ears LP (Lockin’ Out / Static Shock)
Seven years after the release of the Don’t Bother With the Outside World 7″, Northern rebelrousers the FLEX are back and meaner than ever. Despite now being ten years into their existence, Chewing Gum for the Ears contains some of the group’s finest compositions yet (“Beechwood Terrace,” “Inferno,” “Flex IV,” and the title track are all major highlights). These five manchildren haven’t aged a day (…in a good way, of course!). God save the Burley boys, here’s to ten more years!
SAVAGEHEADS – Service to Your Country LP (Social Napalm)
Another long-awaited release on the list—2022 seemed to be the year all the oldies got their shit together! Eight years since their last release, SAVAGEHEADS come rip-roaring back with Service to Your Country. These thirteen tracks are a pogoer’s delight, carrying on the pounding UK82 style showcased on their earlier records. Plenty of new tracks on here—they all rip, but “Line of Duty” is a particular highlight in this writer’s eyes, plus some older tunes given some new life, fresh for the roarin’ ’20s. An absolute powerhouse—’77 in ’82 in ’22.
NOSFERATU – Society’s Bastard cassette (B.L.A.P. / P.M.T. / Roachleg / Sound Grotesca / Unlawful Assembly)
After forming in 2016 in Austin, Texas, Society’s Bastard is supposedly the final release by NOSFERATU—if that is indeed the case, what a hell of a note to go out on. Fifteen tracks of pure, raw hardcore punk, everything we all love about this band plus a few surprises. And of course, it wouldn’t be a NOSFERATU release without some re-recorded stuff thrown in (“Field of Hope,” “Decline and Decay”), and this even features a re-recorded song from vocalist Albert’s SOLDIER’S DISEASE project (“No Flags Fly Here”). Another amazing release from this outstanding band—fans of hardcore fucking punk, do not sleep on it!
ELECTRIC CHAIR – Act of Aggression cassette (Iron Lung)
More heat from Olympia, Washington burnouts ELECTRIC CHAIR. Act of Aggression is actually the band’s debut LP, but was released early on cassette for their European tour with LYSOL. This (kinda) LP carries on the loud, fast, and snotty approach of their three previous 7″s, and it rips harder than ever. Highlights include the menacing “Security Camera,” the blisteringly fast “Obsessed,” and the classic heater “Fatal Disease Pt. 2.”
CML – The Dirty Tape cassette (Rotten Apple)
Midwest rules—this debut release from Indianapolis’ CML is a blistering, messy pile of angry hardcore. Truly nasty stuff. It’s got snarling vocals, it’s got raging instrumentation work (those single pedal double-kicks!!!!!!!) and its cover art is a dude getting clocked—if you’re not convinced, you’re no friend of mine.
FRISK – Stalker LP (Iron Lung)
Much like the FLEX, FRISK are from Leeds, West Yorkshire. The approach differs quite drastically however—Stalker is an uncomfortable and uneasy listening experience from start to finish. It has noticeable influences from American and Japanese HC, but the FRISK sound is one all their own—it’s certainly not a pretty sound, though. This is unadulterated murder music.
BRAIN TOURNIQUET – Torture EP (Iron Lung)
Following in the grand tradition of naming a powerviolence band after a NEANDERTHAL song (see also: MIND ERASER), it’s Washington DC’s BRAIN TOURNIQUET with their second 7″ EP. This is hardcore/PV with plenty of slow and riffy action. A relentless slab of wax, ending on a classic slow burner track. Raging stuff!
MASTERMIND – The Masters’ Orders LP (Quality Control HQ)
The debut LP of MASTERMIND from South London. The sound exhibited on The Masters’ Orders takes cues from classic New York hardcore bands like OUTBURST, BREAKDOWN, and YUPPICIDE, with some added CELTIC FROST influence. The result is a helluva good time. Highly recommended to all the mosherz out there.
MOCK EXECUTION – Killed By Mock Execution LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Midwest rules—Chicago’s MOCK EXECUTION blazes incredibly hard on this LP. Ripper crust in the vein of EXTREME NOISE TERROR and GAI. Every song on this slab rages so hard. There’s even some flanger effects on the guitars, criminally underrated move! Highlights include “Insanity,” “Government Scenes,” and “Enough Is Enough,” but all tunes slay.
GUNN / PEOPLE’S TEMPLE – East Coast Tour 2022 split cassette (No Solution Ltd.)
Orange County’s GUNN and New York’s PEOPLE’S TEMPLE join forces on this cassette. With four tunes from GUNN and six from PEOPLE’S TEMPLE (including a DISORDER cover), the audio fidelity is rough but the attitude is loud and clear—who the fuck wants polished hardcore punk anyway? These GUNN tunes are their best ones yet, as are the PEOPLE’S TEMPLE tunes. Absolute heat!
STRAW MAN ARMY – SOS LP (D4MT Labs Inc. / La Vida Es Un Mus)
MUTATED VOID – Slash the Altar EP (Sewercide)
BLACK DOG – demo cassette (Roachleg)
WARTHOG – Four Walls EP (Static Shock / Toxic State)
IRREAL – Era Electrónica 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus)
INNUENDO / ORGAN-ISM – Live at the Ring cassette (Unlawful Assembly)
T.S. WARSPITE – Stop the Rot LP (Quality Control HQ)
FORESEEN – Untamed Force LP (Quality Control HQ)
INDRE KRIG – Destroyer EP (Adult Crash)
IRON LUNG – Mental Distancing flexi EP (Iron Lung)
- SICK THOUGHTS – Heaven is No Fun LP (Total Punk)
Drew’s finest full-length outing yet is chock full of hits. There was no better 1-2 punch put to wax in 2022 than “Hole in the Wall” followed by “Mother I Love Satan,” and the shining THIN LIZZY licks on “Hole in the Wall” alone make this record worth owning.
- POKY – Poky II cassette (self-released)
Smart, surfy, and sinister garage punk from Leipzig, Germany. If you missed their first tape, you gotta check that one, too.
- EXPLOATÖR – Blind Elit LP (ByeBye Productions / Criminal Attack / Phobia)
This is essentially new TOTALITÄR, who are to kängpunk what New York is to pizza. A polished and powerful D-beating that’s deliciously crusty around the edges, stretched out across twelve pounding tracks.
- BOMBARDEMENT – Le Futur Est Là 12” (Destructure / Symphony of Destruction)
Razor-sharp, next-level D-beat gourmet out of Bordeaux, France. The band has advanced significantly with each release, and the layered flavors on this record make an absolute mockery of the notion that this style is “limited” or “stale.”
- ANTRO – Defastiodistorção 12” (Heavenly Vault)
Oof. Collecting two demo sessions from Germany’s ANTRO, this feverish and fiery eleven-track onslaught blastbeats style-lines into oblivion with its relentless heaviness. I’m hearing SIEGE, SACRILEGE, CONCRETE SOX, and other tasty influences at work. The guitars morph into a series of different murder weapons throughout, the singer is glowing in celebration of the chaos, and I’m not entirely convinced that the drummer is actually human.
- EATER – Ant LP (Cleopatra)
The original mix of EATER’s long-lost intended debut LP from 1977 surfaces a few decades late, and it’s bittersweet, because the band has never sounded better. This potent revelation provides some overdue justice for the O.G. teenage punk outfit.
- TOTAL SHAM – Life as a Total Sham cassette (Dirtbag Distro)
Belligerent deathwish punk from Kansas City like time stopped in ’83. It’s the best shit going.
- PROTON – Imminent Collapse EP (Direct Destruction)
Unforgiving, anti-capitalist D-beat hardcore caked in dirt and loaded with explosives. Sample lyrics: “I wanna sink Jeff Bezos’ yacht / Take Elon’s spaceship and blow it apart / Bill Gates’ AI, make it turn on him / These billionaires are not our friends.”
- PROTON / TOTAL SHAM – split cassette (Dirtbag Distro)
Peanut butter and jelly on black leather. Play, flip, and repeat until unconscious.
- WEREWOLF JONES – Rot Away LP (Big Neck)
While I’ve dug this Detroit trio’s previous output, none of it struck me quite as much as this, their sophomore full-length. The band’s style has expanded into a scathing swamp of sounds with many ingredients, but for me it brings to mind the BASEBALL FURIES, FAG COP, grimy circa-2010 garage like the SHRILLS, and a splash of weird darkness like WIZZARD SLEEVE. Every song on this sophomore full-length is a banger in its own right, beamed through a sweet-spot level of production, and it all just flows amazingly as an album. Creatively and unabashedly punk, it’s acerbic on the surface, but you can tell that a lot of love went into making this potent and engrossing record.
- SICK THOUGHTS – Heaven is No Fun LP (Total Punk)
SCIENCE MAN + @SwimmingFaith in Buffalo, NY.
In no particular order:
DISCIPLINA LIMITAR – Ausencia Ganadora LP (Flexidiscos)
Unlike the usual go-for-the-throat approach, this record toys with its prey, choosing instead to whip you into a frenzy over these eleven total stompers before you realize you’ve been hopelessly tied to the tracks since that first locomotive drums-and-bass line. I dunno how they do things in Valencia, but if making a near-flawless blend of post-punk and hardcore that makes you wanna sing along as you jump through the dinner table is part of their culture, I’m due for an educational visit.
PEACE DE RÉSISTANCE – Bits and Pieces LP (Peace de)
If punks going solo and cosplaying as late ’70s bedroom junkie rockers is an emerging trend, I’m all about it. Picture The Idiot-era IGGY POP but with a little less BOWIE and more of a Warm Jets-era ENO vibe, a whack of early ROXY MUSIC, and that special grime of the VELVET UNDERGROUND, all cooked into a heady dose. The big jam-out at the end of “Heard Your Voice” is a legit modern classic. The album notes say that this project will never play live and that’s fine with me, cuz this is pure fantasy.
SANITIZERS – First Demonstration cassette (Invisible Audio)
I don’t even remember where I discovered this Denver band, but it sounds like it was recorded inside a 7-Eleven microwave as the overnight manager was mixing bleach and ammonia for a final cleaning. It’s eight of the best minutes of absolutely unhinged hardcore I heard all year. I kept coming back for another round of punishment. I know almost nothing about this band, so someone please lmk when they do literally anything else. I’ll pay for an LP to come out if nobody else will. This is kinda exactly what I want from a hardcore band these days.
MIRAGE – Immagini Postume cassette (Roachleg)
Italian hardcore hops in a bed with spooky post-punk and it gets really wild. A super interesting blend of styles that’s full of unexpected song structure twists and turns make this demo really come alive. I feel like I’m lost in a maze, but I’m loving every second of it. Cannot wait to hear what this band does next.
RIGOROUS INSTITUTION – Cainsmarsh LP (Black Water)
Pretty sure if you play this record at midnight and shout “Hour of the Chaos” into the mirror six times, a portal will open and transport your dumb ass to whatever post-apocalyptic hellscape this album actually came from. Once you accept the fact that the ridiculous cartoon villain-like vocals are actually the sickest part of this band, then you can immerse yourself into their crusty, pummeling swamp world and realize they are creating some of the most exciting and original shit out there right now.
THE DRIN – Down River in the Distance LP (Future Shock / Mangel)
The nerds are already writing poetic dissertations about how good this record is, so I’ll spare you my creative writing extra credit attempt. This is outstanding “experimental” music made by someone who clearly loves post-punk, dub, Krautrock, and psychedelia. Raw, adventurous, and unafraid to swim in its own rusty industrial atmosphere without forgetting how to write a tangible song. It was a coin flip to pick this album over the other equally brilliant ones made by the adjacent Cincinnati freaks that came out this year. You’d be a fool not to consider the highly danceable post-punk gem that was the SERFS’ Primal Matter and CRIME OF PASSING’s self-titled LP among the absolute best. I usually have to look these people in the eye a few times a year, so I could really only pick one for my silly list without making it weird.
RESEARCH REACTOR CORP. – USA 2022 Tour Tape cassette (Electric Outlet / Warttmann Inc.)
I hear lots of bands trying to walk this walk, but this one’s the reigning champ. In a chicken-or-the-egg debate, this is more of a rooster in sunglasses diving headfirst into the fryer oil. Next-level blistering party rock’n’roll punk that oozes pure mutant madness. Like the shit that made Bebop and Rocksteady. This is honestly so good that when these songs come out as an actual LP next year, I’ll probably put it on my list again then. So bummed I couldn’t get away from home to catch them on the US tour. Cheers to my boy Biff for scoring me this tape.
FLEA COLLAR – Flea Collar LP (Feel It)
I know this record like just came out, but I’ve been lucky enough to see/share a stage with these mongrels a few times, so I had the jump on most of these hot jams. Lemme tell you: this is some real ignorant Cleveland shit. This album should come with a broken cigarette and a flat beer you can throw against the wall. It’s often incredibly stupid but never short on ripping. FFO: rock’n’roll, riffs, and punk—as a music and a lifestyle you are forced to live cuz no one else would ever accept you.
OUTRAGE FACTOR – Nothing Ever Changes cassette (Tetryon)
Imagine all yer favorite first-wave hardcore and Bloodstains jams were continuously fed into one man’s demented brain like that scene in Clockwork Orange ’til he finally cracked all the way up, running directly into the attic to record and share his tortured mind with the world. Ta-da! A masterclass in early hardcore homage and it fucking rules! Lurching, stomping, raging. But don’t stop there. Keep pulling that thread and see how far it unravels, until you are also listening to the SPOOKY VISIONS tape that came out this year from that same rotten brain. Makes an unbelievable one-two punch from opposite sides of the punk spectrum.
Kai Bosworth lives in Richmond, VA and very occasionally writes reviews and posts mixes at https://stochasticslide.wordpress.com
I was raised on the internet/music nexus, learning about punk not from secretly-traded mixtapes, but from searching the genre tab on Napster from dial-up in small-town South Dakota, so I have no grounds for nostalgia for some pure past of this format. Nonetheless, 2022 has seen the further crumbling of many pockets of interesting culture, DIY or otherwise, on the variety of soul-sucking platforms bought and sold by replacement-level billionaires seeking to tear us apart for parts and trash the rest. Autonomous from such platforms and their simultaneous homogenizing and fracturing tendencies, punk lives on in basements around the world (ideally without cell service). Thanks to Maximum Rocknroll for keeping this up, and you all for reading, listening, and making music.
STRAW MAN ARMY – SOS LP (D4MT Labs Inc. / La Vida Es Un Mus)
This band lies somewhere in that diabolical Venn diagram of peace punk and Vermiform, all while being one of the few groups that has the pulse of both the contemporary apocalypse and what a proper political response to it would look like. Iconic music for the end of this world and the birth of another one.
GIRLSPERM – The Muse Ascends LP (Thrilling Living)
Punk lifers make great punk record, transcending any need to reference their past works. Music for teens at the library, whether melting their brains or just carving out public space to be otherwise.
NEUTRALS – Bus Stop Nights EP (Static Shock)
Though NEUTRALS have always had a pop sensibility, here they fully lean into the purest TELEVISION PERSONALITIES aesthetic. “Pressures of Life” is my song of the year.
PEACE DE RÉSISTANCE – Bits and Pieces LP (Peace de)
Yes, this is a clear homage to BOWIE/ENO/IGGY-era glam, but it’s so well executed that the songs dig comfortable holes in your earwax. A versatile record equally at home when it is cranked up to eleven after an exhausting day of hating work, as the background soundtrack of a small get-together, or as the first thing thrown on a hungover Sunday morning.
XV – Basement Tapes LP (Half A Million)
Though it is claimed that this record emerged from “the basement,” you could be mistaken for thinking it was recorded in a garage. I unabashedly love this somewhat-improvisational punk trio who, for whatever reason, I’ve thought of as something of the ethos of the DEAD C warped through the garage punk of the mid-2000s. The live setting allows for extra space to emerge in between the off-kilter instruments and deadpan lyrical observations; as far as I can tell, none of the songs appear on their (excellent) 2019 LP. Includes crucial sandal-related banter.
SOUP ACTIVISTS – Medieval Soap Operas cassette (Rotten Apple)
A solo pop tape collection by Martin née Lumpy. Rambling, introspective, lo-fi oddities which bring an authentic snottiness to worldly impressions of “lugubrious” everyday life.
SKIFTANDE ENHETER – Öppna Landskap EP (Happiest Place)
Over the years, this Swedish band has produced a wide range of sounds which express the spirit and range of COUNTRY TEASERS. On this EP, the band also draws upon the pop guitar noodles of FELT to craft a danceable medley of melodies. “Statsepidemiolog” is my other song of the year.
JEANINES – Don’t Wait For a Sign LP (Slumberland)
Pure indie pop earworms in a minor key. Probably at the very edges of punk influence but close enough for me.
NON PLUS TEMPS – Desire Choir LP (Post Present Medium)
Dub-influenced post-punk that has left me floored and bug-eyed every time I listen. I knew I’d appreciate these sounds given the members and collaborators, who seek to expand “the band” beyond the tradition-laden “bourgeois nuclear family” model towards a “communist interpretation of collective music.” These words from a nice companion philosophical riso-printed manifesto laying out what reads to me like an invitation for broader non-formalized participation in a kind of pop avant-garde. “The new world’s emerging somewhere,” whether that’s in DIY punk or something beyond it.
Nine more great ones:
DEHIDRATÁLT FEJEK – Bla Bla Bla (Budapest) EP (Megvető Kiadó / Szégyen Kazetták)
Please get in touch if you know where I can buy this.
THE COOL GREENHOUSE – Sod’s Toastie LP (Melodic)
ONYON – Onyon cassette (Flennen / Trouble In Mind / U-Bac)
THA RETAIL SIMPS – Reverberant Scratch: 9 Shots in tha Dark (Total Punk)
122 Hours of Fear fanzine (edited by Layla Gibbon)
HOTLINE TNT – When You Find Out EP (Poison Rhythm)
RIBBON STAGE – Hit with the Most LP (K / Perennial)
SPREAD JOY – II LP (Feel It)
STAR PARTY – Meadow Flower LP (Feel It / Tough Love)
MICHAEL DE TOFFOLI
Michael From the North Bay has been contributing to MRR since 2015 as a columnist, reviewer, and as the host of his remote radio show for MRR Radio. xLA=>SR=>SF=>PDXx. firstname.lastname@example.org
There were too many MVPs this year to choose just one, so I’d like to split it up into categories. 2022 really was a surprisingly great year for music.
JADE DUST – Wild Geese 12” (Ebullition / Extinction Burst)
Most Motivational goes to JADE DUST. Fantastic open-hearted trad hardcore that covers the spectrum of the genre. The perfect blend of rebelliousness with the intent to grow rather than destroy.
HEAVEN – Starless Midnight EP (Iron Lung)
I love bands that punish you for loving them. HEAVEN doesn’t break it over your head, but instead kind of pummels you with it, driving to the point of running you over (everyone’s already made the FLIPPER connection, right?). Also, Best Band Name award, for sure.
BODY FARM – Living Hell cassette (Dune Altar)
The best blitz of livid hardcore to come out this year. Furious with a message, and the echo-y vocals give this a great haunting vibe, like they’re coming from the grave or from the future. Bands with a strong message like this deserve to be heard, and BODY FARM doesn’t let you ignore them. Best Indoctrinates of 2022.
LOBOS HUMANOS / LOS MORTS – Ghouls Night Out split CD (Morts Cult)
This was a tough category, but (maybe?) Best Horror Punk Release of 2022. Oozing with halloween charisma, they really made the 2022 holiday mean something (honestly there were a weird amount of great horror punk releases this year—shouts out to MAX SCHRECK, the DEATHTONES, and FORBIDDEN DIMENSION). And of course, big congratulations for the LOBOS HUMANOS / LOS MORTS’ Morts Cult Records debut!
ESKIZO – Abandoner La Esperanza cassette (Monachu)
The most utterly intense, brain splattering-ly extreme band/record award. It speaks for itself.
GREEN/BLUE – Offering LP (HoZac)
An easy one: Best Gaze-y Indie-Punk of 2022. Relentlessly reliable and energetic, and sensitive to the level of an indie punk SUFJAN STEVENS. This record reminded me that once again, anyone can “come of age” at any point in their lives. Best “That Inspiring Friend With The Best Life Advice” award.
BILLIAM / THE VOVOS – Vampire Club split EP (Selkie)
Fun. The word for this split is fun. No-nonsense, yet somehow mixed with the most nonsense. It takes a lot of careful planning to be that carefree and spontaneous. (Australians, amiright?) Most Fun Record of 2022, no contest.
LASSIE – Behold 12” (Phantom)
I’m gonna call it…Most Wacky? It’s like they’ve invented a new color, or a different flavor of oxygen. Just…just listen to it. Seriously.
V/A – Typical Girls Vol. 6 LP (Emotional Response)
Once again, Typical Girls takes Best Comp, and once again for good reason. I swear they keep getting better somehow, even after six volumes (also, a shout-out to the 2022 MVPs of the comp PROVOKE).
CEREMONY OF SLUDGE X – live at High Water Mark in Portland, OR, February 25th & 26th
Show of the Year goes to the tenth and final Ceremony of Sludge Fest. Having so much history, it could have easily been a greatest hits of the last ten years, but they still managed to put together a line up of scene staples and less well-known bands. The best thing about local fests like this is getting to discover bands, and there were plenty that caught our attention.
Romain lives in Paris and runs the award-winning blog Terminal Sound Nuisance. In his spare time, he sings in BARREN? and TURQUOISE, runs Détruire l’Ennui broadcast on Radio Libertaire, and puts on gigs locally for touring bands. He has been the head of the local Department of Crust Studies since 2012 and is a proud Honorary Member of the International D-Beat Society.
REPRESSION ATTACK – An Endless Land of Ugly Shapes digital (self-released)
2022 has been prolific in the niche crust department, and this work really took me by surprise. This Russian band claims to play “psychedelicrust.” Imagine an angry orgy between heavy classic stenchcore like AXEGRINDER or MISERY, but with that typical Russian touch—think ’12 FATUM, and heavy space rock and dark psychedelic parts, not unlike IOWASKA, ΠΑΝΙΚΟΣ or CONTROPOTERE, with lyrics in their mother language. This should prove to the non-believers that crust can sometimes be inventive and creative.
TERMINAL FILTH – Death Driven LP (Agipunk)
When your line of attack is dark, gruff stenchcore, do you really need an original name? Former members of KRIMINAL, NOCTURNAL SCUM, etc. deliver punishing, gnarly, old-school metallic crust with disgruntled grizzly vocals. They aren’t reinventing the crust pants, but the balance between mid-paced apocalyptic moments and faster ones is lovely. Some cello and spoken word opening and concluding the album clearly hint at anarcho-crust tradition, and if you need points of comparison, let’s say that Death Driven sounds like a pub brawl between HELLSHOCK and CANCER SPREADING with LIMB FROM LIMB refereeing.
BURNING//WORLD – Peace is No Reality 12’’ (Blown Out Media)
Best D-beat album of the year. This gem illustrates it is difficult to do something as deceptively simple and delicate as this popular genre properly. BURNING//WORLD masters the strict template with ease, faith, distortion, and tastefulness, with punchy yet raw production. This is DISCLOSE meeting DISASTER on a dating website run by the HORRENDOUS guys; a D-beat miracle. Love and destruction are all around.
GEFYR – Gefyr LP (Flykstoda)
And Sweden does it again. I already reviewed this absolute scorcher, so there is no need to rave too much again. A blazing and pummeling Swedish hardcore tornado reminiscent of vintage TOTALITÄR and NO SECURITY. What a pounding.
BAD BREEDING – Human Capital LP (Iron Lung)
An angry, dire depiction of working people’s deteriorating living conditions in post-Brexit Britain run by austerity politics, and a ruthless elite too happy to serve flag-waving capitalists. This is an intense and unique listening experience with a strong narrative quality, as BAD BREEDING sit tight between Ungovernable Force, ICONS OF FILTH, and dissonant noise-driven relentless modern hardcore. Versatile but threatening music that is as relevant musically as politically. A rare band.
LA FRACTION – De l’Autre Côté LP (Crash / Gestalt / Konstroy / Maloka / Mass Productions / Mescufurus / Stonehenge / Tranzophobia / Trująca Fala / Twisted Chords)
Everyone knows LA FRACTION; they’ve been going for thirty years, and this delightful, crisp album delivers ten songs of catchy, passionate punk with the usual powerful and tuneful vocals from Magali. They haven’t changed much since their last album from 2006, and De l’Autre Côté sounds like the perfect next chapter of an already great story—there is no band quite like them. Their lyrics are embedded in the present with songs hinting at the Yellow Vest movement, our compulsive need to be connected, and growing older. Singing along to the many hits when showering (assuming you do) comes highly recommended.
FAMILLE D’ACCUEIL – Demo cassette (Creepozoïde Production / Happy Gary / Yoyodyne)
FAMILLE D’ACCUEIL is a promising band to emerge from Paris, with members previously in MON DRAGON, TRASHLEY, CZOSNEK, and ANSIAX. This is their first demo, and includes nine songs of energetic, tuneful hardcore punk with dynamic female vocals and many clever hooks in the songwriting keeping things fresh. The pace is mostly fast but there is variety—I am reminded of BREAD AND WATER, LOST WORLD at their most melodic, or POST REGIMENT, but FAMILLE D’ACCUEIL stands on their own two feet. The sing-along lyrics are in Polish, French, and English (two songs are adaptations of two Fernando Pessoa poems). And they cover SIEKIERA!
RIGOROUS INSTITUTION – Cainsmarsh LP (Black Water / Symphony of Destruction)
This is a strange album. It is the first album of Portland’s RIGOROUS INSTITUTION, and writing a whole album of occult medieval crusty pagan synth-metal(?) Is arduous. Cainsmarsh sounds like a cohesive whole and is to be listened to like Poe’s short stories have to be read. RIGOROUS INSTITUTION have been likened to early AMEBIX for the entranced beats, but with way more synth, and I hear a bleaker version of CELTIC FROST and the doom metal/punk band HYBERNOID in part, too.
ASYLUM – Is This the Price? EP (Demo Tapes)
This EP exemplifies what proud noise-not-music, shit-fi raw punk is about. ASYLUM has long been this obscure cult band for raving raw punk fanatics, and finally, their 1982 demo has been reissued. As usual from this brilliant label, there is a beautiful booklet with interviews, pictures, posters, and reviews—a work of genuine passion. ASYLUM were from sunny Stoke-on-Trent (like DISCHARGE) and pioneered chaotic, fuzzy, distorted-to-death, UK-style hardcore punk. Just imagine playing a moldy live tape of DISORDER covering DISCHARGE songs on speed at a squat gig, but faster. Birth of noise, death of music.
DISABLE – Ostateczna Krwawa Kąpiel LP (NIC / Retkinia)
Reissues can be a great way to bump into bands you have never heard of in spite of their local popularity. The Łódź-based DISABLE are one such band: quite active in the early ’00s, but they only self-released a CD-R in 2003. With members of LOST and HOMOMILITIA, they were part of the long tradition of quality Polish crust punk and played heavy, hard-hitting, fast crust reminiscent of classic ’90s Polish bands like SANCTUS IUDA, HOMOMILITIA, or HOSTILITY, but with a prevalent Swedish influence (the “dis” prefix).
(Dis)Honourable mentions: WARKRUSHER, CIMITERRIUM, TORMENTUM, SQUANDERED, SYSTEMA, LUMPEN, VERDICT, DECOMP, OHYDA, REALM OF TERROR, SLAVERY, TEMPTER, NIGHTFEEDER.
Ryan Hertel was a shitworker and record/zine/book reviewer for MRR for a few years in San Francisco. He’s now living in Portland, OR and collecting hobbies while working as a funeral director. Send him Godzilla toys. Follow his weirdo movie obsession on Letterboxd @NudityExplosion.
I didn’t hate 2022 as much as I hated 2019–2021, so that’s something! There was also some decent music to keep that unexpected optimism growing. Here is some of it:
THE MEFFS – Broken Britain Pt. 1 10” (Bottles to the Ground)
I have loved an aggressive and loud drums-and-guitar two-piece band since I was promoting shows like twenty years ago and PEN 15 from somewhere in Ohio would rip my face off while managing to smoke cigarettes while drummin’ and strummin’. The MEFFS bring that kind of “fuck off, this is all we need” energy to their punk rock and/or roll. It also really helps that Lily, the vocalist and guitarist, has seemingly learned to sing in the school of Dick Lucas (SUBHUMANS, CITIZEN FISH). This first 10” of a planned two is fuckin’ rad harbinger of things to come.
HELP – 2053 LP (Nadine)
Portland’s HELP are an incredible, noisy, loud, and wild live show. It’s post-hardcore chaos. They also almost capture all that feeling on this album. “Jesus God (A House That Barely Tolerates Humans)” is a song I keep finding myself singing in inappropriate contexts.
HOSTILITIES – Nø Cowards LP (Bullet Tooth)
It appears that Portland, OR incubated some really good stuff this year. HOSTILITIES are as loud as HELP, but they are significantly angrier. Can I dream of a double bill of hardcore Portland fury? I mean yeah, I could, but I think it could actually happen pretty easily and be amazing. I’ll save the dream for now. (Seriously though, please make this double bill happen, someone who is reading this…and not on a night I have to work. Thank you!)
DADDY’S BOY – Great News! LP (Drunken Sailor)
When you can fit eleven songs into sixteen minutes and still have lyrics as lengthy and well-written as this, you’re doing something supremely right. I love this album of smart-as-fuck hardcore ditties. Annunciation by vocalists is also something I have an affinity for, and JJ Skolnik pronounces every syllable to every word. I like a good eschewing of mumbling singers sometimes.
THE FLATLINERS – New Ruin LP (Fat Wreck)
I’ve been following this band for fifteen years, from when they were literal teenagers. It’s rad when a band can continue making new tunes while maintaining what made them good to begin with and never growing stale. New Ruin has as much energy and urgency as The Great Awake from 2007, while adding a little strain to the vocals and a little more guitar and drums mastery. They also shed almost all of their ska sound, because, ya know, we all grow up.
CF98 – This is Fine LP (SBÄM / Sound Speed)
Poland’s CF98 is pop punk for people who have a nostalgia for the ska revival of the mid-to-late ’90s, but like without the ska or the toxic bro dudes in shorts and checkered Vans. You now, like just the fun stuff with the fat trimmed. This album is fun as all hell, like a time machine that lets you experience youthful joy again but without wrecking the timeline and such.
NO TRIGGER – Dr. Album LP (Red Scare)
This album is snotty lefty-leftist political whiner punk for wiener-y loser kids. I love it. I like seeing Jonathan Diener in a band too, since the SWELLERS died however many years ago.
VERRAT – Zeiten der Leere LP (Save the Scene)
I only listened to one Austrian crust punk album this year, so I’m confident in saying that this is the best Austrian crust punk album I listened to this year. The death metal vocals and occasional black metal guitars thrown into a decidedly crusty hardcore album just make me happy. There is no time to rest either, as this album stays super strong for its complete runtime. This is pissed-off music for the discerning consumer of angry media, and it continues to rock after many repeated listens.
SHE/HER/HERS – SHE/HER/HERS CD (Don Giovanni)
Emma Grrrl bares her soul on this folk-punk collection of studio-ripened re-recordings of her older songs. It’s nice to have something new to add to the mix when I’m in a DYKE DRAMA or HOMELESS GOSPEL CHOIR mood. I’m also keeping an alert eye out for when this album gets a vinyl release, which it danged better. Buy all the queer records.
MYTERI – Illusion LP (Alerta Antifascista / Halvfabrikat)
MYTERI from Sweden takes the wonders of crust punk and infuses it with a nice dash of “oohs,” “ahhs,” and meditative sadfuckery. For me, it’s a nice detour from good old-fashioned hardcore without accidentally falling into a death metal hole. This is also an album I like getting shit done to. Do it. Clean your room to this. I dare you.