2023 Year End Top Tens, Part Four

And here is the final round of Maximum Rocknroll Year End Top Tens! Be sure to read all the way though for the surprise at the end.

Parts, one, two, and three, in case you weren’t staying tuned.


Ben C Trogdon lives in NYC, puts together NUZZZZZZINE punk fanzine, and plays drums in ABIZM. / PO Box 1959 NY NY 10013 / vbdbct on Instagram

CHOCOCRUSTIES live, Puerto Montt, Chile – January 2023
Next door to the squatted orphanage, there was a parade of people in their Sunday best, playing and singing Christian songs loudly. The Christians looked very clean and proud. Inside of the squat, everyone was still up from the party and show the night before, bugged-out insane. Everyone yelling and talking at once. There was a band practicing, and dogs running around barking. The show area was in the garage, which they had converted to a rehearsal/performance space. It was the most scary and demented show space I’d ever seen. There were no windows. To keep the sound kind of muffled (I think?), white carpet was poorly nailed to the walls and ceiling. And to “decorate,” they had put their handprints on the walls in sloppy red paint. It looked like someone had been murdered and then afterwards the killer threw the body parts all over the room, playing in the guts and splashing around in the blood. There was only one light—a naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling—and to make it more of a performance-y kind of vibe, they unscrewed the light bulb halfway when bands played so it flickered on and off. This made it feel like I was in a snuff film and I was about to witness someone getting tortured—or worse?!? In between bands, everyone went outside to the overgrown playground and gathered around a phone to watch Colo Colo play. I think they lost, tho. And then everyone went in and then came out and back in and back out again, rattled everything around and yelled, and ran around throwing stuff. A teenage girl sat next to me and tried to talk to me, but her teeth were grinding so hard it was difficult for me to follow what she was saying. A lot of bands played and they were all fucking sick. The murder room made everything feel otherworldly and evil. CHOCOCRUSTIES’ drummer, Andromeda, set up the show and was our host. He is an out-of-his-mind madman who was going completely insane, and I like him. He’s generous, thoughtful, and really funny. I couldn’t make any sense of what he was saying, and not just cuz my Spanish sucks, but mostly because he shouted slurred gibberish “CTM!” and ran away. When CHOCOCRUSTIES played, he got it together tho, and they fucking kicked ass.



Biff Bifaro reviews cassettes for MRR, runs Feral Kid Records and Tetryon Tapes, and plays in NERVOUS TICK & THE ZIPPER LIPS.

Another year, come and gone. Doesn’t the time just fly by? As I have always done, being that I only review cassette releases and demos for Maximum Rocknroll, that is what my year-end list will consist of. This year feels slightly different, as in previous years I have constructed my list based mostly on releases I have personally been sent for review by MRR. However, this past year, the number of tapes I was sent greatly decreased. Listen up, bands/labels, send in your demos and tapes for review to Maximum Rocknroll! I know that we are maybe no longer the coffee table staple at every punk house that we once were when we were a physical magazine, but it’s still worth sending your tapes in to get a review.

And without any further ramblings, leaving the records to everyone else’s lists, I will be focusing on the cassette releases that have really wowed me this year. A mere one was sent to me by MRR to review, the rest I came upon in my personal travels, all of which have been showcased on my sporadic Maximum Rocknroll Radio show, “First Glimpse From the Crowbar Hotel.”

AUTOBAHNS – Tour Tape Singles & Demos December 22’ cassette (Magüt)
Having been released in December of 2022 and with no copies really making it to the States, it’s easy to see why the first AUTOBAHNS cassette may not have been on many punks’ radars here. That, however, will change in the coming year, as they have an LP in press currently set to come out here on Feral Kid Records. Keep your eyes peeled for some bonkers, top-notch Euro egg-punk idiocy.

BAD ANXIETY – Demonstration II cassette (Earth Girl)
You know me, you know I love hardcore punk…and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. BAD ANXIETY rules, and their second demo is as good as the first. What originally began as a COVID solo project has turned into a full band that is regularly hitting the road and touring the dang world. Recordings thus far are still all done by Hampton, the mastermind behind the project.

BESTA QUADRADA – The First Four Weeks cassette (Swimming Faith)
Perhaps a bit of blatant localism here, but my god, this tape absolutely rips! Beginning at the end of April this year, BESTA QUADRADA has quickly become one of my favorite local acts in the Buffalo, NY scene.

CLASS – But Who’s Reading Me? cassette (Feel It)
Gotta be a household name at this point—CLASS keeps the hits coming. Second cassette release, with an LP sandwiched between them, all on the mighty Feel It Records.

FUGITIVE BUBBLE – Delusion cassette (Impotent Fetus)
Kooky, weirdo punk from Olympia, WA. Their third cassette release, this being the band’s longest so far at ten songs (since pressed to vinyl by Sorry State). The biggest regret I have from this past year was getting COVID and having to miss playing with them, and finally getting to see this band I’ve been hyped on for a while.

ITCHY & THE NITS – Itchy & the Nits cassette (Warttmann Inc.)
Surely everyone has noticed that there’s something truly special going on Down Under these days. This killer demo is no exception to that rule. Believe the hype. Memorable, witty, catchy garage punk at its finest.

MONONEGATIVES – Digital Movement cassette (Wet Cassettes)
A band that can do no wrong in my book, MONONEGATIVES also put out a killer second LP this year on Dowd and No Front Teeth. This three-song cassette is more killer, synth-heavy new wave at its finest.

PAL – Pals cassette (Clean Demon)
The only tape on this list I was sent by MRR to review. Wild synth punk band from Cleveland that thankfully seems to have more releases in the chamber.

PAPRIKA – Smoked cassette (Chaos and Chill|
Second cassette from this New Orleans based powerhouse, the first of which came out on Iron Lung. Four-song release by one of the best live bands I’ve seen this year. Three originals, and a demented BUZZCOCKS cover.

RED DEVIL RYDERS – Of Cleveland cassette (Painters Tapes)
The band that truly has it all. It’s catchy throwback rock’n’roll, it’s early power pop, it’s somehow a punk band—this band is inexplicably everything that the listener already likes. “5 Spicy Tracks” is right! Personally, I cannot get enough of this band, and if you get a chance to see them live, I highly suggest you take it.

…and one for good measure, because apparently I couldn’t count when I was putting together my list, and once it was made I couldn’t bear to put one on the chopping block:

SILICON HEARTBEAT – MT0001 cassette (self-released)
Kalamazoo, MI mutant synth punk. I believe these three songs are the first release in which SILICON HEARTBEAT recorded as a full band, not merely a solo project. Having been a fan since tape one, I am always anxiously awaiting the next output from these crushers, and I have it on good authority that they’ve got a new full-band EP slated in the coming months. Allow me to let you in on a little secret, it’s good. It’s damn good.


Eric Anderson is a Chicago-based reviewer for MRR.

Holy shit, I had a difficult time keeping up with releases this year. Certainly not a bad problem to have, but next year, I’m starting an Excel spreadsheet to keep track. Here are my top ten:

  1. PEST CONTROL – Don’t Test the Pest LP (Quality Control HQ)
    Proper thrash mixing the best parts of ’80s and modern crossover. “Buggin’ Out” was stuck in my head for the better part of the year.
  1. BELGRADO – Intra Apogeum LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
    One of the most surprising releases of the year, delightfully clinical and perfectly executed post-punk. This one is a hit at the coffee shop I work at on the weekends.
  1. SPIRITO DI LUPO – Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
    SPIRITO DI LUPO captured the anxiety of 2023 on this one. In what felt like a year of cognitive dissonance in too many ways, this album kept my head grounded in reality.
  1. ENZYME – Golden Dystopian Age 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus)
    This is a nasty one and I love it. A disorienting and punishing listen that took about three listens to fully wrap my head around. I love the dance-y bits, and bonus points to ENZYME for being the most photogenic band of the year.
  1. ELECTRIC CHAIR – Act of Aggression LP (Iron Lung)
    I know this was kicking around before 2023, but since this year saw the vinyl release, I’m going to include it here. I love ELECTRIC CHAIR, and this album has been on regular rotation for me. Nothing fancy, nothing fussy, an expression of punk in its purest form. Darby Crash would be proud.
  1. CHAIN WHIP – Call of the Knife LP (Drunken Sailor / Neon Taste)
    In my formative years, I was more of a ’70s punk guy, but as I approach middle age, I find the intensity and delivery of ’80s punk scratches the itch a bit more. Thank god for CHAIN WHIP, whose latest is a wonderfully rabid slice of West Coast hardcore punk by way of Vancouver.
  1. 偏執症者 (PARANOID) – S.C.U.M. 12” (Beach Impediment / Not Enough / Sorry State)
    One of my favorite bands, and one of my favorite albums of the year. PARANOID is so fucking good, a band with a truly tight sound and style that never disappoints. I hope they never change.
  1. FAIRYTALE – Shooting Star LP (Quality Control HQ / Toxic State)
    A stunning fever dream of hardcore punk that has charm to spare. Catchy and hypnotic vocals that get my vote for best of the year.
  1. STINGRAY – Fortress Britain LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
    Since “Feeding Time,” I’ve been a big fan of STINGRAY’s and knew their debut LP would be a crusher and I was correct. Fortress Britain is a vicious album with a vicious message perfectly in step with the times.
  1. HOME FRONT– Games of Power LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
    Between relentlessly playing shows with a who’s-who of modern punk bands from the CHISEL to POISON RUÏN, and dropping a debut LP that’s been unanimously praised by fans and critics alike, HOME FRONT kicked 2023’s ass. Games of Power is pure post-punk perfection, mixing all the best bits of your favorite bands into a dazzling collection of songs that sound as great in your headphones as they do live. I saw them twice in a day over the summer and can confirm they’re one of the hardest working and highest-energy bands out there. Don’t sleep on these guys, catch ‘em in 2024 if you can.


Ignacio Santander vive en Concepción, Chile. Edita el fanzine Crisis Total, lleva el sello y tienda de discos Discultura.

Mi top ten está en español por dos motivos: 1) no me da vergüenza ser latino, como dijeron los CRUDOS, y 2) puedes traducirlo en tu teléfono.

PIÑÉN – Nicolasa Quintremán EP (self-released)
Es fácil hablar sobre el sonido de PIÑÉN, aborto sonoro como solo ellas lo pueden hacer, pero lo que quiero destacar de este disco es la función que cumple, he visto como este humilde artefacto refresca la memoria e introduce a nuevas personas a la historia de Nicolasa Quintremán, y con esto pone de nuevo sobre la mesa la lucha de mas de 500 años del pueblo Mapuche contra los ricos y las multinacionales. Un disco importante en estos tiempos.

MATARRATAS – Matarratas LP (Arma Negra)
No hay nada mejor que una nueva banda que te emociona en tu ciudad, MATARRATAS es eso, una banda que revivió en mí el entusiasmo de ir a una tocada, son punkis jóvenes que tocan hardcore influenciado por MELLAKKA y el street punk de los ’90s, espero que el próximo año puedan concretar la edición en cassette.

SAÑA – EP 1 cassette (Incendia)
SAÑA son de San Pedro de la Paz, no tocan muy seguido, y eso los hace aún mejor, verlos en vivo es toda una experiencia, tocan punk con un pequeño toque de thrash, pero el resultado es tan crudo que me hace pensar mas en CIEMO que en otra cosa.

EMOCIONES CLANDESTINAS – Demo 1986 y Más LP (Discos Mugrientos / Sub)
Esto si que no me lo esperaba, EMOCIONES CLANDESTINAS fue una banda de mi ciudad, activa en los ’80s, su disco Abajo En La Costanera es un clásico de la música chilena. Esta grabación es el demo de la banda, que nunca fue editado, esta es la primera época con Carmen Gloria como vocalista, el sonido es similar a X-RAY SPEX o AEROLINEAS FEDERALES. Si este demo hubiese sido editado sería un clásico sudamericano!

MARÍA T-TA Y EL EMPUJÓN BRUTAL – Maria T-Ta Y El Empujón Brutal LP (Discos Mugrientos / Sub)
Otro rescate latinoamericano, esta vez desde Perú, creo que la primera vez que supe sobre MARÍA T-TA fue con la edición en 7” de Sub Discos, en esos años estaba completamente obsesionado con la escena peruana de los ’80s, la historia y música qué hizo Patricia Roncal fue un total descubrimiento para mi, varios años después sale este LP con una selección de canciones y unas breves notas sobre Patricia escritas por su amigo.

Crudo Soy #10
Quince años no es nada! Un nuevo número de uno de los pocos fanzines que siguen activos en Chile, el primer número es de 2008, y todos estos años después sigue con ánimos de escribir sobre punk y contracultura en todo el mundo, siempre combinando entrevistas de bandas locales e internacionales, traduciendo textos al español, y en general entregado la mayor cantidad de información posible.

CAOS FINAL / SKIRLA – split EP (self-released)
CAOS FINAL son de Temuco, SKIRLA son de Concepción, entre ambas ciudades hay cuatro horas de distancia, pero eso no fue un impedimento para que estos punkis concretaras este compartido, cada uno con su estilo, uno tocando D-beat lleno de eco en la escuela contemporánea de MÁQUINA MUERTA y el otro con un sonido punk hardcore que me recordó mucho a la primera cinta de DHK. Si no me equivoco toda la grabación fue hecha en un día, después de una tocada la noche anterior en el mismo lugar.

ABISM en Lota
Este año comenzó con la visita de ABISM a Chile, había conocido a algunos de sus integrantes un par de años atrás y fue muy divertido volver a encontrarlo, una de las tocadas fue en Lota, una ex ciudad minera al sur de Chile, tocaron en las ruinas de una fábrica junto a SILICOSIS, SKIRLA, HARAKIRI, PENA DE MUERTE, y los locales MENORES POSEIDOS, fue una celebración de la amistad donde todos debieron poner de su parte para que sucediera.

TOZCOS – Infernal LP (Quality Control HQ / Toxic State)
Cuando anunciaron este nuevo disco me sorprendió lo rápido que grabaron después del Sueños Deceptivos, luego me di cuenta que ya pasaron cinco años…TOZCOS es mi banda actual favorita, sin dudas, y cuando escuché esta nueva grabación no me defraudaron, el único problema es que no sé con que bandas compararlos, porque TOZCOS cada vez encuentran mas su identidad, y son simplemente TOZCOS.

GÜIÑA – Que Justicia? EP (Discultura)
En GUIÑA tocan amigos de muchos años, personas que son muy importantes para mí, su música y su energía me inspiró a sacar el primer disco en mi sello, con todos los inconvenientes que esto puede tener haciendo desde acá. GÜIÑA ya no existe, pero sus integrantes siguen haciendo bandas y proyectos que me inspiran.


Josh Feigert runs State Laughter and plays in MOTHER’S MILK, GLITTERING INSECTS, and GG KING.

Mind is riddled with shards of punk. Irreparable damage done when I first started to scavenge the used CD store I still patronize today. RUDIMENTARY PENI’s E.P.s of R.P, CHROME box set, WIPERS, HARRY PUSSY’s What Was Music?. Shards formed cysts pushing on the physicality of how I thought. I can’t not look at post-’77 culture as being tied to punk in some way.  “Why be something you’re not?”. There is this “mutant” narrative pervasive in modern punk that feels disingenuous. We have access to more music than ever, yet it seems harder for people to find identity as an artist that doesn’t reproduce distorted image archetype. I’m a lifer. I still live for it, but please, I’m begging you to embrace what makes you weird. (Note: numerous of my original selections were not considered “punk enough” for MRR’s standards, so keep in mind that this is an abridged list. My goal was for people looking to broaden their sonic interests to maybe take a chance on something they normally wouldn’t, but I guess that’s not kosher. I honestly found it pretty difficult to navigate a list that conformed to MRR’s standards, but here we are.)
[Editor’s note: musical criteria for Year End Top Ten submissions are the same as those for record reviews, which can be found here.]

BEING DEAD – When Horses Would Run LP (Bayonet)
This could very easily have been a by-the-book garage/jangle record, but eccentric personality and keen pop sense shines thru. Same reason why bands like RIBOFLAVIN are so good: it’s about those contorted minds before any aesthetic.

BLUE DOLPHIN – Robert’s Lafitte LP (Cleta-Patra / Post Present Medium)
This LP is the exact length of my commute. Music for mental displacement while occupying a motor vehicle. It’s got that chuckwagon vibe. Like there is some sci-fi novella where they go back into a Sam Peckinpah movie and tour West Texas by horse and buggy. Fragmented fidelity, a feeling of a little bit being recorded each time they got together. Music for still wanting to play basements in your thirties.

BALLISTIC AX – Ballistic Acts of Terror cassette (Designated Moshers Unit)
The kids in BALLISTIC AX and peripheral scene have given punk in Atlanta new life. It’s a blast watching them play and grow. Atlanta was a walking graveyard for so long. I mean that in the kindest way possible, as I am one of its corpses. It’s great when people in their fifties still come out to shows, but punk is nothing without the kids, and youth culture in general is back in Atlanta. This doesn’t reinvent anything, but it rips and I will always put on for my city.

CHROME CELL TORTURE – Laugh Then Lie 7” (Scarlet)
Huge fan of the OILY BOYS LP. Along with GUTTER GODS, PERSPEX FLESH, and PERMISSION, this is what I want to violently speed in my car to. This is singer Drew Bennett’s new project, and has a lot of similarities. While not really hardcore, it retains that intensity. Vocals delivered with desperate clarity. Cover has a masked character with a sickle about to destroy a field of monotone sunflowers. Chorus-laden guitars, a Sydney signature (LOW LIFE/ORION/OILY BOYS). A sound that has been done, but only works when it feels honest. I can empathize with the misery of sometimes wanting to just look at a wall and do nothing.

NURSE – Nurse 12” (State Laughter)
Full disclosure: I released this record. I don’t care it is going on here. This took years to get together and it’s over in less than fifteen minutes. Perfect record. Violent, melodically/rhythmically creative, and extremely dark. One of the only bands I still mosh too. Very Atlanta. Seams bursting with energy. Burbling over, and staining everything it touches. Living life stained, bruised, and fucked-up . Painting beautiful pictures around the bruises, but not over them. Having children and still being punk. Accepting that you will die.

NAG – Human Coward Coyote LP (Convulse)
Brannon Greene is a factory. No one sounds like him. Again this is very Atlanta, very dark. Human Coward Coyote is a brilliant string of words. Brooding and paranoid, narrated by someone off-scene who knows something horrible is about to happen. Great sense of movement and speed. It keeps you chasing after shadows. And then it’s over.

PARANOID MANIAC – Watchlist EP (self-released)
DOUBLE NEGATIVE, PUBLIC ACID, and now PARANOID MANIAC. My favorite modern US hardcore continually comes out of North Carolina. All these bands are well versed in music beyond punk and sonically this is what seals the deal . Music for maniacal laughter, dissolving bodies, and walking backwards.

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
Sowing seeds in the fields of SWELL MAPS. The accents are fake, but the music is great. The Dan Treacy memorial field just next to Jowe Meadows. Thank OGs like Tom Lax and Chuck Warner.

THE DARK – Dressing the Corpse LP (Scat)
Sister band to SPIKE IN VAIN. The fact that children were making this music blows my mind. Cleveland, an ugly beautiful place. I’ll never forget sitting in the hot tub at Not Horrible Fest behind Now That’s Class. Cleveland, a place where people are unashamedly themselves. Brilliant guitar.

DURING – During LP (Chunklet Industries)
Funny, I didn’t hear this until after I started my list. Somehow escaped me for most the year, even though it involved multiple friends and was released by a local label. On first listen I felt like the guitar player had really mastered aping my boy Cory Plump, turns out it’s because he was Cory Plump This pushes what SPRAY PAINT was doing further, in a way that couldn’t have been configured without reconfiguring. Antipodean vocals by the homie Steven Fisher push this right where I want it in the mix. This wins because even though Ben Wallers says “Collaboration is a crime in France,” it leaves me fantasizing about other dream collaborations between friends. Let’s make them realities in 2024.


Kai Bosworth lives in Richmond, VA and very occasionally writes reviews and posts mixes at

A bumper crop of DIY punk records has emerged over the last twelve months. Old favorites return with additional members, full-lengths deliver on the tantalizing promises of past 7”s, new assemblages of familiar faces deliver surprising hits. The next generation of punks descend into the few remaining squalid basements or seedy dive-bar back rooms that remain in between condos and ax-throwing bars. The outpouring is a reminder that punk is not just headphone and laptop music. It is necessarily social, requiring the creation and maintenance of those spaces in which we gather to escape, commiserate, or rage (mostly rage, these days).

TYVEK – Overground LP (Ginkgo)
TYVEK re-emerges as a mature five-piece with the notable, wonderful blare of full-time saxophone providing extra punctuation. Well-situated in their Michigan surroundings, Overground finds them at the height of their longstanding, krautrock-laden garage punk craft, while somewhat wistfully reflective on past hopes and dreams. The concept of “overground” reads like a refusal of punk as merely subcultural, and thus a proposal that we both can and thus must try to augment our surroundings for the better. “It’s hard not to feel powerless / But we’re capable of so much.”

TERRY – Call Me Terry LP (Anti-Fade / Upset the Rhythm)
A pop record that seethes with anger at devastation and destruction—and Australia’s specifically depraved version of capital accumulation and coloniality. It is music perfectly paced to listen to while stumbling through our concrete dystopias. During such travels, I’ve found TERRY’s place-based attention is effective in diagnosing the exacerbating gap between bland decadence and intentional neglect that our revanchist urban overlords seem compelled to spread as punishment for daring to dream they could be otherwise.

PIÑÉN – Nicolasa Quintremán EP (self-released)
Extremely bleak yet still indignant Barcelona DIY hardcore punk. For almost a decade, PIÑÉN has consistently conveyed the gravity of ecological crisis and its extension and overlap with borders, prisons, police violence, patriarchy, and capitalist extraction. “Ambición / Polución / Destrucción / Extinción!”

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
On the more economically sparse side of post-punk, Portland three-piece stalwarts COLLATE have finally graced us with a full-length. Lilting bass lines and metronomic drums allow the guitar the freedom to spike in and out like an unholy synthesis of DELTA 5 and the EX, of which I’ve long fantasized.

THEEE RETAIL SIMPS – Live on Cool Street LP (Total Punk)
Though their first record reminded me of Canadian ELECTRIC EELS, this one leans into the Great Lakes’ twelve-bar garage blues. Contagious toe-tapping masterpiece that makes the most of a talented ensemble of accompanying “simpettes” (backup singers) and “horny boys” (sax and horns). As someone painfully unfashionable, I’m quite intimidated by their sunglasses.

GLITTERING INSECTS – Glittering Insects LP (Mind Meld)
At first blush, GLITTERING INSECTS are reminiscent of SACCHARINE TRUST’s style of post-punk, though inflected or infected by seeping futuristic horrors. I don’t want to undersell the band’s unique run-through genre experimentation, which variously calls to mind the dirge-laden parts of RUDIMENTARY PENI, the haunted ritualistic repetition of LUNGFISH, and the mid-’90s riffage of SWEEP THE LEG JOHNNY. The fifteen tracks are so well interwoven such that the record excels as a front-to-back listen.

CARNIVOROUS BELLS – Room Above All LP (Human Headstone)
Despite something troglodytic about the vocals, this self-described “cave prog” ensemble is more “unsettling” than “ogreish.” The drummer has a knack for shifting from free jazz to classic punk beat to tech metal within a few bars. Labyrinthine layers reward repeat listening.

FAIRYTALE – Shooting Star LP (Toxic State)
I’m grateful that this great hardcore record from NYC will likely be getting several reviews on this page by those more equipped than me to describe the subtleties of the genre. There are parts of this record that remind me of LEBENDEN TOTEN—not a comparison I’d make lightly.

DEBT RAG – Lost to the Fantasy LP (Post Present Medium)
Skronky, snotty, and sort of weird in the fashion of past outsider punks who had the gumption to ditch their lead guitars. More listenable than INFLATABLE BOY CLAMS, but less saccharine than the UNITS. The guitar is not foundational, anyway. Greil Marcus wrote that what punk ushered in was “a voice that denied all social facts, and in that denial affirmed that everything was possible.” In DEBT RAG’s vision, it’s “A reality to collaborate / A conscious new state.”

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
Bay Area militants who have stowed their political manifestos (only temporarily) while relocating to their bedrooms or basement. Though it is a sound too polished to have appeared on a Messthetics compilation or early Flying Nun single, the spirit of REPTILE RANCH or 25 CENTS is alive in the MAMMALS’ collage art pop aesthetic.

Ten more great ones: 

XV – On the Creekbeds On the Thrones LP (Gingko)

WARM GIRLS – Demo cassette (self-released)

TENEMENT – Tenement 2023 cassette (self-released)

G​Ü​I​Ñ​A – ¿Qué Justicia? EP (Discultura Discos)

YFORY – Chwaer Pwy? EP (Static Age)

THE DRIN – Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom LP (Feel It)

ONYON – Last Days on Earth LP (Trouble in Mind)

SIAL – Sangkar EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)

DISPLAY HOMES – What If You’re Right and They’re Wrong? LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)

FUGITIVE BUBBLE – Delusion cassette (Impotent Fetus)


Nic Warnock (Sydney, Australia) spends his energy preserving Repressed Records’ status as a beacon of excellence and symbol of hope for independent music retail.

I enjoyed heaps of records, but as a year-in-music, it felt disorientating and overwhelming. Maybe even slightly frustrating as the world shifts incrementally further towards modes in cultural production that are more top-down, alienating, and ultimately, anti-creative.

Anyway, enough of that, the people want lists! Here’s a top eight in no order. Top releases by dignified songwriters, technical types, and my avant-garde homies have been excluded even if they sit within MRR‘s parameters. While I may be a coward in other regards, I have enough guts not to include reissues.

THEEE RETAIL SIMPS – Live on Cool Street LP (Total Punk)
THEEE RETAIL SIMPS are putting it all into something that they’ve lovingly positioned as throwaway. Self-aware but intuitive, who get LOU REED’s furious see-sawing between high and low brow. The dialectic of rock, I suppose. It’s presented as idiotic, but there’s a hidden ambition and exertion in these recordings. Like HACKAMORE BRICK in a lampshade hat. My beloved HOME BLITZ comes to mind as the SIMPS show what can still be achieved within the juvenile and kitsch “budget rock” tradition.

THE NATIVE CATS  – The Way on is the Way Off LP (Chapter Music)
Even as a longtime fan and advocate of NATIVE CATS’ awareness, I’m still unraveling layers and hearing new things in their previous recordings. If you’re looking for wild proclamations within 2023, look elsewhere! I will say it’s their “I just found the most perfect jacket” record. The Way on is the Way Off confidently sees them reach for the most ground and permits embellishment without muddying up the parameters of restraint and nuance the duo embodies. A real sense of care and deep thought in these songs delivers rich and open imagery, while also boldly containing the personal. Yes, you can be this multifaceted within a minimalist post-punk-ish framework.

YFORY – Chwaer Pwy? EP (Static Age)
Amateur art at its best from members of DIÄT, GOOD THROB, IDIOTA CIVILIZATO, NASHO, BB & THE BLIPS, GOLDEN STAPH, and more. YFORY respects the audience’s heart and mind over these four tracks, not berating the listener with an “optimized for the era of hyper-consumption” hodge-podge collection of cheap aesthetic signifiers and self-conscious musical shortcuts. YFORY’s nuance and idiosyncratic and personality-filled musical dynamic (and dual approach to Welsh/English-language lyrics) brings to mind ALTERED IMAGES free from the shackles of a career in the arts.

ROMANCE – Seven Inches of… EP (self-released)
I had many differing live experiences with ROMANCE, each greatly flavoured by location, equipment, and mood of members/audience. Initial gigs were lovable, scrappy DIY punk rock’n’roll. Reminding me of those AUS bands that didn’t get the full memo from the London or New York scenes. One show there was a newfound power, an unbridled fury that brought to  the COMES (Japan) and X (Australia). Both those experiences are captured within this recording. Six tracks of forceful and beautifully bung pub-into-punk-into-hardcore. Sydney Sports fans will know members from their other bands, but it’s first-timer-on-record Jane whose unrestrained and rich in anguish vocals deserve special mention. More Janes in music, more discomfort, more ROMANCE.

CUTICLES  – Pavlova EP  (Wormwood Grasshopper) / Major Works LP (Siltbreeze)
I’m delighted to see the return of Wormwood Grasshopper, a Tasmanian label responsible for some of the greatest and most understated Australian discs of the previous decade with this ripper four-track EP from Oamaru’s CUTICLES. Oamaru is 90 minutes from Dunedin, and that’s a pretty good way to frame this record: the fringe of jangle pop, bordering on slippery, less compartmentalisable NZ territory (i.e. the SPIES, SHOES THIS HIGH). If anything the skepticism, slight destructiveness and closed-circle absurd humour hidden within these legitimate pop songs actually feels like the missing component to bands sold via “For fans of a certain Southern Island Sound” descriptive stickers. Oh yeah, the LP is even better!

DISPLAY HOMES  – What if You’re Right and They’re Wrong? LP (Erste Theke Tontrager)
Their sound can be situated within the most positive and non-derogatory potential of new wave; not as a watered-down punk, but as its non-self-serious, creatively curious cousin. Think groups like XL CAPRIS, ALTERED IMAGES, PYLON, and LIFE WITHOUT BUILDINGS who took the musical economy and ethos of punk but mutated them away from rock’n’roll forms. While a lot of 21st century post-punk relies on a degree of postmodern art-concept positioning to edge out the competition, DISPLAY HOMES is deeper and more revelatory due to its foundation on friendship. You can hear the love that the three members had for being and playing in a room together radiate through the record.

TYVEK – Overground LP (Ginkgo Records)
Yes!!! The return of TYVEK! One of the most enduring and endearing groups of the last decade or two, who were (quietly) responsible for the re-emergence of DIY in post-Global Financial Crisis music communities through their charmingly scrappy, learned-on-the-job approach and embrace of UK DIY sounds (DESPERATE BICYCLES, SWELL MAPS, ATV) infused with their own Detroit flavour. Overground is the TYVEK you know and love making their most compact effort to date. The gang’s reinvigorated and writing hits! For any newcomers, if you enjoy the previously mentioned groups, or those on Bloodstains Across the Midwest compilation, or wish PARQUET COURTS were a bit more wrecked/a bit less BECK, welcome to your new favourite band!!!

NOSFERATU – Society’s Bastard LP (La Vida Es En Mus)
I don’t know how to write about NOSFERATU’s triumphant long-player without writing an essay trying to unpack why I have had a lot of trouble connecting with hardcore this year. There is no one at whom to point a finger as to why it’s a bit painful to navigate HC in 2023, except maybe the invisible hand of the free market directing poor souls towards one-dimensional aesthetics for a dose of quick validation, instead of seeking timeless USHC enlightenment. Anyway, thank you NOSFERATU.


Ronni is a self taught “musician” from “Louisiana.” They are a part of the band SPLLIT and run a micro-DIY print service with goals of accessibility. This is their first write up for MRR, please enjoy. 

This list is alphabetical.

ADULKT LIFE – There is No Desire LP (Jabs / Our Voltage)
A common theme here is Adult Punk, it’s what makes me feel better. ADULKT LIFE’s swagger is done with such brevity. In this landscape, I see everything in clear vision. “Class war on all floors / Class war with full force,” “When it all goes to hell / Don’t take it personal cos’ it’s not personal.” This album feels like when I try to stretch my lungs out by taking in the biggest breath that I can. There is desperation and there is care.

BIG CLOWN – Beatdown EP (Swimming Faith)
Experiencing BIG CLOWN live is one of my favorite things. Jesse and Stephen on cacophonous guitars that are tuned to all one note putting the room in a sound fury, Lucy keenly howling and screeching over it all, and Zach holding it together with a punching rhythm like a guide holding a lamp towards the tunnel ahead. This band doesn’t hold back on both joy and absurdity. Beatdown is an incredible punch in the name of hardcore, noise rock, and caustic punk.

BLUE DOLPHIN – Robert’s Lafitte LP (Cleta-Patra / Post Present Medium)
When the single for this record came out, it was all that I could listen to for a second. There is a very devotional aura to this record. It makes me really happy finding out that the members of this band are some real DIY heroes of mine. It is scratching this 2023 itch for something akin to VIVIENNE STYG’s Rose of Texas, though it all makes sense, as this is a recording of a past golden time that once was in Austin/Houston. I’m glad to welcome a spot in my ears for this glee-ridden, discordant, raw flurry of an album.

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
COLLATE’s generative system of song-making always gets me in a very important place that is hard to describe. It feels necessary. “Can’t get the vibrations out of our heads.” Adult punk devotional music with quite an impressive amount of restraint and rigor. This is beyond clever, it is essential music that keeps its fingers fixed on the pulse of now. Real good people making real good music in quite an insane time to be living.

DEBT RAG – Lost to the Fantasy LP (Post Present Medium)
Ultimate medicinal music for the adult world. Dismantled, skeletal songs that walk around swaying in quite a consistently dissociative manner. Anyone else want to hear that again? Music made with toy instruments, horns, drums, bass, and broken sounds jabbing your speakers. All of this paints quite a strong image when paired with the lyrics which do not hold back. Shoutout to “Barf on USA.” This is art of today.

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
Part of me doesn’t understand how something like this exists, and that’s maybe my favorite genre of punk. The dusty world created from this collective is almost always refreshing yet incisive. There is a deep bit to this album’s make-up that really is easy to hold close. A song like “Cotton Boy Tuesday,” or “Crayon World.” I don’t know what to say other than this album is coming for my heart. I hope that like me, Lora Logic smiles when she hears “Soul Without Sound” or “Charmed Effects.”

ONYON – Last Days on Earth LP (Trouble in Mind)
There is a science-fiction-like universe that is created by the songs on this album, with all of the musical parts seeming like they’re dancing around together in a joyful, maybe even more so curious way that calls back to bands like KLEENEX/LILIPUT, or maybe even MARAUDEUR. The record feels very realized yet playful, dense yet natural. Bubbling and oozing post-punk for the Last Days on Earth.

This release feels very special. A cry of desperation for desperate times. The future of punk (I hope) does not rely on a hard exterior sonic palette, but a willingness to try things that come from within. The bravery found in this album deserves some celebration. This album feels like looking through a microscope into a petri dish of cow hairs and prairie grass.

XV – On the Creekbeds On the Thrones LP (Ginkgo)
I really have a fondness for this project. That red cover release, the self-titled one, is what I first heard and really enjoyed. This album is equally intuitive, tender, realistic, even poetic. The flow of the album feels very special, radical even. “Free punk” is how I’ve seen it described, and I would have to agree. A bit of shade for the exsanguinating heat of today. I hope this is what the future feels like.

YFORY – Chwaer Pwy? EP (Static Age)
What an unbelievably lovely EP. The pace, the econo jams, the storytelling, the play with language. I’m a big fan of GOOD THROB, and thank goodness, because it brought me here. This is something that I would like to call “perfect music.” I picked this phrase up from a friend, we were talking about the band P22 and how their release from 2020 is “chef’s kiss perfection.” Stop reading, go listen!

Honorable mentions! 

DATA UNKNOWN – CV cassette (self-released)

DAY RESIDUE – Deadly Walk cassette (self-released)

DISPLAY HOMES – What If You’re Right and They’re Wrong? LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)

HOT EARTH – That’s Hot cassette (Earth Girl)

INU – メシ喰うな!= Don’t Eat Food! LP reissue (Mesh-Key)

LOS YNDESEABLES – Escapa del Control / Asquerosa Corrupción 7” (Buh)
LOVE IN HELL – Demo cassette (self-released)

PLETYKA – Demó cassette (Szégyen Kazetták)

SIMULATION – Simulation cassette (Total Peace)

KURVY ČEŠI – Šnečí Med LP (Stoned to Death)


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.

2023 started to feel like getting back to normal after years of weird-assedness. The year also gave us a lot of super rad queer, BIPOC, and girl-heavy releases. That rocked. Portland, OR also seems to be having a punk renaissance that I am super on board for. Here’s some of that stuff.

CessFest 3 – July 4th, some backyard with a crumbling deck in Portland, OR
CessFest, the July 4th “ask a punk” backyard festival in Portland, Oregon, has just had its third year, and it seems likely to continue as tradition. It’s already a winning effort if you throw PDX’s punk staple act SIDEWALK SLAM together with CHAINED HEAT, HEADLESS PEZ, LOS MAL HABLADOS, MDC, and a handful of others, but when you throw in several matches of punk wrasslin’ from Anarcho Pro and a free-flowing grill of foods in a backyard with a couple hundred local punks and your favorite boozes, that is perfection. There is also just something glorious about having the heel wrestler get heat by trying to lead the crowd in the pledge of allegiance at a punk show.

VIOLENCIA – Viviendo Tiempos Aún Más Oscuros LP (To Live a Lie)
I’ve been super hyped about this band since I saw them at C.Y. Fest in L.A. in 2019, and they’ve gotten so much better since then, as evidenced by their awesome first full-length release. These four from Tijuana create straightforward and wonderful hardcore for singing and dancing to. Their live show is worth going out of your way for.

DEATH PILL – Death Pill LP (New Heavy Sounds)
This trio of Ukrainian women is rightfully blowing out speakers around the world with this release. It’s almost unfair when a group’s first record comes so fully-formed, and checks all the boxes like this one does. I can’t help but hear Eve Libertine from CRASS shrieking on “It’s a Joke,” and these guitars and drums are unapologetically from the lineage of the CIRCLE JERKS. This album definitely features some of the best growling of 2023, too.

SHELL SHOCK – Demo cassette (self-released)
This is the Portland band to watch right now. If this demo and the subsequent two songs on a recent split release are any evidence, this group could be going places. They also recently shared a venue with Portland’s Anarcho Pro wrestling promotion, which was a match made in the most fun parts of hell.

THE MEFFS – Broken Britain Pt. 2 10” (Bottles to the Ground)
The MEFFS are making those loud, angry British sounds, even though it’s just the two of ‘em. I like that. This follow-up to last year’s similarly named 10” is just as worthy of damaging your ears.

THE HIRS COLLECTIVE – We’re Still Here LP (Get Better)
Every HIRS release is a kick-ass selection of queer grind and powerviolence, but this new album in particular is a magnificent collection of some of the best loud people in music right now. There are too many guests to list, but MELT-BANANA, PAIN CHAIN, Justin Pearson, the HOMELESS GOSPEL CHOIR, and the BODY just being a small portion of the list is fantastic.

PITY PARTY – Sick Sad World Survival Guide 12” (SBÄM)
Oakland, CA’s PITY PARTY released the silly goof of a single-sided 12”, Gnarbage, in 2017, and it has stuck with me for all these years. This year, an older and more experienced PITY PARTY decided to revisit those weird times and release this 12” of four re-recorded tracks from back then, as well as a new song. It’s nice to see an old friend and know that they’re doing well. It’s also good to know that the vinyl release directly supports two sexual violence survivor support charities: A Safe Place in Oakland and PAAR in Pittsburgh, PA.

LOS MAL HABLADOS – Live at Bridge City Sessions CD (self-released)
Mexican-flaired hardcore-ska paid for by a false arrest settlement with the Portland PD? Sign me right up for that. This group of too many people so that you definitely know it’s a ska band bringing the saxophone and trumpet-heavy and circle-pit-forming fast music with just the right amount of chant-along moments.

THE DROWNS / THE LAST GANG – split 7” (Pirates Press)
We’re certainly due for new music from the LAST GANG, so this 7″ was a nice little treat to hold us over until a new album appears. On their track “Pleaser,” Brenna Red is on the top of her game, rasping away in her signature style. If this is a clue to what to expect from future releases, I’m hyped for it. The other side, the DROWNS’ “Subculture Rock ‘N’ Roll,” is a perfectly serviceable party rock song, but if I’m being honest, I came here for the LAST GANG and them only. I’m glad I came.

Volume Bomb Block Part 6 – August 26th, five bars on one block of Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, OR
The Volume Bomb Block Party is the older and bigger brother of CessFest, with more experience and friends. With over 50 mostly punk bands in 5 venues, including an all-ages arcade bar, this fest fills your day with sweaty loudness, and it was a highlight for music in PDX in 2023. SIDEWALK SLAM, LOS MAL HABLADOS, and MDC showed up again as tried-and-true Portland regulars, but with so many other bands all playing within a couple hundred feet of each other, it was pretty impossible to not be fully entertained and find new, awesome music. I’m looking forward to the huge day of chaos again.


Teodoro Hernández hace el podcast Hardcore Radikal y el fanzine Eskupe al Alkalde.

  1. PIÑÉN – Nicolasa Quintremán EP (self-released)
    Un disco que pelea duro por destruir el Sistema que quita la vida al pueblo mapuche y destruye su territorio. Un disco exige la anarquía con una urgencia inusitada. PIÑÉN son los dos últimos testigos del hardcore radikal catalán y puede que una de las pocas bandas en las que podemos confiar. Mientras los discos de punk son cada vez más caros PIÑÉN se esfuerzan en que el precio de su manifiesto sea asequible para todos. Los riffs de guitarra más catastróficos del año 2023, la voz más más desgarrada, Ni el mismísimo Dani Flow podría dar un martillazo en el ano de la contundencia de la batería de PIÑÉN. La única pega es que la voz está demasiado enterrada, pero amo ese sonido de mierda.
  2. GÜIÑA – ¿Qué Justicia? EP (Discultura)
    Esto si que me hace bailar pogo. Mierda para esas bandas chilenas que se reclaman profetas del tupa-tupa, sólo dicen estupideces y hacen el ridículo. GÜIÑA son letras de protesta, esto es anarquía. Ellos son gente comprometida con las explosiones sociales, la revuelta y el disco suena a eso. Gallardía frenética y malsónica. Unos dignos continuadores de la herencia política del punk del sur del continente americano. Punks que señalan que el capitalismo democrático y militar en el que vivimos es el alimento del fascismo, y lo van a destruir.
  3. RÉGIMEN DE TERROR – Régimen De Terror EP (La Vida Es Un Mus / Roachleg)
    Mikel Akizu (REALIDAD) y Jan Juttila (Your Own Jailer discos) llevan mucho tiempo aspirando por todos sus poros las peores dosis de ruido inconformista a través de DISCHARGE y sus mejores sucedáneos. Lo que excretan desde Euskadi hasta Uppsala es lo que han respirado, pero más rápido y maloliente. Sonido sucio, beligerante contra todo lo que no son ellos, contra todo lo que no es el D-beat.
  4. DESPERDICIO – Repetimos Destrucción Cuatro Veces EP (Overthrow)
    Esto se instalará en el cerebro de todo aquel que guste de las bandas japonesas, que recuperan los sonidos de alguna escena específica del pasado. DESPERDICIO se sumergen en los sonidos del punk español de los años ’80 y el hardcore crudo que se hizo en el mismo territorio a principios de este siglo. Son las canciones más pegadizas de la banda hasta ahora, estribillos que rozan la melodía, hasta tal punto que la canción “Ya Viene” ¡tiene una parte musical que reproduce un pasodoble!
  5. NO SANCTUARY – Metafísica Popular Portatil LP (DiscosMeCagoEnDios)
    Canciones que alimentan el espíritu, tonadas tan largas, oscuras y bellas como las noches de otoño y de pueblo. Letras y fuerza revolucionaria. La música de este disco es la más expansiva y amorosa de toda la lista, la más lenta y puede que mejor grabada. Pero esto no es alta calidad, esto es alta intransigencia contra lo establecido. Este sonido tiene la virtud de la repetición, a veces suena marcial y anti militarista. Baila sobre las llamas de NO SANCTUARY y tú no te quemarás, arderá el sistema. Pamplona.
  6. BLESSURE – Blessure cassette (Polze de la Mort)
    Siguen haciendo que los mires a los ojos, con complicidad en sus conciertos; y que le des la mano a tus compinches con fuerza, para transformar el aburrimiento en la gloria del vivir. Cuando suenan tienes que atarte los cordones de tus botas con fuerza, pues vas a pisar duro con esos ritmos que parecen castrenses, pero que rompen toda estructura militar con su desorden. ¡En esta nueva grabación han instalado un sintetizador!. Se podría decir que hacen música oi! popular, para cantar solo si tienes ganas de protestar. Pero si solo quieres de beber, rómpete la botella de cerveza en la cabeza. Bilbao.
  7. TIIKERI – Punk Rock Pamaus!!! LP (Open Up and Bleed / Vox Populi)
    Este disco se escucha con mucho gozo, con la alegría de saber que el punk se mantiene vivo por gente como tú, que estás bailando en los conciertos, comprando algunos discos y peleando contra los fascistas. Mientras bailas TIIKERI con tu pareja, entiendes que hay una erótica mayor que algunos de los coitos cutres que habéis tenido, no entre vosotros claro, sino con anteriores amantes. Finlandia se derrite con el amor melódico que exuda esta banda. Mis axilas se humedecen y mi cuello siente un escalofrío.
  8. ABISM – Abism LP (Toxic State)
    Me duele hasta el placer el compromiso que tiene Abism con la repetición. Podríamos pensar que con la misma ineptitud que tocan, aciertan. Es una torpeza precisa, con conciencia política. ABISM se vengan de la historia de la música a través de una nausea punk ácida y pegajosa, si su vómito te roza vas a apestar por mucho tiempo. Si uno de sus ritmos empieza a sonar en el disco, lo hará repetidamente durante toda la canción y por horas en tu cabeza. ABISM me reafirman en el odio a la policía, el trabajo, el sistema y la música, y me invitan a amar el involucionado sonido DIS.
  9. SALVAJE PUNK – Salvaje Punk LP (Toxic State)
    Puede que tenga ante mis oidos las canciones más exageradas del 2023. Todo es imparable. La forma de tocar la batería me atropella; el bajo me golpea y no puedo esquivar uno solo de sus directos; la guitarra me apuñala por la espalda; y la voz, rompe uno de mis tímpanos y luego el otro. Quedo vapuleado. Este hardcore es mucho más duro y complejo de lo que estoy acostumbrado. Los riffs tienen más notas de las que puedo soportar y la batería percute muchos más parches y platos de los que me gustaría. Sin embargo recibo toda esta protesta con mucho gusto. Ruido en contra de las fronteras, del mundo, de la tranquilidad.
  10. SOCIO LA DIFEKTA – Promo 2023 cassette (PMT)
    Hardcore directo, sucio, crudo y rabioso cantado en esperando. Maravilloso. Tokyo.


Tyler has lived in Atlanta, Georgia for almost ten years now. He’s been in the bands MUTUAL JERK, BLAMMO, LOVERMAN, RIBOFLAVIN, and just joined CHAIRHOUSE. He also likes to make zines, bake bread, talk about movies, and collect records.

I refused myself the privilege of filling my entire list with music by my friends. If I had, half the list would be taken up by the records released by MOTHER’S MILK, NURSE, GLITTERING INSECTS, and NAG. I am so amazed by these records. So proud of my little community. This has been an amazing year of music.

BEING DEAD – When Horses Would Run LP (Bayonet)
I am floored by every repeat listen. It’s not trendy, it’s cool. It’s not stupid, but it’s funny. Individual songs are special. I would show it to someone in two-and-a-half years, three years, four years. It will have a life of its own. It acts like it has a life of its own. Songs flow in every direction. All fun is had. All opportunities are explored. My criteria matched. All boxes scribbled over. Future stoner classic?

BLUE DOLPHIN – Robert’s Lafitte LP (Cleta Patra / Post Present Medium)
My favorite song about a dog is “Docile Jannette.” It’s about a dog, right? No skips on this record. Not trendy. Not classic. Fresh and timeless. A gift thrown from the Queen’s Balcony.

FEELING FIGURES – Migration Magic LP (K / Perennial)
This came out the day after Thanksgiving. I would not get on the road (to drive four hours back to Atlanta) until I could find a tape adapter for my truck. Everything inside me needed to hear this album over and over again. This would have me scouring many truckstops and drugstores, forcing me into a big box electronic store on Black Friday. I found the adapter. I listened to this album more than ten times on that ride. This record is my new friend. This is the kind of friend that feels like I should have already known it for years. It feels like it already knows me. I seriously want to know the people in this band. Please find me.

THE DRIN – Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom LP (Feel It)
First heard this in crazy traffic in the rain after watching Derek Jarman’s Last of England. I think it means something good that I remember how I felt. Best band I’ve seen play, too. My most valuable player this year because the record by the SERFS (who share members with the DRIN) is also tip-top.

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
We are now a couple years into the thick of a full-on jangle revival; the umpteenth wave. I’m glad. But now that we are here, we can separate the weak from the strong. The real from the fake. The lifers from the chasers. Pedigree of this band and its members aside—these songs stand on their own.

TATXERS – Tatxers LP (Flexidiscos / Tough Ain’t Enough)
I hear influences but not a strict formula. If I want to listen to this music, I can only listen to this band. Post-punk, jangle pop, power pop. Each song sweeps you up. The long-lost Spanish Postcard Records or Fast Product Records band. The missing link.

NEON KITTENS – No Drugs Required LP (Metal Postcard) / Nine Doesn’t Work for an Outside Line LP (Metal Postcard)
This band put out so much cool music this year. I can’t decide which release is my favorite. Band of the year, in my opinion. For fans of Kill Rock Stars in the early ’00s, electroclash music, the MAKE-UP. Wear a good outfit. Look suspicious.

CONSEC – Wheel of Pain LP (Not For The Weak)
So proud to say my favorite hardcore record is by a Georgia (US) band. In hardcore, there exists a Goldilocks zone: follow the assignment but make it your own. I compare most genre work to pepperoni pizza. I love pepperoni pizza. I can always have it. What makes your slice different for me? How well do you make this slice for me? Is your sauce sweet or spicy? Wheel of Pain is my favorite pizza place in town. What if we fought while listening to CONSEC?

ASPHALT – Le Blues Du Bulldozer cassette (Juvenile Delinquent)
Music for people in denim jackets, people in leather jackets, and people in cardigan sweaters to dance to. When this came out, I had just the day before been complaining about most of the music I was being inundated with. I’d had it up to here with all of the many eggs and smart-guy condo monologue rock. This was water in a desert to me. I had longed for something like this.

TOZCOS – Infernal LP (Quality Control HQ / Toxic State)
My face is hot. My heart is racing. I’m screaming. Wow. There is a beautiful phenomenon in the history of our music annals: a great hardcore band’s more thrashy, metallic second LP. This is undeniably alive in a way many are limp or empty. All bounce, no skips, and it’s catchy. The vocal delivery is exquisite. It’s sneering and squeeling and melodic. The kind of vocals people study and copy.


Viktor Vargyai is a reviewer and former columnist for MRR based in Budapest, Hungary, where he’s played in NORMS, BALTA, and ÇAYÎR. He also books local gigs and does a bi-weekly show about punk for local community radio.

I have reviewed most of the records below, previously in MRR. Therefore, now I’ll focus on why I liked them in ’23, instead of telling what these records are like and what is interesting about them.

Five outstanding records:

PIÑÉN – Nicolasa Quintremán EP (self-released)
PIÑÉN is incredible. They’re a guitar/drums duo with stripped-down, simple hardcore songs, yet they are so visceral and essential that even if they write and record the same EP, it gets better from record to record. This year marks their ten-year anniversary, while they’ve remained fresh. The release of this 7” took me by surprise and proved how unmatched PIÑÉN is, in both their attitude and their music. Very inspirational, showing  how you don’t have to rush anywhere, and don’t have to do basically anything other than enjoy the sick music you make.

ABISM – Abism LP (Toxic State)
Started to listen to this record almost by accident, and within seconds it grew on me, and a bit later landed on this list. They not only made an LP after a demo, but it’s full of long songs that are really simple yet somehow different, almost as how dumb krautrock is labeled as progressive rock. But ABISM is not artsy, it’s raw hardcore in the best possible way. Maybe short, sharp shocks are the essence of my life, but I love such massive works that turn listening to a bunch of songs into a different experience. It’s a great answer to how punk can be different while staying true to its core.

SALVAJE PUNK – Salvaje Punk LP (Toxic State)
I tend to take bands as seriously as they seem to take themselves, even if I count among many of my favorite records those that were the only 7” that the bands have put out, but at that time, punk was rather a tool or channel for teen angst rather than an established subculture. So I hear many great demos and singles, but would love it if bands stuck around for longer and considered writing LPs. In recent years, I got really into listening to South American hardcore, and SALVAJE PUNK is reminiscent of that scene more than anything else. I have anticipated this record the most because I loved their demo and was excited to hear a full LP. It does not disappoint. Crazy, chaotic hardcore with collapsing death metal parts. Sounds as if three albums would be played at the same time. Dense, entertaining record.

PLETYKA – Demó cassette (Szégyen Kazetták)
Music is not a competition. You cannot really measure or objectify the effect it has on the listeners. It is personal why something resonates with you. The disclaimer here would be that my partner of ten years plays in this band. But I don’t love this band because of her, instead I love her more because of this band. I saw how a group of friends around their thirties picked up instruments and started to learn to play them and crafted this demo. It was inspirational and the result is incredible. It sounds like the naive, dreamy, gloomy female punk I love. Music becomes great beyond skills and PLETYKA, lacking many skills in playing, has to play unshielded and solely with their collective mood-setting capabilities. It works.

TARREGA 91’ – Fill De La Merda EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
No progress here, just sincere love for raw and simple hardcore music. Played tastefully. The first time I thought about outstanding releases for the year was when I listened to this record. It depends on nuances to make this type of music better than the rest of its subgenre, and TARREGA 91’ captured and included those tiny moments.

A few great things:

Tape labels – Physical formats still matter, and maybe it’s better to use plastic to contain punk tracks than to throw it into the ocean. Also, it’s probably better to give some money to old creeps who manufacture tapes than to mega-companies taxing you for providing some ugly, advertisement-filled platform where people could listen to your music until tech bros have enough and switch off the internet. Having tape labels focusing on local scenes or having a broader focus internationally and releasing bands soon after they’re recorded has been a great recurring trend. Dig in, find some, or start your own.

What Are You Listening To? – Lifers speaking every week about records they love. It’s a great, great show. I usually start my Saturday mornings with listening to the new episode while making breakfast, then finishing them in the living room while sipping coffee.

Kripta – Kripta is a volunteer-run local DIY space in Budapest. Some touring bands might have the worst (or others such great) experiences there. For us, it’s a great place for shows to happen and bands to rehearse.

And now… data!

Yes, your eyes may be bleeding from reading all these Top Tens, but you can’t stop now! You’ve yet to find out who topped all of our Top Tens collectively. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered, and we can convey this information to you via the punkest medium: graphs!

We had a lot of folks submit Top Tens this year—48 to be exact, which is about 44% more than we’ve had contributing over the past four years.

Since we had so many folks contributing, and because I’m a sicko who never shies away from unnecessary work, I decided to log every selection (including honorable mentions) from every contributor in a spreadsheet. I thought it might be fun to see what shook out once all the lists were collected. So, here’s 2023’s Top Tens by the numbers.

We had over 580 selections, representing over 350 artists and 260 labels. 60% of selections were LPs/12”s, 19% were EPs/7”s, 18% were cassettes, and 2% were everything else (books, 10”s, CDs, show attendances, etc.).

Top “Ten” Releases from 2023’s Top Tens

Releases mentioned as one of the contributors’ main selections received a full point, while honorable mentions received a half point.

    1. FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
    2. COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
    3. THE DRIN – Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom LP (Drunken Sailor / Feel It)
    1. PIÑÉN – Nicolasa Quintremán EP (self-released)
    1. PHYSIQUE – Again LP (Iron Lung)
    1. CLASS – If You’ve Got Nothing LP (Feel It)
    1. DISPLAY HOMES – What If You’re Right and They’re Wrong? LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)
    2. FLOWER – Hardly a Dream LP (Profane Existence)
    1. SALVAJE PUNK – Salvaje Punk LP (Toxic State)
    1. ABISM – Abism LP (Toxic State)
    1. TEE VEE REPAIRMANN – What’s on TV? LP (Computer Human / Total Punk)
    1. ELECTRIC CHAIR – Act of Aggression LP (Iron Lung)

Top Ten Labels Featured in 2023’s Top Tens

First and foremost, the “label” that was featured most in our lists was self-released. A self-released item showed up on 33 out of 48 lists, covering a whopping 47 different releases. It’s easy, it’s cheap—go and do it!

A couple things to note about how I counted things for labels: 1) For the y axis in the visualization below, as was the case above, labels mentioned as part of the contributor’s main selections got a full point, while honorable mentions got a half point (the x axis ignores this distinction); 2) For releases split between multiple labels, each label received the counts separately.