Maximum Rocknroll 2023 Year-End Top Tens Part Two

2023 Year End Top Tens, Part Two

And now, stay tuned for more 2023 Year End Top Tens!

Part one is here, part three to follow next week.


A NEUTRAL and former MRR shitworker. 

I’m on a FUGAZI-esque indefinite hiatus from writing about music so will keep these brief. To be honest, I constantly feel like I’m missing out on new music—there’s too much to keep up with. My favorites from this year will probably change after I read everyone else’s lists and discover gems that I’ve missed. This list made possible thanks to MRR Radio,, KALX, KXSF, WFMU, DJ nstop on Hollow Earth Radio, Courtesy Desk, Abundant Living newsletter, Monorail Records, and more.


CURRENT AFFAIRS – Off the Tongue LP (Tough Love)
This band made us wait for their first full-length; now they have decided to split up. A tragedy, but I’m sure the members will wow us with future endeavors. Inspired by sounds of the past, but always forward-looking; Songs from inner space via Partick.

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
Post-punk textbooks absorbed then stripped bare page by page ’til only the ragged spines are left.

HOME FRONT – Games of Power LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Outrunning the Second Empire Justice-isms of early promise—one song sounds like SUICIDE, even.

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
Almost certainly the only album in this year’s listings with a Hoover solo.

BLUES LAWYER – All in Good Time LP (Dark Entries)
Lo-fi jingle-jangle indie punk with occasional devastating shred factor.

EYE OF THE CORMORANT / EYE OF THE HERON – Demo cassette (Roachleg)
Ostensibly a demo, this ex-CHRONOPHAGE bedroom anarcho project is better realized and more fully-formed than most of the records in here.

PLANET ON A CHAIN – Boxed In LP (Revelation)
As is probably evident from this list, I listen to a lot of wimpy indie pop music these days. But sometimes you need a record you can lift weights to. When I heard this, I felt sixteen again. Whether you want to swim from Alcatraz or just crowdsurf in a barbecue shop, this album is for you.

CLASS – If You’ve Got Nothing LP (Feel It)
Chuck a dart anywhere at the sweeping Feel It release roster and I promise you’ll hit something top-ten worthy. We’ll pick CLASS this time as a representative, but as usual, that label had a stellar year. I also very much  enjoyed the COWBOYS, SILICON PRAIRIE, OPTIC SINK, and that ALICJA-POP single.


YFORY – Chwaer Pwy? EP (Static Age)
MRR’s very own Welsh spiral tribalist B. Beynon and friends with a four-song EP that is very much my shit. So perfect you’ll wish for more.

JEANINES – This Day EP (Slumberland)
A lot of bad shit happened this year, but possibly the worst is that there was no new JEANINES album. But at least there was this EP.

DIVORCER – Espionage EP (Domestic Departure)
Next thing you’ll be telling me there’s a whole scene of new bands channeling SUBURBAN LAWNS that I didn’t know about.

DANCER – Dancer cassette (Gold Mold) / As Well cassette (Gold Mold)
This group tends the seeds of Glasgow music sown by groups like GANGER, EL HOMBRE TRAJEADO, and LIFE WITHOUT BUILDINGS. I find it endearing that the singer introduces each song by the title, even on the tapes.

WATER MACHINE – Raw Liquid Power EP (Upset the Rhythm)
Another Glasgow collective channeling controlled chaos.

NON PLUS TEMPS – Dark on Harmon cassette (Public Nipples Unlimited)
I would have listed their Desire Choir LP, but it came out at the end of last year and made it onto some of last year’s lists. In the interests of not enraging the MRR tyrants, I will list this cassette EP instead—it’s just as good anyway. Trippy, dubby punk informed by VIVIEN GOLDMAN, the POP GROUP, and the SLITS.

POWERPLANT – Grass EP (Static Shock)
Still gutted I missed their ultra-sold-out SF show earlier this year. This is the time of year for regret.

GLAAS – Cruel Heart, Cold Summer EP (Static Shock)
If you miss DIÄT or TOTAL CONTROL, you’re covered here.


DAWSON – Discography+ CD (Sorceror)
What could have been pure nostalgia for me is actually just continued inspiration. My life would probably have been very different had I not heard this band/met these people when I did.

CHIN CHIN – Cry in Vain LP (Sealed)
DOLLY MIXTURE – Radio Sessions LP & Remember This LP (Sealed)
ALTERNATIVE – If They Treat You Like Shit, Act Like Manure LP reissue (Sealed)
These are just three LPs among a slew of essential releases, but Paco and Sean continued to seal top spot in the punk reissue pantheon. 4 Men With Beards? Fuck off. 4 Men With Spikes!

GO SAILOR – Go Sailor LP (Slumberland)
More nostalgia, this time for a fin-du-siecle Mission District. We can joke about the Y2K bug, but in hindsight, it does seem like the world has made a distinctly downward slide since those heady days. Or maybe I’m just seeing the world through my shit-tinted spectacles.

THE PARTICLES – 1980s Bubblegum LP (Chapter)
I like to imagine a world where the PARTICLES moved to London and got huge and the BIRTHDAY PARTY wallowed in obscurity for decades. But then they’d probably have a legion of insufferable fans so it’s probably better this way?



Arto Hietikko is currently doing his share to keep DIY punk alive by co-releasing records with some other fine punk labels on the Nunchakupunk label, as well as running Nunchakupunk distro, and being involved with the annual Puntala-rock DIY punk fest in Finland (hopefully we’ll find some new eager volunteers to enable there will be Puntala in 2024, too!). He is also known as the editor of the long-running Toinen Vaihtoehto zine (which is still on a long, undefined hiatus).

So it’s that time of the year again. Thanks to MRR for asking me to contribute my year-end top ten this year as well!

Here’s a selection of some of my biggest favorite releases of 2023. All in all, it was a great year for DIY punk once again. In terms of first world problems, bands really should stop putting out so many great releases all the fucking time, as I simply cannot afford buying all the new releases I want. There are far too many of them: there are about 140 releases on my “best releases of 2023” list so far, and it still continues to grow. What can I say, DIY punk is definitely going strong and I love it. Up the punx!

SPIRITO DI LUPO – Vedo La Tua Faccia Nei Giorni Di Pioggia LP (Iron Lung / La Vida Es Un Mus)
A terrific combination of anarcho-punk and old Italian HC/punk influences with some post-punk-leaning parts here and there. The dueling male and female vocalists deliver the lyrics with passion and sincerity, and the songs have lots of interesting things going on all the time. I can’t get enough of this LP!

SIAL – Sangkar EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Sial is unable to disappoint on any of their releases: for the last seven years they have been one of the best hardcore punk bands on earth, and Sangkar might very well be even their best release to date. Pummeling rhythms, powerful riffs, and Siti’s passionate, high-pitched vocals together with an exceptional level of energy make this EP a modern-day classic.

ΠΥΡ ΚΑΤΑ ΒΟΥΛΗΣΗ – Θ​υ​μ​α​τ​α Ε​ι​ρ​η​ν​η​ς LP (self-released)
ΠΥΡ ΚΑΤΑ ΒΟΥΛΗΣΗ from Greece offers some of the best TOTALITÄR-influenced hardcore punk there is at the moment: raging, riffy, straight-to-the-point perfection of this genre. Every second on this 12” is pure brilliance.

PIÑÉN – Nicolasa Quintremán EP (self-released)
Raw, primitive, chaotic stuff from this Spanish guitar/drums duo. Lo-fi, in-your-face, and punk as hell. If you love bands like FIRMEZA 10 or OTAN (in other words: if you’re punk), definitely check out PIÑÉN as well.

FLOWER – Hardly a Dream LP (Profane Existence)
NAUSEA-influenced anarcho-punk/crust made in a very convincing way. Some heavy SACRILEGE vibes in there too, and occasionally this is almost too metal for me, but the truly great punk vocals always manage to win me over before I get an allergic reaction and itchy bumps all over my face. It’s no wonder Profane Existence released this, as it fits perfectly into their catalogue. Probably on everybody’s list for 2023.

MOCK EXECUTION – Circle of Madness EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
A lovely dose of rawness, aggression, and rage. Bands like MOCK EXECUTION make my punk heart sing. I especially love their slower songs like “Rebels Without a Cause” on this EP (and “Insanity?” and “Calm in the Chaos” on last year’s excellent LP), with riffs that make me want to grab my bass and play along. One of the best bands of today.

KATARSI – Katarsi LP (Discos Enfermos / Flexidiscos / Katarsi)
KATARSI is actually a solo project of Kepa from MÁRMOL/GURS, and this LP is seriously super-catchy stuff that reminds me a lot of the first NURSE OF WAR LP: those poppy yet slightly melancholic melodies, synths, drum machine, and the punkiness beneath it all. I’m hooked.

DESTRUCT – Cries the Mocking Mother Nature LP (Grave Mistake / Skrammel)
Bone-crushingly powerful D-beat-powered total massacre! BASTARD and FRAMTID being some obvious comparisons, DESTRUCT continues to deliver some of the hardest-hitting hardcore of today. Punishing and precisely executed!

RAT CAGE – Savage Visions LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Hardcore punk at its finest: fast, rampaging, and seriously infectious. After several 7”s, two LPs, and a split LP, it’s still hard to believe this is mainly a solo project (by Bryan J. Suddaby). Just like those previous releases, Savage Visions is excellent no-frills hardcore skillfully taking influences from selected previous masters of the genre. Classy stuff.

POTERE NEGATIVO – Benvenuto All’Inferno 12” (Trująca Fala / Little Jan’s Hammer / Nunchakupunk / Death Trap / Global Help Distribution / Distro-y)
I try to avoid putting my own label’s co-releases on my top ten lists, but I was too tempted to make an exception with this one-sided 12” that finally came out after a long and frustrating wait. It’s absolutely top-class hardcore punk strongly influenced by traditional Italian hardcore, yet sounding very fresh and current. I have been listening to these tracks for the whole year and am still just as excited about them as I was when I heard them the first time.

Here’s some releases not on my year-end top ten list, but most definitely worth paying attention to:

BAD JESUS EXPERIENCE – Ovat Muistojemme Lehdet Kuolleet 10” (Vapaa Päivä / Nunchakupunk / Tuhoutuvat Levyt / Mögähead)

MUTANT STRAIN – Murder of Crows LP (Sorry State)

PLASMA – Demo 2023 cassette (Pogo Till You Drop)

G.U.N. – G.U.N. LP (Sorry State)

TOZCOS – Infernal LP (Quality Control HQ / Toxic State)

NAFRA – Més I Més EP (Kremón / El Lokal / Little Jan’s Hammer / Sarna Social / Nunchakupunk / Toxico / Kamilosetas Muskaria / Mulisec / Grans / Rat Produccions)

IMPLODERS – Imploders LP (Neon Taste / Static Shock)

LAME – Dejad Que Vengan 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus)

The best gig I saw in 2023: SIAL, 25th June at K-town Hardcore Fest, Copenhagen.


Dana Katherine

A New Jersey native who absconded twenty miles away to live in Philadelphia instead, Dana Katharine drives back to New Jersey every week to host Don’t Back the Front on WPRB 103.3 FM.

Despite my eternal impulse to only listen to the same three songs for weeks on end, I still found it difficult to narrow down all of the great shit that came out in 2023 to only ten items. This is the best you’re going to get. Alphabetical because ranking things is for losers, and I only included LPs to make it easier on myself (there were obviously tons of worthy releases on other formats). Music continues to be good despite everything else being bad. Let’s do it again in 2024!

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
This Portland minimalist post-punk trio have released another cracker of a record, full of the kind of rhythm-forward mini-polemics they’ve come to be known for. The folks in this group are true scholars, drawing inspiration from all of the usual suspects (DELTA 5, GANG OF FOUR, etc.), but this is a band that sounds fully modern, and not only because they tackle head-on the anxiety and rage involved in living under late-stage capitalism.

CUTICLES – Major Works LP (Siltbreeze)
Hailing from 80 miles north of Dunedin, New Zealand, CUTICLES have been around since 2020 and make a glorious racket that is sometimes composed enough to nearly be pop music. And while Major Works is reminiscent of the noisy indie pop currently coming out of neighboring Australia, as well as the classic Flying Nun roster, there’s enough cacophony here to give it a charmingly deranged edge.

THE DRIN – Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom LP (Drunken Sailor / Feel It)
Feel It put out yet another intimidatingly good run of records this year, but it was this one by Cincinnati’s the DRIN that held my attention the longest. This is a dirty and foreboding collection of songs incorporating krautrock, dub, and garage rock, with Dylan McCartney’s sinister drawl a perfect match for the discomfiting atmosphere. Creepy adjectives aside, this record also happens to just totally rock (check out “Stonewallin’”).

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
I’ve adored everything Stanley Martinez has been involved in since I first heard RAYS back in 2017, and I feel no differently about FAMOUS MAMMALS. The late ’70s UK DIY aesthetic is strong in this, their first LP (they released an equally great cassette in 2021). While you’ll recognize the influence of the TELEVISION PERSONALITIES, SWELL MAPS, and DESPERATE BICYCLES, the strongest parallel I can draw is with the HOMOSEXUALS, who also wrote lovely pop songs hidden away by layers of experimental clangor.

ONYON – Last Days on Earth LP (Trouble in Mind)
A fantastic full length debut from Leipzig’s ONYON, who create an anxious, nervy atmosphere dominated by stuttering rhythms and wobbly synth lines. It’s a record that conjures up the same kind of unease early DEVO did (while sounding more interesting than the vast majority of modern bands that cite DEVO as a reference), while also being reminiscent of classic German post-punk bands like XMAL DEUTSCHLAND or MALARIA!. Fab.

THE PARTICLES – 1980s Bubblegum LP (Chapter Music)
My own self-imposed rules prohibit me from including an archival release on my year-end list, but I’m making an exception for the PARTICLES. The PARTICLES existed for a few brief years in the early ’80s and operated in the same DIY pop sphere as the more well known DOLLY MIXTURE and MARINE GIRLS, albeit a world away in Sydney, Australia. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that the songs on this collection are some of my favorite songs ever. It’s a privilege to finally have their three perfect EPs finally available in one convenient package.

PATIO – Collection LP (Fire Talk)
Collection is the sophomore release from New York’s PATIO, but it was my first introduction to them. And what an introduction! The production is clean and unadorned, allowing the post-punk trio’s minimal yet highly accomplished musicianship to shine through, with fascinating vocal interplay between Lindsay Paige-McCloy and Loren Diblasi. Lyrically, this is a record informed by the collective and individual trauma of living through a pandemic, and it was this aspect of Collection that found me with my heart caught in my throat.

THE TOADSIn The Wilderness LP (Anti-Fade / Upset the Rhythm)
The TOADS feature members of some of Melbourne’s best and brightest (including SHIFTERS, the LIVING EYES, and PARSNIP), and with that pedigree I was immediately sold. Brimming with nervous energy, the TOADS are defined by their brittle, jangling guitar strum and droll sense of humor. It’s hard not to compare them to the FALL in that sense, especially when considering Miles Jansen’s deadpan vocal delivery. In the Wilderness couldn’t be any more firmly in my wheelhouse.

WIMPS – City Lights LP (Youth Riot)
Part of the charm of the BUZZCOCKS was their ability to make being a sad loser sound cool and fun. Seattle trio WIMPS pull off something similar on City Lights (their first record since 2018), combining self-deprecating wit with ingratiating pop hooks. Real talk: as someone who tries to approach their boredom and at times crippling depression with a sense of humor, it’s cathartic to see my reality reflected back at me in the form of perfect two-minute pop songs.

XV – On the Creekbeds On the Thrones LP (Gingko)
It’s hard for me, with my limited capabilities as a writer, to describe the feeling of listening to this beautiful and deeply strange sophomore effort by Michigan’s enigmatic XV. This is a record that exists way out on the avant-garde fringes of punk. Their unstructured jamming runs the gamut from confrontational and unsettling (“Cards”), to tender and hypnotic (“Pen”). The combination of experimental instrumentation and almost childlike playfulness remind me of Y PANTS or INFLATABLE BOY CLAMS, in spirit if not necessarily in sound.



Daniel Lupton

Daniel Lupton runs Sorry State Records and plays bass in SCARECROW.

As part of my duties at Sorry State, I do my best to have my finger on the pulse of DIY punk and hardcore, and as usual there were a ton of great records released in 2023. Here are some of my personal favorites.

TIIKERI – Punk Rock Pamaus!!! LP (Open Up and Bleed / Vox Populi)
Turku, Finland’s TIIKERI made the feel-good punk album of the year with Punk Rock Pamaus!!!—TIIKERI’s songs are snappy, bright, slightly earnest, dripping with sing-along melodies, and Punk Rock Pamaus!!! still brings an instant smile to my face after months of regular play.

PUFFER – Iron Hand EP (Roachleg)
PUFFER is part of a fertile underground scene in Montreal, and while it’s well worth exploring recordings by BÉTON ARMÉ and SPLEEN, among others, this four-song EP is my favorite thing from this crew so far. At the core are four great, classic-sounding punk sing-alongs, but the raw production and blistering, Wilko Johnson-esque guitar playing give PUFFER a flavor all their own.

PERSONAL DAMAGE – Atrophy & Entropy LP (Test Subject)
After a handful of great tapes and EPs, L.A.’s PERSONAL DAMAGE lays down a stone-cold classic hardcore punk full-length. Fourteen songs that are short, snappy, and snotty, tailor-made for fans of early GANG GREEN and ANGRY SAMOANS.

FAIRYTALE – Shooting Star LP (Quality Control HQ / Toxic State)
Without sounding like anything but a D-beat band, New York’s FAIRYTALE pushes at the genre’s edges, making unexpected choices in their songwriting, arrangement, and production that always seem to work. The melodic chorus on “Possible to Grow” is an immediate standout, but Shooting Star is full of similarly vital moments.

DIE LETZTEN ECKEN – Talisman LP (Billo Tonträger / Static Age)
This Berlin-based group relies primarily on electronic drums and synthesizers, but their execution and intensity are definitely punk. Much like that brilliant last album from RAKTA, Talisman brings together elements of punk, noise music, and electronic dance music into something intense, otherworldly, and totally contemporary.

FLOWER – Hardly a Dream LP (Profane Existence)
Mid-paced metallic punk is not typically my cup of tea, but the long-gestating debut from New York’s FLOWER is undeniable. Great riffs, a bruising rhythm section, and a charismatic vocalist and lyricist who imbues the music with so much passion…FLOWER is firing on all cylinders.

WHY BOTHER? – A City of Unsolved Miseries LP (Feel It)
I’ve liked other releases by this prolific band from Mason City, Iowa, but A City of Unsolved Miseries really knocked me out. It sounds like Zen Arcade, and the resemblance doesn’t end there…like HÜSKER DÜ, WHY BOTHER? are ambitious songwriters and gifted chroniclers of Midwestern dreariness.

SALVAJE PUNK – Salvaje Punk LP (Toxic State)
When I wanted to rage in 2023, this was the record I turned to. Steeped in underground ’80s metal, SALVAJE PUNK’s LP is raw as fuck and relentlessly, primally aggressive.

ELECTRIC CHAIR – Act of Aggression LP (Iron Lung)
While ELECTRIC CHAIR’s shows are maximally chaotic, their songs walk this perfect line between hooks, power, speed, and intensity. That’s particularly true of the standout track “Collapse,” though the version on their Beat Sessions cassette might be even better.

THE COOL GREENHOUSE – Sod’s Toastie LP (Melodic)
Tom from the COOL GREENHOUSE is my favorite current lyricist, and Sod’s Toastie is a tour-de-force in that regard. The wry humor takes center stage, but he takes you to a lot of different places, and the music is just as worthwhile—each song a world unto itself.


Erin O'Hare

Erin O’Hare hosts Black Circle Revolution on WTJU 91.1 FM, plays bass in OUTER WORLD, and books shows at Visible Records. She lives in so-called Charlottesville, Virginia, on unceded Monacan and Manahoac lands, where she works as a local journalist.

I couldn’t pick ten. Here’s twelve!

WARM GIRLS – Warm Girls demo cassette (self-released)
The band is named for a GIRLS AT OUR BEST song and covers LUNG LEG on its debut demo cassette, which also includes five great originals that get at the artier side of post-punk. Erika Elizabeth said it perfectly in her review: “Add some gnarled SST damage to the Rough Trade/Slampt equation.” Not sure there’s a better argument to be made for why you should listen. It’s the release I’ve listened to most this year, by a long shot.

BRICK HEAD – Bricks for Brains cassette (self-released)
After loving 2020’s Thick as Bricks, I couldn’t buy this BRICK HEAD release fast enough. It’s garage-y punk dripping with humor and charisma in spades, courtesy of Sarah Hardiman (formerly of DEAF WISH). Songs like “Unlucky Motherfucker,” “Fight I,” and “Bad Egg” are catchy to the point where some of the riffs and lyrics have their own wrinkle on my brain.

CURRENT AFFAIRS – Off the Tongue LP (Tough Love)
Off the Tongue is more of the serrated post-punk with panache, à la ROMEO VOID and SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, that made me fall for CURRENT AFFAIRS in the first place. The beat is the backbone, keyboards swirl in and out for effect, and bass and guitar switch off slicing through on lead or dancing a nimble rhythm. Joan Sweeney’s voice soars to emotional heights, manipulating time and space by stretching and compressing syllables. Though this band’s members have a strong legacy not just here but in SHOPPING, AGGI DOOM, DANCER, and more, I’m devastated that they’ve called it quits, and grateful for what they leave behind.

PITCHMAN – My Angel Age EP (Jinxed!)
PITCHMAN played 20 shows in their 11-month existence between 1992–93 in Washington, D.C. In that time, they made twelve recordings, which made their way online this year; four of them are newly pressed to a 7”. It’s the type of fresh, confident riot grrrl-y kinda hardcore that can only come from teenagers feverishly figuring out how to play the music they love. It’s a must-hear for DADDY’S BOY fans—J.J. Skolnik names PITCHMAN as a major influence.

BRENDA – The Debut LP (Last Night from Glasgow)
I’m drinking whatever’s in the water in Glasgow. BRENDA plays clever, exciting pop seen through punk-tinted glasses.

DISPLAY HOMES – What If You’re Right and They’re Wrong? LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)
Good luck getting these riffs out of your head! This trio leans into the catchier side of post-punk, with terrific interplay of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals that’s so fun and interesting it insists on repeat plays. There’s some PYLON DNA here, and not just because vocalist drummer Steph yelps and growls in a way that reminds me of Vanessa Briscoe Hay.

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
A step forward for a band that is far ahead of any other, not that it’s a race. COLLATE takes the best parts of WIRE, GLUEAMS, ESG, and the FALL—all essential bands—and arranges them into something distinct. COLLATE manages to say a lot with a little, musically and lyrically: look no further than the album’s opening lyric, “Bodies on the line / Who decides?,” as proof.

DEBT RAG – Lost to the Fantasy LP (Post Present Medium)
DEBT RAG calls itself “adult punk” from the members of WET DRAG. The band, whose members have also played in GRASS WIDOW, gSp, and PREENING, ripped their shit up and arranged it into something else. This wonk-and-roll record skewers American society with drone doodles, twinkles, tinkles and tankles, splats and squashes—sometimes it sounds like they’re playing toy instruments (maybe they are!). The playfulness is seemingly at odds with the subject matter, but if it’s all going down the drain, let’s at least have some fun and sing songs like “Barf on USA” and “Say Ah!”

WATER MACHINE – Raw Liquid Power EP (Upset The Rhythm)
There’s a presumed effortlessness to WATER MACHINE’s post-punk, but don’t be fooled: they know what they’re doing. These are members of LUNG LEG, GOTH GF, BRENDA, and SOURSOB, after all. It’s a wry combo of wiry-spastic guitars, fuzzy-warm electronics, and dance-y rhythms matched by humorous, relatable lyrics about wanting to quit your dumb job, high costs of living, insatiable thirst, and unreliable public transportation. Raw Liquid Power is a follow-up to the band’s debut, released too late in 2022 to make last year’s list.

BLACK BUTTON – Rejoice LP (Anthems of the Undesirable)
This year, I had to start doing more cardio *for my health,* so I bought a mini-trampoline, and this outsider hardcore record cut with psychedelia and noise rock is my jumping soundtrack. The A-side of the record (tracks one through six) will appease hardcore fans; the B-side is a treat for those who like their hardcore weird. “Great Closing Sleep” is a standout.

WARP – Automatic Gratuity cassette (Digital Regress)
Another weird, wild, wacky, wailing, and wonderful effort from San Francisco’s WARP. The band blazes through six songs, demanding that we pay attention. It’s exhausting to care about this fucked up world, but we’ve gotta, and who couldn’t when WARP’s weirdo hardcore insists?

THE SPATULAS – March Chant cassette (Post Present Medium)
Bonus! In under the wire, this alternative punk tape released two days before lists were due, and it’s superb. I’ll play it on my radio show in a set with ROSE MERCIE, MOE TUCKER, and ELECTRELANE.



Jennifer is a regular contributor to MRR Radio, and recently relocated from Vermont to New Hampshire. This top ten, listed in alphabetical order, is dedicated to the new addition to her family, Bunny the Cat. 

BESTA QUADRADA – The First Four Weeks cassette (Swimming Faith)
It’s loud, it’s fierce, and the vocals sound like they are being delivered from a room down the hall, yet they still slap you in the face with desperation. This demo checks all the boxes, and I’m excited to hear more from this Buffalo-based band!

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
COLLATE makes me happy. How do I define happy? I define it as an emotional response that brings joy, and COLLATE brings me joy. It’s obvious that a lot of care and thought went into this album in order to ensure a certain aesthetic was maintained, and it worked. It’s classic.

CURRENT AFFAIRS – Off the Tongue LP (Tough Love)
Some things just make sense and CURRENT AFFAIRS is one of those things. As soon as the first song plays from their latest LP, Off the Tongue, you’re in. You’re committed and that’s okay, because you really don’t want to leave. You have nowhere to be and that’s good, because this is where you want to be. It’s a cozy blanket of warm and haunting familiarity, and at the same time, it’s also all their own.

DESTINY BOND – Be My Vengeance LP (Convulse)
As soon as I heard DESTINY BOND’s 2022 promo cassette, I wanted to hear more, and wished upon all the hardcore stars in the sky that they would release a full-length album. In June, all my wishes came true. This album pays homage to classic hardcore while clearly defining their own space.

FERAL / JUDY AND THE JERKS – Free Violence split cassette (Earth Girl / Free Violence)
JUDY AND THE JERKS is one of my favorite bands, so I was excited when this split cassette with FERAL was released. Since I highlighted JUDY last year, I’m going to give FERAL the spotlight, because they deserve it. It’s a soothing gut-punch.

GIMIC – Defer to Hate EP (Crew Cuts)
When I heard the first song off Defer to Hate, I stopped in my tracks. Had I time traveled? Was it 1998? For better or worse, no. It’s as though someone placed little drops of the sound and feel of late ’90s hardcore and punk and then violently shook it up and released this beautiful creature that I’m so thankful exists. This is a true gem.

LADRONES – “Todo Me Fascina” digital (self-released)
I daydream that I am younger, let’s say 25. I live in a city where every night there’s a show, and LADRONES is the band I want to see. The reality is, I’m not 25, and I have to drive an hour to go to shows and take into consideration whether or not I want to drive home at 11 pm and be a wreck the next day. Fuck. What has happened to me? Oh well. At least in my younger, big city fantasy, I get to see LADRONES, because they look like they put on a kick-ass show. This single is a fantastic little earworm that I keep on repeat. I sure hope another full-length is in the works!

OPEN CITY – Hands in the Honey Jar LP (Get Better)
I don’t know what’s in the air this year, but so many bands on my top ten are tugging at my yesteryear heartstrings. They are reminiscent but also relevant and urgent. Open City is pure and unadulterated hardcore. They know what they are doing.

VIRVON VARVON – Voices cassette (Girlsville)
This is probably the “poppiest” thing on my top ten this year, which is odd for me, because I generally gravitate toward a poppier sound, but, hey, I guess it’s just one of those years for my ears. There is apparently a full release coming our way next year, which is exciting. The three songs from their Voices EP are absolute perfection.

WITCH PISS – Grease Me Up / Grow Mold Die Old EP (self-released)
Why didn’t WITCH PISS’s 2022 EP, Tape 1, make my 2022 top ten list? Because I had yet to hear it. I get to make it up to them this year, though! They just do it for me. It’s candy for my ears and I just want to hear more, more, more!


João Seixas

João Seixas is a D-beat and hardcore aficionado from the barren punk land of Portugal. Drummer in a thousand bands and dystopian imagery creator at @violence.paranoia. Part-time firestarter, rulebreaker, and iconoclast.

Punk is always about protest!

ASININ – Demo cassette (P.M.T. / Roachleg)
Definitely the best show at K-town Hardcore Fest 2023, and the best demo of European hardcore this year. Raw and angry stompy hardcore in the vein of S.H.I.T., but played by Norwegian kids that worship SVART FRAMTID

ELECTRIC CHAIR – The Beat Sessions cassette (Shout)
The absolute best hardcore band in the United States right now. Period. Their power is truly felt live, and this live-in-studio recording only proves it! Pig Champion is smiling up in heaven.

INSTITUTE – Ragdoll Dance LP (La Vida Es Un Mus / Roachleg)
Fourth album by post-punks INSTITUTE, and back to a more eclectic sound than the previous record, akin to the anxious melodies of CRISIS with an almost sarcastic singing method. Easy to listen to, hard to skip.

ZORN – Zorn LP (Sorry State)
Hybrid deformed child of devilish punk and the blackest of metal. DEVIL MASTER’s younger brother. Theatrical and uncompromising, ZORN leave their mark upon the first listen. Casket included.

Probably the most aggressive album on this list. A less chaotic, more focused version of FRAMTID-like crasher crust, with amazing drumming and catchy, crunchy riffs. Ear-slaughter at its best!

RAT CAGE – Savage Visions LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
The best kängpunk-inspired band from a country that is not Sweden. Even more points for being a solo effort. This man can do no wrong when it comes to cramming out some delicious TOTALITÄR-inspired tunes.

STREET GLOVES – Street Gloves cassette (Sore Mind)
All hail the new flesh! Man merging with machine in a pummeling E-beat onslaught of drum machine D-beats and skanks under a vicious attack of furious protest punk.

LIFE EXPECTANCY – Decline cassette (Iron Lung)
Best of Japanese hardcore and Swedish punk combined. You might be sick of hearing these two styles combined in recent years, but this one is totally worth the listen. Like KURO and SHITLICKERS sharing needles in a back alley. Music for enemy-making.

BLOODY FLAG – Bloody Flag cassette (Bunker Punks)
DISCLOSE worship done right! Not just another clone, but a true homage to every DISCLOSE era. True Kawakami fans will understand. Even some GOATWORSHIPPER bits stitched up on this brilliant demo.

SLAN – Skiter I Allt EP (Bunker Punks)
Hidden gem of modern Scandinavian hardcore. Can’t beat the Swedes at their own game. Raw hardcore, the way it was meant to be.

Kai Stone

Kai Stone is a musician and Sims franchise enthusiast from London, England, now residing in Stockholm, Sweden. She plays in the bands NEKRA and CHILD’S POSE and has an MRR Radio show with her good bro Ehima.

ELECTRIC FIRE – Let’s Get Lost LP (Heart n Soul)
For me, they will always be the best band in the world. I don’t know another set of musicians who can so effortlessly float between genres and vibes, and every member has stepped their game up on this release. Always fun, always uplifting, always gonna give you a beat to shake your ass to. It is unreal to hear the progression of these songs and all of the subsequent effort that has gone into this debut album from the band and their entire creative crew. No one is doing it like them. Don’t you say I’m on fire…

ZULU, SOUL GLO, and PLAYYTIME at The First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia on October 1st, 2023
Going to a show at this venue has long been on my bucket list! Putting my foot on that carpeted stage felt close to a religious experience for me, so I was already more than content before the music even started. Folks of all ages, veterans and rookies, CROSSED OUT and COHEED AND CAMBRIA fans alike moshing together. Just like TEN YARD FIGHT said: “In the pit, we’re all the same.” The future is bright with bands making music and building community like this.

SIAL – Sangkar EP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Six new tracks from these Singaporean punks who can do no wrong in my eyes.

ASSISTERT SJØLMORD – K-Town Promo EP (self-released)
I don’t know anything about this band. I missed their 2021 demo. All I know is that based on these two tracks, they are my favourite thing to come out of Norway since Martin Ødegaard and I can’t wait for the 7″!

SUKATANI – Gelap Gempita LP (Dugtrax)
A record absolutely filled to the brim with earworms. “Semakin Tua Semakin Punk” (“The Older You Get, The More Punk You Get”) is a highlight for me.

TAQBIR, LAYBACK, and IKHRAS at Oslo, London on September 1st 2023
I turned up to this show only to find that it was sold out. Someone attributed it to an article being written up about TAQBIR, and the show in a big newspaper that week, but I know it’s simply because Londoners have good taste. I was sad but content to be the guy who hung out outside the show talking to people between the bands, but as is the magic of music, I found a way into the show (thank you for always saving the day, Paco!) right before TAQBIR took the stage, and I haven’t been the same since.

KLEENEX / LILIPUT – Kleenex / LiLiPUT book (Thrilling Living)
KLEENEX was one of the first bands I ever got into who were a real mystery. No one in my immediate teenage friendship group was into them, I didn’t know any other bands that sounded like them, most articles about them online were written in languages I didn’t know (pre-Google translate), I didn’t really know what they were singing about…I just knew that this music meant something to me and made me feel something inside so strong and new. This book edition is an English-language and expanded version of guitarist Marlende Marder’s original documentation. I have recommended it to so many people because even if you’re not a fan, it is just an incredible and essential piece of music history. It has been nothing short of inspiring to see the work that regular people and punks like you and I have put into making this over the past couple of years. A truly collaborative effort, decades in the making, with people from all walks of life and disciplines with different connections to the band and the folks making the book contributing (including my own wife Linnéa! So much cooler than me). Congrats and thanks to everyone involved. My copy is already tear-stained.

EXISTENCE – Go to Heaven LP (Quality Control HQ)
Ferocious metallic hardcore from Stockholm, Sweden with riffs of course, but really thoughtful and introspective lyrics on top of that. These folks play in about 5,000 other bands that dominate the scene here in Scandinavia and contribute to what seems to be a tight-knight, principled, and powerful punk scene. Kom igen, Sverige!

CURRENT AFFAIRS – Off the Tongue LP (Tough Love)
Super sad to hear that this band is breaking up after an amazing run, but they have ended on a real high with this record. Dark and ominous with enough bite to keep you interested the whole way through in a genre that can often feel cartoonish and overly referential (no shade—I’m an offender). Thank you for the music, weirdos!

PEST CONTROL – Don’t Test the Pest LP (Quality Control HQ)
A behemoth of a record that has cemented Leah as a true vocal icon. I truthfully haven’t completely leaned into enough thrash in my short life, but it seems that I have been missing out this whole time. You also gotta see it live!


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

I’ve felt more thankful for all that I have this year, so for 2023, everyone gets a specialized award because they genuinely deserve it. Thank you to everyone that contributes to MRR. I get so much more out of this than I put in.

MINUS HERO – From Dawn to Dawn 12” (Cat’s Claw / Flamingo / LOOPS / Punk Rock Radar / White Russian)
I had to triple-check that this band was from Rome, Italy, because they so successfully capture the American Midwestern emo/noisy punk sound. I assumed they were from Rome, Kansas or something. I guess it really speaks to the universal condition of being young and sensitive, overwhelmed, and in need of a place to put all those feelings. They utilize feedback, crunchy fuzz, and heartfelt angst beautifully. Bring this LP with you when you climb the water tower the summer before you start college and scream “I Can’t Hardly Wait” at the abandoned railroad tracks, or whatever the Italian equivalent of that is. Best Coming-of-Age Record of the Year.

EX-WHITE – This is Future LP (Mangel / Spared Flesh / Turbo)
It’s superhuman. Every instrument is a percussion instrument, including the ripping, barking vocals. They don’t play their instruments, more like they hit them, and they bring the hammer down with each driving rhythmic bang. It felt like it reset my heartbeat and now I’m healthier. I’m sure doctors will recommend this record, so consult your local record store or physician. Most Percussive Record of the Year.

PERP WALK – The Chain of Infection EP (Crew Cuts)
I personally enjoy washy chorus in hardcore, and they do a great job with that sprint-then-trudge tempo. Calm waters flowing into rapids and over a waterfall. The whole thing flows incredibly, so it’s easy to listen to the whole thing in one consistent breath. Like Bruce says: “Be Like Water.” PERP WALK is what he was referring to. Most Fluid Record of the Year.

METEOR POLICE – New Type Destroyer LP (self-released)
They have that late ’90s/early ’00s post-hardcore/emocore/Dischord/No Kill No Beep Beep dance-y energy, but with plenty of barking poetry. Impressively storied, surprisingly uplifting, a coming-of-age record made by people who have the hindsight of those who have already come of age. They’re in perfect ring shape and this record really delivers. Best Older Brother Record of the Year.

MSPAINT – Post-American LP (Convulse)
MSPAINT is a great band name, because the array of colors that they incorporate is incredible. It’s a splatter of bright neon, oversaturated primaries, and crisp darks. This record is an absolute splatter, and the perfect length at thirty minutes. Not one song overstays its welcome. Most Colorful Record of the Year.

AGUR – Garena Gara LP (Tough Ain’t Enough)
The cover is a smiley face violently ripping their face off to reveal another smiley face underneath. It’s the perfect representation—fun, smiley, destructive music forcefully ripping layers back to prove what it is at its core: fun. Thank you for putting a smile on top of my smile. Most Fun Record of the Year.

SPRAIN – The Lamb as Effigy LP (Flenser)
I appreciate someone showing me the darkness in the world. It feels respectful because it’s honest, like they’re saying “You’re right, this will get worse.” The Lamb as Effigy is harsh, giving us disrespectful dissident jazz-centric sludge with Gen-X beat poet vocals, and they really put you through it with a 96-minute runtime. Like being locked in a washing machine and coming out bruised and clean. Thank you SPRAIN for not talking down to me. Most Blunt Record of the Year.

BUEN DESTINO – Buen Destino cassette (BCORE)
Imagine three horsemen of the apocalypse bringing tidal waves of devastation and one horsemen providing a calculated mathematical tactical attack plan. It’s expertly punishing and consistent, and they fit a lot into only 32 minutes. What a triumphant debut. Most Calculated Record of the Year.

It sounds cold. Like the kind of bone cold where you can feel your skin so you’re better in touch with your body. The fear of the fog being so thick that your headlights don’t cut through and you can’t tell if you’re still on the road or not. They have similar techniques as CITY OF CATERPILLAR or LITANY FOR THE WHALE for painting an image, and they set the scene with damp, freezing atmospheres, then bring in the crushing ordeal and atonement. The whole of the hero’s journey in a ten-minute runtime. Most Stark Record of the Year.

V/A – Godspeed……A Tribute to Pierre Kezdy LP (Big Minnow)
My favorite thing about this comp is that it inspired me to listen to my NAKED RAYGUN records. It’s not trying to one-up NAKED RAYGUN or do a better version, it’s just a different flavor of the same amazing songs. It’s a “tribute” in the purest sense, and it’s fun and respectful. Much more clean and polished than the records they’re covering, it’s less of an alternate universe situation and more of a genuine valentine to Pierre Kezdy and NAKED RAYGUN. Godspeed, Pierre. Most Beloved Record of the Year.


Tremendo Garaje

I told you last year, 2022 was also a great year for punk, because the world was so fucked up. 2023 has been even better, and having to choose only 10 albums has been torture—my original list had 88 albums, and the only reason I found so much excellence is that the world is even worse. I just hope that it will be much easier for me to choose in 2024!

CLASS – If You’ve Got Nothing LP (Feel It)
One definition of “class” is “showing stylish excellence.” It fits them perfectly! It could also refer to teaching here, because if a band is giving a masterclass in how to do things today, it is this Tucson four-piece. In absolute record time, they’ve become as epic as TELEVISION, WIRE, or the MODERN LOVERS. In fact, this is a record you’ll be proud to have a first edition of in 40 years, and if that doesn’t happen, then the “digital age” may not be taking things in the right direction.

ANYTIME COWBOY – Demons Obey cassette (Spared Flesh)
We have loved Ben Wallers and COUNTRY TEASERS too much to be able to avoid such obvious references. Absolutely jaw-dropped by this sublime, unique set of oblique, twangy, jangly, lo-fi weird country/post-punk tracks by ANYTIME COWBOY, Reuben Sawyer’s solo project that scores a win with every release!

WET DIP – Smell of Money LP (Feel It)
Come and see WET DIP doing the quadruple somersault without a safety net, and with the sole but invaluable help of SWEEPING PROMISES, in whose home studio this epic artifact was created. Many of you will need some courage and training to take your hands off your face and watch this fabulous, bloody spectacle of drunken fakirs throwing knives with unequaled aim. The most perfidious and pernicious of lyrics are delivered in the most lacerating and dangerously twisted way possible with musketeer skill, giving deadly thrusts on a bed of sharp nails manufactured with a selective instrumental minimalism.

TEE VEE REPAIRMANN – What’s on TV? LP (Computer Human / Total Punk)
As a diehard Ishka fan, I expected the best, but this album has exceeded any of my stratospheric expectations—the creator is an incredible songwriter who has taken power-pop-punk to the next level. Imbued with that unique, crazy, garage-y Sydney touch that makes What’s on TV? one of the records of the year: gorgeous, fun, and instantly catchy.

COLLATE – Generative Systems LP (Domestic Departure)
Defining something as fucking indefinable as post-punk is hard—or not! Just say it’s what COLLATE does, at least in the most conceptually typical, concise, repetitive, and oblique way—the one we like the most, and the one that has turned this Portland trio into our absolute favorite band of such an indeterminate genre into which so many things fit.

TELEHEALTH – Content Oscillator LP (Telehealth Corporation)
An insane set of hooky angular tracks, where elegant, krauty synth punk intertwines with reminiscences of early DEVO and the repetitive rhythmic lines of a minimal, catchy, groovy post-punk, to create a truly new synth wonder.

JUICEBUMPS – Jumbo LP (Rocks in Your Head / Time Room)
The closest experience to riding a rollercoaster, but not just any rollercoaster: one of the big ones with unexpected tight twists, endless oblique slaloms, continuous 360° loops that make you lose your bearings, jumps into the void that leaves you breathless, and climbs so high they’ll make you doubt if you’re still on planet Earth.

VAGUESS – Thanks//No Thanks LP (Under the Gun)
West Coast punk champion Vinny Earley returns to the controls of his flagship VAGUESS to deliver another masterclass. Post-punk-colored pop sensibility, synth vibes, schizoid angularity, minimal punk, or simply all at once, Vinny’s versatility is matched only by this prolific creator’s extreme aptitude for blowing us away, and the irrefutable and wonderful proof of it all is this absolute jewel.

CEL RAY – Cellular Raymond cassette (MPLS Ltd) / Piss Park EP (Six Tonnes De Chair)
Not one, but two essential CEL RAY releases this year! Fabulous sets of skewed, twisted architecture, generated over a sparkling and crunchy rhythmic base that is reinforced by the sustainability of a bass line that contributes as much as it supports; creating pillars that would withstand a magnitude nine earthquake, over which an impulsive joyful guitar makes amazing continuous hooks. A whole from which the best Midwest post-punk takes its name, and with Maddie’s lyric-spitting ways ends up becoming CEL RAY!

BEEF – Beef LP (Feel It)
Cincinnati’s death squad BEEF has definitely deployed their arsenal of weapons of mass destruction—a convulsive, abrasive, and stomping post-punk set of tracks like you have rarely heard before that seems to use tribal war drums played by Thor’s hammer, and when you listen to it, it makes you feel as powerful as the God of Thunder himself!

Ten honorable mentions:

The music video for “Trent” from 2M8O’s 2M8O cassette (Under the Gun)

Probably our favorite video of 2023, from a gorgeous album.

ITCHY & THE NITS – Itchy & the Nits cassette (Warttmann Inc.)
Sydney’s best weird, budget garage squad ever!

THEEE RETAIL SIMPS – Live on Cool Street LP (Total Punk)
The band that has restored our faith in rock’n’roll in this millennium.

ISMATIC GURU – III cassette (Swimming Faith)
Like Lemmon and Matthau, 2023’s Odd Couple is back again with another scrambled-egg, idiot-prog punk journey to save our lives from boredom.

MALLWALKER – Danger cassette (Tetryon Tapes)
Just punk! We will always miss you Sarah Danger.

CITRIC DUMMIES – Zen and the Arcade of Beating Your Ass LP (Feel It)
“With great power comes great responsibility”—the DUMMIES knew it, and despite that “glorious” title, they have surpassed all expectations!

ABI OOZE – Julia’s Apartment (Demos) cassette (self-released)
Our unbeatable Midwestern heroine…punker than punk!

J.T. IV – The Future LP (Galactic Zoo)
There are stories that deserve to be told.

The music video for “Frogman” from BIG CLOWN’s Beatdown EP (Swimming Faith)

Forget all the previous bullshit. This would be the only band I would take to a desert island!

Special mention with honors:

Sam Richardson’s elite sniper skills! I can’t remember a label that has given us a more glorious year than Feel It in 2023!


Willis Schenk

Willis Schenk lives in the central mountains of Vermont and writes reviews for MRR.

I think my jaw still hurts from clenching it at work all summer…sometimes the rest of the year feels ancillary to the busy summer months in the restaurant, the narrow view through which I see the world. But there’s snow on the ground now, and I’m trying to remember what else this year meant. This spring I got back together with my band, having formed ten years ago now, and we even played a couple of shows for friends. There were pitfalls and happy surprises and chance encounters and a few left turns. I logged a lot of hours at my sacrosanct desk listening to and reviewing music, trying to convince myself I’m no imposter (to various levels of success), and found a lot of great tunes along the way. In order of format, here’s my favorites of 2023.

RATA NEGRA – Ella Está En Fiestas / Bien Triste 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus)
“Ella Está En Fiestas” hits with high energy—femme vocals command attention on top of fun-loving rhythms full of synth and droning post-punk guitars, melancholy sashaying in by way of reverbed chord sweeps. “Bien Triste” goes slower, more reverently; sad, happy, hopeful all at once.

C.C. VOLTAGE – Berliner Pilsner / Bummer Party 7” (Yeah Right)
Simple, refreshing, and puts a smile on your face—party tunes. This was carefree summer listening when I needed a little escapism.

NEGATIVE GLOW – Volume 1 cassette (Let’s Pretend / RTR Tapes)
Blasted this one on repeat while I reviewed it and long thereafter. Perfectly scuzzy guitars and heart-wrenching lyrics owing a lot to ’90s slacker-rock forbearers. I hope there is more to come.

TAXI GIRLS – Coming Up Roses cassette (Wild Honey)
Debut EP from Montreal’s TAXI GIRLS—five songs from three power-punk-exacting ladies. Catchy and fun for days. Please come over the border and play in Vermont? Or let me know when you’re playing Montreal next!

BABY TYLER – Imposter cassette (Tetryon)
Hazy dirt-rock intended for cassette play only, Imposter reminds me of college basement parties at their most idyllic. Tyler Fassnacht’s BABY TYLER project shovels up piss and beer-soaked floor scraps and spits them through this recording, getting me moving, while providing catchy-as-hell choruses to never stop.

LOVE INTEREST – Motherwound 12” (Council)
Properly dark witchcraft and wizardry on this debut EP I had the pleasure of reviewing. The vocal range of J. Blackmore (perfect stage name or born into the role?) gives me the chills after repeated listens, and the operatic production of backing chants and well-manicured instrumentation makes an easy place on my top ten.

PLEASER – Pleaser LP (Part Time)
Awesome group out of Copenhagen, Denmark. I got to review the reissue of their 2021 demo, and was very excited to see this release on the horizon. Mean, snarling guitars, pummeling drums with ceaseless fills, and attacking vocals from Annie Marie Nyvold and Sophie Lien Lake. “Light and Fire” is up there for one of my favorite tracks of the year.

FAMOUS MAMMALS – Instant Pop Expressionism Now! LP (Siltbreeze)
Like an off-kilter VELVET UNDERGROUND jam, with all the poetry, dissonance, clanging high-tone guitars, and variety of noisemakers to boot. I spent a lot of time listening to this one alone, brain-tickled by the oddball rhythms, feeling bliss.

SPITTING IMAGE – Full Sun LP (Slovenly)
Desert psych-punk out of Reno, Nevada, sounding like a less jam-focused KYUSS. Kind of a strange pick for me, but it’s a great mid-tempo stomper to play loud, driving west into the Full Sun.

WHY BOTHER? – A City of Unsolved Miseries LP (Feel It)
A City of Unsolved Miseries was my introduction to the prolific WHY BOTHER?, who have a slew of records from the past three years and two from this year alone. Warbling synth, snaky post-punk guitar riffs, and hollow yet impassioned vocals from singer Terry. I’m gonna go broke if they keep making records at this rate!


Zuzanna Villanueva

Zu From All Over has been an active reader of Maximum Rocknroll for 23 years, picking up her first issue (#209) at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, California in October 2000. She has spent the past year contributing a radio show for MRR Radio out of her home in Portland, Oregon.

I’ve always wanted to do one of these.

MSPAINT – Post-American LP (Convulse)
It’s so impressive when a band can correctly blend genres. They don’t fold them on top of each other, they effectively cook them together. Hip-hop heads, post-hardcore kids, punks, alt-rockers, hardcore beat-downers, and electroclash weirdos will get enough of a fix without feeling alienated. I’d put it on the same shelf as such genre-benders as The Chemistry of Common Life, Lovetheism, Glow On, or even Sunbather.

KURVY ČEŠI – Šne​č​í Med LP (Stoned to Death)
It’s like a weird, scary ritualistic dance that doesn’t take place in our reality. We’re brought into their lair and they’re swirling around and laughing at us for being so overwhelmed. The cover is an image of a naked, blue-skinned deity statue come to life, and it sounds like this music was made by these impish creatures. I refuse to believe that they’re human.

RUMKICKS – 反骨 CD (self-released)
Anyone looking to get into punk rock should start with RUMKICKS! They’re such a perfect example of how to make punk the right way. When I was twelve/thirteen years old and our CD binders were a gateway to introduce ourselves to other punks in the scene, I would have been honored to have this album in the first sleeve. Special shouts out to the song “Punk Rocker” as an anthem. They make me feel young again, but in a good way this time.

EX-WHITE – This is Future LP (Mangel / Spared Flesh / Turbo)
I got to do an MRR Radio episode with my dear friend Michael From the North Bay where we had a nostalgic reintroduction to garage and garagecore from the past decade, so I wanted to include a garage release for 2023. This is Future is just plain better than anything I’ve heard in the genre (or adjacent to the genre) in the past decade. It’s got garage in its DNA, but their double helix has hardcore, danceable post-punk, street punk, egg, and just generally belligerent molecules. Good lord, this genre has matured into something so much more intelligent than when I was coming up.

THE WHIFFS – Scratch ‘N’ Sniff LP (Bachelor / Dig! / Sludge People)
Just some good lovely sweetheart music. Fun, nerdy indie rock; white socks and black shoes type of nerds. And the LP has a nice long track list, but only a 40-minute run time so it doesn’t feel bloated. Really easy to flip the record over and over. It’ll keep you company all afternoon.

QUINN RASH – Death Devotion cassette (self-released)
This tape should be issued to all teenagers to let them know that their twenties will be worth chugging through. Perfect example of the holdover of teen angst into the freedom and anxiety of having to care for yourself, so light a candle and start a teenage riot in a public station with this tape in your Walkman. Thank you for the crunchy, empathetic pep talk.

OPERATION IBIS – Avian Overlords LP (self-released)
Think about how fun Australians are. Now think about how fun ska is. Now think about how much fun you’ll be having once you pick up a copy of Avian Overlords! This year I made a point to relax my shoulders and pick my head up. I rediscovered ska punk a bit this summer and I inadvertently smiled more. My after picture is better than the before, so big thanks to the party birds for that! Mwah!

GOBLIN DAYCARE – Q: EP? A: EP​!​! cassette (Godless America / Syf)
Q: Are we not extraterrestrials? A: We are GOBLIN DAYCARE! I was expecting a lot of DEVO nods, and they offer the perfect comparison to DEVO in being incredibly unique and kindred spirits creatively, with the whole thing having a wobbly day-glo imagination. It’s as confident as Jello with the same need to be heard. We should broadcast this tape into outer space to let the aliens know that earthlings can be cool.

ABOLITIONIST – A Pernicious Truth LP (1859 Records)
Shoutout to the hometown boys!! *Swoon!* I’m very proud to be a member of the PDX punk scene, and bands like ABOLITIONIST do our little corner of the country proud. They capture the damp darkness that we live through, as well as the beautiful greenery that we get to enjoy (albeit for only a few months). If you wanna travel to the PNW, you can start with A Pernicious Truth. It’s pretty dead-on. The Rose City heroes have added another success to their growing, impressive discography! The Crown Princes of Punk! (Yes, that’s a POISON IDEA reference.)

PUNTER – Punter 12” (Active Dero / Drunken Sailor)
I could easily make a YETT for just Melbourne bands, and I’ll happily give the “MVPs of the current greatest scene on the planet” award to PUNTER. They have such an impressive range of power and empathy. Tough but kind, of-the-moment while being timeless. It sounds like eating French fries on the hood of your car at sunset with a breathtaking view of the city. It’s so easy to give this band your whole heart and they’ll take good care of it. I lovelovelove this record unconditionally.