Punk: Year in Review 2010

Published Nov 28, 2010

1. White Lung
2. Burning Love
3. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
4. The Flatliners
5. Crime in Stereo
6. Coliseum
7. Nü Sensae
8. The Menzingers
9. Hostage Calm
10. Bomb the Music Industry!

1. White Lung It's the Evil (Deranged)
White Lung only released their debut It's the Evil this summer, but those with an ear tipped toward the Vancouver underground have been watching since 2006, when a couple of burning-hot vinyl singles threw the visceral punk quartet into critics' and fans arms, as well as deeper into a series of personal hindrances. Vocalist Mish Way says stopping wasn't an option and that the stop/start momentum stoked them further. "We [including drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou and bassist Grady Mackintosh] made a decision after Natasha [Reich, guitarist] left that we were going to keep this band together. We've all worked hard, fuck it. So we kept planning all the time. Always thinking." They soon found guitarist Kenny McCorkell, recorded another stellar seven-inch, toured, and finally readied their debut.

"Kenny did an amazing job. He came in and we were like, 'well, shit. We have to write. Let's do this.' It was crazy, but it worked. Every single day we were practicing, and writing and scrambling. I'm pretty proud of how it went." That drive lurches off of It's the Evil. It's easy to throw labels at the stark, messy ferocity, but none of them really stick: post-punk, riot-grrrl, garage. What the taut mania boils down to is sensation ― heart and guts, transcending musical trends and politics. "It isn't a female energy, it isn't a masculine energy. It's something else that isn't gendered," says Way, the group's true nucleus, herself a modern, transfixing Iggy Pop/Patti Smith hybrid.

It's the Evil is a watershed that might even cement White Lung as ambassadors for a Canadian scene that's still writing its history. "In Vancouver, right now, there are so many great bands putting out incredible records. You get inspired. That's how music scenes have always been. It's a community."
Nicole Villeneuve

2. Burning Love Songs For Burning Lovers (Deranged)
Turbonegro. Zeke. Discharge. Poison Idea. Instinctively bleak, explosively angry and unequivocally sinister, these bands redefined the true essence of extreme music, spawning the evil bastard child, punk. With the vicious antagonism of this debut, Toronto's Burning Love are poised to join these prestigious ranks of those imposing, cryptic and decadent outfits. Detuned and thunderous while still melodically brilliant, gritty and raw, Songs For Burning Lovers is a rapid-fire dose of biting riffs, palpitating beats and pulverizing vocals. The charged instincts and virulent power of these massive aural munitions makes it an instant―and amaranthine― punk classic.
Keith Carman

3. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists The Brutalist Bricks (Matador)
Nobody considered Living with the Living a poorly crafted album until Ted dropped The Brutalist Bricks. Leave it to Leo to blow his own cover, over-delivering on a set of songs that come off as some of the most focused and ferocious material of his career. Leo has perfected the knack for sounding so rubbery on songs like "The Mighty Sparrow" and "Bottled in Cork" that he actually comes off looking elastic in music videos. It may be a shame that Chisel and the Make-Up never received their due, but Leo and fellow Pharmacist James Canty have been granted a second chance and that's why The Brutalist Bricks feels so triumphant.
Daniel Sylvester

4. The Flatliners Cavalcade (Drive /Fat Wreck)
Cavalcade is musically and lyrically motivated by the trials of being a full-time touring band. This is the product of four gentlemen spending their formative years together in vans, dive bars, and basements, honing their passion with a relentless touring schedule. Cavalcade shows the band moving further away from their ska-punk roots, towards a more mature, weathered sound. The Flatliners have landed on a unique amalgamation of '90s skate punk and anthemic alt-rock. The end result is a record that carries all the intensity of Bad Religion, while maintaining the lyrical sensitivity of the Replacements.
Aaron Zorgel

5. Crime in Stereo I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone (Bridge Nine)
Crime In Stereo make no bones about having vision. Slow building shoegaze atmospherics build into muscular, frantic bombardments bursting with sing-along choruses. Beatles-esque chord turns aren't afraid to swell into squalls of guitar noise, stabbing like a controlled Omar Rodriguez-Lopez freak-out. Melodic instincts of that sophistication aren't exactly common for a group so undeniably punk. The band's willingness to stalk a catchy song idea and rough it into a shape befitting of their sonic mandate is one of the album's most exciting traits. It's a shame this proved to be the band's swan song.
Scott A. Gray

6. Coliseum House With A Curse (Temporary Residence)
Louisville's Coliseum, infamous for their primal scream therapy, take a left turn down a familiar path on House with a Curse. Lead singer Ryan Patterson's caveman growl is intact, but the band shifts down a couple of gears, slogging through the mud and filth of dirty post-hardcore. With a little help from friends (including Will Oldham), the trio come away with their most memorable album yet. "Skeleton Smile," featuring Oldham's creepy refrains, is Coliseum as a whole new beast. They dropped the D-beat hardcore and picked up a Dischord-ian slow burn. Some will bellyache, some will rejoice. We're just busy rocking out.
Jason Schreurs

7. Nü Sensae TV, Death and the Devil (Nominal)
Simultaneously active in Vancouver's noise rock scene and its seedy crust punk underbelly, Nü Sensae bridge the gap with a sonically bludgeoning bass-and-drum attack. With TV, Death and the Devil, the duo successfully abridged their simple set-up to a cohesive album with a newfound appreciation for dynamics. Strengthened by softer sections, rare moments of singing and relatively longer ideas (two songs break the three-minute mark), the album pushed Nü Sensae forward without sacrificing any of the maniacal, sludgy riffing or doom-laden lyrics that made them so endearing.
Josiah Hughes

8. The Menzingers Chamberlain Waits (Red Scare Industries)
Scranton, PA four-piece the Menzingers have a knack for writing songs that are as memorable as they are morose, penning the catchiest songs of anguish and doubt since the Alkaline Trio wrote Goddammit in 1998. Their signature dual vocals, pounding rhythms and Johnny Marr-inspired guitar leads are captured perfectly on Chamberlain Waits. Tom May and Greg Barnett's voices brilliantly slide from a haunted croon to a broken wail. As heartbreaking as these vocal performances are, don't be discouraged ― creative lead guitar work, gang vocals, and often danceable drum beats make this record an incredibly fun listen.
Aaron Zorgel

9. Hostage Calm (Run for Cover)
It's rare that a band are able to completely reinvent themselves while still retaining elements of their earlier sound, especially within the rigid genre restrictions of melodic hardcore. What truly blows minds about this self-titled sophomore effort is the way it transitions perfectly from Dag Nasty verses into Beach Boys choruses and a smooth Morrissey coda. Hostage Calm is the honest sound of a young band hearing new music and incorporating it into their own songs without compromising or trend-hopping. If more punk bands could incorporate outside genres like this without compartmentalizing them into individual songs or side projects, Mike Watt would be a really proud dude.
Sam Sutherland

10. Bomb the Music Industry! Adults!!!... Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited by Nothing!!!!!!! (Quote Unquote)
Bomb The Music Industry! are one of the punk community's most important voices. Adults!!! starts off with "You Believe in Me," where Jeff Rosenstock sings, "I've never been in love but I saw Brian Wilson once...I thought about the way his catastrophes could make everything ok" while an ensemble cast blast away with horns, triangles, trombones, organs and more. Listening to the album is like attending a really exciting party where everyone is extremely fun but equally self-aware and well-read. Even with a little melancholy, BTMI! reminds us of how much fun life is.
Ben Conoley

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