Just like every other year, 2010 has seen it’s fair share of awesome music, with big releases from the likes of Bad Religion, Alkaline Trio, Mad Sin, Bouncing Souls, Devil’s Brigade, G.B.H. and quite a few others. Only one of those bands made my Top 10, and I think that’s the main difference between this year and last year’s list. My music horizons were broadened quite significantly thanks to finding a ton of great music blogs offering bands and albums I’d never heard of, old and new, from all over the world.

I can’t recommend trying to seek out the kind of music you like highly enough, as you stumble on a wealth of great stuff. A few of my favourites include Authentic Ska, Trojan Spirit, Life in Monochrome and Tone and Wave, but the one blog that has been a consistent source of awesome for the last couple of years, is Onda PuNk! God knows how I found this Spanish ska punk site, but unlike alot of music blogs, it’s constantly being updated with albums from all over the place. From popular third wave bands from the States to obscure Russian bands I can’t even pronounce, the guys behind the site do a fantastic job. A couple of the artists I discovered from Onda are in my top 10, which goes to show there’s amazing music just waiting to be found (if you’re reading this guys, thanks a million and keep up the hard work). I think that’s enough preamble, let’s get to the list already:

10. The Black Pacific – The Black Pacific

The first release from Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg’s new project is a belter of an album. I’ve liked Pennywise ever since my cousin gave me ‘The Fuse’ for my 16th birthday, but their stuff never got me THAT excited. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good mix of rock and punk rock, and Lindberg’s vocals are awesome (‘Fuck Authority’ is still a playlist favourite). The Black Pacific are still both of those things, and aren’t a million miles away from Pennywise, but when I listened to this album it just seemed like a more refined, perfected body of songs. Like Lindberg was able to reflect on what made the best Pennywise songs great and apply it to a whole album. Now every song isn’t a classic, and they are all very much the same style, but once it starts the album doesn’t let up. It’s fast pace and tenacity sucked me and I really dug it. In particular the song ‘Put Down Your Weapons’. It’s roaring, sing-along punk rock that gets my head banging every time. I also had the privilege of seeing them live a couple of months ago and they present the same energy on stage. For their first album they’ve set the bar very high indeed, I can’t wait to see what they do next.

 

9. Skatroniks Jamaica – Skalsa #1

From fast rock to traditional reggae ska. This band akins back to the legendary likes of The Skatalites, but with a more dubby, relaxed sound. I’d never heard of Skatroniks Jamaica before this album, but according to their MySpace info they’re from London, so someone needs to do a much better job in the promotional department. Skalsa #1 is a chilled-out journey through classic styles (the trad ska of ‘Tek it Eezy’) with a contemporary almost Slackers-like vibe at times (the light-hearted ‘Frenemy’). It’s a very diverse album, but it totally works. When I listened to it high it almost blew my mind, the free-flowing jazzy rythms practically gives your brain a massage (the song ‘Steppas’ in particular just oozes laid-back cool). It’s great to see such an appreciation for a diverse genre and I can only hope Skatroniks keep it going.

 

8. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation

Off With Their Heads is a band I’ve liked for a couple of years now. When I first heard ‘I am You’ on Mike Davies’ Radio 1 Punk Show I knew this was a good band. What makes OWTH’s awesome (at least, to me anyways) is the same thing I love about Teenage Bottlerocket, and that’s taking a genre as samey and bland as punk rock and making it as good as it can be. Every song is like that one good track from another generic punk rock band’s album, you know the one you listen to more than the others, go back to and that makes you sing along and fires you up. ‘In Desolation’ continues the band’s loud, ferocious style that simply blasts out of the speakers. Ryan Young’s gravely vocals are wonderful and really make them stand out from their contemporaries. Off With Their Heads seem to get bigger and garner more fans with each passing year, and rightly so. Here’s hoping for a UK tour.

 

7. Faintest Idea – Ignorance is This

Straight off the bat, I fucking love Faintest Idea. This (along with entries 1 and 2) was one of my most anticipated albums of the year.  The first time I heard of them was a couple of years ago when they were supporting [spunge], I checked out their MySpace tracks, liked what I heard (a lot) and bought their album ‘Put Your Mouth Where the Money Is’. Listening to that album for the first time can only be compared to the first time I heard Rancid‘s ‘And Out Come the Wolves’. The feeling that transcends everything and you know you’re hearing something which you will love for the rest of your life. I’ve seen them live several times now, when they have a full brass section and a decent crowd they’re absolutely brilliant. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to this release. Of course, after ‘Put Your Mouth I was going to be disappointed, just like ‘Life Won’t Wait’ before it. Now while this isn’t as good as their last album, this is still a cracking release. It’s a little rougher round the edges, which I think is kinda strange, but their blend of street punk and ska still gets me nodding my head and singing along just the same. I always preferred their upbeat, dancier numbers (represented here by the infectious ‘Too Bad’ and ‘Bully Boy’), but the opening track, ‘Criminals’, it’s like a freight train, setting the tone of the album immediately. Fast, aggressive, and chock full of heart, I’ve been saying it for years, but these guys truly deserve to make it, here’s hoping 2011 sees the recognition they deserve.

 

6. Dirty Revolution – Before the Fire

I love reggae, I love ska… and I love Dirty Revolution. As soon as I heard Rebel Alliance was putting out their first full-length album I was really pleased, as now maybe Dirty Rev. would get the exposure and praise they deserve. Their last EP ‘It’s Gonna Get Dirty’ is fantastic, the joyful old school ska vibe and Reb’s lovely vocals instantly connect, and that’s remained very present in ‘Before the Fire’. Their EP to LP transition is very similar to what The Skints did in 2009, but while they left behind their upbeat ska stylings in favour of a more reggae dub sound, Dirty Revolution have carried it all across and simply added a couple of more diverse tracks. The ska is still predominant, and that’s their biggest asset. In fact, this is my favourite full-on ska album of the year, mixing a 2-tone feel with a more modern punky vibe, it’s just really good music. Songs like ’50p’ and anthem ‘I Love Reggae’ have been re-recorded (annoying as I now shout the wrong lyrics when I see them live), and new songs like ‘Firing Line’ provide a nice blend of tempos and show just how excellent a band they are. Also awesome live, their gigs are full of so much fun and unity I would go see them every week if I could.

 

5. Bouncing Souls – Ghosts on the Boardwalk

Arguably the biggest band on this list, Bouncing Souls have been a consistent source of great punk rock for years. I first saw them live supporting Dropkick Murphys when I was 14, and have been a fan ever since. While ‘Ghosts on the Boardwalk’ is technically a 2010 release, the band released one song every month of 2009, and while I didn’t grab all of them, the awesome ‘We All Sing Along’ was present on nearly every compilation I made that year. This is a much more mature album than say ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’. There’s still youthful energy in the almost ska-like ‘Mental Bits’ and the shout-along ‘Dubs Says True’ but this is nicely balanced with slower and more meaningful tracks like ‘Airport Security’ and the titular ‘Ghosts on the Boardwalk’. This is a great album and I can only hope they keep this style going for years to come.

 

4. Talco – La Cretina Commedia

Who the hell are Talco? I hear you ask. That’s exactly what I asked myself when I got this album (take a bow Onda PuNk). The album art is riffing on the classic Minor Threat (and later Rancid) image, and you better have something good if you’re going to invite comparisons with those two legendary bands. Well, turns out they do. While not really like Minor Threat or Rancid, you can hear they are heavy influences. Not speaking Italian I have no idea what the songs are about, but it just doesn’t matter. Talco have a sound unlike anything else I’ve heard before, it’s actually pretty hard to describe but I’ll give it a go. It’s like a ska-y Gogol Bordello without the gypsy-ness, with some added punk rock, mixed with the opening battle of ‘Gangs of New York’. I mention Scorsese’s awesome movie because a lot of the songs really do feel like they’re firing you up for some epic period battle, with trumpets and roaring guitars. Songs like ‘Non è Tempo di Campare’ and ‘Dalla Grotta’ have a frantic stand-up and cheer sound and really get my whole body moving every time. The album just feels so damn epic, and it came out of nowhere. I was stunned at just how much I got into ‘La Cretina Commedia’ and how freaking great it is to hear a band unlike any other going at the moment. Seriously, check this album out.

 

3. The Creepshow – They All Fall Down

The Creepshow are another band who have developed their own sound, fusing psychobilly with horror punk and more straight-forward punk rock, ‘They All Fall Down’ is a blinding album. Chock-full of heavy, loud, catchy tracks (‘Hellbound’ and the equally awesome ‘Last Chance’) with a brief stopover in 50s doo-wop with the wonderful ‘Sleep Tight’, the lively tunes with macabre subject matter have always appealed to me, and although you could argue it’s simply more of what made their last album, ‘Run for Your Life’ so good, I say what’s wrong with that? Sarah Sin’s vocals are great, and there’s simply not enough decent horror-inspired music these days. The Creepshow have created and refined their own monster-mash of genres, and with this album I believe they’ve perfected it further. A real joy to listen to.

 

2. Devo – Something for Everybody

Where the hell do I start with a band as influential as Devo? Returning after 20 years, the pioneers of new wave had a lot to live up to, and even that’s somewhat of an understatement. I honestly had no idea what to expect when this was announced as I only really got into Devo a couple of years ago, and while I love ‘Oh, No! It’s Devo!’ they’re not a band I adore everything by. The promotional campaign for ‘Something for Everybody’ was extremely interesting if not totally coherent (at least in the early stages). Saying that, I really dug ‘Fresh’ when they put it on their MySpace a couple of months before the album dropped, it wasn’t that much like their old stuff, this did indeed sound fresh. Turns out that was a mere taste of what to expect. This album is quite frankly, fucking excellent. It’s the same Devo, but super-charged with new technology, corporate cynicism and a sound like a techno-new-wave battering ram. The first time I heard it, it was so amazing I listened to it again immediately afterwards. This album exceeded my wildest expectations, each song is so incredibly rich in their own brand of techno-synthiness, I literally can’t turn it up loud enough. Their new style is so unlike anything I’ve really experienced, I think not only is it timeless, but it will continue to sound just as fresh and gleefully insane as it does now.

 

1. The Hitchcocks – Blood Will Follow

The Hitchcocks are one of the most criminally under-rated and under-heard bands of recent memory. I’ve been a huge fan of these Danish rockers since I got a copy of their 2007 EP ‘Mission Accomplished’. They take the genre and attack it with a chainsaw, injecting buckets of energy, fun and riffs so head-bangingly awesome I can’t rate it highly enough. ‘Blood Will Follow’ is their first full-length album, and it is simply relentless. They fuse traditional Misfits-style horror punk with fast, feel-good punk rock, it’s actually not a million miles away from bands like Off With Their Heads, Teenage Bottlerocket or The Copyrights, but ‘Blood Will Follow’ is so much ferocious fun I’ve already forgotten what bands I just mentioned. The whole album has some wonderfully retro bits and pieces, but The Hitchcocks have taken it to a new level here. I keep banging on about bands creating a unique style of their own, but it’s just as true with these guys, if not more so because it’s just so good. ‘Lust for Blood’, ‘Space Invaders’, ‘A Bomb’, ‘Dead to Me’, ‘Radioactive’, every track is like 2 minutes of sheer awesome. No other band has struck a chord with me in recent memory more than The Hitchcocks, which is why I’m amazed they’re not doing better. It seems perfect for the likes of People Like You or Hellcat Records, so fingers crossed this album finds its way to someone in the UK or US who can get them more exposure. I would pay A LOT of money to see these guys live too, I can only imagine the sheer, demented excitement I would feel seeing them perform in person. Check this band out, if you’re anything like me you won’t regret it.

Well that’s my music round-up for another year, if you agree or disagree please free to leave a comment, thanks for reading!

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