Tau Cross and War//Plague’s guitarist, Organize and Arise DIY punk forum, distro and label owner, Star Wars nerd and an extremely talented animator and illustrator, Andy Lefton is among our favorite people in the current punk scene. So it’s an obvious choice to ask Leffer about some great records of 2018!
Punk rock and all its affiliations have been in my DNA since I was young, and the older I get the more my love grows for it. 2018 has been an interesting year, as we’ve seen the climate of our world—economically, socio-politically and environmentally—change right before us into a place our vinyl predictions have always warned us about.
The impact punk has done for us has been an education far more than any class room could offer. I never looked to the music to change the world… that was always a silly notion, but any change worked best when it came within ourselves, which has lasting effects and I can thank punk rock for that.
Going into some of the more memorable releases of 2018, there’s always been a deciding factor for what’s sincere in the writing and what’s influenced in the writing. All music has its influences, however, we’ve seen countless bands over the last (almost) three decades ride the coat tails of others, while there’s been a handful of bands that have retained a sincere and honest approach to writing and context (organized punk)—and an over saturation of “tribute punk”.
This brief list is just a small handful that stuck with me during 2018.
Old City – Future Dead 10”
I first noticed the band through a posting they did on the Organize and Arise forums. Since then, I’ve kept my eye on Old City and have really appreciated everything they’ve put out.
Old City is a band based out of Portland, Oregon, that have an ability to write great music that really catches the senses. I do feel this band is quite underrated and needs to get a bit more attention. Old City have undertones that are quite reminiscent of Wipers and the production quality has just enough grit to show that. The vocals are dirty and punchy enough to sing along to while raising your fists in unison, while the overall production is fantastic and retains that garage feel.
Śmierć – Godzina Pusta 12” / CD
Fans of Polish punk, listen up! Śmierć are a band off the legendary Polish label Nikt Nic Nie Wie, which has a history of some of the most profound tape releases in the last 25 years such as Los Crudos, His Hero is Gone, Homomilitia and tons more!
The writing by this band is very reminiscent of how things were done throughout the 90’s, well written, sincere and thought-provoking. This album gives way to the idea that punk is still very much alive and honest. For fans of La Fraction and The Gits, pay attention! Śmierć was formed in 2017 and made up of members from Imperial Leather, Abductee S.D. and Idiot Ikon. This is punk rock that carries all your favorite elements from melodic hardcore to d-beat fury.
Fatum – Edge of the Wild CD
I fucking love crust and everything stenchcore! Fatum come from Moscow, Russia, and play fierce crust punk…or as some would say “metalpunk”.
I had the pleasure of playing with these guys at the Puntala fest in 2017 and it was awesome! For those that love the glorious sounds of Prophecy of Doom, Deviated Instinct, etc…get on this! The release has some the best production while retaining the dirty, metallic riffs, blazing drum beats and some of the best stench vocals around!
Frenetix / Decontrol / Anord – …And Still It’s Grim Up North
There’s a spirit in the UK anarcho-punk community that makes me have uncontrolled adrenaline. This is what punk is for me; angry, determined and willing to create a maelstrom of hardcore thrash that makes the point crystal clear. This is the heart of it all and it goes without saying that the UK is the pioneer of this most glorious sound. Many punk cultures have taken pointers and even mimic the genre (tribute punk).
I came across Decontrol online and gave them a quick listen to see what’s up…and was blown away! THIS brought me back to how it’s done and reinforced why this area of the world is damn good at making their point. Decontrol are a hardcore punk band that’s brutally honest about what they do. In the vein of Substandard, Oi Polloi, etc. they stand strong on antifascism with a song Control-Alt-Defeat and it’s a rager!
Chainsaw guitars, blasting punk beats with clear, concise vocals that make you want to smash all racist hate. This CD has 5 songs and is a 3 way split with Frenetix and Anord, who are just as relevant.
Asta Kask – Historien Dömer Oss Alla 12”
These Swedish punk diehards have delivered a 40 year anniversary album that’s been on constant rotation since I received it. I’ve always appreciated the music and context this band has delivered ever since I first laid ears on them.
This anniversary album is top notch and has every Asta Kask element we know and love. Catchy melodies, good musicianship and mindful production that’s perfect enough to whet any appetite for good punk rock. One of the reasons I admire this band is their ability to be quite vocal on subjects regarding fear, hate and overall distrust in this world gone mad. They do it well and relay this message through their music beautifully.
Honorable mentions, demos, comps and teasers
Civilised Society? – War in my Head CD
CS need no introduction. Stemming from the 80’s UK hardcore punk and metal scene, we’ve been given a wonderful chance to experience this band once again.
This 4 songs release includes 3 re-recorded songs from their earlier work and one teaser track off their forth-coming LP for 2019. The production is much heavier compared to what they have previously done (sadly, analog production is a dying breed). Regardless, this nails it! Killer metallic riffs and fist pounding choruses fill this with very high hopes of what’s to come. Keep an eye for this, it’ll be an instant classic!
Zygome – Demo 2018
Montreal rules…it always has! The home of many amazing bands such as Born Dead Icons, After the Bombs, Human Greed, Global Holocaust and Runstate Tapes label that released this one.
As I previously mentioned, I love crust, stenchcore, etc and will accept it all with open arms! It’s never been a “metal” thing to me, but something that’s evolved into as a broader horizon of punk, Zygome are that. Taking elements from legendary Amebix and even later acts such as Hellshock and Stormcrow. The production has demo quality, but that’s by design. It’s raw, and this gives it the integrity it deserves. Anything more polished would take away from the authenticity of it all.
Dis is Malmö 2018 – 12” comp V/A
Malmö, Sweden has been an epicenter for some the greatest hardcore punk, and many of us still scratch our heads on how fantastic everything sounds coming out of that region (must be something in the water?)
Previous bands like Skitkids and Kontrovers are thoughtful in their presentation and the music writing is brutal, sincere and will leave a lasting impression. While retaining the raw nature of punk, they seem to take enough care in the writing process to make it unique and not some clone or carbon copy of another’s sound.
Compilations aren’t a dying breed though, but since the internet has ruined a lot for what we do, they’ve fallen by the wayside. This year’s tribute comp “Dis is Malmö” by Not Enough Records highlights what is so damn awesome about this community.
Bands such as Crutches, Lautsturmer, Genome and many others represent all that is excellent in punk & hardcore and every single band on this comp shreds so hard! If you’re interested in hearing a corner of the world that is doing it right, get this comp immediately!
Quarantine – Discography double LP
If you don’t know Quarantine, stop reading this and go listen now. This Glasgow based trio set a standard in hardcore punk with a uniqueness not found at that time. I was introduced to Quarantine in the late 90’s and immediately fell in love, as did everyone else that heard them. Catchy, potent and mesmerizing music along with in-depths lyrical content. This band was on the cusp of something that really made them stand out.
This release has all material such as their only LP, 7” along with comp tracks, early demo and a zine format with an interview and current activities. It’s punk with a unique melody that will never be replicated. Find this and buy it, it will be an investment that will have lifelong returns.