I've always felt that that hardcore bands have presented themselves best on a shorter length format than that of a longer player. 2011 had it's fair share of good 7"s, 45 and eps and it was quite hard to decide what releases I liked best. However, with repeated listening I present my favorite 7"s from the past 12 months (in alphabetical order). Click links to buy.
This young Illinois hardcore band's record from last year nearly made my best of list, but earned it this time around with their 3rd 7" Toxic Vision. Culo play tried and true 80's styled hardcore, but with more varying speeds this time around. The production and drumming have been a bit more cleaned up compared to previous material and it works to the bands benefit. Great lyric topics of hating everything and getting fucked up... everything hardcore should be about.
Who is Hank Wood? I don't know, and it doesn't matter because this 7" rules. This band plays a more punk version of garage rock, aka GOOD garage rock. The opening track is quite infectious and has the best vocal call out ever; UUUUUUUUUUUUGGGHHHHHHH! There are some keys in there, the ever so popular surf-drumbeat over inaudible vocals. I'd like to hear more. This is party music.
Coming off a great lp from a year before, Herds come back with a hardcore 7" that is heavy, fast, and punishing. This band is made up of seasoned scene veterans and it shows on this recording with their playing ability. The production on this 4 song short player is top-notch as well. This was probably my most played 7" of the year.
Neo-Cons play melodic, rockin' punk that is upbeat and catchy. What separates this band from others playing this style of punk is the amount of personality the vocalist brings to the music. I can totally relate to the lyric topics with songs like High Anxiety, Can't Sleep and Don't Touch Me. Neo-Cons also released an awesome 45 this year called Hardcore Elite that is also a must listen.
X the fuck up and let's mosh. This popular Boston hardcore band is back with their first 7" as a full band. Sadly, they slowed it down a bit from the demo, but the power in the music is still there. This is unabashed straight edge pride here as No Tolerance rip thought 6 songs in 6 minutes. Plenty of dance parts for the most fickle hardcore fan. BUST!
Out of NYC comes my favorite raw punk release of the year. These guys borrow heavily from the UK82 sound and image complete with the spiky jackets and charged hair. Perdition also mixes in a heavy dose of Japanese influenced noise on this bands third 7". I'm also feeling the heavy cardstock, screen printed packaging that give this release a cool D.I.Y. throwback feel.
This band doesn't fuck around at all. Put To Death play only one speed... blasting fast. By this point everyone knows what the classic 90's PV sound is, and this is one of the few bands who can do it right.
Slobs from Montreal play a style of fast 80's hardcore that is a bit different than other bands mostly due to the distortionless guitars that to me sounds fresh compared to the sea of bands who try to play as brutal and downtuned as possible. Good stuff.
Sadly, this Boston area band called it quits this year, but before doing so they released one final great 7". The jangly guitars that the band is known for is still there, but the song writing in my opinion has been stepped up even more for this short-player. Coming back to the speeds of their pre-lp 7"s, Social Circkle come strong with to me could be the best song they have ever written with the song Up The Ladder that has really cool start/stop guitar playing. Au revoir!
It's about two weeks into 2012, so I got my ass into gear and have finally came up with my best of lists of 2011. Here are my favorite wax long players of 2011 (in alphabetical order). Click the links if you wanna buy 'em.
Arctic Flowers from PDX released their debut lp further fleshing out their early 80's peace punk style a-la Crass Records but with slicker song writing and melodic female vocals. The guitar riffs/leads are tasteful and catchy without being an over the top noodle fest. There are a few faster songs, but the mid-paced ones steal the show. A great punk record.
Here is a band from Boston that doesn't play anything that resembles the classic Boston hardcore sound at all. Instead what we have here is raw d-beat hardcore with lots of over the top feedback and screaming. The vocals are a bit different compared to previous releases and I feel it's for the better. I'm also feeling the earnest spoken intro and ending tracks in this 11 track lp. Awesome gate-fold packaging to boot.
Full on blasting PV played by the most seasoned veterans of the genre make up the group on this awesome lp. Side 2 slows things down to a crawl and it's some of the most powerful music I've heard all year. Nothing genre reinventing, but just 20 minutes of straight up brutality. Easily my favorite record on the year for this style. Slick packaging.
Here is a band I've seen records of but never checked out until I got a hold of this lp. I didn't know what to expect but what I got was an awesome lp of discordant, moody, and melodic punk/post-punk style that warranted repeated listens ever since I've had the record. It's not brutal or fast... it's just FUCKING GOOD!
Nazi Dust are back with a 1-sided 12" and improve on their nasty take on straight forward, fast, raw hardcore taking strong elements from Siege and Deep Wound. Awesome vocal delivery with the minimalist negative/artsy lyrics that everyone loves.
Killer mid-80s NYHC inspired hardcore from Monteral that has just enough speed and plenty of mosh to keep my interest. Omegas vocalist has plenty of personality in his vocal delivery that makes the band stand out above other bands trying to play this style. 12 tracks of pure "slam skank".
I've followed this band since their previous 7"s liking the style but feeling just so-so about the songs. However, Vacant State's debut lp pretty much destroys the previous material releasing a great fast, no-frills early 80's USHC inspired lp. Vacant State isn't rewriting the style at all, and this is exactly what I want to hear. Pure hardcore for the hardcore.
Warning//Warning released one of the most over the top Japanese inspired NOISEhardcore tapes last year that went to the top of my favorite list. This French band released this lp just before doing a short tour in the US back in November, and continues down the path of audio destruction as in the past. The production seems a bit more tidy compared to the tape, but when you play this insane, nothing can save you. The lyric sheet goes out a bit further than normal with song explanations, and although it can be redundant, it's something I can get behind here.