Ska has been making its way back into the public consciousness more and more each year, it continues to attract new generations, and there continue to be so many great ska and ska-punk records coming out. We included three ska albums in our list of the 50 best punk albums of 2022, but we wanted to highlight even more, so here are 12 great ska and ska-punk albums from the past 12 months. Ska is such an international, multilingual style of music, and this list is admittedly English-language and US/UK-centric, so we know it's just the tip of the iceberg, but these are just 12 records we loved and wanted to highlight. Some of these records blend ska with metalcore, others embrace traditional ska and rocksteady, and there's plenty of other stuff in between. Even if you don't think you like ska, we'd be willing to bet that you'll find something to like on this list.

As I was writing this article, we got the horrible news that ska legend and 2 Tone pioneer Terry Hall of The Specials had lost a battle with pancreatic cancer at age 63. As evidenced by the countless tributes to Terry, his influence spanned far and wide; he and The Specials helped forever change the course of ska history, and they impacted so many musicians outside of ska as well. It feels safe to say that almost none of the music on this list would exist or sound the way it does without Terry's influence. Rest in peace, Terry.

Read on for the list, in alphabetical order, and let us know your favorite ska albums of 2022 in the comments...

Buster Shuffle
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Buster Shuffle - Go Steady
Do Nothing

It only takes a few seconds for Buster Shuffle's latest album to leave its mark. Over a 2 Tone rhythm and lively organ, vocalist Jethro Baker sneers "The government gave me a number to simplify my birth and death" in his thick English accent, and it's immediately clear that this is classic UK ska at its finest. Hearkening back to Clash-style ska and punk, The Specials, and other bands in the 2 Tone orbit, Buster Shuffle spend Go Steady lamenting about the government, expressing working class solidarity, and having a little fun as they churn out instantly-infectious rhythms. It's charmingly retro and nostalgia-inducing, and it really feels like it could've come out at any point between 1979 and present day, and it'd still hit just as hard.

Bruce Lee Band
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Bruce Lee Band - One Step Forward. Two Steps Back.
Asian Man Records

Mike Park continues to write some the best songs of his career, and given the current state of affairs, the messages in his most recent songwriting have also been some of his most impactful. Throughout One Step Forward. Two Steps Back., his topics range from right wing assholes on social media, to the ones with platforms on TV, to the impact of the wealth divide, to more personal themes like mental health. With help from the rest of the Bruce Lee Band (Jeff Rosenstock, Dan Potthast, and Kevin Higuchi, the first two of whom also contributed some of the songwriting), and guest musicians Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Jeremy Hunter (JER, Skatune Network, We Are The Union), and Brian Lockrem (Monkey), Mike tackles these themes over an ever-changing musical backdrop that ranges from punk to 2 Tone to dub to traditional rocksteady and more. It's not only one of the Bruce Lee Band's angriest records, it's one of their most musically diverse too.

Dissidente
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Dissidente - The War On Two Fronts
Bad Time Records

Five years after leaving their mark with their 2017 debut EP FRONTLINE, political Pittsburgh ska-core/punk band Dissidente finally issued their debut full-length, featuring re-recordings of three songs from that EP with 11 others. Frequently gaining comparisons to bands like Anti-Flag, Strike Anywhere, Leftover Crack, and Propagandhi, Dissidente are just as much a punk/hardcore band as they are a ska band, and their political side goes much deeper than both your average punk sloganeering and your average ska calls for unity. The War On Two Fronts is just as inspired by other punk and ska bands as it is by actually being on the front lines at protests and experiencing/witnessing violence at the hands of riot police. It's as badass and hard-hitting as any punk album, as fun and catchy as any ska album, and the band's activism is truly tangible.

Hans Gruber and the Die Hards
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Hans Gruber and the Die Hards - With A Vengeance
Ska Punk International

With a fusion of ska-punk, Latin music, and riffy hardcore, Austin band Hans Gruber and the Die Hards have come out with one of the most creative punk records in recent memory. It's got heavy parts, catchy parts, great horn lines, and fiery political songwriting. A record this intricate requires an airtight band, and that's exactly what Hans Gruber and the Die Hards are. They've clearly got a ton of respect for and knowledge about the pioneers of all the music this album covers, and they swirl it together in a way that feels genuinely innovative.

Holophonics
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The Holophonics - LAVOS
Bad Time Records

Long-running ska-punk band The Holophonics are back with their most serious, personal, and musically ambitious album yet. Their fourth original album (and first for Bad Time Records) takes influence from all across the various eras of ska, reggae, and dub, while also incorporating emo, hardcore, skate punk, prog, and more. Lyrically, much of the album deals directly with the trauma singer/songwriter Eric Daino experienced after being assaulted by a former bandmate, which Eric writes about in ways that are vivid and deeply resonant. Read our interview/feature on the album for more.

JER
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JER - Bothered / Unbothered
Bad Time Records

Perhaps you've noticed that ska has been making a big comeback these past few years, and much of the renewed interest in the genre is thanks to Jeremy Hunter. Jeremy works tirelessly on their Skatune Network covers project, whose videos have helped introduce tons of new people to ska, they spend hours hyping up the new generation of ska bands on social media, and they also stay busy playing trombone in the great ska-punk band We Are The Union. On top of all of that, they released their debut album of original music this year as JER, and it's one of the strongest albums that ska's current generation has produced yet. JER takes cues from '90s ska-punk, but their version of punk is closer to the DIY indie-punk and emo of the past decade, and they also look beyond punk, incorporating everything from traditional ska and rocksteady to modern hip hop. The production and horn arrangements are immaculate, and JER's lyrics combine the personal with the political in a way that not just recalls the genre's protest music roots but expands upon them. It still makes no sense that a genre so rooted in social change ended up becoming such a punchline, but Bothered / Unbothered has no time for your jokes. It's a reminder that ska can be very serious music – even in the moments that it's lighthearted, funny, or fun – and it's not just a great ska album but a new benchmark for the genre.

The Interrupters
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The Interrupters - In The Wild
Hellcat/Epitaph

The Interrupters' last album made them the first band to get on a ska-punk song on the radio in ages, and they re-confirm that the fame is deserved with their latest LP, In The Wild, their most lyrically personal and musically diverse record yet. Throughout a collection of songs that pulls from all throughout ska and punk's histories, Aimee Interrupter opens up about childhood abuse, OCD, depression, anxiety, gender dysphoria, and other trauma and mental health struggles that she's dealt with for almost her entire life. The album was self-produced in a studio the band built themselves, after previously making all of their albums with producer Tim Armstrong of Rancid (who still did contribute a bit to this album and sings alongside 2 Tone legend Rhoda Dakar on the song "As We Live"), and everything about this album feels like it's The Interrupters operating on their own terms, not worrying about any expectations that anyone might have for them.

Redeemon
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Redeemon - S/T EP
Pookout Records

UK ska-punks Redeemon were born out of the ashes of the now-defunct Beat the Red Light (including vocalist Pook, who also runs Pookout Records), and their lineup also includes members who have played on records by Voodoo Glow Skulls. The Glow Skulls' heavy ska-punk is a good reference point for Redeemon's debut EP, but Redeemon take it even further than that, with an approach to ska that borders on metalcore and deathcore. Breakdowns and bright horn lines go together really well when it's done right, and Redeemon do it very, very right.

Roshambo
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Roshambo - Survive, Revive, Revolt
Pookout Records

Roshambo are basically a UK ska-punk supergroup--with members of Faintest Idea, The JB Conspiracy, The Junk, and Ducking Punches--and with a lineup like that, it should come as no surprise that a band with a lineup like this sound like total pros. The band wrote their perfectly-titled debut album Survive, Revive, Revolt as a response to both the UK's conservative government and post-pandemic life, and you can hear all their disdain and motivation for change coming through in the album's political lyricism. They veer towards the heavy side of ska-punk, with shouted gang vocals and the occasional metal riff, and sometimes there's a (non-cheesy) rap rock element in there too. It's a loud, angry, aggressive record, but it's also fun--a danceable soundtrack to the revolution.

The Slackers
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The Slackers - Don't Let the Sunlight Fool Ya
Pirates Press Records

Don't Let the Sunlight Fool Ya--the title of The Slackers' first album in six years--is a reference to the sunny days of May 2020, when things felt like they were looking up, but definitely weren't. That bittersweetness and deceptive relief is all over this album, which feels warm and fun but is filled with modern-day dread at its core. Stylistically, The Slackers don't fix what ain't broke, offering up their usual clean mix of ska, reggae, and soul that gets dirtied up by Vic Ruggiero's tough New York accent, and the songs on this album sound as fresh today as they would have in the late '90s. (Or, in the case of "Statehouse," a rewrite of Rancid and Vic Ruggiero's 1998 song "Wrongful Suspicion," as they literally did sound in the '90s.) As tried-and-true as their music is, their lyrics--with topics that range from washing your groceries to tearing down confederate flags--are as timely and topical as can be.

The Suicide Machines Coquettish
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The Suicide Machines / Coquettish - Gebo Gomi
Bad Time Records

The Suicide Machines came roaring back with their 2020 reunion album Revolution Spring, and this year they kept the momentum going with four more tracks of revved-up, pissed-off ska-punk delivered in the way that only The Suicide Machines can deliver. On the other side of the Gebo Gomi split is five new tracks from Tokyo ska-punks Coquettish, who hadn't released music in seven years and hadn't put out a US release since their stint on Asian Man Records in the early/mid 2000s. Their own approach to fast, rippin' ska-punk goes perfectly with The Suicide Machines, and like TSM, Coquettish are a veteran band who still sound as vital and urgent as ever.

Westbound Train
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Westbound Train - Dedication
Specimen

Like The Slackers, Westbound Train always took a cleaner, more traditional, reggae/soul-infused approach to ska than most of the big third wave bands, but there was still something rough around the edges that made them fit in with the ska-punk bands that they often toured with and shared space with on Tim Armstrong's Hellcat Records. They hadn't released an album in 13 years until making a surprise return in 2022 with Dedication, and it picks right up where they left off. The ska/rocksteady/reggae grooves are timeless and undeniable, and their soulful leader Obi Fernandez has not lost his knack for irresistible melodies. Westbound Train may have been gone for over a decade, but like the album title suggests, they've got dedication, and the spirited songs on this album back that up.

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SEE ALSO:

* 50 Best Punk Albums of 2022

Browse the selection of ska vinyl in our store, including limited variants of some of the albums on this list.

JER
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