50 Best Punk Albums of 2022
In the punk world, 2022 was a year of innovation, a year of new generations staking their claim, a year of new trends emerging and old trends making comebacks. For the purposes of this list, "punk" incorporates punk, pop punk, indie-punk, emo, hardcore, post-hardcore, screamo, metalcore, ska-punk, and various other microgenres that fall under those. Some of the albums on this list lean towards metal, others lean towards indie rock, and a few are plain ol' punk. The list ranges from rising new bands, to bands who hadn't released music in 20 years, to a new all-star supergroup of aughts-era emo legends. Some of these albums also appeared on the main BV list, but most didn't. 50 may sound like a lot for a single-genre list (not that it's really a "single genre" list), but narrowing this down was not easy, tough choices had to be made, and a lot of great records were left off. (We're also filling in some of those blanks with our punk-subgenre lists like screamo, hardcore, metalcore, and ska-punk.)
I hope you find something new to love or revisit on this list, and if your favorite album isn't here, leave it in the comments. Maybe we just haven't heard it yet.
Hey, ily! follow up their two 2021 EPs with one of the most delightfully weird debut albums of 2022, Psychokinetic Love Songs. It's a quirky, catchy emo-pop record that finds time to incorporate chiptune, IDM, screamo, thrash metal, classical, waltz, new age ambience, jazz, synth-funk, choral music, and more, all within the context of DIY emo. The zany musical approach is matched by introspective ruminations on mental health, adding a layer of real-life concerns to an album that sounds imported from a fantastical universe. On paper, it shouldn't work, but it does.
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.
Buffalo newcomers Spaced refer to their music as "far out hardcore," and they've got kaleidoscopic artwork and some psychedelic guitar effects that add fuel to the fire of that descriptor. They aren't totally out there, but they're clearly aiming to bring some new flavors to hardcore and it's been very exciting to watch them progress over the past year or so. Spaced Jams compiles their 2021 debut demo, the two songs they released late last year, and three entirely new songs. It more or less functions as the band's unofficial debut album, and it's a fine introduction that has us itching to hear what's next for Spaced.
Five albums and over a decade into their career, Baltimore post-hardcore greats Pianos Become the Teeth have made their darkest, weirdest, and most challenging album yet. On Drift, the immediate hooks of Keep You and Wait For Love and the relentless fury of Old Pride and The Lack Long After linger like old fading photographs, not gone forever but rarely in plain sight. The album sounds dry, eerie, and claustrophobic, taking more influence from '90s Portishead than '90s post-hardcore, and it requires more patience than any prior PBTT album. You're not gonna get the idea from one or two songs, but when you immerse yourself in the whole thing, it's always a satisfying payoff.
If anyone ever told Arm's Length to go big or go home, it's clear they chose the former. Every part of the Ontario emo/post-hardcore band's debut album Never Before Seen, Never Again Found finds them shooting for the stars, swinging for the fences, and going big. Nearly every vocal is sung at the top of their lungs, guitar parts are turned into layered walls of sound, drums are pounded like the band's life depends on it, and every lyric is sung with a sense of high-stakes drama. Never's hooks are big enough to rival the radio-friendly bands of emo's mid-aughts mainstream era, and the arrangements are towering enough to rival most post-rock bands. When a band puts every ounce of their being into a record like Arm's Length did, you can just feel it.
Show Me The Body are a "New York punk band" in both a literal and descriptive sense. They're a band that reminds you the early days of New York punk had bands like The Velvet Underground and Suicide and The Voidoids who were weird and arty and not confined to the stereotypical confines of any genre. Vocalist (and banjo player) Julian Cashwan Pratt sounds like if Lou Reed was born decades later and was raised on New York's histories of hardcore and hip hop, rather than its folk and jazz music (though SMTB probably dig all that stuff too). Trouble the Water is Show Me The Body's third album and it's one of their best. It's music that sometimes sounds off-putting on purpose, yet strangely likable. And it's inspired by the spirit of their hometown heroes; not merely the sound. Show Me The Body make art punk for the future.
A year after taking the music world by storm with an unexpectedly viral livestreamed performance of their song "Racist, Sexist Boy," The Linda Lindas released their debut album Growing Up, and it proves there's even more to this exciting new band than that one great song had to offer. Along with a proper studio recording of "Racist, Sexist Boy," Growing Up finds The Linda Lindas delivering a rock-solid mix of riot grrrl, '90s pop punk, and Go-Go's style power pop, plus a Spanish-sung, bossa nova-tinged song for good measure. As the title suggests, it's a coming-of-age album about all the intense things you feel in your teen years, written by people who are going through it as we speak. Listening to this album, it's easy to see why The Linda Lindas have already gained the support of icons like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Thurston Moore, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Paramore; they may still be growing up, but they're already wise beyond their years.
On their sophomore album Absolution, Philly indie-punks Riverby embody the idea that angry music doesn't have to be abrasive and heavy. Whether singer/songwriter August Greenberg is addressing abusers whose supporters won't believe a bad word about them ("Baseless") or people who force fantasy versions of their partners (or desired partners) upon them ("Birth By Sleep"), they're doing so with songs that are bright, upbeat, catchy, and addictive. It's an album that makes you want to sing along but also an album that makes your blood boil as you're introduced to its awful characters. But it's also an album that values the importance of the self, and persevering regardless of the toxic behavior of others that threaten to bring you down.
The Sawtooth Grin clean up good. 21 years on from their once-sole LP, the reformed band's rhythm section is now made up of current and former members of The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and they've recruited former Dillinger Escape Plan member Kevin Antreassian to give them a sense of production value that their gnarled debut LP Cuddlemonster never had. Good. isn't too far removed from the grind/mathcore of its predecessor, but The Sawtooth Grin have gotten more experimental, more intricate, tighter, and it sounds like they're taking themselves a little more seriously these days too. It makes sense; I don't think even the band would've guessed in 2001 that Cuddlemonster would be namedropped as an influence on new bands two decades later, but that's happening, and Good. is here to prove that The Sawtooth Grin were even better than we realized.
It's not everyday that a band returns from hiatus and closes a ten-year gap with their best album yet, but Dr. Acula just might have done it. The once-self-proclaimed party-grinders have made an album for when the party's over, and Dr. Acula deals with the darker sides of some of the band's previous themes, while delivering the most refined batch of songs they've ever written. It's a "mature" album from a band who once seemed hell-bent on immaturity, but Dr. Acula haven't completely abandoned their usual irreverence either. The band's blend of metalcore, post-hardcore, grind, death metal, and electronics is sharper and fiercer than ever than ever but still patently ridiculous.
If it wasn't clear from song titles like "Life Is Hell, Hell Is Fucked" and "Forced Into A World of Shit," Salvation Through Misery is Florida screamo greats Gillian Carter's darkest, angriest record yet. It's a record fueled by depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, and even if you can't always make out Logan Rivera's lyrics, you can feel the pain in his earsplitting screams. Adding to the dismal themes and the sonic fury are dense guitar patterns that provide a sense of haunting, gorgeous melancholy. Even for an album with lyricism as skin-crawling as this one, the climactic instrumental passages speak volumes as loud as the actual words.
Don't Know What You're In Until You're Out just might be Augusta Koch's most powerful record yet. Having risen to prominence as the singer/guitarist of the now-defunct Cayetana, Augusta formed Gladie with Matt Schimelfenig (ex-Three Man Cannon) in 2018, and after a few EPs and their 2020 full-length, Gladie finally solidified a full-band lineup for their urgent sophomore album Don't Know What You're In Until You're Out. Now joined by Matt's former Three Man Cannon bandmate (and former Tigers Jaw member) Dennis Mishko on bass, Pat Conaboy (Spirit of the Beehive) on guitar, and Miles Ziskind (Honey, Witching) on drums, Gladie have come out with a scratchy, catchy collection of indie-punk songs that's nearly impossible to turn away from. Augusta has never sounded as fired-up as she does on this album, and these are some of her most personal songs yet, dealing with getting sober, her recent engagement to Matt, and all the feelings, anxieties, and internal questions that come with major life changes like those. It feels like a candid snapshot of a person at a crossroads in their life, and it's also just an undeniably great rock record.
If the recent trend of bands mixing hardcore, grunge, emo, and shoegaze feels like it's gotten a little too atmospheric and mood-based, turn your attention to Germany's Hippie Trim. Their sophomore album What Consumes Me funnel all of those things into in-your-face songs that find a middle ground between Drug Church's gritty anthemicism and the tender beauty of Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World. Their aggressive moments stand tall next to just about any of the year's best hardcore records, and their poppy choruses are pure bliss.
One of the year's most unhinged post-hardcore debut albums comes from Savannah, Georgia's The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir. Throughout the ever-changing Slow Murder, the band connects the dots between Slint-style spoken word post-rock, Jesus Lizard-style noise rock, screamo, sasscore, deathcore, and more, all topped off with a misanthropic worldview that -- on one particular song -- imagines a future without the police, the KKK, nazis, confederate flag-wavers, racists, abusers, rapists, misogynists, billionaires, and capitalists. From the album's calmest moments to its most antagonizing, there's seemingly nothing this band can't do. And as if The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir weren't enough of a force of their own, guest vocals from Soul Glo's Pierce Jordan and Gillian Carter's Logan Rivera make for nice cherries on top of all of Slow Murder's chaos.
For their first album in 20 years (and second ever), guitarist/vocalist Brendan Evans said City of Caterpillar's goal was to "make it show that 20 years have passed, but also make it seem like this record could’ve come out right after the other one," and that's exactly what Mystic Sisters does. City of Caterpillar always thought a little more outside the box than many of their screamo peers, with long, experimental songs that incorporated bits of post-rock, noise, and a style of songcraft that looked beyond basement-dwelling screamo, and Mystic Sisters has that same M.O. But it also never sounds like City of Caterpillar Pt. 2; you can tell from listening how much the members of City of Caterpillar grew as musicians in their time apart from one another. Reuniting has allowed City of Caterpillar to re-capture the chemistry of their debut LP and early splits, but it's also allowed each member to bring new musical and life experiences with them, and all of that comes through on Mystic Sisters.
"Is this what it's like to grow up? To realize everything's fucked up? To realize dreams are delusions of youth?" Blue Luno Solaz screams on the first track of Foxtails' best album yet, Fawn, and that realization of bleak hopelessness informs the remaining 40 minutes of this LP, an album that sounds like it's ready to collapse at any second. Blue's gripping delivery varies between the harsh shrieks of '90s screamo, airy dream pop melodies, and Kim Gordon-esque speak-singing, and the band's acidic post-hardcore is made even more suspenseful by violin parts that sound like Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most ominous. Is Fawn what it's like to realize everything's fucked up? It certainly sounds like it is.
As far as Y2K-style metalcore goes, there might not be a more promising band right now than Foreign Hands. They've been grinding for a few years (and vocalist Tyler Norris also plays in Wristmeetrazor), but 2022 has been their moment. They kicked the year off with their Bleed The Dream EP on DAZE, and it offers up five songs of raw, heavy, dramatic metalcore that sounds just like you remember it sounding in 2000, with a freshness that makes it sound better today than some of those now-dated records do. Later in the year, they signed to SharpTone and released the two-song Lucid Noise single, which found them embracing clearer production and huge-sounding, clean-sung choruses that make Foreign Hands sound more welcoming and more expansive without losing any of their original attack.
When I saw Caracara live earlier this year, singer/guitarist Will Lindsay looked like he was entirely inside his own head as he and the rest of the band churned out their grand-scale, post-rock-infused emo, and I get that same feeling when listening to their remarkable new album New Preoccupations. As the music soars far and wide, Will reveals some of his most personal songwriting yet, dealing with his relationship to alcohol -- the lowest lows, as well as the highs that "make the lows easier to turn away from." The expressive, folky quality of Will's voice makes it feel like he's talking directly to you, even when the album's tremendous arrangements threaten to engulf him.
Sonagi are a screamo band who put feeling over everything. There are no frills or embellishments on their debut album Precedent, just a bare, skeletal recording of fuzzed-out guitars, reckless drumming, and the pained shouts of Ryann Slauson and Harim Jung. If you set up one mic to capture one of Sonagi's live shows, it probably wouldn't sound all that different. Ryann (who also fronts Closer) sounds like they're putting every ounce of their being into these songs, like they were overcoming physical and emotional pain just to deliver the message they needed to deliver. That's how a lot of the best screamo came to be; it's not about having the best production or being the best players or getting the most flawless take, it's about being as human and present and as real as possible.
At the end of Candy's 2018, Triple B Records-released debut album Good To Feel, they switched things up from their usual metallic hardcore for a shoegazy noise pop closer called "Bigger Than Yours." It was a send-off that suggested there would be no limits to what Candy would do next, but not even that song could've prepared you for sonic assault of their sophomore album (and Relapse debut) Heaven Is Here. Metallic hardcore is still in Candy's DNA on this album, but Heaven Is Here veers closer to genre-blurring labelmates Full of Hell than to most of the hardcore scene. Their metallic side is heavier and more abrasive; they'll break out into circle-pit-opening D-beat on one song and dish out industrial noisegrind on the next. The record was produced by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Show Me The Body), who does some of his best work here, giving Heaven Is Here a finishing coat that makes it sound like something from a post-apocalyptic future. "Heaven is here" might by the title of the album, but on the song of the same name, vocalist Zak Quiram cries out, "The hell of myself/I'm burning in hell," and the utter despair in his voice is like a manifestation of the LP at large.
TV/film references in song titles is nothing new for emo bands, but Carly Cosgrove take it a step further; their band name and all of their album and song titles are taken from iCarly and Drake and Josh. It's a little silly (but you gotta admire their commitment to the bit), but there's nothing silly about the music on See You In Chemistry, one of the strongest emo debut albums of the year. The Philly trio take cues from all across the wide spectrum of emo, from screamo to math rock to pop punk, from '90s to 2000s to 2010s. There's skronky trumpet on one song and sweeping strings on another. There's an eight-minute song and it's one of the album's best. And the songs are catchy and emotive and thoughtful. There are a lot of familiar tricks in Carly Cosgrove's arsenal, but they use them to create some of the freshest stuff you'll find in this realm all year.
Like many of the best screamo bands, Massa Nera sound like they're going to implode at any moment. On their long-awaited sophomore album Derramar | Querer | Borrar, they sound grand and ambitious but still intimate enough to set up on the floor at a basement show. The record is a concept album that critiques the corruption and oppression within American capitalism from a place of personal experience, and it's the kind of album that needs to be heard from start to finish, with songs that segue directly into each other, a drone at the beginning and end of the album that loops it seamlessly if you listen on repeat, and a genuinely awesome deep house midsection that breaks up all the fury. Massa Nera's raw, abrasive songs are fleshed out with string arrangements and post-rock passages that add beauty to all the madness. With a screamo record this majestic, it makes sense that even some of the architects of the genre were floored.
Even more so than on their great 2018 breakthrough album Death Spells, Dimensional Bleed finds Holy Fawn blurring genre lines and coming out with a sound that's entirely their own. They touch on shoegaze, black metal, post-hardcore, emo, art rock, post-rock, and electronic music, and they connect everything in a way that's totally seamless. More importantly than what genre you call it though, is just how truly stunning this music is. It's full of depth, atmosphere, heart-wrenching emotion, and topped off with an aqueous production style that makes it shimmer and glisten, even in its darkest moments.
17 years after releasing their prog-screamo classic The Moon Is A Dead World, Gospel re-emerged with a followup that picks right up where this band left off and pushes them in even more atypical directions. As on their debut, Gospel spend the duration of The Loser finding ways to fuse harsh '90s screamo with the most far-out corners of '60s/'70s prog and psych, heavily incorporating organs, guitar solos, and atmospheric passages that take you on the long strange journey between King Crimson and Saetia. Even with 17 years and a growing number of prog-friendly post-hardcore bands, I haven't really heard anyone pull this sound off the way Gospel does, which makes The Loser even more triumphant. One of the strangest bands in screamo is back to prove they're still unparalleled.
On their debut EP Profound Morality, Heriot invite such comparisons as Knocked Loose meets Chelsea Wolfe, Code Orange meets Godflesh, Converge meets The Haxan Cloak. It's a sick, twisted, futuristic version of metalcore that dabbles in goth, industrial, dark ambient, noise, and more, topped off with the blazing dual vocals of Jake Packer and Debbie Gough, the latter of whom is a master of both piercing screams and haunting cleans. The vibes range from slow-paced sludge to double-time punk to songs that aren't heavy or guitar-based at all, and it all flows together in a way that makes this 20-minute EP sound as towering as other band's full-lengths. I can't wait to see what they do pull off when they finally make a full album; they've only got this EP and a few other singles to their name, and they already sound two steps ahead of so many others in the game right now.
Hailing from the hardcore hotbed of Baltimore, End It have internalized everything that makes a great hardcore band, and they just keep getting better and better. On their latest EP, Unpleasant Living, they've got unfiltered aggression, high-speed whiplash, bouncy two step riffs, and lyrics that give a voice to the voiceless, speaking up for the working class, those living in poverty, and victims of police brutality. End It don't reinvent the form, but they do what they do really well, and they've got a very charismatic vocalist in Akil Godsey that separates them from the pack.
Ithaca's 2019 debut LP The Language of Inquiry helped usher in the metalcore revival, but on their sophomore album They Fear Us, Ithaca aren't reviving anything; they're pushing metalcore to new places. Their perfectly-executed riffage goes beyond mining the depths of Y2K-era metalcore, and the band sounds even tighter and heavier on this LP than they did on their debut. At the same time, vocalist Djamila Yasmin Azzouz leans way harder into balancing out her screams with belted clean vocals, bringing the kind of powerhouse singing that this genre could use a lot more of. Her performances are stunning, and her lyrics are just as impactful. As the album title suggests, this album is often about taking back the power and getting vengeance on those who want to strip you of it, and when Djamila tackles this subject, she sounds absolutely ruthless.
Emerging from the depths of the Very Online cybergrind community, Thotcrime signed to Prosthetic earlier this year and their label debut is one of the most gripping chaotic hardcore records of the year. They shift from brutal grind to chuggy metalcore to face-melting Dillinger Escape Plan riffs to sneering sasscore to ETID-worthy roars to clean-sung choruses to glitchy hyperpop, and more, and they get assists from The Callous Daoboys' Carson Pace, Pupil Slicer's Katie Davies, Dreamwell's Aki McCullough, and diana starshine along the way. It's knowing over-the-top and ridiculous, but it's also super catchy and fun to listen to, and transcends all of the niche microgenres it dabbles in.
After honing their sound across two splits and a demo, Oklahoma band Ben Quad make their loudest statement yet with I'm Scared That's All There Is, which is some of the tightest, catchiest math rock-indebted emo released this year. With seven songs in 23 minutes, it kind of toes the line between a long EP and a short full-length, and the project length makes for a great introduction to this band; they're not asking for too much of your time, but it feels fleshed-out and complete. The noodly lead guitars bring the usual Midwest-style emo touchstones to mind, but Ben Quad clearly love poppier strains of punk and emo too, 'cause these are well-polished, insanely catchy songs with big choruses and even bigger gang vocals that beg to be sung along to. If there's an exact middle ground between The Wonder Years and Algernon Cadwallader, Ben Quad might be it. And as good as I'm Scared is, their screamo-infused new single "You're Part of It" might be even better than anything on the album. Can't wait to see what they do next.
Vein have evolved a lot in the four years since their debut LP errorzone solidified them amongst a new crop of bands redefining metalcore for a new generation. On their sophomore LP This World Is Going to Ruin You, they've toned down the twitchy nu metal vibes of their debut, beefed up and modernized their production, and leaned into their bludgeoning heavy side as well as their shoegazy side. World is both heavier than errorzone, and more melodic, thanks not just to Anthony DiDio's increasingly strong clean vocals but also a guest spot from Thursday's Geoff Rickly. It's an immersive listen that you can really lose yourself in, and it sounds as bleak as the title suggests it would.
New York hardcore band Regulate severely leveled up this year. Their self-titled sophomore album is their most musically diverse yet, diving into radio-friendly alt-rock territory on "Hair" and "In the Moment," busting out a Latin rock jam on "Ugata," and still finding time for plenty of metallic hardcore fury. Sebastian Paba's vocal range is perfectly suited to the band's growing musical ambition; his percussive barks, throat-shredding screams, and soaring clean-sung hooks are all perfectly executed as he sheds light on racism, police brutality, gentrification, the oppressed working class, and other real-world issues. It's a hardcore record with purpose, energy, undeniable songs, and a complete disregard for typical genre barriers.
For fans of catchy, alternative rock-infused hardcore, you might not find a better new band this year than Squint. Formed by members of Soul Craft, Time and Pressure, and more, the St. Louis band have a Turning Point-meets-Seaweed formula that ends up recalling anything from Title Fight to Drug Church to Fiddlehead to Anxious. Influences and comparisons aside, Squint emerged as rookie of the year contenders because their music arrived so fully-formed and so addictive. Across two EPs, Squint blessed us with nine songs this year, and each one is a banger: walls of guitars, gritty hooks, and songs that beg to be played again and again and again.
One of the best emo releases of the year is a four-song split from awakebutstillinbed and For Your Health. Hymns for the Scorned finds both bands at crossroads in their careers, both contributing music that perfectly complements the other band's songs on the split. awakebutstillinbed offer up two songs from the sessions of their long-awaited, still-unannounced sophomore album, and if these are the songs that aren't making the album, we can't wait to hear what does. They're both sprawling, anthemic, melodic emo songs with hints of post-rock and screamo, clear steps forward from absib's great debut LP and more proof that this is one of the most uniquely appealing emo bands around. Meanwhile, For Your Health branch out further from their screamo roots than ever, with soaring, clean-sung emo songs that are more Armor For Sleep than Jeromes Dream. This split marks a stunning, significant departure from FYH's great debut LP In Spite Of, and if it's an indication of where they're headed on LP2, consider us very intrigued.
As the world awaits Home Is Where's heavily teased LP2, the Florida emo band kept us on our toes with a new split with the great Texas screamo torch-carriers Record Setter. Pivoting from the Neutral Milk Hotel-inspired emo of I Became Birds, Home Is Where offer up two harsh screamo songs that fit perfectly with their Dissection Lesson splitmates. There's the chaotic, discordant, minute-long "Names," and the more sweeping, climactic "Creationish," which brings in GY!BE-esque violin and a guest-screamed bridge from Soul Glo's Pierce Jordan. On the other side, Record Setter pick up where 2020's fantastic I Owe You Nothing left off, with two impassioned, soul-bearing songs that really put the "emo" in screamo. The two halves go together musically as well as they do thematically; both Home Is Where and Record Setter are fronted by trans women, and this split explicitly takes on trans issues -- both personal and widespread -- in incredibly impactful ways.
As the most chaotic, sassiest, over-the-top, and even downright annoying offshoots of 2000s post-hardcore continue to be mined by a new generation, we're ending up with a whole new crop of delightfully ridiculous bands and one of the best ones is Buffalo's p.s.you'redead. Citing influences like The Locust, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and Death From Above 1979, p.s.you'redead have come out with a shapeshifting debut album that runs the gamut from brutal metalcore to danceable hyperpop, and touches on about 30 other things in between, often during the duration of a two-minute song. It's not for everyone, but if you've got an itch for this kind of thing, few bands scratched it better this year.
Birds In Row have been floating between screamo, post-hardcore, and other hardcore offshoots for over a decade, and with each new release, they find themselves more and more treading their own waters, brushing up against familiar genre tropes but rarely sticking with any in particular. That's truer than ever on Gris Klein, one of the most intense records to come out of this world all year. Gris Klein embraces satisfying melodies, danceable drum patterns, and other elements that open Birds In Row up to a wider audience, but always with a coarse, serrated edge. It can be some of the most emotionally and physically taxing music of the year, and there's beauty even in its most clamoring moments. When Bart Hirigoyen opens his mouth to sing, he sounds like the world might end any second, and his lyrics are equally desperate. "What to tell to a world on the verge to collapse?," he shouts over the kinetic backdrop of "Confettis." This album's got some answers.
PUP followed up their biggest, catchiest album to date by going in the opposite direction on the perfectly-titled THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND, the weirdest, most unpredictable, most unhinged PUP album yet. It's also the PUP-iest PUP album yet, an album born out of "wanting to kill each other but also loving each other" and an album that could have only been made by a band with the eccentric chemistry that the four members of PUP share. They have a way of turning discordant melodies and odd time signatures into pop (punk) songs, as singer/guitarist Stefan Babcock tops it all off with sneering singalongs that vary between funny, sarcastic, self-deprecating, hopeless, and introspective -- sometimes all in one song. The album pushes PUP's music in a multitude of new directions, from their rippiest rippers ("Waiting," "Totally Fine") to moments that don't scan as punk at all, like the showtunesy piano pop of "Four Chords" and the bedroom pop aspects of "Cutting off the Corners," "Habits," and "Robot Writes A Love Song." It's like no other PUP album, but it also sounds like no other band in the world.
Jade Lilitri had just finished demoing the songs that make up Sore Thumb with his cousin Tavish Maloney and was planning to take a month off and then properly record the album, but when Tavish suddenly passed away, Jade decided not to touch the songs and release them as is, only handing it over to Long Island emo veteran Mike Sapone to mix. We'll probably never hear the version of Sore Thumb that Jade had originally intended to make, but the version he released is one of his best records yet. It's heavier on acoustic guitar and jangly indie pop than the band's previous records, and Jade showed up with some of the sweetest melodies and most memorable turns of phrase he's ever written. "When nothing goes quite like you planned it, write twelve songs, swing like you can't miss," he sings on album opener "Computer Exploder," and that's exactly what he did.
Nostalgia for mid 2000s emo and post-hardcore hit a new high this year, and if you've got a place in your heart for that kind of music, then L.S. Dunes is a dream come true. They're fronted by Anthony Green, who's been on fire this year (with a great new solo album, a new Sound of Animals Fighting EP, and the final pre-hiatus Circa Survive EP), and the band's lineup also includes My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero and Coheed & Cambria's Travis Steve on guitar, and Thursday's rhythm section (drummer Tucker Rule and bassist Tim Payne). As L.S. Dunes, this all-star five piece hearken back to the music they made in the mid 2000s without sounding like any one of their bands in particular. Anthony brings his scream back in a big way and fuses it right in with his ethereal clean vocals, the interplay between Frank and Travis' dual lead guitars is dazzling, and Tim and Tucker lock in as tightly as they have for the past 20+ years. And while the overall vibe of the music might bring you back about 15-20 years, Anthony wrote urgent, powerful lyrics for this album that he could only have written in the present-day.
Pick it up on limited orange crush vinyl.
Prince Daddy & the Hyena's self-titled third album finds them branching out from their scrappy emo-punk roots and coming out with their most glistening and genre-defying project yet. It's still got a few rippers on there that place Prince Daddy within the punk realm, but the band shines even brighter on songs like the sprawling, expansive "Curly Q," the breezy jangle pop of "Something Special," the twitchy power pop of "Keep Up That Talk," and the 9-minute epic "Black Mold." It's a personal concept album that finds frontperson Kory Gregory grappling with his fear of death after a severe van accident in 2018, but the music often sounds bright and hopeful, and that was intentional. "We're all going to die," Kory says, "so we might as well enjoy the ride before we do."
Pick it up on limited splatter vinyl.
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.
Pinkshift emerged as one of the most exciting new bands in punk off the strength of just a few songs in 2020, and their debut album Love Me Forever more than delivers on the promise of those early tracks. The Paramore-meets-My Chemical Romance vibes of their early recordings aren't gone on Love Me Forever, but Pinkshift incorporate so much more -- from heavy metallic grunge to piano balladry -- and Love Me Forever really transcends their influences. Ashrita Kumar is a powerhouse vocalist and impactful lyricist, Paul Vallejo has riffs for days, and drummer Myron Houngbedji gives Pinkshift exactly the kind of rock-solid backbone that they need. Love Me Forever is a stadium-sized, punk-informed rock record by a band who sound like they might actually play stadiums one day, and their unabashed ambition is refreshing.
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.
Pick it up on limited yellow vinyl.
What do you do when the world's turned upside down, your band finds itself at a crossroads, and you're wondering: who even are we? What are we supposed to do? If you're The Wonder Years, you write the most definitive record of your career. The Hum Goes On Forever is the band's seventh album in 15 years, and it truly feels like the album they've been working towards the entire time. It's the ideal version of a band growing with their music, with their fans, and as people. Singer Dan Campbell is a decade older than he was when he wondered if he fucked up because all the people he grew up with had kids and wives, and now he's a father of two. He can't honestly or authentically write about the topics he was writing about then, but he can write about his current struggles and concerns with the same fervor he had on his band's early records, and that's exactly what he does on The Hum Goes On Forever. He delivers some of his best and most powerful performances yet over a backdrop that casually weaves between pop punk, emo, alternative rock, singer/songwriter material, and darker, heavier post-hardcore in a way that sounds distinctly like The Wonder Years. Hum has the instant thrills of the band's earlier records and the adventurous side of their later records, sounding like a culmination of everything they've done and yet another step forward. It's the strongest evidence yet that The Wonder Years have carved a path of their own, while continuing to uplift the basement-dwelling DIY punk scene that they got their start in, and it's some of the most sincere, soul-baring guitar rock that the past 12 months have had to offer.
Pick up one of two color vinyl variants.
A self-titled album often feels like a statement that this is an introduction -- or a re-introduction -- to the artist making it, so Pool Kids may be this Florida emo band's sophomore LP, but it feels like an arrival. The seeds were being sewn on their promising 2018 debut LP Music to Practice Safe Sex To, but Pool Kids is the album that this band was always destined to make. There's historically been a divide amongst certain emo fans between noodly, fingertapping, '90s Midwest emo and the more polished emo-pop that blew up in the mid 2000s, but Pool Kids toss that divide out the window. They pull from both eras in equal measure, and do it in a way that always looks forward. The result is an album that feels new and familiar all at once, but stylistic decisions aside, the real reason Pool Kids emerged as one of the year's best emo albums is the songs, songs that would drill their way into your heart and brain regardless of production choices or guitar techniques. Christine Goodwyne writes in a way that's personal and widely relatable at once, and she belts her words with a forceful delivery and wraps them in melodies that make you want to belt right along with her. There's been some talk these past couple years about a "fifth wave" of emo, but no matter what you wanna call it, it's clear that there's a thriving new generation of emo bands, and Pool Kids already feels like a landmark of this exciting new era.
In 2022, the term "hardcore" has come to incorporate a vast array of bands that range from shoegaze to death metal, but if you're looking for a new album that gives you nothing but no-frills, ass-beating, bark-your-head-off mosh fuel, look no further than New Lords, the sophomore LP from Hudson Valley hardcore kings Mindforce. This record offers up 10 tracks in 17 and a half minutes, and not a second is wasted. Mindforce have built up a reputation as a must-see live band, and what you see live is what you get on New Lords. They're a razor-sharp band, and New Lords captures that, without any bells or whistles to distract from their pure fury. They've got an arsenal of '80s thrash and '90s metallic hardcore-inspired riffs, and each one is used as efficiently as possible -- no long solos, no patient interludes. And Jay Peta tops it off with tough, shouted mantras that are as aggressive as they are catchy. New Lords feels like a gift to the devoted hardcore scene that Mindforce have been part of for years, and I'd just as quickly recommend it to a metalhead or a hardcore-curious Turnstile fan. I don't think Mindforce are trying to appeal beyond their core fanbase, but when the music is this undeniable, it just might happen anyway.
Pick up one of two color vinyl variants.
"I'm aiming at pop music, I just happened to take this pretty big left turn," Carson Pace told us earlier this year, referring to the second album by the impossible-to-pigeonhole, seven-piece collective that he co-founded and fronts, The Callous Daoboys. If there's one genre that gets thrown at the Daoboys the most, it's probably mathcore, and they do indeed share traits with a handful of classic bands in that realm (Every Time I Die, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot), but that's a far too limiting descriptor for Celebrity Therapist. The album dances between jazz, blues, showtunes, emo, art rock, and much more, often changing shape multiple times in just a few seconds. It goes from campy and sarcastic to poetic and serious, from personal introspection to socio-political commentary, from abrasive and heavy to clean, melodic, and beautiful. It's closer in spirit to Mr. Bungle or Cardiacs than to most mathcore or metalcore bands have, and like both of those bands have done, The Callous Daoboys are in the process of carving out a lane occupied by them and them alone.
Pick it up on bone & olive swirl vinyl.
The music world is still getting out all the pent-up energy from 18 months of no shows, and one of the bands that really seemed like a pipe bomb ready to blow this year was Drug Church. Their explosive Market Hotel set remains one of the best gigs I've seen all year, and they siphoned all of the energy of their live show into Hygiene, their fourth full-length album and best yet. Toeing the line between hardcore and alt-rock and unafraid of a little pop melody, the Drug Church of Hygiene churn out chords the size of small countries and rhythms that would make even the most cynical listeners bop their heads. The gravelly-voiced Patrick Kindlon tops it off with his razor-sharp wit, vivid imagery, and a wearied worldview that adds depth to the album's flat-out fun exterior. Few albums this year made you use and bang your head like this one did.
Pick it up on limited marble vinyl.
There's been a lot of talk about where exactly Anxious fit in, about how they started out (and still have a place) in the hardcore scene, but now write songs that are poppier or more emo -- but that stuff is really just a footnote. The main reason that their debut album Little Green House has been on constant rotation for nearly 12 months straight is that these ten songs hook you right away and just get better and better with time. It's a coming-of-age album with meaningful, lived-in lyrics, effortless hooks, bangers, ballads, and boundless energy. It often sounds like it could've been one of the best emo albums of 2001 or 2002, but it sounds so fresh because they've got similar influences to the bands of that era -- and a few different ones -- and they fuse them in ways that are entirely their own. They've landed on their sound by figuring out how to build a bridge between '80s youth crew and early 2000s power pop, not by trying to imitate Saves The Day or Taking Back Sunday. Sometimes the best way forward is reshaping the past, and Anxious have written a rock record for the ages by doing just that.
Pick it up on violet & green vinyl.
Having grinded in the underground hardcore and screamo scenes for nearly a decade, Soul Glo are ready for the world. They've leveled up in just about every way with Diaspora Problems, from their songwriting to their production to the record's truly awesome music videos; this is what it looks like when an already-great band manages to defy every high expectation that was set for them. Across the boundary-pushing, genre-defying Diaspora Problems, Soul Glo offer up the most life-affirming hardcore punk songs you'll hear all year, the controlled chaos of '90s screamo, industrial-rap that's loud and booming enough to fill a stadium, and chilled-out, permastoned boom bap. Often, they combine elements of three or more of these things in the same song. More than any prior Soul Glo release, the songs on Diaspora Problems are full of space and air, blaring through your speakers with the energy of Soul Glo's live show while maintaining the rounded edges of a well-produced rock record. (The album was produced in-house by Soul Glo bassist GG Guerra in the band's practice space, and later mixed and mastered by Turnstile/Code Orange/Title Fight collaborator Will Yip.) Pierce Jordan's lyrics are full of intent, dealing with internal issues like mental health and suicidal thoughts and external issues like the corrupt voting system and the left's reluctance to militarize with the same intense, personal passion. Guests like underground rappers Mother Maryrose, lojii, McKinley Dixon, and Zula Wildheart, and Kathryn Edwards of Nashville hardcore band Thirdface, add their own fire to the album, and help keep things even more unpredictable than it would've already been without them. It's a great punk record, a great rap record, and a great rock record. It's innovative, honest, purposeful, and as catchy as it is abrasive. And it's a record that really makes you feel something, from the moment that first snare hit strikes you like a bolt of lightning to the album's horn-fueled fade-out.