Fat Wreck Chords bands list their top albums of 2018
Like every year, we've been posting year-end lists from artists, and here's a roundup of lists by a bunch of bands on long-running, venerable punk label Fat Wreck Chords. Below are lists by members of Western Addiction, Good Riddance, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (who just released a Christmas album), Night Birds (who released the ripping mini-LP Roll Credits this year), and Direct Hit (who released the ambitious, genre-defying Crown of Nothing this year).
They've all got interesting lists, which of course include a handful of punk albums (and some by their Fat labelmates) but also plenty of stuff in other genres. And there's probably at least a few things you haven't heard yet. Most of them provided commentary, which is well worth your time. Check out the lists below.
Related: we recently posted a list by Lou Koller of Sick Of It All, who are currently signed to both Fat and Century Media.
RUSS RANKIN (GODD RIDDANCE)
Pennywise - Never Gonna Die
More classic, furious, California punk with the perfect mix of personal and political lyrics, delivered with vibrance and passion.
Frank Turner - Be More Kind
Introspective lyrics set to music & melodies that will be stuck in your head all year. "There She Is" was my favorite.
Echo & The Bunnymen - The Stars, The Oceans, & The Moon
Classic songs from throughout their career, reworked, and reimagined.
Johnny Marr - Call The Comet
Guitarist of The Smiths keeps pushing boundaries and rewriting his musical legacy. "Hi Hello" and "Walk Into The Sea" were my favorites.
Imagine Dragons - Origins
"Natural" is such a powerful, and triumphant song!
Mumford & Sons - Delta
No longer just "that banjo band." Experimenting with electric instrumentation, and deep, heavy grooves. Songs about longing and reexamining our lives. "Woman" was stuck in my head for days.
Sick Of It All - Wake The Sleeping Dragon
Another searing release from a band who doesn’t know how to deliver it any other way. Solid and pissed off. New York’s finest.
Restorations - LP5000
Moody, stark, heartfelt music for punks who are growing up. "Nonbeliever" is the ripper.
Alkaline Trio - Is This Thing Cursed?
Silky smooth and catchy as hell. "I Can’t Believe" was my favorite on here.
Superchunk - What A Time To BE Alive
Such a triumphant release! Every song wakes you up and slaps you in the face with vitality. "Reagan Youth" is the jam.
JASON HALL (WESTERN ADDICTION)
I love top 10 season! Here are my choices in no particular order. Just to clarify and satisfy what was on absolutely no one’s mind, I base my choices on these criteria:
Quality of songs
Quality of album as a whole
Amount of listens
I may scream my face off, ride your shoulders and run into trash cans when we play live but I worship songwriters and their gift. I can only dream about having the ability to really sing. And I think I’m objective and able to see the merit and magic in Cannibal Corpse AND Françoise Hardy. A good song is a good song, despite the dressing. The best songwriters in the world are Rhett Miller, Paul Simon, Conor Oberst, Stuart Murdoch, Morrissey, etc. These people know how to build and deliver a proper song.
I also go through waves of interest and I’m not afraid to say that this was the year of country. I grew up in the mountains so I have the right. I don’t mean pop music with banjos or the CMAs or bro-country. I mean real, hitting the road, roots country. I know this rubs people the wrong way but if you can’t recognize a good song because of prejudice of genre then you aren’t able to see the beautiful bones of a song in the first place. Last year I was immersed in black metal, this year it’s true cvlt country.
This is long, because I care.
1. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers – Years
This could be my favorite record of the year. These are fantastically structured songs, plain and simple. Somehow she manages to take traditional themes and make it feel new and fresh. She’s a great songwriter and when they master the live show, they will be unstoppable.
2. Joshua Hedley – Mr. Jukebox
When I heard this for the first time, I said, “I don’t know this George Jones song but I like it.” And I wouldn’t take this as a slight. This man has a wonderful voice and he perfectly captures classic country but it doesn’t feel like a rehash. There is something fresh and modern about it yet wonderfully familiar.
3. Swingin’ Utters – Peace and Love
I think it’s incredible when established, long-time bands hit a new stride. This is the sign of true rockers. They ride the wave and sometimes the wave is breaking big and sometimes it’s a depressing crusher, but they don’t stop. This is a fantastic and interesting record. Show me another band that’s been doing this for 20+ years and it still feels fresh and exciting. “Sirens” reminds me of “Everyday is Like Sunday” in the best way possible. And… our guitarist Tony is in the Utters now so we get to hear some of their secrets!
4. Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis – Wild! Wild! Wild!
This is Jerry Lee Lewis’ sister and Robbie Fulks. They made a fun, classic, up-tempo country rock record. I love it and it reminded me why Bloodshot Records is special.
5. Tracyanne and Danny – S/T
This is the singer of Camera Obsucura. Their band went through some heavy, emotional life events and this feels like the day you stop crying and slowly get back to what you love, while still honoring the past. This woman’s voice is magic and this is just different enough from her main band. Well-crafted songs.
6. The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
This record took me a few times but now I know it’s a great. “Everything is Awful” is a much discussed song in our household. I like this band because the structure of the songs stay great but they keep adding modern touches, pedals, instrumentation, etc. I like when I feel a band growing and improving.
7. Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You
The epitome of a lifetime of slugging it out in a room by yourself and on the road. Listen to “The Mother.” If that isn’t a perfect song then I don’t know what is. Like Rhett Miller, she is a fully formed, professional entertainer. These people know all the tricks and pull them off without you noticing.
8. Neko Case – Hell-On
A true original and beautiful weirdo. I feel like she can write a hit any time she wants but just decides not to sometimes. She obviously knows what makes a song special and like Tracyanne, her voice is mortal angelic. I greatly appreciate interesting lyrics. So strange, so incredible. I know it sounds selfish but I enjoy when I’m hearing someone wrestling with life. That’s how I know it’s real.
9. Anna Burch – Quit the Curse
Another great singer. This is a pretty solid record and I can’t wait to hear her next two records. If you are writing songs this good, this early, then maturity kicks in and songs are culled appropriately and you are left with gems.
10. Dwight Yoakam – "Pretty Horses"/"Then Here Came Monday"
He put out these two singles and both are very good. I think people dismiss him as the first wave of pop/MTV country but if you really, really listen to the songs, and you have heard him talk about music, he’s a worthy conduit of the flame. He’s quirky, interesting and worships his predecessors and the craft of song. My friend Chris interviewed him and after I heard this, I was a believer.
Françoise Hardy – Mes Débuts – Reissue, wonderful French pop music from the 60s. This JUST came out or it would be in my top 10.
Rhett Miller – The Messenger – One of the best living songwriters on Earth.
Broncho – Bad Behavior – QOTSA radio show turned me onto them. Interesting.
Smoking Popes – Into the Agony – Always great. Josh has the voice of an angel. They keep making great records.
Tom Petty – An American Treasure – Listen to “Down South” and try not to cry.
Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love – I can tell these guys care and try. I love metal and I’m glad the metal world is starting to leave them alone and let them be themselves.
Abstracter – Cinerous Incarnate – Absolutely brutal.
Joan Jett – Reissues – Love her. Western Addiction’s intro music is “Scratch My Back.”
Guns & Roses – Appetite for Destruction Deluxe Edition – Axl’s voice is truly incredible. Listen to the cover of “Nice Boys.”
Cult Leader – A Patient Man – I applaud the singer for going with his natural singing voice on some songs. Brave, and it sounds good.
Anna St. Louis – If Only There Was a River – I see promise here and can’t wait to hear her next record. Great voice.
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar – If it was the 90s, this band would be pretty big and significant. You would mention Jawbox, Bikini Kill, Gouge Away, etc.
Agrimonia – Awaken – I love black metal and when it veers towards riffs and songs then I’m all in.
Zeke – Hellbender – Marky Felchtone is still the fastest guitarist.
Funeral Winds – Sinister Creed – Solid black metal.
CHAD WILLIAMS (WESTERN ADDICTION)
Swingin' Utters - Peace and Love (Fat)
Night Birds - Roll Credits (Fat)
Battle Ruins - Glorious Dead (Rock ‘n’ Roll Disgrace)
Khemmis - Desolation (20 Buck Spin)
No Problem - Let God Sort ‘em Out (Deranged)
Sick of It All - Wake the Sleeping Dragon (Fat/Century Media)
Graveyard - Peace (Nuclear Blast)
Territories - s/t (Pirates Press)
Tragedy - Fury (Tragedy)
Solstice - White Horse Hill (Dark Descent)
BRIAN GORSEGNER (NIGHT BIRDS, CHARACTER ACTOR)
1. Dark Thoughts - At Work (Stupid Bag Records)
Sometimes I like pop punk. When it sounds like this, I'll even go as far as saying I'm capable of loving pop punk. Powerful playing, riffs for days, and riddled with ear worm hooks. I'll also never tire of watching Daniel's speedy hi-hat playing. That's the kind of shit I dream about, but also keeps me awake at night in a hot sweat, like some sort of hi-hat fever dream.
2. Screaming Females - All At Once (Don Giovanni)
This whole record is fantastic, but god damn, that 1-2-3 punch at the start of this thing is what I believe to be the high water mark of the band's recorded output. Prolific, inspiring, and also the best live band I saw all year. I saw them open for the Breeders in a gigantic venue in Brooklyn and just annihilate everyone, and then took my 4 year old daughter to see them play in a tiny DIY art space, cause Screaming Females are cool like that. "Black Moon" is my #1 go-to jam on this one.
3. Blood Pressure - Surrounded (Beach Impediment)
Sometimes I like fast hardcore. When it sounds like this, I'll even go as far as saying I'm capable of loving fast hardcore. It doesn't matter if you're a lil chain, or a lil egg, this one takes the goddamn cake. I also just read this band is breaking up in a couple weeks which really sucks, but by this record anyways because it rocks.
4. Dusk - s/t (Don Giovanni)
I'm sure I've gone on record at some point referring to Amos Pitsch as an actual genius while gushing about my love for Tenement and the guy just in general as an artist, musician, creator, etc... but teaming up with Julia Blair, whom I was previously unfamiliar with, just puts this shit over the top. Some parts country, some parts classic rock n' roll, and so full of Midwestern soul the whole way through. This one also gets my award for best cover artwork of the year.
5. Neighborhood Brats - Claw Mark (Dirt Cult)
I'd been anxiously awaiting this album for a while and it did not disappoint! Speedy California punk in the classic Dangerhouse vein, but a bit poppier then I've seen from the band previously and I think it works wonders. Cannot wait to see them a couple times in California next week.
6. Swingin' Utters - Peace and Love (Fat Wreck Chords)
This is the first album I'm hearing from this band, which I'm told is kinda crazy. It wasn't anything intentional, this shit just happens sometimes, but when both Paddy Costello and Vanessa Burt (whose musical tastes I hold in very high regard and both who know what I dig) urged me to check 'em out, I did just that, and started with their newest efforts. I was already a big fan of Jack Dalrymple's song writing in his other band toyGuitar and that combined with Johnny's rough but charming voice is a really awesome contrast. I find myself flipping this one a few times before taking it off.
7. Ex Maid - Fair Sex (SRA Records)
I was fortunate to do a band or two with Miranda Taylor in my day, and have always absolutely loved her songwriting, almost as much as I love her voice. Mudhoney-esque riffs mingling with a big 60's influence is a pretty damn good cocktail.
8. No Problem - Let God Sort Em Out (Deranged / Taken By Surprise)
Night Birds' Canadian Brothers from Canadian Mothers have done it again. Not a bad song on this one. Nasty and biting with the perfect balance of melody and ferocity.
9. No Love - Choke On It (Sorry State)
Liked this one so much I bugged them to come up from Raleigh, NC this year to round out Night Birds' Roll Credits record release shows and along with Radioactivity, Spiritual Cramp, and Glue Traps made the Baltimore gig my #1 favorite show of the year. Fast and mean but bouncy and catchy as shit!
10. Culture Abuse - Bay Dream (Epitaph)
I put this one at 10 cause I've gotten really into this one later in the year, but I think after sitting with it a bit longer it's going to quickly climb up higher on my list, because this platter is super infectious. After spending two years listening to almost only the Lemonheads, this may actually help me transition out for a bit. Yea, I love this, not much else to say.
NICK WOODS (DIRECT HIT)
Youth Avoiders - Relentless
Guitar tones and speed got me good on this one. This is what the Hives could've/should've become after Barely Legal, and this band should get all their money for picking up the slack 20 years later.
Superchunk - What a Time to Be Alive
Amazing songs and melodies, totally divorced from pretentious punk and indie nonsense. Even more amazing that this band has yet to fuck up after almost 30 years in The Biz.
Gouge Away - Burnt Sugar
Powerviolence evolution by de-evolution. Cool to hear all the weirdness and other-genre influence on this. Maybe the best scream on the planet right now.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
It would feel weirder calling out a single album from this band than it is not naming an album at all, since the brainpower and musical chops and chemistry that have to be involved with being so prolific basically render the concept of an album meaningless. King Gizzard's records aren't even records, I'd guess - they're more just collections of sound that feed the writhing musical wad that this band is. I think they reissued five of their old albums this year? Pretty stupid to even quote that though, given dudes have put out 13 records in five years. Very, very impressive.
Press Club - Late Teens
This is what the first half hour in heaven must sound like. Most epic-sounding record I heard this year.
Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy
Great backstory and an ass-kicking delivery, with a strong voice to back it up. All the best rap on the radio for the last year comes off this album.
Culture Abuse - Bay Dream
Felt let down when I first heard this given how tight Peach was. This one lacks the core Culture Abuse's first record had, but it adds so much flesh to the fruit that I don't feel like anyone will ever get down to the middle anyway. I definitely haven't, even though I've been chewing on this shit for six months.
The Carters - Everything Is Love
Did anyone really have any doubt that this would rule? No one boasts hard about how tight their relationships are. Pretty excellent that Jay-Z and Beyonce were the first.
Juiceboxxx - Never Surrender Forever
Super pumped that Juiceboxxx finally made a legit rock record, reflecting his punk roots in Milwaukee. Awesome tunes, incredible energy.
Direct Hit - Crown Of Nothing
My band's new record is fuckin' tight, you should listen to it.
SPIKE (ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES)
1. Shannon and the Clams - Onion (Easy Eye Sound)
2. Shannon Shaw - Shannon In Nashville (Easy Eye Sound)
3. Glitter Wizard - Hollow Earth Tour (Heavy Psych Sounds)
4. Des Demonas - Des Demonas (In The Red)
5. Swingin' Utters - Peace and Love (Fat Wreck Chords)
6. Superchunk - What a Time to be Alive (Merge)
7. Genuine Parts - The Handless Maiden EP
8. Beyoncé Jayzee video is amazing - "Everything Is Love"
9. Parquet Courts - Wide Awake! (Rough Trade)
10. Childish Gambino video is great.