‘In Defense of the Genre': Best Punk & Emo Songs of December
In Defense of the Genre is a column on BrooklynVegan about punk, pop punk, emo, post-hardcore, ska-punk, and more, including and often especially the bands and albums and subgenres that weren’t always taken so seriously.
2022 is a wrap, and that's meant lists, lists, and more lists. We posted our staff-wide list of the 50 best albums of 2022 and we also posted a few punk-specific lists, and we asked tons of artists what their favorite albums of the year were, including several of the bands that were covered in this column throughout the year. As for December, it's always one of the slower months for new music, but there were still some great tracks in the punk realm released last month, and I've rounded up my favorite ones in this post. But first, here are those punk-oriented year-end lists and other features from December:
* Best Hardcore of 2022, Discussed and Debated (podcast)
* Kevin Devine talks 20th anniversary, being called emo, nostalgia festivals & more (podcast)
December album reviews: The Sound of Animals Fighting, Massa Nera, The Holophonics, and Your Spirit Dies. Also, Fireworks just surprise-released their first album in nine years! We'll write more about that one soon.
We've also got some new limited, exclusive vinyl variants in our store, including a Terror bundle, Every Time I Die's From Parts Unknown (splatter), the new Zulu album (transparent yellow), the new Knuckle Puck comp (green), Balance & Composure's Separation (translucent green), and more. Other new titles in stock include Trapped Under Ice's Heatwave, Modern Baseball's Sports (lime green), Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart, Fugazi's In On The Kill Taker, Paramore's Riot!, The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols (neon green), Swing Kids' Anthology (two variants), Sunny Day Real Estate's LP2, and more.
Read on for my picks of the best songs of December that fall somewhere under the punk umbrella, in no particular order...
Jesus Piece - "An Offering To The Night"
Jesus Piece will finally return with their long-awaited sophomore album in 2023, and if the rest of it's as good a "An Offering To The Night," start preparing your body now. From double-time whiplash to bludgeoning metalcore breakdowns to some eerie, out-there shit, all topped off with bloodthirsty screams and futuristic production, "An Offering To The Night" is creative, tasteful, and impossibly hard.
pulses. - "Run the Ghouls"
How do you even describe this... The Fall of Troy meets Talking Heads? More post-hardcore should be this fun.
Run Into The Sun - "Cry" (ft. Dravin Fackrell of DegenerationXXX)
It's inevitable that we're gonna start seeing more bands directly inspired by Turnstile, and that seems like the most direct comparison for the groovy Nonstop Feeling-esque riff and the "Don't cry... FOR ME!" on "Cry" by Salt Lake City's Run Into The Sun. (But also Bad Brains, Leeway, Rage Against the Machine, etc.) But even if RITS wear their influences on their sleeves a bit, none of that matters when the music is this irresistible. (See also: the Higher Power/Deftones-y B-side "Blood.")
XL Life - "Baby Steps" (ft. Bob Vylan)
Another very promising bands garnering some Turnstile comparisons is XL Life from Cardiff, UK. Their debut LP The Boogie Down South comes out in January, and new single "Baby Steps" is a serious jam. With a kinetic groove, boundless hardcore punk energy, and a guest verse from grime-punk duo Bob Vylan, it defies easy categorization and it's a blast to listen to.
Big Laugh - "Mask"
Big Laugh is such a great name for a hardcore band that I can't believe it took until 2019 for someone to come up with it. Following some buzz created by their demo, EP, and live show, the Milwaukee band are now gearing up to release their debut album Consume Me in February via the legendary Revelation Records. They've cited both Rev-style NYHC and Japanese punk legends Gauze as influences, and "Mask" is a 90-second ripper that basically finds the middle ground between those two things.
Buggin - "Attitude"
It's no coincidence that Buggin's latest song shares a title with a Bad Brains classic. "For 'Attitude' I really wanted to tap into our biggest inspiration Bad Brains and make something positive," vocalist Bryanna Bennett says. "I was really struggling with my mental health and feeling motivated to even create anything so it just made sense to pour all my bad feelings into a song that I hope others can relate to and feel inspired by." Bryanna sounds as fiery and passionate as possible, and the 52-second song has enough rhythmic variety to keep any mosh pit on its toes.
Riot Stares - "Trip Chain"
Gaining comparisons to bands like Quicksand, Snapcase, and Orange 9mm, Riot Stares sound like that moment in the '90s when hardcore bands realized a little melody, a little production value, and some infectious grooves could go a very long way. "Trip Chain" sounds like it could've been a hit in the Clinton era, and Riot Stares know just how to freshen that sound up for the 2020s.
In an effort to cover as many bands as possible, I try to just do one single per album cycle in these monthly roundups, so catch up on previous months' lists for even more:
For even more new songs, listen below or subscribe to our playlist of punk/emo/hardcore/etc songs of 2022.
Browse our selection of hand-picked punk vinyl.
Read past and future editions of 'In Defense of the Genre' here.