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.
It's been a very busy month in the punk world. blink-182 reunited with Tom DeLonge and announced a tour with Turnstile. Circa Survive sadly announced an indefinite hiatus, but fortunately Anthony Green is staying busy with multiple other projects, including the return of The Sound of Animals Fighting. Botch played a surprise secret show and then announced their first proper shows in over 20 years. Something Corporate announced a reunion. Algernon Cadwallader began their reunion tour. When We Were Young fest happened and seemed to go well, despite the first one-day edition being cancelled due to a high wind warning. A punk rock museum called the Punk Rock Museum is opening in Las Vegas, spearheaded by Fat Mike.
On top of that, some features we ran this past month:
* 10 songs that blink-182 have done cool covers of
* Pinkshift discuss the influence of Nirvana, Turnstile, Arctic Monkeys & more on their debut LP Love Me Forever
* Inclination talk delivering a straight edge opus with debut LP Unaltered Perspective
* Northstar's Is This Thing Loaded? turns 20 -- a look back & interview with singer Nick Torres
* Jim Ward breaks down every song on Sparta's new album
* Punitive Damage break down every track on their debut LP This Is The Blackout
October album reviews: Pinkshift, Show Me The Body, Thotcrime, Arm's Length, Dr. Acula, Gillian Carter, Jivebomb, Birds In Row, The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir, Brutus, Dead Cross, Deadbody, Punitive Damage, and Inclination. And we just got the first Sawtooth Grin album in 21 years yesterday (!), stay tuned for a review later this week.
New punk vinyl in our store includes two new exclusive Touche Amore variants, a series of exclusive Angels & Airwaves variants, the new Circa Survive LP (exclusive golden marble vinyl), Millencolin's Life On A Plate (exclusive opaque apple red vinyl), The Get Up Kids' Four Minute Mile (exclusive dreamsicle vinyl), the new 10th anniversary edition of Basement's Colourmeinkindness (exclusive purple & black swirl vinyl), The Vandals' Peace Thru Vandalism (green & black splatter vinyl), Elliott's False Cathedrals (coke bottle clear), Praise's All In A Dream (green vinyl), Minor Threat's First 2 7"s (silver vinyl), Fugazi's Repeater (blue vinyl), the new Green Day Nimrod box, Turning Point's s/t 7" (orange vinyl), two Count Me Out classics on color vinyl, and more.
Rest in peace, D.H. Peligro.
Read on for my picks of the best songs of October that fall somewhere under the punk umbrella, in no particular order...
Gladie - "Nothing"
After the 2019 breakup of the much-loved Philly indie-punk band Cayetana, vocalist Augusta Koch turned her full attention towards her band Gladie, who she had formed one year prior with former Three Man Cannon member Matt Schimelfenig. Gladie's been slowly getting their footing over the years, and now they're gearing up to release their first album with a set full-band lineup, which includes Augusta, Matt, guitarist Pat Conaboy (Spirit of the Beehive), bassist Dennis Mishko (ex-Tigers Jaw), and drummer Miles Ziskind (Honey, Witching). The first song revealed from this album is "Nothing," and it rips like no other song I've heard from Gladie or Augusta in general. It's got a fast, driving, punk energy and Augusta raises her voice to an unrestrained yell that makes things feel even rawer and more thrilling. It feels like a refreshing new start.
Anxious - "Where You Been"
When I interviewed Anxious earlier this year, guitarist/backing vocalist Dante Melucci spoke about his love of The Beach Boys, but said that he only really started to get into them near the very end of the writing process for Anxious' debut LP Little Green House, so you can spot a little BB influence on that record, but it's not super explicit. On new single "Where You Been," that influence is very explicit. It's a catchy emo-pop song that still suggests a love of stuff like Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids, but when Anxious hit the chorus, they bring in harmonies that feel straight from the mind of mid '60s Brian Wilson. The world has a lot of emo/punk bands, and a lot of Beach Boys-indebted bands, but there isn't much that combines the two as naturally and seamlessly as Anxious do on "Where You Been."
Militarie Gun - "Let Me Be Normal"
Militarie Gun put out two of last year's best punk EPs with All Roads Lead to the Gun I & II, and now they've signed to Loma Vista and put out All Roads Lead to the Gun (Deluxe), which includes both of last year's EPs and four new songs. Though it's technically billed as a deluxe edition, vocalist Ian Shelton says he thinks of the new songs more as a third EP, and when you listen to the whole thing in order, you can hear a clear evolution happening within Militarie Gun's sound. They're of a similar mindset as bands like Turnstile, Angel Du$t, Drug Church, and Fiddlehead; they come from hardcore but they're not afraid to expand the boundaries of the genre, they understand melody as much as they understand aggression, and they also understand that hardcore was a musically diverse genre in the first place. It became narrow-minded over time, and Militarie Gun and their peers have been changing that. This all comes through on "Let Me Be Normal," the only new track on All Roads that isn't a collaboration with another artist, and one of the most immediate, anthemic songs they've released yet.
Church Girls - "I Hate This House"
The look and sound of the greater punk landscape is always changing, but some things just never seem to go out of style, and one of those things is a hefty, catchy, power chord-driven banger that feels built to get a sea of sweaty kids raising their fists and screaming at the tops of their lungs. That's exactly the song that Philly's Church Girls have made with "I Hate This House," a song that swept me off my feet the first time I heard it and keeps doing so every time I click play. It's the kind of song that would fit in anywhere from Green Day to PUP (and it was actually mixed by frequent PUP collaborator Dave Schiffman), or really with any punk band with a knack for big hooks, big chords, and big feelings.
Fleshwater - "Kiss The Ladder"
Vein.fm continue to rise up in the world of metallic hardcore, and along for the ride is Deathfmradio, a collective of bands with shared members to Vein like Fleshwater and Living Weapon. Fleshwater are set to follow their 2020 demo with their debut LP We're Not Here To Be Loved this Friday (11/4) via Closed Casket Activities, and its lead single "Kiss The Ladder" is one of the best grunge/shoegaze/post-hardcore hybrids I've heard in a minute. Too many bands in this realm go for style over substance and vocals that feel secondary to guitars, but Fleshwater's lead singer Marisa Shirar has a loud, soaring delivery that cuts through the mix and helps Fleshwater stand out from the grunge-gazy pack. It also helps that "Kiss The Ladder" has a relentless backdrop and powerful drumming (by Matt Wood, also of Vein) that reminds you they're coming to shoegaze with a hardcore mindset.
Knuckle Puck - "Groundhog Day"
Across three full-lengths and a bunch of EPs, Knuckle Puck have spent about a decade proving that pop punk can be used to write serious, mature music, and doesn't have to rely on sophomoric humor and emotionally stunted views on relationships. And as they say on new single "Groundhog Day," they're just getting started and the end is nowhere in sight. "Groundhog Day" immediately feels like one of their strongest songs yet -- no small feat -- and it's proof that they're still moving forward. It bounces back and forth between glossy, crowdpleasing pop punk and a dreamier, more atmospheric side that sounds informed by Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World. Knuckle Puck know how to do both of things very well, and they also know how to fit them together in ways that feel creative, surprising, and artistically rewarding.
A Mourning Star - "A World Beyond"
One of the things that made Vancouver metalcore band A Mourning Star's debut EP To See Your Beauty Fade from earlier this year so appealing was its primitive production style that really did make it sound like an unearthed gem from the late '90s, but it turns out they clean up really well too. Just a few months later, they put out "A World Beyond" -- the lead single from their upcoming debut album, due in 2023 via DAZE -- and they're now veering into crisply-produced melodic metalcore that fits in anywhere from classic Poison The Well to newer bands like Foreign Hands. They've got riffs for days, and vocalist Eli Robinson has a caustic scream that keeps the cleaner, catchier song still sounding as aggressive as A Mourning Star's earlier stuff.
Fucked Up - "One Day"
As discussed earlier in this very article, there's a lot of interest right now in hardcore bands that aren't afraid to get melodic and take influence from outside of hardcore, so I wonder if that means there will be some renewed interest in Fucked Up, a band who's been doing that very thing for over 15 years. If there is, it probably helps that new single "One Day" sounds like classic Fucked Up. It's fueled by a propulsive punk backdrop, and Damian Abraham screams his head off as other band members provide airy, melodic counterpoint. It sounds like a power pop band and a hardcore band jamming on the same song at exactly the same time, and somehow, it works.
Pre-order a vinyl copy of Fucked Up's upcoming album 'One Day.'
Lucero - "One Last F.U."
Not every song by country-punk vets Lucero is a punk song, but "One Last F.U." definitely is. Bandleader Ben Nichols says the song was "too offensive and goofy" for the last few Lucero albums, but that it's perfect for the upcoming Should’ve Learned by Now, an album that's "basically about how we know we are fuckups and I guess we are ok with that." That attitude comes through loud and clear in the hook of "I ain't gonna be here very long/One last 'fuck you,' that's it and I'm gone," and the song is brimming with the kind of energy that's always given Lucero a place in the punk scene. It's been a minute since they've put out a banger like this, and it's nice to hear this side of Lucero again
MSPAINT - "Acid"
One of the guests on that aforementioned new Militarie Gun record is the band's current tourmate MSPAINT. They put on a killer set opening for MG at Brooklyn's Saint Vitus last week, and they also put out a great new single this past month co-produced by Militarie Gun's Ian Shelton and MG producer Taylor Young, "Acid." Its distorted synth-punk backing sounds like something straight out of an aughts-era art punk warehouse show, but charismatic vocalist Deedee's gritty shouts make MSPAINT sound right at home in the hardcore scene, even if they don't have a guitar player in sight.
Massa Nera - "April 7th"
In the time since NJ screamo band Massa Nera released their 2017 debut LP Los pensamientos de una cara palida, they've put out two four-way splits (one with Frail Body, Infant Island, and dianacrawls; and one with Thisismenotthinkingofyou, Yo Sbraito, and EF'IL), and now they're finally set to return with their long-awaited sophomore album Derramar | Querer | Borrar this December. If you're unfamiliar, you'll see why Massa Nera have become staples of the current wave of screamo as soon as you feast your ears on "April 7th." It's raw and chaotic in the way the genre's pioneers were three decades ago, and it's got all the passion and purpose that people have always flocked to this genre to hear and convey. The song deals with the toll that a capitalist society takes on you, and even if you can't make out every harshly-screamed word -- which vary between both English and Spanish -- you can always feel it.
Action/Adventure - "Levity"
It would appear we're in the midst of a little easycore resurgence -- the riffy, chuggy version of pop punk that New Found Glory helped popularize -- and one of the best new songs in that style is Action/Adventure's "Levity." It's off their upcoming debut album for Pure Noise, Imposter Syndrome, and it's got it all: riffs upon riffs upon riffs, spit-shined melodies, clever turns of phrase, and a short-but-sweet breakdown. Their tools are familiar, but the way they execute everything is totally fresh.
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.