‘In Defense of the Genre’ March roundup (best songs of the month included)
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.
March birthed a wealth of great songs that fall somewhere under the punk umbrella. I picked 11 to highlight, but first, here are all the punk-related features we ran in the past month:
* Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends turns 20
* Every Time I Die album guide
* Soul Glo are paving the path to punk's future
* THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND - how PUP reinvented themselves in the most PUP way possible
* What is hyperska? Eichlers shares 10 songs that inspired the new subgenre
March album reviews: Soul Glo, Oso Oso, Vein.fm, Drug Church, Riverby, Glacier Veins, Hot Water Music, Kevin Devine, Caracara, Camp Cope, Carly Cosgrove, PLOSIVS (Pinback, Hot Snakes, etc), Proper., Machine Gun Kelly, and the Kill Your Idols/Rule Them All split.
Newly added to our store: two new color vinyl pressings of blink-182's Buddha, the new 20th anniversary edition of Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends, the new 30th anniversary repress of The Offspring's Ignition (limited marigold vinyl), the new Terror album (limited color vinyl), the new Prince Daddy & the Hyena album (limited splatter vinyl), the new Eichlers album (limited electric blue vinyl), and much more.
Read on for my picks of the 11 best songs of March 2022 that fall somewhere under the punk umbrella, in no particular order...
Koyo - "Ten Digits Away"
What seemingly started as a side project for members of Hangman, Rain of Salvation, Typecaste, and other hardcore bands to embrace their love of Long Island emo has turned into the members' most prevalent and fastest-growing band. Having just signed to Pure Noise (Knocked Loose, SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Terror, etc), Koyo released their biggest and most distinct sounding single yet. You can still spot the influence of classic Long Island bands like Silent Majority and The Movielife on "Ten Digits Away," but it sounds less like a love letter to their influences and more like a promising new band coming into their own. It's as noticeable a step-up from last year's great Drives Out East EP as that was from the previous year's Painting Words Into Lines EP. If they keep progressing at this rate, it won't be long before Koyo do for the next generation of LIHC kids what their heroes did for them.
Hey, ily! - "Intrusive Thoughts Always"
Hey, ily! put out one of the best punk releases of 2021 with the Internet Breath EP, and new single "Intrusive Thoughts Always" suggests that their upcoming debut full-length Psychokinetic Love Songs is gonna be even better. What started as the solo project of Caleb Haynes is now a full band, and "Intrusive Thoughts Always" proves that they can pull off even more as a five-piece. Internet Breath was already some of the most genre-defying emo around, and "Intrusive Thoughts Always" takes that to new heights, bridging the gap between anthemic emo-punk, synthy bedroom pop, and real-deal thrash metal in a way that should not work as well as it does. The bigger/cleaner production and Conner Haman's batshit live drums add a lot, and Caleb's own songwriting is getting bolder, catchier, and weirder all at once.
The Callous Daoboys - "A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops"
With three minutes of shapeshifting metalcore that sounds even more chaotic than anything on Die On Mars, "A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops" already proves that the three-year wait for a new Callous Daoboys song has been worth it. It continues the Daoboys' knack for fusing Botch/Converge-style mathcore with Every Time I Die/The Chariot-style theatrics, but even that description can't prepare you for this beast, which also incorporates white noise, a spoken word head trip, a deathcore-ish breakdown, and a complete disregard for traditional song structure.
Praise - "All In A Dream"
There are a lot more eyes on the hardcore scene right now than there were six years ago when Praise last released new music, partially thanks to the success of Praise drummer Daniel Fang's band Turnstile, so the timing is ripe for Praise to return with their most accessible song yet. "All In A Dream" still takes clear influences from the DC-area band's hometown heroes like Dag Nasty and other Revolution Summer bands, but the production (from Pianos Become the Teeth/Full of Hell collaborator Kevin Bernsten) is more spacious and more modern, and the hooks suggest Praise have their eyes set on something bigger than the hardcore underground. Still, this is Praise being Praise. They aren't abandoning their roots in order to reach more people, they're just perfecting the sound they've been honing since day one.
End Game - "Devil In Disguise" (ft. Scowl's Kat Moss)
Following a 2020 demo and a 2021 split with Living In Fear, Canadian hardcore band End Game continue to prove themselves as one of hardcore's brightest new voices with new single "Devil In Disguise." You can hear hints of everything from '80s crossover thrash to '90s proto-metalcore to 2000s melodic hardcore, but really End Game just sound like a band whose sights are set on the future. The band says the song is "about people who are quick to stab you in the back, and locking them away sealing their fate to never harm you again," and helping them deliver their message is Kat Moss of another of today's best new hardcore bands, Scowl.
Wounded Touch - "The Last Night of Autumn (Refrain)"
Wounded Touch recently released their debut LP AMERICANXIETY, which offers up an onslaught of forward-thinking metalcore that's cut from a similar cloth as bands like Knocked Loose and Vein.fm and includes a song featuring The Black Dahlia Murder's Trevor Strnad. The whole thing is killer, but in case you've only heard the singles/top-played songs, I'd like to point you in the direction of closing track "The Last Night of Autumn (Refrain)," which sounds like nothing else on the LP. It's a melodic, atmospheric song that veers towards Deftones territory, and it proves that Wounded Touch have a softer side that's just as impactful as their all-out brutality.
Ultra Deluxe - "Dreams of Him"
That new Hey, ily! track isn't the only punk-derived song out this month that takes a splatter-paint approach to genre. This single from Ultra Deluxe's new LP Intake Occupation is just as all-over-the-place in a way that shouldn't work out as well as it does. It starts out as a dance-punk/post-hardcore hybrid that sounds like if Death From Above 1979 got back in touch with their heavier roots, before turning into climactic, orchestral chamber pop without losing its screamy edge. And there's a little chiptune in there too. It's a lot, and it works.
Be Well - "Treadless"
After two decades producing classic albums by Converge, Cave In, The Movielife, Strike Anywhere, Thrice, Hot Water Music, Circa Survive, and many others, former Battery frontman Brian McTernan started writing his own songs again for his new band Be Well, which also features members of Fairweather, Darkest Hour, and Bane/Converge. Their first release was their debut LP The Weight and the Cost, one of the best punk albums of 2020, which found Brian opening up about mental health and writing more personally than he ever had before. That LP dropped right in the middle of concert-less lockdown, but now the band have been touring like crazy, and coinciding with all their shows is a new six-song release, Hello Sun, due 5/20 via Revelation. First single "Treadless" picks right up where Be Well's debut left off, and sounds even more fired-up, with circle-pit-inducing tempos and gang vocals that beg to be shouted along to. It's not everyday that a supergroup of scene veterans quickly become one of the most vital new punk bands around, but that's exactly what Be Well are doing.
Pick up 'Hello Sun' on limited splatter vinyl.
AVOID - "Cowabunga"
People refer to the mid 2000s as post-hardcore's "hair metal period" for a few reasons, including that a lot of these bands were really just using post-hardcore aesthetics to write full-blown pop songs. People usually say this as a bad thing, but AVOID seem like they heard all this stuff and thought "yeah that's fuckin' sick" and decided to bring it all back without an ounce of shame. Try and resist all you want, but with songs as fun as "Cowabunga," you may as well just give in.
Tiny Stills - "Bleeding Out"
Tiny Stills call "Bleeding Out" an "anti-fuck boy anthem" and "a song about reclaiming your power after a toxic relationship," and it's as lyrically defiant as it is catchy and anthemic. If you want more where post-Charmer Tigers Jaw came from, this hits the spot.
Flogging Molly - "These Times Have Got Me Drinking / Tripping Up the Stairs"
Celtic punk heroes Flogging Molly hadn't released new music in five years, and it's been even longer since they put out a song as life-affirming as this one. It's a ripper that sounds like it could fit on classics like Swagger or Drunken Lullabies, but as you probably guessed from the title, it was entirely inspired by the *gestures at everything* of the past few years. It offers up celebratory vibes in the face of trying times, but more than anything else, it's a reminder that sometimes there's nothing like hearing a classic band do what they do best.
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.