‘In Defense of the Genre’ May roundup (5 best songs of the month included)
In Defense of the Genre is a column on BrooklynVegan about punk, pop punk, emo, post-hardcore, and more, including and often especially the bands and albums and subgenres that weren’t always taken so seriously. Here are The Genre’s five best songs from May.
Time moves so weird lately. On one hand, I can't believe it's already June. On another, May 1 feels an eternity ago. But it's true, May is a wrap and here are all the 'In Defense of the Genre' pieces we ran this past month:
* 12 great modern-day hardcore live videos to watch during lockdown
* 10 great '80s hardcore live videos to watch during lockdown (and an accompanying playlist)
* 5 newer Equal Vision bands discuss their favorite classic EVR album
* We reviewed all 101 songs on Short Music For Short People for its 21st birthday because... quarantine
BrooklynVegan has also continued to post quarantine playlists curated by artists, and this month we ran Genre-friendly playlists from Dashboard Confessional, Brian Fallon, Chaka Malik (Burn, Orange 9mm), and Single Mothers.
We also continue to post many livestreams, quarantine performance videos, and some recent punk/etc ones (in addition to Straylight Run) include Punk Rock Bowling, Brian Fallon's ongoing guest-filled series (with Dashboard Confessional, Manchester Orchestra, and much more), Dropkick Murphys (at Fenway Park with Bruce Springsteen), the 924 Gilman virtual festival (during which Touche Amore's Nick Steinhardt covered AFI), Boysetsfire, Greet Death, Thrice's Dustin Kensrue, Hot Water Music, Dave Hause, Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio), Chris Conley (Saves The Day), and the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash.
We've also posted some unearthed live footage recently, including ’90s footage of Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, Orchid, June of 44, Piebald, AVAIL & more, ’80s footage of Fugazi, Operation Ivy, Neurosis & MDC at 924 Gilman, and The Blood Brothers at the last-ever Locust House show in '02.
Some other recent features that may be of interest: Q&A w/ Jeff Rosenstock on surprise releases, pop punk, 10 songs that inspired ‘NO DREAM’ & more, The Gloria Record discuss 6 songs that influenced A Lull In Traffic (which is getting a 20th anniversary reissue), Western Addiction give track-by-track breakdown of new LP.
Also, the remasters of Tony's Hawk Pro Skater’ 1 + 2 are coming (with songs from original soundtracks included)!
Read on for my picks for the five best songs of May 2020 within punk, emo, post-hardcore, etc.
Strike Anywhere - "Imperium of Waste"
Strike Anywhere are finally back with their first new music in 11 years. Two songs are out now, and the full Nightmares of the West EP will be out July 17 via Pure Noise. Both new songs are great, but if I'm picking one, it's "Imperium of Waste." The other single ("Dress the Wounds") is a fast-paced ripper, but this more mid-tempo, more anthemic song really finds Strike Anywhere at the height of their powers. As you'd expect from Strike Anywhere, the political message in the lyrics is strong (and very much resonates in 2020), and the roaring chorus is impossible to get out of your head. It may have taken 11 years, but this is right up there with the band's classics.
Jeff Rosenstock - "N O D R E A M"
It's hard to pick just one song from the great new Jeff Rosenstock album but with everything going on right now, the fired-up political commentary and the hardcore-indebted coda of the title track just feels right. "And we know all about it but we just don't know what to do. What can we do?"
The Lawrence Arms - "PTA"
The Lawrence Arms haven't been away as long as Strike Anywhere, but six years is still a lot, and they're finally ending their silence with new album Skeleton Coast on July 17 via Epitaph (same day as Strike Anywhere). And like that Strike Anywhere song did for them, "PTA" makes it feel like no time has passed since the last Lawrence Arms record and this sounds as fresh as their classics did when they came out. It's an under-two-minute rager, equal parts gritty and melodic, and it's just a total blast to listen to.
The Bouncing Souls - "World On Fire"
The Bouncing Souls (who, like Strike Anywhere, are now on Pure Noise Records, who are killing it lately) are lifers and just about everything they put out is a good time, even when it's about how shitty the world is like this song is (or even when the song sounds nothing like The Bouncing Souls). It's a little lighter and more jangly than the Souls' hardcore-infused pop punk classics, but they do this kinda thing great too and the melodies are just pure bliss.
Also, if you'd like to help out and maybe win some cool prizes, the Souls and Hot Water Music (who share a road crew and drummer) are doing a raffle to help benefit their crew.
Owen - "On With The Show"
It just so happens that May was a great month for '90s/'00s-style melodic punk, but this last song is from an artist on another side of the '90s/'00s spectrum, Midwest emo. Probably over half of the current emo bands wouldn't sound the way they do without the influence of Mike Kinsella's bands American Football and Cap'n Jazz, and as good as those bands are, we shouldn't let ourselves overlook the great music he's been putting out as Owen for almost 20 years. His new album The Avalanche comes out June 19 via Polyvinyl and two singles from it came out in May. They're both great but this one's my favorite. When Mike sings the titular line, it's the most classic-Owen-sounding thing in the world.
Because you can never have too much music in your life, starting this month, I'll be making a mix (playlist) to accompany the 'In Defense of the Genre' roundups each month. This one was inspired by the pop punk nostalgia of Jeff Rosenstock's album, the melodic hardcore of Strike Anywhere's triumphant return, the amount of time I spent revisiting Short Music For Short People, and the state of unrest that much of the country is in right now. Old songs and new ones. Catchy but angry. Hope it helps give you something to sink your ears into:
Fuck police brutality. Fuck racism. If you'd like to donate to a bail fund, or other civil rights causes, or learn more, here are some resources.
Read past and future editions of 'In Defense of the Genre' here.