‘In Defense of the Genre’ November 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, ska-punk, 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 November.
November was sort of a shorter month in the music world due to a lengthy Election Week and Thanksgiving, so this roundup is slightly shorter than past months, but here are the punk features we ran in November:
* Q&A with Bayside on new acoustic EP, 20th anniversary & more
* Q&A with Bad Operation on their debut album and the joyous retaliation of New Tone ska
* I Am The Avalanche members discuss their 10 favorite albums of 2020
More stuff to check out: Canned mountain water brand Liquid Death released a punk album with lyrics made up entirely of lines from negative reviews of their product, performed by Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms), Chris #2 (Anti-Flag), Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio), Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Joe Principe (Rise Against), Ashrita Kumar (Pinkshift), Jeremy Hunter (JER, We Are the Union, Skatune Network), Jen Razavi (The Bombpops), Josh Lewis (The Bombpops), and Paul Miner (ex-Death by Stereo).
Also, do not miss Ohio screamo band For Your Health's recent live session, where they debuted songs from their upcoming album In Spite Of. It was a genuinely killer performance and one of the best pandemic-era performances I've watched all year.
Rest in peace Alec Baillie of Leftover Crack/Choking Victim.
Head to Fair Fight to help take back the US Senate from Republican control.
Read on for my five picks (in no particular order) of the five best songs of November 2020 that fall somewhere under the punk umbrella...
Anti-Flag - "A Dying Plea" (volumes 1 & 2)
Anti-Flag released an explicitly anti-Trump album this year, so they're obviously as glad as the rest of us that Trump lost re-election, but they also have been fighting against oppression for the last four presidencies, and they know Joe Biden is not going to magically fix the widespread bigotry that got Trump elected in the first place. With that in mind, they planned to release volume 1 of their new protest song "A Dying Plea" (which benefits four social justice organizations) the day after Election Day regardless of who won, and -- following a lengthy election process -- they put out volume 2 of the song after Biden became president-elect. Both songs feature Tom Morello, Houston rapper/singer De'Wayne, Marcia Richards of UK reggae/punk/ska band The Skints, and Jalise Della Gary (Anti-Flag bassist Chris #2's niece), and volume 2 also features Driving While Black Records' Jordan Montgomery, and they're both bold, genre-defying protest songs against police brutality and racism that call for real, radical change.
Record Setter - "Someplace"
Record Setter's I Owe You Nothing is one of the best emo/screamo albums I've heard all year. It's an album where almost every song segues directly into the next, and you really need to hear the whole thing from start to finish, but to pick just one song for this month's best punk songs, I'll go with album opener "Someplace," which hooks you right away. The passion in guitarist/vocalist Judy Mitchell's screams is palpable, and they manage to feel accessible without sacrificing the harsh ferocity that you expect from screamo. Once concerts return, you can easily picture a packed room all screaming along to the song's final, core-shaking lyric: "I am not a man, but I'm still a person."
Portrayal of Guilt - "A Tempting Pain"
The highly prolific Portrayal of Guilt continue to prove themselves as one of the best heavy bands around with each release, and judging by the singles, their upcoming sophomore album We Are Always Alone (due 1/21 via Closed Casket Activities) is shaping up to be their best yet. As always, they show the ability to pack hardcore, screamo, black metal, sludge metal, noise, and more into under-two-minute bursts, and latest single "A Tempting Pain" is no exception. It sounds like so much at once, but it also sounds like just one thing: the unmistakable work of Portrayal of Guilt.
Annakarina - "We Are Passing"
Pittsburgh screamo band Annakarina are back with their first song in five years and a new lineup (which includes members of Short Fictions, Shin Guard, Scratchy Blanket, and Coma Regalia), and they sound even more intense now than ever before. "We Are Passing" is a nearly-six-minute song that pairs heavy, soaring, climactic music with highly emotive screams by Chloe June "about trans feelings: what it feels like to be closeted, what it feels like to be scared of coming out, and the feeling of finally coming out." It finds time for a spoken word interlude, tornadic blast beats, shimmering EITS-esque guitars, and more, before building to a shouted coda that would get even the most cynical listener yelling along.
World Be Free - "One Time For Unity" (ft. Chuck Ragan)
Hardcore supergroup World Be Free -- vocalist Scott Vogel (Terror, Buried Alive), guitarists Andrew Kline (Strife) and Joe Garlipp (Despair), drummer Sammy Siegler (Youth of Today, Judge, CIV, Rival Schools), and new bassist Alex Barreto (Chain of Strength), who replaced original bassist Arthur Smilios (Gorilla Biscuits) -- recently returned with their first new music since their 2016 debut LP, the One Time For Unity EP. Like the debut, the new EP puts a fresh spin on the kind of '80s hardcore that some of these members helped pioneer, and this group gets even more super on the title track, which finds Scott trading lines with Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan. It's been a while since we've heard Chuck on a straight-up hardcore song like this, and he's very much still got it.
Read past and future editions of 'In Defense of the Genre' here.