In 2018 I ended my end of the year record release roundup saying that I hoped things were quiet in 2018 because bands were getting ready for amazing releases for 2019. What do you know? I was right.
Turns out, 2019 was a phenomenal year for music, with bands I completely wasn’t expecting to release new music, dropping some seriously fire records. Honestly, I’m pretty spoiled for choice this year. I could probably do separate lists for top LPs, EPs and 7-inches. I’m not going to. But I could.
DIAT – Positive Disintegration LP
DIAT are one of those modern post-punk bands capable of appealing to older listeners that refuse to accept any post-punk that came out after the 80s, as well as younger listeners, fuelled on the post-punk/hardcore melding that’s become so popular in recent years. I was so surprised when I first heard that DIAT had decided to put out a new record. Positive Disintegration is their first release in four years. Honestly I didn’t even think the band was still together. If you’re expecting an exact continuation from Positive Energy, this isn’t that, but what it is, is a haunting post-punk album, full of intense buildup and a unique atmosphere.
Haram – Where Were You on 9/11? 7-inch
Where Were You on 9/11 is a question all Americans above a certain age can answer; particularly of from my generation, who were shaped by the way our society changed on that day. Haram’s singer is a Muslim American who proudly wears his identity on his sleeve and in his music. Haram are one of those bands that just give me chills, in a good way. Nader’s singing style combined with the instrumentals creates a lot of emphasis and depth for the listener. Nader has a strong presence, even on recording.
Armor – Some Kind of War 7-inch
This has easily been my most listened to release since it came out. Clocking in at just under 10-minutes long, Some Kind of War is raw, fast and aggressive. Amor’s sound is straightforward punk and not at all forced. It’s literally everything I want from a punk band, thanks Armor.
Institute – Readjusting the Locks LP
Institute are easily one of my top five bands to come out in the last five years. Their 2014 debut Salt EP is still one of my favourite, and most listened to, albums to date. I slid into their PR e-mail for their promo package the second I heard they had a new album coming out, and while I don’t think they’ll ever top Salt for me, Readjusting the Locks is a great LP. The flow between the tracks is honestly perfect, with the lyrics being less personal and more political commentary. This is absolutely a cohesive Institute album, but it’s more simplistic, with a bit more speed and snap to it.
Subversive Rite – Songs for the End Times LP
The opening track for this LP has something really special to it. It sets a somewhat gloomy, somber tone, before the fast-paced guitar and clear-powerful vocals cut through. And they really do cut. Honestly, no matter how many times I listen to this, I still always end up punching my leg or the air when they first cut in on the first track. The singer’s vocals are super easy to follow and sing along with. This is the band’s first full-length LP and it really doesn’t disappoint.
Electric Chair – Performative Justice 7-inch
This 7-inch both looks and sounds like a release that could have come out in the 80s. It opens with simple, catchy instrumentals that really build up your anticipation for the songs. I liked their 2018 Public Apology 7-inch, but I love this. Performative Justice has a much more raw, pure punk sound to it. This 7-inch is the one that really made me excited to see what this band can do.
Maladia – Demo Cassette
Maladia is definitely one of my favourite London bands. If you’ve learned anything about me from this list, it’s that I love raw, hardcore punk and modern post-punk, right? Well, Maladia is the perfect combination of those. It’s dark, and there’s something raw and primal to it.
Game – No One Wins LP
Game are probably the best straight-up hardcore band currently active in the UK right now. I know that’s a bold statement, but literally nothing about these seasoned hardcore musicians disappoints. A lot of you will recognise Game’s singer from bands like Arms Race. She’s an absolutely amazing performer, exuding powerful energy both during the band’s live performances and on recording. The way she translates that strength through her vocal delivery is part of what makes this album so good.
Video Filth – Hypnosis 7-inch
Video Filth are one of those bands I’m surprised I haven’t heard more people in the UK catch onto yet. Like most of the bands on my list, they’re American, but they’re another one of those bands that have really perfected that aggressive raw-punk sound. It’s got those drum beats that make you stomp without even noticing you’re doing it. This band has been around since before I left the US in 2014, and I’m still mad they don’t have a European/UK distro. Someone pick them up already.
Physique – The Rhythm of Brutality 10-inch
D-beat has always been a subgenre I enjoy much more live than recorded. Physique are one of those rare bands that are able to translate the raw energy that makes live d-beat bands so good, onto vinyl. Each release this band puts out gets better and better, culminating in their most recent release The Rhythm of Brutality. They’re lovely people and a great live band. If you’re into d-beat, raw-punk and a good fast live show, I cannot recommend checking this band out enough, if you haven’t already.
Honestly making this list was incredibly difficult and I spent days cutting down my list, because I enjoyed so many releases this year. Thank you to all of the bands out there, both on this list and off of it for seeing how bleak 2018 was for new music, and responding by coming through with amazing, high-energy music.
I’m hoping for great things from 2020, with new LPs already in the works from London’s own Chubby and the Gang, as well as Heatwave’s powerpop favs, The Speedways.