It seemed like underground music spent most of 2019 trying to decide what it wants to be. We hedged our bets and focused our efforts on clickbait covers, interviewing cool bands we like, and Nicolas Cage memes. The future is a bit hazy, but here’s what cut through the noise for us:
10. The Palatines – Vacation to Helheim
Infectious pop-punk that doesn’t make you feel like shit! All of the pleasure, none of the guilt!
9. Capital Youth – Mixtape Vol. 2
Two more solid gold hits from these garage-pop geniuses.
8. The Copyrights – Welcome Wagon
The Copyrights are back with the best thing they’ve done in years.
7. Protected Left – Fossil
Epic riff-heavy skatepunk for fans of Propagandhi, Strung Out, and A Wilhelm Scream. Checkout the interview we did with their singer/guitarist Mario to find out where they stand on Graves-era Misfits.
6. Reliever – 2020 Vision
Progressive technical hardcore that doesn’t fall into the typical cliches. Checkout the interview we did with them over at IDIOTEQ.
5. Lost Love – Glen Spaghetti Legs
They had me at Danzig joke. Lost Love has been on my radar for years, but I would say this two song EP is the best thing they’ve done.
4. Meat Jelly – Harvesting Season / Chuck Downfield
Sometimes this band sounds like American Football, other times they sound like Coliseum. I don’t get it, but on this EP they made the catchiest punk of 2019.
3. Sick of Shit – Shit Sandwich
Best band name ever. No frills hardcore that will remind you of the illegal venues of youth. Cool vocals that shift between a guttural death metal growl and a more traditional hardcore scream.
2. Nervous Jerk – 1994
Channeling the spirit of 924 Gilman Street’s glory days without sounding like a boring retrace. Checkout the interview we did with them.
1. Trout – Figures
Technically this came out on Dec. 29 of 2018, close enough! Indie rock from Windsor reminiscent of The Sidekicks, Silkworm, or even Guided By Voices. Even if you hate college rock, check this out; it has all the hooks without any of the pretensions.
10. QWAM – S/T
Fun pop-punk that’s not afraid to be weird. It’ll remind you of The Soviettes, The Epoxies, or early Lillingtons.
9. Decent Criminal – Bliss
Decent Criminal continue on the path they set on with 2017’s Bloom, blending 90s grunge with punk. The whole album plays like Big Shiny Tunes 2.
8. Cold Wrecks – This Could Be Okay
Relying on solid songwriting, not gimmicks, Cold Wrecks deliver their best work yet on the new LP.
7. Clowns – Nature/Nurture
On the new LP, you’ll find the party-monster hardcore you’ve come to expect from Clowns; you’ll also find deeper introspective lyrics, dark psychedelic riffs, and broken song structures conventions.
6. Toxic Holocaust – Primal Future: 2019
Album by album Toxic has moved away from their thrash roots and inched closer to boss battle SNES Contra-core. I think it’s awesome, it pairs perfectly with The Alien Wars.
5. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade of Blue
Hype band? Maybe, but I’m just excited that heavy bands are still getting traction in the age of car commercial pop. They write sick breakdowns, have a unique flavour of hardcore, and they aren’t Bring me the Horizon; sue me.
4. Billy Liar – Some Legacy
English folk-punk that could fill the hole Frank Turner left in your life.
3. Counterparts – Nothing Left To Love
Of all the bands in the current hardcore renaissance, Hamilton’s Counterparts do the best balancing act between pushing the boundaries and respecting the legacy of modern punk.
2. Sacred Reich – Awakening
Thrash legends Sacred Reich stay true to their roots without resting on their laurels. With unrelenting solos, soaring vocals, and just the right amount of cowbell; Awakening reawakens and modernizes the classic Sacred Reich sound.
1. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Infest The Ratsâ€™ Nest
An snazzy lo-fi thrash concept album about climate change destroying planet earth. It includes songs about organ thieves, rich people escaping to mars, antibiotic resistant bacteria; the grim prophetic nature of the album makes it so much darker than the standard dungeons and dragons metal lyrics.
We got new music coming out in 2020, stay tuned!