The Ten Best New York Punk Releases of 2014
The pit at a Latino Punk Fest show at the Acheron back in August
Photo by Rob Menzer for the Village Voice.
New York is home to the world's premier punk scene, and has been for a while now. The spectrum of the sound and aesthetic are continuously warping; we see the lines of punk extending to hardcore and noise blur. New bands are born, the go-to bands keep on writing new material, and the nothing lasts just for the sake of lasting. As we pass from one January to the next, let's take a look back at the best that this great genre in this great city offered us this year. I would not say that 2014 was the strongest year in recent memory for recorded output. But it still killed, because New York punk is that good. Here are the 10 best releases, in no particular order.
Ajax - Bleach for Breakfast 7" (Even Worse Records) The first time I heard the recordings that would become the Ajax demo, repressed onto vinyl here, I was legitimately pissed off. We were in the vocalist's apartment in Ithaca, and I had just started a hardcore band of a pretty similar vibe; and then Ajax had to come along and do it way better. A 2014 New York take on Negative Approach-meets-Poison Idea, although the vocal delivery sounds like it's coming from someone closer to the weight of Pig Champion than Jerry A. Featuring the two most academically driven members of New York's best young hardcore band from five years ago, Nomos, and the two toughest-looking members of Albany's best young hardcore band from five years ago, Coughing Fit. This is better than their new self-titled EP, which came out this month. One word: riffs.
Hank Wood & The Hammerheads - Stay Home!! 12" (Toxic State) The Hammerheads follow up one of the best modern punk records, Leave Home!, with another 12-inch of keyboard punk bangers. While Go Home! delivered hit after hit of gritty street anthems, Stay Home!! takes a step back and a look around. A band aware of its songwriting prowess is opening everything up here, and leaving it all out on the table. This record really hits its stride when it gets slow, particularly with the closer of side A, "I Thought I Was a Good Man." And the production is even warmer than the baby-blue scarves that they brought on their recent European tour. Curious to see what comes next.
La Misma - La Misma 7" (Toxic State) I was kind of shocked that this record came out in early 2014. I thought it was a year older than that, but I guess that just speaks to the pure power that is La Misma. Four of New York's most punk women play in this upbeat, near-classic outfit with catchy-as-hell guitar licks and lyrics yelped/whooped in Portuguese. The band quickly rose to the top tier of New York's punk scene, and this release definitely cemented their status as A-team. When you listen to this record, you will move your head in a straight-ahead circular nod, similar to the way a pigeon's head moves when it walks. And you will not be able to stop.
Warthog - Exterminate Me 7" (Katorga Works) Another raging hardcore release from a band that started as a supergroup/joke called Chain Wallet, this is their most solid front-to-back effort so far. I want to say that this record has the coolest-looking artwork, too, but I can't, because that honor has to go to the bootleg fan art that some kid sent them in the mail and that ended up on their West Coast tour tape. If there is one thing that Warthog excels at, it's tempo changes! And this record is no different! It's hard! It's good!
Nandas - Demo cassette (self-released) "When you die, I'll spring for flowers," "first dates make you nervous, your hand disappears below the surface," and "toilet water's sweet on a holy tongue" is the type of gold that only someone who learned the English language by watching The Simpsons could come up with. (Nandas' singer is Armenian!) It's hard not to be stoked on this ragtag, zeroes-turned-heroes four-piece. Sloppy, straight-forward punk rock with the perfect amount of snot and swagger. And they look great while they do it.Next Page
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