Best EPs and other releases of 2016Phil Collins - December 13, 2016
Before we get to the voting on our best albums of the year bracket, which is exclusively comprised of full-length albums, I always like to take some time to go over my favorite short-form releases of the year. Don't forget, this year you can fill out a bracket March Madness style to win a prize pack from Change the Rotation. More information on that here. Today, here is a look at a handful of my favorite non full-length album releases of 2016.
Friday the 13th Hysteria
First off, the five-way split Friday the 13th Hysteria compilation. New tracks from five Chicago-area bands appear on this release - The Land Before Tim, Alley Slob Service, Ultrahazard, Davey Dynamite and Cellar Rats. This amounts to a fun snapshot of the variety of punk music coming out of our local scene. Hardcore, ska and folk punk are covered all in the space of 10 tracks. This was a nice early peak at a couple of the new Davey Dynamite songs that would land on Holy Shit, which is officially being released later this month. All the bands turned in solid tracks for this comp. It's a release that has stuck out in my mind since it came out in the spring. Stream it below.
Nervous Passenger/The Normal Years split
Nervous Passenger leads off this split with an eight-plus minute five-part song. It is an epic, cohesive effort that is perfect for this kind of special release. "The Slacker's Lament" runs the gamut from slower-paced sections to upbeat bursts. Yet it never feels disjointed. Nervous Passenger has dealt in splits and EPs so far, but there is a full-length on the way from the local punks, according to their bandcamp page. The Normal Years turn in four catchy tracks to solidify this as one of my top EPs of the year. From Tinley Park, this is the third release from The Normal Years. This split came out on cassette through Artistic Integrity Records. It appears that it is still available at their bandcamp page. Get at it! Stream the split below.
Lester and The Finks - So Fucking Bored
The first physical release from DeKalb's Lester and The Finks is a burst of no-frills garage punk. Fans of the Finks and the old days of the Phantom Scars get exactly what they bargained for, with one or two hardcore surprises on the B-side. This is also one of those releases where it is probably OK to judge the record by its cover. This is the soundtrack to drinking cheap beer while a giant creature is getting ready to tear up the city right behind you. You can only stream the first two tracks of this one online, so if you're into it, make it rain for the full set of songs. You can read my original review of this 7-inch here. Stream "So Fucking Bored" and "This City's Burning" below.
The Kreutzer Sonata - Fight Songs
Local hardcore group the Kreutzer Sonata had two great 7-inches out this year. I may have picked this one because it came out earlier and I've had way more time to get to know the songs on it. End-of-the-year list psychology aside, the four rippers on Fight Songs will get you pumped up fast. "Excessive Pride" quickly became my favorite track on this release, mostly due to the ticking countdown and on-point vocals from former bassist Kat. Opener "It's Getting Worse" gets stuck in my head on a regular basis. Bottom line, the Kreutzer Sonata is putting out a lot of solid hardcore music and putting on tight live shows. You can read my original review of this 7-inch here. Stream Fight Songs below.
G.L.O.S.S. - Trans Day of Revenge
What is there to say about this band that has not already been said? G.L.O.S.S. has received plenty of attention during the last couple years, and rightfully so. The band's dissolution was a huge disappointment to the punk community. However, we need to be grateful that we got two great EPs from this band in the last two years. If you haven't figured this out yet, let this be a lesson to you. If there is a band you want to see, go see them. Don't wait around. Trans Day of Revenge carries on the fury of G.L.O.S.S.' debut with five more hardcore tracks that turned a lot of heads this year. It is vitally important to have bands bringing this kind of message forward. They were not the only ones doing it, but they sure did it well. Stream Trans Day of Revenge below.