The Promise of Punk Rock

Photo By Samantha Schwartz

At the end of each year, music critics create a narrow list of albums deemed worthy of high recognition. In 2012, The Black Keys, Frank Ocean, fun., Mumford and Sons and Taylor Swift  all received Grammy nominations.

Although punk rock glided underneath the mainstream radar, several bands gained the reputation of producing “Album of the Year” among their listeners.

Punk fans praised The Menzingers’ third studio album, On The Impossible Past. The first of their albums to be released on Epitaph Records, the collection features nostalgic tales of loss, longing and regret.

The album begins with “Good Things,” in which Greg Barnett sings, “I’ve been closing my eyes to find why all good things should fall apart.”  The lyric serves as a theme for several of the songs on the album, including “Burn After Writing” and “The Obituaries.”

Listeners arrive at the title track near the end of the album.  It may appear as a segue into “Nice Things,” but the content is as direct and hard-hitting as the others.

The Menzingers contrast their agonizing lyrics with fast-paced guitar and drums, especially on tracks like “Ava House” and        “Mexican Guitars.”

While On The Impossible Past propelled The Menzingers to the top of the punk scene, New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem released another noteworthy punk rock album.  Previously signed to SideOneDummy Records, the band released their first major label album, Handwritten, via Mercury Records.

Handwritten begins with “45,” the first single released from the album. The fast-paced, anthemic rock opener provides listeners with a sense of the sounds to expect in the remaining 41 minutes.

Tracks such as “Mulholland Drive” and “Keepsake,” feature Alex Rosamilia’s glorious guitar-work.  Other rocking tunes include “Howl” and “Biloxi Parish.” Whereas songs like “Too Much Blood,” “Mae” and “National Anthem” sound reminiscent of the slow-tempo songs from lead singer Brian Fallon’s side project, The Horrible Crowes.

All in all, the Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten remains true to the band’s honest rock and roll sound.

Punk bands Cloud Nothings and Titus Andronicus also released albums in 2012.  Steve Albini, who has worked with highly acclaimed artists such as Nirvana and The Pixies, engineered Cloud Nothings’ second studio album, Attack on Memory.  Noteworthy tracks include “Fall In” and “Stay Useless.” Titus Andronicus released their third album, Local Business, which found a spot on Rolling Stone’s top albums of the year.

Like 2012, 2013 holds the promise of another great year for punk rock music.

Indie-punk outfit Lemuria, from Buffalo, N.Y., recently recorded their third full-length studio album. They have yet to announce a release date, but the trio will be performing in New Paltz tonight.

English folk/punk singer Frank Turner received great recognition for England Keep My Bones, his most recent album to date.  On April 22, Epitaph will release Turner’s fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart.

The following day, Long Island-based singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson will release her third full-length album, Wheel, on Don Giovanni Records.  The single, “Runner,” is available to stream at Pitchfork.

Within the year, Against Me! will release highly anticipated album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the band’s first album since the lead singer Laura Jane Grace’s coming out.

Alkaline Trio, Cloud Nothings and The Front Bottoms also intend to release albums this upcoming year.