We’ve been posting about fitness, health, bodybuilding, web design and tattoos. I think it’s finally time to make a post about our biggest passion of all: dirty and abrasive music that’s easy to dance to and fun to yell back at. We spend our days in front of our computers designing away and singing our hearts out in happy discord. We’re both musicians. Or I guess you could say Jared is a temporarily retired hardcore vocalist . . . and I’d be slotted more in the aspiring category.
This post makes a case for three modern punk bands. The three best, I’d say. One of them is still wailing away better than ever, one of them switched names and evolved into possibly my favorite band of all time, and one of them split up several years ago . . . but is still touring around, playing shows and working on new music. I’ll post videos for each, so you can see what I’m getting all excited about, but I encourage you to go out and buy their albums. No one hit wonders here—all three of these bands make great albums. They’re all pretty popular, too, so you might catch them touring around. If you’re interested in indie punk bands and happen to live in Seattle, I grabbed the photograph used in the image above off of a great Seattle based punk blog that features lots of smaller punk bands.
What criteria am I basing this top three on? I like songwriting that feels raw and uncontrived, frontmen that know how to make a scene and entertain, rhythm that makes me want to dance, and vocals that are gritty and emotive and great to sing along to. These three bands are wild, energetic and unapologetic, and write music that’ll make you want to kick and scream.
Without further ado, here are the best three gritty modern punk bands out there:
Gallows is a British hardcore punk band hailing from Watford, England. They’re fronted by the tiny little monster Frank Carter. They claim that they had a wonderful upbringing and came from great families, but they’re one of those bands that you can dress up but still can’t take anywhere. They make a bloody mess of everything in the best way. Here’s Frank getting knocked around pretty brutally. Doesn’t keep him down long though. After getting his ass kicked and being yanked offstage he crawls out from the under the punches and jumps right into the next song—or wait. Did he? Who knows.
Gallows has been around since 2005—still a pretty young band. They’ve got two albums out: Orchestra of Wolves (2006) and Grey Britain (2009). Both albums are incredible. I fell in love with Grey Britain at first listen. It’s brilliantly put together. It has beautiful orchestral instrumental bridges and interludes paired with Carter’s signature wailing. The first CD, Orchestra of Wolves, took a little getting used to, but now I can’t tear myself away from it. The wailing is wilder and while the second CD is well composed and beautifully gritty, the first one is just so damn raw.
Gallows indirectly led me to finding Thomas Hooper, who gave me my first tattoo, so I have them to thank for that, too. Carter is a tattoo artist as well, and worked in the same shop as Hooper. Hooper taught him what he could before Gallows got big and Carter had to take off to go touring. Really nice guy with a really nice wife, I’ve been told.
Favourite/Best songs: Staring at the Rude Bois Ft. Lethal Bizzle (what’s a rapper doing in there?), In the Belly of a Shark, Abandon Ship, Orchestra of Wolves, Misery, Crucifucks, Black Eyes, The Vulture
Favourite/Best Album: Orchestra of Wolves (but damn Grey Britain is good too)
2. The Murder City Devils
The Murder City Devils formed in 1996. That counts as modern, right? Their last hoorah was supposed to be in 2001 with a final show and a live cd. They decided to re-unite in 2006, though, for another final go. They’ve kind of been sort of doing things as a band since then. Hard to say. There have been shows here and there and various releases of old music. Rumor has it though, due to an announcement after their last show (2009) that new music is in the works.
Why are they on the list? They single handedly turned my hate for the organ into one of the things I dig most. listening to “Press Gang” over and over converted me. Now I can even listen to The Doors. They’ve got a raw garage punk sound with catchy organ riffs, simple and messy guitar lines, catchy vocals and playful lyrics. Spencer Moody’s got a pretty nice grit to his voice and fronts the band well. He fronts other bands well too. Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death has some good stuff. Looks like he’s pulled a bit of a Joaquin Phoenix though. Quite the beard.
Favourite/Best songs: Press Gang, Field of Fire, Bear Away, I Want A Lot (So Come On), 364 Days . . . those are my top played, in order. Hard to pick favourites with these guys. They’re really consistent. It’s all great.
Favourite/Best Album: In Name & Blood
3. At the Drive-In
Pretty stereotypical choice for someone in my generation, but not for the punk genre. These guys are post-hardcore, not punk. But hell. I’m still putting ‘em on the list. I have a lot of respect for Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López. Two crazy guys who grew up in El Paso Texas. One a Mexican American and the other born in Puerto Rico. There are other guys in the band, yeah, but these guys tend to be the creative hurricane in all of their many bands, my favourite being The Mars Volta, led by Omar and fronted by Cedric.
At the Drive-In is crazy. People joke about them being on Riddlin. Maybe they aren’t jokes. I don’t know. They certainly seem like they are. They go wild—and not just with their crazy stage antics, they also go on weird diatribes about this and that before launching into another out of control song. Tempo changes jump out everywhere in the guitar chaos and Cedric belts out nonsense that seems really really deep.
I heard about these guys in highschool and wasn’t that impressed. The Mars Volta came around and I was. I eventually got around to listening to their older music . . . and it really grew on me. Now I love it.
Favourite/Best Songs: Rascuache, Arcarsenal, Enfilade, Give it a Name, Metronome Arthritis
Favourite/Best Album: Relationship of Command
I just have to sneak in one more. These guys hail from Toronto and always seem to be playing local shows. I’ve seen them a few times, and from what I can remember they were incredible. The times at Soybombs being the best. If you get a chance to see them take it. They’re a band that’s better live.
Favourite/Best songs: Mirrors, Sterile, Existence
Disagree? Good. Tell me who’s better.