Punk and garage releases figure prominently in my annual top albums’ roundup. Chicago punks Negative Scanner rated No. 2 this year and Texas rockers Radioactivity weighed in at No. 7.
Finding the best punk albums each year is a challenge. They may be self released or on a tiny label. Most of them tend not to get a lot of publicity. Often, I find the year’s best punk releases the following year.
So here are the best punk and garage albums I heard this year (alphabetized by band):
Son Volt’sTrace marked its 20th anniversary, Velvet Underground’sLoaded turned 45 and John Coltrane’sLove Supreme celebrated its 50th birthday. All three albums were reissued with a lot of extra music. Two other masterpieces — the Rolling Stones’Sticky Fingers and Van Morrison’sAstral Weeks — also got the reissue treatment this year.
That means five of the best albums ever made were reissued in expanded releases this year, exciting both longtime fans and newcomers.
I am as geeked out as anyone about these special reissues. These celebrations of truly big albums are great, but I also like the rare occasion where I discover bands and artists that I — for some reason — overlooked over the years. Lizzy Mercier Descloux was one of those discoveries for me in 2015. The French disco punk’s 1979 debut album, Press Color, was reissued in August.
Ork Records: New York, New York was one of the best albums released in 2015. A compilation of mid- to late ’70s punk and post punk singles, I included it in my top 10 albums because, frankly, how many people remember some of these releases? While Television, the Feelies, Alex Chilton and others became music legends, some of the bands released by the New York label had short, overlooked careers. But just as Nuggets shed light on an amazing time in rock history (the psychedelic ’60s), the Ork compilation shows the brilliance of New York music in the 1970s.
Other highlights from the year:
Cass McCombs – A Folk Set Apart. McCombs released 19 songs — rare tracks and a few unreleased songs. There’s some really good stuff here.
The ’90s band 7 Year Bitch called it quits years ago but a recently discovered live recording, Live At Moe, is going to be released next month. The recording took place at Seattle’s Club Moe in 1996, which is a year before the band broke up.