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Joe's Favorite Local Releases of 2019

2019 has been a year for me to rediscover my love and adoration of all things punk, hardcore, and metal. Now, I wrote about more than just those types of bands this year, so thankfully, my list will be relatively diverse. However, It should be noted that it took at least three revisions until we got to this point, so bear with me. It should also be noted that none of these releases are in any particular order. 

Albums and EPs

Dirty Junk is probably the band that first rekindled my love of punk and hardcore with their 2019 EP, On Yr Knees. Its unbridled energy and unchecked rage was the punch to the stomach needed to start the year off right. The band stretches new songwriting muscles with this EP. Unyielding blastbeats and tremolo-picked guitars give way to twinkling interludes and sludgy breakdowns. Renn Fontana and Ace Robbins use their proclivity toward dissonance and chaotic instrumentals to create an ever-growing sense of tension only to let it dissipate at the last possible moment with each song. On Yr Knees is raucous, it's noisy, and it's absolutely punk as heck.  

ahem - Try Again (Forged Artifacts)

By November of this year, I felt like 2019 needed just a fun record. Thankfully, ahem answered my nonexistent call with a banger debut LP, Try Again. With its big power-pop hooks, ahem explores what it's like to grow up, skinned knees and all. Songs like the albums closer "Sunspots" and the track "Sweet Tooth" flirt with your carefree past while songs like "Sideways" and "Twenty" look at the existential dread that can come with adulthood. Now, don't let the doom and gloom of the last sentence scare you away. Try Again puts these moments of catharsis and combines them with summer days and sugar highs to leave the world not feeling so bad after all.

LASKA - in the blossom of this (self-released)

When I'm not ruining my ears with music that is exceptionally loud and very angry, I absolutely adore folk acts with dense vocal harmonies. I am incredibly grateful that one of the members of the band Stone Arch Isles reached out and put me on to LASKA because they are too good not to hear. With the release of in the blossom of this, the Morton sisters and company have found a way to experiment with the genre of folk-rock without venture so far outside that it feels foreign. The band is able to put some of their most vulnerable moments to music for us to use during our own moments of catharsis.

Grogus - Four Kings (Tridroid Records)

What can you say about the feral creature that is Four Kings by the cosmic fungal doom band Grogus other than it just fucking rips? In my September review, I described this release as landing the place where "the circles of sludge, hardcore, and black metal all intersected in this highly specific Venn diagram." Whether it's animistic vocals on "An Oceantomb of Centipedes" or the searing chromatic riffs of "An Augur of Eberietas," Four Kings has something that will help you unlock the fun part of the lizard brain. 

Sleep Debt - "The Stages of Grief" (Middle-Man Records)

This is kinda cheating since it's a single attached to their 2018 self-titled EP, but I make the rules so I'll include it here. Sleep Debt is a hardcore/emo-violence quartet that I managed to stumble across as soon as they were preparing to break up; however, the band was generous enough to leave us with their final opus, "The Stages of Grief." With its emotionally raw lyrics and pummeling instrumentation, this hardcore outfit refuses to leave you with a moment to breathe. Sleep Debt viscerally paints a picture of the wear and tear that living creates with lyrics like "There is no closure in ending / We are an endless cycle of loss." I know that inherently Ear Coffee doesn't rank the music we write about, but this single and subsequent EP is probably my favorite release of the year.

Honorable Mentions


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