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Editors’ Picks: Check out these hidden gems from 2021!

It can be nearly impossible to keep track of all of the music released in a year, especially in a year filled with so many great releases like 2021. It is inevitable that some EPs and LPs will get more attention than others and some you might’ve missed entirely. But not to worry! The Punknews writers are here and they have rounded up some killer releases that they felt didn’t get enough attention this year. There are albums that will take you on a journey, albums that will make you want to dance, albums that will make you feel like you can take on the universe and that’s just a start. As always this is by no means a definitive list of overlooked albums, this is a list of EPs and LPs that Punknews contributors think rock. Feel free to post albums that you felt didn’t get enough love this year in the comment section. So without further ado check out the list below!






One of the stand-out labels of 2021 has to be Dirt Cult Records. Between releasing the awesome Confines Of Life by Neighborhood Brats, Postage’s self-titled album, and others, there’s no doubt that the label has had a great year. One Dirt Cult release that I think did not get enough attention is the self-titled record by Needle//Pins. This is the Vancouver band’s fourth full-length and it is a great change of pace from all that aggressive hardcore that you’ve been listening to. The gruff, melodic vocals mixed with (relatively) gentler instrumentation make it one of the more unique albums to get released this year. It’s a pretty dymic record. Need an anthemic track? There’s “Gleamer.” Want more of a straight-up melodic punk song? There’s “Of Things Best Left To Chance.” Looking for someone a little more abstract? There’s the closer, “The Tyranny Of Comforts.” I could go on and on, but listen to Needles//Pins for yourself. You should definitely give it a shot before 2021 comes to a close. -Ricky Frankel


Visibly Choked

Visibly Choked

The self-titled EP from Montreal based punks Visibly Choked will knock your socks off. It will blast you across the room. It will envelop you in a sonic tornado full of raw energy, passionate poetic lyrics, and sweet, sweet, chaos. The band’s experimental blend of hardcore punk, no-wave, noise, and post-punk ensure that no two songs sound alike and each one has its own unique stamp. Whether they are tackling the loss of cultural identity (“Mother Tongue”), ripping into a toxic person (“Shitlord”), or dealing with broken trust (“Uneven Keel”), Visibly Choked play as if their lives depend on releasing this music into the world. Visibly Choked is hands down one of the most exciting and promising debut EPs of the year. If you haven’t yet experienced it, remedy that immediately.-Em Moore


Stupid Music for Stupid People


Hawkbaby are the chaotic collision of Geza X, Dead Kennedys, and early Devo. Their debut album is fast, frantic, and freaky. There are songs about how punk rock saved one’s life and also songs about having bathroom problems. The album follows the initial spark of first wave of cranked out California punk and shoots that line straight through to the present. This record isn’t stupid, but it is stupid good. -John Gentile


Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry


Underdark make what could maybe be described as blackened post-screamo. That’s the best I can put it I think, as you have the incredibly raw emotion of screamo, the song structures of post-metal and the vocal style (intermittently) and the tremolo picking/blastbeats of black metal. This isn’t necessarily something brand new, but there is a melancholic beating human heart within Underdark that some of their peers often veer away from. It makes for a far more engaging and affecting listen than one might expect given the sonics of it. But those sonics mean you still get the sensation of having your face mercilessly dragged across rough ice when the band want to do so. -Sam Houlden



Civilian Mind

Civilian Mind came out strong with one of the best debuts I heard this year. Fantastic production illuminates this hard hitting Arizona band’s barrage of emotions. They are unapologetic in exploring uncomfortable realities, such as isolation (“Nobody Knows Me”), domestic violence (“Losing Control”), and anxiety (“The Search”), but they bear in mind that there’s always hope somewhere if you look for it (“One Fight Away”). It’s a summation of our troubled times, one that thankfully shines a light on the importance of mental health for all of us. -Chris DC



Generacion Suicida

The members of Generacion Suicida are no strangers to the scene and Regeneracion is nowhere near their first release. The Los Angeles punkers put together a truly unique album consisting of influences from early American hardcore bands fused with surf rock instrumentation. The throaty vocals mixed with the Spanish-only lyrics also give Regeneracion a white-hot edge over the other punk releases that came out this year. Seeing as how Generacion Suicida recently signed with Brian Gorsegner’s Wired Booking, I think we expect a slew of great shows and hopefully more awesome punk rock from the band. Someone please get this album pressed on vinyl ASAP. -Ricky Frankel


Sweet Dreams of Violence

Candy Apple

Denver’s Candy Apple come out of the gate swinging on their full-length album Sweet Dreams of Violence. In a little under twenty minutes the band fly through nine razor sharp tracks filled with dynamic energy, glorious fuzz, compelling songwriting, and jangly and jagged guitars. The band keeps you on your toes all throughout, going from a heavy, aggressive, distortion-filled cover of Christian Death’s “Deathwish” to the slower, more melodic, Western-influenced “The Cowboy” proving that just when you think you have Candy Apple all figured out – think again. Sweet Dreams of Violence is a rich listening experience that is nothing short of pure hardcore punk perfection. Don’t let it pass you by. -Em Moore


Wasteland Blues

OC Rippers

For a while there it seemed like Night Birds was going to be the best punk band from the Jersey Shore, and for a while that was correct. But as it turns out, Night Birds, with all due respect, was just warming us up until OC Rippers came along. These guys blast what I can best describe as garage-surf punk. Quick, lo-fi punk tracks with a definitive groove to them, not to mention a snotty sneer that could only be born from the Garden State. Kudos to them for packing 16 tracks onto this album, giving Wasteland Blues even more of a classic punk rock album feel. Better still, the attitude and the energy never relent. -Chris DC


Hey Tori


It is nearly impossible to get a song by Northern Ireland’s Cherym out of your head. On Hey Tori they effortlessly fuse indie rock, riot-grrrl, and pop punk together into five high energy songs that you will be singing for days. Every song is full of life and filled with layered and distorted guitar, heavy-hitting drums, incredible melodies, and massive hooks. The lyrics are heartfelt and genuine, dealing with personal experiences ranging from leaving an abusive relationship on the punkier “Gone Girl” to the nervous confession of love on sugary, melodic “Kisses on My Cards”. The tongue-in-cheek Pup-inspired “We’re Just Friends” and the anthemic opener “Listening to My Head” are also stand-out tracks serving to further cement Cherym as a force to be reckoned with. Cherym have a desire to become the “biggest band in the world” and are well on their way. Give Hey Tori a spin and see for yourself. -Em Moore


Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth


Self-described as “a miserable band from a miserable town” Mastiff do live up to that, but there’s something altogether more malignant and bleakly nihilistic than just misery there. Broadly a hardcore band, there are death metal influences, sludgy textures and a general furious malevolence about this record. It’s also been recorded with the ever-brilliant Joe Clayton at No Studio. If you like being aurally bludgeoned (and let’s be honest, we all do to a greater or lesser extent), then look no further. -Sam Houlden



Gary Numan

The late-career revival of the incomparable Gary Numan continues on Intruder. Numan has always envisioned a future of the Earth taken over by an outside force; usually robots. But on Intruder, like its predecessor Savage: Songs From a Broken World, that debilitating force is humanity, with all of its climate-destroying bane. Like any great influencer, Numan borrows back from acts that borrowed so much from him, such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, engaging a harder industrial sound that casual fans from his 80’s New Wave beginnings might be surprised by. The darker sonic atmosphere and bleak themes rightfully showcase Numan’s penchant for the dramatic, with the album serving as perhaps one final plea for us to right this ship. -Chris DC


Violent Closure


New Jersey based Gel are one of the best hardcore punk bands out there right now and they more than prove it on their EP Violent Closure. The EP opens with a dialogue sample from The Sopranos and proceeds to race by in a flurry of raw energy, distortion, hard-hitting drums, frantic guitars, and vocals full of pure fury. The songs deal with mental health, unhealthy relationships, cutting out toxic people, and working towards closure. Each song makes you wish that you were in the middle of the pit at a Gel show moshing along with every fiber of your being. You can’t just sit still while listening to Violent Closure, turn up the volume and make whatever room you’re in into a mosh pit today. -Em Moore



Orson Wilds

The debut EP by this Toronto duo may still be hovering below most radars, but don’t sleep on it any longer. This is indie-pop gold (as appreciated by a guy who generally hates indie-pop). Tracks like “Stand Up” and “I Was Floating” call to mind such late century acts as Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse, while “a hundred million things” wouldn’t be out of place on Courtney Barnett’s latest. The set wraps up nicely with “dec 19”, which was released earlier in the year as a single. It’s certainly the catchiest track here, with stream of conscious lyrics that faithfully follow the clap-along beat. If you needed something with a little bit of sunshine this year, this is it. -Chris DC




Game are out for blood on Legerdemain. The UK hardcore band – made up of Jonah Falco of Fucked Up, Callum Baird of Violent Reaction, and Nicky Rat and Ola Herbich of Arms Race – attack each song with skillful precision and intense energy. Taking cues from heavy metal, Japanese hardcore punk, oi, and thrash the band creates an urgent sonic assault that gives you no time to rest and conjures up images of the apocalypse (especially on album closer “Release”). The lyrics cycle seamlessly between English, Polish, and French keeping you alert and urging you to continue to fight for what’s right even when all seems lost and exhaustion is threatening to take over. Game aren’t playing around and neither should you, check out the wonderfully brutal Legerdemain at once. -Em Moore


3 Bangers

M Section

NorCal punks M Section never fail to put out some wild sounding (and titled) tunes. 3 Bangers definitely continues this trend. The EP contains wailing, metal-influenced guitar work, frantic vocals, multi-part harmonies, and hard-hitting drumming. You can hear the 90s era punk influence with a contemporary edge in all three tracks. The title of this EP does not lie. M Section have more than delivered the fans three bangers. I mean, with track titles like “Sasquatch Living In My ADU,” how can you go wrong? -Ricky Frankel


No Taste

Bad Waitress

Toronto punks Bad Waitress hit all the right notes and then some on their LP No Taste. The band seamlessly combines elements of punk, grunge, jazz, indie rock, and psychedelia into a sound that is undeniably their own. Each song keeps things interesting with innovative arrangements that showcase their range and thought-provoking, sometimes surreal and sometimes humorous lyrics that tackle a wide variety of topics. “Manners” is an angular, chant-driven, razor-sharp take-down of preconceived notions of femininity while “Delusions of Grandeur” features soaring vocals, a slow build up, and sharp lyrics calling out a corrupt system. “Strawberry Milkshake” is a menacing, driving, frenetic punk song that will have you dancing along in no time and slower, grunge-y “Live In Reverse” is full of longing and regret. No Taste is an exciting roller coaster of an album that keeps you anticipating the next twist and turn. Strap in and press play right now. – Em Moore


Garden of Burning Apparitions

Full of Hell

On their fifth full length (not counting several collaborations with The Body and Merzbow), Full of Hell continue their more experimental route that began with 2019’s Weeping Choir, with an assailing blend of grindcore, hardcore, and industrial. Garden of Burning Apparitions takes no inch of tape for granted, packing in a lifetime’s worth of ideas, influences, and discovered sounds into just 21 minutes of time. That’s not to say the record is sloppy or incoherent. It’s a dutifully crafted treasure trove, every intricacy of which cannot be appreciated with only one listen. -Chris DC


Strike Back

Punitive Damage

Punitive Damage pull no punches as they deliver blistering hardcore punk on their EP Strike Back. Each song is a masterclass in pure rage with confrontational lyrics, wonderfully vicious vocals, and instrumentation you can feel deep in your bones. In just under two minutes they mercilessly attack the corrupted system on “Legacy”, rip into the RCMP with unadulterated ferocity on “Red Serge”, and call for people to take action on the furious “Strike Back”. Punitive Damage are electric on Strike Back, do yourself a favour and listen today. -Em Moore




Dublin based Sprints have put out one of the most vital EPs of the year with Manifesto. The four-piece band draws from garage rock, noise, grunge, and post-punk to create a dynamic sound that explodes with passion. The band attacks their instruments and lyrics with intensity from start to finish; whether they are ripping into capitalism on fierce, anthemic “Swimming”, capturing the feeling of protest on driving, furious “Manifesto”, or dealing with online love and obsession on melodic “Ashley”. Manifesto is a tour de force that will have you begging for more from Sprints. Just try to stop listening, I dare you. -Em Moore


Keep On Truckin’


I don’t know how, but bizarrely, Surfbort’s second proper LP flew under the radar. The thing is… IT’S ROCKIN’! Dani Miller and the crew took the biting punk anger of the first album and, with the help of uberproducer Linda Perry, added a bit more glam, a bit more grunge, and a bit more accessibility to the music. The best part is that this shine up amplifies Miller’s weird, spastic, explosive personality. This album is polished but earnest. And it’s basically one of the punkest things I’ve heard this year. -John Gentile


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