By Cole Parkinson
The end of 2020, and even the beginning of 2021, has resulted in some great new music in the rock and roll world.
While it’s certainly been a different few months, and the music world has been unable to get out and promote new music with tours, there’s still been a good amount of new releases I’ve enjoyed immensely.
I definitely stray more to the rock side of music, I still like my fair share of pop (shoutout to Lorde, the best in the game) — but, let’s take a quick look at some of my favourite releases over the past several months.
Machine Gun Kelly — “Tickets to My Downfall”
Before MGK turned to this pop-punk infused sounds, I couldn’t really call myself a fan — but in teaming up with blink-182’s Travis Barker, MGK has put out a great album here.
Is it the best pop-punk or the most progressive sound? No, but this is basically like taking a trip back to the early 2000s when pop-punk was all the rage.
The vast majority of the songs on “Tickets to My Downfall” here are fun, catchy and upbeat, which is really what people turn to pop-punk for. My only real gripe with “Tickets to My Downfall” is the track listing, which left off MGK’s previous single “Why Are You Here,” which is arguably my favourite of his new style songs. It could have easily slid on the track listing and been a top-two song on the record. Oh well.
Favourite songs: “Title Track,” “Forget Me Too,” “Concert For Aliens”
The OBGMs — “The Ends”
Released in November, Toronto punk/alternative rock outfit The OBGMs (Oh Baby Gimme Mores) finally released their follow-up album. And my goodness does it blow their first offering out of the water.
On “The Ends,” they’ve fully-focused on bringing 100 per cent energy for every single song and there isn’t a “foot off the gas” moment in this quick 10-song, 23-minutes record.
These songs will get stuck in your head and it’s almost impossible not to get fired up listening to this band.
If you’re a fan of punk/alternative, you need to check out the OBGMs because they truly are a band that should be blowing up.
Favourite songs: “All My Friends,” “Not Again,” “Karen O’s”
PUP — “This Place Sucks A**”
PUP had yet to put out a bad record and with 2020 vastly being locked away in quarantine, the boys once again delivered a great set of new tracks. While not a full-length LP, this six-song EP features some songs originally written for their last record “Morbid Stuff” and one entirely new track.
It certainly feels like an extension to “Morbid Stuff,” but considering that’s their best record, in my opinion, there isn’t much to complain about. It’s the typical PUP sound with loud guitar, frantic drums and bass lines for days. The songwriting is just as self-deprecating and incredibly funny, as the past PUP releases.
Favourite songs: “Rot,” “Nothing Changes,” “Edmonton”
Salem — Self Titled EP
Will Gould, from U.K. band Creeper (who you should also check out) and Matt Reynolds, have brought forward a great project in the form of Salem. Described as, “ labour of love” and a “love letter” to their influences, this five-song EP has been in my constant rotation for months now.
I would describe Salem as the love child between Alkaline Trio, AFI and Green Day. Music-wise, they’re a guitar-driven pop-punk band and it sounds like they’re having the time of their lives just playing straight forward rock.
While Creeper has branched out into many different genres, Salem is just five straight songs of punk rock and I can’t wait to see what they release next.
Favourite songs: “Fall Out of Love,” “Destroy Me,” “Doomed (for each other)”
The Network — “Money Money 2020 Part II: We Told Ya So!”
After 17 years, The Network (who totally isn’t Green Day) released their long-anticipated follow-up. The new wave/synth-punk/pop-punk band had gone completely silent since their first record aptly titled “Money Money 2020,” but with the year of 2020 finally coming to a close, The Network had a big surprise for fans worldwide.
After Green Day’s previous record, which I didn’t love, this is a big step up. The songs are weird, some are fast and some are slow, you’ve got three different singers throughout the record and there’s not a single song over 3:30 minutes.
The 25-song record is a truly great time with way more good songs than bad, and honestly, while some are a lot better than others, I don’t think there’s a bad song here. Narrowing it down to my top three is going to be tough, that’s for sure.
Let’s hope Green Day takes some notes when they start their next record.
Favourite songs: “Fentanyl,” “Cancer is the New Black,” “Threat Level Midnight”
The Dirty Nil — “F**K Art”
I love the Dirty Nil. They’re probably my favourite band I discovered in the 2010s and they continue to knock it out of the park. And with an album titled “F**K Art,” you’d better knock it out.
If you’re looking for straight forward, fast rock n’ roll, the Dirty Nil is the band for you.
Luke Bentham’s singing and guitar work continue to get better and better with each album, Ross Miller’s basslines on this record are absolutely fantastic and in terms of drums, this is easily Kyle Fisher’s best work yet. And while this record is great from start to finish, the real treat will come when the Nil is able to hit the road again. There aren’t many bands better live than them, and hearing these new songs up-close and personal is one of my most anticipated things to do when the pandemic has ceased.
Favourite songs: “Damage Control,” “Possession,” “One More and the Bill”