Each month, tons of new music from many taste-spanning genres is released into a fast-consuming, unforgiving market; it can be tough to get a handle on what’s new before it’s on to the next. In an attempt to highlight the standout releases, at the end of each month, AUX staff re-cap the month in Punk, Metal, Indie/Pop/Rock, Hip Hop, Electronic, and Pop with the top five releases in each. Consider it your cheat sheet for year-end lists.

Top 5 Punk Releases:


The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past

While I am loathe to use this painfully lazy music journo cliche, it’s actually true here – everyone else trying to do this should just give up. It’s over. The war is won. Taking the same set of influences that drive the Gaslight Anthem and recent Against Me! while ditching the embarrassing “I love the ’50s!” posturing (the former) and too-slick production (the later), the Menzingers have succeeded in distilling punk past and placing in the hyper-immediate punk present. Questioning the tropes of modern American identity in a way that only kids raised through the ’80s and ’90s really can, there’s an aggression to the simplicity here, as if the band deliberated challenged themselves to let the songs and lyrics speak for themselves. If this doesn’t top my year-end list, I owe anyone reading this $5. No, seriously.


The Sidekicks – Awkward Breeds

If you love Pinkerton and are generally a good person, you’ll dig this record. Building on the punks-without-borders vibe of 2009′s Weight of Air, Awkward Breeds feels like the end point of the band’s evolution from normal punks to visionary long hairs. Everything about this record — the guitar tones, the harmonies that the band is actually capable of executing live, the dynamic shifts — speaks to a group of musicians in absolute control of their collective powers. That this record sounds as open and effortless as it does is just icing on a ’90s alternative rock cake.


Fucked Up – Year of the Tiger

As Pitchfork adeptly pointed out in their review, the fact that this two-song single clocks in at 37:35, longer than many conventional albums, renders the “single” classification kind of silly. “Year of the Tiger” is the very picture of a fully-realized song, one that explores every inch of its own thematic possibilities until it finally collapses, while b-side “ONNO” is more of a left-field studio experiment, an interesting diversion but lacking the intensity of “Tiger” (or any Fucked Up full-length). Where this band lands in a week, a month, a year is anyone’s guess. But to be here to absorb all this craziness as it unfolds is a beautiful thing.


The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

It’s a pretty cute name for a reunion album, right? Notable as the post-Knapsack project for vocalist and guitarist Blair Shehan (and the presence of Nate Mendel, who plays in some huge rock band), the Jealous Sound released one (very good) full-length in 2003 and disappeared, so this return is a welcome one for any fans of grown-up emo that can be enjoyed embarrassment and irony-free. Propelling and catchy, the band picks up right where they left off with their last EP, slotting themselves perfectly between Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football on your shelf (assuming you organize your records by style and era).


Grey Area / The Copyrights / The Reveling / Luther – Four-way Split
Two vets, two rooks, and a Scared of Chaka cover. The big names are going to draw more listeners for the young, new bands here, and that’s great. Because Grey Area still making music is a good thing, while new tunes from upstarts like Luther is never a bad thing.


Surprises, disappointments and albums to watch for next month

Surprise of the month: In writing this post, I discovered that Nate Mendel is an AIDS denialist, which is super weird. He seems so normal. Also, the Silverstein record of short covers and short new songs, Short Songs, was the first time I’ve enjoyed Silverstein since the tenth grade. It’s a really fun album. Surprisingly.

Disappointments: AIDS denialism? Really? Also, These Kids Wear Crowns release their latest album tomorrow, which means that These Kids Wear Crowns have been deemed worthy of a second album, which means people are still buying the first album by These Kids Wear Crowns.

Out in March: Every Time I Die’s Ex Lives, Ceremony’s Zoo, Say Anything’s Anarchy, My Dear, and more.

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