Best of 2020: Frankie Torok

While 2020 has been one helluva dog-shit year for SO MANY reasons, at least there’s been a ton of great new music out of it to keep us sane(ish). Here, in no particular order, is my best-of 2020 list, and here’s to hoping we get to hear these songs live next year.

Bad Cop/Bad Cop – The Ride
Taking their patriarchy-smashing to the next level, BC/BC’s latest saw them take a more targeted and political approach to their disdain. The lyrics on this record feel much more personal, with Linh taking the lead on “Certain Kind of Monster” and “Pursuit of Liberty,” songs she wrote about the current president’s disgusting handling of immigration; while Stacey Dee’s “Breastless” shares her feelings of winning her battle with breast cancer.

Instrumentally the album feels more mature and learned, with syncopated riffs and heavier, melodic-hardcore-esque moments mixed in with the straight-up punk rock they’ve perfected. 

Listen to the album here.

The Bombpops – Death in Venice Beach
Death in Venice Beach is another record that shows musical maturity in its creators, with Jen Pop opening the album wearing her Alkaline Trio influences on her sleeve (“Dearly Departed”) and Poli’s personal “Double Arrows Down” showing a serious side to the band known for their seriously filthy humor.

That serious side is prominent on the album, giving it a heavier feel all around. The chaotic “House on Fire” sums up 2020 and the new normal we’ve all had to get used to, though not all of us have had to put up with Fat Mike leaving his hooks, whips, and rubber dicks scattered all over the hallway …

Listen to the album here.

Anti-Flag – 2020 Vision/Division
2020 Vision, and it’s extended version 2020 Division, are just politically charged punk perfection. I am biased because I have an undying adoration and respect for Anti-Flag, and they can do no wrong in my eyes. But this album, which saw the band take an unusually targeted blow against the current president (compared with their usual, generic defiance against the government as a whole) also saw them prove yet again that they age like fine wine and can master any sub-genre they turn their hands to.

The glorious ska track “Resistant Frequencies”—with actual horns!—is a perfect example, as is the subtle, psycho-billy edge to “Concrete Bleeds Apathy.”

Listen to the album here.

New Found Glory – Forever and Ever x Infinity
If I’d been listening to this album on vinyl, the needle on my record player would definitely be wearing thin (if you don’t get that reference, we can’t be friends). Seeing the band return to their melodic, hardcore-infused pop-punk, with some seriously heavy chugging guitars, it’s been the perfect, mosh-around-your-living-room distraction this year has needed.

The love songs are adorable as always from NFG. “Scarier Then Jason Voorhees at a Campfire”’s lyrics are clever and funny (and my favorite horror franchise is Friday The 13th!). I CANNOT wait to fuck shit up to “Himalaya” when we eventually get to see bands live again. 

Listen to the album here.

The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast
Confession time: I hadn’t listened to The Lawrence Arms until this year. I know, WTAF. I started writing for New Noise when Issue 53 was out, and The Lawrence Arms were on the cover. Everyone I followed on IG was banging on about how excited they were to hear Skeleton Coast. So, I needed to see what the hype was all about.

I get it now; they’re bloody brilliant. It’s a phenomenal album, and it introduced me to one of my new favorite bands. After listening to Skeleton Coast, I listened to the band’s entire back catalog, and there isn’t a bad track anywhere. 

Listen to the album here.

Honorable mentions
Dude, it was SO hard to pick just five albums from this year. Here are a few more that I loved: 

Less Than Jake’s Silver Linings, The Suicide Machines’ Revolution Spring, The Raging Nathans’ Oppositional Defiance, Green Day’s Father of All Motherfuckers, The Network’s Money Money 2020 Pt 2: We Told Ya So, Goldfinger’s Never Look Back, and the four demo tracks Direct Hit! released this year (not an album, but I just had to include them!).

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