Monday, November 07, 2011

Top 24 Albums Released by Epitaph Records

I came up with the idea for doing lists of favorite records from a specific record label with Steve from The Otter Limits.  Yesterday he posted his first in this new series, Top 9 Albums Released by Epitaph Records so I figured I’d put together a list of my own. 

First a quick bit of history.  Epitaph Records was started in the early 1980’s by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz as a way to release BR records.  The label eventually grew into one of the biggest independent record labels in the world.  The label includes several subsidiary/sister labels in ANTI-, Hellcat Records, Burning Heart Records, and Fat Possum Records. 

Before we get to my list, let me explain the criteria I used when putting it together.  First off, I consulted the master list of Epitaph Records releases.  This made my research extremely easy.  Second I decided to include records released under all of the Epitaph related labels.  Third, I excluded any reissues that were not originally released on Epitaph (Operation Ivy’s Energy for example) or any releases done through Epitaph Europe for records available on other labels in the states (The Donnas Turn 21 for example).  I’m also going to include a links to a couple of tracks from each album to give you a taste of said record. 

24.  Punk in Drublic by NOFX
I’m not a huge NOFX fan, but this is a great record mixing ridiculously humorous lyrics with a catchy mix of pop punk and melodic hardcore.  Check out “Leave It Alone” and “The Cause.”

23.  Suffer by Bad Religion
This record is probably the most important thing Epitaph has ever released.  It revitalized not only Bad Religion and Epitaph, but all of California punk rock as well.  Check out “What Can You Do?” and “Do What You Want.”

22.  Anchors Aweigh by The Bouncing Souls
The first of three Bouncing Souls records on this list.  This record saw the band draw more from melodic and post hardcore than previous efforts.  Check out “Kids And Heroes” and “Sing Along Forever.”

21.  A Flight and a Crash by Hot Water Music
This is the first of two HWM records on this list.  Excellent post-hardcore, not much else to say.  Check out “Paper Thing” and “Sunday Suit.”

20.  This Addiction by Alkaline Trio
This was one of my favorite records on 2010 and Alkaline Trio’s first for Epitaph.  Alkaline Trio is at their best when they play pop punk with an emo bent and that is precisely what this record does.   Check out “This Addiction” and “Lead Poisoning.”

19.  No Control by Bad Religion
This is probably my favorite Bad Religion record and the title track is certainly my favorite BR song.  Check out “No Control” and “Big Bang.”

18.  War Birth by U.S. Bombs
Released on Hellcat (as part of the first class of Hellcat artists), this is ’77 style punk at its best.  Check out “Jaks” and “Rocks in Memphis.”

17.  Willis by The Pietaters
Another of the original Hellcat releases, this album mixed ska with ‘60s soul.  Think a modern day Sam & Dave.  Check out “Out All Night” and “Quicksand.”

16.  Poetry of the Deed by Frank Turner
In the past year, Frank Turner has become one of my favorite artists and thus all three of his Epitaph releases have made it onto this list.  Check out “Live Fast Die Old” and “Poetry of the Deed.”

15.  Caution by Hot Water Music
The second HWM record on my list and possibly my favorite from the band.  I'm relatively new to HWM and so haven't nailed down all of my favorites of their catalog.  Check out “Trusty Chords” and “Wayfarer.”

14.  How I Spent My Summer Vacation by The Bouncing Souls
This was the Souls fifth album.  This is a band that I grow to appreciate more and more each year.  Check out “True Believers” and “Gone.”

13.  Punkrockacademyfightsong by Down By Law
I first heard Down By Law on the first Punk-O-Rama comp and instantly fell in love with the band.  This was the band’s third record and one of their best (and one of two on my list), a perfect mix of pop punk and melodic hardcore.  Check out “Bright Green Globe” and “1944.”

12.  Blackout by Dropkick Murphys
This is probably the Murphys’ most underrated record.  More on these guys later.  Check out “World Full of Hate” and “As One.”

11.  Love Ire & Song by Frank Turner
Mr. Turner’s second appearance on this list.  This is another great mix of folk, pop, and rock.  Check out “Photosynthesis” and “Long Live the Queen.”

10.  Four on the Floor by Dag Nasty
This was the reunion of the Can I Say Dag Nasty lineup.  This is another record that I think is completely underappreciated.  Check out “Still Waiting” and “Million Days.”

9.  England Keep My Bones by Frank Turner
This is my favorite album of 2011, hands down.  If you don't own this you seriously need to do yourself a favor and go out and get it.  Check out “Eulogy” and “Wessex Boy.”

8.  All Scratched Up by Down By Law
All Scratched Up is probably DBL’s best record.  On this record you really can hear the elements of Dag Nasty and ALL ringing through.  Check out “Independence Day” and “Radio Ragga.”

7.  Give 'Em The Boot Vol. 1 by Various Artists
This was the first release from Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Records and it is one of the best comp CDs out there.  This comp included the likes of The Business, Dropkick Murphys, The Slackers, Hepcat, Rancid, The Pietasters, U.S. Bombs and many others.  Check out “New Breed” by The Pietasters, “The Brothels” by Rancid, and “Can’t Wait” by Hepcat.

6.  Do or Die by Dropkick Murphys
DKM’s full length debut is a powerhouse.  From start to finish this is a powerful album that will have you singing along at the top of your lungs.  It was another of the first class of Hellcat releases.  Great stuff.  Check out “Get Up” and “Tenant Enemy #1.”

5.  Hopeless Romantic by The Bouncing Souls
This is The Bouncing Souls at their absolute best.  From top to bottom this record is filled with anthems and hooks.  Plus the title track is kinda my theme song.  Check out “Hopeless Romantic” and “Kids.”

4.  ...And Out Come The Wolves by Rancid
This is without a doubt Rancid’s best album.  It perfectly mixes punk and ska in a way that hasn't been seen or heard since the heyday of The Clash.  Check out “Disorder and Disarray” and “Lock, Step & Gone.”

3.  Everything Sucks by Descendents
This was the Descendents’ “reunion” record (which is a load of bull since they never broke up just continued on as ALL) and their first, and only for Epitaph.  It’s said that Brett Gurewitz would only sign ALL if they agreed to do a record as the Descendents.  That’s kind of messed up IMHO but it did produce a great album (though I wonder if it would have been better with Chad Price on vocals).  At the time this album was released, I was conflicted.  I liked some of the songs but was disappointed that they had returned to the Descendents name.  Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate this record more.  Check out “Sick-O-Me,” “Thank You,” and “I Won’t Let Me.”

2.  The Warrior’s Code by Dropkick Murphys
The Warrior’s Code is DKM’s finest moment.  This is where all of the elements and influences fell into place with a passion that drove the music to new heights.  This record and Do or Die is how I will always judge all subsequent DKM releases.  And please, don’t think of this as the album with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” on it because that is probably the weakest track on the record.  Check out “Wicked Sensitive Crew,” “The Green Fields of France,” and “Your Spirit's Alive.”

1.  [Tie] Mass Nerder and Problematic by ALL
Trying to pick a favorite between these two records is nearly impossible.  For those who don’t know, I am an OBSESSIVE fan of ALL’s music.  These two records were the band’s first and last studio records for Epitaph and the last new studio recordings that they have released in over a decade (not counting the Descendents’ album that came out in 2004).  Check out “Silence” and “Until I Say So” (from Mass Nerder) and “Carry You” and “Make Believe” (from Problematic).

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