Because such an impressive glut of local punk full-lengths came out this year, to pick just five I had to come up with a narrower category. Luckily for me (and for you), local punk showcase Ian’s Party (see page TK) has supersized for 2016, moving into three relatively large venues and blowing out its lineup. I chose my five favorite 2015 albums from bands playing the festival—and even that was tough.

Sweet Cobra, Earth (Magic Bullet)

This long-standing posthardcore trio has filled its best record to date with thick, deep-cutting guitar riffs that sometimes hit surprisingly hard—”He Tall He” mixes dissonant postrock-style heaviness and sludgy, hard-stomping grooves. Vocalist-bassist Tim Remis has found a sweet spot with his vocal melodies, and more than ever before, he sounds like he’s spinning thoughtful, vitriolic yarns when he sings. Sun 1/3, Double Door (upstairs)


Absolutely Not & Rat Hammer, split LP (Berserk)

How perfect—the bubbling, hyper-fried poppy sass of Absolutely Not rubbing elbows with the snarling weirdness of Rat Hammer, a four-piece that’s got more than a little Apocalypse Hoboken in its genes. Plus each band covers a track from the other, which is a totally appropriate unwritten rule for split releases, in my opinion. Absolutely Not: Sat 1/2, Chop Shop (right stage); Rat Hammer: Sun 1/3, Double Door (upstairs)

Salvation, Royal Fucks (Cold Slither)

This seven-track scorcher is a pleasant surprise: textbook old-school noise rock, with the scorched, apathetic yowl of front man Jason Sipe loosely holding together the trio’s volatile mix of screaming guitars and thrumming rhythms. “Drag” has a pretty self-explanatory title, but when Sipe brings up all his bile to shriek “Drraaaaaagg” over and over, he almost sounds like he’s being splayed out on a rack and pulled apart. Fri 1/1, Subterranean (upstairs)

Meat Wave, Delusion Moon (Side One Dummy)

Meat Wave is a no-brainer for any list of the year’s best Chicago punk. This top-notch trio, fronted by guitarist Chris Sutter, had a great year: they signed with Side One Dummy, toured all over the place, and dropped an album of snotty ­but hooky postpunk-tinged winners. The standout “Cosmic Zoo,” which comes at you in waves, is one of my favorite punk singles of the year—and not just locally. Sun 1/3, Double Door (upstairs)

Speed Babes, Let’s Go Explode (self-released)

I like this album partly because of how compact and bare-bones it is—and because the band recorded it in 18 hours using a Garage­Band app that front man Jesse Ewan had on his phone. That’s the gimmick, at least, but whether you care or not, Let’s Go Explode is a great example of how to write hooky pop-punk with as little adornment as possible. Plus the lo-fi sound and rudimentary programmed drums add to the bouncy fun. Fri 1/1, Double Door (downstairs)