I certainly had no plans to do this, but in the days since I posted my favorites of 2016 list, I have been inundated with incredible music that I either missed completely or didn’t give adequate time to. With the exception of a new Krallice album that just came out today and peeled the skin from my butt, my favorite metal albums of the year are pretty well set. This series of addendums is for the more adventurous listeners among you. I mean, except for Jeff Rosenstock, because who doesn’t like a good punk record? Speaking of which…
Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY [Listen]
2016 has been a complete shitshow barring the birth of my son, and if it wasn’t for that saving grace, I’d probably just drink until I killed my short term memory completely and had to tattoo grocery lists on my arm like Guy Pearce in Memento. Despite that very real desire to bury my head in the sand and leave the world to its demise, it’s not something my conscience will let me do, and it’s quite clear from songs like “To Be a Ghost…” that Jeff Rosenstock feels the same way.
There are so many poignant lyrics on this record that get right to the core of how the current state of America makes us feel. The opening line on “To Be a Ghost…” distills our love/hate relationship with social media into four words – “Fuck off, the internet..” Towards the end of the same song, Rosenstock delivers perhaps the year’s most incisive lyric when he declares “They forced us to grow into a world without a soul.” Songs like “Staring Out the Window at your Old Apartment,” “Planet Luxury,” and “Rainbow” take on the issue of rampant gentrification happening in cities all over the country, as the poor are squeezed out and chased from neighborhood to neighborhood and the economic gap widens.
But where there is rage and sorrow there also remains hope. On the track “Fuzz,” a song about the ever-growing police state in America, Rosenstock doesn’t know what else to offer the victims except “All I want to do is hold you, and I’m gonna squeeze you tight, until I feel your heart restarting. I’ll bring the joy back to your life.” Standout track “Blast Damage Days” tells a story of determination to hang on to the people we love in these fearful and uncertain times. “And when we’re looking around / at all the shit that went down / ’cause half of us were too scared / and half of us were too proud / to see the systems we start / are destined to fall apart / when we let power and greed / corrupt our collective heart / Oh, I am never letting go of you.” It’s a bleak confession wrapped in a beautiful sentiment.
A good punk record can’t change the world, but it can provide a conduit for our anger and our dismay. And as much as WORRY is a document of our current emotional and societal state, it’s also a really damn good punk record.