When we heard that Frank Turner was putting out a new hardcore record, we thought, “Psh, what does that skinny English folk wuss know about hardcore?” Sure, the guy has written something like 40,000 posi-acoustic songs about drinking and pubs or whatever since his Million Dead days, but what business does he have delving into the angsty, screaming waters of hardcore? So, being the skeptical dicks we are, we asked Frank to prove his hXc worth and make us a playlist of his ten favorite hardcore records and he accepted the challenge. So, upon the release of Möngöl Hörde’s new album (which you can order right here), here’s what he picked…
Black Flag - The First Four Years
To me, there is a holy trinity of hardcore bands, and the first among these is, obviously, Black Flag. They pretty much invented the genre, and as much as it's become boringly de rigeur to be "into" Flag and have a tattoo and a t-shirt (guilty on both counts), and as much as Greg Ginn seems intent on fucking their legacy to death, this record is still pretty untouchable, not just as a groundbreaking musical statement, but also because of the raw fucking attitude in every cut.
Minor Threat - Discography
If we're going to talk about hardcore, obviously we have to talk about Minor Threat—the flipside to Black Flag's coin. Faster but also more sincere (even humorless), they were still totally boiling with energy and fury, and we can even forgive them the whole straight edge thing too.
Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
The third of the trinity, and definitely the holy ghost of the analogy. The DKs were more sarcastic, political, and just plain weird—I think East Bay Ray's guitar work is hugely underrated, and they were generally musically more interesting than a lot of their peers. I could have picked any of their records, really, but this one has the classics.
Gorilla Biscuits - S/T
Gorilla Biscuits are kind of cheesy, in a way, but at the same time they totally crystallized the archetypal hardcore sound and attitude. It's kind of hard to resist, in the end, the energy and positivity of the whole thing; I defy any real hardcore kid to not run around the room in a circle, finger-pointing, and singing along to "Big Mouth.”
Sick Of It All - Scratch The Surface
This was actually the first hardcore record I got. Someone told me that if I was into metal (check) and punk (check), then I'd like hardcore because it was a mix of the two. Whether or not that's true, I fucking love SOIA. My old band, Million Dead, were lucky enough to do some shows with them, and they remain a masterclass in a kickass live show, putting bands half their age to shame.
Botch - We Are The Romans
Getting a little more progressive now, the whole math / metalcore thing of the late 90s, especially around Boston, was very much my thing at the time. Botch were a little more left field, geographically, and musically, but I still think this is probably the best album of that genre and era. I saw them a bunch of times when they were touring this and they were always totally fucking incredible.
Boy Sets Fire - The Day the Sun Went Out
Does this record qualify as hardcore? Who actually gives a fuck? This was unquestionably my favorite album at the time and the first proper show I ever played was opening for BSF on this tour in London. I guess it's emocore. Whatever. Listening back now, it's a little cringey in places, but music is never as pure and affecting as it is when you're 16 and falling in love for the first time, and seeing them play these songs at the Red Eye remains one of my favorite musical memories.
Knuckledust - London Hardcore
No list would be complete without shouting out some of the UKHC bands that made up the scene I got into in the late 90s. Knuckledust and Imbalance were the kings of the scene, for me (honorable mentions for Canvas and Stampin' Ground too). Pierre and I had our differences at times (ha!) but Knuckledust still fucking slay when they're at their best, as they were on this record. Yeah yeah, it's an EP, fuck off.
Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come
I have to include this album, hardcore or otherwise. I listened to it until I wore the fucking CD out when I first got it, Million Dead's band name was taken from one of their songs, and I saw them in ‘98. They were still fucking brilliant (probably better) on the reunion shows, and unquestionably this album has lived up to its own hype and hubris. The most influential hardcore record of the 90s.
Converge - You Fail Me
We'll finish with my favorite hardcore record of all. Converge, to me, stand apart from all genres and scenes as just simply the best heavy band in the world, possibly ever. I never tire of their output, they're endlessly inventive, exciting, weird, vicious, and just plain fucking brilliant. Of all their records this is my favorite as it just seems a little more direct, stripped back, dare I say it, hardcore than the others. This is definitely my desert island hardcore album.
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