The Pitch Music Awards Preview: Best Punk Band

It seems almost counterintuitive to have an award for best punk band, but The Pitch made one anyway, pitting five kinds of punk against each other for the top spot. All these bands dole out their distinct brands of punk with the recklessness and angst that defines the genre. Ranging from The Bad Ideas’ raw speed and tinny guitars to The Big Iron’s old-school, politically minded lyrics, to Black on Black’s feedback hazed barrages, to Lazy’s messy fashion punk, to The Sluts’ anthemic grunge-inspired audio sludge, the punk category offers a broad spectrum of styles.

The Bad Ideas roll their sound hot from their amps onto vinyl. With volume shifts and varying vocal levels, they recreate the messy, raw sound of a house show on record. This isn’t to say that the songs themselves are messy. No, they roll their metallic guitars and pummeling drums into the best kind of noise. Fast and understated, The Bad Ideas rock out with a self-awareness that is too often missing in the punk scene.

The Big Iron, on the other hand, looks less at itself than the world at large. Thicker guitar, sludgier bass, and compressed drums keeps their music on an even keel—even when their lyrics tackle the unevenness of post-modern life. From calling out the late Fred Phelps (of Westboro Baptist fame) to acknowledging the war machine that is America, The Big Iron makes a point to keep the big picture of life as a world citizen in mind.

Black on Black settles in the difference between The Bad Ideas and The Big Iron. With the thickness of The Big Iron and the speed of The Bad Ideas, Black on Black roars through its songs with a surprising about of catchiness. Filling silences with piercing feedback, the band thrashes out songs of unforgiving energy. Far from being all brutality and no brains, Black on Black’s lyrics weave around states of psychic distress with an admirable amount of dexterity.

Lazy is anything but (ugh, I’m sure everyone is sick of that pun). They batter their strings, keys, and skins to create fast-paced, high-energy live shows that translate well into recordings. Their vocals hover light and quick over a tone-saturated bass and blistering guitar riffs. If punk is best played muddled, then Lazy burns and mars its songs into quick walls of sound that leave the listener wondering what just happened.

Perhaps the slowest of the bands, The Sluts let their fuzzed out guitars and droning vocals mesh together to create songs that comfortably straddle the divide between punk and stoner metal. Half angst and half hazed hooks, they beat out there songs with powerful guitars and driving drums. The vocals grind through the mushy barrages with an urgency that demands attention. The Sluts eschew musical finesse for a crunched up sound that burns long after the song is through.

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