Narrowing down the list was harder than I thought, so let's get to it.
Sum 41 - 13 Voices
Did I pick this album because I'm a Sum 41 fan-boy? Maybe. Out of all the early 2000's pop-punk bands to put an album out this year (blink-182, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Green Day) this is the one I enjoyed the most. The album covers a wide range of emotions, all experienced by frontman Deryck Whibley as he recovered from a near-death experience in 2015. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crying while photographing Sum 41's set at Warped Tour in Hartford this past summer; it was a surreal experience. This album is more than just music, it's a statement. Sum 41 is back and ready to take their place atop the world.
Listen to: Fake My Own Death
ROAM - Backbone
Another band from the UK making the list and for good reason. ROAM's debut album Backbone was one that took me by surprise. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and that their performance at Warped Tour sealed it for me. ROAM really hit the nail on the head with this album. It seems that punk and pop-punk are headed in a certain direction/sound and ROAM is leading the charge.
Listen to: Leaving Notice
Abandoned By Bears - The Years Ahead
One of many hidden gems Victory Records found, this Swedish easycore band put out one of my absolute favorite albums of the year. I was lucky enough to interview members of Abandoned By Bears twice, once in Providence and again in Manchester, and was able to see them a third time before they took off for the Long Days and EZ Nights of Summer Tour with Save The Lost Boys (whose album was #8 on this list) and my good friends in Friday Night Lites. A great album and a great find by Victory Records, I hope to see ABB in the US in 2017.
Listen to: Good Terms
Rarity - I Couldn't Be Weaker
I first saw Rarity at a holiday show with Broadside and State Champs in Providence, RI at the end of 2015. Their on-stage energy was what grabbed my attention and had me counting the days until their debut album came out. I love everything about this album; it just speaks to me. The opening track 'Hollow' nails it with the chorus, "Drown myself in alcohol, cigarettes and long distance calls no need to judge yourself, just figure out why you feel so alone. No need to waste another day trying to fight the fact that you feel so hollow." The album also features a track with guest vocals by State Champs frontman Derek DiScianio and a number of other songs all punk fans need to hear.
Listen to: Hollow
Like Pacific - Distant Like You Asked
As if I'd pick anything else. This album is absolutely perfect. One of the next big names in pop-punk, Like Pacific played 117 shows this year and I was lucky enough to see them three times. The first was in Boston while Like Pacific was on the Alternative Press Tour with State Champs and Neck Deep, I was even lucky enough to interview Luke and Chris before the show. The next two came at Warped Tour in Hartford and Mansfield, where much to my surprise they remembered me. Due to a scheduling conflict the interview in Hartford fell through, but it was still one hell of an experience. Much like their good friends Broadside exploded onto the scene, the same is happening for Like Pacific, and for good reason. Distant Like You Asked is making lists of top albums across the industry which can only mean one thing: it's a good album, a great album. Vocals, guitar work, drumming... everything on this album comes together perfectly. I can't wait to see what 2017 brings for Like Pacific.
Listen to: Distant
Well. That's it. 2017 should be another great year for the punk scene. I don't know about you but the idea of new albums from Broadside and Neck Deep has me pretty damn excited.