Following the release of MakeWar's latest record, Get It Together, in 2019 (Fat Wreck Chords), the band stayed busy this year with a new video for the album's anti-racist, anti-police brutality anthem "No Excuses" to help raise funds for the NAACP, along with a few livestreams, including The Fest's Halloween stream. They'll also be appearing on The Fest's upcoming Christmas Eve stream, so stay tuned for that.
To wrap up such a chaotic year, vocalist/guitarist Jose Prieto spoke to us about his top 10 favorite records of the last twelve months (in no particular order), including artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, The Lawrence Arms, Owen, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, I Am The Avalanche, and more, and he included in-depth commentary on each one. Read on for what he had to say...
I Am The Avalanche - DIVE
I Am The Avalanche and MakeWar go way back. We were friends way before MakeWar was even a thought. We were friends way before I even knew who I Am The Avalanche was. I think that is what makes this band so special to me. I consider them family. We've shared many stages, bars, drunken walks, and sunrises. I am so happy they are in our lives. DIVE to me is the best avalanche record. DIVE is what I am the avalanche is about. DIVE is a record full of anthems. It's a record of friendship. It's a record that reminds you that you are not alone. It's a record that reminds you that you matter. Not just to yourself but to the people around you that love you. DIVE is the perfect record to sing along with your friends. DIVE is the perfect record for these weirdest and saddest times. DIVE will be the most perfect record to sing out loud with all your friends around you when this shit show is over and we all can go to shows again. DIVE is my favorite record of this shitty ass year.
The Lawrence Arms - Skeleton Coast
I have to be honest, I am a fairly new Larry Arms fan. I can't really tell you why, because I think they are amazing. But for some reason or another, they were never in any of my mixtapes or inside my old caselogics in the early 2000s. My love for The Lawrence Arms started after meeting Beex and joining Red Scare back in 2016. To be honest, if I was a huge fan I would've probably punished Brendan too hard the day I met him and he probably would've not signed my band. So I think it was a good thing I waited so long to really listen and become a fan of TLA. Brendan, Chris, and Neil write perfect songs. I know everyone likes "The Greatest Story Ever Told" or "Oh Calcutta!" the best. But I personally think Metropole is/was my favorite until I heard Skeleton Coast. The sound, production, songwriting, and drums are perfect. I always admire power trio bands. You always have to do some magic on the guitar or the bass to make you sound bigger than you are. I think The Lawrence Arms does that flawlessly.
Bad Cop/Bad Cop - The Ride
We were lucky enough to tour at the beginning of the year with Bad Cop over in Europe. We had to cut the tour in half because Covid was becoming a real scary thing then, but it was one of the best European tours we've ever had. Back in March, The Ride was not out yet but I saw them play at least 3 or 4 new songs every night and the songs were so fucking good. I knew it was going to be a great record. I think my favorite thing about Bad Cop is the different yet similar energies every song has. Jennie, Stacey, and Linh each have their own powerful and unique voices and lyrics and they all sound so good together on this record. This is a powerful record that still gives me chills when I listen to it. Same chills it gave me when I was drunk somewhere in Europe listening to these songs.
Growing Stone - I Had Everybody Snowed
I was introduced to this record by my friend Sam of the wonderful Chicago band Kali Masi. I also just learned that this is Skylar Sarkis' solo project. Skylar plays in Such Gold and Taking Meds; two rad New York bands. This record reminds me of the sound of Mexican singer-songwriters like Alejandro Filio or Fernando Delgadillo or even Silvio Rodriguez. They call the genre "Mexican Trova" I don't know if Skylar is a fan of these fantastic Mexican singer-songwriters but a lot of this record reminds me of them. I think this record is wonderful. I want to thank my friend Sam for this introduction and Skylar for the tunes.
DFMK - SELF-TITLED
Speaking of Mexican trovas! DFMK!!! Fuck! This record rips so hard. Covid made me lose my job and all my tours but it also gave me a lot of free time to do things I love. I love surfing. I've been surfing nonstop this fall/winter. I've been playing this record almost non stop on my way to Rockaway Beach. It gets me pumped! To me, DFMK - SELF-TITLED is the 2020 surfing record of the year. It should be in all of the surfing videos coming out next year. I wonder if there's surfing in Tijuana. I'm sure there is. I don't know if the guys in DFMK surf. Even if they don't. I always thought of surfing as a state of mind as much as a state of ripping waves. New DFMK is rad as fuck. Check it out!
Owen - The Avalanche
I love American Football but I was not really into their last record (LP3) So I was really happy when I heard this new Owen record. It reminds me of American Football (LP2) which is funny because I said the same thing when LP2 came out. LP2 sounded like a full rock band version of Owen. And listen, I know it's the same singer. But Owen and American Football didn't sound so similar before. Now they do and I don't think it's a bad thing. Sometimes you feel like listening to Owen and sometimes you feel like listening to AF. I'm very happy they are both there. I really like The Avalanche. It's so chill and powerful. It's dark, sad, and dreamy.
PEARS - SELF-TITLED
I used to think of Pears as the sound of all your favorite bands combined. That's a good sound. I also used to think of Pears as the new age Descendents. That is also a great thing. This record makes me think of Pears as Pears. I'm glad it's a self-titled. To me, this is the best Pears record. I used to like Pears. This record made me love Pears. This record hits you in the stomach so hard and then when you choke and can't breathe it hugs you and tells you everything is going to be fine.
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
It took me a while to get into this record. I think mainly because Stranger In The Alps was one of my favorite records of 2018. I listened to it so much on repeat that I almost got annoyed by it. I did the same thing when the singles for Punisher came out. The singles on this record are so fucking good. I liked the singles so much that on the first two passes on the record I thought the rest of the songs weren't as good. But boy, was I wrong. Most of my favorite records always take a pass or two sometimes even 10 passes for my brain to be like "oh fuck, I get it. This is genius" It happened with Punisher. It also happened with "Hello Exile" by The Menzingers. I love Punisher. But I'm going to be careful this time and spin it sporadically.
Kesha - High Road
Listen-- if you know me, you know I love Kesha. I've been trying to convince my band to cover Kesha for the FEST for like 4 years now. I like High Road but I don't like it as much as Rainbow. But if Kesha has a record out it will always make my top 10 list. Plus Lili really likes this record and she likes Kesha way more than I do so I'm also putting this record on the list for her. Now, can we finally do a Kesha cover set for the fest, please?!
Maxwell Stern - Impossible Sum
Max is a dear friend. We met a long, long time ago. One day back in 2013 maybe? Two friends asked me to put their friend Max from Ohio on the bill for my shitty weekly acoustic punk night at Grand Victory (RIP) I used to throw with my friend Patric Salt Ryan (RIP) I said yes only because I really like these two friends and said He can maybe play a song or two at the beginning because the bill is full haha... Who the fuck was I? Anyway, these weekly nights were usually a mess. A beautiful mess, with too many drunks in the audience and too many drunk old punks on the stage. I'm really glad that night happened because it was the start of a long-distance friendship. I booked many shows in Brooklyn for Max or his many versions, Signals Midwest and Meridian. They crashed at my spot, I got them pizza. They broke my sink. Impossible Sum is a beautiful sum of very well written stories and when you listen to max sign on this record you can almost see exactly what he is talking about. It makes me miss my friends. It makes me miss tour. Sitting in someone's apartment far away from home telling stories, laughing, drinking, eating shitty pizza or crunch wrap supremes. I know I said this way too many times on this list. But this record is perfect.
Browse our Best of 2020 tag for more year-end lists.