End of Year Review: Maryam Hassan

Part Two of our 2015 review is from Assistant Editor Maryam Hassan, who left one punk scene for another punk scene 4000 miles away.

End of Year Review: Maryam Hassan

By Maryam Hassan

Dec 29, 2015 15:35

Two big things happened to me this year, I turned 30 years old and I moved 3945 miles from London to Chicago. I was moving from the punk scene that made me the person I am today by teaching me to accept myself and is full of friends and brilliant bands to a punk scene that excites me and scares me all at once. Starting over is difficult, but music this year has been my rock.

Earlier this year someone posted a rant on Twitter about the UK DIY scene being full of sharks and accusing it of becoming stale. There was an outpour of support to these statements by people and I remember reading it all and thinking where are these people stuck that’s so bad? The UK punk scene has had a great year in my opinion, Specialist Subject Records was my favourite label of the year. It had hit after hit after hit. The new Great Cynics album, which has been on repeat since I got here, the new EP from Shit Present. Not to mention albums from Above Them, Sam Russo, Bangers and Personal Best that rocked my world. But it wasn’t limited to that one label. Losing Sleep released tracks that have me so excited for what’s to come next year, The Winter Passing had an album out that broke me. We saw The Spook School, HoneyJoy and Jesus And His Judgemental Father support RVIVR and blow our minds. We had demos from MOLAR and The Potentials. At FEST in Florida Caves, The Lion and The Wolf, Kamikaze Girls and WOAHNOWS played to packed out rooms. How is this a music scene that is stale?

The punk scene in the UK isn’t dead, it’s alive and well. It’s full of people who work hard and are passionate about what they do. If you talk to people around you at shows, get involved with local shows and attempt to help make it better you’d realise this. So I’d like to take a moment to shout out to everyone in the UK who runs a label, puts on shows, makes music, records music and just supports everything that goes on. You guys made 2015 amazing.

2015 saw a lot of releases from firm favourites in Maryam’s World. The Front Bottoms new album ‘Back On Top’ had them just continuing to be the band that grab me by the feels and shake me around. I know it was hit and miss with people, but I love it the more I listen to it. Hop Along had a new album that soundtracked my spring when I was in Chicago trying to sort out my visa application. The Wonder Years came back with a new album that is growing on me still, but has the lyrical impact of ‘The Upsides’, ‘Suburbia’ and ‘The Greatest Generation’. I got to talk to Soupy which was unreal and brilliant. Hearing someone you respect so much geek out over music with you is surreal, and helped me figure out my writing style a little bit more.

I saw a lot of my favourite live bands ever this year. The Smith Street Band played with Shit Present and Muncie Girls at a show at the Lexington in London that just made me feel better about life. It had all the elements of a brilliant show – good friends, brilliant music and lots of dancing. Foxing toured Europe for the first time and firmly cemented themselves in my Top 5 Bands to take photos of list. I finally got to see one of my favourite Chicago bands Two Houses in April (and then again at FEST and then again a month ago) and every time I see them I am more excited for their new album next year. It is going to blow your world away. I went to my last ever UK Festival, Reading, where my favourite band of the weekend were Babymetal. Seriously, have you seen Babymetal live? It’s the greatest entertainment ever. I wish they opened every festival.

As mentioned at the start, I moved to the US in October. I touched down in Chicago and went straight to FEST in Gainesville, which is my favourite music festival in the whole world (bar Groezrock). I think what I love about FEST is the fact I can see so many of my favourite American bands all in one place. When I lived in the UK this was brilliant because not all of them get the chance to tour in Europe, now it’s just because the US is so big a lot of bands just don’t come through the Midwest often. But there’s also the joy of seeing UK bands play to packed out US audiences, which happened when we all went to see Great Cynics. I got to party and sing with my UK friends and a bunch of American people who were stoked to see them play. The Penske File and Podacter, had both just released new albums that I couldn’t get enough of. Seeing them live and having the live show match up to the awesomeness of the records was great. Dudes Night are always a fest favourite of mine, they put on a hell of a show and had a hella good new album out around Fest time. I also got to finally see Banquets, which was bittersweet because it was also one of their last shows.

I freaked out to new albums from Science Club, who I only discovered at the end of last year and now want to see play in Chicago more than anything and Midnight Reruns, ‘Canadian Summer’ is always stuck in my head. The bass on the new Ma Jolie EP rocked my world, Pet Symmetry came out with an album I’d been waiting a lifetime for but it was well worth that wait, Allison Weiss continued to write songs that break my heart, Courtney Barnett soundtracked the summer, trips to the beach and Pinegrove soundtracked my months as days got shorter and weather got colder. Also I know we’re a punk site but I want to shout out to the brilliant pop music from 2015, Little Mix, CHVRCHES, Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Beiber, that one really catchy Jason Derulo song where he hangs shirtless and upside down for the whole video.

So here we end my year, in a new city and a new country. I’m excited to just see, hear and experience everything the Midwest has to offer, stuff I would never been able to see unless I was living here. I’ve already talked about Two Houses but this year saw a great releases from Turnspit, Costanza, Yeesh, Looming, Dog & Wolf, Bow & Spear, that video Nervous Passenger did which is below is just awesome.. there was probably a whole load more too because this city has a music scene that is amazing. I go to shows and everything is new and exciting, and maybe that will wear off. I don’t know. I was in London going to shows for years and I never found it dull, it never got stale, I never tired of the bands or the people or the atmosphere. There is so much I want to do here and so much music that genuinely leaves me smiling from ear to ear. If you want to know why I don’t understand when people tell me punk is dead or 2015 has been a bad year for music it’s because I never fail to find something that makes me want to talk in caps about it until everyone else is listening to it too.

2015 was about new beginnings, it’s been a rollercoaster ride. I’ve had some of the worst lows mentally of my life, but also some of the best highs and yeah, it’s been scary but it’s also been rewarding. I broke myself apart in 2015, and music was the thing that kept me sane while I went through a massive change. I’m stoked for 2016, where I finally figure my shit out and life finally gets going again. I have no doubt that music is going to be brilliant again next year because, let’s face it, every year is a good year for music.