Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Of 2009- Top Albums 5-1

Alright this is it. Thanks for sticking with me. Am I completely predictable? Probably. But I am who I am and I like what I like. What were your top albums of 2009?

5. O Pioneers!!!- Neon Creeps
"My Life As A Morrissey Song"
I'm going to start this off by stating the obvious: O Pioneers!!! fucking rule. They're like Chuck Ragan fronting an old school Against Me! with lyrics that are simple, repetitive (but not too much so), and relatable. Neon Creeps just saw OP!!! getting better, with a bigger sound but without losing what made their debut, Black Mambas, great; raw energy.

4. Set Your Goals- This Will Be The Death Of Us
"Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)" (Link Removed)
Set Your Goals completely outdid themselves on this record, something I didn't think was possible after the amazingly pirate themed Mutiny!. This album has so much emotion and honesty in it, especially one of my favorites "The Fallen". Death of Us also has one of their most badass and brutal songs, "Gaia Bleeds".

3. Regina Spektor- Far
"Eet" (Link Removed)
I'm a sucker for anything with piano and I'm an even bigger sucker for Regina Spektor's voice, so this album was pretty big for me this year. Her lyrics are so honest and the stories she tells are so weird, it's hard not to be drawn in. I was a little let down by Begin To Hope because there was less piano but Far has completely restored my faith in her.

2. Bomb the Music Industry!- Scrambles
"(Shut) Up the Punx!!!"
This should come as no surprise to anyone. I love Jeff Rosenstock and all of the music he makes. Scrables is BtMI!'s best album yet. The lyrics are as good as ever and the music is still completely badass. There are curve balls around every corner, whether they're random samples, songs heavy with piano, or the brutal "Gang of Four Meets the Stooges (But Boring)".

1. Manchester Orchestra- Mean Everything To Nothing
"Mean Everything To Nothing" (Link Removed)
This album didn't leave my car stereo for about four straight months after it first came out. It's so raw and southern, I can't help but rock out to it. Andy Hull's voice is so much better in Mean Everything and his lyrics cut deep. The sound on this album is huge and I really couldn't say enough good things about it.

Best Of 2009- Top Albums 10-6

And we're back. It's best we keep moving. I envisioned this "best of" post being a lot shorter and taking up a whole lot less space. My apologies.

10. Weatherbox- The Cosmic Drama
"Two Satchels Of Light"
Weatherbox's American Art is one of my favorite albums of all time. I know it's kind of early and weird to say that, but I always come back to it. Always. And it's still as good of an album as it was when I first heard it. The Cosmic Drama was definitely a grower, but once I let it grow on me I love it. Every song is good. It may not be as good as American Art but I'm okay with that.

9. Dear Landlord- Dream Homes
"High Fives"
This album is so much fun to sing along to. It's catchy pop-punk with lyrics about things that matter. But seriously, how hard is it not to sing along to "Three To The Beach" turned up all the way in the car? "We're not that hopeless, we're not as fucked as you think. In short lived moments we can do anything."

8. Portugal. The Man- The Satanic Satanist
"The Sun"
The Satanic Satanist is by far P.tM's most accessible release to date, which isn't a bad thing by any means. In fact for those who are just finding the band, it might be a good place to start. Every song is catchy in its own way and the musicianship is great as expected, but the keyboard and guitar sounds are especially good (sorry drum and bass, your album was Church Mouth).

7. Kevin Devine- Brother's Blood
"Brother's Blood"
Kevin Devine is a story teller and a talented one at that. On Brother's Blood his stories and characters are better and more complex than his previous albums and they really engage the listener. The music itself may be a little bit of an Elliott Smith rip off, but it makes for a damn good album, full of raw emotion and energy.

6. Fake Problems- It's Great To Be Alive
"Heart BPM"
To be completely honest, I had no idea if this band was a joke listening to this album, until I got to the last song "Heart BPM". It's so ridiculously huge sounding with all the horns, gang vocals, and even more ridiculous (but at the same time completely badass) lyrics. It's a good kind of ridiculous, though. The album is super catchy and "Heart BPM" is easily one of my favorite songs of the year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Swellers- End Of Discussion

I was pretty surprised the first time I heard The Swellers' self-released first album End Of Discussion. I had listened to My Everest periodically since it was released but never enough to want to dig into their back catalogue. Now fast forward to this fall, when their latest (and greatest) album, Ups and Downsizing was released. I was and still am very impressed with the new album which lead me to search and listen to their other releases, and THAT leads us to my confusion over End Of Discussion (There has to be a better way to describe that, I apologise). Anyways, End Of Discussion is a straight forward skate-punk record with clear influences from NOFX, Bad Religion, Lagwagon etc. It puzzling because I can barely hear any of that in their later releases that are pop punk. Maybe I'm not listening close enough. End Of Discussion is a great album nonetheless, especially "His Name is Robert Paulson" their completely badass ska song.

Track Listing:
1. Immunity
2. Anything
3. His Name is Robert Paulson
4. Sightless
5. I Wanna Be in the Mob
6. Sunshine
7. Zombie Pirates From Outer Space
8. Erased
9. Losing my Girl
10. Get the Process Changed

Best Of 2009- Top Albums 15-11

I've been debating whether or not to do a "best of" post, mainly because so many people do them this time of year, this would just be white noise. That and Rolling Stone has once again failed me in their end of year issue, this time end of decade (anytime I have to see U2 mentioned more than 15 times in a magazine I involuntarily vomit. It's not my fault, blame "Vertigo" and every other post '80s song they've released.) Back to things that are relevant, I tried the best I could to make a list of my favorite albums of the year and the tracks that accompany them are the songs that I listened to the most from that album. Let's do this.

15. Moneen- The World I Want to Leave Behind
"The Glass House"
This album is incredibly catchy. It's no Red Tree, but amazing in its own right. A lot of people have been skeptical about this album, but it still has insane musicianship and meaningful lyrics, the two things Moneen is known for. It has some of Moneen's softest songs and it has some of their most brutal. "The Glass House" is the six minute epic closer to the album and it is both.

14. P.O.S.- Never Better
"Low Light Low Life"
P.O.S. really stepped up his game on this album. The things that come out of his mouth are brilliant and insane and he manages to make it all flow together. It blows my mind. Plus Jason Shevchuk from None More Black does badass guest vocals on "Terrorish" and he samples Fugazi's "Five Corporations." What other rapper does that successfully?

13. Person L- The Positives
To be completely truthful I didn't like the last Person L record at first listen, so I brushed it aside and hoped for a Starting Line reunion. But this album totally changed my opinion of the band. It's post-punk with some experimentation and a touch of soul. The Positives is one of those records for me that I have to listen to from start to finish and it calms me down/ puts me in a good mood. Sorry for doubting you Kenneth.

12. Frank Turner- Poetry Of The Deed
"Live Fast Die Old"
As obsessed as I am with Frank Turner, this is unfortunately the right ranking. Last year Love Ire & Song was number 2 for me (but going against the '59 Sound isn't fair), so it's hard not to feel a little disappointment. Still, the album is great, especially the first four songs. His lyrics are as good as ever on Poetry, which is part of the reason this record still rules.

11. Polar Bear Club- Chasing Hamburg
I absolutely loved both the Redder the Better and Sometimes Things Just Disappear and at first listen I didn't think Hamburg was at all up to standards with PBC's earlier releases. At second listen, I started humming along but still wasn't convinced. Third listen completely changed my mind. I have no idea how. This album is amazing, don't ask me if I like it better than Disappear though, that's just mean.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Elliott Smith- Figure 8 Demos

Figure 8 is probably my favorite Elliott Smith album (though XO and From A Basement On The Hill aren't far behind). I know any "true" fan is supposed to claim his self titled album and Either/Or as their favorites but I've never been able to handle an entire album of soft singing and acoustic guitar, no matter how amazing the lyrics are. So apparently I'm a poser, deal with it. His later albums have incredible instrumentation to go along with his already incredible lyrics, I don't understand how that's a bad thing. Anyways, Figure 8 is a great indie album that shouldn't be overlooked (or shouldn't have been overlooked). These demos are really good quality live studio versions of some of the songs that appeared on Figure 8. Several of the songs didn't make the cut for the album, so that is reason enough to download them.

Track Listing:
1. Brand New Game
2. In The Lost & Found (Instrumental)
3. No Life (Amplified)
4. Pretty Mary K
5. Stained Glass Eyes
6. Stupidity Tries
7. Tiny Time Machine

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kudrow- Lando

A while ago I posted the stream of this album because, as a rule, I post anything that relates to Jeff Rosenstock. Since I posted the stream, Lando has been added to the Quote Unquote Records website and therefore, is now up for free download legitimately. After spending a good two months or so listening to the album, It hasn't gotten old. Kudrow sounds like a 90's indie/punk bands (think Superchunk, The Get Up Kids, Archers of Loaf etc.). It's hard to compare Kudrow to BtMI! because BtMI! is one of my favorite bands, but the two have definite similarities and differences. Kudrow has the same intensity and energy that BtMI! has but without all of the excess craziness of the loops/synths/whatever Jeff feels like. So in that aspect, I might prefer Kudrow. Don't hold me to that though, this is only a four song ep and I don't think I could ever get tired of the horns and weird shit that makes BtMI! unique. You can still order the ep on vinyl here, so get on that. I already got mine and it looks/sounds great.

Track Listing:
1. Commutilation!
2. Blink-182 Reunion
3. Favreau
4. Brooklyn Pool

Tokyo Police Club- The Interface Session

I have a soft spot for Dave Monks' voice. I don't know what it is but every time I hear him sing, it makes me smile, which is one of the reason why I love Tokyo Police Club so much. The other reasons having to do with the pure indie bliss that fills every one of their songs and their interesting/quirky lyrics. The Interface Sessions are the completely stripped down approach to three songs from Elephant Shell and one from A Lesson In Crime. It's just Monks and an acoustic guitar. And boy, does it sound good. This is a must for any fan of TPC and for any fan of indie-pop.

Track Listing:
1. Tessellate
2. The Harrowing Adventures Of
3. The Nature of the Experiment
4. Centennial

The Please & Thank Yous- Thank Yous...

The please & thank yous are a punk band from Chicago. Their sound is a mix of the noodling bass lines of early Alkaline Trio (think "Nose Over Tail" and "Clavicle"), the honest lyrics and raw vocals of the Promise Ring, the catchiness and energy of the Ergs!, and the badass drumming of Lifetime. They remind me of Dear Landlord a lot, which I consider to be a great thing. Thank Yous... is a compilation of various demos and live tracks that the band has recorded from 2007-2009. All of the eleven tracks on the compilation are worth the listen, though the acoustic tracks do seem a little awkward and lose the album a little steam, it's not enough to take away from the rest of the songs. tpaty have an album coming out early next year, so watch out for that, and I'll try and keep you updated.

Track Listing:
1. Peas & Cheese
2. Excuse Me
3. Ligeia
4. Modern Goth
5. Lifetime!
6. Political Science
7. The Lonesome Crowded Midwest
8. The O'Really Factor
9. Speaking Of The Devil
10. Hey, USA
11. You're Right