Before this year I never really listened to metal (aside from Iron Maiden). But then I started listening to Anthrax, which lead to other thrash metal, which lead to other stuff. To be honest, the only reason I checked out this band was become someone mentioned how attractive their guitarist is. And she totally is (in my opinion, of course) but she can also play heavy doom metal riffs way better than I could. The whole record is a slow, grinding, heavy as fuck, rise and fall of doom metal awesomeness. It is especially awesome under a certain state of mind, but also great any other time as well. If you aren’t into metal, it’s definitely not for you, but if you like riffs, it definitely is.
18. Wayfarer- Our Fathers
Wayfarer are definitely one of my favourite local bands. They don’t play quite as often as I’d like because of line-up changes and Kyle’s involvement with Mockingbird Wish Me Luck. But, they still managed to put out a full-length album that totally rules. Hot Water Music comparisons are apt (Look at their name!), but they are definitely not a second-rate rip-off. The record is full of awesome guitar leads, weird chords and pretty damn good lyrics. A song that’s as long and as good as “The Hunger” proves that they are totally able to put an awesome composition together. I’m really stoked to see what they come out with next.
17. Crime In Stereo- I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone
The first time I heard it, I didn’t think it was too great. I’m not sure which is my favourite between their two previous albums, The Troubled Stateside or ...Is Dead, but I think that both are absolutely great. I was pretty excited when they posted their new track, but for some reason found it, and the album when it was released, pretty boring. Then when I saw them live this year, I thought the songs sounded pretty fucking good live. I went back to it afterwards and liked it a lot more. It’s definitely not The Troubled Stateside or ...Is Dead, but it is still a good album. They’ve been getting more and more experimental with each album and since they broke up recently, I guess this album is the culmination of that. In the liner notes the band says “Every song on this album was created by guitars, bass, vocals and drums”, which I think reinforces how serious they are about moving forward with their sound. The fast paced, more hardcore parts of their sound are all but gone now and they are definitely more focused on putting in weirder elements. On one hand it kind of sucks that they aren’t blazing through songs like “For Exes” anymore, but it’s also nice that the band had moved beyond that.
16. Comeback Kid- Symptoms And Cures
Everyone thought Comeback Kid was going to break up because of how much Sights And Sounds was doing. Then they randomly announced that they were in the studio recording a new album. Sweet. This is definitely the most they have changed their sound in an inter-record period, mainly due to Andrew’s singing style. Their singer left the band after Wake the Dead, so Andrew (then the guitarist) stepped up to sing. He said in interviews that he purposely tried to emulate Scott’s singing style on their next album, but this record is what he really sounds like. I like it a lot too. It separates them from their older material and really defines what they’re going for. They also add a decent amount of thrashy metal riffs this time around, which I am all for (I LOVE Anthrax!). It’s definitely a new type of Comeback Kid, but I really like that they tried to do something new.
15. Joey Cape- Doesn’t Play Well With Others
It seems like every singer of every punk band ever has been making a solo folk/alt-country side project lately, ranging from well-received (Tim Barry, Chuck Ragan, Frank Turner) to not so well-received (Mike Herrera?). Joey Cape actually seems to be the latter for most people, but I love his solo stuff to death. It could be because I’m a Lagwagon fan, but I think it’s also because I think he is a very good (and underrated) lyricist. I was hesitant about grabbing this at first, because acoustic albums can get old kind of fast, but as soon as I heard “Okay” I knew that Joey was up to old tricks again. He doesn’t really have the youthful yelp that was present on “Let’s Talk About Feelings” anymore. Instead his voice sounds weathered, which translates a lot better to this type of music. All in all, I think Joey is a great dude, and a great song-writer who’s been through a lot. And that is what I need in a singer-song-writer-folky album.
14. The Flatliners- Cavalcade
With how often I see The Flatliners live, it’s easy to forget how awesome they are at making good punk records. This album had less of a gap between its predecessors and the sound is evident of that. There was a huge change in sound between Destroy To Create and The Great Awake, whereas Cavalcade is more of an extension of the Great Awake sound, keeping the main elements, but adding new ones. They’ve always had awesome album openers and “The Calming Collection” definitely ranks up there as well, as it is a rager. I also think that Chris is starting become a really solid song-writer who includes a ton or personal stuff in his lyrics. It definitely has enough stuff to set it apart from The Great Awake and is totally an all around great record.
13. The Menzingers- Chamberlain Waits
Everyone in the punk community shit their pants over this album this year, so I was more or less obliged to check this out. At first I kind of dismissed it as regular old “orgcore”. Definitely not bad, but also not really anything too new or exciting. Then I saw the band live and to quote my own description after the show they “tore Sneaky Dee’s a new asshole” (I tweeted that, and thought it was something cooler and less generic). They were so good live. So logically, I gave the album a second chance and found that I liked it loads more. I guess you could still call them an orgcore band (They were the number one album on Punknews this year, so if that doesn’t make them one I’m not exactly sure what does.) but they probably are the best band doing it right now. They lyrics are great and earnest and the music is as good as a rough-around-the-edges pop-punk band can be. I’m still not as totally into them as some of my friends are, but this album is just undeniable.
12. Hostage Calm- Hostage Calm
In hardcore there has always been the paradox of a band evolving their sound. One hand, people don’t want hardcore bands to make the same record over and over again. There are already more than enough bands in the genre, so another generic HXC album is not needed. On the other hand, shitty hardcore fans often chastise bands for evolving saying that they “aren’t staying true to hardcore anymore”. More so than any other band in recent memory, Hostage Calm took the jump and tried add a ton of new elements to their sound. Their melodic hardcoreness is pretty much all but gone on this album. That does not mean that it’s bad though. There’s a lot more pop now. People say they sound a lot like The Smiths. There’s also an odd obsession with traditional Spanish music. It’s definitely way different than what they were before. I can totally see how most would think this album is terrible, based only on how out of left field the change seemed, but I think it’s a great, cohesive and interesting record.
11. Four Year Strong- Enemy Of The World
People rip on Four Year Strong all the fucking time. They call them stupid, juvenile and ridiculous. Yea they have a synth player. Yea, they do all the breakdowns. I’ll admit that sometimes the lyrics can be a little off, but you know what? They write awesomely catchy pop-punk songs. I was really in love with Rise or Die Trying and really played it out, so at first I was hesitant about giving their new album a listen. Then they released “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now” and I wasn’t really feeling it. But then “Wasting Time” renewed my faith, I got the CD and it turned out to be pretty rad. It really is just a more polished version of their previous album, which I guess is reflective of the major label signing, but that really isn’t a bad thing. Album opener, “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now” is a reference to an Alternative Press article reviewing Set Your Goals’ last album, because the two bands are often grouped together. Honestly, this record mops the floor with SYG’s last effort. As a fan of pop-punk, and more specifically the whole pop-core subgenre, I can honestly say that I find no fault in this album. It’s catchy, it’s got a bunch of sweet lines, sweet semi-heavy riffs and is hella fun to listen to. Haters are gonna hate.
10. Off With Their Heads- In Desolation
This was definitely one of the albums that I looked forward to most this year. I fell head over heels in love with Off With Their Heads after I saw them about a year and a half ago and they were definitely one of my favourite bands over the last year. I said earlier this year that “As long as this album is still just 3 chords and Ryan yelling about his life, I’ll be happy” and I pretty much got that wish. They add a little to the sound, some more mid-tempo and slower songs, but in general they stick to the same formula. Ryan’s lyrical output is slightly brighter this time around, but don’t worry they didn’t turn in posi band in between records. Especially notable are the last two tracks. Up to that point the record is more or less standard Off With Their Heads fare; mid-tempo punk songs with raspy vocals and self-depreciating (if not suicidal) lyrics. Second-to-last song “My Episodes” is a slower acoustic (with minimal other instrumentation) number that is a.... love song? From Off With Their Heads? It’s a great change for the band to break-up the album a bit with something that they haven’t done before. Then comes the closer “Clear The Air”, which is hands down the best thing they’ve ever done. The build-up is epic and the chorus just puts it over the top. The lyrics are golden and more or less sums up the band in one song. In my opinion the album isn’t as strong on the whole as their last full-length, but it does have some of their best songs. While it wasn’t the best album of the year or anything, it was definitely one of my favourites.
9. RVIVR- LP
Keep in mind when reading this review/whatever that I hadn’t listened to Latterman before I heard this album. This is important because this band is one of the many branch-offs that formed when the
(apparently now) seminal band broke-up. So this record was my introduction to Matt Canino. A friend recommended it and I got it because it was available for free download, so what’d I have to lose right? I’m sure most people were expecting a lot from this album, given the band members’ history, but I was immediately blown away by it. The music is definitely poppy, but the vocals and lo-fi production give it a rough edge that sets it apart. They’re also rad song-writers; not only in the sense that they write lyrics well, but also that not every song is 3 minutes long and four chords. “Cold In Your Bones” is totally one of the best songs this year.
We Are The Union are definitely one of most listened to artists over the last few years. Their debut album, Who We Are, is definitely one of my favourites ever, which made me extremely anxious to hear what they did next. Like, to the point where I think my expectations surpassed what probably could have been created. So I guess that this album did fall below my expectations, but essentially anything would have. This does not mean it’s a bad album! It’s a very good album! Just not as good as Who We Are in my opinion. So what do they do on this thing? Well since the last record the line-up has shifted. New drummer, another guitar played and they gained and then also lost a sax player. Accordingly, the sound has changed slightly with the addition of these new people. As opposed to the “Set Your Goals with a horn section” of the last album it’s more like a poppy-skate-punk band that also likes ska a whole bunch and that totally rules in my book. The drumming is super fast (Why the fuck would anyone want to play slow?) and there are more sweet guitar leads (Shredding rules!). Also; BASS TAPPING. Why doesn’t every band do that? I find that there are less personal (re: songs about girls) numbers on this album and it leans more to the political side of the band, but the strength in the song-writing is still there. The album is definitely a departure for the band and I hope they continue on their path of destruction because I love them to death.
7. Nix86- Relate, Reject, Repeat
I’ve written about this band on here before. In short: I think they are the best straight-up ska band around right now. They play 90’s style ska-pop-punk and I like it lots. I played the shit out of their demo, and was really looking forward to a full album’s worth of songs. The production quality is a little lower than the demo, but the songs are still there. All three songs from the demo are on the album, most changed around slightly in their arrangement. The rest of songs are pretty much just as good in quality as the old ones. I really wish that this band would get more attention because their songs are great and super fun. I think if they got some label support to put into recording and production on a full-length they would put out a really great album. Like classic shit.
6. The Dopamines- Expect The Worst
The Dopamines are a band who definitely knows their place. Their influences on their MySpace page reads “Lookout Records”, so the band obviously knows that they aren’t really reinventing the whole three-chord, Ramones, Screeching Weasel sound. But they do play that sound extremely well. I don’t think anything could sum up the band better then what their bass player said as the intro when I saw them this summer, “Hey, we’re The Dopamines from Cincinnati. Let’s throw beer on each other and shit.” This record is 13 simple punk songs about hating your life written by three dudes who drink too much. Every second of this album is catchy, snotty awesomeness. It also helps that they write pretty great lyrics. Not really in the sense that I sit back and think “Wow, that’s such a deep line” but in the sense that I can’t wait to be in the front row at show, covered in a beer and screaming all the words.
5. Alkaline Trio- This Addiction
I used to write the ‘Trio off as “one of those emo bands” but began to think a little different of them once I saw how much people loved Goddamnit on Punknews. I tried to get into the album a few times but just couldn’t. Then this record came out this year and I decided to listen to the stream. And it sounded pretty good. So when they rolled through Toronto on the Warped Tour, I decided that seeing their live show would be a good idea. They impressed and I picked up this album and the aforementioned Goddamnit. It took awhile, but I definitely came around on them. A lot of people call this album a return to form and I think it’s applicable. It’s definitely much closer in sound to their first few records than the last two and I think that’s pretty sweet. They go back to mid to fast tempo pop-punk songs about being depressed and single. Right up my alley! The Dan songs are pretty solid. The Matt songs are a little hit or miss, but when they hit, they rule. The guys have been a band for 15 years though; they know what they’re doing. I guess some people would call this another notch in the belt, but I think it’s a well-written pop-punk record.
4. Fake Problems- Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
First, I thought Fake Problems were a folk punk Against Me! rip-off because they toured with them. Then everyone talked about how good of a song “Heart BPM” is so I got It’s Great To Be Alive and thought they were trying to be an indie band. Then I listened to the album more and realized how great of a band they are. So then I got this album when it came out this year. And I thought they were moving a little too far into indie-rock territory for my liking. And then I found myself listening to it more and more and also found it getting better and better upon each listen. So, now I am currently in love with this record. It basically takes the Great To Be Alive sound and adds a healthy dose of pop to it. Like 60’s style pop. You know that scene in High Fidelity when Jack Black puts his head in his hands and sighs “It’s really fucking good”? I guess that’s how I can best describe this album. The more I hear them, the more I like Chris’ lyrics. Pretty much every song is overtly for or against being in love, but in an older style of way. Like an Al Green or “Corporation” style of song-writing. He is also quickly becoming one of my favourite singers. On the lower-key softer sides of songs he has a nice soft voice. Then, as it builds he can really belt out an awesome quasi-yelling (but not really) to just push the song over the edge. Casey is really the secret weapon for the band though. He is an absolutely great guitar player and adds a ton catchy, but also sufficiently technical licks to every song. Though a lot of people love their older material, I feel like this band just keeps getting better and better.
3. Mixtapes- Maps
People say that bands came out of nowhere all time, but this phrase was pretty much made for this band. Before they recorded this album they hadn’t even played a show. That isn’t to say this effort isn’t mature though, the song-writing is phenomenal for such a new band. They’re like half an indie band, half a pop-punk band with killer male-female vocal trade-offs. It’s a quick album, only about 18 minutes, and only one song is over two and a halfminutes, but that leaves no room for filler. It’s kind of hard to believe that two people just randomly got together and then wrote an album as good as this one, but it actually did happen. “Nothing Can Kill The Grimace” was my favourite song at the start of the year for sure.
2. Stephen Egerton- The Seven Degrees Of Stephen Egerton
I really don’t understand how everyone else remotely interested in punk rock wasn’t as stoked as I was when this album was announced. Stephen Egerton doing all the instrumentation for the record essentially meant that it would sound like Descendents/All pop-punk. Then put a ton of singers from a bunch of my favourite bands on vocals on each track? There is no fault in that plan. The album is absolutely just as good as I hoped it would be. The Scott Reynolds track sounds like Percolator-era All, the Chris Demakes track sounds like Less Than Jake became the best power-pop band in the world, the Dan Andriano one sounds like Alkaline Trio made Breaking Things, but the real standout in the song that Milo Aukerman sings. So, Milo Aukerman, singing over Descendents/All pop-punk? Then that makes this...a...Descendents song? Well, not technically, but it’s closest thing we’ve had since Cool To Be You came out. It totally sounds like they haven’t missed a beat. NEW DESCENDENTS!COME ON! I guess I’m a little biased because both the Descendents and All are among my favourite bands, but Stephen is also one of the most technically gifted guitarists in punk-rock and when you put collection of the best song-writers/vocalists on top of that, it can’t fail.
1. The Wonder Years- The Upsides
People say all the time that “punk rock saved my life” or “this album saved my life”. So much so that it’s gotten pretty cliché to say it. But this album more or less did that for me. It’s been a long time since an album moved me and affected me and picked me up and made me feel like I’m not alone and made me re-evaluate my life and made me feel good about myself like this one did. They were a band that I listened to a little bit before this album, but as the hype for this record started, I started to get more into them. Their songs started to hit home a lot more; banding together to not feel shitty. Us versus them. We may feel like shit, but we’re still better than those pieces of shit. They released “Washington Square Park” as a teaser and I was immediately over the moon. It’s still the best fucking song that came out last year. I made a huge change in my life and really changed my outlook (for the better!) around this time and that song was a huge part of that. Then they released “Melrose Diner” as another teaser and I pretty much loved it just as much. I pre-ordered the album and eventually got it around the start of February. I literally listened to nothing else for a few weeks. I mean the actual definition of literal. Listened to only this album. Before this they were often written off as a juvenile Four Year Strong or New Found Glory rip-off and I guess I could see what is meant by that. While I still liked their previous output, the synth and the breakdowns could definitely rub people the wrong way. But they ditched all of that for this album. It’s just fast straight-ahead, catchy pop-punk and it’s awesome. The instrumentals in every song just have “that”, where it seems like the part was just meant for the song. While the guitar licks are catchy, the lyrics are what really do it for me here. Tons of pop-punk bands write about how depressed they are and how much they hate girls and stuff. Every song is about being POSITIVE. They’re about making a change. About looking on the bright side. If you’re depressed, you are the only one who can make the change to make yourself feel better. This is all reflected in Soupy’s song-writing. It’s about changing for yourself. The liner notes read “More than anything, The Upsides is a record about fighting back...it wasn’t okay to be this defeated at 23...Stand your ground every chance you get because everybody deserves a chance to be happy.” I realize that this is just personal opinion, but that hits me pretty hard. When I say this record moves me, I mean that I get a feeling in my chest every time I listen to it, because I really connect to the songs. Every song on the album has at least one moment where you just think “Oh, fuck yeah.” Like the moment you wait for when you see the band live. When listening to it in public, it takes every bit of restraint to not jump up and down and stage-dive off things and yell every word out loud. Even though I just wrote a pretty lengthy paragraph on this album, it’s pretty hard to articulate how much it helps every day. People say “I don’t know where I’d be without ___” but I do. I’d still be a depressed, self-loathing, asshole 21-year-old who didn’t realize how fun life could be if he tried a little. I wear my “I’m Not Sad Anymore” hoodie and wear it proud. If the band somehow sees this; thanks a lot dudes.
11. !ATTENTION!- Four Or Five Ways To Play These Chords
I discovered !ATTENTION! last year after seeing them open for The Loved Ones. As they started playing I thought they sounded kind of like Hot Water Music, which isn’t very apt. I guess it was the loud/full guitar chords. As soon as their singer started all I could think was “Whoa”, because he definitely doesn’t have what most would consider a “nice” voice. But as they continued with their set I realized that I really liked their sound a lot. They are a really poppy band. They usually stick to a major scale and have tons of the quick pauses that encourage jumping in a live setting (all the blink rip-offs and “drive-thru” bands of the early 2000’s loved using them). This isn’t to say they have a slick sound though. The production is raw and the vocals are extremely, extremely rough. They really seem to be more comfortable with their sound on this EP (they released a demo before this) and the song-writing reflects this. Things never get too serious (“We’re all grown up and so fucked up”) but it’s always fun. They’re a blast live, especially with some friends and a few alcoholic beverages. Personal favourites are the title track and “Super Snack Night”.
Live It Out started following me on twitter in the middle of the summer. I checked out their MySpace and figured by the look of it that they were one of the many (and generic) Four Year Strong/A Day To Remember clones that are popping up these days. I was pleasantly surprised when the music started and to them pop/punk/hardcore meant playing really fast and shouting/yelling their vocals instead chugga chugga breakdown with cookie monster vocals. As soon as the “I promised I’d never grow up, that’s why I never did” part started in “I Like You, Temporarily!” I knew they were something that I would enjoy. The EP is five songs that pretty much all follow the same formula, but all kick ass. It never lets up and leaves you (or I guess me) feeling pretty stoked. They also have a shirt with a pentagram and 666 on it, which I think is pretty cool.
9. Direct Hit!- 4
I found Direct Hit! in the exact same way that I found Live It Out. They started following me and then I checked out their MySpace page. I was greeted with a really loud yelling of “Fuck you! Get pumped!” and then awesomely rowdy pop-punk. My girlfriend at the time said something along the lines of “Oh, that’s awful”, but all I could think was “This fucking rules.” They have a great, throaty vocal style and the music, to me, seems like a mash-up of Look-Out Records and Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet”. Even though I’ve said it already, I really think they best way to describe this band is rowdy. It’s definitely not something you feel like listening to when you want to relax. The other EP they released this year, “5”, is also very good, but this one edges it out in my opinion.
As previously stated, Mixtapes were just on a tear this year. This EP was the 3rd “EP” they released this year (saying “EP” because it wasn’t an official release). It only has one original song, accompanied by four covers (two of those even being two versions of the same song), but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the release at all. Each track pretty much has its own identity, adapting themselves to the sound of each band they cover on the release, from the Hold Steady to Rivethead (I like to think of the Rivethead covers as one track together). I think it’s evident when listening to it that the band is just having some fun and I’m totally down with fun.
7. Comadre- Mixtape Vol. 4
Comadre is a pretty weird band. It took me a pretty long time to get around to checking them out, but all their mixtapes are put out for free, so I figured it would I might as well grab it when they released it this year. The concept about the mixtape confused me. Was it an actual mixtape of others songs put together by Comadre? They definitely all had a bit of a Comadre sound to them. Collaborations? It seems that way, as a bunch of the songs do show up on other releases. It’s definitely not just a Comadre cover album though, every artist adds just as much to the song as Comadre does. For example on the P.O.S. song he completely re-works the song for his beat and then adds his verse, which is completely different from the original. There a huge disparity between genres on the mixtape too. Dead To Me adds a kind of punk rock/reggae song, but definitely with a Jamaican style of production on it. The aforementioned P.O.S. track is his style of hip-hop, but still retains some aspects of Comadre’s original. Ghostlimb’s is a pretty sweet lo-fi country song, while Broadway Calls closes out the album with a pretty sweet acoustic pop-punk song. It’s pretty weird and unlike any music being put out right now, but that’s also where its appeal comes from. Also, it’s free.
I checked out Lowtalker because they were opening for Bane while on tour. The description was “Comeback Kid and Misery Signals pop-punk side-project” which made pretty stoked but also wary at the same time. They turned out to be a lot better than my expectations. They absolutely killed it at that show and impressed me a lot. I got their 10-inch at that show and it’s been in pretty regular rotation since. My friend described them as “Polar Bear Club, but less fun”, I guess the Polar Bear Club part is kind of accurate. They definitely listen to Hot Water Music a bunch. Somewhat poppy mid tempo punk songs by a pretty solid song-writer that you totally want to shout along to. You can totally tell they listen to hardcore as well.
5. House Boat- Processing Complaints
I first heard about House Boat because they were one of the new projects that involve Mikey Erg (former singer of one of my absolute favourite bands, The Ergs!). For some reason, I didn’t get around to giving them a solid listen until later this year. Just absolute pop-punk gold. Everything that is good about this genre is on this release; somewhat fast songs about girls and hating your life, but all the most awesome feel-good way, with crazy catchy guitar parts on top of that. Everything I want in a band! It’s no surprise that this band rules so much, as they also have members from The Copyrights and Dear Landlord, which gives them the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation of pop-punk. Every song makes me wish I was at the front of the crowd yelling along with the band. The EP is so stupidly catchy that it’s impossible for it not to get stuck in your head right away. Can’t wait for their new album to come out next year.
4. Mixtapes- Though About Growing Up
This was definitely one of my most anticipated releases. I loved the hell out of Maps and couldn’t wait to see if the band could keep up the calibre of song-writing onto their next release. They totally did too. It’s pretty quick, as four songs only run a little over 7 minutes, but they make up for it how goddamn good the songs are. A short acoustic/piano intro into longer pop-punk song into a fast joke song into pretty epic closer “Sprinkles”. They blast through it before you even have a chance to think about losing interest. They also pack as many awesome lines and melodies into that space that they can. They were hands down the most productive band this year and the EP was a major part of that.
3. The Wonder Years- The Upsides Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
This isn’t technically an “EP” but I figured that would be the best way to include the bonus tracks that came with the re-release of the album after the band signed to Hopeless. They pick up exactly where The Upsides left off. Even just “I Was Scared And I’m Sorry” alone could have got them on the list. They included new versions of Upsides songs “Dynamite Shovel” and “Logan Circle”. “Dynamite Shovel” is essentially just acoustic version of the song, though it is referred to as the “Campfire Version”. I thought it was kind of funny that they chose that song to do as it’s the fastest and shortest one on the album, but it works. “Logan Circle: A New Hope” is where the band really shines though. They slow it down, base it off a piano lick and add loads and loads more lyrics. So goddamn awesome. I think this EP really shows how good the band at writing songs as they’re all a little different in style from the songs on The Upsides. They never stop making me feel great.
2. Junior Battles- Self Titled
I saw Junior Battles for the first time opening for Shook Ones. They played really well and were also hilarious on stage. This made me like them. Their EP came out the next year (obviously 2010) and got tons of plays immediately. People compare them to Fall Out Boy all the time, which I don’t really get. I guess you could make the case that their singers sound somewhat similar, but their sounds are totally different. Junior Battles play pop-punk and play it extremely well. An older style of the genre though, older Green Day influences are definitely apparent. They’re still a relatively young band, so the subject of the songs doesn’t get too serious; touring, friend, that type of thing, but they never don’t make you want to sing along.
1. Bomb The Music Industry! - Adults!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited By Nothing!!!
I’ve reiterated over and over on here how much I love the music that Jeff Rosenstock makes. I was greeted with an awesome surprise this past year when Bomb The Music Industry! (Jeff’s main band) released this EP out of nowhere, with no hype or any news about it before it came out. The album kind of takes the approach that Jeff used for the first few albums; record everything in a room on his laptop. If friends could drop by to supply instrumentation, then they would.Since the band began, their sound has evolved considerably. So this EP is kind of their current style of song-writing, but using their old recording/production techniques. Once again, Jeff just has a lyrical orgasm all over the record and the songs essentially serve as my biography. I know I’ve said over and over, but seriously nobody’s songs hit me in the same way lyrically that Jeff’s do. They use the most ska they have in a while, but still retain the mature pop-punk, 90’s indie, good alternative influence that has gradually become more and more evident in the songs. The album is packed full of the epic longer songs that have come to be the highlights of every BTMI! release. But let’s get real, every album is just a highlight from start to finish. The releases don’t really have the “rise and fall” layout that most albums do. It’s not even constant rise. They just start fucking awesome and never get worse. As always, it’s being given away free. (And they did it way before it was cool).
I've been continuing on a pretty massive New Found Glory binge, but putting two of their songs up on back to back days seems kind of pointless. So instead I'm going to put something else up. You know that list I've been working on? It's coming. Slowly though. So anywayzzzzzzzzz:
This past weekend I went to a music festival in North Carolina called the Death To False Hope Records Two-Year Anniversary Party. Obviously you should be asking yourself "What is Death To False Hope Records? Who is on that label?" Well, they are a donation-based record label, run out of Durham (North Carolina, obviously). By donation-based, I mean that they give away downloads of albums for free, but also encourage you to donate money when you do download, so the bands can at least see some type of return. While they are still a young label, they've managed to release some records that have a great amount of recognition, like Mixtapes' Maps, the Direct Hit! EPs, a bunch of stuff by 10-4 Eleanor (now called Elway). I highly recommend that you snoop around the site for a bit and see if any of the albums interest you (there's a pretty good amount of variety).
So, as the name suggests, this was to commemorate the second anniversary of this label's existence. As you may have guessed, there were a ton of bands from the label's catalogue on both days. BUT, label-head Scotty Sandwich (of The Sandwiches) is radical dude, who is known for being a pillar of the scene. Thus he was able to book some pretty big bands for it, like Less Than Jake (!), Brenden Kelly (of the Lawrence Arms), The Sainte Catherines, Off With Their Heads, The Riot Before, tons more.
It really turned out to be one of the best times I've ever had in my life. It was run extremely smoothly. No conflicts of bands, no bands not showing up, no running behind schedule. Also, everyone running it was extremely nice.
But more importantly, all of the bands ruled. Here's who I saw, a little bit about their set and a download link if they have their album up somewhere:
He sings (sang) and drum(med) in one of my favourite bands. Now he plays solo sets sometimes. He played all the "hits" and I was super stoked on it. Included probably my favourite song "Anthem For A New Amanda". When you see around twenty punk rock dudes piling onto each to sing along to one nerdy guy playing guitar, you know he's a sweet song-writer. What he does now.
The Riot Before:
They're a band that has been getting loads of accolades in the punk community recently. I've never really gotten into them, but they absolutely ripped at this show. I will definitely be checking them out soon.
I love their last album a ton. Three chords, lyrics about life. Awesome, catchy. They had Mikey Erg play drums for this set and Roger from Less Than Jake playing guitar. The set was very drunk and loads of fun. If you watch closely during this video you can see me have lots of fun singing along and stage-diving:
Off With Their Heads:
Rough pop-punk with very honest (if not depressing) lyrics. I really love them tons and didn't realize how long it had been since I'd seen them. Again, if you look closely you can see me having fun!:
He sings for a band called Red Collar. I had never listened to them before this festival, but he/them absolutely blew me away. It didn't even matter if he was playing guitar, he was so intense with his performance. They rule and you should support a band who sticks to their morals like they do.
I loved the shit out of everything they put out this year. Pop-punk/sort of indie. They rule and are very good at writing songs. They have sweetshit for free.
Less Than Jake:
My favourite band. They weren't hitting Canada on this tour, so I was happy that I would still be able to see them. They also happened to play all of my favourite album of theirs, Hello Rockview, all the way through. It really made me so, so happy.
They're a local band from Durham and were the first band I saw on this day. Everyone I was there with was there and we had an awesome time. Free album!
They sound like Lifetime. I like that, because I love that band a lot. I was interested to check them out and wasn't disappointed. I listened to their full-length on the way home and found that I liked it a lot. Hey! That album is free!
They were another band who I hadn't listened to before the festival. They also turned out to be totally awesome! I was also pretty drunk. Lots of free stuff!
I listened to this band a lot this year as well. Party-rowdy-pop-punk. They're records are lots of fun and I also enjoyed their set. You should really get theseEPs because it's impossible not to get stoked listening to them.
They were yet another band who I hadn't checked out prior to this. By this time I was three sheets to the wind, but they really did kill it. And I know that wasn't just the Four Loko talking.
These guys were one of the bands I was most excited to see a the show. I'd been following them for a little while, enjoyed their album and was excited to see how they would be live. Well, they ruled. They played a rad set of Kid Dynamite-ish hardcore and threw in an ace cover of "Boy's No Good" by Lifetime (Hey, look at my profile name for this blog!) for good measure. Then when they had more time left after, they played a great cover of "True Believers" by The Bouncing Souls. Probably my second favourite set!
Like I said, I hadn't listened to them before. As I was expecting because of Jason's solo set, they killed it. They have a Fugazi-like DIY attitude, but play rad country-ish punk. Support them because earnest bands deserve it the most.
If you don't know, he sings and plays bass in The Lawrence Arms (also formerly Slapstick, The Broadways and The Flacon). He's a drunk and a fuck, but goddamn does he ever pull it off. Also helps that he writes pretty great songs. His solo set was exactly what I expected and I liked it.
The Sainte Catherines:
They've been a bit less active recently (they did just put out an album, but it had been awhile before that) but it didn't show at all here. They were tight as hell and really fun and everyone left at the show was the same way (heyooooo!)
Last night, I went to a punk show in Kitchener. The two bands that headlined, Wayfarer and !ATTENTION!, were the ones that I knew on the bill. The opening bands really didn't do much for me, but then these came out and put absolutely incredible sets. I really think they are both something really special that a lot more people should know about. Coincidentally, they also both have a ton of music available for free. I think I've probably posted them already at sometime or another, but I'm putting this stuff up again because I love it so much.
Wayfarer (Recommended if you like:Hot Water Music, Attack In Black)
They also both contributed tracks to a cover album released by Juicebox Records (the label linked to above). Their respective Brand New and blink covers are great, as are many others on it. So uh, yea. Download it and get rad.
I think I might start doing a "Song Of The Day" type deal. Not necessarily anything new or obscure, but just the song that I'm feeling the most that day. I really think that I need to start adding more to this blog and music occupies about 70% of my thoughts on a daily basis, so this things seems like a logical step. The only thing that sucks is that the only way I know how to put songs on this thing is via YouTube videos (I suck at computers). Whatever, get over it.
Song Of The Day, January 17th 2010:
Last night, !ATTENTION! covered "Pathetic" by blink-182 and it reminded me that Dude Ranch is an incredible pop-punk record, one of my all-time favourites and I haven't listened to it in a while.
I know I really need to put something a little more substantial up here, but don't worry, I'm getting to that. I've been working on my year-end list (I know everyone is just begging to see it!) (I dunno, it's just something I do every year) and also a kind of year-recap thing. But I can't bring myself around to it right now.
I heard people talk about this band Piebald a lot. During this winter break I finally got around to checking out their "best" album and I love it loads. They definitely take early 2000's drive-thru style pop-punk a step further than most bands did. Rather than sticking to songs about girls over the "pop-punk T" chord progression, they add some cool riffs and different song elements that, I think, really sets them apart from their peers. It also helps that every single song has a colossal vocal hook. This one is my favourite on the album:
Being the ska-nerd that I am, I also checked out some ska albums I hadn't gotten around to getting yet. Slow Gherkin was a band who were sort of a part of the mid-late 90's ska boom, but have since broken up. I guess you could say they were one of the ones who "didn't make it". There were a hand full of bands in the 90's who got huge on ska. There were tons and tons more who wrote awesomely catchy and poppy ska music, but never got the attention that No Doubt did. This band, unfortunately, falls into the latter category. They use the Greek sculpture Laocoon as the basis for one of their 7" covers, which appeals to the art-nerd in me. I think this song is very fun and it reminds of how much fun the Toronto ska scene used to be about 5-6 years ago:
For good ol' X-Mas I got some pretty sweet stuff. Namely a bunch of comic books that I am stoked to read (Psylock comes back from the dead and goes on a rampage on the Savage Land with X-23? Uh yesssss.) and some sweet books that I am also stoked to read. The one I've started is A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. He wrote the book that spawned one of my all-time favourite movie, High Fidelity, so I was super stoked to read one of his.
This one is about four people from different walks of life who meet and (sort of) befriend each other while trying to all commit suicide on top of a building on New Year's Eve. I think it's a pretty interest premise for a book. The back cover compares it to the Breakfast Club and I think that is totally apt. The four people could really not be more different, but are all bonded by their want to kill themselves. So I guess it's more like a darker version of a John Hughes film. I'm about a third through it and absolutely love it though. Definitely recommend it.
I've heard a lot about Best Coast and am checking them out right now. If they were a simple pop-punk band without the vocal effects and hipster hype, but the same girl singing and with the same lyrics, I'd probably love them. I just can't get into them now though.