Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vacation Was Better Than Any Album That Came Out This Year

Well, it's that time of year again. I'm sure all of you are clamoring over each other to try to get to my blog and be the first to read my "Year-End" music bullshit. Once again I decided to forgo ranking each album because, like I said last year, I found it to be an exercise in futility trying to decide where albums that I loved more or less equally should be ranked near the top of the list. So fuck it! A lot of rambling and then I decide what number 1 should be because let's get real, that's the only that matters.

The Sidekicks- Awkward Breeds
The Sidekicks are another one of those bands I should have gotten into a long time ago. I knew that Punknews had named them the "album of the year" a few years ago but, as is usually the case, I just never got around to checking them out. Then I saw them open for Bomb The Music Industry! in 2011 and was absolutely floored by their performance. Seriously, they are easily one of the five best live bands on the planet, no question and no room for discussion. Weight of Air was really my jam, so while I was really stoked for them to put out new material, I was also apprehensive as I was almost positive that it wouldn't live up to their previous release. But of course I was being a jackass and forgot this vital piece of information: THE SIDEKICKS ARE ONE OF THE BEST BANDS IN THE WORLD. This album is fucking great. It's rockier and little less groovy than Weight of Air (in my opinion), but I like that the band is moving towards a little more of a power-pop direction (in the Weezer sense of the term "power-pop"). The vocals are amazing because Steve is uncannily good at singing, there's some great guitar stuff, the basslines aren't over-the-top but fit the songs great and their drummer just pounds the shit out of his kit. Great job all around on this release, it really shows on of the most interesting, nicest and talented bands around at the top of their game. Let's smoke weed together one day guys.

Cheap Girls- Giant Orange
Some of my friends weren't as into this release as My Roaring 20's because this album didn't vary tracks enough and they thought it kind of ran together. I wholeheartedly disagree. While it's obvious there isn't as much change between tracks, I really like that the album is just front-to-back poppy alt-rock songs that get stuck in your head for days. The album totally has a bunch of Cheap Girls' best tracks, because if you deny the awesomeness of "Mercy Go-Round", "Gone All Summer" or "Ruby", then you wrong son.

Gaslight Anthem- Handwritten
I like Gaslight Anthem, but not as much as most people like Gaslight Anthem. I always thought they would be amazing as a rough, punky rock-pop band, which is I guess what they did on this album. Sounds great to me. "45" is the best Gaslight song, shouts out to my haters.

Title Fight- Floral Green
For some reason a lot of people I know lump in Title Fight with Four Year Strong/Story So Far/etc even though they sound absolutely nothing like that. I also think that are a victim of the hype machine and people really want to not like them only because of how excited people get about their music. They are all dummys because Title Fight is basically the best 90's emo band right now. Shed was a huge step forward for them and Floral Green is an even bigger one. I was skeptical about them putting out another album so fast (as usual) but that skepticism was entirely unwarranted (as usual). The band is getting way better at writing cohesive songs and is gettin' real good at melody. Get sad fuckers.

Mindset- Leave No Doubt.i.
I guess it's kind of weird considering how often I indulge in things, but straightedge Youth Crew hardcore is my favourite type of hardcore. While I appreciate when bands really try to expand their boundaries and add new elements to a genre that can became real stale real quick when not done right, there's still nothing that gets me going like some fast, simple, pseudo-metaly riffs and shouts. Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme SHELTER.

Less Than Jake- Greetings and Salutations
The thing about Less Than Jake is that they are my favourite band, so it's hard for me to not like anything they do. I mean, I even listen to In With The Crowd with some regularity for Christ's sake. So even when they are compiling two EPS, adding two songs and calling it an album and the songs all kind of sound like the most generic LTJ material and the album as a whole is pretty close to the bottom of my Less Than Jake discography, I still have to love it because there's nothing I can do about it. Holy fuck do I love me some Less Than Jake bruh.

And honestly, there's no band that brings a smile to my face as often as LTJ does. That's why I lub 'em so much. They'll be my faves foreva!

Hostage Calm- Please Remain Calm
Like I said for the Mindset album, Youth Crew worship (or just Youth Crew in general) is my favourite type of hardcore, so I obvi loved Lens a whole lot. And while I loved gettin' mah breakdown on their old stuff, I really liked how crazy and innovative and fresh their self-titled album was. Since they went in such a different direction for their second record, I was eager to see how they would change for this one. The description the gave for the record was a coming-of-age, our-love-against-the-world type story set in our time, I got really excited because I love John Hughes movies and to me, that sounded  like Hostage Calm was trying to write their version of an 80's John Hughes movie. So that was the attitude I went into the album with . Worked for me. I think it's a really great sounding pop record and the choruses are way too catchy to care about anything.
Stream. It's also only 5 bones.

Such Gold- Misadventures
Such Gold are another band who I think gets lumped in with the wrong crowd. While the first EP was for sure a pop-punk/hardcoreish effort, I thought the second one sounded like a poppier/more melodic Snapcase in the best way (RIFFS). I was really stoked for this one because of how much I jammed Pedestals and was pretty satisfied. It's a lot faster and shreddier than their previous album and I'm cool with that. They're a great band who tours a lot and works hard and deserves everything they get.

The Nix86- Evil Empurr
The thing about the 90's most people don't realize is that along with the amazingly shitty parts of the ska explosion in the 90's (Sublime, pretty much all No Doubt, Save Ferris) a lot of really good independent bands were around but didn't get noticed, like The Hippos or The Impossibles. An area that was especially rich with these types of bands was Long Island. That scene has carried on for a long time (I was astonished at how awesome the crowd was when I saw a ska show in New York last year) and produced a lot of awesome bands who would always blow me away when they toured to Canada. They were always older and cooler and played better-written songs than pretty much every Toronto band (At least we had the Makeshift Heroes). The Nix86 is comprised of members from those bands and sounds like those bands. For people who feel nostalgia towards poppy ska-punk and are far above their h8erz to still listen to it, this album is a must. Easily one of the best ska bands making music right now.
Stream dat. Also only 5 bux.

Municipal Waste- The Fatal Feast
By this point you know what you are getting from the Waste as they're a crossover band that's put out five records. That's not to say this is a bad thing though, as The Fatal Feast is probably the best that the band has ever sounded. They moved away a little from hardcore/thrash crossover and a lot more towards straight-up 80's style thrash metal, but they do the style extremely well so there's nothing wrong with that. There's plenty of A+ Megadeth-style chug riffs and much more shredding than previous albums. Basically, it sounds like each member sat down and practiced playing Peace Sells... songs a whole bunch. Less songs about drinking and smoking weed, more about eating each other while in space. They're the best thrash band around right now. Into it bruh.

John K. Sampson- Provincial
If you are in a band you need to have a level of self-confidence in order to play your songs and show them to people. You need to think your songs are good enough that people who you don't know will enjoy them. You need to have enough self-confidence to record your ideas when you come up with them. Keeping all this in mind, if you are in a band and write songs, you also need to know that you are not better at writing songs than John K Samson. He's kind of the bench mark. I could say something about this record, but if you really have no idea what it could sound like you are either stupid or extremely stupid for not listening to The Weakerthans. A whole whack of heartfelt stories about life in The Prairies. Getcha cry on dawg.
Feel all the feels.

Ma Jolie- ...Compared To Giants
Ma Jolie is kind of rough, but also poppy in the same way that Iron Chic or Samiam are. They are real good and I think going to be the next big thing on the ol' 'org. Great album, "Era and the Metric System" is especially my jam.

3. Classics of Love- Classics Of Love
When I was first getting into punk, one of the first bands I got into was Rancid. While I was listening to Rancid my brother said I should listen to their older band Operation Ivy and showed me a few songs. I instantly realized how much better Op Ivy were than Rancid and how awesome the band was and they immediately entered regular rotation in my discman and haven't left since. They really are one of my favourite bands. Keeping this in mind, think about how happy a record of Jesse Michaels singing fast 80's hardcore (WITH TWO SKA SONGS) would make me. That is exactly how I feel. I lagged a little bit on getting into this (like a week bruh), but as soon as I heard the first track my jaw dropped. The sound of Jesse yelping socio-political lyrics over blisteringly fast hardcore-punk makes me feel more fuzzy than you can imagine. I can tell that this one is going to be something that I'll be going back to a bunch for years.

2. The Menzingers- On The Impossible Past
I'll admit that I was a little late to the party on The Menzingers. Most of my punk friends were head over heels for them after the release of Chamberlain Waits, but I held off on listening to that because I am dumb and sometimes it takes me forever to get around to things. Then I saw them live and they absolutely slayed and that made me listen to their tunes with a fresh perspective and I began to love them. I was pretty eager to hear On The Impossible Past after "The Obituaries" and "Gates" were released to hype it up. The worst thing that can happen with an album is that the best few songs off of it get released as teasers and then the rest of it seems drab. However that's not a problem here as the entire thing is amazing. The Menzingers are really maturing in their sound and starting incorporate more pop/rock elements, which I am totally for. The quality of the songwriting has also been dramatically stepped up on this effort, with both Greg and Tom hitting it out of the park on every song. While I wouldn't call this a concept album, there's enough of a central idea that it helps to make it more cohesive and adds to the experience of listening to it. The whole thing is sad in the best way and makes me want to yell along to every word. This probably would have been my album of the year if it wasn't for...

1. Jeff Rosenstock- I Look Like Shit
Pretty much as soon as I heard that a new Jeff Rosenstock album came out I knew that it would be my album of the year before I even heard it. I guessed right! I've touched on this album already, so no need to review. Get on Jeff's level, world.


Shook Ones- Merriweather Post Pavillion
Shook Ones are a band that need to come back to playing full-time more than pretty much anyone else. They're really good. So while I can't see them live or anything, I guess that this EP is a decent substitute for the time being. They haven't missed a beat. I think the title track might be the song of the year.

Topanga- Oceans
Let's get this out of the way real quick: Yes, their name is a great reference to a great TV show. That's for sure going to be the first thing most people remark about them, but they also have the tunes to keep you there after coming for their name. Topanga play poppy indie rock music and play it real well. It's way to catchy to hate it. I always bounce around while listening to this.

Snake Charmer- Demo
Think about what the heaviest band you know is. They are not as heavy as Snake Charmer. Not even close.