Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Year in Review -or- Fuck 2008, Here's to '09

Man, what a fucking year. I couldn't be more happy that it's over. Well here's hopin' that 2009 will be my bounce back year. Ok personal bullshit aside, time for the music! It was a pretty solid year for music, not great, never the less, I assembled a lengthy 40 full length album "best of" on Rate Your Music, as well as lists for EPs/7"s and Comps/Collections. I'm only going to go in to detail for the Top Ten of the year, mention briefly the 11 honorable mentions, and if you want to see the full list, you'll have to go to my RYM page. In addition to their numerical ranking, which is less concrete than it seems, each album will get its own best of. So here we go!

#1. Album of the Year/Best Lyrical Album/Best "Fuck the Sophomore Slump" Album
The Gaslight Anthem-The '59 Sound: This was indeed one of the most anticipated releases of the year, by all of those who heard Sink or Swim, the band's stellar "come out of fucking nowhere" debut ('07 Album of the Year). I didn't think it was possible to follow up with an album that would be as good, let alone greater in many aspects as that. The second I found out it leaked I downloaded it, locked my bedroom door and listened intently. I was torn. "What the hell is with the reverb on his voice? What is this lame song singing about Tom Petty? I fucking hate Tom Petty!" etc. etc. Despite this, there were a few stand out tracks that kept me coming back. After all, I didn't like Sink or Swim at first, and then I saw them live and was hooked. The more I kept coming back to listen to songs like the title track, "Great Expectations," and "The Patient Ferris Wheel," the more it grew on me. I began to love every single track (except for "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,"I actually like the track, but fuck Tom Petty...) I got over the production and listened to what it was really about: the music. The lyrics hit me like a semi-truck, and I welcomed the collision. I only wish this record came earlier in the year, but along with #2, it helped me get through the tough times. Musically, its as if soul, punk, folk, and americana had a wonderful bastard child. The punk is less pronounced than its predecessor, but the urgency is still there on many of the songs, and as a result, they sound mature, but not boring. There was a point in August where I listened to this almost daily because I couldn't get enough of it, and I still barely can't. This band is gonna be huge, and they deserve it. I'll be just glad to say I got to see them play in a bowling alley in Asbury Park before they started playing stadiums. (sound familiar? cough cough) Rating: 9.6/10

#2. Best Album to Kill Yourself To/Best Pop-Punk Album/Best Debut Full-Length
Off With Their Heads-From the Bottom: I had high hopes for this album, and it totally delivered. Though I was hoping for more "new" songs that I hadn't heard from myspace prior to its release or previous 7"s, it is none the less a fantastic fucking album. Its dark, morbid pop-punk that has renewed my faith in the genre. Its catchy as fuck, makes you want to pogo around your room, and tie that noose at the same time. My roommate came upstairs once and said to me "Dude, I think I've been listening to too much Off With Their Dudes..." "Why? You feel like shit?" "Yeah..." It's an album that makes you feel like shit and great at the same fucking time. As long as Ryan keeps singing about life sucking ass, and not actually offing his head, we should be fine. Rating: 9.4/10

#3. Best "Album that was supposed to come out this year, but officially might not til 2009, but was way too good to wait"/Best Sound Progression
O Pioneers!!!-Neon Creeps: O Pioneers!!! new album was also highly anticipated for me. I had only recently gotten into them at the end of last year, and I loved their brand of Hot Water Music-influenced folk-punk. On Neon Creeps, Eric and the boys step away from the sound and go for something entirely of their own. Featuring shorter, more concise lyrics, late 80's Dischord musical vibes, a voice thats less screaming but still beautifully rough, and a bass guitar (!!!), it's the direction I wish Against Me! took, instead of the poppiness (or should I say poopiness, har har har) of New Wave. These guys played in my basement in September, and mostly showcased the new stuff, and I was blown away even then. I'm surprised more people don't know this band than do, but I guess I spend too much time on and Vinyl Collective. I've been spreading the love for this band to my friends for a while, and this album finally got their attention. Rating: 9.4/10

#4 Best Come From Behind, Damn This Is Awesome! Album/Best Electric Folk-Punk Album
The Riot Before-Fists Buried In Pockets: Richmond, VA's The Riot Before were a band that took me forever to get into. They were getting frequently repped around the internet, and needless to say I wasn't too impressed by Horseshoes and Handgrenades, and So Long, the Lighthouse was ok, but not great. I eventually changed my views on the latter, and the former still has some faults in my eyes. Two things brought this about. Seeing these guys open for The Gaslight Anthem, and this album. The flow and "theme" of this album works wonderfully, with tales of losing faith in your beliefs at the same time as touring the country, sleeping on floors and playing in basements. They take the major Against Me! influence, and take it in their own directions. The lyrics to "I Have My Books" gets me everytime, very simplistic and powerful. This band is full of heart and passion, and I can't wait to see where they go musically. Like O Pioneers!!!, I've been spreading this band's awesomeness all around. Hopefully one day they can cross the Mississippi on tour and play my basement. Rating: 9.2/10

#5 Best Album to Play Outside a Church/Best Hardcore Album
Paint It Black-New Lexicon: Like Off With Their Heads renewed my faith in pop-punk, Paint It Black were one of the bands (like Modern Life is War, Fucked Up, and Verse) that renewed my faith in hardcore. The 80's are over, and most people's conception of hardcore is the metal-influenced screaming crap that plagues the airwaves, or the way too bro-ed out guys on steroids stuff (granted the latter was always prevalent, but at least it still sounded punk). Paint It Black keeps the punk in hardcore, but still brings it in new directions, but doesn't over do it like Fucked Up did on their new album. Dr. Dan just spits venom at every injustice in society, and religion is the prime target. His intelligent lyrics are what puts this album above and beyond their contemporaries, sort of like what Greg Graffin did for Bad Religion. This album made me want to chuck shit around in my room and punch a hole in the wall first time I heard it. I listened to it while mowing the lawn once and I wished there was a priest in front of me. Its hard to say whether or not this album is the best yet, because I love all three of their full lengths. I guess its almost on par with Paradise, and slightly better than CVA. I seriously need to see this band live, like what the fuck, come to Colorado. Rating: 9/10

#6. Best Comeback Album/Runner Up Best Pop-punk Album/Runner-Up Best Album to Play Outside a Church
Dillinger Four
-C I V I L W A R: Holy shit, has it really been 6 years? 2002 was the first time I heard this band ("Noble Stabbings!!!" on the Atticus: Dragging the Lake comp) and I immediately like them. They were one of the first real punk bands I listened to in my post-blink 182 hangover stage freshman year of high school. They have always stood out to me as the best pop-punk band ever. The kept the hooks and the catchiness, but still had the aggression of hardcore, and no frills whatsoever. The fans have waited forever for this to come out. When I finally had it on my hard drive (yes I downloaded the leak, you serious? I bought the vinyl of course!), I almost couldn't believe it. I was almost worried when I first listened to it, but those fears were squashed. Its not quite up there with Midwestern Songs for the Americas or Versus God, but I like it more than Situationist Comedy. The Paddy songs are few, and sound slightly forced, but are still great. The real gems are the ones created by Erik Funk. Goddamn can that dude write a catchy motherfucking tune. "The Classical Arrangement" is a lyrically fantastic, scathing attack on religion. "Gainesville," the poppiest track on the album stands out for its sunny outlook, but honestly, how could you not feel that way at The Fest? However, the greatest song is "Ode to the Great American Snake Oil Distributor," and the chorus of "smash your fucking halo" is glorious and I was singing it all day long for weeks after I heard it (still am). The album's closer, "clown cars on cinderblocks" has a special place in my heart. This was totally worth the wait. Rating: 8.8/10

#7 Best Cowpunk/Alt-country Album/Runner-up Best Lyrical Album
Two Cow Garage-Speaking in Cursive: This album was a real grower on me. I picked it up after listening to some songs on their myspace page, and thinking their whole alt-country Lawrence Arms style sound was pretty fucking cool. It wasn't until I started listening to the lyrics that the album really clicked with me, and jumped up several spots on this list. "Humble Narrator" is one of the best openers I've heard in a while and highlights the dynamics this band has. A few songs really strike me personally, like "Folksinger's Heart" ("older brother, oldest son, I was never really good at either one..." "it was arrogant to think from the start that you were the only backyard Dylan with a folksinger's heart") The "Swingset Assassin" song is also a pretty cool story of the writer's music tastes. There are a couple weaker tracks, those song by the other vocalist, but overall this is a fantastic album.
Rating: 8.6/10

#8 Best Album From A Genre I Didn't Know I Liked Until This Year/Best Album to Shake Your Ass to.
Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves-Roll With You: Well goddamn! This album is awesome! I didn't know a white dude could sing soul so well! So well that I decided maybe I should check out this whole crazy genre. Now I can't get enough of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, etc. You can tell Eli has a deep appreciation for his forebearers, and Roll With You covers a wide range of style, from the slow, deep ballads to the pseudo-funky dance numbers. A few of the songs on this sound pretty musically similar, but whatever, the sound is great. Everytime there is a party at my house, you can be sure this album will be in the rotation at least twice.
Rating: 8.5/10

#9 Best Album by a New Favorite Artist/Best Folk Rock Album
Frank Turner-Love Ire & Song: As I stated in my previous post, I just discovered this man, and all I can say is holy shit, why haven't I listened to him earlier? Turner echoes fellow Brit Billy Bragg in his sound and is not afraid to add some new elements to his acoustic guitar songs. He carries elements of his 2007 album Sleep is for the Week, with songs about becoming disenchanted with the protest scene ("Love Ire & Song), being heartbroken ("Substitute"), songs about his friends("I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous"), and songs about being a 20-something in London and not having a direction (all over). Despite the bitterness, there is still rays of hope shining through in some of his songs, like the title track and his touching ballad about a deceased friend. Basically a great album for this point of my life. Bravo.
Rating: 8.5/10

#10 Runner-Up Best Hardcore Album
Verse-Aggression: Although it may seem a bit silly to name a hardcore album Aggression, but it does put the focus of the album to the forefront. They are incredibly pissed off at the state of the country and they are going to let the listener know all about it. The highlight of the album is the three part "Story of a Free Man." This was a pleasant year end surprise that pits Verse up with the cream of the hardcore crop.
Rating: 8.4/5

Rest of the Best
#11: Chuck Ragan & Austin Lucas-Bristle Ridge, Rating: 8.4/10
(Best Folk Album)
#12: Jon Crocker- The Dust Will Settle, Rating: 8.3/10
(Runner-Up Best Folk)
#13: The Slackers-Self Medication, Rating: 8.2/10
(Best Ska Album)
#14: Street Dogs-State of Grace, Rating: 8.2/10
(Best Album to go "hey! hey! hey!" to)
#15: Lagrecia-On Parallels, Rating: 8.1/10 (Best First & Only Album)
#16: The Cute Lepers-Can't Stand Modern Music, Rating: 8.1/10
(Best Powerpop Album/Runner-Up Best Album to Shake Your Ass To)
#17: Drag the River-You Can't Live This Way, Rating: 8/10
(Runner-Up Best Cowpunk/Alt-country/Best Album That Plays Itself Twice)
#18. Tim Barry-Manchester, Rating: 8/10 (Runner-Up Best "Fuck the Sophomore Slump Album")
#19. TV Smith-In the Arms of My Enemy, Rating: 8/10 (Best Acoustic Folk-Punk Album)
#20. Heathers-Here, Not There, Rating: 7.9/10 (Cutest Band of 2008)

Honorable Mentions:
Billy Bragg-Mr. Love and Justice.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds-Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
The Tossers-On A Fine Spring Evening.
Monikers-Wake Up.
Shorebirds-It's Gonna Get Ugly.

Best EPs/7"s
#1. The Gaslight Anthem-Senor and the Queen
#2. Gatorface-Sick and Stupid
#3. O Pioneers!!!-s/t 7"
#4. Jello Biafra with Brown Town West-Jezebel
#5. Tim Barry-Live at Munford Elementary
#6. Statues-Same Bodies, Same Faces
#7. The Gaslight Anthem-Sink or Swim Demos
#8. The Cute Lepers-Terminal Boredom b/w Prove It
#9. Cobra Skulls-Never Be A Machine
#10. Andrew Jackson Jihad-Only God Can Judge Me
#11. Mischief Brew-Jobs In Steeltown
#12. Bomb the Music Industry/Mustard Plug-Under the Influence, Vol. 3
#13. Career Suicide-Cherry Beach EP
#14. The Measure [SA]-Means to An End
#15. V/A-Incestival-Orlando's Worst 4-Way Split (NMDS, Gatorface, Virgins, Polluted Youth)

Honorable Mentions
Billy Bragg-I Keep Faith
The Measure [SA]-Songs About People...and Fruit N' Shit
O Pioneers!!!/Mike Park-Split 7"
O Pioneers!!!/Announcement-Split 7"
Killed By the Bull-Return of the Spell

Best Comps/Collections
#1. Hot Water Music-'Til the Wheels Fall Off
#2. The Measure [SA]-One Chapter in the Book: A Collection of Standard Waits and Measurements
#3. Statues-Terminal Bedroom
#4. Mischief Brew-Boiling Breakfast Early
#5. Frank Turner-The First Three Years

10 Best Shows of 2008 (Total shows this year=27)
#1. The Gaslight Anthem/The Riot Before/Scream Hello/Laserhead, Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park NJ, May 30th.
#2. Against Me!/Ted Leo + The Pharmacists/Future of the Left, Gothic Theater, Denver Oct 21st
#3. The Revival Tour w/ Chuck Ragan/Tim Barry/Ben Nichols/Jon Snodgrass/Austin Lucas, Marquis Theater, Denver Oct 23rd
#4. O Pioneers!!!/10-4 Eleanor/The Masters of Suspicion, my basment, Sept 4th
#5. Alkaline Trio/American Steel/Sleeperhorse, Cervantes Ballroom, Denver, Aug 2nd
#6. Planesmistakenforstars' Final Show w/ Mustangs and Madras/Kingdom of Magic, Marquis Feb 16th.
#7. Hot Water Music/Only Thunder/Mustangs and Madras, Gothic Sept 7th
#8. Ghost Mice/Heathers, my basement, July 20th
#9. Pinhead Circus (reunion show)/Sleeperhorse/Eyes and Ears, Marquis July 26th
#10. Streetlight Manifesto/Zox (ug)/Dan Potthast, Ogden Theater, Denver Apr 8th

Biggest Dissappointments of 2008 (no particular order)
-Against Me!'s short, lackluster show at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins Feb 29th
-Having to leave Rise Against early when they started playing good songs.
-planesmistakenforstars breaking up (great last show though)
-The Bronx-The Bronx (III) (its ok, but I was hoping for somthing better)
-Alkaline Trio-Agony and Irony (at least it was better than Crimson)
-The Copyrights-Learn the Hard Way (still in my top 40, but its their weakest album)
-The Ergs! breaking up, and me not being in NJ for their last show
-Flogging Molly-Float (bummer)
-Me not being in NJ for the Bouncing Souls 3 night extravaganza again
-Kevin Seconds and His Ghetto Moments-Rise Up Insomniacs!
-Rise Against-Appeal to Reason (but honestly, what did I expect?)
-This Bike is a Pipebomb-Convertible
-Static Radio NJ-An Evening of Bad Decisions (They went from Kid Dynamite to Lifetime, lame.)
-Anti-Flag-Bright Lights of America
-New Mexican Disaster Squad breaking up
-Family moving from New Jersey to San Diego (epic lame)

Hyped Albums of 2008 That I Don't Get
-The Hold Steady-Stay Positive
-Lemuria-Get Better
-Banner Pilot-Resignation Day
-Bridge and Tunnel-East/West
-Dead to Me-Little Brother
-Polar Bear Club-Sometimes Things Just Dissappear
-Star Fucking Hipsters-Until We're Dead
-The Steinways-Gorilla Marketing

Other Notables of 2008
-reissues of The Replacements' Tim and Pleased to Meet Me
-reissues of Alkaline Trio's Goddamnit (w/ awesome DVD and demos) and Maybe I'll Catch Fire (vinyl again woo!)
-The Falcon's first EP being issued on vinyl (Congrats Vinyl Collective Cooperative on that success!)
-Me snagging a white copy of The '59 Sound
-Ghost Mice, Heathers, O Pioneers!!! and Jon Crocker are some the nicest people I've ever met
-Being one of 3 people singing along to Gaslight Anthem at the Rise Against show in November
-Gatorface and Virgins (the two bands that formed from NMDS wake) are totally awesome
-listening to way too much 60's garage rock than I should have
-discovering the awesomeness of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945"

Looking Foward to in 2009?
-Playing a show with Off With Their Heads in a bike shop in Feb!
-new Propagandhi album?!
-new Bomb the Music Industry!, Bouncing Souls (sort of), Austin Lucas
-hopefully new albums from Andrew Jackson Jihad, A Wilhelm Scream, The Lawrence Arms
-Ska is Dead 4!
-Reel Big Fish w/ Streetlight Manifesto (I've seen this show like 12 times, but its always fun)
-The Gaslight Anthem at the Gothic
-Maybe I can finally stop being so goddamn single

and last but not least here is my 2008 Super Awesome Mixtape/Playlist!

Download link

1. The Gaslight Anthem-The Patient Ferris Wheel
2. Off With Their Heads-Self Checkout
3. O Pioneers!!!-Stressing the Fuck Out
4. The Riot Before-I Have My Books
5. Paint It Black-Shell Game Redux
6. Dillinger Four-Ode to the Great American Snake Oil Distibutor
7. Two Cow Garage-Folksinger's Heart
8. Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves-The Satisfier
9. Frank Turner-Love Ire & Song
10. Verse-Old Guards, New Methods
11. Chuck Ragan & Austin Lucas-Judgement Day
12. Jon Crocker-Six Day Sinner's Son
13. The Slackers-Every Day is Sunday
14. Street Dogs-The General's Boombox
15. LaGrecia-The Montage
16. The Cute Lepers-Terminal Boredom
17. Drag the River-BrOOtal
18. Tim Barry-Texas Cops
19. TV Smith-In The Arms of My Enemy
20. Heathers-Honey Please?!
21. Billy Bragg-O Freedom
22. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
23. The Tossers-Whiskey Makes Me Crazy
24. Monikers-80 Proof
25. Shorebirds-Nutter
26.-I Walk the Line-Black Wave
27. Henry Fiat's Open Sore-Faster Phil Spector, Kill Kill!
28. Teenage Bottlerocket-Nuthouse
29. Virgins-Another's Gun
30. Statues-Dead or Alive
31. Gatorface-Sick and Stupid
32. Cobra Skulls-Never Be A Machine
33. Andrew Jackson Jihad-Jesus Saves
34. Tom Gabel-Anna is a Stool Pigeon
35. Mustard Plug-Waiting Room (Fugazi cover)
36. Mischief Brew-Jobs in Steeltown
37. Static Radio NJ-Bothered
38. The Ergs!-blahblahblahfuckyoublahblahblah
39. Bouncing Souls-Man In Black

hope everyone has a wonderful new year's, and look forward to a revamped folking the system. more music reviews! more playlist downloads! more new bands to shove down your throats! more posts! gratuitous female nudity!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


School has been kicking my ass lately, and I've been neglecting this thing. I'm incredibly happy this semester is over, despite liking most of my classes, I just need a break to do nothing for a while and reboot my system. Right now I'm suppose to be writing a paper on Indian revolutionaries that is due Tuesday, but of course I got distracted. Maybe record my new songs on better equipment. I've been wanting to play some shows outside my house for a while, but just haven't had the time. Last night we had a fancy smancy wine and cheese party last night, and I got drunk enough to play a few songs. That was pretty fun, even my aborted "Holland, 1945" cover that I forgot the chords too...oh well.

Speaking of shows, the awesome Jon Crocker played a show at my house last week after a last minute email. It had been snowing all day, so we ended up only playing for a crowd consisting of my roommates and my bandmates. The thermostat was also broken that night, turning my house into a sauna. so that was fun. He's a fantastic musician, and his cd "The Dust Will Settle" made it into my top ten list this year (take that Street Dogs!). I look foward to seeing him if he comes through again. Pictures will be posted later

what else what else....

I just recently discovered the illustrious Frank Turner, whose name I had been hearing for a while, but I had never checked out music. Turns out he is phenomenal. This song "Substitute" from his new album "Love, Ire & Song" particularly stood out to me.

The first girl that I fell for was a fair and faithful fighter
She smouldered with a will to save the world
I did my best to help her, yeah I stood shoulder to shoulder
On the front lines with my visionary girl

I wish that she had cared for me
But in the end her ideologies
Occupied the fortress of her heart
I wrote her 15 songs, but still we had to part

And if music was the food of love
Then I'd be a fat romantic slob
Well music, it's my substitute for love

The last girl that I loved she was a low and lusty liar
She set my heart on fire, but made me choke
Her beauty was a sight to see, but she didn't save it all for me
I found other fires by following the smoke

I wish that she had either cared for me or
let be me
But she chased me from mind and from my home
I wrote her 16 songs, but I ended up alone

And if love is really all that we need
Then even all my singing is never gonna save me
Music it's my substitute for love

Well I've had many different girls inside my bed
But only one or two inside my head
These days I cuddle up to my guitar instead
But oh, what I would give, not to stumble but to really fall in love
And I could substitute my singing for the sound of someone sleeping next to me

word up Frank Turner.

Also, in glorious holiday tradition, the giant glowing red pentagram is back on our roof after 2.5 hours of nailing, stretching, and high mathematical calculations. This year we went with the inverted model. Hail Satan! pics to come soon!

My next post will be an epic "Best of 08!" sort of deal.