I usually like to post a little blurb with each selection on my lists but since I'm sick and having Internet problems, I'm gonna leave it blank for now. I might come back and add them, might not. Anyways, enjoy!
Top 25 Albums
25. The History Of Apple Pie - Out Of View 24. The Field - Cupid's Head 23. Enemies - Embark, Embrace 22. Cults - Static 21. 1994! - FUCK IT 20. Deafheaven - Sunbather 19. Business Models - Room 18. Mikal Cronin - MCII 17. Dowsing - I Don't Even Care Anymore 16. Owen - L' Ami du Peuple 15. Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister 14. And So I Watch You From Afar - All Hail Bright Futures 13. Baths - Obsidian 12. Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe 11. Arcade Fire - Reflektor 10. I Can See Mountains - Life On A Houseboat 9. Touche Amore - Is Survived By 8. Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse 7. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City 6. Brave Bird - Maybe You, No One Else Worth It 5. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Whenever, If Ever 4. Paramore - Paramore 3. Los Campesinos! - No Blues 2. Into It. Over It. - Intersections 1. State Faults - Resonate / Desperate
Top 25 Songs
25. State Faults - Stalagmites 24. Cut Copy - Let Me Show You Love (Single Version) 23. Joanna Gruesome - Do You Wanna Know Why Yr Still In Love With Me? 22. All Blondes Go To Heaven - Up & Down 21. You Blew It! - I'm A kid, That's My Job 20. Hollerado - So It Goes 19. Death Grips - Birds 18. Paramore - Still Into You 17. Touché Amoré - Non Fiction / Steps 16. Blood Orange - You're Not Good Enough 15. Paramore - Grow Up 14. Dikembe - Donuts In a Six Speed 13. Brave Bird - Whittle Down The Days 12. Daft Punk - Lose Yourself To Dance 11. Into It. Over It. - The Shaking of Leaves 10. Youth Lagoon - Mute 9. Vampire Weekend - Diane Young 8. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Getting Sodas 7. And So I Watch you From Afar - Big Thinks Do Remarkable 6. Daft Punk - Get Lucky 5. William Bonney - Dope Castle 4. Paramore - Ain't It Fun 3. Grouplove - Ways To Go 2. Los Campesinos! - What Death Leaves Behind 1. I Can See Mountains - I Play The Fox
Top 10 EPs / Splits / Mini-Albums / etc
10. North Folk - King Moonracer Demo 9. Tame Impala - Mind Mischief EP 8. Perfect Pussy - i have lost all desire for feeling 7. One Hundred Year Ocean - Where Were You While We Were Getting High? 6. Adventures - Clear My Head With You 5. All Blondes Go To Heaven - Bread Crumbs Back Home EP 4. Their / They're / There - Analog Weekend 3. Dikembe / Hightide Hotel / Jet Set Sail / Monument - 4-Way Split 2. Sand Castles - Sad Songs 1. Fake Problems / You Blew It! - Florida Doesn't Suck
Top 10 Shows
10. Dikembe / I Can See Mountains 9. You Blew It! (with some other bands) 8. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes 7. Baths 6. DIIV 5. Purity Ring 4. Loma Prieta 3. And So I Watch You From Afar / This Towns Needs Guns 2. Phoenix (Grove Music Festival) 1. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
I initially found DIIV’s 2012 debut album Oshin to be a pleasurable listen, if not forgettable. Only after repeated listens was I able to differentiate between the songs and appreciate the songwriting found therein. Still, I liked the album more for it’s atmosphere and sound rather than the actual songs. So when I heard they would be coming to a venue near me, I was a tad skeptical about whether seeing them would be worth the time and money. Oshin is good background or mood music, but would I like it when I stood and just listened to it for an hour? Well, I’d heard they put on a good show, and since there haven’t been many other shows recently that have piqued my interest, I decided to give them a chance.
I was also skeptical of how good the show would be if it was held at The Tralf. For the unacquainted, The Tralf is a somewhat upscale bar/bistro, with tables and chairs ringing the stage. Not exactly the type of venue you’d imagine a band like DIIV playing in. My worst fears were confirmed when i showed up early and everybody was sitting around tables waiting for the first band to come on. I was probably being a bit paranoid, as a small group of fans timidly approached the stage once the first band went on. Still,it’s a shame that Mohawk Bar recently closed, as the whole affair would have felt more natural there.
Valleys opened up the night and were a pleasant surprise. They consisted merely of one guy on guitar and vocals and a girl on keyboards. They still managed to make quite a racket despite this. They made excellent use of the powerful low end afforded by the big speakers present, and the soundscapes they generated were gorgeous. I had a sneaking feeling they wouldn’t sound as good on record, and listening to them later I sadly found this to be true. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to transfer that power to their records and they suffer for it. No matter, try to see them live and you’ll see why the were invited out by DIIV.
Next up was Starred and this is where the night took a turn for the weird. The band was a four piece, but the only members worth commenting on were the lead guitarist and his girlfriend, the de facto singer of the group. Both had the look of strung out coke addicts, and they didn’t act much better than they looked. When the band was setting up a person started heckling them for taking a bit long doing so. It wasn’t a very nice move to be sure, but nothing warranting action on the band’s part, who you would hope would have built up some thick skin. But of course the singer leaps to the microphone and starts berating the audience, spewing curses left and right as he demands the culprit step forward. With no one forthcoming, he decided to take his anger out by picking up his guitar and unleashing a violent storm of feedback, ostensibly to piss off the audience.
Thankfully his band quickly decided to join him on stage. It didn’t get much better from here on, with the band moping through some songs as the singer mumbled into the microphone and the lead singer disinterestedly picking at his guitar. Their set was mercifully somewhat short, though the singer kept singing after the rest of the band left the stage and they had to scramble back to help her finish. I don’t know if they were having some personal troubles or they were simply a piss poor band, but I’d be hard pressed to think of a worse performance that I’ve seen.
Thankfully, DIIV more than made up for it. They recently cancelled a run of dates in Europe due to exhaustion form touring, but to my eye it seemed they were having a fun time playing with each other. The band displayed far better dynamics and energy than found on their record, resulting in a surprising amount of people dancing and keeping time to the music. I still couldn’t name one song from another, but I recognized each one and enjoyed how the band would indulge in thrashing around a bit and milking the best part of each song. Highlights included an extended take on “Air Conditioner”, which the band switched to playing double time on halfway through and “Dust”, a new song that is perhaps better than anything on Oshin. Hopefully after some rest the band will head back to the studio; if the record is of the same quality as “Dust” I feel they could raise their profile even further.
Yesterday (Tuesday the 9th of April, 2013) was my first and probably last time at local venue The Vault. I had not even heard of it before this show was announced and I happen to go to a fair amount of shows in the Buffalo area. Moreover, it’s located almost right across from the Town Ballroom in the Theatre District, making it even more remarkable I hadn’t stumbled across it. The above mark about not going back was meant as disparaging; the sad fact is that the Vault is closing in a month or two. Why I know not, but Buffalo is losing another local concert hall that it can ill afford to lose.
The Vault also doubles as sort of artist space for all sorts of projects. I noticed immediately upon arriving a definite DIY feel to the space. There were shelfs of community designated books on one side of the anteroom and the other side was full of odd pieces of musical equipment and furniture. I moved towards the back of the venue towards where the band was due to play and encountered various pictures displayed under low, artistic lighting. I can’t say I was surprised, logically surmising this show wouldn’t be too rowdy.
I was a bit disappointed, though I knew it was for my own seeing as I’ve been nursing a torn ligament in my hamstring. Loma Prieta is a screamo/hardcore band hailing from San Francisco and touring in support of their excellent album I.V., released last year. They have a reputation for loud, violent shows, with an emphasis on the loud. Their records sound like a pure wall of noise and screams, and it takes a couple listens to discern the complex riffs and lyrics under the layers of sound.
I wisely decided to bring ear plugs with me, knowing that the sound would be extremely loud and amplified in such a small space. The opening bands were indeed extremely loud and I’m glad I was able to save my hearing somewhat. I decided to take them out for Loma Prieta, since I wanted to fully experience the noise.
The band started out with a cacophony of random notes and drum hits, slowly building the volume until the crowd felt as if engulfed in a storm. The guitarist motioned the crowd to move forward and we did so dutifully. The crowd now full of nervous, anticipatory energy, the band launched into “Fly By Night” of off I.V. It was only after carefully listening for a little while did it emerge that that was indeed the song. Song after song would emerge and then disappear into the noise, the band never stopping to breathe or talk to the audience. Hearing the song live made one really appreciate the intensity of the songs and the role of noise in each one. Highlights of the set included “Aside From Distant Shadow, There Is Nothing Left”, the aforementioned “Fly By Night”, and in particular “Trilogy 6: Forgetting”.
The set felt as if it lasted an hour but after a scarce twenty minutes the band was done. The guitarist dropped his guitar unceremoniously on the floor, walking out of the venue directly through the crowd, which avoided his intense gaze. The rest of the band stood backs to the audience, prolonging the sonic intensity as long as possible as we all stood in stunned silence. Only after the noise finally subsided did we snap out of our trance and quietly move to leave. Outside I was dismayed to see it was pouring rain out. It was fitting that it was so miserable out, as fit the mood the band transmitted so perfectly. Despite this I was in a good mood as I hurried towards my car under the bright orange lamps of downtown. Loma Prieta put on a great show and I only suffered a little bit of hearing damage. What more could I ask for?
This is a review I wrote for my blog Crooked Haze but I figured I'd also post it here.
This past Wednesday (the 5th of April, 2013 for anybody reading this in the far future) yours truly had the pleasure of seeing Purity Ring at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, New York. The duo is currently touring in support of their excellent album Shrines, released last year to critical acclaim. Also providing support was Blue Hawaii, who just recently released their new record Untogether, which seems to be receiving good press though I neglected to listen to it before the show.
Of particular note about Purity Ring is the use of bass in their sound. Their tracks are stunning to listen to on a regular pair of speakers or headphones but if you listen to a song like Lofticries on a set of speakers that can pack a punch you’ll hear and feel an extra dimension to the song. The speakers in my car are practically blown out by this point due to the volume I play my music at and it’s partially due to me cranking the bass on Shrines.
So I was particularly excited about seeing this show because I knew the sound system at a concert venue would be able to blow the doors of my crappy Ford Focus speakers, allowing me to experience the songs as they originally meant to be heard by the band. Strolling inside the Ballroom I was immediately assaulted, sonically and physically, by Nicki Minaj’s Beez in the Trap thumping over the massive speakers on each side of the stage. While I’m not a fan of Minaj, it provided a showcase for what I was in store for the rest of the night.
Up first was of course Blue Hawaii, who I didn’t have high hopes for. However, their perky female singer immediately endeared herself to the crowd by introducing the band in a sweetly self conscious manner. The band started off slow but eventually got the crowd moving with some tracks that were a lot more dance and pop oriented than I had expected. I especially enjoyed these moments and promised myself that I would check them out when I got home. While they aren’t ready to headline a show yet, Blue Hawaii left the crowd warmed and ready for the main show.
To describe Purity Ring’s set it’s important to note their light show. They have a bunch of lanterns that hang all over the stage and are hooked up to MIDI lamps that the instrumentalist hits. It’s a gorgeous set up and looks even cooler when enveloped in a smoky haze, which is the sight that greeted me when the duo ran onstage. They immediately launched into Amenamy, and my expectations were more than fulfilled. As you can hear in the video the bass was almost overwhelming, and I loved it. Other highlights of the set were Lofticries, Crawlersout, and an extended version of Fineshrine to close the set.
I was a bit surprised at how quiet and gothic the lead singer was. She hardly spoke at all and mostly confined herself to performing. This was fine by me as she is a fine singer and provided a visual enactment of each track. If I was to bring up a complaint (I’m not) it’s that the band’s set was a bit short for a headliner. They played every song on Shrines plus a cover of Soulja Boy’s Grammy, which all together was satisfying, though one couldn’t help but selfishly wish they had more songs to stretch their set out. I suppose I’ll just wait until they tour in support of their next record.
I won’t waste my time explaining anymore how visually spectacular and musically competent the band is, since I won’t do it justice. Instead I hope you can make it out to one of their shows soon!
It's that magical time of year: List Season! I get all warm and fuzzy inside reading different website's end of year music lists, and I figured I better get on with making my own. Once again I've kept a list of all the new music I've added in 2012 in a list in my iTunes library. Last year's experience was great, but it's a credit to this year when I say I think this list is better than my first one. Overall, from songs to albums to concerts it's been a superb year. Like I said last year, I hardly claim this is a "Best Of" list, seeing as I dislike entire genres of music, and don't have enough time to listen to a great many releases from the genres I do like. Therefore, this is a list of MY favorite music from 2012. Enjoy!
I like each and every song on this album. Genuinely, I think the guys in Fang Island wrote some great jams. Seek It Out, Never Understand, and Asunder immediately jump to mind. In spite of this, the album is an underwhelming experience. After listening to it I invariably desire to listen to Fang Island, the group's debut album. The s/t had a group of songs that flowed, that had purpose, that ebbed and flowed. These qualities help an album transcend individual songs and become a piece of art on it's own. So, the group makes it on this list for writing a bunch of great songs, but they won't make it any higher because they didn't write a great album. There is a difference, and this should be exhibit A for anyone inquiring on the difference.
This is another album that suffers from comparison to it's predecessor. Crystal Castles II is an album that displays quality song writing from front to back, and managed to hit you at the gut level. III, while a very good album, lacks both of those qualities. It is definitely front loaded, with all 3 singles released from it within the first 4 tracks, and my favorite songs (Affection, Pale Flesh, and Insulin all pass by the 7 track mark. The rest of the album passes by well enough, leaving a good impression but it doesn't stick. I'm of the opinion this album is a major grower, but it hasn't clicked with me so far yet. Or maybe the duo has reached the point of diminishing returns with their admittedly well defined sound. Chalk it up to losing shock value after 2 albums, and perhaps more refined and subtle song writing. Time will only tell.
A slight but certainly entertaining and interesting debut album from this emo outfit. I like the format of 3 quick songs, and then a long jam, rinse, repeat, and done. Highlights: Like Father, Like Son & Left To Our Own Devices.
This is a tough review to write, mainly because I have more negative points to make about the album than positive ones. Let's get the negative points out of the way. I was of the opinion when it dropped, and still am, that releasing a 12 minutes "album" to fans is insulting. This album stinks of being half baked and rushed. The album's 9 tracks include a intro track, a cover of The Buggles's Video Killed the Radio Star, and a 50 second acoustic demo to cap it all off. Defenders of the band will say the their debut, Joyce Manor was only a couple minutes longer and had a mere 10 tracks. The difference is that Joyce Manor had 10 memorable, fleshed out, catchy as fuck, passionate songs that made their debut one of my favorite albums ever and a sure fire classic. Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired pales in comparison. And yet, even after all that ranting, I'm still drawn to the album. Video Killed The Radio Star knocked my socks off the first time I heard it, and still does. That track, Drainage, If I Needed You There, and Violent Inside were all quality songs. This album will always disappoint me when I hear it, because of the potential this band has, but it has enough strong points to somewhat redeem itself. Maybe if the band doesn't shit their pants next time around we will get a quality release that everybody knows they are capable of.
Another quick punk album. This release hit me out of left field, and I haven't really seen anybody else praising it, or even listening to it. Their loss, the album sports 2 of the most balls out catchiest and energetic punk songs of the year in All the Bull & Welcome to Erf, and the other 7 tracks aren't far behind. This is just punk pop, but it is exceedingly well done.
What a pleasant surprise of an album. I've been a fan of the band for awhile, but I thought their debut Up From Below was merely ok. Here turned from the hippy dippy, mish mash vibe of Up From Below to a calmer, more pastoral feel, and I loved it. This is just a more focused album, with better song writing and a common theme running throughout. Kudos to the band for resisting the urge to write another smash hit like Home and instead becoming artists actually devoted to their craft. There was supposed to be another album released this year by the band, but I don't mind waiting a little bit if the music is going to continue to be this solid.
I'm glad fun. turned their sound in the direction they did. Their debut album, Aim and Ignite, is a fantastic, fun, and quirky little album that deserved every iota of praise it got. Still, they perfected that sound and it was best they moved on, though many people would rather it wasn't in a "mainstream" way. I don't begrudge them that though, and I happen to think they did a pretty good job of it. We Are Young, It Gets Better, and All Alright are all fantastic pop songs and Stars features the best use of autotune this side of Kanye West. Some Nights reminds me of the Lion King and makes me recoil in displeasure half the time I hear it, and Why Am I the One kind of drags but they're still alright songs, and good pop songs at that. Overall, a flawed but still very enjoyable sophomore album.
Wild Nothing is the type of dream/twee/shoegaze pop band where all the songs blend together. Lucky for them, the songs on this album are very good, and contain some standout tracks like Only Heather and Paradise, a track that reminded me of Cut Copy in a very good way.
Much bas been made of the fact Ty Segall released three different albums this year, and the fact they were all of high quality. Indeed, it was tough to choose between Twins, Slaughterhouse, and Hair. However, I had the pleasure of seeing Ty Segall live this past september, and it was the songs off Slaughterhouse that really stuck with me and helped cement my opinion that the album was his best effort among the three. It's just a filthy, down and dirty, volume to 11 type of album and the songs are there to back up the sound. Wave Goodbye was one of my favorite tracks this year and Death and I Bought My Eyes were right behind it. There isn't much to this album, but the feeling of being assaulted by the pure volume, agression and filth of the songs on this album truly was one of the quintessential moment in many listener's experiences this year.
The first album in my massive list in iTunes, having been released on January 1st of this year if I'm not incorrect. I downloaded this on a whim, gave it a couple listens, and promptly forgot about it, at least for a little while. It certainly is on the extreme edge of my listening tastes, in terms of screamo/violence/metal. Like Touché Amoré's Parting The Sea Between The Brightness And Me last year, I found it initially difficult to see past the perceived lack of melody, extreme vocals and the fact that, well, the songs sounded merely like a couple dudes bashing away at their instruments with no regard to song structure. However, repeated listens revealed additional nuances and over time I grew to appreciate it, and hell, even like it a lot. I don't think there is a bad song on the album, highlighted by the mid album "Trilogy" featuring Trilogy 6 "Forgetting".
Another surprise of an album. I liked this band's early EP's, but only downloaded this because I needed SOMETHING to listen to that was emo and twinkly. Hell, I didn't even really like it the first couple times I listened to it. To this day the tracks tend to bleed together and the production sounds a bit off. Still, the lyrics are top notch and the songs distinguish themselves after a bunch of listens, revealing one of the better emo albums made this year. Highlight: definitely There's Nothing I Love More Than Baseball.
After Dino's previous 2 comeback LP's, Beyond & Farm, this album has received positive reviews, though it seems to be unappreciated. This may be partially because it's a very laid back album, and doesn't contain any stand out singles like those last two albums had. Still, I Bet On Sky is just as good as those two albums. I'm a recent convert to Dinosaur Jr. fandom, and I have to say I like their new output a lot better than their output in their mid to late 80's heyday. I love the hazy guitar sound, I love J Mascis' vocals. and I love the guitar solos. IBOS is chock full of all of these qualities, and I couldn't ask for much more. One could argue IBOS is actually more consistent than it's two recent siblings but I prefer to just enjoy all three albums just the way they are.
Here's an interesting album, and where the list transitions from good, enjoyable albums to great albums that helped define 2012. Dads comes from the twinkly emo scene, known for being rather homogenous and insular. American Radass is truly an album only people who are already fans of the scene would enjoy. The sound they have is bare bones, one that stripped elements from other emo band's sounds and combined into something that sounds awesome to fans of the scene, but sounds crude and unrefined to outsiders. It also boasts my favorite artwork of the year, and album title as well. It does indeed seem like an important, urgent album that meant something. This is an album that deals with personal problems, problems personal to the band, but that translate well to the listener's own world. It starts off with a kick, takes a breather midway through (Shit Twins, my least favorite song on the album) punches you in the nads again with the one two shot of Grunt Work (The '69 Sound) & Groin Twerk and then finishes strong with Bakefast at Piffany's & Heavy to the Touch (Think About Tonight, Forget About Tomorrow). They're an acquired taste, but once you "get" them, they'll immediately endear themselves to you with their honesty, energy, and irreverent sense of humor.
This is an album to get lost in, to experience, and unravel. I'm still not done with that process, and it's been a lot of fun so far. To my ears it sounds like there's more an emphasis on lyrics and album development here than on Innerspeaker. That album probably had better standout songs, but Lonerism is more of sit through and listen experience. Not to say it doesn't have some standout tracks, withFeels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant foremost in my mind. Lonerism retains the psychedelic sound of Innerspeaker, but takes it in new and interesting directions, and I commend Kevin Parker for trying and succeeding at this.
Yet another album that suffered in comparison to it's predecessor, this time Japandroid's Post-Nothing. I certainly enjoyed this album, and I think the four song run from Adrenaline Nightshift to Continuous Thunder marks the second best (see the top of this list) four song run on any album this year. Still, there isn't much variety in terms of songwriting, especially among the first four songs. They're all good songs, but they blend together and don't particularly stand out from each other. Still, the band made up for this with energy and a vitalness that few other bands captured on record this year.
Last year Ungirthed and Lofitcries topped my favorite songs list, and they are featured on this album. The band (mostly) delivered on the promise found in those songs and released a album full of pop gems. The album was a tad uneven (never really liked Obedear and Belispeak, and Cartographist is bit of a snooze) and overall lacked a cohesive flow. Still, I like Fineshrine and Grandloves as much as Ungirthed and Lofticries, and most of the other songs followed their formula successfully. So, the band may not have met the sky high expectations brought on by those first two songs, but they still came back with a fine pop album, and I'm perfectly happy with that.
Compared to Cosmogramma, this is a more relaxed, mellow affair but retains FlyLo's trademark style and sound. I like that move, and welcome the uncluttered sound. I couldn't comment on any individual songs, this is truly an album one has to listen from front to back to truly appreciate. Overall, I think it's his finest and most accessible work yet.
Instead of their break neck punk pop, Title Fight returned this year with a heavier, almost shoegaze sound. I can't say I like it better than their old style, but I like it just as much in a different way. All the songs are quality, though it takes a bunch of listens to distinguish one from another. Standouts: Secret Society, Head In The Ceiling Fan, and Frown.
A year on, and Cloud Nothings resides at almost the same spot they did last year with their second album Cloud Nothings. This time they majorly switched up their sound, with unmistakable production from Steve Albini and a heavier, more dynamic 90's influenced sound. Who would have thought Dylan Baldi could scream his fucking face off, as evidenced on the first two tracks No Future/No Past and Wasted Days? And he still brings the hooks, as heard on Stay Useless, Fall In, and Cut You. It was a risk switching up their sound and it payed off immensely for the group, showing they have a lot more potential than most people, myself included, thought they had.
Sadly released after the band had already split up, NOPE is a great tribute to the greatness of this band. Displaying that trademark Chicago twinkly emo sound, this 10 song effort has little fat on it's bones, ripping through great riff after great riff. A bit rough around the edges, especially in terms of sound quality (might just be my shitty rip), NOPE deserves to be mentioned along with classics like Grown Ups' More Songs and Castevet's The Echo & The Light from the Chicago scene.
As with Fucked Up's David Comes To Life from last year, this band was an acquired taste of mine. Once I got them though, The Money Store revealed great song after great song. I don't know what Stefan Burnett is bellowing about, but he sounds paranoid, angry, and a host of other negative emotions. All of this is over some of the catchiest beats, hooks, and samples of the year from the band's other two members. It's an abrasive listen, not one that everybody will fine palatable. As a whole, DG seem to be the one group that personified this year best. Releasing two albums in one year, along with their electrifying fallout from Epic Records sure gave it that feel. Not only that, but they seemed to represent every outsider and the emotions and connotations that go with that. They portrayed that depression, anger, paranoia and a host of other emotions and made it larger than life, something anybody who feels marginalized can identify with. 2012 was a rough year, and Death Grips was the band that best represented the mood of a whole lot of people throughout society. As an aside, I thought their second album No Love Deep Web, was good also, but couldn't hold a candle to The Money Store. Didn't help it had one of the most hilariously graphic album covers ever. Truly one of the most divisive releases of the year.
More than any other album this year, Gossamer felt like an LP that MATTERED. I couldn't tell you why, maybe it was the subject matter (Michael Angelakos is a great lyricist) or the songs themselves. I first heard this in late July, on a trip to Alabama, and listened to it probably a 100 times on the airplane trips down and up, and as my family traveled around the state. Memories of watching the endless scenery pass by as I digested each song stick with me to today. That being said, I found it to be an uneven listen. I don't like Mirrored Seas or Hideaway at all, and Take a Walk is good, though overrated. In fact, this album, in terms of flow and overall consistency, probably doesn't deserve to be ranked this high. It's saving grace is that afore mentioned meaningfulness and the fact it sports 6 or 7 awesome songs. I'll Be Alright and Constant Conversations are both in my top 10 tracks of the year, and late album tracks like Love Is Greed and It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy certainly haven't got the praise they deserve. So despite it's flaws, Gossamer rides to the top of this list based on the amazing song writing (mostly) displayed here.
What really sold me on this album, and this band, is the production and the sound they have. The only way I can describe it is dynamic, with the drums having a very striking, unique sound to them that elevates this band from good to great. They have an almost Algernonsque quality in that they write songs that stretch and pull and take on a life of their own. Take Apology Not Fucking Accepted for example. The song starts off with intro guitar notes that trade in between the left and right channels, setting an ominous mood. Then, BAM! massive drum roll and the song takes off like a bat out of hell, and ends with the singer screaming and muttering, "I CAN'T EVEN FUCKING SEE STRAIGHT!" before it trails off into a jamming, twinkly last thirty seconds. Perfection, and that's not even the best song on the album. As striking as the music is, the lyrics are there to back it up, with many memorable phrases and asides. This is grower of an album, and I feel like people didn't give it enough listens as evidenced by the relative lack of year end credit coming to these guys.
Emerald Fantasy Tracks was one of my favorite albums from 2010, and Galaxy Garden was the only album I heard in 2012 that not only met the expectations generated by a hyped earlier album but also surpassed them and created another new benchmark. GG moved from the drifting, Boards of Canadaesque soundscapes he finally perfected on EFT to a new, rave influenced sound. At least that's what I've read, I've never listened to any of the artists referenced as influences by reviews of GG. It certainly didn't sound like anything I'd ever heard when i first played it back in April. When I first played New Colour, the moment the synths first kicked in I felt an immediate, well, brain orgasm for lack of a better term. Whatever it is, that track and the sound of the whole album really hit a sweet spot I didn't know existed. As previously mentioned, the album has what I consider to be the best four song run on any album released this year, from Crystal Caverns 1991 to Earth's Lungs and to top it all off is Spirals [Ft. Anneka], a great album closer featuring unprocessed vocals, a first for Lone. There's a few tracks that don't quite reach the heights the previously mentioned songs do (The Animal Pattern, Cthulhu [Ft. Machinedrum] but those are minor complaints. Overall, Lone put together the most inventive, thrilling, and consistent album of 2012.
This is off an album that is coming out January 8th, 2013 so technically I should wait to put it on next year's list. However, I grabbed it off a compilation a couple months ago and I've been playing it constantly since. I don't think it'd be right to put it on next year's list when I've already listened to it so much this year.
A great song from an ok album. Everyone Everywhere (2012) certainly didn't live up to the expectation set by it's predecessor Everyone Everywhere, a classic of the twinkly emo scene. The first 2/3 of the album was pretty good, but it nose dived over the last 1/3, shitting out three forgettable, tuneless, meandering songs. Once again a band remembers how to write songs but not albums.
This song got a lot of hate when it came out, hate that I feel it doesn't deserve. I love the contrast between the male and female vocals, and I love the sample used here. "I'm in love with you but sick and tired of this youth" is what I thought the sample originally said, but was sad to later find out it's actually "I'm in love with truth". I prefer to remain willfully ignorant and pretend it's my interpretation, as it lends the song more gravitas. And the gorgeous little melody at the end of the song just finishes the song off beautifully.
"Yeah, these are things I contemplate As I sit alone in bed all day Without a job to pay my loans and I think
That I know that I can’t help that So much lost potential I’m not leaving I’m not ready I can’t wait to be alone again"
As usual the lyrics make the song, and it's stuff I can easily relate to. I think I have some scrobbles of this from 2011, as the mp3 was floating around, but it was officially released in 2012 so I have no qualms about sticking it on this list.
On an album full of hard charging jams this one took the cake. This song opens like it was shot out of cannon, and only lets up at the end to jam out a bit so as not to overwhelm the next song. No song could try to match the pace and energy this one is endowed with.
When I first heard this song, a couple weeks before Gossamer dropped, I instantly put it on repeat. There isn't a wasted note on it and there's no shortage of hooks in every nook and cranny of it. Who knew PP could write a song like this? It certainly doesn't sound like anything from before Gossamer, or on Gossamer for that matter. I sure hope they have some more songs as good as this hidden up their sleeves.
Top 10 EP's
As usual I slot everything from split singles to mini-LPs under EP, cause I don't feel like having 10 different categories of releases.
It was only when sitting down to write the this blurb and re listening to this that I finally "got" this album. I'm still not exactly thrilled with the direction they've taken with their sound, but this EP turned out ok. It's a bit heavy and drones on but the songs are still enjoyable.
Dios Trio's High On Bikes was one of my favorite albums from last year, but sadly it didn't make it on my list last year because I heard it so late in the year. They returned this past summer with two acoustic songs, and they both ruled.
These guys have gotten almost zero recognition, something I'm seriously sad about. There's nothing groundbreaking here, just 4 quick, catchy punk songs. I think there's some members of Mallard in PF, that'll give you an idea of what you're in for.
My favorite band returns again! This time it's with the final installment of their fan only zine entitled, of course, Heat Rash. Each issue of course comes with some extra jams for the fans, and the pair here are the best yet from the Heat Rash series. She Crows (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #4) continues this infamous series with some particularly gruesome lyrics (I caught something about slitting an ex-boyfriend from gullet to balls, and splaying his face to the floor) and To the Boneyard features a very addictive chorus. I'm of the opinion LC! spoils us fans with their consistently high quality output. Not only do they release great songs on fan only releases, they also give away great songs for free too, as evidenced by Tiptoe Through The True Bits earlier this year, and A Doe To A Deer, LC!'s christmas gift to their fans. Plus Heat Rash #3, they released 6 songs this year, an off year for them during which they've been preparing to enter the studio this upcoming spring to record their 5th album. God bless them.
These guys were #2 on this very list last year, and they've earned their spot again this year. While it doesn't feature anything quite as good as Kelsey Q. vs. The Holland Tunnel, the three tracks here are each outstanding in their own way. Of particular note is Closer to Camden, which closes with a nifty little bass groove. I'm hoping they come out with an album at some point. I feel they'd benefit from working on a project that requires them to stretch their legs a bit.
What a single! OCEANS features some of the best lyrics of the year and Mabu bounces off the walls. Saw them live with Hollerado over the summer and they weren't half bad. They're recording an LP, should be released sometime during 2013.
A sad and poignant send off for this fantastic band. I'm a big fan of their albums, but felt they were a bit lengthy and could have used some judicious editing. That's why I like this short, quick EP, which allowed the band to focus on their undeveloped pop songwriting skills. Introducing Morrissey (Ergs! Cover) is fantastic little song, and the last song they played at their last show. If you got a free hour and a half, check that out here, you won't regret it!
Top 10 Music Videos
I don't care much for music videos, but I watched some and threw this list together.
POP ETC, aka The Morning Benders, got a lot of hate this year, and not all of it was undeserved. Their switch from breezy indie pop to a R&B influenced sound wasn't the smartest career move, since, well, the band really isn't suited to pull it off. Despite this fact, the band remains a potent song writing force, churning out several ear worms that caught my attention. Of particular interest was this track and it's video which I was equally amused by and strangely drawn to.
The band did a pretty cool thing here by starting the video off with the excellent, somber acoustic number Drainage, then switching gears with the adrenaline rush from If I Needed You There. I'm not sure what's going on here, but it definitely feels like there's a serious issue underlying the video.
The band put on a great performance, and nearly blew my eardrums out. Two minors complaints: 1. They only played songs off their new album. Now I love the new songs off the album, was eager to hear them, and I'm sure the band is sick of the old jams. Still, for a band to entirely ignore their back catalog is disappointing, especially with the great amount of music Cloud Nothings has already released. Playing one or two for the older fans would have been nice. 2. It also would have been nice if people had gotten a bit rowdy. It was in a cramped basement underneath a church, with a bar not ten feet from the stage, but c'mon, this is music to rock out to.
I actually saw these guys twice this year, once in February at Town Ballroom, and once again at The Harbor in July. They put on a great show both times, demonstrating how fast their fan base is growing.
It's a testament to the high amount of great shows that I saw this year that M83 comes in only at #7 on this list. In terms of the actual show set up, this would be #1. However, I'm nothing more than a casual M83 fan. Still, the show lived up the hype it was getting. The band brings along a sick lighting rig on tour, and they programmed it to sync beautifully with their music. Oh, and one of my favorite moments this year was during Midnight City when a dude shot out of nowhere and delivered a killer sax solo during that infamous end bit in the song. Should have seen it coming, but it was still awesome.
You've never truly experienced Sleigh Bells until you see them live. It's certainly more of show than a concert, as they have no drummer and the samples are pumped in. That doesn't subtract from it at all, believe me. The songs off of a Treats were unsurprisingly funner to experience (not listen to, experience), as the songs off of Reign of Terror just kind've killed the energy from the more energetic old songs. Nonetheless, relentlessly head banging to A/B Machines, Crown on the Ground, and Riot Rhythm was beyond description.
Saw these guys at the Funeral Home, and it's undoubtedly the most violent show I saw this year. They had a mother fucking trampoline to help out stage divers. Needlessly to say I sat front row in the middle of the mayhem singing along to every song.
I like shows where there's lot of energy, moshing, and singing along. Otherwise, you're just standing around and listening to the songs, and, really, how much different is that from just listening to a record? I'd rather be having fun with a bunch of people who also dig the same music and are there to have fun the same I like to. Therefore, I was in the middle of the action for this show, and Segall indulged everybody by playing only the catchiest, fastest, and heaviest songs in his catalog. Smart guy.
On an extremely hot day in July, on a dusty field behind an ethnic market, on the outskirts of Toronto, I saw one of my favorite bands play songs off one of my favorite records. It was at a festival, and it was fun seeing the other bands, but I was there first and foremost to see DFA79. And judging by the mood of the crowd around me at the time, a lot of other people felt the same. As I was standing around before their set, I observed a dude and his girlfriend weaving away from the stage. An inebriated fellow yelled out, "Whatre ya doin', u'll lose yr spot for the moshin!" It was probably bad advice actually, but personally I wouldn't have missed it for the world. There was a massive surge of adrenaline in the crowd when the intro music played and the band stepped on stage. Once the first notes of Turn It Out rang out, the crowd surged forward and all bets were off.
Joyce Manor got first billing at this show, but I refuse to acknowledge that, seeing as Algernon is by far the more accomplished band. Seeing Algernon was a thrill as usual, singing along to all my favorite songs, even though there was only a couple of us huddled around the singer. I'm glad I saw them too, as they broke up a couple weeks after this. Joyce Manor was great too, despite any misgivings about certain records and billing spots. Singing along to songs off their S/T was beyond thrilling.
Finally finally finally, at long last I saw my favorite band live, and it was everything I hoped for and more. They played a great set, though I would have been happy if they'd just played b-sides and covers. You! Me! Dancing! brought the house down, and The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future sounds better live, with an extra bass kick to start off the chorus. I even managed to grab a setlist and grab a few autographs. I shook like a leaf I was so nervous and made a fool of myself, but hopefully the band was understanding. Oh, and I had my first legal beer before the show, seeing as I was in Canada. All in all, a memory to treasure for a long time.
Alright, I saw a journal like this on here a while back, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Basically, I'll return a year from now and write a second entry, comparing my charts and observing changes in my listening habits. Pretty simple.
This year I decided to keep a playlist in iTunes of all the music I added that was released in 2011. By December I had added more than 1300 songs, and I'm sure I forgot to add some music to the list throughout the year. The playlist was part of my attempt to catalog my whole musical experience in 2011, a feat I hope to repeat in subsequent years. I've worked up "Top X" lists for albums, songs, EP's, music videos, and concerts. Basically, I'm writing this more for my amusement and recollection than to actually release a list of what I think was the best music in 2011. I think it's incredibly conceited for any one person to try to catalog every single piece of music in a given year and call it a "Best Of" list. I know there are entire genres of music I dislike, not to mention a decent sized swath of indie music. Therefore, this is simply a list of MY favorite music of 2011. I'll probably end up making some minor adjustments to the list for grammar/forgetting certain things. Enjoy!
Top 25 Albums
This was a pretty tough list to come up with, but I'm pretty happy with it. This year I discovered twinkly/noodly emo rock, and I've quickly grown to love the genre. I spent a lot of the year listening to great bands like Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing, My Heart To Joy, Castevet, Everyone Everywhere, Grown Ups, Merchant Ships, Midwest Pen Pals, 1994!, and so on and so forth. So when it came time to make this list, it felt a little hollow since a large portion of my year was spent listening to the previously mentioned bands, hardly any of which released new music this year. Nevertheless, there were a lot of albums and bands whom I listened to this year that didn't twinkle that I still loved.
I loved "Psychic Chasms", so I was eagerly anticipating this album. Tracks like "Polish Girl" and "Fallout" only furthered to whet my appetite. I spent a lot of my September listening to the album, and in the end I definitely enjoyed it, though I was slightly disappointed by it. The second half of the album just bores me for the most part, save for bits of "Suns Irrupt" and "Arcade Blues". I liked the new shoegaze sound he has, which combined with his usual beeps and bloops sounds gorgeous, but the song quality suffers somewhat. Still, I liked the album and can't wait to hear more from Alan Palomo.
Just ten tracks of good ole garage rock. Ty cleaned up his act on this album and he sounds just as good. This was the last album I decided to put on this list, over four or five others, and I think it earned it. This album was just more consistent than most other albums I listened to this year, and it ROCKED, so I felt terrible leaving it off.
I can't even really remember when I started listening to this, all I know is I love to listen to it while out on runs. It's very intense, with interesting riffs, and, most importantly, plenty of clever lyrical gems. A couple tracks get lost due to the fact each track only last like a minute and a half, but honestly half the point of hardcore music is energy innit? Well these guys bring it, so I highly recommend this album.
I usually don't like sparse, singer-songwriter music, but there is something different about Owen. It's probably because he comes from the "twinkly/noodly/mathy/whateveryawannacallit" scene, but there really isn't anything else like this on the rest of my list. Anyways, the first half of this album is superb, highlighted by one of my favorite songs of the year, "I Believe". The second half is good also, though it loses my interest for a bit, before grabbing it back with "Everyone's Asleep In The House But Me".
Ho man, this album. I'll start off by saying I actually bought the physical CD, and it's gorgeous. Why did I buy it? Because the band pulled off a rather ingenious anti-piracy scheme. They released the album early online, with the songs slowed like 6000% of course, and labeled it "Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything ADVANCED PROMO COPY 320kbs". They then had fans spread this link all over the web, changing the title and basically making it impossible to find it online. Not that I mind buying music from Johnny Foreigner, they're an excellent band and deserve my money. Anyways, this album is the definition of sprawling and messy. Luckily, there are innumerable catchy and interesting points throughout it's 16 tracks. Half the time I really like it, and the other half I'm not so sure. Still, not a lot of albums have held my attention like this so it absolutely deserves a spot on this list.
This album made the list more based more on atmosphere than actual songcraft. Not to say the songs are bad, but there's no denying they can blend together. Luckily the highlights really stand out, with "Dreaming" and "Nobody Knows" being two of the more catchy songs I heard this year. I absolutely love the twee/lo-fi sound this band has, and honestly the fact that the songs kind've/sort've blend together ends up only adding to it's charm.
I can't believe I'm putting this album here. I hadn't even heard of this band, much less the album a week before the writing of this blurb. However, after only 3 or 4 listens I'm addicted to them. I'm putting faith in the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm gonna end up loving this album. I'm either going to hail this as a genius move or a massive blunder. Listening to the album I really can't hear any weak points, but I do hear a lot of strong points. Well I'll probably come back in like six months and leave a little edit evaluating my decision. Til then...
EDIT: Yeah, I shouldn't have put this album on the list. Not that it's bad, but there are several other albums I would certainly put before it. First off would be Loud's album "Loud?", a fantastic slice of wintery twinkle rock. I would also consider Dios Trio's album High On Bikes, though I started listening to it too late in the year to be able to justify putting it on the list. No, I think if I could go back and substitute an album in that I forgot it would have to be Smith Western's "Dye It Blonde". I listened to it at the very beginning of 2011, and almost forgot about it when I came to write this list almost a year later. I thought it was a very good album when I first listened to it, but I wasn't particularly struck by it. Listening to it lately though, I realize it's a hell of an album, with memorable song after memorable song. Hell I probably should have put it in my Top 10. Ah well, I've learned my lesson, hopefully I won't make such a mistake next year.
This is some very good shoegaze, highlighted by one of my favorite songs of the year, "So High". This album basically combines everything that was ever good about shoegaze and packs it into eleven diverse tracks. Don't really have much more to say about it, you just gotta listen to it!
Enjoy the album folks, cause, uh, well, live they're a bit disappointing. When I saw them they barely played 25 minutes and their lack of stage presence was evident. Oh, and Madeline Follin doesn't sound as good live. Yet I'm still going to see them again next April, in the hope they'll prove me wrong and be able to improve themselves. Anyways, this is a great album, full of great songs that standout from each other. Honestly, the album works better as a collection of songs than as a whole, but hey I'll take it.
Let it be known that I'm nothing if not a sucker for some good pop-rock music. And man did this album deliver it, with nary a bad track on it. This is honestly my favorite Subways album, since it doesn't suffer from any of the fluff found on their previous two albums. If you had told me at the beginning of the year this was gonna be on my favorite albums list I would've laughed at you. Kudos to the band on improving their sound, which many bands fail to do these days. Highlights include: "We Don't Need Money To Have A Good Time", "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", and "Leave My Side".
Just eleven tracks of down and dirty garage rock. They play their slow songs extra fuzzed out and their fast songs extra, uh, rocking out. There's not enough of that in music today. Is the album pushing any boundaries? Hell no, but who cares when it sounds this much fun? Doesn't get any better than this, really. Plus I heard they put on a sick live show. Crossing my fingers they play a show near me.
This album would top my list for best album titles of the year. The British press way over-hyped these guys leading up to the albums release, setting them up for a massive amount of backlash. So what do they do? Give the world a nice fuck you with that title. Honestly, there isn't anything new being done here. Their sound is reminiscent of many British bands of the last ten years. That being said, they have a unique sound, one that took me a while to get used to. However, what truly sets them apart is their songwriting. Every song is sculpted to perfection, achieving what it needs to and no less. There isn't a wasted second on the whole album. The Vaccines are not aiming to achieve a new sound, just to perfect it, and they've done a great job.
I love Girls' sound, and what they're all about. That being said, Father, Son, Holy Ghost inspires mixed feelings with me. The majority of the album is brilliant, with "Alex" making my top tracks of the year, and "Vomit", "Honey Bunny", and "Forgiveness" being some of my favorite songs of this year. There also are a couple songs, unfortunately, that kinda drag too, especially "Just A Song". Not to say they don't have their interesting moments. The album also tries to jam a lot of different sounds and styles into one disc. It works in a way, but in the end the album just feels kind've disjointed. Nevertheless, like I said I love their sound and the majority of the songs were great, so therefore I feel they earned their spot on this list.
This was another one of those albums that had a lot of songs I liked, but never seemed to work as a whole. I much preferred picking and choosing songs from the album than just listening through. Maybe it's just a grower. I've found myself enjoying it more and more as the year goes on, especially after seeing them live. The songs on Zonoscpe sounded great, let me tell you, especially "Sun God". I'm trusting I'm going to come to appreciate this album a lot more in the future. I can tell it's a truly great "album experience" but it just hasn't clicked for me yet. Whatever.
I love this band. Nice, short, extremely catchy folk rock. None of these songs lasts more than two and a half minutes, and I wouldn't want it any other way. Don't really have much more to say, highlights include: "Time (What's It Going To Do?)" and "Heyday Past Heyday Due".
You have no idea how many listens it took for me to get "Why There are Mountains", Cymbals' debut album. In the end, though, its become one of my favorite albums of all time. Lenses Alien is following the same trajectory. I didn't like it when I listened to it the first few times. I've returned to it lately and am beginning to like it more and more. Cymbals has a very unique sound, with nary a chorus to be found, but plenty of melodies to be found with odd time signatures and turns in style. It's never a boring listen, and I'm sure I'll grow to like this album a lot more than I do at this point. Still, it is time to make this list, so I feel the tenth spot is it's most appropriate resting place at this point.
One of my most listened to albums of 2011. This one is full of lo-fi bedroom pop gems, like one of my absolute favorite songs of the year, "July". And I can't forget about "Cannons" and "The Hunt". This is very nostalgic music, you can basically apply any memories or feelings you want to it. Truly one of the best debut albums of the year, I really don't have anything bad to say about it (alright, "Daydream" kind've drifts, but it's a minor complaint).
I first heard about this band due to the fact two of it's members are also part of Cloud Nothings. I was eager to hear them, but I wasn't expecting much, thinking it was probably just some crappy side project. Boy was I wrong. Swimming Through Sunlight consists of 10 perfectly fuzzed out, lo-fi garage rock jams. What sets this band apart is that their their sound is best described as "sunny". That, combined with the juxtaposition of the standard "girl broke my heart, woe is me" lyrics (not that thats bad, I love that shit) and you get a magical album. I imagine we probably won't hear too much more from them, and I don't know if I want to, seeing as this album is just too perfect.
Either you like The Go! Team or you don't. They have such a unique sound it's impossible to find another band like them. That can be a blessing and a curse, since it's hard to branch out from a sound that's so unique and far removed from other music. So basically this album is judged by how good the songs are. Now, nothing is ever gonna top "Thunder, Lightning, Strike", the Go! Team's debut, which is one of my favorite albums of all time. Rolling Blackouts comes pretty damn close though. There's nary a bad song on it, and there's plenty of standout tracks. Highlights include: "Buy Nothing Day", "Apollo Throwdown", and "Yosemite Theme".
And So I Watch You From Afar is truly a unique band. They're kind've post-rockish, but the're so dynamic and bombastic it's unfair to slap that label on them. Basically, they just craft high energy, very technical post-rock influenced rock jams. Man that sounded pretentious. They're also a very accessible and fun band to listen to. Gangs is basically just a continuation of ""And So I Watch You From Afar", their debut album, but nobody is gonna complain. They've got a great sound, and they nailed it again with Gangs. Each song is catchy, memorable, and full of energy. Truly one of the best albums of 2011.
Definitely one of my favorite bands of 2011. Yuck really hit the sweet spot with their sound, perfecting that "90's sound". All I know is I enjoy every one of the songs on their debut album immensely. Don't even get me started on the six bonus tracks that came with the deluxe version of the album, which are just as good as anything on the album. No, really. They just wrote too many songs, and they happened to have too many fuzzed out songs, so they threw 'em away, basically. Kind've a shame, reminds me of Oasis back in the late 90's. Oh, and they put on a pretty good live show too.
I'm not really sure who I like more, the old lo-fi Cloud Nothings, or the new bubblegum pop Cloud Nothings. And then there's the new, serious Cloud Nothings that's going to emerge with the release of their sophomore album this January. But I digress. I was basically addicted to Cloud Nothing's debut album early this year. Like I said before I'm a sucker for catchy pop-rock, and man does Dylan Baldi bring the hooks. Nothing new here of course, just 11 catchy as fuck songs about girls, heartbreak, and, uh, well, more girls. Perfect.
This is the only major twinkly/noodly emo band that actually released an LP this year, but man what a fucking amazing album it is. Seriously, Algernon is my most played band on here by far, and this album is one of the major reasons why. I'm addicted to their sound, it's redonkulously catchy and listenable. There's no bad songs, though there's one or two that aren't quite as good as the others. Still, the standouts more than makeup for this. Highlights include: "Pitfall", "Uniform", and "Chewed Up and Spit Out (In A Bowl)".
Los Campesinos! is my favorite band of all time, period. No doubt. I'm seriously in love with them. Why? There's a lot of reasons, but really it boils down to Gareth Campesinos!, the band's front man and lyricist. He injects something into the music that hits me hard. This band would be nothing without him. He sings about depressing things, with the resigned air of someone who is fed up with the pain but knows he will be back for more. He is nothing if not completely honest and straightforward, which works great with the style of LC!'s music. Their last album "Romance Is Boring", was an immensely difficult listen, though ultimately rewarding. It was a maturing of their sound, with very stark and depressing lyrical imagery throughout. Their sound was also a lot thicker, which I liked. "Hello Sadness" takes these same qualities and puts it in a far more accessible form. "Hello Sadness" may be my favorite LC! album because of that. I think "Romance Is Boring" will always be the quintessential LC! album for me, I think due to the fact that it's just a maelstrom of emotion, energy, and depression, which pretty much sums up LC! But "Hello Sadness" is just an easier listen, which I can appreciate more often than craziness of "Romance Is Boring". So where does LC! go from here? Honestly, if they were to break up I would of course be heartbroken, but not necessarily disappointed. At this point it doesn't seem like they have much more to say. But I of course have immense faith in Los Campesinos!, so I eagerly await their next move. Oh, the album itself. Yeah, it's great, it works as an ALBUM, ya know? Yeah sure, there are songs that aren't as good as other songs, but it comes together as a whole, which is more than you can say for 99% of albums out there. This is how all music should work. But it doesn't, and it's why LC! is my favorite band.
You may be asking, "How is any album above Hello Sadness after that massive, overblown, god worshiping paragraph this guy just wrote?" Uh, have you listened to David Comes To Life? Shits insane. I'm normally not into music like this, and admittedly Damian Abraham's style of singing is a bit of an acquired taste. But this album is amazing, and epic, and it fucking rocks. It's endlessly complex, and mysterious, and energetic. There are 18 freaking songs on it, and none of them suck. Not even close. I'd say I find only one or two songs on the whole album to be about average. And those are still very good. Most of them I think are amazing, and I find myself returning to half of them they're so good. An album like this shouldn't work, it's so massive and complex it should collapse in on itself. But somehow Fucked Up makes it work, and I take my hat off to them. This is truly the best ALBUM, as a whole experience, in 2011, hands down. I'll be listening to this one for years.
Top 25 Songs
Alright, it took way too fucking long to type out those album blurbs, and I'm not sure I have a lot to say about each individual song, especially since it would get repetitive fast, Therefore, I'm only going to comment when I think necessary. Sorting a top 25 songs out of 1300 is rather difficult, but I think I did a good job. I imagine I left out a song or two so don't be surprised if the list changes.
An odd choice I know, especially since it's a cover of a Queens of the Stone Age song. But I'll be damned if I heard a funner song released by any band this year, especially in the indie world. Plus, this song blows away the original version completely, it sounds so much better with TPC's style.
Say what you will about the band and the song, Pumped Up Kicks is just so damn catchy it dominated 2011. Indie kids loved it, mainstream radio loved it, everybody loved it (yay hyperbole!). Seriously, this really is the song of the year.
Yeah I cheated, but I had to. There's no way I could choose one song over the other. I was playing this 7" constantly over the summer. Extremely catchy, and it's nothing like I've ever heard before. And DAT BASS. Sorry. There's been no doubt in my mind the last couple months that this would be my choice for song(s) of the year. Here's to a full-length in 2012.
Top 10 EPs
My definition of EP is rather broad. I include anything more than a single, and less than an album. So that would include mini-albums, EPs, splits, demos and 7"s. That's mostly just to accommodate the twinkly/noodly scene, which dominates the list. While not too many twinkly artists released LPs this year, they sure as hell released a lot of EPs. This is mostly since it's a very DIY scene, and also cause a lot of the bands are just kids my age jamming in their garage. It's a lot of work to release an LP, ya know? Anyways, I had a lot of trouble with this list, but I got it down and it's STACKED.
Apparently these guys got a lot of flack for this EP, which I suppose I understand, but it's totally unwarranted. It's a lot more polished and their sound changed a bit, but it still twinkles. Not to mention the songs are all very good. Haters gonna hate.
Couldn't really tag an album for this one cause, idk it's tough to find official information about it. The important thing is I know what the split is called and I've heard William Bonney's songs from it, which is the only half I listened to. Seriously, Jack Senff is my favorite screamo singer. Damn good stuff. And the songs aren't bad either. Everybody went gaga over the Good Vibes EP, but I felt it was kind of bland except for the song Good Vibes. The split, on the other hand, has three awesome songs on it that are superior to anything on Good Vibes. Too bad they're on hiatus, I really want to hear more music after this.
Again, I only listened to the Park Jefferson half of this split, which consists of a whopping two songs. What a pair they are though. "One For the Road" shreds and "Dude, It's Saturday" hits like a punch to the gut.
Childhood contains my number one, two and three top played tracks on last.fm. I honestly don't why, I didn't consciously think "holy shit this is good", I just kept scrobbling and scrobbling til one day I realized Childhood was the obvious choice as my favorite EP of 2011. These songs, while of course catchy, have an emotional depth that makes them inherently more listenable than most other music I have. Something about it keeps drawing me back over and over. While I find a lot of songs catchy, I think the true test of a song's greatness is how many times one can listen to it before it gets old and you're sick of it. I still haven't gotten sick of any of them, even after 40+ scrobbles, so they must be pretty damn good.
Top 10 Music Videos
Alright I really shouldn't be making this list at all. I don't care about music videos at all, and I hardly watched any this year. I did watch some though, so I basically just threw them together in a list to show people the videos I did enjoy.
Ah Dave Grohl, how I love thee. It's too bad "Wasting Light" was, well, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't terribly good either. Let's call it meh. The man still knows how to make a damn good music video though. White Limo is cheesy good fun done right, as only Dave Grohl could do it. Oh, and it has Lemmy in it. Nuf said.
Oh god I love this video. Actually I love all of Cloud Nothings videos, go check them out if you have some free time. In the end, this one takes the cake. I have no idea what's going on, but that's half the fun. And it's a damn lot of fun to watch indeed. It's got thrills, chills, spills, and even a heart rending moment at the end :'(
An unofficial video, but it's one of the best I've seen this year. "Too Many Flesh Suppers" is one of the most underrated LC! songs, and one of my favorites by them. This video is a perfect companion for it.
I can't really listen to "Montana" anymore without watching this video. The video adds something to it, especially during the rise in the music, which the video accompanies by changing shots on every beat. Perfect. This is definitely one of those tear jerker videos :')
Did you expect anything else? I have a distaste for rap, but Tyler's music is different. First off, just the beats he uses sound radically different from anything on the radio, and anything I've heard. And then Tyler doesn't rap (ALL the time) about money, women, bitches, etc. There's actually some personal introspection here. Game changing. Not to say I particularly like his music, but damn do I like this song, and especially this video. It blew my mind when I watched it last spring, and I knew immediately it was going to be my favorite music video of 2011. I can't disconnect the video from the song, it just ruins it for me. I guess that's what a good video does. This video is basically like a train wreck, there's something mesmerizing about it and you get sucked in by Tyler's intensity. I can't believe anybody would choose any other video as being more influential or better than this in 2011. Swag.
Top 10 Concerts
This was an amazing year for concerts, I saw so many great bands and shows. It really couldn't have gotten any better (alright I did miss the Black Keys in July, but those tickets were overpriced anyways). At first I couldn't imagine any year topping this year, though looking at my schedule for next year it's definitely possible it could happen :D Anyways, here's the list:
Welp, there goes my hipster cred. C'mon it was a free show. And we had a cowbell! Seriously, I had no idea they had so many good songs, during the show I realized I knew half of the songs they played and I had never even seriously listened to them. Those guys could play too. Basically, it was a chill concert with good friends, and I couldn't ask for anything more.
Alright, Foo Fighters are one of my favorite bands of all time. At this point, however, I'm far more into other types of music besides the Foos (let it be noted I still worship the ground Dave Grohl walks on). So this was a really cool concert to go to, and to hear all the hits, but it wasn't THAT amazing. Especially for $60 a ticket. And those seats sucked. Damn.
It would have been worth it to go just to watch them open up with "Bleed American". They played "Bleed American" all the way through, which was awesome, cause it's the only album i know by them, then some hits, which I'd never heard of but I liked. Solid.
Ah man what a show. The Arkells opened up and rocked the place, bringing their trademark energy. Seriously, I love these guys. Too bad most people just ignored them. Their loss. The Hip were awesome, playing the hits and, well, just were the Hip. On a side note, Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf is an awesome place to see a concert. Right under the skyway, with a spacious stage and grounds, and Lake Erie at your back. During the show there were floating paper lanterns coming out of nowhere, which was weird/cool. And fireworks from over on the Canadian side. A truly memorable night.
Hey, you another cool place to see shows in Buffalo? Babeville. It's located in the basement of an old church, so it has a pretty vintagey, old, intimate vibe to it. Yuck played a pretty solid set, neither disappointing nor wowing me. I mostly just loved rocking out to all the songs I knew by heart at that point.
Oh yes. This is the first concert on this list that really wowed me. Midnight Magic was on first, and were a pleasant surprise. There were three trumpet players, a singer, a bassist, and a keyboard player. Odd, but it worked, and I enjoyed it a lot. Then Washed Out came on. Now I had been looking forward to them, just as much as Cut Copy. I hate to say it, but MY GOD THEY SUCKED. They barely played for 20-25 minutes and had no stage presence or energy whatsoever. Bleah. Thank god Cut Copy came on next, and what a show it was. First off, Town Ballroom was nuts, with people dancing around and enjoying the multitude of hit songs Cut Copy has. They also skillfully employed their lighting and fans, looking pretty bad ass up there. Basically, Cut Copy had their shit together, and it was awesome. "Sun God" was a treat, with the guitarist mangling his guitar and absolutely screaming into his mic, all while the venue was enveloped in a solid wall of guitar feedback, synths, and generally shoegazieness.
Probably the only show I'll ever see in the Square, sadly. I had a perfect spot for this show. The stage was built at the top of a stairway, with two railings leading up to the stage at equidistant lengths from the end of the stage. Their lead singer loved to climb down off the stage and interact with the crowd using these, and I just so happened to be positioned at the end of one of them. So I hugged, patted on the back, etc the singer of the Magnetic Zeros every time he deigned to venture down. Very cool. The place was nuts, seeing as it is a rather small space, and everybody wanted to see this fairly popular band. The last couple songs were electric, with the singer interacting with and coaxing the crowd. The last song, which I believe was "Om Nashi Me", the singer handed another kid and I the mic, and we basically just bellowed into the mic while the place was going absolutely insane around us.
What a concert. Well it didn't start off particularly good. They hired some local band to open up (last minute I presume) and they flat out sucked. They had a freaking table on stage, complete with a table cloth. Embarrassing. Basically it was just glorified hipster ramblings, nothing that deserved to open up for two awesome bands. Wavves was up next, and they rocked the place, even though Nathan Williams was throwing up the entire time. I'll give him props for performing under such circumstances. Half the crowd left after Wavves, which wasn't entirely unexpected, but they missed out on Fucked Up, who you think would be right up the alley of anybody who likes Wavves. So, as you know, Fucked Up topped my Albums list. I'm happy to report they are an awesome live band as well, with Damian Abraham absolutely kicking ass as frontman. The rest of the band kind of sat back and did their thing, which was cool since Abraham more than took care of business on his end. Dude was a ball of energy, throwing himself around and getting the crowd involved as much as possible. One of my fondest memories was a point during the show where he lost the mic, and somehow it ended up near me, so I slung it back on stage. I honestly can't remember what songs they played, I was having too much fun moshing with the ten people who actually had the balls to do it. I wasn't there to just sit and listen to the music, I was there to get involved and enjoy the music, which I most certainly did.
This is a great way to end my Year in Music: 2011 list. As I mentioned at the beginning, this year I really got into the whole twinkly/noodly scene. Sadly, in September it was announced that Snowing, one of the best bands in the scene, was breaking up. Heartbreaking, etc etc. It was announced that there would be a final show in Philadelphia, consisting of Snowing, Algernon Cadwallader, 1994!, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and Glocca Morra. Long story short, I decide to go and end up at First Unitarian Church in Philly. Apparently it's one of the best places to see a show in the country, which I didn't really get, but whatever. As for the actual show, let's just say they don't have shows like this in Buffalo. The amount of energy was insane from the get go, with moshing, crowdsurfing etc. It ramped up with The World Is.., Glocca Morra, and 1994! After 94! I was beat, but I managed to enjoy Algernon as much as I could. Last up was Snowing. Sweet Jesus. So awesome. The only way I can describe it is that it was like a show you see in a movie or a music video. Insane crowds pushing at the stage, stage divers/moshing galore, beer and sweat flying, people crowding the actual stage around the band, and of course the actual band itself rocking out. By the end I was actually forced on the stage by the crowd and rocked out on stage with the band during their last song. It really does not get more awesome than that, ever. Obviously this show meant a lot to me, what with the amount I listened to these bands this year and the amount of emotion involved. It was, without a doubt, the perfect way to end my concert going year.