Well now….talk about setting goals and keeping them…NOT.
The last time I wrote anything for Review Stalker.com was way back in December 2014 with my best of the year list here. After many months of false starts and broken self-promises (i.e. declaring to write a daily post everyday while 2 weeks at the beach in the summer of 2015 and doing squat)…alas, finally something…
Just to be clear…this is not a predictable best of 2015 list….instead, it is more like this is the what Paul was listening to a lot in 2015, whether it was released in 2015 or not list…
And to further clarify, some music is a constant in my life via tons of bands too many to list (Buffalo Tom, The Smiths, The Clash, etc.) And life changing/guiding genres like [New York] Hardcore/Punk in its various forms will never leave my side, especially while in the gym hitting the iron.
Soooo….what music has caught my fancy in 2015, either newly released, freshly rediscovered gems of the past (because I know you are just dying to know)?
And we are off…..
Samantha – Brooklyn via Chicago “thrash poppers” are looking to take on the world and kick its ass and doing a mighty fine job of doing so, thus far. They seem to be around every NYC corner playing a show when they aren’t on tour or recording. Couldn’t get enough of their 2011’s Threat Level Pink, then they had to release the beautiful HourGlass Noise (2015). Check out the video for the first single (“Fight”) below….
Ride-You probably know this incredible band by their timeless piece of musical perfection “Vapour Trail” off of the heavenly album Nowhere (1990) which probably ended up on many mixed tapes of male-on- female crushes back in the 1990’s. The momentum continued with 1992’s sophomore effort Going Blank Again (1992) that continued via Carnival of Light (1994) and Tarantula (1996). I love it all. Disbanded for quite sometime, they have recently reunited (what band hasn’t these days?) and been touring and that concept is simply wonderful.
Voice of Doom (VOD) – As described on their home label (Pyrrhic Victory Recordings), VOD is perfectly defined as “…fun, it’s frightening, and glows in the dark….” For me, the band play an all too familiar sound that is surprisingly refreshing. This Jersey outfit that dates back the 1980’s, released III in 2014, packing 9 songs of lovely Ozzy meets Lemmy metal/hardcore hybrid mayhem that I noticeably have on repeat within the confines of the gym. Another EP, Scared to Death, is due out in early 2016…can’t wait.
Tri-State – New Minuits (2015) -2 songs of NJ indie rock perfection that continues with their trademark “hooks, harmonies, stabbing guitars, tangential… arrangements, and stories from post- youth” from their 2013 self-titled EP release that is on constant rotation in my little world. On this latest release, the math is simple…. 1 Julian Brash led song (title track) + 1 Jeff Zevelansky led song (“Titanic Brothers”)=indie rock heaven.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday (2015). Not as strong as his 2011 self-titled debut, but I said it before and will say it again…it’s fucking Noel, duh. Some decent songs to be found, but what saves it for me is the tune “Lock All Doors” an Oasis-size throwback kick in the nuts.
Cheap Girls – Never paid attention to the “Great Lakes” State until 2014 when I began to slowly realize half of it’s population seems to now live in my adopted Jersey town. As an “unofficial roadie” for a bunch of Buffalo bands, I been to Detroit a couple of times back in college where on one trip I learned an expletive screaming local legend, Bob Seger, was once bit on the ass by a blood drawing pooch, while jogging in his affluent suburban hood. More than one proud local “Michigander” informed me that one of my bands, Dollar Store Riot, sounds like a “Michigan garage band,”whatever that means. But, I’ll take it if we even closely resemble bands like Cheap Girls. Accidentally stumbling onto a bud’s (Jerry Lardieri of The Brixton Riot) playlist, I became immediately hooked on this Lansing 3 piece. Start with Cheap Graves (2014) and work your way backwards through their 4 album discography like I did and you will be hooked. If the opening track “Slow Nod” and killer lines like “I’m always spacing out and taking the wrong shit in..” doesn’t grab you by the crotch then that’s it. I am done. I am leaving and taking one of the kids with me….
Garrett Klahn-This Buffalo native and legend epitomizes the notion of being “almost famous” many times over, but he is famous in his own right and thank Kafka for that. Whether it was fronting the post-hardcore “emo” (before the term took on a negative tone in later years) godfathers in Texas Is The Reason (hereinafter TITR), on deck to be “the next Sunny Day Real Estate” until imploding on the eve of signing to one of many hungry major labels, to his other awesome efforts in the Wilco-ish twang of The New Rising Sons (Virgin allegedly spent $100k recording their incredible record only to mysteriously shelf it), Solea and Atlantic-Pacific. Kiddies seeking TITR nostalgia with his worthy 2016 self-titled release won’t find it here. It s a more rock, more mature, self-reflecting Garrett doing what he does best. Let’s just say if he continues on this road, I have a feeling I will be one day be saying “it’s fucking Garrett, duh…”
This Town Needs Guns – I was trying to pinpoint why I like these Oxford Math Rockers, with one of the best fucking names I ever heard for a band. So playing their fantastic opener track, appropriately entitled “Cat Fantastic” off of 18.104.22.168.0 (2013), I asked my wife who knows me better than me sometimes, especially musicially. Of course, being the wiser of the two, she kicked the playground bully square in the nads: “you always liked the multi-layered guitar with the melodic lyrics thingy…”. Sure that, and the singer sounds very Morrissey-ish! (Hat tip to bro Scott Dressler for turning me on to these guys).
The Goo Goo Dolls-I’ve mentioned in past writings my connections to the Goo’s when I attended SUNY Buffalo the same time the Bill’s went to (and lost all 4) Super Bowls. My wife’s boyfriend bartended along side Johnny Goo and I lived with Robbie’s first cousin (and still friends to this day) my senior year. My best friend and roommate, loveable but multi-majored, Mike somehow assisted in the Super Star Car Wash album cover photo (I still remember him bitching about need to wake up early on a Saturday morning to do it). Legend has it, the self-admitting “Goo-Placements” was at a point of break up when some mid-west radio station starting playing their song “Name” and their whole world exploded. So naturally, they declared that the Buffalo music scene being non-existent on MTV’s 120 Minutes, started wearing leather pants and ran away to LA. In 2011 while attending a Snapcase reunion show in Buffalo, I learned from a bartender the Goos since returned to their humbled roots and are heavily involved in many local music programs for the kids. Hence, while my wife refuses, I have forgiven the Goos! Not sure about their new offerings, but alot of great songs on SSCW and A Boy Name Goo (Naked, Flattop, etc).
Def Leppard-Well at least their song “Photograph” which I suddenly craved while going to pick up my son from soccer practice and haven’t stopped listening to since. Sucks not much of band discography isn’t on Spotify but there is a killer live version of song.
Death Vacation – Brooklyn’s Death Vacation plays hardcore like it should be….loud, fast, heavy and feeling like a consistent punch to the gut while prompting the listener to crave a stage dive or two, like lemmings off a cliff. Always being a male-dominated world, it’s refreshing to have a female around (NOT as a wallflowers at shows), especially fronting the vocals (unheard of). Michelle “Judge Girl” Mancusco’s vocals slaps you silly with a “I have something to say and you are going to listen, punk” veracity. They are another band on I have on replay in the gym. Their offerings can be found on band camp. Check it and live, bitches!
The Jesus and Mary Chain – (Psychocandy – Barrowlands Live). You cant deny the impact of JMCs debut album, Psychocandy, but I always leaned toward their later recordings such as Darklands and even Automatic (drum machine included). I always heard what the genius of PC, but there was a language barrier in some ways for me. This live recording of the band playing PC in its entirety (plus some other hits) speaks to me and finally makes me understand what the band is trying to say.
Frank Turner-the 2015 release of Positive Songs for Negative People continues where Tape Deck Heart (2013) ceased, with another dose of upbeat, uplifting, clumsy sing along anthems. Not bad for a guy that once fronted a post-hardcore punk band called Million Dead. Standout tracks include “Get Better,” “Next Storm” and “Demons” to name few.
Dot Dash – It takes a lot to impress me but musically-related facts always do. For instance, members of this DC area power punk pop quartet are two degrees of separation away from ninety-six (yes, 96) of the most quintessential punk/post punk bands our nation’s capital has ever produced. In other words, think of practically any band on the (in)famous Dischord Records (you could even narrow your search further to the Flex Your Head comp (1982)) and you will most likely find a Dot Dash member link. Fucking wow I say! DD delightfully continue with their unique blend of “sunny, [punky] jangly guitar-driven tunes” on 2015’s Earthquakes and Tidal Waves. This stellar release contains many addicting jingles I found myself humming along to while grocery shopping more than once. Check out one such tunes, “Flowers” below….
Van Halen – The Diamond Dave era. ‘Nuff said.
Flammable Animals – My band, Dollar Store Riot, had the opportunity to play with these Asbury Park cats at New Brunswick’s infamous Court Tavern in 2015 and I and many others were impressed by their set. Their intro song “Initium” right into “Frozen Grapes”, whether live or recorded (off of What Lies Beneath The Parkway North), packs a walloping blow that immediately sucks you in quicker then any Star Wars-related tractor beam can.
The Sink Tapes – prolific is an understatement for this New Brunswick, NJ outfit who seem hell-bent on competing with Guided By Voices by releasing an album a minute. In 2015 they released 2 full length LPs (Creases and Window Unit Blues) along with a collection of B-sides and demos (In the Rug) and a shitload of singles. While the sheer quantity of GBV releases tends to ultimately make the band pretentiously off putting, uninteresting and daunting (blasphemous, I know), The Sink Tapes have you yearning for more. I still can’t get enough of the song “Vegas Hotel Yoga Spa” off of last year’s Touchdown Buffalo.
Dead Stars – Ok, so fucking sue me. I mistakenly omitted their very pretty 2014 release, Slumber from last years “Best of List” and now seeking some form of redemption. Fans of fuzzed out guitar rock a la Dinosaur Jr. or Pavement, take note of this NYC based band. They have been releasing shitloads of singles since then on band camp. Ok, am I redeemed yet?
Muler-Rochester, NY’s power pop kings are back in 2015 with another full length LP, Unlikely Soldiers. Still heavily chewing on to their 2011 release, Hope You Found A Home, more Muler to listen too means a more meaningful life…can’t believe its been 20 something years these guys played my Buffalo, NY college house basement…