Just some of the stuff, old and new, I have been listening to a lot in 2016…. hey, 8 months late is better than never….
Not sure what the deal is what my bros of Snapcase and the now mostly defunct San Diego post-hardcore outfit, Drive Like Jehu, but both ex-guitarist Scott Dressler and singer Daryl Taberski continually ramble on about how god-like their 1994 release Yank Crime is. I actually had to go back and listen to the album to remind myself that I know it very well and indeed godlike! Hence, it is now on heavy rotation in my life. Glad to see they are touring again.
Rivers Cuomo and the boys from Weezer finally stopped taking their silliness way too seriously with their most recent release, (delightfully entitled, due to the album cover, “The White Album.”), taking yet step towards returning to true “blue” form. While I lean towards 2002’s Maladroit, one can make a strong case that when a color-themed Weezer record shows up it is bound to be decent. “California Kids,” “LA Girlz” and “King of the World” are just some of the few Beach Boys-metal-tinged a la fuzz pop that makes you yearn for the palm trees and lovely strangeness of Venice Beach.
Ann Arbor, MIs Pity Sex has recently caught my attention. Their name alone kicks ass and then they got all silly and made some kick ass music to go along with it. Lo-fi, surfy, shoe gaze done wonderfully.
The latest Violent Femmes album, We Can Do Anything, is a predictable and sometimes silly, but still fun release. It doesn’t even dare touch their 1983 S/T release or even 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing? but it still brings a familiar smile to your face. The Femmes are like the movie, American Beauty….both made sense when we were younger, but all fell into perfect place when we listened/watched when we hit mid-aged….
Not sure why I didn’t listen to another bro, Adriaan Klaassen, about this band back in the day when we worked together at ING. But I am happily ashamed to admit that 14 years later, I finally discovered the genius of NYC’s Longwave’s (RIP) 2003 release, “The Strangest Things.” Interpol meets Sink Tapes (were the latter even born back then?…ha! Sorry…couldn’t resist) is always a good combo! My favorite track that I listened to on repeat while on a two hour shopping spree at Jersey Gardens, “I know It’s coming Soon,” can be found below.
NYC’s Dead Star’s 2016 release, Bright Colors, starts right where 2014’s Slumber stopped. Fuzzed out indie pop where a heavy does of 90’s Dinosaur Jr. and early Weezer collide.
Finally, ex-Husker Du/Sugar God and front man Bob Mould has a brand spanking new album out called Patch the Sky. I agree with the hailing critics that it is a great experience but disagree that Bob is tapping back into his Du days. I would argue that like 2012’s Silver Age and 2014 Beauty & Ruin, Bob is flirting back to 1989’s Workbook or even 1990’s Black Sheets of Rain. Or better yet, his other project Sugar. So there, mofos!
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)?
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 22.214.171.124.0 (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….
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.
DeadStars – 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…
Into Another-their 2015 EP Omens, picks up where 1995’s Seemless left off (You can’t even count 1996’s unreleased album (??) Soul Control…diehard fans will understand). These post NYHC kings continue to perfect their undefined melodic, thumping metallic craft. Judging by the opener ”Crossed’, they could almost be criticized for being too good and just showing off but anyone wise would know better to say/think such silly things.
The Needy Sons– take Mike Gent from the Figgs and Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom/Crown Victoria and you have “just another band from Eastern Massachusetts” that happen to kick ass. They have been releasing numerous singles in 2015 with promises of a full length LP in 2016. Yay!
Paper Streets– This Brooklyn via Jersey quartet released their addicting four song EP, Souvenirs, right smack in the beginning of 2015. Their sound is best defined on their Facebook page as somewhere between Emo and Big Star. I can’t stop listening to the opening song, “Murmur.”
Swirlies –Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (1993)-Shoe gaze, alt-tuning, art noise done right that makes you second guess Sonic Youth at times….expect for Kim….
Velocity Girl-Their 1993 Sub Pop debut, Copacetic still stands and survives the test of time. I was am also pleasantly reminded of my eternal indie boy crush on lead singer Sarah Shannon that never seems to dissipate.
ScottJanovitz– only a complete Buffalo Tom groupie like me would know that front man Bill Janovitz comes from a long line of musically obsessed siblings. His brother, Paul, fronted the incredible Cold Water Flat (RIP) back in the 90s. Then you have another brother, Tom with Sodafrog. You finally have yet another brother and musical sensation otherwise known as Scott who I first learned about though his first band, Dragstrip Courage. Then came the Great Bandini. Then he went on to create the oh so lovely melodic, blissful pop sounds of The Russians. His 2015 three song Fall In EP continues the latter’s infectious Elton Costello-ish 1960-70 rocks meets 1980 new wave. Check It.
Walter Schreifels – just when you thought he couldn’t pull any more bands together, Mr. Schreifels (of NYHC legends Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today to post NYHC hardcore legends Quicksand, Rival Schools, Walking Concert etc. etc. etc.) actually created two new bands in 2015. Except for the killer teaser track from the hardcore supergroup, Vanishing Life, (“People Running”), he seems more focused on his other project, Dead Heavens as of late, pumping out singles drenched in 70’s classic rock psychedelia. Me dig it….singles sprouting up like a ear hair but far more enjoyable. Album out soon.
Johnny Marr– Check out the 2015 live record release, Adrenalin Baby, that finely collects tracks off Marr’s two solo releases plus some killer Smith renditions that should have the Moz nervously shitting his briefs….Johnny fucking Marr baby!!
Travis – one of the most underrated Brit-pop band ever. Yes Josh “Soandso” Thomas, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Frightened Rabbit and the Twilight Sad are all worthy contemporary Glasgow/Scottish bands, but Coldplay wouldn’t suck like they do now and Oasis wouldn’t have anyone to sue if it wasn’t for this band that I recently re-discovered. I still remember singing “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” incessantly in subway tunnels to my now lovely wife, Alyssa, back when I use to visit her/NYC. The Man Who (1999), The Invisible Band (2001), 12 Memories (2003) and The Boy With No Name (2007) are all jam packed with great songs. Testament to front man Fran Healy’s beautiful singing voice can be best found on the track “When We Were Young off of Ode to J. Smith (2008). Keane who?
Matthew Ryan– hat tip to my buddy Rob Galgano at All Over the Place Internet Radio for turning me on to this alt-country PA native and ex- Strays Don’t Sleep. Had the recent pleasure of catching a Ryan acoustic set opening up, for the Gaslight Anthem/Horrible Crowes front man, Brian Fallon (also fan). Give 2014 Boxers a spin and if you don’t like it, then it simply sucks to be you. Good stuff in constant rotation in my life.
Brian Fallon– While NJ darlings, The Gaslight Anthem, has proven to be a great band, many would agree that they were sputtering, especially after 2014 highly ambitious and worthy Get Hurt, and wisely took a long hiatus so members can focus on other projects . Fallon’s largely anticipated solo record, Painkillers, is due out in March 2016 and if the single teasers is a litmus test for what we can expect, we should be some really happy campers.
Bigg Butt– this New Brunswick trio produces and audacious dose of garage, grungy “moron boogie punk” (not sure what that is but sure sounds like some shit to be reckon with). They released a 4 song demo in April 2015 that is one part Nirvana bleachy and one part Mudhoney sludgy and deserves your attention. Find their self-titled demo on Bandcamp…..
Galanos – Vacation Cannons (2015) – who knew an upstate NY town like Kingston could give birth to “silver tongued devils?” Yup, neither did I. Fueled in his basement studio, Gregory Jaw, and the rest of the gang (including Joe Pugsley of The 65’s on the bass) simultaneously go for the jugular and balls, producing nine songs of intriguing dark, fuzzed out surf rock. For those fans of the Cramps, Lords of the New Church and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds take note, this is your cup of tea.
Overlake –Travelogue/Winter Why EP (2015) – another dose of toe-tapping, knee-bouncing, head-bopping piece of shoe gaze drenched perfection from these Jersey City gods, not missing a beat from their 2014 full LP release, Sighs. Check it!
C.R. Gennone– Going Vertical (2015) A primary founder of such Jersey bands as Tribal Days and Winnebago, C.R. Gennone released this 4 song EP back in December 2015 that has caught my attention in a major way. An eclectic collection of jangly indie pop that’s steering wheel tapping delicious and gas pedal throbbing. Check out one of my favorite tracks off the release also found on Bandcamp where you will find a plethora of EP releases in 2015.
Snapcase – the co-kings (Zero Tolerance is the other…RIP!) of the Buffalo hardcore scene broke up in 2005, but have periodically played anniversary shows in past and festival shows as of late, their 25th later this month on their home turf. A band that always sought to raise the bar on the genre, they never seem to disappoint.
The 65’s–New Fun Hell (2015) – This new 3 song EP from this Rutherford, NJ band picks up right where 2013’s “I Got You” EP left off and that is why it is in heavy rotation in my life. “Punk -n- Roll” at its finest, the 65’s have the guts and grit to continually make some kick butt music.
The High – Somewhere Soon (1990) – first heard this record back in the 1990s when my friends and I were eating, sleeping and wearing the “Madchester” scene to the hilt. They definitely had the scene sound down, It also doesn’t hurt to have a cool ass name and a guitarist that was an original member of the legendary Stone Roses. The tape went lost for years, then I stumbled upon a used copy in a 5th Ave, Brooklyn record shop a few years ago. Check out the opening track, “Box Set Go” below. 100% Britpop perfection.
Scott Weiland (RIP) – I’ve been semi-closeted Stone Temple Pilots fan for years (their killer third album, Tiny Gifts…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop….”perfectly blends punk and glam” says the Pumpkin’s Corgan and I agree) and been exploring other Weiland fronted acts long before his [un]timely demise. Despite some unevenness, his Walkabouts boasts some decent tunes and I finally slowed down to actually listened to Velvet Revolver (been debating Axl vs. Scott ever since doing so). All good shit.
R.E.M.– It seemed like over the years, many R.E.M. fans just woke up one day simply “over” the band, including me. My own interest started waning around the release of New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996). MTV favs, they just got too big and too commercial too fast. Kind of bizarre when they were once kings of the alt-music mountain that could do no wrong. I remember declaring to my high school peers who saw my cassette copies of Under A Blood Red Sky and Murmur mysteriously “stacked and glued” to my top locker shelf (most likely due to a Coke spill), that both U2 and R.E.M. will be the most famous bands in the universe one day (and voila). Personally, I think the combination of Stipe’s smug onstage political rants and the “Shiny Happy People” video (sans the cute B-52’s brunette dancing chick) commenced their downward slide. Fast forward to 2015, and I found myself rediscovering the band and realizing they are probably one of the best American bands ever. Sure they released a lot of easily overlooked material since Hi-Fi, but buried deep are a number of gems. Just check out 2008’s Accelerate. Next to”Begin the Begin” off one of my favorite releases, Life’s Rich Pageant (1986), the song “Living Well is the Best Revenge” is arguably one of the best songs they ever wrote and “Horse to Water” just knocks it out of the park for me like “Talk About the Passion”, “Seven Chinese Brothers” or even “Disturbance at the Heron House.” I gravitate towards 2009’s Live at the Olympia that compiles great songs old and new. I forgive you Michael ,just bite your tongue…xo
It’s funny if you strictly go by what I’ve listened to the most this year The top 20 are mostly old bands that have been around for more than 10 plus years. My go to bands. Then again you have to consider on top of me living in a bubble there is a lot of crap out there that never get enough spins to show-up. We’ll try to give you play by play and list the top five here as scrobbled via desktop and now mobile. No Car plays or vinyl were accounted for Same old story but here are the release highlights of the best music of 2013.
THE REPLACEMENTS – SONGS FOR SLIM
01. I listened to The Replacements 178 times in the past 12 months. Obsessive maybe. Mostly probably due to the fact they played a couple shows over the summer. We’re always hopeful for a chance to see Paul and Tommy play together in New York but that is not happening yet. So we went back and listened to a bootleg Live at Maxwells that Captain’s Dead Posted. So for all intent and purposes this was our most popular band this year. In that mix was SLIM Benefit. Not sure it got as many plays but Westerberg can do no wrong. [BUY LP VERSION]
MY BLOODY VALENTINE – M V P
02. Next up with 168 plays is My Bloody Valentine. And you know what? We didn’t even get a chance to listen to their new one that much except for a few passes on the youtubes at first so these plays don’t even count that! it’s dreamy and Kevin Shields still makes music his band can barely perform live. Nice follow-up a couple eons later to loveless. You can’t go wrong with this album because he’s a master in the studio. Pricey though but kind of thing a audiophiles should invest in the vinyl version for bragging rights. [BUY MVP LP CD]
THE NIGHT MARCHERS – ALLEZ ALLEZ
03. On the other end of the rock guitar is old reliable JOhn Reis. He’s always going to use volume and atidude from the first note. If you love Hot Snakes and or Rocket From the Crypt. Then new Night Marchers album fits right in the middle of those two bands. Smack dab in fact. We’re leaning towards this over Obits because of his knack for a better hook in this round. This shit just rocks start with “Roll On”. [BUY NIGHT MARCHERS LP]
THE SADIES – INTERNAL SOUNDS
04. The brothers Dallas and Travis Good from The Sadies combine some of the best things from Country, Surf and Alternative jams. This is a super solid album. Earlier in the year we had a chance to catch them at Mercury Lounge when this record came out. They were amazing live band. Everything awesome you would expect from above genre influences. They are now influencers of taken something old and refashioning it into songs all their own.
[ BUY MUSIC BY THE SADIES]
05) CRIMINAL HYGENE – CRMNL HYGNE LP
Ok first off. This has gotten many more plays than Last.fm account would let you believe. Because we 1st streamed their shit on bandcamp.com. We dig this band’s style. We gushed when first listened back in January. So get with the program if you call yourself a indie rocker at all or forever please just kill the term. This is one of the genres only hopes. Because that keyboard and computer bullshit you listen to all the time sucks a big harry homeless person’s ass(no offense to homeless people). Anyway, if you ever heard the tune “go” by the replacements then you might dig the single of theirs called “rearrange me”. There is a feeling on every track for even the most jaded of mother fuckers. Sometimes a little out of tune but it’s ok this is only rock-n-roll.
[ BUY CRIMINAL HYGENE ]
When I listen to things that i come in via the internets or that I pick-up myself in the store i look for a few things in a band’s music. Firstly does its sound rings authentic in a way that I’ll want to come back to it or does it just fall flat? Secondly does it have a freaking hit or a stand-out track. If there are no instant tunes it’s a looser but if I am in another room and come running back to my desk wondering what that song was I flag it with some random number of stars in iTunes — depending if I am feeling generous – nobody sees this so it’s just for my amusement because seriously I won’t remember a week from then until I look back in my listening history. Thirdly does the album carry a mood and sound all the way through or at least until the 5-6th track am I still listening and am I wanting more? If a record can do any combo of these things then we’re pleased around here. Totally know there are things we didn’t get or heard so this is just a slice of good music that was put out there this year and presented itself to the RS blog. So keep on sending it. We promise if you promise to bring you more in 2013. The last 1/4 was mostly a let down in 2012 but we won’t let that get us down.
12. Speedy Ortiz – Sports EP – One of our most stalked independent artist is the gal singer from Speedy Ortiz Sadie Dupuis. If you mixed the voice of Tanya Donelly from throwing muses with almost any respectable 90’s noise outfit each song would be finely represented on the Sports EP. Finely dissonant guitar chords chopped up on melodic vocals is this. We happen to know she is a record geek all the way through and it comes across as she brings her bandmates with her to a leve we can understand. So in a way the output is expected and not a missed hit really. Start with “Silver Spring” then visit the rest. You’ll be a fan like we are. We like them better than Screaming Females. [ BUY IT ]
11. Bob Mould – Silver Age – Just a solid record that was missing from current rock landscape of crap bands who think they know how to rock. This guy is the master.
10. Nude Beach – II It’s a little old school poptopia in a Elvis Costello meets joe jackson kind of way but this makes it very neat. Seriously mostly classic sounding love songs that sound like they were produced by Nick Lowe in the 70’s so if that is your thing. Check them out. We like it.
09. Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs – Call it a super group or whatever. This is just a good record. Maybe it’s a one-off band I don’t care. “Gimme Beer”, “Be God”, “Country Mile” and “I took note” are really good songs.
08. Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy Super solid indie pop release from the guy who could make the phonebook sound like magic. Single “When I Was Young” is classic Mathew Caws.
07. Tame Impala – Lonerism – Fuck this is great. Equal parts beatles and stones if they just did psychedelic music. Ok sort of lazy comparison but it you like spacey music that is mixed in a peculiar way then try a track or two. It gets a little formulesque at times but it’s unique. So high high praises for this music.
06. Torche – Harmonicraft Its pure rock. A little down tuned with a unique metal sound. No gimmicks other than being great. Melody leads instead of a blatant chorus at times. In your face at other times fast prog. It’s awesome and nobody gets it. If anything their album artwork is awesome. So….
05. METZ – METZ – Holy noise! Yes, i was confused I thought bands stopped making records like this but suspect we’ll see more musicians revolt against a clean discernable sound. this record rocks all the way through. Whilst no hits perse it will make you question what you like about bands that are just loud but no identity in their guitar work.
04. Jason Lytle – Dept. Of Disappearance – Mr. Lytle formerly of grandaddy is the dr. of psycho depressing music made for soundtracks. Every note is perfectly spun for a backdrop in a western taking place on a concrete highway littered with broken down cars. A modern odyssey and backdrop to real mayan end of days.
03. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat and Bone – Back to basics is this JSBX record. Actually I don’t think they ever do anything else. No disco era for them. it’s either massive guitar swagger or bust. You can’t go wrong with picking this up and just blasting through your boombox. In fact if you don’t do that please stop reading my blog. Start with “Bag of bones” and “boot cut” then do it. Just do it.
02. King Tuff – King Tuff – Hey here is indie record on subpop that is not afraid to be a psych rock band with melodies and cheeky song titles. Might be a little poserish but it’s gridy and fun in a more nasal bon scott kind of way. Stand out tracks “Unusual world” which is this light rock ditty akin to psychedelic furs, “Alone & Stoned” and of course lead-off guitar hit “Anthem. If somebody every titles a song like that and it’s not ripper stomper – shoot them.
01. criminal hygiene – CRMNL HYGNE LP This is a LA Band that needs to get the fuck out of dodge and over to the east coast. It’s our number one pick because it reminds us of the good ole-days of slanted and enchanted meets Sorry ma forgot to take out trash. Most of you will hate it for which reasons I won’t be able to help you because this record is not polished but shines because of it’s basic elements of song like fIREHOSE were forever loveable . The music stands-out all on it’s own. [ BUY IT ] The standout tracks are “Alan, I’m in Love”, “Immortal eighteens”, “blak water” and “get an education”
There is no scientific methodology to picking the best of album of 2011. Every year it does not seem like any good music is on the horizon then the music that matters start to tickle our ears. We go with the gut check versus a pedantic drivel as our motto around here. Sometime music is able to surprise you on first listen -sometimes second but if it does nothing after third pass we just move on along. Other times you respect a few words someone else says and you suddenly see the light. These are the various reasons we like making Best of Lists. Some folks just go for cool, while me try, we’re ok with failing. Hard to do as we recognize the lenses and filters of other as unique to them. So here it goes nothing.
This is a alternatively spooky monster that grows from first stringed note. You wonder why is this violin doing this to me? Instruments and simple beats played with a devilish flare the likes we have not heard in years since the art compositions of Hugo Largo where the bass and cello interplayed and built up so nicely without sounding like some bad brooklyn keyboard experiment gone wrong. This instrumental music is dark like The Velvet Underground with guts spilling in the soundscape of it’s wake.
10) Ruins by Talkdemonic
Download: Revival MP3
We’re a sucker for the psychedelic rock. Give to us this music anyway you want just don’t serve it with no reverb. That would be cruel. The Black Lips shuffle, crank and conquer here in the rockin way they only can. This is probably not on many folks lists. What we like is their consistency and homage to bands The Creation and Psych genre even when they may be arguable a little pitchy in vocal performance we’ve identified as one of the elements we like. Where the best of 12 strung guitar keys are tested on homages to Spiderman.
09) Arabia Mountains by The Black Lips
Download: Modern Art MP3
This is a total NPR lift. We kicked out a record from the list because it was a old release. We dropped the scrubber on this one and then suddenly what De La Soul was trying to do made even more sense all over again. What a total compliment to a pioneering hip band to be mashed up with Fela Kuti. I don’t think musical compliments get higher in the soul universe my brothers and sisters.
08) Fela Soul by Amerigo Gazaway of Gummy Soul [get it]
Download: Ooh (featuring Redman) MP3
This music has guys and is tough as all get-out. As Lee Fields would ask “are they rough”? It’d say hells yes. If you suddenly were inspired to play music from working at a pawn shop and make tunes with guts like this. You’ve got the blues my brothers.
07) Scandelous by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Download: Mustang Ranch MP3
I feel like this record came out of left field for me this year. Nothing like it since The Sophtware Slump has the keyboard pop charm been captured. Funny that such a simple little sound can put out so many luscious little melodies.
06) Aabenbaringen over aaskammen by Casiokids
Download: Det haster!
This is a oddly familiar Feelies record. They have a style that’s never been able to be mimic’d not even the shins who come close to a cover band version. Here Before is a winner. Once your fan of this band you’ll always be a fan because they create these effortless folk-american rock songs that many emulate and pitch right out their playbook. Essential listening that when witnessed live it’s shear manic joy.
05) Here Before by The Feelies
Download: Should Be Gone MP3
We love the re-interpretation of something like the pysche genre when it’s just done so naturally it’s all new all over again. That’s true musical influence. This band boils down the basic ingredients of a organ, bass, guitar and drums and somehow create their magic out of the steam.
04) Lil Daggers – Self titled debut
Download: Slave Exchange MP3 – Right or wrong this is a great song.
We dig this record at the RS blog. We even bought the Looser edition and had the fuckin band autograph the damn thing. Actually had the band carve their names with a ball-point pen on the back cover. They inspected it after I removed the plastic saying I as getting a good deal and they should keep some. Fuck them for making such great record and thank you John Agnello for capturing something as brilliant as bandwagonesque.
03) Endless Now by Male Bonding Bones MP3 – Great long epic closing concert jam.
02) Divine Providence by Deer Tick
This was late comer on our radar but the first time I heard the music it peaked my interest. Then I heard the Westerbergian style party lyrics and I was fan. A band you mates can all mumble or shout at the concerts or in the car. Lets go out to the bar! The Bump MP3 Is this a song about getting in trouble? Does it really matter?
01) Dance Valhalla by British Sea Power
Download: We Are Sound MP3 – A defining sound and song.
As we prepare to feast today I thought I’d post some songs about love and giving a big thanks to the Review Stalker readers, Twitter Followers, music fans and bands. All 3 of you know who you are so a sincere thank you! Finding good songs that are a true thank you was hard. Anyway, It was little over a year ago we went big time with the official RS blog domain. Everybody wants to own their own brand. Right? The unofficial one lived for many years on blogger. Not a huge leap really just more control on this end. I basically just promised myself to put more than 5 cents of my time into it because I spent a lot more time than that listening to all sorts of music anyway and visiting other great music blog sites. Plus it’s always nice to keep one’s ears fresh. So I built a better mouse trap. Anyway, thank you for sending the latest and greatest new music so keep it coming people! Now go get stuffed. I have to go work on my best of 2011 list.
Thanks Giving Playlist:
01) Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) MP3 by Sly & The Family Stone (1970) Nothing says family like a Sly song. Such great music for such song that was written during the middle of the Vietnam war.
02) Very Nervous and Love (Album) MP3 by J. Mascis from Several Shades of Gray (2011) Fantastic mellow J release from this year. It’s going in the consideration pile for best of the best.
03) Thank You Jack White MP3 by The Flaming Lips from the Flight Test EP (2003) Funny personal diary song by Wayne Coyne and the boys giving thanks to Mr. White.
04) Inside of Love MP3 by Nada Surf from Let go (2002) One of the best guitar pop bands of the past two decades. I’m on the hunt for the female fronted version of this band. Any recommendations?
05) We All Love Mother MP3 by Crowder Brothers (1936) From Robert Crumb’s The Stuff That Dreams are Made of A very rare and obscure hillbilly song.
06) True Love Will Find You In The End MP3 by Daniel Johnston from 1990
07) You Don’t Love Me Yet MP3 by Bongwater from Double Bummer CD (1990). Probably one of my favorite covers & around songs all in one. I think I’ve posted it at least 3 times in the history of the RS blog. My daughter just mad my day already by asking to turn this one up. Usually it’s the opposite.
08) Lovenest MP3 by The Wedding Present from Seamonsters (1991) This is my favorite David Gedge release. Maybe because it’s the first one I ever heard. Warning it contains mountain high guitar walls of sound.
09) Don’t Laugh (I Love You) MP3 by Ween from God Ween Satan The Oneness (1991) Quite frankly no music fan should be without this record. It’s a critical element in the lo-fi genre.
10) Love Buzz MP3 by Nirvana Live in Amsterdam 11/25/91. This is a amazing live recording. Totally in their prime in this live set. If you friend the RS blog on the bookface there you will find a link in the notes to download the whole set.
Now go make a list and support your local record store tomorrow on Black Friday. Happy Hunting!
This is a cheap trick but somebody will be looking for it. Song for song Earthquake Glue by Guided by Voices Vs. The best twitter and Facebook posts by friends and enemies. I’m sure there are some good ones so put them in the comments! Like these choice best Earthquake tweets.
Continuing, overall this year was a bountiful one musically with our best of list deserving 13 great albums. Yeah! Shit I cut a bunch just because they would have only eeked in based on the merits of previous releases but in fairness we all have our internal logic (See part I for our Best 2010 Album guidelines) which makes these lists so much fun. So please share yours. We’ll have a separate year in review post about the things that sucked and rocked in the music industry and only go into a few reasons why the music on these records is worthy of your time and money. What I would like to see is a Web Blog equivalent of a Grammy but that whole scene is more splintered. The VMA’s are a joke. So who knows. Might be too many disparate choices. I am interested to know what’s on your list though. Without further ado here’s 2K10 year’s best of albums!
6) Elvis Costello – National Ransom
Some of my favorite pop songs have been written by Costello from This Year’s Model and his whole 70’s era. This one is good old Americana rock and roll with just enough roots and blues to make it a tasty album all the way through and he’s a Brit! Great playing on here making it a great dinner party record to sip some whiskey to with a blaring fire with friends. I can hear the smoke and smell the cinder burning.
Listen: Download MP3: National Ransom [Buy]
5) The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
This is Jersey pride stinging you in the face. These are the rock stories of youths gone wild in the suburban and urban streets. The ability to tell the tales and paint pictures is what catapults this band’s scenes in the tradition of Springsteen and Dylan. Yup close as classic rock as you’ll get without sounding too melancholy for the 60’s. Much respect.
4) Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
It’s about time that Jersey’s native son is on a New York label again like Matador. Hopefully there will be many more releases like this one. He heaves his voice and modish riffs like he has a millions songs to give and no concern for the future. The record has a nice live feel minus all the emo hand clapping so lets hope that he see’s some bucks so he can keep making music like this for us.
Listen: Download MP3: Gimme The Wire MP3 [Buy]
3) Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
This is one of those bands that came out of the blue for me. Ripped it up in all sorts of interesting ways. They sort of remind me of British Sea Power in their big rock compositions but more Revolveresque vocally with these interesting dream groove space jams. Big Bonham drums that just power you into the future with flanger effects, phasers and small stones. This is near perfect psychedelic rock.
Listen: Download MP3: Desire Be Desire Go [Buy]
2) Male Bonding – Nothig Hurts via Subpop The right mix of trashy bass, Melody and sing-song guitardness is up in this English bands tunage produced by John Agnello. At their heart they remind me of fIREHOSE but sound nothing like them. They use reverb like any proper British group of record geeks should. I don’t know… try it in case you haven’t already. This band has heart.
Listen: Download MP3:All Things This Way [Buy]
1) True Love – ¡Pas Net! via Mainman Records
Besides the fact I’ve known these guys since forever and the various groups they were each in before. They have never faltered to deliver quality rock-and-roll that nods to just the right amount of genres and musical stock. Any lame metaphor would not be perfect enough. They put a lot of care in their pop-rock which is alla The Creation, Nada Surf, Sweet, Bowie,gbv and feel free to insert any weird 70’s references. All three in this trio can sing and play an instrument which makes for better bubblegum chewing for us all at the risk of biting our lips in sobering retarded awe. This is fantastic marathon beer drinking rock music without breaking a swet. A sobering experience for critics and in my humble opinion this is what albums should be like from a start to finish. When it’s over you want more and you don’t know why. This one reaches the finish line breathlessly.
Listen: Download MP3:Bitter Wine [Buy]
Download Bonus: Here’s a track from their first self titled LP. If you don’t like this something is seriously wrong with you and I don’t think we can be friends.
Listen: DOWNLOAD MP3: Over The Rainbow [Buy]
Welcome, here’s the first 7 of my best of lucky 13 albums for 2010. I’m breaking it up so you get a chance to listen to this first batch. Lots of albums will be in a different list all their own like No Age, She & Him II, and Superchunk just to keep you guessing. Although great bands they did not make it to this particular list. Here’s the review stalker guidelines for selecting this years list. Pretty general stuff but anyway. Enjoy! Rule: 1 Don’t stick to any one sub-genre if you can help it although you like what you like. Rule: 2 These are albums not hit songs or singles although a good album has stand-out tracks it needs songs around them that make sense so the record needs to gel from the beginning to end. One song does not an album make unless it’s a amazing song. Rule: 3 Just because a band made great record in the past doesn’t automatically qualify them. Although if it’s kind to your ears for reason you can’t explain put it on the list! Rule: 4 These are not Grammys so don’t make obvious choices mix and shake it up some variety. Not even easy as a guideline unless it’s a specific black metal list. Rule: 5 Listen with your ears on and check out these songs if you’re not familiar with them already. Make a mix and share it with your friends. Then go support the bands you like and buy their music you cheap ass. That’s the point.
The Soft Pack via Kemado Records
13) The Soft Pack – Self Titled
This band used to be called The Muslims and not sure why they changed their name to something more PC. Sort of lame but whatever. My friend Albie turned me on to them and just based on this song alone they made it to my best of list. I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about them other than they know how to compose a good rock song or two. See I’m breaking my own rules already.
Listen: Download MP3: C’Mon [Buy]
The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
12) The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
This is their Let it Bleed. This is band knows how to lay it down and are relentless despite the departure of their keyboard player, the rhythm section, the solos are right in the sweet spot, and big rock ideals make every track a keeper. Singing songs about girls and drinking doesn’t get any better than this. Shit there are only four chords anyway.
Listen: The Weekenders MP3 [Buy]
Nada Surf - If I Had a Hi-Fi
11) Nada Surf – If I Had A Hi-Fi
This is a cover Album. Wait what? Yeah and you know what it’s awesome all the way through. Every song sounds like it could be a Nada Surf song. They are songs that have inspired them or they inspired it seems to me. It’s confusing but hot damn they do everything justice. It’s a first here for sure. Here’s our review with all the original versions of the songs(almost).
10) The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream
Psychedelic or Psych or voodoo rock. This record is huge. The sound track for a all out acid war. Picture tar pits burning and people running around naked like a scene out of True Blood. That’s track 1 and it just gets wilder from there. These are images this music conjures up. A little Jim Morrison a little led zeppelin. This stuff is huge and simple at the same time.
Listen: Telephone MP3 [Buy]
The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter
9) The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter
Mark E. Smith is the grand creator of alternative punk among the best of the . A constant artist who keeps moving The Fall’s music even it should not be moved. His place in history was chiseled and yet he chooses to take the same old atonal ingredients using keyboards, drums, and bass bulldoze over his own castle and fill it with more crazy moaning alchemy. Great noise.
Listen: Hot Cake [Buy]
Sweet Apple Love & Desperation
8 ) Sweet Apple – Love & Desperation
Lots of big rock jams on here of the kind pot smoking variety. Another big rock entry on this best of list. Besides the fact it has variable rock star weight this is great. That’s all.
Listen: Flying Up A Mountain MP3 [Buy]
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
7)Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
This is southern black magic. This shit rocks hard and is relentlessly distorted with creepy church organs. I like them so much because they remind of the american version of The Jesus and Mary Chain sometimes. All the guitars sound great and fills a huge space.
Listen: Beat The Devil’s Tattoo MP3 [Buy]