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2009: Year In Review (Music)
|2009: Year In Review (Music)|
01/02/10 at 01:21 PM by SwiftSilentDead
|Overall, I felt that it was a great year for music. There were tons of great releases this year and it was even difficult for me to narrow down a certain number of albums, but I eventually settled on 25 albums that I liked the most this year. Decided to do blurbs anyway even though I don't think most people will read them. Was going to do favorite songs but that's way too many.|
25. Rehasher - High Speed Access To My Brain
I've always preferred Rodger's vocals in Less Than Jake the most, so I'm glad that I found Rehasher. Also nice that Rehasher is more of a straight-up punk band since I'm not the world's biggest ska fan. Their new album is a fun listen all around; Tight melodies, great vocals and interesting lyrics.
24. Empty Promise - Start From The Ground
Who would have thought that one of my favorite finds of the year would come from overseas, let alone Austria. Empty Promise aren't reinventing the wheel but they can make some of the most enjoyable melodic punk to come out of this year. Here's hoping a label picks them up soon because they enjoy it.
23. Church Of Misery - Houses Of The Unholy
I was in search for some new stoner metal albums and came across this. You know an album is great if the only negative thing I can say about it is that it's not as good as Master of Reality (then again, what is?). Between Boris and Church of Misery, the Japanese have stoner metal really down to a T.
22. Skeletonwitch - Breathing The Fire
They've improved their musicianship a lot and the production's a lot more robust this time around, but this isn't terribly different from their breakthrough album, Beyond The Permafrost. Totally not a bad thing though as they're a band that I don't mind sticking to the same sound. Their brand of blackened thrash metal sure makes for a fun listen for metal fans.
21. Broadway Calls - Good Views, Bad News
Wasn't the album of the year I was anticipating but Broadway Calls still play some of the best pop-punk out there today, and I'll stand by that. They can still write one great hook after another and deliver some of the best lyrics. Hell, I even listen to "Election Night" because it's incredibly catchy despite hating the lyrics. If every song was as good as "Tonight Is Alive," then I could guarantee that this would be in my top 10 but alas. Still a great album and righteous dudes either way.
20. The Golden Age - Unlock Yourself
Being a huge fan of melodic hardcore, I'm somewhat picky when it comes to finding new bands that play this style. Why? Because a lot of it is too toned down for me, but that's not the case with The Golden Age. They play this genre the way it's meant to be played; fierce guitar lines, killer gang vocals, catchy melodies thrown in every once and awhile, sounds right up my alley for sure. Also helps that the lyrics promote a good message without being overly cheesy.
19. Alexisonfire - Old Crows/Young Cardinals
This album kept me a fan of Alexisonfire. I've been listening to these guys for years now and while I liked Crisis, it wore off on me after awhile and I wasn't a fan of the direction they were heading in. I'm so glad they decided to go in a completely different direction rather than be City & Colour + distortion and go after a more distinct sound. George's back to being the main vocalist for the band and I really like his new "singing" style. Dallas' vocal spots on the album have decreased a lot, but the quality of his voice hasn't at all. The more I listen to this, the more I think it's their best album and I have no problem saying that.
18. Bob Mould - Life & Times
I really got into Husker Du this year and eventually got around to hearing some of his other projects, including his new album, Life & Times. It's great to see that he can still deliver more great songs at his age and write some fantastic lyrics. It's even more impressive that he records and produces his solo material individually, especially considering the guitar tone is wonderful throughout the record. What can I say? The dude continues to impress me.
17. Mastodon - Crack The Skye
I think it's impossible for me to dislike a Mastodon record because no matter how deep into progressive territory they go, I always enjoy their albums and Crack The Skye is practically a progressive metal record. While I do miss those crushing riffs that used to fill their records, I love the direction they're going in now.
16. American Steel - Dear Friends & Gentle Hearts
AMSteel sure made one poppy record here. SOMEONE ALERT THE PUNK POLICE AT EH ORG IMMEDIATELY. Had to get that out of my system. Anyway, while I didn't expect the band to go in this direction, I really love what they did on this album. It's a lot more light-hearted and upbeat than before but somehow, it actually works well with them. I know a lot of people hated this but I couldn't give a shit what other people think.
15. The Swellers - Ups and Downsizing
I have no idea why these guys are on FBR either... The Swellers won me over with their live show in the Giglife Tour and their album, My Everest and Ups & Downsizing only made me like them even more. Despite the label change, The Swellers still play their catchy brand of skate punk with some adjustments. For one, the production's a lot clearer, as are Nick's vocals and there's one acoustic song, which also happens to be a standout. Definitely a great "pop-punk" record. Wouldn't be surprised if they blew up next year.
14. Converge - Axe To Fall
I'll be honest, my expectations were set sky high after hearing "Dark Horse" and the title track, both of which are incredible songs so when I finally heard this album, I was a bit underwhelmed. I eventually listened to it more and discovered more and more things I liked about it. Some comparisons to No Heroes are obvious but they did do a lot of things different with this record. "Cruel Bloom" is completely different from anything they've done and Kurt's guitar-work is at a whole other level. Basically, it's a Converge record, so you know to expect something great.
13. Nothington - Roads, Bridges & Ruins
Imagine if Social Distortion, Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four got together and started making music. That's a pretty vague description of what Nothington's sophomore record sounds like and it's awesome. Really a improvement compared to All In. This record is so much more memorable.
12. Every Time I Die - New Junk Aesthetic
Best ETID album since Hot Damn! and arguably their heaviest yet. The Big Dirty got me to be a fan of them and New Junk Aesthetic has made me an even bigger fan. Their style of "southern metalcore" has been revamped to sound a lot more aggressive and crazier than it has before. Keith's vocals also have gotten a lot better, at both singing and screaming. Can't remember the last time they've sounded this good.
11. Chuck Ragan - Gold Country
Chuck goes in a more country direction on Gold Country and you know what? It's awesome. It really is. Doesn't matter where this guy is making music because it's always great. Gold Country was the perfect soundtrack to walking home on evenings this summer. Just fit the mood perfectly. I think this record has a lot more substance than Feast Or Famine with all of the added elements and it feels like he's going in a real serious direction with this solo career of his. Looking forward to see what he brings us next time.
10. Polar Bear Club - Chasing Hamburg
Their debut album took a few listens to really get into, that's not the case with Chasing Hamburg. I loved this on first listen as Polar Bear Club manage to deliver another fantastic album. It's pretty similar to the debut in the sense that they still play the same brand of melodic post-hardcore but they've incorporated a bit of influence from bands like The Get Up Kids this time around and deliver a lot of very infectious songs.
9. Thrice - Beggars
This was one of the biggest surprises to come out of this year, mostly because I didn't even know Thrice were recording new material. Either way, Thrice have returned to a more straight-forward sound after going way outside the box with The Alchemy Index EP's. Their sound is still evolving, only things seem to flow more naturally and it sounds a lot less forced than The Alchemy Index as it sounds more like an actual Thrice record.
8. Strung Out - Agents of the Underground
Most people either love Strung Out's newer albums or they hate them, really no middle ground. I can definitely that this record is miles above Blackhawks Over Los Angeles as it's much more consistent and the production isn't as ridiculous. Agents of the Underground has Strung Out still blending in their skate punk sound with metal-influences only I feel that they finally got it right here.
7. Baroness - Blue Record
Baroness continue to branch out musically only this time they dabble with a lot of progressive and classic rock influences rather than post-metal. There are songs on this album that are absolutely nothing like they've ever done before and a couple are among their best yet. Hopefully the Mastodon comparisons will be laid to rest now. Yeah, they still sound similar but not as much as people make it out to be.....
6. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes
I always link this record back to Off With Their Heads' 2008 release, From The Bottom in the sense that it's got to be the happiest sounding record about self-loathing. It was hard for me to find something I dislike about this record, because there really isn't anything. Reminds me a lot of Screeching Weasel with gruffer vocals and tighter melodies. Dear Landlord really know how to write one great punk anthem after another and Dream Homes is full of them.
5. Thursday - Common Existence
This could tie War All The Time for my favorite Thursday album. It's really a nice balance between the chaotic-nature of their older material and the more experimental edge they took on A City By The Light Divided. There's some songs that are among the heaviest they've recorded since Full Collapse ("Resusicitatoin of a Dead Man") and some that are beautifully ambient ("Love Has Lead Us Astray"). Those who weren't into their last album might prefer this more as the band has definitely found their spark again. The lyrics to "Resuscitation..." say it best; "Can you feel a pulse? It's for stopped for so long, let's restart it." Granted, I enjoyed City... a lot but Common Existence exceeded my expectations and more.
4. Silversun Pickups -Swoon
Silversun Pickups really didn't need to change their sound too much to make a great album, but they made a few adjustments to improve their sound. Swoon has a few more songs that rely on hooks and choruses to power them unlike Carnavas which they focused more on building an atmosphere with their music. This new approach really works for them as it's more accessible and enjoyable. They still sound like they're channeling those great early 90's alternative bands on Swoon but it's definitely not a bad thing at all.
3. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
Yep, they've still got it. Not too often does a band sound as good as they used to after they break up and reunite, but Dinosaur Jr. is one of those exceptions. Beyond was a really nice return album for them but Farm even blows that out of the water. It's Dinosaur Jr. continuing to deliver the same noisy, alternative rock that they always have but they really took it up a level on this album to sound better than they have in a long time.
2. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste
If this band isn't one of the best in the world right now, then I don't know what to think. They've really come along way since their bratty punk beginnings of How To Clean Everything and have improved in just about every aspect. Chris's vocals sound better than ever, they can still shred the hell out of their instruments (without going completely overboard) and their lyrics show that these guys aren't afraid to speak their minds at all. One of the most thoughtful and intelligent bands around today, that's for sure. It's so interesting to look at how much the band's evolved throughout their discography and they have reached their full potential with Supporting Caste.
side note: There's also a little hockey tie-in on "Dear Coach's Corner" which makes me like it a little more. ;)
1. Banner Pilot - Collapser
While Supporting Caste is probably"the best" album this year, Collapse is my favorite.I've listened to this album more than any other released this year. Everything kind of blends in on first listen and it sounds like "just another Banner Pilot album" but once you really dive into it, then you'll see all the great things about it. Nick Johnson's lyrics are really what's best about this band. I've had a few rough times this year and I could relate to a lot of songs on here, so that's really what hit it home for me. Also helps that these guys know how to write one hook after another, so it makes for an enjoyable listen anytime.
Rise & Fall - Our Cycle Is Vicious, Darkest Hour - The Eternal Return, Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans, Shook Ones - The Unquotable AMH, Gallows - Grey Britain, Razor of Occam - Homage To Martyrs, Austin Lucas - Somebody Loves You, Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares, Cattle Decapitation - The Harvest Floor, Rancid - Let The Dominoes Fall, My Heart To Joy - Seasons In Verse, Megadeth - Endgame.
Records I Liked But Should Have Listened To More:
The Red Chord - Fed Through The Teeth Machine, Morrissey - Years of Refusal, Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Tegan & Sara - Sainthood, Scar Symmetry - Dark Matter Dimensions, Clutch - Strange Cousins From The West, Blacklisted - No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me
10. This Is Hell - Warbirds
9. Jesu - Opiate Sun
8. Pulley - Time-Insensitive Material
7. A Wilhelm Scream - self/titled
6. Paint It Black - Amnesia
5. Make Do and Mend - Bodies of Water
4. Anchor Down - Steel To Dust
3. The Menzingers - Hold On, Dodge
2. The Loved Ones - Distractions
1. The Lawrence Arms - Buttsweat & Tears
Bands of the Year (according to last.fm);
3. Dear Landlord
4. Dinosaur Jr.
7. Every Time I Die
8. Darkest Hour
9. Polar Bear Club
10. Strike Anywhere
Biggest Disappointments of the year:
Between The Buried & Me - The Great Misdirect
Fuck, they've gotten really bizarre and not necessarily in a good way. I got more into this over time but I was still pretty let down.
Dead To Me - African Elephants
Figured they were going in a different direction, but I wasn't expecting this drastic of a change. If they want to sound like The Clash then that's fine, I'm just not down with it here.
Death By Stereo - Death Is My Only Friend
I know they've been going down hill but I wasn't expecting something this bad.
The Fall of Troy - In The Unlikely Event
I don't know if I've gotten over this band or if this is just awful. Maybe both?
Four Year Strong - Explains It All
I really thought this would be a good idea?
Lucero - 1372 Overton Park
Everyone seems to disagree but I hate the damn horn section on this record so much.
Ruiner - Hell Is Empty
Major fucking weaksauce.
Set Your Goals - This Will Be The Death of Us
If only the rest of the album was as good as the title track and "The Fallen."
Stuff I'm Looking Forward To Next Year:
Alkaline Trio - This Addiction
Jimmy Eat World
None More Black
Murder By Death
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Operation Paralysis
Crime In Stereo
The Gaslight Anthem
High On Fire