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The Big 10: Year 2000
11/17/09 at 02:38 AM by Chris Fallon
Introduction: As the decade comes to a close, I thought it would be cool to relive the past ten years and discuss my favorite selections from the years 2000 until this very year we are in right this second!

Now, to preface this, these are not my all-time favorite albums or what have you -- these are merely my top picks for "Album of the Year" from 2000 to now. Each week, I will post another year and another album, just to start up a little reminiscing and get some talk going around the water cooler... or Facebook or forums or wherever the hell you talk casually with friends. Or you can just read it and that's it.

First on the list...


2000: Alkaline Trio's Maybe I'll Catch Fire



Some people prefer early Alkaline Trio: dark, gritty, fast and unapologetic. Seriously -- listen to how pure and raw their sound is on those first three records. Not to mention how deeply disturbing and painful Matt Skiba's lyrics are. For what is technically their second release (count the self-titled compilation if you want), Maybe I'll Catch Fire is slowed down but still oozes with some of the best overall work the band has provided in their ten-plus years together.

Read like the best entries from a lost diary, every word Matt Skiba squeezes out articulates his own hostility and sadness, his own distress toward his own self-worth, and every phrase cuts like the dull side of a bloody knife (I'm not nearly as gifted with harsh wordplay, so bear with me). Some songs echo lost romance ("You've Got So Far To Go") and then wish it all away with distinct sentiments of a "go fuck yourself" variety ("Radio"). As a cohesive work, it's honestly one of the smarter punk releases of all-time.

How can you not sit with jaw wide open as you listen to Skiba nearly cry out when he says, "You won't catch me behind the wheel of a Chrysler ever again" on the eulogy "Fuck You Aurora." What's so wonderful about a track like this is it captures all the gut emotion of a tragedy and puts it all into words that are poetic because they don't sound concocted -- they sound instinctive, which is what creates a bare-knuckled approach to early Alkaline Trio material. "She Took Him to the Lake" is a horrific tale of insipid lust and what more can you say about "Radio," a track that literally stands on its own as an anthem of love, hate, murder and misogyny all in four minutes? Jesus, when Skiba rips his vocal chords on the chorus, you actually feel uncomfortable for who he is singing to ("I'VE GOT A BIG FAT FUCKING BONE TO PICK..."). Plus, is there any better opening line than, "Shaking like a dog shitting razorblades"? Deeeee-lish!

The band obviously moved on in a slightly more mainstream sound after their third release, but their obsession with so-called "gothic" themes and lyrics hasn't changed all that much -- it just isn't as grounded or off-the-cuff as it comes across on this record. In ten songs, it hits all the right notes of a darker-themed world than all the pop-punk, nu-metal or boy bands ever achieved when this was released. Edgy, sincere yet still very melodic, it was just different from everything else coming out at the time -- something we hadn't seen since perhaps the late-80's alternative boom.

In a year that saw fine releases from At the Drive-In, The Juliana Theory and (on a lighter note) New Found Glory, Alkaline Trio took all the ingredients of what made those records special, and blended them together for one of the more infinitely honest albums to come out this decade.

Next week: Year 2001! Will it be the high-school anthems of blink-182?! The breakthrough of Jimmy Eat World?! The humble beginnings of some band named Brand New?! The answer might actually surprise you...
Tags: alkaline trio, the big 10, year 2000, maybe i'll catch fire, end of the year
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Recommendations: October 5, 2008
10/05/08 at 03:14 AM by Chris Fallon
Call me old-fashioned, but these albums bring back the beauty of youth blossoming into adulthood.

Music RecommendationJimmy Eat World - Bleed American

As I was beginning to grow out of my punk rock/radio rock kick in high school, this album came along and had me floored - who knew pop could remain so powerful while being so heavy? Brilliant, catchy and technical - much like Pinkerton in a way, another disc that grabbed me by the shirt collar and shook my naive ears awake.


Music RecommendationAlkaline Trio - Maybe I'll Catch Fire

I still remember the day I bought this: it was summer of 2000 and I was heading into my junior year of academic achievement. I was a big Offspring and Green Day fan, and I had heard something about this group named Alkaline Trio - a friend of mine told me they were similar but darker. The moments I put the headphones on and heard "Keep 'Em Coming," it was like a breath of fresh air for me. To this day, I still look back at it fondly as being the album that gave me the ability to explore outside my pop-punk roots.


Music RecommendationThe Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About

I got into the Get Up Kids around 2001-2002, a little late, but in time regardless because I was fortunate enough to see them before they split. I kept hearing about them from a buddy of mine who was a band geek - so naturally, I felt compelled to see what the hubbub was about. I found this record in a used record store bin for $5 and hey, when ya find a deal ... ya find a fucking deal, am I right? "The Company Dime" and "Valentine" hit me in ways that really brought a new sense of musical fulfillment to my ears. The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World are two bands I credit with getting me into Far, Braid and Mineral ... and what helped keep me away from the other bullshit "emo" bands that tried to be as influential but couldn't stack up.


Song RecommendationLess Than Jake "History of a Boring Town"

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I listened to this when I was a teenager. Hearing it now at 25 still brings me back to exactly how I used to feel at that time ... amazing, isn't it? How one song can simply transport us back to where we first fell in love with one line, one note, one word that summed up everything we wanted to hear at that very second. I love looking back.
Tags: alkaline trio, get up kids, jimmy eat world, less than jake, recommendations
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Recognize This Shape
06/12/08 at 03:35 AM by Chris Fallon
Alkaline Trio's new disc Agony & Irony is awesome. Been listening all evening and I am impressed they didn't foul this one up. Crimson was a bit of a disappointment and they recovered nicely from that minor slip (which, really, wasn't that much of a slip anyway). "In Vein" still remains a favorite, and "Do You Wanna Know?" is pure bliss.

Looks like this summer I'll be rocking a lot of Alk3 and LTJ (and likely The Offspring, too -- as much as that album has let me down, I still don't think it is so bad ... just not what I expected). Some great material from many lesser-known bands will also be stirring up some buzz here, which also excites me (the Absolute 100 will fill you in on all that).

Now if this fucking wind would stop already and bring out the rays ... that would be pleasing.
Tags: alkaline trio, agony, irony
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