Remember that time when you were turned on by the dial of commercial radio before it was a bad thing? Before you even knew what a sellout was, you were dancing to New Kids on the Block and watching their Disney special years before that corporation knew how to turn a dime with a Jonas brother on the corner. The first time you ever heard that favorite Pink Floyd record of yours - the one you think is one of the best classic albums of all time - you scoffed your parents for listening to that "old stuff." Now you own your father's original copy. You followed trends. Explored outlets. Wore the fashion. Then one day, you discovered punk music. Even then, you were probably just trying to "fit in." But it exploded. Each record was a new door. Then you heard an instrumental only song. It took your breath away. Then you heard an album where songs exceeded a two and half minute duration and contained ten solid tracks and not just sixteen "great" ones. Then all the time signatures started to shift. 4/4 was no longer an option. It strolled weakly. Then noise became pleasant. Then harmony evened out the other end of your brain. Things that seemed disheveled and jagged, unpleasant to the ear, well, it became the thing that drives you. Did that sound off? Yeah? Well, that was cool. You begin to rethink those "weird" things you wrote off. Then those old records you scoffed, they make more sense now. They are the classics. They may even be better at a lower quality. Yeah! High fidelity sucks! Fuck the polished. I want the raw end of the cerebral spectrum. That's not punk. Is this rock and roll. That's not cool. That's the next thing to share. Remember when I discovered that band? Maybe some of those old radio bands aren't so bad because one of my favorite bands now likes them, but I'll still mock that playlist I copied off the radio on a cassette for those long drives on the bus home from school. There's a vinyl for that? Wouldn't it be so ironic to have, you know? Just to show people how cool it is that I found it. Let's go see that reunion tour. I hope they only play old stuff. I didn't really like the last record they put out before they broke up. That's why I never got into them. Okay, maybe that one song of that record was good. Hopefully they'll play at least that one - if they play anything new. Hopefully not. Wow, remember when I hated that band? I'm so lucky to be able to see them on their tour, even though I wasn't old enough to get it then. Where's my bottle of Evian?
Welp, I can't seem to go a month without someone somewhere getting pissy with something I did. That's what you face when you put your words on(the)line. With the Internet, your words and opinion are constantly up against a firing squad. Someone who knows better. Someone who wishes they had your position because you "just don't seem to get it."
I must digress my thoughts to last night. While having a few drinks at a friend's house after work, one of his friends asked me what I thought about online blogs - not knowing that I work for one of the biggest. I abrasively told her it was all bullshit. No matter how many great writers coalesce into a publication to give itself some sort of online cred (because let's face it, the street cred of physical publications are dying as drastically as the majors' CD distribution), those great writers might not just get it in our eyes. Again, we all work for subjectivity and some sort of climb to be that "asshole that makes the discovery." It's petty glory - especially when you write them off months and years later.
So where does that leave myself? Bored with most writing styles, and even more "over" that blog/review/stupid interview question I wrote only weeks/months before. The worst thing you can do is to become stagnant in this game. So, yes, I always try to step out of the box as a writer - succeed or not I'm not going to be apologetic for it, and I refuse to slow down. Now, what does that say about my future. First off, probably jobless in the writing gig - but let's face it, I bet semi-touring bands are making more than most niche writers in the business today. So we're all in the same boat, just on different decks of the damn ship about to hit that iceberg.
What do you do in times of low end? Any damn thing you want to! That's what I'm doing in here. That's what I'm doing in my reviews. That's what I'm doing in just about anything garbling out of my stream of conscious. I'm an over-thinker, and it's reflective in my writing. Don't take this as bitching. I've been told I'm a difficult person to work with when it comes to things, and it's because I always come from a "nothing to lose" mentality. That's the true punk ethic. Just do it, and it may look revolutionary, it may look fucking stupid, or it may just bleed into everything that's already happening around you.
So I didn't write this entry to complain, I wrote this entry to say I have no remorse for the things that slide off my tongue and on this screen. Regrets are for people who hesitate. Believe me, it's always good to be careful, but sometimes you just have to play to twenty kids that care, and say "fuck it" to the rest.
I write for myself, and to maybe convince a few others. They'll have their own words as the marketplace of ideas travel. That should never be stagnant by any means.
Okay. I was trying to have a relaxing evening. Pygmy Lush's Mount Hope is blissfully carrying itself through my speakers and as I return back to the site to finish up my anticipated write-ups before some friends come over, I'm yet again bombarded with more (but this time it's "official") crap from the Of Mice and Men camp. It's not that this should really bother me in any way since a) I don't listen/care to listen/could give a damn about this band and b) graduated high school so long ago, but it's the fact that this keeps getting played out like it really means anything.
Then someone had to say this. I know a lot of you are young, and believe you me, in the past year I've sold a few CDs back to the used store that I wasn't quite proud of, so I'll take your growing lack of knowledge of anything with musical taste in haste. You probably have no sense of musical history or even the slightest bit of technical knowledge besides "Wow, that's a cool breakdown," (continued: that I've heard done a thousand times before) or "His vocal range in screaming is better than [who cares] vocal range." That's all fine.
Hear this: A little under ten years ago, Taking Back Sunday released a record that still stands a classic within this scene today. Even with line-up changes, they wrote a few great records thereafter. There was no formula. It felt natural. Nothing about it sounded like a band I've heard hundreds of times before - the week before! Sure, I have my doubts, but it's not in the original line-up, it's in five guys getting back together so many years later at different times in their songwriting that has changed since Tell All Your Friends was written and released.
So, to anyone following this crap, please go back and flip through the major releases of the past ten years. The ones still herald across this site today. Then go back and flip through the major releases of the ten years before that. Then, well, probably only a few years before that Rites of Spring hit, but you get the point. Of Mice and Men haven't proven a fucking thing musically or made an impact worth caring about all this drama. I'm sure all the dudes in the band are cool, and really think what they're doing is something, and blindly and bitterly, maybe I can't see that.
I can tell you this - for all this drama, Of Mice and Men's next record better be worth more than the fucking sigh I let out every time I see them in the news feed.
It goes without saying that we are bombarded with a ton of music on a daily basis. Debut albums, follow-ups, sophomore releases that don't slump - and those that tank. Some of them we give a listen and enjoy, while others simply blow us away for the majority of the year. Then others garner repeat listens where it finally clicks. At the end of the year when we're struggling to make some list that won't really matter all that much in this subjective scheme, we tend to visit some of our honorable mentions - and then we get it. Here are five albums we didn't get until the last minute.
1) Hostage Calm are the sleeper hit of 2010 for me. So much so, that I slept on the band's self-titled before I decided to check it out a week before leaving home for Christmas. It certainly made for a few great listens on the eight hour drive to and from. Why Hostage Calm's self-titled is truly a sleeper is because it stands out among the other great pop-punk releases of the year with its diligent guitar work and anxious vocals. The instrumental work is as driving as Hot Cross, but as melodic as The Wonder Years. Hostage Calm are poised to be the next big breakout among the smaller independent labels we've been following this year. This release more than proves it.
2) The haunting, back-wooded swamp feeling of Menomena's Mines is what creeps so easily through the veins upon repeat listens. In the last few months, as I was spinning the album through and through (and among playlists at work), I realized my love only grew with repeat listens. To think how the talent of Kings of Leon has gone wasted - this is where they should have coursed their sound a few albums ago. There are tiny elements amongst Mines that sticks out and crawls across your skin, but the overall feel is mostly intense in how the band builds and builds and releases itself without ever straying from being accessible. Mines is an album, that with enough time, will become a regular return.
3) There's hearing an album, and then there's seeing an album played out in front of you. At this year's Austin City Limits, I was fortunate enough to see Gorilla Manor, the debut from Local Natives, blow up in my face in a room no bigger than a mid-sized loft. It helped me to go back and give the studio version a couple of more spins. In the last month, I've really grown a liking to how intricate and well placed each rhythmic scheme weaves itself throughout. Local Natives is one of those bands that I want to see crossover from their "indie hype" and tour with RX Bandits or Portugal. The Man. This is a band that lives up to more than stupid blogs that will write them off in two years. For now, Gorilla Manor stands as hell of a debut that should only gain momentum in this following year.
4) The Radio Dept.'s Clinging to A Scheme was by far one of the year's most catchy best kept secrets. All things considered, it was criminally overlooked. It had the chance to be a cult hit in more than one scene: Sure, Pitchfork dubbed it a "best new music" release, but Clinging to A Scheme has the kind of soothing, contagious melodies that could've caused quite a stir among the AP community as well. One peep at "Heaven's On Fire" was enough to convince me. Its seamless blend of melody, synths and creative pop energy had me addicted on the first listen. Looking to catch up on music you missed in 2010? Clinging to A Scheme is undoubtedly a solid starting point. (Matthew Tsai)
5) There are some moments where you just want to smack your head against a wall. But that's what this Five and Alive is about, right? It's about albums that we missed out on, that we should have heard and included on our EOTY lists. Well, Dessa's A Badly Broken Code is one that I slept on in the worst way. I've been impressed by Dessa's guest verses on other Doomtree releases, and her work on the collective Doomtree self-titled release in 2008 was probably her most impressive work. Her voice has a way of finding a place for itself in any song, and her ability to switch from smooth, soulful singing to rapid-tempo rapping is something that other female rappers should envy. This full length surprised me in the way that I was pleased to find out how much I enjoyed her voice and style over the course of over 45 minutes. Showing off her versatility from acappella tracks to full-blown, hook-infected rap opuses, Dessa shines throughout every track on A Badly Broken Code. If you missed out on it like I did, don't wait any longer. (Thomas Nassiff)
In last twenty-four hours, I've been flooded with an Inbox of new releases for 2011. After sifting through all of it, I'm more than pleased. At the same time, I'm noticing myself becoming less pleased with my own pleasures in my repeat listens, but conjuring up reasons others will bitch and complain once they hear it.
The reason I bring this point up is that I'm beginning to wonder if it's my own negativity transferred into a voice of defense, or self-denial in saying, "Maybe this album really isn't all I want it to be." Do we get so wrapped up in excitement that once we're let down by the most nominal of things that we begin a devotion of self-denial that turns into outbursts of defenses against an album that may not be what we were hoping for in our head?
Is it something greater? Is it an understanding? Is it about crushing our expectations and accepting the work of art for what it is? Are we judging reviews of records based on expectations or are we judging them for what they are on the surface - at their most simple form as new piece of art released upon the world? Can this band write the album that made us fall in love with them some months or years back? Can this new band write in the same style as their former band?
There were a lot of expectations sitting in my head, and once I started spinning these albums, they were either met, exceeded or I really had to take it for what it was worth. I think that's something I really need to work on this year. I think it's something all writers and casual listeners alike need to think about when approaching a new album, whether it's the band's fourth offering or a hyped debut.
Imagine you're hearing something without hearing about it, reading a press release, knowing the piece's history or word of mouth that surrounds it.
Imagine for a minute, that you were dumb to the outside world - now what do you think about this new thing playing through your ears?
I'd like to thank everyone who submitted photos this year. We had over 100 people submit this year, which I think is a little less than doubled of last year's submissions. Not all of the submissions were chosen, and I apologize if yours was not. This wasn't a contest, but a way to showcase some talents of our regular readers and users of the site. I don't want to discourage you from continuing to shoot in any way. Keep it up, check out the work below, and remember, it's not how many shots you catch in "three songs no flash" or an hour and half set, but the moment that's worth capturing. The selections this year just may have been better at doing that than last year's feature.
Note: I did want to start off with showing how crazy Tyson Ritter was at Warped Tour this year. That was intentional.
- love and respect
*please do not use any of the submissions for personal or professional work without the contact/consent of said photographer
ABSOLUTEPUNK 2010 PHOTOG
Tyson Ritter from The All-American Rejects/Nassau Coliseum New York/July 17th, 2010
Dave Knudson and Jake Snider of Minus The Bear/The Ritz, Ybor City, FL/May 12th, 2010
Fernando "Mark" Vidreiro/ohitsmark
Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem/Tonhalle, Munich, Germany/November 6th, 2010
Deadmau5/Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival: Manchester, TN/June 12th, 2010
Bryan Kerr of Veara/The Buff Chick Tour @ Club Hell, Providence RI/August 26th, 2010
Max Bemis of Say Anything/Warehouse Live, Houston, TX/November 20th, 2010
I apologize for the delay on this year's (last year's ?) Absolute Photog Feature. I'm working very hard to finalize and get everything up tomorrow. I want to thank everyone (there were over 100 submissions this year!) who sent in their photos.
The last two weeks of holidays between travel home to Louisiana and having old friends visit Austin for New Years took a lot of time out of me from the site. I can't wait to show you all how awesome your talents are!
Oh, hello. I hope everyone had a wonderful two week holiday. I did - so much so that now I'm behind at least two days on my work. So, what a wonderful way to start the new year! Right? But no, it isn't all negative. There's much to be stoked on for 2011. Before I get ahead of myself, I would like to take a look back on 2010, if you would let me...
Beginning my work with Absolutepunk in August/September of 2009, it's crazy to think that it has been over a year. 33 reviews and 51 interviews seems unreal and not enough. Where did the time go? At least a month's worth of drinking somewhere in there, or enjoying a concert for its worth without being so judgmental about it online the day after. If 2010 taught me anything, it's that sometimes we get caught up in the criticism of this whole ordeal of passion, rather than just enjoying a record or simply getting excited amongst friends for a new album.
We've turned online communities into warzones of defenses and "rights or wrongs." On Sunday, as we all come together to share our recommendations, there's that sense of community. It's a beautiful thing amongst a musical church that regularly tears each other apart during the week. In short, it's like a realistic church life.
2010 was certainly about community. It was about smaller "independent" labels releasing music they were excited about, and unsure if it would pay the bills - thinking about finances last. It was about those labels not competing against one another, but having respect for separate rosters and having their bands take to the road in the D.I.Y. fashion of old. They separated themselves from the blindly led and kids started to take notice. There was a shift from "I want to do that," to "This is what it is." It was a beautiful thing to watch all year.
Now in 2011, I think that mindset will only grow. Like I said numerous times before in this blog and my tl;dr rant of in our EOTY feature, this time was only brewing up until now. Glassjaw will become this year's hardcore version of Radiohead, the pop-punkers and post-hardcore #tourlife kids will conquer larger crowds and off somewhere in some suburban town, some rich kid will still think Black Veils Bride is the best band they've ever heard. I will eat all those words, because that's what is going to happen. Just you fucking wait.
I thought 2010 would be the end of the industry, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago, as I was slowly building a diagram in my head, that I realized that 2011 would be the "end all-be all" nail in its rotting coffin. The vets (Thursday, Glassjaw, Blink 182, Thrice, The Get Up Kids) will all show how it's done and some of you will soon be attached to another shitty side stage band in 100+ degree weather this summer. It's okay, that's life. I was young once too.
My New Year's resolution? Well, expect more cursing in my writing and to pick way more fights in 2011. No one is the boss of Tigerbot Hesh, and don't even try to stop him. I learned a lot about myself in the last year as a writer, a critic, an asshole and just some dude that weaves his whole life around music. I work with a younger staff that reminds me of myself at that age, when I wasn't so crippled in bitterness. The screenshots of the new site excite me day by day. The writing of the rest of these guys and a select few staffers of SPIN and Pitchfork alike challenge me on an hour by hour fight of word manipulation and digital banter.
2011 better stretch before I enter and destroy something beautiful. You will be laid to waste...mark my words. I'm going to be the Kenny fucking Powers of this shit.
This week Patrick Stump has sent us a little present. It's a Festivus miracle!
Christmas doesn't have to mean crappy sweaters and even crappier songs (I'm looking at you Paul McCartney's "Simply Having a Marvelous Christmas Time"). Here are a few songs that I think right the wrongs committed against the holiday season by Wham.
Donny Hathaway - "This Christmas"
This is easily my favorite Christmas song ever recorded. Hathaway was not only an incredible singer but also a truly gifted arranger. The chord changes with their suspended bass notes are thick and joyous, the low brass commands an anthemic attention equally at home in a John Williams or Danny Elfman score. But it's the relaxed acrobatics of Hathaway's golden pipes that sells you on the holiday, let alone the song.
Vince Guaraldi - "Oh Tannenbaum"
Some records make an entire room more hip. I don't know what it is about Vince Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Christmas," but as soon as you hear the opening chords, your crappy studio apartment becomes an effortlessly classy penthouse and your day old flat diet Coke becomes a martini as dry as your suddenly James-Bond wit. There are a few piano runs that are straight up hummable. I understand that as a jazz-fan I'm biased, but this is a favorite Christmas album of many of my anti-jazz friends as well.
Harry Connick JR - "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers"
Harry Connick JR kicks ass. I SWEAR. I know it's a hard sell, I know he's played romantic lead to Sandra Bullock, but he was in Iron Giant and that thing was excellent. His Christmas albums are crazy (he's made 3 already). Some eerie dissonant chord changes, a croaking baritone sax, and here on this update of a forgotten 1934 classic, his avant-garde New Orleans jazz rumbles as a chaotic creepy robo-march. The tweedly clarinets above it all feel like Frank Gorshin's Riddler laughing at you for ever underestimating Connick.
The Drifters - "White Christmas"
Bing Crosby's version of White Christmas is evidently the best selling single of all time, but at the risk of sounding contrarian, the Drifters' version is much better (though Bing's is indeed excellent). Whenever radio stations switch over to Christmas music, I always look forward to this one with it's signature "Duh duh/duh duduh," vocal bassline. Clyde McPhatter's broad throated tenor coos and bubbles like an excited younger sibling tagging along behind Bill Pinkney's authoritative boom of a voice.
Louis Armstrong - "Baby It's Cold Outside"
While Louis Armstrong is commonly confused with Louis Jordan on Ella Fitzgerald's famous version of the song, however Armstrong also did his own version: A hilarious slow drunken sexed up 5 minute come-on you'll swear is early Tom Waits (who obviously took notes on this). Louis sounds almost predatory, discarding Johnny Mercer's expertly written boy/girl stream of consciousness lyrics for perverted growls and insinuations: "Female voice: At least there will be plenty implied/Louis: Mmmmmm, you tellin' me!" I'm gonna be honest, if I were that chick, I'd consider braving the cold the second Satchmo says "Let's get juicy!"
Ah, Christmas. The time of a lot of expectancies. From the youngest to the poorest, we still expect the reception of gifts. We expect that those we give to are happy with our selections. For those traveling home, there are expectancies of hanging out with old friends, and possibly not seeing others we never wanted to see again.
Then, no matter which holiday this season you celebrate (and this constitutes through New Years), there is also the family we expect to be there when we return home. The stories at the dinner table. The catching up in person as opposed to the technology of e-mails and lackluster texting.
You can't send and receive hugs. That's Apple's next big thing, but we must be patient.
Today I went to see my grandmother in the nursing home. She hasn't been doing well for the last two years after a heart attack, and though her mind seems mostly there, she's very much deteriorating with her body. As she laid in the bed and looked up at me with her eyes, it was tough to swallow. It's one of those moments where you forget all those petty problems. You begin to realize that someone of that age has seen and been through more that may or may not happen to your future self - if you have the fortune of waking up the next day and living to that age.
As my grandmother is slowly mumbling out that she has accepted her plot in the Earth, I reminded her of how far she has come, and that she had been around when people actually hated the Beatles, all the way to seeing The Hoff tear down the Berlin Wall. She's even been to Europe, Hawaii and Alaska in her time of travel.
Like organized religion, Christmas has been turned into a bag of expectancies that many of us can't deliver on because of either finances or things outside of our control. If you're looking to celebrate this year, remember not of the gifts that are received and the gauge of how much they make you happy or disappointed. Remember who gave you those gifts and why. Though you may only get to see those you love once a year, make the best out of it. Go drinking at the old watering hole, no matter how shitty it is. Reminiscent about new times, but don't forget to share those stories about the roads for which you split.
Come this time next year, some of those people may not be with you anymore. Through all the expectations, at least the one thing you can bank on is the moment and how you engage in it. It's about those you love and others you still love to poke a stick at, even though you'd be there for them in the toughest times. It's about family traditions of the past, and those we will cherish in the future under our own roofs.
Just remember: someone took the time out to wrap that gift, because they were waiting for the look on your face when you found out what's inside. We should all be thankful that those people are part of our life every year.
I should be kicking myself. How did I not have David Bazan's street corner performance in downtown Austin in my Five and Alive for best shows this year. It should have been number one? Not only was it an impromptu, intimate performance, but it stuck it to the man. Bazan was on deck to play Austin City Limits this year, and in his and many others' contracts, he can not play within a certain radius of Austin a certain number of days before and after the festival without the promoter's consent.
So Bazan took to the streets, and it was certainly something to see.
Artists like Bazan aren't in this for the job, but the thrill of the art. The way it exorcises bottled up feelings in a poetic nuance only redeeming to the artists themselves. People resonate with that feeling and it's why Bazan, under many different projects, has held his position of integrity while seemingly making a living out of it.
I look up to him not as much as an artist (which he is amazing), but because of the integrity and poise he pulls off in the end. So when David Bazan's work goes unnoticed to fads and hype machines - it hurts less as a fan, and more as a writer. Now, I don't put myself on any sort of pedestal of any kind by saying this, but in the last year, I've found that all "journalism" has gotten lazy. We rely on social networking feeds and unsound word of mouth that we sometimes don't even source. You want to know my baggage: I graduated with a five year degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and am still waiting tables - and all the red flags were there. If you're thinking about doing it - get out now, or find yourself writing for less to nothing - especially if it's a niche. There's no money here, and every day I see the people making money getting worse and worse in their execution.
The jobs go to the guys who can write 300 words about the headlining band at a huge festival and parade it with a "photo book." It seems like everyone owns a fucking camera these days - and believe me, they're all idiot proof. It's the laziness in the writers I come across these days that gets me. Nothing sounds inspiring. In fact, two people who I frequently check up on inspire me (besides my co-workers here on the site) - Riley Breckenridge and Brian Cook, musicians that have writing positions in major outlets and conjurer more forward thinking than "Dude, Deftones was cool last night," from a major branded magazine who has already shortened their masthead and articles significantly.
Another thing that has had me shook up lately is the thought of walking away from all of this. Walking away from writing. Walking away from the site. I've thought about it quite a few times this year. I don't want this to be my job anymore, and I certainly don't want to be the standard or a hype machine for anyone. I feel like once that becomes who you are to keep the buck, then you've turned your back on why you started this whole thing in the first place.
I've met a lot of great people this past year that are doing everything right in a failing industry. When this whole thing goes belly up in 2012 (Mayan calender dude! Or was it Tom Delonge who told me?), these are the people and the bands that won't be affected by the whole thing. The most important thing I've probably taken away from this year is this: Put yourself against the wall, and see how well you come out fighting. If you push yourself to exhaustion and find yourself still wanting more days later, then you're probably on the right path. You're not going to please everyone, so you might as well please yourself with what you want to do, as opposed to what you have to do. I don't like writing reviews because I have to, I write because the music inspires me for better or worse. I like interviewing certain people because I believe those I interview have something to say because their music obviously does for one reason or another - that doesn't mean I just would like to throw ten questions together to garner hits or find out exclusive info I can get from an early press release or, again, someone's network feed.
There's a lot of "what you have to do" in this industry (both journalism and music) that you cannot escape, but just don't let it outweigh what your personal goals are in the end. If it does, then it's time to get out. I think a lot of people need to just get out. I think it's time for a new class, and I'm certainly not deeming myself the valedictorian of it either. But there's definitely a group of us ready to chomp at the bit. Our teeth are sharper and we know your faults. You've gotten lazy and now you're blind. You've embraced new technology as a crutch instead of a new progressive tool to further your skills.
If I have one resolution for the New Year, it's definitely sharpening my own tools. Now throw me against a wall, and see what the fuck happens...
I'm going to start revealing pieces of my EOTY lists here leading up to the reveal of my top 20 albums (yes, it's been that kind of year) at the end of the month. Since it's Monday, I want to drop my favorite songs this year on you. Some of them lead to that top 20, some of them to some (more than) honorable mentions. It's been a great year. Rejoice!
no particular order:
1. Native -"Backseat Crew"
2. Get Up Kids - "Keith Case"
3. Republic of Wolves - "Tuez Le Tous, Dieu Reconnaitra Les Siens/Greek Fire"
4. Daughters - "The First Supper"
5. Bad Books - "How This All Ends"
6. Maps and Atlases - "Solid Ground"
7. Pianos Become the Teeth - "Cripples Can't Shiver"
8. Beach House - "Zebra"
9. Touche Amore - "I'll Get My Just Deserve"
10. Narrative - "Winter's Coming
11. Minus the Bear - "Secret Country"
12. Crime in Stereo - "Exit Halo"
13. Glassjaw - "Jesus Glue"
14. Deerhunter - "Desire Lines"
15. The Dig - "Two Sisters in Love"
16. La Dispute - "Why It Scares Me"
17. Tera Melos - "Aped"
18. Narrows - "Recurring"
19. Sleigh Bells - "Rill Rill"
20. Norma Jean - "The Anthem of the Angry Brides"
21. My Heart to Joy - "Empty Homes"
22. Gorillaz - "Superfast Jellyfish"
23. Kanye West - "Runaway"
24. Bars of Gold - "Up Up Up"
25. The Chariot - "The City"
26. Circa Survive - "Imaginary Enemy"
27. Fang Island - "Daisy"
28. We Were Skeletons - "Bruce Willis is Dead the Whole Time"
29. Wild Orchid Children - "Martha Washington Goes to War"
30. Trash Talk - "Rabbit Holes"
31. Surfer Blood - "Take it Easy"
32. Steel Train - "Bullet"
33. Gifts From Enola - "Grime and Glass"
34. Envy on the Coast - "Death March on Two, Ready?"
35. Deftones - "Rocket Skates"
Converge's Axe to Fall Tour (5/21 @ Emo's) --- The first time I ever got to see Converge was on a huge stage with at least a couple of feet of barricade separating the audience. This year, I witnessed Converge's grueling set without audience separation. Already on a high after Coalesce tore it up only a few minutes prior, there is a passion in a Converge set that has to be seen in an intimate setting. It is truly unlike anything else witnessed. Jacob Bannon makes sure to tell the audience his ideas behind every song, as to somehow keep the band and crowd on the same vibe. It's tough to sit through 30 minute sets of crap at Warped Tour this year seeing something like this. You realize why people live by the creed W.W.C.D.
Tera Melos (10/3 @ Mohawk) ---- One of the most talented bands out there - whether you get it or not. It's one thing to pull it off in a studio, but my mind was blown watching the members of Tera Melos keep up not only with each other, but themselves as well. Nick Reinhart has little to no disregard for his pedal board - and that makes his style even sicker to witness. One foot on the chaos pad and the other moving its way from flanger to delay to reverb. Seeing Tera Melos this year is one more thing that keeps me excited about music.
Glassjaw (3/4 @ Emo's) ---- This was my first time ever seeing the Jaw. How awesome was it to see them soundcheck the premiere of a new song that night? Even better, no opener, just about an hour and twenty minutes of classics, b-sides and new jams. I've never seen a crowd like this one in my life. People were losing their shit, and I was entranced by how biting the band still sounded after coming out of hibernation. After the surfacing of a new batch of songs this year, there's no denying that Glassjaw are back. Hide yo kids. Hide yo wife.
Envy's North American Tour (10/26 @ Emo's) ---- When I got the press release that Envy was touring the States, and then heard through some of the opening bands that they were coming to Austin - I lost it. I never thought I would be able to catch the Japanese gods of post-hardcore. Even with solid openers, the band stole their show with a little over an hour and a half of passion and post-rock worthy of return visits whenever they decide to come back overseas. I'm ready to rock again when you are guys. If Mono is breathtaking, I need another word for taking in this band live.
Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010 (11/6-8 @ Waterloo Park) --- Yeah, a festival, what of it? One of the best weekends of the year. Deerhunter, The Hold Steady and Devin the Dude put on solid sets, but it was the reunions and nostalgia that stole the weekend. Whether it was Tim Kinsella's quirky stage presence during Cap'n Jazz, or how fucking awesome The Vandals were right after, the weekend belonged to the good old days. Snapcase sounded better live than on record - YEARS LATER! Oh yeah, and this band the Descendents closed the weekend after Weird All opened it. What a weekend!
Tonight, while I should have been writing reviews, but instead started working on my AOTY write-ups (twenty - so please, someone read them...), I lost track and started watching/listening to Thursday's discography. Last year Thursday released some of their best material on a scattered album. The flow is really what killed it for me with Common Existence. It didn't feel like an album - it felt like a collection of songs. While I'm one of those people who don't expect Thursday to make another Full Collapse, I do want to see the band craft an experience instead of "some killer tunes."
Still - the band tends to not write bad tunes. Well, maybe "We Will Overcome." I think United Nations makes up for that one blunder. Even I hate "House of Cards" by Radiohead.
I'm not betting against the outcome on this one though. I think there's a lot of fresh talent to keep the band on their toes, but honestly, I think they're always looking to be that standard in the scene - whether it's intentional execution or not.
Last year I gave you my top five favorite vinyl finds of the year. This year, I enlisted the guys from The Saddest Landscape, who put out an incredible record this year - You Will Not Survive. The guys not only gave us their top five favorite vinyl packages, but also five tips on releasing your own tunes on wax. See below for a double dose of the column this week.
Vocalist Andy Maddox's advice on vinyl presses...
Over the years I have released a fair amount of records and purchased (or should I say obsessively collected) a substantial amount more and while I would never claim to be an expert on anything here are a few things I have learned:
1. Make sure you are happy with the songs before you release them.
I know this may sound really simple but I can not even fathom how many times I have met someone in a band who has said some variation of the following to me: “Hey Saddest Landscape dude please listen to my bands new record, but only listen to track 3 as the rest of it should have been aborted”. If you already don’t like your new album that is a pretty good sign more time should have been spent writing the songs, take time and be proud of what you are releasing. Simply put life is too short for shitty records.
2. A good mastering job will not save a bad recording.
From time to time I have come across this attitude of it being ok to spend less time/money on recording because it can all be “fixed” in mastering. This is simply not true, while a good mastering job does do a lot to enhance a record it can not make an awful sounding record into a masterpiece. Getting a good recording at the start is important, spend time getting everything to sound how you would like it to sound and then build from there. Do not settle for mediocrity at the start in the hopes you can make yourself happy later.
3. Colored vinyl sounds better.
Not true, it only looks better, and even that isn’t true all the time (I’ll take a good classic black LP over one of those bunk looking splatter jobs every time). I am more mentioning this in a larger sense though, in that if your resources are limited they most likely would be better spent making your recording sound better than on fancy looking vinyl. Trust me no matter how good a record looks if it sounds terrible and the songs aren’t good no one will want to listen to it.
4. Good packaging goes a long way.
Unless you are on Factory records the whole minimalist approach is just a cop out. If you don’t care enough to put any effort into the packaging don’t be surprised when more copies get jacked online than bought. This does not mean a lot of money needs to be spent on a layout, there are many examples of records packaged brilliantly for almost nothing using waste materials, it is more show the listener you really care about what you are releasing, it is noticed.
5. If a pressing plant promises a release date they are lying.
More often than not it seems if a plant early on (say in that initial pressing quote stage) promises a record will be done by a certain date it won’t happen. I have found that when I have been given good vague estimates on ship dates is when a plant will come through. They will try their hardest to honor it but there are too many variables in pressing a record to guarantee anything so far in advance. Think of how many records have alternate tour covers, why do you think that is? It is because there are always a fair amount of unforeseen delays that cause records not to be ready in time. So be mindful when planning that record release show as things always do come up.
Andy Maddox and Aaron Neigher's Top 5 Favorite Vinyl Releases of 2010:
1) Pianos Become the Teeth - Old Pride
I know it seems like our band crush on these guys is growing out of control, but seriously this record is that good. The vinyl looks and sounds great, it comes with an impressively large poster full of way too many photos and still rules no matter how many times in a row it is played. and while we are at it, anyone who bitches about their name without listening to them is just a horrible human being, 'nuff said.
2) The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs - 6 x 10 + book box set
This collection of songs was impressive when it came out years ago and it only seems more so now with it finally getting the vinyl treatment. Merge really went all out on this one with nice gatefold covers on the 3 double 10"s, a full size booklet providing insight to all 69 tracks, and then housing it in a sturdy box we are proud to display as part of our collection.
3) Murder by Death - Good Morning, Magpie - Deluxe 200 gram LP
10 years in and still putting out great records, MBD really does vinyl right. This LP came with a really legit looking embossed cover and a full LP size booklet on hefty 200 gram vinyl so one can judge the impact of the record before the needle even sets down. Oh, and it comes with a big black feather, no shit, a feather, i had to promise Aaron he wouldn't get some sketchy bird disease from it, not sure if he believed me.
Mono - Holy Ground: NYC Live - 3x LP + DVD
Rad 3xLP + DVD set put out by Temporary Residence. One look at the cover and inner artwork and you instantly know this wasn't just another show, but rather - a special experience for anyone in attendance. I saw Explosions in the Sky in a similar chapel environment and it made for one of the most ethereal show going experiences ever. Anyways, this MONO show just so happens to be a sore subject in the TSL camp as I was supposed to buy Andy, Mike, and Myself tickets. I then promptly forgot about said promise, and then this shit of course sold out. At least this record can let us pretend we were there, right guys?... Right?
Into the Wild - Soundtrack - 180gram LP + 24 page book
I'm admittedly not the biggest Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder fan. But Andy wouldn't shut up about this record so i eventually caved in and checked out the movie :) Gotta give it to Eddie Vedder as he nailed this one right on the head. Gorgeous music that hits me right every time no matter what type of mood I'm in. Vinyl comes with an awesome book with stills from the movie, lyrics, and commentary from Sean Penn on how working with Vedder came to fruition.