"The biggest lie about punk rock is that anyone can do it. Sure, anyone can do crap punk rock, but there is a fine art to taking a music fueled by destructive impulses and building it to last." - Stuart Berman, "Album Review: Metz' Metz" Pitchfork. 2012
Berman makes a bold statement at the beginning of his review for Metz' self-titled which was released earlier this month to glowing praise. The album does hold water to said critical justification just as much as Berman's statement about punk rock. While listening to Metz' latest record this week alongside cloakroom's EP and revisiting New Plastic Ideas and Nevermind as fodder between them, 2012 has been the year that time remembered. We once again felt the dirt wedged between our fingers and our nails and the music which accompanies it. It's now a time of idol worship and nostalgia, and the fine line we ride between the two varies from elitist to even more elitist publications back to the even more elitist culture of listeners who have their head so far up their own ass, they've traveled back to the adolescent discovery of all things they consider to be "true."
Between seeing At the Drive-In continue to deconstruct the sound they more than disassembled a decade prior and the beauty and sprawl of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's out of body experience, one can say that most of our musical notches are still in tact. (I say that knowing that there is much dispute about the former.) Between a new Hot Water Music record and Texas is the Reason entering the studio with J. Robbins, it seems we just can't let go of the '90s-core musical landscape of pre-Internet showmanship.
But there's still one reunion, one time in my life I've yet to revisit, and this weekend I feel like the last decade of my life will come to a close and I will have more than a better understanding of what punk rock truly is and not what I was told it was in 2002. While it was four years after the release of The Shape of Punk to Come, I discovered Refused for the first time after seeing the video for "New Noise" on an MTV affiliated rock channel. Like videos for "One Armed Scissor" and "Understanding (In a Car Crash)," this was my first dive into "hardcore" music as I knew it to be at that point. Dead Kennedys and Black Flag were still just "punk bands" and Operation Ivy was "ska" when I was sixteen and didn't know any better and lacked any sort of back story to the bigger picture.
I didn't have ten years of research and discovery under me. Now all the pieces fit. Now I understand how we went from The Sex Pistols to Public Image Ltd. to Black Flag to Fugazi to Blink 182 to Fall Out Boy to metalcore numbness and now past 'GO,' collecting $200 through Web funding.
Just as I grew up in the suburban landscape of America, I'm not alone in how I wedged my way into the punk rock lifestyle. My story is no different than many others. I've always been an angst ridden child. I wasn't good at sports. I was very self conscious about myself throughout high school - and still am to an extent. Like many of you, at sixteen, music was the escape of emotions. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you I didn't own a copy of Significant Other years prior, or still listened to NOFX, Reel Big Fish and Blink 182 around the same time - bands some Refused fans would find "below them."
The Shape of Nu-Metal to Come.
That was my environment, and I can only be a product of it. I think that's the thing overlooked when discussing The Shape of Punk to Come. In 1997-98, it was reinventing and "new," but in 2012 it's idol worship. I didn't know who Nation of Ulysses were when I was sixteen, but now I do, and when I hear people denounce the record because of it, it's like they're ripping out a piece of what made me who I am today. It's taking a sledge hammer to the foundation of my grade school punk history 101.
All you uptight pricks just stomped on my diorama. Thanks.
The funny thing about our youthful "know-it-all" attitude is that some of us grow out of it and open ourselves to broader ranges of music, and some can't quite shake what we've always been attracted to audibly. The Shape of Punk to Come is an album centered around the expansion of what music, particularly the genre of "punk rock," could be. Beyond the references borrowed from the early hardcore scene, down to the cover for Rye Coalition's Teen-age Dance Session, the band turned it into their own for the next generation.
Somewhere, at some point in the first decade of the millennium, a line was drawn between holding our elders sacred and handing down old ideas to create new ones. There are more listeners and critics (including my guilty self) who would rather blame the next batch of bands for turning a trick than doing their best at reinventing the wheel over time. It really bothers me at this point that some of us are still in this mindset.
Tim McTague said something that just blew me away this past week in an interview with Alternative Press about the disbanding of UnderOath and about their legacy. He said, "It was this effort of a bunch of small things coming together, that obviously, we can’t take credit for—people we don’t even know probably played a massive part. It was just this thing that came out and I just kind of smiled for the fallen great bands, for the Froduses and the At The Drive-Ins, or Refused—who are obviously back and destroying everyone in their path. But at the time, all those bands that almost got there but didn’t. [Underoath] will never be dropped in the same conversations. No one from Refused will ever care about our band. I’m sure Justin Beck from Glassjaw hates our band—and that doesn’t matter. We know we’ll never connect with or inspire [the members of those bands]. They inspired us. Our music career is in honor of what they started."
It's sad to read that quote considering how far UnderOath pushed themselves as a band, the fact that they brought These Arms Are Snakes out on one of their first big tours and that like Poison the Well, UnderOath is that band that drew up the blueprint for the next wave, only to blow past them with their last three records. For some, even in the UnderOath's stride forward, they were just "ripping off Isis, etc."
The biggest tragedy to come out of The Shape of Punk to Come is that in the years to follow, we got so attached to the past that we forgot about what the future could hold. It's 2012 and we're finally digging ourselves out of the rubbish of 2005-2009's most popular hardcore, post-hardcore and punk acts to grace a Hot Topic display case.
You can sit here and bitch all you want about how Refused borrowed a few tricks from early hardcore's elite, but they also borrowed from European house music, jazz records (a genre based on ripping off other musicians and turning it into something all its own), classical string arrangements and even the blues. No one ever talks about those references. No one is defending the Bo Diddley or Igor Stravinsky allusions.
No matter the genre or sub-genres that make up punk rock, it's always been about dismantling the standard. With punk rock, there's no standard within the genre, if there was, and you're playing it, then you're not even really punk rock then, right? Punk rock's an excuse to be a rock star without having to know how to play an instrument, right? It's about being the toughest person in your crew, right? It's about cascading the most "fuck it" attitude in your lyrics, right? These standards sound familiar? That's because they're all made by us. In a genre without rules, there sure as hell seems to be a lot of them.
The Shape of Punk to Come is an album without rules. Worship and Tribute is an album without rules. Relationship of Command is an album without rules. You see where I'm going with this? But those records are references to the Bad Brains and Fugazis and Drive Like Jehus alike. So what separates their worth in history? Without Coltrane, there would be no Monk. Without the Kinks there would be no Spoon. Without the Talking Heads there would be no amount of great acts such as St. Vincent and Grizzly Bear. To put this all in a better perspective, I'll pull from what I know. To quote Roger Meyers Sr., "TV is built on plagiarism! If it wasn't for The Honeymooners, we would of never had The Flinstones! If someone hadn't made Sergeant Biko, there'd be no Topcat!" I'm ten years older than my first listen to The Shape of Punk to Come. News flash to younger readers out there: everything is built on everything. Some bands will disassemble an idea, and others will cook a pot of gumbo with many ingredients and influences.
You'll know when something is "crap," because when you move forward and backwards in time through its references, it all sounds the same. When you take a linear path through a timeline and similarities exist, but different landscapes are painted using different techniques and bases, you'll find yourself being able to sift through said "crap." It takes time and it takes growing up. You never have to grow out of punk rock, but you should learn how to use its insights to further progress.
If not, you're spending all your time on stage bitching about what's hardcore and what isn't and giving me something to laugh at on the Internet besides the "Darren Sharper 'Hold my dick!'" video.
Thanks Refused, for putting the team on your back.
Punk rock is something to many and notably not all the hype for some. It can be dirty, violent and unforgiving. Well, It's meant to be, right? At its core, punk rock is not a sound, it's a universal language of revolution and change. It has something to say and doesn't care who or what gets in the way of it. No matter how much you want to separate specific sounds into genres and sub-genres alike, punk rock is not how you play a guitar or start up a pit. It's the energy that flows from simply striking a guitar to the tone of the amp resonating across crowds of 50 in a basement to 1,000 in a venue where you finally made it. Even that description doesn't matter. None of anyone's opinions of how something sounds or acts matters. At the end of the show, what you take away from it, the feeling of emotional release - that's what matters. Punk rock is supposed to invoke something special inside you and exorcise it for the thirty minutes to hour long sets of any band. Two very big people reminded me of that this weekend on separate occasions during this year's Chaos in Tejas festival in Austin, TX.
I met Moss Icon's Tonie Joy on Thursday night meeting up with my friend Derek who so happened to also handle the band's press for their reissue through Temporary Residence. Though our conversation was short lived before Toys That Kill hit the stage (and put on a stunning performance they did), I got to ask Joy at least one question I was curious about. I asked him what he thought his band was at their height. What genre did he think he was in versus what people thought of Moss Icon now? His answer wasn't that all surprising - he simply thought he was in a "rock band." Fast forward to after Moss Icon's incredible hour long reunited set (and only one thus far or possibly ever), and I got a chance to talk to Pygmylush's Chris Taylor. Taylor of course was one half the vocals of hardcore greats pg. 99. If you remember the band's interview with NPR, Taylor's take on where he saw his old band at the time and what people deem pg. 99's legacy now, it's certainly a matter of "he said, she said" dribble that's been passed along through media-heads and elitist alike. What has since carried through into Pygmylush is the state of simply doing without a purpose or foresight. There is no image, no gimmick and no predestined answer to what a song, record or band as a whole should sound like. The Ramones were a dirty pop band but they're herald as "punk pioneers." Led Zeppelin were taking a new spin on the blues and considered metal to others. Watching Tonie Joy's mini-solos on some of Moss Icon's songs Sunday night - he really was playing in a rock band.
The great thing about punk rock is also its bastardized downfall. It sums up the phrase "This is why we can't have anything nice!" We're all guilty of it - especially we, the media plethora of writers. I wonder why that is - is it the fear of association with one sound and not another? "Oh, well, they're not this, but they're more that. I don't listen or like that." It just seems dumb, and it's finally snapped in me how irritating it can be to breakdown what music isn't instead of what music is. Watching Nasum on Thursday night was no different than Dropdead on Friday to me. Both were brutal. Sure, one's "more metal" than the other, but they both invoked similar damages among the crowd and through my eardrums. I can also see the separation as well. To me, Thou is not only one of the heaviest bands, they also standout in how clean their execution is and how forceful they come off compared to everyone else around them doing the same thing right now. It's simply terrifying. Is it it doom? Is it hardcore? Is it metal? I'm sure if you asked different people, they'd give you a different answer depending on what they know and what they like.
Festivals like Chaos in Tejas and The Fest down in Gainesville remind us about the importance of community of punk rock, no matter what genre specific band you're going to see, what you're wearing to go see it or how old or how young you are still trying to attach yourself to the reason you never let that anarchist and revolutionary inside you ever completely die off. That feeling is global and seen across the overseas acts of Chaos in Tejas. Reality Crisis put on a raging set Thursday night, I almost forgot in all the media imagery I see that tells me what Japan is and isn't into that there is massive punk and metal scene in Japan. Then there was Ice Age from Denmark on Sunday before Moss Icon. It was raw, angry and slightly harmonic. It wasn't exactly grunge and it wasn't exactly hardcore. But their set sure was punk as fuck. Who the hell knew Denmark had a punk scene?!
Last year, between a heavy weekend of work, I was only able to attend a handful of shows and see a handful of bands. This year I tried to attend as many shows and see as many different bands as possible. On Saturday I saw the brutality that is the heralded Dropdead, immediately heading over to see the lush layering of one of my new favorite acts, Chelsea Wolfe. As the excitement began to calm inside me during Wolfe's intoxicating set of harmonies - opposite that of the heightened feeling I witnessed just minutes later - it dawned on me that revolution has always won out among the masses and lasted. I've said it before, I'm just some kid who writes behind a computer and can only offer insight, and hitting 26 in a few months, what I now know of what "punk can be" versus "what punk was" when I discovered the word a decade plus earlier, they are two complete variations. For the most part, the bands that I've seen to be "the best" lasted a good long time or are still talked about among "the know" - ahem*EngineDown*ahem. The bands that I didn't get to see and understood years after their demise, still last today with generations to come - as seen by the ramped hype of reunions as of late. This weekend I probably couldn't talk to you about half the line-up of Chaos in Tejas, but the venues were packed with kids and adults alike that could. Punk rock is not a fad, and the media and press and labels that make it out to be will fail for all the wrong reasons. Punk rock isn't a specific sound. It's always been a feeling. You'll know it when it hits you. You'll know it when the idea of punk rock expands when you grow older as well. I can promise you that. If you don't get that feeling ever, than you were just one who held punk rock in the wrong hands.
[writer's note:The views reflected in this editorial and any other are mine and mine alone. They do not reflect the opinions of any other staff members or Jason Tate with regards to any band or label mentioned from here on out. Thank you for reading. Always form your own opinion, don't let someone do that for you.]
Poison the Well's Versions is the band's best record.
There, I said it.
After going through the catalog again upon hearing the news this week that Poison the Well has "something" coming to us soon (according to Twitter - May 3rd), it immediately sent me digging through what I deemed the prime cuts from the guys. Poison the Well, like most of my favorite bands - and those celebrated mostly through a minority or majority cult worship - have an uneven discography. Every record sounds different than the last. If you think about the bands that matter - the ones that have really made their mark, whether it be a decade or more since their beginning and end - those bands in question took a lot of chances, and in retrospect, they fucking paid off. But the key term here is "retrospect," because when you hear something unexpected from one of your favorite bands, there's always this limbo that you sit in. It could last three months or it could last three days. Maybe it'll be three years later when you pick back up the record and go, "Oh fuck! This is incredible!" The time you hangout in the limbo between not getting it and that realization of getting it is what makes your palette of musical tastes quite special in itself. It's subconscious growth, and it's a beautiful thing to look back on.
Like I've spoken about in other write-ups, there is a challenge set in getting to that understanding. That challenge has to come from simply giving new music and new ideas a chance. You won't like everything you hear, but you also may find elements that carry over into what you do like from the aforementioned music for which you at least gave a listen to. It will be subtle as well. For example, I'm not a huge Death Cab For Cutie fan like most of my fellow writers and friends, but the catalog is quite solid for the sake of argument. If you shuffle through the best of it, there are some power ballads evenly mixed with a bit of screamo-octave chords riding in the band's earlier work (as pointed out by one of my friends who is a big fan since the beginning). While it's not a catalog I celebrate per se, there are elements in the band that I see in my favorite bands. Elements that are subtle pointillism of the overall picture, but when called out by others, you realize the connection. Again, Death Cab For Cutie is a band that hasn't really written the same record twice. They attempted new things and they either gained fans, lost them or subjected some to the "challenge" that I speak about.
Like I've said numerous times before, that challenge is the best thing about punk rock. The risks that are taken and the way bands blend their favorite music into the boiling pot of influential gumbo is what keeps music exciting for most of us. While JADEDPUNKHULK may or may not agree with me, the "punkest" thing you can do is your own thing - even if it doesn't work for everyone. While I've made many a joke and scoff at a lot of the music that passes as "hardcore" or "post-hardcore" in some of your heads - there's a majority of young minds out there that truly believe that The Bunny the Bear is the most revolutionary thing to them. For some reason, for some it's their, err, At the Drive In. For some people, the expectation for Bring Me the Horizon to be influenced by post-rock will bring this new generation a hopeful Oceanic of sorts. Hell, The Illusion of Safety probably boast more of an Until Your Heart Stops for my teen years than Until Your Heart Stops does for me as an album now - in retrospect. It's hard as critics - especially as we grow older - to say, "Okay, I see what you're doing there." Because back in the day, an older generation found the likes of 3OneG to be just a garbage pail of noise and the next generation thought Thursday was ripping off the Level Plane catalog. It happens in cycles, we grow older, and new music doesn't stick as well as when the first chord struck us. About once a month I hear a new band and say to myself, "Man, if this came out in 2005, this would be my favorite new band." For whatever reason, I'm over it. For whatever other reason, subconsciously, I'm not over the music I fell in love with in 2005. The paradox will have to be solved on another day though.
So, to get at the point I came in here to make - the other day, with two of my good friends, we took a listen to the new Skip the Foreplay album, Nightlife. To put it best from one of those friends, "Man, Brokencyde opened up a door that shouldn't have been opened," or "This sounds like Crazy Town." Why not, the opening track has to introduce the band through a soundbyte. WHO DOES THAT? Nu-metal rap-rock bands between the years 1998-2000, that's who! So either we've come full circle, or this album is the biggest troll since Lil B's Everything Based or anything 3OH!3 has ever released. The titles: "Dinner With Snooki" "Hangover" and the lovely "Date Rape Predator" - a song title fitting in a scene of stories fed through the now deceased Is Anyone Up? website. (I'm not accusing anyone in Skip the Foreplay of such accusations though, that's for Tumblr and scene girl tweets to handle.) Seriously, a few minutes into "Date Rape Predator," and there's a sample of a girl acting like she's been slipped something in her drink! WHAT?! UGH! FUCK! (throws hands in air) I can ignore the breakdown after breakdown. I can ignore the sing-scream combo that has been played out for years. I can ignore the aerobic stage jumps and crouches tied into every oncoming breakdown that leaves your band with no utter sense of dynamics within the plateau of sound that is your music. I can even ignore this dubstep shit you've added to give "texture" for lack of a better word. Listening to this album was the blade that cut the umbilical chord of my youth and left me balding, yelling at kids to "Be safe!" and "Don't do anything stupid!" What bothers me is that someone, somewhere (and I'm not calling out just Epitaph on this one) said, "Yes, let's put this out," without giving the public at least a ten page dissertation on how a band like Skip the Foreplay, The Bunny the Bear or I See Stars is furthering anything in music besides a headache and a target for a candid joke when there's not a good nu-metal one at the moment.
I read a great article by Chuck Klosterman the other day. He attended both a Creed and Nickelback concert in one night. Now, I know that's making a lot of your heads spin, but it's worth a read. Klosterman not only makes some great points about the hate of some and the packed arenas for others, he also snagged some definitive quotes from attendees who willingly bought tickets of their own will. The most interesting point brought up in the whole piece is how much we as listeners live in our own reality when it comes to enjoying any band in question by the rest of the general public. We ignore the flack (haterz gonna hate, amirite?), and we only take in what a band or song or album or lyric means to us and no one else. That unwavering point when critics' and the popular media's opinions don't matter is pretty special. A lot of factors go into your tastes besides the consumption of the vast medium of music itself: your personal life, your financial demographic, your exposure to city life versus the rural bumfuck nowhere and your friends and home life. No matter how much you want to deny it, at a young age you probably listened to some god awful shit, and unbeknown to you, whether it was a negative turned into a positive, it helped shape who you are and what you listen to today.
So before Skip the Foreplay or any of the bands mentioned sends me a letterbomb (I'll just start a podcast or something, but seriously, I'd like to keep my hands) - maybe it's me not recognizing that maybe, just maaayybeee, these bands could be the next Antioch Arrow for a new generation. Then again, I seriously doubt any of you know who that band was, so enjoy the good times while they last. As soon as all these fans of the present Warped Tour and Hot Topic crowd grow-up and discover the inner-twines of some indie dream-pop band or discover some back catalog worship of some powerviolence or math-metal act - then you're just some band that they used to know and love and ended up in used CD trade-ins or deleted MP3 files. I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't already live through the motions. As prominent as the idea is now, not every band is entitled to a reunion - or deserves one for that matter. The biggest reason for that is not every band can make a mark worth lasting not only a decade long, but generations of young minds at that. When it gets to simplicity, you, as a band and an "artist," have to ask yourself this: Am I a gimmick to turn a buck or am I at least being honest with what I do and am actually contributing to the greater good of the challenge I may indirectly set for my fans? As long as there's some sort of honesty between those drops and on-stage calisthenics, I'll keep my mouth shut until the next trend.
Whenever I go to a small show and see an up and coming band, a few questions always circle my head. No greater question has circled my head more lately than the authenticity of any sort of new music that I hear. For some of you, right now, you know EXACTLY what I mean, and for the others, I'm going to explain myself. Trends generally start as an authentic thing. A couple of people get together, tell society to fuck off and then do their thing. Gradually, a sea of assholes say, "Hey! I can do that!" They pat themselves on the back, steer their lifestyle in that general direction and eventually latch onto something new as time moves on. It's why "waves" of bands exist. By the fourth and fifth wave, we've heard it, seen it and are pretty sick and tired of it. Not only does the product not sound original, it's just taking direct cues from ones that came before - instead of mixing in new ideas.
This has been the up and down with music for years - and in the punk scene in particular. Thanks to the oh so wonderful Internet, it's easier than ever to grasp an idea and make it your own fruition - simply coloring between the lines. When one thing is beginning to get big, you have to wonder where that line will eventually get drawn as to who's in it to do their own thing, and who's in it to ride the wave of others' success.
Thursday night I drove down to San Antonio to see Xerxes and Code Orange Kids on their winter tour. Xerxes' upcoming album is one my most anticipated of 2012. I've yet to receive an advance (ahem) but the tracks I've heard thus far and the feedback from a few other bands which have heard it is pretty overwhelming. Then there's Code Orange Kids, a band that could be one of the biggest in the hardcore and thrash scene by the end of the year. They're young, and talking with them on Thursday night, they're also very ambitious - and ambitious to take the right steps. Their live show, like Xerxes, is no bullshit game. They're both emotional trainwrecks. Code Orange Kids blows out your eardrums in intense fury while Xerxes violently grabs at your heartstrings. It just feels real. Match that to seeing Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) and Dowsing at a club in the worst part of Austin or The Reptilian and my friends in Innards play a shed (yes, a shed) a couple of nights later - and it just feels like all these things are happening for the right reasons.
This is one of the most exciting times for punk music, but it's also the scariest. There's a lot of "worship" happening - and I'm not saying that it's bad to take an old tune and spin it into something that's your own (not everyone has to reinvent the wheel), I'm just saying that it's statistically impossible for everyone to standout. For every local band that gets moderately big, there are ten local bands that want to do that exact same thing. Not everyone can make it - and most of you will fail in the process.
The cycle is coming back around, and there are going to be a lot of cookie-cutter bands in the next few years that follow - this I promise you. It's already happening with the music just on a local level. Then someone will buy in, and it'll turn into a complete clusterfuck of no one giving a shit. Then there will be bands trying to do something that's not that, until we come full circle to a couple of years like the last two we just had. So head this warning: It is certainly an exciting time to be in a band. I feel like the rock star thing is dead (Thanks Dangerous Summer!) and kids want to be genuine about the music they make. For the most part, they want to do it right. That's a great start. There's no telling how long you will last in this business. The best thing you can do is leave even the smallest legacy on a 7" split or have your only proper full length be something that slightly changes the tide and is held as something special by people who may matter more down the line.
Someone told me something so simple, but verbally slapped some knowledge across my face leaving a mark that is a partial reason I wrote this blog. It's easy to be a follower. There's no thought, and anyone can follow anything. It's harder to be a leader. It's harder to get someone to listen to what you have to say and follow accordingly. Love'em or hate'em, those people are doing more with a week's worth of work than you may do in a year. Be a leader, have integrity and ask yourself if you're setting a precedent or notch in the bigger picture. That's what punk rock is about - the following part is why many people say it's dead. Let's fucking prove them wrong.
I've had the fine pleasure of messing around with the new site for the past week like much of the staff, and I can tell you that what Jason has put together is living up to my expectations and more. There's a few things I would personally change design-wise that I brought up, but they're so miniscule, and they don't take away from the experience, so it really doesn't matter. The way you move through the site; the clean feel of it. It's like knowing where everything in your dirty room is if you're looking for it, but one day finally just cleaning it the fuck up. That's the biggest part of AP.net 3.0 - it's the progressive version of what I think Jason wanted this site to be over time.
With progression will come minor offense by us spectators. "Oh, well I liked this minor thing here," or "I liked how raw this looked, sounded, felt, etc.," and it just continues like that from generation to generation. It's the one drawback for having a creative intellect and a judgmental one at that. If you really want to stand out, you'll move forward. Will anyone care about the third album from "insert band that gets so much shit but only has 15-year-old fans that will grow out of their music here," in five years? Ten? Seriously, Millionaires has a Kickstarter with shitty incentives. These things are called a "flash in the pan."
Good art (subjectively speaking on a larger or cult like scale) will only be herald over time. One album doesn't mean shit. Ten albums and eight really good or close to solid ones means more. Three solid ones that birthed influence but never sold means even more than the ones that garnered immediate sales and dropped off. Good art is also produced by people who won't give up on their ideas. I wonder what Loveless would have sounded like if Kevin Shields didn't bankrupt the record label. What if Black Flag never learned how to play their instruments? What if bands like Young Widows or Jesus Lizard or Jawbox never aimed for the perfect tones in their recordings?
Hearing some of O'Brother's songs last night off their upcoming record Garden Window and listening to Circle Takes the Squares nearly flawless layering of only the first third of their new album, it made me think of a new perspective of all my pissing and moaning. There wasn't a time in the late 2000s where music was awful - it just didn't have any heart anymore for some of us. It seemed like for a second that the majority (not all) bands were making music for the sake of making it. (note: the italicized statement can be taken two ways.) I think that's what I'm beginning to see when talking to some of these artists that are releasing some phenomenal music this year - there's heart and desire in it again. Bands are going out of their way for a certain showmanship of overcoming their own challenged ideas.
For a lot of you, moving onto the new site will seem strange and weird. It's not raw anymore. It's been remasterd in the best way possible. As we spend our last few weeks or months with this house, cherish the qualities it's given to us as a community. Those same values are in the next site, it's just perfecting those qualities. When you first get into punk rock, it's all about fucking the system over and creating anarchy and making it about us against them. The truth is that that sort of idealism is complete bullshit. Take it from someone who once had that ideal. The truth is that punk rock is about taking what is wrong, and making it right and building a community around positive ideals of how to do things properly. When you're young, noise is cool and new; when you grow older, learning how to control it in your favor is even better. That's the real art of punk rock - breaking the rules without anyone even knowing you're doing so.
It's a constant battle between artists and their fans. A war rages between progressive initiative and listener expectations. For some of us who've discovered albums later in a band's career, or even worse, after their demise, we can take a more complete look at a band's catalog and realize the impact an album had before its critical downfall.
Today I present five albums that are favorites to a future generation, and a few who "got it" the first time. For some of these artists, it is just a lot of praise a bit too late.
1) Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come --- Talk about an album that no one understood. Could there be violin in a punk rock song? Where are all these house beats coming from? This better not be the shape of punk to come, or I'm going to be pissed! Needless to say, the band's final album didn't catch on well at first. Some of us got it, and others shunned the album's foreshadowing message.
2) Jawbreaker - Dear You --- Geffen Records was pissed. Off the heat of 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, no one saw the slow-tempo, major label follow-up as stunning. Sales showed it. Now many see it as the band's best work, and a staple amongst albums such as How It Feels to Be Something On and the following record on the list...
3) Promise Ring - Wood/Water --- "Is This Thing On?" seems a more appropriate title to an album that had many scratching their heads, and critics calling it a bomb. For all the Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab For Cutie records, this one is definitely a audible canvas of the brightest day in Spring. Try listening to this record without a smile.
4) Weezer - Pinkerton --- For many, including myself, this stands as the best Weezer album to date. Following the adolescent flow of their (first) self-titled album, growing up is what many audiences didn't want for the band. If the "Blue Album" is one of high school fun, then this is the trip through college. For all the backlash this album received, a good friend once said, in the face of critical vice, he'd probably continue to write catchy pop songs for Pinkerton's follow-up albums.
5) Acceptance - Phantoms --- Initially, Phantoms was considered bland, generic, and has continued to spark some controversy on the site. However, having leaked 6 months before its release, and its first single being a ballad ("Different"), Acceptance have created a true phantom (pun) of a record. Still to this day, new fans are being won over with its catchy, emotionally driven and talented lyrics. To quote Scott Weber, "this truly is an outstanding album, full of accessible emotion and passion," and continues to accompany many "Best Album" lists. (Mike Kraft)