Three early editions today on three of my more anticipated records of the year:
Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll (Jan. 24)
What an incredibly fun listen. It's a mix between the '70s rock that they get compared to most –*obviously, they get compared most to Queen but there are other influences here as well –*and '80s dance-rock that would have been played at high school proms. I think the fourth track, and obvious standout for me, "Last Chance At Love," spells out that description. Imagine if that song by The Darkness ("I Believe In A Thing Called Love") was just a little more catchy and a little less completely ridiculous (although Foxy is pretty ridiculous). "It's Too Late (Baby)" and "Wasted Feelings" are two of those types of songs that are almost so catchy it shouldn't be allowed –*the latter might actually be my favorite Foxy song just because of the chorus. There are a couple of misses on the record, but Church should have no problem helping this band rise to new heights. Foxy Shazam wants to be one of the biggest bands on the planet and they can do it.
The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past (Feb. 21) Chamberlain Waits is now The Menzingers' former masterpiece. It's not even a close call – this record is better in every fashion. It's a listen that goes by in a quick fashion despite the album's 41-minute run time (very long for a punk record nowadays), but you want it to last longer every time you listen. There are a lot of instantly memorable quotes scattered across the album ... "I've been having a horrible time," begins opener "Good Things." Later on in (in a song that I can't remember right now, and I don't want to search for the title) we get the gem, "I'm pretty sure this corner is the loneliest corner in the whole world." "Sun Hotel" is the catchiest number here, barely edging out first single "The Obituaries." The aggressiveness peaks with "Sculptors and Vandals," a 2-minute rager of a punk song. The dual vocals, as always, are the highlight throughout the album, but the guitar work is more interesting this time around as well.
Cheap Girls - Giant Orange
After only a few listens, the core sound is back but the production is a lot cleaner. It was pretty expected that this would be the case after they enlisted Tom Gabel of Against Me! fame and they signed to Rise to put the record out, but that doesn't change the fact that older fans are going to get weirded out when the vocals come through so cleanly. The muddy production was a part of this band's charm for me and many more listens will be required to get used to the new style; it's not that the songs are any worse, they're all good songs, they just sound a little different.
Some comparisons early on –*I've already heard all of my anticipated albums through the first two months of the year (with the exception of fun.) and The Menzingers' record stands out most. Foxy Shazam is a great fun listen but it's not quite in the realm of an AOTY contender, just as far as those gut feelings go when you hear an album that you know is going to stick with you a little longer than the rest.
As expected, day 2 of Fest 10 turned out to be the highlight. I’m not sure what will go down today, but it’ll be tough to beat the mania of yesterday. I also executed what I think is a wily and clever plan by tweeting during each set I watched, in case I couldn’t remember parts of the day, so that I would be able to recall them and write about them. This was a genius move on my part.
The day begun with The Menzingers playing acoustic guitars and me drinking Bloody Marys at 1 pm at Loosey’s. They started early and the small venue was way over capacity for them, but boy, is that band good. They also played a second set, later in the day at The Atlantic, which I was not able to attend but I’m sure they killed it.
After Menzingers, I had to go to the Paper + Plastick warehouse for a couple of hours to handle some label manager business. We have a lot of bands in town this weekend, so Red City Radio came through to pick up their new split 7” with The Gamits, Reverse the Curse came to pick up vinyl copies of their new LP, Hither & Yon, and Junior Battles came to pick up a Fest-exclusive color of their new full-length, Idle Ages. Watching Junior Battles’ reaction as they saw the gatefold jacket for the first time was awesome. Truly why I love my job so much – they were really grateful and it was like they were still in shock that someone invested any time or money into helping them put out a record. Idle Ages is one of my favorite pop-punk records of the year, so be sure to check that out.
I biked over to Reverse the Curse’s set at The Atlantic next, and with no color added: They are one of the best rock bands you have not heard. Head here (http://store.paperandplastick.com/products/13600) and you can download one of their better songs for free. I promise you, you’ll want to hear more. I proceeded to go watch some more Paper + Plastick family with Make Do and Mend at the Florida Theater of Gainesville. Besides the fact that some asshole was doing the lighting and it was pitch black on stage, MDAM killed it. That band gets better every time I see them – they were more tight and more powerful than ever before and the transition in between “Shambles” and “Winter Wonderland” was something to remember.
I took a Fest break to sit by myself, eat a hamburger and watch the Gators play Georgia. We lost, that sucks, but I always feel like it’s important to be alone at some point during a day of Fest to keep your sanity. As a result of MDAM running over time, though, I missed one of the bands I really wanted to catch – Sainthood Reps. Oh well, there will be another time.
I trekked over to Double Down to watch A Wilhelm Scream play Mute Print in its entirety. Although I like the band, I wasn’t familiar enough to sing along – but that was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, Fest-only things that happens, so I’m stoked I was able to witness it. I took another break and went to my apartment to take a shower – one of the major pros of living in Gainesville during the Fest. My next venture was to Junior Battles’ acoustic set at the CMC, and this is when the fun really started.
PJ Bond played a few impromptu songs, then Junior Battles played but mostly the crowd sang, as Sam Sutherland’s voice was already shot. They closed with a cover of Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” and as the do-do-do’s rang in, it was impossible to see a single person who wasn’t smiling. That community is what this weekend is all about. I made the mistake of driving to the CMC from my house (it’s a long walk), but that meant driving my car back home, and the resulting walk back to downtown made me miss most of Heartsounds. I did, however, get yelled at about an afterparty by Buddy Schaub while he passed by on a bike, so that was worth it.
I ate some delicious Cuban food at Flaco’s, then went to watch Lemuria. That band…I’m sorry, but that band bores me live. I checked out about five songs before dipping to go catch A Great Big Pile of Leaves down the street. AGBPOL simply kills it, and I’ve only seen them twice now, but I’m assuming it’s an everyday thing for them. Their guitarist is insane live and their tones just transition so well into that setting. Even though I was only able to watch for 15 minutes, it’ll be one of the most memorable parts of Fest for me.
Leaving that for Red City Radio proved to be a good idea, though, as RCR put on what was by far my favorite set of Fest 10 so far. It was rowdy to begin with, and that band has some great, powerful songs, but things only got better when they called one of their friends onto the stage. This guy brought his girlfriend on stage and proposed to her, and she said yes, and then Red City Radio played another song with everyone in the crowd just being happy. They played a cover of the 5-second Descendents song, “All,” after taking about 3 minutes to get guest vocalists in place. It was hilarious. By the end of the set, the entire crowd was on the stage and I couldn’t see the band at all. Talk about a set that exemplified the Fest.
Today is getting off to a slow start. Have to take care of some P+P things, then I’ll be starting my show-watching at 4 pm with Cheap Girls. Meow!