Archive for January, 2013

Cool as a Cucumber (that’s more lukewarm than anything)

January 21, 2013

I will never be cool. This, unfortunately for me, is a fact. I’m just not a cool person. I’ve tried to be cool and I’ve almost succeeded, but I’ve never sealed the deal. I like to think that although I tried, I never came across as trying to be cool either. Which is what really cool people do. They don’t try, they just do. There’s no effort, they just are.

For me my attempts at being cool would be seen as just trying to stay somewhat conscious with what is or rather was considered cool at the time. I was never very good at it either. I remember very much going to rec dances (I’ve long been under the understanding that “rec” stood for recreational and not rectal, which would be awful for a multitude of reasons) in my suburban town of Kenilworth New Jersey and most of the time I really just wasted my parents money and stood on the side of the cafeteria. I didn’t know the popular songs, or I should say, I didn’t really know the popular songs. It was more that I knew of them and I only knew of them because they were there being played at rec dances while I stood on against the wall and looked bored by it all. Which is also kind of ironic, because that is exactly what some cool kids did.

I like to think that there are two distinctions of cool and it all goes back to any club scene in America. You’re either on the dance floor knowing the songs and shaking it with some girl in a tight dress and heels (which is incredible if you think about it: it’s like doing complex dance moves with another, tighter layer of skin and awkwardly angled bones protruding from your feet) or you’re standing on the side thinking the whole thing is boring. You could be doing something better, but you’re friends had to go to this club when you really know that there are better clubs where you’d all be having more fun. Especially you. Because this place just sucks.

It’d odd because I’m one in the same with the guy standing on the side of the room bored with the whole thing. But for some reason, they make looking bored seem a lot cooler. We’re doing the exact same thing, drinking the same overpriced drinks, but they’re making not being involved look so much better than I am. And I have no idea why this is. I’m not doing anything different than they are. I’m standing with my group of friends, although some of them do get more involved in the circus like spectacle of the dance floor (really, go to a club and take in what the dance floor really looks like. Make sure you separate the “fun” of it all and just take it in with a completely voided sense of emotion. It’s ridiculous looking) and I just don’t look as good at standing around as some people.

Now this could all be based on looks. I’m not a very attractive guy by any means, but I’m also not awful. If you were to ask a female how attractive I was on the coveted 1 to 10 scale with 10 being A Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and Channing Tatum hybrid and 1 being Bill Maher, I’d probably be called a 7 (which I would like to think would be Dan Rather on the scale). So, even my looks shouldn’t be what makes me less cool than the others doing what I’m doing. So that can’t be it.

Which means that the only thing that makes someone cool is perception (I’d like to make a point that this only applies for today’s world. A soldier from WW2 will always be cooler than a hippy, unless the soldier happened to be a Nazi, and even then he’d probably still be cooler, but more of a complete asshole). It could be that I mostly identified with a type of music which never was about being “cool” (mainly speaking of punk rock) and so my thoughts of what was cool was always what wasn’t. The anti-hero of what was “popular”. Of course, even this doesn’t hold up all that well because at those rec dances I talked about earlier they played songs from bands like The Offspring and Blink-182, a different kind of punk but still punk, and it was cool to like these groups. Probably because they were featured on MTV’s Total Request Live a lot. You know, the hippest show of 90’s after school programming. MTV, God bless them, are (or at least were) brilliant at “brainwashing” youth into thinking what was cool. All by providing a top ten countdown of music videos that made you want to be in the videos. They were fun, they were sexy, and they were cool. Even if it was all imagined and planned out, which I guess would make it really un-cool. Sort of like throwing yourself a surprise birthday party. It’s just lonely and sad. So maybe all those cool people who were so good at being cool are just that. Sad and lonely. Because being cool is only cool while you’re out and about. Eventually you have to go home and deconstruct the mask of what other people think is cool and you’re just you. Which is me. Which sort of sucks for the both of us.


The Best Songs To Close An Album: A Horribly Written List Full of Great Music (A to B)

January 18, 2013

I would like to poiint out a few things right away. First, I have compiled the closing songs using Windows Media Player mostly because despite whatever any jerkoff says, iTunes sucks. I mean that in the nicest ways. I just hate the interface. So there’s that.

Also, there is a lot of music to be named here. I find that an album is defined by it’s first, second, and last song. This isn’t always the case. There are exceptions. Some bands can have horrible records and than holy shit, have a brilliant song to end the record.

I’m doing this on the fly right now. I’m only on the B’s nin my music library. I have a lote of music at my disposal and it’s almost silly if you think about it. So I hope you think about it. Because silly is good. Really good actually. I wish more things were silly. We’d all be better off.

I’ve been drinking. Now, if you’ve evr read any of my nonsense you’ll know that I enjoy drinking. That and sleep aids. Tonight is bo different, though I’ve just drank. Becqause, well, I have my reasons. Pains a sonofabitch and I don’t feel like getting into it here. I drink because I feel like if I didn’t I’d be worse off. And no, that’s not an alcoholic statement.

So anyway, here are some great songs that end albums. I will admit that that some groups have a whole lot more featured in this list. I’d explain that by saying that some bands just know how to close out an album well. I also happen to listen to these bands more than, let’s say, The Rolling Stones. So here’s my list of great closing songs. It’s lenghty, I warn you. Also poorly written.

Against Me-“8 Full Hours of Sleep”. Against Me released one of the best punk rock albums ever in “Reinventing Axl Rose”. Seripusly. It’s amazing. So why wouldn’t they end it beautifully with an accoustic track talking about a happy ending (not that happy ending, you perv). It’s a beautiful song by a band that is the closest embodiment to The Clash that has been since, well, The Clash.

Alkaline Trio-“97”. This is a song about lead gutarist Matt Skiba getting caught smking weed and has to do with his parole. It'[s a great song that ends one of the Trio’s best albums (it’s a compelation but it’s still just so so great). It finishes the album perfectly. There’s a certain sense of melancholy that goes with the song. Personally, I’d rather have a good whiskey than a blunt, but to each their own.

Alkaline Trio-“Crawl”. This, in my opinion is one of the nost underated Alkaline Trio songs ever. It ends a great album, “From Here to In firmary” and does so in a tale of lost love and sadness that only a band like Alkaline Trio is able to convey. It’s just a great, great song. “Never had a drink that I didn’t like, got a taste of you, threw up all night”. Very relateable lyrics. In fact, the whole album is full of them. Especially coming from Dan Andriano who often talks abput self medicating with alcohol to get through his problems. It’s not the wqay to go about life, but it does make for a really good song. And the end of the song, “I don’t know, I don’t know,Ii don’t know who your boyfriend is I don’t know” is incredibly simple lyrics that tells quite the story. As a guy who has been in a situation where you don’t know who this other guy is, except for the creation you’ve made in your head is, it’s a great way to express that empty feeling of not knowing if this guy is beter than you. I’ll give you peace of mind, you’re a champ and you’re better.

Alkaline Trio-“Blue In the Face”. “Blue In the Face” has a few meanings. On face value it can be taken as a heartbroken love song. On another it can detail the struggles gitarist Matt Skiba had with cocaine addiction. This is what makes this truley an amazing song. There are multiple meanings and and all of them are correct. Alkaline Trio has always been good at crafting songs that allow for the listener to make it their own. They absolutely kbnock it out of the park with this one. As an aside, the first time I saw the Trio in concert in New York City they closed this song which on the album is just Skiba on accoustic guitar, with the full band. You can find the ful band version on youtube and various demos with the full band as well. Such a beautiful song.

Alkaline Trio-“Sorry About That”. This may be the best closing song regarding a failed relationship I’ve ever heard. It starts out with a couple completely in love, only to realize that this sense of love was a fabrication. Matt Skiba’s ability to place the blame on himself shines through on this song. “If I hadn’t set aside the fact that you were broken hearted, hell knows where your heart would be today, maybe with me”. It’s a sentiment that only someone looking back could focus on. Hind sight is a bitch. And Alkaline Trio helps put it into words that most of us would never be able to. God bless them for it.

Alkaline Trio-“Radio”. This is the last Alkaline Trio song on my list and it might be the most noticable. “Radio” is the perfect way to end a concert. Really. You’ll lose your voice, as I have, shouting out the lyrics to this song. There’s a certain sense of community that goes with the really pretty guitar strumming, which makes belting out “I’ve got a big fat fucking bone to pick with you my darling. In case you haven’t heard I’m sick and tired of trying. I wish you, would take my radio to bathe with you plugged in and ready to fall”. Yeah, that’s a pretty gruesome way to end someones life, but who hasn’t felt the frustration of a failed relationship ending in such a way? It’s aq great song off of the Trio’s best album, “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire” (which might be my favorite song ever written because it perfectly states the feelings of someone lost and utterly depressed).

All-American Rejects-“Last Song”. I’m 24 years old and thus the All-American Rejects were big when I was in high school. Their debut self titled album was great. Really. It’s perfection in the realm of pop punk. I’m not ashamed to say that this album was a defining moment in my life. It’s great, and they played the album amazingly when I saw them at a music festival back in 2005 (I think). And hey, me and an ex girlfriend connected based off of one of their later songs. So that counts for something, I guess.

Bayside-“Dear Tragedy” It’s rare that I’ve evr related to a band more than I have with Bayside. They were there when I starte my first serious relationship and they were there when that relationship failed. They are a great band and Anthony Raneri’s vocals and lyrics provide a comfort for those who are hurting (seriously, the guy later went on to marry a porn star and then they got divorced). The album this is off of, “Bayside( a selftitled work) is great. Their first, “Sirens and Condolences” is the PERFECT album for every guy who has ever been hurt by a relationship. Really. IT is one of my favorite albums, even though the band has gone on to do better things, because it so perfectly represents that moment in life where you thought the world was ending because of a girl.

The Beatles-“A Day in the Life”. This is the closing song to what many consider to be the best album ever, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club”. While I will agree that this record is one of the best albums ever put to tape, it’s in my opinion not the best. But that’s just my opinion. Really, who am I to say anything compared to some douchebag whow rites for Rolling Stone? Truth is, this is a great, great song and one of my favorite Beatles songs (perhaps just behind “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”, which while being a great song is not comparable to the best that The Velvet Undeground recorded with their debut album).

Black Sabbath-“Into the Void”. My favorite Sabbath album is “Master of Reality”. To me it’s the best expression of metal that rock and roll has come to express. Hell, Sabbath might very well be the best metal band ever. In “Into the Void” it shows how talented of a band they were. It encompasses evrything Sabbath was known for.

Blindside-“About a Burning Fire. How dare I put a Christian band into a list of best closing albums ever? This has nothing to do with them being Christian, a lot of good Christian bands are out there (MxPx, Dogwood, Slickshoes, Squad Five-O, and a bunch of other bands that I listneed to duriong my formidable years as a Christian punk). This song, however, makes hardcore into something that ranscended religion. It was just good. Reallly good.

The Bouncing Souls-“The Whole Thing”. The Bouncing Souls are one of my favorite bands. They were one of the the bands that with the assitance of my borthers made me fall in love with punk rock. “Hopeless Romantic” is a wonderful record full of some of the ‘Souls best songs. “Bullying the Juke Box”, Night on Earth, just to name too. The whole album is great, maybe exclding the less than stellar duet of “Wish me well (you can go to hell)”. It’s a great album and “The Whole Thing” is the right kind of life affirming music the Souls have been known for.

The Bouncing Souls-“Gone”. The Bouncing Souls album “How I spent My Summer Vacation” is one of those albums that made me look at music in a different light. It’s punk rock in all the right ways. Here are a bunch of guys from New Jersey (oh my God my own state!) making incredible music. The whole album is wonderful and it climaxes with “Gone”, a song about perservering and doing your own thing. “I built this cloud I can break it the world can’t change how I feel. Because I know it’s a lie. My heart is real.” Seldom have truer words been sung.

The Bouncing Souls-“Johnny X”. OK, I love The Clash. They’re the best punk band ever. With that being said, if I had to include a song that I would group with The Clash it would be Johnny X. It’s simply amazing. Really. It is so fucking good. My brother used some of these lyrics as his senior quote in high school and they fucked it up. In fairness, I kind of like that they did. It wouldn’t have been as punk if they had gotten it right.

Brand New-“Soco Armetto Lime”. I’ve yet to hear a summer lover song that has had the impact that this song hashad on me. I remember driving over to a girls house in a neighboring town and thinking this song was our anthem. It’s the perfect song for youth before they grow old and experience what life is. “Singing everybody wake up it’s time to get down. And when I pass the bottle back to Pete on the overpass tonight I bet we laugh. I’m gonna stay 18 forever. So it can stay like this forever and we’ll never miss a party cause we keep them going constantly. And we’ll never have to listen to anyone about anything cause it’s all be done and it’s all been said andwe’re the coolest kids and we take what we can get. You’re jsut jealous cause we’re young and in love.” Who didn’t feel like that when you were 18? You were invincible. You had the world at your finger tips and you loved everything about it. And you should have. Because that feeling ends. In a rather poingiant way, the song cuts off during the repeat of “you’re just jealous cause we’re young and in love” the way a record would scratch. It’s not a comforting sound. And out of all bands I’ve listned to, Brand New knows how to make a point and grow up. They’ve done it with all of their records.

Brand New-“Play Crack the Sky”. This may be my favorite song, and definately one of my favorite, if not favorite, break up songs. Jesse Lacey, guitarist and lead singer of the band is incredible with how he is able to weave a tale. In fact, I don’t feel that I can do his words any justice. So Instead I’ll just copy the loyrics here and let you see just how beautiful the English language can be. One day I hope to be able to write half as well as Mr. Lacey writes in this song. It’s that beautiful. In fact, you should immediately purchase all their albums. From their first, ” Your Favorite Weapon”, to “Deja Entendu” (my favorite of all of their albums), to “The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me” (the darkest, yest possibly having some of the most beautiful lyrics the band has ever written) in songs that relate way to personally for me. See, I grew up in a Christian household. I believed in God. I still do. But the questioning has become much more frequent as I age. Which is why in songs as “Millstone” you see someone doubting hisfaith and feeling guiolty aboutall the wrong he’s done wrong by his faith. And the incredibly beautiful “Jesus” comes on and you can’t help but feel guilty and not worthy. You question if you could ever make the sacrifice that Christ made. And it’s a really, really, exahausting a position to be put in. And that right there, shows why Brand New is probably the most compelling bands out there ever. Never has a band made me question my faith in God and my ability to keep that faith in God only based on faith alone. Basically, you have faith or you don’t. The band doesn’t tell you what to think. You make your own decision based on your own experiences. I really don’t know if Brand New knows that they have made a boy question the very faith that he always knew to be true.

Not speaking of the band Brand New, I can’t help but see them as a band based upon upon a generation that was made for me. A bunch of kids fullof questions. Desperately clining to faith, yet wondering what else was out there. Hoping to come back with the right answer.

To me, Brand New is the voice of a Christian nation finding it’s own. There’s no right or wrong. Just questions. And with those questions the listener can figure out what they want. Brand New never meant to be a band to be knonwn for wondering about what the after life held. Or at least not in such a wide scale.

With all of this being said, I can’t help but think that Brand New has shown that bands go through progressions. They started beig a highschool band much like Taking Back Sunday, and while Taking Back Sunday went on to make a very good record after their debut “Tell All Your Friends”,  Brand New released “Deja Entendu” and reinventead what rock and roll was. It wasn’t just catchy tunes, something Taking Back Sunday have ( they are really good at what they do) and what they continue to do so well. The problem with being really good at what you’re able to do is not the same as being able to, not only nr goof, but get a wBaxcide ranging public to ask questions about faith, for better or for worse. Taking nothing away from Taking Back Sunday they are a very talented band that is able to keep listeners intrest. It’s catchy. It’s pop. It’s about relationships. And while thosew can be some of the most difficult things a person faces in their life, I happen to sidewith, while respectingth e human element of Taking Back Sunday who are quite talented at what they do. Brand New. Their first album shows a young band full of that high school, short liveed pizazz which you take in before it fades.ecause superlatives only last as long as the week as they are given. So Brand New puts out a perfect high school album. About wanting to stay 18 forever. Because, let’s be honest. 18 was a great age. And then they went and realease “Deja Entendu” which I read in a review was basicallly the band getting comfortable with smoking pot. I don’t doubt this, but I think these young lads are more than capable to make a great, really great, one of the best albums released in the past 20 years in “Deja”. Its the perfect following of “You’re Favorite Record” which was by all accounts, a perfectly wrttien high school album. In Deja” they follow darker theemes. It’s not jsut living young and wanting to stay 18 forever. It’d be gfreat, but life goes on and no one can stay stagnant. So they evolve. And they put out an album that makes people who love “Your Favorite Record” scratch their heads. What is this, they say? Well. I’s the sound of band moving on and not being caught in a sound that  was going to destroy them if they stayed there long enough. So instead Jesse Lacey expands his vocabulary and writes lyrics that show growth and a sense of where the band is heading. They’re no longer  a high school rock band. They’re a band with a whole lot more to stay rather than just the politics of high school (which still do hold a reallly significant imporatance in an adolesence life. Listen to “Teenage Politics” by MxPx or “The Question” by Emery. They’ll give you a good deal of teenage angst as will, Lagwagon, Blink182, and a whole lot of other west coast bands.

So to continue on, Brand New puts out their third album. It took awhile for them to get eheir. A  bunch of demos were released and I know some made the final copy while others I thought deserved to didn’t/ But wow. The band had evolved again . They weren’t that high school band anymore, they weren’t that curious college aged band anymore, they were a band that had experienced life and started to really question the things that matter. Everything. They have a song called “Jesus: and it’s a beuaitful song. I imagine it’s the song that a lapsed Catholic/Christian would connect with. Holding onto faith becqause it’s all you know. And through life you get shaken down from your fairth but you still cling to it becqause it’s what you know what to do. The Song “Millstone” perfectly illustrates the conflict ofinference betweena beiever and thoswho want him to believe. And there’s no snwer given which makesit even better. It’s just the story of a band going through life, just like we are minus the ability to pen songs that make people like me stay up late at night and contemplate the meaning behind it all. I hope one of the guys in the band finds this and gives me a high five and says “dude, it’s just music”. That’d be neat.

But it doesn’t ened there. Brand New released another album entitled “Daisy”. And it’s more depressing than the last. So, just to keep track: Brand New puts out a youthful high school album in “Your’e Favorite Weapon”, goes on to least what might be their best album in “Deja Entendu’, then they follow that up with “The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me” which may be their darkest album to date and definately album title wise. It’s not a happy listen. It’s a beautiful listen but sadness can be beautiful. So after this record they release “Daisy” and fans are thrilled. Not because it’s a return to some kind of for but because it’s new music from the modst prolific band in music today.

Really. This whole thing started about the best songs to close an album. And it ended with a diatribe on Brand New and how fucking great they are. Do yourself a favor and listen to their catalogue from eginning to end and realize why this is how a band should evolve.

And oh, more closing songs will be comming tomorrow. Reallly got off track there.

Facial Hair: Pros and Cons

January 18, 2013

First off, it’s four in morning and even my friend, ambien, can’t seem to stifle and the constant hum I’m having in my lower exremities. So sclearly I’m not sleeping at the moment. With this in mind and I figured we could talk the pros and cons of having a beard.*

*I wrote these words over a year ago and while I still have a humming in my extemeties as I so elgantly put it, I haven’t taken ambien and insteaad have gone to the wise choice of liqour to cure all that ails you. So, here’s my advic e when it comes to a beard or ay facial hair.


IF YOU CAN GROW IT, DO IT. Seriously. I’ve been told by attractive women that I look so much better with a beard than I do without. Without a beard I look like some kind of test tube baby that will die in a matter of hours anyway. So, if you can, grow a beard. It’s in vogue now.


Now with that being said, if you have trouble growing facial hair, that’s OK. Fuck it. Shave it off and let those dimples shine. I only have a beard because without it I look like a 12 year old wearing a hoop skirt. I just enjoy hoop skirts.

Pick Up Lines

January 10, 2013

Imagine this: You’re at a bar enjoying some gluten-free beer (I’ve only heard awful things about it) with a few friends finishing up some splendidly super scorching wings (splendidly super scorching is the name of my homemade sauce) and you realize that the gluten-free beer you just had has made a trip to the restroom become a vital neccessity. So you head over to the bathroom do what you have to do and on the way out you notice some cute girl at the bar. So you scamper back into the bathroom and debate what the proper thing to say to this lovely lady. After a brief moment of staring at yourself in the mirror and thinking there is no way his cute girl will talk to you, you begin chewing a piece of spearmint gum (they didn’t have the gum you usually chew at 7-11) and that gum gives you an extra boost of confidence for some reason. So you head out of the bathroom and you approach the young lady at the bar. And you say…

That’s where the problem really begins. Guys don’t know what to say to girls. They don’t know the proper pick up-lines. Now, being a pro at picking up ladies (ladies is my name for my dandelion collection) I figure I should let everyone else in on the wisdom of being suave around a female that has caught your eye. Lets begin, shall we?

Hey toots, you’re the finest dame I’ve seen in this dump. What say you and I get out of here and hit up Chi-Chis.

This is a great way to show that you mean business. Honestly, if a guy came up to me and called me toots and said I was a fine dame even I would consider hearing him out. The other beauty of this is that you can be at a wonderful upscale local and still call it a dump, implying that you are really upscale. And honestly, what’s more upscale than Chi Chis? Case closed.

Hi. You don’t know me but I’m you destiny.

I may have stolen this from Back to the Future (in a butchered way) but it still works. I mean, it worked for George Mcfly and he was a complete loser. It would clearly work for a confident fella like yourself. It would also help if you have a friend who can assume the role of Biff. Not only do you get the girl, but you also get to punch out your friend. Win win!

If I could rearrange the alphabet I’d put U and I together. So we could spend time together. On a date.

It’s a bit long winded but your timidness will do wonders. She’ll think, my goodness this guy is a jerk with an unoriginal pick-up line and then BAM. He get’s kind of cute. Even if she doesn’t go for the idea of a date you’ll get her to smile. And at the end of the day aren’t smiles the real meaning of life?

I have tickets to that thing you really wanna do. Would you like to go?

Fact is, you most likely don’t have tickets to that thing she wants to do (unless it’s a puggle fashion show) so you’ll have to be ready to think on your feet and get a hold of the tickets to what she wants. Of course, you could always just say that you’ve experienced whatever it is that she wants to do and you thought it was really awful. In fact, everyone you’ve talked to said the same thing. That’s when you produce your tickets to the aformentioned puggle fashion show and say that everyone has said it’s basically like going to see the Sistine Chapel, Stone Henge, and Taylor Swift all at once. She’ll have to want to see that. And you know, most good relationships start based on lies, right?

Hey. You hear about how Al Roker, you know…

Hopefully she doesn’t know. This is your in. You now get to talk about how Al Roker shit himself at the White House. If that story doesn’t spell romance than I don’t know what does.

Of course, it should also be noted that maybe after you head out of the bathroom you realize you don’t have the courage to go talk to the girl that caught your eye. If that’s the case you should probably go back to your seat with your friends and instead of drinking terrible beer start doing shots. Maybe of Bacardi 151. Girls love sloppy drunks.

Best Albums of 2012

January 8, 2013

Another year has come and gone and while I could explain in vivid detail all the wonderful things I did (snorkeled with angry manatees) and the horrible things I did (snorkeled with angry manatees) I think it would be best if I just went straight to the point of this post: The Best albums of 2012. To be frank (instead of Keith), for awhile I thought this year was disappointing musically. As is usually the case though, I was wrong. 2012 was an incredible year for music that saw great bands release equally great records. It should also be noted that while bands on my list have reserved a tender spot in my heart for some time now, there are also a whole slew of bands that I never heard before. Some as early as two weeks ago. So, now, let’s get to the list: The best albums of 2012*.


*This list is completely opinion based and there is no science behind it. Except for the science of alcohol. I did drink a good deal this year. And it was wonderful.


20. Daytrader-Twelve Years


Daytrader released a great EP last year in Last Days of Rome. With the release of Twelve Years they managed to continue the success. Take a listen to the beautiful track, “Firebreather”. It’s rocking and the build and the emotion in the vocals is wonderful.


19. Hop Along-Get Disowned


Let’s get sexist here for a moment (this is a horrible sentence and I swear I’m not actually sexist). I have trouble relating to female fronted bands. I don’t know why that is. I suppose it could be that, being a male, it’s just easier to relate to a dude who is singing even though emotions are all equal when it comes to the two sexes. I bring this up because Hop Along is a female fronted band out of Philadelphia and lead singer Frances Quinlan is amazing. Her vocal ability is just the tops. How she can go from sweet croon to yelps is fantastic. Listen to “Tibetan Pop Stars” and see for yourself. One of the best songs of the year.


18. Green Day¡Uno!


It’s a Green Day album that isn’t a concept record about America! I like this since despite enjoying American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown I love Dookie and Nimrod so, so much more. Hell, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown are my least favorite Green Day albums. So seeing a return to form of their pre American Idiot output makes me happy and makes for a more enjoyable and less exhausting listen.


17. Matt Pryor-Still There’s a Light


Matt Pryor is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands of all time, The Get Up Kids. He was great when he started making music and fronting the band The New Amsterdams. He released solo albums in the form of a normal direction for a lauded front man and also released some children’s albums under the moniker of The Terrible Twos. And when The Get Up Kids got back together they released one of the best albums of 2011 in There Are Rules. So why not have Pryor release this solo record and have it also be a wonderful experience? It recalls the softer moments of his work with The New Amsterdams and that’s fine with me.


16. Say Anything-Anarchy, My Dear


I was pretty damn excited for this album. In fact, I get excited for all of Say Anything’s releases. Ever since the album …Is a Real Boy in 2004 I’ve been hooked. This record is a different experience than Boy but it seems like an obvious direction for the band. They create rock songs that are incredibly danceable and have a bounce to them. It’s an enjoyable listen.


15. Cheap Girls-Giant Orange


Cheap Girls are a college rock band out of Lansing, Michigan. They’re very much a rock band in the classic sense of rock. While they haven’t changed the formula of their earlier records, they have increased the precision of writing awesome hooks. And, hey, if something ain’t broke why fix it?


14. Title Fight-Floral Green


Punk rock is an ever changing sound. For me, when a band changes their sound a bit I tend to enjoy it. Why record the same record all the time? (I see this is completely contradictory to what I said above about staying the course. Please excuse my faulty logic.) Title Fight have released the best thing they have released to date and it’s an invigorating listen. Check out the restraint and force in the opening track “Numb, but I Still Feel It” and the beautiful “Head In The Ceiling Fan”.


13. Japandroids-Celebration Rock


Remember when I said there were some bands on this list who I just started listening to about two weeks ago? Well, here’s an example of that. Japandroids is a duo out of Vancouver and it’s pretty remarkable to hear how loud a band with two members can be. It’s not loud for the sake of being loud though. Well, maybe a little. But all the same there’s a phenomenal sense of direction behind all the fuzz. This is also probably the best feel good album of the year. It makes you want to dance and high five your friends. People still high five, right?


12. Bad Books-II


Andy Hull and Kevin Devine* are great. They’re two of the bigger voices in their scene and with Bad Book’s second release they show why they are. Not that they had anything to prove, but it’s great to see them come into their own as a group rather than two guys who happen to have other musical projects. It showcases the best both have to offer. From the wonderfully catchy “Forest Whitaker” to the hushed strain of acoustic “Pyotr” to the lovely “Ambivalent Peaks” II is a great addition to an already incredible career for these two gentleman.


*I share a striking resemblance to Mr. Devine and I may actually be him and not even know it.


11. MxPx-Plans Within Plans


There are some bands that will always be special to you and MxPx is one of those bands. Like many people MxPx are largely responsible for getting me into punk. After being together for as long as they have they still manage to put out incredible pop punk. They also have one of the best drummers in music today in Yuri Ruley. Listen to album closer “Nothing’s Gonna Change” and hear it for yourself.


10. Right Away, Great Captain!-The Church of the Good Thief


The Church of the Good Thief is the last chapter of the trilogy put out by Right Away, Great Captain! The band is really just Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra and Bad Books. All three albums tell the story of a 17th century sailor who goes to sea and see’s his wife having sex with his brother. What encompasses the records is the thoughts of a man scorned and betrayed and the feelings that come with that. Sadness, anger, alcoholism, strength, and more sadness. In the final record we find the resolution of the story and while it may not be as strong as the first two, it is still a wonderful well written and perfectly performed listen.


9. Make Do and Mend-Everything You Ever Loved


Make Do and Mend, a rock band out of Hartford, Connecticut have released a wonderful follow up to 2010’s great End Measured Mile. While Everything You Ever Loved is a bit poppier than their previous release but it doesn’t lose any of the edge. With that being said it would be hard to see how songs like “St. Anne” would fit on End Measured Mile. That’s not a bad thing though. It’s a good progression and I’m excited to see where the band goes next.


8. Matt Skiba and the Sekrets-Babylon


Silly spelling of secrets asides, Babylon is a great listen. It is truly a Matt Skiba record. Encompassing everything you love about his work in Alkaline Trio and his love of bands such as The Cure, Skiba weaves an album that is full of hooks and bouncy morose tunes. While I await the new Alkaline Trio album due out in 2013 I am fine with having this tide me over while I wait.


7. Coheed and Cambria-The Afterman: Ascension


Coheed and Cambria are musically the best band out there today. They are technically sound and Claudio Sanchez is the best guitar player in music. The group has never released anything bad and they continue with that trend with The Afterman: Ascension. It’s a great release. I don’t think when it first came out I gave it a proper listen, but through the year I kept on going back to it.


6. Sundials-When I Couldn’t Breathe


So remember when I said I didn’t listen to some of these bands till two weeks ago and I said how that one band was tone of those bands? Well, this is another. Sundials is a great, great band that plays the perfect kind of indie rock. It also helps that When I Couldn’t Breathe was released on Asian Man records, a true DIY record label. Seriously, what has Mike Park done that you don’t like? Sundials is worthy of being released by such an esteemed (in the punk community) label. Take songs such as “When I Couldn’t Breathe” and “Some Kinda Time”. They’re great.


5. The Sidekicks-Awkward Breeds


The Sidekicks are a band I probably should have gotten into awhile ago. They play a fantastically enjoyable type of rock that is pretty damn similar to Weezer (my second favorite band). They’re not a rip off of any band but they do wear their influences on their sleeves and in the case of Awkward Breeds this is a good thing. On the fourth track, “Incandescent Days”, you hear a band who is able to go from soft rock to a rip roaring good time. It works. Very, very well.


4. Craig Finn-Clear Heart Full Eyes


Craig Finn is the lead singer/guitarist of The Hold Steady, a band that only releases great things. He’s one of the best storytellers in music today and The Hold Steady is the band that defines my generation. So what does the chief songwriter of the voice of a generation do? He writes a solo album that just furthers the point. Clear Heat Full Eyes is a great record. It keeps with the themes that The Hold Steady are known for, love, drugs, recovery, religion, ect…and is able to expound on them in a way that makes none of those topics get old. The more country tinged sound of the album helps differentiate this release with the catalogue of The Hold Steady. At the same time it’s not a gigantic departure from the sound people have come to love.


3. The Mountain Goats-Transcendental Youth


The Mountain Goats released the best album of 2011. Considering that John Darnielle is the most prolific songwriter in music today why would anyone expect him not to release an even better album this year? Transcendental Youth is an amazing accomplishment of storytelling and John Darnielle continues to show why he is unmatched at writing a song that will draw you right in. The themes of the record have to do with people who can’t seem to make the right decisions in life and yet continue on, yearning to persevere even if they’re going about it in the wrong way. It makes for a beautiful record that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.


2. The Menzingers-On the Impossible Past


This year it was tough to pick which album I considered to be the best of the year. I picked up The Menzingers album when it was first released at a local record store, Vintage Vinyl (the best record store in New Jersey). I recall going and them not having the album because it was sold out. Which makes sense considering they’re getting the respect they absolutely deserve. Chamberlain Waits, they’re previous full length in 2010 was a remarkable record. It was my favorite of the year and I still listen to it regularly. That might be the best thing about On the Impossible Past, no matter what else I’m listening to I always go back to this. It is constantly in rotation of the albums I listen to and it never gets old.


1. The Gaslight Anthem-Handwritten


The Gaslight Anthem nailed it. Again. It seems like the band from New Jersey can do no wrong. Their debut, Sink or Swim, took people by storm. The following year they released Senor and the Queen and it showed the band keeping the foot to the pedal. This was cemented when they released The ‘59 Sound which is one of my favorite albums ever. They went on to record American Slang which although not as good as their previous work was still well worth the listen and showed a progression with the band into a more alternative sound. Handwritten see’s the band embrace their earlier punk sensibilities and combine them with their more radio friendly sound and it just clicks. It’s an amazing piece of music that everyone should listen to. A lot.