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The 1975

7/6/16

Made a list of my favorite albums of the year so far. Everybody else is doing it! Went with 11 instead of 10, because all of these albums have been really great to listen to in my mind. My biggest impression: The alt-rock offerings this year are truly profound and poignant albums, and the alt-country/folk female contingent is killing it.

Also, with upcoming scheduled releases from the likes of Moose Blood, Blind Pilot, Angel Olson, Local Natives, Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard and hell, maybe even Brand New, a year-end list will prove to be quite competitive.

  1. The Hotelier – Goodness
  2. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
  3. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs
  4. Pinegrove – Cardinal
  5. Deftones – Gore
  6. Brian Fallon – Painkillers
  7. Radiohead- A Moon Shaped Pool
  8. Empty Houses – Daydream
  9. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
  10. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it
  11. Daughter – Not to Disappear

Special shout-out to “Best Kept Secret” for being my new favorite song about California and featuring beautiful Chinese strings.

Merits more listens/honorable mentions:
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
letlive. – If I’m the Devil…
Panic! At the Disco- Death of a Bachelor
Beyonce – Lemonade
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Sara Watkins – Young In All The Wrong Ways
Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
Thrice – To Be Everywhere is to be Nowhere
Xenia Rubinos – Black Terry Cat

“I talked about my misery, you called it pain of pain
How we light a pile on until we go insane
‘Til we go insane
Until we go insane
You’re the best kept secret in Silver Lake.”
~Best Kept Secret
case/lang/veirs, case/lang/veirs

2/15/16

“Well I know when you’re around cause I know the sound
I know the sound, of your heart
Well I know when you’re around cause I know the sound
I know the sound, of your heart

It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me
A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe

There’s so much skin to see
A simple Epicurean Philosophy
And you say I’m such a cliche,
I can’t see the difference in it either way.

And we left things to protect my mental health
But you call me when you’re bored and you’re playing with yourself
You’re so conceited
I said ‘I love you’
What does it matter if I lie to you?

I don’t regret it but I’m glad that we’re through
So don’t you tell me that you ‘just don’t get it’
Cause I know you do.Well I know when you’re around cause I know the sound
I know the sound, of your heart.”
~The Sound
The 1975, I Like it When You Sleep, for You are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of it

The new LP from The 1975 is easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2016. Not just because “The Sound” is an earworm, not just because Matthew Healy’s near-falsetto reach matches perfectly with my own, not just because their debut soundtracked one of my loneliest, but loveliest, years of adulthood. I’m excited for this record because theirs is a band that stormed on the scene and wound up creating a new trend, and the hit bands that pull that off followed by an better sophomore effort make for the best kind of music success stories.

The sound that The 1975 popularized in a somewhat ground-up fashion now radiates across radio, even if their own hits never did – Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” comes to mind. It’s that dance-beat rock and roll, with twinges of funk and disco embedded in the guitar melodies and bass lines. On “The Sound,” a very appropriately titled early single from the rather awkwardly titled LP,” a repetitive synth line sets the tone and an off-the-bat hook place the song comfortably in radio dance-rock, pop-rock world. I cannot get it out of my head, and when I do, it’s time to go listen to it again. And like the rest of their songs, it is equal parts flirty and edgy, making overt references to love, lust and self-awareness in the language of pure pop poetry.

Will this record catapult The 1975 to the top of the charts an allow them to take over the world? All the ingredients seem right. But if their chance has passed and they remain an act on the periphery,  we might be better off — it means they just might keep ahead of the curve.

1/8/14

What is it about the end that makes you want to go back to the beginning?

Maybe it’s just me, but the end of 2013 seemed to bring more than usual flurry of lists. Too many rankings. Too much specificity – the top 10 albums commercially released, the top 10 albums you probably didn’t hear, the top 10 songs, top 10 tours…music criticism has evolved(devolved) into a competition for all-encompassing coolness, or maybe it always was. As someone who truly believes the best music is whatever you find you’re looking for it, I tend to have a difficult time sitting down and compiling these lists.

And yet, I have, time and time again.  I try to go by what I loved the most, what spoke to me, rather than what is the most acclaimed or groundbreaking. This list comes with all the usual prefaces, that I probably could sit here for days rearranging the order of the pack, that I am probably forgetting some, that some are way stronger than others, that staying power will really prove me right or wrong….but honestly, this was a great year for music, and I loved how inspired I was by so many new songs, sounds and artists.

10) RVIVR- The Beauty Between 
This album was a late year discovery for me, and it came in just in time. I caught their song, “Paper Thin” on NPR’s best of the year list, and stopped everything I was doing to find out who it was. I could see how some might be misled by band name – not another one of those all-caps, weird-spelling things I don’t know how to pronounce! No! But oh, how little I cared when I heard how kick-ass their record was. A rather lengthy LP of short little punches of punk rock to the throat topped up with a multi-song themed suite, all with just-right, good-enough screamed/shouted/sung harmonies, and clean, fast and furious guitar solos fueling my jealousy and drive to pick it up and plug in and yell my head off, Completely hooked on everything about it, this album is the one of the few my ears heard this year deserving of the phrase punk as fuck.

“Okay, I touch the ground/Send my roots deep down
When it gets too loud

It’s like a wrong way on a one way street
Promise to myself that I just don’t keep
You can hate me now/But I’ll stick around
Don’t fit, full of shit, struggle with identity
Try to find me.”

~Wrong Way/One Way
9) Mansions – Doom Loop
If you haven’t called Mansions a breakout band from their debut LP, “Doom Loop” should’ve done it for you. Anyone looking for proof that great rock musicians still exist need to look no further than this record, which was fairly cemented in my morning rotation. Sounds so good on speakers, loud and clear and content. I love how guitar-driven these songs are, I love the classic setup, I love how verbose the lyrics are and how unafraid of the dark the themes are, no matter how coherent the chords. A heavy, hearty sophomore effort from a band that, in 2013, found a solid place in my stereo.

“you’re out for blood in the older south
picture yourself in your dad’s old house, alright
the doors are locked and you can’t see straight
you’re lost for good in that pitch black state, alright
go on and hunt me down
it’s way too late to turn back now.

i don’t hear it when you whisper in your sleep
but every morning it’s just waiting there for me
i got this feeling i can’t shake
i got this broken heart that i just can’t set straight

no I can’t get away.”
~Out for Blood

8) letlive. -The Blackest Beautiful
I still haven’t let go of this record. It’s as fierce and fresh as the first time I played it, on a night’s drive back home from a friend’s when I felt alone and pissed off at the world. It became a car record, then a working out playlist, and now it’s just my entry into letlive., one of those bands that proves modern hardcore isn’t just a bunch of skinny kids with skinny pants and skinny hair, that it’s founded in the roots of metal: angry riffs and blood-curdling screams and being pissed off at the world. And yet, they find hooks, groovy moments reminiscent of metal bands before they were unintelligible, and the blend is as delightful of one as a listener as fickle and frustrated  as me could hope to find. Plus they toured with Every Time I Die. Long live letlive.


“Taxi drive me to the endLet the meter run into the digits I can’t spend
The you’ll drive me to the edge
I’ll stand upon the precipice and jump to pay my debt…goodbye”

~Virgin Dirt

7) Touche Amore – Is Survived By…
Someone said to me this year, “You like 16-year-old girl metal.” That may be true, and I’m taking it as a compliment. I spent more time going to metal shows this year than any other genre, fueled in part by a 10-day jaunt in a van on a DYI tour, but it opened by eyes to what scenes today look like, sound like, feel like, and I liked it. I don’t blog about metal a lot, because I like to blog abotu songs with lyrics I really relate to and I don’t really listen to metal for the lyrics….but that is not the case with Touche Amore. They’re all about the poetry, they’re all about pushing the words out there and then raining down on them with layers upon layers of heavy, astmospheric sound. This record hooked me as soon as I streamed it, so full of questioning and legacy and daring in the face doubt. This song in particular fueled me on many a cold, confused day’s drive.

“Does this mean that the words won’t come?
Does this mean that I’m at my end? If my joy
comes with the price of my love, I won’t pay if
I have to pretend. There’s always a chance to
relapse and fall back to the person I still fear
is there. So if this ink will suddenly run out,
I’ll refill if I feel the need to share.”

~To Write Content
6) Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
I loved this album. I still love it. I play it when I happy, I play it when I am sad, I play it when my iPod has died and I forgot my charger and it happens to be in the disc changer, so I may as well listen to the whole thing through. Music is supposed to make you feel things, and Daft Punk knows how to do this without the listener any the wiser. This is not an album you simply take in, this is an album you have a conversation with, it speaks to you, provokes you. I’m not even sure what you call Daft Punk nowadays are far as genre goes, but I would not hesitate one moment to call them artists, especially when you hear about how much time, effort, and attention to detail went into this record. Complete pros. Kudos for showing them all how it’s done.

“And we will never be alone again/’Cause it doesn’t happen every day
Kinda counted on you being a friend/Can I give it up or give it away
Now I thought about what I wanna say/But I never really know where to go
So I chained myself to a friend/’Cause I know it unlocks like a door.”

~Instant Crush

5) The 1975 – The 1975
Fun, sexy, smart, bold – what to say about The 1975 that someone more well-versed than me hasn’t said? This album soundtracked my summer, poolside with friends, curling my hair before heading out, hitting the gym hard, cleaning my apartment and letting the sun stream in the ceiling-high windows. From “Money” to “Robbers” the spitfire attitude of this album is rebellious, and yet contemplative enough to be hip, instrumentally, it’s so *now* it’s maybe a little ahead of its time, it just might be the pop of the future. I  love how well they use simple parts on real instrumentals, occasionally dressing it up with some synth tones and interludes. It’s hard to see why this record was passed up on so many other album of the year lists (leaving me to believe a lot of people paid to write about music have no idea what the hell they’re talking about and let the accepted trends speak for them). I’ll always associate this band with 2013, where life outside of work was spent adventuring and experiencing, curious and excited about the new ways to play in my new-found adult life while still ever-so-slightly keeping a finger on the pulse of the youthful past I’m not quite ready to surrender.

“And don’t call it a spade if it isn’t a spade.
And go lie on the floor if you want.
The first bit of advice that you gave me that I liked was they’re too strong, too strong.
Get in the shower if it all goes wrong.
Yeah, If you wanna find love then you know where the city is.”

~The City

4) Jimmy Eat World – Damage
Can Jimmy Eat World release an album that doesn’t make it into my top 10? “Damage” is proof that, no, no they cannot. Nearly every review of this album makes a whole bit about how they’re older and have lived more life than they did when they wrote “Bleed American” – well, no shit, it’s called aging. And nearly every discussion of this band seems to include the brilliant observation that they can’t make “Clarity” again – here I thought releasing the same album was what artists were all about! While “Damage” doesn’t reinvent any wheels, it is cohesive, it is smart, it is melodic, it is all the things that make JEW a great band that’s withstood the test of time. I’ve played “Please Say No” and “How’d You Have Me” enough times this year to place this album on a most-listened lists. As always with this band, timing is everything, and “Damage” gave me a lot to chew on for some time.

“You know I don’t ever sleep, just starting at the ceiling
I’m laid there beneath myself
You should have to be somewhere else
With someone just like me, nothing complicated
All the feelings and fantasy
Can you trust, can you trust
That there’s some things, you should never have, never known about”

~No, Never

3)The National – Trouble Will Find Me
You can’t rank National albums, really, it’s just not something you should do. It’s like picking a favorite chocolate or something, they all are good in different, subtle ways while fulfilling the same underlying temptation. Devastation, acceptance, regret and sorrow all make appearances on “Trouble Will Find Me” and they’re all addressed with the same curiosity and nervousness, the same awkward intimacy. The National is becoming ubiquitous as far as bands of this decade goes, and while their sound has quieted in a lot of ways it’s gotten no less complex; in fact, it’s only moreso, with shakers and auxiliary aplenty and experimental tones and timings. On this album, the band proves their mastery of space, balance and the ability to create moments that steal the heart and suspend it for as long as possible before letting it drop and shatter, and I love them deeply for it.


“Don’t make me read your mind/You should know me better than that
It takes me too much time/You should know me better than that
You’re not that much like me/You should know me better than that
We have different enemies/You should know me better than that
I should leave it alone but you’re not right
I should leave it alone but you’re not right”

~I Should Live In Salt
2) Jason Isbell –  Southeastern
Every now and then you hear an album that transcends so many boundaries, and Southeastern was one of those records. I first recall hearing about Jason Isbell through a New York Times profile, as trendy as that sounds, though I’d recalled the Drive By Truckers from occasional dabbling in the country songwriter genre. Nothing was like this record, though, where the storytelling is so pure and the chords so classic, even staunch no-country listeners instantly recognized its quality and capacity to be moving. Try listening to “Elephant” and not thinking back to your loved ones you lost too soon, who you saw in the throes of mortality and still manage to crack a smile. Isbell is the kind of guy who, when in front of a mic, moves everyone to listen, and something about the simplicity and purity of his songwriting makes me remember that the only way write well is to write honest, straight from the heart. It’s unmatched, unpretentious, timeless, and just like it’s supposed to sound.

“Once a wise man to the ways of the world
now I’ve traded those lessons for faith in a girl
Crossed the ocean, thousand years from my home
in this frozen old city of silver and stone

Ships in the harbor and birds on the bluff
don’t move an inch when their anchor goes up
And the difference with me is I’ve fallen in love
Stockholm let me go home.”

~Stockholm

1) The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
Can I say anything about this record I haven’t said already? Maybe this: that it’s a shame I haven’t seen them yet. The Wonder Years are leaders of the pack as far as the pop punk genre goes, but my love for them comes from a place much more personal and private than any trend, ranking or pack mentality goes. This is a band that, over the last few years, has soundtracked my life and transitions in near-perfect fashion, channeling the same fears and doubts in an aggressive yet meditating sound. So many good moments on this album, solid chord progressions and tense bridges keep an ever present suspension that just pulls me in and doesn’t let go. I start listening to this album and I can’t put on anything else until I’ve heard the whole thing. Never once do The Wonder Years completely lose it, as much as Dan Campbell tells you he’s going to, there’s so much thought and restraint. “The Greatest Generation” is literary in concept, in craftsmanship and contains the best closer they’ve done yet. I’m glad this album came around at a point in the year when I needed something to scream to, when I needed something loud and fresh and familiar to escape to, and I have a feeling it’ll be that way for years to come.



“Jesus Christ. I’m 26.
All the people I’ve graduated with,
All have kids, all have wives,
All have people who care if they come home at night.
Well, Jesus Christ, did I fuck up?

I’ve been looking for/Tears in the screen door.
I’ve been waiting for/Another disaster.

And I was kinda hoping you’d stay.
I was kinda hoping you’d stay.
I was kinda hoping you’d stay
.”

~Passing Through A Screen Door

Honorable mentions:
Into It, Over It. – Intersections (Much as I love “Proper” I haven’t given this a fair shake yet. But I will so here it is).
Deafeater – Sunbather (At least three people have told me to listen to this record. I haven’t yet. Putting it here to give myself a reminder.)
Haim – Days Are Gone (Pop. Tastic. Love.)
Arctic Monkeys – AM (I only heard one song  off this but I really liked it. so I guess I will check out the whole thing eventually).
Atoms for Peace – Amok (Thom Yorke is better than you, always.)
Cecile McLorin Salvant – WomanChild (Amazing artist. Amazing voice. She knows how to sing right from the soul and I love her for that. I need her on vinyl ASAP.)
Sainthood Reps – Headswell (Nu metal for life. I still like the first one better, but this guys have a great thing going.)
Scholar – Chose Adventure (So this friend of mine writes such great songs and his record is way cool.)
Paramore – Paramore (I really liked this record, it was so close to making it in my top 10! But there were enough songs I skipped compared to those I didn’t, however, “Ain’t It Fun” is definitely in my top 10 sing-a-long songs of the year).
A Day To Remember – Common Courtesy (I liked this album way more than I thought I would. Something very Four Year Strong about it that resonated with me. Also, the story associated with is one for the textbooks are far modern music industry is concerned, many lawsuits and label fights.)

And hey, for kicks, let’s look backwards even more:
Best of 2012
Best of 2011

9/11/13

“Now if you never shoot, you’ll never know
And if you never eat, you’ll never grow
You’ve got a pretty kinda dirty face
And when you’re leaving your home she’s begging you, “Stay, stay, stay, stay, stay.”

I’ll give you one more time
We’ll give you one more fight
Said one more line
There’ll be a riot, cause I know you..”

~Robbers
The 1975, The 1975

The first full-length from The 1975 is as good – if not better- than I expected it to be. I’ve been thrilled – it’s a great car record, great headphone record, morning or night listening. The sound is incredibly fresh, vocal-fueled and produced to the nth degree….these are stories of youth and sex and frustration, the lure of lust and luxury ever-present but more as plaything than temptation. It’s simply fun to listen to, which makes it comforting, but it’s complex enough to be thought-provoking, which makes it prime for repeat listens.

Verbally, it’s casual, often conversational, but sonic-ly speaking, it’s very decorated. There are wedding bells, there are sax solos, and they’re all complimenting and highlighting some real intense, reaching vocals. In reviews of The 1975 I think you’ll hear a lot of comparisons to R&B of the 90s, and electro pop of recent years, and there is a definite fusion going on, but it’s far more authentic than what you might otherwise think would be gimmicky. 
In the quiet moments, you here some real musicianship, and Matt Healy on piano is a treat I hope they use often in their live show. I think these were songs written out of what was fun to play, fun to write, fun to hear, from the point of view of rabble-rousers as fascinated and confused as most creative types are in their late teens/early 20s/entire lives. I’m immensely impressed – and from what I’ve seen of live footage, the live band might sound a little more raw and maybe even a little better than this record, coated in shiny ProTools glory, can reflect.

Definitely the soundtrack of this fall, and whatever it brings. 

“Well I stay tuned, listen to the news and try to fall asleep at night.
Because I’m living in a house with just three walls,
So I’m always getting recognized.

There’s a change in pressure
We’re never gonna lie to you.
Change in pressure
My broken veins say that if my heart stops beating
Change in pressure
We’ll bleed the same way
Change in pressure,

Oh, my broken veins say…”
~Pressure
The 1975, The 1975

1/1/13

Well.

I’m a little late on this one.

I wanted to sit down and write about my favorite albums of 2012, the music that came out, crossed my path and meant something to me for any combination of reasons.

I wanted to talk about how there were songs that reminded me how wonderful it is to be young and alive even though it’s messy and mean, like Japandroids and The Menzingers. And how there were songs that blasted the cracks in my heart with deadly aim, and others that caulked in the gaps, like those from The Gaslight Anthem and Lovedrug.

I wanted to do this yesterday. But time got the best of me, and here we are, 2013 with no “Favorite Albums of 2012” on the blog. Let’s proceed.

Normally people order and rank these things; I have done this in the past and found it to be useful, clean and a fun reference for discussion purposes should the topic ever arise. My rationale for placing an album on this list could come from many places: Did I hear it, and love it instantly? Was I drawn to replay it in full one more time, or are there tracks that I simply couldn’t get enough of? And why? Was it the meaning, the message, the technique, or the timing?

I’ve also decided to highlight other albums that caught my ears for being very successful records in one way or another, because 2012 was a damn fine year for new music from artists both familiar and burgeoning. Here’s a whole bunch of proof:

10) mewithoutyou – Ten Stories
Kicking off the list, an old favorite band out with a new, thematic collection that’s eerie and haunting and potentially their most polished, meticulously produced effort yet.  Details pop out at every new listen, a harmony or a guitar part or an elusive, mysterious phrase. So enchanting, how could you not want to get lost in the night inside an otherwordly tale?

“All circles presuppose they’ll end where they begin/But only in their leaving can they ever come back around”

Posts from the Year: 7/15/12

9) Passion Pit – Gossamer
Ya heard. Electropop made it on my favorites list. But I’ve never liked electropop this much before, I’ve never seen the weirdness and depth this way. Played it all the time, even got my mom hooked on it. I found this album uplifting and entirely thoughtful, bright and shiny but ever calm, ever cool and just enough collected. I hear the  live shows are slammin’. Also: Gossamer is, and has been, one of my favorite all-time words.Shimmers just like it should, a perfect title.

“When then I’ll say what they say/And I’ll do what they do/But it doesn’t mean a goddamned thing”

8) Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams
Oh how perfect and beautiful this album is, how folksy. Though it seems acoustic and auxiliary-heavy Americana bands are a stone’s throw from every dive bar in mid-sized cities to the hottest clubs frequented by trendy, hipster-inclined urbanites, Lord Huron is, to my ears, the real deal. Kick back, relax and let their lonesome dreams interrupt and intersect with yours for awhile. And take a walk in the fucking woods while you’re at it.

“I’ve been dreaming again of a lonesome road/Where I’m lost and I’ve got no friends/Just the rocks and the trees and my lonesome dreams and a road that’ll never end”

Posts from the Year: 12/12/12

7) Bad Books – II
Perhaps I am inclined to rank anything involving the likes of Andy Hull and Kevin Devine, given my listening roots grew up in their respective heydays. And yet I have never appreciated them as much musically as I do today. Maybe it’s in the maturity, the sardonic tone, or the willingness to try on styles and sounds exemplifying a mastery of creative convention. Bad Books colors in the lines, but this is by no means a dig on lack of originality. Rather, we’ve got layers and layers of complimenting and contrasting rock ‘n’ roll theory. More, please.

“Folded arms and I felt your heart hum/Speedy eyes and I want what I want/Truth cut with a generalized fear/Cash baggies and an ash tray beers/I know you know/I wanna love you but I can’t let go/Honey, it never stops/No it never stops”

6) Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
How did you not just instantly love this band? Rootsy and bluesy and fusion-y and all kinds of familiar, Alabama Shakes debuted with a powerful hello to an indie pop audience that was ready to lap up something designed to comfort the soul. We’ve got real instruments, real vocal talent like we haven’t heard in some time, real skilled players, and a whole lot of heart. Between the dynamics, the passion and the style, Alabama Shakes has serious rock chops, and I’d bet strong that we’ve only seen the start.

“I feel so homesick/Where’s my home/Where I belong/Where I was born/I was told to go/Where the wind would blow/And it blows away”

(Bonus Link: Listen to this full KEXP performance!) Seriously. Do it. Your face might melt, though.

5) fun. – Some Nights
Yes, I know I’ve said The Format is better (and first!) but what a record this was. Everyone seemed to love it, everyone related to it. At the tail end of 2012, I found myself replaying this album over and over. Great for drives, for thinking alone. Nate Ruess is a genius at capturing the mischief in melancholy, the hope in the view from the ground, and I am grateful he continues to make wonderful music to share with the world.

“My head is on fire/But my legs are fine/After all they are mine”

Posts from the Year: 8/14/12

4) Lovedrug – Wild Blood
Redemption comes in many forms. Lovedrug’s first full-length after a run of successful EP releases left me feeling full and happy, and intrigued by the new direction of a band. Focus, melody, depth and layers were always strong currents, but these qualities are the crux of Wild Blood’s impressive, hungry and ever-onward spirit. Glad this record was made, because it marks something of an end of an era for me — a triumphant effort from a band I’ve followed for years in a year that, for me, showed similar feats.

“We were owls when they came in the night/they were lookin’ for a creature to fight/I can see it that you’re ready to go/Like a bat in the cave of my soul”

Posts from the Year: 2/10/123/6/123/13/12,  4/15/126/15/12

3) The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
Sometimes, people kind of laugh a little when I tell them I’m a pop punk/hardcore/whatever the fuck you call emo these days fan. A bit of an eyeroll. But The Menzingers are amphetamine laced proof that the genre isn’t dead and Epitaph is a fighting beast of a label(so shut your fucking trap). Heart-wrenching and boldly embracing pathetic helplessness and hopeless, this album is a collection of odes to self-fulfilled failures past and present. As I am a codified expert on such instances in my own life, it was entirely too easy to relate. Coated in familiar chords and fast-finger solos and just the right amount of scream, I listened to this at my worst only to end up feeling pretty damn close to my best.

“I will fuck this up/I fucking know it”

Posts from the Year: 8/22/12, 8/27/12

2) The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
What to say that I haven’t said? Do I have a bigger music idol of 2012 than Brian Fallon?  Not really, maybe, probably not. “Handwritten” proves that TGA will continue to churn out confessional narratives with amphitheater-sized proportions. They’ve proven to be true to their own style, a dash of the past included, so the end product is good, old-fashioned, new rock and roll.  And this album could’ve been a make or break moment after so many past successes. No doubt it was a daunting task to say, “Oh shit, gotta write more great songs.” And yet, I am more of a fan than ever.

“And we waited for sirens that never come/And we only write by the moon, every word handwritten/And to ease the loss of youth and how many years I’ve missed you/Pages plead forgiveness, every word handwritten”

Posts from the Year: 4/30/127/16/127/19/127/31/129/13/1210/9/1212/5/12

1) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Japandroids just got it just right. They got the hunger right, the anger and fury, the passion, and the inescapable needs and conflicts of living fast. They’ve captured a certain brazen slyness that once thrived all over punk and rock scenes that’s shrunken to give way to pretension, a forced literariness that can be so guarded. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not really a good one either, if you’re looking for something to rock out to.

If you told me that 2012 would be the year that it turned out to be for me personally, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Or, maybe I would’ve of, but immediately passed out from fright, thereby changing said future through butterfly effect means. So, the present is fleeting, the past is permanent and the future, a wide scary unknown. In this lost haze, Japandroids brought a reminder that all you have is you and now, and fast is fun when your eyes are open.

Musically, omigod, so cool. Not only was I completely blown away by the sheer sonic power of such a tiny band (two skinny white dudes!), but you don’t hear guitars played in this way, so full of repetitive fierceness, in ways that are simultaneously melodic. This has a lot to do with the chord choices, and phrasing of vocal, but we’ve got some real metal technique doing some indie rock things.

So thanks, Japandroids, for making me remember so much of what I love about loud and fierce rock music, and for laying it all out so honestly, that there’s no way I will ever be able to hear these songs, and not connect to the moments, people and places of 2012. What more do you want out of an album of the year?

“It’s a lifeless life with no fixed address to give/But you’re not mine to die for anymore/So I must live”

Posts from the Year: 6/2/126/18/12

Special Awards:
Best EPs: The 1975 – Sex EP, The 1975 – Facedown EP

Best Genre-Bending, The Cool Award: Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Most Ambitious, Most Likely to Make Me Dance Contemporary Ballet, Most Poetic Album Title: Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Best “Comeback:”  Soundgarden – King Animal

Best Collaborative: GOOD Music – Cruel Summer

Best Taylor Swift: Taylor Swift – Red

Best Album for a Love Scene in Outer Space: The xx – Coexist

Best Metal (TIE): Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind, Every Time I Die – Ex-Lives

11/16/12

This band’s gonna blow the hell up, I predict.

What a hook. What tones. Good structure. What an all-too-common story to tell. Like the reference to skinny jeans. A modern sound without sacrificing familiar rock formats (like the layered break), like they do so well in the UK. They’re kind of like Kings of Leon, but better singer. I hear some synth I don’t see in the video, which is odd, but might just be pedals and my ears are too sleepy to tell. Definitely lots of electric fun in their songs, which is young and sexy and trendy and translucent, like falling.

Anyone signed to Vagrant off an EP, too, gives me high hopes. Please have a full length in 2013, boys.

“And this is how it starts
You take your shoes off in the back of my van
My shirt looks so good
When it’s just hanging off your back
She said use your hands and my spare time
We’ve got one thing in common, it’s this tongue of mine

She said she’s got a boyfriend anyway….

There’s only minutes before I drop you off
And all we seem to do it talk about sex
She’s got a boyfriend anyway
She’s got a boyfriend anyway

I love your friend when I saw his film
He’s got a funny face, but I like that because he still looks cool
She’s got a boyfriend anyway,
She’s got a boyfriend anyway…

Now we are on the bed in my room
And I’m about to fill his shoes
But you say no
You say no
Does he take care of you
Or could I easily fill his shoes
You say no
You say no

And now we’re just outside of town,
And you’re making your way down,
She’s got a boyfriend anyway,
She’s got a boyfriend anyway…
And I’m not trying to stop you love,
But if we’re gonna do anything we might as well just fuck

She’s got a boyfriend anyway,
She’s got a boyfriend anyway…

You’ve got your tongue pierced anyway
You in your hightops anyway
You in your skinny jeans anyway

You and your fit friends anyway
I’d take them all out any day

They’ve all got back combs anyway
You’ve all got boyfriends anyway”

~Sex
The 1975, Sex EP

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