TOM'S TOP 10 LPs of 2010:
Now, don't lose me already here. I wouldn't normally choose a soundtrack for best album of the year material, but honestly, I listened to this more times than other records on this list. It's fantastic. A great mix of garage and indie rock music from the past to the present. Whoever selected the songs for this soundtrack has great taste. The perfectly catchy 90's alt-music eponymous track by Plumtree, the dreamy folky country-ish Beachwood Sparks, the best Broken Social Scene song I've ever heard, and one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs, along with the great Black Lips, T. Rex, and Frank Black tracks make for a wonderfully accurate theme for this dreamy, nerdy, rocky movie. However, what really stands out are the original songs created for the fictitious Sex Bob-Omb, Crash and the Boys, and the Metric track donated for The Clash at Demonhead (which is by far the best Metric song I've heard). Beck created the perfect garage rock Sex Bob-Omb songs and Broken Social Scene did the amazingly abrupt Crash songs. Seriously, We Hate You, Please Die by Crash and the Boys is one of my favorite songs ever. Check it out if you like any of the aforementioned bands or really if you like rock and roll in general. Also, watch the movie and read the comics if you want a really fun and unique story. I'm a fanboy, whatever. Standout tracks: We Hate You, Please Die, Threshold, Garbage Truck, and Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl.
The latest release from the New Brunswick based pop-punkers is more of the same, but that doesn't mean anything bad. With every release they become more and more confident and organic with their music. Lauren's voice could be off putting to new listeners, but I think they're filled with soul and personality. Fid's vocals are also good, but I could do without the distortion over them in some of the tracks in favor of a realistic sound that he does on others. Their instrumentation is frenetic and strong, and listening to their records feels like a live show almost. The best part are the lyrics. Ranging from wonderfully honest and frank personal journal entries to criticisms of society, politics, friends, enemies, and punks they really reflect the individuality of the band. I don't think The Measure really sounds like any other band playing poppy punk stuff so it's hard to compare them, but if you like stuff like The Ergs! or For Science or anything else from New Brunswick, chances are you'll like The Measure. Standout tracks: Be Yours, Unwritten, Fear of Commitment, and Criticism.
Nobunny gets production value! Straying away from the lo-fi stylings and drum machines of Love Visions, Nobunny offers a selection of great sounding weirdo rock and roll tunes. His influences range from all over the rock spectrum, and his sound is mostly a doo-wop, bubblegum, and 50's pop with a grungier and rough edge. With lyrics ranging from masturbation anthems to lamenting the Bozo the Clown show, its safe to say this is a fun album. The fast pianos on (Do the) Fuck Yourself, the Velvet Undergound inspired Blow Dumb, slow and moody Breathe and Pretty Please Me, and the bubblegummy Pretty Little Trouble show Nobunny's versatility and absolute love for 50s-70s popular rock music. That's really all this is, a love note to the beginnings of rock and roll from a humble dude wearing a bunny mask. Standout tracks: Ain't it a Shame, Blow Dumb, Live it Up, and Motorhead With Me (which is a re-released older Nobunny song).
The Credentials are a fast pop-punk band from Boston. This is their first release, recorded all in one take with vocals added in after, and it is a doozy. It's relentless and intelligent, which is usually fairly rare within this genre. Their lyrics are very honest and probably as existential as a punk band can get. Self loathing, loss of identity, not having the answers, but knowing everyone else are the fucked up ones seems to be the driving motivators behind the songs. The guitars and drums are fast and agressive, but poppy enough to keep this in the realm of pop-punk. It's pop punk with emphasis on the punk. Apparently some people have a problem with with recording, which I don't see at all. It's raw and real sounding and perfect for this band. The title Routines comes from the same named song which says "Routines give us comfort, Routines keep us down" is a beautiful sentiment and kinda sums up everything about this band. If you like Crimpshrine, Screeching Weasel, or stuff like that you will probably like this. Standout tracks: Nice Girl/Coffee Shop, Slowly Going the Way of the Juggalo, Night Sweats, and Korean Porn Dumpster.
6. Sonic Avenues - Sonic Avenues
The Sonic Avenues play powerpop with a bit more of a pop-punk or a garage feel to it. I can't quite decide. Alls I know is they sound very similar to The Exploding Hearts. Maybe just the vocals because the guitars are a bit fuzzier than the Hearts'. Regardless, this record is great especially if you are into that sort of thing. Ten tracks of Canadian lovesick anthems for your ears. This is a really fun and catchy album, and I find myself humming the hooks over and over again while I'm at work. The guitars are jangly, like I like 'em and the drums are interesting enough to keep me bouncing through the record. I also enjoy the Sedatives-esque keys/organs in some of the songs. There's really not technically too much to this album, but that's totally ok. It's simply infectious garage pop songs done really really well. Standout tracks: I Want You Now, Girls With Pearls, Bleed Me Dry, and Why Can't I (Stop Thinking 'bout You)
The White Wires, also from Canada, are one of my favorite bands I've discovered this year. I picked up their first LP at Insub Fest this year after hearing a couple songs from it and I was hooked. I've been anticipating this release all year, and although I don't think its as good as their first LP, and frankly I think they're seven inches are their best material, this is still an awesome record. White Wires play bubblegum garage pop, really straightforward and really fun. All the songs have pretty rudimentary (but fun) lyrics about girls and beaches and whatnot, but that's to be expected with this sort of style. The singers voice has definitely improved since their first LP and the guitars sort of have a surfier vibe to them too, which I love. Most of the songs are slow and dancy, but there are some quick pogo inducing ragers on here too. The production on this record is a bit better than their first, but still doesn't lose that gritty lo-fi feel that people either love or hate. If you are an audiophile, get over it and start singing along! This band obviously loves things like Buddha Records, and if you like music in that vain, you should definitely check this out. Standout tracks: Roxanne, I Can Tell, Hands, and Are You Mad
I wrote about The Young Leaves in my last post, so I'm probably going to reiterate some things here. I just picked up the vinyl copy of this record and it sounds sooooo much more FULL and perfect. I really hope this band gets some recognition, because this music is too good to let go unnoticed. They could have easily toured with Pavement or Superchunk or Archer's of Loaf or something back in the 90's. Simon's drumming is incredible, only to be outdone by himself when they play live. He is all over the kit, and so precise. Great fills, and so much additional drum work really help this kind of music which could easily settle for basic drum beats. It gives it a whole new energy, almost like a punk record. Christopher's guitars are vicious at times and beautiful and serene other times. They kind of remind me of Husker Du. Pete's backup vocals add an extra punch to a lot of the songs, and his bass playing is top notch. Songs like Boot to the Face, Hey Man (Backup Plan), and Life Underneath have an almost metal element to parts of them, and songs like Sleepyhead, Ugly Line, and Call Me Call are just the opposite. It all totally works and flows nicely, sounding like a cohesive, well planned piece of work. To top it all off, everything is recorded and mixed by Christopher in his parent's basement and it sounds professional and perfect for the music. Get this record dummy. Standout tracks: Boot to the Face, Call Me Cal, Life Underneath, and Sleepyhead.
3. Black Wine - Black Wine
Black Wine is another band on my list playing 90's alternative music revival, but with a grungier direction. This band is members from Hunchback, Full of Fancy, and the almighty Ergs! The members wear their influences on their sleeves, but really make this record something uniquely theirs. It almost seems like a culmination of all their favorite bands and all the music they made before this record. At base level its similar in style to Dinosaur Jr, or Nirvana, or the Melvins, but poppier than all of those bands. The song Haunted is a total pop song, but fits in so naturally with the rest of the songs. All three band members sing, and compliment each other wonderfully. Miranda's vocals are definitely my favorite however, and she almost summons a harmonious Kathleen Hanna. The lyrics deal with dreams and bizarre imagery, and what seems like a lot of nostalgia and longing. The guitar work is intricate and catchy while being heavy and grungy. The drums are poppy and dark. The bass is smooth and crazy good. And goddamn the end of Belong gives me shivers. This record came out in the first month of the year and it's managed to sound fresh and interesting to me 12 months later. If that's not a sign of a good record, I don't know what is. Standout tracks: Haunted, Couch Critics, Chateuau of Ghosts, and Belong.
I fucking love this band. Masshysteri is from Umea, Sweden, features most of the members from The Vicious, and plays awesome melodic 70's inspired punk. Take some X or Avengers songs, take some Wipers songs, throw in more harmonies and some surf, then play it faster, and you have this record. The bass is my favorite part. It's just so...groovy? That's a stupid word to use. The guitars have a jangly, garage-y style to them, but the music is fast paced and punk as fugg. The dual vocals work so perfectly here, which is a rarity. This is definitely their best release, and the only downside is I have no idea what I'm saying when I sing along. Standout tracks: Dom Kan Inte Höra Musiken, Välkommen Till Verkligheten, Satans Barn, and Spökstad.
Holy shit, what a record. The Men are a hardcore band at heart, but play almost every genre on this record. They have a noise song, a shoegaze song, a pop punk song, a sludge song, and a black metal song. All of this is definitely tinged with a hardcore band's style, and it works so perfectly. I don't even know how! If you told me that before I heard this I'd think you were stupid! This record is dreamy, moody, and atmospheric while still keeping you grounded and on your toes, ready for whatever is coming next. High energy, and very intelligent. This band can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, because they've proved themselves with this masterpiece. I can listen to this a million times and not get bored. I really have nothing else to say. Get this, and enjoy. The album title says it all. Standout tracks: It really needs to be listened to as a whole I think, but anyways, Grave Desecration, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, Oh Yoko, and Immaculada
Mark Sultan - $
Ghost - Opus Eponymous
Merchandise - (Strange Songs) In the Dark
Double Negative - Daydreamnation
Jonsi - Go
Kvelertak - Kvelertak
Top 10 EPs of 2010:
I'll spare you the nonsense ramblings I did for the LP's and just give you a list. Just know that Big Eyes rules, and the Night Birds are a band created solely for my enjoyment I think because they are the epitome of music I like.
10. Tenement - False Teeth
Pop punk played by hardcore nerds
9. Confines - Withdrawn
Straightforward, intelligent, fast hardcore. If you liked Cut The Shit this will be right up your alley.
8. Closet Fairies - Popular Science
Sleazy garagey pop punk
7. Marked Men - On & Split with This is My Fist
Possibly one of the best bands ever. I cheated and this is two of their releases. They haven't put out a bad song.
One of the members of Marked Men's solo project. A lot dreamier and moodier than Marked Men
Garagey Ramones worshippers who sing about pizza and beer. This song and the b-side "Cool 2 Drive" are perfect.
4. Choke Up - Demo
Not sure if this came out in 2010, but I don't care. Unique pop punk band from Mass. Like if Latterman was good and was super into Comadre.
3. Vaccine - Human Hatred
Relentless Massachusetts powerviolence. So heavy. So angry
2. Big Eyes - Demo
Pop punk/powerpop played like Cheap Trick with members of Cheeky, Hellhole, and Seasick. Fucking awesome rock and roll.
1. Night Birds - Killer Waves & Prognosis: Negative
Surfy 80's hardcore worship. Adolescents + Zero Boys + Dick Dale. Features members of Hunchback, Forward to Death, For Science, and the Ergs! Seriously perfect.
Other awesome 7"s:
Dangerous Intersections 7
PS Eliot - Living in Squalor
White Wires - Pogo Til I Puke Tonight
Southside Stranglers - Too Much TV and Strangle You