April 01, 2010
So, I realize that 2009 ended three months ago, but I made this list to post on another blog of mine a couple months ago, and thought I would also post it here since our new website is up and running!
*Disclaimer: These are Chelsea's favorite albums of the year, and the list does not reflect the musical tastes of the rest of WHUS.*
10. Matt & Kim – Grand (Fader) I saw Matt & Kim play on the Fuck Yeah Tour in the summer of 2008, and they did not once take the smiles off their faces during their performance. Their second full-length Grand, like their live performance, contains eleven new tracks that is guaranteed to make you feel good and want to sing along. Buy on Amazon
9. Propagandhi – Supporting Caste (Smallman) This record took a little while to grow on me. Supporting Caste received a lot of hype on websites like punknews.org, and never being a huge fan of Propagandhi in the past, was apprehensive to listen to the record given the fact that they have been around since 1986 and just now have created their best album to date, and that after twenty-three years are still playing power chords. However, once I looked past all that, Supporting Caste totally deserves all the hype it got. Yeah, it may be your standard punk album with highly political lyrics and crunchy guitar riffs, but few bands, after being together that long, can still produce an album with the energy of a band full of young, angsty teenagers who are still playing in their friends’ basements. Buy on Amazon
8. Thursday – Common Existence (Epitaph) Thursday now joins the roster of newly signed Epitaph bands that have been dropped off of major labels, but are probably the only of these bands that have put out a new album on Epitaph that I really enjoy. Common Existence is certainly noFull Collapse, but I do think this is the best album Thursday has put out in quite a while, and it has a few of their best songs to date on it, such as “Friends in the Armed Forces,” and “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain,” which was also featured on their 2008 split with Japanese screamo band Envy. Buy on Amazon
7. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (Jagjaguwar) Normally, when really awesome bands break up and then decide to get back together several years later, the outcome is terrible and it makes you wish they had never gotten back together in the first place. I could name several of these bands, but I won’t. I’m sure you can think of some on your own. Dinosaur Jr. on the other hand does the whole getting back together thing way better than any other band I can think of. Not only did the trio from Amherst, Massachusetts reunite with their original line-up, they also managed to put out a kick-ass new album called Beyond in 2007, which was one of my favorites of that year. Fast forward two years, and J Mascis and company have put out another album that is even better than the last one. I saw Dinosaur Jr. live last April, and although the band members are far older than those of any other band I usually go to see, I hope these guys never stop making music. Buy on Amazon.
6. My Heart to Joy – Seasons in Verse (Topshelf/Asbestos) My Heart to Joy is from my own hometown of Berlin, Connecticut. I saw their first show at my friend Greg’s house (who now plays guitar for the band) back in 2006, and it’s really amazing how much the band has grown since then. What used to be a pretty standard screamo band, My Heart to Joy’s debut full-length, Seasons in Verse, has tons of twinkly guitar riffs, interesting drumming patterns, and poetic lyrics. And for all the Bob Pollard fans out there, the album also features a cover of Guided by Voices’ “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory.” The My Heart to Joy guys have told me that they get compared to Hot Water Music a lot, but don’t listen to that at all. I would say giveSeasons in Verse a listen if you’re into The Appleseed Cast, Moving Mountains, and early Planes Mistaken for Stars. Buy on Amazon
5. Polar Bear Club – Chasing Hamburg (Bridge 9) Upstate New York’s melodic hardcore outfit Polar Bear Club released its second full-length last year, and its first on Massachusetts-based Bridge 9 Records, and it was also one of my most anticipated albums of the year. While not quite as heavy as their first record, Sometimes Things Just Disappear, Chasing Hamburg doesn’t let the listener down, with its energetic and loud first track, “See the Wind,” which is sure to please kids who enjoy mosh pits; the record then dives into some poppier but still anthemic tracks, such as “Living Saints” and “Light of Local Eyes,” which will make you envision jam sessions or skateboarding with your friends rather than fists punching violently in the air. While not drastically different from Sometimes Things Just Disappear, Polar Bear Club is given a chance on their second album to come into their own sound a little bit more (I have no shame in saying that while I’ve always liked them, I thought they sounded a bit too much like Hot Water Music at first). Buy on Amazon
4. Brand New – Daisy (Interscope) A lot of people seemed to be let down with Brand New’s fourth album Daisy, perhaps not living up to the high expectations that 2006’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me set for the band. However, and I doubt anyone in the world will agree with this statement, but I think Daisy is the best Brand New record to date. They’ve been one of my favorite bands since I was fourteen, after hearing the catchy single “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” from their first albumYour Favorite Weapon, and then seeing the music video for “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” on MTV. And as I’ve grown up, this band has grown up with me. Their first two albums, released when I was in high school, are poppy and bitter, and by the time The Devil and God… was released, it was evident that this band had matured a lot, both personally and musically. I’ve always loved Brand New because each of their albums sounds different from the last, and Daisy is no exception. While the first single, “At the Bottom,” has a very obvious Modest Mouse influence as does “Jesus Christ” from their previous album, Daisy’s other tracks form the perfect blend of screaming and abrasive, in-your-face rock music with slow, drawn-out tracks that are anything but happy. There is never a dull moment on Daisy, no track that I ever feel the need to skip over. I had been looking forward to this album coming out since 2009 began and Brand New did not disappoint me one bit. Buy on Amazon
3. Japandroids – Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl) Holy shit, this band is fucking amazing. (Yeah, the swearing is necessary.) The first time I ever heard Japandroids, I thought I was hearing some band that was formed by one of the members of Cap’n Jazz in the late 1990s that no one ever bothered telling me about. But really, Japandroids is two dudes from Vancouver playing guitar and drums and singing about their post-teenage angst, which mainly involves three things: girls, drinking, and leaving home. And more girls. The lyrics are repetitive, the guitar is heavily distorted, but this album is full of passion from beginning to end. The second track, “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” which is the first song I ever heard by Japandroids, is by far my favorite song that I heard all year. A mix of old school emo and lo-fi garage rock (who knew the two sounded awesome together?!) Post-Nothing is the best debut album I have heard in a very long time. Watch out, I have a feeling this band is going to get really big in the near future. Buy on Amazon.
2. Cursive – Mama, I’m Swollen (Saddle Creek) I went on a road trip last summer, and spent several miserable hours driving through Nebraska. I saw a lot of slaughterhouses, but other than that, there wasn’t much going on. It amazes me that music scenes can exist in places like these, but they do, and Omaha, Nebraska is home to both Saddle Creek Records and veteran indie rockers Cursive. Mama, I’m Swollen is their sixth studio album, and probably the poppiest to date. As is usual with Cursive, the new album is a concept album, critiquing all of humankind, and contemplating if “we were better off as animals,” as vocalist Tim Kasher sings on the second track, “From the Hips.” While the album takes a few listens to truly grow on you, and the slower mid-section may lose listeners at first, Mama, I’m Swollen is ten beautifully crafted songs that are up to par with any of Cursive’s other great pieces. Buy on Amazon.
1. Pissed Jeans – King of Jeans (SubPop) Pissed Jeans is a hardcore quartet from Allentown, Pennsylvania.. King of Jeans is their third full-length, and second on Seattle-based SubPop Records. Given the other two records in my top three, you were probably expecting something a little more original to be my number one album of the year. But I’m a huge sucker for a good hardcore band. I taught myself how to play guitar by learning every Misfits song, my notebooks in high school were covered in Minor Threat lyrics, and I thought Black Flag’s Damaged was the most perfect hardcore album ever created. Hardcore helped make my teenage years a little more bearable. And with the release of King of Jeans, I can now be okay with the fact that all of the aforementioned bands broke up before I was born. The album sounds like it came out in 1982, not 2009. The vocalist never tires of screaming about his jaded adult angst (instead of getting into fights with their parents as many hardcore bands sing about, they’ve now moved out and are pissed that they have to accept the realities of adulthood) and each track comes at you like a punch in the face (quite literally if you’re at a Pissed Jeans show, and not listening safely at home). Many hardcore bands that I enjoy that are around today are good because they are creative and don’t just play conventional hardcore songs. Pissed Jeans is a conventional hardcore band, but I like that simply for the fact that we need bands that are still just playing punk like it’s the early ‘80s and Washington, DC has the greatest music scene in the world. Some of us weren’t alive back then, and it’s good to be able to experience what those days were like. Buy on Amazon.
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