1. Michael Jordan Touchdown Pass- Baby Steps
-Baby Steps is one of the most original albums I’ve ever heard. Cash, Money, Etc was a great album, though single noted. After a 5 year delay for a new full length, MJTP puts out Baby Steps, an album which in a strange way bridges every decade and genre, yet culminates into a cohesive album. Be it the folksy tones of “Tsunami”, the Velvet Underground progression and guitar work found on “Facin the Change”, or even the folk punk style of “Dent”, which harkens back to the old MJTP. This is definitely album of the year for me. The lyrics may be a little plain at times and the overtly positive outlook on most songs may throw off a few older fans, but I’ve now listened to this album 30+ times and the songs still welcomely play in my head.
(Donation based download with no minimum. All money goes to a school in Cambodia)
2. Wade Boggs- Tow Truck
-Carrie Nations was one of the best bands Plan-it-x ever offered. In what can be only described as a sequel to “Be Still”, Ian continues where Carrie Nations left off with Wade Boggs’ Tow Truck. Though just recently released, I can already tell this should be in my EOTY list. This is one of the best pop punk records of the year.
(Free Download provided by Wade Boggs).
3. Weak Teeth- What a Plague You Are
-This is the direction hardcore should movie in. Weak Teeth’s full length debut triumphantly brings back the days of emotional hardcore, while still holding onto the speed and aggression that is loved and expected from the genre. Though not perfect, you can tell that Weak Teeth know what they are doing, and I can’t wait to hear how they evolve from here.
4. Ampere- Like Shadows
– It took them 7 years to followup “All Our Tomorrows End Today”, but Ampere did it. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from this album. This is literally everything I expected from Ampere, and that is more than a good thing. The songs are short and to the point. Ampere present more energy and anger in a single 45 second song than most bands do in a full album. Screamo is a tarnished term. People don’t realize what the actual word means. This is screamo. Forget everything you know/think about that word and listen to this.
5. Spoonboy – The Papas
-David Comb’s voice is not for everyone. This is common knowledge (see Ben Weasel vs Max Levine). But to some people it’s beautiful. The Max Levine Ensemble can sometimes get a little too fun and goofy for my tastes. I like their political and social driven stuff a lot more, so its nice to see Spoonboy solely focus on this on his second full length. Spoonboy touches the issues of gender roles and fatherhood in an a forceful way, but it never comes off as abrasive or destructive to his point, a gripe I find with a lot of artists trying to tackle these issues. It’s nice to find an album that touches gender roles in an educated, non pretentious way; it makes the album even more meaningful. The lyrics are up front and powerful: “When i found you, you were dry heaving in front of the mirror, stripped down and screaming. You said you’d cut your appendage if it meant you’d never hurt again. You couldn’t have what you never wanted.” And as a bonus, it comes with both electric and acoustic versions of each song. Can all acoustic bands that want to go electric do this please?
http://spoonboy.bandcamp.com/album/the-papas (Donation Based)
http://spoonboy.bandcamp.com/album/the-papas-acoustic (Donation Based)
6. Bomb the Music Industry- Vacation
BTMI finally hits the mark with this album. Some will probably yell at this, but BTMI’s library is a school of gems in a sea of clunkers. I listen to their albums, find the 3 to 4 songs that are good, add them to the stack of Bomb tracks I like, and the rest is thrown away. Vacation is different though. The album as a whole works. Every song flows together perfectly and all the songs are strong. BTMI finally found the sweet spot of their “invented genre” that they have been searching for through discography, with it finding the perfect combination of punk, pop-punk, ska, and techno.
http://quoteunquoterecords.com/qur051.htm (Donation Based)
7. Future Virgins- Western Problems
Listen there are a ton of bands that sound like Future Virgins. Half of ‘The Fest’ are these bands. The genre is saturated and because of this I miss a lot of great bands. I’m glad I listened to Western Problems. Every band in this genre should listen to and study this album. This is how it is done. Every song is brilliant and I’m glad to finally hear Future Virgins get some strong production behind them. If you are overwhelmed by the whole punk/org-core genre and don’t know where to start, start here.
8. Ramshackle Glory-Live the Dream
-Ok take note, this is how an artist should properly evolve over time (I’m looking at you Against Me!). Pat the Bunny has gone through a lot of changes over the course of his career. First was Johnny Hobo with its pure teenage rage, then was Wingnut Dishwasher’s Union with its odd ‘depressive yet positive’ outlook, and now there is Ramshackle Glory. All these bands each have the expressive passion and raw craft that we would expect from Pat. And though the lyrical content has changed from each iteration, at no point are the past songs alienated by the change (You are not allowed to write “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious…” and then write a song called “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”. You can’t). When Pat went to rehab, a lot of people were worried about what would become of his music. There was no reason to worry. The songs are catchy and the lyrics give true insight into what Pat has gone/is going through. On top of that Pat’s signature scratchy voice is at top form here.
9. Madeline-Black Velvet
-Madeline does it again. I feel so strange talking about age when referring to Madeline considering she is still in her 20’s, but that’s what this album presents. I’ve yet to use the word maturity in my EOTY list, and that is because it doesn’t compare to the version of the word used here. Madeline has matured. She’s taken the natural talent of her voice and expanded on it with the musicianship and writing expected from only the most skilled and professional singer/songwriters. Black Velvet is her prime case study.
10. The Fucking Cops- Fuck You Up With Some Truth
-Get past their shitty name. Please. It will be more than worth your wild. This is pop-punk at its finest. This EP has some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard all year with riffs and guitar work that would make most metal bands jealous. Bring that in with each band members vocals working together perfectly and you get the band I can’t wait to have a full length from. Plus Kenny Powers.
Fucked Up- David Comes to Life
-I should hate this band. They are pitchfork’s darlings and it feels like everything from them is pretentious and over the top. I should especially hate this album. Rock Opera’s suck. I know there are countless examples of otherwise, but trust me, they suck. Somehow this album jumped the extreme though, and I like it. I like it a lot. It seems to hit every variable and skips genres. And yes it is pretentious and over the top, but for some odd reason I’m letting that go. The talent here somehow penetrated past all the bullshit, and it works.
Star Fucking Hipsters-From the Dumpster to the Grave
-I loved Leftover Crack in high school. I thought they were “awesome” – high school me’s words. I know that sounds completely ridiculous, but it was true. And I have a odd attraction to Stza’s raspy singing and belligerence. I’ve heard it all, that its all a fraud and Stza is an asshole and blah blah blah, but I still liked it. That is why From the Dumpster to the Grave so greatly disappointing to me. SFHs were always a poor man’s Leftover Crack in my opinion, but it worked. Their old albums got the job done, and when I heard the legendary Mikey Erg was joining on drums, I was more than excited. Then I heard the record, and was by every sense of the word disappointed. I listened to it twice in hopes that it would be one of those albums that would stick the second time through….it wasn’t. From the rap track to the forced “punk” aspect of it, the album is a disaster. About the only good thing is Mikey’s drumming, and even that is for some reason turned down and muffled behind the rest of the mediocrity. I feel like Stza and the gang have finally become the parody people say they are.
Most Anticipated of 2012:
Ghost Mice-All We Got is Each Other
– I love ghost mice, this is no secret among my friends. So any new Ghost Mice album, especially one we have been waiting quite some time for, is guaranteed to be anticipated by me. Then Chris Clavin released solo recorded demos for the new album, and I was stunned (http://chrisclavin.bandcamp.com/album/all-we-got-it-each-other-demo-versions). The unfortunate events in the years preceding this release have lead to the most emotional and tear jerky lyrics Chris has ever written. His classic voice with it’s high pitched hits has finally found the lyrics it’s been looking all these years to for. I can’t wait to hear the final product with violin and Hannah’s vocals added.