5. Touche Amore – Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
Stripping their manic sound for something stronger and smarter, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me is certainly not To the Beat of a Dead Horse 2.0. The Ed Rose produced album is leaner, meaner and often times more melodic, leaving the imprints of entire tracks embedded in our minds. The piano-led “Condolences” marks a haunting, yet risky jaunt into new territory, while tracks like “The Great Repetition” and “Amends” bring new energy to Touche’s usual fare. Touche Amore’s drive and energy on this record is a terrific step forward for a band sure to continue to do great things with their music in the future.
4. Protest the Hero – Scurrilous
Listening to a band like Protest the Hero can be difficult. Trust me, the first time I heard “Heretics and Killers”, I was pretty confused at what I had just heard. Little did I know that it would be the first of many forward-thinking tracks by the prog-metal whiz kids in Protest the Hero. Scurrilous marks an almost new era for the band, with vocalist Rody Walker taking primary lyrical duties and the band steering away from their almost normal antics of conceptualism and arcing stories. Yet, as the record goes on, we feel just as at home with the rowdy and often seething lyricism of Walker as it helps drive the newest batch of guitar acrobatic-led jams heard here. Anyone who was afraid this band just might lose their touch will have to wait until next time to even think about this band falling off.
3. Thursday –No Devolucion
I promise not to get all wallowed up about this band announcing their breakup after this round of touring. I already had time to do that. No Devolucion has settled in the trifecta of go-to albums for this band – the other two being the seminal Full Collapse and their major label debut War All The Time (fight me) – pairing the sound of old with the brooding, buzzing sounds of new. While many would have been disappointed on seeing the band go out on Common Existence, No Devolucion marks the end of a proud era, capitalizing on everything this band has been doing since day one and taking it to the highest levels possible. If there is any way to go out as a band, No Devolucion is certainly it.
2. Fireworks – Gospel
Gospel might not have been the record Fireworks fans were hoping for at first, but in the cracks of the path laid out by Dave Mackinder and company there is something to be said about the well executed quirks of an album like this. Never quite in line with the pop-punk leanings of their past, this is an album that marks true growth while expanding the band’s horizons. Whether it’s the dancey licks of “Oh, Why Can’t We Start Old and Get Young?” or the twangy flair to “The Wild Bunch”, this album takes a little bit of everything and makes something phenomenal out of it.
1. La Dispute – Wildlife
While some might argue a slight regression or perhaps lack of progression on Wildlife, La Dispute’s balance of angst and tension – coupled with a love for melodic slathering and often bombastic musical arrangements – make them a love or hate band by the hand of Jordan Dreyer’s vocals. Though the lyrical palate has opened up since Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, Dreyer’s improved storytelling delves into dark dialogues on loss, death and self-questioning. While perhaps not instantly as memorable as Somewhere, Wildlife‘s ever-weaving journey is cathartic and well-executed in the eyes of someone who has certainly come to love this quintet.
Best Live Show:
Thrice/La Dispute/O’ Brother/Moving Mountains
Most Anticipated For 2012:
Say Anything, Every Time I Die, Converge