Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 and 00's Best Of Picks

For no other reason than my own eventual nostalgia, here's my best of picks for 2009 and the 00 decade. What a ride it's been:


10. Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
Having been a long time fan of the band, I knew a long lapse in their releases would equal great success or total failure. Figuring it wasn't hard to write 45 second grind songs led by a drum machine, it'd be easy to repeat the same formula for this as the last 400 songs they had written and the whole release end up as an exercise in monotony. Nay. Trimmed down to 13 songs (most breaking 2 minutes), much more technical ability, a new singer, and one of the best cover illustrations I've just about ever seen - I'd say it was a breakthrough most were hoping for. Though, this probably only means there's even less chance they'll play live.

9. Cave In - Planets Of Old
Years on hiatus following commercial failure, they turn out this gem. Brodsky made an amazing go at a solo career that'll probably warrant him more success than Cave In ever brought, as such I was expecting a mellower, dare I say stoner-esque sound on this EP. Nay again. Channeling the same ghosts as they did on Until Your Heart Stops they re-found the volume knobs on their amps and tuned back down. Could be a front runner for one of the best releases of their catalogue.

8. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste
Propagandhi is one of those bands that I keep expecting to hit a high note and not be able to get back over that hump for several albums. Potempkin City Limits was an amazing leap forward for them that appeared to have alot of thought and practice put into it. I didn't think they'd be able to top the quality they were able to achieve on that one, but here's Supporting Caste. They added a second guitarist, wrote more thrash riffs, churned up the same idea(ologie)s and re-packaged them to make them still as valid and thorough, and even managed to write a song about Hockey and put a political spin on it. Nice one, my hosers.

7. Teenage Bottlerocket - They Came From The Shadows
I didn't dig the Skate Or Die single that prefaced the album, but they trumped it with the remaining songs, somehow making the similar hooks and harmonies sound better than they last made them sound. What it might lack in originality (save for "Fatso Goes Nutzoid") it makes up for in sheer song writing talent and pop sensibility. It still baffles me that these guys come out of Wyoming. I guess there's one reason that state doesn't completely blow.

6. Tombs - Winter Hours
What seemed like out of nowhere, this three piece drops a behemoth of an album (and on essentially the biggest heavy metal label in the world right now, no less). Combining all the best elements of doom, black metal and post-metal these guys simutaeously made me love them and hate them for doing exactly what I was trying to do with my own band.

5. Cobra Skulls - American Rubicon
A band who ingeniously combines elements of musical genres that usually destroy the credibility of a band, these guys mash in equal parts rockabilly, pop punk, and singer/songwriter-esque sensibilities. I was as turned off as most at first listen, but after a valient effort I couldn't find a song on the entire album I didn't like. Even the upbeat piano balad has me hitting repeat over and over.

4. Ringers - Hurry Up And Wait
I bought this without ever hearing it, or even hearing the band. The note on the front said they sounded like Rancid, so I bought it on a whim. Well, they don't really sound like Rancid. It's more like a combination of the Minneapolis pop punk sound and Boston street punk grit. The singer sounds like he's about to die of throat cancer, and yet still hits all the right notes. If it were longer, it would have been closer to the top of the list.

3. Rancid - Let The Dominoes Fall
Fuck the haters, Rancid has always been amazing. This is about the best line straddling of real punk and commercial success I've heard. Tim Armstrong must have gotten all his reggae-rap desires out during the Transplants, because the cheesiness of past songs seems to be gone. Or at least less noticeable. They haven't done an album this good since ...And Out Come The Wolves.

2. Hoots & Hellmouth - The Holy Open Secret
Here's my oddball. The first time I heard these guys is when I saw them open for William Elliott Whitmore this past year. Four guys, two acoustic guitars, a mandolin, a stand-up bass, and three part vocal harmonies abound. This is just boot stomping good fun. The musicianship on this is damn near baffling, and seeing it done live is even better.

1. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes
A fucking homerun. I shouldn't have really expected less combining guys from The Copyrights, Off With Their Heads, and The Gateway District. Everything about this record is spot on, and it lacks any and all pretentiousness to ruin it. Oh, and did I mention it's their first album?

2000 - 2009 (in no particular order)

World Burns To Death - Totalitarian Sodomy (2006)
So many crust punk bands talk about educating the listener - but nobody can hold a torch to how these guys do it. In addition to one of the best crust records of all time, this thing comes with a goddamn novel to read. They flex their muscles in musicianship and world history at every turn.

Tragedy - Vengeance (2002)
Though forever in the shadow of His Hero Is Gone in my eyes, nobody does d-beat/crust better than Tragedy. They're becoming legends without a lick of self promotion besides simply playing shows. Though some of my favorite Tragedy songs come from their first record, I thought Vengeance felt much more cohesive and powerful. I can still remember exactly where I was the first time I listened to it.

The Copyrights - Make Sound (2007)
Even if pop punk hasn't progressed, The Copyrights are proof that you can make the same song sound great album after album. Make Sound, despite a few quarrels I have with its production, is an amazing blend of pop savviness and punk rock. The hooks never end and I think every song on this record has been stuck in my head for days at some point.

Converge - Jane Doe (2001)
One of the best hardcore records of all time. I don't call it a breakthrough album, because they did some amazing records before Jane Doe, but this is a peak they'll never pass. The music, production, lyrics, and artwork all flow together like fate itself constructed it. They showed the experimentation that other hardcore bands were afraid to dabble in at the time, and hit a homerun on every song in it's own way.

Unearthly Trance - Electrocution (2008)
This band just sounds like it comes from a dark place. But, not dark as in Satanism, but more so I picture this is what the inside of Aleister Crowley's head sounds like. They just have this occultish ambience about them that is so intriguing. Electrocution is an exercise in all things heavy. Combining doom, black metal, and crust punk, they show their chops in everything from melody to sheer power, and don't let on to a shred of pretention or cheesiness.

Cursed - One (2003)
Thank god that Left For Dead, The Swarm, and Countdown To Oblivion were in the 90's, otherwise Chris Colohan dominate half this list. When these guys broke out they ended up being nothing of what I expected and was incredibly thankful for it. Colohan trumped his past lyrical efforts, and this album features one of my favorite guitar tones of all time. It sounds like it's literally about to explode at any minute.

Marduk - World Funeral (2003)
I was so into black metal for the first part of the 00's I had to throw in my favorite black metal record of the decade. World Funeral is regarded as many to be one of Marduk's worst, but I love its versatility. They can either speed up or slow down and do both perfectly. Plus, they make a song out of the opening music to Clockwork Orange.

Entombed - Uprising (2000)
I'm one of about three people in the world who likes Entombed's death 'n roll style more than their traditional death metal stuff. Uprising is the pinnacle of that style in my opinion. It has a much grittier production than their other albums and it makes everything sound really organic, which compliments the riff storm all over this thing.

Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (2004)
Before the hipsters discovered them, they were the pride of Canada. One of the best bass tones I've ever heard.

Off With Their Heads - From The Bottom (2008)
I can't ever get enough of this album. Every song is a sing along, despite some downright depressing lyrics. After seeing them live, I think this captures the same energy they have on stage. I think 20 years from now it'll be regarded as a punk rock classic.

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