Good shiz in 2009

December 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s actually been a fucking great year for music, but sadly it’s sort of passed me by. I dunno, it’s a lot harder for me to be blown away by something these days, and I just didn’t feel the need to check out as much music. The first 6 months of the year, so much of my energy went into Keeping Scores it was almost like I was avoiding other music so I could focus on my own songwriting, or focus on finding other smaller/DIY bands to book shows with and that. Plus, working in the pop side of the industry and having friends working in the industry meant that I often seeked solace away from music. Working in this business can worryingly damage one’s enthusiasm for it at times.

However, it’s been a good year so it would be rude not to look at albums I really enjoyed.

What Rocked in 2009

Converge – ‘Axe To Fall’

In my opinion, their finest release. One the die hards may disagree, but for me my love of Converge was more them as a band on the whole, rather than a particular release. ‘Jane Doe’ was probably my favourite before but only just – there was never a clear standout until this came along. Maybe the added metal element (it sounds like they’ve listened to a LOT of Mastodon) makes it that much more face-melting and much more memorable. I never thought I’d hear myself humming Converge songs to myself but I actually do now, ‘Dark Horse’ is just face-meltingly brilliant!

The Dangerous Summer ‘Reach For The Sun’

It’s really nothing massively new – simple, catchy pop rock songs. Very similar to The Starting Line, but with darker lyrical content and a bit more of an emo element but still sounding BIG. It’s pretty much right up my street, but because so many bands lately have failed miserably at it I guess it makes this seem all the more triumphant. It’s just a lot more honest, real and genuine than a lot of their contemporaries. I hope they come to the UK soon.

Make Do and Mend – ‘Bodies Of Water’

I’m not sure if it counts as an album, but the record is 12″ and it’s just so good that I’m including it anyway. I love my somewhat sensitive 90s inspired emo but some of the latter 2000s bands can be a bit TOO sugary (The Panic Division for example) and the likes of Make Do And Mend have this but with a bit of an element of hardcore and gruff to truly revive the sound Renee Heartfelt and Grade were so good at. Bit of an epic feel about it, perfect for nighttime driving.

Coalesce – ‘ox’

It’s actually the best Coalesce record yet. Seeing as they’re pretty much the finest heavy band there is, it’s inevitably going to be one of the year’s strongest albums. The production is meaty as hell, and sounds very crisp but NOT overproduced. One of the only things I felt held Coalesce back was the quality of the recordings. Don’t get me wrong, I like raw and organic sounding stuff, but seriously brutal music can benefit from an added bit of punch to the production, which this has, making it one of the finest hardcore releases in years.

Our Time Down Here – ‘Live, Love, Let, Go’

It’s great when a band you’re close friends with make amazing music too. Perhaps consequently there’s an element of bias here but it’s just with so much bullshit in hardcore, be it overly macho brainless tough guy bollocks or the whole ‘ooh I’m so trendy with my boat shoes, Rough Trade bag and stripey V-neck with cringeworthy chest tattoo’ shite…it makes OTDH all the more necessary. Definitely the ones to take over from The Steal as the torchbearers for good, honest and meaningful UK hardcore with a good message behind it. The more singalong-y Shook Ones like choruses gave them that added appeal. Great album.

Title Fight – ‘The Last Thing You Forget’

Pop-punk hit a bit of a stumbling block in 08 at times with loads of girly mincy haircut bands still ruling the roost, and the alternative was bands with hardcore elements and beatdowns and that. At first it was fun..but then more and more AND MORE bands came along with the same verse-chorus-DROP D CHUG-CHUG formula and it got SO tiresome. Title Fight are among a string of new bands going back to simply being fast, melodic and fun and gimmick free. Think early Saves The Day. It’s very good stuff.

Loma Prieta – ‘Dark Mountain’

There hasn’t been too much great screamo in 2009 in my opinion, and some releases from very strong bands have not really lived up to what I was hoping for. But this band always impress, blending the skramz with post-rock and creating something very powerful indeed. Not quite up to Envy’s standards but still very, very good indeed.

Some other cracking treats

The Hope Conspiracy – ‘true nihilist’ – Only an EP, but stunning. 3 of the best songs all year.

Narrows – ‘New Distances’ – Didn’t quite live up to the teaser EP, and it is Botch lite in a sense, but it’s still ten times better than most modern metallic hardcore.

Polar Bear Club – ‘Chasing Hamburg’ – MASSIVE improvement on a fairly dull predecessor. Much rockier and ballsier. Solid melodic punk

Half Hearted Hero – ‘Defining Redefining’ – Fast, technical & emotive pop-punk.with the instrumental skills of Rufio and the vocal and lyrical content a la Valencia. Perfect mix of balls and melody.

Alexisonfire ‘Old Crows Young Cardinals’ – Still think they’re a bit overrated, but less Dallas & more George meant a big improvement

Afi – ‘crash love’ – Ignore it’s Afi for a second and stop wishing for the old days and what you get is a great stadium rock album.

Cartel – ‘cycles’ – Fantastic return to form from a great pop rock band. Nothing more, nothing less. Love It

Propagandhi – ‘supporting caste’ – Band that constantly deliver.

Defeater – ‘lost ground’ – Didn’t quite see the hype behind this band. Until I heard this. Exceptional improvement that justifies their tag as one of the most exciting new modern hardcore bands in existence.

Strike Anywhere – ‘Iron Front’ – A HUGE HUGE improvement on the disappointing ‘Dead FM’

Backstreet Boys ‘this is us’ – back to the hits. Great return

Rise & Fall – ‘Our Circle Is Vicious’ – Brutality

The Swellers – ‘Ups and Downsizing’ – Going to be BIG in 2010

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