Cementing The Seams

The Plot Sickens


* Important:  it should be noted that I began writing this post something like 4 months ago.  I'm not quite sure what happened.  What follows is largely unabridged.

It may be obvious to you that I haven't been too excited about much new music lately.  That, or you think I'm just lazy as shit.  You'd be right on both counts but the first thing is relative to the point I am trying to make.  I haven't been taken by anything new for a long time (Sleepies being the exception that proves the rule), until recently.  This post should be the start of a series of interrelated band-incest posts that is sure to impress even the most apathetic and conspicuous hipster scrooges!

Town (fucking) Portal are so good it hurts.  The follow up full length to last year's "Vacuum Horror", "Chronopoly" has the Danish math-rock trio treading some new water and then chugging said water and pissing it into your ears (I'm trying I guess).  Everything you (read: I) loved about "Vacuum Horror" is still readily apparent with the and coated in thick, shiny sludge.  Town Portal expands on their signature sound (if such a thing is possible after one EP), informed by 90's midwestern math-rock and emo, to include even more complexity and punch.  Nothing about "Chronopoly" is ethereal or spacious like you might expect of some instrumental post-rock.  Like the title implies (I think), they use every bit of time afforded to them to do something astounding.

For Fans Of:  The Life And Times, Torche, idiotic descriptors like "thick, shiny sludge"

Stream, Download and Buy via Bandcamp

I'm back!  But more importantly, so is the best band in the world: (no, not The Fray silly) Sleepies!  After some hype and a moderate amount of waiting, this Brooklyn trio have released Weird Wild World, the follow up to one of 2010's crowning achievements "Sleepies".  I wish I could accurately describe how good I think this band is, or how they manage to sound like Dinosaur Jr. and Drive Like Jehu and also nothing like them.  I wish I could quantify how much more clever, relevant and rejuvenating this band is in comparison to most acts people will lump them in with.  I wish more bands were as good as this one and that the ones who are would live up to the same standard of quality.  Sleepies are setting the bar guys.

FFO: Drive Like Jehu, Vacation, Les Savy Fav

I wrote a bit about Giant Peach in my 2011 EP roundup post, mentioning how they are totally rad. It's 2012 now and they are still rad, and still delivering excellent short-length releases that sortof make me irritated that they don't release an LP.  I'll settle though as long as they can keep killing it on 4-5 tracks every 6 months. I just checked and it turns out I like this band so much I've written about them twice.  So, if you haven't followed my advice the last two times, get with the program.

FFO: Pavement, Mary Timony, Livin' Dude

Buy from the always excellent Rok Lok Records

This band should be huge.  I mean, they shouldn't be winning Grammies like truly amazing musicians e.g. Bon Iver and Skrillex, but by every taste-making measure Two Inch Astronaut have it where it counts.  All joking aside, this is my favorite band right now.  Every once in a while I listen to something that kinda stupifies me.  It always happens the same way, in well explored genres, where I ask myself this question: Why haven't songs this good already been written?  Red Pancake and Dark Energy is affirmation that good music will stay good forever, even if the future is paved with Iron & Wine by Mumford & Sons.

FFO: Les Savy Fav, Tera Melos, Shipyards

Stream and download at Bandcamp

Buy from Large Father LTD

This post has been way too long coming, so let me apologize for that.  It makes me so happy that I get to listen to music like this.  Gills play muddy, lo-fi, instrumental garage punk with serious balls and variation to spare.  Gills Is Dead sounds like it was recorded with 2 microphones in an empty room, which, sonically and aesthetically, really pays dividends.  Like if you listen hard enough you might be able to hear these dudes breathing, sweating and spastically flinging their limbs about.  Of course it's impossible to hear those last two things, but you get my drift right?

FFO: Sleepies, Ex Wife

Stream and Download at Bandcamp

Is, I think I can safely say:  The Strungs.

For a band to release 3 EP's (technically Volume 1 came out in December but who's keeping track?) and a full length and completely kill it on every single one is reason enough to give them the honor of record(s) of the year.  Some bands impress you with their virtuosity, some blow your mind doing something you've never heard before. I do a lot of comparing bands by nature, but I find that the best bands make you forget that anybody else makes music like them.  I know The Strungs aren't the only lo-fi indie pop band in existence, but when I listen to them, they don't make me think about Guided By Voices or Superchunk.  In fact, mostly I just think; "How can songs so simple be so good, and how can they write so many?".  Which brings me back to the point.  The Strungs made the best music of the year because they made it essentially devoid of instrumental masturbation or any elements intended to impress you.  To me, this band represents what's fundamentally great about music, and that's why they're probably the only band I've listened to regularly all year long.

Stream and Download at Bandcamp and Tinhorn Planet

Tenement - Napalm Dream

  • 2011 was a pretty excellent year for pop-punk, and Napalm Dream is camped atop a mountain of great music from the genre this year.  I've heard a few people mention not getting what the fuss is all about. I don't get them.
House Boat - The Thorns Of Life
  • Like I said, great year for pop punk.  House Boat is what you get when you put together over-the-top catchy pop-punk acts like The Steinways, The Ergs, and Dear Landlord. Sometimes it's ridiculous, sometimes it's perfect.
Ghoul - Transmission Zero
  • When I was 14 I bought an Exhumed CD because the concept of gore metal seemed hilarious and ironic to me. Ghoul doesn't really sound like what I remember of Exhumed, but 12 years later I had to wonder if maybe that CD might be really good.  Transmission Zero is absolutely one of my favorite records of the year despite the inherent cheesiness (in fact, it works heavily in it's favor).  I don't really know what metal music is supposed to sound like, but if it was all like this, the world would be a perfect place.
Office Of Future Plans - Office Of Future Plans
  • I'm kinda surprised I never got around to posting this to be honest.  It was probably my most anticipated record of the year.  I suppose it was because it would have gone something like this: "If you're like me and basically love everything J Robbins touches, then this record is for you".  I suppose it didn't grab me as much as the Channels full length, but OFP still hits on all cylinders, and sounds like only this group of dudes can. Pretty brilliant.
Bridge & Tunnel - Rebuilding Year
  • When it comes to socially conscious, next-level, reluctant adult punk, pretty much nobody can hold a candle to Bridge & Tunnel.  Rebuilding Year is absolutely their best material and most certainly one of the best punk records of the year.
Beau Navire - Hours
  • I think I made it the whole year without posting a screamo record.  Primarily because it all sucked.  This however, is pretty fucking good. So there you have it.  2011's good screamo record.
Night Birds - The Other Side Of Darkness
  • Pretty much unilaterally considered on of the best punk albums of 2011 and with good reason.  Perfect mix of throwback hardcore, surf punk and the occasional pop-punk; a formula for greatness.

Trainwreck - If There's A Light It Will Find You

  • The always killer Trainwreck madetheir mark on 2011 with this 5 song 12".  The consensus on this record seemed to be "good but doesn't really sound much like earlier material" Is that good? Bad? Depends on who you ask.  Either way, compared to other Trainwreck or any record in this genre, it was one of the biggest successes of the year. Conceptually.
Punch - Nothing Lasts
  • It was a big year for Punch; signing to Deathwish, touring the entire universe, and (if Tumblr is any indication) becoming the most popular band in said universe.  You would think their recorded resume would have been a bit more prolific.  Considering how good Nothing Lasts was though, you'll get it.
Impalers - S/T
  • Members of Mammoth Grinder and Hatred Surge (more on these guys in the near future).  This sounds like what you assume these two bands getting together and writing a punk record would sound like: fucking awesome. 
Damp Hay - Middlewestern
  • This is what my life is missing right now.  Midwestern math-rock, fuzzed out bluesy riffs.  Everything about this is good.  In fact, listening to it now, it's even better than I remember.
Thou - The Archer & The Owle
  • This hit me like a ton of bricks.  I always thought Thou was a little boring, and I mean, I guess they still are, but The Archer & The Owle cannot be ignored.  It was a little difficult to put here because A) It can hardly be called an EP, and B) The best material on it is recylced from 2010's "Summit".  Everything is so well put together, though (the songs, the packaging) that I had to include this.  Had it not already been released, the opening track "Voices In The Wilderness" would have probably been the best song of the year.
Kidcrash - Naps
  • I might be the only person who thinks Snacks is without question Kidcrash's best record. At least it seems that way.  So imagine how pleased I was when these 4 songs sounded like outtakes from one a my favorite records from last year.  I still probably haven't listened to this enough, which is probably because it doesn't quite have the hook of Snacks.  But you know, can't go wrong.
Four Eyes - Towards the End of Cosmic Loneliness
  • This was absolutely the best impulse buy I made all year.  Perfect mix of punk, pop and 90's indie rock.  I dare you not to like this.
Giant Peach - People Don't Believe Me
  • Looking back now, 2011 was a pretty killer year for indie rock.  It just kills me that people are so into Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens and not Giant Peach. Shit. Top notch driving-into-the-sunset music from these New York dudes/dudettes.  I don't understand the world.

You may be aware that it's been a while since I've made one of those "best records of 20XX" lists.  I usually don't do this for 2 reasons.  1) I've pretty much already posted about the best things I've listened to in a year so rehashing all the same records you've already read about doesn't seem to serve much purpose. 2) I know by June of next year the list will be completely outdated and obsolete.

This year though, I've neglected posting enough that I can probably make a pretty decent list of shit that I didn't post.  Although I may include some shit I did anyway.  I don't know what's gonna happen, but it IS going to happen. So, you know, be prepared to be underwhelmed by everything I listened to too much in 2011.

Not much else needs to be said about this other than Regents is made up of members of Frodus and Max Colby who play like-minded post hardcore.  One of the essential EPs of 2011.

FFO: Frodus, Max Colby, Challenger, Drive Like Jehu

Stream and download at Bandcamp