Cementing The Seams

The Plot Sickens


I'm afraid I'll come off as a jerk with this post.  But here is the thing.  There were a couple of albums in 2009 I was anticipating to a rather advanced degree.  The bands behind these records had all released albums in 2008 which, in varying, realistic versions of reality, could have easily been the best releases of last year.  Certainly they were in the top 10 if you're interested in quantifying.  I only chose three, because who wants to read about a dozen records that just weren't that good?  Well, I suppose maybe they were that good, but they also ruined my day at least once.  I'm not trying to give these guys poor treatment, and I am DEFINITELY NOT trying to discourage anyone from listening to them.  Actually, it's just the opposite.  I am doing this so that you WILL listen to them.  Because, even if they weren't my cup of tea this year, these guys still rule and this stuff deserves to be posted here (because I'm devestated that it wasn't earlier).

The Sidekicks - Weight Of Air

In some kind of cosmic slap in the face, this record was just voted by the staff of Punknews.org as the best album of 2009 (although it's strangely absent from their reader poll) so obviously it's got some merit.  I'm almost annoyed to admit that I just didn't like the new direction that Cleveland's The Sidekicks took on "Weight Of Air".  If their first 2 releases said anything about them it was that they were easily the best up-and-coming punk rock band in these United States (this probably isn't true, but it has to be pretty fucking close) so I was completely caught offguard when they decided to flip the script with their sole release in 2009.  Perhaps "Sam" was more a farewell to arms than a taste of things to come.  In fact, this seems to be true, but its a shame because "Sam" was perfect.  It's possible I just don't get it.  Maybe I'm like the Radiohead fan who simply didn't like "Kid A" and wasn't afraid to admit it (this is a little bit out of context, but you get the picture).  There are good songs on this record no doubt, and The Sidekicks definitely still write pop-punk songs better than most.  But if they keep releasing material, I don't want to be the "it was all downhill after the first 7-inch" guy.

Cheap Girls - My Roaring 20's

My issue with this album was almost the exact opposite as The Sidekicks' effort.  '08's "Find Me A Drink Home" was fresh, and every song was just refreshing enough to make people stand up and give a shit about a band whose (mostly unconcidered) technical prowess was completely overshadowed by their ability to write effective hooks and nearly the catchiest songs in existence. "My Roaring 20's" does however suffer a bit from that otherwise overlooked aspect of their songwriting.  Before I call Cheap Girls a one trick pony, I'll reiterate, they are good at what they do, which is writing simple power pop tunes that will get stuck in your head for days.  It just seemed like perhaps they could have added something to the mix.  It's been a while since I complained about a band's albums all sounding the same (sort of becuase this is a stupid complaint, because they can't all sound that different right?), but if you make an album that sounds identical to your first one, I'll probably just listen to the first one.  I actually just unintentionally (though unscrupulously) admitted that "My Roaring 20's" is good.  I guess it's just not what I wanted, which (and now this seems utterly confusing) wasn't another "Find Me A Drink Home".

Polar Bear Club - "Chasing Hamburg"

Remember this?  Because I do.  Much to my dismay "The Summer of George" outshined Polar Bear Club's 2009 LP that it was supposed to promote by releasing the best 2 tracks on the album early.  So by the time "Chasing Hamburg" came out I had already heard the highlights roughly 1200 times.  In an equally bewildering and compoundingly frustrating move on the part of PBC, the best song on the 7" ("Dead Man") didn't make the cut, which (by the transitive property) would have made it the best song on the album. As an aside, perhaps choosing to make the best song exclusive to the 7" was pretty fantastic sales manuever because it made "Chasing Hamburg" seem that much more desirable (one could deduce that "if one THIS song isn't going to make the album, these guys have got to have sleeves full of aces". Or something).  Although, this doesn't really make sense because A) a good exclusive track basically gives the EP a right to exist, and B) Polar Bear Club probably doesn't give a shit about record sales.  Once again, let it be noted that this record is not bad, it just isn't as good as I was led to believe.  It has been getting an enormous amount of good press and for good reason.  Most people mention that the album's highlight is the out-of-character track "Drifting Thing" and, with the exception of 2 "George" tracks is pretty much true.  It's catchy, original and contains probably the best (read: only) reference to "Annie Hall" in a punk song since Jawbreaker's "Jet Black".


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