Friday, December 21, 2012

Best of 2012: Indie/Emo/Punk

Well this is the longish one.  There are a whole bunch of albums from this past year that I haven't had a chance to spend quality time that probably belong on here, but they will be added into the archives once that time comes.  The first ones are just a bunch that aren't in any particular order and then there is the top 15.







15. Dimaggio

These up and comers from Italy put out these two releases this year that probably flew under a lot of radars.  In fact, I may be overcompensating by putting them so far up on my list so more people check these guys out.

14. Scherbatsky by Snowing

Really? You're going to put up a 7 inch that featured only one previously unreleased song? Yeah, I damn well am.  This was the final goodbye to a band that may continue to influence bands for a long time.  They remastered "Pump Fake" which made an already great song sound even better, and the other side is a new song called "Scherbatsky" that is a wonder in that it was never on one of their other albums.

13. Fade by Cloudkicker

When you're making an entire album yourself, you can really pump out material.  Ben Sharp does it all in his Cloudkicker project.  The highlight is the guitar work but he still has a knack for the entire composition in general.  Although I don't find this release as good as last year's Let Yourself Be Huge, it still is something to behold.

12. Ormai by Fine Before You Came

Another group of Italians!  I am part Italian, so maybe I have a bias (thanks Nana for all the gnoccis).  Or this album is just awesome, which it is.

11. It's Still Pretty Terrible by Dowsing

Dowsing has been around here quite a few times; they are from Chicago and myself from Michigan.  In fact, Saturday we are making the trek to Chicago to catch Coping's last show and these guys are supporting them!  However, this will be our first time seeing them since this came out.  Let the sing alongs commence!

10. Feeling Better by Nai Harvest

These lads form the UK put out this 7 inch this year, and are in the process of recording new material at the moment.  In fact, you may be hearing it soon...on our winter sampler.  Oops!?  No but for real, I listen to these songs way to much.  So this is(n't) new to meeee!

9. Giant Orange by Cheap Girls

When I went on the road with Peace Be Still, we kind of weren't prepared for the rides music wise.  We stopped at record shops and got cassettes and cds.  We listened to a lot of The Cure, The Police, Sirs, Algernon, and Chalk Talk.  We also listened to a fuckload of this album after picking it up from them at Pouzza Fest.  Maybe it's nostalgia, but this album makes me feel all sorts of good inside.

8. Future Reference by Legs Like Tree Trunks

I tried pretty hard to set something up for these guys in Michigan this past summer, but it didn't work out.  Honestly, I really wanted to see them which was a big disappointment.  I think this came out a little bit after that, and I was even more mad that I couldn't hear these songs live. Oh well, please come back guys!

7. NOPE by Coping

This is a farewell to a great midwest emo band.  In a couple days, they will be playing their last show at the Subterranean.  I hope to get some documentation of this, and maybe throw it up on here.  But I may be pretty fucked up.  Actually, seeing that we are staying nearby, I know I will be fucked up.  It's going to be a hot mess, in a good way.

6. Broad Shoulders by Dikembe

It's weird how things go.  When the Chicago Bowls EP came out, I was immediately hooked on this band.  Then their full-length came out on Tiny Engines, and I gave it a listen before it falling to the wayside.  When I started thinking about this past year's releases a month ago, I started listening to this again.  I kicked myself; why did I give up on it so easily?  Oh, Dikembe, we have been catching up this past month haven't we?

5. Awkward Breeds by The Sidekicks

So, this album is a pop punk dream.  It is just clear cut greatness, and it's so easy to sing along to.  There isn't much more to say, just a really solid and uplifting album that separated itself from the rest for me.

4. Sirs by Sirs

Back in August, there was a day in Grand Rapids that began with a house show that featured Sirs, moved down the street to Mulligan's where Glocca Morra and Kite Party played and then to the Pyramid Scheme for free pinball and Algernon Cadwallader.  It was one hell of a day/night and Sirs got it kicked off right.  I was afraid I was going to miss them to go catch Glocca; I had thought another band was starting and then SIrs was on next.  Well, a familiar song kicked in and I asked Matt Weaver next to me who this was because the song was awesome, and he said it was actually Sirs.  The song was in fact "Early Riser" and it had taken me a minute to recognize it.  Granted, I really started listening to this album heavily after I picked it up on vinyl that night.  

3. Eunoia by Invalids

It's hard to justify putting an album so far up here that was created by two guys that have never met eachother.  Or maybe that makes it even more charming?  Either way, the music speaks for itself.  There was a point where I would listen to "Steinborgium" at least once a day for a month.  The song is great before 2:35, but then it just gradually starts hitting on all cylinders for me.  The best part is that after I eventually got somewhat burnt out from that song, there were easy pickings for new songs to obsess over.  Seriously, when any of these songs pop up on shuffle, I am immediately immersed back into this album and just want to listen to the rest of this song.

2. Get Disowned by Hop Along

For the longest time, I thought this album would be the album of the year for me.  Frances has a way with her voice that can make knees buckle.  It doesn't hurt that she is also a great songwriter that had the help of producer Joe Reinhart to make every part sound as good as it could in the Algernon Warehouse.  Plus, she told me about some Korean breakfast place in Ann Arbor I never heard of that is really awesome.

1. Glocca Morra (1 and 2)

Just Married and Get Disowned were neck and neck for me until Glocca Morra spit out another great EP in An Obscure Moon.  Their delayed full length Just Married was good enough by itself; every song has a part in it that flicks something in my brain.  Obscure was a departure from that LP, but was still fucking awesome and had hints of Just Married scattered in.  My scrobbled for the past year don't lie, Glocca Morra has saturated my library/brain and for these two great releases.  I can easily say they were my favorite artist this past year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012: Screamo/Hardcore

Fun observation: 82% of these album covers are predominantly gray.

I first heard of these guys this past summer when I was looking for international bands for the summer sampler.  They are from Germany and this album is a great throwback  It has the tone, speed and rawness from older hardcore bands but it still has some really fresh sounding riffs.

Out of all the albums on this list, this is the one that was around for the longest.  I threw it up here way back in January and even thought it would've made the 2011 list if it had come out a month earlier.  The past month, I got turned onto it again while perusing the archives.  Still sounds great to me, if I do say so.

These guys squeaked into the best of 2012; you may notice that their feature is only a couple posts down from here.  I think the initial review was good enough, but in short, Shark Bait has gotten progressively better since they first arrived a couple years ago.  

Another face from the Summer Sampler, this female-fronted band released this album under the name Veils.  Then a shitty band tried legal action against them, so they changed their name to Vales.  Veils or Vales, this album was thinly-veiled awesomeness.

Speaking of Veils, there are these dopes.  They stayed at my place for a weekend this past summer while they had some Michigan shows along their full US tour.  They took turns blowing me to get on this list, but they really didn't have to, I was going to put them on here anyways.  Who doesn't want to get blown though?  But seriously, I was pissed when these guys released this album, toured like hell and then promptly broke up.  I recently talked to Zoe and apparently there is a new band in the works, so let's look out for that next year, okay?

One of the first cool things I put up on this site was this band's self titled EP.  So when I heard they were coming out with a full-length in 2012, I began foaming at the mouth.  Then I got lockjaw and was holed up in the hospital for a little while, but the doctors told me that was unrelated.  Anyways, this album turned out being great.  When it came out, I broke out in a rash.  Then it started hurting when I was peeing.  How the fuck did they do that?  I just know these guys are going to read this and it is not going to translate well at all into Swedish.  Fuck it.

Native hasn't been doing shit since Wrestling Moves and Kidcrash is kind of being quiet too.  So when their Canadian counterparts came out with this, it was a welcome gift. They have similar vocals to native but music more along the lines of Kidcrash. Either way, this is some hard, mathy goodness right here. Dip it in the water so it will slide down your gullet more easily.

This release has been consistent for me all year.  When it comes time for me to move music off my phone to make room for new stuff, this always is left alone.  I am really excited to hear their album coming out next year which will feature "Bewildered", a song not on this album but one you can find on the summer sampler.

The title track alone made this album worth it for me.  YOU...ME...AND THE VIOLEEEEEEEEENCE!!!

A sort of pseudo-new full length, this album featured half new songs and half old ones from their previous EP.  It made sense because they are just starting to get introduced to the US market so a lot of people haven't even heard their older stuff anyways.  The new songs are great, I fake drum really hard in the car to "Callous".  After the 1:30 mark the drummer just kills it more and more.  Now we just need these guys to come visit the states with Birds in Row or something.

The king is back, and he sounds more organic and original than ever

NOPE by Coping (2012)

Kind of Like: Snowing, Dowsing, Wavelets, Nai Harvest
Genres: Emo, Punk

These guys broke up this past summer after this came out.  It's a shame because this album fuckin' rules.  This has been posted in other places, but I really wanted to include it in the best of the year list so I thought I would make a quick feature of it.  Another band lost to fatherhood (Algernon), but hey, we all gotta grow up sometime right?

I am really excited to be going to their last show in Chicago on Saturday.  As soon as I saw the event, we decided to make this our trip for surviving the past semester.  Not only are these guys playing their last show, but they will be supported by Dowsing, CSTVT, and Noumenon.  What a great lineup, I'm going to get pretty sloppy.

Listen Here:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best of 2012: Electronica/Hip Hop

Seems like there is a growing number of people that aren't into the whole best of the year list thing.  Personally, I like reflecting on the year and showcasing the best that was offered up.  So, yeah, I am going to do it again this year.  I am going to kick things off with the Electronica/Hip Hop section because it is the shortest list and therefore the least time consuming.  Also, I kind of want to revisit the best of 2011 as well eventually because I think after a year of reflection, things may look a lot different.

Couple stipulations: 1) I try to avoid including bands I directly release material for just to be unbiased (so samplers are excluded), 2) I try to only use material that was posted on here, but sometimes there is stuff that is too good to not include, 3) Some really good albums may not make the list just due to time constraints and I am not familiar enough with them.  Consequentially, 4) there will be far less material represented than last year, seeing that there are about half as many albums featured this year compared to last.

5. Koda Vista by Joywave

That's a dad if I ever saw one.
This little EP is catchy as all get out, and I liked it after one listen.  It is the definition of short and sweet.  Not neccesarily ground breaking but I can't deny the amount of time I have listened to this and the waves of joy that went through me each time.  HUZZAH!

Badbadnotgood surfaced in 2011 with really smart music, and some great throwbacks to the music that influenced them.  Jamming out popular music from a different perspective connected people with their album, and it made our best of list for that year.  They continued with a similar approach on their latest album from this year; they remodeled popular material but had enough original material to confirm how legit they were.  In a lot of ways, this release is the complete opposite of the Joywave release.  Instead of a simple approach, these guys have so much technical skill and thrive off intricate compositions.

There is so much to like about the airy and smooth attitude that FlyLo has in each of his albums.  After watching the short video for "Putty Boy Strut", I was hooked.

My love for Benn Jordan and all of his musical endeavors is pretty well-documented, so it should come as no surprise that his latest made it up here.  The only thing holding this one back for me is the length and amount of ambiance that could be argued is just "filler".  Other than that, this one is a trip.

1. Keys to the Kuffs by JJ Doom

My love for DOOM is also very documented very well.  It's amazing though how much this one has grown on me.  This collaboration between Jneiro Jarel and DOOM didn't impress me right off the bat, but the weird beats grew on me.  DOOM has been kind of surrounded in controversy; the latest is his exile in England.  All of the outside stuff aside, it will be nice to see what he does once he gets settled back home.  Until then, this collaboration is somthing to groove to, which I have been listening to much more lately than when it initially came out.  Not only do you get some classic verses from DOOM, but JJ flexes his skill as a producer of many varieties.

Monday, December 17, 2012

School's Out Sale!

So, you may have noticed we did not participate in any Black Friday sales.  Well, one reason was that you probably were being flooded by other people's sales.  Moreover, we were in the midst of fall semester and packing a bunch of orders during finals weeks did not seem feasible.  Well, now that the semester is over and and we are in a lull, we are going to have a sale for you!

From now until Wednesday we will have 50% off all orders over $15.  That means you can get a You'll Live LP and Adaje/Lizards split for $7.50.  Or a Peace Be Still LP and Chalk Talk LP for $9.  Or a You'll Live and Peace Be Still LP for $10.  The combinations are not even close to being endless!  All orders from now until Tuesday we can guarantee will make it to your house by X-mas (besides international orders).  If you order Wednesday there still is a possibility we can make it by X-mas, but no promises!

Also, next year we will be completely overhauling our site and releasing a new winter edition of the international sampler    Stay tuned and add us on facebook  for more updates!