I swear to whatever you worship, time is just flying as of late and I just realized I probably should be posting this best of list already.
I feel like I repeat myself annually by saying “there were some really good releases during the current year” as I build said list, but honestly, it is true. Bands new and old just keep me entertained and that is why I guess I keep doing this little blog here.
In the interest of time, I am keeping this year’s best of list extremely short and sweet. No links or photos this time. Just a quick list of the albums/EPs/whatever that impressed me to no end and were spun often. If you are wondering who a particular someone is, Google the hell out of them and listen.
Big Nothing – Chris
MakeWar – Get it Together
Cave In – Final Transmission
Strange Magic – Unfortunately
Orville Peck – Pony
Aggrolites – Dirty Reggae
Ramona – Deals, Deals, Deals!
Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
Pup – Morbid Stuff
Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood
Subhumans – Crisis Point
More Kicks – More Kicks
Good Riddance – Thoughts and Prayers
Lagwagon – Railer
Harvey Pekar – Paris Green
Moderator – The Mosaics
Off With Their Heads – Be Good
Warp Lines – Human Fresh
Teenage Bottlerocket – Stay Rad!
Tool – Fear Inoculum
BEST EPS / 7″s
Signals Midwest – Pin
Charger – Charger
Twin Temple – Satan’s A Woman
Red Scare Industries – 15 Years of Tears and Beers
As always, thanks for checking out my site. I do this for my love of music and anyone who has the slightest interest in what I have to say.
I hate that I was not able to review every release I listed. I had every intention to, but life gets in the way more and more so I did what I could. If one person checked out a band because of what I was able to talk about, then my job is done.
Bands and labels, thanks for always considering me.
I’ve known Jesse Sloan for a while now thanks to places like The Gurley House and It’s a Kling Thing.
I was a big fan of his two-piece Cherry Cola Champions and remember when he pulled me aside at some local show telling me he had something new he was working on and could not wait to share it with me.
Mind you that was a year or two ago, but I was intrigued the moment he told me of what he was working on. My curiosity was finally satisfied when he told me about Curtail, a new band featuring some other familiar names in acts I adore including Eric Sandt (The Ground is Lava), Dan Corby (Bethesda), and Ben Hendricks (Annabel).
Cleveland’s Curtail dropped their debut All Your Luck at the end of May on Skeletal Lightning Records. A supergroup of sorts with all angles of talent combined resulted in a hell of a listen. I hate that I am just getting around to talking about it when it has been on regular rotation since it dropped over a month ago. Still, it needs to be noted.
“Rush Hour” started the album off a bit reserved but with good measure. Half way in, the song kicked it up a notch and made for a great listen overall. “Smile” continued with the trend and the group vocals mad it so much more fun to nod my head to. I especially loved Sloan’s erupted singing style throughout.
“The Lesson” is the track that completely won me over. Taking queues from 90s alt- rock past, this song ruled in so many ways. This is what New Radicals would have sounded like if they were an emo band. Please note that I adore the 90s one hit wonder Gregg Alexander band so this is not a diss at all. This song was catchy, emotional and perfect for summer listening.
I loved hearing “Good Year” as I felt I really related pertaining to the ups and downs throughout life. This emo jam intermittently erupted into a grudge track this former flannel wearing teenager approved of.
“Come Around” was an uppity, fuzzy jam that reminded me some of The Promise Ring. Clearly the content was about overcoming, but brought forth in a positive way – at least musically. This was one of my other favorite tracks on the album.
“Sleight of Hand” was another favorable song for me. You could just head the fun Sloan was having singing this song. I loved the many references only Northeast Ohioans would appreciate.
“Glow” completely moved into more of a chilled out that probably would have faired well to a crowd in a smoky, cramped venue in the 90s full of thrift store cardigans and Doc Martins.
“Skyscraper” easily could have been a Sense Field track that never was released. This post-hardcore closing track was good on so many levels from the singing, the drumming, and of course the guitar playing that eventually faded out in a fuzzy departure.
For someone like me who grew up in the 90s and was obsessed with indie and alternative rock, All Your Luck really brought me back some. Sloan and crew really dropped something special that deserves all of the attention of music fans. Give it a listen, I highly doubt you will be disappointed if you still think music from the 90s was the best.
Check Curtail out on BandCamp and support the living daylights out of them by downloading All Your Luck. I hope I can check them out live so I can give them all hi-fives for dropping one of my favorite releases of 2018.
Nothing against the band at all, but I think the last album I listened by them was their 2005 release In the Wake of Determination.
Hell, I remember vividly shooting their set that year at the Cleveland Warped Tour. I was a big fan of them then and honestly, have no idea why they fell off my radar.
The funny thing is, their first two albums pop up on my slowly-dying iPod classic in my car once in a while, so it is not exactly like I omitted them from my life, I just never go to checking out newer material.
Clearly that ended today after checking out their newest release Wolves. The St. Louis post-hardcore/punk/rock band released the album just last month, but it took me a minute to check it out.
Wolves is Story of the Year’s fifth full-length album and was crowd-funded in just 3 days upon the announcement of their campaign. It is their first release in 7 years too. The result is more emo rock album over the punky post-hardcore I once adored, but this isn’t a bad thing. Honestly, the dudes sound more collected and mature and given the time-span of when I last really got into them, it makes total sense.
After the intro track, “How Can We Go On” just pounded my ears. This was how I remembered the band. Tons of sing-along opportunities, and a energy that easily sucked me in.
“Bang Bang” followed and instantly had me thinking how this track when played live would result in the entire venue jumping up and down screaming and singing. I hesitated at first with the electronic synthesizer in the song that made it more Family Force 5, but honestly, it worked.
Upon hearing “Youth”, I thought “I Swear I’m Okay” was going to be all guitars and heavy,but things turned down a few notches and suddenly I was sitting there listening to a balled of sorts. I did not quite know what to think of this one. I guess I just was amped up with that intro.
“Can Anybody Hear Me?” was a synth-rock balled of sorts that had an 80s physique but was not in a mocking fashion at all. Not going to lie, I enjoyed the hell out of this song.
“A Part Of Me” came back with the heavier sound I grew accustomed to…or so I thought. This was another track that just slammed on the brakes and let the feeling pour out.
Luckily, “The Eternal Battle for Mike Cronin’s Soul (To Be Alive Again)” popped up, or I might have just put the album down. This track was more my speed. At times it was like Nine Inch Nails jumped in and offered some industrial beats.
“Good Night My Love” was an honest track I feel I have related to over and over in my life when it comes to relationships. The song did not sound overproduced at all and if anything showcased how far their have come as musicians.
Secretly I was hoping “Like Ghosts” was going to be some outlaw spaghetti western track, but alas it was not. I did like this song and I hate to say it, but the music at times was very Peter Gabriel and I mean that in a positive mention.
“Praying For Rain” closed the album down with a 7-minute track that really took the listener all over the place. I loved just a minuter or so in when the guitars just busted in. My favorite part though was the spoken word in the middle of the track.
Considering it has been 13 years since I could tell you everything about this band (and 7 years since they released new material), clearly they went through changes and fine-tuned their sound to their likening. This is not a commercially released album forced out by a record label, but more of an underground release.
Overall, solid release by a band who has been in it for almost half of my life. I dug the variety in Wolves even if I might not have been in the mood for the slower tracks while listening the first time. I know I will revisit this album again in time.
Don’t expected an “Until the Day I Die” hit song on this album. This is the album after years of heartbreak and misery that everyone who’s grown up probably can relate to in one way or another.
I was waiting for an album to drop this year that would completely steal my undivided attention. Xerxes has just done that to me.
If any of you know me, chances are you know my love for bands like the Refused, Murder City Devils, Gallows, Thursday and At The Drive-In. The vocal styles of all those acts is one of the main reasons I have such an appreciation for them.
Xerxes’s new album Collision Blonde seemingly took queues from all those acts and more throwing them together into one killer release.
I love it. I adore it. Thank you Xerxes and thank you No Sleep Records for throwing their album on your label.
This young post-punk act from Louisville, KY mixes in so many different musical styles in their jams, I almost hate to classify them into one genre. With elements of punk, post-hardcore, goth rock and more, this avant-garde act blew me away the moment I heard their sophomore release Collision Blonde.
This album overflows with plenty of mental anguish guaranteeing to satisfy any emotional train wreck out there. Pain, love, and drugs seemingly fueled this release and I’m pretty sure anyone who hasn’t always been in a positive path through life will totally get into Collision Blonde.
Once “I Was Wrong” started I knew this was going to be one of those albums I listened to all the way through with no interruptions. Calvin Philley just destroys his voice throughout with plenty of distortion that would make Trent Reznor proud.
“Criminal Animal” appealed to me with a garage rock start quickly morphing to something a little more hardcore. I got a huge kick out of Philley switching to almost a furious spoken word only to start singing again. “Knife”, toned things down for a moment and clearly was about some object being stuck into one’s back.
“A Toast” had this Cure-like melody and bass line hiding behind intermittent hard riffs and screaming vocals making for a great listen. The transitions from the singing to the spoken word throughout this track made it even better to listen to.
“Collision Blonde” was beyond a daunting track with Philley just spilling his guts out on top of a melody that easily could be mistaken with The Jesus And Mary Chain or even Bauhaus. Although dark and lonely, this track really was amazing in so many ways once you got past the emotion and pain.
“Nosedive” ended the album with Philley screaming “just make it stop” over and over. It was almost like this entire album was a brutal nightmare and it needed to come to an end.
I am not sure if this album was a revelation of pain or a public cry for help. Regardless, it is powerful lyrically and musically making Collision Blonde easily one of my favorite releases of 2014 so far.
Perhaps I took in this album a little differently from others. Having grown up listening to darker styles of music in the 80s and 90s like The Cure and Jesus and Mary Chain, I always wished it were heavier back then. I loved the music but craved more vocals. Xerxes seriously captured some of my favorite band styles and added their own harsh twist on it satisfying that younger request. The result is just insane and I adore it.
Collision Blonde drops on Oct. 21st. You can pre-order it now over at No Sleep Records.
Recently members from Thursday, From Autumn To Ashes, Glassjaw, and Judge announced a new project in the works called Get Involved!
Inspired by their shared influences of punk, hardcore, new wave and metal, Get Involved! came together to create an entirely new group, unlike any of their previous endeavors. Brian Deneeve (From Autumn to Ashes), Todd Weinstock (Glassjaw), Tucker Rule (Thursday), Lars Weiss (Judge) and Derrick Karg each bring a unique style to the band, resulting in a sound that’s dark and heavy yet accessible and memorable. With a release in the works to be dropped later this year, Get Involved! is asking for your help through their Kickstarter Campaign. You all know how Kickstarter works. Head on over and help out if you care to. I know I already pledged $20. I am stoked to see what this band creates!
Support music, support art, and Get Involved! Back Get Involved!’s Kickstarter Campaign now. With just 2 weeks left, the band is just over 40% to their goal. Help out if you can!!!