Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 9/14/12
Thanks to everybody who tuned in and/or requested songs during my radio show on Friday. It was a nice way to get back in the swing of blogging; I’ll have new posts up within the next few days. Here’s the full playlist from the show, along with an embedded link at the bottom to stream it via Spotify.
- 1. Tilly and the Wall - “Love Riot”
- 2. Algernon Cadwallader - “Spit Fountain”
- 3. The Undertones - “Teenage Kicks”
- 4. Titus Andronicus - “My Time Outside The Womb”
- 5. Cymbals Eat Guitars - “Hawk Highway”
- 6. Swearin’ - “Fat Chance”
- 7. Sharon Van Etten - “Serpents”
- 8. Talking Heads - “And She Was”
- 9. Elijah and the Lions - “I Would” (Requested by anonymous)
- 10. The Act Of Estimating As Worthless - “Massive Windows” (Requested by gigglepeas)
- 11. Sufjan Stevens - “Enchanting Ghost”
- 12. Prairie Empire - “Song For You”
- 13. David Byrne & St. Vincent - “Who”
- 14. Lemuria - “Lipstick” (Requested by humancentipedehz)
- 15. Title Fight - “Head In The Ceiling Fan”
- 16. Iron Chic - “Bustin’ (Makes Me Feel Good)”
- 17. Cloud Nothings - “Our Plans” (Requested by rainbowsrillusions)
- 18. How To Dress Well - “& It Was U”
- 19. Burial - “Loner”
- 20. The Mountain Goats - “Night Light”
- 21. Grizzly Bear - “Yet Again”
- 22. The Love Language - “Stars”
- 23. Vampire Weekend - “M79”
- 24. Elliott Smith - “Angeles”
- 25. Zoo Kid - “Out Getting Ribs” (Requested by blueshadedays)
- 26. Waxahatchee - “Grass Stain”
- 27. Cat Power - “Colors and the Kids”
- 28. Animal Collective - “Amanita”
Stream via Spotify:
buttpatterson asked: Algernon Cadwallader is likely calling it quits. Thoughts?
I was talking to Greg Horbal about this earlier. If this had happened a year ago, I would be very worried about the future of the current wave of emo/punk music in the US; however, I think that the scene is so vibrant and robust in 2012 that it should be able to carry on fine without them. Some bands push their styles and evolve, and some bands break up. So it goes.
Obviously I’m sad to see them go, but I think that most of their appeal to me this year has been nostalgic anyway. Even when I saw them play earlier this week in Hamden, I mostly enjoyed their set just because it reminded me of the days in 2009-2010 when I was first getting into that kind of music. Their style of Kinsella-aping twinkly emo has been played out for quite some time, and even though Algernon Cadwallader were always the best band doing that, I suppose it’s about time that they give it a rest.
Admittedly though, I was pretty crushed and surprised when I heard the news last night, and I’m pretty sure Kayla Bastos can attest to that.
JOYCE MANOR live at The Space. Hamden CT. 8/14/12
For those of us who regularly frequent shows in Connecticut, there were many jokes to be made at The Space last night. Which band was going to break down in tears first? What was going to go wrong during TWIABP’s set this time? How long was it going to take for a heated bro-fight to break out during Joyce Manor? There were also many circumstantially humorous but shockingly serious questions asked, like, for instance, “how the hell did this show sell out in advance?” and “where the fuck did all of these people come from?” By the end of the night, a solid 70% of the crowd comprised people that I had never seen or interacted with in my life, which is practically unheard of in my more recent experience with Connecticut punk shows. Jokes aside, it was hard to deny the significance of this show, both in an immediate sense, and as a benchmark for the popularity and marketability of emo-revivalist punk rock. With four highly accomplished independent touring groups on the bill, this show was like emo revival’s perfect storm, and it just happened to descend on the sleepy town of Hamden, Connecticut last night. Frankly, I think it caught most of us off guard.
The show began with recent Topshelf Records-signees Sirs playing to an already packed crowd just before 7:30. They played a set mostly comprising tracks from their new self-titled album, which Topshelf released earlier this year. I recognized the sentiments that some attendees expressed in that it would have been nice to see a local act in more need of a popularity boost as an opener, but I’m sure that Sirs were grateful to end their tour with such a bang. The band’s grooving, abrasive take on Kinsella-style math rock was a fitting sound for the bill, and they were impressively tight.
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die played next, and, as always, they both blew my mind and disappointed me ever so slightly. I’ve come to expect much from The World Is… in the past two years, but perfect shows are not among those expectations. Transcendent, beautiful moments, always, but never technical perfection. In my experience, they have suffered a lot of technical difficulties, from failed bass cabs to malfunctioning pedalboards, but with a six-member lineup, it’s hard to blame them for running into occasional problems. Last night’s show was no exception to this trend, but what happened this time was scarier and potentially much more dangerous. Towards the end of “Victim Kin Seek Suit,” guitarist Chris Teti accidentally slammed his head into Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak’s guitar, causing profuse bleeding and bringing the show to a tenuous halt. The band carried on afterwards as a five-piece, cutting their set short to accomodate Teti’s absence.
Oh but the moments! Those moments of transcendent beauty during their set last night were possibly more transcendently beautiful than any other time I’ve seen them. They opened with the first track on their new LP, a plastering post-rock epic with harmonizing guitar leads and masterful math rock drum work. The following song “Gordon Paul” sounded just as communally resonant as ever, and the closer “I Will Be Okay. Everything” may have even usurped the former song’s ability to get the crowd going. The highlight for me came in between the two, when the band played “Mega Steve,” during which frontman Tom Diaz handed me the mic for the entirety of the song’s slow, screamo-influenced second half. I got to live out my dreams of being a member of TWIABP, and it was even beter than I could have hoped.
Algernon Cadwallader assumed something of an emo-revival elder statesman status when they began their set after The World Is…, running through song after song from their two full lengths and various 7” records to the ecstatic uproar of their engaged fans. “Spit Fountain” provided a particularly joyous opener, and with the ear-to-ear smile that occupied Peter Helmis’ face throughout the entire set, I almost forgot that I was seeing an emo band. Nevertheless, I had a great time, and hearing songs like “Stars” and “Some Kind Of Cadwallader” again brought me straight back to the days when I was first getting into this kind of music. Algernon Cadwallader were there then, and although so many of their contemporaries have since split up, they seem to be in it for the long haul.
As the Algernon trio left the stage, and the Joyce Manor crowd began to pack thicker and thicker into The Space’s standing area, I felt an uneasy sense of impending danger approaching, akin to what one might experience in the so-called ‘calm before the storm.’ A largely predictable affair ensued once it began. Joyce Manor opened with “Call Out (Laundry),” although they could have begun with virtually any song from their self-titled, and their fans — many of whom seemingly materialized out of some void and appeared at The Space that night — went exactly as crazy as predicted. As I stood there in front, batting off stage-divers and dodging flying arms, I wasn’t sure whether to love it, laugh it off, or just leave the chaos ensuing around me. The crux of the issue, for me, is whether Barry Johnson — the band’s perpetually smirking frontman with the dreamy eyes and ridiculous blackout tattoo on his left forearm — is simply an insufferable, unwarranted asshole, or if he’s absolutely on point most of the time. The truth, as I discovered last night, is both. In between winking and waving at crowdsurfing girls and lobbing mean-spirited zingers at kids in the audience, Johnson definitely came off as somebody who cares a lot about himself and little else. Before launching into a sloppy and forgettable version of a Murder City Devils song, Johnson snarkily introduced it as an Oasis cover, as if that were some hilariously ironic thing to do. And yet, there were moments during the set when I couldn’t help but agree with his stage banter, barbed and pointed though it was.
“So, this is your first show, huh?” Johnson sneered as a pile of kids in front collapsed on each other during one of the more heated moments of Joyce Manor’s set. He proceeded to lightly ridicule the same kinds of fans that I’ve always had a problem with ever since I first started listening to Joyce Manor — fans who were at his show, listening to his band’s music. It suggests an impressive amount of guts (after all, he is right), but also a tremendous lack of respect or caring for his own creative product. Joyce Manor’s music, after all, panders thoroughly to the same kind of people that Johnson apparently enjoys chiding so much. The songs are catchy and accessible to even the least indoctrinated ‘punk’-identifying kid, and the lyrics are appropriately vague and delivered with enough disaffected fervor to appeal tremendously to ‘struggling’ middle class white kids. This music is practically tailor-made to suit the fans, and the fans, as last night’s show made very clear, eat it up ravenously. This realization would almost make me admire the band for putting out the relatively challenging Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, if that album’s more obtuse aesthetic weren’t so obviously the product of laziness rather than a conscious effort to be more interesting.
For what it is, though, Joyce Manor’s music is quite good, and the success of last night’s show reaffirmed my belief that I wasn’t alone in thinking so. From what I could tell, their performance was considerably less tight than when I saw them in April, but their ravenous fans didn’t seem to notice. Much like the band’s music, the cramped moshpit was sloppy, aggressive, and more than a little obnoxious, but I paid my due diligence inside it for the majority of the set before stagediving my way out of there during “Constant Headache.” As I clawed my way over the dense crowd, scraping The Space’s low-hanging ceiling and desperately trying to avoid acting like the literal throngs of people who had unflinchingly kicked and elbowed their way over me in the previous half hour, I realized something that I had known long before I started listening to Joyce Manor. Whether I like it or not, I’m on track to becoming my own worst enemy. Perhaps I might sit the next show out, wherever or whenever that may be. Until then, I’m content to sporadically listen to Joyce Manor on my own time, where neither their Tumblr fanbase, nor the previously unseen legions of people who showed up last night can touch me. Something tells me that there might be some overlap between the two.
View a full set of photos from this show at the Lewis and his Blog facebook page, and be sure to follow Manic Productions and The Arc Agency for information about more Connecticut shows like this in the future.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/1/12
Last night’s broadcast of Left of the Dial on WNHU was my first radio show of Summer 2012! That’s something to celebrate, right? I first started interning at WNHU two years ago this month, and got my show soon after that. I like to think that I’ve come a long way since then. Anyway, here’s the full, 30 track playlist from last night’s show. If you want, you can stream the 24 tracks that were available on Spotify at the embedded link at the bottom, provided that you have a Spotify account. I provided click through links for the songs that aren’t available to stream on Spotify below. Thanks for tuning in last night.
Also, as a sidenote, there won’t be another broadcast of Left of the Dial next Friday, June 8th. I’ll be playing a charity show in Glastonbury, Connecticut with some other great bands. Here’s the facebook event page if you’re interested in coming.
- 1. The Replacements - “Can’t Hardly Wait (Outtake-Electric)”
- 2. Hüsker Dü - “Makes No Sense At All”
- 3. Pavement - “Summer Babe (Winter Version)”
- 4. King Tuff - “Bad Thing”
- 5. PS I Love You - “Facelove”
- 6. Japandroids - “Evil’s Sway”
- 7. Ty Segall & White Fence - “Easy Ryder”
- 8. Algernon Cadwallader - “Horror”
- 9. Joyce Manor - “Beach Community”
- 10. Cloud Nothings - “Stay Useless” (Live at the Grog Shop)
- 11. Milkshakes - “Kalabar’s Revenge”
- 12. SPOOK HOUSES - “American”
- 13. Dan Deacon - “Lots”
- 14. World’s End Girlfriend - “Birthday Resistance”
- 15. Man Man - “Banana Ghost”
- 16. Two Humans - “Lonely Tunez”
- 17. The Magnetic Fields - “California Girls”
- 18. Cymbals Eat Guitars - “Indiana”
- 19. Cheap Girls - “Ft. Lauderdale”
- 20. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - “Round And Round”
- 21. Dirty Projectors - “Two Doves”
- 22. Sun Kil Moon - “Carry Me Ohio”
- 23. Tom Waits - “Downtown Train”
- 24. Mercury Rev - “Holes”
- 25. Pavement - “Frontwards”
- 26. Mission of Burma - “Academy Fight Song”
- 27. These United States - “Nobody Can Tell”
- 28. Bruce Springsteen - “Atlantic City”
- 29. House Of Wolves - “Love Labored Lost”
- 30. The Mountain Goats - “Going To Georgia”
2011 Albums of the Year, Part 1 (#50-21)
50. The Feelies - Here Before
Jangle Pop, Folk Rock, Indie Rock
Chalk this one up to one of the most pleasant surprises of the year: The Feelies returned in 2011 with their first new music in 20 years, in the form of their full length record Here Before. Although they had reunited in 2008 and continued to tour vigorously throughout the subsequent three years, the prospect of new music from the band seemed bleak. But unlike some other bands from The Feelies’ era who have gotten back together over the years, this group genuinely had something left to say. In this case, it seems like they had a LOT to say; with 13 songs and a 46 minute running time, Here Before is the longest Feelies album to date. Sonically, the record does not stray from the jangly folk pop style of their past three records, but it still feels adventurous. In their lyrics, the band explores the concept of aging and gives listeners an insight as to what reuniting an indie rock band after almost two decades is like. “Is it to late / to do it again?” vocalist Glenn Mercer sings on the opening track. For fans of the New Jersey indie rock progenitors, the answer is a resounding “No!” Here Before stands as a shining example of why reunions can be truly rewarding.
49. Algernon Cadwallader - Parrot Flies
Twinkly Emo, Math Rock, Indie Rock
Here at the end of 2011, with their punkish peers Grown Ups and Snowing having called it quits, Algernon Cadwallader seems like the only big player in the twinkly emo revival scene. But when they released their sophomore LP Parrot Flies at the beginning of the summer, the scene had never been stronger. With its meandering, heavily layered guitar lines, unpredictable time signatures, and uniquely catchy vocal melodies, Parrot Flies both typified emo revival and also advanced it. There was just enough experimentation on this record to keep it interesting, and although it lacked singularly great songs with the immediate of fan favorites from the group’s first album, songs like Parrot Flies’ “Pitfall,” “Springing Leaks,” and the acoustic guitar-led “Sad” have held up to repeated listens better than anything on Some Kind of Cadwallader.
48. Man Man - Life Fantastic
Avant-garde Rock, Experimental, Indie Rock
The problem with the new Man Man record is not that it doesn’t quite live up to their previous albums, that it’s production, handled by Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis, is a little overdone, or even that after three years their experimental Modest Mouse meets Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits formula has begun to grow stale. Although all of those criticisms are true to an extent, the real reason that Life Fantastic hasn’t been particularly well-received is rather simple: Man Man’s fans have grown up. I’ve read a large handful of dismissive reviews of this record that say something along the lines of “My sixteen year old self would love this.” Well, I’m sixteen, and I love this. Or at least I like it a lot. While the annoyingly catchy “Piranhas Club” is a little silly, songs like the darkly danceable title track, the creepy murder ballad “Haute Tropique”, and the aggressive “Dark Arts” are among the band’s best tracks ever. This record was admittedly my first exposure to Man Man, but the fact that I appreciate it so much still says more about the record itself than it does about me.
47. Washed Out - Within and Without
Chillwave, Dream Pop, Electronic
I found Washed Out’s 2009 EP Life Of Leisure pretty boring. It was good for a summer makeout session (at least, it probably was, I guess…), but it held little substantial water past those summer days and nights. I suppose that sums up how I felt about chillwave in general that year; I could never really connect with it on an emotional level. On his new LP Within and Without, the first full length record from this project, Washed Out mastermind Ernest Greene turns my frustration on its head. Within and Without revels in its self-aware lack of emotion, right down to the purposefully generic stock photo album cover. Cold synth washes cover the record in an impenetrable haze, while the hushed, disconnected vocals distance the listener from the sadness at the heart of this album. By the end, that sadness bubbles up to the surface in the form of “A Dedication,” a slow, somber reminder that even chillwavers have feelings.
46. Ovlov - What’s So Great About The City? (EP)
Indie Rock, Noise Rock, Shoegaze
Lots of bands tried their hand at 90’s revivalism in 2011, but few did it better than Ovlov. On their new EP What’s So Great About The City?, the Connecticut group pays tribute to fuzz rockers such as Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and Nirvana with their buzzsaw brand of indie rock, or as they call it, “pop songs played heavy.” With its title and loose concept about the downsides of urban life, the group also seems to be paying tribute to The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency & I, albeit in a much more palatable form. Although it only runs a little over 11 minutes, the four song EP has tremendous replay value. Opener “The Valley” is the grungiest track here, while “I Got Well” is the most catchy. “What Comes Next” is a propulsive punk song while “The City” features female vocals in its lofty chorus. All four tracks have personality that goes beyond their short lengths, and playability that extends for miles. If you’re fed up with boring revivalist bands like Yuck, but still want to hear some authentic sounding 90’s indie rock, give Ovlov a spin. The EP is available for whatever you want to pay over at their Bandcamp page.
45. Blue Sky Black Death - NOIR
Electronic, Dream Pop, Shoegaze
The duo behind Blue Sky Black Death made their name as instrumental hip-hop producers, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just from listening to their new record NOIR. Instead of adhering to the established hip-hop format on this record, Blue Sky Black Death have struck out their own course into virtually uncharted electronic territory. Mixing lush synth textures, piano melodies, heavy guitar leads, strings, and crisp, minimal beats, NOIR sounds like little else that was released this year. These instrumental backdrops are topped off in some cases by soulful vocal samples, including Dusty Springfield on “Farewell To The Former World” and Solomon Burke on the too-short interlude “Falling Short.” With or without the sampled vocals, NOIR is one of the most moving and organic electronic albums of 2011.
44. Holy Ghost! - Holy Ghost!
Synth Pop, Electronic, Alternative Dance
If 2011 goes down primarily as the year that LCD Soundsystem broke up and dropped the electronic indie rock torch, history will look at Holy Ghost! as the first group to pick it back up. Released on James Murphy’s DFA Records, the duo’s debut LP is quintessentially New York in all the same ways that Murphy’s own band’s first LP was; Holy Ghost! is full of smart, spastic, and singular electropop, with just enough of a rock edge to maintain the listener’s interest. Although they make music for dancing and potentially tripping to, Holy Ghost!’s self-aware lyrics clarify their nu-disco aesthetic. Look out for a guest spot from Michael McDonald on the closing track “Some Children”, and the starry-eyed but earnest “Jam For Jerry”, which was written as a tribute to the late Jerry Fuchs (of !!!, LCD Soundsystem, Maserati, and a number of other great New York bands.). It’s a musical model we’ve all seen before, but one that’s been proven to work. Hopefully we can expect even better things from Holy Ghost! in the next couple years.
43. Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
Indie Folk, Chamber Folk, Singer/Songwriter
Dispel any thoughts or preconceptions you might have about Thurston Moore, the aging indie rock legend, or about Sonic Youth, the band that he has fronted for over 30 years, or even about Kim Gordon, his longtime wife and bandmate from whom it was recently announced that he was separating. Hell, demolish those thoughts. Download a copy of Moore’s most recent solo album and allow yourself to be overcome by the enveloping swathe of acoustic guitar textures and strings. Lose yourself in Moore’s soothing vocals, calling to mind Nick Drake, and Demolished Thoughts‘ understated songwriting. Ease yourself into the first half of Demolished Thoughts, with its lush chamber folk numbers “Benediction” and “Circulation,” and fall into the atmospheric haze of its abstract second side. Lie down on your bed with this record on in the middle of the day, and if you aren’t asleep by the end of “January”, you should stop drinking so much coffee.
Now, as you wake from your healing midday slumber, recall those thoughts and consider how amazing it is that Thurston Moore was able to create a record this beautiful in 2011.
42. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Mirror Traffic
Indie Rock, Singer/Songwriter
This album could earn its place on this list solely for the first line of “Tigers”, which is probably the best opening line to any album I’ve heard since Silver Jews’ American Water (which, coincidentally, Stephen Malkmus was also involved with.). References to streaking in birkenstocks aside, the former Pavement frontman’s new album with his backing band The Jicks is just about as good as anything he’s done since the former band broke up. With production assistance from fellow 90’s indie rock icon Beck, Mirror Traffic is steeped in nostalgia while still coming across as forward-thinking. The jangly “Tigers” is probably the best track here, but others like the fuzzy folk rock gem “Stick Figures In Love” and the delightfully profane (and topical) lead single “Senator” round the album out for a consistently enjoyable listen. Also, you get to hear Stephen Malkmus say “blowjob”. What’s not to love?
41. The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck
Indie Folk, Folk Rock, Singer/Songwriter
When was the last time The Mountain Goats put out a bad album? Have they every put out a genuinely bad album? Perhaps the best thing about The Mountain Goats is their consistency. Over the past ten years, John Darnielle has released eight major albums under his Mountain Goats moniker, and all of them have been solid releases. Although The Mountain Goats can’t claim to have very many great albums, they certainly have a lot of good albums. Darnielle’s latest, All Eternals Deck, is no exception.
2012 marks ten years since The Mountain Goats transformed from a personal, lo-fi solo project of John Darnielle into a full band operating in a studio, with 2002’s Tallahassee. On All Eternals Deck, it seems that The Mountain Goats have finally come into their own as a studio band, and are now able to have some fun with it. Working with some interesting producers (including death metal singer/guitarist Erik Rutan), this album must have been a lot have fun to record. What All Eternals Deck may lack in coherence, it makes up for in stylistic variety. Many different kinds of music are represented here, from the band’s signature folk rock (“Birth of Serpents”), to sentimental piano/strings ballads (“Outer Scorpion Squadron”), and even barbershop-quartet style vocal music (“High Hawk Season”).
On top of this, All Eternals Deck happens to be Darnielle’s best set of songs in quite some time. The best moment comes in the form of “Estate Sale Sign”, an aggressive, high tempo number that sounds more raucous than any Mountain Goats song in years. No matter where Darnielle & Co. go next, I’ll be sure to follow behind with open ears.
40. Pianos Become The Teeth - The Lack Long After
Screamo, Post-Hardcore, Experimental Hardcore
Having tracked Pianos Become The Teeth for a while, I’ve observed a lot of refinement happening with their creative output. Looking back on the band’s earliest recordings, their 2009 LP Old Pride represented a tremendous stylistic refinement from the unrestrained madness of their previous material, with its sweeping post-rock song structures and unified conceptual ideas. On their split with The Saddest Landscape, they brought their style together even more with a meticulous attention to stylistic detail. Now, on their brand new sophomore LP The Lack Long After, I wonder just how much more refined they can get. The lengthy post-rock soundscapes are gone here, as are the slow instrumental interludes of Old Pride, and the record comes across feeling much more urgent and immediate because of it. On the new LP, the group’s established experimental hardcore style remains, but in a condensed, pressurized form. Only two songs here surpass the 5 minute mark, but all eight of them pack a serious punch — More so, arguably, than anything on Old Pride with the exception of “Filial”. Pianos Become The Teeth have been working towards this for quite some time, and as long as they don’t overstep their goal too much, listeners should be able to expect quite a bit more where this came from.
39. Desertshore - Drawing Of Threes
Indie Folk, Slowcore, Indie Rock
Despite his reclusive nature and reportedly testy personality, Mark Kozelek remains something of a gargantuan character in singer/songwriter circles. He’s been consistently putting out records since the early 90s, never adhering to any stylistic guidelines, and essentially bending every band that he’s been in to the breaking point just so that he can get what he wants out there. The guy is about as badass as slowcore types can be, and he certainly has the songwriting skills and legacy to back it up. It’s no wonder, then, that Desertshore have been eager to work with Kozelek, both on their 2010 debut and even more on their new record, Drawing Of Threes. Of course, the people behind Desertshore have had a relationship with him for quite some time, as guitarist Phil Carney was once a member of the amazing Red House Painters, which Kozelek fronted throughout the 90s. Hearing the two work together on Drawing Of Threes is incredibly rewarding, although the record doesn’t quite stack up against the best Painters material. The six songs on the album that Kozelek sings are all great, as are Carney’s understated instrumentals, although the latter require a more intense focus thank Kozelek’s immediately appealing songs. Highlights include the dense, true-to-form slowcore opener “Diana” and the subtler, more gentle “Mercy”.
38. Jürgen Müller - Science Of The Sea
Ambient, Electronic, New Age
One thing I’ve learned from getting really into ambient music this year is that every great ambient album has to have a concept to go along with it. Jürgen Müller’s Science Of The Sea is no exception. Science Of The Sea was touted in press releases as a reissue of an obscure 1980s album composed by a German oceanic science student named Jürgen Müller, who wrote and recorded the album after having powerful transcendental experiences observing sea life. Although few took the story to be true originally, it has now been pretty thoroughly debunked. If Müller ever did exist, he certainly didn’t make this album. Still, it provides the mind with something to ponder as the listener drifts off into the aqueous realms that Science Of The Sea explores. Listening to this album is like taking a trip to the aquarium as a child. The record instantly taps into those deep-seeded feelings of wonder-evoked nostalgia, in a way that no other album did this year. I may never explore the depths of the ocean, but after exploring Science Of The Sea, I feel like I already have.
37. Football, etc. - The Draft
Indie Emo, Indie Rock
For a year so apparently steeped in 90s emo revivalism, I didn’t hear many albums that actually sounded like 90s emo bands in 2011. Of the few that did, one in particular stood out. Football, etc. is a trio from Houston, Texas who have taken impressive notes from 90s legends like Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, and of course American Football (Their band name and all of their song titles are references to the sport, which is probably some sort of nod to the latter band). Their entire aesthetic, even down to their artwork, may be derived straight from the 90s, but their new full length record The Draft is so good that it’s easy to excuse their lack of musical innovation. One thing that sets them apart is their female singer/guitarist Lindsay Minton, who absolutely nails the teenaged emo boy whine with her nasally voice and crushingly melancholic lyrics. In addition to a genuine 90s emo-influenced sound, the band has a much better pop sensibility than many of their revivalist peers, which displays itself in the form of their earworm guitar hooks and unusual vocal melodies. The Draft is easily the best record to hate jocks to of 2011.
36. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Pop/Rock, Power Pop, Riot Grrrl
With her new band Wild Flag, former Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein has officially returned to making awesome music, and what a return it’s been! Ever since forming back in September of last year, Wild Flag has been on a rampage of critical praise-gaining, making the rounds at festivals and establishing themselves as a fresh voice in a stagnated scene. Their debut record Wild Flag is the culmination of this steamroller of success; It’s loud, brash, punkish, and nevertheless one of the catchiest albums of the year. The band shifts styles throughout the album seemingly on a whim, going from girl-group inspired power pop (“Romance”) to rough and tumble punk rock (“Racehorse”), and even explores psychedelic rock with the 60s-influenced “Glass Tambourine”. Although the women in Wild Flag (among which are members of Helium and The Minders, along with two former members of Sleater-Kinney) aren’t the young riot grrrls that they were in the 90s, they’ve proven that almost-middle aged women can rock out with the best of them.
35. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing
Folk Rock, Indie Folk, Indie Rock
“Goodnight to the Alberta Advantage”
That’s a line from the closing song of The Rural Alberta Advantage’s sophomore LP Departing. It would be a pretty interesting way to end an album that would knowingly be your last, and it would certainly provide closure. Thankfully — hopefully — that isn’t the case with this band. From what I can tell, things are just getting started.
The Canadian folk rock group got their start with a 2008 record called Hometowns, a jaunty, lo-fi collection of earnest folk songs, and got saddled with Neutral Milk Hotel comparisons pretty soon after that. On Departing, they’ve cleaned things up a bit and refined their sound a lot, producing a much more cohesive and musically wholesome album of catchy, life-affirming, and meaningful folk rock songs. This time around, they’re not coming across as Jeff Mangum imitators, but one other well known folk band does come to mind: The Decemberists. Departing is the album The Decemberists wish they could have made in 2011, or at least the album I wish The King Is Dead had been.
34. Deafheaven - Roads To Judah
Experimental Black Metal, Post Rock
At the expense of not listening to nearly as much hip-hop as I should have this year, metal was one of the primary musical genres that I sought to explore in 2011. Most of my metal this year was of the “black” variety, which was probably due to the genre’s strange crossover success this year. Since I’ve never listened to much metal before this year, my qualifying judgement for most of this stuff was simply how much it scared the shit out of me and blew me away. Although Liturgy’s Aesthetica came close, no record in 2011 did either of those things more than Deafheaven’s Roads To Judah. I think the reason that it was so overpowering was that I could actually relate to it in some ways. Using the lengthy post-rock song structures that the band crafts their songs with as an entry point, I allowed myself to be drawn in to each of the four pieces on Roads To Judah, only to be blasted away by the pummeling drumbeats and incomprehensible howls of the vocalist. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever truly enjoyed listening to this record — not in the traditional sense of the word anyway — but in terms of sheer physical effect, nothing beats Roads To Judah.
33. Powder! Go Away - Laika Still Wants Go Home
This one was an interesting find. Powder! Go Away are an instrumental post-rock band, but I didn’t know very much about the group itself until I read up on them after listening to their record. In fact, I only downloaded this album in the first place because of the title and album art; I didn’t know anything about it before listening. There was just something so immediately compelling about the album title. Laika Still Wants Go Home. Until my third or fourth listen, I didn’t even realize that the “to” was missing. You probably didn’t either. Supposedly, it is a conceptual album about the space dog Laika, the first animal in space, who was sent up by the Russians in 1957 and tragically died during her journey. As conveyed both by the simple cover art and the album title, there is a childlike wonder about Laika Still Wants Go Home, which only makes the concept even more sad. The music itself, a surprisingly lo-fi concentration of Explosions In The Sky-style post-rock with high energy sections heavy on electronic beats and keyboards, produces a very cinematic feeling akin to what I imagine a journey to space is like. I think this is one of those fascinating, one-of-a-kind, weird little albums that never lead to anything bigger, but if Laika Still Wants Go Home is the only great thing we get from Powder! Go Away, I’ll be perfectly content.
32. Ramshackle Glory - Live The Dream
Folk Punk, Folk Rock
There wasn’t much going on in the folk punk world at large this year, but one artist in particular managed to make up for the genre’s overall lack of stimulation. Pat The Bunny (of Wingnut Dishwashers Union and Johnny Hobo & The Freight Trains fame) returned to the music world this year after recovering from his heroin addiction with a new band Ramshackle Glory. Their debut record Live The Dream is easily Pat’s most mature album to date, if not his best. The songs range from self-referential odes to the struggles that Pat faced against addiction, to life-affirming punk anthems about reveling in the face of adversity. One clear highlight from the latter camp is the brilliantly-titled “Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size Of Your Fist”, which may be the best song Pat The Bunny has ever written. In addition to boasting some improved songwriting, Live The Dream features the best backing band Pat has recorded with, giving an impressive instrumental backbone to the new songs. Overall, it’s a positive album that makes me feel good not only for myself, but also for Pat. He’s come a long way, and it’s great to see that he hasn’t lost his songwriting talent after recovering.
31. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Indie Folk, Art Pop, Chamber Pop
You’ve heard this already. I don’t feel the need to write much about the content of the album because I’m sure that you’ve read about it already as well. I’m sure you recognize, whether or not you appreciate the album’s content, that this is one of the big records of 2011 and one that has perhaps the most potential to make a lasting impact on musical trends in the future. None of this is news. All years have their big records, and this is one of them. What’s worth looking at now, six months after the Bon Iver, Bon Iver’s release, is how it’s affected Justin Vernon himself. The sheer mass of this album and its subsequent hype train has managed to shift Vernon’s public image away from the snowy woods where For Emma, Forever Ago was meticulously crafted, and into some previously unexplored art pop territory where everything is bigger. Unfortunately, Bon Iver, Bon Iver’s success seems to have made Vernon’s head bigger along with everything else. As good as I know this record to be, I rarely find myself wanting to listen to it anymore. I would be doing a disservice to you if I were to exclude this from the list, but I probably wouldn’t lose much sleep if I did.
30. Diarrhea Planet - Loose Jewels
Garage Punk, Pop Punk, Indie Rock
Last year, Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles made me hip to a number of great bands, including The Oh Sees and Free Energy, via his blog. This year, with his discovery of twitter, Stickles’ band recommendations have been nearly constant. One of the many great bands that he turned me onto this year is Diarrhea Planet, a group of dudes with guitars from Nashville, Tennessee who play some of the most energetic and enthusiastic punk rock I’ve ever heard.
Aside from Patrick Stickles’ sponsorship, I was attracted to Diarrhea Planet of course by their ridiculous name. Most of their fans like this band in spite of their name, but I like them all the more because of it. Punks take note: If you want to show the world that you really don’t give a fuck, name your band Diarrhea Planet. Nowhere on their new LP Loose Jewels do they even approach the realm of maturity, but when your name is Diarrhea Planet, maturity isn’t exactly expected of you. Instead, Loose Jewels is true to it’s own name. It’s a loosely connected set of lo-fi, guitar heavy punk nuggets — Jewels indeed, but unpolished to say the least. Joyful gang vocals appear on every song, beckoning drunk, late night sing-alongs with tried and true melodies. Few songs (except maybe the closer “Fauser”) stack up to fan favorites from their past records like “Ghost With A Boner” or “Power Moves”, nor does Loose Jewels hold a candle to their ALOHA! EP as a whole, but it’s simply to lovable not to praise.
29. The Rapture - In The Grace Of Your Love
Electronic, Alternative Dance, Dance-Punk
The Rapture’s return to the underground musical spotlight this year wasn’t as climactic as some might have hoped, but it was certainly worth it. Given the lukewarm level of buzz surrounding their new record In The Grace Of Your Love at the time of its release, it was easy to forget that there was a time when The Rapture was the biggest band in New York. I admire the stylistic choices that the band made in creating this record in light of that. Rather than attempt to resuscitate the long-dead New York City dance-punk scene, The Rapture instead chose to strike out on a new creative route. With Grace, they have taken much of the “punk” out of their old formula, replacing angular guitars with crystalline synths and crisp Chicago house keys. Frontman Luke Jenner’s voice has gotten brighter with age, and he flexes it throughout the record, particularly on the stunning opener “Sail Away” and the soulful “It Takes Time To Be A Man”. Highlights include the starry-eyed synth jam “Children” and the song-of-the-year contender “How Deep Is Your Love?”, which was easily the biggest banger of 2011.
28. The Guru - Native Sun
Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Psychedelic Rock
In the nostalgia-fueled musical climate of 2011, many bands sang about youth, but few approached the subject with such immediacy as The Guru. When they recorded their debut album Native Sun before this past Summer, the four members of the Connecticut-based group were all on the verge of post-adolescence. But rather than approach the end of their youths with anxiety and uncertainty, The Guru chose to capture the best aspects of childhood with music, and learned a lot in the process. Like your best memories of childhood, Native Sun is fast paced, exuberant, and incredibly fun. Although the band is broaching a serious subject with this record, they always manage to keep the mood light. Thought provoking lyrics about getting older are juxtaposed against joyful lines about going to the beach, driving to Cape Cod, and playing Mario Party. The music is a mix of Modest Mouse’s sunnier side, with a psychedelic edge and emotive vocals that are strangely compelling once you get used to them. With just eight songs at 24 minutes in length, Native Sun reminds us that our youth is fleeting and short, and urges us to make the most of it while we’re still young.
27. Low - C’mon
Slowcore, Indie Folk
The latest album from slowcore legends Low puts them back about where their 2001 masterpiece Things We Lost In The Fire left off. It’s been praised as a return to form for the band (whose last two records have been rather experimental) not because of any dramatic similarities to their earliest albums, but because it strikes that perfect chord between miserable dreariness and prettiness. They reached a stylistic apex with Things We Lost In The Fire, and for the most part, C’mon succeeds in reaching it once more. Indeed, songs like “Try To Sleep” and “Nightingale” are among their most lushly melodic and beautiful. Other moments on the album hint at a bold new direction for the band. “Witches” is grim and heavy, with a snarling guitar part from frontman Alan Sparhawk and equally dark lyrics. Meanwhile, “Majesty/Magic” and the gargantuan “Nothing But Heart” build to tremendous post-rock style crescendos previously unseen from the band. Low still has new sonic territory to cover, and although it fits the mold of a return-to-form album, C’mon tells us to definitely not write them off yet.
26. WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
Psychedelic Pop, Indie Rock, Post-Rock
Hype got the better of many bands in the blog buzz cycle this year, but no one made good on hype’s promise the way that WU LYF did. They stood out from the pack as true counterculturalists, avoiding interviews and press releases at every turn. With cryptic imagery and a 2010 single that was just alien enough to resound in the ears of people eager to find the decade’s new sound, WU LYF was the greatest hype success story of the year. The less we knew about them, the more the buzz built, until the previously unknown British band released their debut LP Go Tell Fire To The Mountain. The album was recorded in an old church, giving it a natural reverb soaked sound that permeates every song, and tying into their mystical, cultish image. The music itself remains difficult to describe; It’s something like if Man Man became a post-rock band and started playing anthemic songs about brotherhood. Vocalist Ellery Roberts (who goes by “Elle Jaie”) howls with lupine resonance, rising above the churning instruments and injecting raw emotion into WU LYF’s product. It’s impossible to understand what he’s saying over the waves of reverb and pounding drums, but his conviction genuinely makes WU LYF something to believe in.
25. Into It. Over It. - Proper
Indie Rock, Pop Punk, Singer/Songwriter
As bold as it sounds, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call Evan Thomas Weiss the most hardworking and talented guy in punk right now. With his solo project Into It. Over It., Weiss has recorded a staggering body of work over the past three years, from his numerous splits with artists such as CSTVT and Koji to his monumentally ambitious 52 song debut album 52 Weeks, for which he (you guessed it) wrote and recorded one song every week for all 52 weeks of the year. Apparently being a punk genius can be time consuming; although he has recorded dozens of songs since Into It. Over It. began, he has yet to put out a traditional, proper album — until this year, of course. The aptly titled Proper is mostly about two things. It’s about coherence, and it’s about expansion. For Weiss’ first crack at producing an album of songs united by one style, Proper is excellent. It’s impossible to resist the melodic charm of “Discretion and Depressing People” and “Write It Right”, or the powerful frankness of the slower, more subdued numbers such as “Where Your Nights Often End” and the highlight “Connecticut Steps”, which was written for Mitch Dubey. The warm analog sound that Weiss capturess throughout the album brings it together beautifully, and although the songs vary greatly in mood and tone, they are unified by the album’s fantastic production style. Now that he’s gotten that whole “proper LP” thing out of the way, Weiss can hopefully begin to focus on whatever brilliant next musical project he has in mind.
24. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
Indie Pop, Noise Pop, Shoegaze
When I first heard Belong, the sophomore album from twee-gazers The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart back in April, I was already convinced it would be my favorite album of the year. Something about the album’s soaring guitar melodies and huge, glistening synthesizers, combined with the fact that I really wanted to feel happy again at the time, made me accept Belong with an open heart. Since then, the album’s appeal has faded in my mind somewhat, but not by much. I still regard Belong as the most life-affirming pop record of the year, and even when I go for long stretches of not listening to it, I still find the melodies of “Heart In Your Heartbreak” and “The Body” skittering around in my head from time to time.
Even when I backed Belong as the frontrunner for the album of the year race, I still knew that it would change anyone’s life. It probably won’t, but that really doesn’t matter when the songs are this good. If you’re seeking meaning or subtlety, look somewhere else, but if you want to have fun, Belong belongs with you.
23. Beirut - The Rip Tide
Indie Folk, Chamber Folk, Chamber Pop
Believe it or not, I never really enjoyed listening to Beirut until this record. Although the lo-fi, wine-soaked travel songs were fun to listen to in small doses, I could never stomach either of Zach Condon’s previous two Beirut albums. Then The Rip Tide came out. While I recognize the problems that older Beirut fans have with the record, I see all of those alleged issues as good qualities. Finally, Condon has been able to produce an album full of actual songs — Not just layered loops with singing over them — with great production value and a natural, live feel to all of them. Songs like the single “East Harlem”, “Santa Fe”, and the Sharon Van Etten-featuring opener “A Candle’s Fire” are the best he’s written for Beirut to date, and with the improved production, the songs actually feel like they have sonic space to occupy. In my view, a refined Condon is a better Condon, and The Rip Tide is about as clean and sharp as Beirut can possibly get.
22. Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
Ambient Folk, Dream Pop
Brooklyn-based singer Julianna Barwick’s music seems to exist in its own sonic realm. I’ve never heard anything that evokes such a powerful emotional response with such minimal interference. Whereas other ambient artists find space and depth in synthesizers and electronics, Barwick’s music is derived from a much more natural place. Most of the sounds on her new album The Magic Place come from her own voice, which is layered and manipulated in the most subtle and unobtrusive ways to produce a wholly soothing sound. It comes from from somewhere so familiar and yet so alien; listening to The Magic Place at night, you simultaneously feel like you’re wrapped up in your mother’s arms as a baby, listening to her lullabies and exploring the great, silent expanse of an exotic foreign world. It’s dreamy and hazy, impenetrable, but light as a feather. If I were to describe The Magic Place in one word, “ethereal” wouldn’t quite cut it. “Magical” comes close.
21. Trash Talk - Awake EP
Five songs. Eight minutes. Trash Talk’s 2011 Awake EP doesn’t overstay its welcome. Like a mugger in a dark alleyway, it approaches quickly, whallops the listener in the head a few times, and runs the hell away before you realize that you’re bleeding from somewhere and it stole your wallet. I’ll make this brief, both because this album is brief, and because I’m sure you’re tired of reading after the previous 29 entries in this list: Nothing since the 80s ended has come this close to capturing the essence of 1980s hardcore than this EP. I don’t mean that Awake particularly sounds like 80s hardcore bands — It doesn’t, exactly — but it hits just like the best of them. This is straight up, no frills hardcore punk, with militantly political lyrics, superbly tight musicianship, and the vocals of a deranged, barking maniac. It’s the perfect hardcore archetype, and with the Awake EP under their belts, Trash Talk is poised to become the perfect hardcore band.
Check back here tomorrow for the next installment in this list! #20-1 are just around the corner! The full schedule of my year end lists can be found HERE. Thanks for reading!
A Final Word On The Band Called Snowing
(or, A Brief History Of My Experience With Punk)
I’m currently sitting in a basement in Wilmington, Delaware, about thirty miles outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In a matter of hours, Pennsylvanian emo punks Snowing will play their final show ever, or, as Dan Bassini put it on his facebook page, “until they have a reunion show a year from now”. Like Bassini, many people seem to be taking this breakup rather lightly, perhaps no one more than the band members themselves. In a statement posted on their last.fm page, a representative from the band wrote, ”Snowing has come to an end at the ripe old age of 3 and a half (that’s over 90 in emo years!).” On their facebook page, the band has been similarly humorous and deadpan. In response to one fan’s mournful question as to why they broke up, the group replied “We certainly did this only to punish you.”
But all joking aside, Snowing’s breakup deals a significant blow to the emo revival movement and the overall wellbeing of the northeast underground. When Snowing rose out of the ashes of Street Smart Cyclist in 2008, the band was poised to take Street Smart’s emo revival vision beyond the Pennsylvania valley. With the surprisingly successful Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit 7”, released on Count Your Lucky Stars and Square of Opposition in 2009, Snowing did just that, stimulating the genre with a lo-fi mix of twinkly guitars, rough vocals, and bitingly self-deprecating lyrics. The scene’s momentum arguably peaked in early 2011, with the vinyl release of Snowing’s I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted, but has been stalled in recent months by a series of unfortunate breakups. Between May and October of this year, such underground powerhouses as My Heart To Joy and Grown Ups have disbanded due to creative differences or internal conflicts. Announced in September, Snowing’s demise was the worst news yet.
The band had spent much of the past year touring behind I Could Do Whatever I Wanted…, which had been warmly received. It placed at #8 on my top 10 list for last year, and when it was issued on vinyl in the subsequent months after its digital release, the group’s fan base broadened considerably. As they gained blog notoriety, their last.fm play count inched towards 1 million plays, a landmark reached by only one of their immediate peers, fellow Pennsylvania punks Algernon Cadwallader. 860,000 plays is an impressive number, considering that Snowing’s official discography amounts to only seventeen songs. As a band at the forefront of an underground movement, Snowing’s breakup could yield unfortunate consequences for the already unstable scene.
Although I recognize the negative cultural impact of Snowing’s breakup, my personal feelings regarding the matter are more mixed. Snowing is a band that has been very important to me for a long time, but with whom I have not always had a consistently good relationship. The group first entered my life in the early autumn of 2010, when I was first getting into emotive hardcore. I had gone through Cap’n Jazz and Sunny Day Real Estate in the June, explored The Promise Ring in July, and obsessed over American Football as the summer faded in August, but by September I had neglected to even consider modern emo. My vision of emo in the 21st century was still informed by what I had seen in the malls of my home state of Connecticut: scene girls and boys wearing My Chemical Romance hoodies and neon colored Chuck Taylor’s, whining and complaining about their incredibly privileged suburban lives while perpetuating the played-out, childish notion that the world doesn’t understand.
I came across Snowing by chance on a certain online music forum, and downloaded their demo largely because of its enticing name. By name, Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit seemed to be a rejection of the vision of emo that those scene kids had projected. Little did I know that in the years after mall-core “emo” faded from the mainstream, bands like Snowing had effectively re-appropriated the term and restored dignity to the near-universally maligned word. By the time I realized this, it was October or November, and the word had gotten out that Snowing would be releasing a full-length follow up to their 5 song demo. I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted was released digitally in late November 2010. Its release made for a late-year highlight, and prompted the first album review that I wrote for this blog that I remain incredibly proud of.
With I Could Do Whatever I Wanted, Snowing provided one of the first great underground punk albums released under my watch. The next month, they also provided me with one of my first great underground punk shows, effectively indoctrinating me into a scene that I hadn’t before known the existence of, or at least the scope of. The band played a now legendary show (pictured above) in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 30th, with Castevet, Stay Ahead Of The Weather, Midi & The Modern Dance, and a then-fledgling band from Willimantic called The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. The show took place at a then-new house venue called The Cookie Jar, which was home to a group of Connecticut punks including the late, great Mitchell Dubey, who was tragically murdered there just three months later. It amazed me that such a thriving and lively musical community existed in my own back yard, and was welcoming me like an old friend. Along with Mitch, Andy, Emily, Greg, and Katie, I absolutely have to thank Snowing for opening that world up to me.
But just as the emo revival movement as a whole reached a peak and eventually began to implode in the subsequent months, my relationship with Snowing peaked and deteriorated in a similar way. When Mitch was killed, the punk community was dealt a huge blow on the local, regional, and even national levels. I don’t want to assert that it was entirely responsible for the deterioration of emo revival in the Northeast, but I can absolutely say that Mitch’s murder left the scene much more vulnerable than it was when I entered it. Although I would say that the scene has rallied in the months since that horrible night in March, it has come out looking and sounding very different. In the months afterwards, an unprecedented misery overhung every local show I attended. Just one month earlier, Mitch’s friends and one of his favorite bands My Heart To Joy announced their breakup with a cryptic and, in retrospect, chilling message on their tumblr page: “Everything comes with an expiration date.”
Their final show, which was scheduled for a May 14th date in Madison, was refitted as a Mitch Dubey benefit show, with all proceeds going towards his family. The show featured a stellar lineup that included a who’s who of Northeast and Midwest punk, including Into It. Over It., Algernon Cadwallader, and, more to the point, Snowing. Although the show itself reaffirmed my faith in the resilience of the punk community, I left it with something of a sour taste in my mouth. I came in to that show more excited to see Snowing than any other group on the lineup, having poured over the I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted lyric sheet and prepared myself for a night of crowd surfing and rowdiness. I shouted and screamed along to their excellent live set, rejoicing as they pulled out older songs and threw in a cover of Guided By Voices excellent “Game Of Pricks”. After the set, I bought two records, stickers, and a t-shirt. I felt accepted and validated, and I felt solidarity in the support of all the other people at the show.
As I approached singer/bassist John Galm after the band’s set to introduce myself and thank him for all of the things that I undoubtedly owe to his band, he seemed a little caught off guard, but was otherwise easy to talk to and seemed rather happy. As my friend and I continued to talk to him, we found it surprising how open he was with us. In retrospect, our surprise was not unfounded. I woke up the following day with a lengthy and confusing facebook message from Galm himself, whom I had friended and messaged the previous night saying that it was nice meeting him at the show. I’ve long since deleted the message from my folder, but I still think about it a lot. It was a very reactionary and self-conscious message, which claimed that I had invaded his personal space and made him feel extremely uncomfortable and potentially terrible. I found this hugely unfair and incredibly disparaging, considering that he hadn’t given me that impression at all when we were actually talking, and for a while I couldn’t bring myself to listen at all to the same music which I had been playing nearly constantly for the past six months. I felt very alienated, bitter, and confused by our subsequent online exchange, and in some ways I still am.
I’ve thought a lot about that night, and what I could have done differently, but I can’t bring myself to identify any major faults of my own. For a long time during my period of bitterness, I wrote John Galm off as a self-important asshole — a victim to the anti-rockstar image that punk thrives on. But through a number of enlightening conversations, I eventually came to a different conclusion. Ironically, in spite of all of the time I had spent listening to and memorizing the lyrics of Snowing’s songs, I had neglected to consider where those lyrics were coming from. There is a lot of resentment, bitterness, anger, depression, and self-hate pressed into both of Snowing’s records. In Snowing’s music, Galm’s pain is displayed at face value, but when I met him, it was almost completely hidden. I now feel regret and guilt for not recognizing this prior to our meeting. Although someone’s actions can’t be justified or excused by their problems, no matter how deep-seeded they may be, they can be understood. I can’t claim to understand John Galm any more than anyone else he met on tour once, but I can understand why he acted the way he did to me. This is a truth that I haven’t been able to properly articulate until right now, sitting alone in this basement listening to those Snowing records.
It’s interesting the way things come full circle. When I originally set out to write this piece, which I will admit has turned out to be rather formless, I was not particularly upset that I will not be attending the band’s final show tonight. Now that I’ve finished it, I almost wish I could drive to Philadelphia right now only to reintroduce myself to the band for one last, fresh start. And yet, if I could have attended the show, I probably would not have been able to articulate these thoughts the way I now can. I suppose it’s too late to entertain such thoughts anyway. Honestly, maybe it’s better this way. I mean, what could be a better way to pay tribute to an emo band breaking up than sitting alone in my basement listening to their records and writing a lengthy, overwrought, and emotional piece about what they mean to me? It’s not very fun, but neither is Snowing’s music. At least it’s probably better than spending time with my family.
Oh god, look what you’ve done to me now, Snowing. If there is anything that emo bands have failed to teach me, it’s how to write a good ending. Just as I imagine the members of Snowing will feel some degree of uncertainty tomorrow about what to do next, I’m met with the same lack of closure and uncertainty of purpose. Rest in peace to the band that always mattered to me more than I gave them credit for. See you in hell (or at some venue in Philadelphia when you reunite next year).
I guess I’ll end with some lyrics. I’m not as destroyed by this breakup as some others undoubtedly are, but I can certainly imagine that there are people identifying with this particular song from Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit right now.
“And what did you think I would do after you left? Would I stay sober? I think it’d be much worse. I’d cut my arms off. No regeneration”
Mitch Dubey benefit / MHTJ final gig full sets
Each band’s full set from My Heart to Joy’s last show / the Mitch Dubey benefit show on May 14th are up: tpshlf.co/pwYdP8. Reblog!
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/17/11
Last night’s show was a success, coming on right before I went to The Space to see The Antlers with Little Scream. The playlist is below, complete with youtube links to each song when available.
- 1. Radiohead - “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box”
- 2. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “Contender”
- 3. Cults - “Abducted”
- 4. Japandroids - “Wet Hair”
- 5. Sufjan Stevens - “Come On! Feel the Illinoise! Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition / Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream”
- 6. Castevet - “Chilsen”
- 7. Algernon Cadwallader - “Pitfall”
- 8. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “Six Seeds”
- 9. Into It. Over It. - “Pontiac, MI”
- 10. American Football - “Never Meant”
- 11. Everyone Asked About You - “Paper Planes, Paper Hearts”
- 12. The Antlers - “French Exit”
- 13. Free Energy - “Dream City”
- 14. The Replacements - “Raised in the City”
- 15. Reatards - “Memphis Blues”
- 16. Eddie Golden III - “Fish Hook Frank”
- 17. Spider Bags - “Bad Complexion”
- 18. Bob Dylan - “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
- 19. Jonsi - “Go Do”
- 20. The Antlers - “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
- 21. The Library of Congress - “Doctor Faustus”
- 22. Hallelujah The Hills - “The House Is All Lit Up”
- 23. The Hold Steady - “Stevie Nix”
- 24. The Mountain Goats - “First Few Desperate Hours”
- 25. WHY? - “Gemini (Birthday Song)”
- 26. Thurston Moore - “Benediction”
- 27. Nick Drake - “River Man”
- 28. Titus Andronicus - “Waking Up Drunk” (Spider Bags cover)
Remember to tune in next Friday from 6-8 PM on WNHU!
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/3/11
Last night’s show on WNHU was another great one. It was also the first show of the summer, so I included a selection of summery music to get listeners in the mood. Remember to tune in next Friday on 88.7 FM if you’re in the New Haven area, or online HERE. I’ll be having the founders of the Red Rash Collective on my show to talk about their work, the state of DIY music in Connecticut, the festival that they’re planning, and more. I’ll also be having Red Rash Collective band The Helveticas on the show the same day for a live in studio acoustic set. The playlist from last night is below, with youtube links to each song (when available).
- 1. Pavement - “Summer Babe (Winter Version)”
- 2. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - “Parallel or Together?”
- 3. The Tallest Man on Earth - “You’re Going Back”
- 4. Belle and Sebastian - “Another Sunny Day”
- 5. Okkervil River - “Black”
- 6. Titus Andronicus - “Upon Viewing Brueghel’s “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus”
- 7. Algernon Cadwallader - “Pitfall”
- 8. Rites of Spring - “For Want Of”
- 9. The Replacements - “I Bought a Headache”
- 10. The Hold Steady - “Your Little Hoodrat Friend”
- 11. Snowing - “KJ Jammin”
- 12. The Strokes - “Gratisfaction”
- 13. R.E.M. - “7 Chinese Bros.”
- 14. My Heart to Joy - “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory” (Guided By Voices cover)
- 15. Titus Andronicus - “A Pot In Which To Piss”
- 16. Pixies - “Velouria”
- 17. Ra Ra Riot - “Boy”
- 18. The Love Language - “Heart to Tell”
- 19. Defiance, Ohio - “A Lot To Do”
- 20. Modest Mouse - “Paper Thin Walls” (Request)
- 21. Arcade Fire - “Speaking In Tongues” (Feat. David Byrne)
- 22. Grandaddy - “Hewlett’s Daughter”
- 23. The Octopus Project - “Bees Bein’ Strugglin’”
- 24. of Montreal - “You Do Mutilate?” (Request)
- 25. Okkervil River - “Your Past Life As A Blast”
- 26. Bon Iver - “Perth”
- 27. Andrew Jackson Jihad - “Who Are You?”
- 28. Thurston Moore - “Illuminine”
Thanks for listening!
Song of the Day Number 163
Algernon Cadwallader - “Sad”
In the midst of a tour with Snowing and 1994!, indie/emo revivalists Algernon Cadwallader have finally returned after a long wait since 2008’s Some Kind of Cadwallader LP. Their new album Parrot Flies, which leaked last night, showcases a more matured and refined band freeing themselves from their influences while retaining the upbeat punk energy that made them known in the first place.
The song “Sad” from the new album is a perfect example of this, and shows the band evolving away from the countless Cap’n Jazz comparisons that plagued them in their earlier days. The song boasts a gorgeous twinkly acoustic guitar in the background, overlaid with emotive and joyful vocals from the band’s singer and bassist. As “sad” as the title implies the song to be, this is one of the most upbeat sounding songs I’ve heard all year. And from an emo band, at that!
Stream “Sad” above, and download the new Algernon Cadwallader album Parrot Flies HERE.
Song of the Day Number 156
Snowing - “Big Weed”
Today’s Song of the Day appears on a brand new four-way split 7” from Snowing, Algernon Cadwallader, 1994!, and Boys and Sex that is being released on Slow Growth Records. Snowing’s contribution to the record is an upbeat indie rock track called “Big Weed,” which I first heard on saturday night when they performed the song at the final My Heart to Joy show ever in Madison, CT. This song finds the band continuing in the direction that they were headed with their 2010 LP I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted, which found them exploring more subdued sounds and styles than their debut EP Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit.
To find more information about Snowing, keep tabs on the band by following their official tumblr page HERE.
More information about the split 7” record can be found HERE.