So it’s been forever since I updated this but I’ve been getting owned by schoolwork, but finals officially end tomorrow, which means I can start updating this again. But for my return to the site I’m posting a top-10 list, and I’m happy about it. I’m a sucker for lists and being able to post my opinion is something I have no problem admitting to loving as well. So here we go…
10. All Time Low – Nothing Personal
No, it’s not art, and it’s far from a perfect record, but dammit I have a soft spot for pop-punk and this is some fine pop-punk. It’s catchy, filled with cheap little songs about girls and “Weightless” was a solid ringtone for the entire summer. It’s fun, and really, that’s all music needs to be for me.
When I reviewed the Daisy for The Diamondback I gave it a perfect score, and I stick by that. This is an amazing record that once again proves that Brand New will not be held back by genre lines. That theory was only further reinforced when I saw the band live and the songs from Daisy mixed seamlessly with tracks from their other records. My only concern here is how it’s hard to revisit this record by individual tracks. As a whole, it’s astounding, but when putting together a playlist or something, it’s hard to pick a song, and that’s the only reason this is so far down.
8. Strike Anywhere – Iron Front
It’s not that Iron Front sounds all that different from other Strike Anywhere records that puts it on this list, it’s that this does sound close to what the group has done before. Some bands can get away with putting out a constant stream of music that sounds very similar to prior work, and Strike Anywhere fall under that description. It’s aggressive, yet melodic and catchy. You can sing and scream along to every song. And it’s that old-school hardcore sound that makes the band, and the album, great.
7. Fake Problems – It’s Great to Be Alive
I honestly forgot this was a 2009 release, until a few weeks ago but it’s still one of the year’s strongest. By using seemingly every instrument they could find, Fake Problems crafted a truly unique album, and one that stood out in many different areas. Other than the multitude of instruments, the record deals with spirituality and personal conquest better than any other releases this year, and deals with them with some great little rock songs.
6. Frank Turner – Poetry of the Deed
Turner has released some really solid records since going solo, but Poetry just seemed different, as it embraces his punk-rock upbringings more so than previous records, both musically and lyrically. A few years ago I read an album review that said something to the effect of ‘as punks get older they stop writing the same material as they did previously, and instead focus on their personal golden days and what’s wrong with the scene now,’ which I would argue is what Turner does best, especially on this record.
5. New Found Glory – Not Without A Fight
The pop-punk vets have had somewhat of an identity crisis since the release of the very mediocre Catalyst in 2004, but this record has the band back to enjoying the music they make. By bringing their pop-punk roots into the fold with their straighter rock sound of Coming Home and the hardcore breakdowns of the ISHC split, the band simply seems comfortable again, and with Mark Hoppus’ steady hand behind the boards, they nailed this record.
4. Broadway Calls – Good Views, Bad News
A record I had huge hopes for, and was not let down in the least. It’s 11 tracks of pure melodic enjoyment and I’m finding it hard to describe in any other way. Even at a young stage in their band’s life, Broadway Calls has mastered the art of writing a great hook, and Good Views is just chock-full of them. Even though this is 4th on my list, I would argue that it will have the greatest replay value in 5 years.
3. The Swellers – Ups and Downsizing
Chalk this one up under my biggest turnaround of the year. Upon first listen I went as far as saying I didn’t like the album at all, but was urged to give it a second listen, and am damn glad I did. It’s has a few darker moments than My Everest, but that only shows the quartet’s seemingly unlimited potential to craft great records for years to come. And as long as they don’t get distracted by all the neon shirts and swoop haircuts from their FBR brethren, I see no reason why they won’t. Bonus points for wrecking the shit out of their FEST 8 set.
2. Big D & the Kids Table – Fluent In Stroll
I wrote a few drafts of this trying to include an explanation of “stroll,” the self-proclaimed sound of the record, but you can Wikipedia that if you need to. This was my go-to record for my summer of driving all around the East Coast and I’ll stick by it for a long time to come. A great mix of ska, punk, reggae and everything in between, Fluent In Stroll hits all the right notes at the right times and comes away as the feel-good record of the year.
1. Dead to Me – African Elephants
A late entry into the year end list as it just was released November 10, but it was quite an entry. A huge progression for the band musically, the album isn’t just another Cuban Ballerina, and although I never would have thought that would be a good thing, it is. Blending their great brand of punk with some Briefs-esque rock and even that terrfic opening reggae track “X,” the band knocked this one out of the park for my favorite record of 2009.