Tag Archives: basement

The Is this thing on? Top 10 Records of 2012

What a year 2012 has turned out to be. So much so that this list has proved to be near impossible to write, choosing the 10 best records of the year and then listing them in order of bestest has given me a headache. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good headache and I ain’t complaining. Last year I posted a top 10 and so I thought i would continue with this. My best friend paul who writes the Wallernotweller blog made the sensible choice of listing 15 records but I’m not that wise. So, 10 it is. Meaning that some bloody good records have ended up missing out on this list. Bands like Suis La Lune, Converge, Joyce Manor, The Cribs, Sport, Ape Up! and Dads have all produced some quality work and have only missed out on my top 10 by the slightest of margins. Annabel too, whose album ‘Youth in youth’ is packed with greatness and if it had come out earlier in the year it might have taken one of the top ten places. These are all very worthy but they can’t all be winners so on with the list..

10. You Blew It! – Grow Up Dude

you blew it

This is an album that just keeps on growing on me, I like it more every time I listen. The records perfectly understated production mixed with the heart and melody of the music make it hard not to love this album. The fact that bands are making music like this is the reason why I write this blog, if someone asks you if there really is a 90’s emo revival happening at the moment then play them ‘Grow up dude’ and they will have their answer. I’m sure I saw someone mention on something or other that You Blew It! might be coming to the UK in 2013, this needs to happen. In the meantime I’ll just make do with falling in love with this album some more.

9.  State Faults – Desolate Peaks

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My first listen to ‘Desolate Peaks’ was my first experience of State Faults and by heck it was a good one. I love it when you put something on completely without assumptions and end up being blown away. The record is powerful yet touching. It perfectly fills the void left by Pianos Become the Teeth not releasing an album this year. But of course State Faults are a lot more than just a lazy comparison and they are by far the heaviest, screamiest band on my list this year. Earlier in the year they were kind enough to answer some of my questions, click HERE to have a read.

8. Dowsing – It’s still pretty terrible

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This is a record that is full of charm and beautiful indie pop songs that warm the soul. I said in my review of this album a few months ago and I stick by it, this is the record The Get Up Kids were trying to make with ‘On a wire’ and failed. Dowsing however hit it spot on. Now I know for a fact that they are planning to tour the UK next year, this is one not to miss. These songs in a packed venue with a whole crowd singing along to every word is something I definitely wanna be a part of!!!

7. Basement – Colourmeinkindness

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This is a record that appeals to the teenager in me, the spotty kid in the early 90’s with long greasy hair who was proud to called a ‘grunger’ by every chav in Thanet. There are so many grunge influences on this record that it’s hard to keep up, Basement mix in their straight up melodic hardcore and what you have is an album that’s screaming out to breakthrough. If it does it’ll be too late though as Basement are no more which is more than a damn shame. Great record!

6. Glocca Morra – Just Married

glocca morra

Glocca Morra are quite possibly my favourite band that I discovered this year. ‘just Married’ got a hefty few plays again and again this summer and listening to it now immediately reminds of that time. This is a perfect summer album because it’s just so much damn fun. If I was in to having house party’s and was wanting to get things happening then i would reach for this record, it would pretty much guarantee everyone a good time. Not only did Glocca Morra give us ‘Just Married’ this year, they followed it up with the equally amazing ‘An obscure moon lighting an obscure world’ EP. I hope they keep this momentum up and maybe next year they can claim my entire top ten!

It has come time to take a short break from this countdown and take a minute to remember the bands that we have lost this year. I mean, what awards show would be complete without a memorial montage and this Top 10 is no exception. So watch the video below and join me in some quiet reflection as we remember those that are gone.

5. Crash Of Rhinos – Distal

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Now, I know what you’re thinking, technically this record didn’t come out this year. It was first released in April of 2011 but it was re-released this year by Big Scary Monsters and this record is too good to be left out on a technicality. Plus who are you to say I can’t have them in my top 10, you’re not my mum! (mum if you’re reading this put the laptop down and back away, they’re in and that’s final). Crash of rhinos are almost too good, beautifully brilliant songs that last forever yet never outstay their welcome. With incredible vocals that seem to come from every member of the band and more bass players than bands that only have one bass player in them. They are touring in January with Raein which has ‘tour of the year’ written all over it already!!!

4. Prawn – Ships

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Shortly before getting this EP I went to see Prawn play live in Folkestone, the show was beset with technical problems so much so that they ended up only being able to play 4 songs. At the time I wasn’t bothered because I’d had a great night and Prawn were still fantastic. But after getting ‘Ships’ a few weeks later I was gutted that they couldn’t play all night. The songs that make up ‘Ships’ are so incredible that hearing them live would surely constitute one of the best gigs you’re likely to ever attend. Perfect emo like a poppier Appleseed Cast, love it!!

3. Title Fight – Floral Green

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Title Fight keep going from strength to strength and ‘Floral Green’ is their best record to date. Only a year after releasing their first studio album ‘Shed’ they released a record that was not only brilliant but also showed they had made great leaps forward in terms of sound and maturity. The dreamy, shoegaze magic of ‘Head in the ceiling fan’ showed a new side to Title Fight and ‘Secret Society’ proved that Title Fight can write catchy, instantly likeable grunge songs as well as anyone. Another essential record.

2. Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

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Dikembe are one of the best bands you’re ever likely to hear, following up the massive potential shown on last years ep ‘Chicago Bowls’ with a near perfect record of beautiful, mid paced emo. My heart melts at the first sound of Steven Gray’s voice and the guitar sound they have only heightens this sensation. I can see this album/band coming to define this current wave of emo tagged music, in a few years we’ll be looking back at it with the same fondness that we look back at, for example, ’30 degrees everywhere’ by the Promise Ring it’s that good. In any normal year it would easily win my album of the year top spot and they were only very narrowly beaten this year by…….

1. Joie De Vivre – We’re all better than this

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This years first prize just has to go to Joie De Vivre with ‘We’re all better than this’ an album which I’ve very rarely not been listening to since it came out in the summer. Having split up it is unfathomable that this record could never have been made and I am so grateful that they gave it another shot. Seeing them play this summer in Brighton is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, a brilliantly uplifting experience. Which is like what you get every time your hear ‘We’re all better than this’. An album that both boasts the best use of trumpets all year and the amazingly lovely backing vocals from Lindsay Minton (Football, etc) cannot fail to impress. A beautiful, beautiful record, well done, FIRST PRIZE!!!

Well, there you go. 2013 is already shaping up to be another incredible year that is promising new albums from Tigers Jaw, Football etc, Daylight, The Reptilian, Appleseed Cast, Jimmy Eat World and many more. I literally cannot wait. In the meantime thanks for reading and have yourself a very merry christmas xx

I’ve made an Is this thing on? best of 2012 playlist on Spotify if that’s your kind of thing, click the link below x

Is This thing on? best of 2012

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Review: Basement – Colourmeinkindness

Band – Basement

Album – Colourmeinkindness

Label – Run For Cover Records

Coming up in tonight’s review:

“Holy fucking shitballs why the hell has this band split up!!?!!?!???!”

Last year Basement released one of my favourite records of that year, ‘I wish I could stay here’. It was a solid album full of Title Fight-esque melodic hardcore that I played time and again. I also got to see them play a show in Margate which really showed me what a great band they are so when news came that Basement were going on indefinite hiatus (splitting up) I thought it was a real shame. Now that I’ve heard ‘Colourmeinkindness’ I think this news is a fucking travesty.

This record is getting me all kinds of excited. If someone had said to me that all my favourite musical sub genres (grunge, punk and emo) would someday be combined together by bands to amazing effect I would’ve wanted to believe them but known that this’ll never happen. But to my disbelief it is happening. Playing ‘Colourmeinkindness’ and I’m suddenly transported back to that 13-year-old kid who lay in bed thinking my brother was a lying cock for coming home from his paper round with the news that Kurt Cobain was dead, or to the 17-year-old sitting in my friends flat being played Sunny Day Real Estate for the first time. Times when music seemed to be all that mattered, Basement make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and make me wanna get up and dance like an idiot the way all my best-loved bands do.

The album blasts in to life with ‘Whole’ and it’s an incredible start to the album. It shows Basement’s intentions from the start, they’re here to make a career defining rock album and they ain’t mucking about. The briefest of guitar intros quickly make way for the full band to kick in and already you’re left blown away by how loud and full on it is. What a way to start the record. The chorus makes you wish you were in front of the band in a packed venue screaming along with them and then the massive riff at the end makes you wish you were in the middle of the crowd going every kind of ape shit.

Before you know it the second song, ‘Covet’, has begun and here you have the first major nod to the early 90’s grunge sound with a song that owes a massive debt to the Pixies. Maybe it’s because I am still so in love with the music from that era but I’ve found a mass of grunge influences throughout the record. Maybe intentional or maybe I’m the only one who thinks it but here are a few examples of what I mean. ‘Spoiled’ reminds me of Alice In Chains, ‘Control’ has hints of ‘Superunknown’ style Soundgarden, ‘Black’ puts me in the mind of a sleazy early Stone Temple Pilots, ‘Comfort’ has a Yellow Ledbetter-esque intro and ‘Wish’ gives a big nod to a ‘Gish’ era Smashing Pumpkins. All of which are meant as huge compliments and all the while still retaining that Basement hardcore edge which attracted you to the band in the first place. You could hear this record a hundred times and get none of the references I just mentioned but you should be left with the same feeling. The feeling that you want to scream “Holy fucking shitballs why the hell has this band split up!!?!!?!???!” again and again until someone rings the council to make a noise pollution complaint against you.

Amongst all this you also have a couple of indie pop gems thrown in to the middle of the album. ‘Pine’ and ‘Bad Apple’ highlight a band capable of writing incredibly catchy pop songs that still never compromise on what the band is about. It’s another reason to love Basement and stops the record from becoming too much of one thing, it refreshes you so when they’re ready to unleash more 90’s inspired heaviness on you you’re more than ready.

‘Colourmeinkindness’ is a real surprise of a record. Not a surprise in the sense that Basement have made a truly brilliant album but a surprise in how they’ve done it. It at the same time feels like a unique record whilst also wearing their influences on their sleeve. Just over 10 years ago a massively exciting post hardcore band released a genre defining record called ‘Relationship of command’ and subsequently broke up before their time. Only time will tell if this record has that same impact, it could well do. I just hope that if it does that Basement don’t reform in 10 years time to headline Reading and appear like ghosts of their former selves. But, sod it, if they do I’ll be there singing along.

I love this record so much I’ve paid actual money TWICE for it. Downloaded from the Run for cover bandcamp page HERE.

And bought it on vinyl from Banquet Records HERE.

Basement play 2 final shows but they sold out quicker than I could say ‘ah, I’d quite like to go to that’

November 16 – Leeds – The Well

November 17 – Camden London – The Underworld

Thanks very much for reading. xx

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The ‘Is this thing on?’ Top 100 EMO Songs of all time (100-91)

Welcome

#emo100

Emo, emocore, screamo, indiemo, post emo. emotional hardcore, post emo hardcore it’s all here!!

This is the first installment of the ‘Is this thing on?’ countdown of the top 100 EMO songs of all time. For some background on why this is happening then read this previous post HERE. I will be posting these 10 songs at a time every few days so bare with me.

Please let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree, either here or on twitter @alextb3

Enjoy x

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

Fictitious, frivolous, novelty or just awesome. Reggie and the full effect, James Dewees of Get up kids/Coalesce fame long term side project had more than their fair share of emo classics. So desperate was I to have some Reggie in my life I had to borrow money to buy their first album, Greatest Hits 1984-1987, money I don’t remember paying back so maybe shouldn’t be bringing that up. But it’s from the 2nd album, Promotional Copy, that my favourite Reggie song comes from. And it boasts one of the best verses you’ll here in this whole countdown

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken Anchor

Described by many online as a Christian band, they are Christians and were on Tooth and Nail records so fair enough, but to leave it at that would do an injustice. An early form of mathy, angular emocore, members of the band went on to form Unwed Sailor. Track 99 on the countdown ‘Sunken Anchor’ is taken from the bands 2nd album ‘Eight hours away from being a man’.

98 – Boilermaker – Slow Down

The distinction between whether you could describe some bands as emo or not is sometimes quite blurred making a list like this difficult. No problem here though, Boilermaker made emo music as it should be made, slow and beautiful topped with gorgeous vocals. ‘Leucadia’ was a compilation album of the bands hard to find 3 LPs and ‘Slow Down’ is my personal highlight. After a 10 year battle with cancer, Singer/Bassist Terrin Durfey passed away in 2008, long may he rest in peace.

97 – Hundred Reasons – If I Could

Without doing any research on the subject I will state that Hundred Reasons were the most commercially succesful UK emo band, I am basing this on the fact that I saw them on Top of the Pops once. Having now done a bit of research I see that their debut album ‘Ideas above our station’ got to number 6 in the album charts so I guess that backs up my previous statement. My old band, The Babies Three, were thanked on the sleeve notes because of having played with them in London. Me being the muggins that I am left 2 months before that gig to train to be an actor, foolish on so many levels. Out of the many hits on that first record, ‘If i could’ packs the best punch.

96 – Jets To Brazil – Chinatown

If there is an album cover that can transport me straight back to the late 90’s just by looking at it then ‘Orange Rhyming Dictionary’ is that album cover. I get that warm nostalgic feeling every time I see it and although Jets To Brazil were never one of my favourite bands, you can’t ignore their emo heritage and ‘Chinatown’ is a damn brilliant song.

95 – Coping – F For Now

If there is one reason to be thankful to be alive in 2012 for, and I sure hope there is more than one, then it’s the fact that we are living in the midst of an Emo revival. It’s been wrestled back from those glam goth millionaires that buggered things up in the mid noughties and lets pray it doesn’t get ruined this time around. Coping may not yet have a full length album to their name but ‘F For Now’ taken from the split EP with The Clippers is a song so brilliant it will embed itself in your head and wont leave for quite some time. Awesome!

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

I have my friend Daniel to thank for reminding me about Long Island’s finest, Inside. I shouldn’t have had to be reminded because they are great emo post hardcore boasting members that went on to be in Taking Back Sunday and the Movielife, wowzer! ‘Ray Brower’ is my personal favourite taken from the album ‘Seven inches to wall drug’.

93 – Basement – Grayscale

Hailing from Ipswich, Basement are one of a number of UK bands to be getting excited about at the moment. I saw them play in Margate about a year ago and they completely tore the place apart. Perfectly intense emotional punk rock. ‘Grayscale’ is taken from last years debut album ‘I wish I could stay here’.

92 – The Jazz June – Viva la speed metal

Song titles don’t get much less emo than The Jazz June’s ‘Viva la speed metal’ but that doesn’t stop it from being an emo classic. It opens up the great album ‘The Medicine’ and sets the tone for more of the same, brilliant emo of the second wave variety, whatever that means.

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

Everyone Everywhere Cover Art Songs don’t come much better than ‘I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere’, obviously I’ve chosen 90 that are better on this list alone but that is besides the point. This is emo pop perfection, one of the catchiest and most instantly likeable songs of the last few years. It’s from a brilliant album that has brilliant artwork and is brilliant, now thats what I call a description. Love it!!

Thanks guys, the next instalment in this countdown will be posted in the next few days. Hope you enjoyed it x

UPDATE! Part 2, no’s 90 to 81 is now up, click HERE to read it

If you use Spotify, click the link below to hear most of these songs on a handy playlist

Emo 100 (100-91)

Cheers

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And the winner is……..

This very night (tuesday the 21st of february) the Brit Awards 2012 will take place in London. Of all the award shows in what is now known as award season, this is the one that grates the most.

I have a strange attraction towards awards shows in general. They’re tedious, predictable and most of all downright bland yet I almost always insist we watch most of the ones that are televised, everything from the Golden Globes to the British Soap Awards (I really love Coronation Street, big whoop, wanna fight about it?). Maybe it’s because I want to sneer and spit venom at the people in attendance or maybe it’s because I dream that one day I will be one of the people in attendance. I trained for 3 years at Drama school to be an actor, which never really panned out but thats not to say it never will and if it ever does happen I want to be well prepared. So watching the Baftas or Oscars, and even the red carpet coverage that preceeds them, can be counted as some low level research into what may happen some day (yeah right!!). But I cannot stand the Brit awards.

Everything about the Brit awards is fucking horrible. There is a distinct lack of atmosphere, even though they pack out an arena and include what is supposedly the worlds hottest acts the whole evening limps along like I used to pre-surgery. Probably because the amount of people who attend and actually want to watch the show account for about a tenth of the audience. The rest is taken up by those who actually work in the industry and why would they care about what is happening or who is playing? That cuts into time they could better spend by being arseholes, which apparently is their favourite pastime.

Another of the biggest annoyances comes from the fact that you’re supposed to believe that the Brits are in some way dangerous and super controversial. Like something unbelievably rock’n’roll will happen and it’s a shock that this time bomb will be broadcast live to the nation on ITV. This is based on the fact that Jarvis Cocker once made pretend fart motions on stage during Michael Jackson’s ‘I’m Jesus’ routine, and someone from Chumbawamba threw a bucket of water over John Prescott. Woah now, these bad boys are out of control. Truth is, nothing even vaguely interesting happens and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Just look at the nominees as evidence of this. If they were a colour it would be something so bland that it makes beige look exciting. Why should such blandness be so celebrated? I don’t know which category to get more excited about first, Could Elbow possibly be considered better than Coldplay to take home best British group? Or will Ed Sheeran beat off stiff competition from James Morrisson to take home the gong for British Male Solo Artist in a category which should be re-titled ‘Biggest rape of an acoustic guitar’.

I could go on but I think it would be better if I could come up with a suggestion of how to make the awards infinitely better. Here is one possible solution: Make it my sole responsibilty to choose the winner of British Album of the Year. This, after all, is the ‘Big One’. The one they save for last and the whole awards show builds up to. By letting me choose then would at least make me want to watch the damn thing, so thats it decided and I have made my decision.

The winner of British album of the year goes to…………. BASTIONS for ‘Hospital corners’

After focussing on BASTIONS and their entourage jumping up in celebration, the camera would then pan over to BASEMENT who look a bit disappointed having been pipped to the award. The camera would then sweep back over the still warm corpses of Adele, Florence and all her machines and Coldplay who had mentioned tasting something funny in their champagne but had thought nothing better of it, and back to BASTIONS who are now thanking their p.a’s, stylists and fluffers. Or maybe not!!

BASTIONS would have to win though. Although I only got the album in the last few weeks, which explains why they weren’t included in my top 10 albums of 2011, the record has immediately become a firm favourite. I saw them play in Margate late last year and they were everything I want from a hardcore band. They were loud and powerful yet self effacing and awkward. No macho posturing or arrogance to put your neck out of joint, just good, honest hardcore with hooks a plenty. The album carries this forward. Interesting and exciting, with a pure vocal delivery, Jamie Burne’s amazing voice is backed up by a band who want to push things forward. Nothing is overdone, the guitar sound is big but at the same time raw and loose. Never reliant on reverting to customary tricks each song takes surprise twists here and there to make the album essential listening. Music not just to get up and jump around like a maniac to but also to sit, listen and appreciate the work and skill on display.

The abum is full of stand out tracks, like the epic closer ‘Dark Father’ and the immense ‘Warmth of the world’. Below is the video for track 2 on the record, ‘Visitant’. Maybe spend two hour watching this over and over tonight instead of the Brits, or the Shits as they should be called (yeah, good one!!). Or just spend the evening stuffing your face with pancakes, either way thanks for reading.

Cheers Guys xx

BRITs compilations

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The 10 best records of 2011 (according to me)

2011 has been a very weird year!

If you’ve watched the news for more than 10 seconds at any given point during the last 12 months then you will be of the opinion that the world is ruined. What we need in these times is something to distract our worried minds, after all ignorance is indeed bliss. So, luckily, it’s been a very good year music wise. There have been so many amazing bands making amazing music that I’ve fallen behind and am still playing catch up.

This is a list of the 10 records released this year that have meant the most to me.

10 – Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here

My favourite British band of this year and one of the only bands I actually got to see live in 2011, Basement, represent all that is good about underground music. Working towards a hardcore DIY ethic, making honest music and getting out, playing live with no hidden agenda. They released their debut full length ‘I wish I could stay here’ during the summer on Run For Cover records and it’s 10 tracks of brilliant, heartfelt post hardcore.

Click HERE to go to their site

9 – Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Polar Bear Club brought a maturity to their sound and songwriting on this peach of an album. Still keeping the rawness of their previous output, ‘Clash Battle Guilt Pride’ saw the band come into their own. Instantly likeable, heart on their sleeve punk rock. And Jimmy Stadt has just about one of the best voices in rock and roll right now.

Click HERE to go their myspace page

8 – Touché Amoré – Parting the sea between brightness and me

‘Parting the sea….’ is 13 tracks of superb hardcore compacted in to 22 minutes. There is no messing about here, they had a job to do and they got that job done. Intense, precise, raw and powerful. A very good friend of mine, Paul (who also blogs HERE), recently stated that “Hardcore needs more hooks”. I do completely agree with that but you can definately find hooks, melody and more on this brilliant record. Touché Amoré do a brilliant job of mixing the quiet with the loud while at no point losing any of their power. 22 minutes of joy!!

Click HERE to go to their website

7 – Wavelets – Athaletics

I keep returning to this album time and time again. It’s deliciously warm charm has dug it’s claws deep into me. The songs are intricately complex and uplifting in equal measure. Embracing the indie emo sound from the late 90’s and with a perfectly lo-fi production this record sets itself apart from the over produced, copycat bands that claim to be from the same scene. And with song titles like ‘We’re really jazzed about the gig’ and ‘Bad scene, Jawbreakers fault’, how could you resist? Also has my favourite cover artwork of this year too.

Click HERE to go to their bandcamp page

6 – I am the avalanche – Avalanche United

Not many bands could leave SIX years between releasing their first and second albums and get away with it. IATA have pulled it off though, and with good reason. ‘Avalanche United’ is everything a good pop punk album should be, loud, in you face and catchy as hell. I was surprised how good an album this was, I didn’t think it would better the first album which has been on the stereo in our house consistently over the last 6 years, but that it did. They certainly deserve the adulation they receive just maybe don’t leave us hanging so long next time, huh??

Click HERE to go to their myspace

5 – Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless nights

Defeater are setting the bar for modern hardcore bands. Environmentally conscious and socially aware, they are trying something different and succeeding. ‘Empty days & Sleepless nights’ continues with their narrative concept that begun with their debut album ‘Travels’. They back this up with brutally brilliant and infectious hardcore/post hardcore/screamo or whatever it is that describes them best. Fucking awesome is probably the best description I can give.

4 – Title Fight -Shed

Title Fight have been touring the UK recently and I am completely gutted that i’ve missed out. Their debut album, ‘Shed’, is a lesson in how fresh, honest and amazing pop punk can sound. Produced by the legend that is Walter Schreifels (Rival Schools, Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits), this is 12 punchy tracks delivered at pace with brilliantly delivered, almost screamed vocals. Watching them on youtube, they seem to stir up a stagediving frenzy every time they play live, so here’s hoping that they return to these shores sooner rather than later.

3 – Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Flies

If I ever feel down in the dumps and it happens, this year has been hard at times, I know that if I reach for this record a smile on my face won’t be long in coming. There is something in the sound and the way that they play that brings me much pleasure, they manage to out Cap’n Jazz as the kings of Cap’n Jazz style emo pop. Not that they sound the same as other bands, they manage to bring originality and joy to the scene. Perfect indie fare that also brings to mind Built to Spill and Pavement in places. Especially at the end of the first track, ‘Springing Leaks’, when it tails off into the most gorgeous guitar solo that evokes summer like no other band could.

Click HERE to go and listen at bandcamp

2 – Transit – Listen & Forgive

Transit win the 2011 award for “Album I’ve most embarrassed myself by singing along very loudly in my car to!!!”. It’s not a very prestigious title but it’s definitely an amazing record. How could you put it on and not sing along? It’s hit after hit of Pop punk goodness but with a healthy 90’s emo leaning. The Get Up Kids must’ve listened to this record and wished they could still make them as good.
They were also on the tour with Title Fight in the UK recently and by all accounts were completely amazing, so that’s more reason for me to damn my stupid back to hell. I’ll just have to console myself with another hearty singalong.

1 – Pianos become the teeth – The Lack Long After

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, and if you have can I just take this opportunity to say “wow, thanks and you have my pity x”, then it will come as no surprise that I have chosen ‘The lack long after’ as the best record of 2011. Pianos Become The Teeth are my current favourite band in the world and this album, to me, is an instant classic. Genuinely affecting and at times exhausting to listen to, this album stands head and shoulders above the rest this year. It is dark and heavy but also beautiful, Kyle Durfey has a voice full of pain and anguish that manages to be both powerful and fragile, sometimes even in the same song. Essential music that I can whole heartedly reccomend to anyone.

So, have I got it right? What do you think are the best records of 2011? What am I missing? Let me know.
Cheers xx

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This one time at bandcamp.com

Where did all the record shops go? In our area of east kent the amount of record shops left could be counted on the fingers of one hand, a hand with no thumb or pinkie. Unless you count the supermarkets, they sell c.d’s, c.d’s that must appeal to some people, maybe to people with taste so bland they wouldn’t dream of putting a little pepper on their beans on toast for fear of it being too spicy. So lets not count supermarkets. Basically what i’m saying is there ain’t many record shops anymore. Even HMV is barely recognisable now, part Carphone Warehouse and part Dixons with a few albums stashed away at the back out of view. The last time I went there you could pick up the Pulled Apart By Horses self titled album for a mere £25!!!! and they wonder why they have a decline in cd sales. Apparently no-one buys albums anymore, especially not guitar based ones. Rock’n’roll is dead. It must be, I read it on twitter.

Obviously, most people get their music digitally these days. I personally don’t do illegal downloads, mainly because the laptop I have can hardly function as it is, it could never handle the extra workload. Luckily a good friend introduced me to Bandcamp, or to put it another way the best website in the whole www. Before Bandcamp I used iTunes a lot. There is nothing wrong with iTunes and I still use it but it’s a bit like going in the big HMV in Oxford st all the time and not knowing that select-a-disc is round the corner in Berwick st. Please note, I’ve not been to London in a while so my references may be a bit out of date. Going on bandcamp is like going to an independent record store, a really good one that sells great music at great prices, sometimes letting you pay what you want or insisting that you have albums for free. You can always try before you buy, stream whole songs instead of just giving you 30 second soundbites. Importantly, the money you pay goes directly to the band/indie label which means that you really get to support independent music. Bands you find tag other bands/genres/labels to help you find more new music. It’s easy to find music from all over the world as well as stuff from your local scene so the next time you turn up to a local show you can do that ‘grab the mic from the singer and sing yourself’ thing which is popular these days. It really helped me get my love of new music back. It let me know that there is still a really healthy scene out there. So the way we shop for music has changed but the basics are still the same, you can whore it up at the big stores or you can go indie and still feel part of something, just now you can do it sat in your pants in that 5 minute break you allow yourself away from all the porno. If you haven’t been there then go.

Here are a few of my favourite things you can find at bandcamp:

Algernon Cadwallader – Listen to.

This is 4 tracks of absolute bliss to download completely free of charge comprising of 2 older songs and 2 from the new album ‘Parrot Flies’. I couldn’t help but be blown away by this band the first time I heard them, playing a loose Cap’n Jazz style emo full of energy and enough fun to give you a face ache. They recently toured but at the same time i was having surgery so missed out on what must have been an epic experience. Track 2 ‘Some Kind Of Cadwallader’ could be one of the best songs ever written, love love love it!!

http://algernoncadwallader.bandcamp.com/album/listen-to

Basement – Songs about the Weather

Basement are one of the best bands the UK has to offer, hailing from Ipswich they play fast, heavy emo hardcore in the vein of ‘Title Fight’. No-nonsense, no gimmicks just straight up, honest and essential, these 6 songs are on a ‘name your price’ basis with no minimum fee. They were the best band on the bill when I saw them in Margate a few months ago supporting Daylight and Hostage Calm.

http://basement.bandcamp.com/

Iron Chic – Not Like This

Iron Chic are from Long Island and play punk rock exactly as it should be played. Plenty of fist in the air choruses to brighten up the most boring of days. The kind of songs you wanna get up and jump around to. This is a complete 10 track album and again they allow you to name your price with no minimum, bargain!!

http://ironchic.bandcamp.com/album/not-like-this

Castevet (cstvt) – The Echo & The Light

This is 8 tracks of complete emo/punk brilliance. Released in 2009 on the fantastic Tiny Engines label, CSTVT play plinky fiddly emo straight from the 1990’s with a hard, fast edge. The kind of mathy excellence Braid would be making if they were still around, oh they are still around, oh well get this anyway. This is $8 which will translate to about £5.14, and worth every single penny.

http://tinyengines.bandcamp.com/album/the-echo-the-light

Snowing – I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted

Following in a similar vein to CSTVT, I had to mention this as Snowing split up a week or so ago and this a shame, a damn shame. This is a really good record. Fast, noisy, complicated indie emo with a loose DIY sound. I only got this album a month or so before they split and feel gutted that i’ll never experience Snowing in a live setting. They may be gone but this will rocking my stereo for a long time to come. 11 songs for no money, you can’t say fairer than that.

http://countyourluckystars.bandcamp.com/album/i-could-do-whatever-i-wanted-if-i-wanted

And one last mention goes to a band from Margate who, once upon a time, I was apart of. They are once again a fully functioning band that maybe coming to a town near you at some point so watch out. I haven’t seen them yet since they reformed but here is a link for the free ‘greatest hits’ comp that will transport you back to the turn of the millenium, backpacks and ponity fingers at the ready, its the Babies Three

http://babiesthree.bandcamp.com/album/tb3lp

Thanks guys, let me know what you think and any suggestions for bands I should be checking out.

Alex.

Below is a pic that should make you laugh your arse off.

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