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IS THIS THING ON’S TOP 20 RECORDS OF 2013 PART 2 (No’s 10-1)

Previously on ‘Is this thing on?’s top 20 records of 2013:

20 – Tancred – S/T
19 – Pity Sex – Feast Of Love
18 – Touché Amoré – Is Survived By
17 – Wild Moth – Over, Again
16 – Dowsing – I Don’t Even Care Anymore
15 – Sed Non Satiata – Mappô
14 – State Faults – Resonate/Desperate
13 – Placeholder – I Don’t Need Forgiveness
12 – The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
11 – Nai Harvest – Whatever

To read more on no’s 20 to 11 click HERE

So, as promised, here is the top ten. Thanks so much for reading and sharing and everything this year, it’s been awesome!!!!

10 – Brave Bird – Maybe You, No One Else Worth It

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This album seemed to come out so long ago that I had to check it was definitely eligible for this list. One of the early indicators that 2013 was going to be another superb year for good music, this album is full of top quality emo noodling and more hooks than a fishing tackle shop.

9 – California X – California X

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I spent an evening in the summer browsing through the ‘related artists’ section on spotify looking for something I may have missed and stumbled across California X. A couple of days later my best friend is sat in my lounge telling me that they’re playing in Canterbury a week later, a very happy coincidence indeed because that show was amazing. They well and truly blew us all away and the album has become a firm favourite ever since. Summery grunge with massive riffs giving some credibility to a drop d tuning!!

8 – Lemuria – The Distance Is So Big

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A mark, for me, of how catchy a record is is if, after a couple of hours of playing it, my kids are still singing along. And that happened a lot with this brilliant album by Lemuria. I was a big fan of their last album but I think they excelled themselves with ‘The Distance Is So Big’, indie emo rock of the highest quality.

7 – Reiziger – Kodiak Station

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Just when I thought the whole ‘reunion’ thing had peaked one of my favourite 90’s emo bands returned and with a new album to boot. It had never occurred to me that Reiziger might make new music, I was so excited to get ‘Kodiak Station’ and even more excited to find out that it’s really, really good. It may sound a million miles from the ‘Don’t Bind My Hands’ EP but it is unmistakably Reiziger, now with a more polished production to their discordant, indie gems.

6 – Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

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‘Weird Sister’ is raw, lo-fi, indie punk at its best care of Cardiff’s finest, the brilliantly named, Joanna Gruesome. This is a debut album that marks the band out as one of the most exciting new bands to come out of the UK this year, I’m still gutted that I had to leave ‘About Time 2’ before they came on because I bet they’re awesome live.

5 – State Lines – For The Boats

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If it’s quality songwriting and anthem after anthem that you’re after then look no further than State Lines. A nod to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ here, a fantastic Hip Hop intro there and a whole record packed full of straight up, indie punk rock with vocals delivered like an emo Tim Armstrong are what you’ll find on ‘For The Boats’. And trust me when I say that you’ll want to listen to this record time and time again!!!

4 – Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual

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After all these years an Appleseed Cast record is always something to get hyped up about and all the more so when the record is as good as ‘Illumination Ritual’. The current line up have injected energy and a new creativity to the band, making a memorable record with plenty to enjoy. Seeing them play most of these songs live, back in October, also heightened my love for this record too. They were brilliant, if you used to love this band and haven’t thought to check this album out yet, what the hell are you waiting for?? Do it now!!

3 – Football, Etc. – Audible

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Football, Etc spoil us rotten, not only do they tour the UK with admirable regularity, they also release music of the highest quality on a very consistent basis. I love their last record, ‘The Draft’, but ‘Audible’ certainly feels like a step up. It seems like they’ve got a new found confidence as a band now which has increased the quality of the songwriting and delivery. ‘Audible’ comes across as a band that are having immense amounts of fun playing as a complete unit, Football, Etc have definitely found their feet. Amazing stuff!!

2 – Foxing – The Albatross

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I did try to review ‘The Albatross’ a few weeks back but ended up going out on a more personal tangent (you can read that by clicking HERE) so I should probably say some more things about the record here. But what else is there to say apart from the fact that ‘The Albatross’ is an earth shatteringly beautiful album that will take you on an exhausting journey through a range of emotions but still leaves you wanting more. I can’t think of another band that has made such an impact on this emo scene in such a short space of time as Foxing have, they thoroughly deserve all the plaudits and I had thought that no other band would come close to usurping my number one album this year but with ‘The Albatross’, Foxing came damn close to doing just that. Absolutely incredible.

1 – Crash Of Rhinos – Knots

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If you’ve read this blog or spoken to me this year at all then it’ll come as no surprise to you that Crash Of Rhinos genius record, ‘Knots’, is my album of the year for 2013. This is the record that I’ve been waiting years for, the kind of record I had thought would never be made again, emo/post hardcore at its incredible best. Crash Of Rhinos make no point of trying to hide their influences but manage to push things forward to make, what is not, an album that is trying to revive the past but a completely modern and relevant emo record. ‘Knots’ is five accomplished musicians at the very top of their game coming together to make magic. To top things off they’re also a brilliant live band, they really can do no wrong. If for some reason you haven’t heard this record yet the click HERE to go to their bandcamp page where ‘Knots’ is currently available for free, you have no excuse and you definitely will not be disappointed. WELL DONE CRASH OF RHINOS, YOU’RE NUMBER ONE!!!!

Thanks for reading!! Get in touch here or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, on twitter @alex_itto or email ittoblog@gmail.com

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REVIEW: CRASH OF RHINOS – KNOTS

Band – Crash Of Rhinos

Album – Knots

Label – Big Scary Monsters/Topshelf Records/To Lose La Track

The last review I wrote, which was for the new Jimmy Eat World record, was written whilst trying to cope with the sleepless nights our new baby daughter was putting us through. She’s 9 weeks old now and either she’s getting better at sleeping or we’re just getting used to the lack of rest, either way I think I can write this review with more of a clear mind. There have been several things I’ve wanted to write about recently, new bands/albums/gigs etc… And I will get to all of these eventually but this just had to come first, let me tell you for why.

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Crash Of Rhinos are a band who like to make you wait, its been an age since they released their brilliant debut ‘Distal’ and their live shows are few and far between. But like your Nan would always says, ‘good things come to those who wait’. In this instance that phrase could be substituted with ‘Amazingly fucking great things come to those who’ve been desperately waiting for the new Crash of Rhinos record!!!’.

How often is it that you build up anticipation for a new record by some band and it meets all expectations? Well, ‘Knots’ is one of those rare records that not only meet those expectations but also blow those expectations apart. This is a monster of a record, I knew from the first listen that I would have trouble putting in to words that effect that the record is having on me. And just to say that its incredible will do it an injustice. I said before when reviewing Crash Of Rhinos that they are the best emo band from the UK since Spy vs Spy, but on the basis of ‘Knots’ you could argue that Crash Of Rhinos are one of the best emo bands ever, regardless of geography. I know you can get carried away when you first fall in love with a record, that love can fade and you’ll look back in a few years and have a totally different opinion on it. But I wanna tell you about this record now, I don’t wanna give it time, and at the moment I’m getting the same feeling listening to it that I did when I first heard ‘Mare Vitalis’ by Appleseed Cast.

You can easily draw comparisons with Appleseed Cast, a band who to me are one of the best emo bands ever. Both Crash Of Rhinos and Appleseed Cast write beautifully crafted songs, full of intricate details and emotion that can last over 6 minutes whilst never out staying their welcome. Crash Of Rhinos are more than just a lazy comparison with another band though and comparing them to Appleseed Cast won’t really help me to convey to you what to expect with this record.

‘Knots’ is a complete album, that is to say that it requires and demands your attention from beginning to end. It’s not an album with just a couple of great songs and then twenty minutes of filler. It’s also complete in the way that Crash Of Rhinos have really come in to their own with this record. There are less obvious influences on show here and fewer styles being played with, ‘Knots’ is Crash Of Rhinos being themselves and standing head and shoulders above the crowd because of this.

The opening song ‘Luck Has A Name’ sets the standard amazingly high but they never stray to far from this, the quality runs through the whole of the record. And that’s quality of songs and quality in the musicianship on display too. Crash Of Rhinos are a band full of accomplished musicians, they all compliment each other so well, knowing what is needed for the song at any one particular moment. The guitar work is intricate and interesting, the rhythm section is genuinely solid and the many vocals are always heartfelt. Combine this with the song writing and the absorbing production and you have one hell of a record. I really can’t say enough good things about ‘Knots’, I’d usually pick out my favourite songs and talk about them but that is very hard to do when they are all standout songs. I knew how much of a banger ‘Opener’ was as it was the first song to be streamed from the album, ‘Sum of all parts’ should be applauded simply for the reason of how much it rocks and ‘Lean out’ is a song that leaves me absolutely spellbound, its jaw-droppingly good! I could have mentioned any of the songs though, there isn’t one that doesn’t fit in or lets the album down and although this is quite a long album, listening to it from beginning to end is the only option you have.

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I was driving along listening to ‘Knots’ and for some reason the idea that this album is the emo ‘OK Computer’ came in to my head. ‘Knots’ sounds nothing like ‘OK Computer’ but I think it is a game changer. The same way that Radiohead went from being a good band to a legendary band with that one record, I see Crash Of Rhinos doing no less. Hopefully they won’t now go on to make weirdy dance shit records (best Radiohead description, ever) instead just concentrating on making some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years like they do here on ‘Knots’. That’s right, I said its some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years, trust me it really is that good.

Crash of Rhinos will be supporting Braid on their UK tour, I’ll be seeing them play London on my birthday and literally cannot wait, don’t you miss out!!!

http://www.crashofrhinos.co.uk

Thanks for reading!! Stay in touch here, or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on Twitter @alex_itto

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Review (of sorts) – Crash Of Rhinos – Distal

Having just spent a good few months listening to and writing about nothing else but emo, it was my plan to listen to and write about something completely different. Nearing the completion of the Top 100 Emo Songs, I had bought the new Cancer Bats album in readiness to use as a sort of punk metal palate cleanser, something to refresh the senses. That was the plan until I received an e-mail from Big Scary Monsters containing a few recommendations of bands I may enjoy which triggered a memory of something I’d been meaning to check out for a while.

Whilst I’d been being extremely nostalgic and re-listening to music for the purpose of compiling the Emo 100, sitting patiently on my iPod were a few things I had downloaded and put on the back burner for the time being. One of these such bands were Crash Of Rhinos. I knew I was behind the times myself already as the ‘Distal’ album had been available since last April and that e-mail I received served as the kick up the arse I needed to start listening to new things again. It wasn’t my initial intention to review it just because it had been out for so long already but having been blown away by it on the first listen, I couldn’t not write something about it. Plus, Big scary Monsters have recently released it on cassette so I guess I can justify a, rather late, review.

The first thing  need to say is that ‘Distal’ is brilliant! Just in case you weren’t sure which way I was going with this. The second thing is that they’re British, which is also brilliant as it means there is a good chance I’ll get to see them play some time soon. Crash Of Rhinos come from Derby, they used to play in The Jesus Years and The Little Explorer and have 2 guitarists, 2 bassists, an amazing drummer and a fuck load of vocals. They play intricate, beautiful and epic emo which stirs up memories of a plethora of incredible bands like caP’n Jazz, Mineral and Cursive. Whilst all the while sounding completely like their own band.

Crash Of Rhinos aren’t afraid to let their songs breathe, most of the 7 songs featured on the album stretch longer than the 6 minute mark but at no time do they out stay their welcome. It shows a lot of confidence in their ability to write really captivating music that they can trust their songs to extend to these lengths without feeling the need to rehash parts or cut anything short. ‘Distal’ starts with the uplifting ‘Big Sea’ and from the very start you’re drawn in, by the time the vocals start you want to be joining in and singing along at full voice. It moves from a big rock beginnings to twinkly intricate breakdowns and back again seamlessly. The next track, ‘Stiltwalker’, starts with another great riff and is played at a frenetic pace and although it does go on to break things down quietly you never think they’re repeating themselves. The song builds moodily in to a brilliant climax, the riff at the end is where they remind me of Cursive, a sound so good it makes me wish I was still in a band.

From there track 3, ‘Wide Awake’, is lighter, the verse is gorgeous and paves the way for the Mineral-esque track 4, ‘Lifewood’. The album never dips at any point, ‘Gold on Red’ and ‘Closure’ both bring different things to the record whilst maintaining the quality. ‘Distal’ finishes with 7 and half minutes of absolute brilliance, ‘Asleep’ shows the band combining at their best, the tight rhythm section thunders the song along. There are shades of ‘End of the ring wars’ era Appleseed Cast here, its a perfect end to an amazing album.

If Spy Versus Spy were the best British emo band of the old wave then Crash Of Rhinos certainly hold that title for this emo revival. Makes me kick myself that their not included in the Top 100 emo songs list because if I had heard them this time last year I can’t see that I would have left them out. If I do make that list an annual thing, which is under consideration, then I’m sure Crash Of Rhinos would secure themselve a new entry. Especially as I’ve just read that their working on a new album that should be released before the year is out. I can’t seriously recommend this highly enough and fingers crossed they’ll be playing somewhere in the south east soon  so I can write more nice tthings about them.

Click HERE to go to the Crash Of Rhinos bandcamp site, or HERE for the Big Scary Monsters site.

Cheers for reading xxx

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So this is the new year!

Hey. We have made it to 2012, well done us!!

Although the new year has begun and we are now a few days into it, my wife and I have decided that our new year will not begin until February due to the fact that on the 28th of January I will be having more surgery on my back.

I have yet to heal from the prolapsed disc that I had back in June of last year, and before that the annular tear I had in the same disc in November of 2010, so I will be having the bottom of my spine fused. Hopefully this will be an end to the pain and the painkillers that have plagued me for over a year. We feel a bit like we’re in a weird limbo at the moment so our 2012 will begin once the surgery is out of the way, all going to plan. My goal is to be recovered in time to see Stewart Lee at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on the 24th of February which we bought tickets for before it became apparent that I would need extra surgery. It may be a bit ambitious (and foolish) but I’m trying to stay positive at the moment.

Hopefully that will be the first of many things I get to see/do in 2012. Having missed seeing bands like Title Fight, Transit, Defeater, I am the avalanche and Balance & Composure in 2011, I wanna make sure I make up for it this year.

I am desperate to go to Hevy Festival this August, last years line up was like a whos-who of my favourite bands and I can’t see why this year should be any different. The first bands to play will be announced in January so now is definitely a good time to be getting excited about it.

Another tour to be getting very excited about, for obvious reasons, is the Touche Amore UK tour which will be heading our way this March. As if seeing one of the most interesting bands in modern hardcore isn’t reason enough to be buying spare underwear, they are touring with Pianos Become The Teeth!!! This will surely be the best reason to visit London this year, sod the Olympics. If Sebastian Coe should hear ‘The Lack Long After’ I know he will say the same. Maybe. They are touring throughout the UK and will be playing the XOYO in London on the 28th of March.

2012 also sees the return of everybody’s favourite METAL band, Cancer Bats. The hairy Canadians have this week announced that, to celebrate the upcoming release of their new album, ‘Dead Set On Living’, on Hassle Records in April, they will be playing SIX!!?! shows in London in one day. Starting at the Old Blue Last at 11.30am they will then play Notting Hill Arts Club, Upstairs at the Garage, Brixton Windmill and the Barfly, culminating in a second show at the Old Blue Last at midnight. If you look at where the six venues are on a map of London it shapes out a pentagram!! How metal is that??  When we saw Cancer Bats at the Quarterhouse in Folkestone back in 2010, they were so loud my friend Paul’s hearing didn’t come back for days so best of luck to anyone who braves all six shows.

I’m looking forward, in general, to listening to a hell of a lot of good new music in 2012. For the last week i’ve been really enjoying Tangled Hair. Their ‘Apples’ ep was the bargain price of £2 on the Big Scary Monsters bandcamp page last week and its stayed on my car stereo since. They play infectious, math indie pop that draws you in from the first listen. They have some awesomely tricky time signatures too which are clearly destined to make me look like a fool for trying to dance along if I get to see them live. There is a video below of them playing at Banquet Records last year for you to enjoy.

Until next time, cheers guys xx

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