Tag Archives: the world is a beautiful place and i am no longer afraid to die

IS THIS THING ON?’S TOP 20 RECORDS OF 2013 PART 1 (No’s 20-11)

It definitely is that time of year again and you’re probably already sick of album of the year lists but here I am to give you what I consider to be the best records of 2013. This year it’s a top 20 for 2 reasons, 1 – there has been a LOT of great records this year and 2 – because I’ve been so slack at posting reviews this year I thought this would be a good way to catch up. So here goes:

20. Tancred – S/T

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I had no idea what to expect with this record, hadn’t heard anything before and hadn’t read anything about it but as soon as I pressed play I was an instant fan. Brilliant grungey indie rock in the style of Juliana Hatfield, with plenty of catchy songs and charm.

19. Pity Sex – Feast Of Love

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Always love it when a band with a great name also turn out to be a great band and Pity Sex are no exception. Shoegazey, poppy, punk rock with superb, dreamy, downbeat vocals is a pretty lazy description but it hits the nail on the head. I would’ve listened to this record more but every time I looked at a distro they’ve already sold out of their copies, damn hip kids with their pocket money taking all my records!!!!

18. Touché Amoré – Is Survived By

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Touché Amoré are a band that just get better and better with every record they release. I have completely fallen in love with this new record, whilst being instantly recognisable as a Touché record it is also quite a departure to a more melodic and heartfelt sound. There’s still all the power and attack that you would want and expect but there’s also melodies and hook after hook. Very highly recommended listening.

17. Wild Moth – Over, Again

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Became aware of these guys through the SNCL mailing list, they came very highly recommended and they certainly live up to the expectation. Mixing brilliant post hardcore with indie sensibilities and the song writing ability of a band like The Cribs. (The first song really reminds me of The Cribs, which to me is high praise because I love The Cribs!). You’ll have this on repeat so definitely go and check this out.

16. Dowsing – I Don’t Even Care Anymore

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I’ve written loads about Dowsing in the past and the only reason I haven’t expressed love for this record on this blog already is because having four kids is so tiring and I just haven’t had time. I literally can’t go a blog post without writing lame excuses about why I’m so behind at updating this blog, I’m sorry. You know what to expect with a Dowsing record, you know the songs will be top notch and the melodies to be catchy as hell. This album requires a bit more work for the listener than the previous one but with work comes rewards. Check out the excellent title track ‘I don’t even care anymore’, sounds like a song that should be soundtracking the end credits of a 90’s teen movie, perfectly brilliant!!

15. Sed Non Satiata – Mappo

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This album is testament to the fact that taking recommendations from other blogs you love will pay off handsomely. First learned of this band through Cut and Paste and haven’t looked back since. Screamo/emo hardcore always sounds better in French, a brooding intensity blasts out of the speakers here, thrilling stuff!

14. State Faults – Resonate/Desperate

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This record hits the ground running and keeps the energy up to the last note. Much more focused and precise than the first album, this record is the ultimate record to throw yourself about like a lunatic too. Hopefully they’ll tour the UK in the next 12 months so I can see a whole room of people throwing themselves round like lunatics to this awesome screamo goodness.

13. Placeholder – I Don’t Need Forgiveness

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A lot of bands have adopted a huge grunge influence into their melodic punk rock, but not many bands have done it in the brilliantly lo-fi way that Placeholder have. I probably won’t ever grow tired of bands using the 90’s as a reference point especially when they’re making records as good as this one!

12. The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever

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BAND WITH MOST EMO NAME EVER LIVES UP TO THE HYPE BY RELEASING A GREAT RECORD, is the headline the tabloid press would run with if the world worked like it does in my head. Twinkly bits, post rock bits, synth melodies and everything else that is making the cynics, who have been put off by the band name, turn their noses up just makes me love this band more. I bought my ticket to see these guys in Brighton in April within seconds of seeing they were on sale and cannot wait to go!!!

11. Nai Harvest – Whatever

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I saw these guys play twice this year and both times they were on top form, even the time in the pub on Margate seafront at the height of summer when it was too hot for most in attendance to bother coming inside to watch the bands. Nai Harvest seemed to have been everywhere this year causing quite a stir amongst all the UK emos, they have become behemoths of the scene ready to conquer all with their overly catchy emo rock. Rumour has it their new stuff is leaning more towards lo-fi indie rock and that sounds pretty exciting to me, expect to see plenty more of Nai Harvest in 2014!!

The TOP 10 will be published in the next couple of days.

Thanks for reading.

Get in touch here or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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EMO IS BACK!! (Just don’t call it a revival)

In the last few weeks its become apparent that some more widely read media outlets have taken an interest in emo once again. First of all reviews for The World Is A Beautiful Place and Crash Of Rhinos have been popping up for all the hipsters out there on Pitchfork and now Stereogum have posted an article about an ’emo revival’ complete with a guide to 12 must hear bands. There have been mixed reactions to the news that these bands are receiving this kind of attention and, in the main, it’s nothing to do with how mainstream these sites are. No, it’s more to with the name they’re being labelled with. AGAIN WITH THE NAME!! It seems that ‘revival’ is the new dirty word. And I, for one, am guilty of using and applying it to the bands of today. But, come on, is it really all that bad? Okay, so emo never went away but for a lot of us it was pretty shit for a good few years in the mid 00’s.

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I’ve explained many times why two years ago I started writing this blog so bare with me as I rehash that because I feel it’s relevant to my point. Where I live, near Margate in the south east of England, there was a pretty decent and vibrant punk/emo scene at the end of the 90’s to the beginning of the 21st century. We had various venues where every week there was always something going on. A lot of amazing touring bands came here and usually received a very warm welcome with great support from the many local bands that existed at the time. There was a real buzz about the place and it was really exciting for someone in their late teens to be a part of. I got into emo in a big way in 1998, I was aware that there was some derision associated with the name but that didn’t seem to matter one bit. The band I was in stopped writing throw away pop punk songs and instead took our lead from bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Van Pelt, Built to spill among others and injecting it with some hardcore here and there. when we toured England in Easter 1999 with Sunfactor and Rydell, although there were a couple of duff shows, we felt like we were part of something that was happening there and then.

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As the years went by things changed a lot. People moved away, tastes changed and the local scene looked like it was dead and buried. By 2006 the band I was in at the time were playing ugly pop songs for people who like us felt jaded with music (in the truth we were trying to be Q and not U but were obviously not that good). We split up because it was all going nowhere, we found it impossibly hard to find gigs and when we did barely anyone showed up. After that I kind of gave up on music, I didn’t wanna play anymore and most of my friends were listening to other things now. I found it hard to find new bands that I connected with, if I asked people what they were listening to it was usually met with the same response, ‘Same old stuff’. And I did too. And then to make things worse I was being told that what I was in to was no longer the thing I thought it was.

In the mid 00’s I worked in a cinema, some teenagers were coming into the lobby and one of my colleagues described them as a bunch of emo’s. I looked up expecting to see a bunch of people wearing backpacks, checked shirts, NHS glasses and holding a copy of Fracture fanzine but instead all I could see were some goths. I laughed and corrected my colleague but he just laughed and set me straight, ‘you’re old emo, this is what emo is now’. ‘Fuck off’ was my initial response but he was right. This made me give up even more, no band to play in, no bands to go and see locally and now I couldn’t even tell people what music I liked without people thinking I sat at home cutting myself.

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Then in 2010 my best friend told me to check out a band called Algernon Cadwallader, being an obedient friend I did as I was told and holy shit I was blown away. The fact that this band existed completely renewed my interest in music and I was even more blown away to find that they weren’t the only band out there playing this kind of music. There were hundreds, with d.i.y labels and local scenes popping up all over the place. It felt lke it was happening all over again and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could’ve been 19 again, people were referencing the 90’s, bands were coming to play locally, I was finding out about bands by word of mouth and no one was dressing like a goth anymore. Emo had been revived!! I desperately wanted to be a part of it but my back was shot to shit and required a number of operations so playing in a band was out of the question so that’s why I started this blog. If I couldn’t contribute musically then I could at least help spread the word by writing about it and letting people know how awesome it all was.

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I’ve never been one to worry about things being labelled. Sure, labels are for soup cans but they’re also pretty damn helpful when you go into a record store so you don’t have to sift through a load of Country and Western bands to find the thing you want. I never had a problem referring to bands as emo and was happy to describe the band I was in as an emo band. It seemed to me that the bands that had the biggest problem with being labelled as emo, back in the day, would end up making sub standard records just to prove a point. They shot themselves in the foot and tht all lead to the scene dying away. One of the main differences I’ve noticed about this newest wave of emo is that bands no longer seemed to have a problem with that name. It no longer had the awful connotations it once did. And describing a band as an emo revival band just seemed a way to differentiate the new from the old. To celebrate the fact that the scene was again as vibrant as it once was. It doesn’t apply to every band but some it seems really appropriate for. But saying ’emo revival’ seems to be a problem now. Not as big as a problem as some bands being called ‘twinkle daddies’ but a problem none the less.

After about a year of falling in love with all these newer bands I started to wonder what would be the thing that kills emo again. There were so many parallels being drawn with what is happening now and what happened in the late 90s (Joie De Vivre are the new Mineral, CYLS is the new Deep Elm etc) that I thought the same thing would happen again, that it would be killed by its own popularity. Although a lot has changed since the late 90’s, the record industry is a completely different beast now. Surely no band can break through on a major label now because things don’t seem to work that way these days. So are we going to kill it off ourselves by the labels we’ve all been using? Are we our own worst enemies? Are we all set to bail before it becomes really popular in a mainstream way again??

Well, you can do what you want because I’ve decided that i’m in it for the long haul. I’m 33 now and am married with four kids, I haven’t got the time or energy to try and find something new to like or get in to. So you can decide to move on to the next thing or decide to change the way your band sounds so you don’t get labelled thw wrong way again but I’m gonna carry on doing this. Writing about emo bands, emo revival bands or whatever we happen to be calling it on that particular day. Like the guy in your town, you know the one because every town has them, who dresses like he did in the 1950’s and somethimes looks completely ridiculous or ultra hip depending on the fashion of the time. I’m that guy, I’m Emo till I die or something a bit less cheesy.

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Love you guys.

P.S This is my old band from the 90’s if you wanna have a listen x

Thanks for reading, get in touch here or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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NEWSLETTER #3

Hey again. I have a rare morning of not having to do anything or be anywhere so what better way to pass the time then post another of these newsletter things. The theme for this one is ‘SPLITS’.

The idea for bands to release split singles/ep’s/albums has been around for ages but there seems to be a real trend for it at the moment, and why not? as the pickled onion producer Barry Norman would say. Splits are great, who doesn’t like the ‘2 for 1’ deal that you get? No one has yet to better the greatest split of all time, The Promise Ring/Texas is the Reason split 7″ and no one is likely to but some of the recent splits are pretty damn good so lets crack on.

1. PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH/TOUCHE AMORE (Deathwish/Topshelf records)

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If you’ve read this blog a lot then you’ll know my feelings about Pianos Become The Teeth, they are one of my favourite bands of the last 5 years. Their albums still blow me away with every listen, they left me speechless when I saw them play live in Margate and when I bumped into their guitarist in Subway, Tunbridge Wells before seeing them play the forum, he invited me to sit and eat with him, amazing! Their song from this split, ‘Hiding’, doesn’t disappoint one bit, in fact it exceeds all expectations. It’s slower and gentler but powerful. An epic song packed full of emotion, it’s a bit of a cliché for someone who writes a blog predominantly about emo to say they well up when listening to a song but Kyle Durfey’s voice does something to me. My heart literally melts as soon as he starts singing mix this with the post hardcore meets post rock music and you have as near perfect a song as you’re likely to hear all year. This review probably sounds a bit one-sided but nothing should be taken away from Touche Amore. Again they are an incredible band and their song, ‘Gravity, Metaphorically’, matches the PBTT side for brilliance. It’s a bit of a departure for TA, you could also describe this song as an epic as it’s about 4 times longer than any song from their last record. With the same kind of attack Touche Amore bring to their music, this song is allowed to breathe giving them time to play with the dynamics resulting in a rollercoaster ride of a song that leaves you exhausted but also wanting so much more. Cannot wait for their new record which is due to come out in the autumn.

Stream/Download HERE

2. TOUCHE AMORE/TITLE FIGHT (sealegs records)

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Sticking with Touche Amore for the moment, I do love a split where the bands cover each others songs ever since I got the Built To Spill/Marine Research split 7″ all those years ago. And this is exactly what you get here and what great songs they chose. Touche Amore could have chosen any song from ‘Shed’ and I’d have been happy, ‘Crescent-shaped Depression’ is what they plumped for and do it more than justice. It’s a straight up cover but it sounds great with Touche Amore bringing all the energy they normally do to their own material. Title Fight are pretty much a faultless band, their cover of ‘Face Ghost’ from Touche Amore’s last record ‘Parting the sea between brightness and me’ is brilliant. Mainly for the fact that at first glance it’s a straight ahead, loyal cover of a great song but Title Fight subtly bring their melodic hardcore/shoegaze crossover that they’ve been leaning towards on ‘Floral Green’ and it really sets the song alight. Both great bands playing great songs by each other, what the hells not to like?

Listen HERE

3. BRAID/BALANCE AND COMPOSURE (No Sleep Records)

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I finally get to see Braid play this summer and it’s on my birthday which is pretty damn perfect. In the meantime they’ve put out a split with Balance and Composure, a few people were annoyed that they were doing this with a new band but I really like Balance and Composure so can’t see the harm. Plus, Balance and Composure come out of this a bit better judging by the songs on display. Their half of the split doesn’t really cover any new ground for the band but cements their reputation for making really solid and really enjoyable slacker, indie grungemo, I don’t know if this is a reputation they have outside of my head but they should. The Braid half took a while to get in to, at first I wasn’t impressed. Both songs have grown on me more but neither come near to reaching the heights of ‘Frame & Canvas’, the album they’ll be playing in full this summer.

Stream/Download HERE

4. WITS END/HUMAN HANDS (adagio 830, strictly no capital letters, lila himmel, eat a book, and time as a color)

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This is a beautiful, must have split single on many levels. Not only are both tracks superb and also superbly different, but the way it’s packaged and presented reminds me why I love music and this scene so much. The 7″ comes in an individually stamped paper bag with photocopied lyric sheets, it is understated and glorious at the same time. The songs are pure emo joy, Wits End from Norway play brooding and intense emotional hardcore while Human Hands deliver long, repetitive, sparse, lo-fi’mo which builds with heart breaking beauty. Both songs fit perfectly together making an essential split single.

Stream Human Hands HERE Stream Wits End HERE

5. TIGERS JAW/CODE ORANGE KIDS/SELF DEFENSE FAMILY/THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE (Topshelf records)

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This split wins the award for the most interesting and intriguing of all the splits mentioned today. The line up had to be admired, 4 totally different bands put together on one record and it all makes sense. Although, this split is tinged with sadness, could this possibly be the last song that Tigers Jaw ever release? I fucking hope not, I was so gutted to hear they had split up and it’s with a heavy heart that I listen to their new song. If they had made it terrible then maybe it would be easier to accept the break-up but Tigers Jaw don’t know how to write bad songs. ‘Fake Death’ shows a band still at the height of their powers, the guitar work, the harmonies, the downbeat pop, it’s all there and it’s all good. Code Orange Kids take you by surprise with ‘VI (Worms fear god // god fears youth), experimental yet captivating. Self Defense Family take you in an altogether different direction with their affecting and repetitive folk anthem ‘Holy Trend’, that leaps at you with the delivery of someone preaching the end of the world on a street corner. The split is finished by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die who really are an incredible band and not just because writing their name in full on my blog pushes the word count up considerably making me feel like I’ve done more work. Their song, ‘Beverly Wyatt’, is typically beautiful and uplifting and the underlying ethereal melody that plays through the whole song helps paint pictures in your mind. There is a rumour going round that they are going to tour the UK this autumn with Dads, this has to happen!!

Stream/Download HERE

6. DIKEMBE/HIGHTIDE HOTEL/JET SET SAIL/MONUMENT (Count Your Lucky Stars)

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Another 4 way split and another stellar line up. Dikembe can do no wrong, their songs are always instantly likeable and this one is continued proof of that theory. ‘Donuts in a six speed’ wouldn’t have felt out-of-place on ‘Broad Shoulders’ and builds the excitement nicely for their new album which will be out soon. Hightide Hotel announced last year that they are splitting up but not before they release their second record this year. It’s a massive shame because based on ‘Built to last’ they’re a band that could offer so much. The main riff reminds me of the kind of ones i’d try to write for my old band back in the 90s, I was never this good though. Jet Set Sail continue the quality of the split here with their barnstormer ‘Strickland North’, I definitely need to investigate this band more because I listened to this song back to back a good 4 times in a row which always a good sign. Monument bring the split to a close with ‘Sophisticated Liars’. Monument are a criminally underrated band who write consistently great music, their song here is catchy enough to have you singing along by the second chorus (woooaaaoooohhh) and is a good reminder to listen to their music more.

Stream/Download HERE

7. FAKE PROBLEMS/YOU BLEW IT! (Topshelf Records)

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A band I love and a band I’ve not heard before makes for a good split single, which is exactly the case here. Fake Problems play bright, britpop-esque music with massive choruses, they remind me of Gene and maybe a little bit of Suede in a good way. I wasn’t expecting to be reminded of them and it came as a nice surprise, their songs are catchy enough to find yourself humming them to yourself hours later. You Blew It! made one of my favourite records of last year and the 2 songs on offer here keep that quality up, the first of which, ‘Batavia, NY’, is currently my favorite songs of theirs. Saying that, both songs are great. You Blew It! are another band who need to make the trip across the pond and come play for us.

Stream/Download HERE

8. FOOTBALL, ETC./PLAIDS (Strictly No Capital Letters, Count Your Lucky Stars)

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I’ve written so many nice things about Football, etc in the past that I’ve literally run out of superlatives to attribute to them. Although I’ve probably never simply stated that they’re fucking great, which I should’ve because they bloody well are. Their song here, ‘Down The Field’, continues them on the path to become my absolute favourite band, faultless indiemo of the highest quality. Them putting out a split with Plaids is a very exciting prospect. If, like me, you spend far too many hours reading about emo bands on the Internet then you’ll know that Plaids are one of the most exciting bands in the UK at the moment. They just get it, their music plays with time signatures, brilliant angular guitar work and delivered with a blast of incredible energy. Both bands are touring the UK together this summer which will be a tour not to miss.

You can download/stream the songs HERE

Cheers for reading!!

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