Tag Archives: touché Amore

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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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!!

Come and say hi, leave a comment here or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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Review: The Saddest Landscape – After the lights

Band – The Saddest Landscape

Album – After the lights

Label – Topshelf records

Sometimes, listening to the the type of music I listen to can send me one of two ways. It’ll either make me launch myself around the room, throwing all sorts of crazy shapes whilst pointing my fingers in a insane manner. Or, it will leave me cuddled up on the floor questioning existence itself. Some would mock, some would query why, all would laugh. Predominantly, it will have the first effect. It’s the genius of this emotional brand of punk rock, a song that is lyrically desperate and musically traumatising can have an uplifting and positive affect on you.

It’s hard to say which way The Saddest Landscape will send me, it could go either way but will take a few listens to get there. They are back with their new 7-track album released on everyone’s favourite label, Topshelf records. Again, it’s a solid and well crafted record as you would expect from this band. But they make you work for it. By that I mean, like their other records, It’s not instantly easily accessible. Without taking anything away from the band, the music that The Saddest Landscape make is not as instantly likeable as bands such as Pianos Become The Teeth or Touché Amoré. With those bands you get swept away on the first listen and get immediate gratification. The Saddest Landscape don’t give it to you on a plate, they make you work for it. But work and you will be rewarded, greatly so.

The Saddest Landscape play modern emotional hardcore. Its a scene/genre that has been re-awakened and set alight in recent years. These are exciting times and The Saddest Landscape can rightly stake their place amongst the bands taking credit for this. ‘After the lights’ builds on the consistency of the last album ‘You will not survive’, it doesn’t take giant strides forwards in evolving their sound into something new, but then it doesn’t have to. It is nice to know what you’re going to get with some bands, not every record has to be a game changer.

‘After the lights’ is dark, emotionally open and unsettling. Musically, the use of dynamics is put to great use. The gentle opening soft guitar play on the first song ‘In love with the sound’ quickly blasts into a wall of sound and from there on the use of quiet/loud is used consistently well. Most notably on ‘When everything seemed to matter’, when a cello is weaved into the mix, softening the guitars and making it all the more intense when the full band kicks back in. The further in to the record as well the more melody plays a part, as if the band are starting to trust you and open up to you the more you stick with them.

It may have taken me 4 or 5 good listens to really be sold on ‘After the lights’ but I am so glad I kept with it. I am now desperate they see The Saddest Landscape play live as I think most of these songs will be taken to the next level in that environment, and I can have a fair guess as to which way I’d react.  If you are a fan of intense angry and emotional punk rock full of driving riffs then this is definitely for you.

Click here to go to the Topshelf Records bandcamp page where you can stream/buy the record.

Cheers for reading xx

Below is the video for the opening track ‘In love with the sound’

After The Lights Cover Art

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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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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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