Everything But the Girl - “Five Fathoms” from Temperamental
It’s almost 5am on a Friday morning and my upstairs neighbor must have fallen asleep with his phone on the floor. Someone keeps calling and the buzzing vibrates loudly into my room. They keep calling so it must be important. Since I’ve been unemployed I’ve listened to one of them try and make beats loudly for hours at a time in the afternoon and early evening. If they did anything close to as good as this song I’d be impressed, but instead I’m just annoyed by the bass thumping against the ceiling, over and over. I respect their ambition though.
Sometimes when I listen to this record I feel like I’m shopping at Express, then I catch the lyrics and they are so bleak and brooding and I can’t help but find myself intrigued. Had I found it in my formative years it might have been a game changer. Instead, it suits that beautiful middle ground between engaging, captivating songwriting and perfect background music very few records can fill. I’ve been unemployed for a little over 2 months and I’ve been listening to this record late at night and notice how I keep slipping into the habits from my younger years. Hopefully I can turn this time into something productive instead of something to be ashamed of.
Phoenix - “Too Young” from United
I will be 30 in exactly 2 months from today. It’s kind of surreal. I never expected to live to 30. Not because I thought I was going to kill myself or that I would die in some tragic way, but because I just couldn’t envision myself as a 30 year old man. As pigeonholing as it sounds, 30 year olds were always husbands, they were fathers, they had careers, they had binding responsibilities. I am none of those things. Even though I’ve constantly thought about the future instead of living my life in the moment, I never actually pictured I’d be here, sitting on the cusp of another decade of my life, still dealing with the same uncertainties and self-inflicted unfortunate circumstances I was at age 18. Obviously, a lot has changed, my emotions have shifted, and I am generally happier than I have ever been in my life, but the uncertainty is still looming. I guess I just deal with it better than I have in the past.
Land of Talk - “Some Are Lakes” from Some Are Lakes
My friend Joel put me on to this record a few years back and I listened to it every day at work for a month after his initial recommendation. For some reason I never bought the record nor did it ever find its way onto my personal computer, but I still enjoy it and think singer Elizabeth Powell has an incredibly soulful and unique voice. Her lyrics are sad and beautiful especially on the title track, which is definitely the standout for me.
Carry On - “So Much of You” from A Life Less Plagued
Carry On were a band that got exponentially better with every record and finally reached their apex as a band with A Life Less Plagued. This is probably my favorite hardcore LP of the 2000’s for a myriad of reasons. In addition to all of the great memories I have associated with it, I always manage to find little nuances that stick out to me which is one of the signs of a truly great record. The band really stepped everything up on their LP. Ryan’s voice got progressively harder from the previous 7”s, Lucas’ drumming is tight and adds lots of flourishes I love, and Todd Jones’ songwriting is some of the best I’ve heard on any hardcore record. 12 songs in 18 minutes and not so much as a bad note on the entire thing.
Kyle from Rivalry Records has been doing write ups about his insane record collection and the Carry On piece is an especially good read. It extends well beyond detailed record nerdism. Check it out.
Mojave 3 - “Trying to Reach You” from Excuses for Travellers
I bought Excuses for Travellers on an oppressively hot and humid summer day and so what would otherwise be a fall/winter record is something I always associate with summer days. I wish I could post my favorite song on here, “My Life in Art,” but the file is too large so I’ll go with the next best thing. Neil Halsted has such a warm and sad voice, he could make “Party in the USA” sound like a bummer. “Trying to Reach You” isn’t nearly as slow and depressing as “My Life in Art,” but the lyrics dealing with lost people and places that run throughout the album are very prevalent here. This is easily one of my favorite records of the past decade and a great band in general.
The Bellicose Minds - “Walk into Fire” from The Bellicose Minds EP
I have such a soft spot for bands like The Bellicose Minds. Whenever I hear dark post-punk heavily indebted to the classics my brooding inner-teen surfaces and I can’t get enough. The Bellicose Minds are far from the most original band ever, but they play this style quite well and actually retain that sense of punk urgency that’s often lost with bands like these. I’ve been really enjoying this EP and “Walk into Fire” in particular. I even included it on a mix I posted here.
Annihilation Time - “Thanks Anyway” from II
I refused to listen to AT for a long time because of an issue a friend of mine had with someone associated with the band. It was a moronic situation and I can’t believe I let my interest in their music because of it. Very few bands play this style of rock n roll punk/hc as well as Annihilation Time. The singer has a great unaffected, self-destructive urgency in his vocals which sound awesome over their 80’s west coast punk meets Thin Lizzy riffs. This song is such a ripper. Perfect for hanging out and drinking beer with your friends in the summertime.
I wish I would have gone to their “secret” show in Pilsen a few years ago, but such is life.
DYS - “Circle Storm” from Brotherhood
DYS is playing Chicago this weekend for the first time since…maybe ever, and while I have no hard-and-fast rule about bands getting back together for fun, this reunion is extremely unappealing to me. I like DYS as much as the next guy, but unless you’re on the level of Negative Approach and are just as much of a pissed off psycho, I see no point in an early 80’s hardcore band getting back together. After watching this video it’s clear to me that whatever spark Dave Smalley had in terms of singing these songs, is long gone. Some things are better left in the past.
The Lemonheads - “It’s About Time” from Come on feel The Lemonheads
I have written more about The Lemonheads than any other band on this blog at this point, but I don’t care. They are easily in my top 10 and after seeing this video recently, I’ve been meaning to post this song. Evan Dando looks so incredibly stoned during this performance, but it’s such a beautifully executed version of an already beautiful song his drug problem takes a backseat to his overwhelming talent. Come on… has a few spotty moments, but songs like “It’s About Time,” “Rest Assured,” and the My So-Called Life party hit “Down About It” more than make up for any moments that drag.
Evan Dando is apparently playing the Taste of Chicago (Chicago’s annual celebration of gluttony and debauchery) a week from today and I feel like I have to brave the heat and crowds now since The Lemonheads were so good when I saw them a few years ago. Can’t wait.
The Men - “Bataille” from Leave Home
I’ve always appreciated punk bands that push the boundaries of the genre, while retaining the raw urgency that still make it so appealing to me as I wade in the twilight of my 20’s. Though I never cared much for Fucked Up, I was (and still am) excited by the way they continue to push the envelope and challenge their fan base both new and old. I get a similar vibe from The Men. Not so much in that they are trying to push buttons and leave people guessing what their next move will be, but that their evolution from writing noisy, blown out hc/punk songs into writing complex kraut-heavy punk songs was almost a given.
“Bataille” was the first song that surfaced from The Men’s Sacred Bones debut and while not as raging as some of the other tracks on the record, it has a super catchy riff that reminds me of something John Reis would have written. They don’t delve too deep into psych territory here, but there are leanings that indicate the possibility further into the record.
This is a great song. Definitely one of the finest on an excellent record. I can’t wait to get a real copy.