AOTY Contender Series: Every Time I Die - 'Low Teens'

AOTY Contender Series: Every Time I Die - 'Low Teens'

The degree to which I enjoyed Every Time I Die's From Parts Unknown was largely unexpected because I haven't been a huge fan of this band in the past. Since then, I've gone back and listened to most of the group's back catalog, but nothing stuck with me as much as that 2014 LP. From Parts Unknown has a really intriguing mix of ETID's usual Southern-tinged hardcore and a variety of other sounds, like the creepy crawl of "Moor" and the relatively poppier "Old Light," which features Brian Fallon.

Something that still really sticks out to me about that record is Kurt Ballou's production, as the Converge guitarist elected to let ETID's fury speak for itself. It's raw and the guitars are like barbed wire, and that choice enabled the instruments to rip through harder than on past ETID albums, for my money.

This year's Low Teens (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube embedded here, Amazon) marks the second straight Every Time I Die record that has fully engrossed me. The production here, this time courtesy of Will Putney, brings a different aesthetic to the table. Putney has worked with bands that fit more into the current-age definition of "metalcore," and his fingerprints help identify a louder and more polished Every Time I Die.

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AOTY Contender Series: Kevin Devine - 'Instigator'

AOTY Contender Series: Kevin Devine - 'Instigator'

First, a sidebar: The idea here is to post about one or two albums each week that are album of the year contenders for me this year. I already have a semi-formed idea of which albums are really in the final running to be #1, so this series is more meant to highlight albums that I've loved to a great enough extent that they gave me that type of feeling.

I'm going in no particular order here, and first highlighting Kevin Devine's just-released ninth studio albumInstigator (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube above, Amazon). When Bad Timing Records started working with Kevin in late 2014, we linked up due to Zack's pre-existing relationship with KD, as they'd known each other for several years. I was familiar with Kevin's music, but not extremely well-versed; I knew the "hits" and in particular loved a live album called Matter of Time, which we later re-issued in one of my favorite BTR releases to date.

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Head North - "God, Bring It Back"

Head North - "God, Bring It Back"

Head North released a new song called "God (Bring It Back)," which is from their new album and first full-length, The Last Living Man Alive Ever In The History Of The World. The record is not coming out on Bad Timing Records (we released their Bloodlines EP and co-released a split with them and Microwave), but I'm blogging about this song because I really like it and I think this band is very dope.

There are a lot of layers on this track; Brent's vocals are a bit distorted and they compete for your attention with really great-sounding percussion. An acoustic guitar sets the melody early on, and overall I think this song is a fair amount more melodic than their work on Bloodlines. It's really wild to see their jump from that EP to this first full-length, and I'm looking forward to seeing how people react to the new stuff.

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Mid-Year Albums of the Year

Mid-Year Albums of the Year

On Friday, Jason and I published a new episode of Encore during which we delved into our top albums of 2016 so far. Here's a link to that episode, and my mid-year list is below.

  1. Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost
  2. Pinegrove - Cardinal
  3. PUP - The Dream Is Over
  4. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
  5. The Hotelier - Goodness
  6. Parker Millsap - The Very Last Day
  7. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
  8. JANK - Awkward Pop Songs

I really, really love the first five albums here and I'm sure they will be around the top of my EOTY list when 2016 is over with. My sixth, seventh and eighth selections don't inspire the same passion, but I enjoyed them enough to rank them. Thinking through this list, I realized I haven't listened to many albums this year overall -- probably only to about 20 or so, at least enough to consider them for a list like this. 

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Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Committing This to Memory

Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Committing This to Memory

I saw Motion City Soundtrack play a show for the final time on June 16.

Motion City was never my favorite band, but they were consistently amongst the groups I listened to most often in high school and throughout my first couple years of college. They have at least three albums (I Am The MovieCommit This To MemoryMy Dinosaur Life) out of their six studio releases that I would place in my own library of personal classics, and another record (Even If It Kills Me) that stands as an underrated off-course maneuver during a time when pop-punk bands were zig-zagging all over the place; it's interesting as a time capsule of post-radio/post-MTV era pop-punk and an even more interesting LP to revisit.

All this to say, the "death" of Motion City Soundtrack seems like it should really bother me. They were meaningful to me and released multiple albums that are securely lodged in the way I will retrospectively identify myself, from a musical vantage point, as a young adult. Yet their breakup doesn't bother me much, which I am somewhat surprised to realize. I got semi-emotional for a moment during "Make Out Kids" at their show, and I got shivers during the end of "Let's Get Fucked Up and Die" like any normal person would, but other than that, I was totally fine. I didn't "prepare" for my farewell to the band in advance and I didn't mourn losing them as I took the train home. 

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Modern Baseball: Still with us the whole way

Modern Baseball: Still with us the whole way

A friend of mine recently asked me for a recommendation on an up-and-coming pop-punk-ish band for her to check out. There are no shortage of pop-punk-ish bands, duh, but this came with a specific context. Being 26 years old now -- and my friend is slightly older -- finding a band in that genre that also keeps pace with your interests / hopes / desires / worries / general mindset becomes a fair challenge. 

I'm a Modern Baseball fan, but their first two albums struck me at a specific angle. Their appeal was rooted more in the past than the present, and I viewed the band in a semi-nostalgic light even at first listen. The first time I saw Modern Baseball play, at Run For Cover's CMJ showcase a few years back, they were laughing on stage at how bonkers the crowd was going as they played "The Weekend." That moment is a bit frozen in time to me; I saw a band that seemed genuinely curious about what the heck was going on. Why do so many people know these words? Do all of these people own our album? Wait, where are we? Etc, etc...

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PUP is the punk band we need rn

PUP is the punk band we need rn

PUP is a great band to me. They play that type of rowdy-sounding punk rock that is inherently dirty and crunchy, historically confined to basements and other forms of cramped venues which are required by law to have a mysterious layer of grime on the floor, usually performed through amps that are loud enough that guitar distortion becomes its own instrument, and prone to having cans of cheap beer thrown into the air at any given moment. Listening to them reminds me of watching The Menzingers play at The Atlantic in Gainesville, or seeing Red City Radio play at Fest, or being with Less Than Jake when they do weird stuff like play on a boat in the Hudson River that is too crowded and you fear for drunk young people being flung overboard.

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Julien Baker - "Rejoice" - Audiotree

Julien Baker - "Rejoice" - Audiotree

I could share this video on the web every single day, but that would be pretty annoying ... even if I did that, though, there's no guarantee that everyone who follows me on Twitter would click the link, which is really troubling. And even if everyone who follows me on Twitter clicked it, most of the people on the planet don't follow me on Twitter ... but, realistically, they need to see it too. 

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Top 10 albums from 2001-2015, cut to 25

Top 10 albums from 2001-2015, cut to 25

Per my "short" list of 50 albums to kick this project off, I've cut the thing in half and I'll be working from this top 25 to reach my final 10. 

Jason and I will talk about our top 10 albums from the last 15 years on this week's upcoming Encore, and we're encouraging listeners to make their lists with us to have them ready for when the episode posts on Thursday.

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Just read: Rob Sheffield's 'Love Is A Mix Tape'

Just read: Rob Sheffield's 'Love Is A Mix Tape'

The idea is that, for some people (like Sheffield and his wife, who both consumed a crazy number of Pavement songs during the '90s), a certain song, or album, or mixtape can bring forward a rush of memories and emotions. Hearing one song, album or mix tape can instantly transport you to a certain place and time from the past, if you listened to it enough that you associate that time and place directly with that music. Here's a decent thesis: "Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of a life." 

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Let's make a very unnecessary list: The top 10 albums from 2001-2015

Let's make a very unnecessary list: The top 10 albums from 2001-2015

My friend Matt posed a question in a group text yesterday -- what are your 10 favorite albums of the last 15 years?

Unsurprisingly, this isn't an easy question to answer. It's tough to even get started on answering it. But yesterday, I went through my iTunes and made an attempt at gathering a "short list" of 50 albums from which I'll whittle out a top 10. Even getting down to 50 was surprisingly difficult. 

Jason and I are going to tackle this topic for next week's episode of Encore, so I decided to share my list of 50 and run down the "criteria" we're keeping in mind while doing this exercise.

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Adele's dominance, and potential history-making sales week, in perspective

Adele's dominance, and potential history-making sales week, in perspective

Adele's 25 is currently projected to break the record for most album sales in a single week. This is an insane thing -- and probably even more insane than most people realize. It goes far beyond the casual idea of "no one sells music anymore these days," and even if you follow album sales pretty closely, the gravity of this still takes some digesting. Let's dig into it.

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Foxing - 'Dealer'

Foxing - 'Dealer'

Here's an album that I've already recommended multiple times on Encore, and an album that I won't be able to recommend enough this fall. Foxing streamed Dealer late last week on WIRED, which is a pretty odd place to premiere an indie-rock record but I suppose if you're not being wacky in your premieres these days, you're not doing it right.

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