Ben Murray (Creator-Destructor Records, Heartsounds)
Best Albums of 2012
- Propagandhi- Failed States
- Wintersun- Time
- Anchors- Lost At The Bottom Of The World
- Enabler- All Hail The Void
- The Stereo State- Crossing Canyons
- Backmasker- Effigies
- Bruce Springsteen- Wrecking Ball
- Hostage Calm- Please Remain Calm
- Murder by Death- Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon
- Dinosaur Jr.- I Bet on Sky
Maura Weaver (Mixtapes)
Best of 2012 - "Uh, Sorry I Wrote A Lot"
- THE SIDEKICKS - "AWKWARD BREEDS": I liked the Sidekicks' "Weight of Air" that they released a few years back, and some songs I really liked, but I wasn't insane about them until I saw them after they released "Awkward Breeds." Why? I don't know. Maybe they were jumping around like crazy people and shredding their strings off before it came out, but not like I remember when I saw them this year. At that point I hadn't heard Awkward Breeds but I was blown away by the way they played that show, and every time I've seen them since then. Somehow these guys simultaneously play their songs perfect-sounding, better than the record, while pogo-ing like they're about to die in a "Pogo Really Fast Or Die Competition." It sounds dumb but never before have I seen a band that seems more cohesive, like every member is "feeling" the music and isn't his own member. I'm not sure if that makes sense… But anyway, besides all that good stuff, the record is amazing. There are a million ups-and-downs dynamically and every part of that seems to be pulsing with life. Check this album out. "DMT" sounds like freedom.
- MASKED INTRUDER - "MASKED INTRUDER": Pop-punk love songs sung stalker-style by weird dudes in ski masks. Whether you like the schtick or not, these songs are more than that. They are amazing! Perfectly crafted pop songs and a voice that doesn't even really sound pop punk, it just sounds beautiful. I really can't write more about them without getting too excited and pounding my head on my keyboard.
- CLASSICS OF LOVE - "CLASSICS OF LOVE": I think this album is so awesome. I don't usually instantly preorder records but I felt like I should get my hands on this album before it becomes a collectors' item or something (although I'm not really sure whether this album has actually gotten the love it deserves this year). Sounds like Operation Ivy ripped up by 80's hardcore guitars and involves Jesse Michaels with more passion than ever. Does it get much better than that?
- THE FAKE BOYS - "PIG FACTORY": I was just searching for reviews of "Pig Factory," curious as to what other bands people compared the Fake Boys to, and came back with a mess of answers. This is why the Fake Boys rule-you can hear their influences in their music but they create a powerhouse of sound that is uniquely their own. I feel like anyone who enjoys '90's alt-rock at all can get down with this album. The guitars are discordant and droning and heavy, pulling on and off on pop song structures while Jim Domenici sings in his soaring, spiteful way. It's totally grunge in the best way possible. I really like this album because I feel like the energy never stops, even when the tempos are slower, and every song is super catchy and contains at least 18 singalongs. At least 18.
- CHEAP GIRLS - "GIANT ORANGE": A humongous citrus fruit full of nostalgia that reminds you of driving around and listening to the Replacements.
- GNARWOLVES - "CRU": I really want people in the U.S. to know about this band because I feel like they don't and "Cru" fucking rules. I met these guys in the U.K. earlier this year and was blown away that they were all under 21 and that "Cru" is only their second release. When I heard their name I figured they were some weird metal band, but they're not!!! I don't really know exactly how to describe what they sound like. Some of their parts are vaguely reminiscent of Title Fight but it mostly just sounds like some anthemic Gainesville band. Most of the EP (it's an EP…) is made up of midtempo punk songs but they do slow it down at times and when they do, they really shine. The vocalist sounds super soft and pained during these parts and his voice becomes more interesting than just about every other band playing the same kind of punk. See "Community, Stability, Identity."
- BURNING LOVE - "ROTTEN THING TO SAY": Gritty hardcore with rock riffs and smart lyrics. A lot of times the "hardcore with rock riffs" thing can turn into a novelty, but Burning Love in no way falls into that category. They blend punk, metal, and hardcore perfectly into their own catchy brand of buzzsaw ferocity. Great listen if you like feeling like you're about to die at any given moment (you do).
- SWEARIN' - "SWEARIN'": I saw this band once at Stay Sweet Fest and didn't think much of it because I only heard them while passing back and forth through the venue, really, but listened to this record on a whim this month and thought it was fucking awesome. Most of the record is pretty '90's poppy punk-sounding and Superchunk-esque with split numbers between two vocalists, a combo which I fall for easily. However, I think Swearin' is pretty unique! I'm sure some people will think I'm an idiot for saying this, but Allison's vocal melodies remind me of Five Iron Frenzy at times, and Five Iron Frenzy was "really really really good." Also, "Here to Hear" is like… song of the year for me.
- RAINDANCE - "NEW BLOOD": Another on my list that isn't a full-length. Oh well, who cares anymore about anything, y'know?!?! "New Blood" is a truly great hardcore release that sounds kind of like Converge and Everytime I Die had a mutilated baby together. The starts and stops and dynamics on this album are worth a listen alone, even if the "Converge/ETID baby" thing doesn't interest you. In "Dine With The Devil," vocalist Sean O'Brien sings about music with no soul, screaming "all you pretty little singers, with your pretty little songs, and all you motherfucking fans who love to sing along-shove your tongue right down my throat." Nicely said, Sean.
- THE BOSTON STRANGLER - "PRIMITIVE": The second band on my list that has a song named after their band name where they shout their band name over and over again (see also: Masked Intruder's "Masked Intruder"). Strangely enough, Masked Intruder also has an EP titled "First Offense" which is the name of a song on "Primitive." The vocalist yells "We're the Boston Strangler!" and in "Gonna Make You Pay," exclaims, "Stranglah's gonna make you pay!" I like what these guys are about. The Boston Strangler is from, well, Boston, and may play hardcore-punk that sounds straight from the '80's, but by no means sound like your average "revival" band or like they are blowing life into something that is dead. Their ferocity sounds new and sincere and even if it isn't, I don't give a shit because they have written some awesome tunes on "Primitive."
- Sundials - When I Couldn't Breathe
- New Bruises - Chock Full of Misery