Scott Heisel

Scott Heisel: Best of 2009Best of 2009 (2009)
staff picks

Reviewer Rating: 5
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Contributed by: InaGreendaseScott
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Scott Heisel is the former reviews editor for Punknews.org and the current music editor for Alternative Press - ed. Now that I've set the record straight, this is my holiday. Hi, and thanks for taking the time to read my year-end list. I haven't been spending as much time on Punknews.org.

Scott Heisel is the former reviews editor for Punknews.org and the current music editor for Alternative Press - ed.

Now that I've set the record straight, this is my holiday.

Hi, and thanks for taking the time to read my year-end list. I haven't been spending as much time on Punknews.org lately due to a small but incredibly vocal minority of trolls who would rather focus on tearing me down for silly things instead of trying to build up this thing we all have called a scene. Regardless, I hope that the jealous and petty words of a few semi-anonymous users won't stop you from reading on and perhaps checking out an album or song from my recommended selections below. This is the music that helped get me through 2009; I hope it did the same for you.


Baroness: Blue Record


Metal's finest moment of the year.


Two Tongues: Two Tongues


With Saves the Day's Daybreak still without a release date and Say Anything's self-titled album being a pretty big dud, Two Tongues was the only place this year to get quality pop-rock from two of contemporary emo's finest songwriters.


Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed


Poetry of the Deed wasn't as big of a coming-out party in the U.S. as Frank Turner followers had hoped, with less of an emphasis on the folk-punk that won him thousands of fans in the U.K. and more of an emphasis on piano, traditional instruments and song styles, and full-on crooning. It might not be what people expected, but it was still great, if surprisingly mature.


Thursday: Common Existence


The godfathers of modern screamo return with a solid, at times downright adventurous fifth album. It falls a few steps short of 2006's magnificent A City by the Light Divided, but is still an incredibly strong showing from a band who have overcome pretty much every set of odds in the book.


Broadway Calls: Good Views, Bad News


If you removed every lyric on this album regarding touring and/or playing basement shows, you'd be left with an all-instrumental record. Still, the youthful exuberance this Oregon trio display is incredibly contagious; this album lived in my car stereo for a good two months this fall. Outside of the over-the-top pro-Obama song (which I suspect they'll regret writing in a few years), it is one solid pop-punk record.


P.O.S.: Never Better


What other rapper can reference Fugazi and Paris Hilton in the same song (and Law & Order creator Dick Wolf a few tracks later) and still have it all come off as sounding like a cohesive record? While Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander kills it on his own throughout this album, it's the guest vocals from Dessa ("Low Light Low Life"), None More Black's Jason Shevchuk ("Terrorish") and the Velvet Teen's Judah Nagler (the title track) that really steal the show.


Passion Pit: Manners


For as much enthusiasm and excitement that Broadway Calls bring to the pop-punk genre, Passion Pit deliver the same levels to the quickly fading electro-pop movement. Children's choirs, falsetto vocals, thick '80s synths and disco beats come off as an absolute blast recorded, and will get even the most jaded of beard-punks' heads bobbing.


Thrice: Beggars


While it's regrettable when any band's record leaks in advance, it's supremely unfortunate that it happened to Thrice -- being such a visually driven band who have always put a premium on their album artwork and packaging, to have Beggars' songs ripped from their womb nearly three months ahead of its planned release showed a distinct lack of respect for this endlessly progressive California quartet. Lucky for them, it truly is their best and most refined album to date, an exciting document of four guys getting in a room together and banging out music on their own terms, with no half-baked concepts floating over their heads.


Polar Bear Club: Chasing Hamburg

Bridge Nine

This one was a tough sell for me at first, because Sometimes Things Just DIsappear was my No. 1 album of 2008, and initially, I just couldn't click with Chasing Hamburg's deliberate attempts at shorter, catchier songs. After a few listens, though, my reservations slowly began disappearing as each spin would unearth another intricate layer of songcraft that didn't come across in cursory plays. What I'm trying to say is, this album's no Disappear, but that's okay -- it's the sound of PBC coming into their own.


Fake Problems: It's Great to Be Alive

Side One Dummy

Give these Floridians the Most-Improved Band Award of 2009: I couldn't get behind their previous albums at all, but everything clicked into place perfectly on their SideOneDummy debut. It's like a punk-rock Modest Mouse with pieces of Cursive and Murder by Death sprinkled on top for good measure. Throw in some truly genius music videos (have you seen "Diamond Rings" yet?) and you have a band poised to break big in 2010, if the world has any sense.


Lucero: 1372 Overton Park

Universal Republic

Horns, horns, horns! At first listen, 1372 Overton Park is a bit jarring to longtime Lucero fans who have gtown accustomed to the band's whiskey-soaked vocals. twangy guitars and four-on-the-floor drumbeats. But a little bit of Memphis soul never hurt anyone, least of which Ben Nichols, and his band's major-label debut is by and large an artistic success.


Gallows: Grey Britain


After delivering an underwhelming debut album on Epitaph, I didn't have high hopes when it was revealed that Gallows would be issuing their second album through Warner Bros. -- how could they keep any of the marginal bite they had on Orchestra of Wolves? Cue Grey Britain, a dark, dreary look at the depressing look of the life of a bored twentysomething living in London, waiting for something -- anything -- exciting to happen. At times sounding as heavy as Rage Against the Machine, as aggressive as Texas Is the Reason and as driving as Hot Snakes, Gallows have set the bar considerably high for themselves whenever they get around to writing this masterpiece's followup.


Ace Enders & A Million Different People: When I Hit the Ground


A rock-solid collection of Jimmy Eat World-influenced modern rock that has been sorely overlooked either to Enders' pedigree (the Early November) or his label affiliations (Drive-Thru/Vagrant). This dude knows his way around a melody.


Person L: The Positives

Academy Fight Song/Human Interest

The difference between Kenny and Kenneth Vasoli is truly night and day -- the former cranked out enjoyable if somewhat pedestrian pop-punk in the Starting Line, while the latter is constantly testing his own mettle in this prog-emo/post-punk/neo-soul quintet. It truly sounds like Jawbox being fronted by James Brown, and I mean that in the best of ways. Don't sleep on this band anymore; they're 2-for-2 in top-notch records.


Paramore: brand new eyes

Fueled by Ramen

Say what you will, but Paramore is the new Jimmy Eat World. While I remain unimpressed with Riot!, brand new eyes is a tour de force of emotional rock tackling one of the most difficult-to-understand human emotions: heartbreak. Hayley Williams is unafraid to expose her faults and fears, and the record benefits from her stark honesty in a scene full of empty gestures. Truly a fantastic record, and one that you should explore immediately.


Taking Back Sunday: New Again

Warner Bros.

It's hard to believe that Taking Back Sunday are not only still a band after their drastic lineup changes nearly album to album but have actually made the best, most well-rounded album of their career to date with New Again. Adam Lazzara's lyrics bite with venom unseen since Tell All Your Friends, and new guitarist Matt Fazzi (ex-Facing New York) fits in with the band's ever-evolving style perfectly. This band ain't dead yet.


Set Your Goals: This Will Be the Death of Us


It must really suck to be Four Year Strong right now.


Paper Route: Absence

Universal Motown

A total dark horse for me this year, I saw Paper Route with Audrye Sessions live this summer and was blown away by the apparent ease which they fuse organic and electronic sounds together. It sounds completely natural and forward-thinking while having roots in '80s synth-pop and '90s alt-rock (think Radiohead, not Everclear). I haven't stopped listening to this album since I bought it that summer night, and am a better person for it. Rumor has it they've already been let go from their deal at Universal Motown; with a spring tour opening for Owl City already lined up, don't expect them to stay unsigned for long.


Bomb the Music Industry!: Scrambles

Quote Unquote / Asian Man

I don't know how he does it, but Jeff Rosenstock can read my mind. His lyrics -- long considered the best part of an already-great band--are completly next level on Scrambles, and makes me think he's writing these songs just for me. I know that's not true, but still: Thanks, Jeff.


Manchester Orchestra: Mean Everything to Nothing

Favorite Gentlemen / Canvasbac

One part Weezer's Pinkerton, one part Nirvana's In Utero, one part Modest Mouse's The Moon & Antarctica and a whole boatload of Southern-rock swagger delivers what is without a doubt, the finest rock release of 2009 (and easily one of the most original and strong of the entire decade). At 23, frontman Andy Hull is already lightyears ahead of schedule in terms of songwriting maturation, and with studio time already booked for mid-2010, it doesn't look like he'll be slowing down any time soon. If the band's output is as consistently triumphant as Mean Everything to Nothing is, we're all in for one hell of a treat.


    SIDE A: Punk's not dead?
  1. Teenage Bottlerocket - I Don't Wanna Go
  2. Frank Turner - Try This at Home
  3. New Found Glory - Don't Let Her Pull You Down
  4. Strike Anywhere - I'm Your Opposite Number
  5. NOFX - Creeping Out Sara
  6. Rancid - Disconnected
  7. Broadway Calls - Be All That You Can't Be
  8. Fake Problems - The Dream Team
  9. Bomb The Music Industry! - 25!
  10. The Riverboat Gamblers - Victory Lap
    SIDE B: loudQUIETloud
  1. Manchester Orchestra - Pride
  2. Brand New - You Stole
  3. Thrice - Doublespeak
  4. Ace Enders & A Million Different People - Where Do We Go from Here
  5. Audrye Sessions - Where You'll Find Me
  6. Silversun Pickups - The Royal We
  7. As Tall as Lions - In Case of Rapture
  8. Taking Back Sunday - Everything Must Go
  9. Paramore - All I Wanted
  10. Cursive - What Have I Done?


Thanks again for taking the time to read my list, and I wish the best for you in the coming year (and decade). Hopefully, I'll see you here in another 365 days.


People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Against Me! - As The Eternal CowboyThe Arcade Fire - Neon BibleThe Weakerthans - Reunion TourThe Clash - London CallingThursday - A City by the Light DividedThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldNOFX - The DeclineBomb the Music Industry! - VacationBig D And The Kids Table - How It Goes

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
greg0rb (January 1, 2010)

Hey Scott also wanted to point out that the last song on Manchester Orch reeeeally sounds like Bright Eyes and you always claimed to despise them. Just sayin' maybe it's time for you to go back and give a listen to Lifted or Fevers and Mirrors when thinking about Best Decade albums...

mattramone (December 30, 2009)

I forgot Two Tongues came out this year. Way to go, Scooter.

AnEpicProblem (December 29, 2009)

(Typically pathetic list from Scooter.)

I didn't listen to or buy much new stuff this year, and mainly stuck to 80s or 90s bands for some reason. But here's what I cobbled together:

20. Chuck Ragan - Gold Country
19. The Harlem Shakes - Technicolor Health
18. Strike Anywhere - Iron Front
17. Cass McCombs - Catacombs
16. Mission of Burma - The Sound The Speed The Light
15. A.C. Newman - Get Guilty
14. Kylesa - Static Tensions
13. John Vanderslice - Romanian Names
12. Coalesce - Ox
11. The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
10. The Meat Puppets - Sewn Together
9. Paintbox - Trip, Trance and Travelling
8. The Thermals - Now We Can See
7. Baroness - The Blue Record
6. Reigning Sound - Love and Curses
5. Polvo - In Prism
4. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another
3. Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans
2. The Marked Men - Ghosts
1. Attack in Black - Years

Best old album I discovered in 2009: Unrest - Perfect Teeth (1993)
Best TV show of 2009: Mad Men

damo (December 28, 2009)

punker001 - Oz can keep you too :)

punker001 (December 28, 2009)

Decent list! Gallows is an epic! So angry and finally someone pointing out just what a shit hole Britain has become! Good job i moved to a much better country! Australia!!!

KurtTGS (December 27, 2009)

Even though they get waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much love from hipsters/Pitchfork, "My Girls" by Animal Collective and "Moth's Wings" by Passion Pit are incredible and undeniably good songs, as much as I hate to admit.

WaitingRoom (December 27, 2009)

Liking the Passion Pit mention. Not too hipster for this site?

wyzo (December 26, 2009)

music compartmentalized as an activity into scenes is a dumb idea, and should be discouraged. Clubs are also stupid, and art is generally just what we call a successful con. Bands should quit. All of them. The end.


trailerparkjesus (December 26, 2009)

Wow thats the exact same opinion i had of the new PBC record. Creepy.

mikexdude (December 26, 2009)

Givemeamuseum is so right.

greg0rb (December 26, 2009)

I just remembered that I forgot to check out Manchester Orchestra after you told me at Jesse's wedding! Listening right now and yeah, shit's good man. Good call.

givemeamuseumandillfillit (December 26, 2009)

This is ridiculous, what kind of a douchebag do you have to be to something like "xxxxx should be higher"?
Well, that's your opinion - put it on your own list.

And before I get jumped - My list doesn't share a single record with this list. I enjoy reading what certain people like about certain records and if you don't - skip it.

jesse (December 26, 2009)

Dear Scott:

In case you didn't know, we all hate you. Not that we have anything personally against you, just things that you like, which we've aligned ourselves against, meaning that your taste in music makes you a BAD PERSON.


As always, bro, I appreciate your honesty but a few of your choices remain questionable in my book. That Baroness album, I do believe, deserves a higher than 20 rating (even though it didn't make my list on account of me not getting enough time with it). Kudos to you for being a man and sticking up for your right to like the music you like. I know that Paramore album will probably be on August's list, too.

IamtheAvatar (December 26, 2009)

Seriously? Jimmy Eat World and Paramore are in the same discussion? What a joke.

And honestly, even her voice isn't that impressive. You could pick probably 10 girls from any high school choir with better pipes than hers. I understand, it's catchy pop-rock. But you're a fucking music critic; find a band worth writing about.

damnitsderek (December 26, 2009)

I was actually enjoying your list until I got to #6 onward.

jaydischord (December 26, 2009)

I totally respect that those are your personal faves but fuck mate, there's some right shite in there.

eran_zombis (December 25, 2009)

passion pit? keep your 'scene' out of my music.

danperrone (December 25, 2009)

"I haven√Ę‚?¨‚?Ęt been spending as much time on Punknews.org lately due to a small but incredibly vocal minority of trolls who would rather focus on tearing me down for silly things instead of trying to build up this thing we all have called a scene."

i am not one of these people but this made me want to puke

inagreendase (December 25, 2009)

Inagreendase: you really think that the last couple of paramore records best Jimmy Eat World?

I didn't say that. Clarity and Bleed American are better than anything Paramore is likely to record, but the last few JEW records have been pretty boring and sterile. It might be unfair to compare but they're on different planes at this point in time.

Also, according to last.fm, although it hasn't scrobbled anything I've listened to in 2 years, "Your musical compatibility with baldsteve is VERY HIGH
Music you have in common includes Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Against Me!, Jets to Brazil and The Get Up Kids."

Alien (December 25, 2009)

"It must really suck to be Four Year Strong right now."

YES hahaha

laserguidedbygod (December 25, 2009)

Surprised by this in general, and glad it could go without any name drops, but I just can't get behind like half the list. The new Taking Back Sunday is unforgivable, Common Existence sounds like someone pushed A City By The Light Divided down a flight of stairs and decided to ignore its cries for help, and it's always sucked to be Four Year Strong.

14theroad (December 25, 2009)

One ok record and one great record. Surprise surprise.

ffwoodycooks (December 25, 2009)

"I haven‚??t been spending as much time on Punknews.org lately due to a small but incredibly vocal minority of trolls"

you just admit that trolling works. bad move.

also, i really should check out that manchester orchestra album.

jo_punk_promoter (December 25, 2009)

totally agree with your choices! I would have add Strike Anywhere though

paulsilence (December 25, 2009)

You left out: "...if you choose to ignore Mastodon's Crack the Skye" from your "Metal's finest moment" comment on Blue Record.

baldsteve (December 25, 2009)

Inagreendase: you really think that the last couple of paramore records best Jimmy Eat World? Am I mistaken or does Paramore only have 3 records? She's got a great voice but they have the worst lyrics around.

I'm sure we enjoy nothing that is similar, it's pointless to have this discussion.

greg0rb (December 25, 2009)

Scott, don't worry about certain shitheads around here. Anyone who knows you in person knows you're awesome. :) Your list reminds me that I didn't get that Lucero record... crap. HEY email me your address so I can send you my band's EP!

mikexdude (December 25, 2009)

We share some stuff in common. Nice.PBC should be higher up.

inagreendase (December 25, 2009)

No way, not ever. That comment is absurd.

True, Paramore's last few records have actually been pretty interesting.

billnye (December 25, 2009)

shitty music, shitty dude, shitty "scene".

baldsteve (December 25, 2009)

"Say what you will, but Paramore is the new Jimmy Eat World."

No way, not ever. That comment is absurd.

colin (December 25, 2009)

scoot i'd never have known you'd worked for absolutepunk from your list. it's a good thing they put that warning up top.

insinceredave (December 25, 2009)

I agree with Thursday but the Taking Back Sunday record was truly forgettable and boring.

I've haven't really heard Paramore before, can someone please tell me if the Jimmy Eat World comparisons are correct? The Frank Turner record was good, but way more mellow than I was expecting.

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