[Andrew Clark is a staff interviewer and actually grew up in Ocean City, N.J. The numbers check out.]
Top 10 Albums of 2012
Loma Prieta: I.V.
Sure, a lot of people believe that "screamo" has jumped the shark and should fade into oblivion, but when done well like this album it can be one of the most emotionally engaging varieties of hardcore. Loma Prieta, which features two of the members of Punch, prove that you can mix technicality and streamlined songwriting into something volatile, yet beautiful on I.V. Favorite tracks include "Uniform" and "Forgetting."
Kind of Like Records
Another Philadelphia band that has helped maintain my affinity for mid-'90s style emo. Favorite tracks include "Why Am I Not Going Under Walter?" and "Anniversary Song."
Burning Love plays a variety of hardcore that draws from the past works of Entombed's southern rock-influenced metal and mixes it with fast, pissed hardcore all the while taking shots at the fucked up stuff in this world. My favorite song on this record is "Hateful Comforts," which criticizes the War on Terror and the paranoia it has caused in Canada. As someone who identifies with the faith that usually gets attacked a track like this is awesome to hear and comforting in a way.
Frank Ocean: Channel Orange
A little bit of a stretch for being on this website, but whatever, it is an enjoyable album and the man has got some musical chops. Some people as of late have criticized hip-hop artists like Ocean and Drake for incorporating "emo" elements into the genre, but come on, if music does not show emotion what good is it?
There must be something in the water in the Philadelphia area and the spawning of mid-'90s emo revivalist bands. Everyone Everywhere reminds me quite a bit of the poppy elements of later Promise Ring and the urgency of Braid on this album.
Pine Street Records.
This Philadelphia band has evolved over the span of their nearly 10-year career and has not been afraid to experiment with disparate genres while still adhering to DIY ethics. Singer/lyricist Aaron Weiss continues to weave intricate narratives on this album and is backed up by some impressive instrumentation, which are some of the best parts about the band. Standout tracks for me included "Grist for the Malady Mill" and "Fox's Dream of the Log Flume," both of which use guitar effects to build atmosphere and pair well with Weiss' urgency.
Much like my exposure to Title Fight, I first listened to Ceremony in earnest for the first time early this year and initially did not see what was behind the hype. A few listens to their discography, particularly Zoo, and seeing them live has shown me that my initial reaction was off-base. Sure, a lot of people gave them shit for abandoning the chaos and powerviolence-leanings of their early LPs, but you know what, writing a catchy song takes a hell of a lot more talent and creativity. Zoo is an album that I feel like I could play for my parents and non-punk friends and they would enjoy itâpretty damn cool.
Titus Andronicus: Local Business
Being from New Jersey originally myself I can relate to some of the self-loathing documented on this album and in Titus Andronicus' other LPs. I mean, the state is sandwiched between two of the country's largest cities and is the butt of every joke nowadays it seems. Frontman Patrick Stickles' line in "In a Big City" sums up the Jersey mentality: "I'm a dirty punk / But I wipe my own ass."
After contributing to the last Doomtree album in 2011 I thought maybe P.O.S. would have slowed down a bit, but obviously not and WDELH shows the rapper's ability to stand strong alone. Similar to his previous efforts, P.O.S. integrates elements of electronica and punk into his rapping style and lyrical content, which I would hope attracts fans from diverse backgrounds.
I was very late in finding out about Title Fight; I think it was halfway through this year that I finally listened to their previous album, Shed. Looking back on their musical progression over the span of the past couple years I believe Floral Green is their best one yet. Each of the songs, although a bit more abstract in terms of lyrical content, resonated more with me and gave me goose bumps.
Top 4 EPs of 2012
School of Seven Bells: Put Your Sad Down
Yet another band that I discovered over the course of this past year and not really connected to the punk scene whatsoever, outside of being on Vagrant Records (yes, the same one that released Dashboard Confessional and the Get Up Kids' albums). If you enjoy music that can be broadly/lazily lumped into the "witch house" genre then this is a band worth checking out. The first track on here is a bit long in my opinion but is an effective summation of School of Seven Bells' sound: breathy atmospherics, electronica and layered harmonies.
Cold Cave: A Little Death to Laugh
You already know the story behind this band so I will spare you. The three songs on this EP continue to perfect the more streamlined, pop-oriented musical style of Cherish the Light Years that came out last year. Love or hate him, Wes Eisold and his friends keep you guessing.
Grave Mistake Records
This multinational band carries the torch of fast, pissed off straightedge hardcore that also delves into international politics. The band will be releasing a new LP this coming year and on tour in Europeâhighly recommend checking them out live.