Jelone is a staff reviewer at Punknews.org - ed.
"My heroes / I have forgotten them" â The Menzingers, "Home Outgrown"
This year meant growing up. I've been gainfully employed all of 2010, living on my own health insurance and saving up to move in with my girlfriend of four-and-a-half years. We traveled through Europe together. Her love keeps me going, I think she's the best person in the world–ew gross–and so on. I finally got another band together, called Science Club. Our influences include ice cream, Star Trek and anything Ted Leo likes. The band exists for fun. We legitimately like our songs, but we have no claims to or expectations for success. We have real lives to worry about.
That's why I don't care when I get hate mail for my writing or my music (even if it's from Tom Gabel himself). Those problems are inconsequential; I care more about death and taxes.
This year I had to say goodbye to my cousin Michael. "Cousin" doesn't sound right. Well, it's technically right; he's the firstborn son of my father's brother. But really he was my brother. He was only a year younger than me, but he somehow ended up being my big brother, or at least the most important tastemaker in my youth. Over the years, Mike turned me on to plenty of bands. He was always ahead of me when it came to music, from punk to emo to indie and back. We were both in love with music, which means we also argued about music a lot.
But Mike also harbored a drug addiction. He went in and out of rehab and halfway houses over the years. He got kicked out of home plenty of times. But he was still family, which is why it hurt to talk to him.
I reconnected with Mike a week before he died, however fleetingly. We talked about music, about the Gaslight Anthem show he had just attended, about how good the new Arcade Fire record allegedly sounded. He got titles wrong. He forgot what school I attended and how long I had been dating my girlfriend. Little details showed his brain had maybe faded. But his eyes burned.
A week later he overdosed.
The night before he died we talked online about the Mountain Goats and Arcade Fire. The next day he was gone. His last status update on Facebook was "Hey Ray, I never went down. You never got me down, Ray." It's a quote from Raging Bull. I'm going to analyze those lines for the rest of my life and try to find a hidden meaning, like he knew he was going out on his own, like the day of his death was significant. Or maybe he put it up there because Mike was a big Scorsese fan. I'm never going to know. All I have left behind are fragments, like this essay he wrote for my blog. It's about the Get Up Kids, but also his desire to stay clean.
There are a handful of records that will always remind me of Mike. Bear vs. Shark's Right Now You're in the Best of Hands... was the last record Mike and I listened to together. TGUK's discography will always bring back his ghost, especially the first two albums. Green Day. Springsteen. The Promise Ring. I listened to the Cure's Pornography, a record about drug addiction and despair, for the first time when Mike got out of his first stint in rehab. I listened to it on my roof as the sun came up, delirious and despondent from lack of sleep because I didn't know what to say to him anymore. It's always reminded me of his demons, and now it'll always be that way.
I want to hope that Michael achieved some sort of peace. But he was never particularly religious and neither am I. All I know is he's gone and nothing I say or do will make that fact easier or better or refutable. Sometimes I think the grieving process is profoundly fucked up, as the goal is to one day be comfortable with the concept of someone I love no longer existing, and that the world will go on, not because it has an opinion on my family's pain, but rather because it simply does not care. I am the tiniest of cogs. I am replaceable. Is that nihilistic?
And I'll take what is given to me
And I'll realize I'm not going home
And after a while, when all of your currency's gone
And after a while, when all your mistakes have been made
You've tasted the carbon dioxide.
I think about Mike every day. He probably would've hated most of my favorite records from 2010.
Top 20 Bestest Records of 2010 According to Joseph. T Pelone
Season of Mist
Daft Punk: TRON: Legacy
This is not an album for Daft Punk fans per se, unless those fans also love science fiction and especially love TRON. Because these French robots totally get TRON. TRON: Legacy was never meant to be a sequel to Human After All, so it shouldn't be regarded as such. But as a sequel to the original TRON soundtrack by Wendy Carlos (with some help from Journey!), it's stunning. Carlos blended orchestral and electronic music to great effect for the original 1982 soundtrack, marking a milestone just as important as the early works of Kraftwork or the birth of post-punk. Daft Punk develops those ideas further, wedding their danceable electronic vision to more traditional orchestral movements, resulting in a flowing, emotionally stirring work.
The Roots: How I Got Over
I hate when music writers show their lack of credentials before engaging in a review. It's tantamount to saying, "Here's why you shouldn't care about my opinion." That said, um, I don't know much about hip-hop. But I do love soul music, and the Roots' How I Got Over has plenty of it. The record starts off quite cool and smooth with songs like "A Peace of Light" and "Dear God 2.0," but it's James Brown throwbacks like the title track that keep me around. I'm not an expert on rap, but I recognize a good groove when I hear it.
Kyle Kinane: Death of the Party
A Special Thing
Every year, the fates deliver on to me a comedy record stuffed with one-liners and personal stories about failure that really hit home. This year, that record was Death of the Party by Kyle Kinane. His humor can get crass at times (like when he talks about the first time he pooped in a bar bathroom), but also tells tales about the triumph of the human spirit (like when he talks about the first time he pooped in a bar bathroom). He also gave me my favorite cop put-down: "How did you get your job? Did you win a raffle?"
Then the Menzingers dropped Chamberlain Waits, and I pretty much left Lessons behind. Outside of when I listened to it for review purposes, I have not gone back to it this year. Instead, I've poured all of my energy into Chamberlain Waits, a record about growing up, feeling kind of lost and trying to find a way in the world. It's about being stuck in Pennsylvania. It's about late nights with old friends and the importance of music. It became my "Shit Sucks But This Song Rules" record. As I've gotten older, I've become less and less excited by punk music, as I suppose this list indicates. But then when bands like the Menzingers come around, I become a believer all over again. This genre thrives on insularity, but honestly, I want everyone to listen to this record. Disaffected teens, old-school punks and rock enthusiasts in general all need to live inside these songs.
It shouldn't, though, given that the album's best moments are about failure and break-ups. Somehow, though, my girlfriend and I really latched on to this record, and it scored our most intimate moments. The quiet resignation of "Sidelights" and "Tugboat," the panic of "Jolene," the cool beat of "Falls City"–these parts wrapped around me like a blanket, and I took the record with me as I traveled around the East Coast, and then over to Europe. When I listen to this record, I think about watching the love of my life undress in Paris. I think about love itself. The Georgia Theatre offered such a warm and lived-in sound quality; it's the exact opposite of AZAR. It's fitting that the band is donating money from the record sales towards rebuilding the theatre; it's like an unofficial band member in terms of shaping the album's style. I'm still down with the punks–I was spinning Government Issue something fierce earlier today–but Venice Is Sinking makes me feel comfortable, safe, alive. It's perfect for the cold and the close contact of winter, but it's cool and breezy enough to bring out during the summer. It's my album of the year because it sums up my year.
Top 10 Extended Players of 2010
Evil Weevil / Weird Skull
Trouble in Mind
The Next Big Thing: Tough as Nails, Sweet as Pie
The world needs a Kid Dynamite. My pals in the Next Big Thing opted to keep the KD sound alive, complete with bass solos and throaty, catchy choruses. In the interest of complete disclosure and journalistic integrity or whatever, I should mention that I bring the gang vox something fierce on this disc, but I'm awesome, so check this out. "Girls Don't Listen to Lifetime" is my jam–and ladies, if you do listen to Lifetime, holla at frontman Nick Gregorio at email@example.com.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Wrecking Ball
Record Store Day came twice this year, and Bruce Springsteen delivered great finds on both days. Black Friday brought a "Save My Love" single backed with "Because the Night," but the bigger, better release was "Wrecking Ball." Debuted during his 2009 tour, "Wrecking Ball" was Springsteen's ode to Giants Stadium; the song helped clear out the bad taste left by Working on a Dream. It's full of classic E Street intensity and showmanship, and it's so catchy that I don't even care that Springsteen rhymes "balls" with "ball." The B-side, a live version of "The Ghost of Thom Joad" featuring Tom Morello, is nifty too.
Too Small to Fail
The Very Honorable Mentions of 2010
Potential Reasons to Choose Life in 2011
- Face to Face â Laugh Now, Laugh Later
- The Get Up Kids â There Are Rules
- Green Day â TBA
- PJ Harvey â Let England Shake
- Lemuria â Pebble
- Mogwai â Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
- The Mountain Goats â All Eternals Deck
- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart â Belong
- Taking Back Sunday with classic line-up â TBA
- Thursday â TBA