My musical tastes probably has less relevance than my elementary critiquing of films, but fuck it. I listened to a lot of music this year, and I felt like bringing it up. Some choices make me wonder if I am having a midlife crisis, but I never wanted to be one of those people that never looks past the things they grew up on. It's okay to embrace that stuff, though. Anyhoo...
In alphabetical order:
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Tao of the Dead
Tao of the Dead
I don't think there is a Trail of Dead album I dislike. These dudes just continue to pump out good music. While World's Apart is still my favorite material from them, I've liked everything since. On Tao of the Dead, the band is down to a four piece instead of six. All kinds of instrumental tangents layered throughout these songs. It's all just really fun to zone the hell out to. Final track is five songs rolled into one. The band's idea for this album was to call back to the days of Yes and Pink Floyd by making an album that seems to just run together. Shit works well.
The Appleseed Cast
Middle States (EP)
Been following these dudes since the late 90's. They used to have a more Sunny Day Real Estate sound, now they are more effects heavy, soundscaping type shit. They've never really surpassed 2001's Low Level Owl Vol 1, but they still rule.
Balance & Composure
Don't have much to say about this other than it took me by surprise. Album fucking rules. It's like a late 90's Alt sound, which was the last thing I was expecting.
I probably could pick this as my favorite of the year, but there are a couple of others that I would have to consider. Either way, Gloss Drop is fucking awesome. Definitely my favorite material from these weirdys. Highly recommend seeing them live if you ever get the chance. John Stanier from Helmet and Tomahawk is on drums, and the dude rips.
Set the Dial
Haven't had the chance to jam this out as much as I'd like to, but I've listened to it enough to know it fucking rules. It's Black Tusk. Stoner. Sludge. Punk. Metal. Whatever you wanna call it. Dig it.
Closer to Closed (EP)
Back in the late 90's, I'd say my 3 favorite bands were Mineral, The Promise Ring and Braid. I know those names mean jack shit to a lot of people, but that shit was my blood. The era of seeing your favorite band play in a fucking rundown living room seems long gone, at least if you're in your 30s. Anyway, when these 3 bands started dissolving (TPR was the last, I believe) it was sad, but I was still left with a lot of good music and some pretty good follow up bands. I never caught on to Hey Mercedes as much as Braid, at least, not until much later. When Braid announced a reunion this year, I probably shit an eggroll. Sadly, it wasn't a fulltime reunion. I was hoping for a full length album. But this EP is pretty damn awesome. It just left me wanting more.
Cave In is probably my favorite band. I guess a lot of people don't get it, or do get it and just think they fucking suck. That's cool; more jams for me. Cave In defies genre placement. I'm one of the few that likes all flavors of their music, but White Silence is a fucking masterpiece. A perfect blend of their alt sound as well as their heavy as fuck sound with some new shit in between. Fucking dig it.
Drive Original Soundtrack
Holy shit, have I ran this into the fucking ground!? The score itself is beautiful, but I think it has more impact while hearing it during the movie. The first 4 songs on the soundtrack, however, are fucking gold. I remember a few straight weeks of listening to nothing BUT those 4 songs while driving. Mainly, the first 3, with the 4th every other time or so. Gah, fantastic jams.
I kinda think of the Foo Fighters as the real life Bill & Ted Wyld Stallions. I've liked every album, but they still just seem to get better and better. This album sounds awesome. It was recorded in a garage, and they even did some hole in the wall shows this year. Gotta love that.
England Keep My Bones
Sometimes I just enjoy to jam out to some dude with an acoustic guitar spitting his heart out through amazing lyrics. Frank Turner does that and so much more. Shit gets fairly heavy on here a few times, and the dude's poetry is goosebump inducing. Goddamned awesome album.
David Comes to Life
Experimental punk, I guess. Fucking awesome, I'm sure. This album is epic.
The Get Up Kids
There Are Rules
This took a few years to record after a four year break up, and was all done with analog equipment. I'll be honest, I wasn't too into it the first couple of listens. My favorite GUK stuff is... well shit, I loved everything. On A Wire I thought was genius but a lot of people couldn't grab onto that. I didn't like their album after that nearly as much. But back to this; first couple of listens I wasn't sold. I gave it a break. Played it again a few months later and dug what they had going on.
In Tides and Drifts
Got this on a whim, and it blew my brains out the back of my fucking skull. Holy shit Earth shattering. Way heavier than previous material, which I didn't listen to until afterward, In Tides and Drifts is some of the rawest, brutal sounding bad ass riffery I've heard all year.
Hand Holder (EP)
A friend of mine turned me on to these guys by saying they have a similar sound to that late nineties indie punky whatthefuckever stuff that I love, and he was right. I was hooked with Songs and More Songs, then they released this beautiful EP on Doghouse Records and just recently broke the fuck up. Bummer.
Joan of Arc
Always been more a fan of the 7-inch stuff Joan of Arc released, but as far as full lengths, this is their best since Live In Chicago. Great shit.
When I first got a hold of Venerable, it's all I listened to for about a straight fucking month. This shit rips. Has an early Amphetamine Reptile records sound. They've been around forever, unbeknownst to my knowledge. Great fucking band.
Maritime fills in my Promise Ring gap, though, TPR are doing some reunion shit in 2012, which has me excited enough to shit pink. Anyway, Maritime have yet to release an album that disappoints me. Matter a fact, I have a hard time saying which is my favorite. Human Hearts is just as great as the last album and so on and so forth.
Disguised as Ghosts
I first caught on to Mock Orange with their Nines & Sixes album, which I thought was one of the most genius fucking post-hardcore punk indie albums pretty much freakin ever. I still think it is. When The Record Play was released, a change is sound was apparent. I saw them tour on that album and it was fucking great. Then, Mind is Not Brain came out, and it was vastly different. More mellowed out indie sound, but with tons of jamming to keep it upbeat to an extent. That's pretty much the sound they still possess now. And I can say I actually prefer this sound now to their older stuff, though, that shit will always have a place in my heart. With Disguised as Ghosts, Mock Orange prove to keep continuing to write bad ass jams for whatever kind of mood you're in or how much ever you've had to drink.
Waves is another top contender for an absolute favorite album of the year. It's kind of a departure from the past material, which was way more experimental. This is more straight forward, taking cues from Cave In, Underoath and more. This is one great record.
Anybody remember Quicksand? I sure as shit do. Still listen to them pretty damn frequently, as a matter of fact. Rival Schools is members of Quicksand/Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today and CIV. Their first album came out in like '01 or some shit. It was awesome, but they dissolved. A second unreleased album can be found online. But then in 2011, Pedals came out and it freaking rocks.
Fucking awesome instrumental post rock/post metal/ post whattheshitever band from Chicago.
Small Brown Bike
Fell & Found
Hell yeah, a new Small Brown Bike album! I was pretty sure these guys had just called it a day and fell into obscurity forever, but no! This is a bit more laid back than previous stuff, but it still rocks the shit out. Dead Reckoning is still a fave, though.
I've stuck with Thursday ever since Full Collapse, which I still consider one of my favorite records of all time. I even stuck with them through that whole "we don't know what the fuck we want to sound like" time. I even liked all of that shit. But Common Existence was a more return to form. This however, is another departure, and one I am totally cool with.
Other stuff worth mentioning:
By Surprise: Mountain Smashers
The Dear Hunter: The Color Spectrum
Death Cab For Cutie: Codes & Keys
Dropkick Murphys: Going Out In Style
Face to Face: Laugh Now, Laugh Later
Flogging Molly: Speed of Darkness
Hightide Hotel: Nothing Was Missing, Except Me
Living With Lions: Holy Shit
Portugal. The Man: In the Mountain In the Cloud
Red Fang: Murder the Mountains
Title Fight: Shed
Young Statues: Self Titled
Yuck: Self Titled