I’m sure you’re as sick of year-end lists as I am. You’ve seen countless lists giving praise to The National, Arcade Fire and the like. Not to take away from what those bands achieved – those albums are pretty damn good – but what’s the point in me carrying-on when everything that could be said already has been? Instead, I feel my effort is better spent in trying to turn you on to some stuff you may not have been exposed to in 2010. These five albums were in heavy rotation for me this past year, hopefully they can find their way into yours as well.
5. The Measure [SA] – Notes – No Idea Records
In the late 90’s Alison Mosshart’s Discount set the bar for female fronted pop-punk. After a decade of bands attempting to match Discount’s skill, The Measure [SA] has found a way to surpass it. “Be Yours” opens Notes with an intense burst of energy and sets the tone for the rest of the record. From start to finish, Notes sees The Measure executing at their highest level by mixing fast tempos, huge choruses and top-notch lyrics. People can stop wishing for Discount to reform, The Measure [SA] now hold the crown.
Recommended tracks: “Be Yours” | “Unwritten” | “Timburkulosis”
UPDATE: As of January 11, 2011, it seems as though The Measure [SA] has called it quits.
4. Iron Chic – Not Like This – Dead Broke Records
Iron Chic is one of a handful of bands that have sprung up in the past few years that contain members of the defunct Long Island punk band Latterman. While other post-Latterman bands put out great releases this year – RVIVR and Bridge and Tunnel, respectively – it was Iron Chic that topped them all. Not Like This is pop-punk turned up to eleven and makes every song a fucking anthem. Lyrically, Iron Chic combine youthful optimism with adult cynicism and paint a great picture of what it means to grow up in the punk community, “I sold my soul/Now I age but don’t get old/And to this day/It’s the best deal I ever made.” Amen.
Recommended tracks: “Cutesy Monster Man” | “Time Keeps on Slipping Into The (Cosmic) Future” | “Every Town Has an Elm Street”
3. Bars of Gold – Of Gold – Friction Records
It took five years for Bear vs. Shark’s vocalist Marc Paffi to begin releasing new music; thankfully it was worth the wait. Bars of Gold’s debut LP has enough originality to shake off comparisons to Paffi and drummer Brandon Moss’ former work, but it doesn’t feel too far of a leap from what a post-Terrorhawk BVS may have accomplished. Of Gold is the love child of Modest Mouse and At the Drive-In that never stops being uproariously fun. Bars of gold refuse to adhere to any one genre and are all the better off because of it.
Recommended tracks: “Heaven Has a Heater” | “The Hustle” | “Cannibals.”
2. Shores – Coup De Grace – No Idea Records
It’s hard to sum up what exactly Shores do. While it recalls slowcore acts like Seam and Codeine, that doesn’t do Coup De Grace justice. On monstrous opener “Meanwhile,” Shores display an ability to be both atmospheric and moody without ever losing a sense of purpose. There’s not a chorus – in the conventional sense – to be found on Coup De Grace, but it still has hooks. The vocal melodies sink into your psyche and stay there for days while the music haunts without ever threatening. Coup De Grace is a paradox. Its simplicity is complex and gigantic. With a second album and numerous split EPs already completed there’s plenty more great things to come from Shores in the near future, so you best get on board.
Recommended tracks: “Meanwhile” | “Roux” | “Engage, Pall”
1. Grown Ups – More Songs – Topshelf Records
If you read my review of More Songs it will come as no shock that it has been my most listened to album of 2010. It’s been played several times a week since it was first released and has not yet gotten old. In fact, it has only gotten better with time. While Grown Ups technicality matches that of any other Midwestern band reviving the 90’s emo spirit, they keep it concise without ever subsidizing the genre’s spirit. If you’re a fan of either post-hardcore or pop-punk then More Songs is an absolutely essential addition to your record collection.
Recommended tracks: “Three Day Weekend” | “Spider Mansion” | “Are You Shitten Me?”