#10. All Time Low - Nothing Personal
I love All Time Low. That's no secret. I shamelessly embrace a band that seems to be in direct opposition to my musical beliefs (which I guess I'll have to fill you guys in on those in a later post). The operative word in that sentence, however, is "seems". Say what you will, All Time Low is a genuine band. These kids started as freshman in highschool - 15 year-olds booking DIY summer tours and touring the East Coast in a van, working their asses off to live their dreams. While Nothing Personal pales in comparison to the band's early EP Put Up or Shut Up, it's a shameless pop-punk album filled with choruses and hooks that you'll be singing for days. Alex Gaskarth has a talent, not unlike his heroes in blink-182, for writing a genuine and catchy song. These guy's are today's New Found Glory, they are the pop-punk pros of our day.
#09. LeATHERMOUTH - XO
Angry. Brutal. Loud. Punk fucking rock. LeATHERMOUTH, side project of My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero, is a hardcore band that you probably won't like upon first listen. I know I didn't. But after seeing them live on Reggie & The Full Effect's farewell tour, I was hooked. What made this album so important to me, so great, was how incredibly raw it is. Frank's writing gives you a glimpse into a dark, troubled soul, a kid who just wants an outlet for all this anger and rage pent up inside. LeATHERMOUTH is a band that will say whatever they want and not care what people think. They have a song from the point of view of a kid who shoots up his school, they have a song called 'I Am Going To Kill The President of the United States of America" and yet, these songs aren't just some shock value bullshit; they're real. LeATHERMOUTH is a way for Frank to get out all the inner demons and fears, all the hate in a healthy way, and for kids who feel the same way to relate.
#08. Sherwood - QU
On the opposite end of the musical spectrum (yet with another curious, two-letter album title) is Sherwood, a band from my town of San Luis Obispo. Sherwood probably had to make my list simply for the fact that they are a local band who've made it big in a relative sense. But beyond that, this album is absolutely incredible. Sherwood takes California and turns it into music; the vocals on this track, the guitar, everything, they remind me (mostly, maybe not the slower songs) of being on the beach and having a good time. The album opens with the a capella intro "Shelter" and doesn't miss a beat afterward. This album is nothing short of incredible, the highlight of it being the slow ballad "Worn", in which singer Nate Henry's voice is beautifully complimented by a female vocalist who I cannot for the life of me find the name of (someone help!). Although the song is important to me largely for personal reasons, it was one of my favorite the first time I listened, too.
#07. Silverson Pickups - Swoon
I don't have a whole lot to say on this one. This is a band I've halfheartedly followed for two years, only really getting into them in September. I don't have a lot of prior knowledge on them, but what I do have to say is that this is one of the best rock albums I've heard in a long time. The guitars are powerful, yet the whole album has a sort of calm vibe, probably due to vocalist Brian Aubert's soft vocals. This album is something I can't really describe - you just have to listen to it to understand it. Silversun Pickups are a band that are going to go far, they're different and inventive, but they still have a sort of classic value to them. Just be prepared for a long listen; the shortest song on the album clocks in at 4:40.
#06. Paramore - brand new eyes
No, that's not a typo. That's how the album's name is stylized, don't shoot me, I don't like it either. Grammatical errors aside, this album is incredible. The first word that came to my mind when I listened to this album was "mature" because that's exactly what Paramore have done. After almost breaking up, the band kissed and made up and vocalist/primary lyricist Hayley Williams wrote a bunch of songs about band drama. I guess. That's not the point. The point is that these songs are straight-up rock songs, to me. Paramore ditched some of their more poppy sound and took on a more mature, rocking sound. Never have Hayley's vocals been better. Paramore is one of my favorite bands and this album shows why - they're extremely talented. I dare you to look at this "scene" and find more than 5 drummers better than 18 year-old Zac Farro (note: playing fast does not equate to talent). This album also contains what is unarguably the most amazing vocal moment of last year. Go listen to "All I Wanted", pay close attention at the 2:40 mark. You hear that? The band stops. It's nothing but Hayley, belting out "All I wanted was you" at the top of her lungs, with all the body her tiny little frame can muster. It gives me goosebumps every damn time.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I now bring you my top 5 albums of 2009. (Author's note: I'd like to let you all know that these 5 albums could all easily be number one. This was incredibly difficult for me to decide the order. 3 of these albums are by 3 of my favorite bands of all time, the other two are by my favorite breakout artist of the year and my favorite new artist of the year. Enjoy!)
#05. Thrice - Beggars
Dustin Kensrue, Teppei Teranishi, Eddie Breckenridge, Riley Breckenridge. Thrice. What is there to not be said about this band? Did any of you really think that the band who's song inspired the name of this fine blog you're currently, albeit begrudgingly, reading would not make this list? Thrice is one of the most amazing, talented bands of this generation. This is a band who essentially reinvents their style every album. This is a band that takes on an ambitious, four EP cycle based on the four elements and turns it into one of the most amazing musical experiences I've ever had. Thrice do nothing short of amaze, yet again, with this album. They've stripped down their style from their last real album, Vheissu, lost some of the keyboards and odd experimental stuff, and basically made a record that is composed of the band jamming. This albums so damn groovy it's ridiculous. This band will never disappoint me, they can do no wrong in my eyes. Go listen to the song "Beggars" and keep your jaw off the floor. I dare you.
#04. Say Anything - Say Anything
Say Anything's eponymous fourth record is nothing short of fucking incredible. Pardon my French. Let me get one thing out there: Max Bemis is my hero. Of all the musicians out there who I almost worship, Bemis has spoken to me more than anyone. His wit, his intelligence, his views on life and religion are all so inspiring to me. He is undoubtedly the greatest lyricist of our time, definitely my favorite. This record shows Bemis in a different light, however. He's no longer that angry, bipolar guy. He's happily married. He's happy with his life. Bemis' personal life aside, how did this record come to be what it is? After the band's now iconic album, 2004's ...Is A Real Boy, the band released the monolithic, 27-track In Defense of the Genre, an album lauded by some as amazing but by many as too long (I fall into the former group, listen to the damn album. The story isn't complete with any of the tracks missing.) With fans sort of disappointed by In Defense, Bemis and Co. set out to make the record they want their band to be defined by. Speaking in commercial terms, this is, then, the perfect record. I'll admit I was sad to see the lack of a Parental Advisory sticker, since Say Anything swears so much and to be honest, I love it, but I guess since Beem-dog found Jesus he's cut back, but I realize the album would not sound right with profanity. Not even the first single, "Hate Everyone" is suited for a barrage of curses. The Bemis on this record is happier, more mature, and it shows. Anyway, I've prattled on about this record long enough. It's incredible. 'Nuff said.
#03. Brand New - Daisy
The most polarizing album of the year (also, my favorite album cover of the year), Brand New's Daisy is, in my book, a masterpiece. It's not as groundbreaking and genre-defining as Deja Entendu, not as personally important to me as The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, but it is undoubtedly an incredible artistic venture. Brand New, like Thrice, has this incredible ability to reinvent themselves with every album, and still have some of the most die-hard fans in this scene. Let's get one thing straight about Brand New - they don't care what you think. One of the things I most admire about this band is that they don't make music for you, for the radio, for the record company, but for themselves. They make the album they want to make. That's probably why we always have to wait so long between albums, but it's always worth it. Brand New does not care if you like it or not, because they know someone will, and if no one does, hell, at least they did what they wanted. There need to be more bands like Brand New, music needs to return to being organic, real. Anyway, all that is to say Daisy is a weird album. Brand New likes to experiment, and whether it's the classy hymn that opens the album before abruptly jumping into the most ear-shattering guitars and screams of the year, or the odd vocal effect on "Be Gone", which is sort of like boxing your ears the whole time you listen. This album shows off Brand New's range, from a screamer like "Vices", directly into a slow song like "Bed", to something that's just plain odd and amazing, like the title track. Brand New, like Thrice and Say Anything, are one of the most amazing bands around. They can do no wrong.
#02. Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing
Did you really think you'd see a best of '09 list for bands like this and not see this album? Manchester Orchestra are one of those rare bands that pretty much everyone seems to agree on. Universally (almost) hailed by critics, loved by emo kids and those damn hipsters alike, no one seems to be able to resist the Andy Hull, his band, and his beard.
Look at that beard. You know you're impressed.
Facial hair aside, this album is phenomenal. Ranging from songs with pop sensibility ("I've Got Friends"), to to an acoustic-indie-turned-freak-out song ("100 Dollars"), to a song that sounds just like Nirvana ("In My Teeth"), to a spiritually deep 7 minute ballad ("The River") the album has something for everyone. The spiritual element of Hull's lyrics harken back Jesse Lacey's. Hull, like Lacey, is a man lost in his faith, unsure whether or not to believe what he's been told his whole life, and ultimately, just struggling to know God is there. The talent shown in this album is incredible, the range, the music, the lyrics - everything is perfect. Look out for this band to take over the world very soon.
And now, the best album of 2009...
#01. fun. - Aim & Ignite
When I saw this band on tour with Hellogoodbye in August, I was immediately hooked. They out-performed Hellogoodbye on their own tour. After the show, I saw singer Nate Ruess at the back of the venue, shook his hand, and told him that that was the best show I had ever seen. Little did I know I was shaking the hand of the vocalist of my favorite new band. fun. is a sort of super group, composed of Nate Ruess (The Format), Andrew Dost (Anathallo), and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) who make the most beautiful, genuine pop music your ears have ever had the pleasure of listening to. fun. is simply what their name implies - fun. Their songs have a depth and beauty in them that I haven't heard in this kind of indie-pop in a long time. Take a song like "The Gamlber". It's about Ruess' parents and will probably make you cry it's so beautiful. Ruess' amazing vocals are complimented by instruments as well as the vocals of the other band members and some friends, to produce the most vocally pleasing record of the year. The songs on this album will immediately put you in a good place; you can't help but sing along and smile. Songs about love, about what-if moments with a beautiful girl, songs about pretty girls. This album is plotted and designed to lift you up and make you sing along, to make you dance. This album is number one of my list because whenever I would scroll through my iTunes library, unsure of what I wanted to listen to, this would be the album I'd click on. It's addictive, it's beautiful, it is truly the most pleasing record of the year. Give this album a listen, I guarantee you won't be able to put it down.
And now for some other best/worst of 2009:
Best Lyricists - 4. Dustin Kensrue
3. Jesse Lacy/Vin Accardi
2. Andy Hull
1. Max Bemis (duh)
Best Live show- 3. Blink-182/Weezer
1. Say Anything
Biggest Disappointments - 3. The Used - Artwork
2. Cobra Starship - Hot Mess
1. Taking Back Sunday - New Again
Biggest Douchebag of the year: Gabe Saporta
Well kiddies, that's it for my best of 2009. I hope you agree with some of it, if not, oh well. Thanks for reading. I hope to start posting more frequently, but I'm not making any promises. I really want to write lately, so you'll probably seem some neat musical rants. Expect some reviews, expect to see my musical standpoint, maybe the ten albums that have had the biggest impact on me, maybe the ten albums of the decade. Who knows? If you read all this, thank you so much. It means a lot to me.
Edit: I'm not sure why some of the text is unnecessarily bolded, but I apologize. I spent an hour and a half working on this, probably developed carpal tunnel. I'm not going to fix it right now. : )