Best of 2011

So, it is that time. Year in review lists are always kind of annoying. I will make a list now, then look back and disagree with myself later. Sometime in march, I will be pissed at my list. But, before I make the list, I guess I should do a quick thing.

2011 was an interesting year. It was really good at times, and really fucking terrible at others. A lot of stuff associated with this blog fell on the good side. Back in March, I dropped the Emo Is Not Dead article. Initially, it was just going to be a stupid article (not unlike the other “articles” I have written). It seemed like that shit struck a chord. As a result, I got a bunch of people coming here, I started getting promos, and I got my first troll. So, you know, that was pretty sweet. Thank you to all the awesome people who sent me promos, linked to shit I wrote, sent leads about things to check out, and just generally helped me make content happen. Ever since March, I have kind of been forced to feel like this blog is actually something worth doing. Specifically, thanks to Count Your Lucky StarsTiny EnginesSquare Of Opposition, and Topshelf for putting out so much awesome shit this year. I look forward to giving you all my money in 2012.

On the flip side, the latter half of this year has been a shit storm. Goofy shit kept happening, from the stupid MS diagnosis back in August to the current broken molar / swollen jaw I have now. Medically, this year has been stupid as fuck. The reason why there was a drop in content is due in large part to all that. I know that seems like a cop out, but it is what it is. I try my best to keep up with shit though. Whatever. On to the lists.

In no particular order, the top records of 2011 were:

FULL LENGTHS:

  1. Restorations – S/T
  2. Boris Smile – My Love Powered by 10,000 Practice Amps
  3. House Boat – The Thorns Of Life
  4. The Copyrights – North Sentinel Island
  5. Football, ect. – The Draft
  6. Candy Hearts – Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy
  7. Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man
  8. Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Flies
  9. Into It. Over It. – Proper
  10. P.S. Eliot – Sadie  
EPS / SPLITS / OTHER:
  1. These Branches – The Payoff
  2. Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – Home After Three Month Away
  3. Grown Ups – Hand Holder
  4. You, Me, And Everyone We Know – Things Are Really Weird Right Now
  5. Family Lumber – Look To The Sidelines
  6. Dowsing – All I Could Find Was You
  7. Dikembe – Chicago Bowls
  8. Lemuria / Cheap Girls – Split
  9. Circle Takes The Square – Decompositions – Vol I. Chapter 1. Rites of Initiation
  10. Bonjour – Motivational Suicide
HONORABLE MENTIONS:
  1. Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – On Time Spent Waiting…
  2. Lemuria – Pebble
  3. The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
  4. Laura Stevenson and The Cans – Sit Resist
  5. Thursday – No Devolución
  6. Spraynard – Funtitled
  7. Stage Fright Therapy – Stealing Salt Shakers Again
  8. Deer Leap / The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die – Are Here to Help You
  9. Timeshares – Bearable
  10. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong
OK. That is it. Anyone from Chicago going to be at the Dowsing / E!E! (IWALE) show tomorrow, I will see you there. Look for the giant dude wincing in pain. That would be me. Stupid tooth.
In closing, fuck all the bands that I like who broke up this year. Especially you, Snowing.

REVIEW: P.S. Eliot – "Sadie"

Alright. Let’s make this one count. After the last poorly written review I wrote for P.S. Eliot, I think maybe I can redeem myself here.

Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds was a great record. It maintained a certain level of punk edge, but mixed in some old indie pop jangle. There were a few flaws here and there. In the end, it was a solid record. The band’s latest release, Sadie, is more of the same. While it does suffer from some of the same flaws on occasion, it feels like the band played to the strengths more often than not.

The album opens with “Talk.” It is a quick, upbeat number. It does a great job setting the tone for the record. This record seems a little faster than the last one did. As a result, there is not as much run together for songs. Each songs has little flairs that differentiate it from the one before it. The title track is the third song in, and is a great example of how great Katie Crutchfield’s voice really is. The same is true for “Diana,” which is the slowest (and longest song) on the record. While the former is very poppy, the latter is very subdued. The vocals are soft, the instrumentation is more sparse. They are two songs that show how solid this band is, but in two different ways.

The problems I had with the prior full length have disappeared, mostly. The production sounds a little cleaner. The album as a whole breaks away from being too mid-tempo and monotonous. The vocals sound a hell of a lot clearer. I had been bothered a touch by how slurred and hard to make out the words were on the previous full length. On this one, save for the opener, this is not really an issue. As far as production, my one issue is that vocals, first guitar, and drums are really high in the mix. The second guitar and bass kind of get lost a bit. Not a deal breaker, and not uncommon for the genre.

Stand out tracks would be “Cross Eyed,” “Sadie,” “Pink Sheets,” and “Shitty And Tragic.” Minor gripe being it seems a bit front loaded, but that is really more an arbitrary call anyway. Lyrically, the band remains spot on. Over all, this record will not disappoint. It is a mish-mash of punk, indie pop, and power pop. Three great things that go great together. Kind of sounds like the ’90s? Shit, just check it out.

Official Site (Blog. Not updated since January. So, maybe not?) 
Buy It @ Salinas Records
Official Download @ If You Make It

REVIEW: P.S. Eliot – Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds

General opinions would call this band “pop punk” or “indie.” I lean a little more towards the latter than the former. It is pop punk-ish, but it does not follow the rigid constraints of that genre. It has punk edge, but is not afraid to let the songs draw out, or throw in some actual musicianship. They steer clear of the whole “punk riffing” thing. It has a certain level of lo-fi production, which keeps the punk (and possibly even garage) influence. Generally, it stays pretty midtempo, there is some good fuzzy guitar noise. But, it takes the influences and makes it something else.

The vocals are what makes this record stand out. There are some verses where the lyrics do not fit the rhythm of the music (re: Hail Mary and Incoherent Love Songs). This does not make it sound bad, it almost has kind of a Willie Nelson thing. Yeah, there might be a few awkward syllables, but that is how it is supposed to sound. If you know what you want to say, sometimes you have to get a little off rhythm. Also, for the vocals, there are some great harmonies on this thing. There are some choruses that sound like they have old 1960s girls group influence. Even the first song in, you know these vocals were not going to fuck around.

That is not to say it is a perfect record. I think there were a few sequencing things. The song Tennessee is great, but it is kind of a slow song. It seems like there were better “side one, track one” songs. But, that is a minor flaw (I would have put Hail Mary as the first song [for anyone who gives a fuck about my dumb opinion]). Another flaw is something that tends to happen with these more indie/punk hybrid bands. The songs kind of fade together. While each song is enjoyable, a record with mostly midtempo songs and fuzzy guitar sounds eventually runs together. The last little issue I have is also a point I said I enjoyed earlier. Which is how sometimes the vocals get offtime. I count that as good and bad. It is good because it sounds interesting, but it is bad because there are sometimes the vocals are slurred and unclear at times. And that sounds, well, not good. It is a double edged sword. It sounds great most of the time, but sometimes bad. I had to read along with the lyrics, but even then, some stuff was hard to understand.

All in all, I will give this a 4.5 out of 5. Not perfect, but pretty fucking great.

P.S. Eliot blog
BUY IT (Salinas Records)