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Lamp, broken circa 1988

IF YOU SHOW ME YOUR ALBUM OF THE YEAR I WILL LISTEN TO IT

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I WILL ALSO WRITE WHAT I THINK ABOUT IT AND ORDER IT INTO A LIST.

RULES

1: First come first serve.

2: Give me like ten days per record max.

3: No Guarantees that I'll write a positive thing about it.

4: ONE ALBUM ONLY. If you try to show me two, I'll listen to zero.

5: this one's more of a guideline but Put The Album In Bold. i.e. "Album" by Band (that way you can talk about the album if you want, but either way I'll see the name of it for sure)

SHOW ME

The 2017 List
mine was "Peasant" by Richard Dawson

 

1. "The Order Of Time" by Valerie June
2. “in*ter a*li*a” by At The Drive-In
3. "Screen Memories" by John Maus
4. “Heartless” by Pallbearer
5. "No Dope On Sundays" by CyHi The Prynce
6. "Dark Matter" by Les Friction
7. “A Deeper Understanding” by The War On Drugs
8. "The Dusk In Us" by Converge
9. "Out in the Storm" by Waxahatchee
10. “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” by Steve Earle
11. “Life Is Good” by Flogging Molly
12. “Made Of Breath Only” by sleepmakeswaves
13. "Silenciado" by Diagnosis? Bastard!

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"Life is Good" by Flogging Molly

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"A Deeper Understanding" by the War on Drugs

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"Hands of Jack the Ripper" by Screaming Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends

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So I’m gonna make track by track notes and that way you’ll know where I am in the record after this paragraph. I wasn’t sure who Flogging Molly was even though I had heard the name, so I went to the internet. The first thing I saw was a four leaf clover. The second thing I saw was (I assume) them in full suits. The next like thousand words are going to be in the spoiler tags so people don’t open this thread and get ambushed by it.

 

I wonder who the devil is in this song? I got up to get my nintendo as soon as the fiddle came in. That might not be related. I’m just reporting the facts. I have no other facts to report about this song. It is An Intro On A Rock Record.

It occurs to me I have never seriously listened to Irish punk more than that one song that played in The Departed that still makes TV all the time. I think that’s a Dropkick Murphy’s song. I went to a Dropkick Murphy’s show and I remember literally none of it because there was a weird love-triangle thing happening that screwed me out of seeing a band I wanted to see later that month. Teenage! I also saw Mindless Self Indulgence in this whole scenario so it was at least not the worst concert I had to endure for that. Anyways, There was also a band named Gang Green and I remember feeling weird because I had an imaginary Fire Pro stable named the same thing. This seems more folkish than that show ever got so far, but I am skeptical the whole record will stay this way.

I think I have a poisonous reaction to ska rooted entirely in growing up in San Diego, which is a whiter and dumber town than Los Angeles. So the positive sorts were all into ska and pop punk, the broody sorts were into HIM and Hatebreed and Nine Inch Nails, and I was sitting over here listening to a bunch of post-metal and watching BET because they played more music videos. I’ve always struggled with Ska and Nu Metal because of those years. I don’t know what “we’re still looking for what we found” is supposed to mean. Is it to imply that they already lost it?

“Reptiles” and “Woke” will never not make me think about David Icke and Berkeley. I’m trying not to say a lot about the politics of this record because it’s largely net-positive but all very surface level. “You’re still right, I promise, here’s the tunes to prove it.” I’m not moved by it but I won’t say it serves no purpose because that’s untrue. I don’t think punk bands would have said “haters” without the explosion of rap at the end of the 1900s. 

I’m racking my brain trying to think of punk bands that have both aged well and stayed in it. OFF! Was pretty good. There’s some other elderly hardcore band that is completely escaping my mind. I wanted to say Old Man Gloom but that’s not actually right. I guess Ted Leo kind of counts but I still feel put off by large parts of his records for all the good-ass songs he has. It seems like a lot of 90s forms of music are going to struggle very badly with aging. Oh, Jeff Rosenstock. How old is Jeff Rosenstock? … Oh jeez, just 35? Wait, how old are the Flogging Molly people? … 50s. Okay. Huh. Feel free to let me know if I’m missing someone super obvious. … Mike Watt?

The title track being at the middle of the record fills my hear with a fear of an ending ballad. I hate ending ballads. Make me leave a record feeling some other way than down. I beg of you. I can’t be too harsh on the song-  it gave me a really interesting idea to play with in a different song that I was having trouble figuring out how to procede with. It’s gonna be in the lab for years and I’ll be lucky if I remember that this is the root of it by the time I’m done with it, but for now I’m grateful.

Side B opens with “The Last Serenade.” Strikes me as odd, but okay. Also, maybe a song name you would want to save for something else closer to retirement, but, that’s just me. This is not a songwriting problem unique to this band, just something I thought about while it was happening.

The Guns of Jericho is basically a show tune, and suddenly I understand where the pop punk people come from a lot better. So I will come out of this record with more knowledge and less confusion. Net positive!

I’ve never gotten close enough with Irish American identity to understand if the nautical referential stuff is traditional or if it’s a thing that this band is trafficking in specifically. Regardless, this is the strongest hook on this record by a long distance. I can imagine screaming “CRUSHED” rules in a big crowd of other fans. 

I thought for half a second that this was going to be a song about being angry at punks for only getting motivated when they lose ground, which is a sentiment I can DEFINITELY relate to, and then it became a bunch of platitudes. Oh well.

This is the only song I had to listen to twice because it went in one ear and out the other. This is a kind of confusing country song, I think? About a wedding? It didn’t stick with me the second time either and it makes me feel like I have some kind of malfunction.

I ASKED REALLY NICELY TO NOT DO THIS. My least favorite thing in pop music is the Closing Ballad. If an album is energizing, I am not looking to have that energy ended, but to carry it on throught the rest of the moment I’m living in. When you cut the record off with a ballad you garrote the momentum your work has to serve a tradition that you likely haven’t even questioned why you still practice. It’s just how it’s done. From now on, whenever a record does this, I will summarize this outro-specific sentiment with the following emote: :unsure: 

So far, it’s the best album I’ve listened to from this topic. I haven't listened to the others, but, still. And, I left it with songwriting ideas so it was a good use of time overall.

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Gang Green might have been from Boston but they were def. not an "Irish punk" band. They were just a bunch of coked out drunks.

I'll try and come up with something later. There are a few metal albums at least that I can choose from to irritate you.

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I don't think I've listened to a single new album this year. I have totally fallen off the rails. I feel bad about this, music is the best.

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2 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Gang Green might have been from Boston but they were def. not an "Irish punk" band. They were just a bunch of coked out drunks.

I'll try and come up with something later. There are a few metal albums at least that I can choose from to irritate you.

That's on me for not making that clear: The throughline for Gang Green in that context is that they were one of the like five openers or whatever for that Dropkick Murphys show.

also I totally understand the desire to make troll picks- and to troll me specifically- but I am genuinely trying to come out of this with pleasant surprises

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I'm not trying to troll, just I don't know what you listen to/like and it'll probably be a metal record, so be forewarned. In a minute I'll go dig through the recent stacks and pick one. 

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PSSH. Show me your album of the year, not your most agreeable record. I can take anything once.

I just wrapped up listening to and writing about Steve Earle by the way, and I'm gonna sleep on it again so I can go over it the next day. What I am gonna do though is that since this is eventually going to become an ordered list, I will start putting up where it goes on the list before I put up the writing. Here's a list of two albums!

1. “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” by Steve Earle
2. “Life Is Good” by Flogging Molly

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3 hours ago, Death From Above said:

I don't think I've listened to a single new album this year. I have totally fallen off the rails. I feel bad about this, music is the best.

It happens. Though I have a constant stream of vinyl coming in, barely any of the albums are ever of the current year. I just went through what I've got since last Xmas season and I counted like five LPs from this year (there are more 7"s but that wasn't the aim here). 

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11 hours ago, Death From Above said:

I don't think I've listened to a single new album this year. I have totally fallen off the rails. I feel bad about this, music is the best.

TBH, the only reason I listen to any new music at all is because Spotify is fairly good at recommending things. I do tend to have my niche, tho.

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Unfamiliar with Steve Earle too, but the google image search suggests that dude has been around for a while and been through some shit. Like, look at this row of images.

c7aad2e790.png

I want an album that addresses this. I kind of wish I had been writing secret songs in a diary fashion so when I got to be an old fart I could put together the songs that would resemble that for me. Anyways, here we go. Again, each paragraph is for each track. 

Album called “So You Wannabe An Outlaw”, First track is called “So You Wannabe An Outlaw”, first words are “So You Wannabe An Outlaw.” I wish more records treated a thesis statement like this. “We’re starting here, and expanding outwards.” The tone of this song strikes an interesting point between country tropes in how well everything is mic’d vs. Earle’s sighing delivery. I’m exceptionally picky with country, but so far so good.

Earle feels like he has been sentenced to this band, but not in a “corporal punishment” kind of way. More like a “Yeah, I did it, and I earned it, and at least I don’t gotta worry about food now” way. Peaceful, even if it clashes. Lyrically a lot more simple than what came before it. I’m starting to get the sense that this is going to be one of those albums that’s an album like a photo album instead of cogent connecting statements, and I’m adjusting.

This is more of a groove. A pretty simple surface level story about a pretty unreported line of work that I suspect Californians are more acquainted with than others. An inlaw of mine died fighting the first huge Southern California inferno in 2007 or so, and his funeral was very surprising to me. The preacher was trying to make it into a celebration of their lives, but his big smile creeped everyone out. Forest Firefighters are modern knights in the small towns down here. There will be no smiling funerals for them.

Okay so I know that I’ve said a lot of things that would indicate I’m anti-ballad, but I’m not capable of saying a thing like “There’s No Good Ballads.” I really liked News From Colorado. Just simple, tight, a lot of moving parts. That is the thing that kills me about ballads- you can play slow and still have flourish and density in composition.

Ahh, okay, now I understand why the band feels as loose and pedal-y as it does, because when it works with Earle’s voice it sounds like this. There’s a tension in it that most modern country tries super hard to smooth out of the playing, like it’s wobbling and trying to drop off the table.

THAT is an intro. Damn. I will forgive the slow start because right now we’re in a run of some good fucking songs. This feels like the thing every Clutch single wants to be. The sound has heat to it, but unlike those aforementioned singles (hi burning beard) it’s leaving enough in the playing that it feels like a band playing in your house instead of a player piano. Good stuff, great end to Side A. They better close with this live, I can’t imagine following it with anything.

Aw, we’re slowing back down. I don’t really have anything to say about the song itself- it’s very rote. I liked the very sudden ending of it though, because that gave it the actual weight of a relationship coming to a shuddering halt. I’m a sucker for little songwriting touches like that, where the structure is carries the idea too.

Much like Flogging Molly, I had to listen to one track twice because the first time it sailed right through. This is the kind of ballad I do not appreciate. It’s a style of songwriting that implies a familiar relationship with the singer, because it relies on you wanting to hear what they have to say while the sound buries all compositional expression unless they go Supermassive with the structure and sound, like Josh T. Pearson for an example.

I’m really struggling with Side B here. This is like a song from a CG movie about cowboys. If that’s what it was wrote for, it is a stunning accomplishment of establishing a synthetic scene all through smoothed tone and broad situations. Maybe I’m too much of a pragmatist for simple break-up songs. Maybe my breakups have been too psychic damage-y. I dunno. Not connecting.

FUN FACT! There has never been a good song specifically about California! There is only one album that really feels like California is now, and it’s the self-titled HEALTH record, because California is too many different things all at once to cover in a song, and more of it needs to be dissonant and harsh to be accurate. PLEASE do not confuse this for a defense of LA or California. The only appropriate way to talk about California is like it’s Bioshock. Stay out.

Side B of this record has lost me completely. Every lyric is so much broader, the band is playing so tight that it makes me feel like I should never hang out with them, and what felt like outreach has retreated into base appeals to people already familiar and comfortable with the catalog and the stories. I don’t have those benefits, and strangely, I am not tempted to develop them.

ENDING BALLAD. :unsure:

There is a POWERFUL run of songs in the middle of this record, which is then immediately followed by a long tumble into a valley. I’m putting this above Flogging Molly because the peaks of the record felt really good, even if rest of the album disappointed me.

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Steve is alright. I'm super picky about my country too and he falls a little off the mark for me, but he's a Townes disciple so it's hard for me to argue. And yes, he has been through some serious shit -- there's a reason he played recovering addict Waylon on The Wire.

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