All right. Time for my year-end list. However, since I only got on board this music blogging train in October, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage. Until then, I didn’t really have to care whether a given album came out within a given calendar year – I have an unfortunate habit of getting into bands late, for instance – except for bands who are built out of my friends, because you can believe I know when THEY put an album out. Note: this does not mean this is “friend rock” (hat tip to Smo for coining that term) that you only bother with because it’s your friends. It’s good on its own merits! Also I’m not TECHNICALLY friends with all of them and some the connection is awfully tenuous. Ok! Here we go!
Four Point Restraints, Malice
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When I try to explain these guys to people who have never heard them before, I use the phrase “pirate grudges” a lot, even though they actually only have one song about pirate grudges. Unsettling, ominous, grim, and dark are better words. It’s bruise-colored skies and dim rooms, rain-slicked alleys, rancorous endings and doomed beginnings. If that doesn’t grab you, what does?
OTP, Worth the Weight
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This band of Only Three People calls themselves “folk punk,” but with Worth the Weight, they’ve sped up and hit harder relative to their earlier work (certainly in their live shows) – the “folk” part of “folk punk” is less obvious. But as the artistic director of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival used to define folk music, it’s the music Of The People – of the folk! – so you can’t rule out louder, noiser ways of telling their life stories.
Descend Upon the Sane, Make Peace With What Gods You Will
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This is a metal band! There are metal bands in Boston! Wanna know how metal they are? This band includes a husband and wife, and they recently had a baby, whom they named Ozzy. THAT is how metal they are. If you think you’re ready for that level of metalosity, they are ready for you. Never has “I’ve got nothing but time to kill” sounded so ominous.
Psychic Dog, Big and Lonely
I believe I just wrote about these guys. They’ve got rock. They will dispense it to you in exchange for beers. Or in exchange for some of your money, I suppose. Well spent, either way.
The Dead Girls, Noisemaker
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This one’s bittersweet, because it’s their last album. The tone of the album isn’t wistful or elegiac, though – smart power-pop, yes; catchy, very yes. But there won’t be any more from this specific arrangement of guys, so get into it if you haven’t already.
The Nuclears, This Is How We Party
These Brooklyn rock and rollers are on this list for two reasons. One, this IS how I, at least, party – they bring the full rock experience, straight out of the 70s, even down to how they look, and that is definitely the way to party. Two, possibly more importantly, the line “Making out with dames and playing SEGA games.” I would like to sign up for that immediately. Who doesn’t want to make out and play video games?
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We are now moving into the “not technically friends but my friends have played shows with them” territory. Regardless, awesome. I dare you not to be bouncing in your seat.
Elephants, Strange Waves
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See, see, this is why it’s good that I waited til the absolute last minute to post this. This album came out just a few days ago, getting in at the wire just like me. Anyone who knows me knows I love a tiny powerhouse, and this band contains two of them. More to the point, their songs marry quiet vocals with way more rockin’-er music than you might expect. The effect is something perfect for those summers you spend as a teenager hitching rides across the Gulf Islands in the back of strangers’ pickup trucks with all your friends. Just me? Sorry about your misspent youth, then. Listen and understand what it was like.
Nashville Pussy, Up the Dosage
And now the “big famous bands whom I don’t know personally” department. Although this one time, Nashville Pussy was playing at the sadly-closed Presidents Rock Club in Quincy, which doesn’t have a stage, and Ruyter Suys dropped to her knees and delivered a fierce solo right at my feet. So we are basically best friends. Anyway, if you want to get drunk, get high, get laid, or get rocked (ideally, all of the above), Nashville Pussy are the band for you, and this record does not disappoint. There are some interesting departures from their typical sound here – one of which I’ve added here – but the general themes, as listed above, still hold.
I told you you needed this album. I told you. Like I explained before, it’s a double album with each band member getting a side for the songs he writes and sings. That means it can vary from song to song and have upbeat rockers and slow, pensive ones; all sorts of moods and tones; quick little sub-2-minute tunes and one 17-minute-plus opus. What else can offer that? Guess what, I am listening to this album right now.