Friday, December 24, 2010

Top 10 Records of 2010

Well here it is. The same self serving pretentious list every other shmuck with a keyboard and a Gmail account is posting this time of year. I guess the hardest thing was trying to think of 10 records I actually liked this year. I'm surprised I did. Oh well, take a read, and I guess try to agree with me.

10. Against Me - White Crosses
First off, I posted this album artwork because I fucking hate the ridiculous artwork they used on this record. It looks like some shit The Killers would use. I fucking hate that band, they're a buncha sassy turds in make up, fuck them. Other than that, I didn't want to like this record, I really didn't. I wrote it off the first time I heard it. It was as far from the Against Me! I'd know and loved as it had ever been. A few months after I let the "OH YER SO NOT PUNX NO MORE" wear off, I gave it a few spins. And fuck goddamn if this is not a great record. No, this is not the band that reminded you "baby, I'm an anarchist, and you're a spineless liberal". And, they make you aware of that in the song "Teenage Anarchist". Don't pretend like you don't agree. Are any of you over the age of 25 still trying to "fuck the system, man!" or smell like a pile of rotting vegan vomit? No, you're probably not. But it's cool man, you just grew up. Like Against Me! did and most people should. Bottom line, this is a solid record and just has shitty artwork. Plus, George from Hot Water Music played drums on it, gotta give em SOME punkpoints right?

After Shorebirds split, I was pretty bummed. Latterman + Jawbreaker = instant music boner for many folk. You disagree? Didn't think so... So what was one to do? Well after RVIVR (featuring Matt Canino from Shorebirds/Latterman) put out the Life Moves and Derailer 7"s, it was obvious he wasn't slowing down any time soon. Canino trades of vocals with Erica Freas (of Glue! and Hooky) and together they craft an affirmative, passionate but reflective breed of punk rock. It's brash and honest, but it's melodic and relaxing even. Not sure how they figured that out, but shit if I'm gonna tell em to stop doing it. All in all, I hope LP number 1 doesn't end up being LP number only, there is a lot of good that has and will come from this group of people and it would be a real shame for it to be cut short.

8. The State Lottery - When The Night Comes
The State Lottery really had my attention with their previous full length effort Cities We're Not From with their gouging perspective on the things we surround ourselves with, be it by choice or force of environment. The world isa cold and shitty place, anyone not living under the veil of financial support knows this. What I loved about The State Lottery, from the first LP and through this way is how they paint it. They show it for all it's ugliness and evil in a vivid presentation. But they offer comfort and recognition in that yes things can suck, but only if you allow that to be the path you work your life down. You can be aware and compassionate of the way we are more or less forced to go about our days and jobs and relations, but it doesn't have to be the end all-be all of who and what we are or what we do. The State Lottery looks at it, and says something about it. Something we should all listen to.

7. Off With Their Heads - In Desolation
Welp, Off With Their Heads done gone and signed to Epitaph Records. Not that I have anything against Epitaph really. They've put out several of my favorite releases in my lifetime. But then they spent a bunch of years signing some of the worst bullshit I've ever heard in my life. Like, worse than the band I used to shit years of my life away in. Anyway, Epitaph eventually didn't mean shit to me. So Off With Their Heads signing to them just felt kinda lame to me, especially coming off No Idea who can rarely do any wrong. Anyway, their last LP was fuckin marvelous. Angry, hateful, self loathing spills over simple songs that put the power in powerchords (fuck you). All of that is still here on In Desolation. I guess my only qualm is that it's all still there. Nothing new really. I'm not one to say change the formula when it works, but I feel like there's just something missing from this record. That being said, it's still one of the best records to come out in 2010, so word.

6. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
I know I know, it's just about as easy to get your hate on for Gaslight as it is for Against Me!, maybe even easier depending on how much of a miserable curmudgeon you are. But put yourself aside for a second and tell me there is NO WAY AT ALL you can enjoy anything about this record? Bullshit, you're full of filthy rotten bullshit if you say so. The Gaslight Anthem came up from the same hallowed New Jersey basements as any of us, they just found what they were good at (soulful rock n' roll) and figured out how to put themselves (Jersey punks) into it and not only have it make sense, but for it to be good as hell. Gaslight could be looked at as the Springsteen for punks if you wanna be cliche and discard all that is good and unique about the band. Or they can be looked at as a band with talent, composure and sense of self who's just doing what they're good at doing and taking what comes along with it.

5. The Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits
The Menzingers returned with their second LP, and a very focused effort with Chamberlain Waits. They took what was already beloved of their efforts: infectious melodies that married polar harmonies over simple yet mind catching instrumentation and arrangement that put them beyond being just another catchy punk band. Chamberlain Waits finds The Menzingers becoming comfortable in their own skin and not being afraid of it, but embracing it and allowing the band as a collective to unfold and show their true potential. I have a feeling their next LP is gonna slay.

4. Flogging Molly - Live at The Greek Theater
Flogging Molly is a band I have always loved dearly. Whether it be my love of folk music, my Irish heritage or maybe the fact that they've taken traditional Celtic folk music, saw what The Pogues were doing if decided "needs a fuckin electric guitar and louder drums!" that has drawn me to their music. I would say it's their live show, but I've seen them a good 40+ times after two years of the Vans Warped Tour alongside them, and we all know that aint the same. Or maybe it's all of these things. Maybe it's just Flogging Molly is that kinda band, that when it finds its place within a certain listener, it's going to remain there forever. Well I guess that'd be me. And this record presents their live show in all for what it is. They're a band of honesty and sincerity, a band of talent, a band of compassion, and most of all, a band of fun. If you don't hear this record and want to go see them play a show, there's a lot wrong with ya.

3. The Bouncing Souls - Ghosts On The Boardwalk
Ahhhh The Souls... You glorious bastards. The Bouncing Souls have been around since 1987. That's the year my girlfriend was born (I'm only 3 years older, I'm not a creep, dicks...) as well as my brother. Obviously I wasn't there since the beginning but I have been loving them for a good 13 years or so. Their recent albums have fallen under amounts of expected scrutiny from fans who've been around for longer than I have (fuck you guys, Lean on Sheena is an awesome song). But the fact is, The Souls are doing what any band who's been together for more than a decade (or two) does, try some other shit out! This record is a compilation of a series of 7" records the band released over the course of a year. Yeah, songs on here you would never have heard on Hopeless Romantic and vice versa. But The Souls put together a well rounded and appropriate record for where they are and who they are now. It reflects where they've been and looks forward to where they're going. In short, The Bouncing Souls rule. If you disagree, you're a very very unintelligent person and should probably be pissed on just because you deserve it in some way or another.

2. Iron Chic - Not Like This
Well I guess it would be kinda obvious that this would make one of my top spots. As an avid lover of Latterman, their demise left me sad. But they all have gone on to great things. Matt had Shorebirds and then RVIVR (who made it to my list this year). Pat has Bridge & Tunnel, Stolen Parts and Daytrader all doing amazing things right now. And Phil got things moving with Lubrano of Small Arms Dealer and Explosivo! fame with a band called Iron Chic. Iron Chic takes everything you loved about those bands, and kinda turns it on it's head. The parts that would be so Explosivo! or Small Arms Dealer sound so Latterman. The parts that would be so Latterman sound so Explosivo! or Small Arms Dealer. And all of it, is just Iron Chic. It's straight and honest melodic punk rock. Rough vocals carry infectious melodies of simpler things that still aren't as simple as they could seem over a layer of driving and powerful punk rock accented by Phil's seemingly distaste for a single powerchord. It's a great package all wrapped up in a nice LP that really, everyone should have. Go forth little ones, ye shall be free.

1. The Flatliners - Cavalcade
Well, The Flatliners... Might I say, did you turn it up a notch or twenty with this record. I've always enjoyed and appreciated The Flatliners. They've provided a dosage of young, anthemic punk rock with a few sprinkles of snotty Clash-y reggae to make a human smile. But with Cavalcade, they've taken every single thing they are good at, and put it on hyper drive. The record blazes through breakneck speed punk rock songs to fists in the air sing along anthems without blinking and eye or thinking twice for a second. It is seamless in so many ways. The Flatliners take something that is dirty and turn it into something beautiful, in a simple manner. It has been a long time since a record has struck me the way this one has, and I anticipate it being a very long time until another one does. Well done gentlemen, well done indeed. I'd buy yas a case of Pabst if I could.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I'm pleased to announce that I have returned to the blogging world. My life has changed significantly for the better since I last posted. The new incarnation of Exploding Penguin will focus less on me getting wasted alone in my small Brooklyn apartment and ranting on how much I hate shit. Version 3.0 of EP will now focus on my appreciation of fine beers (and cheap ones, here's lookin at you Rheingold), the comforting pint at an Irish pub, seeing your favorite punk rock band from over a decade ago still put on a hell of a show and the never ending quest for the greatest slice of pizza. So join me again friends, as we await our Flogging Molly tickets to arrive in the mail, enjoy a Guinness on the house at Shillelagh Tavern, measure out how much Cascade hops to add to this new batch of home brewed IPA and scour the streets of northern Queens for a slice.