Category Archives: Albums

Kanye West – Yeezus

Can well all just stop for a second and enjoy the music?

Everyone wants to over analyze and critique/praise Kanye. The quicker and faster, the better. But can we just digest the record for a minute?


I bought the record on Tuesday (no leak necessary). I listened to the album that morning on Spotify. More than anything, what struck me was excitement and wonder. Yeezus is truly unique and hence, will be emulated for years to come. Electronic synths, minimalist beats, uncompromising bravado—it’s a stew on Kanye could brew. For 2013, it’s perfect.

That doesn’t mean there are not flaws or that I’m a blind follower of Yeezus. It means that Kayne is in it and poppin’ a wheelie on a zeitgeist. Now hurry up with my damn croissants.



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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City is a fantastically enjoyable album. The songs are precise and meticulously crafted works of a band that is finally stepping out of the shadows of their influences. There is subtlety like on “Hanna Hunt” and bombast like on “Diane Young.” There is experimentation like on “Step” and familiarity like on “Don’t Lie.”

Vampire Weekend

Members of the band have said that this is the end of a trilogy. Their debut was fun and quirky; the follow-up worldly and ambitious. Modern Vampires feels like the best combination of both— a fully revised vision that is executed flawlessly. It is even more exciting thinking about where Vampire Weekend will go next.

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The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation

I wasn’t completely sold on The Wonder Years right away. Then they made my Top Albums of 2011. It’s a testament to a band that works incredibly hard and puts all they have into their music.

wonder years

The Greatest Generation is a loose concept record in the same vein as Suburbia. The songs are personal, evocative and heavy. While I’m not sure any band could live up to the immense hype/expectations that fans have bestowed on The Wonder Years in the past twelve months, they have certainly not disappointed. My one thought is that the lyrics aren’t grabbing me as much as their previous records. I suspect that will change. But it could also be because I’ve changed and it’s harder for me to relate to the specific topics Soupy addresses in his lyrics (life on the road, relationships, family).

Irregardless, The Greatest Generation has spectacular moments of production and catharsis. It’s not a giant leap forward for the band, but sometimes that’s OK.

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Top 10 Albums of 2012

I still love albums. I buy them at a store. I consume every aspect of them and still believe in the power of a compete musical package. There is no greater statement in music than an album. The digital revolution has de-emphasized the LP and has put the focus back on singles. I appreciate a great song as much as the next guy (especially a one-hit-wonder), but I will always judge a band/musician by their full length.A great song can pay your bills, a great album can make you a legend.

As I noted in the Top Ten Songs of the Year list, it was a steady year for music. Nothing far and above but nothing atrocious. Rolling Stone named Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball their album of the year. Spin went with Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. Pitchfork anointed Kendrick Lamar’s debut. None of those are anywhere near my Top 10. I get it though. Top 10 lists are divisive and ultimately say more about the author/publication than their own position. I’m not hiding my biases. These are my favorite albums of the year, not necessarily the most critically acclaimed or the ones that will earn me the most scene points.

Before we get to the winners, here are a some records that I really jammed this year that didn’t make the Top 10.

  • Candy Coated Fury – Reel Big Fish
    Ska pioneers return with best original tunes in a decade.
  • Good Ol’ Daze EP – Noelle
  • That’s Why God Made the Radio – The Beach Boys
    Money-grab reunion actually produced decent tracks thanks to Brian Wilson.
  • Local Business – Titus Andronicus
    Solid, gitty punk; a little over my head.
  • Even on the Worst Nights – Mixtapes
    Non sequitur lyrics over great pop punk chords.
  • Area 52 – Rodridgo y Gabriella
    Sweet latin groves that make a great kitchen soundtrack.
  • Let’s Start a Cult – Rustic Overtones
    Short and straight forward concept record from Maine’s favorite sons.
  • Cinco – Green Day
    My own playlist. The ONE record Green Day should have released this year.

And now, the top ten…

10. Express Non-Stop – Alphabeat
My favorite Danish pop band. Fun, dancy and played with real instruments! What a concept.

9. Some Nights – fun.
Smart, hipster pop. Ruined by Glee and radio.

8. On the Impossible Past – The Menzingers
The record The Gaslight Anthem probably should have put out this year.

7. Picture Show – Neon Trees
Retro, yet fresh, topped with the greatest voice in rock today.

6. Yellowcard – Southern Air
The best live show of the year built on their new massive record. Longineu Parsons has officially ascended to the top spot of the drummer power rankings.

5. What’s Your Name? – USAUSAUSA
Would have been album of the year if they had more songs. Love, love, love.

4. Fly – Lettuce
Tight-ass Funk. As in the pocket at a group can get.

3. First Offense & Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder
EP and full length in one year. Was on these dudes a few months back and they’re already signed with FAT. I quit.

2. Hot Cakes – The Darkness
The combination of falsetto, tongue-in-cheek humor and shredded guitars made me love this record more than I probably have should in 2012.

1. Goldenheart – The Organ Beats
A giant step forward for the band. Cohesive, heavy and Noelle. 


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Green Day – Cinco

Green Day just released Tre, their third and final record of their unprecedented four-month trilogy. I’ve held off writing anything about the albums because I wanted to reserve judgement until I heard the whole package. As a whole, the three sets are solid, with a very consistent and familiar sound. I admire Green Day for their prolific creative output and unorthodox distribution model, but don’t think this project warranted three separate albums. Each record has its highlights, but why release filler? The band obviously digs the material, or they wouldn’t put it out. But part of me thinks they loved the concept more than the songs.

So I trimmed the fat for them and created Cinco, the ultimate Green Day album/playlist comprised of the best tracks from the past year. (Quatro is the excellent documentary produced on the making of the records; Saw the early version on VH1).

This is the record Green Day should have released. Once.

You can’t listen to those fourteen tracks and tell me they don’t rock. I’d go so far as calling it the album of the year. But we can’t because the band doesn’t know how edit themselves and we’re left with odd tracks like “Troublemaker” and “Nightlife.”

Green Day has earned the right to do whatever they want. Who am I to question their decisions? I’m just a fan looking for the ultimate experience and I applaud their continued ambition at this stage in their career.

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USA!USA!USA! – What's Your Name?

In 2002 I was introduced to a band called Waltham by a friend while attending college in Boston. They quickly became one of my favorite groups because they rocked, sang exclusively about girls and put on a great live show. Waltham were poised to be the next great rock band out of Boston, but for whatever reason, they never struck the same chord outside of the Bay State. That was great for me because I could still call them my local band that only I was cool enough to know about, but I also felt disappointed that such great music was not being enjoyed by the masses. Waltham slowly faded away but has resurfaced every now and then for a special show, but no new music has been put out since 2006.

So fast forward to last week after I had a couple beers and was jamming the new Organ Beats record, I decide to Google one of the most charismatic singers to ever grace a stage–Mr. Frank Pino, Jr. There was no news on Waltham but after some serious stalking I found a YouTube clip of a project called “USA” with his brother Dave and Ken Susi from Unearth. That then miraculously lead to a Facebook page for USA!USA!USA! and a Bandcamp link to their new EP. What. The. Hell.

How did I not know about this sooner? I’ve been waiting six years for new material and it’s finally here. It’s not Waltham, but it’s damn close. Killer hooks? Frank’s croon? Tight licks? Songs named after specific girls? It’s all on What’s Your Name?.

It’s very hard to not compare USA!USA!USA! to Waltham. The sound is nearly identical except that USA! is a little faster and more aggressive, probably due to Susi’s involvement. What’s Your Name? is the most exciting new music to come out in the last year. It’s familiar, but fresh, nostalgic but not cheesy. “Sarah” has the biggest chorus of Frank’s career. “Michelle” shreds with a slick solo. “Christine” could have been on Weezer’s Blue Album. They even go for a mid-tempo ballad on “Karina.”

I’m only mad that there isn’t more. This EP is a great foundation to build on. I just hope they maintain momentum and take the group as far as I know they can go.

I’m chanting USA!USA!USA! like I’m at the 1980 Olympic gold medal hockey game against Russia.

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Thrice – Anthology


About a year ago, Thrice announced they were not breaking up. They were however, “taking a break from being a full-time band” and wrapped up their Farewell Tour over the summer that was “the last one for the foreseeable future.” That tour was a celebration of the band’s career and has culminated with the release of Anthology, a live double album that spans tracks from the band’s seven major releases.

Anthology is basically the same as Live at the House of Blues from 2008, but with more weight and finality. Mostly the same tracks, played exactly the same (meaning, awesomely), with a slightly better mix. Being their last tour, Thrice do bust out some rarities like “Phoenix Ignition” and “T&C” along with newer material like “In Exile” and “Anthology.” “Under a Killing Moon” and “Deadbolt” bring the shred and “Digital Sea” and “Daedalus” show off the band’s progression. The band sounds great and that’s either because they’re giving their all on their final tour or they’ll tighter than ever and totally not breaking up.

Thrice is a polarizing band. They came out the vibrant Orange country punk scene in the early 2000’s and have never made the same record. There is a logical progression to their career and they possess one of most interesting and exciting music catalogs of the past decade. The Artist in the Ambulance is a sonic masterpiece. The Alchemy Index challenges listeners with its concept and creativity. Beggars shows that they can be a rock band and not hide behind effects and riffs.

As a fan, I don’t really care about the drama behind Thrice’s decision to take a break. I just care that Dustin Kensrue, Teppei Teranishi, Riley Breckenridge and Ed Breckenridge won’t be making music together again anytime soon, and that’s a bummer. Anthology is a solid live record and a nice parting gift for fans. But what would be better is the group being honest about its future. Bands break up. People move on and the music lives on. If Thrice comes back in a few years, great, but cryptic endings leave fans confused and disappointed when their hope is never realized.

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