Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist
I used to love writing about all the new music that came out each year. Then for a few years I got down on myself and thought “Who really cares about what I liked?” Last year I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I do really like writing this stuff up and writing a really long post about all of my favourite music from the last calendar year is honestly more for me than you and serves as a sort of marker for different points in my life. I can go back and look through old lists and, through looking at the music and what I had to say about it, see where I was at at the time. There was time where I tried to include a whole ton of stuff and give my opinion on every single relevant release that year as a way to validate my taste, but I’m past that now. This is a much more free-flowing exercise for me now and I find it pretty enjoyable. Once again, I’ve ditched numbers because who really cares? I guess you can decide what I liked best by reading what I write and making your decision that way.
I’ve linked a place to stream, download, or buy each album in its name if there was one available.
Mac McCaughan- Non-Believers
All the early press I saw for this album described it as the singer from Superchunk making the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie and I guess that’s an okay description, but I think a better one would be a midway point between Superchunk and New Order. Obviously homie is going to retain influences from his band when he’s been in it for like 25 years, so it ends up being Majesty Shredding, except with much less distortion and much more synth. I was a little let down by the last Superchunk record, so I wonder if Mac was saving all of his good songs for this one, as it’s incredibly strong front-to-back. This is something that I came back to constantly this year and haven’t stopped listening to since its release. I don’t really bother deciding which album is my hard #1 anymore, but this one would be in contention for sure.
The Mountain Goats- Beat the Champ
One of the nerdiest things about me is that I absolutely adore pro wrestling. I know that it’s not for everyone and it’s one of those things where those who “get it” get it and those who don’t don’t. When this release was announced, it seemed pretty out of nowhere for The Mountain Goats to release a pro wrestling-themed album, but I was instantly excited because I already loved the band and this would combine two things I already liked. What makes this good though is that rather than the album’s theme being 80’s or 90’s WWF and WCW, which are already in the public consciousness, John Darnielle instead channels his love old old territorial wrestling which makes it a lot more endearing and gives the songs a very strong emotional core. It’s not the best album of the year, but it does such a good job of building a world with the songs and that is so special.
A lot of fuzzy, shoegazy emo came out this year. A LOT. I guess emo kids all started smoking weed? Since the genre is getting watered down so much, most of it was pretty uninspiring, but Adventures hit a sweet spot for me. I like the vocal melodies a lot and there’s a bunch of good riffs and grooves and the album is really enjoyable front-to-back. “Tension” is one of my favourite songs from this year.
Jeff Rosenstock’s music has gotten so much more popular among punk kids my age in the last few years and I’m really happy for the guy. Because I am a musical elitist, I tried to use that as ammo for me starting to drift away from the new music it makes, somehow thinking that more people liking it would make me like it less. That’s lame. Like what you like because you like. This is not my favourite thing he’s ever done, but there are many good songs and the lyrics are ace. Jeff forever.
I’ve gotten to a point where I know what I want from hardcore and that is just riffs and breakdowns and yelling. This album gives me those things. I like dumb hardcore and I like breakdowns and this band throws back to a lot of stuff I like from the late 80’s and early 90’s both in their sound and aesthetic. To me, it’s equal parts Anthrax and Sick of It All and that is right up my alley. Of course I love this album.
I do not listen to Sean Bonnette’s band Andrew Jackson Jihad. I can totally see the appeal, but it’s just not for me, but this release made me rethink that. He picked his favourite songs from skate videos and then recorded his own weird versions of them. This release really resonates with me because it hits me in so many different emotional and nostalgic places, as I can think of my favourite songs from videos too. A song dovetailing with a skate part is always a multi-layered intersection of the counter-culture of skateboarding, the culture of the video’s team, the tastes and personality of the rider of the specific part and also something that suits the skater’s style. When it works out it adds such an intense ethereal feeling to a skate part that makes you want to immediately go outside and try a handrail for the first time. This release makes me think of all of this and how it has been present in my life and all the great feelings it has given me. I fucking love how he included clips from each video part before songs as well.
Skate or die.
Despite all the members of Shopping Cart being good friends of mine, I only managed to see them one time. At that show, I had so much fun watching them play that it reminded me exactly why being in a band is fun. I think that this feeling comes through in these songs. Shopping Cart broke up. Long live Shopping Cart.
The hair on the top of my head is longer than the hair on the sides, so I guess I’m obliged to like Deafheaven. This album rips.
Pet Symmetry put out a really good EP and a really good demo, but both left me wanting a lot more from the band. The songs were really strong and well put together and I kept snooping around to see if more music from the band that I hadn’t heard existed somewhere, but that was for naught. I was really looking forward to this album, which was helped by the early release of “Give Thanks (Get Lost)”. The band totally delivered and the album is a tight 25 minutes of wonderful emo-y power-pop. I love when band’s don’t try to do too much and trim the fat off of songs, not shying away from short songs. If you’ve got enough hooks, who gives a fuck? Good lyrics, great guitar work and heavenly melodies. Hasn’t gotten old since it came out either. This would be another one I would put up near the top of an ordered version of this list.
I am pretty late to the End of A Year/Self Defense Family party. I dabbled here and there, but never really gave the releases any attention. That changed this year though, as they were one of the bands I listened to the most this year. I think that I prefer the olderYou Are Beneath Me material more, but that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the intellectual slant of this new material and just how much this band tries to do. Writing essentially all parts in the studio? Four different producers and studios doing two songs each to make up the album? Very, very cool. As artists, it is truly impressive what Self Defense Family is constantly doing.
I hate to draw comparisons to Brit-Pop with this release because I think I’m mostly doing that because of the band’s accents and haircuts, but that is the first thing I think of. This band, like Adventures, play a style of shoegazey, fuzzy emo that seems to be all the rage these days but I get the sense that their music is also informed by growing up around bands like Blur and Pulp in their rockier moments. There’s a lot more classic guitar-pop tricks on this album than their contemporaries (dat ride cymbal on the opening track) that flesh the songs out nicely. “Buttercups” is one of the best songs of the year.
I love this band. A lot. The goodness of their first EP expanded, but not stretched, over 10 songs. Hell yeah.
Early in 2015, my ipod broke and for about 3 months I only had 7 or 8 “A” bands synced on it, which led to me leaning heavily on the Algernon Cadwallader discography for a long time. When I heard the bass player had a new band, I was excited but thought that Dogs on Acid was one of the worst band names I’d ever heard. Their first demo didn’t do much, but this full length is absolutely wonderful. It’s alty-punk played about the best you can play it and it has dominated my listening habits since it came out. I don’t even think the band name sucks anymore either.
One time, Babs and Sierra and I were getting nachos on the Sneaky Dee’s patio. TWIABP and Dads were playing the venue that night and a bartender was writing the bill on a sandwich board outside. He asked us if we had heard of the bands “The World is a Beautiful Place” and “I am No Longer Afraid to Die” were. We told him it was one band’s name and he said it was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. Jokes about the length of this band’s name are pretty hackneyed, but that story was too good to not share. This album is good and poppy and is the first thing I’ve gotten into from them. The long songs don’t even feel that long, you guys.
I hadn’t heard of Oso Oso before I saw them open for The Hotelier this year. They blew me away and nailed a emo/pop-punk/pop-rock bulls-eye that I didn’t know I needed. At the show, Mitch described them as very Third Eye Blind-like and upon hearing that, I agree. This album is absolutely great and catchy and full of good riffs and I think good stuff will be coming from them for sure. Super into this one and can’t wait to see what they do next.
I also took the liberty of compiling a mix with one song from each of these albums. If you would like a taste of what I’ve been into this year, you can download that RIGHT HERE.