Friday, December 23, 2011

There is no sense left in my life. I am adrift in an ocean, lost to civilization

Part three of my favorite albums is being pushed back.  A buddy of mine gave me some new music, so I'm re-analyzing my picks for the last part due to some awesome shit I've been listening to.  Won't be too much longer.  I know you're all waiting with bated breath.

I feel like I am nearing the end of my rope.  It could be because I'm wrecked on wine right now, well, wine and Jameson, but this is just getting tedious.  I'm trying to de-puzzle an acquaintance of mine, who has appeared in previous posts, mostly during the summer.  I feel like I've got a chance here, but every time I go in for the kill so to speak, something goes fucking wrong, usually something outside of my control.  She lost her job today, not her fault, they just couldn't keep her on, so she's bummed as hell.  So I missed an opportunity to comfort her last night because I had to fucking work today.  Now, I just want to give her the christmas present I got her, but she's not answering.  Normally, I wouldn't give it two fucks, I'll give it to her eventually, but like I said, I'm wrecked on wine right now, and when I'm wrecked on wine, every pretense of me being a rational human being is gone.  I am a gibbering monster.  I am a insatiable beast of burden, carrying loads of emotional toil through the lifeless desert until I eventually die.  I am the bitter recriminations of life, creeping towards it's own destruction.  I am self-loathing personified.  That is my fate, like the fate of all creatures.  I am the self-doubt that causes you to lock yourself within a cocoon of isolation, emerging a withered husk of your former self.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best albums of 2011 Part II: When Life Gives You Lemons, Rage Against the Future, and Party Until the Morning Comes

That's right, baby, it's time for some good old-fashioned PUNK RAWK!  Part two brings a collection of, in my humble, awesome opinion, the best punk and punk-related albums released in the year of our lord 2011.  Also, thanks to Elliot for sharing his top three in the comments of part the first.  I gave them a listen: you're right, they're very good (I especially enjoyed Destroyer), but outside of my usual listens.  So without further ado, here we go

10. Weekend Nachos - Worthless

 From the homeland of Powerviolence's storied heroes, Charles Bronson, just a bit south of me in Dekalb, Illinois, comes the insane, panicked frenzy of Weekend Nachos.  One part powerviolence, one part hardcore, completely fucking insane. It's a show-stopper of an album, and a fucking great release.  It's innate, chaotic nature just eclipses the sense of wrongness about it, cascading a wall of aggression to lay siege to your eardrums.
Favorite Track: 3. "Black Earth"

9.Title Fight - Shed

 This album was a shocker.  It was a band I was completely unfamiliar with, and I had no real expectations to go with when I started listening to.  Floored.  They are a poppier punk, or an emo if you will, but not like the shitty manifestations of emo from the 2000s, the 90s emo circa Sunny Day Real Estate.  The vocals have that rougher edge to them, but the instrumentals don't get much more emo punk than this, and really draw the connections to emo's punk roots.  I'd almost call them roots emo, but seems pretentious as shit.  I view them as a sort of spiritual successor to the legendary New Jersey band Lifetime, but with a more traditional emo bent to it:  Good, clean, fun, and fucking punk as shit.
Favorite Track: 8. "Where am I?"

8. Bomb the Music Industry - Vacation
I fucking love Bomb the Music Industry.  They have amazing DIY ethics, their albums are available at Quote UnQuote Records for donation only, meaning you choose what you pay (7 bucks from me so far), which is a business model for musicians I have a tremendous amount of respect for.  Also, they do not take themselves very seriously, which is generally a sign of a great punk band, and their frontman, Jeff Rosenstock, comes off as such a cool guy.  Vacation is an incredibly ambitious album, and it pays off.  It moves across a wide variety from saccharine sweet to pure punk, but the vision remains intact and pure.  They don't remove themselves from it, and embrace a continued transition from their almost decade-long existence.
Favorite Track: 1. "Campaign for a Better Next Weekend"

7. Iceage - New Brigade

Post-punk.  Like delicious post-punk of the Fall or Gang of Four.  It's pretty spectacular.  I have not listened to a new post-punk album of this caliber in a while.  The really surprising thing, is these guys are like 20, yet they channel the spirit of late '70s post-punk to the core.
Favorite Track: 2. "White Rune"

6. Touche Amore - Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me

Post-Hardcore.  Great Post-Hardcore.  Much like my mention of metalcore and grindcore in part 1, Post-Hardcore is one of those genres that started with the greatest of ambitions, but devolved into scene kids ripping off other scene kids.  What started with luminary hardcore bands in the 80s pushing the envelope of hardcore punk further down the line, today, many bands are associated with white belts and tight pants with mediocre to terrible posings of music.  Touche Amore is not one of those bands.  The continue using the concepts of post-hardcore give a gut-wrenching album that drips with raw emotion and passion.
Favorite Track: 3. "The Great Repetition"

5. Night Birds - Fresh Kills Vol. 1

There is really only one way to sum this album up, courtesy of the great Mitch Clem of the Punk webcomic Nothing Nice to Say, which is the way I found this awesome Surf-Punk Band:

Favorite Track: 7. "Thrilling Murder"

4. Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man

I fucking love this album.  I've never been much for Andrew Jackson Jihad beforehand, but goddamn, this album is fantastic.  They run across this huge distance, mostly comedic and fun, but with quite a few sentimental moments.  It's catchy, and guaranteed to stick around in your head forever.  In a good way.  Goddamn fun and awesome.
Favorite Track(s): 4. "Backpack"  5. "Distance" 7. "Hate, Rain on Me"

3. Young and In the Way - I Am Not What I Am
Hold onto your ear-vaginas, ladies, because Young and in the Way is going sonically rape them.  Fucking jagged, speedy, Hardcore Crust punk.  It's a volatile mixture, taking the inherent heavy-ness of Crust Punk and tossing in some amped up hardcore into the mix.  It's like a mixed drink: you add some ice cubes to the glass, dump them out, and fill it with half everclear and half 151.  Toss back and feel you liver begin to try to tear itself out of your abdomen from the sheer brutality.  Yeah, that's kind of like this.  Plus, there are tracks named for Lovecraft.
Favorite Track: 6. They Should Greet Me with Howls of Execration

2. Ampere - Like Shadows

If anyone can make a 13 minute album into a screamo masterpiece, it's Will Killingsworth from Orchid.  This is Ampere's first full length album, and hearkens back to the heyday of Screamo, with bands like Orchid and Page 99 leading the pack in great chaotic hardcore, instead of it being a fashion trend for "extreme" teens.  Maybe I'm being harsh here, because a thriving scene does exist underneath the popularized bands, full of talent and amazing bands.  Ampere is a driving beast in that scene, cutting straight to the bone.  It doesn't get much more fucking crazy and frenzied than this.
Favorite Track: It's 13 minutes long.  So All of them.

Now, drum roll.  Because Number 1 is an obvious one:

1. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
I have already discussed this album when it blew me away back in june. So, you better have listened to it already.  Because words can almost not do it justice.  This is, hands down, my favorite album of the year, and is quickly gaining ground to be one of my favorites of all time.  It's a complex narrative about love and loss, and ultimately, a man being able to rise above his own pain.  It resonates so heavily, Damien Abraham's vocals pounding against a wonderous backdrop of music provided by incredibly skilled musicians.  Words can barely justify it.  I fucking love this album.  And, the music video to "Queen of Hearts" is pretty neato.
Favorite Track: Don't make me choose.  The journey that each song takes you on makes it impossible for me to pick a sing one.  Instead, here's a couple of videos.

So there's part two.  So we're almost done here.  Listen and love, amigos, listen and love

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why, Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.

Yes.  I know where that title came from.  It isn't witty, it isn't sharp, but right now, I feel like every bit of creativity and the very spark of life has been drained from me.  Tomorrow, I have to get up at the same time, and do the same thing.  Then the next day.  And the day after that.  And probably the day after that.  I am now supposed to work on days surrounding christmas and new years that we were supposed to have off, as of the beginning of 2011, when the calendar was decided.  They pad days off around holidays, but instead, I have to work the 23rd and the 26th, meaning that that weekend is gone to shit because I will only have time for my family stuff.  No sleeping in, no writing, none of the stuff I wanted to do over a long weekend.  Same goes for the 30th and the 2nd of january.  I have a New Year's party to attend, so other than that, that weekend's booked up, which really sucks because I was going to have people over on the 2nd to watch Wisconsin play in the Rose Bowl.  Unfortunately, i work until an hour before kick off, so at most, I can only have a few people over instead of the awesome football party that was in the works.

So, I feel kind of shitty posting that.  Oh, yes, my problem is I'm making TOO MUCH MONEY! There are people who don't even have jobs! What is wrong here! Yeah, I'm liable to agree.  First world problems and all that shit.  But, I could very much use a few days to destroy my sense of entrapment within the confines of a prison within my mind.

Of course, the dismay does not necessarily end there.  So, I've started looking for a new job.  One that pays well and may actually utilize my degree that I pissed so much money on.  Of course, I have a very poor frame of reference for what I can and cannot do, so after looking nearby, I throw some words into the search engine at Monster and see what shits out.  Including creative writing.  Which gave me some interesting, infuriating results.  Through a process, I found out some startling things.  If I had my master's degree, or was pursuing it at the moment, like I had envisioned a few years ago, I could have the job I wanted.  Teaching.  At a college.  I found a dozen, and it's fucking December.  I'm sure more pop up in the spring preparing to fill vacancies for the fall semester.  And here I am, because 1) I cannot afford it, and 2) my dad cannot co-sign another student loan.  It's right outside of my fucking grasp.  So frustrating when the beginning of everything I want is right over my head, but I just cannot reach it.  Fuck, my life is so incredibly unfulfilled.

Anyway, albums of the year part two should be finished later this week, and part three will be ready next week.  But here's something to tide you over:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Life Is Like Living In a Haunted House, But Then It Turns Out We Were Dead the Whole Time

So, some of you who posted blogs yesterday may have received comments from me after celebrating Wisconsin's victory last night. I may have been completely blasted. And by that I mean I was completely blasted. I was up until like 8 in the morning. Sorry I kind of went crazy on your blogs. I did the exact same thing on facebook. Goddamn.

It was a well needed one night bender.


In the first ever Big Ten Championship game, the Wisconsin Badgers have triumphed over the Michigan State Spartans. A bittersweet victory based on a roughing the kicker call against MSU on 4th down with Wisconsin up 3 points. By hitting the punter, the MSU player completely blew any chance of a last minute score by the Spartan's offense.

Quite an end to quite a season for the WISCONSIN BADGERS! I'VE BEEN DRINKING SINCE 4 IN THE AFTERNOON!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best Albums of 2011 Part I: The Soundtrack that Plays as You Stare at the World and It Stares Back at You and You Think to Yourself "Fuck This Place. I'm Out"

It's a joke, get it?  I hope so, for your sake.  I'm going to breakdown some metal for you bitches, specifically the Best metal albums released over the past year.  No, this is not opinion.  IT IS FACT.  Fact: my musical taste is the best in the world.

Lies.  It's biased as shit. Even within genres because it's biased towards subgenres I prefer over other ones.  I did not listen to much death metal this year, so no actual death metal appears on the list.  You get it?  Good.  Then, without further ado, the best metal releases of the year 2011, year of the cat.

10. Today is the Day - Pain is a Warning

Today is the Day is a storied extreme metal band with a long history.  A long, frenzied history of fucking craziness.  Their sound is complex, and their discography is long.  Many of their recent releases have been marred by lackluster sound and a withdrawal away from their traditional, complex sound and skill.  That said, Pain is a Warning succeeds in rectifying this.  It's a bombastic blast of intense noise that grips your brain and skullfucks you into submission.  Let's face it, we all need a good skullfucking.
Favorite Track: 3: "Pain is a Warning"

9. 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room
 I love doom metal of all kinds and all sorts, from the bleak, throbbing bass of bands like Electric Wizard to the marijuana-induced intensity of bands like Sleep to the Black Sabbathesque tradition of Candlemass.  It's slow, it's heavy, and it's awesome.  So I was surprised by 40 Watt Sun.  The instrumentals carry the intensity of traditional doom metal, but the vocals are much lighter, and much more melodic.  I'd engender it to be more of a "melodic doom metal."  If you enjoy music heavy, but your vocals clean instead of the rage-induced bellowing of an angry metal god, definitely check it out.
Favorite Track: 4. "Carry Me Home"

8. Ash Borer - Ash Borer
 It's only three tracks long, but it's still a forty minute album.  Usually a good sign with metal.  Especially here.  It's black metal, but not your dad's 90s black metal, although the influences are definitely heard.  It's atmospheric black metal, and like any "atmospheric" metals, the music isn't about what you hear individually, but what you hear together, and the sense of an intense, driven backdrop that the music creates for itself.  Here, Ash Borer pushes forward, establishing that backdrop of sound while throwing punishing blast beats, double bass, and screeching guitars with dense vocals on top.  It's not mood music for making love to your wife; it's mood music for fucking your way out of the depths of an abyss.
Favorite Track: 2. "Rest, You Are the Lightening"

7. Cave In - White Silence
 Metalcore is always one of those sub-genres that gets a shitty rap.  The days of pioneering bands like Earth Crisis are over (despite Earth Crisis releasing a decent album this year), where you had Hardcore punk bands charging headfirst into metal with the same passion and ferocity that gave rise to hardcore punk to begin with.  Now, when someone thinks metalcore, they most likely think angsty teenagers with gauged lobes and fifty dollar haircuts in skinny jeans throwing elbows in a jumbled mosh pit while aged fans look on and shake their heads.  Cave In is the example of triumph of excellence over genre.  Cave In has a history of excellence from their entire discography, and White Silence is no exception.  Passionate, ferocious metalcore backed with integrity and musicianship and a dash of surprise experimentation add this gem to an already stellar repetoire by a great band
Favorite Track: 4. "Vicious Circles"

6. Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
I've never been much for an overbearing amount of Folk Metal, but I enjoy some of it.  It's a wide a varying subgenre, from the acoustic and traditional sound of Finntroll to the heavy, atmospherics of Agalloch.  Primordial is a little of both, but definitely heavy as shit.
Favorite Track: 8. "Death of the Gods"

5. Defeatist - Tyranny of Decay
 I have a love/hate relationship with grindcore.  I love it because it has produced some of my favorite metal bands ever: Pig Destroyer, Nasum, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed.  I hate it because so many times, it sounds too much the same, and loses it's crazed, strung-out edge due to mediocrity.  Never inside another genre have I seen highs so high and lows so low.  There's almost no middle path here.  So I was skeptical.  A band I've never heard of in a genre that can, at times, be complete shit.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Defeatist is everything that is pure, and aggressive and brutally psychotic about Grindcore.  Tryanny of Decay is not for the faint of heart, but goddamn, it's so violent and it's own macabre and beautiful world, like if someone stabbed the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting to death
Favorite Track: 8. "World Left Behind."

4. The Atlas Moth - An Ache for the Distance
 SLUDGE METAL!  Heavy, slow, and completely fucking awesome.  Plus, a nude chick all over the album art, which is always a plus.  I missed an opportunity to see the Atlas Moth live here in Wisconsin while touring with another artist who appears on this list.  They flirt between the line of more traditional sludge metal, and that of atmospheric sludge.  In the end, the complex sound is a hammer on a bell that sounds deep within your head, calling up some ancient, melancholy feelings that you cannot put into proper words.  A twisted, beautiful monstrosity.
Favorite Track: 6. "25s and the Royal Blues"

3. KEN Mode - Venerable

This is another Sludgy release, but in the vein of a different band: combine it with some post-hardcore in a blender, and you have the spiritual successors of Sweden's Breach.  They were touring with the Atlas Moth, but ultimately, I couldn't make the show.  Which was a crime.  It is a faster metal, but the crushing tone of sludge is there over the fast-paced  brutality.  It's a heavy, genre-defying mixture to the core.
Favorite Track: 10. "Mako Shark"

2. Pulling Teeth - Funerary
 So here's where it starts to get similar.  Barely.  While Pulling Teeth fills a similar subgenre to KEN Mode or Atlas Moth, they make it there own monster, a twisted, diseased lumbering beast moving towards its ultimate destruction.  The influences are so many, and the sounds flow together into one singularity.  This album is so fucking awesome.  I can barely contain it.  There's just one reason why it isn't number 1...
Favorite Track: 10. "Whispers"

That reason?  Because fucking Mastodon decided to release an album this year.  And I can't say no to fucking MASTODON

1. Mastodon - The Hunter
This is unlike any album that Mastodon has done before.  To a point.  It's not my favorite of their's (Leviathan), and it's definitely one of their more approachable to a wider audience.  But it's a killer fucking album.  The difference isn't in its sound, it's in its presentation.  All of Mastodon's four previous albums were conceptual in nature, following a unified theme and story elements.  The Hunter does not.  There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but it did take me a bit to adjust to after being familiar with previous album structures.  That said, another great release by a great band.
Favorite Track: Fuck.  Can't Choose. All of them

That said, stay tuned for two more parts. It's a trilogy of posts, bitches. Listen to these albums here, and wait for more great ones to come.