Things You Should Like: 2015

Posted: December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hey!! You! Yes, you! Let me tell you some stuff to like!!

Here is some music me and Read Hard liked in 2015. If you want to be as cool as us, you could like it, too.

Here is a link to KTOTT’s spotify playlist of the year:

Next week: fashion tips.

DB’s Albums of the year:

  1. Waxahatchee- Ivy Tripp (Merge)

Waxahatchee is just one of those artists that keeps improving and expanding with each passing album. I thought Cerulean Salt was the bee’s knees, but this, their third LP, is absolutely stunning. There is a clear musical progression from their previous records: as with Cerulean Salt, this is a full-band affair, but they take a more experimental route here. There is a real variety on display here, from the slowed-down ballads (just Katie and a piano) to the dance-y, uplifting synth-y ones. Standout tracks include “La Loose”, simplistic and beautifully light, with its “ooh oohs” and a soaring chorus, and the keyboard-y “Air”, which is just a fantastically written song: “You are patiently giving me everything that I will never need”. The real standout though remains Katie’s voice, of course. The emotion and vulnerability which has been there since the start still runs right through her vocals. Heart-breaking, a real winter record, as “Summer of Love” evidences.

  1. Colleen Green- I Want to Grow Up (Hardly Art)

I’ve gone on about this album enough, I realise, but it is really, really excellent. It could definitely be the album of the year. This is the album where Colleen Green’s level went up several notches. I’ve come to enjoy her older stuff much more now, but I Want to Grow Up is still lightyears ahead: in terms of production, songwriting, everything. It is the perfect example of a ‘themed’ album: no over-arching narrative or concept, but a record centred around one particular theme, an inability to mature. “Whatever I Want” is one of the most-empowering songs you will ever hear, especially where it is placed as the album closer. Backed by sweet vocals and addictive beats, Colleen has made it.

  1. Bangers- Bird (Specialist Subject)

Oh yeah, the UK’s best current punk rock band are back with another great record! This one might be their best yet; it’s certainly the one where they experimented the most musically and took influences from outside of punk rock, as bassist/vocalist Andrew attested to in his recent interview. “I Don’t Feel Like I’ll Ever Be Clean Again” is one the hits of the year and totally steps outside of what Bangers normally do. It sounds more like an alt-rock song from the ‘90s. Although they branched out a little bit, this is still assuredly a Bangers album and that is always a good thing.

  1. Screeching Weasel- Baby Fat (Recess)

Easily the most ambitious punk album released this year. If you have somehow missed it, this is Screeching Weasel’s first act of a rock opera, including Kat Spazzy in a wonderful turn as vocalist, alongside Blag Dhalhia among others. If you want evidence of how far Weasel stepped outside of their comfort zone, listen to “I’m a Lonesome Wolf”. Baby Fat is not a perfect album by any stretch, but it’s lined with some pure gold: “Creeping in Silence”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “In the Pale Light of the Midnight Sun” particularly stand out.

  1. Best Coast- California Nights (Harvest)

“I know it’s love that’s got me feeling ok”. My favourite chorus of the year. “Feeling Ok” is such a hit song: wonderful melodies underpinned by Bethany’s sweet vocals. At one point, I was playing it 3 or 4 times a day. The rest of the album is inconsistent, but the level of the good songs is good enough to put Best Coast in fifth spot: particularly the title track and “Heaven Sent” particularly. This is a big comeback from Best Coast after the largely disappointing The Only Place.

  1. Great Cynics- I Feel Weird (Specialist Subject)

Hey, it’s time to obnoxiously quote myself from my own review of this record:

“Great Cynics walk the tight boundary between ‘90s indie-pop and straight-forward pop-punk in a similar way to label-mates Personal Best. They are equally indebted to Weezer as they are Descendents and that means one thing: hooks-a-plenty! I Feel Weird is seriously one big pop-fest; the melodies on display here will gradually draw you in and not let you leave for days. There is a punk element to this record, but make no mistake, the core here is classic, sugary pop. The uplifting, positive nature of I Feel Weird gives it all a summery feel, recalling youthful, care-free days in the park.”

  1. Frank Turner- Positive Songs for Negative People (Xtra Mile)

It’s probably his weakest album (even considering the inconsistent first record), but it is still Frank Turner. A little bit like Best Coast, Frank’s good songs are really, really good, but it is the fillers on the albums which let it down. “Get Better”, “Mittens” and “Josephine” are un-fuckwithable and evidence songwriting genius: “I once wrote you love songs/ You never fell in love/ We used to fit like mittens, but never like gloves”. It’s no Tape Deck Heart maybe, but it’s still better than 99% of things. I want to hear Frank’s angst unleashed on the next album, to be entitled Negative Songs for Positive People!

  1. The Sidekicks- Runners in the Nerved World (Epitaph)

The Sidekicks improve with each record and kind of sound nothing like they did on their first record. They have gone from being a passionate, Fest-y punk band to being an indie rock band with fantastic songwriting ability. The latter identity suits them so much better. Runners in the Nerved World is their forth record and continues their musical evolution from where Awkward Breeds left off. This is considered, emotional, resonating indie rock, that is devoid of the pretentiousness often associated with the sub-genre. Listen to “Everything in Twos” or “Jesus Christ Supermalls” if you don’t believe me.

  1. Worriers- Imaginary Life (Don Giovanni)

This is the second album from Worriers, comprising of Lauren Denizito (formerly of the Measure (SA)) on vocals and Mikey Erg! on drums. They play indie-pop-punk in an interesting way, with Lauren’s vocals perfectly suiting the subtle melodies on offer. Imaginary Life is a great example of ‘personal is political’, where Lauren tackles wider structural issues (particularly in regards to gender and institutional corruption) from a personal and emotional stance. This involves self-reflection as an older person looking back at their former, younger activist life, kind of like in “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”. The other Against Me! Link is of course that Laura Jane Grace produced this album. A grower of an album, for sure.

  1. Night Birds- Mutiny on Muscle Beach (Fat Wreck Chords)

Night Birds may have toned down the surf elements on their first release for Fat Wreck Chords Mutiny on Muscle Beach, but they have not diluted their intensity or raw edge one bit. If anything, they have gone up a couple of notches. This is a classic punk album through and through that could be from an ‘80s So-cal hardcore band. Mutiny…is burnt through at a relentless pace; there is barely any time for the listener to breathe here. A throwback to how a ‘proper’ punk album should sound, or perhaps a ‘proper’ skate-punk album.

Albums that didn’t quite make the top ten: Personal Best- Arnos Vale; Don Blake- Pocket Universe; Vacation- Non-Person.

Favourite EPs of the year:

Skinny Genes- “Ugh”

Kimberley Steaks- “Chemical Imbalance”

Shit Present- “S/T”

 Read Hard’s Albums of the year

Baby Fat Act 1 cover art

1 Screeching weasel-Baby Fat Act 1 (Recess)

I’ve probably written too much about this record already! And I’m probably what the punx call a “weasel-apologist” or an asshole, but I think it’s a great album and I still think “Thine Eyes of Mercy” and “Creeping in Silence” are the best songs that came out this year. And maybe the most interesting aspect of this story is the relationship between Baby Fat(Blag Dahlia) and Poveretta(Kat Spazzy). No matter what one might think of Ben Weasel’s persona, he did a great job on this rock opera, and I’m excited to see how act 2 turns out.

2 Razika-Ut til de andre (Out to the Others) (K Dahl Eftf)

No Read Hard “Record of the year” list without Norwegian bands. Razika is an all-female band from Bergen. They are known for their poppy mix of Ska and Indie rock, but on “Ut til de andre” they seem to have taken inspiration from 60’s Pop music and there also seems to be a garagy Pop Punk influence as well, and it works great! I think this is their best album till now. And gives us everything from the snarky Pop Punk of “Faen ta deg”(Fuck you), to the slow 60’s-esque ballad of “Gutten i dongerijakke”(The boy in the denim jacket) and to the more Doo-Wop Pop of “Det Embla sa”(What Embla said). The production is smooth and the songs are incredibly catchy and I’m, like I think I mentioned last year, bewildered because of the tremendous production that’s found on Norwegian records nowadays. My favorite song on the album might be “Første gangen om igjen”(“The first time again”), with its wonderful horn section that still hangs around from the Ska days.

3 Worriers-Imaginary Life (Don Giovanni)

Worriers is the name of a music collective from New York City lead by Lauren from the Measure(SA) and with Mikey Erg on drums! And this is a great album through and through and includes wonderful song titles such as “Life during Peacetime” and “Yes All Cops”, and they’re not only good song titles, but they are also great songs! Mikey Erg’s drumming is interesting and innovative without going into Travis Barker overplaying territory.

4 Bad Cop/ Bad Cop-Not Sorry (Fat Wreck Chords)

I first became aware of this Bad Cop/Bad Cop from singer Stacy Dee’s appearances on Ryan Young’s(Off with Their Heads) podcast “Anxious and Angry” and thought they were great right away. I have been anticipating the album for a while, especially with the album’s first single “Nightmare”, which is a doo-woppy Pop Punk song, and the video is hilarious too. Unfortunately, I don’t think most of the album lives up to the great single. There are a couple of songs like “The ‘Wood” that do, and there are definitely some really great tracks spread out over the album, and there’s really not a bad song on the album, most of it is pretty standard Pop Punk, but the album seems really inconsistent. The good songs are really good though, and had they all been that great I’m sure this album would be even higher on the list.

5 Radiohearts-Lot to Learn (FDH)

Radiohearts was the great surprise for me this year, as I had the pleasure of reviewing the EP they released last year “Nothing at All”, and I was happy to find out they also released an EP this year that is almost as great! This is Buzzcocks versus 999 in a modern, American version. “Lot to Learn” is four great tracks and both “Heartbeat” and “Let Them Know” are among the best songs that came out this year!

6 Frank Turner-Positive Songs for Negative People (Xtra Mile)

Frank Turner is back with a new album, and the album title is great. Sadly, I think the title is better than the actual album. The album is the classic Frank Turner sound, maybe a bit more of the punker side than the Folk side. The first song “The Angel Islington” is the first song and a nice little song about the tubestop in the Islington district in London, it’s among the best songs on the album. Other treats are the single “Get Better” and the beautiful ballad “Mittens”, but I think the album at large falls short to the great Tape Deck Heart, and pretty much everything else in his discography.

7 Night Birds-Mutiny at Muscle Beach (Fat Wreck Chords)

Another band that delivers their signature sound is Night Birds, this is exactly what to expect from a Night Birds album, which makes it hard to tell whether it’s great or OK, because Night Birds sound cool with their Surf versus old school hardcore (they’ve always reminded me of the Adolescents) sound. The last song, “Left in the Middle”, though stands out as a really great closer and a great song. I guess this is the album to listen to if you like the Night Birds, like I do! The album title is Mutiny at Muscle Beach is cool too, maybe even cooler than Frank Turner’s title.

8 Slutface-Shave My Head (Propeller)

Slutface is a Norwegian band that is somewhat hard to categorize, but if I were to try I’d place them somewhere between New Wave and Indie rock. “Shave My Head” is a single they released in October. The most interesting quality of the band is that every individual instrument works so great on its own and they all work so well together. There’s always a cool drumbeat, a smooth bass line or an innovative guitar riff or solo to notice. The vocal performances are top notch and the lyrics are witty and can make you think. The lyrical topics usually revolve around feminism and popular culture from the 80’s and 90’s. Both songs on the single are more on the feminist side, seen from a personal point of view. The title track has the great line “I’d rather put together my IKEA chairs with glasses of red wine”. I think the B-side; “Get My Own” is the better of the two songs. There is a link between the two songs. In “Shave My Head” is a woman declaring her independence (“I am fine to walk alone, I don’t need you there to walk me home”) and “On My Own” is a statement against society’s misogyny and the threat of violence against women (“We refuse to be scared to walk all alone”). And both songs makes a really great single.

9 Home Street Home: Songs from the sHit Musical (Fat Wreck Chords)

The hardest part about these lists is choosing the tenth record, this year I had to revisit the soundtrack from Fat Mike’s musical. Is making a musical really a good idea? *looks away* On this soundtrack NOFX plays the music and we get to hear several Punk rock stars playing the roles. Stacy Dee from Bad Cop/Bad Cop is playing one of the lead roles and her vocal performance might be even better on this album than on Not Sorry, but the songs are less memorable. Frank Turner also makes a few appearances in the two really short cuts “Bad Decision” and “Another Bad Decision”, Matt Skiba also plays the creepy molester dad. I guess it’s similar to Baby Fat, in many ways, but the cast is more famous here, but it still falls short when it comes to the songs. Another similarity between the two is the focus on sexual assault. The best song on this record is the NOFX song “The Agony of Victory” and it might be better than the version on Coaster. As I revisited the album, I realized it deserved to be placed a spot higher.

10 Topbunk-Top Bunk (Bloated Kat)

Never a top 10 of the year list without something from Grath Madden! This year it’s his newest band Topbunk together with Ace Hole from Skinny Genes (as well as all the other Grath bands). A pretty good EP and it sounds different than most of Grath’s bands and the song “Run Away” is one of the greatest songs of the year. Records that I also considered were Fidlar’s Too and Latter+’s No More ThanThree Chords since they both had one really great song each, and revisiting them I realized that they were incredibly similar (“West Coast” and “”) as well as some other good tracks. Stiletto Bomb also had one of the greatest songs this year(“Screaming from the Bottom”), but their record didn’t make it either.

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