1. Antony and the Johnsons - I Am a Bird NowOops. I'm really sorry we missed this. We all should be, because any staff member could have written this review. Enough of us put the album on our list to make it our 6th favorite album of the year. Six is a pretty high number, you guys.
2. Animal Collective - FeelsHey, don't look at me, this band still pisses me off.
3. Deerhoof - The Runners FourDeerhoof's latest was a jumble of squeaky half-Japanese, jerky song writing, and balls-in-your-face rock. And this was them at their most accessible. Satomi Matsuzaki messes around with the endearingly bizarre freaky pop that's cute and culturally motivated. Which makes her like Gwen Stefani, only not full of shit.
4. Common - BeThree years after the questionable Electric Circus, Common came back with a vengeance. A beautiful, glorious vengeance. Kanye produced this, but that isn't what makes it so good. It's the soul that Common inflicts upon each song. And his optimism. And his honesty. A lot of girls like this album. Currently, we only have three girls on staff, so I guess this makes sense.
5. Caribou - The Milk of Human KindnessFor any electronic artist aiming for eclecticism, there's a fine line to be walked between DJ Shadow country and Moby zone. Dan Snaith has managed to avoid the line altogether. Good for him! By assimilating elements of hip-hop, pop, and folk into his electronic database, the artist formerly known as Manitoba produced one of Canada's finest exports of 2005. No wonder you didn't hear it.
1. The Observers - Where I Stay (Deranged)The Observers perfected what so many bands try to do: combining melodic upbeat punk rock with meaningful lyrics while not sounding watered down or too serious/textbook. The two songs on this 7" are a testament to an overlooked band that someday will be looked back on as classic.
2. Ceremony - Ruined (Malfunction)After releasing the best demo of 2005, Ceremony continued the moment with "Ruined." If you were surrounded by zombies ready to tear the skin off your bones and you like Panic/Negative Approach, "Ruined" is what your brain would sound like as it became main course. Pack your fist full of seven inches and take a swing at your record player, lolz.
3. This Is Hell - s/t (State of Mind)Someone needs to give me directions to this supposed Hell that the members of This Is Hell dwell in, because frankly, it's molten temperatures create some good fucking music. If this is what nightmares sound like, I'm obviously not getting enough sleep. With a full length coming out on Trustkill in May, expect an album to land on best of 2006 lists.
4. Sabertooth Zombie - The Only Good Politician Is A Dead Politician (Self-Released)Somewhere between the sleeplessly insane, Northern California and a fist full of spikes is Sabertooth Zombie. This is the kind of EP where when someone listens to it they like it, but it doesn't get the hype or respect it deserves for whatever reason. Now you have no excuse. Whether you like to listen to, mosh to your or conduct mayhem to your music, Sabertooth Zombie is packed with what you need. With a seven minute song to be released in 2006 on Stick To Your Guns as a split with Tiger Uppercut, color me stoked.
5. Dangers - s/t (Old Guard)When you rise above the ridiculous controversy caused by a single song this record, you'll find six more songs equally brimming with ideas. And although there isn't any real musical innovation, Dangers doesn't sound like any particular band. If you're anything like me, this is a good thing.
6. Takaru - Final 7" (Self-Released)After releasing two splits and a full length, Takaru broke up and gave us one last recording. Instead of rehashing, Takaru lets in on their heaviest and most progressive pieces. Weaving in and out of the brazen sound is the occasional melodic harmony and ever constant pertinant political lyrical content. But don't worry, 4/5 of the members started a new band, Burial Year, that is reminscent of this 7".
7. Haymaker - Lost Tribe EP (Deranged)If anger is the key, then Haymaker is the locksmith. This is what Infest would sound like if they were slower, Canadian and and a bit heavier. Even though they have a song that makes fun of zines and bands trying to appease critics, this critic is definitely a fan. Fans of Jesus and the United States should go elsewhere.
8. No Dice - Suffer (625 Thrash)This is the soundtrack to exploding veins and gutted throats. Bay area kids find roots in power violence, playing fast and playing heavy. You can circle pit your way to a hypnotic state of balls-out-face-through-the-glass-times in a few revolutions. While this 7" is the same as the demo, by no means is that bad news.
9. Sinking Ships - Meridian (Run For Cover)After Revelation ends their hiatus on releasing hardcore, you know the band's got to be special. Well, Sinking Ships plays melodic hardcore with introvertive lyrics in a NW style. Since no song on this is anywhere near bad, it'd be hard for Sinking Ships to...sink in 2006.
10. Comadre - Songs About The Man (Blood Town)Filled with the punk/hardcore spirit and letting it out in unconventional ways, Comadre goes to show that it's okay to use more than power chords to get the point across. Their influences of 90s post hardcore mixed with other styles of rock provides for an excuse to turn on your stereo. If you don't have a record player, Comadre's own Blood Town Records has repressed the EP on compact disc.
Came out of nowhere for me in 2005. I intially discovered them via a message board post involving Feeding Frenzy Records. Soon after I pre-ordered the band's debut LP Stallone, and listened to the tracks on their myspace daily. Daggermouth just flat out rules. Get into it! Yo!! Check the band out here: www.myspace.com/daggermouth
2. The Twilight Collective
Featuring one-time member of Shai Hulud, Matt Canning, TTC have created a perfect mix of hardcore's agression, metalcore's guitar licks, and pop punk's sense of melody. The band currently only has a demo available. Watch for a full length on Textbook Music in 2006! To indulge yourself and sing along go to www.myspace.com/thetwilightcollective
3. Crimes Of Passion
Crimes Of Passion are a melodic hardcore/metalcore band hailing from Dunkirk, New York. These guys have a real knack for songwriting, and it shows on the bands 3 song demo. Currently on a small tour, the band plan to record an offial ep in the coming months. You can find the boys on myspace at www.myspace.com/crimesofpassion
4. Years From Now
Think Florida's younger, scrappier, version of Grey Area. Give these dudes some time, and they will definitely be going places with their style of punk rock. If you didn't know any better, you might think Years From Now came from "the swamps of New Jersey." They just have that sincere, urgent sound you might associate with so many bands from the Garden State. Listen to songs from the bands demo at www.myspace.com/yearsfromnowfl
5. First To Leave
Saves The Day-Sound The Alarm came out in 2005? Oh, shit my bad, it's First To Leave! Coming up from California, First To Leave bring a nice mix of A New Found Glory and Early Saves The Day thrown into a blender. Labelmates with the afformentioned Daggermouth on Feeding Frenzy, the band have recorded a demo 7" and just released a teaser ep for their upcoming full length record. You can find out more about First To Leave at www.myspace.com/firsttoleave