05. 03/13 Keelhaul, Cave In, 27, The End - Pirates Cove (Cleveland)
This shaped up to be one of the best shows of the year. Keelhaul and The End provided the mathematical noise. 27 was soothing to the ears. And Cave In blew my mind, playing four brand new songs, some of which will likely make their way onto the new LP.
04. 06/05 Stretch Armstrong, Terror, Between the Buried and Me, Out to Win - Scene Pavilion (Cleveland)
There is a reason why Terror is the most talked about and in hardcore, Scott Vogel and crew put on the most intense shows ever, regardless of how many kids show up. This show was greatly under-sold for the venue size, but everyone there sang and danced their hearts out.
03. 06/19 Braid, Minus the Bear, Murder by Death - Grog Shop (Cleveland)
This may have been heralded as the 'Braid Reunion Tour,' but it was Minus the Bear that stole the show. Murder by Death was also quite impressive.
02. 02/21 Pelican, Keelhaul, Teeth of the Hydra - Grog Shop (Cleveland)
After releasing what I considered to be the top album of last year, it was a treat to see Pelican live again. They even debuted a new song, which is also fantastic.
01. 04/09 Fantómas, Melt Banana, End - Agora Ballroom (Cleveland)
Mike Patton is a conductor, and the rest of Fantómas is his orchestra. This band is brilliant and the material from all three albums, as well as select covers, was executed perfectly. I still don't see the hype in Melt Banana.
04/03 The Path of Resistance, Shockwave, Embrace Today, A Perfect Murder, Freya - The Furnace (Syracuse)
02/14 Henry Rollins Spoken Word - Agora Theatre (Cleveland)
03/26 Thursday, Piebald, Head Automatica, The Bronx - Headliners (Toledo)
05. "Sunset Soon Forgotten" by Iron and Wine
Sub Pop's king of modern folk music delivers the prettiest song of the year. A tale of reminiscence told over the honesty of an acoustic guitar - simple and soothing, yet brilliant.
04. "Reinventing Your Exits" by Underoath
This year's song for hardcore kids with a sensitive side. With a perfect balance of rage and harmony, 'Reinventing Your Exits', bridges genre gaps and redefines the current trend of melodic hardcore.
03. "How to be Dead" by Snow Patrol
This song is best thing to come out of Scotland since the kilt. The melody is so catchy that after a few listens you'll risk eviction from your apartment due to incessant humming.
02. "Seventeen Years" by Ratatat
This instrumental song that instantly transforms wallflowers into officially licensed rug cutters. Pop it in the tape deck and watch even your coolest friends do the robot.
01. "Float On" by Modest Mouse
Who would have ever thought that the feel good song of the summer would come such a feel bad band? Certainly not I, but nonetheless, if you're not already floating on then you need to crawl out of your cave and jump on the bandwagon.
05. Tweedy Enters Rehab
With songs like "Shot in the Arm," and "Handshake Drugs," it should have come as no surprise that Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of Wilco, would eventually voluntarily check himself into rehab for addiction to pain killers. Tweedy's migraines (which were well documented in the film "I am Trying to Break Your Heart", and are the inspiration for the white noise in "Less Than You Think," on the band's most recent album) were said to be the cause of his addiction. By checking himself into rehab, the band was forced to cancel numerous dates (including the huge Coachella festival), and postpone the release of "A Ghost is Born," by one week.
04. Lollapalooza Cancelled
Finally, in a move that pissed of at least hundreds of people, the revival of Lollapalooza was cancelled citing lack of sales as the primary concern. Well, this seems pretty stupid for a few reasons: the first being that the main venues were huge places that many people would probably buy tickets the day of the show. The second reason is that they expected acts like Morrissey and Wolf Eyes to sell out these venues. While the organizers should be commended for attempting to put on a pretty ambitious and diverse lineup, they still dropped the ball on possibly canceling too early.
03. Wilson To Release SMiLE
Finally, coming to the second item designed to piss off the grumpy men, Brian Wilson announced plans to release "SMiLE" in its completed form. Over the years, various tracks from the albums appeared on different albums, but this will be the first time all tracks are together and sequenced in any official order. In support of the album, Wilson played it in its entirety at a live performance in England. The album, which was what probably finally drove Wilson completely crazy was to be the Beach Boys' follow-up to the classic "Pet Sounds."
02. Dangermouse Creates A Shitstorm
Before this year if anyone had asked about DJ Dangermouse, there would have been probably one or two people who even knew who he was. Now, after this shitstorm he caused with his mashup of Jay-Z's "The Black Album," and The Beatles' "The White Album," just about every fratboy in America knows his name. The whole issue at hand was Dangermouse's un-authorized sampling of the Beatles' tracks in order to make up the beats for Jay's songs. Admittedly, the album is somewhat gimmicky and loses its novelty quickly, but the controversy was more than enough to bring Dangermouse and the notion of a "mashup" to the forefront of music's consciousness.
01. Pixies Reunion
In our first of two major stories designed almost specifically to piss off haters of grumpy men not wanting to taint their memories of the past, the Pixies announced a huge amount of dates in support for their reunion. Despite the belief that the band would never get back together because of differences between Frank Black and Kim Deal, they proved all naysayers wrong when, in January, and throughout the first half of the year, they announced dates around the world. The band eventually released a brand new song exclusively through Apple's iTune Music Service. To further reinforce the belief of the cash-grabbing nature of the tour, live CDs were sold immediately after every show for $20 a piece.
As well known as Creed was, it didn't seem like many people cared when they disbanded. The greatest thing this band ever did besides breaking up was disappointing tons of their fans when their singer came out on stage drunk/high/out-of-this-world and flailed around on the stage for a few minutes before passing out. The show was then over and angry fans attempted to sue Creed for the money wasted on tickets. The answer they got back was that they should be happy that they experienced a piece of rock history. Now that Creed has broken up, everybody in the band minus the singer is starting a new band together - perhaps a clue on the problem?
04. On The Might Of Princes
Pretty soon after signing to Revelation and finishing up their second national tour, On The Might Of Princes called it quits. I believe news first broke out about this breakup from a livejournal post, but I could be wrong.
03. Black Eyes
Starting with dancy/noisy punk and drifting to free jazz sounding music, Black Eyes progressed in a Dischord way. And like any good Dischord band, they broke up on the height of their success. They leave us with the interesting Cough. Most of the members are now in the band White Flight, so stay tuned for more info.
Any band that can make slow/beautiful indie music without being boring gets many a prop from me. This is especially true when the singer is gorgeous and has a voice of an angel. Denali in this respect gets the props like bagels get creamed with cheese. A variety of things could've lead to their breakup, half of the band being in the successful Engine Down, talks of major label signings, or touring with Deftones. At any rate, Engine Down rules and Maura will hopefully do something ASAP.
01. American Nightmare
Many opinions changed, both negatively and positively, upon the release of We're Down Til We're Underground about American Nightmare. To many fans American Nightmare broke up a few years ago, but regardless, the impact they had on hardcore was hard to miss. Being depressed and screaming about it became very in and fast beats soon replaced the slow jud-jud sound for many bands. If they made it through their name court battle, I thought they could make it through anything, but I guess not. Wes is now going to head Some Girls; good luck to the rest of the band, because I'm sure some great stuff will be written.
City Of Caterpillar Even though they broke up at the end of 2003, their rupture is still ringing out. A pretty climatic ending occurred with the singer/guitarist putting up a message on Level-Plane explaining the deal. He mentioned that there would be no follow up record or final show in an angry tone. Hopefully Malady will pickup from where City Of Caterpillar fell.
05. Zach Hill & The Holy Smokes - Destroying Yourself Is Too Accessible (Suicide Squeeze)
(From Suicide Squeeze Records' site) "Zach Hill (pummeling-secret-robot drummer for Sacramento noise-rock heroes Hella, Nervous Cop, Team Sleep, etc.) steps out on his own with ZACH HILL & THE HOLY SMOKES and delivers an album & book combination for the Next-Next Millennium. Teaming up with a variety of friends and cohorts (including Carson McWhitter from The Advantage and Rob Crow from Pinback), HILL and his band present Masculine Drugs, a hailstorm of a full-length album with thunder claps and lightning snaps that ups the ante from ZACH HILL's past skill flaunting and certainly pushes the young mindblower to the front of the noise-maker pack. Includes an equally confounding perfect-bound children's storybook written and illustrated by HILL titled Destroying Yourself is too Accessible. This release is limited to 2500 copies!"
04. The Red Light Sting - Hands Up Tiger (Sound Virus)
Canada + synths + long, pretentious song titles + weird time signatures + hot video interview with Zed = record of the year? You call the shots, homeslice.
03. The Flying Luttenbachers - The Void (ugEXPLODE/Troubleman)
Weasel Walter is a maniacal musical genius whose music continues to grow increasingly intense and insane with each release. If last year's "Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder" is any indication of the direction he's headed in with "The Void", let's just take a minute to pray for our souls.
02. Converge - You Fail Me (Epitaph)
These ultra hardcore Boston dudes brought the rock in a serious way and killed some muthafuckaz hard with 2001's "Jane Doe". Inking a new deal with indie behemoth Epitaph (remember the Offspring?), these folks are looking to destroy any remaining competition when this bad boy drops in September.
01. Brian Wilson - SMiLE (Nonesuch) Whacked out of his gourd on hallucinogenic drugs, Brian Wilson started work on SMiLE back in the late 60's after 1966'a hugely successful Pet Sounds. The other Beach Boys and their record label deemed SMiLE a commercial suicide and forced Brian Wilson to shelve the project. The demos, which have been widely circulated on bootlegs for the past 30 years, have all been forgotten by Wilson in favor of entirely new sessions aided in part by the Stockholm Strings. From what I've read, the record is dropping in the fall and will be accompanied by a massive world tour.
05. "Meant to Live" by Switchfoot
Switchfoot has been around for awhile. They actually broke through at the second half of last year, but it overflowed into this year. Now that Creed is out of the way, they can rule the air waves as the ultimate Christian kings. Christian rock band seems like an oxymoron, but somehow people are buying into it.
03. The Cure - "The End of the World" by The Cure and "Irish Blood, English Heart" by Morrissey (TIE)
The Cure has not had a hit on the radio since 'Friday I'm in Love' which was about 10 years ago. There are also people out there that listen to the radio who think 'Love Song' was written by 311. 'The End of the World' is a fraction heavier than the past singles possibly as a result of having Ross Robinson as their producer. Morrissey hasn't had a hit since... I honestly have no idea. Both artists were 80's icons and are making a comeback to a generation that may not know who they are.
02. "Float On" by Modest Mouse
They've also been around for awhile pleasing the indie crowd. Their first album was released in 1996 and what year is it now? 2004? That's a long time to wait for a breakthrough. It's well deserved, even though they had to adjust their songwriting a bit. The song is more upbeat and poppier than the majority of their songs, but it sure is infectious. It even got people moving during their set at HFStival when everyone seemed dormant under the blazing sun. Also, carefree lyrics in the chorus like 'and we'll all float on okay/and we'll all float on anyway' made those last couple of days in school bearable.
01. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet
Who is Jet and what are they doing on the radio? They popped out of nowhere. 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl' has been played in numerous movie commercials, it was on heavy rotation on all the music channels, and it's always on the radio. However, admit that you tapped your foot along with the beat the first two times you heard it!
05. Fahrenheit 9/11
Blatantly manipulative with an obvious political agenda, sure, but it would be difficult to find a handful of people who weren't intrigued, entertained or God forbid, educated by the feature. Where I felt that Bowling For Columbine was manipulative to a hideous degree (poor Charlton Heston), Fahrenheit 9/11 is a film that can more or less let its images speak for itself (or, in the case of its introducing the tragedy itself into the film, sounds). Unlike the entirety of Bowling, I got the impression that Moore actually cared about what he was saying, and that he tried to portray this relatively tiny blemish on American history with a little tact and objectivity.
04. Touching the Void
The criminally underseen Touching the Void, while using sets to recreate an incredible trial for two British men with a lust for life, had a great documentarian feel to it. Unlike films that are saturated in bad CGI, Touching the Void is a true marvel of special effects, seamlessly integrating studio film with actual shots of the perilous Andean landscape that the men attempted to traverse. Rarely do you see a film where the fate of the characters is certain, yet you are still afraid for their lives and their deaths seem constantly imminent.
03. Spider-Man 2
We have been truly blessed in the last couple of years in terms of mindless popcorn fluff, in that the genre is given a serious revamping in terms of quality, the most recent examples being this and Pirates of the Caribbean. However, Spider-Man 2 would be incorrectly labelled if it were merely referred to as "popcorn fluff" because its major breakthrough since the disastrous first film is a solid thematic base and a surprising amount of emotional resonance. I felt that director Sam Raimi's talents were completely wasted in the first film; never before in any of his films have I felt such a lack of heedless joy and ingenuity. The cult icon director of the Evil Dead films, Darkman, and the overlooked crime drama A Simple Plan knocks it out of the park, slyly referencing some of his older films, injecting a much-needed camp comedy element, and created one of the greatest cameos ever for his buddy Bruce Campbell. Never before have I seen a comic book movie that truly embraced its roots and everything that it entails, and I haven't read more than a dozen comic books in my entire life. This movie is everything a great popcorn film should be, an often hilarious nail-biter that you want to watch over and over again.
02. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
When somebody at my job asks me to describe a movie, I never have a harder time doing that than with a Charlie Kaufman film. What exactly can you classify this as? A sci-fi romantic comedy? Either way, Kaufman abandons his somewhat annoying tendency to express awareness of his own cleverness, and embraces his characters rather than his premise. Where action hacks like the once-great John Woo and Satan themselves, Bruckheimer/Bay, are raping works of the great geeks like Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov, Kaufman has created one of the most intriguing sci-fi screenplays in years.
01. Kill Bill: Volume 2
What can I say about this movie that I haven't said already to a thousand pairs of rolling eyes? This is Tarantino at his peak. He works with a mindblowing amount of themes and character arcs, and everything ends up working. The performances, particularly from Thurman, Carradine, and Madsen, were spot-on, and the direction, completely unlike in the first volume, was understated yet effective without losing any of Tarantino's signature. There's a reason why right now, dozens of geeks at dozens of fanboards are presenting their theories about this film that appears incredibly hollow on the surface (and this is aside from idiotic threads like "wut makes Elle so kewl"), but effortlessly dumps into the movie a truckload of subtext that has yet to be explored. Lots of people wanted more bloodshed and mindless campy humor; I got everything I wanted, expected, and anticipated for nearly a half of a year.