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My Ten Favorite Records of 2010

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

These are my favorite records of 2010. Looking back at last year’s list, I realize this was a great 12 months of music.

1. Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught on Tape

Both lyrically and musically, this record is so much better than Fake Problem’s earlier work, it might as well be a different band. From awful to awesome in one album flat? Not exactly, but you get the idea.
Favorite line: “If Confidence is key, I must be locked out of the house. If home is where the heart is, I do not have a pulse” – “ADT.”

2. Eminem – Recovery

I’m not a rap fan (surprising, I know). In fact, Eminem’s Recovery is one of the only rap albums I own. However, I can say that no matter which genre you prefer, it’s impossible to ignore the statement that Eminem made with this record. Lyrically, it’s ridiculously angry, but somehow completely upbeat and positive at the same time.
Favorite line: “He’s married to the game, like a fuck you for Christmas, his gift is a curse” – “Not Afraid.”

3. Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam

The catchiest record of the year comes from the weirdest band of the year. Need proof? Either listen to their album, or see them live. Lead singer Eric Nally routinely smokes four cigarettes on stage, and then eats them.
Favorite line: “Baby, you look like a zebra” – live show

4. Tokyo Police Club – Champ

The first half of this record contains what are easily my favorite songs of the year. Too bad the second half doesn’t quite measure up. Still a great listen containing all of  the quirks you would  expect from Tokyo Police Club.
Favorite line: “I’m on your side, but only for a while, of course. You never use words you can’t afford, a house of cards and it’s a sign” – “Wait Up (Boots of Danger).”

5. Motion City  Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life

A complete return to form after the so-so Even if it Kills Me. I’m pretty sure the quality of their records is directly proportional to the amount of swearing Justin Pierre does. And he swears a ton on this record.
Favorite line: “It’s been a good year, a good new beginning. I’m through with the old school so let’s commence the winning.” -“Worker Bee.”

6. Steel Train – Steel Train

Steel Train’s transformation from jam band to one of today’s best rock bands is nothing short or remarkable. This is their strongest work to date.
Favorite line: “You and I both are nothing but thieves. We take what we want when we need.” -“Bullet.”

7. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation

In my opinion, Off With Their Heads are the ideal rock band. Everything they play is short, fast and loud.
Favorite line: “So I just drive. It doesn’t matter where. I put my foot to the floor let the wind blow through my hair” – “Drive.”

8. Fireworks – All I Have to Offer Is My Own Confusion

While pop-punk has grown a bit stale in recent years, you wouldn’t know it by listening to Firework’s newest full-length. This is the album that even bands like New Found Glory wish they could write. It’s basically a 12 song party. And it’s my kind of party, because there are enough sarcastic one-liners for everyone in attendance.
Favorite line: “Without this bad knee I wouldn’t have a good one. These vices don’t hold me down. They fucking carry me” – “When We Stand on Each Other We Block Out the Sun.”

9. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

While it doesn’t quite pack the punch of their 2008 breakout The ’59 Sound, this is another admirable effort from New Jersey’s new favorite son’s.
Favorite Line: “For the hub city girls in the ribbons and the curls, who know the meaning of staying out late. They know the meaning of staying out very, very late” – “The Diamond Church Street Choir.”

10 Hot Hot Heat – Future Breeds

Talk about a comeback. With this record, Hot Hot Heat took everything that made their pre-Happiness Limited material so much fun, injected it with pure caffeine, and then threw it in a blender. The result was an immensely enjoyable and twisted record.
Favorite line: “So much, so much for dying before you’re 30, or 27 like Jan and Jim. Get on it. Where’s your iconic
all too ironic romantic tragedy recorded quadraphonic?” -“Implosionatic.”


New Found Glory Revives Classics for 10th Anniversary Tour

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

New Found Glory 10th Anniversary Tour
House of Blues Boston
February 21st, 2010

When it comes to pop-punk, New Found Glory’s self-titled record is considered by many to be the gold standard. Since its release in 2000, the album has inspired countless copy cats, none of which have earned the type of success the band has enjoyed over the past decade. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the fan favorite record, the band announced a nationwide tour in which they would play the album from start to finish on each night. They also announced they would be taking Saves the Day with them, marking the first time the two band’s had toured together in a decade. To die-hard New Found Glory fans, it seemed too good to be true. Luckily for them, it wasn’t.

The night began with a set from Fireworks, a band with a history of opening New Found Glory shows. While they may not do much to distinguish themselves from many of today’s other pop-punk acts, they have begun to build a sold fan base on the strength of their relentless touring schedule. This was evident as fans towards the front of the venue sang along, started circle pits, and generally made life uncomfortable for the those who weren’t familiar with the Detroit quintet.

While the band’s performance was spirited, it was often hard to make out lead singer David Mackinder’s vocals, which seems to be a common problem for opening acts at the House of Blues. The group did end the set on a high with their performance of “Detroit,” which had even fair weather fans singing along loudly.

Next was Hellogoodbye, a band that had earned commercial success with their 2006 album Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, but has fallen off the radar of late. The group had headlined large Boston venues in the past, but on this night they found themselves trying hard to win over hundreds of skeptical fans. Whether they were successful or not is debatable, for some at the front of the venue did seem to enjoy themselves, while the rest of the crowd waited impatiently for the night’s two big acts. The band saved their hits for last, finishing the set with “All of Your Love” and “Here (In Your Arms),” do the delight of at least a few in the audience.

The crowd’s indifference evaporated instantly when Saves the Day took the stage. While New Found Glory’s self-titled record may be the pop-punk gold standard, it can easily be argued that Saves the Day’s “Through Being Cool” and “Stay What You Are” take silver and bronze. With those two records, the band built a large cult following which hasn’t evaporated despite the fact recent releases haven’t been as well received.

I’ve seen Saves the Day on a number of occasions, and I must say that I haven’t been very impressed of late. They have focused mainly on their newer material, which wouldn’t be a problem, if only they would play the good new material. Tonight, they did, perfectly mix their older crowd favorites with standout cuts from their last two records. The crowd wasn’t shy in showing their appreciation, and it would have been easy to mistake the New Jersey quartet as the headliners.

While the band has gone through drastic line-up changes in the past year, they didn’t miss a beat sonically. Lead singer Chris Conely, the group’s only original member, seems to be re-energized by the changes, sounding better and looking more enthusiastic than in the band’s past few area appearances. The highlights of the set were popular b-side “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven” and “Bones” from 2006’s “Sound the Alarm.”It was the type of performance that could also re-energize the Saves the Day fan base as they await the release of their next record “Daybreak,” which should be out by the end of the year.

As the crowd caught it’s breath, New Found Glory’s stage crew unveiled a huge banner featuring the self-titled record’s instantly recognizable  artwork, Atari controller and crumpled Brittany Spears ticket included. The headliners would take the stage to the all too familiar tune of Miley Cyrus’s “Party being piped over the intercom, and from there, the insanity began.

As promised, New Found Glory would perform their self-titled record in it’s entirety, and opening track “Better Off Dead” provided the spark that would set the crowd off for the rest of the night. Bodies flew through the air while everyone from the front of the stage to the balconies high above sang and shouted along. The set’s first four songs, which concluded with “Hit or Miss” had those on the floor in a state of near-hysteria, and it was a blast, to say the least.

The set’s success was due in large part to the fact that nearly every song on New Found Glory just begs to be played live. The tracks hit hard and fast, with more sugary hooks than the venue’s coat check. The mid tempo “Sincerely Me” perfectly placed in the middle of the album, allowed the crowd to take a short breather.

“Boy Crazy” and the rarely played “All About Her” where the high points of the set for me, with both showcasing everything that has made New Found Glory a terrific live band for the past decade. While the band would announce “Ballad of the Lost Romantics” as the last song, but considering how quickly the the set had flown by, most in the crowd knew they were in for a lengthy encore.

The quintet would return to the stage, and as the original banner fell to reveal the image of a chainsaw wielding maniac, the band would launch into a seven song encore that showcased the best songs not included on their self-titled album. As usual, “All Downhill from Here” and it’s huge chorus had fans bouncing like super balls, while Gorilla Biscuits cover “No Reason Why” appeased all of the hardcore fans in the room. In keeping with tradition, the band would close the set with “My Friends Over You,” as the crowd somehow found the energy to give the song the reaction it deserves.

The crowd would then slowly file out of the House of Blues, and while some were exhausted and others banged up,  just about everyone seemed very happy with what they had just seen. New Found Glory has always been a great live band, and when you combined that with a standout album that hasn’t been well represented on recent tours, you have the ingredients for a great show. Throw in a band like Saves the Day and you have a the makings of an unforgettable night, which is pretty much what this was.