Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2007: A Year In Records

I have been out on tour for the entire month of January, road dogging for Blacklisted on their European trip with Soul Control and Shipwreck. A report may or may not follow. So while that explains the lack of updates on this blog, it also gave me the time to think of what my favourite records were that came out in 2007. I realized that since I have become some sort of unemployed wild style character around one year ago, I have not been buying as many records as I used to, which sucks. The latest albums by bands like Neurosis, Witchcraft and High On Fire there for are not in here, simply because I don't have them (yet). Enough about that though, 2007 was a good year in a lot of ways and here's 15 of the records I enjoyed the most:

Blacklisted: Peace On Earth, War On Stage
It's no secret that Blacklisted is my favourite current hardcore band and with releases like this one, I don't see how that could not be so. Recording with Kurt Ballou gave this band somewhat of a fuzzier, dirtier sound while the songs just rage. Hard. More groove and intensity in the songwriting department and vocals that will send chills down your spine. Lyrically, Blacklisted are one of the most fascinating bands out there. If you think that this was the peak of Blacklisted's abilities, wait until you hear "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God".

Dinosaur JR: Beyond
Finally saw this legendary guitar/indie supergroup live in December '06, a few months before this record came out. They played a few songs off "Beyond", which wasn't out at the time and I instantly knew it wouldn't disappoint... That it would be this good though, was beyond my expectations. Back with a bang. Incredible. It's like Mascis, Murph and Barlow never parted ways to begin with.

Rhythm To The Madness: Soul Doubt
I dug the demo, but this 7" is lightyears ahead of that. From the weirdo artwork, to the guitar solo credits and the well written, thoughtful lyrics, everything about this record makes sense. My best shot at describing this is "Best Wishes"/"Alpha Omega" era Cro-Mags with Icemen vibes and a dash of "Quickness" era Bad Brains maybe? Klaas' vocals sound like a rabid hellhound. Look out for an interview with this band up here soon.

Feist: The Invitation
Highly addictive and heartbreaking. This second album by this Canadian young lady is where it's at. Thanks M.

Iron Age: Burden Of Empire
Kind of an obscure record, put out by the band themselves on their Next Level label. This one song 7" sounds like it was recorded in the same cave where bands like Dark Throne or Burzum would record their demos, but that's a good thing. "Burden Of Empire" is a catchy as hell 6 minute rager, with more of that vintage 80's trash/crossover guitarwork that Iron Age is known for.

Justice: Escapades
The source of hours and hours of discussion among hardcore kids everywhere but I love it. Justice took a serious chance with this record (recorded by Don Fury), offering a slower, moodier brand of hardcore, influenced by bands like Supertouch, Quicksand and Underdog. "Oh How We Laughed" still has a moshpart that'll put most other bands to shame though. "I Need Air" featuring Richie B. is an anthem, whether you like it or not. March 8th... "Let's do some diving boy!".

Big Business: Here Come The Waterworks
Even though both Big Business members are now in The Melvins, and The Melvins are larger than life, Big Business ain't nuthin' to fuck with either. An absolute powerhouse both live and on record. Drums and bass with an occasional added guitar, the songs these men come up with are mind boggling. I might like this record even more than their debut "Head For The Shallow". Genius.

Shipwreck: Abyss
So good. See the review I wrote about a month ago.

Bitter End: Climate Of Fear
You know how half the world claims to be inspired by NYHC but actually sounds like they found a tape with riffs that Madball threw away before they recorded "Look My Way" and then added their own shitty riffs to that? This is not the case here. Bitter End sounds like they have only listened to Killing Time, Breakdown and Sick Of It All for the last 10 years of their lives.

Union Town: Demo 07
The cassette demo version of this demo is wearing real thin due to excessive listening in my car. Good thing Powered Records stepped up and released this awesome demo as a 7". Super catchy, melodic and emotional (all three in the good sense of the word), Union Town sounds like they've been going for years. I guess this is just the music they were always meant to play. Anyone with a weak spot for mid to late 80's DC hardcore/punk (Rites Of Spring, Embrace, Fugazi, Dag Nasty) needs to pick this up.

Down: Over The Under
Even though I feel like this record could use some more Kirk and a little less Pepper, and even though Phil doesn't really scream anymore, one cannot deny the power of the riff (it compels you). Down should be the biggest metal band in the world. Fucketh Thine Self.

Cloak/Dagger: We Are
Fresh sounding, punky and energetic, Cloak/Dagger sounds nothing like the bands some of these dudes used to be in. Instead they opted for a very rhythmic, dry, minimalistic sound and catchy songs. If this hadn't been on Jade Tree, it should've been on Swami as the Hot Snakes / Wipers / Rocket From The Crypt vibes are heavy on this one. Yet, Cloak/Dagger still have that DC hardcore type of energy to set them apart. They might be caught in between two worlds, but they are Daggers and they don't care.

World Collapse: Deutschland, Deutschland Into The Night
Non-believers thought this record would never come out. They were wrong. Totally unique band that seems to have caused some sort of schism in hardcore circles, World Collapse thinks and operates outside the box and the result is this EP fusing an electro / new wave sound with a dose of Leeway / Cro-Mags riffage. As bizarre as it may sound, it works and this is one of the records I have listened to the most in 2007.

Trapped Under Ice: Demo 07
Recommended to me by Filip Vandamme (XL shirts only), I bought this on a whim in October at Ninja Fest in England. Five shirtless dudes on the cover. Clearly most of them are bodybuilders (what's up Foster?). Got home, put the record on and nearly stomped a hole in my floor. Heavy Crown Of Thornz influence. Some Bulldoze as well. Solid songs. "Live with the viiiiiiiiiiice". Yes.

Interpol: Our Love To Admire
For years I kind of turned a cold shoulder to this band, but as soon as I picked up "Antics" a few years back I knew I'd fucked up. Eagerly awaited, "Our Love To Admire" sounds slightly different, like a band that is still in motion and in the process of discovering what they are capable of. This is a record of epic proportions, it's hard to explain how good this is. Love the artwork as well. Saw them live a few months back and my jaw dropped to the floor. I think it's still there, in Lille.