No band or album has had such a complete and positive effect on my life as Thursday and in particular Full Collapse. For this reason I have always felt that I had a very personal connection with the band and their music. It is something I have always held very dear.
Despite having had the pleasure of seeing Thursday live a good five times prior, last night at the Metro I experienced something I had never before. On previous encounters with Thursday I have had the sensation of being so drawn in that the environment around me had become obsolete. My time with them was my own.
Last night was different. Whether it was seeing an entire room swaying in unison to the breakdown in Understanding In A Car Crash or just the overall air of mutual respect that gilded their entire set, I’m not sure. But I was forced to appreciate that a deep and personal connection to this band and their music is not something that I and I alone can possess.
How inspiring and humbling it was to see an entire captivated room of people with that one commonality of having been touched, in one way or another, by this incredible band. To be so engaging is not a characteristic that many bands possess and it may in fact be one of the defining characteristics of Thursday. The personality, the ability to engage a person so deeply, it is a gift and one they did never squander.
Though I couldn’t be happier that I had the chance to see them one last time before departure, today I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve lost a close friend. Someone I held quite dear. Someone who had at times left me feeling inspired, empowered, enamoured and complete. Therefore, in closing I feel it only fair that I say thank you.
Geoff, Steve, Tom, Tucker, and though you weren’t (physically) present last night, Tim and Andrew too. Thank you for everything.
I can’t think of any other way to start this post than to say…
I’M BACK BABY!
After shirking the duties inherent in being one of those dudes who thinks people care what he thinks, and not posting a yearly rundown last year, I left a lot of amazing bands and records praise-less when what they deserved was clearly the opposite.
And oh the guilt, the horrible guilt. I couldn’t let it happen again this year. Especially since an absolutely amazing thing has happened this year. Something completely unprecedented. Something wonderful.
Great Australian records have equalled and possibly outweighed great international records this year.
I know, what the fuck? So in honour of this I will be splitting my rundown into two sections. International and National.
Best International releases of 2011.
Saves The Day - Daybreak
Ever since becoming a massive part of my world in 2001 with the genre-defining Stay What You Are I have always expected nothing but the best from Saves The Day. This is more a curse than a blessing. It was because of this that I initially struggled with albums like In Reverie and even more so Sound The Alarm. But it is also why I have treasured and reveled in albums like Under The Boards and finally Daybreak. This album showcases everything I adore about Saves The Day. For a band that most would consider a pop-rock band, Saves The Day have a habit of delivering some of the darkest most ball-crushing riffs, nestled between beautiful and intricate melodies, all the while carried by Chris Connley’s signature brutal lyrical honesty. When I say Saves The Day are a big part of my life, I mean it. In double checking a few dates on their Wiki page I was shocked to see that Under The Boards came out over four years ago, as it has been a mainstay in my Most Played list ever since. Day break does extremely well to carry the torch, while at the same time musically and conceptually bringing the trilogy of the last three albums to a close. And what a finish.
Also, I never realised Kim Jong Il was once a featured member of Saves The Day, you learn something new everyday: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saves_the_Day#Band_members
I love you wiki.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
When I first got my hands on this album it moved me in such a severe way that I felt the need to blog super hard and super wanky about it. You can check that out here: http://anthropologyforbeginners.tumblr.com/post/8464629163/mmd-25-bon-iver-bon-iver-every-time-i-listen - I still feel pretty much that exact way about this album. It’s a work of movements, each of which has the amazing power of evoking feeling within you. I really can’t recommend it enough to absolutely everyone ever.
Touche Amore - Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
Not only have Touche Amore delivered one of the most honest and emotive records you’ll ever hear, they’ve somehow managed to do it in just over 20 minutes. And I think that makes this album just that much more special. Touche Amore have proven (again) that it is possible to do something timeless, something people can connect with, all with complete disregard for the rules and the standards and with a massive middle finger to the bells and the whistles. In doing this they have released the punkest album you’ll hear this year, but not once would that thought have crossed their mind. Touche Amore’s intentions aren’t buried under layers of pretension or some fake agenda, it’s all laid out for you to love. And just try not to.
Glassjaw - Colouring Book: Further exploring that dark ball-tearing approach that only Glassjaw can do so well, this EP is old faithful Glassjaw while also being some of the most original innovation they’ve ever thrown out.
The Felix Culpa - Sever Your Roots: An album that comes out of nowhere and delivers that dark brooding rock so many other bands seem to painfully miss. The album Brand New should’ve released instead of Daisy.
Pianos Become The Teeth - The Lack Long After: Relentlessly and punishingly honest. An incredibly heavy and diverse record from a band destined to remain excrutiatingly underrated due to a welcome lack of douchebaggery.
Former Thieves - The Language That We Speak: Championing the noise cause with massive heavy grooves and that fantastic instability I love in the genre.
Goodtime Boys - Are We Now Or Have We Ever Been: Passionate and noisy screamo with some fantastically British moments. Definitely one to watch.
Trophy Scars - Never Born Never Dead: Massively dark acid blues in that signature Trophy Scars way. These guys can truly do no wrong.
Moving Mountains - Waves: Making the leap from indulgent 40 minute EP to a more constrained album of radio-length songs is not often something a band like Moving Mountains survives. But oh yeah, I forgot they’re untouchably amazing.
Jay Z & Kanye West - Watch The Throne: A Jigga/Yeezy collab comes with some massive expectations, every one of which is not only exceeded but blown right out of the water.
I, Apparatus - Ebola And The Botanist: One of the most original releases of the year. A not entirely subtle blend of spacey post rock and wall of sound screamo, intense and intriguing.
Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights: Though I’m sad to say I don’t think I felt the connection to this album that many others did, there is no denying it is one of those albums that will go down as one that redefined a genre. Call it depresso-core, call it the thinking man’s hardcore, call it whatever you want, it’s fucking great. Simple as that.
James Blake - James Blake: Beautifully minimalistic ambient pop. Call it naivety on my part, but I feel like there truly is nothing else around like this. A great listen.
Funeral For A Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon: There’s nothing better than a band recognising their wheelhouse and swinging within it. Funeral For A Friend could be spending their time trying to redefine a genre, but they know we’d all whinge for the old stuff anyway.
The Lonely Island - Turtleneck And Chain: If you don’t already adore the work of these hood jesters, three of the funniest dudes on the planet, you need to cheer up Charlie.
Best Australian releases of 2011.
Endless Heights - Dream Strong: You know you’re onto a great EP when it finishes and without hesitation you hit play again. An energetic, emotive and most of all enjoyable effort.
Lo! - Look And Behold: One of the heaviest and most original albums I’ve heard from an Australian band in years. Aggressive and punishing with lashings of doom.
Done For - Run From Your Problems: In years to come Done For will be lorded as a band at the forefront of a movement within the genre. It’s the subtle throwbacks to old power violence that makes their brand of hardcore so appealing and so original.
Nuclear Summer - Nuclear Summer: To release something truly original is a massive feat in this day and age. Nuclear Summer have achieved this. Like a cross between The Nation Blue, Minus The Bear and Tom Waits. I guess. I don’t know, just listen to it, it’s awesome.
Driven Fear - Driven Fear: Hints of new wave hardcore, but still with plenty of the old riffing and heaviness to keep it grounded. An album that is so easy to smash down in one listen you’ll find your finger itching over the repeat button.
Fires Of Waco - Old Ghosts Never Sleep: It’s so refreshing to find bands willing to wiggle within the constraints of their genre. Punk rock as a genre is like a prison and it’s always the bands that dare to take a walk outside the walls every now and then that stand out. An amazingly engaging album.
At Dark - Beyond The Black Hills: Dark, doomy and absolutely thrilling. I dare you to try and listen to this EP without finding yourself gripping mystical air orbs.
Gotye - Making Mirrors: Despite guys like Peter Gabriel and Sting still plugging away, I’m still going to call Gotye a revival. A revival of that fantastically self-involved pop for the thinking man. Though I feel little connection to the more cheery songs on the album, the more sombre parts are a fantastic listen.
Right now you’re probably noticing some glaring omissions from the local rundown and to be honest, these are because my love for them, though not based on bias, is still ripe with it. So I will just say check out these bands and the records they released this year: Totally Unicorn, Only Sleeping, From Trees, Statues, Decades Away, One Vital Word, Caverns, Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt, The Fevered, Mindset, etc etc etc.
Biggest Letdown: Though it absolutely kills me to do so, I guess I have to say La Dispute - Wildlife. In many solid listens I’ve really struggled to identify with this album on any serious level, after being completely captivated by Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair I really had high hopes for this album. And whether it be a result of overly high expectations and anticipation on my part, my hopes were largely unfulfilled.
Best Video: With an abundance of funny faces and thankfully bereft of penises, Totally Unicorn’s video for Cool Dads with Cool Sons is an easy winner. One of the most awkwardly hilarious things you’ll ever see. Plus, plenty of mad bazzas. See you in the green room.
Worst Video: Anything involving Jessie J and her doorstop face.
Best Song: Though it eventuated as the b-side to a much less exciting single, Gatherer marked their emersion from the void with the release of Thrive. An incredibly creative and original effort that far outshines the single and cover it shared disc space with.
Worst Song: To be honest, I don’t expect the world from Mastodon. Though I do expect them to deliver something I can listen to and enjoy without feeling like I’m the subject of some weird prank. Curl Of The Burl failed to even satisfy this most miserly of criteria. Too silly. So silly in fact, I still haven’t bothered to listen to anything else off the new album.
Best Use Of My Time Outside Of Music: If you don’t like Skyrim I’m going to assume you are a once loved but now neglected partner of someone who has recently purchased Skyrim. And in case you’re wondering why you don’t see your other half much anymore, it’s because Bethesda have done what so many games strive for and fall short. They have created a game that rewards you for playing exactly how you like to play. Where previous Elder Scrolls games tried to make you decide your path and skillset early on, Skyrim allows you to adapt and evolve within the game. Since 11/11/11 I think I’ve actually logged more hours on Skyrim than I have on FIFA 12 all year, and that is truly saying something.
In Closing: 2011 has been a massive year for music, seeing the emergence of some fantastic new bands, it’s an exciting time for music, especially for hardcore. However I feel it would be remiss of me to not mention the imminent end of two of the most influential bands of our generation. Thursday and Thrice. Two bands that shared so much throughout the years, it seemed only fitting that they both announce their departure within 24 hours of each other. So when your pouring one out for your homies this NYE, splash some Henny on the pavement for two of the O-est of OGs.
On any given day if you were to come up to me in the street and ask me if I was a Newcastle Jets fan, I would puff up my chest and answer you with a very proud yes. I may even follow it up with an off-key rendition of “Joely Griffiths Walks On Water”. Unfortunately, today I feel different.
Just the other day I was defending the honour of the supporters of Newcastle’s mighty Jets to my father, an avid Central Coast supporter and purveyor of saucy meats (Marinator…), in an effort to convince him to make the trip up the highway to accompany me to Turton Rd the next time an F3 derby is on Jets turf. I feel like I was starting to make some headway and then this: http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/sport/football-soccer/ffa-sees-red-over-jets-fans/2393578.aspx
Guys, you’re not helping.
Not only are you killing my arguments against my dad, you’re also forcing Australian football to take a couple of steps back after working so hard to cover the ground that it has since the birth of the A-League.
Though the majority of the Australian sporting world has come around and are accepting of football’s place among the big codes in this country, unfortunately, there are still a few dinosaurs of the old league that will do anything they can to keep the wogball down. The phrase “smell the fear” comes to mind, but that’s another story for another day.
This prehistoric attitude was evidenced in a recent letter to the editor in the Newcastle Herald, a paper which can be very proud of its coverage of the round ball. In this letter, the writer was not subtle at all in voicing his opinion of Hunter Sports Group’s highly praised merge of the governing bodies of both of Newcastle’s premiere sporting teams, the Jets and the Knights. Though the exact wording escapes me, I can recall with very little doubt the terms “ashamed”, “disgrace” and quite possibly even “sissies” were used to describe the action the Knights have taken in support of the Jets.
I know this attitude is now quite clearly that of an ever fading minority, but the fact is it still exists. The FFA and the A-League clubs have made up some tremendous ground in the last 7 years and unfortunately, it’s behavior like this which forces us to take a few steps back.
As I said, I am an avid Jets supporter. The golden scarves hanging on my doorknob are evidence of that, the ticket stubs that litter my desk and table are evidence of that and the brand new blue and red striped jersey that is on the floor next to, but not in, the clothes hamper (Sorry Elese) is evidence of that. But this sort of behavior can’t be condoned. Thankfully, I’m not the only Jets fan of this opinion. In fact I’m one of thousands. And even Squadron leader Tim Verschelden has been very open in his criticism of these actions.
Verschelden was quick to denounce the troublemakers as a few bad apples and not representative of his Squadron, and good on him. The Squadron are making a name for themselves as one of the loudest, proudest and most creative and hard-working supporter groups in the country. It’s heartbreaking to see their efforts become a footnote to the actions of few misbehavers.
The perpetrators will argue that football is a game of passion and this sort of behavior is not uncommon amongst the firms and ultras in the bigger leagues in the world, but they would do well to understand that is not a part of the game in Australia. Football is a game for everyone, especially in Newcastle. And when families of Jets supporters are turning away at the gate out of disgust or even fear, this has to be recognised and the behavior needs to stop before all the great work of the FFA and our beloved clubs is undone and we’re back to square on again.
Thankfully, not all football supporters are there just to sink beers in the sun and start some ruckus. And it’s thanks to the efforts of people like Tim Verschelden and his beloved Squadron that despite a few rough headlines, we’re still all able to wear our colours with pride, without them being blackened by the media’s tar brush.
Australian football media is alive with stories about Melbourne Victory and their less than average start to the season, pointing fingers at anything with a pulse. And to be honest I can’t help but wonder what the hell they are worried about?
Yes, they’re currently one spot outside of the finals, but they’re also quite literally one win away from jumping five spots to a handsome second. Wow, devastating.
The Victory would like to believe they are the A-League’s Manchester United. The big guys, guaranteed of a title challenge every single year, but they are not. Thanks to the ambiguous and unpredictable nature of the a-league, nobody is. Not even the rampaging Roar. (Though I’m sure Ange would love to tell me different.)
Where does this sense of entitlement come from for Melbourne? They’re equal on championships with Sydney, the years they haven’t won it they’ve barely scraped by, with the introduction of the Melbourne Heart they’re no longer the only fish in the biggest pond, they’re surely not so fragile and gullible as to put stock in one of the worst football team names of all time, so where does this ego come from?
They did what no other team could, in luring Harry Kewell, Australia’s golden boy, back to the promised land. They have, if nothing else, always been able to attract the big players. And there-in lies Melbourne Victory’s problem.
As is the current trend in football, thanks to a few of the big European clubs and their attitude to apparently expendable coaches, everyone is loving pointing the finger at Mehmet Durakovic right now. And as far as fans, players and even the powers-that-be are concerned, cutting off the head would be the easiest option. But I’ll be the first to say, unless they bring in some massive name with a whole bunch of silverware under his belt, it won’t make a lick of difference.
Some of the Australian Football Media are saying that for the sake of his job, Durakovic needs to stamp his authority on the team, starting with the big names. I say if the big names would stop acting like spoilt brats, this wouldn’t even be necessary. Thanks to the amounts of money being thrown at these players, the respect has gone. If these players had any respect left in them they would go out there and do their jobs, no matter who was telling them to. Not for themselves, not for the coach, but for the club and for the fans.
Blaming the coach is just giving the lazy players an excuse to act like they’ve been wronged somehow, when in actual fact, they are living the dream. Being paid handsomely to do something they love, play football.
If Durackovic really wants to make a point, he should put some of these big dogs on a leash and let the young hungry pups have a run. Unfortunately, if they don’t get a win out of it, he may lose is job. Maybe it’s time for Mehmet to play martyr, for the sake of all of us.
Remember when I said I was going to post something on here everyday?