Monday, January 11, 2010

Devin's Top Fifteen Albums of 2009

Hello everyone my name is Devin and this is my first post on Cassette Musique. I am here to make sure the scene bands and hardcore bands are well represented on Cassette Musique since many of the bloggers are largely indie fans. Also expect lots of As I Lay Dying news from me in 2010.

With that here are my favorite albums of the last year:

15. The Chariot- Wars and Rumors of Wars
The Chariot is a strange band to say the least. With their chaotic style they certainly aren't for everyone and they are an acquired taste to say the least. This album is nothing more than an improvement from their last album, it has the same chaotic nature but also some heavy breakdowns which is very lacking in their last two albums. This cd has a better quality recording than the others and a tighter sound especially since their first album was recorded completely live. This album they have tried to progress and stay true to their sound and they do a great job of that.

14. Motionless in White- When Love Met Destruction
Motionless is a new sextet trying to be unique in the seemingly over played post-hardcore and metalcore genres. Their use of the synth in their songs isn't even out of the norm any more since many other hardcore bands have added that to their regular instruments. There is something about this band that sets them apart though and it's tough to tell unless you listen to them, they have emo-like hooks and some very brutal breakdowns heavy enough for any hardcore band. They have two vocalist they split up the parts pretty well so that the clean parts are catchy and the heavy parts are brutal. They're doing their own thing and managing to be unique when most reviewers say it's impossible in the post-hardcore genre today. Fueled by their energetic live show and very real personality on stage they are quickly moving up in the ranks in the hardcore community.

13. Dethklok- Dethalbum II
Dethklok is a joke band from the show metalocalypse and in the show Dethklok is big enough to be its own economy. They may not be quite that big in real life but one thing's for sure, the writers of the show, Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha sure know how to rock. This album serves its purpose by being funny but it is also a very enjoyable metal album. The riffs are fast and heavy and the same can be said about the drums. The album, like the first, sounds a lot like a death metal album but some parts have a hint of old heavy metal in them like pantera especially in the song "The Cyborg Slayers." They also changed the vocals a little more on this album from the last. Dethalbum I was a metalocalypse album but Dethalbum II is a Dethklok album. Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha really stepped it up this time with the second installment in the Dethklok anthology.

12. Mayday Parade- Anywhere But Here
This is Mayday Parade's second full length album and first without former vocalist/ guitarist/ lyricist Jason Lancaster who is now in the band Go Radio. It is clear that the writing style changed without Lancaster's genius and is not quite up to what it used to be. With that being said, this is still a great pop punk album with plenty of catchy hooks and emotion in their songs. This is also their first major record label album as they recently signed to Atlantic Records. It is clear that this is a very well produced and mixed album, each recording is very clear and crisp. Mayday Parade may be taking a more main stream approach but they can still write songs for us to enjoy and sing along to.

11. Taking Back Sunday- New Again
Many people have not liked a TBS album since Tell all Your Friends and that's actually quite sad. Taking Back Sunday is a band that has grown and matured a lot since 2002. They aren't the same girl crazy teenagers that wrote their first album and they couldn't repeat it again if they tried. Lead singer Adam Lazzara is much older now and no longer is the whiny teenager he used to be. This album is much more solid musically and the instruments are much better. Lazzara's vocals have also gotten much better and he shows off his vocals on this album. Along with have a more mature sound TBS also hasn't lost their powerful and catchy choruses.

10. Dance Gavin Dance- Happiness
Dance Gavin Dance underwent a major change when Johnny Craig left the band and their new singer became Kurt Travis. This album completed the change from Craig to Travis and helped them find their new sound, something they were not quite able to do on their previous record. This album has a continued high level of complexity in the guitar parts makes you wanna get up and dance but also kept the post-hardcore aspect for most songs. They also lost former member Jon Mess and guitarist Will Swan took over on screams and this actually turned out to be an improvement on this album. Dance Gavin Dance has also never been one for lyrics but in this album there are a few songs like "Tree Village" where the lyrics are almost actually good.

9. Manchester Orchestra- Mean Everything to Nothing
Manchester Orchestra was a new find and a pleasant surprise in 2009 thanks to my good pal Ryan Klaeysen. Manchester Orchestra has a very well put together album in Mean Everything to Nothing, there is a good mix of slow and upbeat songs fueled by the strong and passionate vocals of Andy Hull. He actually said that he smoked a pack of cigarettes a day to give himself a raspier voice on this album. Manchester Orchestra likes to have clever lyrics which is obvious from their first album Like a Virgin Losing a Child. Altogether, led by Andy Hull, Manchester Orchestra is a very talented new band with a very good and fitting sound done perfectly on their newest album.

8. Set Your Goals- This Will Be the Death of Us
After almost exactly three years of waiting and more than a few band's worth of trouble with record labels Set Your Goals finally signed with Epitaph Records and released their second full length album This Will be the Death of Us. Set Your Goals really pushed the envelope with this album, they held nothing back. With plenty of fast paced punk drum beats and classic gang vocals they also really let their hardcore influences show much more in this album. They brought their instruments to a new level and had a small army of backing vocals for this album including big names like: Hayley Williams of Paramore, Vinnie Caruana of the Movielife and Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. Overall, Set Your Goals used their time off and struggles over the past few years to help them write a solid album.

7. All Time Low- Nothing Personal
All Time Low's new record came along with a lot of hype especially since it had a powerhouse cast helping write and produce it including one of All Time Low's idols Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 and +44. This is easily their most well produced album and will cater to a mainstream crowd better than their previous albums. A few tracks on the album were not received well by loyal fans including "Hello Brooklyn" and "Too Much." Luckily the other songs are catchy enough and put together well enough that All Time Low is still sitting on a hit album. They have become a poster child for MTV and 2010 is supposed to be a busy year for the already rapidly growing pop punk band from Baltimore and this album did nothing but help propel them toward their goals.

6. Brand New- Daisy
I love this album. I hate this album. It's fast. It's slow. It's hard. It's soft. Brand New has come out with by far their most up and down album yet. It doesn't even start out hard and end softer it's just up and down all throughout. They have yet again avoided a label or definition being put on them, something people have had a hard time doing since 2003 and the release of Deja Entendu when they left their emo pop punk sound behind forever. Brand New clearly makes music they like and do not care about what the fans think, but likely they usually come out with awesome stuff. Luckily, this album was no exception. Some of their hardest and softest songs ever recorded by Brand New are on Daisy and they have continued to write awesome songs and surprise and amaze their fans. Daisy is said to be the last studio album by Brand New and they certainly have gone out with a bang, quite literally.

5. The Devil Wears Prada- With Roots Above and Branches Below
The Devil Wears Prada didn't change too much from their first album to their second, because i guess, why change what works? The vocals have become tighter and more controlled in this album which is good because it sounded like lead singer Mike Hranica was gonna cough up a lung every time he screamed in their previous album Plagues. Although I said they didn't change things too much it still was a new effort by TDWP, the breakdowns are new, the hooks are new and they even have one song with entirely clean vocals. TDWP used their talents well in this album and were able to mature while keeping their trademark sound and still adding new twists and spins onto their new songs. Overall, very solid, you can't say too many bad things about this one.

4. Silverstein- A Shipwreck in the Sand
Silverstein's new album is their first concept album, a story written by singer Shane Told. It starts off with a crew on a ship looking for resources in a new land but loses faith when they don't find anything and turn on each other. The story then moves to a family whose house burned down and cannot collect insurance money or move to America to start a new life. The recurring theme is of failing relationships. This album works well as a concept album but the songs stand well on their own as well. It is clear they spent lots of time on this album and Shane Told does a great job of writing each song. His vocals have come a long way over the past ten years and this album is probably his best performance yet. All the normal Silverstein elements of clean and screaming vocals are here along with other elements like spoken word and gang vocals. This album is likely their best effort yet and all around a great album and definitely Silverstein's most prized possession.

3. Thrice- Beggars
Thrice has come a long way since their post-hardcore days and have grown a lot. They aimed to make a more upbeat album with Beggars after a very slow and soft effort in The Alchemy Index. Thrice has continued to move in a more experimental album and although Dustin Kensrue does not scream like the previous albums he has lots of strength and power in his voice throughout the album especially in tracks like "The Weight" "At the Last" and "Talking Through Glass." They have progressed in their sound even from Vheissu and it shows in this album as some of the instrumentation is something they could never have done years ago. Thrice is a band of four extremely talented musicians and anything they come out with has been done well and Beggars is no exception to that rule.

2. A Day to Remember- Homesick
Almost the entire year I tried to deny it but Homesick was my second favorite album of the year. It was my most played album of the year and there really is not a weak track on the album. ADTR mixed it up a little with more clean vocals on this record than their previous one For Those Who Have Heart. This left the album less formulaic and assessable to many people which has helped sky-rocket them to become more popular than even most pop-punk bands and one of the hottest bands in the scene as they have been selling out stage after stage. I was fortunate enough to start listening to ADTR since their first album And Their Name Was Treason which is when I fell in love with them and this album only helped that love grow. The album is well produced and they did a great job of writing the songs especially since they did a lot of it on the road. ADTR will always have a spot close to my heart.

1. The Dangerous Summer- Reach for the Sun
2009 was a good year for music but also a frustrating one since just about every album on my top 15 needed a few listens before I started to like them, some I even disliked on the first listen. The Dangerous Summer, however, I fell in love with the first time through and that love only grew from there. Lead singer and bassist A.J. Perdomo has a unique but yet familiar voice that has a slight rasp to it and is very powerful and appealing. Their instrumentation and maturity is astounding for a new band and they have shown they have much more talent than most of the bands they have toured with. There is not a bad track on this album and it is put together extremely well especially for their first studio album. This album just captivates you and keeps you listening. They are already musical giants when compared to the other bands around them right now in the scene. They are still fairly unknown but most people who hear them fall in love with them and A.J.'s attractive voice. They also put on a great live show and are certainly a band to watch in 2010.

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