Top 10 Songs of Spring

Forget the Saharan sand and the air pollution, spring is here! It’s like summer’s support act – not quite the big deal, but not bad all the same. Most of the time, anyway. So, my music taste tends to change with the season; my horrorpunk has (for the most part) been set aside for darker times, and I’m ready to approach something fresher. Here’s a bunch of songs that are the perfect lead-in to happy spring days.

10) Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
I haven’t been able to stop listening to this record since January, but the eponymous track on Against Me!’s storming sixth album is the most fantastic wake-up call. Laura Jane Grace has got some heavy shit to tell us, and she’s going to do it in style.

9) Asian Kung-Fu Generation – Rewrite
This was the opening track to a season of FullMetal Alchemist, which I totally burned through during an Easter holiday back in high school. But it’s easy to see why songs like these get chosen to lead in a story that’s as much about adventuring as it is about kicking demonic ass – because they’re really, really catchy.

8) Blink 182 – Aliens Exist
Enema of the State. What an album. Blink 182 usually makes it onto my summer playlists rather than my spring, but ‘Aliens Exist’ has just a touch of desolate paranoia that I can’t help but adore. Also, the Tom, Mark and Travis Show version is beyond perfect.

7) Eisley – Drink The Water
It’s impossible to listen to an Eisley album without falling into some state of perfect bliss. Every track is beautiful, and ‘Drink The Water’ from Currents is no exception. All of their songs are like fairy tales, and if you’ve never tuned in before, go right ahead and be amazed.

6) Fall Out Boy – Just One Yesterday
Save Rock And Roll is full of great vocal lines, but this song takes the chocolate-smothered cake with cherry on top. The guest vocals from Foxes are just sublime. Roll down the windows and belt it out down country roads for maximum effect.

5) Fidlar – West Coast
Surf-punk is one of my favourite things in existence, and by extension, Fidlar are pretty high up on that list. ‘West Coast’ is a massive song, totally singable and Henry Rollins makes a cheeky appearance in the video for no apparent reason.

4) Kevin Devine – Just Stay
Possibly my favourite Kevin Devine song, ‘Just Stay’ is a beautiful mix of country sensibilities and second-wave emo feelings. Simultaneously uplifting and crushing, just like spring tends to be with sunshine and showers.

3) Northstar – Like AM Radio
Who doesn’t love a bit of 2004 emo from Alabama that sounds like it should have come out of Long Island? I don’t know anyone, that’s for sure. Pollyanna is still a great record, and ‘Like AM Radio’ is its crowning jewel.

2) Allison Weiss – One Way Love
Allison Weiss is 100% adorable, 100% awesome and one hell of a talented songwriter. And I think that’s all I need to say: listen to the track and discover for yourself.

1) Andrew McMahon – Synesthesia
Andrew’s solo tour last year was incredible, and so was The Pop Underground, his first solo EP. Jack’s Mannequin doesn’t really count. If you like soft synths, sweet piano and Andrew’s dulcet tones (who doesn’t?), then this record is a must.

Ten Hardcore Bands That Do Actually Get It

I posted an article last week about misogyny in hardcore and just the general lack of respect for fellow human beings that’s running rampant throughout the scene at the moment. There’s certainly a lot of that going on. In honesty, my piece refers mostly to the mainstream – the branch of particularly popular hardcore bands that are dominating the magazines and the social networks at the moment. There’s a lot of bands out there that aren’t subscribing to this at all, that are striving for a community again, that are promoting a very healthy attitude at shows and through their music. Loosely based around the hardcore genre, but with a smattering of punk and metalcore, this is just ten of those bands promoting a better future for the scene. There’s a few more mainstream and a few more underground acts here, and these are the people we should be throwing our weight behind.

1) Finish Him!
Our favourite Coventry partycore lot know what’s going down. A Finish Him! show is always a ridiculously fun experience for everyone – everyone gets involved, everyone keeps each other safe. You’re far more likely to end the set in a massive group hug than with a punch in the face (although that’s mostly just to keep yourself standing after some intense moshing!). And many of their song names are references to classic kid’s shows and video games, which is always a bonus.

2) We Came As Romans
Everyone’s new favourite synthy metalcore band, they don’t have a bad word to say about anyone. Their albums are all about positivity, and their recent slot on the Take Action tour in support of the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign couldn’t paint them as any more angelic. If you’re ever feeling down, listen to Understanding What We Came To Be and you’ll instantly feel better about life.

3) Parkway Drive
Okay, ‘Romance Is Dead’ might be about wanting to choke the life out of a former loved one, but we can all say we’ve had those moments at one point or another. Otherwise, Parkway Drive take their anger out on more noble causes, such as our rampant destruction of the Earth. Atlas is all about the potential demise of our planet if we don’t buck up our ideas. Parkway are also massive fans of the circlepit, but only if you treat each other with respect. And we will, Winston and co, we will.

4) iwrestledabearonce
Ever been to an IWABO show? You’re doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t. Me and Kate threw many a pencil sharpener and a few egg and spoons the last time we were in the general vicinity. It’s also super rad to see such an incredible female vocalist in play in both cases – Krysta’s screams were utterly sublime and I figured there’d never be anyone who could replace her, but Courtney has done pretty admirably, bringing just as much flair and insanity to their live presence as Krysta did. It’s pretty hard to make out exactly what they’re saying though sometimes, so pick up a lyrics booklet and appreciate.

5) The Smoking Hearts
Victory! is a great record. It’s a real snapshot of life in the 2010s, but without subscribing to the bullshit. There’s plenty of stuff in there about standing up tall and rising above, but THS aren’t afraid to party on down with the rabble either. Sick guitar solos aside, THS bring it in every way possible in a live format, but while being perfectly pleasant to everyone around them. Top lads.

6) Sick Of It All
Have you ever listened to a Sick Of It All album and thought ‘well, I can see where they’re coming from but I just can’t identify with this in any way, shape or form’? I thought not.

Skatepunk enthusiasts DARKO blend the Duracell bunny energy of that 90s sound with technical hardcore for an unbeatable thrill ride. From Trust To Conformity has a lot of anger and frustration in it, but it’s pointed in all the right directions, and a lot more poetic than you might first think. Get listening, get excited.

8) Attack! Vipers!
I literally can’t express my love for Attack! Vipers! enough. Completely standup guys with an explosive live show (high risk of human pyramids included) and stupidly talented musicians to boot. Feeling bad about popular hardcore and its shitty attitude? Have a scroll through the Attack! Vipers! Tumblr page and you’ll see posts speaking out against discrimination and injustice, in the scene and wider. Great stuff.

9) Empire
Shedding Skin is a slice of crashing, beautiful melodic hardcore. The desolate landscapes that it describes and the feelings of discontent and fear are ones that are applicable to all of us. Back in the early 2000s, most of the bands doing this kind of thing were writing songs crying about how girls had wronged them. Empire take a far different approach and we love them for it.

10) Not Right
Definitely more punk than hardcore, but it’d feel wrong to write a piece about solidarity and community without including Not Right. Queer riot grrl noise with a focus on trans issues, general activism and, in their own words, “the politic of people before profit”. And well, they definitely play loud and fast enough to fit in on this list.

Best albums of 2009, best albums of the decade

As we reach the end of the decade, there is really only one question to ask – which were the best albums of the noughties? Truthfully, I’m far too lazy to fulfil that request. There have been some absolutely spectacular records and to ask me to choose would just be too much. However, choose I shall try. In order to make this a little easier on myself, I’m going to name my top five albums of this year first, and then move onto the top five of the decade. Disagree with my choices? Email me at with yours and I’ll put them all up for consideration!

Top 5 albums of 2009
There were some difficult choices to make this year. Firstly, I bought hardly anything that was actually released this year, and secondly, everything I did buy was pretty damn amazing. What can I say, I have discerning tastes! Anyway, if you haven’t picked up these releases, I highly recommend you do.

5) Chuck Ragan – Gold Country
Gold Country is Chuck’s foray into solo territory, and there really is only one word to describe this album – beautiful. It’s an absolutely incredible alt-country effort, featuring some of the most incredible melodies I’ve ever heard, all tied together with Chuck’s incredibly gruff voice at the centre. It also works fantastically live, and having seen Chuck at Reading Festival this year, all fears I had of it not being quite as good as Hot Water Music were removed. Plus, y’know, Tim McIllrath appeared and that makes everything doubly awesome anyway.

Recommended songs: Glory, Rotterdam, Don’t Say A Word

4) Kevin Devine – Brother’s Blood
I’m a pretty big KD fan as it is, but when I got my hands on Brother’s Blood, I was blown away. It’s got everything his albums have had before – pretty songs, angry songs, melancholy songs, optimistic songs – but the way that they’re presented on Brother’s Blood is entirely different and better, and it’s incredibly varied. First single, Another Bag Of Bones is dark, disturbing and hits you hard, whereas Fever Moon is a slow, almost drunken seduction, and I Could Be With Anyone is in grand old KD tradition – totally upbeat but lyrically devastating. If you listen to Brand New and you’ve never heard of this guy, make sure you change things. Not only because you’ll probably like him, but because he tours with them pretty much every year.

Recommended songs: Fever Moon, Yr Husband, All Of Everything Erased

3) Say Anything – Say Anything
Say Anything’s fourth effort (I am totally counting Baseball) is just… awesome. To be honest, while I liked In Defence of the Genre, I didn’t think it really lived up to what it could have been. Too many songs, too many guest stars, and it just didn’t work as well for me. This, however, brings SA back to top form. It’s not another …Is A Real Boy, it’s completely new and fresh, and yet still sounds familiar enough to add to its charm. Musically, it’s more experimental, as Bemis plays around with horns and strings, and lyrically, it’s utterly adorable. It’s a love story from start to finish, almost, and it’s sweet. And clever.

Recommended songs: Do Better, Eloise, Death For My Birthday

2) AFI – Crash Love
What?! I’m reviewing top albums and AFI aren’t on top?! Might be a bit of a shock, but to tell the truth, it just wasn’t the best album of the year. Of course, it was still pretty damn good. AFI have changed over the years, it’s true, and as a result, everything sounds fragmented as a result of them trying to find the right style. On Crash Love, they’ve found it. Admittedly, it’s incredibly 80s, but that’s okay, because it sounds great. All that experimenting has paid off. Davey is as melodramatic as ever, Jade’s guitar’s got even more pretentious and Hunter and Adam are still solid, so it’s all good. I also happen to like songs about death and breakups, so this is the album for me.

Recommended songs: End Transmission, Darling I Want To Destroy You, Too Shy To Scream

1) Frank Turner – Poetry Of The Deed
Well, what can I say? Since finding out about Frank in February, he has slowly been creeping up my Last.FM chart to take over some of my previous favourites, and with good reason – the man’s a genius. Poetry Of The Deed is testament to this statement, because there are barely words to describe it. It’s smart, it’s beautiful, it’s snarky, it’s dark, it’s happy – it’s fucking good music, to put it simply. It’s another album full of anthems, and it’s absolutely impossible to avoid his charm – all my friends fell in love with him on first listen. There is absolutely no bad part of Poetry Of The Deed. If you haven’t listened to it yet, may I recommend that this should be top of your Christmas list this year.

Recommended songs: Try This At Home, Richard Devine, The Road

Okay, so we’ve had my favourite albums of this year. However, there’s been a whole decade of incredible music! Attempting to narrow this down into five albums will be excessively difficult. However, I can but try. Here are my top five albums of the decade… however difficult and ridiculous this may be.

5) Midtown – Forget What You Know
Midtown’s final and best album, by far. This is the Gabe Saporta I idolised, not the sleazebag discowhore that he is today. FWYK is some serious stuff. It’s all heartbreak and politics and lyrics that grab you by the throat and make you pay attention. It’s inspirational, and hell, it sounds it. The thirteen minute epic at the end, So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb, is potentially one of the most caustic and similarily, most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Midtown are definitely one of my favourite hidden gems and I curse the day they went on hiatus, because this needs to be heard and never forgotten.

Recommended songs: Empty Like The Ocean, Waiting For The News, Whole New World

4) Millencolin – Pennybridge Pioneers
I love Millencolin, as you may well know. This is the album that shot them to fame, with that incredible opener featured on THPS2, No Cigar. Whilst No Cigar is an absolutely amazing song, there is so much more on here to be enamoured with. Pennybridge bounces along, filled with enough pop-punk jollies to make you lose a few pounds jumping around with it. It’s the ultimate feel-good album and it’s fantastic. And who else can get away with comparing a car to a girlfriend? Best experienced loudly and obnoxiously.

Recommended tracks: Fox, No Cigar, The Ballad

3) The Lonely Island – Incredibad
Of all the albums I could have chosen… just hear me out, okay? Out of all the white boy rap albums out there, this one is actually good. And why? Because it isn’t trying to be. The brainchild of the comedy troupe of the same name, featuring SNL regular Andy Samberg, this album touches on such topics as impregnating aliens, being on a boat and making everyone dance/shag by slamming a boombox down. It’s so ridiculous that it’s fantastic. And surprisingly, the beats work so well. It also has the best guest stars I’ve ever heard on an album, including Julian Casablanca, Jack Black and Natalie Portman. You heard me.

Recommended tracks: I’m On A Boat, Punch You In The Jeans, Incredibad

2) Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy
Against Me!’s 2001 effort is definitely one of my favourite albums of all time, let alone this decade. Reinventing Axl Rose was great enough, but ATEC just took it to a new level. It’s not as raw, but still as poignant, still as hard hitting, still as entertaining. Gabel’s voice gets less shouty, more powerful and it totally works, and I can’t deny singing along loudly (and badly) to Sink.Florida.Sink at every opportunity I get, which generally means it’s a pretty amazing song. If there is an album for the summer, it is this – Floridians know how to do it best, after all.

Recommended songs: Sink.Florida.Sink, You Look Like I Need A Drink, Cavalier Eternal

1) AFI – The Art Of Drowning
This album is the album that founded my love of music, not just my love of AFI. It’s actually really difficult to say why, because I just love it, with no real explanation, but try I shall. This is the album where AFI were at their best – still punk, but with a bit more of an edge than they’d ever had before, due to utilising Jade correctly. Lyrically, it’s fantasy, pure and simple – Davey’s metaphors got out of hand and it was glorious. There’s something wonderfully passionate about this album which AFI’s albums have been lacking ever since, and the end of an era. I really can’t give this album enough praise. Without this album, I would not be the same person I am today.

Recommended tracks: Wester, Morningstar, The Nephilim… hell, all of it.

Top 10 Bands I Would Use Time Travel To See

It happens. Bands break up, go on ‘hiatus’ (which is code for breaking up), lose your favourite member or they were finished before we were even born. All of this means that we can miss out on some absolutely amazing shows. Perhaps, someday, we’ll find a way of getting back to see those bands, via the wonderful medium of time travel! So, here’s a top ten list of bands who I desperately want to travel back in time to see.

10) The Get Up Kids

Yeah, I know they’ve reformed, but it’s just not the same! The Get Up Kids were one of the greatest emo bands around and their shows were meant to be amazing. Not to mention, it would just be so cool to say you’ve seen TGUK at their prime. So, although it’s quite possible that I could see them play again now, I’d much rather travel back in time to catch them at their best.

9) Midtown

It’s a little sad that I’ve seen two members of this band performing with separate acts, but I’ve never actually seen Midtown play. Unfortunately, the band went on ‘hiatus’ and haven’t done anything since, deciding to play with somewhat more mediocre bands instead. I’ve always thought that Midtown would be best when they’re live, so I’d definitely travel back to the ‘Forget What You Know’ era to catch one of their shows.

8) Saosin (with Anthony Green)

Even though I love Circa Survive and Anthony’s solo album, it’s just not the same as when he was performing with Saosin. From footage I’ve seen online, both Saosin in their recent incarnation and Circa Survive are incredible live bands, so the original combination would be even better.

7) Taking Back Sunday (with John Nolan)

No matter how much I loved Fred, I feel that Taking Back Sunday has never been complete since John left. I want to see Adam swinging from the rafters singing songs about teenage heartbreak again! TBS had this real frenetic energy back in the day and while that remains to some extent today, they were more raw and more exciting during the first album. I would definitely go back for that.

6) Blink-182

Despite a couple of opportunities, I never got to see Blink-182 when they were together. I watched The Urethra Chronicles over and over, I played The Mark, Tom and Travis Show at least 30 times, and this is a band I miss, and I seriously regret not seeing them. To see Blink-182 is one of the things that you just had to do, and I never did.

5) Elliott Smith

It’s been over five years since Elliott died and his music has made more of an impact on me than almost every other musician I listen to. To see Elliott Smith live would be one of the greatest experiences ever. There’s something wonderful about quiet, acoustic sets, and if I had the choice, that’s when I would go back to.

4) Against Me!

Essentially, I would travel back in time to the 31st October 2007 when I saw Against Me! For the first time. That was potentially the greatest show I have ever seen and I want to see it all over again.

3) AFI (before Sing The Sorrow)

AFI are a really, really incredible live band. But, they only ever play songs from their latest two albums, which sucks. Therefore, I would go back and see them during The Art Of Drowning era, which was arguably their best, and see them do all my favourite songs.

2) Black Flag (with Henry Rollins)

It has to be done. I was watching a recording of a show they’d done in London just after Slip It In was released and I was blown away. Rollins has so much energy and charisma. Is it too far to say I’d sell my soul to travel back in time to that show? Maybe, but that was possibly the first time I’ve ever thought that I’d rather have been born in the 1970s.

1) The Misfits (with Glenn Danzig)

Not exactly a surprise coming from me, so my number one band to travel back in time to see would be the Misfits. I know the Misfits are still touring in their latest incarnation, but I don’t even classify that as a band… more like Jerry Only trying to milk as much money out of the franchise as possible. But the Misfits with Danzig would be absolutely incredible. Danzig is definitely the greatest frontman ever, and if Evilive is anything to go by, a Misfits show is essential for any punk fan.

Top 10 Songs Of Summer

Ah, summer… the most glorious of seasons. Well, if I’m being honest, I’m an autumn gal, but summer does provide lots of excellent opportunities – sun, sea and gigs by the plenty. Some of the best songs are inspired by those golden rays, and here’s our choice for the top 10 songs of summer.

NB: for a couple of links, I had to use the site FBRplus because Fueled By Ramen aren’t allowed to host music videos on Youtube any more and all the home made vids sucked. I apologise for the myriads of shit you’ll have to wade through until you reach the songs I mentioned.

10) Something Corporate – Punk Rock Princess
I don’t know what it is about Something Corporate that always makes me think of summer. Maybe it’s because I played this song over and over a few summers ago. Maybe it’s because SoCo are from California. Maybe it was Andrew McMahon’s wavy blonde locks in the video. Anyway, it’s pop-punk with shiny sparkly piano and that makes me happy.

9) The Academy Is… – Slow Down
I promise, the whole list isn’t going to be nice, mellow pop-punk, but this song just screams summer. It’s the perfect blend of Beckett’s beautiful vocals, jangly guitars and an epic chorus. Perfect for playing on the porch when the sun starts to go down.

8) Gym Class Heroes feat William Beckett – 7 Weeks
Travis McCoy’s tale of being on the Warped Tour with good pal William Beckett (he can be twice on the list because he has summer hair. Don’t ask me what that is, it’s hard to explain) is perfect for chilling out with. Plus I really like the guitar in this.

7) Skee-Lo – I Wish
Does this really need any explanation? This is a classic summer tune. Enough said.

6) Motion City Soundtrack – Boombox Generation
The synth in this song is particularly fun, and fun makes me think summer. Take it from me, there is nothing better than putting some MCS on and bouncing down the street when nobody’s looking. It’s great iPod material, so get it on there and dance like in the adverts!

5) Less Than Jake – Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin
What kind of a person would I be if I didn’t put some ska on a summer playlist? To be honest, there are plenty of LTJ songs I could have chosen, but this one has a ton of energy, lots of horns, and is one of the best songs ever. Ever.

4) Say Anything – Got Your Money
This is on here for booty shaking purposes. No more, no less.

3) The World/Inferno Friendship Society – The Velocity of Love
This song has a real Parisian feel to it. Is it the accordians? The bohemian sentiments? Jack Terricloth’s alluring voice? It’s all three, if I’m being honest. If you haven’t already, fall in love with this band this summer. You won’t regret it.

2) Millencolin – Punk Rock Rebel
This has one of the catchiest opening riffs I’ve ever encountered. Not to mention that it’s all about a skateboarding hero of the band’s, which is the sport of choice when it comes to summer (Wimbledon doesn’t count, it’s not punk enough). Millencolin are one of my favourite bands to listen to in the summer because they’re really upbeat and a lot of fun.

1) Blink 182 – Reckless Abandon
Blink 182 ARE my summer band. Since the summer of ’03, I’ve not had a single summer where I haven’t been sat around with my friends with some Blink 182 blaring out of some awful CD/MP3 speakers and why? Because Blink 182 sing about being stupid teenagers, and that’s what summer’s all about.