In keeping with festivus tradition, I will list my favorite musical releases of the passing year, say how they have disappointed me, and then crawl back into my cave.

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How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but he has to wait for the whole world to revolve around him.

Ready to shave off that ironic mustache and trade it in for bedraggled (yet calculated) faux thrift? Everything has a context; the cheap analog basement recording methods that were once a material necessity, are now just a form of status signalling. The DIY art/packaging/distribution of yesteryear, has been eclipsed by bandcamp and photoshop (which everyone can afford/steal). What was once an uncoerced form of self-expression has been reduced to reified consumerist posturing.

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The Malaysian Oi scene a bit of a paradox to your typical basic who only sees the world in ways that CNN and Hollywood allow them to. Outpacing it’s western contemporaries to transcend a foreign subculture, it has turned into something uniquely it’s own. Throwing in different guitar sounds, modulating the aggression, and putting their own local twist to the lyrical themes; it brings new life to a once stagnating genre. Because of the language barrier + their relative ineptitude at marketing themselves internationally, this music remains fairly scarce in an age of internet abundance.

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It’s been an interesting year. Many of our childhood heroes have let us down (cough, cough… Rancid) by dropping sub-par material that will ruin their nostalgia riddled live show for years to come. That being said, along with some good new bands, some older bands have come out of left field with their best music to date.

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The Bouncing Souls are like a punk rock fairytale, a high school band that stuck together for over 20 years, rising through the ranks with years of hard work. They’ve certainly progressed over time, but their core sound remains the same throughout their discography. They take influences from all over the punk spectrum, from pop-punk, through Oi!, to hardcore; they touch on all aspects of modern and classic; if any band were just ‘punk’ without any qualifiers or sub-genres it would be them.

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Long songs are dumb. If you’re in a band and contemplating making a 10 minute epic, don’t. 99.9999% of the time it will suck. While you’re jamming away in your 4 minute guitar solo, or screaming along to your 12th chorus; I can tell you that no one is really paying attention and all of the interest is synthetic.

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All the recent Black Flag activity reminds me of the schisms of medieval Christianity or the English war of roses period. There’s a lot of he-said she-said, legal threats, splits/reformations; but in the end, it’s just a bunch of old men arguing over who is the ‘real’ heir to the throne. Read More »

What an odyssey the career of Against Me! has been; from anarcho-folkpunk, through mid-western americana, to transgendered themed rock’n’roll. Ever since quitting the teenage politics of anarchism, Tom/Laura has been missing a muse or subject to his/her writing. ‘Searching for a Former Clarity’ was mostly about fan back-lash to selling out, ‘New Wave’ about the stale nature of modern music, ‘White Crosses’ was the band running out of lyrical steam. The most interesting moments on these records we’re the brief allusions to his double life as a women.

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I was watching a documentary about the drummer of Hole, Patty Schemel, titled “Hit So Hard”. It featured a lot of Courtney Love screen time. Though the movie wasn’t really about her, she wasted no time inflating her significance in the context of women in rock and roll. It’s depressing to think that she is the token go-to reference for female modern rock singers. Here is a list of better role models:

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Husker Du to me represents the bridge between 80s american hardcore punk and 90s alternative. The band began their life as a somewhat generic 80s hardcore band, but evolved into something unique, paving not only their own way but the way for Nirvana, the Pixies, Superchunk, and the Foo Fighters.

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