18. Speak by Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why
Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why have emerged as a favorite of boardwalking music enthusiasts and beyond, most recently embarking on Summertime tour of the U.S. and Europe, receiving rave reviews by all, in support of the front-man’s third full-length record since 2008, Speak, all with Jon Leidersdorf of Lakehouse Music at the helm. The 10-track collection is Mumford and company’s best work to date, a showcase of the collective’s development as songwriters, musically, lyrically, and especially thematically, stepping out of the smoke filled bedroom described on “Lifted,” (South Edgemere – 2009) and commenting on such issues as the War In Iraq in “Bring ‘Em Home,” which was written in honor of a fallen friend, and conflicts with critics close to home (“Speak My Mind”). However, topics on the rest of the record fail to exceed those levels of heaviness, as the group specializes in a brand of acoustic guitar led, beach comber Funk-Rock, which regulates the outfit to such feel good subject matter as the effect of mellow Surf-Rock grooves on the psyche (“Sounds Like Music,”), a country fried anthem of affection, (“Another Love Song”), a tale of one man’s stony exterior chipped away, featuring local legend Glen Burtnik (“Diamond In The Rough”), and a tale of two hearts in which Mumford tries to win a girls love by flaunting a full tank of gas (“Full Tank Of Gas”), a comedically fitting tune given the times we live in.
17. Goblin by Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator’s debut studio release, Goblin is teenage battle rock, written by the troubled youth of America, for its deranged adolescent contemporaries and suburban revolutionaries trapped like prisoners in their own monotonous cages they call a homes and searching for an escape. For those disgusted by this these tunes…this music is not for you. It’s for those who can relate to the feeling of being crushed by the pressure of expectations (“Goblin”), who have had suicide cross their minds (“Yonkers”), who feel alienated from friends, family, and society (“Nightmare”), who have had full-length conversations with voices in their heads (“Tron Cat”), and find solace in raging against critics, authority figures, and society (“Radicals”)…This record is important…enjoy Odd Future’s forthcoming Cartoon Network-bound show.
16. Rocket Surgery by The Lost Patrol
The fresh scent of an acidic rain coated black top, your head huddled beneath the heaviest of hazes formed via the amalgamation of oceanic foam and a cool breeze washing over the coast, unsure of where you’ll end up or what will meet you around the next bend. The uncertainty is a as comforting as the churning mist is captivating, and that’s what experiencing The Lost Patrol latest studio release, Rocket Surgery, is like. The cavernous collection of musical artistry and smoke smothered Surf-Rock numbers would suffice nicely in a late-night vampiric cabaret, no tracks more suited for such a stage than “This Road Is Long,” “Play With Fire,” and “Don’t Give Me Love” while “Dead Or Alive,” a twanged and meandering number, would have been swooped up by Robert Rodriguez to front his From Dusk ‘Til Dawn soundtrack, had it been penned prior to 1996. Luckily, the Piermont, NY-based collective will have the chance to leave its own mark on a forthcoming creature feature titled Vamps, starring Alicia Sylverstone, which is due out in 2012.
15. Led Into The Woods by The Amboys
The Amboys burst onto the Boardwalk this year in a big way earning the title of Top Rock Band at the 19th Annual Asbury Music Awards and garnering several other nominations, including a nod for Best Local Release on the back of its sophomore full-length record Led Into The Woods. The eight-track compilation of boot stomping Folk-Rock captures the raw energy spit forth by the outfit during live performances, often causing mosh pits and skank circles to erupt in a frenzy, tossing the assemblage into a raucous tail spin with tunes such as the banjo-led ballad “Ashley Meets The Wolf,” “Worrisome,” an upbeat anthem for those seeking companionship and emotional advice from Nick Lowe, and an electrified tune to close down the clubs aptly titled “Last Song Of The Night.” However, it’s “One Of Those Nights,” an ode to the longest and joyous of whiskey drenched evenings, where plot holes are plugged over eggs and toast shared with a woman whose name you don’t know. “There’s no reason to be scared in the woods” front-man C.M. Smith assures the listener, in this case he’s quite right.
Continue reading for more SIMGE favorites of 2011…
14. Going Out In Style by Dropkick Murphys
Boston’s favorite sons, the Dropkick Murphys, embarked on a musical journey 15 years ago with such values as family, friends, and home in mind, and through all the stylistic developments, lineup alterations, and reverence, the principal constant in this music has been an everpresent guiding force of community fortitude and growth, and the collective’s seventh studio release, Going Out in Style, has stayed true to that vision. The title track follows the outfit’s founding member, Ken Casey, through a jovial fantasy world in the heart of Bean Town in which Bobby Orr, Van Morrison, and Fat Mike of NOFX, as well a friends and family throw the deceased front-man a party, celebrating the beautiful life that once was, and the anthemic battle cry that is “Hang ‘Em High” will ring through the TD Garden until another conglomerate buys the place, while such tunes as “The Hardest Mile,” “Cruel,” and “Memorial Day” will boisterous Bostonians swinging their pints too and fro for years to come. However, maybe the most relevant feature to this record is the outfit’s take on the old Charles W. Harrison penned tune “Peg O My Heart” upon which Casey and Bruce Springsteen trade verses, begging the question, why hasn’t The Boss lent his gravely croon to the Punk genre in years past?
13. El Camino by The Black Keys
Some have debated whether or not The Black Keys did a rush job on its seventh full-length release, El Camino, declaring this record more like an EP than its length suggests, others going so far as to call this album a business “maneuver,” implying that Dan Auerback and Patrick Carney mean to cash in while the Blusified Garage-Rock revivalist duo is still a Grammy-worthy item. Those are conclusions better kept for the Kanyes and Jay-Zs of the world after the pair’s gaudy Watch The Throne release, however, upon diving into The Keys’ openings salvo, “Lonely Boy,” all resignations subside, with the first booming chorus, Auerback’s lush croon backed by the steady stick wielding of Carney and rattlesnake tambourine play. “Gold On The Ceiling” blazes a trail to the dance floor with a rounded guitar riff and prickly strokes of the electric ivories. The fact that The Black Keys could follow up a collection like 2010’s Brothers, a record riddled with hits, with a record as captivating as El Camino on such a short work schedule is an impressive feat in itself, even if the pair did essentially rewrite lyrics to “Stairway To Heaven,” (“Little Black Submarines”), but hey, Robert Plant stole a lot of music too, and he wasn’t nearly as tactful about it.
12. Hide Nothing by Only Living Boy
Only Living Boy’s Hide Nothing is grounded in one guiding principal: Head banging induced neck fractures are mandatory…nobody should be walking away from this collection of scorched, riff-driven, pit anthems. “Lonely Puppy Blues” masks self-deprecation in charred progressions, explosive stick wielding, and somewhat comical lyrical content discussing our protagonists eating habits and eyewear on a sunny day. The title-track features front-man Joe Cirotti disclosing affection for another, his sumptuous vocals rolling on like the reverberant echo of a thunder bolt bouncing off the Pohatcong Mountains near the Hacketstown, NJ outfit’s base of operations, while the pair of turtle doves nestled in the middle of this 10-track compilation, parts one and two of the “Demon Shuffle” couplet, introduce themselves with a haunting piece of subdued acoustic guitar-led balladry, before unleashing a three and a half minute barrel of sonic napalm churned out by a love sick soul. “When I think of you/I hear music,” expresses Cirotti in the chorus of “I Hear Music,” which is strange, because when I think of Hide Nothng, visions of severe cranial trauma come to mind…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
11. Neighborhoods by Blink-182
Skepticism plagued this record upon a first listen, as all evidence steering toward disappointment. The group split for eight years, would the resentment of yesteryear seep into the music? Would the group record more cello-led tunes about spiders and death? Would this simply be an amalgamation of +44 and Angels & Airwaves songs resurrected from the cutting room floor? The former clown princes of Pop-Punk answered with a resounding “NO!” not quite returning to the groups angst-ridden form of old, but revealing an evolution in the band’s song writing abilities, an impressive maturity developed in the outfit’s time away taken to explore the darkest depths of the cosmos, the production end of Pop-Punk universe, and world of Hip-Hop, all of these experiences coming through in Blink-182’s comeback release Neighborhoods. “I’ll never let you down boy/I’ll never let you go,” proclaims Tom Delonge in the opening salvo of the soaring bass-fronted “Ghost On The Dance Floor,” almost reassuring the fan base that what’s to come is the real deal, and keeping his word by following with the aptly titled “Natives,” a rage-tune that rekindles the flame felt on Dude Ranch. However, it’s the records single, “Up All Night,” which brings the largest grin as Delonge and Mark Hoppus trade verses on this spacious number, accented by the monstrous stick work of Travis Barker, and a huge sing along chorus bound for boardwalk destruction and Asbury beach-front glory when Blink-182 headlines The Bamboozle.
10. Such Progress by Senium
The Ocean Township-based Senium is a wrecking crew of Grunge-Rock outfit possessing a sound worthy of royalty had the group existed during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in the Northwestern United States, coninciding with the birth and explosion of Sub Pop Records. The group’s debut, Such Progress, recorded in Chicago at Electrical Audio with the legendary Steve Albini, a man who made his bones in the aforementioned musical era, at the helm stands up to and surpasses the first efforts of such grime caked gods as Tad, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and even Nirvana, the band with which Senium shares the most resemblance. With Albini and Bob Weston’s assistance, Senium has managed to create a collection spanning a most jagged and cauterized terrain of experimental Noise-Rock (“Self Interest”), sludgy rage-tunes (“In Depth,” “Anything You Say”), and metal-coated Punk songs (“Anything You Say,” “Certain Leisures”). However, it’s the record’s Pop-laden underbelly, layered with melodious verses and scream-along refrains (“Formality,” “Anything You Say,” “Drone”) that make this practice in scorched earth construction so alluring, none more captivating that than the album’s cornerstone, “Original Source.” I can’t wait for the follow up.