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Sam Hutcheson
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We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm the hero.
We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm the hero.

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10. Harmless - Amanda Shires
11. Old Friends - Pine Grove

12. Holy Ghost - Modern Baseball
13. Wedding Singer - Modern Baseball

14. Narcoleptic - White Lung
15. Drift - Strange Relations

16. Solid Wall of Sound - A Tribe Called Quest (unavailalbe on YouTube, alas)

17. I Was Raised With a Different Kind of Loyalty, You Know What I Mean? I Voted No.

18. Virtue At Rest - John K. Samson
19. Monument - Bob Mould

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1. No Star - Greys
2. Going Out Swingin' - The So So Glos
3. Stranded - Gojira
4. My Life Is Over and I Couldn't Be Happier - PUP
5. Honesty Hour - Show Me The Body
6. Metallic Taste - Show Me The Body
7. The Curse of Hypervigilance (In Politics, Romance, and Cohabitation) - Open Mike Eagle & Paul White
8. Water Tower - Aesop Rock
9. The Limits of Battleships - Future of the Left

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45 Songs in [mumble mumble mumble] Days, 2015: #5
"Title Track (There Is A Light)" by The Hotelier*

Coming back to this listicle silliness, next up we have another "not really a 2015 release but shut the hell up and listen you pretentious prick" offering. I stumbled on The Hotelier's 2014 release very late last year. Your embrace of this band's sound and style will depend heavily on how much emo you can stand in your pop punk. They're a band of youngish guys singing about love, pain and heartbreak (girls, friends killing themselves, etc) with overly literate lyrics and nods to The Smiths. All layered over crunchy post-punk guitar sounds. So yeah; emo. It happened. It didn't go away. Much like every other genre and sub-genre, if you dig deep enough in there you'll find something worth listening too.

Except crunk. I just do not get crunk. There's nothing good in crunk, man.

2014's Home, Like Noplace Is There sort of broke the band nationally, which led their label** to re-release their 2011 debut It Never Goes Out. Both albums have been steady play options in the shuffle pile for me this year. And because the best music of the year is the music that moves you that year, not necessarily music with a release date with the current four YYYY digits, here they are now.

This is the closing track of the 2011 debut, It Never Goes Out, called "Title Track (There Is A Light.)" No one said the Smiths call backs were subtle, chief.

* The band's name is The Hotelier, not The Hotel Year. Either they changed it or their original 2011 label got it wrong on the release (which would be a good reason to switch labels.)

** Currently they release on Tiny Engines, which is quite possibly the best indie label working today. Just an amazing stable of artists and a run of fantastic releases to rival prime Matador or Merge outputs from the days of yore.


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45 Songs in [mumble mumble mumble] Days, 2015: #4
"December Is The Longest Month" by Chumped

Let us talk for a minute about pop punk. Punk-pop. Power punk. Whatever. That thing that Superchunk did near perfectly. That thing that Green Day did pretty well. That thing that Blink-182 did. It's a beautiful thing, pop punk. When done right, it is quite possibly my most favorite music thing. It's just so, so tasty good!

Now granted, when done wrong, it's shit. Like, Saves The Day and Fall Out Boy bad. Super terrible emo boy bad. But when it's done right? Oh man, when it's done right...

Chumped does it right. Chumped does it damned near perfectly. Like, I'm thinking their debut, Teenage Retirement, is at least as good as Superchunk's self-titled debut. Better, actually. It's really more like prime mid-90s Superchunk good. Like, Foolish good. Chumped does it that good.

Seriously, son. I don't levy glowing comparisons to my super favorite band of all time at the drop of a hat, right? You gotta do something noticable to get me to say you remind me in a good way of Superchunk. Chumped reminds me in a good way of Superchunk.

Teenage Retirement was released in November of 2014, following on the heels of a couple of high quality EPs. It's lead track, "December Is The Longest Month," kicks off with a couple measures fuzzed out guitar intro and feedback before dropping into a fretboard slide. A few plucked notes before Anika Pyle's vocals slip in. I challenge anyone to listen to that 30 seconds and not think of Foolish and Strings era Superchunk. Four minutes later we move into the album's "single", "Hot 97 Summer Jam" and the brilliance starts all over again.

There is not a bad track on this album. There is not a misstep on this album. This album is perfect. This album makes me reconsider my general lack of faith in the kids today. This album makes me wonder if the humanity has a future that doesn't deserve to burn to ash in an ever expanding sun. This album is my happy place.

So of course Chumped went on "indefinite hiatus" in October while Kyle runs off to pursue the dreaded "other interests." Fuck you world. Fuck you and your fucking fuck, world. Fucker.

The video link is to one of those full album playlists the kids are doing on the YouTubes these days. Fucking kids and their fucking YouTubes. It opens with "December." Obviously.


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45 Songs in [mumble mumble mumble] Days, 2015: #3
"Dimed Out," by Titus Andronicus

Give Pat Stickles credit, man. The man isn't afraid of a stretch goal. Coming off of 2010's The Monitor and 2012's equally shambolic Local Business, the instinct might have been to tamp down some of the rambling pretense that has defined Titus Andronicus' career to date. But be honest; do you really think a post-punk outfit named after Shakespeare's most notoriously horrific and difficult tragedy is going to rein it in?

The Monitor was an hour-plus long double-disc rock opera about romance, moving away from home to go to college, and general dysphoria, built around the rather over the top metaphor of the American Civil War. It was bold, brilliant, and utterly unapologetic for its own hubris. TA tamped it down a little with the 2012 follow up, shaving 15 minutes off of the run time and generally avoiding concept conceits or over-arching metaphors. I guess they were saving up their energies.

The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a double down on black. It's a triple dog dare right back at your face. It is a 90+ minute, three disc set concept piece broken into five "Acts". The conceit this time is Stickle's (manic?) depression and general anxieties. It is a behemoth of an album, and not for the faint of heart to attempt. That said, if you give it a go, you should find something worthwhile somewhere in its gurgling under-belly.

I'm not sure it's possible to release an hour and a half of new material at one go and not have some of it be lacking. Or, at least, not have some of it fail to hit with every audience member, all the time. Lamentable Tragedy is just too big to not have a few moments where even the biggest of fans think "really, Pat?" That said, I have the album firmly entrenched in my #3 slot for the year. Existing fans will love getting lost in the swirling anarchy of Titus being Titus, all over again. New fans..?

Well, maybe start with the lead single from the collection, "Dimed Out." That'll give you a starting point that solidly identifies what Titus does, what their sound generally is, and how you might approach finding a way into the swirling mess that is Pat Stickles' creative process.

I'm comfortable saying this one is not as good as The Monitor. But then again, I have that album as the single most vital and necessary release of the decade. So whatever the opposite of "damning with faint praise" might be, don't let that throw you off of this one. So yeah. Start with "Dimed Out" and go from there.

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