[myPod is an attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]
Conor Oberst put out two albums in 2002: Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Listen to the Ground under the moniker Bright Eyes, and Read Music/Speak Spanish by Desaparecidos. The ’cidos were a punk band who hated the shit out of America, gloriously so. Read Music remains their only release, but it’s a good one: Ten tracks of bile and white guilt. Along with Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and The People’s Key, Read Music creates a sort of unofficial electronic trilogy for Oberst.
Surf-punk hardcore that’s profoundly important to pop-punk, along with The Ramones, Green Day, and maybe Screeching Weasel. I’m not that hugest Descendents fan – their ’80s “classic period” is homophobic – but I do enjoy Milo Goes to College and Everything Sucks. It’s danceable and angry, so you know I’m down.
Oh man. Devils Brigade began as a psychobilly side project for Rancid’s Matt Freeman. They released a couple of seven-inches in the early aughts and then sort of faded away. Then in 2010, for whatever reason, Freeman and fellow Rancid/Operation Ivy member Tim Armstrong decided to bring DB back, with X drummer DJ Bonebrake on the kit [Side note: Bonebrake and Freeman also played together in Auntie Christ]. The self-titled debut was more of a rockabilly record, partially because it collected songs from a failed musical about prospectors or some shit. Devils Brigade is cheesy as heck in spots, but it’s Freeman. I love that dude even if he does sing like Cookie Monster.
A little bit of Devo goes a long way for me. I’ve got Q: Are We Not Men and Freedom of Choice, the band’s first and third albums, and I honestly think that’s enough for me. I’ve got all of my favorite spastic, sarcastic post-punk tunes (“Girl U Want,” “Gates of Steel,” “Jocko Homo,” and that space funk take on The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”).
SWEEEEET CARRRROOOOLLIIIINE! BA BA BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
I have a greatest hits package from Neil Diamond, and it’s unabashedly schmaltzy pop music of the catchiest caliber. Like Devo, a little bit of Diamond goes a long way, but c’mon. This guy writes big fat show tunes. RESPEK.
I’m such a sucker for anything tangentially related to Rancid that I even got behind Los Difuntos simply because Matt Freeman sang a duet with them on their best song, “Lucy.” That’s not entirely true – the group plays quality psychobilly – but I realized I haven’t really listened to their music much since I reviewed them back in 2009. Sorry dudes.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
People who prefer Weezer post-Matt Sharp are not true Weezer fans. But I prefer what Dillinger Escape Plan has done post-Calculating Infinity over Infinity. Does that mean I’m not a true DEP fan? In truth, I’ve never heard the record all the way through, even though it’s what established DEP as a premier technical hardcore act – and set them up for fan backlash with each new release. But I have enjoyed the group’s run with newer singer Greg Puciato. Miss Machine and Option Paralysis blend hardcore, metal, alt-rock, and even techno into a fine stew. My favorite record remains my entryway into the band’s discography, 2007’s Ire Works. It’s all over the place stylistically, which is exactly why I gravitate towards it. It’s just a really weird album.
D4 is a cornerstone of what people on the Internets call orgcore, along with Hot Water Music and The Lawrence Arms. I’m not as obsessed with them as other people seem to be, but each of their records is agreeably catchy and moving. Having grown up after D4’s heyday, maybe I’ve been spoiled by their influence – everybody writes gravelly drinking songs these days. Still, I’m all about albums like Versus God and Situatinist Comedy, and the older I get, the better the records sound. This is my kind of punk.
When it comes to metal, I prefer raw and sludgy. But when I get the hankering for fantasy power metal, I look no further than Ronnie James Dio. I’ve already written about his greatness with Black Sabbath at length, but Dio’s greatness doesn’t end there. After he parted ways with Sabbath, Dio went on to form… Dio. The group essentially picks up where Mob Rules left off (and even takes on Mob drummer Vinny Appice). The lyrics are pure fantasy cheese, but the hooks and instrumentation are huge. Dio continuously, unapologetically went huge, as songs like “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Holy Diver” prove. Don’t even act like you don’t love the shit out of those songs.
20 Years of Dischord
For a while in college, I got extreme glee from exploring the wide array of albums released by Dischord, the de facto chronicler of D.C. punk from the ’80s and ’90s. While the label’s output has slowed down in the last decade, I tore through records by Fugazi, Jawbox, and Nation of Ulysses with pleasure. Dischord bands had a few things in common, like grit, dissonance, and mood (Well, aside from Government Issue anyway). 20 Years of Dischord features three discs of music plus a book. The discs are each themed (’80s hardcore, ’90s post-hardcore, and rarities). The ’80s material blurs together after a while, although I do enjoy Teen Idles, Ian MacKaye’s band before Minor Threat. The second disc kills, though. Listening to it reminded me how many more bands I need to check out, like Dag Nasty, Slant 6, and The Make-Up. The rarities disc is a nice addition, and the book is essential listening for punk fans. Dischord has a certain purity to it, as the label has made few artistic concessions, if any. It’s essentially a punk rock Calvin & Hobbes.
Unlike peers like Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate, and The Promise Ring (among others), Discount gets lost in the discussion about ’90s emo. The group’s influence has never been as pronounced by critics, and most of their discography is out of print, aside from Love, Billy, an EP of Billy Bragg covers on Fueled by Ramen. Now, they’re a footnote in the history of Allison Mosshart pre-Kills/Dead Weather. Which is a shame, since Discount was a really, really good pop-punk band with a knack for capturing the beauty and terror behind relationships.
If I had to be overly critical, I would say the band has two essential releases: Ataxia’s Alright Tonight and Half Fiction. Both are thrilling thirty-minute stabs of Florida punk. Swansong Crash Diagnostic is pretty good too, but it sounds like a different band, one shifting towards a Fugazi/Sleater-Kinney/early Pretty Girls Make Graves vibe. The choruses are a little less poppy, although tunes like “Hit” and “Broken to Blue” still showcase the old sound. Love, Billy is good but short. The group signed off with a duo of singles collections that are pretty solid. Ultimately, Discount reminds me that I’ll always be pop-punk at heart.
The Dismemberment Plan
Generally speaking, I like The Dismemberment Plan. They wrote four records of catchy, spazzy post-punk. They make me want to dance awkwardly. But my enthusiasm took a weird hit when I heard “OK, Jokes Over” on !. It’s a pretty angry song about infidelity that gives me the heebie jeebies. Other than that, yeah, fun times a-hoy.
Does It Offend You, Yeah?
There are essentially two kinds of reviews I write: One set is about albums I actually care about. The other is about albums that I don’t care about but have to form an opinion on regardless. Does It Offend You, Yeah? falls into the latter category. I reviewed the band’s debut for Define the Meaning, gave it a begrudging endorsement since it accomplished its goal for being frustratingly repetitive, bombastic dance music that ran the gamut of Bloc Party to Mindless Self Indulgence, and then forgot I even owned the record. Years later, this one can go.