Taking Back Sunday - Louder Now
Released: April 25, 2006
Warner Bros Records
Many will argue that this is Taking Back Sunday’s best effort. I can’t say I’m one of those people, however, Louder Now contains some of the most important and powerful tracks that really helped take this band to the next level. For me, it lacks the consistency of WYWTB, but I think it truly displayed their growth and maturity at the time. Each song is so finely crafted but the album as a whole packs such a huge punch. When I was a Senior in high school, me and a few friends went to this tiny, hole-in-the-wall record store to pick up this CD on the day it came out. How many more years until people don’t know what that’s like?
More from Taking Back Sunday:
Further Seems Forever - The Moon Is Down
Released: March 27, 2001
Tooth & Nail Records
After their recent new album announcement, I decided to travel way back in time and revisit an album that came out over a decade ago. I was thirteen and just beginning to discover this scene. Back when “emo” was just a genre; not a derogatory term. Had already been introduced to Dashboard Confessional and wanted to see what Chris Carrabba’s band was all about. His earnest voice soars over gritty, intricate guitar riffs, and each chorus hits with a wave of catharsis that leaves you eagerly awaiting the next. It’s a heartfelt album backed with passion and a sense of inspiration that a lot of today’s music lacks. I feel like I respect this album more for what it is now than I did back then. Penny Black is going to be a phenomenal record, but I want to always remember where it started. I run this blog to keep albums like this alive.
Senses Fail - Let It Enfold You
Released: September 7, 2004
Probably one of the first “scene” bands I ever got into. It’s almost been a decade, so I can’t recall exactly how I discovered ‘em. I do recall how I found out about this album though. Hanging out at a friend’s ranch one Friday night, sitting around a campfire, someone puts Let It Enfold You on in their car and cranks it up. I remember hearing “NJ Falls Into The Atlantic” for the first time and thinking, why don’t I own this album yet? It was such a step up from their From The Depths Of Dreams EP. The perfect escape from angsty teenage life in the mid-2000s. So many killer songs that you can’t help but call it a classic.
Valencia - This Could Be A Possibility
Released: October 25, 2005
I Surrender Records
“There’s something strange going on in my head…”, Shane Henderson sings out as the opening track kicks off the band’s superb debut. This Could Be A Possibility is packed with well-crafted, earnest songs about love, life, and growing up. Infectious hooks paired with soaring choruses make you remember why you fell in love with pop punk in the first place. A perfect balance of originality and diversity; it’s like every track feeds your brain a different emotion. After my first listen seven years ago, I knew that these guys were going to establish themselves as one of the respected bands out there. Though they never quite hit that “big time” status, they showed us what it means to persevere.
The Spill Canvas - One Fell Swoop
Released: August 9, 2005
One Eleven Records
Rarely do I refer to an album as a masterpiece, but I always have and always will refer to One Fell Swoop as just that. It lacks absolutely nothing. From gut-wrenching to inspiring, it provokes so many emotions. What I think sets The Spill Canvas apart from other bands is their attention to detail. Every riff and beat, every verse and chorus. They’re all so intricately put together to form the most perfect piece of audio possible. Nick Thomas’ songwriting is more like storytelling and his vocabulary is easily a hundred times better than any other lyricist out there. Always in awe of how sincere these songs come across. I just thoroughly enjoy listening to this record because it puts a lot of things about life in perspective, and for that, I am thankful it exists.
This is also my 1,000 post for this blog. Cheers to the next thousand.
Say Anything - …Is A Real Boy
Released: August 3, 2004
“And the record begins with a song of rebellion.” …Is A Real Boy dropped a few days after I turned sixteen. It was like a coming of age album. Seemed so sophisticated for my taste but still punk rock enough to be cool. Max Bemis’ articulate vocals intrigued me to the point where I wanted to write these kinds of songs. Can’t think of any other record that made me appreciate lyrics more than this one. What I love most is that not a single song sounds anything alike, and there’s more than enough substance to hold interest from start to finish. I can shamelessly say that these angsty anthems helped shape who I am today. Oh, and I’ll spit out every line to “Admit It!!!” verbatim. Anytime, anywhere.
Relient K - Mmhmm
Released: November 2, 2004
Because everyone’s music library should include this. I’ll write my personal take on this album eventually. Don’t worry.
Letter Kills - The Bridge
Released: July 2, 2004
Talk about underrated bands. Their first, and unfortunately last, album was released through a major label (Island). That doesn’t always guarantee success though. These guys had such a unique sound and truly understood what rock ‘n’ roll should be. The drumming is ace and coincides so well with the ridiculous guitar riffs and solos. Matt Shelton’s over-the-top vocals just bring it all home. It’s a shame that no new music followed this debut, but it would be really hard to top. Just try to hit skip on one song. You can’t do it.
Armor For Sleep - What To Do When You Are Dead
Released: February 22, 2005
Equal Vision Records
Words cannot express what a fantastic piece of art this record is. Hands down one of the best concept albums ever. Centering around death and the five stages of grief, it’s an emotional roller coaster that takes the listener on a unique, aural adventure. Perfectly crafted music and poignant lyrics make this album timeless. Everyone should experience it at least once in their life. You know, before you’re dead.
Rufio - MCMLXXXV
Released: June 17, 2003
I borrowed a mix CD from a friend my freshman year of high school. Intertwined among legends like Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Thrice, and Fall Out Boy was a little pop punk band from Rancho Cucamonga, California. Rufio had already established themselves with their ‘01 debut, Perhaps, I Suppose…, but it was this album that turned me into a certified fan. It’s unpolished but well put together, and energetic enough to be completely addictive. Dubbed it my “get pumped up” album before basketball games. Still get a slight adrenaline rush listening to it today. If track two doesn’t give you an eargasm, then we probably can’t be friends. Just sayin’.
The Higher - Histrionics
Released: May 4, 2005
Scrolled through my “Throwbacks” playlist for a while and stumbled across an album that I almost forgot about. Which would have sucked because this record just kills. Seth Trotter’s voice is - bear with me as I try to think of a decent comparison - a mix between Anthony Green and Alex DeLeon of The Cab. Kind of? Their sound is difficult to describe. It’s like R&B-influenced pop punk. So refreshing to me though. Histrionics has it all. It shines vocally, lyrically, and musically. Once you’re a few tracks in, you’ll know if this album is for you or not. If it is, then you’re welcome.
Houston Calls - A Collection Of Short Stories
Released: August 2, 2005
Riding the tidal wave that was Drive-Thru Records, Houston Calls emerged onto the scene with their first full-length, A Collection Of Short Stories. It’s power pop laced with cheesy keyboard riffs that you can’t help but hum along to. Maybe not the most original album from the era, but definitely one of the catchiest. If you’re a fan of anything that sounds relatively close to Motion City Soundtrack, you should enjoy this.