Posted by: will | December 24, 2006

Top Ten List Chuck…

Chuck D. – Beartrap PR, Charlotte, NC


– My former co-worker Chuck has thrown down the gauntlet with his top ten list! There’s nothing I can really add other than yes, Life At These Speeds should be on here. So, read on and educate yourselves. And if you are in an indie band and need some PR, Chuck D. is the man to call.

#1 Tiny Hawks “People Without End” (Corleone)

Aggressive, chaotic DC-influenced post-whatever-core isn’t supposed to make you happy, is it? I should be smashing stuff and blaming my parents or the government for some injustice. Still, something about this Providence, RI duo’s propulsive, frenetic songwriting makes my heart feel like it’s trying to float its way through my chest almost every time. I don’t know the first thing about playing an instrument or how to make it ring out with just the right intonation or alacrity, but contained within Tiny Hawks’ songs are layers upon layers of joyous chords zigzagging, cresting and crashing around excited rhythms while passionate voices sing songs of hope and reflection.

#2 The Ackleys “Forget Forget, Derive Derive” (House Of Love)

I have an unnatural love affair with this Birmingham, AL band and it scares me a little. Katie Crutchfield’s voice sweetly burrows its way into your subconscious with lyrics that are incredibly perceptive and worldly without sacrificing any of their intimacy and warmth. As a band, the Ackleys boomerang around insanely catchy, kinetic indie rock songs like seasoned pros while the innocence of their age keeps the mood light and fun.

#3 Heartwarmer “Honeymoon” (Self-Released?)

The name kinda sums it up. Songs that crackle and pop the same way that glowing embers from a campfire rocket skyward, then slowly fade into darkness. “Honeymoon” feels like it was recorded on a bone-chilling December evening in a rickety Appalachian farmhouse. It shares and looseness and familiarity that most bands spend a career trying to achieve, but Heartwarmer injects that tenderness with shadows and mystery…which only makes the band that much more intriguing.

#4 Eulcid “Hope: And Songs To Sing” (Exotic Fever)

The perfect record for anyone who likes their discordant, strident post-hardcore with a bit of jangle and indie rock pop. Eulcid wrote these songs around 2002 and Exotic Fever (rightly) decided that they were still relevant in 2006. Herky-jerky, raucous guitars and a bombastic rhythm section somehow manage to flow gracefully and with an abundance of catchy melodies. Impressive.

#5 Pyramids “Following The Tracks, Forcing Motion Through Phases” (Slave Union/Paramnesia)

For me, bands like Envy, PG 99 or City of Caterpillar are somewhat difficult to listen to, if only for the fact that their songs take time to develop, crescendo and deliver that tumultuous knockout punch. There’s certainly no instant gratification…which is fine because music that slowly, surreptitiously soaks into your brain –- then knocks ya for six – often offers the best kind of gratification. While Pyramid’s dissonant, helter-skelter screamo is a bit more instant than the aforementioned bands, they aren’t afraid to let songs expand and grow organically. The ascension toward the pinnacle is usually beautiful and eerie while the climax packs that satisfying, frenzied wallop you’ve been waiting for.

#6 Free Diamonds “There Should Be More Dancing” (Deep Elm)

You can’t help but admire bands that refuse to travel the easy road. Take Free Diamonds for example, who collectively ditch the path to Snoozetown and have opted instead to ride the party-powered bullet train to Awesomeville. You either love their rollicking, catchy-as-a-virus, off the wall pogo-punk hysteria…or Scott Anderson’s unorthodox vocals inspire phrases such as “nails on a chalkboard.” Either way, Free Diamonds have discovered the secret to making serious music in the most fun way possible. Newcastle zaniness abound!

#7 Lemuria “Your Bedroom’s All Over Me” (Art Of The Underground)

To be fair, this is actually a split with Portland, OR’s Kind of Like Splitting, but I’ve only listened to one song from KOLS…once. I’m sure that the band is great. I mean, why would an amazing band like Lemuria do a split with a band that isn’t equally as amazing? Truth be told, I haven’t had time to dissect that little mystery as the seven Lemuria songs are stuck on permanent repeat. No one makes power punk like this any more, which is a damn shame because when it hits on all cylinders it’s fucking awesome! The guitars are brighter, the bass digs a little deeper and the drums kick with a bit more urgency. Still, it’s Sheena Ozzella’s vocals that push me over the edge; they’re delicate and charming without compromising the razor-sharp lyrical edge on songs like “Rough Draft” and “Bristles and Whiskers.”

#8 These Arms Are Snakes “Easter” (Jade Tree)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t buy this record until three days ago…but TAAS’s debut full-length “Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home” was one of my favorites when it was first released and continues to hold a firm spot in my weekly rotation. I did, however, listen to “Easter” when Jade Tree was streaming the entire record a few months ago and I knew that the band would most likely end up in my “best of” list once again. Now that I physically own the record and it’s received a few spins in my stereo, I’m certainly not changing my mind in regards to its rightful place on said list. I can’t do any deep analysis yet, but it rocks out in the same manner that These Arms Are Snakes have been rockin’ out for the past few years. You know…with a pulsing, angular, spacey, hawkish and entirely unique bend that should make most bands extremely jealous.

#9 Dartz! “This Is My Ship” (Xtra Mile)

Not available in the US yet, but I managed to score a copy of this English band’s debut full length…which is more than enough to qualify for this list, in my opinion. Dartz! have that Northern UK jagged / skewed pop thing going on and “This Is My Ship” keeps an animated, lively pace throughout its twelve tracks. There’s a song titled “Teaching Me To Dance” which should give you an idea of which propulsive, bouncy school of indie rock these boys attend, but pigeonholing Dartz! as anything other than an extremely intelligent, complex and exciting band would be doing them an injustice. The vocals are unpretentious and welcoming while the guitar and rhythm section give gratifying nods to their mathy, technical American counterparts overseas. If this gets a US release date in 2007, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t make my list next year as well.

#10 Andy The Door Bum “You’re Going Crazy, And I’m Coming With You (The Door Booth Album)” (Afterbirth Casserole)

Andy works the door booth at Charlotte’s world famous Milestone Club. Andy recorded this entire record (25 songs) over a three month period…while working the door booth. I should probably mention that the door booth occupies a space that’s about six square feet. We’re talkin’ the size of your hallway closet, folks. If that doesn’t qualify Andy for this list, I don’t know what does. Oh yeah…fucking awesome songs…which Andy cranks out in abundance. I’ll admit that there are a few kinda sorta unlistenable tracks on this record but on the whole The Door Booth Album is creative, sharp and often hilarious. Andy has a unique way of taking dirty, acoustic punk rock ditties and smearing them with even more grit and grime before shoving a ton of melody up their collective ass. Songs like “Trendy Kids,” “The Yeti,” “Two Bite” and “P Is For Pot” are covered in Andy’s blood and guts, but polish em up and you’ve got some real pop gems hiding beneath the filth. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to say that people should listen to more Roadside Monument and The Van Pelt. I rediscovered my love for both bands this year and I think that they deserve an honorary mention. Also, I just bought the new Life At These Speeds record and I have a feeling that if I had been able to give it a few more spins, it might have made this list as well. Sorry guys! Other honorable mentions for this list include The Bronx, None More Black, Maps and Atlases, The Futureheads, Anchors For Architects and Boa Narrow.

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Responses

  1. Blog Mention: Another Top of 2006 mention for Maps & Atlases

    Chuck D of Beartrap PR just put out his Top Ten List of 2006, which Maps & Atlases is unfortunately not listed on. But at the end of a great review of the best music of 2006, Chuck D throw in this mention:
    Other honorable mentions for this list i…

  2. […] my top ten records of 2006, in no particular order, mind you.  If you simply can’t wait, go here and prepare to have your doors blown the fuck off.  And while your at it, give Sound As Language a […]

  3. […] my top ten records of 2006, in no particular order, mind you.  If you simply can’t wait, go here and prepare to have your doors blown the fuck off.  And while you’re at it, give Sound As […]


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