Alkaline Trio albums, from least best to best

Some people grow out of their pop-punk affairs. I never did. Alkaline Trio is the only band I’ve consistently listened to since High School. I’m probably too old to be listening to it. Nobody asked for this list. There’s no reason for me to write it besides the fact that I should be doing a lot of other things right now.

9. Agony & Irony – “Calling All Skeletons” and “Help Me” are awesome, the perfect 1-2 punch to begin an album (doesn’t hurt that “Help Me” is a touching tribute to Ian Curtis, the singer of Joy Division). But the rest of the album feels over-produced without the misplaced ambition of Crimson. AK3 usually have a knack for album sequencing and are pretty good about saving the most soul-crunching songs for last. However, “Into the Night” lacks any emotional impact; kind of just manufactured, AFI-lite menace.

8. Maybe I’ll Catch Fire – This used to be my favorite AK3 album because I was 16 and felt a real connection to lyrics like “Shaking like a dog shitting razorblades.”

I was probably a weird kid. We all were. I’m happier now.

I don’t know. The album feels too ugly without a lot of the wit that usually carries the band through.

7. Remains – Their second odds and ends album has some really great songs on it—I never knew why “Hell Yes” didn’t make it on From Here to Infirmary. In fact, I like most of the songs on here, especially the three songs from the Hot Water Music split. But unlike their self-titled album, there’s no cohesion. And they probably could’ve left out the Berlin cover.

 

6. Good Mourning – Probably their most ‘fun’ album, and really at the top of their game lyrically (“Donner Party [All Night]”). Also, it’s their first full album with drummer Derek Grant, who’s maybe my favorite drummer to watch live. His beats aren’t very innovative, but he’s just so tight that he makes it look seamless. Matt Skiba also suffered from some sort of throat injury before and it made his voice sound haunting.

5. Crimson – There’s a lot of strange missteps on this album—string sections, pseudo-dance tracks—but I think it works for me because it seems ambitious. Like, doing-coke-off-the-soundboard ambitious: “and then we’re gonna do this and this and this…” I guess for a band that prides itself on setting limitations (they put “Trio” in their goddamn name) hearing them stretched beyond those limitations is kind of a guilty pleasure. “Sadie”, a song about Sadie Mae Glutz of the Manson family, might be my favorite song by them; after reading Helter Skelter,  I realized how researched it is.

4. Alkaline Trio (S/T) Another odds and ends album: songs from before their first full-length. Probably the most fascinating of their albums. The songs are boozy, they’re go-for-broke, but they don’t always work (“Southern Rock” is the most boring AK3 song). They all have these weird movements (extensions) that don’t really make sense musically, but they’re intriguing. Still, pretty awesome for a band that was still finding out what it wanted to become.

3. This Addiction – An exciting return to form. They were back to using their abrasive, half-power chords, they were back to singing about drugs/booze (not that I didn’t appreciate the darkness… but come on, I’m a grown-ass man). Even their slower numbers felt like homages to what they did on Goddamnit! (can’t help but think “Dead on the Floor,” is the companion to “San Francisco”).

 

2. Goddamnit! – Their monumental debut. I feel that there are some bands that perfectly capture the time/place they come from, in this case late 90s Chicago. There were a lot of great power-punk bands coming out then (Honor System, Lawrence Arms… Smoking Popes were still around), but none had the abrasive wit and sense of humor as Alkaline Trio.

 

1. From Here to Infirmary – By all accounts, Goddamnit! should be everyone’s favorite, but there’s one thing that keeps me coming back to this album: Mike Felumlee. His drumming isn’t as crisp as Derek Grant’s, or as manic as original AK3 drummer Glen Porter, but it’s very inventive (try air-drumming to “Take Lots With Alcohol”). It sounds like he wasn’t prepared when they brought him in, and there’s this subtle tension of him nearly slipping up. This is the only album he plays on.

But there really isn’t a bad song on this album. I love the apocalyptic set of “Armageddon” and “I’m Dying Tomorrow.” The first time I saw Alkaline Trio play, they finished their encore with “Armageddon” and Matt Skiba blew a large string a snot out of his nose so that it hung down the entire length of his face. He kept it there while he sang. It was pretty punk.

Best of 2012: a year of things I consumed

MUSIC

1. Japandroids – Celebration Rock

You used to have adventures. You remember a time when you weren’t in front of a computer for 10 hours a day. You used to make out in public. You used to go on road trips without seatbelts. You didn’t care about the housing market. You did drugs. You lived in squalor. People didn’t know what you were doing, where you were going 24 hours a day. Your life was more secret. You lived your own quiet jubilations. It felt like you had nothing to lose.


2. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, m.A.A.d City

Love the sense of place in this album, like a contemporary/anxious/paranoid take on The Chronic (a comparison I can’t separate because of Dr. Dre’s involvement). Lamar has created a masterpiece, rendering the fear and heartbreak of being young in Compton, which makes the solace he finds in his family especially moving.

3. Metz – S/T

Haven’t felt this dirty listening to rock since the Murder City Devils.

4. Beach House – Bloom

Lovely. A refinement of their Teen Dream sound, but with more tension. The video for “Wild”, I think, captures the intensity of the entire album.



5. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

#hatersgonhate


 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Chromatics – Kill for Love

Tropical Popsicle – Ghost Beacons

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense

Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man

Soft Riot — No Longer Stranger

 

 

BOOKS

1. Jonah Man – Christopher Narozny

“What elevates Jonah Man beyond pulp-fare, is the bulldozing sense of history that motivates the characters. Every character is laced with sadness, and even when they resort to abuse, murder and cutting off their own arms, it suggests a fight against modernity and a struggle to keep their acts relevant” Read the review.

The best time I had with a book this year.

 2. Cataclysm Baby – Matt Bell

“The children in Matt Bell’s Cataclysm Baby are disgusting. They are disfigured, hairy, segmented. They break apart when they exit the womb. They are the harbingers of the apocalypse. The 26 stories in here culminate in a bleak, frightening vision of what happens when the parental structure falls apart.” Read the review.

3. Fast Machine – Elizabeth Ellen

“It’s been a long time since I’ve read a story so honest to adolescence–the alienation, the self-consciousness, the hurt and the fun–as Ellen’s story of a boarding school. It gave me context for everything else to follow. What I thought was meandering prose became intense confessionals–the kind that connects readers with the mistakes they made in their own youth. It’s such an unflinching account of family history and tragedy that you can’t help but feel a kinship.” Read the review.

4. My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf

“Read this whole thing, front to back, in one sitting.” Read the review.

 5. The Obese – Nick Antosca

“Just finished this book and feel slightly weird for enjoying it. It’s an ugly, ugly book–the cover’s (amazingly) grotesque and every character in The Obese is a piece of shit.” Read the review.

MOVIES

I had the most fun at: Looper.

The movie I’ve thought about the most since watching it: The Innkeepers

Biggest disappointment: Dark Knight Rises

Movie I wish I’d seen when I was 10 and could obsess over (AKA “The Jurassic Park” award): The Avengers

Metabest: Cabin in the Woods (for being inclusive)

Metaworst: Holy Motors (for being snobby, “clever” and too in love with itself)

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

Today is my good friend Lauren Mueller’s birthday and I was all “What can I get her?” Then I remembered that Fatboy Slim owed me so I called in the favor and he appeared on this mixtape that I made for her.

Tracklist (edited together into one giant track to prevent you from skipping the ones you hate AH HAHAHAHA!):

  • Fatboy Slim “Happy Birthday Intro”
  • Destroyer Chinatown
  • No Age Glitter
  • Weekend End Times
  • The Walkmen Angela Surf City
  • The Thermals I Don’t Believe You
  • Cut Copy Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution
  • Robyn Hang With Me
  • Lykke Li Get Some
  • Twilight Singers Gunshots
  • Lemonade Lifted (Le Chev Reunion Tour Remix)
  • Bear in Heaven Beast in Peace
  • Mndr I Go Away
  • Fatboy Slim “Outro”/Rockefeller Skank

Download it or stream it from here. Happy birthday, Lauren!

King of Limbs

I enjoy it. I’m a Radiohead enjoyer. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “fun” music, but it seems to have a complex rhythm-thing going through the whole thing. Whereas In Rainbows showcased a minimalist guitar-plucking, King of Limbs could be a solo effort by (drummer) Phil Selway with Thom York’s vocals. It feels jazzy/free-form, yet intricately structured and other adjectives that describe music that I’m not qualified to discuss.

And that’s been Radiohead talk.