Top 10 Prequel: The Almosts

OK before I get into my top 10 records of the year, here are the ones that were unlucky to miss out. I also have one other little feature to add before getting in to #10, stay tuned for that.

#11 – City Escape – Avalanches

Great debut EP from this very young Melbourne group. Obviously owing a significant debt to the dearly departed The Receiving End Of Sirens (and to a lesser extent The Dear Hunter, from whom they took their name), City Escape play a highly melodic style of post-hardcore with clean singing taking precedence over screaming. Minor electronic touches spice the mix up a little, and the songs are extremely well structured. This release would probably have made the 10 if it was a full length. I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys through 2010. Great live, too. If you get a chance to see
them (and they tour heavily, so you will) I’d highly recommend taking the opportunity.

#12 – Dance Gavin Dance – Happiness

A frustrating mix of brilliant and naff, this record would have been high up in the 10 if not for a couple of nagging problems I have with the album. The first half is stunning (and quite heavy), right up there with anything
on the brilliant Downtown Battle Mountain. Tree Village and NASA are standouts. Things go a little downhill though in the second half when Strawberry Swisher Pt.1 and Don’t Tell Dave drag the record dangerously close to novelty territory. The record picks back up strongly with album closers Strawberry Swisher Pt.2 and Powder To The People, though, and this is overall a very strong release. If Dance Gavin Dance ever work out exactly what direction they want to take they could be amazing. As it is, they’re frustratingly close but just not quite there.

Buy this one for your next house party if you have friends with good taste who don’t need the latest generic autotuned rubbish from Chris Brown to get them up and dancing.

#13 – Therefore I Am – The Sound Of Human Lives

This is a very promising full length debut from one of Equal Vision’s newest signings – Boston, MA post-hardcore band Therefore I Am. Ferocious in parts but retaining strong melodic sensibilities and slowing things down just often enough to maintain the power of their fury, The Sound Of Human Lives showcases a different and refreshing approach to the “sing-scream” dynamic as both vocalists switch from singing to screaming seamlessly. Difficult to describe but immediately noticeable when you contrast Therefore I Am with a band like Silverstein. I Am Only An Island is a standout, with some of the most furious lyrics of 2010: “You were never a trophy, you were never a notch, cos I’m built unlike the other boys, the other ones that you took home. You fucking whore. I am done.”

Musically frenetic and lyrically and vocally aggressive, I wouldn’t recommend throwing this one on the stereo while cleaning the house. You’ll end up tearing it apart.

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