Well, That's It

As of today this blog is being retired to the quiet and peaceful world of blog heaven.

Sadly, this does not mean the end of my all to infrequent writing. From this day forward I'll be writing about hockey and punk rock over at Up The Pucks with a group of other passionate people that share my peculiar range of interested. Further, my fellow blogger Dan has graciously allowed for me to occasionally post my thoughts on the Nashville Predators over at the respectable Predlines on the Fansided network.



The 2011 Puck & Punk Music Awards

This is probably the slowest I've ever gotten out one of my Top 20 Favorite Albums list, but I did get it out, so there is that. This is going to be as pretty long post, but there isn't a ton to read so you don't have to worry about a thing.

Under Album Appreciated of 2010:

Fake Problems  - Real Ghosts Caught on Tape

I don't know why I doubted Fake Problems or their 2010 effort. Real Ghosts held a semi-permanent spot in travel CD case throughout the year. Sonically, they are almost exactly what I'd want my own band to sound like, which is just to say that I'm jealous of the level of quality these guys have achieved.

Favorite Song of 2011:

This ends up being a close competition between two powerful female vocalists. The runner up this year would be The Sounds with "Dance With The Devil". But the song that I fell in love with, and continued to fall in love with all year, was "Master of Art" by Laura Stevenson and The Cans.

Worst Album of 2011:

The Aquabats - Hi-Five Soup

The Aquabats are a silly band. They are often juvenile. Sometimes they can even be flat out embarrassing. But their newest album is just not good. The band skipped juvenile and basically aimed straight for the preschooler crowd. If it had been marketed as a companion album to Yo Gabba Gabba then I think I would give the music a pass. I fought through a couple of listens before ignoring the album for the rest of the year.

Top Albums 20-11

20. Honorable Mention! Instead of picking a 20th album, I just want to mention some other albums that I enjoyed (anything marked in red I either got to too late or I highly recommend):

Amateur Party "Truncheons In The Manor," Atlas Losing Grip "State of Unrest," Bangers "Small Pleasures," Banner Pilot "Heart Beats Pacific," Bomb The Music Industry "Vacation," Bridge and Tunnel "Rebuilding Year," Cute Lepers "Adventure Time," Doomtree "No Kings," Ellwood "Lost in Translation," Face to Face "Laugh Now, Laugh Later," The Gateway District "Perfect's Gonna Fail," Good Luck "Without Hesitation," Landmines "Commerce and Marx," New Found Glory "Radiosurgery," Nothington "Borrowed Time," Red City Radio "Dangers of Standing Still," Sims "Bad Time Zoo," The Sounds "Something To Die For," Star Fucking Hipsters "From the Dumpster to the Grave," William Elliort Whitmore "Field Songs," The Wonder Years "Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing," Zoey Van Goey "Propeller Versus Wing,"

19. Banquets – Top Button, Bottom Shelf

The downside to release an album later in the year is that doesn't have as much time to grow on you. Top Button, Bottom Shelf had me hooked from the first listen, but each time I go back to it I seem to enjoy it a little bit more.

18. House Boat – Thorns of Life

Damn, I love some snotty, poppy punk. House Boat have developed a formula that I'm happy to consume by the spoonful.

17. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

This is a great album that pays tribute to the great female rockers that used to grace the popular music charts. Wild Flag also gets a prize for having so much diversity that when mixed in with other records I sometimes mistook them for three or four different bands, each capability of making me go "woh, I need to check out who this is." Now I just know that it is Wild Flag

16. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

If he released nothing but an album of traditional style English ballads I would buy that album for me and everyone I know.

15. Austin Lucas – A New Home in The Old World

I Austin's music was only elevated by the addition of a backing band and songs with a quicker pace. Those louder, faster songs also went a long way to showcase the stripped back acoustic efforts that allow for Austin's voice and lyrics to shine.

14. Night Birds – The Other Side

A quick and banging album of filthy punk rock. The Other Side was one of those albums that came out of left field.

13. P.S. Elliot – Sadie

I'm sorry that P.S. Elliot is no more, but I am grateful that the band went out on such a strong record.

12. Cobra Skulls – Agitations

I think Cobra Skulls are one of the, possibly the, most important band in punk rock today. I don't think their most recent album is quite as good as their last effort, but it a damn fine piece of work.

11. Candy Hearts- Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy

I constantly want to find a way to wedge this album somewhere within the Top 10. Really, I could replace this album with any album 7-10 and I wouldn't be all that bothered. The album manages to be cathartic, heartwarming, clever, amusing, and energetic from start to end. I could gush over this album constantly, but I won't because you could just go back and read my review of the album.

And there is 11-20

Top 10 Albums of 2011

10. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

What this album loses in cliché is makes up for with enjoyable music and a sincerity that lets the listeners share in the angst and pain.

9. Mischief Brew – The Stone Operation

There are a lot of different sounds on this album, and I love them almost all the time. I really don’t think they do much wrong. Sometimes I don’t think it deserves to be the top 10, but then I listen to it again and know that it was the right call.

8. Heartsounds – Drifter

No doubt this album would be higher on the list if it weren’t for the terrible lyrics that end of Don’t Talk With Your Mouth Open. I love punk in the vein of Strung Out, and on the technical end Heartsounds might actually be better. They are certainly better with the vocals, but Strung Out are stronger lyrically.

7. Old Man Markley – Guts n’ Teeth

I guess this’ll be the album to which the future onslaught of punk/blue grass bands will be compared. This album really taps into traditional Southern bluegrass and folk sounds and topics. I may not smoke, but their song about running pot is pretty much a perfect modernization of the stories about moonshiners and whisky runners.

6. Laura Stevenson & The Cans – Sit Resist

It’s just a really pretty album that provides lots of variety. But it stills flows and each song feels like a natural progression. Master of Art may also be my favorite song of the entire year. If I base it solely off of plays then there is no doubt that it isn’t my favorite track.

5. Touché Amore – Parting the Sea

This is an intense album, and it fulfills my Top 20 Hardcore Album of the Year slot. I pretty much thought I would hate this band until I listened to the record all the way through.

4. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

It is amazing how much noise and rock comes out of this Welsh three-piece. I usually have trouble with longer songs, but I didn’t find that to be an issue on The Big Roar. I know that 2012 will find this album getting lots of listens from me.

3. Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

This is the sort of album that makes me wonder if I might find a summer home in the world of “post-“ music. The album held me enthralled for the entire run. It also provided me with some of my favorite lyrics of the year. I’ve really sold this band short in the past, but now I feel that I’m giving them their due.

2. Have Nots – Proud

If I rated SERF City USA highly, then Proud deserves at the very least an equivalent rating. The band improved in just about every way. There is more variety on Proud and through that variety I would find myself anticipating the next track because I knew it would bring a little something different.

1. Restorations – Restorations

My surprise album of the year. Restorations is a mature and thoughtful album that holds all the energy and passion of a pure punk album without the harsher elements of the genre. It’s an album that is really worth pursuing if you haven’t already gotten your hands on it.

0. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

I stuck this at spot 0 because I really don’t know how to rank it. Listening to the album takes an investment of time and effort, but it pays out. I found the story being told to be both engaging and moving, although a little confusing on the first listen. At a time when huge punk bands like Green Day and Rancid are making “punk” musicals, Fucked Up snuck in a put together something that those bands wish they could’ve achieved.

2011 Top 20 Mixtape:

1. Broken Vacuum - Restorations
2. Dead Man - Have Nots
3. Solastalgia - Cobra Skulls
4. Dallas in Romania - Mischief Brew
5. Boom - Wild Flag
6. Neon Gray - Night Birds
7. Letterman - Old Man Markley
8. Heart In Your Heartbreak - The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
9. Dance With The Devil - The Sounds
10. Master of Art - Laura Stevenson & the Cans
11. ~ - Touché Amoré
12. Best Night Of The Night - Banquets
13. Throwing in Those Weird Chords Did Wonders for The Copyrights and Dopamines (Theme From    
      House Boat) - House Boat
14. Sleepy Kisses - Candy Hearts
15. Thunder Rail - Austin Lucas
16. English Curse - Frank Turner
17. Asphalt - P.S. Eliot
18. Drifter - Heartsounds
19. Screams in Caves - Polar Bear Club
20. Cradle - The Joy Formidable


Realignment Woes Grow

As most everyone has heard by now the NHLPA failed to approve the league's realignment plan by the set deadline. This lack of movement was essentially the Players' Association rejecting the realignment plan without actually rejecting it. It was a clever bit of maneuvering on the part of someone or someone else to do something that pretty much just pisses everyone off in one way or another.

A number of quality blogs have done a great job poking holes in the NHLPA's statement about why a plan popular amongst the league, owners, and fans (except, probably Florida and Tampa) would be unceremoniously rejected. The travel complaints from the NHLPA have been a target from the media, and with good reason, the claims are overall pretty silly in the face of the efforts of the league to add parity to travel schedules across the league, except for Florida and Tampa. But the area in which I'm more interested is that the Players' Association was given no say during the formative period of the new league structure. Just today Travis Hughes of SBNation and Broad Street Hockey reported that Flyers player rep Braydon Coburn said that the unbalanced conferences structure was the primary area of concern for the NHLPA. While this concern is certainly notable, the conference structure is far more agreeable than some of the other setups suggested by the owners and the league.


Where I Again Try To Guess The Future

Bergfors predicting how many goals he'll score for the Nashville Predators

Many Nashville Predators were excited about the off season acquisition of Swedish sniper Niclas Bergfors. He was seen as a Kostitsyn-esque low-risk investment. Like the Belarusian Niclas never seemed to be able to settle down into a consistent role. Unlike our trigger shy Eastern European friend Bergfors never could seem to put anything interesting on the table. His single goal this season didn't come off of a shot, but rather involved a surprised Swede chesting the puck in the net past a likely very startled Miikka Kiprusoff. What made the play all the more hilarious was that the puck was coming off a rather silly looking shot from Hillen. Bear Force has generally been a disappointment and watching McGrattan gobble up the last roster spot had to be tough on the kid, so it came as no surprised when the Predators chose to waive the player.


We've Crossed the First Threshold.

There are two simple rules that I follow early in each and ever NHL season. The first that the standings are pretty meaningless until (American) Thanksgiving. This is the time of year with bizarre stat leaders, neck in neck races between future champions and lottery winners, and the Ottawa Senators not thinking that they are going to be spending the second half of the season hanging out with the Blue Jackets in their mom's basement listening to Jawbreaker and watching The Kids In The Hall DVDs. I know, doesn't sound like the worst Friday night, but it certainly isn't how you want to spend the second half of your hockey season. My second rule is that I start to evaluate a team's performance until they've struck the ten game mark. While teams continue to go through changes, work around injuries, and have mid-season surges, I think that you can get a solid feel for the look and feel of the team.

That brings us to the Nashville Predators. At the start of last week I would say that I wasn't anticipating sitting down and writing this little piece. Sure, when I'm ranting and going off the deep end I'm far more entertaining, but it would still mean the Preds were playing like utter crap and that I was twitchy from people jumping ship, calling for Trotz's/Poile's head/blood, and declaring war on the color gold. Fortunately for my mental health things have settled down from that point and the team finds itself right in the thick of the Western Conference and only three points from the Central Division leading Blackhawks. So, with all those positive thoughts in mind let's actually take a look at the team.


To Address Some Issues

So, last year I used Photoshop to hack together the Predobear that has become to endeared to OnTheForecheck community. After updating Predobear's jersey this season I played around with some other ideas in order to make the meme more versatile. Along the way OTF user Poiju recolored a honey badger in gold and blue in order to pay tribute to former University of Wisconsin Badger and current Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith, a player we affectionately call the Honey Badger.

Because dammit this is hilarious

In what I can only imagine was a fit of insanity or some sort of fugue state brought on by the consumption of too much tea I created the image I unveiled during the recent Preds victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. OTF readers have offered several excellent names for the... piece... but currently its just loosely referred to as Predobear Rides to War. The image has garnered some attention from the fan base, which is nice. It has also started a few mummers in regards to Predobear t-shirts.

The topic cropped up last season when Predobear first gained traction within the OTF community and started leaking around the internet a bit. I'm always happy to explain to people that Predobear is a repurposing of the Pedobear meme. Pedobear is a 4chan meme. It is a pedophiliac bear. Not really the most pleasant thing. Predobear bear is a pun on the the Pedobear name and the concept of sexual predators, but that isn't what the Predobear is. Predobear is essentially a sexless (as in not male nor female) bear that happens to be an energetic puck bunny. Predobear simply has an extreme love for Nashville Predators hockey players. Predo is just another fan.

To get back on the topic of t-shirts. There are a lot more people out there that know what Pedobear is than Predobear. What people often see, since it is true, is Pedobear wearing a Predators jersey. This creates problems because I don't know a lot of people that want to be associated with pedophilia, and I am certain that the Nashville Predators don't want to be associated with pedophilia. Therefore I'm hesitant to authorize--as much as it is my right since I just hacked a trademarked jersey onto an anonymously produced cartoon bear--any sort of merchandise with Predobear appearing on it. It is a somewhat disturbing albeit often hilarious meme that Preds fan that are in-the-know can enjoy.


The Return of Album Reviews: You've been here all along...Haven't you? Well, maybe.

So, ok. It has been nearly a month since I've posted anything at all. Between mass amounts of school work and working on my guitar project I basically used it all as an excuse to take a break from the whole color scale thing. In the NHL we're going to hit the 10 game point soon where I feel like I can start to evaluate what the Predators are going to look like this season. If the current trend of sketchy play and anemic shooting continues it is going to be a cold and whiskey friendly early evaluation. I do have at least one hockey related blog rolling around in my head, and I can promise that it will be a return to the general weirdness that seems to permeate my hockey related blogs.

In the mean time I decided to write a review for one of the big releases in punk rock as well as one for an album that I've really being loving since I got my hands on it. In case you can't figure out the Cobra Skulls are the former and Candy Hearts are the latter.