A Decade in Decomposition Monday, Feb 1 2010 

So, I promised myself I wouldn’t try to list my top albums of 2000-2009 for a few reasons. I simply don’t feel as if I’ve consumed enough music to be able to put together a decent list. My tastes are still dominated by Western pop music and any list I put together will leave out most genres that aren’t well represented here in the United States. Still, for some reason, I was moved today to make an attempt at doing a list of albums that are not necessarily the best music released this decade, but of records that I truly loved and that I believe are some of the best albums released. Having said that, this list isn’t composed of all my favorites, as there were a few albums I adore, but I simply don’t believe that they are good enough to be called one of the best of the decade (namely, albums by Brand New, The Matches, Bright Eyes, and Say Anything). Either way, I feel as if that’s enough of a preface. So, um, here’s the list that no one cares about.

Dion Beary’s Top Twenty Albums of 2000-2009

20. The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
John Darnielle is the kind of artist who made it on earnest skill alone. Unlike most musicians, he’s never had to create a character for himself in order to attract attention; his music speaks volumes on its own. Before The Sunset Tree, it was hard to actually tell how much of Darnielle’s songwriting was autobiographical. This album, which he ironically dedicated to his abusive father, takes us into Darnielle’s past with such striking honesty, it is hard to not be moved. At no point during the album does he use emotionally heavy language to try and force a reaction from his listener. No, he just tells his story the only way he knows how, with incredibly detailed lyricism, rich with beautiful imagery and emotional depth.

19. DJ Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
It’s hard to make Jay-Z sound better than he already is. He’s the kind of rapper whose voice alone insists upon itself. How audacious, in that sense, is DJ Danger Mouse’s decision to remix Jay-Z’s vocals from The Black Album with music from The Beatles’ self-titled White Album? For a band that insists to their last days that they were nothing more than a regular pop band to be mixed with an artist who refers to himself non-ironically as Jayhova sounds like a stretch, at best. This is where Danger Mouse’s genius comes in, because somehow, both artists are given a new, unique light in this landmark album. I hesitate to refer to it’s twisting melodies as a “mashup,” because that takes away from how drastically original the album sounds. It doesn’t sound like Jay-Z vocals over Beatles samples; it sounds like wholly new arrangements lifting lyrics from Jay’s best album to a level they’d never found before, and never have since.

18. The White Stripes – Elephant
Of all the garage-rock revivalists, The White Stripes have always had one thing that sets them apart; they don’t have a bass player. Yeah, there’s all that shit about their them only wearing red, white, and black, and there’s the former mystery about the relationship between guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White, but that was never what really made the band musically interesting. Bass is the foundation of music, and The White Stripes don’t have one, which is what makes Elephant such a musical triumph. This little duo makes themselves sound like an army. The sound is thick, powerful, and pounding. While it’s not quite as gripping as the originality found on White Blood Cells, this record easily earns recognition as a testament the growing musical genius of Jack White.

17. Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
The lyrics, the arrangements, the psychedelics, the percussion; Sam Beam may just be the most prolific “folk” musician of all time, and The Shepherd’s Dog is his most intense record. He tends to avoid adding too much obtuseness to his lyrics, making me them deceptively simple, while placing the weight of the imagery solely in his music. The guitar playing is great, but it’s the “other” things going on that make the record truly great; the ambiguous noise paints abstract mental pictures for the listener. In that sense, it is a wholly unifying record, whose musical interpretations will vary from listener to listener, but most will agree on one thing; the album is absolutely beautiful.

16. Brian Wilson – Smile
The story of Smile is, perhaps, the most intriguing musical tale of all time. Originally conceived in the sixties by prototypical insane genius Brian Wilson, creating this “teenage symphony to God” became too much for Wilson’s psyche, and he soon found himself in the midst of a mental breakdown that echoed for years, causing his withdrawal from the Beach Boys. Forty years later, Wilson once again attempted to complete the album. This time, he finished. The result was something more beautiful than anyone could have ever imagined. The melodies ascend, the chord progressions seem all-at-once extremely foreign and obvious, the instrumentation is varied and dense. This album turned out to be everything Brian Wilson and the rest of the world envisioned. It is quite possibly the greatest collection of pop songs to ever be assembled.

15. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
From the opening guitar squeals of “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground,” White Blood Cells is a nonstop thrill of an album. There is no subtlety here, no methodical approach. Jack White never lets up on the volume knob, but this album isn’t just loud. It is intense and heavy. This album is different from any other Jack White album because it has no purpose but to be itself, to be an incredible rock and roll album. It’s feels as natural as breathing. With that in mind, I make the claim that White Blood Cells is the greatest pure rock album of the decade.

14. Jonny Greenwood – Bodysong
Jonny Greenwood comes from a little band called Radiohead. Aside from lead singer Thom Yorke, it is Greenwood’s influences that direct Radiohead albums. In this decade, both Yorke and Greenwood released solo albums, but whereas Yorke’s record often felt scatterbrained and unfocused, Bodysong is a wonderfully cohesive piece of work. This post-rock gem recalls the krautrock influences that first drove Radiohead into the land of Kid A, which spoke to society as a whole (more on that later). But here, Greenwood explores something much more physical: the human body. Most of the record lacks any real guitar work, but it consciously aims to maintain a guitar aesthetic, making the record fascinatingly experimental. It’s one of those albums where the songs simply can’t exist on their own. It’s abstractly beautiful, oddly discomforting, yet wholly satisfying.

13. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
Girl Talk is extremely fitting in lists like this, as his songs are mostly collections of every interesting nugget of pop music he can find. There’s not really much to be said about Girl Talk except that his mashups are extremely refreshing. It’s so carefree to listen to music without an ounce of pretense. Each song is tons of tiny happy musical moments thrown into a blender, producing a sugary sweet concoction that is as hyperactive as it is exciting.

12. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
This album is why I simply can’t accept anything Eminem has released in the last few years. With this record, Eminem became the biggest artist in the world, thrust there by his amazing sense of characterization. Whether rapping as Eminem, Marshall Mathers, or the insane Slim Shady, the lyrical depth of this record cannot be denied. Eminem’s flow is carefree and natural and his subject matter has never been more varied as it was on MMLP.

11. mewithoutYou – Brother, Sister
The simplicity of the music can be forgiven. mewithoutYou is a band that is driven solely by one man: Aaron Weiss. It is in his lyrics that mewithoutYou find their main strength. Delivered through Weiss’ desperate screams, the words weaved into this album jump between praise, worship, and questioning of God. In that vein, it is amazing to see an artist right strictly about God without having to be divisive. I’ve never really been one to believe music is a great venue for ministry, but Weiss turns his musings to God into personal narratives, which may mean more to him than any of his listeners, but I’m still thankful for the opportunity to hear them.

10. Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter III
I hated Lil’ Wayne for a long time. I didn’t get it. Unlike most people who hate Lil’ Wayne though, I decided to give him a chance. I downloaded Tha Carter III and listened to “A Milli” first. Afterward, I said to myself, “Wow, this really is the most terrible thing I’ve ever listened to. How could anyone like this? It’s so bad, I want to hear it again.” and I spent the next three hours listening to the record non-stop. Lil’ Wayne’s appeal lies in his swagger, which permeates into his rap. His punchlines are constantly assaulting, and he only slows down to parody big ass sell-out hits (I find it funny that so few people know that “Lollipop” is an intentionally over-the-top, oversexed radio anthem).

9. Paul Baribeau – Grand Ledge
One man and one acoustic guitar. That’s all Paul Baribeau has, plus a keen sense of melody and heart-wrenchingly honest lyrics. What separates Paul Baribeau from other overly melancholic acoustic acts is that he’s eternally optimistic. There’s something so genuine about an artist who can sadly reminisce about past relationships while still able to acknowledge the beauty in things as simple as clouds. This is an album that has helped me get through a lot of things; it’s so genius in it’s relatability. Lyrics like “And even though I’m home now, I feel completely homeless” perfectly sum up those little moments in our lives that we never want to forget, no matter how good or how bad they are. For an artist who seems so anti-pop, Baribeau captures so much of what pop music should be.

8. Elliott Smith – From a Basement on a Hill
It’s not just lo-fi. It’s not just melancholy. It’s not just a suicide record. From a Basement on a Hill is the perfect Elliott Smith albums because it captures every aspect of his music on one disc. There’s the sad finger-plucked guitar loner Elliott Smith, the chamber-indie genius Elliott Smith, and the pop aesthetic struggling against the rock instrumentation Elliott Smith. Although the album is technically unfinished, it feels more complete and cohesive than almost any other album I’ve ever heard. It’s a testament to Elliott’s vision as an artist. Perhaps the record is summed up best with it’s climax track “King’s Crossing,” in which Elliott Smith delivers what many consider to be his suicide note over a sprawling, noisy musical landscape. It’s a beautiful song, the best of a beautiful record.

7. Weatherbox – American Art
Maybe there are albums out there a lot better than American Art, but I know that every time I think of this decade during my life, I will remember this album and this band. The sharp, double guitar attack of the album is somehow overshadowed by Brian Warren’s sprawling lyrics. He touches on everything; God, drugs, the origin of man, Native American Boxism, hip-hop, and everything else. Still, the record remains deeply personal, reflecting Warren’s inner-thoughts at the height of their absolute insanity. What’s best is Warren is absolutely unforgiving about everything he says, barely feeling the need to conceal it in metaphor. He was ballsy here, although out of his mind.

6. Kanye West – Late Registration
Next time you get pissed about Kanye West saying something cocky, remember Late Registration; he’s earned the right to say anything he wants. Before this record, “arrangements” weren’t a word you often heard in hip-hop. The music here is more than just beats, they’re compositions. The absolute grandiosity of “We Major” will always as one of the brightest moments in music history, no matter how many Grammy’s and VMA’s Taylor Swift wins. Kanye West’s lyrics are deeply personal, representing a shift in hip-hop that many have since followed, but it truly is the music that dominates this record. Kanye really is hip-hop’s first (and currently only) true singer-songwriter, willing to experiment without fear, with a self-confidence that everyone loves to hate. But no amount of hate will change that Kanye is the most important solo artist making music today. Period. No questions.

5. Cloud Cult – The Meaning of 8
Out of all the deeply personal records on this list, none are quite as touching as The Meaning of 8. Lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa lost his infant son six years before this record was created, in celebration of what would’ve been his son’s eighth birthday. Going through something that would’ve destroyed so many people, Minowa instead used it to create music dedicated to his son. Before this record, however, a lot of it was cute, but here, we’re presented with what is the real heartbreak Minowa suffers through everyday. On “Your 8th Birthday,” Minowa screams the name of his dead son over and over again during the chorus. On “Dance for the Dead,” he says he’ll miss his son everyday, and through that, he will live on. The music is strikingly original and affected. Strummed acoustic guitars, buzzed electronics, and unidentifiable noises make the album’s music as deeply rooted in Minowa’s mind as the memory of his son. This is the only album that has ever made me cry. On top of that, it was the first indie-rock record I ever listened to, beginning a musical journey that lead me to become the annoying music snob you see before you today. Exciting, eh?

4. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Through almost-too-bright guitars playing post-pop chord progressions, through on-again off-again three part harmonies providing the canvas for seemingly random melodies, through touchingly tender acoustic numbers side by side with indie’d out modern R&B numbers, through lead lines that either express guitar virtuosity or a complete lack of playing ability, Dirty Projectors crafted an album that pleases everything I’ve secretly lusted for as a music fan. Remember when we were younger? We listened to anything and everything, and we danced to it, because we loved music. Before we knew the internet, the blogs, the Pitchfork, the AbsolutePunk, the genres, the cred, we knew unabashed love for sound. This album appeals to that part of our psyche without condescension. Its lyrics are infantile and immature, its music rebels against the rules of both the pop and indie rock worlds. Finally, we have an album that teaches us how to be young again, but does it in a way that we can understand: guitar, drum, bass, laptop, voice. When it comes down to it, that’s all it is. Yet, it’s brilliant.

3. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
Sufjan Stevens is like a musical version of a novelist. He tells the stories of others and creates soundtracks for them, always careful to separate himself from the music as far as possible. He tells the stories of America. How odd that a man named Sufjan is probably the most essentially American artist since Bruce Springsteen. He sings about American issues with American references, often times using American modes of expression. The musical arrangements on Illinois are dizzying at times, recalling classical composition, indie-rock, folk, Americana, country, gospel, and everything in between. All of this serves to highlight Sufjan’s comparatively sparse vocals, which are soft and flat, but are elevated by his arrangements. It all works together to create a record that is as pleasing as it is long, never coming across a boring moment. It’s a testament to everything self-indulgent, but awesome.

2. Kanye West – The College Dropout
With his production work on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, Kanye West revolutionized the way hip-hop sounded. The samples were soulful, rich, and just as much a part of the songs as Jay-Z’s rhymes. On The College Dropout, he revolutionized everything else about it. Kanye didn’t walk around in jerseys and oversized clothes; he dressed fashionably. He didn’t rap about guns and gold, but about Jesus, poverty, and family, creating an album more universal than any hip-hop record before it. But all of these aspects on their own aren’t what make The College Dropout the greatest hip-hop album of the decade (and of all time). It’s hard to put into words, so I’ll just what I feel; this album is perfect. There is no weak moment, there is no wasted breath, and even the skits serve to tie the album off with it’s anti-college theme. No other artist can give testament to having such an original debut album, to finding their individual musical voice so quickly. Keep in mind, this was before any of the antics, before the blog rants, before the stage crashes. This is who Kanye is: an artist, maybe the best one ever.

1. Radiohead – Kid A
No Surprises here (lol OK Computer joke). In the same way Kanye West broke through hip-hop’s slump, Radiohead broke through rock’s. From it’s opening lines of gibberish, to it’s leanings towards techno, Kid A is the kind of album rock needed to break to levy, to make it known to the industry that there were still a ton of things left to be done. The album is incredible challenging and it took me months to really get into, but the pay off is so rewarding. Rarely has a record seemed so simultaneously alien and so familiar, so warming and so disturbing. Everything I think about music in one way or another can be traced back to this record.

-Dion (I know there are a shit ton of typos. I’ll fix them whenever.)

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Modern Classic: Keasbey Nights Saturday, Jan 2 2010 

In 1998, amidst the ska-punk explosion that pervaded the second half of that decade, Tomas Kalnoky’s band Catch-22 released their debut album. And then Kalnoky, who had written the whole of that album, chose to leave the band. And when Victory records decided in 2004 that they want to re-release that debut album, Kalnoky refused, instead opting to re-record the album with his new band, Streetlight Manifesto.

Thus what I believe could possibly be the greatest ska-punk recording of all time was created.

There are those who are partial to Less Than Jake’s Hello Rockview (1998) or Reel Big Fish’s Turn The Radio Off (1996), and even some who claim the re-recording is blasphemy prefer the Catch-22 original. But what the the band did with this album exceeds even the highest expectations of the genre, creating an album that stands to be on any end-of-decade list.

The album kicks off with a blast- “Dear Sergio” pummels the listener with 250-BPM guitar and loud, brassy, horn hits, and off we go – into a 45-minute burst of angst, energy, and power that hasn’t been seen before or since. The gang vocals on the opening track draw the listener in, and inspire you to get up and dance, as any good ska-punk album should. Without missing a beat, the distorted, Chuck Berry-aping intro of “Sick and Sad” comes in, and we’re back into the fold, skanking along- the incredibly proficient (and downright loud) horns, Kalnoky’s frantic vocals, (spitting more words per minute than the any Lil Wayne song) and Chris Thatcher’s unforgettable drumming and distinctive snare sound.

The title track features a theme Kalnoky mentions more than 50 Cent: bulletproof vests. Where, in a song that’s only 3 minutes and is fast enough to make you want to stop and take a breather, do most bands find the time to talk about rising up against your foes and still make it sound like a party? Streetlight Manifesto show, every single time they’re given a soapbox, that they aren’t like most bands. And they don’t want to be.

And that’s what this album is- something different, while still feeling like something familiar. Only Kalnoky can rhyme “bucket full of phlegm” with “I don’t need a music scene to tell me who I am.” and not make you feel like he had some explaining to do. One of the highest points of the album, “Walking Away” showcases in its first 45 seconds Chris Paszik’s immense bass skills, James Egan’s magnificent muted trumpet solo, and still manages to speed things up for the rest of the song – which features not only lyrical imagery of lost love, but a military band breakdown, and, later still, one of the best trumpet/trombone duels in non-jazz music. Not only does Kalnoky create the image of a backyard summer party with his lyrics, but the other musicians in his band make you feel like you’re there with their music.

They demonstrate their diversity on songs like “Giving Up, Giving In” – a no-holds-barred punk jam that features no horns at all, and its first half clocking in at over 300 beats per minute, makes you want to hold on for dear life. Sometimes the band likes to take a break in mid-song for a tender acoustic guitar moment, and then follow it with loud, frantic horns and drum solos as they do in “On & On & On.” The album’s sole instrumental track, “Riding The Fourth Wave” deserves to be in a class of its own in rock music – here all the musicians display their abilities as musicians deserve to stand among the great jazz players out there. That instrumental speaks for itself – Frantic, powerful, and featuring some of the best horn solos in all of rock music, the song grabs you by the collar and refuses to let go. If you can listen to “Riding The Fourth Wave” and not be impressed by Dan Ross and Mike Soprano’s abilities and how well they play off each other, you obviously need to take a music appreciation class.

The album continues this way, with songs juxtaposing the improvisational nature and impressive musicianship of jazz music with the fury and angst of punk music with acoustic, sensitive moments. As far as compares to the Catch-22 version, there are added verses, added solos, and a quite noticeable increase in sonic quality. The end of its closer, “1234, 1234” features an interview discussing why the album was re-recorded and released over a fun jam between the musicians. All in all, this music speaks for itself. This is the way these songs were meant to be heard, and this is perfection in ska-punk. Every song here is perfect, and there’s nothing like any of them. Maybe you won’t love this record. As they state, they’re going to keep doing what they are doing whether or not a single record is sold. Regardless, this is a modern classic and the defining album of ska-punk. You’re hearing the kind of magic that came together perfectly once and won’t probably happen for years and years to come.

To those who don’t hear it, to quote the last words of the album, “As my good friend Roley says, you are indeed a cassette, and unfortunately just don’t get it. Peace out bitches.”

Overall score: Classic

-Evan

Reviewer gets best of Ken Saturday, Jan 2 2010 

The year, it seems, has started with a nice throwback to 1990. That year, Kenny Vasoli of the famed Starting Line from Philadelphia was a mere 6 years old, and a tantrum like the one he’s thrown would be more acceptable, perhaps even expected from him.

please don't be mean to me...or I'll call you a hipster.

Kenny responded to this review, which, admittedly, deserves to be derided. It’s wankery. No self-respecting journalist should put his name on such a badly-written piece. It’s a cry for attention..and one that seemed to reach the ears of the heroic, self-righteous Kenny.  However, what Kenny did was no better than what the journalist did. Take a gander:

Dear Philadelphia Weekly & Bill Chenevert,

I am Ken Vasoli, singer and bassist for The Starting Line. You know..the
“horseshit” band with an “insufferable brand of whine.” Thanks a million
for printing that article filled with those classic low-blows. Good move
too, you guys are giving Pitchfork a run for their money by cleverly cutting
down bands like us, its clearly the hip elitist thing to do. Congratulations
in advance for the increase in readership, as I’m sure will be the result of
bashing a popular philadelphia band.

What exactly was the point if the article? Was it to prevent people from
attending a show that’s already sold out, or perhaps to convince thousands
of Philadelphians that they have inferior taste in music? Regardless, I’m
happy to report that the two shows were both a fantastic success. I could
barely hear myself over crowds’ singing. These shows gave us in the band an
indescribable feeling of joy, one that I’m sure Mr. Chenevert will never
experience in his pathetic excuse for a career. I imagine the closest he
will come to such euphoria will be masturbating to a Deerhunter record while
reading the single comment left for his review bashing Coheed and Cambria.
I win.

Happy New Year.


KV

Everyone gets upset when they read a negative review. But what Ken did was deplorable, unacceptable for an artist who takes himself even remotely seriously. I can’t fault him for wanting to respond to this article, in all fairness. This article is trash. This article was clearly written, as said before, to get the attention of the fans of the Starting Line and make them angry. The author is a bad writer who deserved to be taken to task for his self-indulgence. HOWEVER–and this is indeed a big HOWEVER, big enough to warrant all capital letters–this is perhaps the last way to go about taking anyone to task. Kenny played all the classic cards–the hipster card, the “I’m better than you” card, the “BUT IT MEANS SOMETHING TO SOMEONE” card–and went the way of Bemis in “Admit It!!!” with divisive language that rather than addressing the shortcomings of a bad article simply does the same thing as playground name calling.

This is simply childish. Responding to someone’s opinion the way Kenny did is stupid. It’s self-aggrandizement as a response to self-aggrandizement, first of all, and has no place in critical discourse about music. Second–and this is the worst part–it’s hypocrisy. Kenny loves the good reviews of all the kids in the crowd at his shows, but when someone says “man, I don’t like the Starting Line,” he can’t handle it. He only wants edification, not actual critique. Had the article actually been of any repute, Kenny would still, I think, be mad, mostly because of his go-to “classic low blows” about Deerhunter and Pitchfork, which demonstrate a lack of respect for a music scene he may not necessarily be into (though, as Person L suggests, he at least WANTS in, so perhaps he’s angrier because he hasn’t been accepted into this indie scene…which also could explain the earlier-than-planned TSL reunion…hmmmmm….)

At any rate, Kenny’s response is the ultimate in hypocrisy. If he would rather operate on the same low level as this “reviewer” than actually be the better man, so be it. That’s just one less band I have to take seriously as artists among the rapidly-narrowing field of generic pop-punkers.

-David

Editor’s note:

I just want to highlight the fact that Ken referred to music journalism as a “pathetic excuse for a career.” The Decomposed Blog may just be a little wordpress weblog, and we’re not a blip on anyone’s radar at this point, but I still love what I do here. I’m sure David, Tim, Evan, and Max would agree with me when I say there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to write about something you love, which for all of us, is music. As David pointed out, it is utter hypocrisy for Ken to all-of-sudden thing music journalism is a such a terrible career choice now that some shitty writer made fun of him. He says that his problem with the review was that it was before the actual show. I ask you this, Ken; if the review had been overly positive, praising your show before it happened, while simultaneously making fun of hipsters for not enjoy your band, would you have responded to it? Would it have been a tragedy then? Clearly, you’re a very self-righteous individual, so please consider adding this gem to your sermon; if you do not want to be criticized, don’t bother attacking entire professions, genres, and scenes just for the sake of defending yourself.

-Dion

Music To Help Get Your New Year’s On Thursday, Dec 31 2009 

New Year

New Year

2009 will go down in history for a few reasons: the maveryicky rise of Sarah Palin, Balloon Boy, Twitter’s internet takeover (and in 140 characters or less), and countless other major moments in pop culture. Musically, we saw rappers going to jail, Kanye West giving us his nomination for the greatest video of ALL TIME (whether we asked for it or not), a quirky fashion queen named Lady GaGa who became the biggest pop star in the world in a matter of months, and the death of the death of the biggest pop star in history. But we’re not here to look behind; we’re going to look ahead. The Decomposed Blog was gained four new writers. I’m sure you’ve seen their posts in the latter months of the year. They bring varying view points to TDB and I’m happy to have them on board and look forward to working with them all next year.

Now, if for some reason you’ve got nothing to do tonight and have found yourself stuck at home reading this blog, I want to give you a little something to tide you through the evening. These are two songs that I like to listen to after midnight on New Year’s Eve. They’re Death Cab for Cutie‘s opening song on Translanticism, “The New Year” and a favorite from The Mountain Goats‘ phenomenal record The Sunset Tree, “This Year.” It’s my hope that these amazing songs will help you go into 2010 with something that brings us all together: music. We here at The Decomposed Blog look forward to writing for you for the next twelve months and, hopefully, beyond that. Feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on twitter, or check out our individual blogs. See you in the new year!

-Dion

Good things come from New Jersey Thursday, Dec 17 2009 

Mike "The Situation" from MTV's Jersey Shore.

I’m totally kidding. The Situation isn’t even from New Jersey. That show is extremely entertaining however. This is all erroneous. Or is it?

What I would like to talk about, however, is the state of New Jersey’s music scene. Now, just to be forewarned, I haven’t done my research, and this is merely for recommendations.

Now, when it comes to the “scene”, the three most recognizable bands from my great state of NJ are The Early November, Hidden In Plain View, and My Chemical Romance. Both Hidden In Plain View and My Chemical Romance are from North Jersey, and most South Jersians, like myself, tend to be biased against North Jersey (see: MTV’s Jersey Shore). While My Chemical Romance is still doing their thing, writing new music after 2006’s concept, The Black Parade, it seems for the time being that they have dropped off the map (however, I am excited for whatever they release in the near future). It also doesn’t help North Jersey’s cause that Hidden In Plain View broke up in 2007 . The Northern Jersey music scene has seemingly fizzled away into nothingness.

So what became of the South Jersey music scene? In May of 2007, legendary pop-punk emo band the Early November decided to call it a day. Amidst reunion rumors, lead singer Ace Enders has tried to stay relevant by releasing his solo albums, including I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business, The Secret Wars, and 2009’s When I Hit The Ground. These albums, and Ace himself, have seen moderate success, yet South Jersey hasn’t felt the same impact from Ace’s solo stuff compared to The Early November. So, in the two years since The Early November’s departure, who has answered the calls to save South Jersey? For me, two bands come to mind.

Awesomeness in a 3 song EP

In my honest opinion, Man Overboard is the best band to come out of South Jersey in the wake of TEN’s break up. They’re what pop punk should be; intelligent, and catchy as fuck. “Love Your Friends, Die Laughing”, which is found on their Hung Up On Nothing EP, is South Jersey’s equivalent to Brand New’s “Soco Amaretto Lime”. They’re currently on tour after releasing a 7″ split with Transit. I recommend that you readers start listening to this band, because I predict that they’re gonna be big.

Now, time for me to unveil my master plan for this blog post. I would like to introduce everyone to a band that holds a very special place in my heart. If I could have your undivided attention, may I present to you, my band: Hand Me Down Buick.

That kid with the glasses is soo handsome.

After 2007’s The Greater The Risk, which was produced by John Naclerio (who produced My Chemical Romance), mixed by Rob Freeman (guitarist of Hidden In Plain View (omg, this post just came around full circle!)), and mastered by the guy from The Ataris, whose name escapes me, Hand Me Down Buick went on a short hiatus, which was due in part of three of the members leaving. This left Kenny (center) and James (farthest right) looking for new members to continue the Hand Me Down Buick legacy. Answering those calls were Frank Sacco (far left) and Erik Grasso (next to Frank), who both happen to be Hammonton natives, aka, The Early November’s hometown. Oh, the parallels don’t stop there, kids. Frank is good friends with the members of Man Overboard. Anyway, also answering the calls were keyboardist Holly Capozzoli, and drummer Max D’Aulerio (yours truly). We wrote new songs, and decided to record with John Naclerio, and our four songs can be found here. It makes me proud to be a part of this band. I’m extremely happy with how things turned out, how they’re going, and the reaction so far. Tim Hardie and David Pritchard, who are now co-writers for this blog, are both very critical of music. Tim loves the songs, and David said they weren’t bad (and when you get to know David, and his musical tastes, you’ll recognize that “not bad” is actually a huge compliment). So, readers of The Decomposed Blog, I wanna know your thoughts. Listen to the songs, and leave feedback. If you love it, awesome! If you didn’t, hey, that’s ok! I value all of your opinions highly.

So, to reiterate everything… North Jersey is quickly becoming irrelevant. The guido infestation is invading the music. South Jersey is making up for it. I’m in a band. The end.

-Max

Twelve Months, Ten Albums: (Some of) The Top Albums of 2009 Wednesday, Dec 16 2009 

The Decomposed Blog is changing. Yes, I’m opening up our end of the year feature with a manifestation about the blog itself, rather than about the music that will soon be discussed at length, but that’s the point of the masturbatory blog-o-sphere. Still, I think this announcement will be important enough to warrant your forgiveness. Starting once this post is finished, The Decomposed Blog will officially become a group effort. I have recruited four of the best minds in music to share in this wonderful rotting corpse. You’ll come to know them and love them (and hate them), but we’re all here to do the same thing: to go way over-the-top and under-the-radar to express any and all musical opinions we have. Max, David, Evan, and Tim will be joining me from here on out. Also, there will be a new layout pretty soon. Are you excited? Yes, you are.

So without any further adieu, we collectively present our take on (some of) the top albums of 2009. Scroll down further for pop-punk, indie rock, radio R&B and other delicious goodies. If you like what you see, tell your friends and follow us on twitter for more pretentious warbling.

Note: These albums are in no particular order. Also, in no way are we insisting these are the best albums released this year; they’re just our personal favorites, or the best we’ve heard.

Bradley Hathaway – A Mouth Full of Dust

From the opening strums of “Covered in the Blood,” it’s clear that Bradley Hathaway isn’t here to tickle our fancies; the endearing poet-turned-songwriter has a bitterness weighing down his heart, and he can’t dance a single step until it’s been removed. He sits in the middle of a cold, dark cabin with his acoustic guitar, crying out in his weak, quavering voice for peace. His words perfectly balance poetic elegance with conversational intimacy. The somber heaviness is a bit unsettling, but even more unsettling are the moments when he isn’t alone, when songs like “Momma” are enveloped in an otherworldly crescendo of cello, electric guitar, bass, piano, and percussion. As much as this word is overused, A Mouth Full of Dust is truly epic. At the same time, it is also deeply personal. All the stark moments of the album are dark and cold simply because they’re empty. The weight on his heart is the weight of loneliness, the need to belong and give love and be loved, and not just that romantic kind. The darkness isn’t impenetrable, though. In “Look Up,” Bradley finds moments of respite in the gorgeous moon and stars of the night sky and the twinkling in a stranger’s eyes. Even here one can feel the pain in his voice, but that pain somehow doesn’t matter anymore.

-Tim


P.O.S. – Never Better

Never Better isn’t the album of the decade. There may even be better albums this year. Perhaps some of them are hip-hop albums. But the fact is, none of those hip-hop albums feel as original as P.O.S.’s does. Where “Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)” juxtaposes rapidfire marching band-style drum parts with the MC’s equally fast flow, rapping about the recession, his rap crew (Doomtree) and the violent overthrow of your suppressors, Jay-Z spent the year collaborating with Alicia Keys while Kanye made a fool of himself and Lil Wayne got arrested. P.O.S. doesn’t use racial epithets or homophobic slurs, endorses Pabst Blue Ribbon, references late comedian Mitch Hedberg, and samples Fugazi- none standard fare for a rapper, especially in 2009, where Auto-Tune and “swagger” rule the charts. P.O.S. and fellow Doomtree-er Lazerbeak produce the album, and the production never falters- from the fresh, tragic feel of “Been Afraid” to the use of cups as the basis for “Optimist.” Never Better is a bold move, and it’s just another example of the great music coming out of the Minneapolis hip-hop scene. P.O.S. stands above his contemporaries because he has so much heart and something original to say. He’s not rapping about “guns, bitches, and bling,” he’s rapping about what it means to be an American in contemporary society – from Obamamania to the freezing-cold Minnesota snow. Never Better is something fresh, and something that sticks with you- a commodity in this world of “Party in the U.S.A” and “I Gotta Feeling.” The world needs a voice like P.O.S.’s here and now in 2009.

-Evan

Bomb The Music Industry! – Scrambles

Right to the point- Scrambles is absolutely the most diverse album released this year.

Honestly, between its opener, the frantically acoustic lo-fi jam “Cold Chillin’, Cold Chillin’,” and the 21st-century ska-punk anthem “(Shut) Up The Punx!,” there’s little in common aside from the amazing energy that pervades the entire album. When frontman Jeff Rosenstock croons “If you don’t find a steady job now / If you don’t find someone to love now / You will die freezing cold and alone” over the Springsteen-influenced “Fresh Attitude, Young Body,” you feel his pain. He spends the rest of the album touching on everything from 9/11 to bands ruining the punk scene to feeling old and irrelevant. A case could be made for “Stuff That I Like” being song of the year.- where else are you going to hear an anti-drug, pro-bicycle party anthem that bitches about train fare that still find time in its last breath to shred like it’s the very last party on Earth? Musically, lyrically, and emotionally, Scrambles runs the gamut of everything you need to hear and feel in 2009 in punk music.

Scrambles is influenced by all of life- from the gutter to the glory. It’s an initially abrasive album that manages to become an acquired taste- one that’ll have you screaming about bicycles well into your mid-twenties. That’s where Jeff Rosenstock finds himself with this album – 25 and still exploring new musical terrain. Enjoy it while it lasts, ‘cause there may be no tomorrow.

-Evan

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

Fans of the Decemberists are well aware that frontman Colin Meloy enjoys a good yarn. He spent his college years reading them and has been known to spin them quite admirably. This time, however, instead of a scarf, he’s opted for a whole sweater. The Hazards of Love is that sweater your grandmother knits that you don’t want to wear because it’s a little awkward, but it’s also the most comfortable item in your wardrobe. The album is not a book of short stories but rather a novel, grounded firmly in a fairytale realm with a decided dose of Romantic passion. The album succeeds because it is so massive; it’s over the top, yes, but in its grandiosity it finds an escape from the traditionally “irony” that the Decemberists’ fanbase tends to devour. Instead of being ironically over the top, Hazards of Love is earnest about it. It embraces everything about the over the top theatricality of the story and of the execution and as a result basks rather than balks. The ridiculousness of everything is reflected in the heavier, more rock-oriented sound the Decemberists here play with, and the way riffs make their way into the traditional chamber pop this group is known and loved for is perhaps a sign that Meloy once toyed with the idea of majoring in theater in addition to creative writing. Listening to this album is like reading a great novel—no. It’s like seeing a great play, and even though it’s melodramatic, it’s the kind of overblownness that both audience and artist totally agree is absolutely necessary. If you didn’t see any plays this year, at least listen to this album.

-David

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Through almost-too-bright guitars playing post-pop chord progressions, through on-again off-again three part harmonies providing the canvas for seemingly random melodies, through touchingly tender acoustic numbers side by side with indie’d out modern R&B numbers, through lead lines that either express guitar virtuosity or a complete lack of playing ability, Dirty Projectors have crafted an album that pleases everything I’ve secretly lusted for as a music fan. Remember when we were younger? We listened to anything and everything, and we danced to it, because we loved music. Before we knew the internet, the blogs, the Pitchfork, the AbsolutePunk, the genres, the cred, we knew unabashed love for sound. This album appeals to that part of our psyche without condescension. Its lyrics are infantile and immature, its music rebels against the rules of both the pop and indie rock worlds. Finally, we have an album that teaches us how to be young again, but does it in a way that we can understand: guitar, drum, bass, laptop, voice. When it comes down to it, that’s all it is. Yet, it’s brilliant.

-Dion

Beyonce – I am… Sasha Fierce

Put away your preconceived notions and see Beyonce Knowles for who she truly is. She’s not just the former lead singer of the most successful female singing group of all time. She’s not just the most talented vocalists on the radio. She’s not just Jay-Z’s loving wife. She’s a representative of the coolest trend in music right now; modern pop fusing with modern R&B fusing with the experimental mindset of indie-rock. On Sasha Fierce, Beyonce makes a bold statement for pop music, urging its power as a mode of expression; she has both style and substance. Conceptually, Sasha Fierce divides Beyonce’s style into two parts. The soulful, vocally-driven radio R&B of “Halo” and “Ego,” and the robotic futurism of “Sweet Dreams” and “All the Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” the latter of which is a strong contender for song of year. No matter which side of the fence Beyonce is placed on, she outperforms her contemporaries in both fields. Her voices is strong, taking melodies by the horn and wrestling them into submission, and her swag is equally is daring (you’ve gotta have swag to tread the line between awesome and vapid, as she does on “Video Phone”). And with single after single hitting the top 10, this year undoubtedly belongs to Beyonce. She’s got a big ego, and she definitely deserves it.

-Dion


Modest Mouse – No One’s First And You’re Next

Modest Mouse, what do you have to say for yourself? People claim you guys have sold out, and your music isn’t what it used to be. I used to be one of those people, and then I picked up No One’s First, And You’re Next. Well lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky me again! This 8 song EP, tallying up to be over a half hour in length, is actually a compilation of b-sides, recorded during the Good News and We Were Dead recording sessions. The great thing about this EP is that it is accessible to Modest Mouse fans, new and old. It has the catchy folky pop of We Were Dead with the original MM indie feel of The Moon & Antartica and This Is A Long Drive. Key tracks include Satellite Skin, Guilty Cocker Spaniels, Whale Song, King Rat, and I Got It All (Most).

-Max

Thrice – Beggars

After spending all decade evolving from one of the scene’s finest metal acts into a multi-genre spectacle, complete with all sorts of bells and whistles, Thrice uses Beggars to explore a whole new frontier: restraint. No longer concerned with testing the melting point of their metaphorical wax, the Orange County four-piece have melded all their elements into a humble blend of In Rainbows-flavored bluesy punk. The resultant album is very “pedestrian” in the best way possible. Bassist and drummer Eddie and Riley Breckenridge give the rhythm section a new found groove, and lead guitarist Teppei Teranishi’s production work gives this groove sufficient room to breathe. This allows lyricist Dustin Kensure the perfect backdrop over which to sing with his earthy croon these songs of religion, romance, greed, contentment, and death. Everything sounds raw, with all the charm of a band playing at your local bar. No longer interested in staring at the sun for meaning and understanding, Thrice now finds the most profound revelations in humanity, and it’s here that Beggars finds its beauty. We’re reminded that we’re really not anything; we can’t safeguard our breath in the night as we sleep, and our bodies will soon be buried and left to rot. That’s alright, though, for it wasn’t ours to claim in the first place. “Everything’s grace.” This peace fills our hearts with songs of forever; “All is well. I will rejoice.”
-Tim

Relient K – Forget And Not Slow Down

Let me preface this review right quick… I’m not a fan of Relient K. Well, yet. Never originally listening to Relient K made me skeptical of David and Tim’s recommendation for this album. So, one day, I decided to download it, and just check it out. Well, let me tell you, I was blown away. This is one of the best pop punk cds I have ever listened to. When I’m having a bad day, I put on Therapy, or Over It, and suddenly I don’t feel as bad. Not only that, the main thing with this cd which is most important to me is how I connected with the lyrics. This Is The End (If You Want It) couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. Now, the only slight downfall for this album for me, is the song Candlelight. Why? It sounds like a Death Cab For Cutie song. I’m not a DCFC fan. Yet, for some, this could be, and probably is, a plus. Key tracks include Forget And Not Slow Down, Therapy, Over It, Savannah, and This Is The End (If You Want It).

-Max

The Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come

John Darnielle is one of the most consistent and consistently good songwriters around today. Of course, that makes recommending an album for newcomers to The Mountain Goats infuriating and difficult, and The Life of the World to Come is just one more infuriatingly brilliant entry into Darnielle’s oeuvre, but one that brings with it a new level of depth and contemplativeness that has until this point only made brief appearances in the massive Mountain Goats catalog. Every song except for the last on this album is named after a Bible verse, and the lyrics to the songs are all thematically pertinent, though not in a traditional sense. Instead of extolling the verses, Darnielle mulls over them, using his vignettes about faith healers, thieves, and cancer victims—among other things—as a vessel for conversation with the Bible verses. This allows him to discuss the less pleasant but more important and meaningful side of faith that is often overlooked: doubt. The skepticism, the doubt, the uncertainty of this album is palpable. No album released this year carries the kind of thought and emotion that this does. Whether you believe in God or not, this album is a study of faith that lends itself both to powerfully emotional and deeply intelligent lyrics. It’s impossible to listen just once, which is, as far as I’m concerned, the mark of a brilliant album. Looks like Darnielle finally has a best album.

-David

Admit it: We’re all in love with Angel Deradoorian Wednesday, Dec 9 2009 

Deradoorian

Shamelessly downloaded from MySpace.com

Anyone who denies it is simply a liar. Dreamy eyes, elegant figure, a 1950’s like charm, and a facial structure that would make a stampede of kittens go “Awwww.” To top things off, she released one of the most surprisingly good,  most tragically overlooked EP’s of the year. She’s Angel Deradoorian and her EP is called Mind Raft and you just fell in love, didn’t ya?

Let me give you a little background: Angel Deradoorian resides in Brooklyn, New York. You might recognize her voice from a nifty little band called Dirty Projectors who undoubtedly released the best record of the year (more on that in a future post). She’s one of three female vocalists who provide the flawless clap-on clap-off harmonies on Bitte Orca, freeing main songwriter Dave Longstreth to go absolutely apeshit on the arrangements and lead guitar lines, like some kind of hipster version of Led Zeppelin. It gives the whole band this really weird post-pop feel, while maintaining some presence of modern day R&B.

But what Deradoorian does in her project is different. Instead of going for the eclectic “impressive for the sake of impressive” arrangements that catapulted Dirty Projectors to hipster superstardome earlier this year, she opts for more skeletal, electronic based production, letting her voice do all the work; and what a beautiful voice it is. Deradoorian takes the kind of croon typically reserved for smoke-filled piano clubs in the 1920’s and transfers it effortlessly to 21st century music.

Did I mention she’s gorgeous?

Do yourself a favor; go out and get Mind Raft. RIYL: Radiohead, Dirty Projectors, bleep bloop blip, female voices over meticulous electronic beats.

Follow Up – Paramore Friday, Aug 14 2009 

The prettiest prostitutes in the whore house.

The prettiest prostitutes in the whore house.

The other day, I stumbled across Paramore’s new video for “Ignorance”. Disgusted at the ridiculous audience pandering of both MTV.com and Paramore, I posted this blog in reference the video, as well as the story presented along side it. Somehow, the post got into the hands of a lone Paramore fan who then proceeded to spread it to other fans, somehow putting down their copy of Twilight long enough to write a few disparaging comments about me.

Now, I make it a point not to dwell on internet drama but I would like to point out that the backlash over my post serves as a great example of my point. Paramore’s fans have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by this young group of “musicians”, or should I say, their record label and management. Paramore has bred a group of fans who genuinely believe a band can be on the cusp of breakup and still put out in album within two years time (which is pretty quick). They believe a haircut actually makes a band more mature. Worst of all, they believe all of this simply because it was hand fed to them for Paramore’s label. Where are the discerning music fans who used to think for themselves? Paramore, and bands like them, are slowly killing off this kind of fan of replacing them with clones.

In my last post, I referred to Paramore as prostitutes. I can think of no better word to describe a group of “musicians” who so willingly whore themselves out for their label, all in exchange for a check in the mail. I’ll admit, it’s heartwarming to see a group of kids care so much about a band that has touched their lives. What disgusts me, however, is that the band holds them in such contempt low enough to feed them lies on a daily basis. Kids, continue to be passionate about the music you love. Flame the shit out of me and defend what you believe in.

But Paramore, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Edit: Here are some of the brilliant articulate counter-arguments a few Paramore fans have made:

Slarky2 says:
(2 hours ago)

“we shall chop of his legs and feed him to pigs
a little drastic
but he’s a jerk”

(3 hours ago)

“I think this guy is on crack.”

(2 hours ago)

“i just read it… 😦 makes me wanna cry”

ATTN: Weezer’s Management – How About A Pinkerton Tour? Wednesday, Aug 12 2009 

I miss Weezer. There is something very surreal about saying that, as Weezer is still making music. Still, no Weezer fan can deny that Rivers Cuomo’s pop-rock outfit has lost its edge. Don’t get me wrong; there are aspects of their recent records that I really enjoy. The Red Album was more solid of a record than it’s predecessor, Make Believe. I was hoping this was signaling an improvement of the band’s new sound. Then I saw these videos.

Grudgingly, I think I’m finally accepting a fact I’ve been denying for my entire tenure as a Weezer fan; this band sucks now. Luckily, that doesn’t much matter, as Weezer is one of the few bands who have released an album so groundbreaking, so emotionally charged, that no matter what they do, they will always have that record behind them. For Weezer, that album is Pinkerton. Here and now, I’m calling for Weezer to remind the music industry why they’ve been around three times as long as most of their peers by giving us a Pinkerton Tour, a national, intimate showcase of the band’s sophomore LP from top to bottom.

I can already feel your judgmental heads shaking at your computer screens and I know what some of you are thinking: “Dion, The Blue Album is Weezer’s best record. They should tour that one instead!” First of all, stop talking out loud to yourself. It’s weird. Secondly, I love The Blue Album. That record mixes sugary sweet pop-tunes with a subtle, nerdy toughness that only Rivers Cuomo and Co. can pull off (although Ludo’s pretty damn good at it too. Maybe they should support Weezer on this hypothetical Pinkerton Tour). It makes for a fantastically satisfying record. Still, Pinkerton takes it one step further. When that record pops, it’s sweeter. When it punches, it hits harder. The lyrics, while never stellar, are so painfully personal that you can’t help but empathize with Cuomo when he sings, “I’m a pig, I’m a dog/So excuse me if I drool”.

Ever since the critical and commercial failure of Pinkerton, Weezer haven’t quite had  that same kick. Maybe they’ve actually lost it and the group no longer has the angst to present art in the way they did way back in 1996. I, for one, won’t believe it until I see it. Say what you want about the group these days. I may not believe in them anymore but I believe in the emotions through which Pinkerton was manifested. Weezer can bring it back. I know they can.

So, if anyone from Weezer or Weezer’s management happen to read this rambling, incoherent, mess of a blog post, get working on that tour. Hell, I’m even sure you can make some pretty nice bank from it as well (I’m meeting you halfway, Live Nation). If it comes around, I’ll be the first one in line to buy tickets, with all the aging emos, new Weezer fans, and anyone else who was touched by that fantastic record.

PS. Maybe Matt Sharp could play a few dates as well, if that’s not too much to ask…

Why We Need Jeff Mangum (Now, More Than Ever) Wednesday, Jul 22 2009 

A few months back, my best friend invited me to the UNC-Chapel Hill to check out the campuses radio station. He had recently become a DJ there and wanted me to see the station’s enviable collection of music and burn as many CD’s as I liked. Naturally, I jumped at the idea. Chapel Hill’s radio station is known for its high standards of indie rock and I practically salivated at the chance to hang out there for a day, enjoying a virtual all-you-can-eat buffet of amazing music. When the day finally arrived, I sat on a couch surrounded by walls covered in music, burning the CD’s from a large pile I had collected next to me. Half were bands I had heard of but had never bothered to get into and others, I had picked blindly. One of those others was In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel.

Upon first listen, I was changed. We overdramatic music hipsters often speak of albums that have cahnged our lives so please, forgive me for the cliche. However, there is no other way to describe what happened. Lead singer and songwriter, Jeff Mangum, told me that when I was young, I was the King of Carrot Flowers and, by God, I believed him and still believe him today. From its first moments, Aeroplane creates a world for its listener to believe in all the things that we are meant to grow out of, to become something we long had convinced ourselves was impossible. From Two-Headed Boys to Ghosts, the atmosphere this album creates insists that its listener delve into the unimaginable.

The acclaim for Aeroplane has only grown since its release in 1998. There are very few people who have heard this record who can honestly say they do not love it. However, there is a small faction of dissenters who refuse to let this record into their lives. They see this album and its fans as part of  an elitist mentality. True, people like me probably don’t make the matter any better, as I think Aeroplane is perfect and do not hesitate to tell anyone who will listen. Still, no matter how much we fans praise this album, the dissenters will not budge; to them, Aeroplane is just another OK Computer hipsters are using to judge them. This is why a Jeff Mangum return is needed now more than ever.

Interest in Aeroplane is higher now than it has ever been. How odd that the rampant praise for the album is one of the reasons Mangum dipped out of the spotlight in the first place. Just look at how much interest Mangum raised late last year when he played a few spots on the Elephant 6 Tour. Although he only played two songs, his fans went rampant at the idea of a new record or tour from the textbook recluse. If a tour is announced, it will undoubtedly become the biggest event of the decade for indie rock, and with only a few months to spare.

The generation below mine has yet to have their transformative music experience. In fact, my generation hasn’t even had its own. Mangum has the ability to give us exactly what we need most right now in music; something that can transform us. Since Aeroplane, there has been no other record that so perfectly blends everything that entails being alive into just 40 mintues worth of “soft, silly music”. Mangum didn’t just teach us how to rock out. He taught us how to breathe in a way we never thought possible.

As fanboyish as it sounds, I do not see any other artist making music today that has the potential to do what Mangum did. If we get what we ask for and another Neutral Milk Hotel album is announced (or perhaps a Jeff Mangum solo album), many of us would be too scared to listen. It would be like going to your favorite theme park growing up at the age of thirty and realizing it wasn’t quite as good as you thought it was. However, for all intents and purposes, we need to go back to our childhood one more time, just to see if we can. And if we can’t, we’ll walk away knowing that there is something else out there for us now.

I guess it’s all up to Mangum.

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