And now we are to the third and final part of our three-part best of Springfield 2013 poll results. We counted 37 different releases (and there were probably more that we didn’t catch), when last year we had counted only 15. All of the bands that were active in town this year deserve to be mentioned on this list, but with this list we are highlighting five of your favorites. Here they are!
5. Josh Catalano & The Dirty Thoughts – Give Away The Night
Josh and crew are at it. As you must remember, I wrote about “When We Were Young” last year. It got #2 Best Song of 2012. Josh Catalano & the Dirty Thoughts have released a reimagined and repolished collection of songs called “Give Away The Night.” Let me tell you: IT PAID OFF. Last year, I called “When We were Young” an “amazing pop hit.” Things have changed WAY for the better. These reimanaged songs raise the bar they set for themselves last year. As a whole, “Give Away The Night” hits the nail right on it’s pop-hit-head. The album blends Josh’s solid vocals with just enough twangy guitars (“Light), driving drums (“New York Hearts” + “Dead In Her Boots”), strings (They really stepped up “When We Were Young), and hooks (Seriously, the bass hook in “They Look So Lonely” is straight out of “Graceland”). They started where the demo left off, and went buck wild. The production quality and song construction are top notch. I think JC&TDT are Springfield’s best kept secret right now, and won’t be for too much longer. -Cory VanMeter (Say Something, Soap Scum, Hospital Job, Caterpillar Club)
4. Our Lady – Vessels 7″
After a few “personnel changes”, it appears that the hardest working band in Springfield (in my opinion, anyway…these kids never seem to stop touring!), Our Lady, has finally become comfortable in their own skin. After listening to their EP, “Vessels”, released on Mind Over Matter Records earlier this year, it’s very clear that this band has really perfected it’s sound and songwriting abilities. Three beautifully constructed songs pressed onto a limited run of 100 translucent red or 100 opaque lavender vinyl housed in what is easily the nicest packaging I’ve ever seen committed to a 7” release. A six-panel silkscreened fold-out jacket with a hand numbered vellum pocket housing the actual record itself. Wonderful artwork by Brian Galecki, adorns the outside of the jacket. I’ve always loved Our Lady’s unique sound (how many other bands feature a cello player plugged into a Marshall?) and this release is certainly no exception. Our Lady is certainly a well-oiled machine, and at this rate could be the next big thing. Who knows? They certainly deserve it! -Anthony Bollero (Some Things Can’t Be Ignored)
3. Soap Scum – Demo
One of the top voted releases of the year 2013 is one from earlier in the year, the Soap Scum Demo. A band that has been cloaked in mystery since their very beginning, Soap Scum introduced us to their fast brand of punk with a surprise set at the last New Year’s house show. Their set was a hectic smash, with everyone moving and slamming, and is captured perfectly with this release. It is dripping with filth and catchy rhythms, with 5 songs that pummel you with the kind of angst that will leave you asking “What was I thinking?”
The first track Scum Town begins with a very brief feedback lead in before dropping you down face first into this very fast punk song that keeps it short and sweet. The next track Wreckage keeps up the tempo, but mixes in some catchy grooves that continue on throughout the third track, Fiberglass. Television Head is layered extra thick with some great guitar riffs that wriggle their way into your ear and refuse to leave. The closer track, Compactor ends fades away with an appropriate amount of chaos, guitar wanking, and stead drums holding it all together, just barely. It was without a doubt one of top punk releases of the year for the Springfield music scene. -Drew Kodrich (Gazeebo)
#2. Our Lady – Dawning (II)
Over the past 3 years Our Lady has become a common name to the Black Sheep tongue because of a reputation for their impactful songwriting and aggressive live performance. Dawning II was the most recent release, but certainly not the only one. Our Lady has toured 5 times through 30 different states this year alone, it’s no wonder they have come to our attention for this year’s Best Of. Dawning II is a new perspective on Our Lady’s cassette release earlier this year giving us the re-recorded and re-mastered version of what they truly envisioned themselves to be. The new recordings give Our Lady the sound that they deserve, holding them up to par with their live performance. They kept all of the old songs, adding more distortion and more power, raising the bar for their own future. Dawning II also features an acoustic track that has taken off as one of Our Lady’s most popular songs yet. It starts off with vocalist and guitar player, Tim Williams, talking about his past experiences in the background of subtle distortion and acoustic guitar. Tim’s dark, relatable lyrical content keeps you sucked in.
Dawning II ends with my personal favorite, Balancing Stone, a brand new full band song that was not on the original Dawning. Balancing Stone uses cello and guitar to create a brooding atmosphere that bursts into the full band chorus with a sense of urgency that gives you chills. You know what they say: you haven’t lived until you’ve cried at an Our Lady show. You can listen to Dawning II along with their past releases for free at ourlady.bandcamp.com. -Jess Knight (Looming, Mother Leopard)
#1. Looming – Looming EP
Looming EP is one of my favorite local albums of the year. Jessica Knight’s voice shines over this gritty pop themed four piece. “Definition of Home” is one hell of a catchy song with a driving rhythm and great guitar line. I also love the sing-a-long “Ohs” in the chorus. “Steadfast” is a well crafted song full of love, lies and poetry. Brandon Carnes’ drumming pushes the compelling line, “Don’t tell stories your eyes can’t tell,” while the band explodes. Looming will leave a lasting impression on the Springfield music scene. I can’t wait to hear more. -Josh Catalano (Josh Catalano & The Dirty Thoughts)