As I sit here trying to reflect back on 2006, I look back at a year filled with a lot of good times, memorable events and unforgettable memories. I have spent more time with my friends this summer than I think I ever have in my lifetime and I’ve spent more time away from them than ever before in my life. (I suppose it equals out then.) I’ve become settled in and comfortable at my job, a job where I still find it hard to believe that I get paid to do what I do. It has been an entertaining year indeed.
Speaking of entertainment, I think that this year I’ve attended more concerts than ever before and I used to go to two or three concerts a week when I lived in Pittsburgh. I’ve indulged myself in the local scene trying to sniff out a few decent bands in the Western PA area and what I found pretty much stunk. With the exception of the Marauders (a rockabilly band) and the Preps (a punk band), most bar bands are either crappy cover bands or sound like whatever the flavor of the month is on the rock radio station.
Last year, I traveled a lot to State College to a kick ass club called the Crowbar. The Crowbar was around for ten plus years and hosted everything from metal to punk, hardcore to ska. Unfortunately, Crowbar closed down earlier this year. The last show that I attended was in February and it was one hell of a good show. The Toasters, Go Jimmy Go and the Marauders played their asses off that night. With the Crowbar gone, I had to make my way back out to Pittsburgh to either Mr. Smalls in Millvale or to the Rex Theatre on the South Side. They even re-opened a venue that I used to frequent under a new name. Out in the burgh this year, I got to see some of the most amazing shows that I have ever attended, all within a four month span. The Aquabats played earlier in the summer and they were ten times better than the last time they played with the Planet Smashers. I attribute this to hearing the Charge! stuff live for the first time. With that Aquabats show, I was also introduced to a couple of other totally awesome bands, Whole Wheat Bread and the Aggrolites. A couple of weeks later, I finally got to see Rancid play a headlining show. After all those years, I never managed to see them play other than on the Warped Tour. They were scheduled to play three or four years ago, but the club they were playing at closed down and the show was moved to Cleveland. It was ironic because they played that same club under a different name this time around. What made the Rancid show special was that they had been playing Operation Ivy songs again, something that they haven’t done to my knowledge since the inception of Rancid. Shortly after seeing Rancid, I managed to rock out to one of the greatest musical groups known to mankind…The Beach Boys and then not long after that show, I seen one of the greatest ska bands in history play one of the funnest shows in memory. I attended the Warped Tour once again. It’s just not as fun to go to a festival alone as it is going to a club show. Oh yes, the English Beat came to town. I got to enjoy some cool music festivals that have become an annual tradition in my hometown of Johnstown and I discovered some weird and unorthodox bands and musicians. And then there was the Bouncing Souls show. After a hectic couple of months, this years concert festivities concluded with the punk fury of the second greatest punk band currently still playing. Talk about a release of energy.
My single greatest concert this year though, wasn’t getting a chance to see one of my favorite bands at one of my favorite venues. No, it was getting the opportunity to go to arguably the single most important venue in the history of American punk music. Traveling to New York City twice this year, I had it in my mind that I had to attend a show at CBGB’s no matter what band was playing at the time. I was supposed to go with a couple of friends who were going to NYC with me, but things didn’t go as planned. One friend backed out of going to NYC altogether and when the time came to go to the show, the other friend who said he would go decided that he wasn’t going. So there I was, in the middle of New York City alone and going to a concert at 8 in the evening. But I did it, because I knew that I would never have the chance to do it again. By the way, the Street Dogs were playing so I got to see a really good NYC hardcore show…you know, hardcore the way that it should be.
The live music aspect of 2006 was eventful, but for me the album side of things was actually quite stale. I listen to a lot of punk and a lot of ska music so most people should probably skip this list since you probably listen to that beautiful music stuff that I’ve been hearing about.
10) The Aggrolites “Self Titled”
Good white boy reggae that is some of the best American reggae that I’ve heard in years. They sound like the Slackers without the ska if you get my drift.
9) Pepper “No Shame”
Even though this album is nowhere near as good as “Kona Town”, it does have its infectious sounds and catchy pop-reggae riffs throughout.
8) Sadies Doll “Self Titled”
Not since the summer of 1996 had I heard an album that captured the sound of summer so well. With a great mix of punk, ska, reggae and rock, Sadies Doll bring back the sound of Sublime but in a totally different light.
7) The Slackers “Peculiar”
What needs to be said about the Slackers? Every year that they come out with a new album, it should automatically be included in that years’ top ten list. This is the best thing they have done since “The Question”.
6) Anti-Flag “For Blood And Empire”
A friend and I had this discussion and we both believe it to be true: every Anti-Flag album is light-years apart from the last. “For Blood And Empire” is the closest to Bad Religion that Anti-Flag will ever sound…until their next album.
5) The Marauders “Self Titled”
For a local band, I would put these guys up there with any of the big guns such as Tiger Army, the Horrorpops or Necromantix. Yeah, they’re that good.
4) Weird Al Yankovic “Straight Outta Lynwood”
After the death of Weird Al’s parents a few years back, I thought that we had heard the last of the parody king. Nope. What does he do? He comes back with one of his best outings ever! Trapped In The Drive Thru gets my vote for song of the year.
3) Time Again “The Stories Are True”
On the surface, they sound a lot like Rancid circa 1993, but when you dig deeper you realize that they boys have a sound of their own. “The Stories Are True” kicked my ass like no album has done in a very long time.
2) The Supervillains “Grow Yer Own”
The punk ska sound of the late 90’s seems to have gone the way of the dodo since everyone wants to be taken seriously as musicians and all that crap. Well the Supervillains just want to have a good time and play fun music. With a good variety of all forms of ska and a punk fury that would rival that of the Bosstones, “Grow Yer Own” is a pleasantly pack album about hookers, relationships, partying and politics.
1) The Bouncing Souls “The Gold Record
After “Anchors Aweigh” the Bouncing Souls that I had known and loved seemed to have disappeared. Then “The Gold Record” came out. Mixing the sounds of their last three albums together as well as pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new sounds, “The Gold Record” reminded me why I love the Bouncing Souls in the first place…because they fucking rock…plain and simple. They’re the Bouncing Souls and no one can beat them.
Other good things in 2006:
Marvel Comics Civil War
Civil War has been the greatest thing in comics that I have read since I was still in Middle School. What happens when you take all of Marvel’s major contenders and you split them right down the middle and tell them to fight each other? You get great stories, lot’s of drama, battles that you never thought that you would see. Spider-Man fights Captain America and Cap is the labeled the criminal. Thor is cloned and goes nuts killing a superhero. Captain America turns his back on the government and leads an underground revolution against many of his past friends and allies with all odds in the world against them. Spider-Man unmasks in public revealing his secret identity to the world. In our world, this makes national headlines. Whoda thunk it?
Movie of the Year: Casino Royale
I’m not even going make a list of movies because one, not many interest me and two, most of the stuff that comes out is nothing but remakes and recycled crap anyway. With that, Casino Royal gets the slight nod over Superman Returns because for the first time that I can remember, we get to see a James Bond who is vulnerable and not the Mr. Indestructible that we are so used to seeing. I seriously thought that I wouldn’t be able to picture anyone else other than Pierce Brosnan as Bond, but Daniel Craig threw all of those thought right out of the window. I know, I know…technically Casino Royale could be considered a remake as well but I like to think of it as being a totally different movie with the same name. If you ever seen the original version, you would wholeheartedly agree.
Best TV Show of the Year: Supernatural
I can’t get into Lost and you figure that a comic geek like myself would love Heroes, but alas I find myself with little to no interest in either show. The superheroes for TV thing has been done before with forgettable results (i.e. Mutant X) and I have no idea whatsoever is going on with Lost. You could so that I am lost. (HA HA HA funny) The only television show that I even watch is Supernatural. I guess that’s why it wins. Being a huge fan of the X-Files and an equally big fan of horror movies and urban legends, Supernatural has never seemed to let me down. I find myself getting excited when watching previews of the next weeks’ episodes. The show just has a cool mix of many things that I enjoy…myths, legends, horror stories, rock music, muscle cars and even comic book and Star Wars references galore. I know that if Supernatural wasn’t on the CW, that it would be one of the biggest draws on television. Who knows, maybe it will put the CW on the map. It’s definitely a show that could carry a network.
So there you have it…a look into my life in the past year. I hope that 2007 can top this year because if it can’t I’m going to be very depressed and probably won’t do one of these year in review things next year. I know what you’re thinking, oh please, don’t do one ever again. Well, I think about it. Not very hard though. Peace out and to all a good 07!