1. Fall of Transition – Distractions (Evolution Music/EVO Records)
– By and far, this is the best album I have picked up this year. Its release was fraught with delays – it was originally slated to come out in early July, but wound up being released in late September. To say it was worth the wait is an understatement. These North Carolina indie rockers, in their first full length release, have proven that they have what it takes to go the distance.
2. Gym Class Heroes – As Cruel As School Children (Fueled by Ramen Records)
– Normally, hip hop is not my genre of choice. In June of this year I downloaded the Fueled by Ramen summer sampler (featuring other awesome FBR artists, such as Punchline, The Academy Is, Forgive Durden and This Providence). The Gym Class Heroes song “The Queen and I” was included and I was intrigued. I only got the full CD at Christmas and cannot stop listening – it is incredibly infectious, with songs ranging in subject from the serious (the trials and tribulations of making it in the music business) to the hilarious (a montage of spoken tracks about getting sloppy drunk and falling in love at a bar).
3. Rory – We’re Up to No Good, We’re Up to No Good (111 Records)
– Rory is from my hometown, so there is a bit of familiarity here. That aside, this is a really great album, and a great follow up to their 2005 EP (Always Right As In We Are). There are some contagious hooks and cleverly written songs on this CD, but also fantastic musicianship which makes this just an all around great release. These guys put on a great show as well, so if they come to your town, check them out.
4. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Don’t You Fake It (Virgin Records)
– Another band from my home state (though a few hours north of my hometown) that has recently signed to a major label and has made it onto the charts with the song “Face Down”. They are a group of young musicians with fresh talent and a knack for witty, smart writing, and they given melodic punk, a genre that was slowly getting stale, a new lease on life.
5. This is Indie Rock Vol. 3 (Deep Elm Records)
– Deep Elm Records should just be given an award for all that they do for independent music. This is the newest installment of the This Is Indie Rock compilation series, which took over after the end of the Emo Diaries compilation series. It is a fantastic collection of independent music, including bands previously reviewed by the IC (for example, Reed KD’s song “Seventeen” is track 12). I think this series is going to be a great way to get a quick taste of what’s out there and what’s worth listening to.