Top 10 Albums/EP’s That DID NOT Suck in 2020

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It doesn’t matter how shitty things are, the music never suffers. In fact it thrives! The past year was, of course, the ultimate test for this theory and once again it’s proven true. That’s the thing about punk and punk-adjacent music; the harder things get, the more vital this stuff becomes. It’s always been there, tying tethers around the ankles of the toxic giants and, if we’re honest, we barely cause a ripple in the ocean of poison that fuels this planet. Don’t ever let anyone tell you we never change anything though, because what this music is doing is building a mentality. A mentality that grows stronger with each generation. We will never back down. This shit is unrelenting.

It’s been a weird year, a tragic year, a depressing year. Next year, with any luck, will be a little more “normal”, but whatever happens, the spirit of this music will never waver. It will live on far in to a future where kids are playing glow in the dark lazer flutes and brainwave-controlled moon drums. They’ll be playing that shit hard though. You’re gonna feel the pain and the rage and the love. No matter what it sounds like, it will always be punk.

Onward to the top ten!

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street sity surf where i live nowStreet Sity Surf – Where I live Now  🇺🇸 Portland, ME
Typically these lists are in no particular order but, between you and me, this is my favourite release of 2020. I knew it would be since I first heard the opening track all the way back in February. Remember February?! Haha oh how innocent we all were back then.

cursetheknife thank you for being hereCursetheknife – Thank You For Being Here  🇺🇸 Oklahoma City
Jumping from February all the way to November. Oh how defeated we all were by then. Who would have thought nine months could deliver such a whooping to our collective ass. That’s right we’re all in this together and we all share the same ass. This album actually came out in two parts which I find irritating so I downloaded both of them and combined them to make one sensible album.

gatsu inner struggleGatsu – Inner Struggle  🇨🇱 Talagante, Chile
Gatsuuuuu! Man this thing jumps. It’s not often these days you hear a hardcore record with such relentless vocals. Relentless is maybe an understatement. Does this guy even breath? Does he require oxygen at all? He probably needs to lay down and take a short nap after every song when they play live. I’m not mad at that at all. There should be more napping at hardcore shows.

alright im doing this to myselfAlright – I’m Doing This To Myself 🇺🇸 Charlotte, NC
As far as rad bands putting out rad music goes, North Carolina had a good 2020. I can think of at least three albums from that state that blew me away this year. This one has to be my favourite though. These songs really stick to the head. How does a band sound so fresh and so classic at the same time? The guitar riff in “Lapse” is like masturbation for your ears, and you don’t even have to feel guilty about going to hell or anything.

fossil arm in bad declineFossil Arm – In Bad Decline 🇺🇸 Austin, TX
There is not so much as a hint of positivity on this album. Most of these songs are about being brutally crushed by the weight of the world. Isn’t that wonderful! If you’re not currently in bad decline, these guys can certainly get you going in that direction. It’s strange though, because the band themselves are not in bad decline. They are anything but. They only disseminate the declination that is bad. They are the vendors of the bad decline. Get it while it’s hot.

laverne lack of vocationLaverne – Lack Of Vocation 🇨🇦 Vancouver, BC
I’ve been singing the praises of this band for a while now. Their first full-length Yarrow was my number one album back in 2018. Obviously I was pretty hyped when a new one came out. This sort of behavior often leads to disappointment. I’m not the type of person to just automatically like an album because it’s by one of my favourite bands. I do genuinely like this album though, a lot. I’m still not sure how to describe the guys voice. I’ve been going with “sarcastic”. I don’t know if that’s accurate though. Anyway it’s just dripping with attitude. Oh fuck I described someone’s voice with the word “dripping”. This is disgusting.

deaf chonky harshDeaf Chonky – Harsh 🇮🇱 Tel Aviv, Israel
What do you call it when a bands name is kind of the best way to describe their music? Some sort of musical onomatopoeia? I don’t know but I think you’ll agree this band, if not deaf, is most definitely chonky. And the album is called Harsh, which is also an accurate description. It’s not harsh-noise though. Maybe this is getting a bit confusing. Let’s just stick to chonky. It’s just chonky ok. That is the most clear and non-confusing way anyone could possibly describe this music.

fake eyes a drip is all we knowFake Eyes – A Drip Is All We Know 🇺🇸 Charlotte, NC
The new Hum album came out in June to great acclaim and a month later this little EP dropped and I was like “Hum who?”. Sure that’s a big statement and the new Hum album is pretty amazing but I’m telling you, these guys can hang. I strongly advise you to keep an eye on them. Watch, now that I said that they’ll never release anything again. Thanks a lot Fake Eyes. Another one of those killer releases out of North Carolina btw. What is in the water there? Hold on, I’ll look it up.. Ah ok, hexavalent chromium and vanadium, that’s what’s in the water.

old moon past livesOld Moon – Past Lives 🇺🇸 Lyme, NH
When it comes to new wave and it’s surrounding genres I’m pretty picky. It has to be dark but not too dark. It has to be moody but not too moody. Ok it can be too moody. Has to be guitar driven. Has to have the right style of vocals. Has to have some post-punk or shoegaze vibes. Has to sound like what walking in the rain and/or fog would sound like if you put it into a machine that converted it into music. And it has to invoke feelings of nostalgia, wistfullness and melancholy. In other words, THIS.

the yaupon holly bandThe Yaupon Holly – Self Titled 🇺🇸 Gainesville, FL
I recently learned from a friend in Florida that a Yaupon Holly is some kind of shrub or bush. I saw a picture of it and I gotta say, as far as holly goes, that shit is kind of uninspiring. I mean the leaves aren’t even prickly. I hate to be a holly-snob but I was raised to grade a holly bush based on how prickly it’s leaves are. LISTEN! If you’re a holly bush.. right.. RIGHT? and you haven’t a single prickle ON YOUR LEAVES.. What in THE ACTUAL oohhh.. Ok I’m gonna take a little break and come back to this. . Ok I’m back. We’re good. They may not be what a holly tree should be but they are exactly what a post-hardcore band should be. I heard they only had one show and then covid happened. Here’s hoping they come back.

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Well.. That’s it my loyal reader(s). These are the best relatively lesser-known albums of 2020. I mean as far as my opinion goes they are. If you’re not satisfied with this list, you should make your own. You should always keep digging for new bands. There’s literally thousands of them popping up every year. Be careful though. Most of them are fucking horrible. If you want to skip the part where you listen to all that bad music, you can check out the SCRAP HEAP where I try to weed out all the duds. Anyways, happy hunting everyone. Keep on fighting the good fight. I hope your 2021 is normal af. Follow me on twitter @SteveDoesnt and join the Doesn’t Suck Facebook group!

ARTIFACTS UPDATE: Unearthing Rare Releases From the Past

God And Texas – Criminal Element
(1993) (post-hardcore)
Chicago, IL 🇺🇸

Fake Hyppi – Discography
(late 90’s) (post-hardcore)
Toulouse, France 🇫🇷

The Howards – Switchblade Rock N Roll
(2000) (ramones-core)
Springfield, MA 🇺🇸

Jeremiah’s Grotto – Through It All
(2001) (emo)
California 🇺🇸

Unherd – Self Titled
(1991) (emocore)
Columbia, SC 🇺🇸

Paper Lantern – Intro
(1999) (post-hardcore)
Los Angeles, CA 🇺🇸

Build Nest Sleep – Diskografi
(mid 2000’s) (emo-noise)
Oslo, Norway 🇳🇴

Biscayne – You’d Build A Robot
(2001) (pop-punk)
Illinois 🇺🇸

Downtime – Lose Yourself
(1995) (hardcore)
Sydney, AUS 🇦🇺

Gregor – Untitled
(1995) (post-hardcore)
Detroit, MI 🇺🇸

Tropiezo/KLH – Split
(2008) (hardcore)
Puerto Rico & Mexico 🇵🇷🇲🇽

LAPM – Buscando Problemas
(2001) (pop-punk)
Bogota, Colombia 🇨🇴

Die Atlantikschwimmer – Kassetto Fix
(1983) (post-punk)
Bavaria, Germany 🇩🇪

The Fragments/Modern Machines – Split
(2002) (pop-punk)
Green Bay, WI 🇺🇸

Scarper – Not As Punk As You
(1998) (pop-punk)
Hull, UK 🇬🇧

Some Still Believe – Self Titled
(2001) (hardcore)
San Francisco, CA 🇺🇸

Fair Warning – All Of The Songs
(late 90’s) (pop-punk)
Roslyn, NY 🇺🇸

Down Division – Fall
(1995) (pop-punk)
Philadelphia, PA 🇺🇸

The Goodbye Kiss – Self Titled
(2005) (emo)
Tucson, AZ 🇺🇸

Complete Control – Reaction
(2004) (street-punk)
Austin, TX 🇺🇸

Odd Man Out – Self Titled
(1997) (pop-punk)
Alexandria, MN 🇺🇸

Toxic Avengers – Full Moon..
(1993) (melodic-hardcore)
New Zealand 🇳🇿

Stay Gold – Self Titled
(2001) (hardcore)
Seattle, WA 🇺🇸

Down Division – Grinning
(1997) (melodic-hardcore)
Philadelphia, PA 🇺🇸

Shortfuse – Jacked Up & Muddy
(2003) (pop-punk)
Boise, ID 🇺🇸

Life Is A Fight – Self Titled
(2006) (screamo)
Athens, GA 🇺🇸

Brain Damage – Do It Yourself
(1999) (pop-punk)
Campana, Argentina 🇦🇷

Fire Is Fatal – Self Titled
(1998) (screamo)
Virginia Beach, VA 🇺🇸

Panic Button – Nothing To Fear
(2002) (indie-rock)
Oakland, CA 🇺🇸

Bush Tetras – Boom In The Night
(early 80’s) (no-wave)
New York, NY 🇺🇸

The Unbelievers – One Soil
(1988) (garage-punk)
London, UK 🇬🇧

Chumpslap – Fleet Week
(1995) (gutter-punk)
Bay Area, CA 🇺🇸

Constatine Sankathi – Discography
(1997) (emocore)
Kalamazoo, MI 🇺🇸

Only Ten Between Us – Youth Posi Snack Attach
(1997) (hardcore)
Davenport, IA 🇺🇸

Recordiau Anhrefn – Dim Heddwch/Priodas Hapus
(1984) (post-punk)
Wales, UK 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

After Words – Self Titled
(1989) (emocore)
Atlanta, GA 🇺🇸

Top 10 Albums/EP’s That DON’T Suck [OCTOBER 2020]

cabeza de juarez furry transpilledCabeza de Juárez – Furry Transpilled
(lo-fi) (indie-punk)
Mexico 🇲🇽

petrov flower bedPetrov – Flower Bed
(indie-punk) (indie-rock)
Charlotte, NC 🇺🇸

lk ultra youre not gonna like thisLK Ultra! – You’re Not Gonna Like This
(pop-punk) (emo)
Lawrence, KS 🇺🇸

jungle boys barredJungle Boys – Barred
(post-punk) (punk)
Manchester, UK 🇬🇧

Культодиночества ИстлетьКультодиночества – Истлеть
(coldwave) (darkwave)
Russia 🇷🇺

loft and lillow love songs for lucyLoft & Lillow – Love Songs For Lucy
(emo) (folk-punk)
Los Angeles, CA 🇺🇸

zidima Del nostro abbraccio ostinato in questa crepa in fondo al mareZiDima – Del Nostro..
(post-hardcore) (noise)
Catania, Italy 🇮🇹

dumb luck made to rustDumb Luck – Made To Rust
(pop-punk) (indie)
Corvallis, OR 🇺🇸

НочнНочная Игротека Nochnaya Igrotekaая Игротека – Nochnaya..
(coldwave) (post-punk)
Russia 🇷🇺

crescent ridgeCrescent Ridge – Self Titled
(punk) (grunge)
Stoughton, MA 🇺🇸

I was in the 9th grade when the internet became a household luxury. Not in my house apparently. They had a couple computers in the library at school that were Online though. Usually they were occupied by someone bigger than you wearing a Fubu shirt. They were those nice computers with the CD-ROM thingy. You could entertain yourself for 15 minutes just making the little CD tray go in and out.

There used to be Internet lessons in the library, but only like 10 students at a time because our school was budget and there were only 5 computers (2 people per). The man teaching the lessons doubled as the librarian and he was old enough to have a patchy grey beard. In hindsight this leads me to wonder, how on earth did Mr Whathisface’s old ass know so much about the many wonders of Netscape Navigator? His first lesson was How to Use The Yahoo Search Engine.

There wasn’t much on the internet those days, but most of the websites were rad ass colours like purple with yellow text. Extra chunky pixels too – just how I like ‘em. Seriously. it’s my dream to someday make The Doesn’t Suck feel like a trip back in time to the internet of the late 90’s.

The first thing I searched was “The Screeching Weasel Story“, which I’m sure you can still find online or in the liner notes of Kill The Musicians. It was actually the first time the concept of writing seemed cool to me, and the first time the internet had something to offer. I still had mixed feelings though, because Enema Fanzine had an editorial about how unpunk it was to use a computer.

Today every punk and their mom is online, and 20-something years after logging on to Netscape that day, I think it’s fair to say, the internet is well on it’s way to destroying us completely. We’ve created this disgusting monster and only The Doesn’t Suck can save us! Well no.. that’s not true. We’re all fucked. Nothing can save us, but if you want to listen to some cool tunes.. umm you can listen to these ones or whatever.

Yeah bye.

Top 10 Albums/EP’s That DON’T Suck [SEPTEMBER 2020]

laverne lack of vocationLaverne – Lack Of Vocation
(post-punk) (garage)
Vancouver, BC 🇨🇦

mixed signals so far goneMixed Signals – So Far Gone
(pop-punk) (melodic)
Chattanooga, TN 🇺🇸

last quokka unconscious driversLast Quokka – Unconscious Drivers
(post-punk) (aussie-attitude)
Perth, Australia 🇦🇺

sbdc the feeling of winningSBDC – The Feeling Of Winning
(riot grrrl) (pop-punk)
Vancouver, BC 🇨🇦

metayouth ronaldMetayouth – Ronald
(shoegaze) (emo)
Gadsden, AL 🇺🇸

cunj smooth grindCunj – Smooth Grind
(indie-rock) (indie-punk)
Palatine, Illinois 🇺🇸

open house gatorOpen House – Gator
(emo) (indie-punk)
Woodsfield, Ohio 🇺🇸

mutombo dreadfully yoursMutombo – Dreadfully Yours
(indie-rock) (indie-punk)
Jakarta, Indonesia 🇮🇩

moonkisser summers fleeting majestyMoonkisser – Summers Fleeting Ma..
(post-hardcore) (hardcore)
Portland, Oregon 🇺🇸

miketeeevee magic wordsMikeTeeeVeee – Magic Words
(lo-fi) (indie-rock)
Marquette, MI 🇺🇸

Hello, and thank you for coming. Why don’t you shake that load off and stay a while? Have a look around. There’s lots to discover! This includes but is most certainly not limited to this months top ten albums that do not suck. Come onnnn, let me take your coat.. No? Ok no problem. Keep it on. Whatever. Hey where are you going? Don’t leave. Trust me, there’s nothing out there for you. The world is absolute shit. Why not kick back and forget about it for a wile. Listen to these bands. Just do it! Hey! Don’t you trust me? Hey feck yew!

A scuffle ensues..

Ok great. I’m glad we worked that out. Please don’t struggle, you’ll only give yourself rope-burn. Ok! So! Where was I?.. ah yes..

This list contains a new release from one of my favourite local bands, Laverne. It’s been a highly anticipated album for me and it did not disappoint. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint you either. If it does, that’s ok; It just means you have a bad attitude and you’re not very good at listening to music. Good thing you’re currently in the worlds greatest music-listening training facility. Get your ass in the SCRAP HEAP and give me 50 soldier!

Somebody seriously needs to take the internet away from me.

Yeah bye,

PS: I think that Mixed Signals album may feature some of the same members as a very obscure and mysterious band you may recall I was obsessed with a few years ago (and still am) called Briscoe. If anyone can confirm this and offer any more information, please get in touch.

TRAJECTORIES: Reflecting On The Moments When Music Changed Our Lives

bob ladewigWhen I was twelve years old I started skateboarding. My fifteen year old sister started dating skater guys and I wanted to be just like them. I quickly absorbed myself in skate culture. I watched videos, had my mom buy me the baggy clothes and gear and most importantly I started listening to skate music. The music found in skate videos of the time, to be precise. This music has had a long term effect on my tastes and a lot of these bands have remained in my constant rotation of music I enjoy. Bands I would otherwise have never been exposed to if it weren’t for skate videos of the 90’s. New Deal introduced me to The Odd Numbers, a San Jose mod/pop/punk band who always sounded like a retro band ahead of their time.

After breaking off from Powell, Tony Hawk formed Birdhouse Projects and introduced me to Pixies, Fluf and New Model Army. What other “mainstream” arena would you find any of that music?

The 90’s also introduced me to some great hip hop. I would watch Yo! MTV Raps on the weekends, so I had an appreciation for some of the bigger acts, like Public Enemy and NWA, but the skate company Planet Earth used a few songs by SWAT. Ever heard them? Probably not. The World Industries faction released so many videos with a random array of genres and styles of music.

Feasters – Birdhouse Projects (1992) – This kicked off my love affair with Pixies. I still listen to those first 5 albums all the time. One of my favorite bands – then they became too big for themselves in the head of Frank Blank. What a shame.

Falling Down – 101 (1993) – Gang Starr. Skateboarding and Yo! MTV Raps introduced me hip hop. I was never a fan of gangster rap, so Gang Starr is as tough as I get. Premiere’s jazzy loops and effects under Guru’s voice make Gang Starr stand head and shoulders above the rest.

From 1990 – 1998 I was all about skateboarding. I wanted to get sponsored, but living in the suburbs of Chicago (and not Los Angeles) made that a difficult task. Being not that good didn’t help either, but I tried. I met a lot of friends through skateboarding. We would take trips to different spots/parks/states just to skate, fall, get up and try again. It was a constant.

I’m an old man now and I officially live in Los Angeles. I’ve given up the dream of being a sponsored skateboarder, but I still try to get out to the local spots and parks and ride for fun. I’ve still got a few tricks in me. Sometimes my muscle memory kicks in and I think I can still do the same tricks I used to, however my body usually disagrees. Growing up is weird.

I compiled clips of old skate videos I made with friends back in the day, as well as some more recent clips. So here’s another important video part, including a song and band I love dearly:

Thank You Skateboarding (1993 – 2020) / Beauty Pill

COMPOST (September 2020)

Hey whatsup? You got like 40 hours of spare time and nothing to do? Well, I don’t know what kind of freak you are but I’ve got your back. Here’s a metric shit-pile of compilation albums that came out in the past few months. This is no joke. One of these comps has like 150 songs on it. Here’s your chance to discover a lot of new bands. It doesn’t matter what gender you identify with, you are going to have a caveman beard when you get done with this. Happy hunting!

💀Year Of The Mask – Avant! Records (darkwave) (newwave)

💀2020 Earth Day Comp – Mourning Records (indie rock) (emo)

💀Blood Fest Comp – Violent Breed Records (hardcore) (punk)

💀Noise From The South – Struggle Records (hardcore) (punk rock)

💀Music Venue Trust – CPRW Records (pop-punk) (skate-punk)

💀Big Bully Comp – Orlando Punk Archive (90’s) (indie) (punk)

💀Crowd Kill Your Lampshade – Bitter Hearts Records (grindcore( (hardcore)

💀Volume One – Sockhead Records (punk rock) (garage-punk)

💀Kat Music For Kat People Vol IV -Bloated Kat Records (pop-punk) (powerpop)

💀Give Me The Cure Volume One (punk) (indie)

💀Horror Of The Unwashed Hands – Kafadan Kontak (garage-punk) (garage-rock)

💀Sick Boyz II – Stupid Decisions Records (bedroom-pop) (indie)

💀Only Death Is Fatal – Immaculate Obscurity (70’s) (80’s) (punk)

💀Protest And Survive Compilation (indie rock) (garage-punk)

💀Retrospective Ghosts – Isolation Records (hardcore) (garage-punk)

💀2020 Sampler – The Ghost Is Clear Records (hardcore) (noise) (screamo)

💀19 Notes On A Broken System (punk) (punk rock) (hardcore)

💀2020 Sampler – Flowerpot Records (lo-fi) (indie) (shoegaze)

💀A Compilation Vol.2 – Dammit Presents (punk rock) (emo)

💀Black And Loud – Ontario Artists Against Injustice (afro-punk) (indie-rock)

Top 10 Albums/EP’s That DON’T Suck [AUGUST 2020]

alright im doing this to myselfAlright – I’m Doing This To Myself
(indie-punk) (fuzz)
Charlotte, North Carolina 🇺🇸

heckdang fine just thinkingHeckdang – Fine Just Thinking
(emo) (indie-punk)
Charlotte, North Carolina 🇺🇸

glue horse self inflictedGlue Horse – Self Inflicted
(shoegaze) (grunge)
Massachusetts 🇺🇸

chimes of bayonets archiverChimes Of Bayonets – Archiver
(punk rock) (math)
Ithica, New York 🇺🇸

cabeza de juarez cdjCabeza De Juárez – CDJ
(lofi) (indie)
Mexico 🇲🇽

help 2053Help – 2053
(noise) (hardcore)
United States 🇺🇸

tuning defining the purposeTuning – Defining The Purpose
(hardcore) (emocore)
Oakland, California 🇺🇸

catsick conflicted splitCatsick/Conflicted – Split
(punk) (hardcore)
New Zealand & Russia 🇳🇿🇷🇺

narrow head 12th house rockNarrow Head – 12th House Rock
(shoegaze) (grunge)
Houston, Texas 🇺🇸

feels fine gripFeels Fine – Grip
(emo) (indie)
Toronto, Ontario 🇨🇦

Borders are scary. You make a border and the people on the other side become “others”. Even within my country I feel an innate degree of estrangement from the people in the province next to mine. There are 195 countries on planet earth (and counting) but even if we did away with all the borders, we would still have the imaginary ones in our minds because we’re disgusting. Tribalism is at the core of our nature and, until we un-do it, we’ll always be the joke of the galaxy.

In other news: I really half-assed the top ten this month. You’ll notice the SCRAP HEAP is a little light compared to other months. Life has just been a tad chaotic for me lately but I still managed to scrounge together ten killer releases from August for your enjoyment motherfuckers.

Pardon my language.

In more other news: I have been suspended from Facebook. Those of you who are members of the Doesn’t Suck Facebook group may have noticed the lack of my presence. Apparently Facebook insists that all it’s members use their real identity on the site and they don’t believe that Steve Doesnt is my real name. They wanted me to send a photo of my ID to prove it, so I sent them a picture of a hamburger. I’m still waiting to hear back from them, but for now my account is suspended indefinitely. I’m the only administrator of the group too, so it’s a fuckin free-for-all now isn’t it. Fuck it! Carte blanche for chaos! Have fun you guys. If they don’t re-activate my account I may start a new one but who knows if I’ll ever feel like doing that. For now you should follow me on twitter and join in the conversations there.

Yeah bye.

TRAJECTORIES: Reflecting On The Moments When Music Changed Our Lives

dan vierckSustaining Momentum and Trajectory

In my early teens my slightly older neighbor played lead guitar in a band that covered Nirvana songs. I hounded him with variations of: ‘Yeah but what song do just real fans love?’ He was so nice that it took him a whole summer before he lost his patience and told me that every real fan’s favorite song is the first song on From the Muddy Banks of the Wishka. I sprinted home. Twenty plus years later obviously it was a pretty funny joke but that afternoon – and many times after that – I set my CD player on repeat and listened and re-listened to Krist and Dave tuning while Kurt stoked the fire under his larynx of boiling nails. I wedged myself between the decibels, searching for some hidden Pandora’s box, or rabbit hole, or skeleton key. I wanted in with that particular earnest, maniacal determination that is common as cooties amongst dejected, selectively vulnerable adolescents.

This was late 90’s. Nirvana was over. I bounced between the library and Napster and Sam Goody to hear every band Kurt Cobain ever mentioned in an interview, in liner notes, on a shirt, or on his shoes. No one was loud enough, catchy enough, unintelligible enough, or Nirvana-y enough. So for years I marinated in three studio albums, one outtakes album, one live album, one live acoustic album, four terrible “import” bootlegs, and a live compilation VHS.

One gutter entrepreneur in our 6,444-person town owned a PA and would rent out the basement of a senior citizen community center for shows. There’d be the band that covered Nickleback, the band that covered Jimmy Eat World, and then my neighbor’s band. And on one fateful night there was an ‘all originals’ band on the bill called Cured Ham.

I bought their CD before they even played. The guy who sold it to me said, ‘We haven’t played yet. Are you sure?’ Yes, of course I’m sure. I took it to my car and unwrapped it but fought the urge to play it immediately. I mean – what could a band called Cured Ham possibly sound like? In the single-fold insert, one of the five guys had a BC Rich guitar so, joke or tragically-serious were both on the table.

The dubiously named quintet eventually took the stage – no BC Rich – and they exploded. I remember chaos. I remember a sensation not of my equilibrium shattering but of it having shattered. Every sense I had went to rubble. I could not find a thread of anything I had ever heard before to grasp onto, to begin to understand what I was hearing. I’d tell people later, “There was one guy who all he did was scream.” I’d add, “Like a dinosaur.” That’s the best I could do.

I said they took the stage but there was no stage. The lights in the room were on. Some wood paneling, otherwise white walls with framed prints of flowers. Oak trimmed windows and doors. It probably wasn’t their first song, or the second. I’d like to think for some reason it was the third song where I could finally understand some of the words: “It’s fucking cold outside / I wanna die! (palm mute) Die! (palm mute) Die!”

I doubled over in ecstasy, laughing. I laughed Guinness Book hard. This seismic euphoria unclogged synaptic channels or paved new ones. Or both. I don’t know. But I found my new Nirvana.

No one cared. Mom, brothers, friends, karate instructor. I told everyone about it. I started my new life with curedham.net everyday. Nothing changed. Then every week. Nothing changed. Until some search led to some link led to some page to say they’d changed their name to Farewell to Twilight.

They played a lot of shows at an old armory, so, in a gym. They would rent it out and invite other bands from Southern Wisconsin or Northern Illinois to play. Still no stage and the only lights were construction-grade floods on the ground.

Other fans of Farewell to Twilight, I suppose, already listened to Small Brown Bike and Hot Water Music and Converge. Whoever. And they knew to wear all black – especially black shoes. And don’t show up to Warped Tour with a homemade t-shirt. And if you’re gonna thrash, it’s a short violent burst through the pit with your head down swinging your fists and feet: Like This. You do it Like This or else who the fuck do you think you are? You’re ruining this for us. And if you’re not doing the short violent burst through the pit then you stand. Your arms. are. folded. at. all. times.

I bought almost every t-shirt they made. I had one for every day of the week plus a spare. They never really left the Midwest or toured for more than a week that I remember. But I drove to Rockford, Milwaukee, and St. Paul to see them.

They got to play at their tiny town’s Fourth of July celebration one year. They were still playing when the fireworks started and I knew that this was the best live music experience I was ever going to have. I knew someone was going to stop it, and they did, but it was fine. Seeing them was good enough. Seeing them with fireworks? C’mon. What kind of world would it be if things that good went unabated?

Farewell to Twilight announced three final shows and played two of them. They released a last song online and poof. Done.

To date I have one tattoo: The letters FTT inside a shield shape on my ankle. The shield shape mimes Kurt Cobain’s only tattoo (which he got to prove his loyalty to a label he wanted to be on). No matter what else might change I knew I wanted to make permanent something about this version of myself, the version of myself who cared more about music than anything, who cared more about this music than anything. I wanted something to be permanent because things were starting to change. I was signing leases, applying for jobs, and charging $185 of khakis, leather shoes, and a belt on a shiny new Kohls card.

Ten years later I’m married, one child and trying for a second, with a house, a dog, an all-consuming hobby of performing stand up comedy, also drinking too much, with sprawling credit card debt, and a series of unfulfilling retail jobs that landed me in the esteemed position of Insurance Salesman. This brought me to the door of a screen printing shop owned and operated by the former rhythm guitarist of – who else – Farewell to Twilight.

Me in my flat-front business casual pants, tucked-in Goodwill button down, and the shoes I’d bought for my wedding repurposed for this. Naturally I apologized for how I looked. He coolly responded along the lines of: ‘Nah, this’s always been you.’ The statement rang devastatingly true, instantly, and was the most unwelcome news I’d ever received.

I didn’t want to admit to myself that the Farewell to Twilight part of me was attached to the selling insurance part. I’d only adopted the insurance selling facade to provide for my family. And yet here was 1/5th of the venerable institution by which I definied myself (my self of selfs, my self so true I didn’t even tell most people about it) pointing out that I was irrefutably both, if not more facade than venerable institution!

My opinions about music and art should be more important than the things I do to provide for my family, right? I’m not just another credit card account balance, am I? No – I’m the guy with the Farewell to Twilight tattoo! Do you hear that, Kohls?! Do You?!

But if I am a cog, if I am little or nothing more than an interest-generating account balance, then what are Nirvana and Farewell to Twilight? Are they ugly and dismissable remainders of juvenile development, like baby fat or wisdom teeth? Are they totems of stunted development, or breadcrumbs leading me backward to a smothering death of instant gratifications? What is it about me that I can’t get past them? Or what is it about them?

I will call Sean a “vocalist,” conceding to detractors that some of the time what he’s doing is not singing. His voice is a Killdozer. It is blunt and merciless. It’s movements are tectonic, impassioned, puppeteered by the metaphysical. Tyler’s lead guitar work is searing needlepoint, establishing expectations then left-turning and curve-balling, a Pied Piper who teases and eludes. Bryan’s thundering rhythm guitar and Tyrannosaurus wails ground the whole business. His presence anchored everything FTT did or hoped to do. Drummers never get enough credit. Mark was as volatile as any other member and imbued his parts with character enough that if the band were the beast they sound like they are, the drums would be an ornate and multifaceted exoskeleton more than a purely structural necessity.

I am not nor have I ever been “a Killdozer.” I do not sear or wail, or thunder. Ornamentation embarrasses me, and my posture only suggests the possibility of a skeleton. I am a caricature of a white, middle class male. I have two bachelor’s degrees, and I have guitars I don’t know how to play. I like button down shirts. I worked sales. I am that guy.

But irrefutably, the first night I saw Farewell to Twilight changed my life. It jump started a then un-namable determination to be a certain way. Not to dress a certain way or to have a certain job, though, as much as I thought that was it. The years since they disbanded I kept coming back to the CD I’d burned of all 21 of their songs, and each time I listened it stirred the dim embers among the pale coals of my bygone aspirations. “Stirred the dim embers among the pale coals of my bygone aspirations?” Jesus Christ. My undying attraction to their music tripped me up like a root bulging through the foundation of my cozy bubble of privilege. There was something there but I never stopped to dig it up, you know? It was enough for me to know something, potentially something meaningful, was there.

We can go as long as we want without asking why something feels significant. We can go on without questioning because maybe we don’t want to, or don’t have to, but at a time in my life where I felt rudderless and was grasping at every straw for one sense of self from which I could cobble some sort of direction, I had to wonder: Why do I keep coming back, what – if anything – is there?

Farewell to Twilight struck a balance of articulation and abandon. They stared down the barrel of the relentless unknowableness that life can be, and they metabolized it into hostile and caustic parcels, as honest as they are clear. Striking and sustaining that balance is a process, a courage, and an ambition worth emulating, no matter where I buy my pants or whatever else changes.

One of my many insurance supervisors, all who stood to earn more if I earned more, took me out to lunch and asked what success looked like to me. I said it’d be nice to make enough money to pay my monthly bills (which after a year I’d almost done once), but that even if I was making that much money I’d feel like a failure because I’d be sacrificing more than I was willing to sacrifice to make money for the sake of making money. Shortly after that I transitioned to full time bartender (where I’d been picking up shifts to make ends meet).

After years of failing to develop a skill set of moderation I finally stopped drinking. I kept doing comedy, but scaled back. I enrolled in a debt management program. I still bartend at what is essentially a truck stop. In this capacity I entertain no delusion of ambition. There’s an autonomy I enjoy and some regulars have become friends, but I knew going in I was doing it for the money and the schedule. I am at home with our second son during the day. I am providing my family with more than any amount of money would. I am at peace. I am honest and clear and leaning forward.

Farewell To Twilight Bandcamp page

If you have a story you’d like to tell please get in touch!

Top 10 Albums/EP’s That DON’T Suck [JULY 2020]

oma oklahoma normalnull

Oma Oklahoma – Normalnull
(post-punk) (garage-punk)
Hamburg, Germany🇩🇪

acne crash club


Acne – Crash Club
(emo) (shoegaze)
Charlotte , North Carolina🇺🇸

fake eyes a drip is all we know


Fake Eyes – A Drip Is All We Know
(post-hardcore) (indie-punk)
Charlotte, North Caroilina🇺🇸

Apsurd Derealizacija Svemu će doći kraj


Apsurd – Svemu će doći kraj
(hardcore) (anarcho)
Belgrade, Serbia🇷🇸

shameover stay down


Shameover – Stay Down
(pop-punk) (indie-punk)
Vancouver, British Columbia🇨🇦

the jones street boys roker


The Jones Street Boys – Roker
(punk rock) (shedrock)
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK🇬🇧

as in everyday such an awful waste


As In Everyday – Such An Awful Waste
(emocore) (post-hardcore)
New York City, NY🇺🇸

ow my face


Ow! My Face – Self Titled
(street-punk) (punk rock)
Christchurch, New Zealand🇳🇿

lethal limits off the grid


Lethal Limits – Off The Grid
(lo-fi) (indie-punk)
Oakland, California🇺🇸

hallregn


Hällregn – Self Titled
(punk) (garage-punk)
Stockholm, Sweden🇸🇪

The first CD I ever bought was “Something Green & Leafy This Way Comes” by SNFU. I found myself standing in an HMV at a time when punk wasn’t popular enough to have it’s own section. It was just mixed in with the “alternative” section. I wasn’t really sure what to buy, but when I saw SNFU I remembered hearing them on the radio and they sounded pretty punk. “Green & Leafy” was the only album in stock, so I got it. That album was kind of a departure, for them, into alternative rock and when I first heard it I was like “what is this shit? It sounds like The Tragically Hip! I totally failed my first CD purchase!” It wasn’t a very well received album by me or (if I remember correctly) (I often don’t) their core fans, but it grew on me because it was the only CD I had. I didn’t even own my own CD player yet, so I had to wait till my sister was out of the house so I could use her stereo to rock out. I remember air-guitaring to it, shirtless, in her bedroom with the lights off and a crack of sun coming in through the blinds. To this day I still have a strong connection to songs like “Painful Reminder” , “This Is A Goodbye” and “Reality Is A Ride On The Bus”. 

“You’d be surprised at the ones that slip deep into the dark abyss, never to be seen again. Well this is a goodbye to them” 

This is my goodbye to Chi Pig of the mighty SNFU who we lost on July 16th. Chi, if you’re reading this (LMFAO). Thanks for the tunes man. 

Moving on to this months top ten. What about it? It’s right there. Go listen to it. It’s chock-full of rad albums by bands from all over the world. There’s a band in there who wrote a song about arguing with your barber because he won’t give you a mullet. See if you can find it. It’s like a scavenger hunt and the prize is music that doesn’t suck. If you have even more time to waste, make sure you check out the SCRAP HEAP for heaps of other great releases from July. Follow me on Twitter @SteveDoesnt and join The Doesn’t Suck group on Facebook. Be cool, stay safe, yeah bye.