The real test of a great band is their second album - the first one they had years to write with no-one watching, but the second one? The pressure is on, the clock is ticking, the label is paying for studio time, press are waiting to tear it apart. So when it’s done right, it can be the start of something special. This is my (James) definitive 2nd albums list… With the exception of The Ordinary Boys - which was Darren – these views are my own and not of the rest of the band.
Maybe I’ll Catch Fire - Alkaline Trio
I picked this record up from the local record shop in Norwich some time in 2002, a period in my life when most of my friends were listening to NOFX. But this was clearly the thinking man’s drinking album.
Skiba rates this as one of his least favourite Trio records, he felt it was rushed and produced under quite a bit of internal turmoil. You can hear that - but it’s definitely the start of a band finding their sound - they sounded like nothing else, totally new.
Very Proud of Ya - AFI
I came to AFI really late - I was in a hardcore band in the early 2000s and most of the guys in the band were really into AFI. it wasn’t until much later that I went back and got into this record. I mean, it’s that total SoCal Nitro Records sound that just makes you want to loose your shit.
It wasn’t until writing this that I realised Jade wasn’t even on this record apart from doing a few backing vocals - totally makes sense now. Great record, super fast, super punchy, shame they went too far down the big old ‘spooky kids’ route.
Through Being Cool - Saves The Day
Out of all my 2nd albums, this has to be my number 1. I remember someone I lived with at the time had this video sampler from Equal Vision and in the middle of all the terrible hardcore videos was this video of a bunch of kids having a house party with a band whose singer looked like a 12 year old. Little did I know that a decade and loose change later I’d be able to share a stage with them!
I know they basically ripped off Lifetime but, lyrically, this record really influenced me - that mix of super dark imagery and weird turns of phases. Really cool album.
Dude Ranch - Blink 182
The guitars may sound like a tin of bees, the vocals may be painfully out of tune (weren’t they always, Tom?) and the lyrical themes as thin as toilet paper, but this album has to be peak Blink.
I really got into this record when I’d dropped out of school and moved away from my home for some reason. Things were pretty grim and, despite all the dick jokes, this record really got me through some tough times.
As The Eternal Cowboy - Against Me!
There was a point where I pretty much modelled myself as Tom Gabel (now known as Laura Jane Grace) on the cover of this record. Patch covered black denim? Check! Carabiner? Check! Rickenbacker? Check! If only I could write songs this good.
This record sounded like a band that just wanted to get shit moving - the songs are all real short, mega scrappy and none of the drumming is in time - but there’s a thread through it all that just makes it work. And still to this day, hearing Sink, Florida, Sink in their set never fails to make me go all giddy.
Brassbound - The Ordinary Boys
Gonna repeat this - Darren picked this one. But I’m going to review it. This is exactly the kind of music I imagine Darren liking when I see pictures of him from the mid 2000s. He still sings like this. He’s funnier than Preston though.
Boys Will Be Boys will forever remind me of terrible indie club nights where I’d had too many WKD Blues.
Meat Is Murder - The Smiths
Let me get this out of the way - yes, Morrissey is an asshole. But he still made great music - especially when he was with Marr.
My uncle had a poster of this album on his wall in the late 80s, I remember seeing the cover and being totally intrigued as a young kid. It was probably remembering that poster that triggered me to pick this album up in a Virgin Megastore bargain basement bin for about £3. It was then my love affair with Moz and Marr began. I’m still super influenced by Morrissey’s writing, but goddamn does he make it hard to be a fan of him anymore. I can’t bring myself to listen to any of his new stuff, he’s just insufferable.
Miserable New Experience - Gin Blossoms
I got into Gin Blossoms from watching Empire Records, I was pretty young when I saw that film, but I remember checking out all the bands that were on the posters / stickers / records around the store. Their track Till I Hear It From You that was in the movie had the most mad hook - at the time I was mainly listening to grimes gutter punk stuff, but then I got into all this melodic mid 90s jams.
I went back and checked out this album from ’92 and it was wall to wall bangers - total understanding of melodies - although most of the tunes are all the same chords. Obviously the standout here is Hey Jealously. It was really cool when I heard (one of my favourite bands) Iron Chic’s ‘True Miserable Experience’ - their homage to this song - it opens with the same bass riff and then has the lyric ‘We were singing "Hey Jealousy’, we drove through town and let the cops chase us around”. Pretty cool.
Echoes - The Rapture
I went back and listened to this record - it’s not perfect, but totally summed up the sound of that era. We were all just a bunch of indie loving punks, but we still wanted music to dance to.
The standout track from this record, House of Jealous Lovers, still stands up as one of the greatest songs of all time - it felt like it was all going to fall apart at any moment but in its non-stop cowbell worship it totally took you back to a sweaty basement party somewhere out of your mind. Incredible record.
Owen - No Good For No One Now
Mike Kinsella is definitely still finding his feet on this record - his hushed tones over looping, circular acoustic guitar riffs still impress. His lyrics piece together neat little dioramas that really stick out in your head - “What else in this room reminds me of you? The windowsill, where the crucified pit of an avocado still sits in water”. It wouldn’t be until I Do Perceive that Mike’s songwriting really started to take him beyond just being the ‘guy that was in American Football’.
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O'Holy Ghost are releasing their debut EP TRVTH on July 13th. To celebrate they are throwing a release show on the 26th of July at The Cavendish Arms with Sam Russo, Mean Casear and Modern Shakes. Check out the details for that here: https://www.facebook.com/events/190438044849260/