Blurbs after the jump...
1) Manchester Orchestra / "Colly Strings" / Like A Virgin Losing A Child
Perhaps due to their cavorting with Brand New, MO jumped the 'indie darling' gate right into the land of the up-noses. The way I see it, this band is unfairly maligned because Pitchfork didn't give Virgin a close enough listen before slipping it a 5.1.
2) Weezer / "No Other One" / Pinkerton
For everyone reading this blog via the WiFi in their caves, Weezer put out a great record in 1996.
3) The Starting Line / "Artistic License" / Based On A True Story
I won't try to convert anyone who won't admit to loving pop-punk at one point in their life, but here's my message for anyone who hated BOATS for its lack of "Best Of Me"-caliber flash: get off your horse, because it hasn't been high since about 2002. BOATS is, perhaps, the end-all-be-all of pop-punk. Kenny Vasoli takes songwriting as far as it can go in the all-too-pigeonholable genre and, in my opinion, validates the kind of energetic, euphorically adolescent music on which I grew up.
4) Alkaline Trio / "Sorry About That" / Goddamnit!
Matt Skiba plays a pretty rudimentary guitar, but the dude can write. He and penmate/bassist Dan Andriano have written dozens of poignant, self-aware anthems for young, angry, rebellious teenage alcoholics (and, as it happens, weedy, 14-year-old Catholic school students) that might be, in the eyes of some, tainted by Alkaline Trio's latest few efforts.
5) As Tall As Lions / "Stab City" / As Tall As Lions
Touring the 'post-hardcore' circuit puts a damper on a band's credibility; putting out an album like You Can't Take It With You just about murders it. But ATAL put out one of the best records of the decade, if I may be so bold*, and, before they broke up a few months ago, had just about the best live show around†.
6) Brand New / "You Won't Know" / The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me
Brand New released perhaps the best-written pop-punk album of all time and the greatest album ever to be damned with the 'emo' tag before releasing their masterpiece, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. If it wasn't their uncommon reservedness, it was certainly their undeserved reputation that made critics cover their ears in 2006.
7) The Receiving End Of Sirens / "This Armistice" / Between The Heart And The Synapse
No qualifiers, no bullshit: The Receiving End Of Sirens singlehandedly defined four full years of my life. The same way their immaculately energetic, dynamically creative, undeniably durable take on hardcore/punk/electro-/metal/pop/melodramatic/alternative/etc./etc./etc. was overshadowed by their tours with the likes of Senses Fail, Saves The Days, and New Found Glory, my conventional high school memories were swallowed whole by ecstatic flashbacks of the 30-some-odd TREOS shows I enjoyed with my friends the way only a bunch of 17-year-old shitheads can enjoy.
8) Jimmy Eat World / "Goodbye Sky Harbor" / Clarity
Sure, we're all still pissed at Jimmy Eat World for dashing all hopes of a minute of contemplative thought with that damn "Middle" song about ten years ago...but don't let that keep you from their flawlessly executed, stylistically diverse sophomore album, Clarity. And check out Futures while you're at it, too.
* Just my opinion, based on my experiences and connection with the album. Don't jump down my throat for that and cite three Arcade Fire albums that were better...