Friday, December 31, 2010
LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening,
Yeasayer - Odd Blood,
Sleigh Bells - Treats,
The Walkmen - Lisbon,
Sun Kil Moon - Admiral Fell Promises,
M.I.A. - /\/\/\Y/\,
Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue,
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs,
Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain't No Grave,
Serj Tankian - Imperfect Harmonies,
Jonsi - Go,
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma,
Broken Bells - Broken Bells,
Caribou - Swim,
Devo - Something For Everybody,
Magnetic Fields - Realism,
Surfer Blood - Astrocoast.
Now, without further ado, Evil Brian's Top 20 Albums of the Year!
20. Vampire Weekend - Contra: While not as immediately captivating as their out-of-nowhere debut, this sophomore album sees the ultimate preppy band expanding their sound a little following their percussionist's electro-pop side project Discovery. Still plenty of laid-back afropop tunes for lazy summer days.
Recommended Tracks: Giving Up the Gun, Cousins, I Think Ur a Contra, Horchata.
19. Against Me! - White Crosses: The veteran punk rockers go a little more folksy/Springsteenesque in their follow-up to the amazing New Wave and forms a logical progression in the evolution of their sound. They started as bratty anarchist punks and, as the band members have aged, so has their music, exposing new facets and dimensions of not only their personalities, but their songs and influences as well. An adult record for a genre not usually trusting of adults.
Recommended tracks: I Was a Teenage Anarchist, White Crosses, Rapid Decompression, Spanish Moss, Bob Dylan Dream (bonus track).
18. The Black Keys - Brothers: The Black Keys finally break through into the mainstream with an absolute blockbuster of an album. They've come a long way from recording entire albums on a 1980 Tascam, nowadays getting top notch production from the likes of Danger Mouse in NYC and San Diego. Just an incredible bastardization of catchy, dirty blue-eyed blues and soul and I mean that in the very best possible way. An amazing album by an amazing band.
Recommended Tracks: Tighten Up, Howlin' For You, Everlasting Light, Sinister Kid, Ten Cent Pistol, These Days.
17. Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black Rainbow: Co&Ca remember how to RAWK! and bring the noise with their best album in 5 years! Supposedly the prequel to their incredibly dense and nigh unintelligible tangled mess of a story called "The Amory Wars" that has spanned FIVE albums, a novel and numerous comic books, this album has all the fist-pumping, chorus chanting, WHOA-OH-OHs that their last disappointing album lacked. Soaring choruses, badass riffs and plenty of head-banging moments make this a monster of prog rock doom.
Recommended Tracks: Here We Are Juggernaut, This Shattered Symphony, Where Skeletons Live, Far.
16. Deftones - Diamond Eyes: NEW DEFTONES ALBUM! After crawling out of the stygian nu-metal abyss with their integrity still intact (pretty much the only real survivor of that terrible, terrible time other than System of a Down), Deftones have put out some sketchy albums. Unfortunately, it took a near-fatal car accident putting their extremely talented bassist Chi Cheng in a coma to get the band off their laurels and making music that mattered again. But holy hell, what a big brawler of a record! Right out of the gate with the title track, they let you know that Deftones are back, and they aren't dicking around anymore.
Recommended Tracks: Diamond Eyes, Rocket Skates, Sextape, You've Seen the Butcher.
15. Gogol Bordello - Trans-Continental Hustle: The gypsy-punk band all moved down to Brazil to record this record, and that influence absolutely shines through, putting a very apparent Latin inflection on their weird version of punk rock. This band is just two tons of fun, and there is absolutely no stopping the good vibes and raw power of the Gogol. MISHTO!
Recommended Tracks: Raise the Knowledge, Pala Tute, Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher), Break the Spell, Rebellious Love.
14. Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man: Bad Religion is a G-damn institution, churning out hyper-literate, over-informed political punk rock for 30 years now. Still constantly touring, still putting out albums and still just as inflammatory and important as they have ever been. This album sees the band continuing to espouse their views on organized religion, politics and personal responsibility in this 21st century, and still, after 30 years, they make it all sound fresh with an unrelenting sense of urgency. I hope these guys never stop.
Recommended Tracks: Only Rain, The Day That the Earth Stalled, Wrong Way Kids, Cyanide, Won't Somebody.
13. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard Way: A band that formed in 2000 playing 60's/70's era funk and soul fronted by a woman in her 50's doesn't seem like it would work on paper. But in practice? Holy Hell. These guys burn down the house, then build it back up to burn it down again. Incredibly faithful to their almost revivalist Motown sound, Jones' powerful voice and the blazing brass section are the highlights in every smooth soul selection on this fantastic record.
Recommended Tracks: I Learned the Hard Way, The Game Gets Old, Window Shopping, Mama Don't Like My Man.
12. Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager: The most personal rapper in the business shows us the deepest darkest pits of his inner demons and emerges from the depths intact. Thus far, between his first Man on the Moon album and this one, he's weaving a hip-hop Dante's Inferno for his soul. Exposing more of his insecurities, detailing his former cocaine addiction and showcasing his raging id battling with his ego; this is one hell of an intelligent rap record. Throwing indie rock, psychedelia and ultra-modern hip-hop into the mix doesn't hurt either.
Recommended Tracks: REVOFEV, Wild'n Cuz I'm Young, Marijuana, Mojo So Dope, Scott Mescudi vs. the World, Ashin' Kusher, Don't Play This Song.
11. Hot Chip - One Life Stand: This electronic type of indie rock/technopop dominated the indie scene this year, with lots of decent-to-awesome releases in 2010 (LCD Soundsystem, Yeasayer (which just barely missed being #20 on this very list.), Foals, Ra Ra Riot, Ratatat. etc.), but in my humble opinion, this album outshined them all. A group of six British nerds making their own weird version of pop music, Hot Chip followed up the awesome Made in the Dark with the moody, danceable One Life Stand. While not as out-there or as funky as Made in the Dark, this album stands head and shoulders above it's peers as the most unique and innovative indie/technopop release of the year.
Recommended Tracks: One Life Stand, I Feel Better, Thieves in the Night,Take It In.
10. eels - End Times/Tomorrow Morning: eels frontman Mark Everett has been on an absolute rampage lately, churning out three albums of music within a 14 month span after not releasing ANYTHING new for 4 years. Last year's Hombre Lobo was pretty hit-or-miss, but these two albums (End Times was released in January, Tomorrow Morning in August) are like the two opposite ends of the eels spectrum, and act almost like the separate discs of a double album, much like Jamey Johnson did this year with his The Guitar Song. End Times finds Everett just starting to accept his recent divorce and the prospect of growing old and alone. As with some of his best albums, focusing on the darker parts of his life brings out some of his best musical ideas and most touching lyrics. However, as the disc wears on, it can be pretty relentless in its depression, which is where Tomorrow Morning comes in. Tomorrow Morning is, without a doubt, the cheeriest, most uplifting and happiest sounding album eels has ever put out. Like an entire album of Mr. E's Beautiful Blues. Not only is it refreshing to hear Everett not wallowing in misery; like all good music it will absolutely change your mood for the better. While in past eels recordings (P.S. You Rock My World, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, etc.) he balanced out the happiness and sadness in each song, here it seems he went out of his way to produce the individual albums to balance themselves out, and it absolutely works.
Recommended Tracks: (End Times): A Line In the Dirt, Little Bird, In My Younger Days, End Times, The Mansions of Los Feliz.
(Tomorrow Morning): Spectacular Girl, My Baby Loves Me, Oh So Lovely, This Is Where It Gets Good, I Like the Way This is Going.
9. Spoon - Transference: Probably one of the more drastic artistic shifts this year, Spoon went from rich production and jangly melodies to stark, minimalist rock with raw production, some songs sounding like they were just the first or second playthough of the song. And it WORKED. Releasing what is now my favorite Spoon album early on in the year, this banged around on my iPod and in my car for months, providing one hell of a soundtrack for driving in the late winter. Spoon traded in their tight poppy song structure and let all their tracks breathe, giving them space to linger around a little and make themselves at home. That's not to say that these songs aren't catchy; on the contrary, basing each song around a certain guitar lick or piano stomp makes every track DAMN catchy. Definitely a highlight of 2010.
Recommended Tracks: Written In Reverse, Mystery Zone, Out Go The Lights, Who Makes Your Money, I Saw The Light.
8. Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer: Pure soul satisfaction. I've been a fan of Cee-Lo's for a long while now, discovering him in college and proceeding to buy ALL of his solo records before he had even thought up the name Gnarls Barkley. Each solo record was a futuristic slice of wild, unchained spacey funk and rap and, as is to be expected, went completely ignored by everyone except music reviewers. When Gnarls released "Crazy", I was ecstatic and trumpeted his success with great fanfare (even naming the album my #1 in 2006). I even enjoyed their less impressive sophomore outing, though it had far fewer standout tracks than their out-of-nowhere debut. Only now, in 2010, has Cee-Lo Green put out the album of his career. Looking backwards to the golden age of Motown, Cee-Lo restructures the classic R&B sound with his own peculiarities while still staying true to the source. Blaring brass sections, smooth strings, slinky background singers and deep bass grooves all brought together with his gospel-trained raspy voice make for one classic album.
Recommended Tracks: F**k You, Bright Lights Bigger City, Satisfied, It's OK, Old Fashioned.
7. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III): On the other end of the spectrum, Janelle Monae's ultra-futurist epic full-length bounces from genre to genre, sometimes within the realm of the same SONG. The most singularly original artist signed to a major label (eat your heart out, Lady Gaga!), Monae takes the bombastic funk of James Brown, the Afro-futurist teachings of George Clinton and Sun Ra, the trippy psychedelia of Hendrix at his stoniest and the crunktitude of Outkast into an atom bomb of a sci-fi concept album about love and robot revolution. I literally cannot WAIT to see where Monae goes from here.
Recommended Tracks: Cold War, Tightrope, BaBopByeYa, Locked Inside, Come Alive (The War of the Roses), Say You'll Go.
6. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang: New Jersey's newest stars shine twice as bright in the follow-up to my 2008 Album of the Year. Inching closer to a big classic rock sound while maintaining a youthful vigor and a punk DIY ethos, Gaslight came off of stints opening for Social Distortion and BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE! F'in Springsteen and recorded an album that, while courting the mainstream a little more, nonetheless impressed the hell out of the fanbase it established with The '59 Sound. Weaving stories of streetwalkers and blue-collar workers into loud, upbeat and energizing rock songs, they've started leaning towards a Replacements-type sound a little more, while keeping true to the original Springsteen-meets-Clash/Social Distortion sound that made everyone take notice two years ago. Just a great soundtrack to a hot summer night barbecueing for friends with plenty of cold, cheap beer.
Recommended Tracks: Stay Lucky, American Slang, The Queen of Lower Chelsea, Orphans.
5. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach: Even as a grand pop experiment. Gorillaz continue to evolve and push the envelope of creativity ever further towards the edge of insanity. Every album they've put out has seen the band morph into a different form all together, swapping out band members and changing their sound while maintaining the base trip-hop/Brit-pop/hip-hop sound established in their debut 10(!!!!) years ago. Plastic Beach is their most eclectic record yet, filled with 16 slabs of twisted pop music. Symphony orchestras and brass sections give some tracks an epic feel, while other tracks boast contributions from soul legend Bobby Womack and HALF of The Clash! While this album has spawned the least amount of singles compared with the rest of Gorillaz' oeuvre, it still feels like the most cohesive album they've released since their debut.
Recommended Tracks: Stylo, Superfast Jellyfish, Rhinestone Eyes, On Melancholy Hill, Plastic Beach, Sweepstakes, Glitter Freeze.
4. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty: Absolutely the closest thing we're gonna get to an Outkast album for the foreseeable future, this cumbersomely-titled album was stuck in my car CD player this summer, and it made driving in the grueling heat that much more tolerable. Proving that he's not just the Robin to Andre 3000's Batman, Big Boi put out what was, for 5 months, the absolute best hip hop album of the year. Letting his freak flag fly, Big Boi put out the quintessential Southern rap album full of buzzing bass, funky synths, and beats from every type of music imaginable. You can't listen to this without bouncing around or dancing; it's not possible.
Recommended Tracks: Shutterbugg, Shine Blockas, Daddy Fat Sax, Back Up Plan, Follow Us.
3. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: Let me make this absolutely clear: this is not an endorsement for Kanye West. That guy is still a humongous jackass. However, even I can't deny that he put out a monstrous masterpiece of an album this year. This isn't just a future hip-hop classic along the likes of Illmatic, Ready To Die and Stankonia, though that it certainly is. It's an emblem of the very concept of "raising the bar", literally, he's taking hip-hop to places where it's never been, reaching echelons that haven't previously been reached. He has made a pop/hip-hop fusion, and centered the whole thing around sex, drugs, and rock and roll. There's four separate songs here that are over 6 minutes long, and not one seems like it has any wasted space in it (though, admittedly, the Chris Rock skit goes on maybe a minute too long. But it's Chris G-damn Rock, and he's still funny as hell.) Honest to God, and I hate hate HATE to say it, but Kanye hasn't just put out the best hip-hop album of the year, but possibly the best album of his career; the high-water mark that every single piece of music he puts out from here forwards will be judged against. Still a douchebag, though.
Recommended Tracks: Monster, Hell Of a Life, Runaway, All of the Lights, Power.
2. The National - High Violet: There were two very prominent indie records released this year whose theme was basically "being an adult is hard!" LCD Soundsystem's album just left me cold; it seemed like such a steep step down from Sounds of Silver that it just never completely clicked with me. Then there was this record. Now, I have avoided listening to The National for a couple years now, mostly because I had heard so many comparisons to Band of Horses, and I cannot STAND anything that band has released. However, after having heard a couple stellar reviews and the album being on sale for like 7 bucks, I picked it up day-of-release. Holy hell, I told myself. What have I been missing? I was following along pretty well, then the first distorted strains of Little Faith hit, and the album didn't let go for the next half-hour. And then I played it again....and again. The mix of baritone vocals, Depeche Mode-esque keyboards and guitars, the music just creates this certain atmosphere, like looking out the window on a foggy day and trying to make out the silhouettes of everything outside. I honestly have no earthly idea how else to describe these guys; every song is catchy, yet somewhat ethereal and abstract. All I can really say is that if you get it, then you GET it. If you don't, then it just won't click, no matter what you do.
Recommended Tracks: Little Faith, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Terrible Love, Afraid of Everyone, Anyone's Ghost, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.
1. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor: This album definitely takes a while to grow on you. It took me the better part of this year to get it to really connect; but when it did, it went off like a grenade. A sprawling epic loosely based around the Civil War (The USS Monitor was the first ironsided battleship piloted by the US Navy), Titus Andronicus' sophomore album is littered with Abraham Lincoln quotes, flourishes of Americana/ traditional folk music, blistering guitars, group chant-alongs and more, all punctuated by Pat Stickles' boozy, shaky "piss-and-moan" vocals. It is both blue collar rabblerousing and too-cool-for-school high-mindedness. When, in the opener A More Perfect Union, Stickles yells out "Tramps like us, baby, we were born to die!" and then the whole band comes in like a hurricane of distortion, you can feel the earth move beneath your feet, you know this means something; that the punk and post-punk of years previous has evolved into this wild mutation, this musical hydra with every separate head acting by itself, yet helps create the whole as a perfect creature. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Album of the Year!
Recommended Tracks: A More Perfect Union, No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future, The Battle of Hampton Roads, A Pot In Which To Piss, Titus Andronicus Forever.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I'm alive! And amazingly, still listening to music. It's been a busy busy year in the life of Evil Brian, what with my complete retreat to facebook and whatnot. But this post is not about that, this is about the best albums of the year! Here you go:
Honorable Mentions: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!, Neko Case - Middle Cyclone, Doom - Born Like This, Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything To Nothing, Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You, Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown, The Decemberists - Hazards of Love, Sonic Youth - The Eternal, Wilco - Wilco (the album), eels - Hombre Lobo, Titus Andronicus - The Airing Of Grievances, Monsters Of Folk - Monsters Of Folk, Dethklok - Dethalbum II, The Mars Volta - Octahedron, Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue, Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
(+2) Patton Oswalt - My Weakness Is Strong: The funniest nerd in America grows up! On his most mature work yet, Oswalt details the yearn to better himself for his (then) coming daughter, shopping for a house with his girlfriend and how the sudden kid-friendly fame from being in Ratatouille screwed up his Halloween among other hilarious anecdotes. It hit me in the sweet spot, especially since it came out while my own girlfriend was pregnant with my son.
Recommended Tracks: Sky Cake, Birth, Rats, Orgy.
(+1) The Lonely Island - Incredibad: Screw everyone, this album was hilarious, and still holds up to repeat listens. The best part of Saturday Night Live released this album of hits and new tracks early in the year, and most of the songs still haven't left the iPod. Most of the time reveling in their overwhelming whiteness, The Lonely Island rap, sing, and act poorly through 19 tracks of "teh funny" where they (mostly) keep all the songs short enough so they don't overstay their welcome. Plus, they gave me a huge reason to like T-Pain.
Recommended Tracks: On a Boat, Like A Boss, Jizz In My Pants, Natalie's Rap, Sax Man.
20. Japandroids - Post-Nothing: These guys blasted into the scene this year with a heavily distorted, almost punk rock take on Sonic Youth and it paid off in spades. A short & sweet album that knocks you on your ass and demands your attention.
Recommended Tracks: Wet Hair, Young Hearts Spark Fire, Crazy/Forever
19. K'Naan - Troubadour: Emerging from the most violent part of Africa (Mogadishu, Somalia), this gifted MC travelled to Canada and then America telling his story through song, culminating in this album which fuses traditional African rhythms, Jamaican reggae and American hip-hop into a whole different beast. Uplifting and soulful, not nearly enough people are giving him attention.
Recommended Tracks: Wavin' Flag, T.I.A. (This Is Africa), Somalia, ABC's,
18. Julian Casablancas - Phrazes of the Youth: I was never that big of a fan of The Strokes (the coolest thing they did was open the doors for The White Stripes to get tons of airplay). That being said, this album is pretty awesome in it's own right. Fusing The Strokes' garage rock sensibilities with retro-sounding technopop (I know how weird that sounds; just go with me on this), Casablancas released a shockingly catchy dark pop record that caught me totally off guard. Slightly Interpol-ish, but still strangely unique. Give it a chance, seriously.
Recommended Tracks: 11th Dimension, River of Brakelights, 4 Chords of the Apocalypse.
17. Florence + the Machine - Lungs: Dark piano-based cabaret pop; if nothing else, this is certainly the most interesting album of the year. Every song tells a story about a different (usually tragic) character, there is absolutely nothing else like this from 2009.
Recommended Tracks: Kiss With a Fist, My Boy Builds Coffins, Howl, Girl With One Eye.
16. M. Ward - Hold Time: The go-to guy for fans of indie folk, I hadn't actually listened to him until he released She & Him in 2008. Now I'm sorry I slept on M. Ward, because this album is an affecting masterpiece. Just a truly gorgeous album. This narrowly beat Monsters of Folk (the other album he released this year) for this spot.
Recommended Tracks: Rave On, Hold Time, Jailbird, Fisher of Men
15. Arctic Monkeys - Humbug: The best Britrock band performing today, Alex Turner & crew released another winning album (albeit darker than their previous 2)this year to the surprise of absolutely no one. Catchy, poppy and unabashedly British, these guys continue to impress even after 3 albums (and one stellar side project).
Recommended Tracks: Crying Lightning, Cornerstone, Dance Little Liar, Potion Approaching.
14. They Might Be Giants - Here Comes Science: This has nothing to do with the fact that I have a child now, and everything to do with the fact that these are the catchiest songs TMBG have produced since The Spine. Highly recommended equally for both families with children and TMBG fans alike.
Recommended Tracks: I Am A Paleontologist, Meet The Elements, Electric Car, My Brother The Ape, Roy G. Biv.
13. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3: I'll be honest, it took my a while to come around to Jay-Z: The Black Album (and the Grey Album) got me to listen, this album made me a fan. Hate on him all you want, Jay-Z is the best rapper in the business today and has every right to be as cocky as he is (unlike most others *cough* Kanye *cough cough*); he knows exactly what he's doing, and exactly what the people want. Also, he has a very strong anti-Autotune stance, which is just awesome.
Recommended Tracks: D.O.A. (Death of Autotune), Run This Town, On to the Next One, Young Forever and (as much as I hate to admit it) Empire State of Mind.
12. Brother Ali - Us: This is soul music in the form of rap: this shit is good for your heart. Brother Ali is a preacher, a prophet, just an outright awesome personality. Not really any guests, no autotune, nothing about being rich, he's the realest one out there. Seriously, rapping about how much he loves his simple understated life is just a beautiful sentiment in this era of overreaching expectations.
Recommended Tracks: Bad Mufucker Part II, Fresh Air, Us, The Preacher, The Travelers.
11. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest: Very odd. A strangely catchy, slightly trippy indie rock album. I can't explain how or why it gets stuck in my head as much as it does, it just does. Equal parts laid back stoner vibe and pretentious hipster rock band: it all just kinda works.
Recommended Tracks: Southern Point, Ready, Able, While You Wait For the Others.
10. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures: BADASS. Josh Homme and Dave Grohl building songs around JOHN PAUL FREAKIN JONES. The first supergroup this decade that is actually SUPER. As in faster than a speeding bullet/more powerful than a locomotive super. How badass are these guys? They released the whole album on Youtube before it was sent to stores, just because.
Recommended Tracks: New Fang, No One Loves Me & Neither Do I, Scumbag Blues
09. Silversun Pickups - Swoon: I love this early-90's sentimentalism going around indie rock these days. It's like the hipsters suddenly discovered Sonic Youth and are utilizing their tricks and traps in their music. I just fucking love it. Silversun Pickups follow up their breakthrough Carnavas with a stellar sophomore album that takes their style to the next level, weaving strings into their rich tapestry of ROCK. I'm telling you guys, these guys have had some big singles, but they are gonna blow the fuck up, and soon.
Recommended Tracks: Panic Switch, Substitution, The Royal We, It's Nice To Know You Work Alone.
08. Clutch - Strange Cousins From the West: IT'S CLUTCH.
Recommended Tracks: 50000 Unstoppable Watts, Abraham Lincoln, Motherless Child, Sleestak Lightning, Witch Doctor, Let A Poor Man Be.
07. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: This French pop/rock band came out of absolutely nowhere, debuted on SNL without anybody having ever heard of them, and took the U.S. by storm, becoming the go-to critical darlings of the American music press. Bright, poppy, catchy and unafraid to throw a decent instrumental track on their breakout album, these songs were EVERYWHERE in 2009, and for damn good reason.
Recommended Tracks: Lisztomania, 1901, Love Like A Sunset Parts 1 & 2, Girlfriend.
06. Between the Buried and Me - The Great Misdirect: The single most technically gifted metal band playing today (though not necessarily the best), these guys have basically (re)invented progressive hardcore. There's so much going on in this albums' six tracks that you can lose yourself real easily. Sounding liker a death metal band covering Pink Floyd, BTBAM jump from light acoustic verses to techno-inflected hardcore to trippy Yes-style prog to Fantomas-y weirdness to straight up metal, and cover all the ground in between. They just keep getting better; it's truly scary to think about where they'll be in a couple years.
Recommended Tracks: There's only 6 on the album. They're all recommended.
05. Black Joe Louis & the Honeybears - Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!: These guys sound like they throw one hell of a party! Like a mixed-up combination of James Brown and The Roots' band, they bring the funk, the soul, the life, the power and the fucking fun back to indie music. Everywhere these guys go, they tear the fucking roof off. This is pimp music.
Recommended Tracks: Sugarfoot, Humpin', Get Yo Shit, I'm Broke, Master Sold My Baby.
04. Mastodon - Crack The Skye: LSD makes for some awesome music, doesn't it? Combining classic Russian literature, wormholes and intense psychedelic imagery, Mastodon just keep getting more and more ambitious with every release. Garnering universal acclaim, this is probably the best reviewed metal album of the past decade, and for good reason: it is just balls-out awesome. Somehow, Mastodon keep going further and further over the edge of sanity, and keep getting more and more popular in the mainstream.
Recommended Tracks: Oblivion, Divinations, The Czar, The Last Baron.
03. Kid CuDi - Man On The Moon:The End Of Day: For whatever reason, the music press in the US is fellating this dude Drake as being such an original artist that sings AND raps equally well, and it pisses me off because, while that's all well and good, Drake's lyrics are mostly meaningless paint-by-numbers hip-hop drivel. Meanwhile Kid Cudi, who also sings and raps, bares his soul, basically lays himself out naked for the world to see all his imperfections and, after a wild wave of hype, they ignore him. Which is angering, because his debut album is so friggin phenomenal it blows my mind. Talking frankly about his insecurities, growing up with night terrors and basically being addicted to weed, he actually turns the backing music into MUSIC and not just some flashy metronome with help from indie artists like Ratatat and MGMT, among others. The result is a dramatic, sweeping artistic achievement as equally trippy as it is honest and ill; a true breath of fresh air in a relatively stale industry. I can't possibly recommend this enough.
Recommended Tracks: Soundtrack 2 My Life, Day N Night (Nightmare), Pursuit of Happiness, Sky Might Fall, Up Up and Away (the Wake and Bake Song).
02. P.O.S. - Never Better: An underground punk rocker turns to rap and releases the best rap album of the year, which he did in FEBRUARY. Literally, I put this on my iPod when it came out, and didn't have the heart to take it off until around late autumn; I couldn't STOP listening to it. Mixing live instrumentation (especially live drums, which I always felt should be standard with rap artists) with an incredible girt for lyricism, P.O.S. stood head and shoulders above everyone else. Quicker than almost anyone and inserting his punk ethos into what should be an intense, revolutionary art form, P.O.S. carved out his own niche in hip-hop and deserves all the acclaim he can muster. Absolutely mind blowing; the first listen will peel your face off.
Recommended Tracks: Drumroll, Let It Rattle, Graves (We Wrote the Book), Purexed, Optimist (We Are Not For Them), Never Better.
01. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic: The Lips release the darkest album of their careers, and it blows away at least half of their titanic discography. My expectations were so incredibly high for this album I didn't think even the Flaming Lips could meet them; instead they exceeded in every possible way. An absolutely haunting portrait of the dark places a person's mind can go (done in that freaky technicolor way only The Flaming Lips can), Embryonic struck me immediately and didn't let up for the entire runtime. Just a nice slice of weird, this album was stuck in my car's stereo for the longest time; the perfect soundtrack for driving to work at 1:00 AM on a quiet autumn night. This is a bad trip, and we're all getting dragged down into it whether we like it or not: I LIKE IT. 2009's Album of the year.
Recommended Tracks: Convinced of the Hex, See the Leaves, If, Your Bats, Powerless, Silver Trembling Hands, Watching the Planets.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Amongst a sea of shit, these are the shittiest; the worst of the worst.
13. OneRepublic - Stop and Stare
(Just TRY to not fall asleep during this mind-numbing, middle-of-the-road rot.)
12. Jonas Brothers - Burnin' Up
(America, meet the new Hanson!)
11. The Pussycat Dolls - When I Grow Up
(You're all 20-something supermodels!! When you grow up, are you fucking serious???)
10. Britney Spears - Break the Ice
(Why in the holy fuck should I care if Britney's back, peddling the same drivel she has for the past 10 years?????)
09. Lil Wayne - A Milli
(Literally, the most annoying sample in any song ever, and it's repeated throughout the ENTIRE GODDAMN SONG. Also, minus points for referring to himself as a venereal disease.)
08. Soulja Boy - Turn My Swag On
(Soulja Boy proves why he's the perfect model, make and mold of a one hit wonder.)
07. LL Cool J feat. The-Dream - Baby
(Maybe I missed something, but when did LL Cool J become so damn lame? I mean, what the fuck happened? This dude was THE MAN for over a decade. Unabashedly apeing Nelly to the point of ridiculousness is fucking terrible for a certified legend of hip-hop. Plus, at the end of the goddamn song, HE ends up paying money for the girl. Dude, you're fucking LL COOL J.)
06. Theory of a Deadman - Bad Girlfriend
(Nickelback too heavy for you? Have I got a band for you...)
05. Rev Theory - Hell Yeah
(sounds like a mix between Papa Roach at their emo-ist and Hagar-era Van Halen. No, that is NOT a compliment. Generic balless cock rock (figure THAT one out).)
04. Say Anything - Got Your Money (Ol' Dirty Bastard cover)
(you remember how cool and chaotic Ol' Dirty Bastard's delivery was in every single song he was ever a part of, this song in particular? Yeah, take all that away, and replace him with an uncharismatic, monotone emo singer. It's almost like he covered this song because he hates it so much, and wanted all of us to suffer with him. ODB hates you from beyond the grave, Max Bemis)
03. Flyleaf - What's This? (Nightmare Before Christmas cover)
(Talk about butchering covers, sweet fancy moses! This one hit wonder managed to turn a playful, bouncy slice of joyous noise from a certified classic holiday movie into a soulless dirge that drags terribly, like hauling a dead carcass through a knee-high snowfall to dump into the river. This was the first song I listened to that actually made me angry that it was produced; I mean really, really angry; screaming at my stereo angry. Unfortunately, there's a lot of those moments on Nightmare Revisited, an album comprised of nothing but shitty covers of every track on the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.)
02. Hollywood Undead - pick a song. any song.
Seriously, the emo version of the Insane Clown Posse. Or, if you will, a gayer version of Gym Class Heroes (you read that right). Might be the worst thing you ever listen to. Click through at your own peril. No. 5, Undead, Black Dahlia, Sell Your Soul, Bottle and a Gun, Bitches...it's ALL awful. I mean, LOOK at those assholes! I am absolutely serious, this is the worst thing I've heard in YEARS. In any other year, this would be the top of the heap (or, if you will, the bottom of the dung pile) but not THIS year. This year, we were treated to...:
01. Kanye West - Love Lockdown
(Jesus Tittyfucking Christ, what in the holy hell was Kanye West thinking?? Seriously, how has hip-hop fallen so far as to consider ripping off mid-90's Cher recording techniques is seen as innovative? Not only that but really the only things that made Kanye unique in the first place; his delivery and lyrics, have been completely castrated in this boring, soulless, emasculated pop trash. The whole song sounds like it was recorded on an old cassette, and then he played that cassette on an old ghetto blaster boom box in a windy tunnel and recorded THAT as the finished product. I mean, the production sounds lazy and boring, and HE'S A PRODUCER. That's what he DOES, that's what made him famous in the FIRST FUCKING PLACE. How far the mighty have fallen. I mean, seriously; this guy used to be THE innovator in hip-hop. Now I just wish he was fucking dead.)
Some of these I have something to say about; the rest speak for themselves.
As much as you may be loathe to admit it, this song was one of the most original (and o-v-e-r-p-l-a-y-e-d) singles on the radio this year. Lil Wayne is batshit insane and managed to get a song that not only makes no sense, but has no HOOK in today's wasteland of shitty mainstream hip-hop and got it played EVERYWHERE. That in and of itself deserves recognition. However, expect to see this song on another list.
Let this be a lesson, emo bands: when you try to sound like The Beatles, you become listenable.
The single most original artist of 2008; Janelle Monae released the first of 4 EPs highlighting a funk/R&B/rock opera about androids in love and being hunted in the future; think a female James Brown mixed with Blade Runner and A.I. Yeah, it rocks.
This is the coolest dance song, like, ever.
The Toadies returned with a shockingly fantastic album of hard-hitting blues-grunge; this is the only single released from that album.
This is exactly the type of auditory weirdness that would've gotten two tons of airplay on modern rock radio during the death of grunge years between 1995-1998.
The album was overrated tripe with only two listenable songs. Those two songs, however, are AMAZING. This is the better of the two, an infectious earworm that'll stick in your skull for days.
One of the first pure rock songs to hit modern rock radio in years.
Lupe Fiasco should be the biggest rapper in the world; held up on a pedestal the way Jay-Z and Kanye West are today. This is his most popular single, it's quite awesome.
The sheer balls to release an 8-minute track as your first single is astounding. I really wish they never edited it for radio and forced stations to play the full version, but whatever, it's a great song.
The Cool Kids was the most refreshing thing to happen to hip-hop all year; a modern take on classic hip-hop that is infinitely listenable. Watch that video; tell me that doesn't look/sound like it's from 1985.
Didn't get any play on radio, but it is their most heartfelt, soulful song.
This producer deserves an award, both for the production and for the genius sample of MIA's Paper Planes. The fact that T.I. could get the three biggest rappers in the world on one track and more than hold his own speaks volumes for his skills as an MC; the song is catchy as SHIT.
A badass song with a badass video. Metallica is BACK!
Britain's answer to the White Stripes (with a touch of Radiohead); a loud blues rock song that starts with a chain-gang chorus and switching between soulful singing and blaring guitars; the best single you haven't heard.
Weezer's best single since Hash Pipe. Unfortunately, the rest of the album couldn't live up to this song.
Thank God for Pineapple Express. If the producer of the trailer for the stoner action/comedy hadn't used Paper Planes, MIA would still be a relative unknown in the States. Thankfully, that isn't the case, and this track from last year's Kala got enormous play and propelled her into the spotlight. A song (essentially) about economics and the Third World, this Bhangra pop/hip-hop song has been everpresent on the radio AND has been sampled in the most catchy hip-hop song all year. Now, after considering retiring after the birth of her child, her career is more alive than ever, and she's already planning her follow-up album. So, I guess you could say she owes her career to marijuana.
Oh, you HAD to know this was coming. A track with no semblance of a chorus, and somehow it's just as catchy and sing-alongish as Beastie Boys' "Girls". Full of meaning (and possibly political intonations, depending on your interpretation), Flobots created a song both alarming, urgent, and easy to identify with. There's nothing even left to say about this; definitely the best single of 2008.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
I know, I know. Of all the things to get me to post that has happened in the past 3 months, this list is what did it. Well, I can't rightly break a 4 year old tradition, can I? I'm sure there'll be more a-postin's later on (how many times have I made THAT empty promise??) Let's get to the meat and potatoes of this titanic post. But first, the consolation prizes given to the albums that didn't quite make it onto the list.
Close but no cigar:
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Ben Folds - Way To Normal
Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Toadies - No Deliverence
The Killers - Day & Age
The Mars Volta - Amputechture
Murder By Death - Red of Tooth and Claw
Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, Ladies and Gentlemen, Bums, Bitches and Bastards. I give you...
(+2)Mitch Hedberg - Do You Believe In Gosh?
Recommended Tracks: Phil, Texas and Sea Food, Door Deal
(+1)Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords
Recommended Tracks: Robots, Hiphopapotamous vs. Rhymenocerous, Business Time, The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)
20. The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia
Recommended Tracks: God's Children, Idle Hands, I Was In Love With You
19. Metallica - Death Magnetic
Recommended Tracks: All Nightmare Long, The Day That Never Comes, The Judas Kiss
18. T.I. - Paper Trail
Recommended Tracks: Swagga Like Us, Live Your Life, 56 Bars/I'm Illy
17. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
Recommended Tracks: Id Engager, Wicked Wisdom, Triphallus to Punctuate!
16. Trivium - Shogun
Recommended Tracks: Into the Mouth of Hell We March, The Calamity, Down From the Sky
15. REM - Accelerate
Recommended Tracks: Supernatural Superserious, Horse to Water, I'm Gonna DJ
14. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Recommended Tracks: Bixby Canyon Bridge, I Will Possess Your Heart, Cath...
13. Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV/The Slip
(Ghosts I-IV)Recommended Tracks: 11 Ghosts II, 33 Ghosts IV, 34 Ghosts IV
(The Slip)Recommended Tracks: Discipline, Echoplex, Head Down
12. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell
Recommended Tracks: Centennial, Graves, Tessellate
11. Beck - Modern Guilt
Recommended Tracks: Gamma Ray, Modern Guilt, Youthless
10. 36 Crazyfists - The Tide and Its Takers
Recommended Tracks: We Gave It Hell, Waiting On a War, Absent Are the Saints.
09. Man Man - Rabbit Habits
Recommended Tracks: Mister Jung Stuffed, Top Drawer, Easy Eats or Dirty Doctor Galapogos, The Ballad of Butter Beans
08. Santogold - Santogold
Recommended Tracks: L.E.S. Artistes, You'll Find a Way (Remix), Creator, Lights Out
07. The Cool Kids - Bake Sale EP
Recommended Tracks: Black Mags, Gold and a Pager, 88, A Little Bit Cooler
It must be said that, before continuing, all of you should know that, in my hours of rearranging these albums into order, every one of the next six albums, at one point or another, were put in the number one spot. It took me a long time to whittle the list down into it's present structure, but all six of these albums are fantastic, high quality representations of the music of 2008. Enjoy!
06. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Recommended Tracks: Dancing Choose, Golden Age, Family Tree, Red Dress
05. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
Recommended Tracks: Baltimore, Dragonfly Pie, Hopscotch Willie, Cold Son, the awesome 10-minute-plus title track
04. Flobots - Fight With Tools
Recommended Tracks: Handlebars, Mayday!!!, Rise, Same Thing, Fight With Tools
03. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Recommended Tracks: Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma, A-Punk, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (yes I realize I just listed almost the entire Side A, it's that good), Walcott, I Stand Corrected
02. Sia - Some People Have Real Problems
Recommended Tracks: Academia, Little Black Sandals, Playground, Day Too Soon, Buttons, The Girl You Lost to Cocaine
01. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
Recommended Tracks: The '59 Sound, Great Expectations, Old White Lincoln, The Patient Ferris Wheel, High Lonesome, Meet Me By the River's Edge
Monday, September 08, 2008
The Metal. This Kid Haz It.
Not only that, but he's slightly more intelligible than Ozzy is these days!
Now playing: Nile - Ithyphallic
Friday, September 05, 2008
Sarah Palin: The bassist from Black Sabbath hates her. Do you need any other reason?
Now playing: Tool - Jambi
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
"...The McCain campaign will explain why John McCain is the real candidate of change, and that message will be delivered by President Bush later tonight..."
- some MSNBC Talking Head.
Now playing: Ozzy Osbourne - War Pigs
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I am TERRIBLE at keeping up with mah blog. However, I may have to reinvigorate myself since Fuzzy has decided to post nearly every goddamn day (you make me look like a fool, boy). Anyways, instead of catching up with what I've been up to over the past....Jesus, TWO MONTHS??!...I'm gonna take the easy way out and post up a wide-a-spreadin' meme.
Stolen from Fuzzy and Space Lord, who in turn stole it from AV Club; here is my favorite albums (without repeating artists) from every year since my birth (including the half of 2008 that has already come and went).
1981 - AC DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
1982 - Bad Brains - Bad Brains
1983 - REM - Murmur
1984 - Iron Maiden - Powerslave
1985 - The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
1986 - Metallica - Master of Puppets
1987 - Guns 'N Roses - Appetite For Destruction
1988 - Social Distortion - Prison Bound
1989 - De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
1990 - *TIE* They Might Be Giants - Flood & Bad Religion - Against the Grain
1991 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
1992 - Faith No More - Angel Dust
1993 - Primus - Pork Soda
1994 - Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album)
1995 - The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness
1996 - Beck - Odelay
1997 - Radiohead - OK Computer
1998 - Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
1999 - Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile
2000 - Deftones - White Pony
2001 - *TIE* Aphex Twin - drukqs & Gorillaz - Gorillaz
2002 - *TIE* Glassjaw - Worship & Tribute & Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2003 - The Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium
2004 - Green Day - American Idiot
2005 - eels - Blinking Lights and Revelations
2006 - Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
2007 - The White Stripes - Icky Thump
2008 (so far) - *TIE* Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash & Flobots - Fight With Tools
I learned a couple of things reading people's responses to this meme:
1) I have WAAAAAY too much in common (music-taste-wise) with Fuzzy.
2) OK Computer is basically the go-to answer for 1997.
3) Nobody is as metal as Space Lord. NOBODY.
Someday (hopefully soon) I hope to have a real blog update. For now though, courage.
Now playing: They Might Be Giants - Fingertips