Here are mine and how they presently pan out. I don't claim to be a music aficionado. I'm the game / tech nerd guy around here. I love music, but I'm not the uberfan of the unheard of, unknown greatness like Jay. These are in no particular order. Here you go:
1. Sex, Love, and Rock and Roll- Social Distortion. They are my favorite of all time next to Zeppelin and Marley (if that is not the musical trifecta of a drunken stoner...) I am glad to see them back in the studio with what is perhaps their best album since Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell. Not as good as their Self Titled ("Ball and Chain,""Ring of Fire," "Story of My Life"...) but damn close. Now if Mike and the gang would just tour outside of SoCal. Choice Cut: "Don't Take Me For Granted".
2. Whiskey on a Sunday- Flogging Molly. I know there is Live Behind the Green Door, but this is WAY better. Dave King may look like Timothy Bussfield, but he is as Dubblin as they come- and has no problem getting sloshed to rock. For anyone new to the wonderment that is Flogging Molly, or anyone who just LOVES them (like me,) this CD/DVD combo is a great look into the pub-filling popularity they began with that has evolved into the arena packing events that are FM shows. There is a good chance that your's truly will be getting tatted up with the boys when they come through town in March. Stop reading this right now and go to Cactus (they are back- so support 'em,) and buy this. Now! Choice Cut: "Black Friday Rule"
3. Radiohead- In Rainbows. Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere, then you might of heard that Thom and the boys are back. This album does not get a vote of confidence from the crowd that left in mass exodus after OK Computer. Why? Because this album takes the experimental interludes and unknown songs from the afore mentioned tours (Kid A and a massive North American hiatus included,) and melds them into the synthetic synthesized goodness that is In Rainbows. No it is not a return to Pablo Honey. No it does not sound like The Bends. Nothing that they have done recently, or anything they will do will ever sound like that again. Yorke and Greenwood have clearly stated this. Sorry. Choice Cut: "All I Need"
4. Systematic Chaos- Dream Theater. It is at this point where JD and I finish our pints, exit, shake hands outside the Pub called Musical Tastes, and head our separate ways. I am a fan of prog. rock/ metal. I am a former metal head. Metal begot punk, so there is a link in that regard (the Enlightenment occurred my freshman year in high school.) These fellas have opened for Maiden and have had Metallica (back when Metallica was still relevant) open for them. They have the chops and have paid their dues. As a former drummer, I put Mike Portnoy up there as one of the best drummers of all time. He's no Bonham, Moon, or Peart, but he is DAMN good. I guess with American Idiot, Green Day opened the floodgates on the anti-current administration concept albums, and now everyone has to follow suit. This is their's. This is not a fault of the album and, unless you research the lyrics, ostensibly you can't tell this from just listening to the music. Eighteen albums in a twenty-two year career. Chalk up another solid release for the boys from Boston. Choice Cut: "The Dark Eternal Night"
5. Graduation- Kanye West. Though he’s lyrically as petulant and immodest as ever, Kanye West held out until Graduation to pull out the stops on his production powers. These aren’t just unique rhyming twists or spot-on guest appearances, it’s West shining as a composer. As grand as Graduation is, though, speculation as to what he may do next almost overshadows all the new worlds he explores here. Almost, but not exactly. Choice Cut: "Flashing Lights." The "Harder Better Faster Stronger" Daft Punk samplefest is brilliant as well.
6. Random Spirit Lover- Sunset Rubdown. Spencer Krug is the greatest living songwriter—or at least the songwriter whose songs are the most alive. And with Sunset Rubdown, as with Wolf Parade and any of the other 34 bands he’s currently in, he’s making music that strikes a chord so deep within you that it first weakens your knees, then brings you to them. But what of the other dozen or so albums he releases every year? It’s true that his output rivals that of a Toyota plant. Even when he misses—which is rare—the results are spectacular. And every song here hits its mark. Choice Cut: "The Courtesan Has Sung"
7. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga- Spoon. If Spoon is a band that simply has great taste, their selection of aesthetics -- both in terms of production and performance -- are reflections of that taste. This is a great record because the band making it is selective enough to allow only choice sounds to float to the surface. To wit, I remember being in my wife's truck when "I Turn My Camera On" came on the radio, (90.1 FTW!!!) The crackly noise at the end was clarified shortly afterwards during a short interview with Britt Daniels: "I don't know, it's just something I came up with on my computer. That part felt like it needed something." That little insight doesn't change or invalidate that he felt that the song needed something, and it did, and he put something in, and it sounds awesome. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga has about three thousand of these moments, waiting to have a drop cloth torn down to reveal that they're exactly what you suspected they were all along. As a band, Spoon is absolutely fascinating and engrossing. They have a sound that grabs you and does not let go until the last track is over. Then and only then, do you hit play again. Especially in this case. Austin's music scene is wrecked with wannabes and cover bands that think they are the second coming of these cats. Stop trying please. I have had enough of that. I cannot get enough of this album though. Choice Cut: "Don't You Evah"
8. Cease to Begin- Band of Horses. BoH proves in their follow up to Everything All the Time (EATT) moving cross country and losing founding member Mat Brooke... all is not lost. The bottom vid is for "The Funeral" which is found on EATT. I actually discovered these guys earlier this year by playing a video game. They are on the soundtrack of the equally impressive EA release, skate.. I entered the Regs skate shop in the game and heard "The Funeral" for the fist time. That's all it took. The melodic voices and soft muted tones of the melodies are a stark contrast to the garage-y / backwoods look of the boys. They are a band full of playoff beards. Then you hear the rest of their arsenal. Solid guitar driven succulent harmonies abound. I must not be alone. They are featured in a car commercial now. Hell- it worked for JD's gal Feist. The top vid is for "Ode to LRC" from Cease to Begin. Damn catchy tune too. Additional kudos, they have a damn fine website as well. Props to their webmaster. Choice Cut: Previously stated from EATT: "The Funeral." Cease to Begin: "Ode to LRC"
9. †- Justice. (Had to copy and paste that one. You try to find the "†" key!) The album is otherwise known as Cross to the uninitiated. As someone who inherently, due to predisposed DNA configurations within my genetic code,
hates any and all things French- I excuse this duo. Any band that makes a song about the King of Pop and dedicates it to the lusus naturae that is Michael Jackson is a winner in my book. D.A.N.C.E. (the tribute,) is a highpoint in this rather franticly inconsistent fuzz and fluster fit of an album. Niche? Yes. Good? Yes. Epileptic seizures inducing? Yeah, just take your meds before ingesting this wonder. Choice Cut: Stress. You sample Devo, you win.
10. The Soundtrack to Rock Band. Is this a cop out? WTF?!?! No- I can think of plenty albums to put here(Icky Thump, Neon Bible, Children Running Through, 8 Diagrams, Float, Back to Black...) but being that I am the uberfan of the gaming realm for this site, I had to give props to my pick for Game Of The Year. It just so happens it is the best music/ rhythm game ever made that touts a solid soundtrack. With even more songs coming weekly for download via Xbox Live. So, I find that it can squeak in here. With offerings from every decade possible, the game has managed to really bring together mainly original songs (with some covers,) that make for the best soundtrack to a game that I have seen since GTA Vice City. From the blistering solos in "Green Grass and High Tides" by the Outlaws, to the spot on drumming required for "Blackend" by Metallica, the game puts you on stage and to the test. This experience is only multiplied infinitely when you are with your friends. At $179.00, it is definitely the must expensive offering on my list. But, as I have stated previously- it is worth every penny. All 17,900 of them. Choice Cut: It was "Gimme Shelter" until last night. Then I played "N.I.B." Rock on!
That's it. Now let the illegal file sharing commence!