It’s been a long year with far more peaks than valleys…and thank goodness because 2009 was an asshole. My music choices always ride the wave along with me. Here’s a short list of albums that I’d default to on my iPod, or in iTunes while at work, that did something cool for me while I had them blasting in my ears at “11″.
Some of it is old, some new, but all of it resonated with me on some level that always brought me back for more and I recommend listening to any of these when you have an chance. Their place in this list does not reflect ‘better or worse’….it’s just a list ‘of’, yo.
“Crack The Skye” by Mastodon – These guys rank high in the ‘thinking man’s metal’ category. As a drummer I’m a little biased here but their drummer Brann Dailor is not just phenomenal technically, he does a great job upholding the epic journey that this record was meant to be. He has a way of being loud with finesse, being busy without overdoing it, and being interesting and innovative without sounding cocky. He plays for the sake of playing, and it shows on this record. The two epic tunes that I recommend are “The Czar: Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral” and “The Last Baron.”
“These Four Walls” by We Were Promised Jetpacks – I was told about these guys by some random person on Twitter after posting something about Frightened Rabbit (another great band). These young lads from Scotland write some pretty catchy indie rock with an extremely present Scottish accent in their phrasing and singing. With lot of great lyrics, hooks and quirky yet palpable guitar parts and changes, I’d recommend these guys to anyone that listens to bands like Bloc Party, etc. The catchy tune on here for you radio hit listeners is definitely “Quiet Little Voices” but the ballad on this one that I really dig is “An Almighty Thud.”
“Pixel Revolt” by John Vanderslice - John has been a California/bay area staple for a long time, living (and owning his own recording studio Tiny Telephone) in San Francisco. He’s toured with bands like Death Cab for Cutie and others. He probably has the quirkiest indie rock sound out of all the music I currently own. A mix of electronic sound effects, old vintage instruments, great analog recording, and interesting song writing really make his stuff stand out. He’s great at telling stories in his songs and there’s no shortage of those on this record. My fav song on here is “Plymouth Rock.”
“Come Around Sundown” by Kings of Leon – These guys have always been hit or miss with me on their records. Some songs are really amazing and then all the others feel like filler or are just kinda boring. After the huge success of the previous record, this one they definitely went above and beyond, with big epic choruses and production. Even though their singer’s raspy voice can get to me after half a record, the song “Pyro” on this latest release is amazing. The video for it is really moving as well. This record, more than the others, is worth a full album purchase.
“Wrath” by Lamb of God – I embrace the fact that at the core, I will always be a metalhead. This record reminds me why every time. Pardon the additional drum bias here but Chris Adler is one of the most solid, creative, and aggressive sounding metal drummers out there. What really makes this record for me is the combo of Chris’ drumming and their single-note guitar riffs on the lower strings that are just plain pissed off. These guys got all the groove, aggression and riffery that Slipknot has but without the sonic chaos element. This record is straight up amazing.
“Death to The Pixies” by The Pixies – I have to admit that I’m a late bloomer to these guys. I know that Frank Black and crew are one of the original gangsters of their sound/genre and it didn’t even really click with me until a friend put them on a mix CD and had me watch Fight Club again. After listening to “Where is my Mind?” about 800 times I finally bought this record and ended up really digging almost every song, start to finish.
“Sigh No More” by Mumford & Sons – I just got into this other Scottish group over the last month or so and I listen to this record at least 5-6 times a week. Their sound is kind of a raucous/folky sound with great vocal harmonies and an organic punk rock vibe on a couple tunes. They make great use of the banjo on some of the bigger choruses. I heard they’re amazing live and I can’t wait to catch a show.
“On Approach” by Everest – A friend of mine sent me the video for their tune “Let Go” and I was hooked. The drummer did the vocals and still maintained a solid groove which is tough. He’s got a great voice and his vocal tone is similar to the guy from Train but with a way looser feel. Lots of really thoughtful songwriting on this record.
“Renegades” by Rage Against The Machine – I’ve been a huge RATM fan since their self-titled came out but more for the grooves and riffs than the politics. Brad, Tim and Tom hold down the biggest riffs between them that I’ve ever seen from a trio of musicians. Their grooves bounce 50,000 fans at the same time at any live show with no tricks or extra touring guitarists added into the mix. This record is them doing a bunch of covers. Normally I shy away from that type of thing but I have to say their choice of covers on this one is excellent. The one particular song on this album that kicked me in the head the hardest was their cover of Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill A Man.” If you have ANY sense of groove, the chorus in this version of that song will blow your mind.
“The Ortolan” by The Deadly Syndrome – These guys were up-sold to me on Pandora with their song “I Hope I Become A Ghost”. They definitely fall into the folk/indie category and do a great job mixing in piano, quirky acoustic guitar parts and groove.
“Slowhole to China” by Clutch - I’ve never heard a hard rock band like Clutch. They take the best of the blues, funk, hard guitar rock, a few martians from outer space, and then deep fry them in the back of a rusty 1970′s pick up truck somewhere in the south. This record, containing a bunch of rare and unreleased tracks, is one of the most groove-oriented hard rock albums I’ve heard in a long time. If you listen the title track “Slowhole to China” and allow the heavy Zeppelin-esque riff set in after the intial intro, you will not be dissappointed. Your head will start moving and you’ll want to punch stuff. I can’t get enough of Clutch.