I ran out of real estate. There is no more time to screw around. There are mere hours left in the present year. I have to tell you; I don’t really relish these end of the year lists. I feel like, as a quasi blogger (I say quasi because I’m just a guy who like to tell stories as opposed to raving about the latest sounds), their is kind of an onus on Ryan and I to put out something that sums up the year that just whistled by. I’ve been cramming lately for what feels like an exam, listening to a ton of music released in 2009. We all know you can’t possibly absorb a piece of music, in full the way it deserves to be ingested, with one single listen. At least that is my philosophy. That is one of my problems with doing this list each year. I should set aside three days each month to pour through that month’s releases and start my list in January, as in two days from now. It just doesn’t happen unfortunately. Life gets in the way of my high paying (not) job somehow and this is what we are left with.
Every time I do this I feel like I need to leave disclaimers about what I haven’t yet listened to, what will age poorly, what order I list the CDs in and what qualifications I even have to do a list like this. Well, that should cover it no? I’m going to be as brief as possible even though I know this is definitely not my strong suit. I expect Ryan’s list and my list to be eons apart. There is nothing wrong with that. Ryan listens to a lot of newer music and tends to veer in the opposite direction of Classic Rock artists. Nothing wrong with that either. I’m always keeping an eye on later day releases of old favorites like Collective Soul, Bob Mould, Bob Dylan, Cracker, Sonic Youth, Muse, Cheap Trick, The Black Crowes and Wilco. Some made my list and some didn’t, but those artists have earned my trust so to speak. It’s never easy to narrow it down, but it’s particularly difficult when you don’t feel like you’ve listened to each CD ten or fifteen times. Sometimes that takes years I’m afraid…
I’m also going to pay attention to more Blues artists than I think Ryan might. This year we had Back Door Slam, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Eric Gales, Joe Bonamassa, Gov’t Mule, Robert Cray and J.J. Cale release new CDs. And I love Progressive Rock like Pure Reason Revolution, Marillion and Porcupine Tree which factor into my decision making. Not everyone can make the list, but in two or three days time no one will care anyway so I give up. So without further ado here is my top twenty with a sample track for each record. Please don’t read into the order. It’s a futile exercise. There is no way I won’t be criticized six ways to Sunday, but it’s go time…
20. Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood – Live From Madison Square Garden
Buy or download Live From Madison Square Garden from Amazon here.
I realize a vote for this record is like voting for an experienced Japanese baseball player for rookie of the year in MLB, but quality is quality. These veterans of rock can still get it done. Tremendous recording in one of music’s palaces.
19. Collective Soul – Collective Soul (Rabbit)
Buy or download Collective Soul (Rabbit) from Amazon here.
I know it’s been over a decade since anyone cared about Collective Soul, but these guys might be the best “soft” rock band I’ve ever heard. I have always liked them right from single one. That would be 1994′s “Shine” in case you’re wondering.
18. Hell City Glamours – Hell City Glamours
Buy or download Hell City Glamours from Amazon here.
Another Australian export. The new Airbourne they say. They have a similar sound to Thin Lizzy in places, but I just feel like I need to include this surprisingly even uneven effort. Long Live the rock band. No reason main stream rock cannot continue to thrive even in the face of the music business today.
17. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
Buy or download Swoon from Amazon here.
Look, so what if they are carrying on The Smashing Pumpkins legacy? Lazy Eye was a great single and this record has its share of good songs too. I love this one.
16. The Black Crowes – Before The Frost…
Buy or download Before The Frost from Amazon here.
Recorded before what amounts to a live studio audience in Levon Helm’s barn, the Crowes break new ground. Not with their sound so much, but in the way this record was recorded. I’m determined to get out to Woodstock to see where this recording took place. There is a great feel to this CD and I wish I had been there.
15. Hockey – Mind Chaos
Buy or download Mind Chaos from Amazon here.
I first heard Hockey played on Kami Knake’s excellent Bands Under The Radar (www.bandsundertheradar.com) program last Spring. Kami’s enthusiasm for new music is beyond the pale and she’s turned me onto several bands over the past two years. I only wish her two hour podcasts were shorter and more frequent. Still, I enjoy the hell out of her show. Check it out sometime if you haven’t already.
14. Magnolia Electric Company – Josephine
Buy or download Josephine from Amazon here.
I’ve become quite the Alt-Country fan in my old age. One of the bartenders at Bukowski’s Tavern in Boston was playing these guys one afternoon and I’ve been a fan ever since. I find Jason Molina’s voice very soothing and easy on the ears.
13. Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
Buy or download Black Gives Way To Blue from Amazon here.
I didn’t want to like this at all. I’m not a big fan of moving on without prominent band members as a rule, but this record is heavy and surprisingly easy to digest. Well done men. Seattle still lives on even as Grunge and Rock seem dead. Makes me nostalgic.
12. Starsailor – All The Plans
Buy or download All The Plans from Amazon here.
I know this will probably upset somebody, but I hear a lot of Better Than Ezra in these guys. As you can probably guess I like Better Than Ezra. It was “Good” living with it.
11. Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot
Buy or download Chickenfoot from Amazon here.
Let the haters begin. I Can’t Drive 55, so what? I ride a Bad Motor Scooter and eat Rock Candy too so get offa me. Supergroups bite so what? I had a ball listening to this track. It’s right out of the 70′s playbook. Come to think of it, so am I.
10. Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
Buy or download Keep It Hid from Amazon here.
It’s safe to say I’m a mad Black Keys fan. Why does a duo need to step outside the relationship to make a solo record? Your guess is as good as mine, but this song is instant gratification personified. I sure hope The Black Keys aren’t breaking up.
9. The Answer – Everyday Demons
Buy or download Everyday Demons from Amazon here.
Southern California rockers bringing it old school. Whatever that means. Back to the 70′s in the style of one Led Zeppelin. I think they have a lot of potential.
8. Back Door Slam – Coming Up For Air
Buy or download Coming Up For Air from Amazon here.
By all accounts this record is not as good as 2007′s Roll Away, but it packs a good solid punch. So what happens? They take a perfectly good band name lifted from a Robert Cray song and change it to Davey Knowles & Back Door Slam. I hate it. I guess that means the young prodigy has one foot out the door huh? Sounds like The Los Angeles Back Door Slam of Anaheim to me. I hope this wasn’t Davey’s idea.
7. Crocodiles – Summer of Hate
Buy or download Summer Hate from Amazon here.
These guys sound like The Jesus & Mary Chain meets Love & Rockets to me. All fuzzy and melodic, but with ostensibly very little commercial potential. Know what? I love this record. There are several great tracks here and I plan to keep listening.
6. White Lies - To Lose My Life
Buy or download To Lose My Life from Amazon here.
This one is my sleeper of the year. I don’t know how I first heard about it, but this record is dark and cool. It’s got some Interpol in it, but also some Stellarstarr*. Not a bad combo in my book. I’d recommend checking this one out if this sounds good.
5. Alberta Cross – Broken Side of Time
Buy or download Broken Side of Time from Amazon here.
From the Canadian province of Alberta, this band allegedly has a musical foundation based in The Band and Neil Young, but I’m not sure I hear that. What I do hear is very impressive. Not a bad track on this CD and I’ve been playing it alot. Check it out.
4. Band of Skulls – Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
Buy or download Baby Darling Doll Face Honey from Amazon here.
Straight Outta Southampton (UK), this band has a lot of influences. They have some controlled White Stripes blood in them which by definition that means they’re all over the dial. I hate ballads as a rule. Not this one. A very solid effort all around.
3. Joanne Shaw Taylor – White Sugar
Buy or download White Sugar from Amazon here.
This record makes me so happy to know there are women in the world like this. Clearly a disciple of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joanne Shaw Taylor is a good looking young blonde woman who positively smokes on guitar. White Sugar? More like White Hot. Definitely one of my favorite records of the year. Keep ‘em coming Joanne.
2. Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg
Buy or download Cosmic Egg from Amazon here.
Maybe I should move to Australia. I seem to love most of the bands that come from the land down under. I think this record has several really good tracks and naturally the Zeppelin comparisons will not die now. So what? I love this record.
1. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
Download or buy Them Crooked Vultures from Amazon here.
There isn’t much to say here. I’m big fans of Queens of The Stone Age, The Foo Fighters and that little known band they called Led Zeppelin. This record brings the Hammer of The Gods. Did I mention Supergroups bite? Well, most of the time they do. Not this time I’m afraid. Now I’m kicking myself for sitting out their concert last month. Oh, and album cover of the year for sure! Love the contrast and logo.
OK, that’s a wrap. My apologies to fans of great releases from The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, The Editors, Cracker, Bob Mould, Sonic Youth, Glasvegas, Porcupine Tree, The Big Pink, Muse, Gov’t Mule, Cheap Trick, Joe Bonamassa, J.J. Cale, The Eels, Eric Gales, Robert Cray, Tegan & Sara, The Bottle Rockets, Hot Leg, Wilco, Fever Ray, U2, Walter Trout, The Wildhearts, The New York Dolls, The Features, The Dead Weather, The Avett Brothers, The Cave Singers, The Cribs, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Pure Reason Revolution, Phish, Owl City, Passion Pit, Morrissey, Modest Mouse, Moby, Metric, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Mayall, Ian Hunter, Heaven & Hell, Heartless Bastards, Grizzly Bear, Green Day, Dinosaur Jr, Depeche Mode, Clutch, Built To Spill, Cage The Elephant, Bob Dylan, Blue October, Astra, Electric Mary, A Place To Bury Strangers…even Tom Petty & AC/DC. It was a good year as far as I can see. Tuesday begins another annual cycle…
Happy New Year to everyone out there and THANKS FOR READING!