Monthly Archives: June 2010

Best Summer Albums of 2010 (10-1)



10. The Soft Pack
“s/t”
[Kemado]

The Soft Pack’s music is a lot like the infamous tight-roper Phillipe Pettit: it teeters between the ram shackled reverb of the garage and the slick, streetwise attitude of the West Coast, yet they somehow balance their alter-egos with ease.  Never has garage rock sounded so smooth.  Their 2010 self-titled release rolls out before you without hesitation, one song after another picking up where the prior left off, continuing this Army-brat band’s direct assault of surfer guitar solos and matter-of-fact vocals.  There isn’t one song that stands out as the “hit”, yet there isn’t a song you can bring yourself to skip past.  Like Pettit, who conquered city skyscrapers one step after another, Soft Pack methodically satisfy, one great song at a time.

This video for “Answer to Yourself” reminds me of all the dumb stunts my friends and I used to pull while working at the swimming pool:

9. Kings go Forth
“The Outsiders are Back”
[Luaka Bop Records]

Have you ever wondered what Sly and the Family Stone would sound like with bongos? What about a James Brown with a higher register and a jazzier backing band? Enough with the rhetorical questions; I’ll get right to the point: Kings Go Forth may be a call-back to classic 70s funk, but as their name suggests, the sound goes forth, diverging in new directions while still yielding that retro-vibe of the soul kings that came before.  Singer Black Wolf gives the album that classic 70s vocal display while the production of Andy Noble provides a modern edge. Summers of the past have been labeled a variety of “explosions” (ska, latin, british), and this year looks to be the explosion of soul.

Overall, a pretty lame video for the song “One Day”, although the cut scenes of records being made is like watching “How It’s Made”:

8. Free Energy
“Stuck On Nothing”
[Astralwerks/DFA]

I’m embarrassed that I like this album. The cover to “Stuck On Nothing” is hokey and easily a contender for our year end “Worst Album Cover” list. The production is polished and conventional. The music is nothing new: joyous melodies reminiscent of Thin Lizzy (this is the first time I’ve mentioned Thin Lizzy in an album review without bringing up the two-guitar-lead; kudos to me!). But despite all these setbacks, I can’t lie to myself; there are some great fucking songs here. In fact, “Stuck On Nothing” has the potential of being one of those albums where 80% of the songs end up becoming Top 40 Hits.  But I doubt it will happen. You won’t see any Disney shows called “Free Energy” nor will you witness the band flipping off the New York Mets for publicity.  They are simply a rock band from Philadelphia who happen to write kick-ass melodies. Remember the days when that’s all it took to make it big in music?

The downfall of the MTV that actually played music?  High School themed music videos:

7. Woods
“At Echo Lake”
[Woodsist]

I understand this list is flawed. Summer music isn’t simply restricted to albums released within that year.  It goes without saying that each July a moment will arise where I’ll dig up some old Neil Young for those long drives back to Iowa.  I guess my goal here is to introduce some new music that you can check out this summer or possibly pull out in future years when in need of some cheer.  But if you need a replacement for that “Tonight is the Night” album that you’ve played to death, the Wood’s “At Echo Lake” might be that modern Neil Young stand-in.  I know, I know, that’s a huge statement and I wouldn’t dare to suggest that Woods are even in the stratosphere of Sir Neil Young, but you’ve got to give these kids credit.  With innocent, falsetto vocals, and natural, weeping guitar solos, this lo-fi outfit seems to be on the right path toward someday being able to sing, “Neil Young take a look at my life I’m a lot like you.”

The ultimate sign of a cool band? Not having one music video on YouTube:

6. Tanlines
“Settings”
[True Panther]

I used to love getting tanlines when I was a kid.  There is just something so strange about that distinct line that forms between the sun burnt red skin, the bronzed tan, and the pasty white flesh, resulting in the appearance of a human neapolitan.  “Settings”, the six song EP from Tanlines, follows that same neapolitan form with several distinct auras bouncing off each other but never crossing that line toward unity.  While the album relies heavily on the tribal rhythms of the djembe and steel drum, a pounding dance bass line throbs throughout each song as well, springing off of the more natural, earthy tones.  The final layer of 80s pop sensibility will be burned into your memory way before you apply to sun block.

Seattle’s KEXP undoubtedly does the best job of in studio performances:

5. Morning Benders
“Big Echo”
[Rough Trade]

The cover to “Big Echo” says it all: a swimmer stands knee-deep in the forefront wearing a full body swimsuit and  a swim cap, staring out into the vast expanse before him where other swimmers are already enjoying the ocean’s swell.  He seems tentative, yet intrigued, just like the Morning Bender’s sound on this album.  Like the flowing of the tide, the music moves fluidly between several genres. It begins planted in the simple, serene 1950s-style confines of the shore, and then before you know it, you are caught up in the gushing experimental expanse of the ocean, taking the listener off into uncharted territory.  Their more mainstream side leans towards a laid back Phoenix, while the experimental splashes remind me of the Ruby Sun’s 2008 offering “Sea Lion”.  As much as I enjoy The Morning Bender’s sandy beach love songs, I always find myself awaiting that next big wave of sound to whisk me back away to the enchanting sea of sound and hope that it won’t return me to the shoreline.

Who needs a video for “Excuses” when you’ve got an album cover like this:

4. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
“I Learned the Hard Way”
[Daptone]

A few years ago while visiting my friend Sewer in Lake Havasu, Arizona, we spent our afternoons lounging in the swimming pool, drinking margaritas, and listening to Hepcat, the SoCal ska band that we saw perform while still in high school.  In our drunken reverie we’d sing along to the sweet melodies and dance amid the lukewarm water as the blaring horn section blew out their minds.  Why am I bringing this up?  No, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings aren’t a ska group, and my friend and I have never sang along to their music. The reason I bring up this up is because every time I listen to Sharon Jone’s latest release “I Learned the Hard Way” I can’t help but be brought back to my memories of Hepcat over the years.  There isn’t even a hint of ska in Sharon Jones sound, in fact her sound is straight up funk/soul of the 60s and 70s.  I guess the connection is due simply to the combination of upbeat harmonies set next to a jovial horn section.  Then again, I don’t remember Hepcat ever having such a soulful, passionate voice or writing such fiery love songs.

Sharon Jones is a musical Jackie Brown:

3. Surfer Blood
“Astrocoast”
[Kanine]
Don’t let the youth of Surfer Blood fool you; these kids understand the power held within their six-strings.  The guitars of Thomas Fekete and John Paul Pitts complement each other in the same way I imagine it may sound like if Doug Marsh and Dick Dale joined forces.  The band succeeds at blending the surfer guitar licks of old with distorted riffs reminiscent of Pavement.  Back in March, I’d been listening to “Astrocoast” two weeks leading up to SXSW, but when I actually saw them perform, all thoughts of it simply being a happy rock album were erased.  Watching the guitar work of these Florida youths had me in awe.  At first glance, “Astrocoast” is simply fun, but if you delve deeper there is a darker beast brooding beneath the surface; a creature that craves to devour your pop sensibilities and digest them whole.

I like how in this performance of “Take It Easy” half of the band is filmed on surveillance camera in what resembles a panic room:

2. The Amazing
“s/t”
[Subliminal Sounds]

It’s that time of year again when a company airs a commercial laced with happy summer imagery, all set to the music of the late great folk hero Nick Drake.  This season’s offering is an AT&T commercial set to Drake’s “From the Morning”, because really, what says “better coverage” than Nick Drake?  But I get what they are going for: Nick Drake’s soft serenades fit perfectly with the calming spirit of the summer, which leads me to the Swedish side-project The Amazing (two members of The Amazing are from Dungen).  On this project, Gustav Ejstes moves away from the psychedelic and focuses in on the same warm approach that Nick Drake mastered decades ago; it is pulled off brilliantly on the self-titled LP.  Every song swells with emotion, all bottled up in Ejstes soft, tranquil voice, warbling on command, guided by the docile strumming of acoustic guitars.  The fact that this album actually came out in December of 2009 may make this entire 2010 list a bust, but the idea of this warm album not getting the chance to see the sunlight is a thought that sends shivers down my spine.

The only thing missing from this video are images of people talking on their AT&T phones:

1. Fang Island
“s/t”
[Sargent House]
The opening track to Fang Island’s self-titled album features the sound of fireworks popping, reminding me of when my dad used to take us out on the 4th of July in his fishing boat to watch the display over Spirit Lake. “Dream of Dreams” multi-layered, Queen-like chant brings me back to the year “Wayne’s World” came out and how whenever the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on the radio my brothers and I felt compelled to re-enact the famous car scene. “Davey Crockett” has a swirling synth/guitar line that conjures up memories of watching “Reading Rainbow” with my brother Alex and laughing our asses off at the strange synth outro, and then commencing to imitate it the remainder of the day.  “Careful Crossers” punk rock anthem reminds me of the summers my friends and I would make trips up to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to see punk bands sweat it out at the now closed Pomp Room.  “Daisy” and its organ heavy backing track transports me to the summer I worked the late shift at a gas station and listened to Bob Dylan’s organ-heavy “Blonde On Blonde” while selling cigarettes to meth addicts. “The Illinois” is filled with guitar solos that almost seem stolen straight from classic video games, pulling my conciousness back to the days when, after a long day at the swimming pool, my friends and I would ride our bikes to the video store to rent the latest Nintendo game.  Simply put: Fang Island makes me feel like a kid again. And isn’t that what summer is all about?

You may want to be annoyed by this video for “Daisy” and it’s cast of characters, but by the song’s end, I dare you to not enjoy their antics within the confined space:

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Video Clip of the Week: ISIS, Final Show in Boston

Seven years ago PtheStudP called me up, urging me to head down to San Antonio’s goth club The White Rabbit to check out the progressive metal band ISIS, who I had never heard of at the time.  I scoffed at his request, lacking any interest in sitting at a metal show.  At the time I didn’t care much for anything under the “metal” umbrella, but much like the song structures of ISIS, my taste has evolved and ventured more and more into darker realms in the past few years.  Looking back now I curse that night for not trusting my friend.

A mere two years later, I would finally give the Boston natives a chance.  The basketball team I coached had just lost a game where the ref’s heavy handed officiating swayed the game so much that it left me with only five players (three fouled out).  Driving home, confused and furious, I threw the untouched CD-R of ISIS’s “Panopticon” in, feeling maybe metal would suit me at that moment. What I quickly discovered was that this wasn’t simply a metal album. The dramatic interludes, complex chord progressions, and syncopated drum beats left me in a caustic confusion.  I still remember that drive home, every stop light, every turn, and most importantly, every somber note of the haunting rage blasting out my speakers.  By the time I put my car in park, I understood what set ISIS apart from the rest of the metal world.

Over the next five years, the opportunity to see ISIS in a near by venue never resurfaced.  When the news came out that the influential band would be breaking up after this summer’s tour, PtheStudP came up with the perfect plan for remedying the concern that we’d never get to see them live: we’d fly to Boston to see them play in their hometown at the end of their tour.

Our entire week in Boston was amazing thanks to some great Bostonians who were willing to help out a couple of prog-metalheads, and the final Boston performance by ISIS would surpass expectation. Here is a clip of them performing one of my favorite songs “Ghost Key” near the end of their set. Although they will be missed, I’m happy to say I at least have the memory of this show to keep with me forever.

For some reason people from Boston have huge heads, which made video-taping the show a bit challenging:

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Best Summer Albums of 2010 (20-11)

For me, music moves with the seasons. In the winter I tend to listen to more somber artists, the fall is the perfect time for folk and blues, while the spring is filled with the energetic life of punk and metal.  My favorite season of all though, musically, would have to be summer. There is just something fun about summer, something exciting.  Whether it be a cook-out, a trip to the beach, or a drive through the mountains, the time for high-spirits and goofy grins can be found in the summer time air.

As a result of both my love of summer music and the fact that I’m way behind on album reviews on some amazing offerings from 2010, I decided to create a list of the Top 20 Summer Albums of 2010. Don’t get confused; this isn’t the top 20 albums of the year thus far. You won’t find any Broken Social Scene, Liars, or Beach House despite their impressive output in 2010. For now, they will have to wait (more on them in December). This list is about albums that work perfectly as the back-drop to your summer excursions, to your daily commute, to your afternoon by the pool. Each album has that same positive energy or fiery attitude that will fill your summer days and nights with a fitting soundtrack.

20. Apples in Stereo
“Travelers in Space & Time”
[Yep Roc Records 2010]

I’m not sure I like the direction Robert Schneider is taking The Apples in Stereo.  They once were a gritty pop-punk group hailing from the Elephant Six Collective, but over the course of the past two albums the sound has drastically changed towards a crystal clear space odyssey.  Schneider’s obsession with the vocodor continues on “Travelers in Space & Time” and so doesn’t his fixation with space travel. Almost every song seems to discuss intergalactic travel.  Despite the slow demise of The Apples and Stereo, Schneider continues to write alluring pop tunes, blending the 70s and 80s into some type of futuristic dance hybrid.  Although this apple is bruised, it’s still dripping with a sweet sincerity that will keep the doctor away for at least the summer months.

I guess I’m not the only one who thought “Dream About the Future” sounded like something from “The Peanuts”:

19. Holy Fuck
“Latin”
[Young Turks]

As much as I adore the band name “Holy Fuck”, I have to admit that the moniker is more suited for a metal band. At no point while listening to Holy Fuck will you actually exclaim “Holy fuck!”  Instead, the band’s live-techno decoupage of melody and decisive drum tracks will fill you with a calming state of quietude. Somehow the funky vibe of their pulsing onslaught provides you with confidence, gives you cool, leaves you feeling like Vincent Vega, like nothing can stop you (unless of course you’re caught reading Modesty Blaise on the toilet).  Unlike other albums on this list, “Latin” isn’t meant for those summer days in the sun. Oh no. This album provides an atmosphere suited primarily for those primal nights out scavenging the sweltering streets and dirty nightclubs in search of that life, that energy, that fire that makes summer so electrifying.

This video for “Latin America” and its sunny swimming footage totally contradicts my belief this is an album for summer nights. So be it:

18. Kate Nash
“My Best Friend is You”
[Fiction]

This list may stray from most summer music countdowns. Instead of albums, the masses usually search out the summer-hit songs, which are invariably pop tunes.  If you are a person who scours the radio for the upbeat melodies of pop music but feel over-inundated by Lady GaGa and Justin Bieber, the British songstress Kate Nash may be just what you’re looking for.  While her songs are catchy and seem to be the cheerful tones of summer, Nash’s output on her 2010 album “My Best Friend is You” carries themes and storylines that require a little more maturity than “Poker Face” (we get it GaGa: poke her face, el oh el!). There is still summer fun present here with lyrics that say things like “barbeque is good” and “I love swimming”, but don’t be deceived. In “Mansion Song” the innocent chorus of “I don’t have to be your baby, I don’t have to be your baby, I don’t have to be your baby” is sang right alongside the rambling diatribe of “I can get fucked like the best of men; like the best of men, like the worst of pain, inflicted on another young girl again.” While the rest of America swoons over Bieber’s “Baby”, I’ll stick with Kate Nash’s caustic take on “baby”.

This video for “Do-Wah-Doo” is like “LOST” with bad teeth:

17. Vampire Weekend
“Contra”
[XL Recordings]

Personally, I will not be listening to “Contra” this summer. Not because it’s bad or doesn’t suit the spirit of summer – quite the contrary. My avoidance of Vampire Weekend in the coming months is a direct result of me listening to their 2010 release “Contra” non-stop for the entire month of February. Some would call it overkill; I would call it an addiction to joyous melodies.   I’m guessing you’ve also fallen into the same Vampire Weekend trap (if you are an avid reader, you would know that it was picked as a ‘Best New Album’ when it first came out), but if you haven’t had the fortune of listening to Vampire Weekend and their tender tropical songs about “drinking horchata” and getting  “away on a summer’s day”, then treat yourself to “Contra” (and a nice cool glass of horchata while you’re at it).

This video reminds me of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. All that is missing is Abe Lincoln and, of course, the Wyld Stallions:

16. Hunx and his Punx
“Gay Singles”
[Matador]

Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. The cover of Hunx and his Punx’s first album “Gay Singles” is simply a picture of a guy’s crotch, his junk only hidden by a pair of zebra print underwear.  In this case, you can judge an album by its cover. “Gay Singles” is a collection of songs released over the past couple years that all happen to be gay love songs. I know the heterosexual in me is supposed to hate this album.  No testosterone driven male should enjoy gay love songs, right?  Well, I can’t deny it any longer. It’s time I come out of the musical closet and admit that I LOVE gay love songs, specifically Hunx and his Punx (although the Lemonhead’s “Big Gay Heart” may be my all-time favorite homo-love song). Despite the fact that the lyrics and effeminate vocals would make any right-wing conservative cringe, the songs, at their core, are as honest, pure, and comforting as anything by the Shangri-Las in the 60s.  And just like the Shangri-Las, Hunx happens to also enjoy kissing guys. Get over your homophobia already and get on the dance floor.

You may recognize the song “Gimmie Gimmie Your Love” from Lenscrafter comercials. I’m guessing Lenscrafter doesn’t want their customers seeing this video, specifically the 1:45 mark where food gets involved:

15. Gorillaz
“Plastic Beach”
[Parlophone/Virgin Records]

The summer of 1995 was one of my most memorable for several reasons. For one, I started my first job as a lifeguard and worked alongside my brother who would be heading off to Iowa State in the fall. Like any other summer, music played a big part in our daily routine.  Two albums stick out most when I think back: Warren G’s “G Funk Era” and Blur’s “The Great Escape”.  I loved Blur’s grandiose approach to Brit-pop with songs about the simple, everyday life of a “Charmless Man” or relaxing days in a “Country House”.  Warren G, on the other hand, told harsh tales of the American streets through a sparse, evocative landscape of pounding basslines and the occasional pleas of Nate Dogg.  The Gorillaz “Plastic Island” is a combination of these two great albums of 95’ with Blur front-man Damon Albarn at the helm, providing his own unique nuances to the world of hip-hop with guest rappers ranging from Snoop Dogg to Mos Def. Although the album title may suggest another collection of upbeat summer jams, “Plastic Beach” is anything but cheery.  Albarn’s backing tracks always seem on the edge of breaking into a celebratory tone, yet the bounding bassline reassures that this is a gangsta rap album for a new century.  Snoop Dogg hasn’t sounded this fresh in years, and without Danger Mouse meddling with his genius, Albarn brilliantly captures the ill-omened world of the plastic beach.  With the BP oil spill I can’t think of a more fitting album for the gulf coast in 2010.

This summer’s “Regulate” is “Stylo”:

14.  Dum Dum Girls
“I Will Be”
[Sub-Pop]

There will always be room in the summer music mix for a cheery grrrl band with adorable vocals and lovable retro-jangle-pop tunes.  In the 80s it was The Go-Gos and The Bangles, while the 90s produced Veruca Salt and The Breeders.  It has been a while since we’ve heard it, but it looks like The Dum Dum Girls have brought this delightful music style back. It seems basic by nature: harmonizing, innocent vocals over bright guitars, and choppy, simple drumbeats. It’s so simple; you’d think it would have become stale after all these years. But on “I Will Be” the Dum Dum Girl’s reverb soaked collection of two-minute songs is somehow a refreshing blend that will dry up any hint of sadness within.

13.Futureheads
“The Chaos”
[Nul/Dovecote]

The Futureheads have been hyped for years now as the next Franz Ferdinand, but it never really panned out for them.  Really, it’s a shame.  “The Chaos” is my first venture into the band’s music, and if it’s any sign of what has come before, the hype was warranted.  This album is a fusion of Devo and Gang of Four, pointed riffs and memorable chants of “Stop the noise!” and “This is the life!”  While the album sounds like it could have been a lost vinyl from the early 80s, it also sparkles with freshness that echoes toward the future.  Maybe they missed the boat when it comes to breaking through the mainstream, but with the type of fight evidenced in “The Chaos”, the tides may turn back in their direction.

Because the game show motif just hasn’t been done enough in music videos, here’s “The Heartbeat Song”:

12. Tony Allen

“Secret Agent”
[Nonesuch/World Circuit]

Remember the scene in “Sideways” where Miles and Jack are driving along the California coast, heading towards wine country while upbeat jazz plays in the background?  Now imagine the same scene, except this time Miles and Jack are driving along the African coast, heading towards South Africa’s wine country (yes it exists!) while the same jazz stylings are playing with the addition of an African choir, a hint of 70s funk, and bubbling drums that seem to be on the verge of spilling over at any moment. This, in a nutshell, is Tony Allen, the 70-year-old drum legend who helped create the influential Afrobeat sound of the 1970s . While most artists lose their passion with age, Tony Allen continues to produce music filled with soul and vigor as shown on his 2010 release “Secret Agent”.

This video reminds me of an African “Soul Train”:

11. Delorean
“Subiza”
[True Panther]

“Subiza” is a multi-faceted summer album because it can serve all your needs.  Its house dance beats seem perfect for a night on the town, yet the airy harmonies and bright vocals lend themselves to a hot afternoon with friends. I’m guessing the Spanish band Delorean’s chameleon-like approach to dance music may have something to do with that.  While other artists like Ruby Suns and Yeasayer have abandoned the ambient natural harmonies that once defined them, Delorean has found a way to move the dance-beat forward without completely abandoning that sun-drenched environment.  The result is much like the planet Pandora in “Avatar”: it looks like a vivid, natural world filled with life, yet there are brief moments where you realize it’s all manufactured.  Which, when you think about it, isn’t such a bad thing.

Watch this video for “Stay Close” and tell me I’m not spot on:

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Top Albums of 2000 (10-1)

10.  Elliott Smith – Figure 8

Forget everything you’ve heard about this album.  Just listen to it.  For some reason, ten years after it was released some at Pitchfork still find the need to talk shit on it (check out their top albums of 2009, #46).  Didn’t they talk enough when it came out in 2000?  “Throwaway… giant, airy studio disaster… go-nowhere melody… one of the least infectious songs… includes some of his least inspired music… unbearably random sounding… a lot to plow through… another step down in terms of songwriting… you only need to hear so much Elliott Smith before you get the point.”  Why is there still a backlash (the Oscar nomination?  ‘Good Will Hunting’?  Signing to a major label?)?  I mean he died over 6 years ago!  Whether you like the hushed dreamy wistful acoustic folk of his first two albums or the full on rock moments and orchestrated grand Beatlesqe pop of XO, there is something here for you.  This album has consistently broke my heart for 10 years now.  Again, just forget everything you know about Elliott and this album and JUST LISTEN (including this from Trouser Press: “neither does any of it make the direct connection to a soul and heart.”)  I have found that nothing from Elliott connects with any other place.  Sure it could have been narrowed down from 16 songs.  But just consider it his White Album. Kid Kilowatt

For the record, I can remember Android50 buying this album while we were in college.  I can remember it so vividly partially because for like 2 months I refused to go to class unless I dropped in and listened to a tune off of Figure 8 first.  – Songs Suck

I have many favorite albums from 2000, but if I were to pick the most memorable album of 2000, it would have to be Figure 8. My best memories of that year were times spent with some of the BDWPS.com writers  in our dorm hall simply known as “The Cave”.  Before meeting them I listened to Roman Candle nonstop, lying in bed drinking Mad Dog 20/20 until I passed out, a sad, pitiful creature. My grandma died that fall and I struggled with adjusting to the big time college life, so Elliot’s heart-wrenching songs hit home.  Then of course the holy trinity was formed and I no longer needed the sad odes of Roman Candle. I was still a morose mother fucker, but I needed something bigger than one guitar and a whispering voice captured on an 8-track; I needed something larger than life. I needed Figure 8.  -Android50

Probably my favorite songwriter of all time.  What?  What about John Lennon and Paul McCartney?  For my money I’ll take Elliot over the two of them combined.  – Tyrannosaurus Banks

9.  Antony & the Johnsons – s/t

Transcendent.  – Dr. Anonymous

I-Tunes calls it “easy listening.”  Tell that to my friends who say it gives them a headache and/or make fun of his voice.  On one track, Antony sings about searching for kindness in his heart, but instead finding Hitler.  Still sound like “easy listening”?  It’s bombastic, pretentious, soulful, uplifting, precious, melodramatic, spooky, feminine, beautiful, affecting, subtle, offensive, jazzy, elaborate, masculine, atmospheric, dark, compelling, and disturbing, often in one song. – Suzy Creamcheese

8. Sleater-Kinney – All Hands on the Bad One

Let us talk about regret for a second, shall we?  I don’t have many in my life, but I can think of one thing I really regret.  I had traveled to Denver for a Gang of Four concert and got there a day early.  S-K was playing that night and I was tired, had already seen them and would see them again a week or two later when they came to my town.  Maybe my biggest regret in life, not seeing them one more time before they broke up.  Probably their most melodic, fun, exuberant and danceable album.  How they do that without a bass is beyond me.  If I were Android50 I would find this an appropriate time to bust out a Thin Lizzy comparison.  And I would be right, but S-K’s dual guitar harmonies are busier, bolder and more playful than Lizzy’s.  Like ballads?  Check out “The Swimmer”, it happens to be one of my favorites (plus it was the first S-K song this dude ever heard).  Can you tell I fucking love/miss this band?  — Pthestudp

Makes me want to eat every chic in the world out while I party on my motorcycle.  – Johnny Goodyear.

I saw Sleater Kinney in concert and all the douches in the crowd kept asking for songs from One Beat. Sleater Kinney ignored their requests and played “You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun”, a song better than anything on One Beat. After finishing up, Carrie Brownstein aproached the microphone and said,”That song is from ‘All Hands On the Bad One’, an album none of you have ever heard of.”  I wanted to scream out, “I’ve heard it Carrie and I love it!”  Instead, I peed into a beer bottle because I didn’t want to miss a minute of their set. – Android 50

7.  Clinic – Internal Wrangler

This album makes me think that Clinic are actually a 60’s band that discovered some drug that no one else was privy to (which may explain the surgical masks they always wear in band pictures and the fact that they get all cowboyed up to rustle up some mental steers [get it?  “internal wrangler.”  Ha ha.]).  Or they somehow found a missing formula in a cave somewhere that showed how to make the usual guitars, drums, bass and organ lineup sound fresh and unique.  I don’t know how they did any of it, but every once and a while an album comes along that is really special.  Really fucken timeless and special.  – Songs Suck

Tribal drums sound off.  And then Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart drop a red pill each.  Then some obscure 60’s pop band drops by.  And we are down the rabbit hole and everywhere else in between.  Some gloriously fucked shit and the best example of how dark can be sunny, and cold, inviting.  How detached can have a big beating heart.  A heart so big it jumps out at you and dances about the room for 30 minutes before one is led to stab it with the fire poker.  Will I still be listening to this in 20 years?  Are we still listening to the Velvet Underground?  Ornette Coleman (see the cover)?  Wire?  Faust?  The Monks?  The Fall?  Well, some of us are.    — Tyrannosaurus Banks

6.  Pinetop Seven – Bringing Home the Last Great Strike

Before I heard Pinetop Seven I thought country was gay.  A rich and timeless album, Luke Ferdinand of fakejazz.com calls the music a “mix of No Depression country/folk with a small touch of something I can only think of as creepy carnival music.”  He’s totally wrong and spot on at the same time.  An indescribable album that really has to be heard and digested a few times to really “get it.”  — Willie Rambo Strider

Probably my favorite country band of the last 15 years.  Seriously, and it’s probably their best album.  So there you go.  If I ever find a real saloon, (ya know with the swinging doors) I will make them play this while I down a bottle of their finest whiskey.  It will also be the soundtrack when Pthestudp finally drags me to Joshua Tree.  Sorry U-2.  – Songs Suck

If you are playing the cowboy mercenery video game hit “Red Dead Redemption”, turn off the volume on your TV for a moment and play Bring Home the Last Great Strike as you venture through New Austin on your pixelated stallion.  You didn’t think the game could get more epic, did you? – Android50

5.  Electric Wizard – Dopethrone

It’s okay that the critics don’t get it.  They didn’t get Black Sabbath either.  Best album cover ever?  – Kid Kilowatt

Not the first time the Wizard has been featured on Bob Dylan WPS.  Read pthestudp’s review of their 2007 album, Witchcult Today, elsewhere on this site for a fuller description of the Wizard.  In that review pthestudp mentions that Dopethrone is a “full on DOOM classic [and it is] a combination of Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, the Melvins and Eyehategod.”  He is right and if BDWPS is the only site with enough balls to pronounce it, then so be it.4 Somewhere a horned and bearded Satan (is there another kind?) sits on a black throne in his castle, on the side of a hill in a dark forest, with malevolent looking hooded dudes guarding the castle and roaming the woods.  This album is what Satan pulls out before he tokes from his gigantic black bong.  Doomy, sludgey, monolithic riffs, spacey FX, this album really is the heaviest shit out there.  – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

4.  Smog – Dongs of Sevotion

You may not get a lot out of this album at first listen (except for maybe realizing his lyrics are fucken genius).  Some of the songs are minimalist dirges, and Bill Callahan refuses to follow up on catchy hooks (although “Dress Sexy at My Funeral” is one of his catchiest songs).  One gets the idea that either Smog is fucking with us or he really likes Leonard Cohen.  For those who are familiar with Callahan’s work, I describe it as the album he is obsessed with death and sex, often in the same song and one seems to follow the other.  I get scared to play it loud in my apartment with lyrics like: “I can hold a woman/ Down on a hardwood floor / This was my / My cold discovery.”  These lyrics and others, including ones that rhyme tête-à-tête with machete, and every note are going to permeate your brain until there is nothing else in there for weeks at a time.  A fucken shame this album did not show up on any of the “best of the aughts” lists, cos it is probably Bill Callahan’s finest hour.  – Songssuck

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with these songs playing in my head.  Why does this album haunt my dreams?  — Suzy Creamcheese

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven

One time I popped into a record store, just to browse.  LYSFLATH was playing.  I left immediately.  Call me extreme, but I refuse to listen to just parts of this album, at half volume.  LYSFLATH demands more.  And the more I give to it, the more it gives back.  – Willie Rambo Strider

My dad is a pretty cool guy.  He is also what I would call a radical devout christian.  He loves him some Jesus.  But there is one problem.  He doesn’t like any Christian rock bands.  I guess it’s hard to dig Christian rock when one has already heard Led Zeppelin.  Dad cannot deny that the Almighty’s rock bands do not compare to his favorites: Neil Young, Black Sabbath, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd and Zep.  He has a bunch of friends who got all excited when Dad told them his dilemma.  They were going to show him the light and started bombarding him with Christian music.  At first he would come home all excited with a new tape or CD given to him.  But after popping it in, he would realize: “it’s crap.”  After a while, Dad conceded that Satan had the better music (although he fervently believes that one day Christ will take back the music mantle that Satan took with him to hell and then Christians will truly ‘rock’).  But Dad, don’t give up hope just yet!  Cos when this nonet’s 3 minutes into “Storm: Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven” it is so rapturous and magnificent it must come from heaven.  Usually GSYBE albums just convey hell, indignation, grief, anguish and Armageddon, but like any good Christian album LYSFLATH’s last track, “Antennas to Heaven,” chronicles Jesus’ victory over Satan.  With that realization GSYBE have added another emotion to their musical palette: joy.  Talk about goose bumps.  – Pthestudp

2.  Bohren & Der Club of Gore – Sunset Mission

Another made up genre exclusively for this list: doom noir-jazz.  Seriously, I feel like someone is standing behind me holding a knife while I listen to this.  Or maybe I am in a lounge cantina on Mos Eisley and Jabba the Hut just walked in (slithered?).  Or I could be driving down the autobahn (the band is German), chain smoking cigarettes, pondering how I am going to get away with the murder I have just committed?  No one know whilst this record spins.  If you love jazz, doom, or midnight, check it out. – Pthestudp

Bohren & Der Club of Gore bitch slapped everyone who said one had to look to the 60’s to find the last good jazz.  Even though most of the people who said that would still think that after hearing this, BDWPS.com readers will know better.  – Dr. Anonymous

1.  Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica

This really came out of nowhere.  And yet, I didn’t appreciate it at the time.  I liked it, but my 2000 self really didn’t comprehend just how good this album is; it would take a long long time.  M&A was Modest Mouse’s major label debut and they made the most of it.  Isaac Brock sings about unearthly places and ideas: places I have never been and cannot comprehend; ideas I cannot grasp.  But for the first time the music is really ambitious enough to soundtrack his visions.  The music comes to us from bad motel, but where is this motel?  The 3rd planet?  The dark center of the universe?  A frozen over version of hell?  The stars?  An endless ocean/endless desert?  Antarctica?  The moon?  Brock gives a lot to ponder, but offers no easy answers.  I think Brock actually knows how the world began, how it will end and what happens when you die.  He knows the secrets of the universe, what the meaning of life is and the location of hell.  To find them one only needs to listen to this album.  But I’ll warn you right now, if one enters The Moon & Antarctica they are going to get mind-raped, and might not escape with their sanity and may not end up knowing where they came out at.  – Pthestudp


4 There are almost no reviews of this album on the web, even on music sites I respect.

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Video Clip of the Week: Eddy Current Suppression Ring “Tuning Out”

Here’s a clip from the performance I caught last night by the Australian rockers Eddy Current Suppression Ring.  While performing “Tuning Out” from their latest album “Rush to Relax”, guitarist Eddy Current breaks into an epic guitar solo that I was fortunate enough to capture. The fact that I didn’t see any guitar pedals reiterates the sheer skill this chap has on the six string.  Enjoy this clip that gives just a glimpse of the bedlam that the show contained.

(For some reason YouTube took this HD video clip and made it look like World War II footage. Also, I apologize for the shaky camera; I may have been a tad inebriated.)

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Jimmy Buffett.

The images we’ve seen in the past few weeks of the gulf coast oil spill are pretty damn depressing.  Sea turtles struggling to traverse through the molasses mix, pelicans caked in black sludge, a growing cloud of oil spreading beneath the water’s surface – all reminders of the man-made disaster devastating the ocean’s eco-system.  But never fear my friends. All is not lost…yes, that’s right: Jimmy Buffett will still open his beach front hotel Margaritaville in Pensacola, Florida, despite the oil spill! In his own God-like words, the king of the Parrotheads pronounced,” This will pass.”  What a saint! While our government fails to stop the chaos, Jimmy is standing strong and saying, “These flip-flops don’t run.”

Nothing can stop Mr. Buffett and his money-making machine: not hurricanes, not a lost salt shaker, and certainly not a little oil spill. No, this flip-flop wearing apostle will continue soaking up money from his multitude of bird-brained minions like a sun-bather on the beach, come hell or high water. Whether it be his line of piss tasting beer Land Shark, his two restaurant chains CheeseBurger in Paradise and Margaritaville, or his no-brainer venture Margaritaville tequilla (and accessories), it is evident that Jimmy can’t get enough of the almighty dollar. So much for being a beach bum!  (I left out his line of shoes, shrimp, and casinos).

No other man has made more money out of so little talent. His voice is mediocre at best and his songs are as basic as they come.  I have a few friends who I suppose would consider themselves Parrotheads, a premise that gives me the full body douche-chills. My friend Sewer swears by Buffett’s tropical fare.  This is the same high school buddy who introduced me to the punk music of Minor Threat, Operation Ivy, and The Descendents.   He claims that you have go further into the Buffett catalog, but the deeper I’ve dived, the more castaway songs about pirates, sharks, and hula girls I’ve discovered. And the songs that aren’t about drinking and paradise are almost always poorly performed covers, whether it be “Brown Eyed Girl” or “Mexico”.   Unfortunately, these two titanic failures are as close as Jimmy Buffett will ever get to the talent of Van Morrison and James Taylor.

But really, with Jimmy, it was never about the music.  It all comes down to marketing.  Jimmy figured out early on in his career that drinking alcohol is America’s real past time (although he does a cover of “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” just in case he was wrong).  And where there are shot glasses, there is usually music.  Taking a hint from Irish drinking songs of old, Jimmy crafted a musical legacy by writing primarily about getting drunk in paradise.  Even the prudest of the prude will have a pina colada when on a beach vacation, and Jimmy banks on this, literally.  As a result, when all these midwestern rubes in their tropical attire return home and want to rekindle some of those inebriated memories, they throw “Margaritaville” in the CD player and pour a LandShark beer down their gullet.

Other than KISS, I can’t think of another artist (I use that term loosely) that has whored out his songs as a means of making money outside the world of music.  You will never see a “Ziggy Star-Dust-Devil”, an “Evenflow Laxative”, or a “Tangled Up and Blue Vasectomy Clinic” simply because most musicians respect their craft and their songs as not a mass-marketing tool, but simply as a creation to be left alone and enjoyed.  Jimmy Buffett doesn’t get this, and I don’t think he cares.  He may be showing his compassion through his commitment to the coast in these hard times, but don’t be surprised if someday his hotel restaurant starts serving a molasses glazed turtle (the candy) as a dessert dish.

Jimmy Buffett hates Oil Spills and AIDS:

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Video Clip of the Week: Genesis on Belgian TV

Prog is not a four letter word.

-Kid Kilowatt

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