Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top 100 Tracks of 2010 (75-51)

 

75. “Doubt”

The Corin Tucker Band

I always thought Carrie Brownstein was the more punk rock of the ladies in Sleater Kinney. I always thought she had the fire, the anger, and the edge that counteracted Corrin Tucker’s more feminine approach. I was wrong. So wrong.

 

74. “Stranded”

The Walkmen

I’m a sucker for trumpets, especially when they sound this damn dreamy.

73. “Theme From ‘Cheers””

Titus Andronicus

Looking back on my year, one memory that stands out the most is when me and BDWPS contributer PtheStudP visited Cheers in downtown Boston.  After a two-hour marathon at a beer festival, our tour guide Steph led us to Cheers where her friend Justin was bartending.  What I thought was going to a quick tourist visit turned into hours of drunken splendor. Soon the variety of beers and shots somehow turned into a night of boisterous chanting of  “U-S-A!”, “Lord-By-ron!”, and “Tom Arn-old!”  This song brings me back to that night, not necessarily because of the reference to Cheers in the title, but the chorus that could have easily been one of our chants that night: “So let’s get fucked up, and let’s pretend we’re all okay, and if you’ve got something you can’t live with, save it for another day. Save it for another day.”

72. “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

The National

After carrying The National’s Matt Berninger to Ohio, I’d like that same swarm of bees to visit Jim Tressel’s house.

71. “Tame On the Prowl”

The Medications

In most cases, my adoration of The Medications stems from trying to untangle the vine of intertwined guitar licks in each song.  “Tame On the Prowl” continues this tradition, but also features a melody that will quickly wrap around your Hippocampus.

70. “Whores; The Movie”

El-P

Not only is “Whores; The Movie” a stellar song, but it would also make a great movie (preferably in 3-D).

69. “Leave You Forever”

Cloud Nothings

I could never leave this song forever.

68. “Apartment Wrestling”

Maximum Balloon (featuring David Byrne)

If you’ve ever wondered what TV On the Radio would sound like if they joined forces with The Talking Heads, it’s as amazing as you expected.

67. “Grief Point”

Destroyer

This is not really a song, rather an audio-short-film, or an audio-psycho analysis, or maybe just the ramblings of a confused artist. Whatever the case, this eight minute insight into the mind of Dan Bejar and his view of music at this point in his career is fascinating.  Earlier this year, Bejar discussed ending his recording career altogether (fortunately he didn’t with a new album coming out soon), and this B-side to his “Archer on the Beach” EP captures him in the midst of this confusion of what role his music plays in both his life and his listeners.  Plus, I just like the imagery of “picnic baskets filled with blood”.  Call me a hopeless romantic!

66. “Fresh Hex”

Tobacco (featuring Beck)

“Maniac Meat” is such a fun fucking album and on “Fresh Hex” Beck joins the party, giving the album his own fresh take on their energetic sound.

65. “Pop Culture (revisited)”

The Ponys

The Ponys originally formed in Chicago back in 2001, and one of their earliest songs was “Pop Culture”.  For whatever reason, this song never made it onto a major record, only being heard during live performance.  I can still remember them playing this song when I first saw them live four years ago.  But in 2010, with the release of their song EP “Deathbed Plus 4″, “Pop Culture (revisited)” was finally released from captivity, and it sounds as lively as ever.

64. “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

Frightened Rabbit

Water has always represented rebirth, and on “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” singer Scott Hutchison swims not only for a renewal, but also to feel alive again.

 

63. “You Must Be Out of Your Mind”

The Magnetic Fields

This past year I’ve had to learn how to forgive others, and also tried to gain forgiveness for those I’ve hurt.  In both cases this isn’t the easiest of tasks.  As the person who was wronged, there is some agitation with the idea that by simply saying “I’m sorry” that everything goes back to the way they were. They don’t and they never will. But as the person asking for forgiveness, you can’t “simply press rewind” and things will be they way they once were no matter how bad you would like them to.  Stephin Merritt’s snarky lyrics take on the persona of the one burned, and his stance can be either an anthem for moving on or a eulogy for a relationship (depending one what side of the forgiveness fault-line you stand).

 

62. “Waterfall”

Fresh & Onlys

The Fresh & Onlys are time travelers, but instead of going to the past, they’ve come to us from the 60s, bringing with them a sound that has been long forgotten. Amazingly, a song like “Waterfall” grows out of the oldies, yet sounds like nothing else on the radio.  This is the type of song that would lead Marty McFly to say, “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet, but your grandparents loved it.”

 

61. “Below the Hurricane”

Blitzen Trapper

At first this seems like a beautiful little folk song, but halfway through the band kicks it up a notch with Doobie Brother’s persona that is sweetened with a couple drops of harmonica.

60. “I Learned the Hard Way”

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

The only thing I don’t like about this song is the fact that she never defines exactly what this guy did to turn her into such a bitter old maid.

 

59. “Mr. Peterson”

Perfume Genius

This eerie song tells the story of a teacher, Mr. Peterson, leaving a note on a student’s paper telling them to meet him at a certain time and place. For some reason, the narrator meets up with the teacher, smokes weed with him, and possibly has sex with him (although this event is only inferred).  When the teacher goes on to kill himself, the narrator doesn’t necessarily hold a grudge toward him. Instead, the speaker hopes that Mr. Peterson can find a place where he’s wanted, even if that place be hell.

So yeah, this songs kinda depressing.

 

58. “Moves”

The New Pornographers

After their lackluster 2007 release “Challengers”, I’d kinda written The New Pornographers off.  It just seemed like their sound had run its course and had no where else to go.  But on their latest release, “Together”, the band has found new ways to eek a little more life out of their collective, especially on a song like “Moves” that amps up their classic sound with a driving orchestral addition.

57.  “Suffering Season”

Woods

I made the mistake this summer of defining Woods as the next Neil Young. The falsetto vocals do conjure up images of Sir Neil, but a song like “Suffering Season” shows the band is influenced by many other voices of the past (possibly the Mamas and the Papas?).

56. “Girlfriend”

Ty Segall

In just two minutes, Ty Segall will have you singing along.  That has to be some type of record.

55. “Favourite Food”

Tokyo Police Club

Getting old stinks, a point this song pounds into the ground.  Not only have I had to face the facts that I’m no longer young, but my parent’s aging has become apparent, a notion that scares me.  When the lyrics say “cause it’s sweet getting old” followed by “Let the hospital be your home”, I can’t help but feel that Tokyo Police Club are being morbidly ironic. I would like to believe that there is some hope hidden within the metaphors of this riveting song, but I can’t seem to find them.

54. “Written in Reverse”

Spoon

With all that screaming and punching of piano keys, something must have really pissed Britt Daniels off. But unlike the Incredible Hulk, you’ll like Britt when he’s angry.

53. “Relief”

Sam Amidon

I really should start listening to some R Kelly.  A couple of years ago I couldn’t quit listening to Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s cover of R. Kelly’s “The Word’s Greatest”.   This year Sam Amidon, who is known for his modern interpretations of classic folk songs, switched his routine by taking R. Kelly’s “Relief” and giving it a more classic ambience. On second thought, I’ll just stick to people covering R. Kelly.

52. “POWER”

Kanye West

Even though it’s the third track on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, “POWER” is the introduction to the Shakespearan tale found on this album.  In it, Kanye portrays a man dealing with the struggles of being in power. At times he seems arrogant and aloof, but near the end of the song the listener begins hearing a man realizing that the one thing he doesn’t have power over is himself.  By the time the outro arrives, the speaker is standing on a ledge envisioning himself jumping, saying, “This would be a beautiful death”.

Oh, and did I mention it samples King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”?

51. “He Would Have Laughed”

Deerhunter

A lot of great musicians died in 2010 (Captain Beefheart, Ronnie James Dio, Mark Linkous), but the most devastating loss in my view was the death of Jay Reatard simply because Jay had so much left to create, so must potential.  Being friends with Jay, Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox wrote “He Would Have Laughed” in dedication to the lost genius.  I’m not sure if the song is necessarily about Jay with its abstract lyrics, although there is something there within the lyrics “Where do all my friends go?” and “What did you want to be?”.  I think the connection to Jay’s life is found within the music its self, with the slow progression that eventually goes into a euphoric swell, but then, just like Jay’s life, the song just suddenly stops. Fuck.

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Top 100 Tracks of 2010 (100-76)

 

Just like every other year end list I’ve done for 2010, I decided to up the anty with my top tracks list by taking it from 50 to 100 songs. I know…I know…it may seem like a bit much. I can explain. Every year I compile my best songs list while making the 18 hour, cross-country drive to my parent’s house for the holidays. As I drive, I explore my i-Pod for the year’s stand-out songs and jot down titles into a notebook when I feel one is worthy of the list (not the safest driving method, I understand). By trip’s end this year, my list totaled 114.  I had a lot of fat to trim, and as I reached the 100 mark, it became more and more difficult to cut great song after great song. As a result, I’ve doubled my workload, but I don’t mind. These tracks have meant a lot to me this past year – the least I can do is give them the recognition they deserve.

 

100. “2012″

PS I Love You

What better way to start a 2010 list than with a song titled “2012″? Okay, it doesn’t make much sense, but I couldn’t help but squeeze this song on as the caboose to the list.

 

99. “Who Fingered Rock n’ Roll”

Cornershop

Back in the mid-90s Cornershop scored a hit with “Brimful of Asha”, a groovy track saturated with sitar and lyrics about using bosoms as pillows.  Unbeknownst to me, Cornershop survived the 90s and are still kicking out strange middle-eastern versions of the theme to “Wonder Years”. And they do ask a great question: who did finger rock n’ roll? My bets on Richard Marx.

98. “Arkansas”

Damien Jurado

Its nice to see Damien still thriving in the music world. His 2010 “Saint Bartlett” shows him taking his sound back to the sparse environs of “Ghost of David”, but the stand out song of the album, “Arkansas”, is probably the most produced. In the tradition of love songs to states, Jurado focuses his break-up with Arkansas.  It doesn’t necessarily have the double meaning found in a “Georgia On My Mind”, but then again, I did once date a girl named Rhode Island.

97. “I Don’t Believe You”

The Thermals

“I Don’t Believe You” is one of the only songs on The Thermals 2010 release “Personal Life” that features distorted power chords and – SHOCKER – it’s the best song on the album. A lesson in not straying from what works.

96. “Thank You For Your Love”

Antony and the Johnsons

A few months ago a fellow BDWPS contributer, PtheStudP, asked me if I’d purchased the new Antony and the Johnsons. I replied by saying, “Nah, I think I’m kinda done with Antony and his voice.” He of course berated me and called me a fool.  His verbal beating forced me to give The Johnsons one more chance, and I was quickly humbled by my disrespect.  Antony and the Johnsons – I want to thank you for your music.

95. “Racer X”

Japandroids

The Japandroids covering the Big Black song “Racer X”? YES PLEASE!

94. “What To Say”

Born Ruffians

2010 was a rough year for Born Ruffians with their disappointing release “Say It”.  Amidst the sloppy collection of songs, “What To Say” is a stand-out due to its memorable melody and its discussion of the age old inability to talk to women. Is it sad that a 32 year old man still relates to this teenage dilemma?

93. “Ain’t No Grave”

Johnny Cash

Would it be wrong of me to accuse Rick Ruben of manipulating Johnny Cash near the end of his life? I understand that Ruben’s production helped give Cash a rebirth in the music world, but now that Cash has died, more and more music keeps coming out from their sessions together, and it seems lik 90% of the tunes are about dying. I’m just saying… Despite the discomfort associated with listening to the ghost of Johnny sing on the 2010 release “American Recordings VI”, I can’t deny what an excellent song “Ain’t No Grave” turned out to be with its layers of dragging chains, spooky organs, and creaking piano keys. “Ain’t No Grave” is more evidence that Rick Ruben, manipulator or not, can make a good song great.

92. “38 Souls”

Bottomless Pit

Although I loved the music of 2010, I have to admit that the year was truly defined for me by Pavement. I spent most of my life scoffing at the suggestion of Pavement, but this year I opened up to the possibility that they may actually be good, and damn it, they were! As a result, I spent a large portion of the year searching for the modern equivalent of Pavement. I thought Bottomless Pit could fill that void, but I found that they are influenced by more than just Pavement.  For example, on “38 Souls”, a song about capturing souls, the band is able to conjure the ghosts of the 90s, channeling the sounds of Jawbox, Sebadoh, and even Dinosaur Jr. Now if they could just capture the soul of Stephen Malkmus.

91. “One Polaroid a Day”

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

This song stood out to me simply because it shows Ted Leo trying something new.  Instead of his usual falsetto rantings, this is a slow groove with Leo exploring his lower register.  He’s no Isaac Hayes, but the change of pace was welcomed in 2010.

90. “Threshold”

Beck

Doesn’t Beck sound happy on this song? That’s the sound of a man escaping the clutches of Danger Mouse. Rejoice!

89. “Be Yourself”

Robin Pecknold

I’ve always thought that Fleet Foxes sound a lot like CSNY, so it’s probably fitting that the best song on the tribute album to Graham Nash be by Robin Pecknold.

88. “Jail La La”

Dum Dum Girls

Only the Dum Dum Girls could make being “covered in shit” sound adorable.

87. “In Every Direction”

Junip

If I were to make a year end list for video games (which I have no right attempting), I would put “Red Dead Redemption” at the top due to its never ending landscape that I wasted hours of my life exploring.  My favorite part of the game’s storyline though is when you first enter into Mexico – the game shifts from its annoying harmonica music to an actual soundtrack of Jose Gonzalez’s “Far Away”.  A month after passing the game, I purchased Junip’s 2010 release “Fields”, and everytime I listened to it, Jose’s voice would bring back the image of John Marston entering Mexico where there is nothing but desolation “in every direction”.

86. “General Patton”

Big Boi

When your nickname is General Patton, you better have a song that lives up to Patton’s legacy, and Big Boi steps up to the challenge with this song, an operetic-orchestral chaos that is more fit for Darth Vader than Patton.  It’s possibly the only song that will have you nodding your head to the chants of a concert choir.

85. “Heartbeat Song”

The Futureheads

When I posted my list of the “Best Summer Albums of 2010″, my friend Tim emailed me, pointing out that I once made fun of him for liking The Futureheads. I was forced to admit defeat writing, “Yeah, that’s because I’m a pretentious douche”.  Not even a pretentious douche can deny the melody of “Heartbeat Song”.

84. “Angry World”

Neil Young

Neil Young was a bit misleading with he called his new album “Le Noise” a folk metal album.  Lyrics about the plight of polar bears and bison aren’t necessarily the most metal of subject matter.  If only the album had more songs like “Angry World”, matching the wave of distortion with lyrics that delve into the darker side of the human psyche.  I’d like to believe “Angry World” presents what it may have sounded like if Neil had joined Black Sabbath when Ozzy left.

83. “Roman Candles”

Suckers

I present to you the Seven Dwarves of indie rock!  “Roman Candles” is a reminder that whistling was fun before Andrew Bird came along.

82. “July Flame”

Laura Veirs

Most depressing 4th of July song ever.

81. “Norway”

Beach House

I don’t necessarily love this song. It’s more of an addiction to the disorientation felt while listening to the sickly guitars.  Not even Robitussin can save you from the nausea of “Norway”.

80. “ONE”

Yeasayer

Yeasayer’s “Odd Blood” pissed me off. When did they become a dance band? Unfortunately, “ONE” made it very difficult to hate them for long.  I would be lying if I said I’ve never danced to this song while cooking pork chops with a plum-ginger sauce. I’m straight, I SWEAR.

79. “Early Warnings”

Love is All

What if John Lennon woke up and didn’t fall out of bed, rather knocked his head on a bookshelf? What if instead of dragging a comb across his hair he almost choked on his toothbrush?  Yes my friends, we’ve discovered the anti-thesis to The Beatles “A Day in the Life”.

78. “Odessa”

Caribou

The actual city of Odessa, Texas is not nearly as fun as this song would suggest.

77. “Kids On the Run”

Tallest Man on Earth

With “Kids On the Run”, Kristian Matsson ditches his acoustic guitar for a piano, and surprisingly it’s the best song on the album.  It could be due in part to the poignant lyrics that reveal a story of two scorned lovers, still running away from their past like children. Basically, it’s “Born To Run” except in this version Wendy is trying to escape Bruce and his velvet rims.

76. “Fuck You”

Cee Lo Green

Yesterday I was riding in the car with my mom when this song came on the radio. Even though I’m a grown man, I still felt uncomfortable as the chorus arrived, knowing the YouTube sensation lyrics of “Fuck You!” were just ahead. Then, just when it arrived, the lyrics “Forget you!” came out the speakers as my mom sang along. I took comfort in knowing my mom was oblivious to the actual lyrics, and it made me realize this song is great, with or without the cursing (although I’ll take the cursing version if I must choose).

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Best Album Covers of 2010

 

20. Klaxons

“Surfing the Void”

 

This cover is funny in a "Laser Cat" kind of way, but it is also fitting for Klaxon's spacey dance beats.

 

19. Morning Benders

“Big Echo”

 

 

This summer, I wrote of Morning Bender's "Big Echo" and said, "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. As much as I enjoy The Morning Bender’s sandy beach love songs, I always find myself awaiting that next big wave to whisk me back away to the enchanting sea of sound and hope that it won’t return me to the shoreline."

 

18. Of Montreal

“False Priest”

 

This cover brings me back to high school when I'd pass the time in class drawing a strange collection of images on the inside cover of my various notebooks. But nothing I drew ever compared to the intricacies on Of Montreal's 2010 release. Every time I look at it I find something new. Keep looking, and you might just find Waldo.

 

17. Thieves Like Us

“Again and Again”

 

 

On first glance, this may not look like much more than a girl throwing cards into the air, but the longer you look, the more questions arise: What is the silver purse-like item in her hands? Why is she giving it an elbow drop? And why are there nude women on the cards? The arrangement of the text only adds to the mystery.

 

16. Sisters

“Ghost Fits”

 

 

This cover combines my three favorite things: castles, mountains, and needle-point.

15. Mimicking Birds

“S/T”

 

I'm not sure what's going on here, but I absolutely love this cover with its strange pods spawning a creature that is literally mimicking a bird.

 

14. Ben Frost

“By the Throat”

 

 

In terms of a cover matching an album title, I don’t think it gets much better than this. The cover for “For the Throat” also contains one of my favorite album photographs for the year with the combination of snowfall, plows, and a pack of wolves caught in the headlights. Jack London could have written a novel based solely off this cover…

 

13. Erykah Badu

“New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh”

It's common in the R&B community for the album cover to feature the artist's face, but leave it to Erykah Badu to take it another direction. Instead of going with a glamour shot, Eyrkah's 2nd album in the "New Amerykah" series features a drawing of a robotic-android-Erykah with a tree sprouting from her head, all within the confines of a mystical flowery world. Suck on that Rhianna.

12. How To Destroy Angels

“EP”

 

While Mark Weaver's artwork for the How To Destroy Angel's first release is pretty spectacular, it also sets the listener up for disappointment upon first listen to Trent Reznor's side-project (God I hope it's a side-project).

 

11. Destroyer

“Archer on the Beach”

 

Only Dan Bejar could make a water fountain look magical to the adult eye.

 

10. Kanye West

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

 

 

While releasing five seperate album covers may seem a bit self-serving, Kanye uses the collection of images to add to the mythology of his "Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy": the lustful indulgence, the frailty of beauty, the faces of insanity, the perils of power, and the rebirth of legends.

9. Active Child

“Curtis Lane”

 

 

This year, many bands used old photographs as their cover (Vampire Weekend, Fang Island, Dum Dum Girls), but no photo caught my interest more than Active Childs "Curtis Lane". It captures the neighborhood found within the album's title and features two of the most creepiest child Halloween masks I've ever seen, which adds even more curiosity about the face that is hidden.

 

8. Black Tusk

“Taste the Sin”

 

 

Baroness guitarist John Dyer Baizley never gets a vacation. The artwork of Baizley continued to thrive in the metal world in 2010 with his latest masterpiece for the Black Tusk.

7.  Grinderman

“Grinderman 2″

A wild beast trapped by decadence - Nick Cave defined.

6. Sufjan Stevens

“Age of ADZ”

His darkest album to date, "Age of ADZ" let Sufjan go a different angle than his traditional Rockwell-ian covers. It also doesn't hurt when your album is based on the life of a famous artist (hence the apocalyptic artwork of Royal Robertson).

5. Strand of Oaks

“Pope Killdragon”

Since seeing this cover months ago I’ve had this simple black and tan image stuck in my head. There is something about it that is so alarming, so tribal, so ghostly, that I can’t seem to shake it (this obviously is a good thing).

4. Surfer Blood

“Astro Coast”

The most surprising aspect of this cover is not the shark mouth found within the checkerboard layout, rather what's going on in the other squares?

3. Method Man, Ghost Face, & Raekwon

“Wu Massacre”

Who wouldn't read this comic book?! Wu Tang is about to raise the motha fuckin' ruckus on the streets of Gotham!

2. Gorillaz

“Plastic Beach”

Gorillaz have always been as much about their artwork as they are about their music, and the cover to “Plastic Beach” continues this tradition, providing a visual cue for the world of the Plastic Beach discussed in the music.

1. Quest For Fire

“S/T”

I think I could stare at this cover for hours at a time; actually,  I have. This oil painting of what looks to be a melting, flower-based owl is truly a work of art. The epic, psych-jam-band mentality of Quest For Fire’s music only fuels the flames of exploration within this piece.  Skip the salvia, the mushrooms, and the LCD – just stare at this cover for an afternoon while listening to Quest For Fire; it will be the best trip you’ve ever had.

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Video Clip of the Week: Bowie and Bing sing “Little Drummer Boy”

I wish Bowie would come to my house on Christmas.

And here’s a recent clip of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly performing the same song verbatim.  I’m not sure why, but it’s funny for some reason.

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Worst Album Covers of 2010

It’s that time again to review the highlights and lowlights of the year. What better way to kick things off than with our annual “Worst Album Covers List”.  I’m not sure if cover art has lost its importance due to the slow demise of physical media, but there was such an influx of horrific artwork and photography in 2010 that I was forced to double the list in size.  I hope you don’t mind…


20. Airbourne

 

“No Guts, No Glory”

 

This cover should probably be #1, but I've convinced myself that it's intentionally over-the-top bad...it's the only way to explain it.

19. Michael Jackson

 

“Michael”

 

I appreciate that they've tried to include references to all the different periods Michael's life, but I find the images to the left of a rotting Michael corpse to be tasteless.

18. J King and Maximus

 

“Los Superheroes”

 

So Maximus can shoot flames and J. King is...a plumber?

17. Blake Shelton

 

“Loaded: The Best of Blake

 

Shelton”

 

The photographer told him to look "loaded", unfortunately Blake went "full-retard".

16. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

 

“Round and Round”

 

Don't you just hate it when you get peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth?

15. Weezer

 

“Hurley”

 

I knew Hurley had bad luck, but the Smoke Monster has nothing on the wrath of Weezer.

14. Sheek Louch

 

“Donnie G: Don Gorilla”

 

This cover set back race relations 500 years.

13. Neil Diamond

“Dreams”

 

Based off this cover I've come to two beliefs: Neil Diamond uses Cialis, and the original title of the album was "Wet Dreams".

12. Mike Watt

“Hyphenated-Man”

 

You would think the most disturbing part of this cover would be the lizard-bird with He-Man legs cracking out of an egg-shell while standing on a plaque and being pierced by an arrow. But no. Once again, Comic Sans font wins.

11. Pastor Christy Davis

“Worship Him”

 

Tracy Morgan is also a cross-dressing pastor? Who knew!

10. Scissor Sisters

“Night Work”

9. Hunx and his Punx

“Gay Singles”

 

Battle of the gay album covers: Only one will come out on top...or bottom.

 

8. Ringo Starr

“Y Not”

 

The question should be: Y?

7. Rascal Flatts

“Nothing Like This”

 

"Behold, my glorious glowing penis!"

6. Jeff Beck

 

“Emotion & Commotion”

 

It's a little known fact that eagle nests are made primarily out of Fender Stratocasters.

5. Cocorosie

“Grey Oceans”

 

I've always had a crush on the girls from Cocorosie, and after seeing this cover, I've acquired a strange fetish for girls with cotton candy mustaches.

4. Rhymester

 

“Manifesto”

 

Ah! The age old act of rappers dressing like centaurs and holding up fencing swords in order to ignite lightning bolts! I remember when NWA did this same cover back in '87.

 

3. Z-Ro

 

“Heroin”

 

The needle says "No!" but the spoon says "Yes!"

2. Lordi

 

“Babez for Breakfast”

 

The commonly over-looked Garbage Pail Kid "Ari Ohla"

 

1. Brian Ray

 

“This Way Up”

 

I've heard of a "chick magnet", but not until this album cover did I know of the "douche magnet".

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Road Trip 2008: Day 14, Vonnegut and the Vikings


“Always rise to an early meal, but eat your fill before a feast.
If you’re hungry you have no time to talk at the table.”
Odin from the Hávamál”

By the time we reached Malcolm’s, the sweat from the concert had dried, yet we decided to go to bed, stinky and all.  I fell asleep instantly, completely worn out from the evening of ultra-violence.

The next morning we went out for our last breakfast at a place called “Twisters”, kind of a poor man’s “Chipotle” (yes, we were going for breakfast burritos).  Paul and Malcolm relished their last tortilla based meal together, talking about their college days and even a little about how underrated Tom Arnold is as a comedic actor.

“Dude, we could bring back the Tom Arnold Schwarzenegger connection! You can be the tough Arnold character, and I’ll be the funny sidekick.”

Outside we said our goodbyes and thanked Malcolm for his hospitality and returned to the road.  Our days of rest at Beorn’s had refueled us, heading back out on our adventure in search of strange music and exotic brews.

The Next Tom Arnold Schwarzenegger Connection

We headed into downtown Denver and decided to check out Wax Trax, a record store nestled amidst the ghetto.  We found it by accident the night before while searching for Bush and Bull Pub.  The ratty outside appearance intrigued both of us.  The inside was much homier than the exterior with posters and CDs lining the walls.  As Paul began his meticulous scouring, I roamed the used CD section and discovered Dinosaur Jr’s “Where You Been” for five bucks, a CD my brother owned over a decade ago.  I listened to the disc endlessly, enjoying J. Mascis and his boistrous guitar while playing Madden 95 on Super Nintendo. The songs on that album still conjure up images of a pixilated Cris Carter running for a touchdown.

I ended up buying some more CDs, and Paul made his visit quick, only picking up another five or so albums.  On our way back to the car we passed a quaint little bookstore and decided to take a quick look.  Inside I found myself entranced by the selection of Kurt Vonnegut books, the majority of them being in original hardback, mint condition. It had been almost a year since I had read any Vonnegut, so you can imagine how tempted I was to purchase an original hardback version of Blackbeard, a book my friend Eric recommended to me.  As I pondered spending more money (I had already spent 50 dollars at Wax Trax), Paul approached the counter with a handful of books by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

The clerk said to Paul, ” So you’re a Philip K. Dick fan?”

“Yeah, I love Dick,” Paul responded. I wasn’t sure if he said this on purpose, but I held my laughter down to a snicker from behind the Vonnegut shelf.  Once the “Dick-Lover” paid for his purchases, I decided Bluebeard could wait and followed Paul to the door.  As I passed the counter I caught a glimpse of a t-shirt with a picture of a trout on the front and the words “Kilgore Used Book’s and Comics”.

Two steps out the door I made the connection.  Kilgore….Trout….Kilgore….Trout…. “KILGORE TROUT!”

Paul turned to me, “What?”

“Kilgore Trout! That’s the name of a recurring character in Vonnegut’s books. Dude, they named their store after Kilgore Trout!” Before Paul could respond, I was heading back into the store on a mission: get a Kilgore Trout t-shirt.  I approached the counter blurting out, “Is your store named after the Vonnegut character?”

A smile grew on the clerk’s acne covered face, as he nodded and said, “A ha, you got it.  Most people don’t.  I take it you’re a Vonnegut fan?”

I went on to gush about the late great author for a few minutes, and then threw a t-shirt up on the counter for purchase. That day, my “Kilgore Trout” t-shirt officially took the top spot of my coolest t-shirt roster, closely squeaking past my “ELC Midget Special Olympics” t-shirt (my high school mascot was a Midget).

What's cooler? An obscure reference to a Vonnegut character or an unintentionally humorous take on the Midget Special Olympics?

After paying for my new shirt, Paul and I returned to the Element and drove north towards Boulder through Denver’s afternoon traffic.  Paul thought we should hang out in Boulder for the afternoon, and then hit a couple breweries before camping for the night.  We arrived in downtown Boulder and parked on a side street so we could roam Pearl Street that sunny afternoon. We didn’t have any purpose set other than to enjoy the hippie atmosphere and admire the college women sauntering about.  We hadn’t been a part of civilization for a few weeks, so upon first sight of a few attractive girls, we began behaving like Encino Man, stalking and sniffing the civilized females around us.

"Life's about greasing the 'do back, buddy, and wheezin' on the buff-fest, man."

As we meander through the street performers, hippies with petitions for Darfur, and street stands selling tie-dye shirts, Paul would turn to me occasionally and say, “Dude, did you see that chick?”

And each time, I would turn to him in confusion and ask, “Which chick?” I would then turn around to see the backside of a ratty haired hippie chick wearing one of those earth child, renaissance, nature dresses.  I knew I hadn’t lost my radar for attractive women over the duration of our trip. In fact, my sensors were on high-alert due to the lack of women over the duration of the trip.  As our walk continued, I made sure to take better notice of the women that passed.

Paul continued his occasional exclamation of, “Did you see her?!” and with each girl he pointed out, I began to come to a realization.  Every one of these “attractive” women he pointed out were wearing the same style hippie, moo-moo dress.  I didn’t say anything to him, but began searching out girls who looked like they raided Mother Earth’s closet. Lo and behold, my theory rang true. Each time a girl with unshaved armpits walked by in one of these dresses, Paul would turn to me and profess her hotness.

It's totally hot in a "I bought this material on clearance at JoAnn's Fabrics" kind of way.

As we neared the end of the street a tall Asian girl in her hippie gear approached us.  Her face was a disaster area, with her wide nose, flared nostrils, beady eyes, and a drive-in movie theater forehead all disproportionately placed upon her greasy face, flat as a frying pan.  I began to grin, knowing she was the true litmus test for my theory that Paul responded to hippie dresses like Pavlov’s dog.  As hypothesized, once the monster passed, Paul turned to me saying, “Tell me you saw that hotty.”

“Seriously?! She was nasty!” I answered.

“Are you kidding?” he said in shock.

“Sorry, but I have this weird attraction to faces.”

“You’re crazy; she was gorgeous,” he said, dismissing my opinion.

“Dude, you would be attracted to a turd if it was wearing a hippie dress.”  He didn’t like this assertion, and decided my hormones must have somehow evaporated in the mountains, turning me into some type of balding androgynous freak.

By the time we got back to the car, Paul was acting grumpy, probably due to my ribbing.  Once inside the car I asked, “So you want to go to that Meadery outside of town?”

“Eh,” he noncommittally answered.  He seemed unenthused. I didn’t care; we were going to the meadery. I’d never tasted the ancient wine that I imagined that Beowulf and the Vikings chugged while playing Mead Pong in some ancient temple basement.

When we pulled into the mini-mall where the Redstone Meadery was located, Paul mentioned that he might stay in the car and take a nap.  My response? “You have to come in.  It’s mead, dude; fucking mead!”

Much to his chagrin, Paul joined me.  Inside we were greeted by a waif of a man, asking us in an effeminate voice, “Would you gentlemen like to sample some of our mead?”  It’s not often that you get such a proposition, so we both bellied up to the taster’s bar.

After giving us a brief history of the honey based wine, he began leading us through the gauntlet of mead: meads that tasted like wines ranging from the pinot to the red; meads that tasted like beer from the amber to the hoppy; meads that tasted like candy from the Bit O’ Honey to the Shock Tarts, meads that tasted like preserves from the raspberry to the boysenberry.   By the time we had finished, we’d tasted 15 different varieties of mead, and as you can imagine, we were feeling pretty good. Paul’s grumpy attitude, just like the mead, was a thing of the past.

We both bought a bottle of the nectar of the God’s and returned to the car, feeling both slightly buzzed.  Giddy from our trip down meadery lane, we giggled the entire drive north to Longmont where we planned to visit Left Hand Brewing Company.  I’d tasted a few Left Hand brews over the years and always enjoyed what they had to offer.

Paul and his loyal left hand.

Once we located the bar, we made our way inside, where we found a rustic atmosphere and a large crowd of drinkers.  We plopped down at a table and began sampling the beers on tap, one after another.  At that point, I don’t recall any beer being better than the other, but I distinctly remember enjoying every pint that came to our table (even the ginger beer Paul ordered).

With the combination of mead and Left Hand beer pumping through our blood, we rambled like school girls about our past fuck-ups and laughed about the idiocy that was created when the two of us joined forces with Tony back in college.  We lost track of time, and two hours later the Left Hand brews were going down easily.  By the time we stumbled out of the brewery, the sun had set and we were faced with the task of finding a place to set up camp in the dark.  Fortunately, we were feeling too good to care about the difficult task ahead.

We drove the winding road north toward Estes, and came upon a hiking trail, where we parked the car.  We filled our packs quickly by dome light, and began hiking up a path we could barely see in the moonlight.  15 minutes into our drunken hike, we came upon a camping area.  We found a flat spot hidden by trees and set up camp by flashlight.  We had little trouble assembling the tent; at that point in the trip we could have done it blindfolded.  Since we hadn’t eaten since our breakfast burritos with Malcolm, we needed to get a fire going, so we could enjoy a late night soup.  Paul searched for rocks while I gathered wood. When I had enough wood, I grabbed a rock and completed our rock circle for the blaze. Soon, we had ourselves a crackling fire to cook our soup upon.

Guess which rock I grabbed...

Still both feeling pretty good, we continued giggling through the night, talking about our trip that was coming to an end in a few days.  When thinking about that afternoon, Paul mentioned, “That mead was amazing! That might be my favorite stop yet. We gotta go to another meadery tomorrow; I think there’s one in Denver.”

I smiled as I looked into the flames, nodded my head, and said, “I told you dude: mead; fucking mead.”

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