Tag Archives: antony and the johnsons

Top 20 River Songs of All Time

Last weekend a few friends and I took a three-day canoe trip down the Des Moines River in Iowa, starting in Estherville and ending up in Rutland.  Since this experience, I can’t get the river off my mind (I have water on the brain).  The journey packed a jambalaya of emotions: fear, exhilaration, calm, joy, and enlightenment.   Many around Iowa look at the Des Moines River as a dirty cesspool of cow dung and pesticides, but they’ve obviously never gotten to know those murky brown waters. Now, I can’t help but feel a connection to the river.

Realizing I need to post a blog before BDWPS.com dries up like a riverbed, I contemplated different albums I could review. Nothing excited me though, and without passion, my writing sits as lifeless as a dead fish on the banks. Instead, I followed my recent enthusiasm from my river experience and decided to write a list of the “Top 20 River Songs.” As I started compiling the list I began to realize that rivers have been the subject of many, many, many songs. And it isn’t any wonder: rivers are mysterious old souls that can look serene and inviting while hiding beneath their vast power and unpredictability. They are both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Honorable Mention:

“River”Akron/Family
“Lazy River” Louie Armstrong
“Green River” CCR
“Yes, the River Knows” The Doors
“The River” Dutchess and the Duke
“Roll On Columbia” Woody Guthrie
“How Deep is that River” Mason Jennings
“River” Killdozer
“River of Deceit” Mad Season
“All the Gifted Children” Lou Reed
“Mississippi River” Muddy Waters
 

20. “Proud Mary” Creedence Clearwater Revival

I hate this song (probably because it has been so over-played), but I felt compelled to include it on the list. If you asked the average person to name five river songs, this song would undoubtedly come up. If I left it off the list I would be deceiving the readers based solely on my bias. I prefer the CCR version over Tina Turner’s. Then again, that’s like saying I prefer liver and onions over a Spam sandwich.  Regardless, you made the list CCR. Take your #20 ranking and roll with it. 

19. “River, Stay ‘Way From the Door” Frank Sinatra

“River, Stay Away From the Door” is a plea to flood waters to stay away from the narrator’s cabin.  The song takes on a double meaning as a plea to an ex-wife or girlfriend, asking her to stay away and leave him with the few items that he still has: his bed and a fire.  And really, that’s all a man needs, right?

18. “Dam that River” Alice in Chains

As with 90% of Alice in Chains songs, “Dam that River” is about heroin addiction. In it, Layne Staley sings of someone trying to dam the river (stop his addiction), but despite their efforts, the river still washed him away. Damn.

17. “Down in the River to Pray” Alison Krauss

There has always been a connection between rivers and religion, one that goes beyond baptism.  With “Down in the River to Pray” Allison Krauss sings about going to the banks to speak to God. And why wouldn’t she? Just like God, the river is deep and mystifying, cleansing and strong, ceaseless and never-ending. It makes you wonder why anyone who lives within 20 miles of a river goes to  church to pray.

16. “Ballad of Easy Rider” Byrds

On the “Ballad of Easy Rider,” the Byrds draw a connection between riding a motorcycle and riding a river, and I guess it makes sense.  During our trip down the Des Moines last weekend, we often didn’t know where we were or where the curving waters would take us next, but we never really cared just as long as we kept moving. I imagine this is the same experience those roving bikers felt in “Easy Rider,” letting the journey lead their way toward freedom. The only difference being (spoiler alert) we didn’t have a bad acid trip or get murdered by hillbillies.  (Side note: Bob Dylan helped write this song)

15. “River of Sorrow” Antony and the Johnsons

No other voice could pull this song off quite like Antony. His croon always captures the spirit of a desperate soul.  On “River of Sorrow” he begs the endless river to stop swallowing many things: sorrow, love, and time.  Now if only he’d tell the river not to swallow my cell phone and wallet (which it did!).

14. “Ol’ Man River” Beach  Boys

You knew “Ol’ Man River” would make the list. It’s a staple of the river song catalog and has been performed by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Ray Charles, but my favorite version comes from the Beach Boys off their album “Friends/20/20.”  It’s probably inappropriate to like their version the best considering it originated as a slave song with lyrics like “let me go away from the white man boss.”  Oh well, I’m a sucker for Bryan Wilson harmonies.  I guess I would draw the Beach-Boys-slave-song-line at “Strange Fruit” (although I imagine it would even be pretty incredible).

13. “Pissing in a River” Patti Smith

I first discovered this song when I read Nick Hornby’s Songbook. In the chapter on “Pissing in a River” he recounts an incredible show he caught of Patti Smith and how her performance of this song still remains in his mind. Hornby says it best: “…the song was called ‘Pissing a River’; and it was played on guitars, and it lasted four or five minutes, and its emotional effects depended entirely on its chords and its chorus and its attitude. It’s a pop song, in other words, and like a lot of other pop songs, it’s capable of just about anything.”

12. “River Euphrates” Pixies

In “River Euphrates” the narrator finds himself stranded, out of gas, on the Gaza Strip. I used to think his solution was to ride a tire down the Euphrates river, which would be pretty sweet, but doing research for this blog I discovered that he actually says “Ride the tiger down the River Euphrates!” Riding a tiger down a river?! And I thought riding a tire was bad ass.

11. “Five Feet High and Rising” Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash has several river based songs (“Big River,” “Run Softly Blue River”) but the one I like the best is “Five Feet High and Rising.”  I love how the song goes up a key each verse, a subtle touch that adds to the narrative. Plus, Cash somehow makes a disaster like a five foot flood sound fun.

10. “Watching the River Flow” Bob Dylan

When I started compiling this list, Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow” was one of the first songs to come to mind, but when I searched through my i-Pod for the song, it was nowhere to be found. “What album was it on?” I wondered, searching one album after another. Then I realized I first heard it on his second edition of greatest hits, which I didn’t load to iTunes for redundancy reasons. With all of Dylan’s bootlegs and rarity albums you’d think there would be another place to find this great song, but it has only be seen on that one greatest hits compilation. It’s a testament to Dylan’s songwriting talents; an awesome song like “Watching the River Flow” is just a leftover.

9. “Shenandoah” Pete Seeger

A song about as old as America’s rivers themselves, “Shenandoah” once served as a shanty for river men and has changed over time as people from across our great nation changed and added lyrics to fit their region. Over the years, the name “Shenandoah” in the song has represented a plethora of things: a river, an Indian chief’s daughter, and a small Iowa town.  Pete Seeger’s version is my favorite. While others spruce their recording up with orchestra swells and back-up choirs, Seeger captures the folk soul of the song simply with his voice and a guitar (there’s also a live version with a banjo – yes, a banjo).

8. “Black Water” Doobie Brothers

“Black Water” has an upbeat, blue grass feel that captures the sensation of rolling down the river with friends, taking the experience all in.  It also hearkens back to Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi on a raft and how those black waters led his way. Some have suggested that the black water represents anything from bong water to moon shine, but I tend to believe it is simply about the Mississippi River. And if it is about drugs or alcohol, why are they riding on a raft? Does that symbolize a bean bag? And are the catfish pot brownies?

7. “Whiskey River” Willie Nelson

I don’t think there is an actual Whiskey River, but the metaphor is pretty obvious. With a broken heart, Willie turns to whiskey to wash away his pain and take his mind off of his problems for just a while.  The river makes for a great whiskey analogy because while riding the Des Moines we were disconnected from the real world of responsibilities. It was just us and that amber current (Note to self: bring a bottle of Jack next year).

6. “River Guard” Smog

This song always reminds me of “Shawshank Redemption.” Not that there are any rivers in the film, but Bill Callahan’s story of these prisoners being free for just a moment conjures up the image of Andy Dufresne and his gang drinking beers on the rooftop, finding joy and freedom for an instant. The river serves that same purpose in “River Guard,” giving these criminals a chance to be “unburdened and relaxed.”

5. “River” Joni Mitchell

I find it strange that Joni Mitchell’s “River” has become a Christmas song. It was never intended as such. Sure, it speaks of decorations and songs of peace, but the message is anything but joyful.  Joni wrote “River” about the remorse she felt when thinking back on the daughter she gave up for adoption. Instead of most songs on this list that speak of flowing waters, Joni wants a frozen river to “skate away on.”  That’s a Canadian for ya.

4. “Down By the Water” PJ Harvey

What happened under the bridge is still in question, but there is no doubt that innocence was lost.  Whether it was the narrator who lost her childhood to sexual abuse or her actual daughter, she stands on the banks of the river and begs the fish (Christ) to bring back her purity.  The fact that many think this is just another riverside murder song shows just how much depth there is in PJ Harvey’s songwriting.

3. “Take Me to the River” Talking Heads

This is originally an Al Green song, and as much as I respect Mr. Green, I prefer what the Talking Heads did with it. The Green version was based in religion with him turning to the waters to wash away his sins.  In a genius move, David Byrne took these lyrics and tweaked them to be about a lover who the narrator can’t resist. He’s willing to give up everything just for her to “dip (him) in the water.”  Leave it to Byrne to make baptism sound racy.

 2. “Down by the River” Neil Young

One of Neil Young’s most mysterious songs, “Down By the River” has a chorus of “Down by the river, I shot my baby.”  This would suggest that this is another song about a riverside murder, but the rest of the trippy lyrics speak of “taking a ride” and being dragged “over a river.” While Young has stayed pretty mum on the subject of the song, some have suggested that the river represents heroin (a motif discussed earlier with “Dam the River”) and he’s shooting himself up in order to take the ride. Again, it’s probably just about a river, but it’s fun to think about.  Whatever the case, it’s a damn catchy song with distinctive guitar break-downs throughout.  Just like a river, Young’s guitar solos are always erratic, fierce, and unrelenting.

1. “The River” Bruce Springsteen

As with most Springsteen songs, “The River” tells the story of the struggles of adulthood.  This particular song tells the story of a couple who has been together since high school, spending their youth down at the river swimming and sunning.  As the song progresses both the river and their lives change with time. By the end, the river that once tied them together and brought them joy is gone.  It’s hard to imagine a river dying; about as hard as it is to see teenage dreams dry up.

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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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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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