Monday, January 05, 2009

My Top 5 Favorite Albums of the Year

So the wedding I went to was awesome! I love weddings where the couple is just being who they are and not trying to bowl people over with their ability to play dress up and faux fancy. We’re just people, people. Scott & Whitney's wedding was awesome!

So…here comes my Top 5 Favorite Albums of the Year! After that, I’ll add some random stuff to further stall until I see the other 3 films I need to see to round out my movies, then I can get back onto other random musings. Speaking of randowm musings…have I mentioned I’m on twitter??:

Here we go…

I had just about given up on ole Ryan. Always prolific but always in need of an outer and inner editor, he had just become too predictable and, well, boring. Plus he was in a serious Grateful Dead phase the last few albums and the only thing that sucks more than The Dead are bands trying to sound like The Dead. But “Cardinology” is a rock album…and a damn fine one. It’s funny because I didn’t really get it or like it the first few listens so I put it away. Then my favorite local radio station started spinning some singles that grew on me and I gave the album another chance. And, I love it. I should also note I seem to really, really love Ryan Adams music when it's raining. I have no clue why but it's been fairly dry of late so I was also not inspired to listen more. Anywho...TMI, I'm sure.

4. VAMPIRE WEEKEND Vampire Weekend
Try as I might, I don’t always fall for critical darlings. But, I always give them a chance and sometimes I’m blown away. I won’t say Vampire Weekend blew me away, but they’ve stayed in my CD player consistently and enjoyably for nearly a year. The thing with the album is, it’s awesome and tight. It’s not the frigging…second coming of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and it’s not post-modern African pop rock or whatever other crap critics placed on these kids. It’s just good music people. Sure, some of the songs feature African style phrasing and arrangement. Yes, there’s ska. But I find it funny critics and hipsters placed all these tags and meanings onto this band only to completely turn on them later in the year as they are now. Will V.W. ever make another album this good? Who cares! This one’s really good!

3. THE MOTHER TRUCKERS Let’s All Go to Bed
These guys and a girl are from my neck of the woods and when they up and moved to Austin, I thought it would be their death knell. “There’s already like, 100 bands like them in Austin,” I told a friend and fellow fan. I was wronger than wrong. Since moving to my favorite city in the world, The Mother Truckers have found their heart and soul and they no longer sound like a San Francisco band trying to sound like beer swilling Texans. They are beer swilling Texans who shred on vocals and guitar! And listen to what I’m going to say here as it's no B.S....

Lead singer Teal Collins is a mega-babe and I love her sexual energy and innuendo on this album. A few songs of hers I had listened to for weeks and then it suddenly hit me…they were about sex! I’m slow like that. Although she’s the front person of the band and rocks and stands out because of her pipes and great looks, it’s her husband Josh Zee who steals the show. In fact, I think his guitar work on here is some of, if not THE FINEST Americana rock-n-roll playing in the last ten years. I kid you not. I’m totally serious. He’s a bad mother-humper. Big words, but I mean it. Josh Zee and Will Kimbrough are the shit but for totally different reasons.

2. FIVE A.M. Raise the Sun
Yes, I manage them. So what. I’ve received endless amounts of shit from them about not including their last album (or maybe not including it “high enough”) but hey, I’m nothing if not honest. That being said, “Raise the Sun” isn’t a good album…it’s a great album. And I say that with all seriousness and all the frustration a person can have as I don’t see why the songs on this album are not embraced by radio when people like Matt Nathanson, The Fray, Sister Hazel and countless other really musically sound and all around solid bands do get embraced. It’s simply and honestly not fucking fair.

We’ve heard at least two DJ’s we don’t even personally know say upon spinning the single “Be Still,” “ I really don’t know why that song isn’t a huge hit.” It’s a nice sentiment, but really kind of salts the wound.

Grousing aside, this really is an amazing album and it’s really not the kind of music I typically listen to. But even if you aren’t into pop and rock, you can’t deny the sensitivity, intelligence, musicality and all around awesomeness that is “Raise the Sun.” There’s not a song on here I don’t love and again, that’s not based on any kind of friendship or salesmanship. This album is fucking great and I couldn’t be happier that it’s out there and being heard by people who have never discovered five a.m.

1. THE DRIVE BY TRUCKERS Brighter Than Creations Dark

I simply cannot love this album any more than I do. I listen to it almost daily and it never gets old. It’s funny because as usual, I’m about 7 years too late on the love-in for a band, but the DBT’s last few records have made me love them while everyone else bitches for the good old days when they did “Southern Rock Opera,” a double album that I respect to death but never really liked. In fact, I was skeptical to even get their follow up “Decoration Day” but did and have been a DBT’ fanatic ever since.

Things I love about this album are as follows…
It rocks. Hard. But it’s also sensitive and sweet at times. And I like it either way.

The song “The Righteous Path” speaks to every middle income and below American better than any other song this year or hell, the last 15 years. By way of example:

I got a couple of opinions that I hold dear
A whole lot of debt and a whole lot of fear
I got an itch that needs scratching but it feels alright
I got the need to blow it out on Saturday night
I got a grill in the backyard and a case of beers
I got a boat that ain’t seen the water in years
More bills than money, I can do the math
I’m trying to keep focused on the righteous path

If people took writing or poetry as serious now as they did when Steinbeck, Whitman or whoever you respect as a great American wrote what they wrote, Patterson Hood would be recognized as a great voice in America. I just re-read that and it shows I am NOT agreat voice of American writing, but my point is in there someplace. Patterson Hood is an outstanding writer and a terrific voice for these modern times.

Other stuff I love about this album…

Jason Isbell (the #3 guitarist) split which left room for his ex-wife Shonna Tucker (who plays bass) to sing and when she does, DBT fans worldwide swooned a little and heaved a collective sigh of “where the hell has that been for the last 5 years!!!???” It's amazing and beautiful and fits in perfectly with the overall sound even though it probably shouldn't.

This album boasts the worst frigging song the band has ever done (to my knowledge) in “You and Your Crystal Meth.” I hear the opening chords live or on this album and I groan and get away from it. But, it’s seriously the only song out of all NINETEEN I don’t like and that makes it like one of those errors the Amish put on their quilts so they don’t show God up with their beauty and perfection.

I love that there’s 19 songs on this album, 18 of which I could listen to anytime, anyplace.


un-bride said...

Several things:
#1: Thanks for not giving up on Ryan Adams. As often as I want to, the guy is freakin' prolific, and hits more frequently, percentage-wise, than most can hope for; #2: I will give Vampire Weekend another shot, based solely upon your esteemed recommendation; #3: Re: Five A.M.: No $h!t, right?!? I would quit that band if I could. Hang in there, baby doll -- their moment is just around the corner.


Thom said...

Raise The Sun is an album I was more than a small amount skeptical of while I watched the process of it being created online and through your reports.... BUT... I was wrong.

Raise the Sun is an AMAZING and wonderful album. I like it better every time I listen to it... truly.

chas_m said...

So basically, if a band has the word "truck" or "truckers" in their name, they have a shot?

Just kidding. Stopped by to see what you thought of some films, was delighted to see articles about music. I will definitely check out your choices, truckers or otherwise.

I'm doing something of the same thing over at my music blog, kind of cheating a bit -- 10 albums I liked alongside five *Canadian* albums I liked (since I'm new here, and the awesome Canuck music scene doesn't get much love in the US). I'm about half done at the moment: