Now it's my turn.
10: "For My Friends
" by Blind Melon
Now here's a band we haven't heard from in a very long time. For My Friends is Blind Melon's first LP since.. um, '96 from memory. They've just gotten a new lead singer to replace the late Shannon Hoon. This is the same band that, in the early ninties, had their one hit with "No Rain
", a song that every one knows but no one knows the band who sung it. The one with Bee Girl in the video. Remember? Anyway. The one mistake that Blind Melon made in hiring a new singer is getting one that sounded remarkably similar to the distinctive Shannon Hoon - instead of getting one that sounded different enough for him to not be continuously compared to Hoon. As is, it seems that they've just tried to replace Hoon and continue in the same direction that was cut short because of Hoon's overdose in '95. Not a good plan. For My Friends is a solid album from a classic band, but nothing new. Really didn't meet my expectations, as this is an album I'd been looking forward to for years. Also, the record seemed to fail miserably thanks to lack of promotion anywhere, I had to buy it off their online shop.
Choice tracks: With the Right Set of Eyes
, For My Friends
, Down on the Pharmacy
9: "Dear Science
" by TV on the Radio
This record seems to be on the top spot of everyone who's anyone's end-of-year charts. Sure, it's a great album. But I really couldn't see anything amazing from it. It's ridiculously original. I can't really comment on their evolution because I haven't heard any of their earlier records, but it does seem like the band has changed rapidly since their last. I've never heard anything remotely like TV On The Radio. I have no idea how they're actually finding commercial success - Dear Science is one of the least commercial-sounding records I've heard recently. But hey. Nothing amazing. But all in all, a strong, original, powerful record.
Choice tracks: Halfway Home
, Golden Age
" by Portishead
Another record from a band that we haven't heard from in a ridiculously long time. Portishead's self-titled second album was released in 95 I think. Maybe 94. And then they had a live album in 96ish. After then, Portishead seemed to disappear, although their legacy remained in the genre of trip hop, which they pioneered. Returning early in 2008, Portishead's third album, aptly titled "Third", is not their best record by all means, but is still a great listen. It's also not easy to listen to at all - it induces concentration and thought. Portishead have drifted from the slow, mystical, turntable-and-Rhodes-keyboard-infused sound of their earlier records to a more industrial, noisy sound. Not that anyone is complaining. Over the top of the heavy, dirty beats sings Beth Gibbons - an absolutely amazing, mystifying singer whose voice has only improved since 94's Dummy
. All the elements of Third interact and meld and produce a record that will surely satisfy those who have been begging for another Portishead record.
Choice tracks: The Rip
, We Carry On
, Deep Water
" by The Drones
Not much I can really say about this album. The Drones create epic soundscapes in 8 minute songs, while also reverting to the simplicity of the single "The Minotaur
". Forgot the singer's name, but his voice is perfect for their unique brand of music - slightly grungy, acousticy, sludgy, all-the-while retaining a slight hint of poppiness. If that makes sense. In my opinion, it is definitely a breath of fresh air for the Australian music scene, which seems to be suffering so badly at the moment.
Choice tracks: The Minotaur
, Luck In Odd Numbers
, Cold And Sober
6: "Consolers of the Lonely
" by The Raconteurs
After the massive shitness of The White Stripes
' "Icky Thump
", that "Consolers Of The Lonely" was a good album was a complete suprise. To me, anyway. Imagine Led Zeppelin
and The Who
's lovechild. Mixed with Jack White's enchanting voice. It just works. The record is very epic and very much a Jack White record. You can tell I'm getting bored of writing these. You're probably getting bored of reading them. But yeah. Jack White at his finest. Probably his best release since the White Stripes' 2002 release "White Blood Cells
". And I don't know who Brendan Benson
is. But he seems pretty cool.
Choice tracks: Consoler of the Lonely
, Salute Your Salution
, The Switch and the Spur
, These Stones Will Shout
5: "Roll With You
" by Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves
This album would have sold better in the 50's or 60's than it did when it was released this April. Paperboy and his backing band has brought soul music back singlehandedly, recalling the classic Motown of Sam Cooke
or The Four Tops
. Roll With You just makes me want to dance, no matter where I am. Hopefully Paperboy has sparked a huge soul revival. Maybe we'll start hearing soul on the radio. How nice would that be, after the shit we're hearing nowadays.
Choice tracks: Stake Your Claim
, (Am I Just) Fooling Myself
" by R.E.M.
What a pleasure it is to have one of my favourite bands of all time back on track again. Even though I'll admit to liking their universally panned 2004 "Around the Sun
" a little bit, I'm not sure if they'd have survived another one like that. That's what happens when an old, tired band just get bored of their music. It didn't have any top 100 singles in the US at all, a first since their 1985 album "Fables of the Reconstruction
". So seeing R.E.M. back to their best with Accelerate was such a relief. Stipe's vocals are back at their best and Buck's prominence in the mix with aggressive jangly guitar riffs is something we haven't seen in an R.E.M. record since the early 90's. And how welcomed it is. Really a great record from an amazing band.
Choice tracks: Living Well Is the Best Revenge
, Supernatural Superserious
, Hollow Man
3: "Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
" by Sigur Rós
Another band that's departed from their traditional and much loved style. Abandoning the epic sonic landscapes most obvious in "( )
", the Icelandic quartet opts for more traditional pop songs and a more upbeat style, although while still including some melancholy, traditional Sigur Rós in the second half of the record. Jónsi's falsetto is absolutely amazing as always. The record has less strings than previous ones and the guitar is much more prominent. They also record a song in the English language for the first time. Even so, it's still a brilliant record.
Choice tracks: Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
, Við spilum endalaust
, All alright
2: "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
" by Coldplay
It had to be here. Every track on this album is brilliant. I used to hate Coldplay, labelling them Radiohead-wannabes. Actually. Look at one of my earlier blogs, where I did album reviews. You'll find a review of this very record. Hehe. I panned it. But, needless to say, it's grown on me. Although they're still Radiohead-wannabes, most evident on the track "42
", that doesn't stop the music from being good. Like I said, every song is brilliant, from the melancholy "42" to "Strawberry Swing
", the lame but fun "Lovers in Japan
", upbeat "Lost!
", and the pair of ridiculously catchy singles "Viva la Vida
" and "Violet Hill
". Even if their "Prospekt's March
" EP was a bit of a let down, and even if VlV doesn't quite match the awesomeness of their second record "A Rush of Blood to the Head
", and even if the song "Viva La Vida" was completely ripped off a Joe Satriani
song, it truly is a brilliant pop album.
Choice tracks: Nearly all of them. 42
, Violet Hill
, Viva la Vida
, Lovers in Japan
1: "Ghosts I-IV
" by Nine Inch Nails
I'll start by saying this album is not for everyone. There. I've said it. Nearly two hours with no vocals - just that would turn most people off. But I persisted and listened, and man is it absolutely amazing. Reznor has created the perfect soundscape. The album is both melancholy and uplifting, terrifying and calming, all at the same time. How he does it, I have no idea. But he does. And the result is one of the most amazing records I've ever heard. Best listened to at extremely high volumes, with lots of low frequency on the EQ. My favourite NIN album by miles.
Choice tracks: Well, you can't really do that for this record. The whole thing. Amazing amazing amazing.