So, my goal was to post reviews for every '12 album I heard (about 80 or so) before posting year-end lists, but that ain't gonna happen, so here you have the first part of the "Jaleppies," aka my year-end best-of lists. Part 2 will probably be published Wednesday morning and will consist of the year's best albums, and Part 3 will be random stuff. Enjoy! (Or don't! I don't care! I'll be in Puerto Rico beetches!)
[Note that in a few of the entries below, two songs have been combined into one single entry. You can probably figure out why, but just in case you can't, it's because the songs run together on the album and as such they sound dumb when played apart from one another. Thank you for your patience and understanding.]
1.) Fang Island - "Asunder" (edit)
2.) Lower Dens - "Lamb"
3.) Melvins - "We Are Doomed"
4.) Lower Dens - "Brains" > "Stem"
[Note - I shot this video]
5.) Dan Friel - "Valedictorian"
6.) Tame Impala - "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"
7.) Torche - "Kicking"
8.) Guided by Voices - "Keep It in Motion" > "Tyson's High School"
9.) The Men - "Oscillation"
10.) Dum Dum Girls - "Mine Tonight"
11.) Beach House - "Myth"
12.) Raveonettes - "Young and Cold"
13.) The Men - "Turn it Around"
14.) Melvins - "The War on Wisdom"
15.) Baroness - "Green Theme"
16.) Two Gallants - "Willie"
17.) Sleigh Bells - "Comeback Kid"
18.) Mount Carmel - "Swaggs"
19.) Pelican - "Ataraxia" > "Lathe Biosas"
20.) Fang Island - "Chompers"
21.) Tame Impala - "Music to Walk Home By"
22.) Guided by Voices - "Hangover Child"
23.) Van Halen - "She's the Woman"
24.) Six Organs of Admittance - "Even if You Knew"
Fang Island - Major -- Fang Island's self-titled previous record might be my favorite album of the new millennium; it's certainly my most listened to album over that period of time. They've dialed back the guitar heroics somewhat on Major, although it may be asking a bit too much to expect the songwriting to pick up the slack.
Best songs: "Asunder," "Chompers," "Sisterly," and "Regalia."
Baroness - Yellow and Green -- It's pretty rare that a band I REALLY LIKE puts out a new album a few releases into an established career that's just so godawful that it makes me question my previous enjoyment of the band entirely. This is that album. Fuckin' crossover attempts.
Grade: D- (would be a flat F if not for "Green Theme.")
Phish - Chicago '94 -- This officially released live album contains two shows - 6/18/94, a good but overrated show, and the above-average 11/25/94, both performed at UIC Pavillion in Chicago. Here's what you need to know: 6/18 has a solid if kinda standard '94 first set, with an all-time classic version of "Bowie" in the second set along with a nice "Tweezer" and a Zep-infused "Chalkdust." Very tightly played show all around, as indicative of the era. 11/25 is a Thanksgiving show with a meh first set and a remarkable second set Mike's Groove (which includes a great short-form "Mike's," the freakiest type II "Simple" I've ever heard, and a "Harpua" with an obnoxiously long and silly narration section).
So, why did the band choose to release these two particular shows of all the outstanding concerts they have in their vault? Well, first off, 6/18/94 is one of their most highly-rated shows ever. Not gonna lie, folks, I really don't hear it. Sure, the Bowie is great, but I honestly have no clue what else people are latching onto that gives this show such a lofty rep. As for 11/25/94, Trey's narration in Harpua supposedly accompanied the first EVER glowstick war in Phish audience history, although, of course, the effect of that surely impressive visual spectacle is entirely lost on the listener, who instead is subjected to Trey babbling about - I shit you not - "happy green love beams" and "angry red hate beams." Fucking brutal stuff right there.
Anyway, who am I kidding - eventually the band will release its entire Fall '97 tour in SBD quality, and I will have absolutely nothing left to bitch about. And, let's face it, one good Phish show and one above-average show (as constitutes Chicago '94) is still worth many, many listens.
I've been a fan of Baroness ever since I first heard The Red Album some time last year. If you're talking indie metal, for my buck the only bands that match up with these guys for sheer awesomeness are the mighty Early Man and Brooklyn's own Goes Cube (and Pelican, depending on your definition of "metal"), but y'all already know how I feel about that. As far as the live show, I've seen them twice before: once at Don Pedros in September '07 (right after I broke my ankle) and once earlier this year on April Fools Day at Gramercy, when they were granted a criminally brief 35 minute slot.
Walked in about halfway through Minsk's set. Didn't really get much of a feel for them other than that they're really fucking heavy and pretty much eschew melody almost entirely. Definitely brutally loud, but usually I need more than sheer volume to keep my attention. Hello, cell phone Tetris!
Coliseum was up next, which had me stoked. I've seen these guys live a few times and they always bring the intensity, complete with buckets of sweat and monster loogies. Fucking heavy, crunching hardcore with awesome Tasmanian Devil-esque vocals. Oddly the crowd remained largely motionless during the set despite the band's awesome thrashing. They'll apparently be playing in Brooklyn on Monday at The Charleston, so check 'em out.
Baroness came onstage just before 11, shooting right into "The Birthing," which (finally) got the crowd moving. They followed with an unexpected jam on Band of Gypsys' "Machine Gun"... man what a great lick and a clever way for the band to show off its Southern Rock leanings without going all Molly Hatchet on us. A few songs in I was getting tired of being jabbed in the kidneys by chinbearded midgets so I deserted the pit and headed towards the back of the room. Nonetheless, it was great to see an NYC crowd actually rocking the fuck out and beating the shit out of each other up front for a change. As the set went on, it seemed the rowdies were just getting rowdier, which is pretty unusual. The band themselves seemed stoked about the good turnout, and responded in kind, jumping around like men possessed. More songs from The Red Album were played, including "Isak," "Rays on Pinion," "Wanderlust," and of course set-closer "Grad." Before "Grad," the drummer poured water bottles over his kit and cymbals, which provided a cool visual effect with the splashing and crashing of drumsticks and whatnot.
What makes Baroness so great is the perfect balance between "technical precision, melody and crunch" (to plagiarize my own description of them from earlier in the year). Make no mistake, these guys have some great material, and here's hoping '09 has a new Baroness album in the cards.
Probly taking the night off from show-going, although you bet your sweet bippy I'll be at Goes Cube's show (opening up for Lordi) at Irving Plaza on Monday. Mealz outwardz.