1.) SONG OF THE YEAR: Palma Violets - "Last of the Summer Wine"
Just like countless other great rock n' roll songs, this one's greater than the sum of its parts. Yeah, the intro's too long on this song. And so's the outro. The lyrics are moronic. (The "official" video is absolute garbage - see above.) And the chord progression isn't exactly original but... there's just somethin' about the classic guitar tone and the finesse they play the lick with and the sweet, sweet melody that slays me every time.
Palma Violets are apparently the subject of the creepy-ass UK music press' current embarrassing crush; of course, if you're actually regularly reading the NME you've likely already lost the battle. Regardless, this album is a real success, incorporating classic chord progressions, strong melodies, and a warm, inviting garagey sound into their sonic stew. Where many indie acts seem to be self-consciously stuck playing small ball, 180 is unafraid to swing for the fences, evoking the work of several of music's heavy hitters (J&MC, Stone Roses, Velvets, even Springsteen) without being dominated by their influences.
Coliseum - Sister Faith
If you're a huge fan of Coliseum's brand of brooding, bleak post-hardcore, this album has plenty of what you're looking for. Of particular interest to me, however, are the few songs on here which display a new appreciation for melody and dynamics, notably the Torche-ish "Fuzzbang" and the excellent "Late Night Trains."
Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only
Phil Anselmo may be unquestioned metal royalty, but this release underscores how difficult it can be to try to do it without another talented, creative foil in the fold. Walk Through Exits Only is uninspired and totally hookless, lacking any real personality to speak of, seemingly content with its 'meh'ness.
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.