The Fire Show – Above the Volcano of Flowers. This was a close one – it was a real toss-up between The Fire Show and Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore. Both albums I initially dismissed, and I found both to be utterly intriguing after setting them aside for a while (in the case of Adore, it was ten years). The Fire Show does not limit itself, and M. Resplendent and co. shoot off in exciting directions while remaining tight and taut, coiled to strike at any moment. Like a snake, I guess.
- Smashing Pumpkins – Adore. Ten years on, I’ve finally found a new appreciation for Adore.
- Deftones – Around the Fur. Somehow Deftones transcend their nu-metal/mook rock contemporaries. It’s gotta be the Depeche Mode influences, and the decision of vocalist Chino Moreno to not rap so much. Good choice.
- Iambic2 – As the Snow Fell. Appreciate all that comes from Laridae Netlabel. This is the perfect winter soundtrack. Download it.
- Loss of a Child – Adam and Eve. Appreciate all that comes from Lost Children Netlabel. This record was always good, I had just never given it the time it really needed to blossom in my subconscious. It now has. “You Write, I Read, Two Different Stories” is one of the awesomest songs they’ve written. Sounds like M83 with more guitar and no vocals.
Record that sounds the worst with age:
Various Artists – Art Core Volume Two. There’s just so much to not like on this release. It was such a disappointment, considering Volume One was formative to my growth as a music listener. Despite three or four decent songs here, the presence of the O.C. Supertones, Sierra Heart, Sage, the Chevelle clones, and the complete backsliding of Roseblossom Punch and The Waysect Bloom push this album over the edge as the clear loser in this bunch.
- The Arcade Fire – The Arcade Fire. Less a huge disappointment than a reminder that they were a young band once that didn’t have it all figured out. And now they’re an older band that doesn’t have it all figured out. Whither Funeral and Neon Bible?
- Gomez – Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline. I think the RIYL says it all: bar bands and hippie crap. I used to like Gomez at one point. I don’t anymore.
- The Prayer Chain – Antarctica (although just the live half of it). The new material preceding the live section of this record would have made a good EP on its own. The older songs in a live setting sound limp.
Azure Ray – Azure Ray. Is it bad to say that I just don’t care about this record, at all? Because I don’t. In any capacity.
- Denison Witmer – Are You a Dreamer? and Are You a Sleeper? Kind of the same thing here. It’s the singer-songwriter thing – you really have to have something going for you to get my attention. Sam Beam’s voice. Jose Gonzalez’s guitar and warmth. Will Oldham’s quirk. Denison Witmer’s … yeah, I’m not feeling it. He just doesn’t have anything that causes him to stand out and be noticed.
- The Eastern Wave – All Covet, All Lose. Post-post-punk? There’s just not a lot of variation on this album. It could have been really good – it was dark and guitar-driven, but just didn’t deviate from that path much.
- Oriin – All. Things. Are. Numbers. Not everybody can be Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Or Explosions in the Sky. But lots of bands try. Oriin gets lost in the shuffle, despite a decent album. There are just so many better ones.
Most disappointing record:
Built to Spill – Ancient Melodies of the Future. Man, it sucks when you sense that one of your favorite bands is phoning it in. Ancient Melodies was Built to Spill’s first crappy album, and it’s something they haven’t come back from in the decade since its release. Although There Is No Enemy is supposed to be decent – I just haven’t heard it. Which is kind of the problem – I stopped caring about Built to Spill releases after this album. So this wins this award, hands down, because it made me lose faith in Built to Spill and Doug Martsch. Shame on you, Ancient Melodies of the Future. Shame on you.
The following records I deleted from my playlist pretty quickly – I reviewed only one of them:
- Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Answering Machine Music: A Brief Album in Twelve Parts. Terrible bedroom pop.
- Blindfolder – Adaptation. Headache inducing noise.
- Beastie Boys – Aglio E Olio. The worst thing the Beasties have done.
- Stockfinster – All Becomes Music. Once the vocals kick in, my iPod kicks off.
- Paramore – All We Know Is Falling. OK mall punk that I just don’t have time for.
In a league of their own:
- Radiohead – Amnesiac. From people I’ve talked to, this album divides the fanbase. I like it, although I’ve discovered on my most recent listen that the middle is a little much to wade through. “Pyramid Song” is one of the best things the band has ever laid to tape. “Hunting Bears,” “Like Spinning Plates,” and “Life in a Glasshouse” close the record on such an intriguing note, you kind of forget that you had a bit of a slog to get there. So there’s good and there’s not so good, but it’s interesting, especially as a companion piece to Kid A.
- Silver Jews – American Water. I used to have a lot of interest in Dave Berman’s stoner poetry and lackadaisical drawl, but I find myself less and less in that place where Silver Jews is something I actively want to listen to. The stoner musings just can’t find purchase anymore, I guess, and the dusty alt-country-Pavement vibe doesn’t strike a chord all that much. But in spite of my complaining, the nostalgia trip can be well worth it. I dunno, ask me again in ten years.
- Interpol – Antics. I have a love/hate relationship with Interpol, and a lot of “style” bands nowadays. The music is good – don’t get me wrong there, there are several tracks on Antics that are eminently listenable, and most at least moderately likable. But – and it’s a big “but,” because I don’t know any of these guys personally – I don’t think I’d want to hang out with Interpol. They seem more interested in their Armani suits than producing a decent record (see, for example, Our Love to Admire). If somebody wants to talk about Interpol, I’d have to shrug my shoulders in disinterest. But you should read my review of Antics – it’s one of my favorites that I’ve written.
What albums did I miss?
Now it’s your turn! Let me know which albums beginning with “A” that I should have in my collection. Open up your playlists and let me have it. I can’t wait to figure out what I have to get my hands on…