For a variety of reasons, the following albums did not make the final cut for my eagerly-anticipated (by me, at least) annual Top 20 list
The “21 Spot”
Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
Patterson Hood’s short stories set to music have become a tad repetitious (thematically), and losing guitarist Jason Isbell last year hurt their songwriting batting average. Still musically incendiary, though. This would be No. 21 if we did a Top 21.
R.E.M – Accelerate
Kudos to the boys from Athens for putting a little more bite in their bark, resulting in their best work for over a decade. Still a tad lacking on the memorable melodies that they used to toss off effortlessly.
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
About five great – I mean really great – songs. Not enough to make the Top 20.
Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
I consider myself pretty anti-drug (see the spiel below), but Noel Gallagher is the exception that proves the rule. Ever since he laid off the booger sugar, his songwriting has become erratic. All the post-cocaine Oasis albums contain a handful of stone-cold classics padded with a bunch of filler. This half-great album, their seventh, continues the slight upswing begun by 2005’s Don’t Believe The Truth after the nadir of their 2000 and 2003 albums.
Gentleman Jesse – Gentleman Jesse & His Men
Eagles Of Death Metal – Heart On
Howlin’ Rain – Magnificent Fiend
Music that is unapologetically riff-based and retro is generally referred to by my Idle Time colleagues, somewhat disparagingly, as “Mattrock.” Originality may be low, but grooves are high. Gentleman Jesse is earnest and garage-y, Eagles Of Death Metal definitely tongue-in-cheek (which does not diminish the pleasure of listening to them), and Howlin’ Rain the most blatantly Mattrockish, with its wailing organ conjuring up the spirit of the Allman Brothers, and its guitars right in the Faces-era Ron Wood wheelhouse.
The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
The Raveonettes’ spooky, noisy take on old-fashioned boy-girl pop harmonies was another very near-miss for my Top 20.
The Dirtbombs – We Have You Surrounded
From the same Detroit garage-rock scene that spawned The White Stripes and The Von Bondies, The Dirtbombs are all about the big bottom, with two drummers and sometimes two bassists rumbling ominously under fuzzed-out rock and roll that’s steeped in a soulfulness unique to the Motor City.
Firewater – The Golden Hour
The result of bandleader Tod A’s extended trek through the Near and Far East, The Golden Hour is world music-meets-circus music-meets an inflamed political conscience.
The Secret Machines – Secret Machines
Usually described as “space rock” and the heirs to Pink Floyd’s long-form atmospherics, the Secret Machines refuse to be pigeonholed that easily, and would certainly not merit an honorable mention here if they were, because, well, Pink Floyd kind of sucks. This album careens from the dance floor to the bedroom (alone), packing a gritty punch (even in the longer songs) absent from even the most concise Pink Floyd songs because, well…see above.
The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement
Solo project by the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner is a throwback to sultry, swinging, orchestrated Bacharach-style 60’s pop. (And a shout-out within a shout-out to Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs for their take on raw Nuggets-style 60’s pop, Stop, Drop & Roll!!) Continue reading