Must admit, this wasn’t the best year for tunes. A lot of disappointing releases with some down right awful.
Thankfully there are always highlights. Let’s get to it, shall we? These are just the CDs I’ve heard this year. Some maybe older, but I’ve just discovered them.
Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid: Granted it’s a bit strange, but I can’t stop listening to this. Swings from blues to rock to cabaret to ballads, but all of the songs are fantastic and improve with repeated listening. While Coldplay gets all the hype, this is the band people should be paying attention to.
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive: A band that is getting better every year. Musicianship, song writing, even their lead singer/talker. Their best release so far. There is no limit to what this band can accomplish. We may be talking about one of the best bands of all time when all is said and done.
Kings of Leon – Only By The Night: Soulful, hard charging, mellow, mournful, psychedelic, and that’s just the first half of the CD. Another band that’s improving every year and seems to have no ceiling.
Hot Water Music – Till The Wheels Fall Off: The first time I listened to this I thought it was rather muddy and basic. And yet it kept returning to my playlists again and again. I finally listened to the entire thing again and can’t find a bad song on it. Deceptively good.
Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight: Angry, political and one of the most kick ass releases in some time. Rap\Rock may be slipping, but with this group around it will never die completely.
Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills: More experimental and rock oriented than their first, which – for me – is a pleasant direction to take.
Alkaline Trio – Agony & Irony: Their major label debut still packs a punch, but leans too much towards the mainstream for my liking. Some of their best material is here, but too many mediocre songs litter the proceedings.
Glasvegas – Glasvegas: I know, stupid name, but this is an impressive debut from the Scottish band. If it didn’t have that ridiculous spoken word song it may have made the top list.
Futureheads – This Is Not The World: Would have made the top list, as well, but it wears down after repeated listenings. Still their most straightforward rock album and a very pleasant surprise after their last – somewhat lame – release.
WORST COMEBACK (AKA: PLEASE STAY THE HELL AWAY)
Britney Spears: Granted she looks good, but two kids, two divorces, and fifty drug induced scandals later she’s relying on AutoTune and her tits more than ever.
BEST TRENDS OF THE YEAR
DRM Elimination: Most record companies have been eliminating Digital Rights Management from their CDs. This means you can burn them to you MP3 players, create copies and basically do what you want with them. This is now extending to DVDs which will now allow you to create a ‘digital copy’ of movies so they can play on your computers.
While it’s not officially dead, DRM’s grave is being dug.
Artists With No Labels: Radiohead, The Eagles, Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, and Prince all announced they will no longer be associated with any record labels and release their own music in their own way and in any way they see fit. Radiohead made available ‘In Rainbows’ and offered it for download for whatever you thought it was worth. Brilliant!
Wireless Access: Both the latest Zune and iPod Touch (and iPhone) allow you to purchase songs via wireless internet and download them directly to your device. What took them so long?
WORST TREND OF THE YEAR
Wholesome Rock: The Jonas Brothers don’t smoke, drink, sing well, do drugs, have sex with boys or girls (so they say) and are arguably the biggest act of the year. Is this what rock and roll is becoming? If so, I want no part of it. Let’s hope this is just a passing fad and one of them winds up overdosing on heroin after Hannah Montana’s 17th birthday.
David Archuleta: One of the biggest fads of the year was a mindless, soulless, android who had never even heard of the Beatles until he was asked to sing some of their songs on ‘American Idol’. I would suggest putting him out of his misery, but I don’t think he feels anything. Instead put us out of our misery. Please.
BEST SONG OF THE YEAR
Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire: Just listen to it.
WORST SONG OF THE YEAR
The Killers – Human: ‘Are we dancers or are we human?’ will go down as one of the worst song lyrics in rock history, but I can live with crappy lyrics. What I can’t live with is a once hyper, intelligent rock band morphing into a full fledged synth/dance band. A bad one, at that. Just awful.
The Kooks – Konk: Not terrible, but I expected more free wheeling, fun rock and roll and not this haphazard attempt to keep their band name on the radio. Seem to be heading straight for the bland, middle of the road, boring bandbox already occupied by The Fray and Maroon 5. Pity.
Kayne West – 808s & Heartbreak: Admittedly I don’t have this or have even heard a note from this album, but considering 10 spent an entire entry trashing it and he’s a huge Kanye fan, I had to put this here. From what I hear, others are in complete agreement.
And on that note (Get it?), I’m out. I might be off for the rest of the week, but that has yet to be determined.
Today’s distraction: Enjoy some free Christmas music courtesy of We7. There are plenty of other songs you can get for free here, too. Go to town!