OK—If you’ve read my tech blog, you know that I regularly post the “Rock Thought of The Day” as a little add-on to my technical info. I’m adding a longer entry here (with no computer techno mumbo-jumbo) of my choices for Top Rock Albums of 2009. These are not really sorted in priority order.
Horehound: The Dead Weather
I like everything Jack White does musically. His work is mind-bending, challenging, but ultimately very listenable. He will go down as one of the greatest musical minds of the era. It is not fair to call “The Dead Weather” a side project as so many sites and reviewers do. Everything Jack does is a side project thus making everything the main project. He blasts away at boundaries and keeps us just enough off balance to adjust our view of things. I like how oblique the angles are on this record.
No Line On The Horizon: U2
My satisfaction with this record is in perpetual crescendo. The more I listen, the more I hear going on. I recently heard a famous rocker say, “What is U2 doing that is new? They’re just covering the same old ground again and again.” It’s not true if one carefully listens to this record. U2 are the best example of what it means to reinterpret oneself as a band—to digest the legacy and spit it back out as something new and interesting, to never rest on one’s laurels.
Preliminaires: Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is not under-appreciated by those who know anything about rock and roll or music generally. In this record, he brings us down to the French Quarter with all of the power this is Iggy Pop. Graceful? Yes. But, it still has raw power. The man is full of surprises, and I’m ready for more.
Black Gives Way To Blue: Alice In Chains
Can a band that has tragically lost its lead vocalist come back with a record that doesn’t make everyone think, “Man—I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but they should’ve let the band rest in peace?” Yes! Alice In Chains prove that Layne’s influence is still present while also producing fresh and new tracks. Don’t worry—this is still very recognizably an AIC record, but it also happens to be their best record ever. Layne would be most proud.
Swoon: Silversun Pickups
I have to admit that I really didn’t respond well to this record at first. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t immediately fall for this album like I did Pikul and Carnavas. Nonetheless, I listened a few more times and the songs really grew on me. I’m a listener who likes contrasts, and this record is filled with them—beautiful colors, shadows, and lights. Good work SSPU—you’ve got me hooked again.
The Moon and Antarctica: Modest Mouse
This record shows more clearly its genealogy to The Lonesome Crowded West (a masterpiece I could listen to in continuous loop). Every track here is an adventure, a journey into lonely but energy-filled spaces. I really like unusual sounding voices, and Isaac’s way of sounding strong, desperate, forceful, and vulnerable all at the same time is not something easily done. The landscapes and emotions this record invokes are beyond rock and roll. It’s another masterpiece.
Together Through Life: Bob Dylan
It’s great songs, great lyrics, great melodies, and Bob’s unmistakable voice. Just get this record and enjoy it.
I love thrash metal, and it never goes out of style. This record is a punch in the face, an explosion of sound and fury. I am so weary of derivative and overproduced wannabe-metal, and this record is a great antidote for all of that. Push the volume to the top and let it rip.
White Lies for Dark Times: Ben Harper and the Relentless 7
Ben writes songs that always come from the heart. Here, he puts together a string of melodies that will stand the test of time. Listen to “Shimmer and Shine”, and you’ll be instantly hooked. The good news is that rest of the tracks are just as good.
Teargarden by Kaleidyscope: Smashing Pumpkins (1 of 44 songs delivered)
Everyone who reads my blog knows that Pumpkins are my favorite band of all time. Billy Corgan continues to confound the conventions by releasing a 44-song collection, the first song of which, “Song For A Son”, is available at www.smashingpumpkins.com. That the songs are free is the least important piece. The best part is that this first song is priceless—and I expect the rest of the songs will be, too. I’d love to see a collaboration with Billy Corgan and Jack White. Guys—what do you say?
Looking forward to more great stuff in 2010!