Guess I’m not going to be looked at as a trendsetter this year. Believe me, I’m as surprised as anyone that my two favorite releases of the year were put out by bands that were active in the hair metal community in the late ’80s. But when I went back and scanned through iTunes to see what I listened to the most, these are the ones that were clear cut favorites.
1. Danger Danger – Revolve
The best CD of 1989 was released 20 years late! This b-list hair metal band brought original singer Ted Poley back for a reunion album filled with big hooks (“Hearts on the Highway”), bigger choruses (“That’s What I’m Talking About”), songs about girls (“Rocket to Your Heart”), guitar solos (“Ghost of Love”), and power ballads (“Fugitive”). Def Leppard and Bon Jovi’s recent efforts didn’t sound nearly this good. Listen:Keep On Keepin’ On
2. Ray West – All Pointz West
Spread Eagle’s Ray West was my favorite singer from the sleaze-glam era (early ’90s). His solo debut may have been 15+ years in the making, but it was worth it as he updates Spread Eagle’s sound (which was similar to Skid Row, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue) by making it heavier and more aggressive (ala Godsmack, Disturbed, Killswitch Engage). I listened to this CD more than anything else this past summer. Watch:Novacaine
3. The Damnwells – One Last Century
My fears that The Damnwells were done were unjustified and proven false when the band released this FREE album in February. The older carryovers (“55 Pictures”, “Bastards of Midnight”, “Down with the Ship”) were my favorites initially but I grew to love the collaborations Alex Dezen did with his wife, Angela (“Dandelion”, “Like it Is”), just as much as anything the band has previously done. Download:One Last Century (full CD)
4. Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter
Halfway through 2009, this album was my favorite. Though it’s billed under Lytle’s name, it’s really just an extension of the singer’s Grandaddy sound (spacey/dreamy indie-pop) and “Brand New Sun” may be one of the best, simplest pop songs released this year. Watch:Brand New Sun
5. The Prairie Cartel – Where Did All My People Go?
Blake Smith and Mike Willison hinted at their electro-pop/sample fascination as members of the short-lived alt.rock band Caviar but bring that fascination to full fruition (along with Local H’s Scott Lucas) on The Prairie Cartel’s long overdue debut (most of these songs were on a demo CD the guys gave me at SXSW back in ’07). The versatility of the music allows The Prairie Cartel to perform it live as either a full band or in a DJ setting with Lucas singing over pre-recorded sounds loaded onto an iPod. Download:Beautiful Shadow
March 2004 – Saw The Dears at SXSW. My first year there, my first experience with the band. Somebody said, before we saw them, that they are like “The Smiths meet Pink Floyd”. We all leave Emo’s impressed.
March 2006 (I think) – Make it a point to see The Dears at SXSW again even though they are playing my least favorite club. They aren’t scheduled to go on until 1am but I figure I’ll tough it out. They start soundchecking about 5 ’til 1 and continue on for about 10 minutes. Then they proceed to open with an instrumental that felt like it lasted another 10 minutes. I left, totally disappointed.
Sunday, May 10, 2009 – I feel like The Dears owe me one. This is their chance to make it up and, truthfully, I’m not too worried. The new CD, Missles, is a good one even though it originally was supposed to be a Murray Lightburn solo CD from what I’ve read.
Great Northern (read my fresh-off-the-presses interview with them) and Eulogies (read my Dec.’08 interview) open the EARLY show at Skully’s (doors at 6:30, show done around 10pm).
-(2) tickets to show (guest list at venue’s will call)
-(1) Eulogies “Tempted to Do Nothing” vinyldisc
-(1) Eulogies “Here Anonymous” on vinyl
-(1) The Dears “Money Babies” / “Threats” 7” Vinyl
-(1) The Dears “Missiles” CD
-(1) Eulogies shirt
-(1) Dangerbird hoodie
This contest is open only to the Columbus Ohio area. We want to make sure you can use the tickets. A winner will be randomly selected. To enter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title “EULOGIESTHEDEARSGREATHNORTHERN.” In the body of the e-mail, include your name and mailing address.
I’m a fan of all three of these bands, so I’m super excited to see them all on one bill. I posted links to MP3s on the top of the post, but keep reading to hear more from Eulogies. Continue reading →
One of the cool things about SXSW is seeing bands make their debut. My Jerusalem is led by solo artist Jeff Klein who recruited friends that he met on the road (Klein was a touring member of the Twilight Singers on the Powder Burns tour). Rounding out the band are guitarist Dave Rosser (of Twilight Singers), bassist Ashley Dzerigian (formally of Great Northern), drummer Cully Symington (formally of Bishop Allen) and multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson (of The Polyphonic Spree and St. Vincent).
The band’s debut EP, Without Feathers, came out this week and can be found on iTunes. Their full length CD will be out this summer.
Jeff Klein answered some questions sent his way this week.
I started with a list of 45 favorites. Over the course of December I tried to give each one another listen to decide a) where it would land on the list and b) whether or not it would make the cut. I ended up with a list of 24 and, not much to my surprise, many are female-fronted or British bands. I am surprised more alt.country didn’t make my list (I guess Wilco is the token alt.country band) and a complete lack of hard rock is unheard of (oh, how I wanted to love the new Down CD but it just didn’t happen).
From the first 30 seconds of listening to Great Northern’s ‘Trading Twilight for Daylight’, I knew it was going to be my top pick. But along came The Dollyrots a few months later and nearly stole the top spot. Actually, in my mind, they tied for my favorite of the year, I’m sure I listened to both of them an equal amount of times. The rest of the top 10 is pretty interchangeable but I figured I had to put them in some sort of order.
So, here’s my list of Favorite CDs of 2007:
1. Great Northern – Trading Twilight for Daylight(Eenie Meenie Records) Watch/Listen/MySpace/Buy
Part of the Silverlake scene (Sea Wolf, Earlimart, Silversun Pickups), Great Northern provides the soundtrack to a lazy/hazy Friday afternoon. Though Rachel Stolte is the lead singer, her vocal interplay with guitarist Solon Bixler adds depth to the songs.
2. The Dollyrots – Because I’m Awesome (Blackheart Records) Watch/MySpace/Buy
Signed to Joan Jett’s label (Blackheart Records), The Dollyrots embody a punk rock spirit and, to a degree, a punk rock sound though the band’s single “Because I’m Awesome” (as featured in a Kohl’s commercial) is gaining steam on pop radio stations such as WNCI in Columbus, Ohio. Based on comments left on The Dollyrots MySpace page, the trio is appealing to a wide age range including pre-teen girls whose iPod Shuffles are loaded with songs by Kelly Clarkson, Hannah Montana, and Avril Lavigne.
3. The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (Fat Cat) Watch/MySpace/Buy
From the thick Scottish accented vocals to the wall of guitar sounds, The Twilight Sad sound like Snow Patrol if Snow Patrol had started just a few years ago and was influenced by Mogwai, Aereogramme, My Bloody Valentine, and Dinosaur Jr. The band’s SXSW performance in a tent outside of Emo’s left my ears ringing for days … and I liked it!
4. Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer – Schematics (Le Pamplemousse) Watch/MySpace/Buy
As long as Zolof keeps putting out records, there will be a place for them on my year-end list. The synth-driven pop-punk with an edge is infectious and I can’t get enough of Rachel Minton’s spunky vocals. This band could sell a ton of records if they catch the right break.
5. The Frames – The Cost (Anti) Watch/MySpace/Buy
The Once soundtrack made a lot of year-end lists, as well it should and it would have made mine had Glen Hansard’s band, The Frames, not put out a record of their own this year. Fully fleshed-out versions of Once’s best tracks (“Falling Slowly” and “When Your Mind is Made Up”) appear on The Frames’ tenth studio album and are just as passionate and emotional as the stripped-down soundtrack versions. My hope is that everybody who loved the music in Once will explore The Frames’ back catalog. Continue reading →