Saturday, March 26, 2011

50 Best albums of the Decade Part 4 - 31-40

40. Sigur Ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Sigur Ros have always been true greats in creating moody walls of music measuring leagues instead of stories. So what happens when they make an album that has music that is happy and poppy and shines through the darkest of days? Well you have the #40 album on my list. It’s not that they abandoned what they’ve done in the past, it’s that they want to paint a world of musical colors instead of staying in the same place and while other titles from their catalogue have you scratching your head as to what they’re doing, here you not only have a better idea of which instrument is being played, but you can get a real feel for the heart of the band as a whole.

Highlight tracks: Gobbledigook – Inni Mer Syngur Vitteysingur – Via Spilum Endulaust – Festival - Með suð í eyrum - Flyotavik

39. The Strokes – Room on Fire
Say what you will, but the Strokes rock and are relevant to the hundreds of post punk bands that have spawned after Is this it. Yet even with the huge competition of slightly younger bands eager to be the new kings and queens of SPINNER Magazine and the new tween generation, The Strokes released Room on Fire and it was scorchingly good without caring for any of those bullshit audiences.

Highligh Tracks: 12:51 – Reptilia – What ever Happened – You talk way too much

38. Kings of Leon – Youth and Young Manhood
The Kings of Leon have been a great band from the starting gate. One listen to Youth and Young Manhood and you ask yourself if these were the nephews of some Hell’s Angels. or something Southern fried rock and roll is the order of the day and the special is greasy, delicious and very filling.

Highlight tracks: Molly’s Chambers – Dusty – Trani – California Waiting - Holly Roller Novocaine

37. Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam
Instead of taking the easy way out and writing more albums like Ten, Pearl Jam said screw that, that’s not what we’re about and after long years of incessant touring, the respect and appreciation they deserve has finally arrived. So of course they put out an album with a piss poor gradient, no title apart from their band name and half an avocado on the cover. It is also a sensational album with balls, grit and channeled political anger to get their point across but still rock. Hell of a way to let younger kids know that they are not a band to be messed with, even if they’re creeping towards 50. Oh and children, if you want to know what a real live show is, take a spin in one of their concerts.

Highlight Tracks: World Wide Suicide – Marker in the Sand – inside Job – Parachutes – Comatose – Big Wave – Army Reserve

36. Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
So how good can an album be about a Japanese girl who battles pink robots? Well we don’t know, because this album isn’t necessarily about that exclusively although some songs are. The point isn’t whether this album is a concept album or not though. The point is to ask yourself, does it rock? And the answer is one melodically robotic Hell yeah Mr. Roboto.

Highlight Tracks: Fight Test – One More Robot – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pts. 1 and 2 – Do You realize

35. Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales, On and On & In Between Dreams
Ok so this isn’t necessarily a list including 50 albums. Sue me. But when I talk about Jack Johnson and his music, I really do not want to pick favorites among these three fantastic albums. I put them all here for very different reasons. Brushfire Fairytales is our introduction to Jack, On and On is a consolidation of talents and In Between Dreams is the evolution of all things Jack Johnson. So what’s so important?

Well thanks to Jack surfers are once again mellow friendly people who surf to soothe their soul. You see, for years surf music had gone to the side of punk rock and there seemed like no way of pulling it back. Then comes Jack and people start mellowing out a bit and smiling more in the water. Second only to  Bob Marley's Legend, Jack Johnson tracks have become the new anthem to surfers the world around.

Highlight Tracks – Constellations – Banana Pancakes – Taylor – The Horizon Has been Defeated – bubble Toes – Belle – Sitting, waiting wishing – Middleman

34. System of a down – Mesmerize/Hypnotize
Seeing each album as a separate entity is like separating Use Your Illusions 1 and 2 from Guns N Roses, it just doesn't make any sense. Which means you can do so, but why bother? Both albums wreck some serious carnage and prove that when it comes to fast vicious, crazy music, you need look no further.

Highlight Tracks: Hypnotize – Soldier Side – BYOB – Cigaro – Viscinity of Obscenity – Lonely day – Lost in Hollywood - Attack

33. The Strokes – Is this it
A great album in and of itself to be sure, but what we didn’t know is that this was actually a musical game changer because although it’s a great album, it doesn’t sound particularly revolutionary. Just a solid kick ass album. Actually, it’s been a while since a debut album by a band created that much fuss and it’s with great reason. It rocks. At 36 minutes, I won’t bother picking favorites, just listen to the whole damn thing.

32. Queens of the Stoneage – Lullabies to Paralyze
Absolutely the darkest disc in the QOTSA catalogue, Lullabies is a murky, brooding masterpiece that though not as catchy as the preceeding album is a solid collection of emotions that twist and turn with dark, funky riffs. It has enough fuck you attitude to show the signature Josh Homme but enough substance to differentiate it from other QOTSA albums. Face it, if you have tracks called Burn the Witch, The Blood is Love, You got a Killer Scene there man, etc. you have a dark album. Guest collaborators include Mark Lanegan and other usuals. It's a wonder that so many people overlook the album . Funny thing iecause from what I’ve talked to with friends, it’s one of those albums that once you put it on,  you ask yourself how you went that long without hearing it. It’s got dark brooding songs, churning bursts of rock and enough Queens goodness to satisfy ANYONE in need of some good ole rock.

Highlight Tracks: This Lullaby - Everybody Knows that You’re Insane – burn the Witch – Little Sister – I never came – Someone’s in the Wolf – You got a Killer Scene There Man – Long Slow Goodbye

31. Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is not a cold dead place
At times, the greatest music is so great because it stirs the emotions. Sometimes it’s a chorus that resonates with us, sometimes it’s a verse… sometimes it’s just music. Explosions in the sky are not just music… it is a sonic existential revelation. Guitars, drums, and bass pick and tease at what you would picture to be your soul and churn into a sonic maelstrom that makes you want to cry solely because of the notes that are picked and stacked until forming a wall of noise higher than the Tower of Babel… and like said tower, in the end it doesn’t matter what language you speak since beauty, melancholy and reflection is timeless and universal. This album could serve as the soundtrack to both the beginning of time or the end of the world.

Highlight Tracks: The entire album

An ailing healthcare system

There’s a reason why healthcare is such a big issue in the US right now… actually there are a couple of reasons. When you see statistics, mortality rates, percentage of chronic conditions and the overall state of health in the US, it’s a bit scary to say the least. To be honest, it’s frightening.

First off, “legendary” legislation was passed in healthcare, but since it was from Obama and he slighted Republicans to no end by ignoring their requests, which let’s be honest, were only being drafted to stall the effort and ultimately filibuster healthcare reform out of the water. So off the bat, there’s a problem since it’s a polarizing topic that will serve to push Democratic or Republican legislative power instead of what’s best for the country.

As if that weren’t enough, health insurance plans are finally being called to cut their illicit tactics out and it’s amazing to see how many plans called foul when it was made illegal to cherry pick patients. Pretty much they wanted all the profit but none of the risk and don’t worry, if you get diabetes, we’ll just drop you from the plan. That was the case a few years back and luckily things have gotten better.

To boot, then you have hospitals, physicians and all types of healthcare providers doing anything in their power to save a buck or earn one. From putting a patient in a cab and dropping them off at another hospital, to prescribing medications people don’t need and ordering a CAT scan for someone who has allergies, the variety of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse issues are countless.

This should be enough to raise a flag that things are far from kosher, but no… it gets worse. Rising levels of diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart failure, kidney failure, obesity, heart disease, and hypertension means that people are getting sicker… not better. The reasons for this abound, but more sedentary home lifestyles, coupled with overworking company cultures, a broken economy and stress levels going off the Richter are some of the culprits… but it’s not like the healthcare system does anything to help… after all, this is all just business.

And THERE lies the problem. Healthcare shouldn’t be exclusively about making money… and that’s just what it is. That’s why fraud is so popular and costs the US billions of dollars every year… because it’s treated as a business. I have no idea why universal healthcare translates into socialism, but that’s what people apparently believe.

The point is that regardless of your stance or opinion, the fact is that healthcare in the US is not that great to put it lightly… the question then has to be posted: how long are we going to let politics and ignorance get in the way of the best healthcare for the people? The clock is ticking, the water is rising, the bomb clock is ticking and the time for opinions is past… we need decisions and change, or we’ll continue slipping further down the spiral.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Resolutions 2010 - Final Tally

Wow it took me to March to post this... yowza. Regardless, here's my tally for 2010. Again, physical injuries did not allow me to do much exercise wise and I have to get better... period because not only am I not staying in shape... I'm leaving undone resolutions.

Bicep Curls
280 / 5,000

Butterfly curls
280 / 5,000

280 / 5,000

450 / 10,000

Jumping Jacks
600 / 10,000

600 / 10,000

100 / 1,000

Tricep press
100 / 1,000

Workout 40 times with Wii Fit, Insanity or Active for the Wii

Miles run/walked
25 / 100
Better than 2009, that's for sure and I have to retake this goal... seriously.

Category #2: HEALTH. without counting the meditation goal, I did pretty friggin good. Let's hope I keep it up.

Meditation/Reflection/Goal setting hours/ Breathing exercises
4 /100
Sad to say I did better in 2010 than 2009 when I just got 4 hours in... but hey, can't hurt to try.

Eat less sugar
Spend two weeks in the year without eating candy or desserts

Spend two weeks in the year without drinking soda

Go to the dentist

Go to gastroenterologist

Go 4 times to the chiropractor with my fiancée

Go to general practitioner

Category #3:   PROFESSIONAL

I actually ruled in this category, hallelujah.

Freelance jobs

Work proposals

Category #4:   ACTIVITIES

Fell short on a lot of categories but the best thing about a  new year is the chance to do things right for a change.

Surf Sessions
La Selva

Swim / bodysurf / water activities
1 / 10
Didn't achieve this in 2010 either... crap...

Local tourism
1/ 4
4 local trips with my fiancée/wife

Only one trip? Ugh...

15 / 25
Had to cut a lot because of wedding and honeymoon, now for 2011, I have no excuse and I'm lagging behind... ugh.

  1. Up in the Air - A+
  2. Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassuss - A+
  3. It’s Complicated - B
  4. Avatar - C -
  5. Cop Out – B -
  6. Alice in Wonderland – C-
  7. Iron Man 2 – B
  8. Grownups - B
  9. Toy Story 3 – A++
  10. Predators - A
  11. Despicable Me – B+
  12. Inception – A+
  13. Knight and Day – C+
  14. SAW 7 – C-
  15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows – A+

Watch DVD’s I’ve bought
21 / 20
I FINALLY started watching the stuff I own and it felt great.

1.      Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me B-
2.      Eddie Murphy Delirious A
3.      Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon A-
4.      Fists of Fury B-
5.      The Orphanage A+
6.      Love and Sword C+
7.      Nine inch Nails - The Slip Bonus DVD - B
8.      At The Drive In – This Station is non Operational Bonus DVD - C
9.      Sideways – A+
10.  It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown – A+
11.  Blue Velvet – A
12.  Afro Samurai – Afro Samurai Resurrection – A+
13.  The Devil’s Backbone - A
14.  Easy Money - B
15.  Back to School – B+
16.  Airplane – A+
17.  Where the Wild Things Are – B+
18.  Alice in Wonderland - A
19.  Planet Terror - A
20.  A man called Hero – C
21.  A Charlie Brown Christmas – A

Finish Videogames
3 / 15
Actually didn't finish much last year though this year I'm already about to pass my 2010 mark.

  1. Mad World - A-
  2. Okami - A-
  3. Ratchet And Clank B+

Finish Reading 20 Books
28 / 20
Finish reading 20 books
Last year I read like I want to read... this year, it's a bit harder, but I'm hoping I pick it up soon.

  1. The Fountain Graphic Novel - A
  2. We3 - A+
  3. Fantastic Mr. Fox - B-
  4. The Inferno – B+
  5. Death, The Time of your Life – A+
  6. Coraline Graphic Novel - A
  7. Charlie and the Glass Elevator – A-
  8. James and the Giant Peach – A+
  9. Story of the Tao Volume 6 – B-
  10. Story of the Tao Volume 7 – B-
  11. Story of the Tao Volume 8 – B-
  12. Artemis Fowl Book 1 - A
  13. Artemis Fowl - The Arctic Incident - A
  14. Artemis Fowl – The Eternity Code - A
  15. Artemis Fowl – The Opal Deception - A
  16. Artemis Fowl – The Lost colony - A
  17. The Dream Cycle of HP Lovecraft – A+
  18. Artemis Fowl – The Time Paradox - A
  19. The Graveyard Book - A+
  20. 1984 – A++
  21. Into the Wild – A –
  22. Artemis Fowl – The Atlantis Complex A –
  23. Old man Logan – A
  24. Skin Tight – A
  25. The Wonderful Wizard of OZ – A-
  26. The Marvelous Land of Oz - A
  27. Ozma of Oz – A
  28. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz – A-

Playing guitar
77 / 100
This year I'm off to a much better start and I'm glad about that. I love playing guitar and I really think I always should play a lot more often.

Category #5: KNOWLEDGE
0 / 15
Continue learning every day, such is my mission but I’d like to also put down in writing stuff I’m learning. Let’s say 15 knowledge posts for the year to be able to document and track my progress.

Learn Random Info
0 / 100
I know I learned a lot of stuff, I just didn't specifically write about it. Let's see if I take this and change it up.
Read the news and post a blog entry
6 / 20
Same with this category.I know I did more of it, but this year I'm more focused on achieving goals so off to a better start.

Category #6: WRITING

Definitely this is one of my passions and I want to pick it up in regards to some projects that were dangling last year.

91 / 150
I know I did more, I just don't want to do a total tally on any of my blogs. But suffice to say, I surpassed one and fell WAY short on the other.

Posts in other blogs
19 / 75

Finish book
I finished the book
44 / 44

Transcribe book
I haven't finished transcribing the book.
5 / 44 + prologue

Write short stories
2 / 10
I really should write more short stories.

Essay project
0 / 20
For two straight years I haven't touched this goal even though it was on my list.... will I finally dorp the shtick?

Draft story arcs for Novels
2 / 3
Have two and a half full blown story arcs waiting for me to finish the book to get writing. Very nice indeed.

Draft Movie Script Idea
Finding time for this goal sounds easier than it is.

Progress reports

Standup piece
I think 2011 will be the year I finally do this full on.

The Mega Music review
0 / ?
I haven't started.... I know I such.

Category #7 Wedding stuff

You bet I’m going to include my wedding stuff here. I need to organize myself and what better way than to always have a list staring me in the face.


Get coordinator
Meet and greet with coordinators and pick one.

Plan honeymoon
Look at destinations once again and also cost and start making arrangements.




Dance Classes

Find an apartment to live


Buy a box of contractor bags and take one with me to the beach to pick up garbage.

Make a great Halloween costume duo concept.

Have our first house dinner with family.

Invite two couples over for dinner.

Have at least one jam session before the year is over.
Cook for my fiancée four times.

Take my car for maintenance twice in the year.

Clean up my MSN messenger list

Clean up my Facebook Friend List

Organize my room and throw away anything that isn’t necessary

Fix light bulb in garage

So all in all, 2010 was a pretty decent year... let's see how things pan out for the new year. 

UFC 128 Review

Let’s make this quick, I’ve always been a fan of all combat sports. From Pro-wrestling (which I haven’t watched in years) to sumo wrestling (which I also haven’t seen in years) to boxing (which I’m an utter freak). The sheer nature of combat sports has always been alluring to me and although I’ve seen the momentum garnered by MMA, I’m still a boxing fan first and foremost. Which is all that more curious since this weekend I saw the UFC pay per view event instead of the Showtime boxing matchup of Lucian Bute. The reason is simple though, in one I had to go to mom’s house to see the fight which I DVR’d anyway and in the latter, me and my wife were invited to friends’ house to see the card. So we went to share ribs, cupcakes and a nice night of violence.

But throughout the card, something funny happened. Sure, I could see a crowd of 30,000 strong witnessing the event, but I could also see me and my wife falling asleep for most of the event because there was a genuine lack of interest and action on our part. Maybe it wasn’t the best pay-per-view to assess my interest in MMA… actually I’m sure of it, which is why I’m going to give a quick recap and review.

I will go from crappiest and work my way from there.

5. Marquardt beat Dan Miller

If ever a fight showcases why I sometimes get bored with MMA, it was this one. A lot of man humping, a lack of clean, effective punching and just a whole lot of clinching with no one truly going for blood. Basically for me, you know an MMA bout isn’t that great when there’s a decision had. I want a submission, I want a knockout or I want blood.

4. Brendan Schaub KOs Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Two things I’m very sorry to say,1.) Cro Cop should consider retiring, 2.) don’t be fooled by the headlines. Sure the KO came in spectacular fashion in a fight Cro Cop was actually winning, but a lack of true aggression for most of the fight and silly clinches had me yawning. To boot, to me the KO was tainted and Schaub should have been fined for the extra hit he gave an already down and very out Cro Cop.

3. Urijah Faber Vs Eddie Wineland

There’s just no way around it, physically Urijah Faber annoys me. From his pretty boy looks, to his designer hoodies to his luscious locks of hair to his name. The guy is a little douche and physically reminds me of people I don’t like so I was rooting for an overmatched Wineland to land a hail mary. It didn’t happen but Faber didn’t get the finish either. Sure Faber has wrestling skills, but highlights were few and far between and actually referred to takedowns., not a finish. So though Faber got the win, the fans got the loss.

2. Jim Miller KOs Kamal Shalorus

One of the few genuine firework shows that night came from this matchup. Jim Miller is like some Tasmanian devil and his mind is set on three things, KO, KO and KO. Kamal Shalorus is by no means a slouch and for someone who is 38 and I didn’t even have a clue who he was, the guy is tough as nails, taking bonafide bombs from Miller and not backing down. I swear, there were at least 8 shots that could have KOd most mortals and this guy kept coming until a mean uppercut stunned him, followed by a flurry and a knee that caught Shalorus flush. Funny thing though, if Miller hadn’t pinned the Texas based Iranian fighter against the cage to launch a flurry, the guy might have gotten up. I swear, the guy is as tough a fighter as I’ve ever seen and I want to see both fighters duke it out again, and who knows, it’s not like I would mind a rematch.

1. Jon Jones Vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua

But the highlight of the night came courtesy of Jon Bones Jones showcasing talent that tempts me to say best light heavyweight in the world. Mauricio Shogun Rua is no slouch. That’s a big duh, but in this fight he was bullied for 3 rounds until Jones caught him with a variety of strikes and then a lethal body shot that had me wincing in my chair. Signs of a true champion is to control the urge to head hunt and commit to the body and Jones did just that… apart from launching a flying knee, a spinning back elbow and showing power, reach, speed, take down defense and wrestling skills that had everyone asking just who can take this guy on.

So all in all, two of five fights were worth watching... but really, would I rather watch this than boxing?
Not a chance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Top 50 albums of the last decade - Part 3 (41-50)

50. Four Tet – Rounds: 

Nearly left off the list, upon closer inspection of my compilation, I had to include Rounds for being one of the most creative sonic adventures I’ve ever heard. Try marrying Trip-hop with Industrial music in the sense that juxtaposing noises are put side by side to create memorable soundscapes. Visionary, bold, mellow, and rewarding with every listen.

49. Grandaddy – the Sophtware slump
The Sophtware Slump was actually an album I bought because of one song and really didn’t give a couple of deep listens until a year or two after I bought it. What I found in those subsequent listens was a mellow album with strong tracks, a sense of robotic imagery that hinted at something grand beneath it all. Simply put, it’s an album that sounds like a concept album, might have a concept behind it but doesn’t necessarily depend on a concept to be enjoyable. It also plays great from start to finish or in shuffle, which is a tricky thing to accomplish. I think it took a while to get into it because it’s not a long album, but it does feel like one, mainly because of the first track which almost reaches the 9 minute mark. Regardless, it’s a great listen and a unique album in all regards.

Highlight Tracks: The Crystal Lake - He’s simple, he’s dumb, he’s the pilot – Miner at the Dial a view

48. Nine Inch Nails – The Slip: 

Take everything Trent Reznor has done from Pretty Hate Machine to Ghosts I-IV and trim it down to the bare minimum to get the best out of everything. That’s what The Slip represents. A consolidation of strengths to produce one hell of an album, even if it does fall short of other works by Maestro Reznor. But maybe it was his way of showing that he doesn’t need to produce a 70+ minute behemoth to get his message across. Actually, this time around it took less than 44 minutes.

Highlight Tracks: Discipline - 1,000,000 – Lights in the Sky – Corona Radiata

47. Peter Gabriel – Up: 

It’s not So, it’s not Us, it’s not Scratch or Security, it’s Up. A beautifully dark album with long complex tracks that unravel rather than reveal. Simply put, if you’re looking for another In Your Eyes or Solsburry Hill, this is the last album you should ever listen to. If you enjoyed OVO however or Red Rain, then you should check this album out. From a musical point of view, Up has so many layers, it’s ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t satisfying. Just one listen to the brooding Darkness, the Blind Boys from Alabama accompanied Sky Blue or the Epic Signal to Noise and it’s clear Gabriel has grand visions for grand music and nothing else will satisfy him as an artist.

Highlight tracks: Signal to Noise - Darkness – Growing up – Sky Blue

46. Coldplay – A rush of blood to the head: 

There’s a reason Clocks was played to death, it’s a great record, with great tracks to keep it company. Whereas some albums are epic because of the spontaneity they captured though, A rush of blood to the head seems like a deliberate album, crafted to please casual fans of Radiohead who wanted something less avante guarde and more mainstream. There’s nothing wrong with that, and unfortunately for all the haters, there’s nothing wrong with A rush of blood to the head either.

Highlight tracks: Clocks – Daylight – A rush of blood to the head – the Scientist

45. Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling: 

Picking one album from Mogwai over the others is a bit of a hassle, especially since they’re all pretty solid. But unlike other bands that got repeats, I only selected one album from this Scottish band. The Hawk is Howling sees them tread sonic textures they’d hinted at before, but unlike other releases, there are no vocals on this album, even for the purpose of singing a couple of notes. And they actually sound more full than ever giving one of their most satisfying albums which forces me to not be able to pick one track over another. So simply press play, and enjoy.

Highlight tracks: the whole thing.

44. Coldplay – Parachutes: 

If there’s any need to be apologetic about liking Coldplay, it has all to do with Christopher Martin’s posturing and the existence of Viva La Vida. Though Viva isn’t a poor album, it did feel forced and designed to please fans and the masses rather than any artistic desire within the band. It also bothered me a bit the whole thing with Joe Satriani and the very plausible ripoff of a song of his. But this has nothing to do with Parachutes. Possibly Coldplay’s finest effort (although you can debate between this and A rush of blood…), the deliberateness of their performance was there from the beginning, this is music to please, but there’s also the freshness of the band and tracks that have you humming them against your will. There’s also a bit less production and I think that’s something that helps the band since with every subsequent release, production has become more of a necessity, which might explain why X & Y and Viva la Vida sound so watered down. So if the essence of Coldplay sounds like something interesting to you, here’s a great start.

Highlight Tracks: Yellow – Sparks -  Spies – Everything’s Not Lost

43. Oasis – Don’t Believe the Truth: 

Fans tend to bash Oasis for the release of Be Here Now and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants and although these albums were far from epic, they didn’t suck either. They just weren’t up to par with Morning Glory or Definitely Maybe. Then came Heathen Chemistry and you knew something was brewing though it wasn’t yet there… and them comes Don’t Believe the Truth. In comparison, this album is worthy of standing alongside their two first albums. The flatness of Heathen Chemistry is gone and it’s been replaced by what worked for these lads. It’s got grit, energy and the cocksureness that made Oasis such an enjoyable band in the first place.

Highlight tracks: Turn up the sun – Lyla - Part of the Queue – Guess God thinks I’m Abel

42.  Elbow – Asleep in the back: 

Elbow is the kind of band that you hear and don’t know where they came from actually. Their sound is so distinct that you’d have to scrape through some obscure bands just to find the roots of where they came from musically. That’s not a bad thing at all. Quite the contrary, it means that unlike other bands they have their own sound. Unique, mellow, at times blissfully bleak and songs that sound simple but really aren’t. It’s the type of band that rewards dedicated listeners just as much as the casual bloke who puts a track on. Peculiar lyrics, offbeat phrasing and instrumentation that sounds sparse but oddly full. Couple the lush tunes with Guy Garvey’s fantastic voice, and you have something that connects deeper than far more successful bands.

Highlight tracks: Scattered Black and Whites – Powder Blue – Don’t Mix your Drinks – Newborn – Asleep in the Back

41. Franz Ferdinand – ST: 

Dirty, groovy, post punk goodness is rarely pulled off this well. From all the bands that fall in this retro punk vintage, Franz Ferdinand definitely rank among the best, ripping 39 minutes’ worth of great tracks to show the other wannabes how it’s really done.

Highlight Tracks: Take me Out – The Dark of the Matinee – This Fire – Michael – Cheating on you

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top 50 albums of the last decade - Part 2

Here is part 2 of my notable mentions. Feel free to give an opinion.

Foo Fighters – In Your Honor: The fighters of the foos did a great job with their last two albums. First off was the great double disc In your Honor, a concept I wish some other bands would adopt to see what they could do putting one predominant style of music on one disc and a different one in the second. Regardless, a great buy if there ever was one and yet more evidence that the Foo Fighters are doing a hell of a good job keeping the flame of accessible rock burning bright.

Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace: Think of Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace as the one disc consolidation of In Your Honor. A great disc from start to finish with a well rounded albeit predictable album scheme (rocker-mixed bag of songs including some slower numbers- mellow closer). Definitely makes me wonder what else they’ll put out of their collective hat because to be honest, it’s a perfect Foo Fighters disc, but the next album seems like the perfect time to present fans with something new.

Tom Waits – Alice: Dear Tom Waits is a weird cat to be sure, but he also happens to always carve a slice of unique sonic bliss that no one else could even begin to pull off. The songs on Alice are based on a play dealing with the forbidden love between Lewis Carroll and the real life Alice which inspired his tales. Messed up? You bet. But still a great listen.

The Snake the Cross the Crown – Cotton Teeth: Who the hell are these guys? Don’t worry, I asked myself the same thing. Rather than bore you with some background information, just buy the album.

Highlight tracks: Cakewalk - The Great American Smokeout – Gypsy melodies – Behold the River – Hey Jim – Floating in and Out – Maps – Back to the Helicopter

Tom Waits – Real Gone: Another Waits album simply here because he released it. Real Gone has a couple of clunker numbers, but for every weak track there are 3 amazing ones. Quite a bit more than your average top 40 piece o crap.

A Perfect Circle – Mer de Noms: There’s only one reason why Mer de Noms is not on the top 50 albums… and it’s because after track 6, there’s nothing remotely as interesting as the first half of the album which actually contains one of the best 3 song combinations in Judith, Orestres and 3 Libras.

Asian Kung-fu Generation – Sol Fa & Fanclub: One of my favorite bands to be sure, but in the grand scope of things, other albums might have been more significant on a larger scale. Maybe it’s also because I can’t speak Japanese, but how good is an album when I can’t understand most of it yet still rock to it. Simply put, if I could find Sol Fa and Fanclub at less than $15 retail, I’d buy them in a heartbeat, but since they are both imports, prohibitive prices have forced me to settle for downloads.

Top 50 albums of the last decade - Part 1

I’m a big fan of lists. A while back I said I’d be writing a whole bunch of lists. It’s not that I forgot to write the lists, it’s that I’m so ridiculously anal about lists, that it’s taken me this long to finally be satisfied with where my list is at. Regardless, I’ll obviously chop things down a bit so as not to do a huge long post no one will read. So first off, the first half of my notable mentions.

Notable Mentions Part 1:

As per usual, every single list I’ve ever compiled has or at the very least could have a list of notable mentions. This list is not the exception so here we go, the almost weres in my list of top 50 albums of the last decade.

Radiohead – Amnesiac: One of two Radiohead albums that didn’t make it to the album, and by the way were a little on the ignored side of life. The only thing wrong with Amnesiac is that it was released 8 months after Kid A. As an album it is actually quite solid and offers a variety of sonic textures which had been hinted at on Kid A. The main thing with Amnesiac isn’t that it has to be play second fiddle to Kid A, it’s just that it was released to close to its slightly older brother and after Kid A, haters had something to hate. So while compiling this list, I decided to put it at the top of honorable mentions because truth be told, this album is better than some of the ones placed on my top 50, but since I had to gauge impact and other nuances, I put it here as a tribute, since it is the #1 best overlooked album of the decade.

Pearl Jam – Riot Act: By far the most misunderstood and overlooked Pearl Jam album in their catalogue, Riot Act actually boasts quite a great set of tracks. The problem is that in between great numbers, there are not so great numbers that curiously work rather well live. Cropduster, Ghost, Bushleaguer and Get Right all come to mind when referring to numbers that aren’t that epic and really could have been B-Sides. But for every B Side, you get three A sides of solid material. From the beginning of Can’t Keep to the guttural Save you and the happily epic Love Boat Captain, that’s a great start to the album. Add introspective tracks like Thumbing My Way, the grand vocal instrumental Arc or the wonderfully sad All or None and you find more material that’s great. As if that weren’t enough, you push in I Am Mine (A great Drinking song if there ever was one) and you go whoah, this is a pretty great album. But no, they have to pull out You Are from left field which sounds like NOTHING they’ve ever put out and then the bluesy ½ full and

Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul: What a shock to fans of the band to realize that this would be the last Oasis album they would ever have the pleasure of listening to. To be honest, it’s a hell of a way to go out. Dig out your soul picks up right where Don’t Believe the Truth left off and had the band pushing their British bravado to new cohesive directions that sounded like a reenergized Oasis hell bent on taking over the world. It’s too bad that it was their last album because I really did feel as if the momentum was there and that the sibling rivalry had finally been put to rest. Now we’ll just have to see what Beady Eye and Noel on his own can pull off. Come to think of it, maybe that break might actually be a good thing. Only time will tell.

Highlight Tracks: Waiting for the rapture – The Shock of Lightning – High Horse Lady – Soldier On

Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth: under any other pretext, this album would have been a triumph, but with the buildup, it was just short of the mark. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t kick some serious ass and it’s a worthy NIN album if there ever was one. It just means that the two other titles released during the decade impressed me more for other reasons.

Radiohead – Hail to the Thief: The other Radiohead album that didn’t make it on the list is also another solid work of art by Britain’s favorite anti rock heroes. Unlike Amnesiac however, I have no qualms over Hail to the Thief not being in the top 50 because although it is a wonderful album in and of itself, in comparison it fails to hit the mark by mere inches… or that’s what most people say. Truth be told, when you listen to Hail to the Thief it’s actually a challenge to find a weak track, because honestly, there isn’t one. What there isn’t is something groundbreaking or ultra anthemic. It’s just a solid ass album that showcases a consolidation of forces to produce an album that even at its length is still tight enough to get you wondering exactly what is wrong with this album that so many people didn’t get into it.

Elbow – Leaders of the New World: Variety is one thing, creating music no one else creates is another thing. The closest I can compare them to would be Tool in the sense that though you get a general sense of where they’re coming from, this music lives on its own. Maybe they’re not as transcendental as the aforementioned troupe, but no one else sounds like them, and they simply come off as a band that’s always existed, because even on their debut album their songs were mature, polished and beautifully unique. Leaders of the New World continues the trend of excellence set by their two preceding albums and the only reason why this and the next album weren’t included, was because other bands deserve recognition too.

Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid: Is it just me, or are Elbow incapable of releasing a bad album? Seldom Seen Kid is the fourth album in a row where they produce memorable and unique tracks that are witty, beautiful and colorful. Like nothing else on radio, Seldom Seen Kid keeps proving that Elbow deserve your attention.