Saturday, July 9, 2011

Top 50 Albums of 2010 (40-31)


40. High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine: I have a difficult time understanding the lyrics on this album, even though the lead singer is one of the more legible in metal, but that is one of the reasons I enjoy the genre. Lyrics don't make the songs for me. I'm sure he's singing about lightning, and skulls, and scorpions, and death, and monsters, and Charlie Sheen, and all sorts of fucked up shit. As many times as I've listened to this album, no song really shines, except the title track. That might be a good place to start if you want a sample. It is nearly nine minutes of goodness.

I didn't listen to every metal album that came out in 2010, not even close. I mostly listened to suggestions from friends, and a lot of those I didn't care for. Snakes For the Divine is one of the few metal albums in 2010 that I really liked. It's not groundbreaking, so if that's what you're looking for, maybe the genre of metal isn't for you. When is a metal album really groundbreaking? It does however do what metal albums are supposed to do, it kicks ass.

39. Drive By Truckers - The Big To-Do: The lyrics take center stage when listening to the Truckers. There is the song about the guy getting drunk for four days, the one about the prostitute banging the birthday boy, the one where the wife of the horny preacher accidentally murders him, and the one about the chick with the cheating fling. And who doesn't like a song about hating your job, the aptly named "This Fucking Job."

There is some great guitar work on this album as well, such as the first song, "Daddy Learned To Fly," and the catchy as hell riff on "Drag The Lake Charlie." The pedal steel guitar which is used often always gets me, and two proficient song writers is never a bad thing. This album has White Trash written all over it, but in a good way. Heck, I like White Trash, you don't?

38. The Black Keys - Brothers: I don't feel like writing about this band. I listened to this album a lot, more than most of the albums on this list, but I'm not sure I want to hear it again. My live review explains why. I'm not being unfair, I liked this album way too much when I first heard it. It's not that great. It belongs in the 30s.

37. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: I loved this album the first time I heard it. I think I got caught up in all the hype. After three or four listens, I was over it. A couple months later, I started digging it again, which is why it made the top 50. Just like every above average album, there are some really good songs, but the songs I didn't like were boarderline annoying.

My opinion of Big Boi isn't as high as his celebrity status. Sure, I love Outkast as much as the next person, but it is the other guy which makes Outkast for me. The reason I've never been a huge fan of Big Boi is because his flow is a bit too fast for my comfort level, yet not fast enough to be truly impressive. His lyrics are can be great, but they are more like, "here are a bunch of words I'm going to link together in a clever way," instead of "here is a story I'm going to cleverly tell you." I respect his ability, but don't care for his flow.

The first track, "Daddy Fat Sax," gets the album started on the right foot, but it slouches to a halt over the next couple tracks. It peaks with "General Patton" and "Tangerine." "General Patton" was one of my favorite songs of the year mostly because of the production. Rapping over a choir is something I don't recall hearing before this year. The remainder of the album is mostly average, except one of my favorites, "Shine Blockas." The album is worth listening to for the
highlights, but I don't get why it is so highly respected by credible sources.

36. Avey Tare - Down There: Avey Tare is one of the lead singers of Animal Collective. I mention this because I know this isn't a well-known fact for many readers. First things first, he is really weird, and so is this album. He once put out an album with the music played backwards, so he delivers with what I anticipated, strangeness. "Glass Bottom Boat" followed by "Ghost Of Books" sounds like it's straight out of Animal Collective's Sung Tongs. The whole sound of the album has a Sung Tongs feel. It's pretty stripped down.

I've always enjoyed Avey's voice more than Panda Bear on the Animal Collective records. Nine of my top ten favorite Animal Collective songs are sung by Avey, and I especially dig the songs he screams on (he is a fantastic screamer). That is what makes this album a bit disappointing, there is a lot more weirdness than Avey actually singing, and he doesn't scream at all. In fact, the song that stands out the most is "Lucky 1," and that is sung by Panda Bear!

This album is a must for Animal Collective fans like myself. It gives a further understanding of which parts of Animal Collective Avey is responsible for, just like Panda Bear's solo albums give a better understanding of what he brings to the band. You also can feel what is missing compared to the Animals Collective albums, making Geologist's production that more obvious. I wouldn't recommend this album if you are not already an Animal Collective fan.

35. Fang Island - Fang Island: Classic rock is only classic when, you know, it's classic. That's why classic rock no longer exists. However, this band screams classic rock like no other in 2010. Queen harmonies, Lynyrd Skynyrd dueling guitars, hair metal Guns N' Roses, and a bit of Black Sabbath . I've never googled Fang Island to see what they look like, but if they look anything like Vampire Weekend, it would be a complete paradigm shift. I'm picturing something along the lines of Jerry Cantrell, Ted Nugget, and Tommy Lee, with maybe a bit of Tom Green.

At points, the music sounds cheezy as hell, but it's a go to when I want something new that sounds like the bands from the 70s. Check out the track "Davey Crockett," if you want to understand what I'm trying to say.

34. Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring: It took me a couple listens before I realized there isn't a lot of percussion on this album. I'm not a drum hater, I fully support those weird fuckers, but this mixture of acoustic guitar, cello, violin, banjo, piano, accordion, mandolin, and vocals doesn't need the drums to be successful. This album deserves to be ranked much higher on this top 50, but I locked my rankings in the dead of winter. This is very much a spring album, if the title didn't give it away.

"Belly of June" is my favorite track, with "The Drought" a close second. They sound beautiful, and that is not a description I use often. The overall sound on this ablum is so soothing, it became one of my favorites to listen to while working. It's similar to jazz and classical music, it doesn't demand my attention, but when I give it my attention I realize how great it is.

33. Marco Polo & Ruste Juxx - The Exxecution: Each style of music fits a certain mood. What do you listen to when you feel like hitting fools in the head with a shovel? You listen to gangsta rap, and this is about as hardcore as gangsta rap gets. It's not about getting tons of bitches and making lots of cash, it's about murder, plain and simple. Gangsta rap can be so flashy and cartoonish these days, which makes this album stand out. Ruste Juxx is an amazingly talented rapper, and keeps the execution theme thick in every verse. Lyrically, he might crack my top ten rappers.

Then there is the production of Marco Polo, rather simply done with heavy drums and catchy hooks, mixed with the occasional old skool scratching. When did scratching go out of style anyway? "Death Penalty" is one of the catchiest song on the album because of the foot tapping (thug killin) production, and includes plenty of scratching. The piano backing on "Nobody" is the other highlight of the album, due to the strength of the production. The lyrics are solid throughout, so the standouts tend to have the best beats. This album might be my go to hardcore gangsta album for years.

32. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (II): This band has a reputation for making noise, not necessarily good noise. Some of their noise can be a annoying, but the contrast makes the mellow tracks stand out musically. Take the first four songs on the album, inaudible lyrics and a fuzzy beat on "Fainting Spells," followed by the trance like song "Celestica" with soothing 80s pop type vocals, followed by the distorted loudness with screeching vocals on "Doe Deer," followed by the most danceable track on the album, "Baptism" with crazy synth. Great stylistic intro.

I don't recall really liking this album after a couple listens, but each time I play it, I feel like I'm undervaluing its worth, even still. The vocal-less track "Intimate" was one of my favorite songs from 2010, which is me giving mad props to the dude behind the production. The face of the band might be the screaming chick, who at her worst is only bearable because of the production. At her best though, Crystal Castles shit is so good.

31. Quasi - American Gong: I listened to way too much sensitive indie rock this year. That's why it's refreshing to hear an indie rocker tearing it up on the guitar. It doesn't take Sam Coomes long to make this point, going off near the end of the opening track, "Repulsion." Thanks Sam, you are now forgiven for whatever sensitive indie tracks you want to throw out on the rest of the album, including the ultra sensitive "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler," which ended up being one of the most recognizable songs on the album.

We again find Mr. Sam freaking out near the end of "Bye Bye Blackbird," the album's most interesting track. It's fun hearing his craziness, but even more fun witnessing it live. Also, the song ends, only to start back up and continue on, a feature I'm particularly fond of for some odd reason. "Ah, it's over, what a great tune, wait, it's still going, holy shit!" This isn't THE Quasi album to own if you are new to the band, but when compared to what else came out in 2010, it's pretty cool, even if the Quasi diehards don't care for it. Check out the riff on "Rockabilly Party," and try to get that out of your head.

As already mentioned, this is an indie album that rocks, which has made me rethink how great indie albums can really be if they are the same old melodic sensitive boring shit. Now that I got this Quasi review out of my way, stay tuned for my favorite 30 albums of 2010, a collection of mostly melodic sensitive boring shit indie rock albums.


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