Ah, St. Patrick’s Day, where everyone is Irish for a day. March seems to be full of days like that, since Fat Tuesday is the day where everyone is Catholic for a day.
Since we know many of you will be getting a full-fledged drink on this St. Paddy’s Day, especially since it is also the first day of the NCAA tournament, we have provided a small list of songs about drinking, the effects of drinking, and the vow that many of you will make the following morning. Think of it as the bender that you never took; we love booze as much as the next guys, but sometimes those things are better lived vicariously.
“It’s Time to Party,” Andrew W.K.
With a whopping three songs about partying on his debut album, Andrew W.K. will forever remain our master of ceremonies when it comes to partying. Until we saw the grammar-challenged lyric video, though, we didn’t know this song made a reference to a money shot. Yikes.
“Have a Drink on Me,” AC/DC
The night is young. Everyone is flush with cash and feeling generous. Try and remember this moment when 1:30 rolls around and you’re buying Natural Light pounders. For now, though, you’re living on the top shelf.
A few weeks ago, there was a leak that Muse, the Foo Fighters and Eminem would headline Lollapalooza this year. In previous years, when band names have been leaked well before the official announcement, they’ve been accurate, so let’s assume that those are your headliners. Pretty cool and eclectic group, if you ask us. We’ve seen some dyed-in-the-wool alt rockers scoff at the idea of Marshall Mathers playing Lolla, but why the hell not? Snoop Dogg did it two years ago, and no one complained about that.
The festival’s organizers are a good month away from unveiling their lineup, so while we’re in the lull between the leak and the formal announcement, we decided to have a little fun. Here are some bands that we’d love to see take the stage in Grant Park this summer.
Don’t laugh – this makes more sense than the decision to invite Metallica in 1996. They rock harder and faster than anyone alive today, and courtesy of their appearance on “The Young Ones,” they were instantly grandfathered as alt rock forefathers (Ministry’s Psalm 69, anyone?). Still think it’s a long shot? Consider this: Head Foo Fighter Dave Grohl loves Lemmy and has recorded with him, plus the band just released a new record (The World Is Yours), which means a tour is sure to follow. Come on, Perry. You know this would be awesome. Lemmy shows up, drinks all the other bands under the table, and wipes the floor with them onstage. That’s the way we like it, baby.
Of the big UK bands of the last five years, only Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay have yet to play Lolla, and we’re not sure why. It looked as though the stars were aligned for them to play when the band released Tonight, Franz Ferdinand in 2009, but for whatever reason, it never happened. Considering the heavy nature of the three headliners, both musically and lyrically, the festival could use a party band. The only catch is that the band is not working on a new record, and therefore will not likely be on tour this year. Pity.
The World Is Yours sounds like MotĂ¶rhead’s previous album MotĂ¶rizer, which is to say it sounds like Kiss Of Death, Inferno, Hammered, We Are MotĂ¶rhead, and most of the other 20-plus albums in MotĂ¶rhead’s discography. Lemmy growls and scowls, while guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee support him by playing as loud and as fast as they can. Its a formula that worked in 1977 (albeit with a different lineup) and it still works today. About the only discernible difference between this record and MotĂ¶rizer is that Lemmy doesn’t bother with anything close to a ballad this time around. Instead we get non-stop speed metal songs about killing (“Outlaw”), screwing (“Waiting for the Snake”) and just being the all around badass that the 65-year old bass player from hell is (“Devils in My Hand”). The closest thing to sonic experimentation on The World Is Yours is â€śBrotherhood of Man,â€ť which loops what sounds like a distant soccer chant as the chorus, while Lemmy somehow makes his voice even more menacing by lowering it a couple registers.
Sure, its nothing new. But at this point does it even matter? This is Motorhead sounding like Motorhead, and that’s good enough for us. (MotĂ¶rhead Music 2011)
Pendulum have the most apt band name in history, because they love to swing back and forth between two genres; drum and bass and hard rock. Their 2006 debut Hold Your Colour was almost exclusively drum and bass, but their 2008 follow-up In Silico saw the group abandon almost all of the drum and bass influences in exchange for a hard electronic rock style (think Nitzer Ebb meets metal) that put off much of their core fanbase. It also made them mainstream stars throughout much of their native Australia as well as Europe, leading bassheads around the world to cry “sellout.”
Well, this should shut them up, although it probably won’t. With Immersion the band takes a hard swing back to their drum and bass roots while still keeping just enough of their rock influence to sound exciting and different. They even pull in some electro-house and dubstep influences into the fold. Sometimes they even do it all at once, like with the two-parter track “The Island,” which starts as a straight-up electronic-rock song before suddenly exploding into a sea manic breakbeats and then transforming again into a shockingly good dubstep sound, a genre that is usually as boring and empty as the fans who listen to it. There are a couple mid-tempo tracks on Immersion that stick closer to the rock/dance formula of In Silico, and most of the songs still feature an abundance of vocals. I’m sure the most hardcore drum and bass fanatics out there will cling to those two facets of the album to convince themselves that Pendulum are still a bunch of sellouts. They can go ahead, the rest of us will be rocking out to the first great electronic album of 2011 (or the last great electronic album of 2010 if you live in the rest of the world, where it came out months ago). (Atlantic 2011)
I don’t even know why I’m here, frankly. I think it’s pretty well documented that all I do these days is write about television and interview people ’til the cows come home. Once upon a time, though, I used to be a music critic, dammit…and once you’ve had opinions about music, you’ll always have opinions about music. As such, here are my thoughts on the albums and songs that grabbed me this year. This may be the first time I’ve actually written about most of them, but you can damn well be sure that I’ve spent plenty of time listening to them.
1. Tom Jones: Praise & Blame
Itâ€™s a pretty consistent tradition that my #1 slot on my Best Albums list of any given year belongs to an artist whose career Iâ€™ve followed for quite some time, but Sir Tom earned his spot fair and square. Kicking things off with a stark cover of Bob Dylanâ€™s â€śWhat Good Am I?â€ť which will leave listeners spellbound, the Welsh wonder goes gospel with this record, and while itâ€™s admittedly not the sort of career move that generally results in the shifting of mass units, itâ€™s a creative success, one which befits a man entering his seventies far more than, say, another retread of â€śSexbomb.â€ť Having already secured legendary status (not to mention a knighthood), our man Tom can afford to step outside of peopleâ€™s perceptions, and for those whoâ€™ve been paying attention, thatâ€™s what heâ€™s been doing for the past several albums, including 2008â€™s 24 Hours and his 2004 collaboration with Jools Holland. But while Praise & Blame is a continuation of an existing trend, itâ€™s also arguably the first time Jones has made absolutely no commercial concessions. Thereâ€™s no wink-and-a-nudge cover of â€ś200 Lbs. of Heavenly joy.â€ť Thereâ€™s no song by Bono and the Edge nor uber-hip production from Future Cut. Thereâ€™s just Tom Jones, age 70â€¦and, by God, heâ€™s still got it.
2. Glen Matlock & The Philistines: Born Running
It isn’t as though it’s surprising that John Lydon’s the member of the Sex Pistols who’s gone on to have the most successful solo career – he was, after all, the frontman for the group – but it continues to be equally eyebrow-raising that so few of the band’s fans have kept their ears open for the consistently solid material emerging from Glen Matlock‘s camp. It’s not quite as punk as the Pistols – which makes perfect sense if you believe the story about Matlock supposedly getting the boot from the band for liking the Beatles a bit too much – but the songs on Born Running still pack a fierce wallop.
3. Brian Wilson: Reimagines Gershwin
The older I get, the less I allow myself to feel guilty about enjoying an album that I could easily peddle to people my grandparents’ age. All things considered, I’d much rather have a full collection of new originals from Mr. Wilson, but the way he takes these Gershwin classics and arranges them to match his traditional sound is still music to my ears. Then, of course, there’s the added bonus that he’s taken on the task of completing a couple of previously-unfinished Gershwin songs. Unsurprisingly, they sound just like Brian Wilson compositions…not that there’s anything wrong with that. At all.
4. Farrah: Farrah
There’s Britpop, and then there’s power pop, but you don’t tend to find bands who can manage to comfortably keep a foot in both camp; I’d argue that Farrah succeeds at this task, but given that they don’t have a particularly high profile in either, I suppose it really all depends on how you define success. For my part, though, if an artist releases an album which contains a significant number of catchy-as-hell hooks, it’s top of the pops in my book, which means that this self-titled entry into their discography is yet another winner for Farrah.
I would like to preface this list by saying that I have not yet listened to Cee-Lo Green’s new album nor Kanye West’s latest – which everyone and their mother is telling me is a freaking masterpiece. So a more apt title of this list might be “The Top 10 albums of the year that I got around to.”
1. Foxy Shazam: Foxy Shazam
If I had my way this list would have one album. That’s right, this album is so good that it is actually the 10 best albums of the year. Hell, it’s the 20 best albums of the year, and the five albums of 2009. Foxy Shazam aren’t just a band, they are a force of nature that will kick your ass, steal your lunch money and make sweet love to you all at the same time. â€śCount Me Out,â€ť â€śBye Bye Symphony,â€ť â€śBombs Away,â€ť the list just goes on and on, every song on this album could be a Top 10 single. Yet somehow none of them have been. America, you’re letting me down even more than usual. There is no greater band on the planet than Foxy Shazam. They are here to take over the world and be the biggest rock stars since the Beatles. So if you all could just accept that already and buy this album now, that would be great.
2. Goldfrapp: Head First
Most artists who try to recreate that classic ’80s dance sound usually crash and burn, sounding more like a parody of the music they’re trying to replicate (Owl City springs to mind) than the real deal. But Goldfrapp pulled it off with this release, channeling the soundtrack to “Flashdance” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” (in a good way!) on instantly danceable tracks like â€śRocketâ€ť and â€śAlive.â€ť
3. The Sword: Warp Riders
There are not enough metal bands making concept albums about intergalactic space battles. Thankfully the Sword realized this, and updated their mythology-based themes for the 21st century, changing their focus on medieval wizards and warriors to space-faring heroes and transcendental beings who traverse space and time. The fist-pounding metal that accompanies the far out narrative is pretty damn good as well.
4. Coheed & Cambria: Year of the Black Rainbow
Okay, maybe there are other bands creating concept albums about intergalactic space battles. But while the Sword is like “Aliens,” direct and to the point, Coheed & Cambria’s conclusion to their epic Armory Wars saga is like “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and Rush’s 2112 all rolled into one incredibly overblown and bombastic delight.
5. Sleigh Bells: Treats
What is it about Brooklyn and male/female electronic duos? First Matt & Kim, and now these two. But while Matt & Kim delivered the audio equivalent of a big hug with Sidewalks, Sleigh Bells’ Treats is like a sonic punch in the face, a bizarre combination of industrial, punk and straight-up noise that is louder and more original than any other record this year.
2010 was sensational year for music. Not only was there a slew of exceptional rock, metal, and indie records, released from proven acts, there was also an exciting crop of new artists that sprouted up throughout the year. Debut albums from Tame Impala, Aeroplane, and Mumford and Sons all showcased stellar songwriting while veteran artists like Bryan Ferry and Manic Street Preachers proved they still had gas in their creative tanks. For this year’s Bullz-Eye list, I’ve broken down my favorite albums into a few categories.
Best Pop Album
Ellie Goulding: Lights
Initially, this English newcomer performed her self-written material in a more intimate, singer-songwriter setting â€“ but upon entering her university studies, she discovered and fell in love with electronica. She then started working with producers like Frankmusik and Starsmith, who began to reshape her song presentations. The retooling of Gouldingâ€™s approach proved to be pop music gold. On Lights, the songstressâ€™ debut album, Gouldingâ€™s confessional lyrics and ethereal vocal delivery effortlessly weave through waves of synthesizers, hyper-melodic guitars, and Italo-disco bass lines. While there isnâ€™t anything on Lights that is as obviously radio-baiting as Katy Perryâ€™s inescapable â€śCalifornia Gurls,â€ť there are at least six or seven tracks that top it in quality. Thereâ€™s a song late on the record called â€śIâ€™ll Hold My Breathâ€ť that I must have played a hundred times this past year. Musically, the trackâ€™s intro and first verse are kept lean, with hushed synths and acoustic guitars supporting a honey-sweet vocal from Goulding, but just when you think you know the direction the arrangement heading in, an explosion of crystalline keyboards and thumping drums gushes from your speakers, revealing what in my estimation is the greatest chorus of the last 12 months. Whether itâ€™s dance-floor bangers (â€śUnder the Sheetsâ€ť) or gorgeous ballads (â€śThe Writerâ€ť), Lights never misses the mark.
Best Metal Album
Alcest: Ă‰cailles de Lune
Alcest is the brainchild of a French musician who goes under the nom de plume Neige. Ă‰cailles de Lune is the projectâ€™s second album and is easily the most exhilarating musical piece that I came across in the last 12 months. Although Neigeâ€™s roots are in black metal, his wildly inventive arrangements arenâ€™t exclusively bound to that genreâ€™s parameters. Everything from the atmospherics of shoegaze to the barren soundscapes frequently favored by groups like Sigur RĂłs and Mogwai are explored on Ă‰cailles de Lune. Each song on the album is its own sweeping epic, with skyscraping guitars and serpentine mood shifts. Neigeâ€™s vocal performance also mirrors the musicâ€™s expansive reach. On â€śSolar Song,â€ť the singer croons like heâ€™s fronting a 4AD band circa 1991, but on the two-part title track, his tortured screeching and growling owes an obvious debt to his black metal background. Time will tell if Alcest finds an audience with non-metal listeners, but thereâ€™s certainly enough diversity on Ă‰cailles de Lune to warrant it.
It’s been another bad year for the recording industry, but another great year for music fans. Rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well, as is the opportunity to see it performed live. Musicians can still make a living, but they have to hit the road and seize modern marketing opportunities. One thing that will never change is the public’s desire to hear great music. Bands that can deliver still have a chance to write their own ticket.
Top 10 lists are of course inherently subjective, and this observer’s faves will always lean toward the guitar-driven rock side of the music spectrum. I was certain that the debut album from the long-awaited Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band would be topping my list this year, especially after the slew of terrific new tunes they delivered in two stellar shows at the New Orleans Jazzfest back in April. But the album isn’t coming out until 2011. Here’s my take on the best albums and songs that were released in 2010.
10. The Henry Clay People: Somewhere on the Golden Coast
This is just an old-fashioned, ’90s-style indie-alternative rock ‘n’ roll album that stands out with its energetic yet down-to-earth sound. No Pro Tools trickery going on here, just a band plugging into their amps and turning up the volume. It’s got loud guitars with melodic hooks, rocking piano and zeitgeist lyrics from singer/guitarist Joey Siara that tap into this modern era of Depression and discontent. “Working Part Time” is one of the great anthems of the year, while “End of an Empire” sounds like an alt-rock prophecy.
9. The Sword: Warp Riders
The Austin, Texas hard rockers deliver a blast from the past that is easily the best metal album to come along in some time. It’s like a cross between Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, which equals metal heaven. It’s chock full of great riffs, furious rhythms and tight metal mayhem with a twist of classic rock flavor.
In my mind, 2010 will be remembered more for moments of strangeness, oddity, and lessened expectation, than it will be for transcendent music. The throwaway nature of pop has never been more transient or incidental; technology enables us to hear as much as we want and, by the sheer volume of those possibilities, to actively listen as little as we ever have. How else to explain Ke$ha and the Glee cast recordings, much less the continuing nonsense of Black Eyed Peas? Raise your hand if you think Bruno Mars or Rihanna are still going to be churning out hits ten years from now, or that Katy Perry (more about her below) will still be squeezing into latex after she and her pasty Brit hubby have two or three little Russells to contend with, and things start saggin’.
I will remember 2010 for several key moments:
Top 10 Music Moments of 2010
1. The Roots, Being the Roots. Are they the best band on the planet? It’s hard to argue when their versatility is put on display every weeknight, and when they reiterate their overall excellence by turning out two of the best records of the year (How I Got Over and Wake Up, with John Legend).
2. Dio, Chilton Die. We lost metal’s gentle sorcerer (Ronnie James Dio) and Big Star’s genius-in-residence (Alex Chilton) within a few months of one another. May they both rock in peace.
It’s been said that Black Sabbath’s landmark Paranoid album spawned the genre of heavy metal, and if you watch this awesome video from Eagle Rock Entertainment, you can see why.Â The four members of Black Sabbath – Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward -created music their own way, and it was aÂ powerful sound that appealed to stoners and those craving stuff equal to or heavier than Led Zeppelin.Â The bandÂ also appealed to the masses who were protesting the Vietnam War in 1970, because making music that went against the grain was something these folks could relate to.Â But this DVD is just outstanding in that every member of Black Sabbath is interviewed, as well as folks like sound engineer Tom Allom and long-time fan and recording artist Henry Rollins.Â There is awesome archived footage of the band playing live, and detailed descriptions of how each song on Paranoid was written or how it began.Â Fans of Black Sabbath, or anyone who is too young to remember them but curious, should all grab this DVD, because not only is it a history lesson, it’s a lesson on how music should be made – with the artist driving the proverbial bus.Â (Eagle Vision 2010)