Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer James Eldred’s picks

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. “Count Me Out,” “Bye Bye Symphony,” “Bombs Away,” 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 “Rocket” and “Alive.”

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.


Read the rest after the jump...

Nitzer Ebb: Industrial Complex


RIYL: Depeche Mode, Combichrist, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

Nitzer Ebb’s last album was Big Hit, which came out in 1995. Since then the group both broke up and got back together with hardly anyone noticing. It makes sense; they weren’t exactly superstars. Even at the peak of their popularity with tracks like “Join in the Chant” and “Fun to Be Had,” they were also-rans in the industrial/electronic scenes. They never got the success that groups like Depeche Mode enjoyed, and they never enjoyed the cult success of more abrasive and harder-sounding groups like Ministry and Skinny Puppy. So the fact that we’re even talking about Nitzer Ebb in 2010 is pretty amazing, and the fact that were talking about a great new record by Nitzer Ebb in 2010 is freaking mindblowing.

Nitzer_Ebb_01

Seriously, where the hell did this come from? This is one of Nitzer Ebb’s best records to date. While it can’t top their earlier records in terms of originality and innovation, it can certainly hold its own against them when it comes quality. In fact, some of the tracks on Industrial Complex, such as the killer opener “Promises,” and the eerie ballad “Going Away from Me,” might be some of the best tracks the group has ever released.

Many of the best tracks on Industrial Complex owe themselves to the suddenly powerful vocals of Douglas McCarthy, who spent much of the ’80s and ’90s growling and yelling through the band’s best tracks. Here, he’s actually singing, and singing damn well at that. But fans of the ridiculous shouting matches of Nitzer Ebb old like “Join in the Chant” shouldn’t be too worried; McCarthy still howls his head off a couple times on Industrial Complex, like on “Payroll,” a sick and sleazy track that combines not-too-subtle metaphors about sucking with aggressive dance beats and a hard house sound ripe for remixing.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting more Nitzer Ebb since their breakup in the ’90s, then your wait was well worth it with Industrial Complex. And if you’ve never heard the group before, then this is a shockingly great jumping-on point. (Artists’ Addiction Records 2010)

Click here for a free download of Nitzer Ebb’s “Promises”
Nitzer Ebb MySpace page

  

Steal This Song: Nitzer Ebb, “Promises”

This is one of those moments where we cannot help but think that everything is connected. Earlier this year we got our hands on Selected, a compilation of songs from onetime Depeche Mode sonic architect Alan Wilder’s new band Recoil, and on it is a little tune called “Faith Healer,” featuring vocals from Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy. It’s a great tune, and McCarthy turns in a rather impressive vocal performance for a guy who’s spent most of his career yelling. Even better, the release of this album allowed us to score an interview with Wilder (huge, huge thrill), where Wilder delivered perhaps the funniest, most understated comment about Nitzer Ebb that one could possibly dream up: “I guess Nitzer Ebb are lacking a lot of melodic content, you could say.”

Even stranger, when we spoke with Fratellis lead singer Jon Fratelli earlier in the year and asked him who he considered to be the most unheralded artist from his native Scotland, he nominated the Sensational Alex Harvey Band…the guy who wrote “Faith Healer.” Like we said, everything’s connected.

Nitzer_Ebb_01

Anyway, Wilder mentioned that he had recently remixed a Nitzer Ebb track – one with melodic content, we’re assuming – and it hadn’t even occurred to us that the band hadn’t made a record in 15 years, so him mixing Nitzer Ebb was kind of a big deal. The record is now here (Industrial Complex, due out November 9), and the first song, “Promises,” will produce involuntary goosebumps in anyone who trolled the alt-rock clubs when That Total Age was first released. The keyboard track immediately brings “Murderous” to mind but, perhaps remembering how well the “Faith Healer” cover worked, McCarthy opts for actual singing instead of his trademark yelling, and in the process fixes the one thing that ultimately kept us from listening to the band for more than 10 minutes in a row. Oh man, is this a sweet surprise.

Click to download Nitzer Ebb – Promises

  

Related Posts