Your favorite band sucks: bands and artists the Bullz-Eye music writers just “don’t get”

Every music lover has been there – in front of the television or a set of speakers, listening for the first time to the work of a critically revered artist whose songs are supposed to change the way you look at the world…only to come away wondering what all the hype was about. For the iconoclastic among us, these moments are opportunities to prove what independent thinkers we are; for everyone else – a group that often appears to include virtually every name-brand music critic on the planet – they’re opportunities to turn off your ears, nod your head, and smile. What kind of self-respecting music writer doesn’t love the music of Bruce Springsteen? U2? Elvis Costello? A total hack, right?

Your favorite band sucks Maybe. Or maybe we tend to forget that one of the most wonderful things about art is the utterly objective way we respond to it. One establishment’s treasure can be one lonely listener’s source of constant befuddlement, consternation or outright rage – and with that in mind, your Bullz-Eye Music staff put its heads together and drew up a list of all the bands and artists we’re supposed to love…but don’t. Each of the writers who contributed to this piece is speaking solely for himself, and you’re sure to disagree with some of the names mentioned here – and, of course, that’s sort of the point. But enough of our introductory babble – let’s break down some critical idols!

The Doors
“…don’t even think about describing their sound as “timeless”; you’ll be hard pressed to find music as trapped in time as these peyote-fueled dirges, and no one summed up the life and legacy of Jim Morrison – whose death was as brilliant a career move as you’ll ever see – better than Denis Leary: ‘I’m drunk, I’m nobody. I’m drunk, I’m famous. I’m drunk, I’m fucking dead.'”

Bruce Springsteen
“Perhaps Jello Biafra put it best when he referred to Bruce Springsteen as ‘Bob Dylan for jocks.’ But I can sum up what I dislike about the majority of the Boss in one word: Glockenspiel.”

Pink Floyd
“If you’re 14 and discovering pot, Pink Floyd’s a must. Hell, Dark Side of the Moon is practically a gateway drug in and of itself. If you’re out of high school and still into ’em, you’ve got a problem.”

Conor Oberst
“…his songs are duller than a steak knife in a prison cafeteria. I’ve tried repeatedly to ‘get’ Oberst’s work, but each time, I come away further convinced that his music is an elaborate prank hatched by the editors of Pitchfork.”

To read the rest of the bands Bullz-Eye doesn’t get, click here.

  

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2008: Associate Editor Will Harris’ picks

The fact of the matter is this: by the time you read this, I will have reviewed a sum total of only nine albums which were released in 2008. It’s a little sad, really. Once upon a time, the only thing I wrote about was music, and now it’s been relegated to a distant second place. Not that I don’t love how much my gig as a TV critic has taken off in recent years, but do I miss the days when I would listen to music all the live long day? You bet. (Ed. note: So do I.) But although I no longer have the time to sit down, absorb an album, and write a lengthy treatise about it, that’s not to say that I’m not still paying attention to my favorite artists and what they’re doing these days…and once in a blue moon, I even dare to fall in love with a new artist. You will definitely, however, see a trend toward the folks to whose music has been making me happy quite a few years now. It’s true: I’m old, I’m set in my ways, and if it doesn’t sound familiar, then, frankly, I just can’t be bothered. Good thing, then, that several of my all-time favorite artists came through for me in 2008.

Top 10 Albums of 2008

1. Elvis Costello and the Imposters: Momofuku
After several not-bad albums, Elvis finally comes through and produces his first full-fledged classic in quite some time. Whether it’s because he’s been energized by the Imposters (two former Attractions and an ex-Cracker member) or enthused about having a vocal supergroup providing backing vocals (Jenny Lewis, Johnathan Rice, Dave Scher, and Jonathan Wilson), the end result is the most enjoyable EC effort in ages, and it only gets better with each listen.

2. The Fireman: Electric Arguments
There’s a very good chance that I’ll be called out for giving this record too much credit too soon, given that, as I type this sentence, my review hasn’t even gone live on the site yet, but I’m going out on a limb and listing it in my #2 spot nonetheless. It’s always easy for me to slot a Paul McCartney release in my top 10, but, really, this is a fascinating album that finds Sir Paul in a loose and freewheeling form that we haven’t heard from him in decades. I’ve spun it a dozen times in less than a month, and I foresee many more in the future.

3. Brent Cash: How Will I Know if I’m Awake
There are several surprising things about Brent Cash and his debut album. For one thing, despite how it sounds, it was not recorded in the 1960s during the height of the sunshine pop era. For another, although it was released on a label best known for putting albums by the Pearlfishers, Cash is not from Scotland but, rather, from Athens, GA. But, really, what’s most important about How Will I Know if I’m Awake is that it’s a beautifully breezy concoction of pop tunes that blends the best bits of Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Webb, and any other classic ‘60s tunesmith you care to mention.

4. Coldplay: Viva la Vida
Fuck you guys, I like Coldplay. Maybe I wouldn’t if I actually listened to the radio and had heard the title track of this record played to death, but I didn’t. As far as I’m concerned, Chris Martin writes some damned fine pop tunes, and as long as Coldplay keeps recording them, I’ll probably keep buying them.

5. Panic at the Disco: Pretty. Odd.
I know I’m not the only one on the Bullz-Eye staff to have been blindsided by just how good this record was. Who would thought a bunch of guys who were big enough tools to stick an exclamation point in the middle of their band’s name had it in them to put together a modern-day approximation of Queen? (Okay, so it’s not a precise translation, but, hey, it’s better than the album that the real Queen put out this year.) “Nine in the Afternoon” was the single to beat this year, and the rest of the album comes surprisingly close to living up to that song’s potential.

6. The Cure: 4:13 Dream
No, it’s not the best Cure album you’ve ever heard, but it borrows a lot of bits from a lot of really good Cure albums. As a result, the feeling of familiarity makes for a very comfortable listen.

7. R.E.M.: Accelerate
No, it’s not the best R.E.M. album you’ve ever heard. But it’s the best R.E.M. album in a hell of a long time.

8. Lindsey Buckingham: Gift of Screws
For whatever reason, I just never cottoned to Lindsey’s last record, Under the Skin, but I’m sure the biggest issue was that I was really looking for another Out of the Cradle. While Gift of Screws might not hit those lofty heights, it certainly came a heck of a lot closer.

9. Jack McManus: Either Side of Midnight
Throw me a comparison to Ben Folds, Billy Joel, and Elton John, and you’ll have my attention every time. As soon as I heard Jack McManus’s single, “Bang on the Piano,” I was hooked, and the rest of the record – including the title cut and “You Think I Don’t Care” – is just as much piano-pumping fun.

10. Asia: Phoenix / Journey: Revelation
Our man Jeff Giles said it best when he first put on “Never Walk Away,” the opening song from Journey’s first album to feature the band’s new lead singer, Arnel Pineda: “I think I can feel my hair trying to feather itself as I listen to this.” Similarly, my own follicles were trying to form a mullet upon my spinning “Never Again,” the first track on the first Asia album to feature all four original members in almost 25 years. Even if neither album was necessarily 100% genius, there was so much good-natured enthusiasm packed into both records to make them some of the most enjoyable listening this year.

Top 5 Albums I picked up via eMusic

Say what you will about how eMusic isn’t the deal it used to be, but I never have any problem finding enough great new music to use on my credits each month. It might not be quite as user-friendly as iTunes, but it’s getting closer all the time.

1. ABC: Traffic
I’m probably more fond of this record than anything else that I downloaded from the site because I listened to it incessantly in the weeks leading up to my attending the Regeneration tour, but it’s still a very solid outing from Martin Fry and company.

2. The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of Understatement
I didn’t know anything about Martin Kane from the Rascals (UK), but that’s okay, because all I really needed to know about this band is that it also featured Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. This’ll hold me over nicely ‘til the next Monkeys record.

3. The Snoopy Lads: A Ruby in Blue
Not that Marc Almond isn’t still recording (because he is, thank you very much), but if he wasn’t, then the Snoopy Lads would be your next best bet for slinky synth-pop goodness. Shame about the name, though.

4. Ladyhawke Ladyhawke
eMusic sold me on this one by the pull quote on the download page for the album: “Nervy New Zealander offers a dozen-plus rewrites of ‘Bette Davis Eyes.’ And, yes, that’s a good thing.” It sure is. There’s early-‘80s girl-pop goodness galore here.

5. Sparks: Exotic Creatures of the Deep
Okay, I admit it: I got into Sparks because Morrissey likes them. But then when I realized that they also wrote a song that Siouxise and the Banshees had covered (“This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”), I figured it was the icing on the cake. I don’t know where this album stands in the overall pantheon of Sparks albums. I just know it has a track entitled “I Can’t Believe You Would Fall for All the Crap in This Song,” and that’s good enough for me.

Top 10 songs not on any of the above albums

1. “Goodbye Mr. A,” The Hoosiers
2. “Wow,” Kylie Minogue
3. “What’s Victoria’s Secret?,” Rick Springfield
4. “Pretty Amazing Grace,” Neil Diamond
5. “Spiralling,” Keane
6. “I Keep Faith,” Billy Bragg
7. “Oranges and Apples,” Trash Can Sinatras
8. “Stamp Your Feet,” Donna Summer
9. “Fascination,” Alphabeat
10. “Sensual Seduction,” Snoop Dogg

Biggest Reunion Album Disappointment

Bauhaus: Going Away White
True, they hadn’t recorded together as a band since 1983’s Burning from the Inside, but given that they’d successfully managed to reunite and tour throughout most of 2005 and 2006, hopes were high that they were older, wiser, and able to put together one last classic album. They were not.

Most unexpected success from an ex-Beatle

The Pete Best Band: Haymans Green
When I started hearing reports about what a pleasure Haymans Green was, I had to check it out, and I was not disappointed. You will not be surprised to hear that it’s pointedly Beatle-esque in its sound, and, okay, maybe my expectations were low, but I really enjoyed it. Who would’ve thought that the drummer who got kicked out of the Beatles would produce a better album this year than the one who replaced him?

  

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2008: Staff Writer Mike Farley’s picks

Every year I wonder what my new favorite albums are going to be, and if the artists I follow will be able to live up to the lofty expectations I have for them (see Nada Surf below). I also wonder what artists will come into my life that weren’t there before (see most of list below, especially Gabe Dixon and Paddy Casey). Well, 2008 turned out to be pretty awesome music-wise, and while my list won’t match that of most critics, I made this list up based on my own taste, and I’m proud of it. And as you can see, I think some of the artists are proud as well…

Top 10 Albums of 2008

1. Gabe Dixon Band: Gabe Dixon Band
You know when you hear an album for the first time and you get that rush of excitement, kind of like the teenage crushes we all remember? Gabe Dixon Band’s debut on Fantasy Records is more than that. It’s like the cute brunette with glasses who you find out is also smart and watches football in her sweatpants on Sunday. Maybe that’s a weird analogy, but Dixon’s music is not only ridiculously addictive pop music – it also has a depth to which you hear something new every time you listen. And the songs? Well, this Nashville cat is right at home in Music City, but with these timeless tracks, he’s being mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Elton John and Jackson Browne as an artist. And that’s not something anyone should take lightly. “Five More Hours” is my favorite track of 2008.

Gabe Dixon accepts his award: “I am thrilled and honored to be included in Bullz-Eye’s top albums of 2008. The band and I put a lot of heart and soul into this recording, so it is gratifying to be named number one on the list! Thanks Bullz-Eye!!”

2. Paddy Casey: Addicted to Company
Okay, so I’m a sucker for ‘70s-style pop. Imagine Josh Rouse with an Irish accent, and you’ve got Paddy Casey’s latest. The melodies, vocal lines, arrangements and production make this sound like a summer day in 1974.

Paddy Casey accepts his award: “Very nice of you to choose my album, thank you…now if we could just convince the rest of the world!”

3. Nada Surf: Lucky
How does Nada Surf follow up their best album yet, The Weight Is a Gift? With Lucky, which sounds more like a continuation than a follow up. And that’s good news for us fans.

4. The New Frontiers: Mending
The New Frontiers may be the new Snow Patrol, Keane, or even Coldplay – dreamy alt-pop drenched in pretty harmonies. Okay, honestly, it’s a better album than the new efforts from the other three bands just mentioned.

5. Low vs. Diamond: Low vs. Diamond
Here is one of those American bands that sounds British. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because if you’re into the likes of the Killers or the Darkness, Low vs. Diamond is like an American version of those groups, with great songs to boot.

6. Snow Patrol: One Hundred Million Suns
Like Nada Surf, Snow Patrol had a lot to live up to after the huge success of Eyes Open in 2006. Thankfully, they have delivered yet again, with a set of anthems, driving alternative rock, and dark, moody ballads all wrapped together.

7. Kings of Leon: Only by the Night
I know that some true fans of Kings of Leon were disappointed with this latest effort, and to be honest I was never a huge fan to begin with. But there is something about Only by the Night that is absolutely intoxicating. The band’s psychedelic flavored, guitar-driven rock sound reminds me of going to concerts as a teenager in huge, pot smoke-filled arenas.

8. Benjamin Taylor: The Legend of Kung Folk Part 1
If James Taylor and Carly Simon had a kid, he would sound like this. Oh wait…..Seriously though, if Benjamin came around 20 or 30 years ago, he would be way more of a household name than he is today.

Benjamin Taylor accepts his award: “Well would you look at that: ol’ Breezy in the top 10… Top of the world, Ma. I’m off to Disneyland.”

9. Sarah Bettens: Shine
Former K’s Choice singer Sarah Bettens has lightened up a bit in her solo career, the music being more mainstream and mature, and not as dark as K’s fare. “Shine” is one of the year’s simplest, prettiest songs.

Sarah Bettens accepts her award: “I love being on a top 10 list! Especially when it doesn’t say ‘worst possible artist and most poorly dressed person in the whole wide world’. Thank you, Bullz-Eye. I feel honored being chosen among such talented people.”

10. Augustana: Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt
This kind of melodic, AAA-radio stuff never gets the critical props it deserves. Well, here are some props, Augustana.

Honorable Mentions

Amos Lee: Last Days at the Lodge
Jason Reeves: The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache
Jon McLaughlin: OK Now
Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain
WAZ: Sweet Bye and Bye
Coldplay: Viva La Vida
Uh Huh Her: Common Reaction
Val Emmich: Little Daggers

Album Released in 2007 That I Reviewed in 2008 and Would Have Ranked in Top Three

Jason Spooner: The Flame You Follow

Jason Spooner Reacts: “I’m thrilled to have been cited on Mike’s Best of list. He clearly works with a wide variety of quality artists & labels and it’s always a great feeling when your record is plucked out of the crowd.”

  

Guggenheim Grotto: Happy the Man

Their odd, ill-defined moniker aside, Guggenheim Grotto are a deeply emotive trio, hailing from Ireland but obviously adept at capturing universal sentiments, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart. On this, their sophomore set, the group opts for gentle, dreamy melodies that reside midway between the arched anthems of Coldplay and the contemplative designs of the Beautiful South, capped by soaring refrains coupled with a distinct sense of wistful yearning. That’s especially true of “Her Beautiful Ideas,” perhaps the most torrid song about severed romance in recent memory, and “Sunshine Makes Me High,” which regales in sublime inspiration. Likewise, “Oh Nikita” glides on supple rhythms and a bittersweet plea, while “Just Not Just” provides a breezy lesson in unrequited love. Indeed, there’s a profound sense of desire that permeates the set as a whole, a hope for a passionate connection that remains just out of reach. “What has love in store for me,” they ask plaintively on the guardedly hopeful “Lost Forever And?,” a song that surmises the answer but reaches no definitive conclusion. Its title to the contrary, Happy the Man finds bliss an elusive ideal and optimism all the more difficult to cling to. (United for Opportunity)

Guggenheim Grotto MySpace page

  

Related Posts