Gretchen Brennison, BMG, New York, NY
This Top Ten is in no
Stevens - Seven Swans
Any album that commences with the line "If I am alive this time next
year..." is OK in my book. And features a banjo too!
Sufjan toes the Christian music line...yes, I know, gasps and disbelief
and all that, but this is a lovely, melancholy, peaceful folk record,
Jesus notwithstanding. The frugal but unique instrumentation is
a perfect accompaniment to his soothing voice, almost lilting despite
the dark and somber song focus. Check out "In the Devil's Territory"
and "Seven Swans." If I were rating these, this record
might be #1. Since I'm not, it's not. On a side note, my apologies
to my fiance Dave for waking him up at an ungodly hour blasting
this record in the living room...but I just had to hear it, even if it
was 3am. Click here to buy.
Newman - The Slow Wonder
I was surprised I liked this album as much as I do, sinceI don't really
care for the New Pornographers. Maybe I never gave them the chance
they deserved. Or maybe they're just overrated and my opinion is
pretty right on. Whatever...who knows? A.C. Newman's solo
is pretty much NP lite, but more mature songwriting and I find the songs
catchier. I loved "The Town Halo" and "Secretarial,"
which at first I thought was a tribute to Secretariat (the horse).
It's not. Click here to buy.
Lynn - Van Lear Rose
Everyone loves this record. Everyone! I thought this would
be the big Grammy record since everyone loves Jack White too. I
was wrong... This album certainly isn't flawless...I thought "I
Miss Being Mrs." was sorta silly. But the standout tracs truly
are..well, standouts: "Van Lear Rose" and "Family
Tree" were my picks. Click here to buy.
Keys - Rubber Factory
I listened to this record and instantly fell in love...then two people
(Marjorie and Crash) pointed out that it sounds exactly like Free.
Indeed. But yeah yeah, it sounds like White Stripes and Blues Explosion
too, only I like the Black Keys better. Much better. The music
is dirtier and sexier and crunchier. Click
here to buy.
Machines - Now Here is Nowhere
I had such high hopes for this album...based on the strength of one great
fucking song from their last album, "What Used to Be French",
I was convinced this would become my favorite album of the year.
While my hopes weren't exactly dashed, it failed to live up to those lofty
expectations. Still, this is a solid, above-average album with a
meticulous attention to timing and cadence. A B+. A 7 out
of 10. Click here to buy.
Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Astute yet clumsy...agitated yet relaxed...ragged yet eloquent...this
is a band of ironies and inconsistencies. Yet they're very easy
to like. Click here to buy.
Fire - Funeral
The album Modest Mouse should have made this year. Of course, the
music is nothing new, certainly not groundbreaking, but downer lyrics
still pack a punch when coupled with engaging music. But what the
hell! I just read last week that they're sort of "emo"?
Now I'm really confused. Every freakin' band is an emo band these
days. Does anyone really know what emo means? "Emo"
is the new "indie", and no one really knew what that meant either. Click here to buy.
Bees - Free the Bees
Love the neo-psych sound. Thanks to Dean for this one! If
I had heard this a little sooner in the year, could have taken the top
spot. Fun catchy songs. The 60's comparisons go far and wide,
but just like the Beta Band, they end up sounding fresh and...er, clean. Click here to buy.
- The Power Out
Stereolab for a new generation. They even sing in French too. But
they're far more focused and interesting than the former; Veity Sussman
sings with determination, equally spitting out and caressing her
words (did I really just say that). Click here to buy.
of Death Metal, Wilco,
All these records had redeeming qualities, but didn't have what it takes
to make the list. Closest was probably Scissor Sisters for not taking
themselves or anyone else (except possibly "Mary") too seriously.
I could say more, but I'm tired of trying to sound witty and knowledgable. Click here to buy.
Mouse - Good News For People Who Like Bad News
I know this is on every critic's list this year, but not mine. But
I'm not a critic, so that's OK. I just prefer Modest Mouse LONESOME
CROWDED WEST-era, with their sloppy, sprawling songs and that "Dude,
I'm so wasted, I'm never taking those pills again!!" attitudes.
This sounds too adult (Sorry Sandy!). I mean, what's with the Tom
Waits soundalike? Still, not a bad record at all.
Fun and silly..."we're the Unicorns, we're not just horses..."
Reminds me of the band Home in 1995. Also reminds me of home.
Lo-fi at a time when lo-fi is so 5 years ago, but the Unicorns pull
it off OK.
Killers - Hot Fuss
Sorry, but I just don't get these guys.
Danger Mouse - The Grey Album
Conceptually a lot cooler than it ended up actually being.
I think the whole world was disappointed in this.
by Voices - Half Smiles of the Decomposed ...maybe?
I really wanted the final GBV album to make my top 10...I tried very hard
to make it so. If it were based on the title track, then it would
be so. But I couldn't do it. This really doesn't deserve to
be on the disappointment list, but it doesn't belong anywhere else either.
But let's be honest, who is Pollard kidding? I mean, he's already
got some 2-CD set slated for the spring and he's not even off his farewell
tour yet. He'll still be cranking out another 7,000 songs a year...and
since GBV was really his own band anyway, we're not missing anything except
the idea of GBV. I bet kids will still shout "GBV! GBV!"
at all the Pollard solo shows. Having said that, we segue to...
-Irving Plaza December 5th
Probably the best set list ever...they played everything from the early
obscurities to the TVT years to the classics. And Pollard didn't
disappoint with the drunken rants.
Pixies - Hammerstein December 12th
I know these two are a week apart. But I didn't see too many other
shows this year. Except for the shitty sound at Hammerstein, this
was a pretty good show. The Pixies were a little sloppy, there were
some missed notes, and they looked like they'd rather be anywhere else
if not for the hefty paychecks this tour is affording them, but that's
exactly how I'd pictured them onstage since I first heard them 13 years
- MSG July
An amazing production, it was worth the money, he got all the hits in,
looked fabulous, etc etc.