To my ears
FOW have now made three consecutive perfect pop albums (the only other
band I can say that about is the dBs back in the 80's). Like the other
two, this album is loaded with memorable hooks, seemingly effortless
harmonies, and lyrics that play out like short stories. Pop fun of the
LA band that
owes a huge debt in sound and style to The Kinks (Village Green thru
Muswell Hillbillies to be exact). They have a rootsy vibe without ever
dipping their toes into the country pool. Retro without sounding dated.
4. PERNICE BROTHERS / Yours, Mine & Ours (Ashmont Records)
records are always a sampler platter of rock/pop references, but for me
they are at their best when the guitars are louder and the rhythms have
some ooomph. This record rocks the way One Chord To Another did oh so
many years ago.
guitars and bouncy choruses that expand and improve on where the debut
left off. I thought that their first album didn't quite live up to the
hype (partly driven by the music press' deserved devotion to Neko Case)
while this exceeded it.
cuts from two EPs with some new songs, Wire's first new album in a
decade is a cohesive collection of edgy buzz punk that seamlessly
combines the art angst of the early records with the dance grooves of
the band's second phase in the late 80's.
revivalism with herky-jerky keyboards and new wave riffs that sound at
home along side Soft Cell and the first Depeche Mode records. At times
the vocals shift between Dave Gahan and Simon LeBon and thanks to
production from Chad Hugo (Neptunes) the grooves are always tight and
11. JOE STRUMMER & THE MESCALEROS / Streetcore (Hellcat Records)
pop with an edgy tension on the fast songs and a slightly creepy vibe on
the slow songs (like a rock version of Massive Attack). The production
is great and highlights the innovative rhythm section (I love the
drumming throughout) and the whiney vocals that should bug me, but
13. BELLE & SEBASTIAN / Dear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade)
This is the
first B&S album I've loved since Sinister. The band has abandoned
the blander twee leanings of their last few records in favor of stronger
songs with interesting melodies and lyrics with a subtle sense of humor
that recalls the early Smiths.
is totally out of place with today - it successfully emulates the pop
punk sound and energy of The Boys, Rich Kids, Radiators From Space, and
Vibrators. Unapologetically retro from the artwork to the snotty vocals
that sound like Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks) mixed with Jake Burns (Stiff
Little Fingers). Sadly three members of the band were killed in a van
accident shortly after the record came out.
new wave revivalism - this time from New York and the reference points
are Heaven 17, OMD, and most of all, the Human League. Along with the
loads of synths are crunching guitar chords and droll Bowie-esque vocals
that half sing, half speak the always interesting lyrics.
Wilco's Summerteeth with Spoon's Girls Can Tell and you're in the
ballpark of Beulah. Every song's great individually, but the it plays
out better as an album. They jump genres a bit, but the record has a
slightly melancholy flow that is captivating.
17. THE FLESHTONES / Do You Swing? (Yep Roc Records)
breaks no new ground and doesn't even rank in the better half of the
Fleshtones repertoire, but a by-the-numbers Fleshtones album is still
something to celebrate. Party garage music made to be danced to and sung
pop that mines the same reference points as the Thrills, but with a
better ratio of catchy summery songs. Think later Byrds mixed in with
the Church and Felt. Three of the guys are from Beechwood Sparks, but
this is much better than anything that band did.
two years ago they were in their teens and called the Pages and sounded
exactly like Hamburg-era Beatles. Now they comfortably shift between the
early fabs and the more relaxed feel of early 70's John Lennon, the
Faces, and a looser Traffic. Depending on your perspective, they either
steal riffs like crazy or reference their heroes frequently. The music
is so damn sincere I vote for the latter.
song sounds like George Harrison leading the Flaming Lips. The next song
is like a rootsier indie rock Stones. The next song is different from
those. The band genre jumps and dabbles in everything - usually to great
25. THE ORANGES BAND / All Around (Lookout! Records)
radio friendly pop that delves into the same terrain as Enuff Znuff. I'm
a little leary of even admitting this, but I recently found out that
the two main guys in the band were from 80's hair metal goons Trixter.
MB record has ended up in my top 10, but this go around the songs are a
little flatter and the record lacks charm. But there are still some
songs so great I kept returning it.
30. IGGY POP / Skull Ring (Virgin)
misfires Iggy returns with a records that rocks and has a lot of
memorable hooks. With the exception of Peeches all of the collaborations
work well - and the Stooges reunion manage to live up to expectations
(well, two of the Stooges cuts do).