Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yearly Best Of Lists

Adele: 21
The Cars: Move Like This
Death Cab For Cutie: Codes and Keys
The Decemberists: The King is Dead
Fountains of Wayne: Sky Full of Holes
Rogue Valley: False Floors
The Roots: undun
Sloan: The Double Cross
They Might Be Giants: Join Us
Wilco: The Whole Love

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Ben Folds and Nick Hornby: Lonely Avenue
Jimmy Eat World: Invented
Kings of Leon: Come Around Sundown
Jeremy Messersmith: The Reluctant Graveyard
Old 97's: The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1
Ra Ra Riot: The Orchard
Vampire Weekend: Contra

Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky
Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown
Harlem Shakes: Technicolor Health
The Hopefuls: Now Playing at the One-Seat Theatre
Kings of Convenience: Declaration of Dependence
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
P.O.S.: Never Better
Tinted Windows: Tinted Windows
Weezer: Raditude
Wilco: Wilco (the Album)
Robbie Williams: Reality Killed the Video Star


10. Kid Dakota: A Winner's Shadow
9. Sloan: Parallel Play
8. Jeremy Messersmith: The Silver City
7. Kathleen Edwards: Asking for Flowers
6. Ben Folds: Way to Normal
5. Alanis Morissette: Flavors of Entanglement
4. Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
3. Supergrass: Diamond Hoo Ha
2. Death Cab for Cutie: Narrow Stairs
1. The Broken West: Now or Heaven


10. Dan Wilson: Free Life
9. Youth Group: Casino Twilight Dogs
8. Albert Hammond, Jr.: Yours To Keep
7. Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob
6. Motion City Soundtrack: Even If It Kills Me
5. Sloan: Never Hear The End Of It
4. Jimmy Eat World: Chase This Light
3. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
2. Fountains Of Wayne: Traffic & Weather
1. The Shins: Wincing The Night Away


10. Robbie Williams - Rudebox
9. Dixie Chicks - Taking The Long Way
8. Ronnie Milsap - My Life
7. The Roots - Game Theory
6. Elton John - The Captain & The Kid
5. David Mead - Tangerine
4. The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America
3. The Honeydogs - Amygdala
2. Scissor Sisters - Ta Dah
1. Rhett Miller - The Believer Five killer songs surrounded by 7 merely great ones, this album stuck with me from its release, seeing me through ups and downs and always seeming applicable in either place.


10. Robbers On High Street: Tree City
9. The Wallflowers: Rebel, Sweetheart
8. The Perceptionists: Black Dialogue
7. Atmosphere: You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having
6. Spoon: Gimme Fiction
5. Vicious Vicious: Don't Look So Surprised
4. Nada Surf: The Weight Is A Gift
3. Ben Folds: Songs For Silverman
2. Motion City Soundtrack: Commit This To Memory
1. Glen Phillips: Winter Pays For Summer This CD was a lot like my 2005: A little bit of the unexpected, a little bit of the familiar, thrilling in places and slow in others, but always benefiting from the presence of good friends.

10. Hem: Eveningland
9. Carbon Leaf: Indian Summer
8. Green Day: American Idiot
7. Sloan: Action Pact
6. Danger Mouse: The Grey Album
5. Prince: Musicology
4. The Roots: The Tipping Point
3. Jimmy Eat World: Futures
2. The Hopefuls: The Fuses Refuse To Burn
1. Beastie Boys: To The 5 Boroughs


10. Rufus Wainwright: Want One
9. A Mighty Wind (soundtrack)
8. John Mayer: Heavier Things
7. The Thorns: The Thorns
6. Rooney: Rooney
5. The Honeydogs: 10,000 Years
4. Spymob: Spymob
3. The Thrills: So Much For The City
2. Fountains Of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers
1. The Jealous Sound: Kill Them With Kindness
The band describes itself perfectly when they sing, "You're a crisis, with a backbeat." This is emo: passionate, heartfelt, dramatic. Imagine if all of Journey's songs sounded like Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) and Journey were cool.


8. Eminem: The Eminem Show
7. Dixie Chicks: Home
6. Counting Crows: Hard Candy
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers: By The Way
4. Wallflowers: Red Letter Days
3. James Taylor: October Road
2. Neil Finn: One All
1. Kylie Minogue: FeverI happen to admire Kylie for her beauty and her talent. Here she gives up 14 tracks of robot pop, catchy and efficient. Can't Get You Out Of My Head has something like 15 separate hooks, Love At First Site is aural joy and the title track is definitely hotter than 98.6 degrees.


10. Ryan Adams: Gold
9. No Doubt: Rock Steady
8. Old 97's: Satellite Rides
7. Sloan: Pretty Together
6. Jay-Z: Unplugged
5. Semisonic: All About Chemistry
4. The Strokes: Is This It
3. Ben Folds: Rockin' The Suburbs
2. Jimmy Eat World: Bleed American
1. Elton John: Songs From The West CoastIt's the age old comeback story: Beloved pop singer snaps out of a rut and makes an album that stands with his best work. From the cover photo (filled with references to the songs) to songs that replace the bland and syurpy with the mysterious and passionate.

200010. Ghostface Killah: Supreme Clientele
9. Robbie Williams: Sing When You're Winning
8. Eels: Daisies Of The Galaxy
7. Paul Simon: You're The One
6. The Jayhawks: Smile
5. Vince Gill: Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye
4. Everclear: Songs From An American Movie, Volume 2
3. The Anniversary: Designing A Nervous Breakdown
2. Everclear: Songs From An American Movie, Volume 1
1. XTC: Wasp Star
The second volume of their triumphent return is quirky rock that typically brilliant. For them, that is.

199910. Old 97s: Fight Songs
9. Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin
8. Fountains Of Wayne: Utopia Parkway
7. Wilco: Summerteeth
6. Ben Folds Five: The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner
5. Fiona Apple: When The Pawn...
4. XTC: Apple Venus, Volume 1
3. Jimmy Eat World: Clarity
2. The Get Up Kids: Red Letter Day EP
1. Matthew Sweet: In Reverse
Matthew always seemed to have a Beach Boys fixation, but he goes all out on this album, even recording some songs with the same musicians who played on Pet Sounds. The results are gorgeous, with walls of sound, choirs of Matthews and brilliant melodies.


10. Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty
9. Dixie Chicks: Wide Open Spaces
8. Braid: Frame & Canvas
7. P.M. Dawn: Dearest Christian...
6. Hole: Celebrity Skin
5. Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach: Painted From Memory
4. Black Crowes: By Your Side
3. Smashing Pumpkins: Adore
2. Madonna: Ray Of Light
1. James Iha: Let It Come Down
I worked for my college radio station when this came out. The program manager was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan but was bitterly disappointed by the gentle nature of this album. It fell into my hands, and I fell in love. I was going through a tough series of events and this was exactly the balm I needed to soothe me.


10. Kylie Minogue: Impossible Princess
9. The Get Up Kids: Four Minute Mile
8. David Byrne: Feelings
7. Sammy Hagar: Marching To Mars
6. Promise Ring: Nothing Feels Good
5. Ben Folds Five: Whatever And Ever, Amen
4. Collective Soul: Disciplined Breakdown
3. Radiohead: OK Computer
2. Teenage Fanclub: Songs From Northern Britian
1. Lincoln: Lincoln
Nerd rock with an edge. Yes, the lead singers voice is nasal and whiny. Yes, the lyrics are clever and smartass. But there's an undercurrent of serious sadness, especially on the song Straight, about a man trying to keep away from his vices. This is an amazing record from a band that was never heard from again.


10. The Honeydogs: Everything, I Bet You
9. They Might Be Giants: Factory Showroom
8. Fountains Of Wayne: Fountains Of Wayne
7. Silver Sun: Silver Sun
6. Marshall Crenshaw: Miracle Of Science
5. Semisonic: The Great Divide
4. R.E.M.: New Adventures In Hi-Fi
3. Weezer: Pinkerton
2. Pete Droge and the Sinners: Find A Door
1. Sting: Mercury Falling


10. Van Halen: Balance
9. Wilco: A.M.
8. Teenage Fanclub: Grand Prix
7. Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill
6. Ben Fold Five: Ben Folds Five
5. Radiohead: The Bends
4. The Jayhawks: Tomorrow The Green Grass
3. P.M. Dawn: Jesus Wept
2. Collective Soul: Collective Soul
1. Prince: The Gold Experience
Released on the heels of his Hits/B-Sides collection, this was proof positive that The Artist was far from done. It's a sleeper in his massive catalog, but well worth seeking out. The songs hit on a variety of styles, themes and emotions but as an album it's cohesive and well-sequenced.


8. Blur: Parklife
7. Green Day: Dookie
6. The Mavericks: What A Cryin' Shame
5. Lucy Kaplansky: The Tide
4. Tom Petty: Wildflowers
3. Toad The Wet Sprocket: Dulcinea
2. They Might Be Giants: John Henry
1. Weezer: Weezer


8. Ronnie Milsap: True Believer
7. P.M. Dawn: The Bliss Album...?
6. Sting: Ten Summoner's Tales
5. Matthew Sweet: Altered Beast
4. Crash Test Dummies: God Shuffled His Feet
3. Counting Crows: August And Everything After
2. Jellyfish: Spilt Milk
1. Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream


5. Lemonheads: It's A Shame About Ray
4. They Might Be Giants: Apollo 18
3. R.E.M.: Automatic For The People
2. Peter Gabriel: Us
1. XTC: Nonsuch


10. Rush: Roll The Bones9. Pearl Jam: Ten8. Nirvana: Nevermind
7. Prince: Diamonds And Pearls
6. Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend
5. Toad The Wet Sprocket: Fear
4. Spin Doctors: Pocket Full Of Kryptonite
3. U2: Achtung, Baby
2. R.E.M.: Out Of Time
1. James Taylor: New Moon Shine
My mom bought this for me when I was a freshman in college. It was an appropriate gift, seeing as how she always used to play JT when I was a kid. Listening to him my first time away made me feel a little less homesick. That emotional connection is what makes a record about loneliness and treating one another better number one in a year when I was supposed to be listening to angry Seattle residents.


5. Black Crowes: Shake Your Moneymaker
4. Eric Johnson: Ah Via Musicom
3. Depeche Mode: Violator
2. Jellyfish: Bellybutton
1. They Might Be Giants: Flood
Why is the world in love again?! Beause Flood is the best album of 1990! It contains such classics as Your Racist Friend, Istanbul (Not Constantinoble) and the sublime Birdhouse In Your Soul. I bought it in high school and didn't listen to anything else for approximately two months!

10. Paul McCartney: Flowers In The Dirt
9. Prince: Batman
8. Pixies: Doolittle
7. Ghostbusters II (soundtrack)
6. Madonna: Like A Prayer
5. George Harrison: Cloud Nine
4. Public Enemy: Fear Of A Black Planet
3. Say Anything (soundtrack)
2. XTC: Oranges And Lemons
1. Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique


5. Pixies: Surfer Rosa
4. Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
3. James Taylor: Never Die Young
2. They Might Be Giants: Lincoln
1. 'Til Tuesday: Everything's Different Now

10. Rush: Hold Your Fire
9. N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton
8. Crowded House: Crowded House
7. Michael Jackson: Bad
6. The Smiths: Strangeways, Here We Come
5. Prince: Sign O' The Times
4. The Dukes Of Stratosphear: Psonic Psunspot
3. Def Leppard: Hysteria
2. David Bowie: Never Let Me Down
1. Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel Of Love
The Boss sums up romantic relationships in a thorough way. Some of it is quite sad (try to keep a dry eye during Walk Like A Man or One Step Up) but other songs are jubilant, or at least determined (Tougher Than The Rest, All That Heaven Will Allow).


8. Van Halen: 5150
7. Prince And The Revolution: Parade
6. Lionel Richie: Dancing On The Ceiling
5. Peter Gabriel: So
4. Paul Simon: Graceland
3. David Bowie: Labyrinth (soundtrack)
2. Elvis Costello: King Of America
1. XTC: Skylarking
This is an album that could be the soundtrack to flowers blooming and trees budding, but dn't mistake its kindness for weakness. Big Day describes marriage thusly: "Could be heaven / Could be hell / In a cell for two". In Earn Enough For Us, a husband greets the news that hee's going to be a father by saying: "Don't get me wrong / I'm so proud / But the belt's already tight." And Another Satellite is a terrible brush off from a man who doesn't want a woman around (she'd just be another moon clogging up his orbit). But the melodies, harmonies and arrangements are so impeccable that they could sing about grim death and human sacrifice and still make it sound beautiful. Oh wait, they do that.


A stinker of a year!

5. Japan: Oil On Canvas ('84)
4. XTC: Big Express ('84)
3. Prince And The Revolution: Purple Rain ('84)
2. The Cars: Heartbeat City ('84)
1. Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense ('84)

It was an amazing year for singles, but not so much for albums. Even so, here are three gems: Synchronicity by The Police, Paul Simon's Hearts And Bones and Billy Joel's An Innocent Man.

10. Van Halen: Diver Down
9. Billy Joel: The Nylon Curtain
8. Richard & Linda Thompson: Shoot Out The Lights
7. XTC: English Settlement
6. Donald Fagen: The Nitefly
5. Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
4. Elvis Costello And The Attractions: Imperial Bedroom
3. Micheal Jackson: Thriller
2. Marshall Crenshaw: Marshall Crenshaw
1. Roxy Music: Avalon

Another poor year, except for Rush's Moving Pictures, of course.

5. Dire Straits: Making Movies
4. John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy
3. Billy Joel: Glass Houses
2. Talking Heads: Remain In Light
1. Prince: Dirty Mind
The cover features Prince in bikini underwear, standing in front of matress springs and sporting a Rude Boy pin. Do you need to know anything more? Featuring some actually dirty music (Do It All Night, Sister) and some wonderful pop music (When You Were Mine, Uptown), this is a tight, eight-song masterpiece that you should never play for your mother.

5. Pat Metheny: American Garage
4. XTC: Drums & Wires
3. The Clash: London Calling
2. Talking Heads: Fear Of Music
1. Elvis Costello: Armed ForcesArmed Forces doesn't seem like a third album, nor like an album that was released before the '80s. Maybe that's the sophistacation of the songwriting at work. While the politics are very of-the-time, the musical ideas were ones that Elvis would expand on for the next ten years of his career. The "hits" are some of his most underrated, Oliver's Army and Accidents Will Happen.

5. Van Halen: Van Halen
4. The Cars: The Cars
3. Elvis Costello And The Attractions: This Year's Model
2. Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings And Food
1. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls
Who'd have thought that in the year of new wave the old folks could give us something so fresh? There's some great rock (Shattered, Respectable), some faux country (Before They Make Me Run, Far Away Eyes), some ballads (Beast Of Burden, Imagination) and even some dance music (Miss You). Very impressive, and probably their last classic album.

1975 - 1977
8. Talking Heads: '77
7. Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True ('77)
6. Led Zeppelin: Presence ('76)
5. Paul Simon: Still Crazy After All These Years ('75)
4. Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life ('76)
3. James Taylor: JT ('77)
2. Billy Joel: Turnstiles ('76)
1. Billy Joel: The Stranger ('77)

1973 / 1974
8. Ringo Starr: Ringo ('73)
7. Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon ('73)
6. Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic ('74)
5. Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks ('74)
4. Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ('73)
3. Stevie Wonder: Fullfillingness' First Finale ('74)
2. Paul McCartney & Wings: Band On The Run ('73)
1. Elton John: Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy ('74)

8. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street
7. Paul Simon: Paul Simon
6. Big Star: #1 Record
5. David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust
4. Nick Drake: Pink Moon
3. Beach Boys: Surf's Up
2. Stevie Wonder: Talking Book
1. Marvin Gaye: What's Going OnAlong with Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, this album broke open the Motown singles format and allowed the artists to emerge fully. Ironically, What's Going On also contains three of Marvin's best singles: the title track, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) and Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler). What's still so striking about this album is its social conscience, questions of race, economy, the environment, religion and war. And that picture of a rain-soaked Marvin on the cover is classic.

5. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
4. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV
3. Carole King: Tapestry
2. The Who: Who's Next
1. John Lennon: ImagineThis will always be Lennon's defining solo work, and not only because it contains the best song he ever wrote. It's also his best album, and includes the beautiful Jealous Guy and the scathing How Do You Sleep. The latter is a merciless indictment of Paul McCartney, aided by George Harrison on wicked slide guitar. The fact that a terribly bitter song sits alongside one as open and emotional as Imagine shows the duality of Lennon himself. He was a flawed man striving for something better.

5. The Beatles: Let It Be
4. Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection
3. Beach Boys: Sunflower
2. Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
1. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
This is a primal, simple and shocking album.

5. The Doors: Soft Parade
4. Crosby, Stills & Nash: Crosby, Stills & Nash
3. Dusty Springfield: Dusty In Memphis
2. Elvis Presely: From Elvis In Memphis
1. The Beatles: Abbey Road