TOP FIVE ALBUMS STILL TO COME:
1. Radiohead- Hail to the Thief It's Radiohead, do you really need to ask? Well, fine then. By the time this feature is up this album may already be in stores, or at least have a day or two to go, so you probably already know why it's top billed. Thom Yorke is calling this album "OK Computer 2", and while it probably won't live up to the greatness that is OK Computer, it will certainly come close enough for us all to want to make babies with it.
2. The Mars Volta- De-Loused in the Comatorium HYPE HYPE HYPE HYPE HYPE! With all the hype surrounding this album, it's basically doomed not to live up to it. I've heard the album, and it doesn't. That's not saying anything negative about this album at all, though. The anticipation for this album was so great, coming from the imaginative side of one of the greatest bands to ever come from the "scene", At the Drive In, it was destined to disappoint some. Regardless of the fact that it doesn't live up to the hype, it's still a really, really good album. Ignore the terrible cover art, and inside you'll find one of the best records to come out this year.
3. Give Up the Ghost- TBA While I'm not a huge fan of this band, I know that almost everybody else is, and that this LP has so much excitement stirring up amongst the hardcore kids and non-hardcore kids alike that this definitely belongs on the list. The band formerly known as American Nightmare have garnered quite a large following over the past couple of years with their intelligent lyrics, and unique approach to new school hardcore. This is single-handedly the most anticipated hardcore record of the year.
4. Andrew WK- Blow Your Bone You either love him or hate him. The bloody-nosed, fun-loving crazy man has some of the most zealous, loyal fans in music, probably because he is one of the most zealous and loyal figures in music. With a record not expected to be a departure from his signature sound at all, and track titles such as 'Never Ending Party', 'Close Calls with Brick Walls', 'Kicks and Bricks', and 'Addicted to Life', you can bet the positive party hard attitude that has made Andrew WK famous will be prevalent through out the album. Hey man, it's fun.
5. Elvis Costello- TBA This will probably be my favorite of all the CDs listed here, and perhaps my favorite of the year, but I know it has less anticipation behind it for most of our readers than the other albums on this list. Costello has been at this game since before most of us were born, and in 2002 he proved he still had what it takes with When I Was Cruel. Elvis describes the album as "quite different" and states, "It's all original songs written at the piano. There are 11 songs and they are among the most direct I've ever written lyrically, and, musically, I hope they do something new." It sounds like it won't be quite as "rockin'" a record as When I Was Cruel, but chances are, it will still be great.
TOP 3 SONGS
'Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon'- The Blood Brothers. This is an epic song. A simple overture on the keyboard launches the song into screamed-freak-out of a chorus followed by twists and turns in unexpected directions. Then, It is almost as if the band drops their instruments, creating unbearable noise; but quickly resolve to pick them up and sort these chaotic disasters into climatic build-ups. All this madness eventually coalesces into theatrical sing-along where the Jordan and Johnny croon, "Where is love now?" But before the end of this twisted vaudeville musical, the drums, like a heartbeat, pick up the song and launches it into its dissonant denouement. A transitional slap of a tom, or organized vocal intertwining demonstrates that the song is well-crafted to even to the smallest detail. The Blood Brothers' kitchen-sink surrealism and challenging sonic diversity in "Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon" breaks down the ubiquity often found in rock music. It is a standout track in the Blood Brothers' work to date. This song in its diversity and complexity is a great prefigurement of where this band plans to take us in its future.
'Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?'- Ted Leo/Pharmacists Is it legal to have a five-minute pop song? Well, Ted Leo proves that it is possible and perfectly acceptable with his ode to the Specials in 'Where Have All Rude Boys Gone?' But, don't be prepared to get out your checkered shoes and start skankin'. The song is Leo's lamentation over the ephemeral nature of rock and roll bands. The idea may sound pessimistic, but the song is delightfully happy. Leo's howling vocals, an application of his normal tone and falsetto in singing, 'Tension is high under sea and under sky/ pressure drop, people are acting foo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-lish!' The gentle litany of the chorus, 'I asked Jerry, he told Terry/Terry sang a song just for me/Lynvall gave a message to me/Rhoda screamed and then she asked me/Where have all the rude boys gone?' is also particularly memorable. The poignant lyrics and all-over the place vocals along with the sunny guitar, improvised drumming and hushed keyboards will make you catch yourself with a satisfied grin across your face. With performances of the song Conan O' Brien and a music video on MTV2, Ted Leo has made a generous offering to the mainstream with 'Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?' It will only be time before the mainstream puts aside their played out Strokes/Stripes stuff and listens to this true rock and roll gem.
'He War' - Cat Power You Are Free had a fair number of up-tempo songs; 'He war', the first single, is probably the best on the album. The song will reach out to those whom are quickly turned off by Chan Marshall's sparse, plaintive restraint, and presents a different side of this enigmatic songwriter. Less introspective and serious, 'He war' implements a backing band (particularly Dave Grohl on drums), to provide a vibrant (almost)pop tune. In its gleeful repetition, 'He war' is a sign of Chan Marshall's personal and artistic growth. In an assault against self-compromise she whispers, 'I'm not that hot new chick/And if you want me to run with it/We're onto your same old trick.' And as we discover in 'He war', we haven't yet heard everything about Chan Marshall.
TOP 5 VIDEO GAMES
1. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Gamecube) 2. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Gameboy Advance) 3. WarioWare Inc. Mega Microgame$ (Gameboy Advance) 4. The Sims (Playstation 2) 5. Red Faction 2 (XBox)
TOP 5 SHOWS
3/18 Godspeed You Black Emperor, Omaha, The Music Box Transcends the concept of a "show" and is too godly to group with anything else: What else is there to say except that this show borders on religious experience?
1. 3/9 Rilo Kiley/The Good Life/Mayday, Omaha, Sokol Underground My favorite live band ever playing their best set yet.
2. 5/16 Black Eyes/The Faux, Omaha, Junkbox Chaotic show that almost literally brought the ceiling down. Awesome slide show with He-Man action figures featured in stop-motion animation was a plus.
3. 3/6 The Sea and Cake/Califone Omaha, Sokol Underground Many will disagree with me, but this was one of those rare shows where the opener outshined the headliner.
4. 3/30 Bright Eyes Unannounced Anti-War Benefit Omaha, Sokol Underground I know what you're all saying by now... "What's with all the Saddle Creek?!" Normally I wouldn't include a Bright Eyes show in one of these lists, but this one was a special occasion. He played for over 2 hours, and he was sober! Amazing!
5. 5/7 The Blood Brothers/Akimbo/Putrescine, Omaha, Sokol Underground Insanity. This would probably be higher on the list if their set wasn't so damn short and they had a CD version of "March On" available at the merch table. Live and learn. Other good shows worth noting: 4/26 The Postal Service/Cex/Fizzle Like a Flood, Omaha, Sokol Underground 3/18 Cat Power/Landon Hedges, Omaha, Sokol Underground 4/11 The Faint/Les Savy Fav/Schneider TM, Omaha, Sokol Auditorium
5 PEOPLE/BANDS ON THE RISE
1. Jack White (of The White Stripes) I cannot understand why The White Stripes are as popular as they are, but Jack White's head is going to blow up from all the hot air being blown into it from various Music Medias. People can't stop publishing articles about him: if it's not about his new album, it's about what he's been listening to; what he's been doing; what he does on the road; etc. I'm really sick of this guy (and I doubt I'm the only one). Now, with the release of Elephant and the popularity of the single 'Seven Nation Army,' everyone loves them: Rolling Stone loves them because they're bridging the underground with the mainstream, MTV loves them because it's something for all of their target audiences to enjoy and (best for both corporations) no one seems to protest their popularity. Let's just say they're not going to be a fluke.
2. AFI They signed to a major (DreamWorks Records) late last year and came out with their first full length (Sing the Sorrow) under that very label in March. Sing the Sorrow went gold within two months of its release and their tours have been selling out amphitheaters within days. Not only are they getting play all over MTV, they're all over the place: radio, CD players all over the world and even sporting events (like the Stanley Cup Finals!). They have almost no where to go but up, at this point. I just hope the world can accept a Goth front-man (whose sexual preference remains by and large ambiguous) into their lives.
3. Boy Sets Fire Just like AFI, they recently signed to a major. God knows why. The new album (Tomorrow Comes Today) is on display at Tower Records in very easy-to-find locations; primarily up in the front of the store or in front of the 'rock/alternative' section next to Staind and Disturbed. They're being played on KROQ and more alternative rock stations all over the States. They were worthy of the amount of exposure they had two or three years ago, but this is ridiculous.
4. Alkaline Trio Alkaline Trio is not nearly as big as the previous three, but they may ascend to something on those planes in the near future. The release of Good Mourning came at a good time: Avril Lavigne's album Let Go is slowing in sales and the pop-punkers of the world are hungry for something along Avril's lines. Good Charlotte and New Found Glory may be similar, but they don't wear fifty bracelets on each wrist, nor do they really have Avril's "patented" feminine/"soft"-punk touch; enter Alkaline Trio. With their recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (where acts like Jewel and The Strokes go just before they hit it big) and having their new album debut on Billboard's at twentieth (having sold 40,000 copies), Alkaline Trio is most likely going to ride on Avril's coattails to moderate fame. Too bad I still love these guys.
5. Ted Leo; Ted Leo and the Pharmacists I know virtually nothing of this band, but in the past six months, I've heard a lot about them. They sell out live shows, their album (Hearts of Oak) sales have been doing really well and this new one came out after a two year record hiatus . . . and this is just their second album! Maybe its Leo's past bands that have made this band so popular, but they seem to be climbing up the Indie charts and noticeably at that.
Honorable Mention: The Blood Brothers The Blood Brothers are climbing the screamo latter to become moderately popular. Not only did they just finish touring with Pretty Girls Make Graves and The Red Light Sting, but they headlined (at least they did in Pomona). Their new album, Burn, Piano Island, Burn, isn't being played on radios, but it is being noticed by many, many people. I'm curious to see what they do if ArtistDirect is really going bankrupt.
EVENTS IN THE WORLD OF MUSIC
1. Great White? More like... Great Plight! For many concert attendees the night of February 20 would be no different than any other Thursday night, minus seeing the notorious Great White. Little did they know what would be in store for them. Pyrotechnics got out of hand and fire took a brief jog throughout the building. The fire sucked up the oxygen and many concert attendees passed out from breathing in large amounts of carbon dioxide and smoke. After passing out, they were soon trampled while everybody experienced panic and made way to the exit. 95 were killed and 180 injured, and YOU, Mr. DIY PUNK ROCKER is wondering, how this effects you! Since this supposed "accident", venues around the country have become more restrictive and some have even closed down. The punk rock mecca of the east coast, ABC NO RIO was on the eve of being shutdown and Burnt Ramen in the bay area was obliterated. When you go to your local DIY venue and are not admitted because there are one too many people, POINT YOUR FINGER AT THE GREAT WHITE! and safety.
2. Jeremy Ward Has Ceased To Be On the morning of May 25 Jeremy Ward was found by his roommate not alive, but in fact, dead. For those of you who don't know who Mr. Ward is (was?), he helped with effects and lights for The Mars Volta and was a part of the writing/playing process of De Facto. TMV recently cancelled the remaining dates with the Red Hot Chili Peppers due to the recent travesty. It should also be noted that Jeremy Ward died at the age of 27 which feeds all those conspiracies about rock stars and dying at the age of 27. He supposedly died of a drug overdose, but I was not able to find this in writing anywhere.
3. The Dismemberment Plan Is Foiled The Dismemberment Plan broke up after playing for a reported fifty-seven years, and will be missed by indie kids that like to "dance". They are finishing up their final tour now, so catch them if you can.
4. RIAA ES-YOU-EX The much loved RIAA decided to file lawsuits against four college students, increasing their love percentage from people by four points. The students were using programs like Direct Connect to share mp3s and apparently they were caught! RIAA President Cary Sherman went as far as to say, "The people who run these (campus) networks know full well what they are doing--operating a sophisticated network designed to enable widespread music thievery." The only thievery is stores like Wherehouse charging $20 for a Dashboard Confessional or Finch CD. The students attended Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, one at Princeton University, and one at Michigan Technological University, and were obviously stealing music from "hardworking" bands like Puddle Of Mudd. Eventually the lawsuit settled, requiring the students to save up their pizza money to pay $12,000 to $17,000 by 2006 in segmented allotments. In conclusion, GET SOUL SEEK AND DON'T SHARE ONE BILLION SONGS ON YOUR COLLEGE NETWORK. Does anybody who doesn't possess millions of dollars actually like the RIAA?
5. Pg. 99 Turns The Page And Closes The Book Although it usually sucks when a band breaks up, this is a time when I?m actually happy. The end of Pg. 99 translates as the creation of City Of Caterpillar, Mannequin, The Forensics and Crestfallen. In short, CITY OF CATERPILLAR! It?s kind of how it would be nice if Terror broke up and First Blood played more. The people that will profit the most, literally, from this break up are those with the early vinyl which soars on skylab. Pg. 99 had been around for five years, played approximately 300 shows, and put out fourteen records. They were avid followers of the DIY, and it worked very well for them. If you would like to find out more information about their breakup it can be found at http://www.pageninetynine.com
Honorable Mentions: Give Up The Ghost, The Band Formerly Known As The Sun Isn?t Getting Any Brighter, The Band Formerly Known As American Nothing, The Band Formerly Known As American Nightmare.
The Boston hardcore band finally settled on the name Give Up The Ghost, after a year of confusion on message boards of what to refer to the previous American Nightmare as. Purists continue to call them American Nightmare, while those who are keen to news correct them with the new finalized name. What a crazy process that is! If you get a chance, check out the band that kept the name American Nightmare on mp3.com, and laugh at how horrible they are. For you upcoming band members, get your band name copyrighted before some douche bag band makes you change it. Also, be prepared to laugh as newbies inform you of the ?NEW!? Give Up The Ghost album, ?Background Music?, which is just a reissue.
Coner Oberst And Winona Ryder!