- Leonardo’s Workshop
- Theory Of Evolution
- The Oracle
- The Pyramids
- Wall Street
- The Great Wall
- Copernicus’ Observatory
- Smith’s Trading Company
- Universal Sufferage
- Jet Fighter
- Forbidden Palace
- Battlefield Medicine
- The Great Library
- The Colossus
- Cure For Cancer
- The Great Lighthouse
- Hoover Dam
- War Elephant
Today has been a very boring day and I have the urge to do some very aggressive blogging. However, I had no ideas. I needed your help. Thanks to all of the people who submitted a question for the first ever Tall Blog Mailbag! I’ll answer a few of these questions today.
This question comes from Tommy. He’s 30, lives in Charles Village, and has handsome all over him.
Ryan, what’s the deal with old people and shopping malls? I mean, they’re too old to be hip, and they are dangerous targets for the bored teenagers who may assault them to “see what it feels like.” Can’t we invent the equivalent of hamster wheels for the elderly? I worry about my grandma is all.
Thanks for your insight!
A great question that hits me on a personal level! My Grandma was an avid mall walker at Wheaton Plaza for many years. While she walked, my Grandfather would read the newspaper and drink some coffee at Roy Rogers. The stores at the mall weren’t open while the mall walkers were doing their thing. Finding any hip kids(except cool 8-year old Ryan!) at 9am was a difficult task. However, my Grandma got to know many of the mall employees since they would cross paths before they opened their stores. One time, there was a shoe store having a drawing for a great bike. At the time, I was growing a mile a minute and my old bike just wasn’t doing it for me. My Grandma registered for the contest and told me that the manager of the store would “take care of her”. A few weeks later, the bike was gone. With eyes filled with tears, I walked over to the store manager and asked what happened to my bike. She says, “Oh Ryan, I’m sorry but Dominique Dawes won that bike.”.
Are you fucking kidding me?! For those who don’t know who she is, Dominique Dawes was a young gymnast from Silver Spring who had just won a silver medal at the Olympics. She could have had any bike she wanted. Instead, she took mine.
I hate you Dominique Dawes.
The next question comes from Blogmaster General, Andrew Shannon.
Dear Tall Ryan,
What gives you hope in the future of mankind?
Your friend always,
I should expect no less than the most powerful question of all from my dear friend, Andy. There a lot of things to look forward to in the future. Despite the human race being a flawed species, I feel that we are all truly connected. Somewhere along the way, long before our time, we lost our way. We’re a great race, but we need someone to show us how to go back to our days ultimate glory. However, I don’t expect Superman to arrive for a very long time.
Until then, I think things like the unfortunate events in Haiti, 9/11, and the Iranian elections bring our finest citizens together to fight for what is good and to make this world a better place. The problem is, people will only do this when they are needed, like in horrific events. It’s time for people to do good for the world, even when people aren’t looking. There are also several other steps that can be taken to make the world a much more happy and safe place to live. Forward thinking is the key. The human race is blessed with this ability, but people usually end up being short-sighted when making opinions and decisions on big issues.
A small example is Global Warming. People know it exists, but won’t accept it until Manhattan is under water.
Anyway, I was talking to Kim about post-apocalyptic stories. While I don’t normally enjoy them, I think it might be a great way for the world to be. No one will have anything to protect except for each other. Those who are only in it for themselves will die alone as the world around them evolves.
Hopefully the Large Hadron Collider will work as the great reset button! Until then, we’re probably fucked.
The last question of the day comes from Jonathan. Arguably, the most intelligent person I know and makes a lot of money from asking the tough questions. I consider myself lucky to have one of them presented to me.
Are you for or against Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos? I think I’ve decided that I don’t want my chips to be sweet.
Well it’s good to see that you’re reading my blog, Jonathan. I recently made a list of my Top 25 Favorite Chips. Sweet & Spicy Chili Doritos were my #9 favorite chip. They’re an interesting chip because when it comes to Frito-Lay products, the infusion of sweet and spicy has more of a tangy flavor to me. I don’t think anyone wants their chips to have too sweet of a flavor. This is why “The Quest” Doritos were such a failure. “The Quest” was a mystery flavor that ended up being Mountain Dew.
Anyway, I am very much for this chip. For starters, all Doritos have the same after taste. If you don’t like this, then there is no way you can enjoy this chip. I don’t think this chip is particularly sweet and it’s certainly in no way spicy. But man oh man!
To answer your question…just eat them and like them!
Sorry guys, I know I’ve been really lazy with the posting as of late. I need to accept that I can’t make the guarantee of being a consistent poster.
However, I can promise that I’ll always be a consistent drinker.
#25- Colt 45
#24- Leinenkugel: Sunset Wheat
#22- Fat Tire
#21- DuClaw: Bad Moon Porter
#20- Pabst Blue Ribbon
#19- Stella Artois
#18- Oliver Ales: Iron Man Pale Ale
#17- Miller High Life
#16- Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
#15- DuClaw: Misfit Red
#14- Brooklyn Summer Ale
#12- Old Style
#11- Carlsburg Elephant
#10- Brewers Art: Resurrection
#9- Oliver Ales: Merry Ole Ale
#8- Sam Adams Octoberfest
#6- Brooklyn Lager
#5- Mac & Jack’s African Amber
#4- Brewers Art: Ozzy
#3- Oliver Ales: The Darkness
#2- Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55
#1- National Bohemian
This one won’t be as pretty as the albums list. Actually, don’t expect any future list to be that nice. They take too long and I only have five and half hours until the next decade begins!
- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
- No Country For Old Men
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- The Dark Knight
- The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
- Almost Famous
- Big Fish
- Children Of Men
- Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban
- The Departed
- Garden State
- A History Of Violence
- Lucky Number Slevin
- In Bruges
- The Ring
- Into The Wild
- Where The Wild Things Are
- The Hurricane
- Kill Bill Vol. 1
- The Wrestler
For New Years Eve I will be attending the 3rd Annual Wharf Rat Formal. I’m going to be looking quite dapper in my new suit. Although, I’m going to have to settle for second most dapper as Andrew will be wearing three Green Lantern Rings.
Happy New Year!
What is music?
Webster’s Definition: “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color”
That’s all well and good. However, this is how I view music.
“A brilliant tour de force, music may be read as a grave warning of the pitfalls that await uncontrolled scientific advance. Full of barbed wit, malice-spiced frankness, and swiftness of expression, music is the most urgent appeal for a reconciliation of science and confusion that our age has ever known.”
Whatever way you choose to approach music, I think we can all agree that it’s pretty great. Especially the kind of music friends like us enjoy listening to! At the BTP Forum, many of us have been creating our Top 25 Favorite Albums of the Decade. I finished mine yesterday and am far too impatient to wait until the end of the year to release my results. The early release isn’t too big of a deal since I’m not putting any albums from 2009 on my list. It’s not like there weren’t any great albums this year, it’s that they haven’t had the chance to stand the test of time. There have been way too many albums in my life that I would be obsessed with for a few months then never listen to it again.
This list took me way too long to make. I can usually finish one of these in about two hours. It’s funny, because with all of the work I put into it, this list is far from sexy. There are four bands that have multiple albums and there isn’t really a lot of variety to it. That said, I’m happy with the completed product and with music in general over the last ten years. Due to me not learning how to “Save Drafts” by time I had started this, I will have to settle for updating this list as often as I can. All albums will be added to this post so the list wont be out of order. Make sure to keep checking back! So without further ado…
#25 Millencolin- Home From Home (2002)
My #25 could have been ten different albums. In fact, I think I had typed them all before deciding on Home From Home. Millencolin was one of my favorite bands of the early 2000’s. In 2002, they released Home From Home and it immediately became my favorite album of theirs. Actually, I remember ranking it as my #1 album of that year. Before this album came out, I used think that Millencolin was a happy band based off of their upbeat sound and occasionally goofy music. Kevin corrected me and explained how I couldn’t be more wrong and that I better start listening to lyrics. Kevin was right, I was wrong. These guys are some sad, defeated Swedes. Every goddamn song on this album is sad! Yet for some reason, the upbeat sound, and fast pace keep me in a great mood and have me singing along, loop after loop. It’s a shame that this band went downhill very quickly. Maybe it’s because they didn’t know how to deliver a message.
Favorite Tracks: Happiness For Dogs, Black Eye, Man Or Mouse
#24 Frank Turner- Love, Ire, and Song (2008)
I feel that if I had a few more years with this album, it would be ranked way higher. It’s in my humble opinion that Frank Turner is one of the best songwriters going. The English punk-poet writes his musical biography in a way where the listener can easily put themselves in his shoes as he sings about the ups and downs of his life. The impact of this album on me can be comparable to how I felt about “Dookie” by Green Day. No, not in the way of dyeing my hair green and joining the wannabe punk movement(Which I did not do!). Just in the way of an artist empathizing with people by saying “I get you. Life is really fucking tough, but it’s worth a try.”. The album touches on pretty much all topics of being a lost adult such as love, losing friends, handling death, and of course…drinking. Last week, I was on a plane and scared shitless. While the plane was taking off, I tried to think of a song that would help me feel brave and lose the nerves. The song that came to me was “Love, Ire, and Song”. More specifically, these lyrics…
“Well we’ve been a good few hours drinking
So I’m going to say what everyone’s thinking
If we’re stuck on this ship and it’s sinking
Then we might as well have a parade
Cos if it’s still going to hurt in the morning
And a better plan’s set to get forming
Then where’s the harm spending an evening
In manning the old barricades, so come on old friends to the streets
Let’s be 1905 but not 1917, let’s be heroes, let’s be martyrs, let’s be radical thinkers
Who never have to test drive the least of their dreams
Let’s divide up the world into the damned and safe
And then ride to the valleys like the old life brigade
And straighten our backs and we won’t be afraid
And they’ll celebrate our deaths with a national parade”
I got the chance to see Frank Turner live a few months ago. There were only about 30 people there, I was pretty drunk, and we welcomed him into Team Tall. Oh yeah, and he played his goddamn heart out. Great show, great record. Frank Turner!
Favorite Tracks: Long Live The Queen, Photosynthesis, I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
#23 Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros- Streetcore (2003)
The Clash is my all time favorite band. London Calling is my all time favorite album. Joe Strummer wrote some of the best songs I have ever heard. Actually, I’m going to take a break and listen to “Spanish Bombs”.
Okay, breaks over.
In Joe’s later years, no longer with The Clash, but as Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros, he lost me. I had only bought one album by them, Global A Go-Go. It was loaded with weird reggae and acid rock. I can pretty much say that I hated it. One fine day in 2003, Eric called me to let me know that the new Joe Strummer album was getting insanely good reviews and that I should buy that joint right away. I was a little apprehensive because it was a posthumous release, as Strummer died just a few months earlier. It was possible that people were just getting caught up in the sentimental value of Joe Strummer, rather than the quality of his new music. I ended up buying the album that day. After leaving Record and Tape Traders, I sat in my parked car with the anticipation of hearing the opening track “Coma Girl”. Just under four minutes later, I felt as though I just heard the first new Clash song in almost twenty years! I kept skipping back to listening to the song again and again. It was probably half an hour before I decided to move on to the second track. The rest of the album has three more “Clash-like” songs, some reggae, a couple acid rock songs, and the most unbelievable cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. I don’t think this album is a masterpiece, but it’s pretty damn good. The reason it makes the Top 25 of the Decade is because this is the closest thing to The Clash that we’ll ever see again.
Favorite Tracks: Redemption Song, Long Shadow, Coma Girl, Silver and Gold
#22 Mad Caddies- Just One More (2003)
I wasn’t much of a Mad Caddies fan in the early 2000’s. My history with them in general isn’t really that interesting. I loved ska, but there were so many more bands in that genre that I liked better. When I would listen to Quality Softcore and Duck And Cover, I would think “This is pretty good, but it’s missing something.”. At that time, I was the only one who felt that way. The Mad Caddies were most of my friends third favorite ska band, behind The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Pietasters. When Rock The Plank came out, I decided to continue trying with this band. This time, they sounded considerably different. Many of the ska songs were replaced with what seemed like So-Cal Surf Rock. The album wasn’t that good, but I appreciated that sound way more than their previous records. Finally in 2003, they released Just One More. Simply put, Home Run. They finally found a way to put their ska and So-Cal sound together into what is in my opinion, one of the most underrated ska albums of all time. I would highly recommend that you put this album on your iPod playlist for some great summer driving music. I have no doubts that this will be played heavily if I ever go on a road trip with my good buddy, Chris. We like him!
Favorite Tracks: Good Intentions, Just One More, Rockupation, Drinking For 11
#21 The Decemberists- The Crane Wife (2006)
Whoa, The Crane Wife!? Really? Nobody’s favorite is The Crane Wife! And no, there aren’t any other albums by The Decemberists on this list. So how did this come to happen? It goes back to January 2007. I had been sick for a few days and was taking decongestants like it was my job. By Day 3, on a Tuesday, my eyes were completely bloodshot and I was still sick. However, I went out for drinks with Kevin and Heather anyway. They spent the better part of the night making fun of my eyes. Saying things like “Hey, you look like you smoked some marijuana cigarettes!”. The next morning, I couldn’t open my eyes and they hurt like hell. Ha! Showed those assholes! Anyway, I was diagnosed with severe conjunctivitis and was stuck laying in bed for a week, completely blind. At some point, I grabbed my iPod and randomly hit buttons until I could hear music. An album started playing and we were good to go! I liked the sound of this band a whole lot. Although, I found the theme to be a bit strange. It seemed like I was listening to “Indie Goes Pioneer” or something. I heard the words “The Crane Wife” in one of the songs and I immediately knew that I was listening to none other than The Decemberists. This was actually the first time I heard them. I downloaded their discography and never bothered with it for some reason. I loved the album so much, that I ended up listening to it like 10 times during that week. So why is this my favorite? It’s because it was my first love of theirs. Also, it’s one of those cases where you’ll download the bands discography and pretty much ignore everything except one album. I eventually got around to listening to their other stuff on a regular basis. However, The Crane Wife will always be my favorite for special reasons. It made me feel comfortable when I was at my absolute worst.
Favorite Tracks: Sons And Daughters, The Crane Wife 3, Oh Valencia!
#20 The Hives- Veni Vedi Vicious (2000)
T! H! E! H! I! V! E! S! What’s that spell!? They are The Hives, and you love them!
I learned about The Hives during the garage rock explosion several years ago. It was during that time when all you would hear on the radio were bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes, and The Hives. Needless to say, that was an awesome time in commercial radio. My friend Brian burned me a copy of Veni Vedi Vicious back in 2002. I loved everything about this band. Their names alone are awesome!
Singer- Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, Guitar- Nicholaus Arson, Guitar- Vigilante Carlstrom, Bass- Dr. Matt Destruction, Drums- Chris Dangerous
Before I got a chance to listen to the album, Brian was showing me videos from their live shows. These guys were hilarious! They were cocky to the point where it was extremely comical. Telling stories of how the US was a sad place before The Hives. I also loved how they would thank Mr. Randy Fitzsimmons for discovering them as young boys and turning them into the greatest rock outfit to ever come out of Sweden. The quote at the top of this post describing how I view music was also written by Randy Fitzsimmons.
There is no Randy Fitzsimmons.
About the album, it’s awesome. In this day and age, bands don’t take the time to pay attention to those who are actually listening to them. The Hives make a point to do this in the opening track, by declaring nuclear war. “The Hives-Declare Guerre Nucleaire” pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the very short, 28 minute album. The Hives have their own unique way songwriting that cannot be matched. I’m not sure if it’s brilliance, stupidity, or insanity. Whatever it is, I love it and you love it.
Favorite Tracks: Die, Alright!, Main Offender, Supply And Demand
#19 Arcade Fire- Neon Bible (2007)
I used to date a girl who would watch the worst shit. One of those things was new episodes of Saturday Night Live. Without me knowing, SNL apparently got a little funnier after they hired The Lonely Island guys to do most of the writing for the show. I’d like to think that Keenan Thompson played a big part in this as well. I look at Keenan Thompson the same way I look at Jerry O’Connell. They don’t bring much to the table, but I love those guys! I’m not sure why, though.
One night, I’m guessing it was a Saturday, I decided to stay in and watch the Rainn Wilson episode of SNL. I think people overrate the hell out of the cast of The Office. Multiple people have told me that Rainn Wilson was “hilarious” in Juno. He was a fucking store clerk with two lines! I believe his punchline was the word “home-skillet”. Poor J.K. Simmons, I still think you’re funny. I suppose it’s a testament to just how good of a show that The Office is when people will only associate the actors with one particular role they play. Is it possible that the show could or has potentially hurt the careers of some of these actors? I mean, Jim Halpert is way cooler than John Krasinski. Who’s John Krasinski? I feel like Steve Carell and Ed Helms are the only two actors on that show who won’t suffer from the great character writing on The Office. Love the Nard-Dog!
The episode of SNL was pretty good. I remember Dwigh…err Rainn Wilson being pretty funny in some restaurant scene where people were shouting a lot. There was also a Digital Short that had a cameo by this band called Arcade Fire. They were also the musical guest on this episode, playing “Keep The Car Running” and “Intervention”. It was the first time I heard that band. I bought their album and liked it very much.
Favorite Tracks: No Cars Go, Keep The Car Running, Intervention
#18 Rocket From The Crypt- Live From Camp X-Ray (2002)
In 2001, Eric and Brian started going completely apeshit from Rocket From The Crypt. It took a long time for this band to grow on me. There was no choice but to listen to this band since this is all either of them would talk about or play. I almost lost hope, but I eventually got where I needed to be with RFTC. Something finally clicked and once it did, they were quickly becoming one of my favorite bands. Now that I was a world class RFTC fan, I was really excited for the release of Live From Camp X-Ray. It was following up a great album that had been released just one year before. As per tradition in those days, I purchased the album at Record and Tape Traders and head off for a York Rd run. I remember this being an extra special York Rd run since it had snowed the night before. Well, extra special in that I surely wouldn’t drive safe on these wintery roads due to my excitement of hearing the latest creation from San Diego’s native sons.
The album kicks off with “I’m Not Invisible”, an infectious opening track loaded with fast paced drumming, blaring horns, guitars on fire, dying vocal chords, and finger blasting high-fives. It’s one of my favorite RFTC songs, period. Here is a great live performance of it from the Craig Kilborn show. I’ve never heard an audience get so loud for a band on a late night show. How good must this band be live? I got to find out on March 20, 2003. The band was doing a whopping two-stop tour and one of those stops was at The Black Cat in DC. I get a lot of shit for saying this, but I stand by it..
John Reis is a modern day rock God.
I generally don’t get over excited about anything and have been to more than enough shows to the point where my mind won’t be blown, or at least I thought so. They played a 20+ song set and they were on point the whole time. Dave Grohl was at the show. I heard he owns or owned the Black Cat or something. Anyway, while they were taking their break before the encore, The United States decided to start bombing Iraq. After a couple of minutes, RFTC started the first of four encores. Reis acknowledged what was going on in the world but didn’t really put his two cents in. Some people figured that they gave us the gift of so much extra music since we were just miles away from where the dumbest decision of our generation was made. I like to think they did it just because they like making the loud rock music.
Favorite Tracks: I’m Not Invisible, I Wanna Know What I Wanna Know, Too Many Balls
#17 The Avett Brothers- Emotionalism (2007)
This album has a nice cover. That’s why I ranked The Avett Brothers, Emotionalism at #17.
I learned about The Avett Brothers from an Artscape Poster in 2005. Curious about what they sounded like, I got on their MySpace Music page right away(two years later). Nothing really stuck out at me as I was in a huge rush to get to their show. Adam Radtke bought Bill and I tickets to their show with the Drive-By Truckers at Pier 6. I think Adam wanted to go to the show because there was a girl he liked that was going. I’m not sure why he needed me to go. Jason Carr and Team Tall Johnnie were already going to be at the show. Whatever the case, free show!
It was a perfect summer night with some great friends and a nice buzz going. The Avett’s hit the stage and kicked the show off with “Talk On Indolence”, their fastest song from an earlier album. They followed it up with a bunch of tracks from their newest release, Emotionalism. I remember them playing “Will You Return”, “Salina”, “Pretty Girl From Chile”, “Go To Sleep”, and my personal favorite “Weight Of Lies”. This show happened in the midst of a folk explosion in the Honeycutt house. The amount of musical talent the two brothers have is amazing. At various points in the show, they each play guitar, piano, and drums. Scott also plays harmonica and banjo(his primary instrument). Overall, it was one of the best live shows I had ever been to.
As far as the album itself is concerned, it’s just fucking great. While it’s not my favorite album of theirs, it’s arguably the most solid in their library. I tend to skip “The Ballad Between Love And Hate”, a slow ballad with only Seth Avett and a couple guitar strings. The song is good, I just resent it because they played it live. It’s too slow and long for it to be on a set list! “Die Die Die” is a great opening track that gets bigger and better with every second. I recently saw them play this live for the first time and it was the star of the show.
Back to “The Weight Of Lies”, one of my two favorite songs by this band(the other song will be mentioned later). It’s the one song that I catch myself singing no matter what kind of mood or situation I’m in. Even better, I won’t realize I’m singing it(I hope this is only when I’m drunk) and random people will join in. It’s just that kind of song that anyone can connect to. Listen now!
Favorite Tracks: The Weight Of Lies, Will You Return, Go To Sleep
#16 Green Day- Warning (2000)
It’s weird. I’ve been staring at the screen trying to think of a way to explain why I like this album so much. The only thing I could come up with is that this is undoubtedly their most solid and mature release. From the very beginning of this album, you realize that this is a much more grown up band than the guys who made Dookie. That’s not to say that Dookie isn’t a great record. In fact, it was my #1 album of the ’90’s. It’s just that Dookie was written in a way to relate to America’s frustrated youth. At that time, the band was young and just got out of that phase of their lives. When Warning came out, I was done with that phase of my life as well. And at that point, they were at an age and level of success where a record loaded with simple complaints wouldn’t be believable. I no longer needed lessons on growing up or a band telling me that they also masturbated. I also remember it feeling like fucking forever since the last Green Day album was released. It was only three years, but it felt like ten.
A few years ago, Alex and I got into the discussion of who the band of our generation was. First, we had to lay down some ground rules. We couldn’t just say U2 because they were the most famous or Metallica because they sold the most albums. It’s also important for all of you to know that I strongly dislike both of those bands. What we thought would be an elaborate process became very easy as we only made on rule…
Rule #1: You must prefer the rest of the bands library over their best album
After about an hour of thinking of bands, Green Day was declared the winner. However, there was a debate over what Green Day’s best album was. This only helped their case as they have been so solid their entire career. Alex was debating on whether Dookie or American Idiot was the best. I stood pat on Warning. It’s just a great album. Five stars!
Favorite Tracks: Macy’s Day Parade, Waiting, Fashion Victim
#15 The Gaslight Anthem- Sink Or Swim (2007)
The Gaslight Anthem is one of my favorite bands going right now. I wrote a bunch of stuff about Sink Or Swim in an earlier post. Reread that, then go back to this.
The first time I ever actually heard The Gaslight Anthem was on Julie Howard’s MySpace. She had the annoying option where the song plays right away. The song was “Angry Johnny And The Radio”. I had remembered Kevin inviting me to one of their shows and turning it down. We like Kevin, so the song was worth a listen. After about a minute, I had enough. The song didn’t seem like it was going anywhere and was confused as to why Julie would choose that as her MySpace song. Some time later, Kevin, Heather, and I were playing Power Hour and I found myself enjoying the one-minute snipits of Gaslight songs on the mix. I downloaded Sink Or Swim and gave it several full listens. In the early going, I was only able to get into just a few songs. The ones I liked, I liked a lot. The rest weren’t really doing anything for me.
In October 2008, Fisher and I went on a long, cross country road trip. Fisher, in his adorable ways made a iPod playlist titled “Bryan and Ryan’s Infinite Playlist”. He put a ton of work into the 300+ song mix and it was a monster hit. On that mix, he had a bunch of Gaslight songs from the only album he owned, Sink Or Swim. The band had since come out with another record and I was listening to that like it was my job. Still, I was willing to give the first album another chance to be loved. It didn’t take long. I went from being borderline indifferent about this album to it becoming one of my favorite albums of the decade! There’s not a single bad song on here. In fact, I’m even willing to say that every song is just plain good or great! Sorry it took me so long to realize this! Ah yes, and my opinion has since changed about “Angry Johnny And The Radio”. Check out which song is the most played on my last.fm!
Favorite Tracks: Angry Johnny And The Radio, Drive, 1930
#14 The Mooney Suzuki- Electric Sweat (2002)
Back in 2002, my regular routine was work at Target until 11pm followed by online poker and Nick at Nite. This was during a time when Nick at Nite had a solid lineup of Roseanne, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Growing Pains, and Wings. If things were going well at the tables, I would extend my TV viewing and switch over to the Disney Channel to watch two glorious episodes of Boy Meets World. After an hour of learning valuable life lessons from Philadelphia’s finest citizens, I would end my night with MTV. MTV? Yep, that channel was great after 3am! They would showcase a ton of great new bands(one of whom is ranked very high on this list) and play a lot of great punk videos. They would have these segments called “Music You Should Know”. I made a point to always watch this segment because it’s how I learned about the band, Interpol. This is also how I learned about NYC Subway Rockers, The Mooney Suzuki. They had such a cool way about them. Dressed in all black and had very little to say in the interview. Not because they were pretentious, it’s because they were their most expressive on stage. They showed clips of their live show and they looked like a ton of fun. Singer, Sammy James Jr(who I just saw like two weeks ago) would that “whirlie-bird” way of strumming the guitar. I was into that. However, that was just the beginning…
About a month later, Eric stopped by Target to say hi and tell me that he just bought Electric Sweat by The Mooney Suzuki. I had forgotten about that band but quickly remembered that short segment I had seen a month earlier. When I got off work, I swung by Best Buy and bought a copy of the album. Like many other albums on this list, this was discovered during the garage rock explosion. I loved this album right away. Electric Sweat is a well produced rock album loaded with intricate guitar solos, simple harmonies, and uncomplicated lyrics. It’s exactly what garage rock should be.
While the album is great, as is their previous release People Get Ready, there is one even more important thing that you must know..
The Mooney Suzuki is the greatest live band on the planet.
One summer night at the Black Cat in DC, Alex, Eric, Brian, and I went to the highly anticipated The Hives/The Mooney Suzuki show. I was expecting the The Mooney Suzuki to be good and I remember Eric saying “the guitarist should be pretty awesome”. The Mooney Suzuki hit the stage in their trademark all black gear and Sammy James Jr asks “What time is it?”. Guitarist Graham Tyler screams “SHOWTIME!“. This exchange happens three more times then they exploded into nothing short of this. I have never seen a band with so much energy while still keeping their music on point. Several times during the show, guitarist Graham Tyler would be crowd surfing on his knees while perfectly playing a solo with the guitar behind his head. The incredible thing about Graham Tyler is that along with his unmatched stage presence, is the fact that he’s only been playing guitar for four years. Talk about natural talent, right?! I also very much enjoyed their drummer, Augie Wilson standing on his drum set while playing. Throughout the set, the entire band would keep throwing up their hands, extending their index finger, and shouting “Number One!”. Despite no one knowing what that was, they had the whole audience doing that and pretty much anything else they wanted. I had never seen, and will likely never again see a band play such a mind-blowingly awesome show. NUMBA ONE!
Favorite Tracks: Electric Sweat, Natural Fact, I Woke Up This Mornin’
#13 Death Cab For Cutie- Transatlanticism (2003)
This is going to be a very short review.
I don’t really have a rich history with Death Cab For Cutie. Stevi introduced me to this band right around the time Transatlanticism came out. I loved the album. The problem was, girls all over Baltimore loved this album too. It got to the point where I had to avoid music conversations with them because they would talk about DCFC to the point where I would resent them. I have always been the type that will get extremely sick of something if it’s overexposed. Too much of anything is a bad thing, people! Hence the words “Too much”! Anyway, I successfully avoided the stupid girls and made a point not to go to DCFC shows with them so I could secretly love this album in peace. Death Cab is a funny band with me. When asked if I like the band, I usually say they’re “pretty good”. Why do I have such little enthusiasm about this band? I mean, I own all of their albums, love two, and some of my favorite indie rock songs are by this band. Again, it’s overexposure. Fucking girls. The worst is when girls say they have a crush on Ben Gibbard. Come on! He’s an out of shape nerd! The only reason people like him is because he’s in a band. What’s your age again?
The truth is, I think Death Cab For Cutie is a very good band and Ben Gibbard is a good songwriter. One night, take a York Rd. run, buy some coffee, and listen to Transatlanticism. You won’t regret it. It’s a great album.
Favorite Tracks: Transatlanticism, Expo ’86, Death Of An Interior Decorator
#12 Streetlight Manifesto- Everything Goes Numb (2003)
I had heard a lot of buzz about Streetlight Manifesto for months before I actually had a chance to hear them. Most of the talk came for our man, Rob Testerman. I remember driving in Rob’s car one afternoon and Rob said “Hey, do you want to hear a song that sounds similar Keasbey Nights, by Catch-22?”. I’m not sure why we wouldn’t just listen to “Keasbey Nights”, I already loved that song. Rob put Streetlight Manifesto’s debut release Everything Goes Numb in and played the song “Point/Counterpoint”. The band sounded exactly like Catch-22, but better. Rob told me that they took the best members of Catch-22, including the singer, made some new friends, then made this band. The song was very similar to “Keasbey Nights” in that it had a super fast, catchy chorus that goes as such..
I’ve got a gun in my hand but that gun won’t cock
My finger’s on the trigger but that trigger seems locked
I can’t stop staring at the tick-tock clock
And even if I could I would never give up
With a vest on my chest, a bullet in my lung
I can’t believe I’m dying with my song unsung
And if and when I die won’t you bury me alone?
Because I’ll never get to heaven if I’m singing this song
The album was like defibrillator for music that I thought I was done with. It was like, “BAM! SKA’S BACK!”. A lot of bands with this sound were either breaking up or focusing more on the punk side of their music. The best example of this is when Less Than Jake released Anthem. Only with that album, they made a few awesome ska songs and a bunch of shitty songs. Okay, maybe that wasn’t then best example, but that album pissed me right off. The Suicide Machines would have been a much better example. Pretend I talked about The Suicide Machines!
Anyway, Everything Goes Numb is a super high energy, fast paced, fun, fun, and fun record that is completely lovable, even to the king of the dicks. I finally got to see them last year with Kevin and Carr. We got to the show at the same time the band hit the stage. I never got the chance to see Catch-22 live and I figured that this would be redemption and then some. As expected, they were awesome. I liked that they played “Hey Sergio” by Catch-22 and “Linoleum” by NOFX. Streetlight played for almost exactly an hour. In that time, Carr, Kevin, and I each had five Boh’s. Hey! We played Power Hour! Another interesting thing about this night was that it was a Monday and Ricco was working at The Wharf Rat, which meant guaranteed fun. I started driving there when suddenly I got the urge to pee worse than I think I ever have. All of the roads in Fells were busy so I couldn’t pull over. Thankfully, I had a huge empty water bottle to pee in. I took care of my situation while I was at a red light. Once I finished, I realized I had lost the cap and a minute later, dropped the bottle on my lap. Night over.
Favorite Tracks: Point/Counterpoint, “A Better Place, A Better Time”, The Big Sleep
#11 Wolf Parade- Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
I learned about Wolf Parade about three hours before I went to see them with Josh and Rob. The truth is, I was more interested in seeing the opening act, Holy Fuck, another Canadian band I had never heard of. I went on Wolf Parade’s MySpace while we were at Rob’s house waiting to leave. They only had two songs on there, “I’ll Believe In Anything” and “Same Ghost Every Night”. I thought their sound was neat and went from apathetic to very excited about the show. Unfortunately, Rob’s mood went in the opposite direction and decided to skip the show. This kind of sucked for me because Ariel was going to be at the show. I figured those two could take turns entertaining her while the other one would hang out with me. At that time, I thought Ariel was awful. She was one of those people who acted like she was way more interesting than she really was. We all got along fine at the show, though.
Holy Fuck was just a weird band that played a bunch of analog instruments that they made from trash and old toys. They closed with the song “Lovely Allen”, which is by miles their best, and I guess only good song. Wolf Parade came out and to be honest, I don’t really remember a lot of how their set went. It’s very possible that they just played Apologies To The Queen Mary from start to finish(Jealous Kim?). Their sound was terrific but their stage presence lacked any kind of character. Still, they totally won me over. I especially liked their performances of “This Hearts On Fire”(star of the show), “Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts”, and believe it or not “Dinner Bells”(my least favorite song on the album).
Apologies To The Queen Mary is one of those albums where I know I’ll be listening it for many years to come. It’s an album where when I’m in the mood to listen to it, I’ll listen to it five or more times in a row. This album will always be special to me because this was the record that changed my course of direction in record stores or when I look for shows. It paved the way for indie(this is a massive genre with a lot of debate that I should discuss in the future) to become my most listened to genre. I’m aware that this band is definitely not for everyone. They have a very distinct sound that you’re either going to love or hate. For me, it was a perfect fit. Also, thanks to me enjoying Wolf Parade, I now actually listen to Josh’s recommendations. Wolf Parade!
Favorite Tracks: This Hearts On Fire, I’ll Believe In Anything, Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts
#10 Rx Bandits- Progress (2001)
The Rx Bandits should have been way bigger than they were. I’m not sure what the cause of their lack of fame was. I have a few ideas, though. It could have been that because they had horns, they were pegged as a ska band, which at the time was dying off. While they did have some ska songs, they were by no means anything like the typical bands in that genre. The album Progress proved that the band was unbelievably well informed both musically and socially. Despite being this talented, they sure picked a shitty label to sign with. After hearing this band for the first time, I was shocked to find out that they were on Drive-Thru Records. This is the label that is pretty much run off of the success of New Found Glory. I remember when the band, Midtown tried to leave the label because they weren’t getting enough label support. Mind you, Midtown was a pretty good pop-punk band as well. So it must have been unbelievably hard for a band like the Rx Bandits to get any kind of support or push. While The Rx Bandits couldn’t find their claim to fame, they never compromised their music or themselves just to get a larger fanbase. Good for them! Midtown however, did leave Drive-Thru for a major label. Shortly after, they broke up so singer, Gabe Saporta could start Cobra Starship. Check out this fuckleberry!
I remember being blown away by Progress the first time I heard it. The album is very appropriately named as it sent a great message to the listener. Let’s face it, we are “The Cool Generation”. The band tries to burn this to the ground with the song “Status”. It’s a song about how pop-culture is far to big of an influence on people to the point where one forgets about free will. The song can pretty much be broken down to a single lyric from it that should hold a lot of weight.
“Don’t you let your inhibitions guide your way”
Essentially, Progress is the bands attempt at promoting forward thinking. I suppose I could see where someone would think that the album is preachy. Although, I don’t really feel like their delivery is over-aggressive. Also, anyone who likes punk music should be able to handle and appreciate bands that believe in something(Except God). Along with all of the songs about “keeping it real”, the band also touches on war, love, and the future in a very mature way. I originally liked the album because of fun songs like “Analog Boy”. That, and just hearing a style of music from a band that could be classified as ska/reggae/pop punk, but makes a point to think outside of the box musically. Throw in some great lyrics with a strong message…
You have Progress.
Favorite Tracks: Infection, Analog Boy, Nothing Sacred
#9 Ben Folds- Rockin’ The Suburbs (2001)
I remember the first time I ever heard Ben Folds. He played “Brick” on Saturday Night Live. Unlike the time when Arcade Fire played, SNL was an awesome show in the ’90’s. I remember thinking that it was a really good song and that I would buy this guys CD. Four years later, I bought it used at Record and Tape Traders. It was Whatever and Ever Amen and it was everything I liked about things. Well, that might be a stretch. Still, I loved how personal and witty he was with his songs. When I told my friend Brian about how big of a Ben Folds fan I was, he held up his new album, Rockin’ The Suburbs, and asked if I had gotten it yet. I felt a little embarrassed since the title track was a huge hit single across the nation. How did I not know about this album? I guess being a fan for like a month would probably be the case.
After I left Brian’s, I headed straight to the record store to buy a copy of Rockin’ The Suburbs for myself. I didn’t have any plans for that night, so I decided to just drive around and listen to it a couple of times. This was around the time when Rob introduced me to the glory of 7-11’s Cheeseburger Big Bites. I remember a couple of those being in play for the drive. Unfortunately, the York Rd run hadn’t been invented yet. That would have been a great drive for listening to this album. Anyway, the album starts of with “Annie Waits”. Folds really spoke to my soul here, as I really like songs with hand claps. Another fun track is “Not The Same”. Did you ever have a friend who did a shitload of acid at a party, climbed a tree, then came down the next morning as a born again Christian? Ben Folds has! “Still Fighting It”, one my favorites on the album, is a very sweet, sincere track that is pretty much about everything. It’s a song for his son about growing up, moving on, and looking back. Although, no song by Ben Folds has ever been more touching than “The Luckiest”. The song is about how everything in his life fell perfectly in order to meet the love of his life. All of his mistakes, achievements, and just showing up at the right place on the right day, brought him to her. I love this. It should also be known that this is the song I played for Mr. Goodcar when it hit 100,000 miles.
My favorite track on the album is “Fred Jones Part 2”. On the surface, it’s just a song about a man being forced into retirement from the newspaper company. When in reality, it’s a very depressing song about a man who dedicated 25 years of his life to something, only to feel like he’s being thrown away and will be easily forgotten. I hate the idea of an old, hard-working man having to hit the “Reset” button on life just because his world didn’t need him anymore. The movie “About Schmidt” sort of reminds me of this song. Only I prefer the song way more since it doesn’t show Kathy Bates’ breasts. Euggh!
In the early goings of this list, Rockin’ The Suburbs was my #1 album of the decade. Despite falling down eight spots, the album is still fantastic and a must listen for everybody with a beating heart and a sense of humor.
Favorite Tracks: Fred Jones Part 2, Still Fighting It, Not The Same
#8 The Avett Brothers- Four Thieves Gone (2006)
Alright, The Avett Brothers! Four Thieves Gone was the first album I listed to by them. After I saw the Avett’s for the first time, I needed to find the album that had the super fast song they opened the show with. “Talk On Indolence” was the name of the song, and now I feel like it’s much better as a live song than recorded. Still good, though! The reason The Avett Brothers were so appealing to me after their live show was because of all of the rowdy jamboree folk songs they played. Mignonette and Emotionalism, while they’re both good albums, seriously lack in this category. And their newest release, I and Love and You, forget about it! They abandoned the fun outright with the exception of the last 30 seconds of “Laundry Room” and the song “Kick Drum Heart”. That’s not to say that I don’t like the slow songs and ballads. In fact, some of my favorite songs are the slower ones. I just like a good mix of both. Four Thieves Gone does this perfectly.
I saw The Avett Brothers for the third time with a massive group last month. It was a safe bet that they would be playing a ton of stuff from the new album, and they did. However, they balanced out the very average to below average songs from I and Love and You by playing a thick slice of Four Thieves Gone. I couldn’t believe that was the first time I had heard “Colorshow” live. Why would they not close every set or encore with this? It’s also kind of strange that it’s the third track on the album. Whenever I make mixes, my closing track is usually a song with a heavily repeated chorus. The reason I do this is because after hearing such a comfortably repetitive song, it becomes extremely noticeable to the listener that the album is over. They still have music playing in their head, but there’s none to be heard. To be honest, it’s sort of my cheap way to get people to listen to the album again.
I don’t really have much else to say about this album except for two things…
- This is by far my favorite album of theirs. Lots of great songs that friends like us, like listening to.
- “Gimmeakiss” is my favorite Avett Brothers song. It’s honest and fun.
We are now sort of in the midst, or perhaps the tail end of the “folk explosion”. I feel like most us are Agree Brothers in saying “The Avett Brothers are the best of the bunch”.
Favorite Tracks: Gimmeakiss, Colorshow, Denouncing November Blue, Matrimony
#7 The Postal Service- Give Up (2003)
Oh Ben Gibbard, you out of shape, retarded looking son of a bitch. Thank you for continuing to make so many of my female friends more annoying than they already are.
Why are you good at the music?
I first heard The Postal Service when I was working at Target. During this time, the Target Video Network was bringing the non-stop jams. One of them being “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service. I noticed it, but didn’t really acknowledge it since Bad Religion, The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes, Unwritten Law, and At The Drive In were all on the Target Video Network as well. In fact, I paid such little attention to the song, that I thought they had a female singer. One afternoon, Kat, Little Sarah, I went over to Joe and Jill’s place to pregame before Little Sarah’s 21st Birthday Bash. For the first time ever, Jill had something on that wasn’t The Golden Girls. This saddened me a little as Joe and I had previously perfected a drinking game for that show. Anyway, they were playing music videos and Little Sarah nearly jumped through the roof when they played the video for “Clark Gable”. I liked this song quite a bit. A few weeks later, I was driving around with Chirag when “Such Great Heights” came on. I finally bothered to give it a real listen, as Chirag gave me no choice, and thought it was an awesome song! This song was later hated by me for a brief period after an episode of Veronica Mars. No questions.
I don’t remember buying the album. Actually, I had to walk over to my CD shelf to verify that I actually owned it. For the longest time, I was under the impression that The Postal Service was formed by some DJ in Europe who anonymously sent Ben Gibbard a bunch of music samples, followed by Gibbard adding lyrics to them. It wasn’t until about a couple of months ago when I learned the real story of their collaborating. Whatever the case, the album is good. I think I might actually prefer The Postal Service to Death Cab For Cutie, despite them only having one album. Well, maybe not…I don’t know. Still, I hope The Postal Service doesn’t try to do something stupid, like make another album.
You know what’s even better than The Postal Service CD? Try The Postal Service on vinyl! I wasn’t a believer at first, but Alex played it for me one day and I was really surprised. Give Up is seriously one of the best albums in my record collection. It isn’t much different, but the slight change in sound quality makes this already near-perfect record, perfect. I love laying in bed and listening to this album. Plus, it’s 180-gram white vinyl. For those who don’t know, that means it’s a high quality record that looks sexy as hell. Oh! And speaking of vinyl, I bought a Frank Turner record where he covers “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”. It’s just him, a guitar, and gut busting vocals. Hot damn, that’s a good cover!
So yeah, I was going to get into the specifics of certain songs, but I didn’t see the point. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t heard this record. Thinking about it now, I think Give Up has a real shot of being the #1 album of the decade once we combine all of the lists on the BTP Forum. It would be well deserved.
Favorite Tracks: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, We Will Become Silhouettes, Brand New Colony
#6 Andrew W.K.- I Get Wet (2001)
This is going to be a fun review to write. I love this guy! I’m so glad that I took the autobiographical approach to these reviews as opposed to acting like some kind of pretentious music expert. It would be unbelievably tough for me to explain why songs about Parties, Partying, The Party, Party Time, and Party are essential to our lives.
I think I’ll try anyway.
I mentioned in an earlier review that late night MTV used to be awesome. Around 4am on a weeknight, this came on my TV. Once the video was over, I didn’t really know what to think. In the first couple of minutes, I had a confused look on my face. The next minute, I was laughing my ass off since this had to be some kind of joke. When it was over, I wanted to see it again. Thankfully, I owned a TiVo in those days! It took a couple of days, but I eventually was able to download the song “Party Hard” off of KaZaA. I would listen to it every Saturday night before I headed over to Rob’s house for his famous “House For Jerks Parties”. Some months later, I saw another AWK video. This one was for “She Is Beautiful“. I had learned around that time that AWK was a trained classical pianist and expert musician. This made me happy because look at that guy! He played all of the instruments on his debut release I Get Wet and shows this off a little bit in the “She Is Beautiful” video.
In the early goings, I think only Eric and I liked what Andrew W.K. was doing. This was fine because in those days, we primarily hung out with each other. Brian eventually caught on when he referred to AWK as “Simple, but brilliant”. What used to only be a Saturday night listen turned into a “whenever I’m about to go out” listen. And it wouldn’t just be the song, “Party Hard”, it would be the whole album. Also, if I could, I would try to get the album playing wherever we were hanging out. How could anyone be throwing a party and not be playing hits such as “It’s Time To Party, Fun Night, Party Hard, and Party ‘Til You Puke? Kevin often brings up a great point about AWK. Not only is he the worlds greatest at partying, he’s also the most responsible. He’s very precautionary in all of his songs, without letting the listener or himself lose sight of their goals.
“When it’s time to party, we will always party hard.”
“It’s Time To Party”
“Party ‘Til You Puke”
Andrew W.K. understands that the time and limitations need to be set before you take action. You can’t just up and throw a party! That’s crazy!
I have had so many fun Andrew W.K. related moments. Let’s talk about the live shows. I want to say that I’ve seen him six times and every time I go, I leave exhausted. I’m not a mosher(although, sometimes you can’t avoid it), but I will get on stage and sing. Well me, and about 100 other people. It’s always such a treat when a concert crowd overpowers the dickbag security at the Recher Theatre. My favorite time seeing AWK the first time I saw him at The Ottobar. I was a third wheel with Jen and Eric. Actually, it could have been their first date. Or it could have been during the time where Eric was trying to capture her heart. Whatever, let Eric blog about that. Anyway, the show was super high energy, fast, and Andrew was sporting a great beard. I got on stage for the last song of the set, “I Get Wet”. As far as I know, I was the only one on stage that wasn’t in the band. I grabbed a mic and sang with the crowd and my new bearded best friend. Near the end of the song, someone in the crowd pulled on me pretty hard and I ran my leg into one of the speakers. After the show, Eric and I grabbed a couple drinks upstairs then headed back to the car. On the way, we ran into Andrew W.K.. We shared some big hugs and parted ways. When I got home I saw that blood seeped through my pants. That speaker took a nice chunk out of my leg. I have a nice little scar that will always remind me of one of the most fun shows that I’ve ever been to.
A few months later, AWK had a promotion for his second album The Wolf. The first 1,000 people to register the album would get a personal phone call from him. I bought my copy at Soundgarden a month before the actual release date. There was no doubt that I was going to get a phone call. I originally wasn’t going to register because the promotion is a little cheesy and I’m not a fanboy. Still, why the hell not? After Stevi’s Birthday party, I got the call. He was touring in Japan at the time. We talked for about 10 minutes and at one point he asked if I went to The Ottobar show from a few months back. I told him yes and about how Eric and I met him after the show. His response was “Oh yeah! Are you the tall guy or the short guy!?”. I guess that hug meant a lot to him too.
The point of the phone call story is that no matter how small of a role Eric and I play in Andrew W.K.’s life, we still mattered to him. His album promotion could have easily just been a free t-shirt or sticker to the first 1,000 buyers. Instead, he chose to personally connect with 1,000 of his fans. Andrew W.K. doesn’t really do a lot by way of music anymore. He spends a lot of his time as a motivational speaker. The message that he tries to send is much like his music, simple yet brilliant. That message being “Everyone matters, let’s live together, as one”. He’s been promoting this belief since the very beginning and many of us never realized it.
How do you get a group of people, no matter the size, together to create one big positive environment?
Favorite Tracks: I Get Wet, Ready To Die, Party Hard
#5 Jimmy Eat World- Bleed American (2001)
If you don’t know this album as being titled Bleed American, I certainly won’t fault you for that. Just as the band was getting big with their hit single “The Middle”, a bunch of terrorists flew airplanes into buildings and a field in PA. All major entertainment companies made whatever edits they could that would avoid public relations nightmares. Hence, the change from Bleed American to self-titled. I’ve decided that I’m going to talk more about the album than 9-11.
Back in 2o01, when good ‘ol 99.1 WHFS still existed, Tim Virgin introduced Jimmy Eat World to the Baltimore/DC region by playing the song “Bleed American”. I was looking forward to hearing it because a lot of stores would stock this album with the girly pop-punk bands I would listen to. My piss poor logic was that since they were on a major label, but stocked with the Drive-Thru records bands, then that means they must be awesome! Yes, I’m that stupid at times. Points for shameless honesty? Eh…so after the song played, I wasn’t overly impressed. The song was decent, but I decided not to purchase this album at the low price of $6.99. However, Rob did buy this album. In fact, I think Rob would buy any album that was $6.99 or less. The next time I saw him, he insisted that the album was great and a “must buy”, despite the weakness of the title track. I took his word for it and bought it the same day.
I’m not sure why the song “Bleed American” is even on the record. It’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the album. Despite all of my complaints about the opening track, Bleed American is a wonderful album. It’s clean, energetic rock with extremely catchy melodies. The only reason I can think they were normally stocked with pop-punk bands is because that type of music was the craze in 2001. Jimmy Eat World is definitely NOT one of those bands. They have a much more mature approach to love songs and they don’t accentuate on every inhale or nasally word like a shitty pop-punk band does. When I told people that this album was going to be ranked very high on my list, I was shocked at how many people were unfamiliar with it. I thought people would at least know their two other singles, and most catchy songs, “The Middle” and “Sweetness”. For those who don’t have it, take this album and listen loud.
I think the reason that this album isn’t heavily discussed anymore or highly ranked on lists like this is because it’s not risky in any way. Jimmy Eat World didn’t reinvent the wheel or set a new standard on rock music. They just did everything right with this album. That is, except Track 1. But like I said before, it’s definitely not a bad song. At least they didn’t put the track in the middle of the album, destroying the continuity and pacing of what turned out to be one of the most solid albums of the decade. So yeah, for those who don’t know this album, listen to Rob’s advice. It’s a must listen. Good music!
Favorite Tracks: (If You Don’t, Don’t), The Authority Song, Sweetness
#4 The Arcade Fire- Funeral (2004)
The Arcade Fire is a funny band with me. Both of their albums are on my Top 25 list and I consider them both to be masterpieces. What’s weird is that when I think of my favorite bands, The Arcade Fire never comes to mind. I absloutely love their music, but I really don’t know anything about them. You may have noticed this in my review of Neon Bible.
I first heard about The Arcade Fire through Rob. He would go on and on about how awesome they are. Actually, he would play Funeral all the time at his house and I wouldn’t give it the time of day. I thought the band had a stupid name and thought for sure that they were a crappy emo band. It wasn’t until I saw them on Saturday Night Live, when I realized that this band was actually good. I downloaded Neon Bible first and thought it was fantastic. Hence, it being on this list. For some reason, downloading their previous release never came to mind. At this point, I knew Eric and Alex loved the album as well. Up until about six months ago, I think I had heard Funeral two or three times. One day on the BTP Forum, Alex made a poll asking which Arcade Fire album people preferred. I’m almost positive that I was the only one who clicked Neon Bible. This was followed by pages and pages of discussion on how great Funeral is. A few hours later, Alex sent me the album and I listened to it like four times in a row. My friends were right. This album is better. I loved it so much, that I would play it every night before I went to sleep. How did this album fly under my radar for so long? Why did my friends let this happen? Needless to say, I had some egg to wipe off my face. I should have just listened to Rob when he told me about the album years earlier.
Again, because I’m such a late bloomer when it comes to this band. I’m certainly not going to waste your valuable reading time with an uneducated review. Most of the albums on my list come from artists that I’ve been listening to consistently for years. Those reviews were very fun and easy to write. All I know is that I love this album. Maybe I’ll have less of a struggle writing about The Arcade Fire when I do my Top 25 of the ’10’s list. That being said, why is Funeral ranked as my #4 album of the decade? Simple. Because it’s perfect. Dude, the song “Neighborhood” is awesome! Or oh man, what about “Neighborhood”! Or “Neighborhood”! Or even “Neighborhood”! Arcade Fire!
Favorite Tracks: Rebellion(Lies), Neighborhood #1(Tunnels), Crown Of Love
#3 The Gaslight Anthem- The ’59 Sound (2008)
It’s in my humble opinion that currently, The Gaslight Anthem is the best band in America. I expect a lot of people to fly off the handle from that comment, but I genuinely believe it. They kicked off their very young career with a phenomenal punk album in Sink Or Swim and a very solid EP, Senor and The Queen. However, it wasn’t until they released The ’59 Sound when I was able to appreciate just how good of a band they are.
Kevin is undoubtedly the best torrent finder I know. He was able to find The ’59 Sound three months before its late August release. I remember not getting a chance to listen to the entire album right away, but made a point to listen to “The Patient And The Ferris Wheel” because Dickie Barrett sang on the track. Just by listening to that song, I knew that this album was going to go in a completely different direction from their previous release. Their sound was a lot cleaner and the song was definitely not limited to the punk genre. I finally got the chance to listen to the album some weeks later when I got off of work. The album kicks off with “Great Expectations”. It’s a song about how all of his relationships failed and how he expects the next one to as well. It also happens to be the perfect opening track for an album like this. The song is unbelievably catchy with a fairly depressing theme.”Old White Lincoln” was the song that really drew me into the album. I remember telling Carr how it was at the time, my favorite song on the album. This was followed by us singing the song at the top of our lungs at “Friends”. That bar sucks.
After about a year and a half with the album, my favorite songs have changed many times. For awhile, it was “Old White Lincoln”. Then it was “High Lonesom”, a great rock song with a few lines stolen from Counting Crows. During the road trip and for quite some time after, it was “Meet Me By The Rivers Edge”. There’s a part of the song that was definitely written on the tour bus. It was also very similar to how I felt during my trip to the West Coast.
And now I drive the 101 on the California night.’
And I’m amazed at all the stars beneath that old Hollywood sign.
And they waltz, a ballet on the boulevard, to a place we never kept.
And I’m not sure if we belong here, if I ever really left, or If I can go home.
Today, my favorite songs are two of the slower songs on the album “Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid” and “Miles Davis and The Cool”. Despite the tempo being not too far off from each other, they’re very different songs. I like to look at “Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid” as a prequel to the opening track, “Great Expectations”.
It’s funny that I have an album ranked so high, yet it has a song I don’t like. “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” is the only Gaslight song that I dislike. That song is a piece of shit. They play it okay live, but I will always skip it when I’m playing the album. I’m not sure why I haven’t just deleted the song outright. That song is the only reason why this album isn’t ranked higher. However, the rest of the songs are pure gold and it’s a must own. The Gaslight Anthem!
Favorite Tracks: Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid, Miles Davis and The Cool, Meet Me By The Rivers Edge
#2 Rocket From The Crypt- Group Sounds
As stated in an earlier review, I didn’t love Rocket From The Crypt right away. The first album of theirs that I bought was Circa Now!. I didn’t know at the time that it was their fourth or fifth best album. After I told Eric and Brian that I wasn’t that into them, one of those guys told me to try their most recent release, Group Sounds. Back in those days, new music was the #1 priority. I can’t remember for sure, but it’s safe to say that I bought the album that same day.
Group Sounds has a similar sound to another album of theirs, Scream Dracula, Scream!. The problem I had with Circa Now! was that it’s sound was a tad too dirty for my taste. My problem with RFTC is that it sounded way too squeaky clean. Obviously, I’m not referring to how the album was produced. I have always been a firm believer that bands should always try to get the best production as possible. Anyway, this album is loaded with some of the best rocks songs from San Diego’s native sons. Over half of the tracks are under three minutes. This is one thing I love about this band. They don’t try to overdo any of their songs.
It’s weird, girls don’t really like Rocket From The Crypt. I’m not sure why this is.
Last year on the BTP Forum, all of the members made lists of their Top 25 American Bands. By now, many of you should know how these things work. Rob and I both ranked Rocket From The Crypt at #1, which gives them 50 points right off the bat. Once all of the lists were submitted, there were 61 bands that were eligible to make the final list. With 115 points and only being on five lists(which goes to show that if you like this band, you REALLY like this band), Rocket From The Crypt was #4. I was pleased to see it as I really do feel that they are one of the greatest American rock bands of all time. It’s a shame that so many people will have never even heard of them.
Favorite Tracks: Out Of Control, Ghost Shark, Straight American Slave
Would you like to know the bands that beat Rocket From The Crypt in the Favorite American Bands list?
#3 was Weezer with 130 points on 9 lists.
#2 was The Beach Boys with 150 points on 8 lists.
The answer is….
#1 The White Stripes- Elephant
2001 was such a cool year in music. That was the year when The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes, and The Vines(who I never liked) were the hottest bands in rock. Out of the “Big Four”, The White Stripes was the band that I got into first. This was another case of finding something cool on MTV at 4am. I saw the video for “Fell In Love With A Girl”(dir. Michel Gondry) and I immediately decided that I still love Legos very much. Also, the song was cool. A few weeks later, America agreed.
A couple years after the garage rock boom, The White Stripes released Elephant. At this point, it seemed like people who weren’t into this kind of music decided that all of these bands are exactly the same. First off, listen to the fucking albums. None of these bands have remotely similar songs when compared to each other. Second, The White Stripes can easily be singled out as they are a blues rock band. Anyway, when the album came out, “Seven Nation Army” was a mega-hit. It’s simple, yet catchy beat and Jack’s distorted guitar riff could easily make this song be stuck in your head for days at a time. The rest of the album is loaded with the best blues rock, and based off this list music in general, of the past decade.
I’ve seen The White Stripes live twice. The more memorable time that I saw them was when they were touring for Elephant. The show was at Merriweather Post Pavillion and had the spectacular lineup of The White Stripes, The Shins, and M. Ward. Plus, it was my Birthday! They played the album in its entirety with the exception of “It’s True That We Love One Another”, as Holly Golightly was not at the show. It was this night when I decided that Jack White is one of the most talented musicians that I listen to. Not only is he a great songwriter and stellar blues guitarist, he’s got the piano and xylophone down too. Yeah xylophone!
Favorite Tracks: The Hardest Button To Button, Seven Nation Army, (Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine)
So that’s it! My favorite album of the last ten years. Eric was right when he referred to the 00’s as “Our Decade”. I’ve listened to hundreds(maybe even over a thousand) of albums over the last decade. With music being one of my favorite things in the world, Elephant and the rest of the albums on this list are responsible for so many good times in my life. What’s great about music is that many times you can link a certain album with a period of time, a person you know, or a specific event. I’m glad I made my reviews autobiographically. It sort of let me relive all of these moments again.
That’s my list. What’s yours?