It's that time of the year again. The year end reviews, except this year I didn't get too many 2011 album releases. Money's tighter now and spent it on the more familiar names like Yes' Fly From Here. Instead, I bought many albums from rummage sales and burned many CD's from the local library, trying to fill the gaps and the holes in my collection. This year, I think I got too many albums (Is there a such things as too much music?) and now I've literary got stacks of vinyl, cassettes and CD's piled everywhere around me. Some of which I haven't gotten a chance to listen to yet, many I have. Here's a list of some of my favorites I've gotten my hands on this year...
John Lennon John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band 1970 I don't know why I never gotten any this sooner. Maybe it was mine preference for Paul McCartney. Any rate, this album is FANTASTIC! Inspired by his primal therapy, Lennon creates a revolutionary and harrowing set of unflinchingly personal songs, laying out his fears and angers for everyone to hear. Simple, yet extremely intense, Lennon pushes towards themes of child-parent relationships and psychological suffering.
Iron Maiden The Final Frontier 2010 Those who would of thought Iron Maiden was left for the dead are in for a surprise! Sounding much like the '80's Iron Maiden that I fell in love with, the reunited Maiden offers no compromises, just complexities and challenges and many moments of brilliance. It's an engaging effort with a cinematic vision.
XTC Skylarking 1986 Never really heard of XTC till I picked up their Oranges & Lemons at a rummage sale over the summer. I thought that one was phenomenal, yet I thought Skylarking was a notch better. Their lush post psychedelic pop-enhanced sound by detailed sweeping instrumentation reminds me of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's and REM's Murmur all wrapped up in a multidimensional package. Just plainly sheer brilliancy!
Mott the Hoople Mott 1973 "The rock and roll circus is back in town" sings frontman Ian Hunter in a line from "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople". The truth it may seem. Mott the Hoople keeps it straight forward, yet eccentric as they drive home with a collection of songs of road fraught with exhaustion, disillusionment and dashed hopes all told with a wry sense of humor.
Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream 2009 Working On A Dream is the Boss's most exuberant and pop-orientated album for a long time. It is as if the swell of goodwill sweeping across anyone's soul...Bright and punchy, there is no pandering here, with Springsteen and the trusty E Street Band rocking and rolling with free abandon and sounding like they thoroughly enjoyed every single moment recording the album.
Marshall Tucker Band Running Like the Wind 1979 Like their southern colleges the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band are known for their extended free flowing instrumental jams. The nine plus minute country flavored title track could take a listener on a dreamy ride across the wild western skyline interweaving flutes, guitars and fiddles. Aimless as it may sound, but it shows the strong musicianship within the Marshall Tucker Band.
Asia Phoenix 2008 Like the Phoenix of the title of their 2008 album, Asia has risen from the ashes and made their first studio album with their original lineup in a quarter century. This album have could easily followed their debut in the terms of musicianship. While 1983's Alpha was more pop oriented, Phoenix has a suppleness when they stretch out into multi-part suites while retaining a knack for big, arena pop hooks.
Yes Fly From Here 2011 A decade since their latest studio
album, Yes pulls off a keeper. Similar to their 1980 release of Drama in the terms of the lineup and feel, except the singer is the unknown Jon Anderson sound alike Benoit David. Drawing comparisons to the early days, the 25 minute eight part suite "Fly From Here" presents a depth and lushness that makes one think.
Black Keys Thickfreakness 2003 Inspired by the their success of last years' release of Brothers, it was only fitting to check out some of their older material. Recorded in the drummer Patrick Carney's basement in a single day, the Black Keys wail is hot, primal, and heartfelt. Dan Auerback's lean but meaty guitar lines and room-filling vocals drag the blues into the 21st century through sheer force of will without sounding like these guys are in any way mocking their influences.
UFO Obsession 1978 The last studio album to feature star guitarist Micheal Schenker. It did indeed contain lots of prime metal cuts. Much of the album is fun and carefree. The album kicks into gear with melodic tasty rockers without sounding lame and in your face. Under appreciated and often overlooked...
Too many albums and too little time....Some of them worth mentioning on this list. Steely Dan's Aja offers some great jazz rock. The North Mississippi Allstars Hernando has got some exceptional straight forward bluesy rock while Joe Satriani coughs up some extreme guitar work in The Extremist. Heart put out a great Christmas album in the Lovemonger's Christmas. The Dixie Dregs laid out some usual shit, blending southern fried boogie with progressive instrumental rock.
Coming soon.... the worst of 2011 plus the best dust blowers (if time applies...)