Hey, it’s January 7th, meaning it’s Christmas in the homeland. In honor of that, I’ve turned the blog over to Matt “Cassel” Powers. It’s a tough position, debuting on Christmas, but Cassel passed (no pun intended) with flying colors. Today, it’s part one of his 7 Albums You May Have Missed. Read on. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I was considering doing a Top 10 Albums of the 2000s list, but (a) Alexei was already doing one [Editor’s Note: That might not happen. I’m having trouble deciding. Read Dave’s or Curtis’s.], (b) there was no way in hell I would be able to settle on a list I would be content with, and (c) it would probably turn out atrocious, incomplete, and way too biased towards the latter half of the decade. So, instead, I cooked up a list of 7 albums I discovered over the past 10 years, be it from illegal Napster downloads (wow, that was a long time ago — ah…the years of Bonzi Buddy, AOL 4.0, and Ski Free), word of mouth, movies, video games, shows, etc etc.
I remember getting my first iPod for Christmas in 2003 (soooo cutting edge, I know, I know, no need to compliment me). Like 1 MB for $7,000, it barely fit in my pocket, and had (gasp) real buttons that, like, clicked! I distinctly remember getting excited when I added my 100th song (and, consequently, got my first “memory full” error message). So, as I sit here playing with my brand new Microsoft Zune iPod Nano (even I, a devout Christian, Republican, and, subsequently, Windows user, cannot even joke about the horror that is the Zune), I scan over my new and improved music collection, looking for 7 albums somewhere between Adema and Zebrahead that can sufficiently define the last 10 years of my life (from a musical standpoint). Hmm, actually, the last 10 years of my life were mostly spent hunched over a computer and/or with headphones jammed in my ears. So really, the following list pretty much defines my entire life during the glorious George Bush era (insert political jab, anyone?).
1. Alien Ant Farm – ANThology (2001).
Think back. Way back. You KNOW this band. That’s right. They did that cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” 9 years ago. Reality is, AAF never intended for “Smooth Criminal” to be their leading single off this album, and it was only after some random DJ heard it and slapped it on the air that the song garnered any attention. So much attention, actually, that Anthology peaked at #12 on the Billboard charts. Someone in my family (probably my sister) ran out and picked up this CD at our local (gulp) TOWER RECORDS and later burned me a copy. Last summer, nearly seven years later, I was transferring my music library to my new computer when I stumbled across my original copy of this album, and figured hey, these new iPods hold like 5,000 songs anyway, why not give it a shot? After a couple of run-throughs, I realized that AAF actually kinda kicks ass, and that their one hit “Smooth Criminal” is really one of the weaker tracks from this record. Their original intended debut single “Movies” was chosen as such for a reason, but the aforementioned cover and its infamous music video blew up so quickly that the band had burned out and faded into obscurity before any of the other tracks really got any attention.
Listen to: “Movies“, “Death Day“, “Universe“
2. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes (2002).
I tend to never judge an album based on music reviews; after all, reviews are merely opinions, and to each his own, blah blah blah. But Pitchfork.com is known for being, well, rather hellish when it comes to reviewing albums. Except here. Pitchfork gave this album a 10/10, a score usually only reserved for Radiohead records, and I happen to fully agree with their assessment. I’m not really into the whole indie rock scene or whatnot, but these four dudes from Texas actually pack quite a 46-minute punch from start to finish. Just don’t bother picking up either of their follow-up albums, So Divided or Worlds Apart. Trust me.
Listen to: “It Was There That I Saw You“, “Monsoon“, “Source Tags and Codes“
3. Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect (2009).
I have to be in a certain mood to sit back and enjoy progressive hardcore metal (and by “sit back” I, naturally, mean bounce off the walls and go batshit insane), but this album, start to finish, is nothing short of amazing. Even if you don’t like heavy growling vocals, there are enough brutal breakdowns and enticing instrumentals strewn throughout this album to please any rock or metal fan. The album opens with a 4-minute melodic instrumental track and concludes with an ass-kicking 8 minute solo featuring layered guitar riffs, keyboards, tons of bass slapping, and pounding drums. Throw in a little country-influenced vocal interlude (“Desert of Song“), and a little funky piano piece (“Fossil Genera“) and you’ve got yourself an album. Give these guys a shot; believe me, if you’re a fan of progressive rock of any sort, it WILL grow on you.
Listen to: “Obfuscation“, “Fossil Genera: Feed From Cloud Mountain“, “Swim to the Moon“
Check back tomorrow for the last four albums!