Breaking news! Matt “Cassel” Powers is getting a cat next year. He’s calling it Cat Cassel. Pure brilliance. Either way, he’s back today with the second installment of his 7 Albums You May Have Missed. If you missed part one, read it. Then come back and keep reading this.
4. Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (2005)
It was difficult picking a Coheed album for my list, because each has its fair share of ups and downs (but then again, what album doesn’t?) But I feel like From Fear is Coheed’s best work, because, as everyone knows, the quality of a band’s album is directly proportional to the length of its title. I’m sure everyone’s heard “Welcome Home” at some point on the radio or in a (ugh) video game, but really, that’s no reason to be turned off by this progressive rock quartet. But, hey, don’t take it from me. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins apparently loves these guys too. When Coheed drummer Josh Eppard unceremoniously left the band in 2006, Hawkins didn’t think twice about stepping in and taking the studio by storm as he laid down the drum track for every song on Coheed’s 2007 album Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 2: No World For Tomorrow. Confused by these titles yet? Don’t worry. Coheed has an album due out in early 2010 (apparently) titled just Year of the Black Rainbow (but, hey, according to my “album title length vs. quality of content” theory, that’s not necessarily a good thing).
Listen to: “Apollo I: The Writing Writer“, “The Willing Well I: Fuel For the Feeding End“, “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut“
5. NoFX – Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing (2006)
Think punk rock is dead? Think the guys from NoFX are starting to show signs of age? Think political mumbo jumbo makes for pedantic, uninteresting music? Think again! NoFX (almost) returns to their 1994-form with this 19-track record pressed by bassist Fat Mike’s own independent label, Fat Wreck Chords. And, naturally, despite all the album’s angry railing against the entertainment industry (“60%“), the Bible belt (“Leaving Jesusland“), and the war on drugs (“Getting High on the Down Low“), NoFX truly still kicks ass (I know, I know, how many times am I gonna say something ‘kicks ass’…?). But really, Wolves is a perfect blend of laid back, stupid, nonsensical jabs and real socio-political commentary that makes for a pretty awesome punk album, whether you agree with their message or not. Oh and as usual, there will be no “Parental Advisory” sticker on this album. NoFX is STILL not a member of the PMRC, and wants everyone to know it. Oh, and they were also blacklisted as a “gay punk band” on this hilarious website, so, you know they’re awesome.
Listen to: “60%“, “Cantado en Espanol“, “You Will Lose Faith“
6. Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (2006).
I’m getting a little tired of hearing how similar these guys are to The Smashing Pumpkins (the whole ‘shoegazing’ genre, the female bassist, the initials ‘SP’, the unusual vocals, the heavy electronic sound…), so I won’t even try to compare the two (wait, shit!). In all seriousness, my roommate my freshman year, Brett, can verify that the first time I listened to this album start to finish, all I had to say was…“that was a real fucking album.” What do I mean? The songs were so perfectly positioned, the transitions between each song were so smooth, and the album art was so unbelievably appropriate for the band’s sound and genre that it really had no business being released during this decade, a time when it feels like most alternative rock groups slap 12 random songs on a CD, whip up a cool-looking cover in Photoshop and release it to the masses. SSPU so incredibly integrates the sonorous smashing of Chris Guanlao’s drums, the rugged rhythm of Nikki Monninger’s bass, the nearly deafening distortion of Brian Aubert’s guitar, and the spectacular sounds of Joe Lester’s keys that you really can only hear it to believe it. Becoming the first indie band to reach #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts, as well as grabbing a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist (not that it really matters, as nearly every band that has ever won that award has actually turned out atrocious) is just icing on the cake, and, hopefully, signs of things to come from this Los Angeles based quartet.
Listen to: “Future Foe Scenarios“, “Lazy Eye“, “Common Reactor“
7. System of a Down – Steal This Album! (2002)
Yeah, sure, everyone knows these guys, which is why none of their well-known albums (Toxicity, Hypnotize, Mesmerize) make this list. Steal This Album! was the victim of the outburst of music sharing sites during the first half of the decade; hence, it was leaked in its entirety long before its planned release and never garnered nearly as much attention or accolades as any of SOAD’s other releases. However, despite the lack of any real standout track, Steal This Album! shells out 16 ass-kicking (one more for the road?) songs that provide, if nothing else, somewhat of a career interlude between Toxicity and the monster double-album Hypnotize/Mesmerize.
Listen to: “A.D.D. (American Dream Denial)“, “Mr. Jack“, “Streamline“
So, that’s about it. If I didn’t suck too much maybe Alexei will invite me back to write a review one day. [Editor’s Note: Don’t worry, everyone. He’ll be back.]