34. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes. I can already hear the critics sharpening their knives - how can I include Fleet Foxes on a Top 50 list when their debut CD came out less than 9 months ago? Easy: it's a classic. A unique sound, beautiful vocal harmonies, incredible musicianship from guys in their early 20's. And to top it all off, they're from Seattle. Boo yah!
I've seen them on TV, I've seen them live, I've listened to their CD and EP many times. They're the real deal. And if you don't believe me, their album was also "rated album of the year by Billboard's Critic's Choice and in Metacritic's end of year best album round-up it appeared in 17 lists, topping six of them." (That's from Wikipedia, my sole information source.) I don't live and die by other critics (who else would choose Punch the Clock in his Top 50, for chrissake? King Crimson, too) but sometimes it's nice to have a little validation to back you up.
33. Guided by Voices, Alien Lanes. There's a part of me - not an inconsequential part, either - that wants to include GBV in my Top 10 for several reasons. First of all, they're pretty much just about my favorite band. And second of all, they're underappreciated. It's just a gosh-darn shame that more people don't know about the genius of Robert Pollard, the ridiculously prolific frontman of GBV. In essence, he *is* GBV - he writes the songs, sings, and shuffles the band line-up at his whim. And he's written, like, over 2000 songs. He can't be stopped - he can't even be contained. I don't know if there's anyone else out there who lives, eats, drinks (especially drinks) and smokes rock 'n' roll the way he does.
GBV is officially disbanded now, though I expect that Bob Pollard will continue to write, create and produce new songs for as long as he draws breath. It's been a few years, though, since he came up with something like Alien Lanes. This one has a special place in my heart, for I saw GBV for the first time during their Alien Lanes tour. Part of me is tempted to go with Bee Thousand instead, on the strength of songs like "Hot Freaks" and "Tractor Rape Chain" and also out of solidarity with my friend Chris, who lost a hive of his bees over the winter. But I think Alien Lanes is equally strong musically, and I will never forget that first GBV show and especially the moment they ripped into the 30-second long "Pimple Zoo": it taught me a new definition of rock.