Sunday, December 27, 2009

50 other great albums, in no particular order: part 5

Holy schmikies! Has it been over a month since I last updated this list? I guess I got sidetracked by my Joke of the Day: Holiday Version project, which took up a solid 2 weeks of my time and concentration leading up to Christmas. But now that I'm free to take on other assignments, let's get back to bidness, shall we?

41. Joanna Newsom, The Milk-Eyed Mender. Remember how I once wrote that John Entwistle is the greatest French horn player in rock 'n' roll history? Well, Joanna Newsom snatched the title of Premier Rock Harp Player with this, her debut album. She may sing like Olive Oyl, but she plays the harp like an angel and can write a mean ditty. Plus, I discovered her totally serendipitously - she was opening for the great High Llamas at a show in Seattle about 5-6 years ago. Almost as good as the time I went to see Bush and wound up with The Toadies ...

42. Red House Painters, Red House Painters. When I set out on my list-making odyssey, one of my stipulations was that I would not include greatest-hits albums. And if I had known that Red House Painters (aka Rollercoaster) wasn't a greatest-hits album, it very well might have cracked my Top 50. So many good songs on here! And even on the songs which aren't quite as good, Mark Kozelek still sounds like a million bucks. Really, one of the unique and great voices in independent music. "New Jersey": certainly one of my all-time favorite songs. "You're an American girl/red-headed, eyes blank/living in a freckle on the face of the world." Damn! Opening lines of songs just don't come better than that. Make sure you check out both the acoustic and electric versions - almost like two whole different songs.

43. The Residents, The King and I. I might not have known another moment of true peace in my life if I hadn't included this, the greatest Elvis cover album of all time. It's chilling, just chilling! Hope you're satisfied, B-Phat ...

44. Vic Chesnutt, Is the Actor Happy? Vic Chesnutt died this Christmas, a victim of suicide at the age of 45. He suffered a spinal-cord injury in a car crash at age 18 and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and wrote songs that could accommodate his physical limitations on the guitar. So is that why I included him on the list? No. This album really is good. He was a hell of a songwriter, and had the voice to match his cynical views. Another good one to check out: Sweet Relief II: The Gravity of the Situation, featuring all sorts of big-name artists (even Madonna!) singing Vic's songs.

45. Modest Mouse, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. There was a time when I could tolerate Isaac Brock's quirky lyrics and singing style; and that time was 1996, back when this album was released. I haven't cared all that much for anything they've done since, though I haven't checked out everything. "Polar Opposites" is probably one of the worst songs to ever get a bunch of raves from reputable music critics. "Tundra/Desert," which is on This is a Long Drive, is undoubtedly MM's best song.

46. Silkworm, Developer. Another one of those random bands, who I had heard something about, then saw one of their CD's at a used-record store, and bought it, and ended up loving it and listening to it a bunch, but never checked out any of their other stuff. What is wrong with me, anyways??? In fact, I'm gonna go to the Madison Public Library website right now and see if they have any good Silkworm. But by all means, check out this album.

47. The Pants, Eat Crow. The Pants are the greatest non-Phish band to ever come out of Burlington VT. Or maybe the greatest ever? I'm just not much of a jam-band guy. Unfortunately, The Pants had already disbanded (ha ha) by the time I took up residence in Burlington. From what I read about them, they were an agreeable bunch of semi-nerdy types who were one break away from hitting the big time. Christ, I don't even know if you can find their music on now! If you can, try downloading the MP3 for "Intruder Alert" - it's an awesome tune.

48. Gary Numan, whatever album he put out that had "Cars" on it. Is there a better song out there than "Cars?" Seriously. It came out - what? In the 1970's? And it still sounds fresh as a daisy. Gary Numan may be the quintessential one-hit wonder, but what a hit! An inspiration to all the one-hit wonders of the world, from Dexy's Midnight Runners to The Outfield to Chumbawumba.

49. Supertramp, Breakfast in America. Are you kidding me? Did I almost leave the Tramp off my Bonus 50 list? I guess this has been a little skewed toward more recent music; but definitely, Supertramp belongs on here. If the only song they had ever released was "The Logical Song," they could have still considered their careers to be a success. But this album has other great tunes as well: "Goodbye Stranger," the crazy klezmer title track, etc etc. A classic!

50. (blank) And here's where we come to the conclusion of my music listing; and in honor of all my readers, I'm leaving this one blank. You can insert whatever you'd like here. Go on, give it a shot! Do you think John Fahey belongs here? He's all yours. Western State Hurricanes? What the hell, go for it. (Just don't try to slip in Modest Mouse, Som, since I broke down and included them up above there.) The Goo Goo Dolls? Hmmm. Eh, all right.
You people deserve this. You stuck with me, even when my month of service on the inpatient hematology ward grievously delayed this final installment, and I won't soon forget your dedication. This one's for you. Cherish it and make it last, because I'm absolutely spent.

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