• MOST IMPROVED •
The Mars Volta / Octahedron
I’ve always tried to like The Mars Volta. Each album has had some interesting, memorable moments, but as a whole I found each of them to be damn near impossible to sit through. And don’t even get me started on the bullshit jam-session live performances. But Octahedron finally sees the band craft more focused pieces that can actually be called songs. The lyrics are still artsy-fartsy stoner baloney, but that’s fine in this case. I can sit all the way through this album, and I did so pretty often this year.
• WASTED HYPE •
Them Crooked Vultures / self-titled
If this was a debut album made by three guys that you’ve never heard of, it would not be getting anywhere near the kind of reviews or hype it has gotten. It’s a decent album at best, with a fairly dull lead singer. Everyone that loves this band loved it before they ever heard a single song.
• BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS •
Chris Cornell / Scream
This was simply the biggest wrong turn that a great artist could have made. What the fuck Chris was thinking here is completely beyond me. I just hope it was a very short-lived phase that never rears its head again. I hesitated to even put it on this list because I want to just forget about it and pretend it never existed. Horrendous.
Green Day / 21st Century Breakdown
I loved American Idiot, so I was eager to get into this album. Unfortunately I never could. It sounded weak from the first time I listened to it, and nothing grabbed me. Fail.
• HONORABLE MENTIONS •
Alice In Chains / Black Gives Way To Blue
There’s a certain faction of people that just aren’t willing to get over the whole “It’s not Layne so I don’t like it” bullshit. And trust me, I was skeptical coming in. Layne was special, and can’t be replaced. Luckily William Duvall never pretends to be Layne. He fits the aesthetic of the music, and he does it with skill and class. Does this rank up there with ‘Dirt’? No. But neither did the last album with Layne. This is a very good Alice In Chains album, powered mainly by Jerry Cantrell, just like all Alice In Chains albums.
Pearl Jam / Backspacer
Pearl Jam can do no wrong in my eyes, so admittedly, they have an easy ride onto any list that I create. Despite being the shortest album of the bands long career, Backspacer never disappoints. The band managed to pull out maybe the most hard rocking PJ song ever, “Gonna See My Friend” and one of their sweetest ballads, “Just Breathe”. Yet another great album from our finest living Classic Rock band.
AFI / Crash Love
It took AFI some time to settle into being a great rock band, which is what they are now. Crash Love is a timeless rock album. I don’t know that it can touch ‘Sing The Sorrow’ as the pinnacle of the bands creativity, but it far surpasses ‘Decemberunderground’. AFI have grown up and found their true voice. Great album.
• ALBUM OF THE YEAR •
dredg / The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
Not only is this the album of the year, and very possibly the decade, but it will likely go down as one of my favorite albums of all time. It really is just about as perfect as an album can be. The production is absolutely flawless. Every nuance of every instrument is crystal clear, and mixed beautifully. The songs are all well-crafted, intelligent, and touching. This is very possibly the highlight of one of America’s finest, most creative bands ever. If you haven’t given this album your undivided attention for at least a few spins, you are really missing out on something special.