Sunday, December 16, 2007

Counting down: 40-31..

40. Paulson - All At Once (reissue w/ Bonus tracks)
Another disc that's reissue dropped on March 6th, 2007 (maybe it'll be considered a holiday for me as it was that day? :P), it was one I would go back to sometimes, mainly to listen to the standout cut "I Knew You When." It has one of the catchiest sections I heard all year from any song. And even though it is a reissue, they added a bunch of new songs to this edition, and that I got the sense it received a lot more distribution. Having 14 songs and about an hour in length, I tended to enjoy other parts of this one as well. The whole thing has an upbeat feel and energy to it; which is one of the reasons I went back to it as often as I did. It was definitely one that when I 1st heard I didn't expect to like or play as much as I ended up doing. At 1st it seemed like a alt-rock guilty pleasure, but over time, however bubblegum or pop-ish it came across, the fact was I went back to it a fair amount; and I found a lot to like about the majority of this one.

39. Marillion - Somewhere Else

The good parts of this are a. It is still Marillion, a band I've loved for over a decade. Even their worst work I often find good material in. b. It is different than their last record "Marbles" so it really cannot be accused of being rehash. The best pieces on here to me are a couple of the songs in the middle. The title cut, while sad like this whole disc, does offer an enjoyable atmosphere, a powerful crescendo, and another trademark Steve Rothery guitar solo at the end. The following piece "A Voice from the Past" is effective in a similar way. Well-written and not as lazy as much of the rest of this. "Wound," and I suppose a couple of the others like the closer "Faith," the opener "The Other Half," and "Thank You Whoever You Are" all are decent songs with qualities I enjoy about Marillion. But ultimately, this album doesn't demand me to go back to it right now anymore than say "Radiation" or "Holidays In Eden" ever did. The feel of it is dreary and very slowww, not to mention the intended depressing or melancholy mood it gives. In a way it almost feels like demos or they wanted to go at this one at 1/2-speed. You'd almost not recognize them if you heard this back-to-back with "Marbles." I guess some of these songs do better live; which is a bit of a relief. But with their history, I'm not highly surprised and thus not highly disappointed in it. I know they can and will put out more great music, it's just it wasn't quite there on this one. The next disc may be out in 2008, so maybe pretty soon; although some of that material and reason so soon for a follow-up has to do with the fact they recorded a lot of material that didn't end up on this one. Let's hope a lot of that ends up being better than this. They're still my favorite band, no matter.

38. The End - Elementary
Were to open for Between the Buried And Me this fall, but their guitarist Andrew Hercules departed the band, and they had to drop-out of that tour. That is how I heard about this band. Even though they had to bail on that tour, I still checked them out and got into this one. This is their 3rd full-length release, but the only thing I know by them right now. Sort of progressive/alternative hardcore if that's a style (aren't "styles" only a necessarily evil in the 1st place?). A couple of the songs have a decent Tool-slant. I guess I just dig how I can put this on and hear little things in each song to notice each time around. Having a new interest in more kinds of Metal, these guys fit right-into what I was digging this fall. The vocals for some will kill this for them, but for me, they only add to it. I like screaming in fact now. Ironically, maybe the finest part of this is the entirely clean-vocalled 9 minute epic "And Always." The piano, and build on that one closes out a for the most part, flawless record. Their future may or may not be certain (it appears they are doing some concerts this month at least, so the guitarist issue may be remedied for now), but at least they have left us with something to enjoy in the mean time.

37. Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring (EP)
With the highly disappointing "Fear of a Blank Planet" dropping in April, it was uncertain what to expect on this EP which the material was written and recorded in the same time period. As it turned out, this release ended up being better all-together. Sort of less-is-more in a way, which often can happen with EPs. A band teases you, or just includes some individual pieces that didn't seem to fit with the majority of the writing they do. "Normal" is the best thing I heard from Porcupine Tree in 2007, and it's not even close. It takes a melody from "Sentimental" and blows it up. The fast, intricate drumming from Gavin Harrison is perfect for the Meshuggah- like section in the middle. Almost a tease since we only get to hear that briefly from this band. The other 3 cuts are worth hearing in-the-flow and feel of this. "Nil Recurring" is a heavier, spacey instrumental which I remember being reminded of "Wedding Nails" initially. "Cheating the Polygraph" and "What Happens Now?" has this great spacey-groove that reminds me of Signify-era Tree, that later builds. I couldn't help but listen to it and *love* it as much for what it is, as how much better it seemed to be than FoaBP.

36. One Republic - Dreaming Out Loud
A bit of a wait for this thing to be released, it surprised me as there aren't any songs here I'd skip. "Someone To Save You" and "Mercy" are maybe my two favorites among the tracks I had yet to hear, not from their myspace going back to the Spring of 2006. STSY is a highly catchy, poppy track with a melody I couldn't help but love and think of a band like Jellyfish. "Apologize" is a good song, without the Timbaland exposure and factoring what the remix did, which I honestly don't think is as good. "Sleep" was a track that got me into these guys. "Stop And Stare" is rather poppy and adult-contemporary sounding but for what it is, I'd rather hear it from these guys than someone else. Their singer has a lot of similar elements to Jeff Buckley or even Bono, yet still has enough of his own voice for these songs to work. To go along with that, the songwriting, even with a lot of it's poppy nature, is one of this band's strengths. I just wish the whole Timbaland thing hadn't done the opposite of what it could have done. Getting the band exposure, and then leading them to being Timbaland's little pet project to get overplayed by Radio stations to death. In the process, many folks who might have picked up their disc, may not have; and maybe worst, they have been evaluated soley on that one (remixed) song and video, while it doesn't do the quality of this album justice.

35. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo
We didn't see The Mars Volta release a full-length in 2007 for the 1st time in 3 years, but this solo-offering from their guitarist is more or less on par with much of their work. And possibly his best solo work having only heard and read about his other material. "Please Heat This Eventually" is a classic Latin jazz-rock mini-epic at 11 minutes. The hook is one you don't get out of your head easily. The bits of psych-noodling on it and the rest of this record don't hurt this album. "Rapid Fire Toolbooth" is really the blueprint for "Goliath," a track on the upcoming Volta LP. The title track and really the whole record works beginning to end. Some great elements of Jazz-Rock, specifically with a Latin or *Salsa* approach which reminded me as much of Return To Forever, Chick Corea and Al Di Meola as anything else. I wonder how big a fan of Al's Omar is. Santana I'm sure, but Di Meola I'm sure as well.

Woven - Aftermath EP
34. Woven - Aftermath (EP)
Saw a bit of buzz about this band the past couple of months which led me to check them out and become a fan. I guess they have toured with dredg even. They released a debut EP and a full-length prior to this, which the brief amounts I've listened to those I've liked a lot of their electronic style rock. But at least for now, their new stuff seems to be having them go further for me. Layers, textures, mood. A bit of a Deftones-like style to the singer in spots. Only the last 15 minute minimalistic 6th track "Untitled" I can find flaw with as the 1st 5 numbers totally work in a big way. I got into the band Stateless this year as well, and these guys have a lot of the same kinds of elements I love about Stateless. The 1st song "Inhale" has a great build and vibe that I can't help but rock-out to. "Cosmonaut" as well. The chorus is strong on that one; the rhythm almost reminds me of "Free" by the band VAST. The 5th track "Abort Instruction" has audio for about four and half minutes, the last section with a whispering "Again" that leads to a "I never feel this againnnn!" that in turns segues into a brief, but still soothing dreamy section. Maybe the only thing that hurts my feeling about this is the fact some of the tracks on their myspace weren't included; notably "Where We Going" which was the 1st song I got into from them. However, they have an LP expected to drop in 2008 already titled "Designer Codes" which that and a lot more moody-greatness may be on.

33. Bend Sinister - Bend Sinister (EP)
Last year in finding out of this Vancouver, BC based group, a few of the tracks they made stream-able on their myspace page were not coming from their excellent debut "Through the Broken City." "Time Breaks Down," "Yours Truly" and "Julianna" all are included on this along with their two newest gems "TV War" and "High Horses." My hopes and admiration for this group may be a reflection to an extent on the placing/ranking of this release. Why I say that is partly due to one difficult thing to not mention. Those three songs and more specifically the *recordings* I have only one big beef about. The cymbals and/or specifically Crash/Splash triggers seem in my multiple experiences to *clip* noticeably to the point of almost nails-on-a-chalkboard like way. Whether it's just me, the mp3's, or the headphones and speakers I've listened to them from I can't be certain as the limited other writings I've come across about them (and this band sadly still) fails to mention this. The songs other than that part are great, classic Bend Sinister and seem to be a reasonable progression from the material on the debut. What is probably most encouraging is the two newer tracks are possibly better and this clipping issue doesn't seem to be evident with. I love the crescendo in "TV War" and breakdown in "High Horses" especially. Money, exposure, possibly being in Canada and in the Pacific NW could be their biggest reasons for obscurity. But if even a fraction of the folks who've caught onto Portugal the Man among some others knew of these guys, I still think they could blow up. But then again, how often do I and many others say that? What sucked maybe even more for me this year is they did finally get to tour, but only in their native Canada (thanks to a grant I recall), and I failed to be able to travel across the border to catch them due mainly to the financial hit that I would have faced (I don't earn a 6-figure salary just yet of course!).

32. Andre Matos - Time To Be Free
Ever since the split of Angra in the late 90's, it's very clear to me this guy was the bulk of the talent in that Brazilian outfit. The group he formed with two of the other members from Angra, in Shaman, put out a highly memorable debut in 2002's "Ritual." A couple years later a somewhat less discussed follow-up in 2005's "Reason" was released. Since then, for whatever reason, Andre's musical path led him and the two Mariutti brothers to continue somewhat in the same direction with his 1st solo-band release. I suppose I have come to the conclusion about this album, as I have also got with some other '07 heavier and symphonic releases like Alter Bridge and even Inme. A flow beginning to end, many hooks and sections on most of the songs you want to bang your head to. And it does have a lot of the *big sound* many of the Angra and Shaman material had. "Endeavour" is a bit of an epic and probably my favorite cut, even if it's the final original song on this one (the last track is a respectable cover of the Journey song "Separate Ways"). Other songs that I enjoy include the title track and "Letting Go." There are even some hints of a death growl in "Rescue Me." This one is probably one of those albums that I'll never regard as a classic, but I can't say anything bad about it as I enjoy it all beginning to end. Being the Matos fan I am could be partly biased about that, as he's still at least in the studio, one of my favorite singers with as good of vocal chops as any singer today. His compositional skill and desire to progress also seem evident here.

31. Battles - Mirrored
Catchy, fun, dance-able, a grower, and more accessible than you'd think on paper. The 1st half of this debut LP from this *math-rock* of a sort group, seems to really work. Tracks like the single "Atlas," "Tonto" "Ddiamandd," and the opener "Race:In" were among my favorites. Percussive, time-changing, and rhythm being a large focus of the sound here. The quirky edge I think of 80's King Crimson, and the vocal chanting reminds me of as non-traditional music like The Residents, but at the same time recalls similarities to even Yes. Yeah, this was certainly an album once given some repeated attention, I recognized where and why some of the buzz happened with them. Unfortunately, I can't entirely say they floored me live mainly due to wondering if they would add more improvisation than it seemed they did. Although I wouldn't say the concert I caught them was unsatisfying at the same time. I may find myself discovering more about this one down-the-line even as the 2nd half of it I remember enjoying but not frequently making it through to for various reasons not involving the music itself.

The Cusp of 50: Favorite CDs of 2007 Numbers 50-41

50. Coheed and Cambria - Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV: Volume II: No World For Tomorrow
The follow up to what was a classic and my favorite Coheed record GOOD APOLLO VOLUME I, this album sadly didn't come close to measuring up to that. Why exactly? This one has about half a dozen songs that sound very much in the 80's Hard Rock and Arena style which in a way is cool, but ultimately isn't like their past work or even that effective for this band. It also doesn't have the flow and unavoidable catchiness that was all over the hooks on their last 2 records. A bunch of the songs I do like still. "The Reaping," "Mother Superior" the title track and probably my favorite cut "The Hound (Of Blood And Rank)" along with the closing Pink Floydy "On the Brink"which reprises the guitar solo from "The Final Cut" off GA 1. By many standards, this album has a good amount to offer, but by Coheed's it fell very flat. Maybe over some time it'll warrant more playability, but for now I can't claim to be nothing short of disappointed as it was one of the most highly anticipated releases for 2007 and unlike some, a band who was coming off brilliance. Maybe on LP #5 we'll see them get that back.

49. Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
The 9th studio record from probably the most important band I've discovered since getting into music. Sadly, this one was not the big return to greatness I was hoping. it to be. "In the Presence of Enemies - Part 1" is well-written and a great start to this album. Great crescendo and very much worthy of how long it goes. "Forsaken" is also a catchy, melodic ballad that I can appreciate. "Prophets of War" I don't care how much it sounds like Muse, I still actually like, if for no other reason, but the hook is impossible for me to not like. "Constant Motion" while not an amazing single, still is a song that grew on me, mainly because the bridge rocks out like only Dream Theater tends to do. But beyond that, I can't say I look at this album offering much of any other value. "The Ministry of Lost Souls" is a lengthly piece that seems far too sleepy and that drags on far too much for me to want to hear again. "The Dark Eternal Night" is highly cringe-worthy. The best part of that was seeing the live Video. I don't follow how this song has received the praise it has so often; it's one of the worst things they've ever done. "Repentance" while a nice idea, doesn't really have the beauty that a heartfelt song could have, but at least I would say it's not bad for what it is, I just don't really find the desire to play it regularly even *within* the flow of this record. "In the Presence of Enemies - Part 2" has a couple of fun, melodic sections, but what kills it is the Dracula/preachy lyrics. Another band can and has done songs like this, it's just it's not Dream Theater's game and the extended wanking sections that don't dismiss Jordan Rudess's need to use that plasticy synth-patch found on so many Walmart-bought Casio's kills the best parts of this song from desire to hear often. It's really too bad, Dream Theater seem to be a band who have some great ideas, but also a lot of being in their *comfort zone* with songwriting especially. Maybe the 10th record will see them change again, because this is a band with more than enough talent to produce classic records still, it's just not at the clip many (including myself) have come to want/expect.

48. Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
Another highly anticipated disc that barely made the Top 50 due to it falling far short of expectation. I popped this one on again today and I guess my initial thoughts about it might have been slightly exaggerated about the depressing nature of it. Yeah, PT are known for writing sad songs, but the issue here wasn't feeling sad hearing this (or lack their of). No, this guy just doesn't have anything mind-blowing or classic on it. Really, what on here says "oh what an amazing part!" or "That song I can't get enough of." Where's the "Lazarus" or "Trains"? or even "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here"? No where. "Anesthetize" has a cool section that lasts about 8 minutes, especially the Meshuggah part that is hard to avoid raising the horns and banging your head to. "Sentimental" I still like, but having heard "Normal" later in the year I realized how it's inferior to that. And maybe the thing that comes across is even at 50 minutes or so, you finish the record without that experience of "wow, that was something." It's more like "That was it?..there's gotta be more right?" At least in their case "Nil Recurring" redeemed some of my faith in these guys, a band who seemed to be on a good roll with their last 3 discs. Hopefully a comeback will be in store for the next one.

47. People For Audio - The New Ancients
2nd release from the Montreal Art-Rock group. I stumbled upon this disc one day at Cheapo this fall when it read "RIYL: The Besnard Lakes, Do Make Say Think, Pink Floyd." While I haven't honestly played it that many times, I recall liking it the 1st time I heard it; and then last week revisiting it again I was more impressed than I remembered. The whole thing flows well beginning to end. The spacey, dreamy, psychadelic sections reminiscent of Hawkwind and the aforementioned Pink Floyd are included throughout. On the sticker I jotted down the following: 1,2,5,10,12 for the highlight tracks, but actually I think the composition of the entire album it's it's biggest strength. I should be playing it a lot more in years to come, but a fine work from this new Canadian outfit who barely anybody knows as far as I can tell. Maybe I won't be saying that a year from now.

46. Inme - Daydream Anonymous
Coming somewhat out of nowhere to me, and slipping my mind the fact this was to come out this fall. Like the People For Audio disc, I heard this once, and liked it but sort of forgot about it. Well in going back to it in recent weeks a few times, I was a lot more won-over the 2nd time around. What is the best way to describe this one? An album that never loses you because it has track-after-track with this lovable energy. Electronic touches and different sounding guitar riffs all are well put together throughout pretty much every song. There's one piece toward the end "Soldier" almost sounds like something Coheed And Cambria wrote a few years ago. The singer does sing with what sounds almost like a Scottish accent; a bit like Biffy Clyro's singer in fact, but it doesn't really hurt the quality of the songs at all. A great flowing, infectious record for me, and one I'll probably go back to a lot more soon and possibly their back catalog as I understand they formed over 10 years ago. However, finding their cds at an affordable price is whole nother story, which may be one reason this one has had such little mention.

45. Alter Bridge - Blackbird
Big sound, epic in some ways, grandiose and heavy. This is Metal, but also poppy. I guess their past work was more in the Creed-school, but this one doesn't have much evidence of that. I guess my impressions on this is they do some of what I loved about Queensryche and Extreme, but with a modern writing approach. Not highly original, but at the same time, I can't say I know or listen to many bands who are doing what's on here (or as well). The whole record is good. Tight songwriting, hooks, some ballads, some rockers. Probably the title track and the opening cut "Ties That Bind" are the songs that grabbed me the most right away. However there's no question this one surprised me as much as any others, the production work included.

44. Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead
Many good tracks on here, the biggest thing, well two biggest actually that stick out about it though are. 1. This sounds *highly* like System of a Down. Some feel that's fine since SOAD may be no more, or are at least on a lengthly hiatus. 2. The themes and lyrics are so overtly political, they're right in your face. As a result it ends up hurting the best parts, being the music itself. Putting that aside, it still has many well-written songs with some nice hooks and layers. String parts and whatnot. The two singles that made radio, "Empty Walls" and "Unthinking Majority" I suppose are among the best. I guess if we don't see a SOAD reunion down-the-line this may be traced back to be a decent to bordering on impressive debut disc, but right now it doesn't go quite that far.

43. Menomena - Friend and Foe
This Seattle-based chamber-rock group of a sort, I 1st heard on the local Indie radio station. I really dug the subtle piano parts especially. I later came to learn much of the material I liked was from a previous record "I Am the Fun Blame Monster!" which I've come to enjoy immensely. But in getting into that one, I was still wanting to dig their most recent release. And what it amounted to is a record that grew on me some, but still doesn't measure up to that other one (I have yet to hear the one the preceded this one). The 1st 1/2 of this album is quite good, and then a few of the cuts toward the end I found to myself liking. The best probably being the single "Wet And Rusting" and opening cut "Muscle and Flo." At this stage it's not a classic, but hardly without value. I guess when this band hits the pretty nail on the head melodically with a piano melody or the use of horns for example, it *really* works well, thus I still find myself going back to this one often. Fans of groups like Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Anathallo, or Sufjan Stevens who don't know these guys, may want to check them out.

42. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
Some have said this was a bit of breakthrough or just their finest work. I'm not as versed in this Texas based Rock ensemble, enough to say necessarily as I only have heard their debut as well this one. No question this group are a totally different animal live, but this cd is pretty solid beginning to end. My favorite track remains the title cut which I just can't help but love the choir-vocals "We all wanna know"..and maybe some of that is the unavoidable cuteness of those female singers on the risers doing the dance. The album does bring me back to the show I saw, or even witnessing them on Austin City Limits. They have a special quality about them that when bought into, you can't avoid getting a *natural high*. Not to mention all the stuff going on with their music, all 21+ members, 2 drummers, trumpet, trombone, 2 keyboardists, 2 or 3 guitarists, etc..including Annie Clark aka St.Vincent even, and of course their leader Tim DeLaughter who reminds me a bit of Peter Gabriel vocally at times. Some other highlights here would be "Running Away" and the ballad "We Crawl" which reminds me of a bit of what they were doing on "It's the Sun" and "Reach the Sun" on the debut. Solid studio band, and even more enjoyable to hear this material live.

41. Deas Vail - All the Houses Look the Same
A record I went back to somewhat often as this group reminded me of one of my biggest discoveres last year in Mew. And rightfully so, Mew fans could and I have seen do dig this band. The only thing that has dropped this down the list some is the fact they do have a bit of a Christian-Rock slant lyrically; comparisons to Mae among others. And the fact what I dig about them, is also what doesn't seem as much their own sound I guess. This being a debut cd, I give them a pass, a bit like Portugal the Man last year. The pieces that are worth mentioning for fans of bands like Mew or even Fields to an extent. "Surface," "Shoreline," and "Shadow and City Lights" at least do capture the beauty and melodic sense I tend to enjoy and go back to often. Uplifting songs, which can demand repeated play. The rest of this album flows well and I found myself listening off an on throughout the year, afterall, this did drop onto shelves on March 6th, 2007.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2007 Discs: The Outside Looking In

Note: this is the 1st Entry of a few to come this weekend/coming days. There are many albums not on here, and many here I have only heard a few times. Why this is not the "Top Albums" of the year, but could be or might have been given more time.

85. Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus! ..I really liked the latter 1/3 of this one. It and the band needs more time.
84. Thrice - Alchemy Index Volume I + II - Fire And Water. I listened to the "Fire" disc a couple of times and while there were a couple of songs I liked, I haven't found enough reason to go back to it. Still, maybe the best thing I've ever heard from this band (which honestly isn't a lot).
83. Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant Not having heard a ton from this band, but with my newly found interest in Death Metal, I found myself more impressed than many by this. Still it requires a lot more time to move higher
82. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam My impressions of this band were they were quite odd and avant-garde; however on this new one I would say they may have found a niche for new fans, and outsiders to their style. I still can't get past the whole Pink Floyd-UMMA GUMMA idea with them and that band "The Sounds of Animals Fighting." No matter, this record on early impressions would fit well with many of the Elephant 6 bands. I may be diving more into them in the near future after fully digesting this one more.
81. The Stars of Track and Field - Centuries Before Love and War A myspace sign-in exposure band. Not blown away, but especially the 2nd of this album was fun and catchy.
80. Jason Falkner - I'm Ok, You're Ok I didn't find desire to go back to this from memories of the songs just not quite doing it. Maybe next year, but it certainly didn't measure up to much of his past work. I'm still a fan of his no matter.
79. The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur Probably will receive more appreciation in the coming times, but as a 1st intro to the band, I am liking some of this. Reminds me of Sufjan Stevens among some others and much of it does live up to their name as music very use-able for the Cinema.
78. Sylvan - Presets I am pretty sure I liked a previous sampling more from this band where the recipe/euro/prog-cheese factor didn't come into play. However, I can't deny a couple of tracks worked well. The 2nd track "Signed Away" and the 12+ minute closing title piece mainly were memorable.
77. Anekdoten - A Time of Day
Swedish band I go back a few years hearing, 1st in 2000 at NEARFEST. Their style doesn't seem vastly different on this one, with King Crimson elements still evident. But "In For a Ride" is probably as good a song I've ever heard from them.
76. Ulver - Shadows Of the Sun Having revisited this one again recently, it's effective on what it is, a very depressing and melancholy recording. Which ultimately didn't warrant it to be heard too much, but doesn't detract my respect for this group. I will always remember hearing this right after hearing of longtime Mike Portnoy forumer Keith Kitchens passing.
75. Dethklok - The Dethalbum A new spin on parodied music in the vein of This Is Spinal Tap. Soundtrack/band for the Cartoon Network program "Metalocylpse," when I was given the chance to see and meet Mike Keneally this fall, and among my big Metal exploration ironically, I can't deny getting into their music and the show was a lot of fun. The visuals especially. Hey, I missed out on seeing Annuals for it, and don't regret that still.
74. The Graduate - Anhedonia Another group traced to the front-page of myspace. Partly a guilty-pleasure in their Taking Back Sunday stylings, but I'd be lying to say I don't enjoy more than 1/2 of this record. Some fun, catchy hooks and a bit of electronica makes this an underated album since I rarely see anyone mention it or them. Fans of Paulson probably like or could get into this.
73.Dug (Doug) Pinnick - Strum Sum Up. Trying to digest a lot of this at the last hour here, I can conclude this is some of his best work outside of King's X. But that doesn't mean a ton really. Maybe a couple of these pieces could have, or some of the idea will carry-on over to KX's next soon-to-come disc. In the mean time, my early favorites: "Perfect World" and "All I Want" which features a funky jam, are to keep in mind. The fact it's on Magna Carta may not be however.
72. Chick Corea and Bela Fleck - The Enchanment Not a ton to say about this other than my recollection from the 1st half. Cool the two worked together, but the pieces were not mind-blowing. More of something I'd go back to if in a *Jazz* mood or anticipating a concert from either of them.
71. Miracle Fortress - Five Roses. Brian Wilson stylings, although the vocals seem to be about the tone rather wording as I can't claim to have understood much. Vocals-as-an-instrument if you will. But maybe the best overt recapturing of that style in recent years. You could swear some of this was taken from the *Smile-Sessions*. The last 1/3 of this album I liked the most.
70. Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Is Is
This EP for the most part worked. One or two of the songs made Indie radio, and it got me more motivated to check them out. The riffs and melodies worked for the most part, and maybe will inspire my exploration more into them now having heard this. "Kiss Kiss" is not only a great band, but song from this group.
69. Dean Magraw - Unseen Rain. Longtime Minnesota-based guitarist put out a record with his trio-lineup with Jim Anton and JT Bates. I especially enjoy some of the Pat Metheny-like pieces "Eva Arriving" and "Mali" along with "Isabella." Still likely a *Jazz-mood* album for me, but one of Dean's better works.
68. Bockman - Chasing Dragons having currently misplaced this, I can only go buy revisiting the tracks on myspace and memory. A fun, happy, catchy melodic record for the most part. The XTC comparison probably fits most, but also bands like The Polyphonic Spree and Jellyfish of course can be heard in hints on it. For a debut, they show some promise at a minimum.
67. Liquid Trio Experiment - Spontaneous Combustion. Fort what it is, it's about as good as expected and still worth hearing. Petrucci's absence does affect the level of enjoyment that I normally get from LTE. Also since these are so much of loose jams, it's nothing I can play everyday. No matter, it has it's value and moments to not forget, most notably on "Firedance."
66. Dial - Synchronized New project from the recently departed bassist of Pain of Salvation, Kristoffer Gildenlow. Probably 2/3 of this record have songs I liked, but not overwhelmed by. More folk and pop than his work with PoS, his dutch girlfriend has a nice voice and is featured here on some of them. As well, Kris himself can be mistaken for his brother vocally at times, which for the most part is a good thing. "Jewel" and "Childhood Dreams" are probably two of best parts of this one.
65. Behemoth - The Apostasy. One of my newest favorites in discovering Death Metal. I was floored by their live show, and hearing this, some of the criticism I have seen either can be explained one of 2 ways. Their past work was so damn good, this record's inconsistency is it's only flaw. Or that it was simply overlooked. Not everything on here slays, but a few of them brought me back to that show again. "Kriegsphilosophie" and "Libertheme" I can say have added to my interest in them even more. The grooves, riffs, phrasing, and tightness just works incredibly well when they're on. I cannot wait to become more familiar with them, as these guys are *teh shit* when they're on their game.
64. Rush - Snakes And Arrows. The result of another Rush record has led me to not have faith in their genius again. They're like a veteran DH hanging around as much for his name as for trying to reach statistical milestones. "The Main Monkey Business" was the needle in the haystack, and a couple of the other songs had some moments. But it was for the most part rehash of the last few albums; which I and I imagine now even more of their fans have come accept. We can at least get much out of their concerts still.
63. Nile - Ithyphallic Only a brief amount of time I've given this one, their earlier stuff I was impressed by. This was more spotty, especially some the rituals the song titles conjure up. However, the rituals are part of their charm at the same time, just a song like "Eat of the Dead" is probably not one I'm gonna go back to. Thankfully the whole thing didn't give me that reaction.
62. Opeth - The Roundhouse Tapes Soncially good, tracklist is ok I suppose, performance not lacking really, except for the fact they don't seem like amazing *live versions* really. Had some other bands made a recording like this in 2007, they may warrant a higher spot. But at least it's in their catalog now and for me having not seen one of the Ghost Reveries-Tour shows. The forthcoming DVD may have more to get up about next year.
61. Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers Fun, cute, cheery, and clever-pop record from this woman who I only had known from her experience with The Decemberists. Every piece is good here, but not highly addictive to make it higher on my list. Still, I'd say she's somewhat underated as I don't see her name that often.
60. Editors - An End Has a Start One that definitely I got into at 1st, but especially after seeing their show, I realized how much of this record is samey. Still, it's not without songs I still like to an extent. Just not as much as I did at 1st. The riffs and catchy hooks can be found on the 1st 3 tracks especially. Fans of this record and them, may want to check out Bloc Party for a more complete record from 2007.
59. Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If. In such a short time this record went from optimism to falling short. My new found love of BSS got me excited here, and the 1st impression made me think it belongs in there with their best work. Not quite. The 2nd half did work moreso, "Frightening Lives' may end up being the 1 classic track on it; although who knows, maybe this one will grow on me with some time.
58. Canon - Wide Awake I found a copy of this for next to nothing and the prog word was tagged on the sticker on the jewel-case. Over a few plays I got to liking this more, despite production quality and some hints of Thom Yorke vocals I tend to loathe. Although at times I hear a Jeff Buckley voice in their singer too (funny how that is for me, but it's more in the writing approach and annunciation where Buckley is vastly more for me than Yorke). But not quite enough to consider it a classic, but more of certainly a band to watch. The title track, "Renaissance" and "Don't Trust the Teachers" are some of the best parts of it.
57. Alcest - Souvenirs d’un autre monde. A 2nd assessment has given me much more appreciation for this band doing their own brand of Post-Metal if you want to call it that. As it goes along, the builds and melodies become more evident, which doesn't force this one into dragging or boring sections that often can happen with this style.
56. Hiromi Uehara - Time Control Being new to her but reading mention and comparisons to Return to Forever, I appreciate much of this album. But it didn't quite blow me away beginning to end, as I hoped. Still the Metheny-like piece "Deep Into the Night" is in fact a classic, and the pieces with *Time* in the title seem to have some nice sections (especially piano) that are worth going back to. I may owe it myself to seek out her earlier stuff as there is no question she is one of the newer artists bringing the classic elements of Jazz-Rock. Having David Fiuczynski of Screaming Headless Torsos on here is an added bonus.
55. Between Two Skies - A Thousand Conscious Moments. This debut EP has some of this young group's best material on it. "Walker Floater" and especially "Hand Over Heart" are dramatic yet create a mood I appreciate. The people who dig dredg and Tool I wish knew more about this band. Maybe with more time. They are one of my favorite local groups, maybe it won't just be *local* in the next few years.
54. Animosity - Animal As technical and tight a Tech/Death band I checked out this fall, the biggest issue I have recently found with this is the samey-ness of their sound/these songs. I did get into their live show as well. I'm not familiar with their back-catalog, but for what they do, they do well. One of the better new bands in this style no matter.
53. Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta! Having just heard this for the 1st time, it may be unwarranted to put it ahead of some of these post-Top 50's. But I was pretty floored by a lot of this, some really technical playing here. But still the fun, energy, and spontaneity that I'd expect from a Punk-type band with horns and other non-traditional rock elements. Probably even better live, this album at 14 tracks might be not without added fat. No matter, when you got half a dozen or more songs that are crazy-ass shit, they become progressive to me. I'm not sure their previous record did that much, as I recall being bored by it. Maybe time has changed my take on them and this style. I'm not into punk rock, but this may be one exception so-to-speak.
52. Chase Pagan - Oh Musica Singer/Songwriter debut record that I find can and should appeal to fans of Ben Folds, Ours (a few tracks reminds me totally of them "Time to Myself" for one), The Dresden Dolls, and Murder By Death among others. A lot of it Piano-driven. Some layering and emotional vocals included, this album does not include any bad songs on it, just not quite enough moving songs to crack the top 50 (although in other years it may have). "Walzting in the Sky" still may be the best cut on here as it's been on the myspace for many months, but it's hardly the only highlight.
51. Born of Osiris - The New Reign. Less is more. Clocking in at 21 minutes, it's funny how this one seems short, but at the same time seems much longer or at least much more than just that. The length of a sitcom episode, yet these guys give a lot more to offer than you would think on paper. Sort of like Between the Buried and Me sans for the clean vocals and dreamy sections. The songs flow into each-other and phrases are tight. As I wrote earlier in the year, the thing is over before it starts, there's no way to say anything on here is excessive.

expected next: No's 50-26....