Monday, December 31, 2007

Chapter Twenty-One: Reflecting

Top Ten Under-Appreciated Albums that Rocked 2007
Top ten album lists are a bit ridiculous and the more objective they are made out to be the more comically subjective they become. That said, they always make for good reading even if they make you angry enough to spit. A list with a pronounced limitation is always more helpful than a catchall best o’ the year list. Therefore, this particular slanted list is designed to highlight blazing albums that somehow got missed.
Songs from each album are available in The Ruiner (down and to your right) and the song numbers correspond with their “ranking” number.
1. Star Spangles – Dirty Bomb
Does the idea of a Boy Named Goo era Goo Goo Dolls and Dookie era Green Day (with a dose of Johnny Thunders) make you vomit? Please return to the Pitchfork best indie-snores of 2007.
2. Manic Street Preachers – Send Away the Tigers
Pretentious? – uh, yeah! Queen-level bombast? a bit, maybe. Unnecessary cover of Working Class Hero? erm…you got me there. Destructively melodic and angry enough to count? Damn straight.
3. Queers - Munki Brain
Joe Queer may never get the respect he deserves. Working in the narrow genre of pop-punk is one thing, insisting on throwing a couple one-two-fuck-you throw-backs on every album is quite another. The keepers here are all his variations on pre-Beatles rock. Unlike almost every Ramonesclone out there Joe has gone back to the sources that inspired da bruddas and - I shake as I write this - he may have assimilated those sources better than the Ramones ever did.
4. Holloways - This is Great Britain
The British need to crank out a recycled guitar-bass-drums pop band every fifteen minutes to keep the boys in the press happy. You need a scorecard just to keep up and NME is happy to help. It’s no wonder the Brits invented the Pop Idol franchise; they have a hydra-headed star-making cultural apparatus that works more insidiously than the more vaunted American version. The Holloways, who may wind up disbanded or ignored by their 3rd release, are an example of when it all goes right. The band who almost fit in with the Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs et al have added the sounds of Madness, Kinks, Jam and (yes) Dexy’s Midnight Runners to their assault. Try getting “Generator” out of yer head- I dare ya!
5. Adam Thorn and Top Buttons – Where’s the Freedom?
If The White Stripes with more obsessed 60’s R + B than old blues and if Jack White sang more like a drunken Karaoke mike hog then this is what you would get.
6. Copyrights - Make Sound
It’s been a great couple of years for pop-punk but who is acknowledging it these days? The Copyrights are young enough to have, without apparent irony, named an original album-opening rocker Kids of the Blackhole. That first Adolescent album is a primary influence on the whole SoCal pop-punk phenomenon so to just pilfer a title like that is almost as cheeky as the Replacements calling an album “Let it Be”.
7. Ike Reilly Assassination – We Belong to the Staggering Evening.
The Dylan was a Punk album of the year. Those of us weaned on punk often learn to love Dylan’s stripped down music that was aided and abetted by his sneering social critiques. Ike Reilly will not bear the New Dylan Curse because he’s moving too fast; this album blazes on the image-laden rockers and the searing ballads.
8. Short Attention Span – Clever, Maddening, Annoying
Sure, it’s only a 7” but it’s got 29 songs that invest the excitement of early 80’s hardcore with the wiseacre pop smarts of mid 90’s pop-punk.
9. Ben Weasel – These Ones are Bitter
A sloooow grower but it packs almost as much emotional depth as the (actually excellent) Neon Bible by Bruce Springsteen the Arcade Fire. Ben’s voice is a little weaker these days but his songs still bite deep. It’s ironic that for a man who, more than anyone, championed Ramones Fundamentalism, Ben has expanded the lyrical scope of pop-punk far beyond what any of his disciples attempt.
10. Modern Machines – Take it Somebody!
2006? Well, nobody told me. If you ground up Minneapolis (think Replacements, Husker Du and Soul Asylum but no Prince) circa 1985 this is what you’d end up with. And it all sounds new. There’s no stink of nostalgia here just that bitter-tinged, flat-out music that cold, desolate climates can produce. Kinda like a more retro Weakerthans, who belong on this list but they get all the respect they deserve, except from Pitchfork – go figure.
COMMENTS! (or counter-offers) are an unequivocally great concept.
With thanks to Apollo C. Vermouth (former maven of the sadly defunct Power Pop Lovers site) who introduces me to new and interesting albums every week.
Addendum: Music Blogs Further Ruined My Life
Here without fanfare are the, highly biased, twenty best album shares of the year from around the blogosphere. As per our philosophy the albums are primarily functionally out of-print and hence often older. I could have added a hundred more..
1. Jason and The Scorchers Lost and Found (U.S. cow-punk 1986) C-60 Low Noise
2. Hanson Brothers Multiple albums (Can. puck rock 1990's) Born in the Basement
3. Nikki and the Corvettes S/T (U.S. new wave 1980) Commercial Zone
4. The Beat S/T (U.S. power-pop 1979) Control Total
5. Holly and the Italians The Right to be Italian (U.S. power-pop 1981) Cueburn
6. Lightning - Lightning Strike (UK Clash-punk) Nuzz Prowlin' Wolf
7. Lost Durangos - Evil Town (Can. roots-rock 1986) PVAc to 41khz
8. Piranhas S/T (UK ska 1980) Twilight Zone
9. Nick Heyward - Rollerblade (UK power-pop, 1996) Power Pop Criminals
10. Wanderers -Only Lovers Left Alive (UK/US punk-pop) Eternally Yours
11. Stretch Marks - Who's in Charge (Can. H.C. 1983) Good Bad Music
13. X-ray Spex - Germ-Free Adolescence (UK punk 1978) Music is a Better Noise
14. V.A. - Last Call (Can. punk/new wave/post-punk 1978-1988) O Canadarm
15. Grusomes - Hey (Can. garage Rock 1988) Wicked Thing
16 Bad Religion - Into the the Unknown (U.S. psych-punk, 1983) Wilfully Obscure
17. Greenland Whalefishers - Down & Out (Norwegian Pogues-punk) Subers
18. Subhumans - Incorrect thoughts (Can. punk, 1980) Punk Not Profit
19. The Shackelfords (plus more Lee Hazelwood folk-country weirdness) realm of x
20. TV Smith's Cheap - R.I.P. (UK Post-Punk, 1995) Hangover Heart Attack


  1. the copyrights record is called "make sound".Yes that song title is ironic.Thanks for putting us on your list!

  2. D'oh!

    Thanks for the note - consider it fixed for future visitors.

  3. Aw shuck's; thanks nuzz

    (And you're welcome too!)

  4. forgive an impertinent question, but what's your take on Bad Religion's Into the Unknown? Do you actually like it?

    Just asking, cos I recently played that for someone as an example of some shocking awful music...

  5. I searched for "Into the Unknown" for years partly out of a Bad Religion obsession and partly out of a hoped it would be good as the two acoustic songs from "The Sound of Hollywood."
    The kid I bought it off warned me, "Y'know it sucks, huh?"
    "Yes, I do." I replied and paid him his $10.00.
    It was as ineptly psychedelic as the warning's had said and so I never really treasured the album. But the songs are good and are written in the Bad Religion style they're just played sorta wrong. Always hoped some band would record an e.p.of punked-up covers and call it "Fuck the Unknown.

    Speaking of which No Empathy's cover of "Chasing the Wild Goose" goes along way towards proving my point

  6. Thanks so much for the shout out Jeffen! It's tough when comments are so sparse on musicisabetternoise. Toast to you and your exceptional taste!

  7. You're welcome CTB!

    Comments are damn scare - I try to leave a little note wherever I visit.

  8. Love your blog. Have gotten into a lot of great music from it.

    Hey did you post a video of a band in a small room where the next door neighbor hates it so they get all their friends to come over into his room and they have a big party?

    I saw that thing somewhere but am completely blank as to where and the name of the band and song.

    Getting old!

    Thanks for any help you can give.

  9. I can only help by eliminating myself from the running - I've never posted a video. Yet...

  10. Ah, my daughter recalled it. XYZ affair.

    Song is "all my friends" . Good stuff.

    Thanks anyway.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Several of these are easily found on CD:

    Jason and the Scorchers Lost and Found
    Nikki and the Corvettes s/t
    The Beat s/t
    The Wanderers Only Lovers Left Alive
    X-Ray Spex Germ Free Adolescents

    It's a shame that these bands and labels go to the trouble of getting rare releases reissued only to find their already-going-to-be-meager sales undercut by blogs.

  13. Thanks for stopping by and researching the materials.

    While I may not have been quite as diligent in checking availability in other's blog posts as I do my own I must say that in almost every case the blogger has posted the vinyl version (poorer sound, no bonus tracks) of the album in question. In the case of the Piranhas album that CD (I was bitterly disappointed to discover) does not contain the songs from that LP but from earlier work.

    I do appreciate hearing from a fellow music consumer. For me having music available digitally has only increased the number of CD's I buy.


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