Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Best of 2009

33 and a 1/3 presents the best of 2009

Honorable Mention
  • Baroness- The Blue Album
  • Jay Reatard- Watch Me Fall
  • Us – Brother Ali
  • Poetry of the Deed – Frank Turner
The Best of 2009 in no particular order except with #1

Pearl Jam- Backspacer
Pearl Jam is one of the few rock bands to get better with age. I put their last two albums in the same league as Ten not quite as good but close. Eddie Vedder’s voice is the Sinatra of Rock and Roll, getting much better with age.
Please listen to The Fixer, Just Breathe, Supersonic and Speed of Sound

Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus
This was the soundtrack for every North American luxury car automaker. And after listening to an interview they could give a fuck. Sell out? That concept is gone in the digital age.
Please listen to 1901, Lisztomania,

 … and you will know us by the trail of Dead - The Century of Self
This is their best album since the excellent Source Codes. The Century of Self is aggressive, confident and melds Celtic strings into the indie mix. I also dig the dueling vocals but the real star is Conrad Keely who is about as entertaining a front man as you can get in indie rock.
Please listen to The Giant’s Causeway/The Far Pavilion, Isis Unveiled and Ascending

Lee Fields and the Expressions – My World
My World was easily the biggest surprise of the year. Lee Evans is soulful, silky, sexy and serious. The expressions are tight with their slick original neo-soul sound. This disc has it all even if you aren’t down with the funk. Even if Lee Fields has been around for 20 plus years I still dig it.
Please listen to Do you love me (Like You Say You Do), Money is King, Ladies and Honey Dove

Anti Pop Consortium - Flourescent Black 
Stellar. Hip-hop and electronic that Rodney Smith would love. Creative sampling and excellent unconventional lyrics. 21st hip hop, for real.
Please listen to New Jack Exterminator, Lay me Down and Shine
Mastodon- Crack the Skye
The Mastodon show was easily the best show I saw this year. They are super fast, aggressive and the 80s speed metal changeups remind me of the pit. This concept album tames their vocals merging the true dirty south with Tsarist Russia.
Please listen to Oblivion, Divinations and the Last Baron

Slayer- World Painted Blood
I am one of the few writers who actually liked Slayer’s last album but do believe this album is even better. It is in some ways the exceptionally tardy follow up to Season in the Abyss. Dave Lombardo brings the beats to match the ferocious guitars of King and Hanneman with some electronic effects thrown in. Tom Arraya’s vocals are turned up and as gripping as ever as he attacks corrupt government, the petrol wars, societal decay and religion et al. It is really amazing that these guys are still on top after killing it for decades.
Please listen to World Painted Blood, Hate Worldwide, Americon, Playing with Dolls

Them Crooked Vultures- Them Crooked Vultures
Forming a super group is usually bad idea. For every Cream there is Asia or the Damn Yankees or the Westside Connection or Zwan, who are probably weren’t a super group but fucking sucked. Them Crooked Vultures don’t suck. It would be almost impossible when you have; Dave Grohl, greatest living rock drummer. Josh Homme, great guitarist. John Paul Jones, one of the greatest bass players. This album is tight, fun and bouncy and one of the year’s best.
Please listen to Gunman, Dead End Friends, Mind Eraser, Scumbag Blues, Elephants,

Black Crowes- Before the Frost/Until the Freeze
I still can’t believe how good this album is. The Crowes have been pumping out quality material for decades but nothing caught my ear like this. Chris Robinson simply kills it on every song. He’s actually gotten better after being dumped by Kurt Russell’s daughter, unlike A-Rod. Rich Robinson does his best Ron Wood circa the Faces. They even rip off the Disco Stones and I love it!
Please listen to I ain’t hiding, Been a long time (Waiting on Love) Make Glad, Kept my Soul, What is Home and Houston Don’t Dream about me

Future of the Left – Travels with Myself and Another
Out of McLuskey Does Dallas’ coffin comes the Future of the Left and they are angry. Andy Falkous is in fine form with acerbic and antagonistic lyrics with enough of a bop to keep your head bumping. This is angry pop music at its best.
Please listen to Arming Eritrea, Chin Music, Throwing Bricks at Trains, I am Civil Service, Land of My Formers,.

Raekwan- Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt 2
Corey Woods aka Raekwan never gets the publicity of his fellow Wu-Tang Clan members, Method Man or ODB but he has carved up a genre bending career. This career bookended with Only Built for Cuban Linx parts 1 and 2. This is the album of the year. Top shelf beats provided by Alchemist, Pete Rock, Dre and clan mate Inspectah Deck. Raekwan’s rhymes are solid and he is joined by Ghostface on some of the best tracks.
Please listen to House of Flying Daggers, Black Mozart, Gihad, New Wu and Penitentiary

Thursday, September 24, 2009

33 and 1/3

The year was 2008. These were the best albums of that year.

15. Fucked Up- The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador)

Its hardcore fun for the whole family from these Tubby Dog eating award winners.
Sounds like Poison Idea and Black Flag
Listen to Son the Father and Crooked Head

14. The Hold Steady- Stay Positive (Vagrant)

This album will grow on you by the Twin Cities hardest hitters since Hrbek and Puckett.
Sounds like Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy and Husker Du
Listen to Constructive Summer

13. Drive By Truckers- Brighter than Creations Dark (New West)

Patterson Hood keeps rolling, a long way from Gangstabilly.
Sounds like Neil Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Wilco and the Replacements
Listen to Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife

12. Tronic- Black Milk (Fat Beats)
Some Back pack from Detroit with some twisted beats.
Sounds like Madlib and Tribe Called Quest
Listen to Long Story Short

11. Eagles of Death Metal- Heart On (Downtown)
Deliver a cool blast of guitars with attitude.
Sounds like Queens of the Stone Age and
Listen to Heart On

10. GZA- Pro Tools (Babygrande)
Almost like Wu-Tang Lite with all of the cameos but they help GZA deliver.
Sounds like Erik B and Rakim and Redman
Listen to Cinema

9. Protest the Hero- Fortress (Vagrant)
Hardcore speed metal merchants from Whitby Ontario, nuff said.
Listen to Blood Meat and Wretch
Sounds like Alexisonfire and At the Drive In

8. Scarface- Emeritus (Rap-A-Lot/Asylum)
Its been a long time since the Geto Boys for the original OG from the Dirty South.
Sounds like Brand Nubian and Paris
Listen to High Powered and Can’t Get Right

7. Girl Talk- Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)
Not since the Avalanches have I heard so many samples and has this much damn fun.
Sounds like Holy Fuck and 2 many DJs
Listen to Shut the Club Down

6. The Bug- London Zoo (Ninja Tune)
London Zoo is a pissed off dance hall/hip hop fusion from Ninja Tune, The Bug is a bad bad man.
Sounds like DJ/rupture
Listen to Angry

5. Gaslight Anthem- The 59 Sound (Side One Dummy)
I am not sure what Springsteen thinks but I like these guys
Sounds like Jawbreaker and Against Me!
Listen to Old White Lincoln.

4. Metallica- Death Magnetic (Warner)
Back from the depths with the comeback of the century, Cliff Burton can stop turning.
Sounds like Danzig an Megadeth
Listen to the Broken, Beat and Scarred

3. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend (XL)
Very catchy Afro-preppie beats from the Big Apple make everyone happy.
Sounds like Paul Simon and Talking Heads
Listen to Mansard Roof

2. TV on the Radio- Dear Science (DGC/Interscope)
So much fun and so diverse these guys are the present and the future
Sounds like Peter Gabriel and Pere Ubu
Listen to Crying

1. Q-Tip- The Renaissance (Motown)
Being forced into the wilderness by the labels is all the more criminal after listening to this masterpiece.
Sounds like Mos Def and De La Soul
Listen to Official, We Fight We Love and Manloveboogie

Saturday, April 04, 2009

33 and 1/3

Here is the final post for the best of 2007. I am hoping to have the best of 2008 up before 2010.

5. Favourite Worst Nightmare by Arctic Monkeys (Domino)
This is and excellent solid sophomore effort by the Arctic Monkeys. I was quite apprehensive about the Monkeys because of how fast they blew up after their first album. I am surprised that Favourite Worst Nightmare is so good. It is solid from the top of the playlist to the bottom. The Arctic Monkeys possess lots of Gatling gun lyrics, incredibly catchy hooks and clever beats. This House is a Circus is one of the best tracks of the year with that incredible bass line. But I especially love this line:
“Who wants to sleep in a city that never wakes up? Blinded by Nostalgia.”
Best Tracks: Teddy Picker, Do Me a Favour, This House is a Circus and Old Yellow Bricks

This House is a Circus

4. Boxer by The National (Beggars Banquet)
I’d never listened to the National before listening to this phenomenal effort. The National is a five piece Indie band out of New York who play soft music that is almost anthemic in its delivery. This album has great song after great song with beautiful melodies and poignant lyrics. This album will make almost every top 10 list this year and for good reason. I really love this line from Mistaken for Strangers "You wouldn't want an angel watching over you?/Surprise surprise, they wouldn't want to watch"
Best Tracks: Fake Empire, Mistaken for Strangers and Start a War

Mistaken for Strangers

3. New Wave by Against Me! (Sire)
Some call it a sell out but I am too old to care. Big Ell loves music that should be best listened to while drinking, fighting or drinking and fighting. New Wave, would have been number one if Stop wasn’t included. That song is god awful on so many levels. But the rest of the album is filled with excellent songs with lyrics like “Protest songs in response to military aggression.” I missed seeing these guys the last time around and won’t miss them again. But people need to stop the comparisons with the Clash before they get hit by lightning.
Best Tracks: New Wave, Up the Cuts, White People for Peace and Piss and Vinegar.

Up the Cuts

2. Beyond by Dinosaur Jr. (Play it Again Sam)
Guitarist J. Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow finally got back together and I couldn’t be happier. The first half of the album is phenomenal equaling any of their previous collaborations like Your Living All Over Me or Bu. I had no idea that they still had it them to put out such a stellar album. The album kicks off with a thunderous distorted roar with Almost Ready which is as good as a anything they have done. The album rolls along until the sublime Back To Your Heart kicks in. It is easy to tell that Barlow wrote this song as it reminds me of a slightly pumped up Sebadoh song. I can’t wait to hear what these guys will put out next. Plus J Mascis now looks like Gadalf.
Best Tracks: Almost Ready, Back to the Heart, Been There All the Time and Pick Me Up

Click here to hear Been There All the Time

1. In Rainbows by Radiohead (Radiohead)
The most accessible Radiohead release since Kid A and the year’s best in the humble opinion of this writer. So many strong tunes interwoven within the tapestries of modern life or something like that. This album has it all; rocking numbers like 15 Step, Bodysnatchers and Jigsaw Falling Into Place. Grovy tunes like Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. Haunting songs with great bass lines like All I Need and Nude. Thom Yorke even plays piano on Videotape. I believe that in ten years when we look at the best albums from the first decade of the 21st Century, In Rainbows will rank high.
Best Tracks: 15 Step, Bodysnatchers, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Nude, All I Need and Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Monday, March 16, 2009

33 and a 1/3

I have been listening to 13 Songs and this is a classic. The video isn't bad just pissed that I never got to see these guys.

Fugazi- Waiting Room

Thursday, December 18, 2008

33 and a 1/3

Only 12 months late but here are numbers 10 to 5 for Big Ell's Top for 2007.

10. Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (Rounder)
I initially labeled Raising Sand as an unexpected delight but I have had a change of heart. How can I be surprised that this is a great disc when it features one of my favorite singers, Robert Plant. Plant puts in a subdued performance balancing nicely with Alison Krauss? I have read that this duo may be responsible for the Led Zeppelin reunion going on the back burner which is definitely a good thing.
Best Tracks: Fortune Teller, Rich Woman, Stick with me Baby and Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us

I couldn’t find a decent live performance but here is a link to a video for Gone, Gone, Gone by the Everly Brothers that is a horrible video.

9. Let's Stay Friends by Les Savy Fav (French Kiss)
I heard that Les Savy Fav played the Night Gallery in Calgary a few years back. That would have been sweet as I knew one of the owners and may have been able to get on the guest list. I also knew the bartender and he would have given me cheap drinks. I would’ve been very drunk before Les Savy Fav started and might’ve vomited then passed out. Then I wouldn’t have seen this excellent band and that would not have been so sweet.
Best Tracks: the Equestrian, The Year Before 2000, Patty Lee, Brace Yourself

Patty Lee

8. American Gangster by Jay-Z (Roc-A-Fella)
I love Jay Z and this 70s funk inspired treat is sweet. American Gangster flows back and forth and side to side with Mayfield like groves. Like most of Jay Z’s tunes the slow ones are mostly boring except for Fallin with its great chorus. I thought Jay Z was done after Kingdom Come which was largely a piece of shit. This is easily the best Hip Hop album of 2007.
Best Tracks: Roc Boys (And the Winner Is), Fallin, Say Hello, Hello Brooklyn 2.0

Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)

7. Death is this Communion by High on Fire (Relapse)
Death is this Communion is the surprise of the year, by far. I should have known seeing as that they are on Relapse records and Relapse rocks hard. These guys play the heaviest stoner rock this side of Orange Goblin. I can’t get enough of these boys. Angry, tough, fast, grinding goodness. So many great tracks give them all a listen. This is how metal should sound.
Best Tracks: Rumors of War, Waste of Tiamat, Turk and Cyclopian Scape


6. Untrue by Burial (Hyperdub)
Dubtastic beats keep coming and coming from DJ Wiliam Bevan of the UK. I wasn’t sure what to make of it when I first listened to Burial but it grew on me quickly. I love the dub heavy bass beats and the understated lyrics that are on a few tracks. I can’t believe this is his second album. Pick it up if you are into electronic dub music.
Best Tracks: Ghost Hardware, Near Dark, Etched Headplate, Raver, and Untrue


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wasting Time

The theme for this Wasting Time is art. Big Ell has wasted tons of hours over the years looking at all sorts of art. It all began when my dad would drag me to every art gallery in Calgary and in LA. God, did I ever hate that. Imagine being eight and in LA and being forced to spend hours in MOCA when you could be at Disneyland or Universal Studios. I gradually stopped hating art galleries and now genuinely love visiting them. Here are a couple of cool sites I found showcasing some cool art.

Graffiti is always cool, if I made art it would like this. This is an excellent collection from smashing magazine.
When I was a kid I loved lego. I didn't have much but my neighbors had tons so I played with theirs. It was tons of fun, I could make space ships and give the older neighbour boy the finger when he pissed me off. Here is a piece from of some super duper Lego Artist.

Here are some interesting environmental/political pieces by American artist/photographer Chris Jordan. Definitely very cool. This piece is called Plastic Bottles which depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes. Make sure to clikc on the title to see more images.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

33 and a 1/3

Here are albums 15-11 of Big Ell's Top 20 for 2007. Click here to peruse 16-20.

15. Tones of Towns by Field Music (Memphis Industries)

If you haven't guessed it I am not a big fan of pop music. I usually avoid it but can certainly appreciate good pop music when it hits me int he ears. Field Music make great pop music in the vein of the Beach Boys and not the Backstreet Boys. This album is full of the great harmonies, interesting vocal and some ELO like organ to get the kids dancing. This album should be far more popular than it is, buy it damn it!
Best Tracks: Give it Lose it Take it, Tones of Towns, She Can do What She Wants

She Can Do What She Wants by Field Music

14. From Beale Street to Oblivion by Clutch (DRT)

I've tried listening to Clutch before but had a hard time getting into them. Not sure why but probably because I am dumb. I figured they were just another in a long line of boring grunge/metal/alternative bands kind of like the Foo Fighters. I don’t remember why I picked up this album but it is solid from start to finish. The Deep Purple/Nazareth style riffs that were a pleasant surprise and kick ass. Lead singer Neil Fallon is also a revelation with his growling and screaming. I hear some Kyuss and Soundgarden throughout which is always a good thing.
Best Tracks: You Can’t Stop Progress, Power Player, Electric Worry and Mr. Shiny Cadillackness
Electric Worry by Clutch

13. Sound Of Silver by LCD Soundsystem (DFA)

James Murphy and DFA are super cool and have the samples and album collections to prove it. James Murphy is like that guy you knew in college who talked about art theory, played experimental techno and was skinnier than a whippet while wearing an ironic cowboy shirt. He probably had his own show or worked at the cool indy record store, deridng the losers from Epitaph while worrying that the bands on killrockstars will sell out. Oh how I miss college. This is a great album by the LCD Soundsystem but it pales in comparison with their self titled debut. That always happens on every second album, well that is what Mr. Ironic Cowboy Shirt woudl have you believe.
Best Tracks: Get Innocuous, North American Scum, Watch the Tapes

North American Scum by LCD Soundsystem

12. Because Of The Times by Kings Of Leon (RCA)

Contrary to popular belief the Kings of Leon are not the greatest band in the world. The Followill brothers are maturing but haven't managed to put together a solid album from start to finish. Most of the tracks are merely decent but its true value comes from the handful of excellent singles contained within. One such example is Knocked Up which is an excellent song a great haunting melody and incredible vocals by Caleb Followill. I also really dig On Call and Ragoo with their groovy little licks. The song Fans was the Kings Of Leon’s first big hit and is a great single. I hope the boys from Nashville can keep it up.
Best Tracks: Knocked Up, On Call, Ragoo and Fans

Knocked Up by Kings of Leon

11. Ire Works by The Dillinger Escape Plan (Relapse Records)

There aren’t many bands making music like the Dillinger Escape Plan. They mix metal, hardcore, punk, post punk and jazz breaks with finesse, precision, aggression and creativity. The album starts out with the manic ferocity of their older albums but takes a dramatic shift with Black Bubblegum and its falsetto vocals and arena rock chorus much like Mike Patton and Faith No More. The album really starts rolling half way through with Nong Eye Gong. If you are interested in listening to some creative and original, look no further than the Dillinger Escape Plan.
Best Tracks: Black Bubblegum, Sick on Sunday, Nong Eye Gong, Milk Lizard

Black Bubblegum by Dillinger Escape Plan

Friday, November 14, 2008

33 and a 1/3

Seeing that it is almost 2009 it is high time to give you Big Ell's Top 20 Albums for 2007.

20. LP by Holy Fuck (XL)
Canada seems to be leading the rest of the Indy world with lots of top quality bands and tunes. I am not sure how to categorize Holy Fuck but they are easily one of the most original Canadian bands going. 21st century electronica from Toronto with some aggressive instrumentation and the drummer from Blue radio for fuck all.
Best Tracks: Milk Shake, Frenchy’s and Chopper

Milkshake- Holy Fuck

19. The Undisputed Truth by Brother Ali (Rhymesayers Entertainment )
Like I told TGR Albino Muslims rock the mic hard. Now I’ve found out that Brother Ali he is blind and looks a bit like this blogger. The politics are harder than Wellstone and who would have thought that beats like this could come from Minneapolis.
Shit the government is an addict, with a billion dollar a week kill brown people habit.
Best Tracks: Lookin’ at Me Sideways, Truth Is Here, Uncle Sam Goddamn

Truth is Here- Brother Ali

18. 100 Days, 100 Nights by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings (Daptone)
Listening to Sharon Jones makes me wonder what all the fuss is about Amy Winehouse. Sharon Jones’ late 60s early 70s R&B vocals destroy Amy Winehouse and all the other pretenders out there today. She has the greatest voice in the business and plus you get the incredibly tight Dap-King beats.
Best Tracks: Nobody’s Baby, Tell Me, Be Easy, Keep on Looking and the Collection Song

Keep on Looking- Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

17. Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails (Universal Japan)
I never had a trench coat, not to say I don’t like them but I never had one. I’ve only really listened to one Trent Reznor disc and never got into the industrial music scene. This album by Trent Rezner is excellent even though a few tracks have been over played on local radio. It is supposed to be a concept album and I still like it, what are the odds?
Best Tracks: The Beginning of the End, Capital G and God Given

Capital G- Nine Inch Nails

16. An Ocean Apart by As I Lay Dying (Metal Blade)
More melodic vocals join the lightning quick twin guitar attack on this stellar release by As I Lay Dying. I dig most Metal Blade artists these days as I can’t seem to get enough Metal. My friend on CBC characterized these boys as Death Metal which shows that civil servant intellectuals shouldn’t talk about metal. These boys are straight from the speed metal or hardcore scene with a splash of classic metal.
Best Tracks: Nothing Left, An Ocean Between Us, Foresaken and Bury Us All

Foresaken by As I Lay Dying

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Here are the Black Sheep with a re-make of one of the best Hip-Hop songs of all-time.
Go Obama!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wasting Time

You have your way. I have my way.
As for the right way, the correct way,
and the only way, it does not exist.

Here is the latest edition of Wasting Time. It has been a long time because now that I am Canadian I no longer have time to waste.

This site, the Nietzsche Family Circus kills me.

Not by wrath does one kill, but by laughter.

This site is kind of funny. Everybody seems to be having fun laughing at Sarah Palin. I like this one too, Teen Moms for Palin. No one will be laughing when she is President in 2012.