I admit I exist in an alternate reality where what's happening in the world often doesn't happen in my home. We have protective barriers and we use them. My own tastes are pretty lame. I like stuff that bores most people. But I enjoy spending most of my time staring at a wall.
Let's get this over with.
25) Tom Waits -- Bad As Me: The patron weirdo saint of NPR still makes music that sounds pretty good when you crank it up. Plenty dirty if a bit predictable. I don't know. That's not a bad thing. Imagine if Coke tasted differently every time they made it. Waits is like McDonald's for the hipster set. I dig it. Man.
24) Robyn Hitchcock -- Tromso, Kaptein: Hitchy slipped this one out while no one was watching, which isn't much different from anything else he's been doing for the past decade. Hitch isn't likely to have a blockbuster hit anytime soon. Or maybe he will. Maybe the world is changing and the U.S. will suddenly get British artists once again.
23) Marianne Faithfull -- Horses and High Heels: OK, maybe I'm just glad she's still alive. But there isn't anyone else who sings like she does. Not even Tom Waits.
22) Big Troubles -- Romantic Comedy: Sometimes I read the Y! Music New This Week blog by that Stephen King lookin'-like mutha and actually learn something. I, too, think Romantic Comedy will sound good once I break the plastic. But if I do that will lower its resale value! What to do?
21) Downpilot -- New Great Lakes: Paul Hiraga knows that releasing an album as 'Paul Hiraga' doesn't have the same appeal as calling your project 'Downpilot.' So, for every clueless hack out there that insists on naming a band after themselves, I challenge you to come up with something better. I'm not saying I wouldn't have listened to this fine album had it been released as 'Paul Hiraga,' but let's be serious. Would you buy my album if it was called 'Rob O'Connor Sings'? Or would you be more likely to buy it if I called my project Snot Rocket! The album? Boogers For You. I think I know the answer!
20) The Asteroid #4 -- Hail to the Clear Figurines: For those of you reading and wondering why I don't spend more time writing about the albums in question, I ask you to imagine what that blog would read like. People already haven't heard of most of the albums I like and you're all quite capable of going elsewhere to hear what they sound like to see if they fit your description of good music. I trust you, dear reader. These guys list themselves as "psychedelic rock and folk." Fair enough. But wouldn't you be more inclined to listen to this album if I told you it caused its listeners to go out to the desert on a horse with no name and then trip their eyeballs out?
19) Glen Campbell -- Ghost On the Canvas: Campbell has Alzheimer's, so this is his final studio album and he lets Paul Westerberg hand him a few songs to sing. You can hear touches of Campbell's older work along with a modern sound that gets a little weary on the ears. But that's a production decision. The voice still rings clear.
18) Mick Harvey -- Sketches From The Book of the Dead: To think a member of the Bad Seeds not named Nick Cave would make an album that sounds like something Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fans would like is breaking news. Cave isn't the only one in the group who can bring the dark.
17) Desertshore -- Drawing of Threes: To think a member of Red House Painters not named Mark Kozelek would make an album that sounds like something Red House Painters fans would like is breaking news. Kozelek joins this instrumental group to destroy their instrumental concept by adding vocals to many tracks. That instigator!
16) Salvation -- The Complete Collection 1985-1989: Great lost Goth band that once recorded for the Sisters of Mercy's label assembles all the tunes I missed the first time around. Eyeliner sold separately.
15) Florence + the Machine -- Ceremonials: Her big bombastic sound grates on your nerves taken in one big dose, but just about everyone makes albums that are too long these days. In fact, bands have been doing this ever since the CD era began. But there are still fine moments here where Flo lets her voice fly in a way that would make Meat Loaf proud. Ain't that a bat out of hell?
14) The Loom -- Teeth: One of these days I'm going to find the time to actually listen to all this stuff. Popping on The Loom just now and for a second I thought I was listening to Gene Clark front the National. That's it. I'm burning a CD of my download and listening to it in the car! Where music really exists!
13) Jens Lekman -- An Argument With Myself (EP): Jens Lekman is Sweden's greatest current export. Time will tell if he holds up or bows like so much particle board.
12) Cut Off Your Hands -- Hollow: Who doesn't love an indie pop band from New Zealand who have been influenced by Orange Juice (the band)? Huge in Auckland! Sign me up!
11) Josh T. Pearson -- Last of the Country Gentlemen: Any guy who claims to be a country singer and then features songs that time out at 11:44, 10:47, 12:58 and 10:07 is a guy who misunderstands the genre. Which means he's doing something right. Unless, of course, you're a hack.
10) The War On Drugs -- Slave Ambient: You think Philadelphia is all loudmouth sports fans? Someone else has to live there and it's these guys who make the kind of music that satisfies old coots looking for folk music and spaceheads who want sheets of guitar and a decent nod.
9) The Fall -- Ersatz G.B.: It's always time for a little music-ah. Let it drone, let it drone, let it sneak up on ya. "Greenway" is named for the guitar player, which should make him plenty nervous. It's never your band, kid. You just rent it. Mark Edward Smith is your landlord and he's no pushover like Norman Fell.
8) Heirlooms of August -- Forever the Moon: To think a member of Red House Painters not named Mark Kozelek would make an album that sounds like something Red House Painters fans would like is breaking news. You mean, the other guys in the band were into it?
7) Adele -- 21: It doesn't happen often but when it does I figure something's going on. Can it be a record that other people have heard and bought also captures my fancy? You mean, I'll have something to talk about with the rest of the world when I go to the holiday party?
6) Low -- C'mon: Low albums were starting to blur together. But with this one, they kickstarted the band and got over their stupor long enough to craft some songs. If all else fails, you can almost make out to this music.
5) Ivan Julian -- The Naked Flame: Julian will be forever linked with Robert Quine in the Voidoids, but it's about time people got to hear why Quine considered him a brother. It's also about time someone made a guitar album that gets it done quickly.
4) Dawes -- Nothing Is Wrong: It was only a matter of time before a band came along and admitted they liked Jackson Browne enough to invite him over for cupcakes. Someone has to be the anti-Clash.
3) The Decemberists -- The King Is Dead: Drop the dictionary and go country, young man! Or is this what happens when you ask Gillian Welch to stop by for a visit?
2) The Rolling Stones -- Some Girls Live in Texas: It's a DVD issue of a concert from 1978 when the band wasn't just posing. Imagine Keith and Ronnie taking their parts seriously and with a bass player who was connected to Charlie's soul. It's also the last time their new material would be the highlight of a set that includes all the regulars.
1) Jesu -- Ascension: Former Godflesh star Justin Broadrick finds a way to make music that moves while it doesn't. Static change for people who wish the world would slow down and smell the arsenic.