I’ve been on the fence about the Foo Fighters for years. I think I started losing interest in them when my old boss started asking to borrow my CDs because she kept hearing them on the local alt-rock radio station. Clearly I was no longer in the Foos target audience.
The Foo Fighters played the final slot on the last night of Lollapalooza this year and – truthfully – going into it I was thinking, “This might be a chance to duck out early and, if I’m feeling really ambitious, maybe I can even start my drive back to Ohio”. So glad I decided to hang around – Dave & co. brought their A+ game to Chicago and rocked as if the band had just formed at the beginning of the year and had something to prove (which, of course, they don’t). They could easily have mailed this one in and the crowd would still have eaten it up.
The absolute greatest live concert moment of 2011 for me came just as the Foo Fighters started “My Hero”, a song that I thought I was sick of hearing. The black skies completely opened up and it rained hard. For half a second I thought, “Should I retreat and try to find some cover?” but then realized that a) there was no cover to be found and b) even if there was cover, I’d have to push my way out of the crowd that was probably 30,000 deep. But as the skies dumped buckets of rain not only on the crowd but on the stage, it only fueled everybody up for a huge sing-a-long and the Foos never thought for a minute about stopping.
Here’s some compilation footage I found, including a snippet of “My Hero”.
The biggest struggle when putting together this list is how to rank the albums. What exactly is the difference between a #1 and a #2 album? Without doubt, Viva Brother’s “Darling Buds of May” was the song I listened to the most in 2011 and the album it comes from is pretty damn good. But is it my favorite album as a whole? The Damnwells have consistently put out great material and I’m sure I listened to No One Listens to the Band Anymore more, front to back, than any album on the list but did I do that because it’s the best album of the year or because I know the guys personally and listening to them makes me happy?
So, I decided the best way to do it is to list the albums alphabetically, showing no favoritism and not being forced to rank anything. A few comebacks, a few previous favorites, a couple of new UK bands, some metal, some country, some hair metal. Pretty typical for me.
AA Bondy – Believers (Fat Possum)
Not as barebones as early solo material, not as scuzzy as his ‘90s alt-rock band Verbena, AA Bondy split the difference on this moody, late night listen. Listen: “The Heart is Willing”
Anthrax – Worship Music (Megaforce)
The legendary NYC thrashers pick up where they left off the last time Joey Belladonna sang lead vocals (1990’s Persistence of Time) on 2011’s best (and most surprising considering some internal issues Anthrax had with short-timer vocalist Dan Nelson) metal album. Listen: “In the End”
AWOLNATION – Megalithic Symphony (Red Bull Records)
I would never have checked out this band had my old friend Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon) not been playing guitar. A complete 180 from Blind Melon’s sound, AWOLNATION’s slickly-produced techno-soul-pop shows a wide range of diversity from one track to the next. Listen: “Soul Wars”
In my review of All the Saint’s 2008 release, Fire on Corridor X, I said, “All the Saints play this trippy, drug-induced music that reminds me of those movies that seemed particularly eerie on overcast, grey Sunday afternoons. If these guys made a video that showed nothing but crows flying to and from an old, abandoned house with the windows boarded up, it would be PERFECT.”
All the Saints is just a month away from releasing Intro to Fractions and they’ve released a video for “Half Red, Half Way”. You can see the actual video after the jump. In the meantime, here’s what I want you to do. Play the video (“Scary Black Crows Flying”) below but set the volume to “Mute”. Then click play on the audio track just beneath which is “Half Red, Half Way” (you can download it too by clicking the little down arrow). See what I mean?
One of the most influential post-shoegaze UK bands, Swervedriver, are setting course for a return to the U.S. The band officially reunited (at least for touring purposes … still holding out hope for a new CD) in 2008 and have been doing selective touring in the U.S. for the past few years.
I’m very excited about the Cleveland date (even though it’s on a Monday) as the one chance I got to see the band was a huge failure on my part (let’s just say it involved going to a pre-show bachelor party and a wristwatch with a dead battery – I thought I had plenty of time to make it but walked into the club literally as the band was striking it’s final guitar chord).
2012 Swerverdriver tour dates
Mar 28 Philadelphia, Union Transfer
Mar 29 Boston, Brighton Music Hall
Mar 30 Washington DC, Rock and Roll Hotel
Mar 31 New York City, Bowery Ballroom
Apr 2 Cleveland, Grog Shop
Apr 3 Chicago, Bottom Lounge
Apr 4 Seattle, Neumo’s
Apr 5 Portland, Doug Fir Lounge
Apr 6 San Francisco, Slim’s
Apr 7 Los Angeles, Key Club
New discovery, for me anyway, is Electric Flower, a trippy, sun-drenched psychedelic duo comprised of solo artist (and sometime Yeah Yeah Yeahs member) Imaad Wasif and drummer Josh Garza who YOU might recognize from The Secret Machines but who I’LL always refer to as “the drummer from the best Texas Brit-rock/shoegaze-inspired band you’ve never heard of, Comet“.
The duo’s self-titled EP, which you can listen to below, is available on iTunes and on Amazon (and probably a bunch of other places – pretty much wherever you buy digital music from). The EP opens with the bombast of Garza’s drums though, having seen him play live many, many years ago, I can promise you that as loud as the recorded drums are, they are nothing compared to the Bonham-like punishment Garza inflicts on his instrument! The track, “Four”, is a pretty spooky, desert-flavored rocker with cult-ish like lyrics and vocals (like something the Manson family may have had in rotation as they plotted evil).
Here’s my guess … Electric Flower will play some of the festivals (SXSW, Coachella, Pitchfork, etc.) that lead to thousands of blog posts by writers such as myself saying, “You’ve GOT to hear this stuff, it’s amazing!”