With 2009 right around the corner, many critics and music pundits are tallying votes and writing paragraphs to convey their personal picks of the previous year. While I (and others at KTXT) won’t be left out of the mix, I first wanted to remind everyone that 2008 was not without its flaws. And with that note, let’s get into the best of the worst, the ones that got your hopes up oh so high, only to crush them handily.
(Disclaimer: These are Whitey Corngood’s opinions and his only. No one else at KTXT or in the world had any say in this. Just so’s ya know.)
10. Weezer – The Red Album
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Whitey, come on…did you hear Make Believe? These guys have sucked for a long time.” Yes, I know…call it wishful thinking. “Pork and Beans” might have not been the best thing Rivers has put out, but it certainly sounded more “Buddy Holly”-ish than “Beverly Hills,” and as a long time fan, I had my fingers crossed. Little did I know that the Red Album is perhaps the most detestable of all the post-Pinkerton efforts from Cuomo and Co. I’ve lost all hope for the band that got me through junior high.
9. Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
I’m not a big fan of this band to begin with, so call this biased reporting (read: a regular music blog post), but songs like “Dead Sound” and “Aly Walk With Me” had me hankering for more distorted pop lullabies. It seemed like the group was focusing more on songcraft and less on form, which would’ve been a good thing, if it were true. It was a nice effort, but Magnetic Fields pulled it off better in 2008.
8. Mars Volta – The Bedlam In Goliath
These records are always fun to wrap my head around; after repeated listens, I usually catch on to the apocalyptic time signatures and wailing guitars. However, Omar and the boys decided to craft more of a pop soundscape with their delightful noise, which isn’t something new (“The Widow”). This time though, their delivery is more scattershot; what is supposed to be an accessible album turns into a drunken mess and quite possibly their most confusing and unenjoyable record yet.
7. Black Kids – Partie Traumatic
Leave it to the blogosphere to hype up a band ad nauseam, only to discover that this new group is, in fact, quite generic. Who would’ve thought that the kids who penned the ever-so-catchy “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” would be 21st-century Cure rip-offs? Good call, Pitchfork. You never cease to let us down.
6. CSS – Donkey
What a piece of crap album. Seriously, at what point after penning awesome dance-jams such as “Alala” and “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” does a band decide, “Hey, let’s just scrap all that nonesense and make a record that sounds EXACTLY like the Ting Tings?” I’m blaming it on Sub Pop, but let’s hope it’s just a sophomore slump.
5. Ghostland Observatory – Robotique Majestique
“Heavy Heart” and “Dancing On My Grave” are two of the best club bangers of the year. That being said, the rest of this album is hit-or-miss, littered with throwaway cuts and electronic mishaps. This Austin duo should probably re-listen to Paparazzi Lightning before logging back onto the Mac for a follow-up.
4. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
I’m gonna go easy on Spencer in this paragraph; in actuality, this album isn’t really that bad. There are some key moments, like the ever-catchy “Language City” and the bouncy “Call It a Ritual.” And don’t even get me started on how awesome “Soldier’s Grin” is. The only reason this album ranks so high on the disappointment scale is because it had to follow up to Apologies to the Queen Mary. And when that’s the case, and you’ve got even a little bit of filler, you’re destined to be a second-rate record in comparison.
3. Beck – Modern Guilt
Mr. Hansen has run out of ideas. There, I said it. Someone explain to me what this record has to offer that Beck hasn’t already accomplished on previous works? Other than the fact that Danger Mouse is behind this boring, boring LP? Like most records on this list, Modern Guilt isn’t terrible: “Gamma Ray” and the title track are great for a new Beck fix, but after Guero, I find myself wondering if re-hashing old sounds and subtleties is the sound of this maturing 90’s pop craftsman.
2. Cold War Kids – Loyalty to Loyalty
If there’s one word to describe this album, it’s “filler.” Loyalty to Loyalty is chock-full of junk that is ambitious, yet ultimately typical of a new band trying new things on a second LP. You’ve got to hand it to these guys, at least they’re making a cohesive effort. And sometimes, they really pull it off (“Relief” is stellar). But I’m hoping more back-to-basics tracks are being penned for the third LP. Here’s to 2010!
1. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals – Cardinology
Yes, Ryan, we get it. You’re a workaholic. But unlike most incessant songwriters, you choose to release everything you write, all the time. Even the subpar stuff. And, unfortunately, that’s all Cardinology is: simple alt-country that sounds like Easy Tiger filler. In all reality, that’s probably exactly what all these cuts are. Take a break, Ryan. Enjoy your wealth. Fight with Courtney again. But most importantly, take the time to pen better songs. The Heartbreaker and Cold Roses fans miss you.