FAVORITES OF THE YEAR:
Jack White, Blunderbuss. Juuust far enough from being a White Stripes record to keep it fresh, but juuust enough of a White Stripes record to make it great.
Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel... So she's nuts. She's also pretty damn good at what she does. Luckily, though, I'm not a bigger fan; the pain of not having more releases from her would eat at me like a crow pecking out that Greek God's eyes, whoever that was. Or Roman God's. Or whatever. It'd suck, is all I'm saying. So here's to waiting until 2043 for the next record from Fiona.
The Hives, Lex Hives. You know how those scientists all say that last year's earthquake in Japan was so powerful it took one-millionth of a second off our day and tilted the Earth's axis a few inches? This record brought it back. That's rock fact, if not science fact.
How to Destroy Angels, er..."How to destroy angels_," An Omen EP. "Ice Age" is my favorite song of the past year, and you can tell that someone other than Trent Reznor is writing the lyrics: they're pretty good.
Spectrum Road, Spectrum Road. I'm not a big fan of jazz fusion, and seriously, I think the only people who are fans are mostly old white guys who trade stories about how they never open their 180-gram vinyl reissues of Pink Floyd records. Of course I'll defend anything Vernon Reid does, so this supergroup of jazz vets is worth the price of admission on the song "Where:" 12 minutes of jazz, noise, nifty solos, cool rock stuff...or, if you'd prefer, 12 minutes of listenable fusion.
Adele, "Skyfall." First listen: "Boooring." Third listen: "Meh. Not that bad." At 3 AM, when you've woken up from a lovely slumber with its melody snaking in your head: "I MUST HEAR THIS IMMEDIATELY AND MUCH OFTEN."
NEED-TO-HEAR-MORES OF THE YEAR:
Deftones, Koi No Yokan. Who the Hell let these guys back in? 'Cause whoever did needs to get a pat on the back. If rock bands had tag lines, Deftones' would be "The Last Vestige of Good Nu Metal" or, if "good nu metal" is too much of a paradox in terms for you, maybe "Please Don't Lump Us In With Limp Bizkit."
Skelator, Agents of Power. Stupid, stupid, wonderful, "let's-play-video-games-and-get-stoned-and-eat-cookies" metal. Lots of fun.
The Sword, Apocryphon. I like The Sword, but I have yet to hear a completely awesome record from them. A song here, a song there, so...I'll give this a few more spins.
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE YEAR:
Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror. You know, every person on the planet that likes women and likes chugging guitar noise wants Sleigh Bells to succeed. I mean, they've got noise, they've got a woman with some vox power (and yes, that IS the reason I listen to them...mostly), but...well...here's to hoping they weren't a one-album pony. Next time, gang. Next time.
Supermachine. Look, Supermachine: I knew Scissorfight. And while the two ex-members of Scissorfight that are in your band might be agreeable to the fact that you are not Scissorfight, I am of the mindset that you most DEFINITELY aren't Scissorfight, so I pass. Mess With The Bull had more balls than you did.