I have a problem, I buy too much music. It is a bad habit I’m trying to curb. Part of the problem is, is that I like to own a physical piece of what I’m listening to. As much as I could download for free or cheap, I just can’t bring myself to do it if I have even a little bit of respect for the band. Which brings us to these 5 albums released last year. It might be too much to say that all of these bands were one more bad or unimpressive album away from me calling it a day with them but that thought was in the back of my head. Each of these bands are or were at one time top 10 favorites and part of my fan-boy collector nerdness has a tougher time letting go, so I’m giving it up for 5 bands that made it worth my while this year!
The Fiery Furnaces – I’m Going Away
Fiery Furnaces albums always take a while to grow on me, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve fallen hard for Bitter Tea. Despite that, I just don’t think I’ll ever fall for their more recent Widow City. Of all of these bands Fiery Furnaces had the most strikes against them. I wasn’t a fan of the previously mentioned Widow City, the “live” album Remember just left me cold and Mathew Friedburger’s solo Winter Women / Holy Ghost Language School was a double disc of impenetrableness. This coming from me, who’s favorite Furnaces album is Rehearsing My Choir. Imagine my surprise on how much I not only liked, but absolutely loved I’m Going Away! It reminded me a lot of their first album actually, and that was a welcome sound back when I got it. It was a return to that early style but with all the tricks and experience they’ve picked up along the way. Not only that, but they had the audacity to follow it up 6 months later with Take Me Round Again an album of each of the Friedburger siblings doing solo versions of the songs from I’m Going Away and having it be just as awesome!
Weezer – Raditude
Red was almost the end point for me and Weezer, I’d be happy to listen to my old CDs over and over again and not worry about where they were now if not for 5 songs. The first four were the bonus 4 songs on the Red deluxe version. Those songs are boss! I think the second half of Red was disastrous, dull, most of all, not fun. They shoulda skipped those and put the 4 bonus tracks on the regular version instead. The 5th song that made me want to get Raditude was the lead single “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”. It was fun and exciting! It also gave Butch Walker another plus in my “Is Butch Walker Awesome or the Cancer That’s Ruining Music” list I have going. Was Raditude the Weezer of yore? Not so much, but it was fun power pop, and that’s mostly what I expect and want from Weezer, so it made me happy and kept me bouncing around with a smile on my face.
Reel Big Fish – Fame, Fortune & Fornication
I still consider We’re Not Happy ‘Til You’re Not Happy to be one of the worst albums I own and Monkeys for Nothin’ and the Chimps for Free to be one of the more worthless releases put out. Not to mention ska-punk covers of 80’s songs were played out by Less Than Jake a decade ago and Regatta 69 already did the best cover of “Talk Dirty to Me” known to modern man. So who knows why I picked this up, but I’m glad I did! It reminds me of what I liked about this band back in ’96. Besides, they did a cover of “Veronica Sawyer”! I can’t hate on that, more to the point, I propose if RBF ever does another cover album that they just rescue nearly forgotten songs from their former contemporaries.
the Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Pin Points and Gin Joints
Not that I didn’t like Medium Rare but we were promised a B-Side/Unreleased tracks compilation with a few new songs, the b-sides that were included were mostly not all that hard to find, and the previously unreleased tracks were only OK. The 3 new songs were totally awesome, especially “Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker”, which only made me long for a full record of new Bosstones’ originals all the more. So on the whole Medium Rare came up lacking. Pin Points and Gin Joints makes up for it and then some. It picks up where Jackknife to a Swan left the listeners and keeps kicking ass until the end. It’s a more grown up Bosstones record, sure, but are the kids still listening to them anyway? It would be a disservice to their writing ability if they tried to stay in their 20’s forever.
Big D & the Kids Table – Fluent in Stroll
This is my favorite album of 2009, and deep down, I can say that before it came out I was more that a little worried that it was going to be terrible. Strictly Rude had some really great songs, but it also has some pretty mediocre ones, and some that went on too long. Also before it came out we were told that it will be featuring Big D’s new sound: a mix of double-dutch, ska, reggae, and soul. It doesn’t fill one with hope. I was so wrong to worry, oh so wrong! This works, it works so well! It’s not ska, but if Big D & the Kids Table aren’t going to be playing ska then I want them playing this!