11: The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America This Brooklyn based band has been one of the biggest up and coming stories of the year. Not new to the scene, their music has finally started to hit the ears of impressionable children across the country. What with songs about shrooming, Christian chicks putting out, and taking four pills when you are only supposed to take one, who wouldn’t want their music blasted from every teenagers stereo. Actually I would say this album calls to an older, more experienced crowd than it does to young kids. When I first heard the album, I wasn’t that impressed. Everyone has written rock songs about drugs and alcohol. It was nothing new. Then it clicked. ‘Boys and Girls in America’ was not meant to be a new sound. It was intended to be the answer for anyone looking for some kick ass party music. I never thought the day would actually come when I would say that I have found an album that could contend with Weezer’s Blue album. Maybe not contend as far as taking its place as my all time favorite Party album, but The Hold Steady definitely has something good here that is hard to stop listening to. Once I did get into this album, I really found it hard to get away from. ‘Boys and Girls in America’ is not the kind of album that doesn’t come out of your stereo for months. It’s the kind that keeps finding its way back once you’ve taken it out. As far as bar music, this has the contagious guitar riffs that everyone loves once they get a few drinks in them. What also makes this album unique is that is the band put a lot of brains into it. It’s not just about getting hammered and rocking out. The stories are interesting, and you’ll fall in love with most of the songs just on the words alone. In the creepy romantic “Chill-Out Tent”, a guy and girl meet after nearly OD-ing at a festival and start making out. In the single “Chips Ahoy!” a guy’s girlfriend always picks the winning horse at the tracks so they spend all their winnings on drugs however, he is kind of unhappy in the relationship. ‘Boys and Girls in America’ has drunken sing-a-long written all over it. It is the closest album to come near the best party album in years. I hope you take that as seriously as I mean it.
12: Band of Horses - Everything All the Time These former Seattleites (re-located to South Carolina a few months ago) had a banner year…finally. Two of the founding members were in a previous band together, Carrisa’s Weird, for almost 10 years. They made three albums that never caught on and unsurprisingly split. In a way, this Band of Horses debut is really a fourth album for them and when I first heard it that would have been my thinking as well. ‘Everything All the Time’ is almost too good of a debut. Its charming, melancholic soft sound is well rehearsed. What you have here is an admirable effort from a band that is familiar with rejection. This venture is a slightly overcast emo album that is bound to do better than the bands previous project did. Comparable to The Shins (though not as cheerful) and Modest Mouse, Band of Horses will hopefully have a more successful future than Carrisa’s Weird did.
13: Wolfmother A Guest Review by Jesse James Jeffers
My first encounter with Wolfmother came during a conversation with a friend of mine about various bands we had gotten into since we last talked. She directed me to their website to listen to the song "White Unicorn," and I have to say it instantly hooked me. I have gone on record as saying that this band is my favorite of the bands I have become newly acquainted with since this time last year. It is songs such as the aforementioned heavy jam session "White Unicorn," the thunderous "Colossal," and the mystical power ballad "Where Eagles Have Been" that have got me singing the praises of this Aussie power trio. If you like the idea of a classic rock (think Sabbath/Zeppelin), White Stripes and heavy metal fusion, this is the album for you.