Sunday, December 27, 2009

Decade in Review: Best and Worst albums of the 2000s

The end of a decade only comes once every decade. Therefore, I figured I'd compile a list of the best and worst commercially-released albums that I've purchased (or downloaded) during the 2000s. I only have a handful of albums released in the last ten years because in my opinion, music has generally gone for shit since the mid-90s. Some of my most favorite bands came out of the woodwork to release some new stuff. Some of them did a great job, some of them... well, let's just say they're just using their past reputation to make some money.

There's very few standout albums in here that I'd say are a "Must Own", but there's a lot of mediocre albums which contain some really nice gems.

My criteria for choosing these albums was as follows:
- No various artist compilations
- No "Greatest Hits" packages
- No Live albums
- No Post-humous releases by someone who died before 2000

A few albums got knocked out because of this, so here's what's left...

Year: 2000

Best Album: It's a tie!!!

A Special Tribute to Elvis
The Swing Cats - Special Tribute to Elvis
Rating: 8/10

I bought this in the cheapie bin at Walmart for five bucks, and it's quite enjoyable. Not 100%, but still great. It consists of one of the Stray Cats, and a whole shitload of special guests. It's funny hearing Lemmy from Motorhead singing Elvis tunes, but he does them quite well.

The downside to this album is two slow songs which are boring as hell, and they sucked all the life out of "Burning Love". Other than that, the album is upbeat, fun, and the songs are done justice while making them sound a bit more modern.

Listen to The Swing Cats - Can't Help Falling In Love

Nightwish - Wishmaster
Rating: 8/10

Nightwish seems to be one of those bands that has really good songs, but has a few shitty ones thrown in the mix just so you don't play the hell out of the album and get sick of it. This is one of their better efforts, and the only thing keeping this album from a ten is the pukey barf mellow crap. Don't get me wrong, I think Tarja and the rest of Nighwish were perfect for each other, but operatic singing with just a bit of music for background noise puts me in a bad mood. Still, a pretty good album.

Listen to Nightwish - Wishmaster

Conspiracy of One
Worst Album: Offspring - Conspiracy of One
Rating: 1/10

You know that song "Original Prankster"? It's the only decent one on here. Other than that, this album collects dust. Offspring's album filler has always been fast, noisy, hookless crap. If you like Offspring's album filler, you'll love this.

Listen to The Offspring - Want You Bad

Other albums from this year:
Flogging Molly - Swagger (6/10)
B'ehl - Bright Eyes (7/10)
Shampoo - Absolute Shampoo (5/10)
Super Transatlantic - Shuttlecock (6/10)

Year: 2001

The Invisible Band
Best Album: Travis - The Invisible Band
Rating: 10/10

I love this album. Travis never seemed to hit the level of 'fantastic' with any of their other albums (even though a few came close). The previous album was too mellow, but here they've found the perfect mixture of rock and ballad, and it's just pure magic. Even the most mediocre song on here (Last Train) is quite tolerable. Again, fantastic album.

Listen to Travis - Sing

The Curse of the Hidden Mirror
Worst Album: Blue Oyster Cult - Curse of the Hidden Mirror
Rating: 8/10

Don't let the label of "Worst" fool you, because this is the only other album I own from 2001. It's one of BOC's better albums, and the shining moment on here is "Stone of Love". However, "Showdown" is a disappointing piece of musical crap considering how angry the lyrics are, and "Good To Feel Hungry" is just kinda retarded. The rest is pretty good though.

Listen to Blue Oyster Cult - Stone of Love

Year: 2002

De Stijl
Best Album: White Stripes - De Stijl
Rating: 7/10

This is one of those White Stripes albums that came out before anybody knew what the fuck a white stripe is. It's mostly a bunch of bluesy rock created solely with a guitar and a set of drums. It's a pretty good album, but it's one of those albums that you'll get sick of if you listen to it too often, which is exactly what I did. It's kinda like how you'll admit that AC/DC's "Back in Black" is a fantastic album, but you're sick of listening to the goddam thing.

Listen to The White Stripes - You're Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl)

Worst Album: None

Year: 2003

Best Album: Altaria - Invitation
Rating: 9/10

Excellent hard rock album, but I just can't bring myself to give it a ten. A couple of weak tracks, but they aren't THAT bad. The last track is a bit of a surprise because it sounds like this dramatic opera love song, but it's about a hooker. It's too bad that Altaria didn't see a bit more popularity, but that may be because they couldn't keep a singer. The rest of the band must be a bunch of assholes or something. Still, you should buy or download this album.

Listen to Altaria - Unicorn

Worst Album: It's a tie!!!

Skid Row - Thickskin
Rating: 6/10

Skid Row without Sebastian Bach? Did it work? Well, since I find more than half this album listenable, I'd say yes. Some very solid tunes on here, some very mediocre ones. The one thing that put me off was their shitty upbeat remake of "I Remember You". Why not another great song like "Born A Beggar" or "New Generation" instead of fucking up one of your classics?

Listen to Skid Row - Ghost

12 Memories
Travis - 12 Memories
Rating: 6/10

This one follows the fantastic "Invisible Band" album. There's some pointless tracks in here, but the good ones are as good as everything off the previous album. Still, you're better off getting the "Invisible Band" album.

Listen to Travis - Beautiful Occupation

Other Albums from This Year:
Jet - Get Born (7/10)

Year: 2004

Best Album: Nightwish - Once
Rating: 8/10

Another great album from Nightwish, and their final one with Tarja. A lot of Nightwish fans don't like this album, but I'm incredibly fond of most of the songs on this one. I'd give this one a 9, but as per usual, there's a couple of duds on here. But the songs "Dark Chest of Wonders", "Nemo", "Ghost Love Score" just blow the duds away. The good news is the duds are the last two songs, so you can shut it off early and not miss anything.

Listen to Nightwish - Nemo

American Idiot
Worst Album: Green Day - American Idiot
Rating: 2/10

Why, oh why did Green Day decide to become more pop than punk? My favorite Green Day album is Insomniac, therefore I like my Green Day songs short, catchy, and fast. There's three good songs on this album (I'm sure you can guess which ones.) The rest of the tracks slog the album down into a miserable piece of shit, and why the fuck are there songs on here over four minutes long? ...and don't get me started on the two that are run over Nine minutes. Pure garbage. Green Day sucks now.

Listen to Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends

Other Albums from This Year:
Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution (5/10)
William Hung - Inspiration (Yes, this piece of shit is better than Green Day) (5/10)

Year: 2005

Best Album: Altaria - Divinity
Rating: 9/10

Yay! A new Altaria album! And they got a new singer! Too bad they didn't hold onto the other guy, because he had one hell of a range and a really cool accent. But still, the new guy isn't bad either. He's got less range and he makes the band sound a bit less heavy, but the songs are still top notch. Best songs by far are "Darkened Highlight" and "Enemy". The last song is nothing to scream at, and if you got the version with their bonus cover of "Balls To The Wall", you can shut it off early. Still, it's an album worth getting.

Listen to Altaria - Darkened Highlight

Devil's Playground
Worst Album: Billy Idol - Devil's Playground
Rating: 5/10

Well.... It's not bad.... but there's two things that bug me about this album. First of all, Billy boy shouldn't be fucking around with country songs. Second, he would do well with getting some outside writers because some of the lyrics are kinda retarded. But there's some shining moments on this one. Still, it's a far cry from his first solo effort after he dumped out of Generation X.

Listen to Billy Idol - Scream

Year: 2006

Best Album: Def Leppard - Yeah
Rating: 5/10

Yeah, it's not incredibly impressive, but it has it's moments. It's an album full of covers. The first half of the album is pretty good with the covers of T.Rex, Blondie, The Kinks, and they do a MUCH better job of David Essex's "Rock On". Then they go and fuck up one of my favorite ELO tunes. No, you CANNOT do an ELO song better than ELO did it, unless you're packing a full orchestra. The second half of the album isn't as good because I don't know many of the songs. Then they finish of the album by kicking Rod Stewart's ass all over "Stay With Me". It ain't perfect, but it's better than the other album I have from '06

Listen to Def Leppard - 20th Century Boy

Staying Power
Worst Album: The Hollies - Staying Power
Rating: 1/10

The Hollies first studio album since 1983's "What Goes Around". I didn't think anything could suck more than that synth'ed down piece of junk, but this, THIS is bloody fucking awful. The Hollies went through their bubble-gum, rock, disco, and pop phases, and I was fine with most of it. After Allen Clarke quit the band, they recorded one decent song with Carl Wayne before he died, and then they got this NOBODY and turned into a shitty Adult Contemporary band. The only good song on here is the first song called "Hope" which is slightly catchy. Then, get out your Disney hats, because it's glossy, mediocre garbage on the rest of this boring monorail music journey. Don't fucking buy this.

Listen to The Hollies - So Damn Beautiful

Year: 2007

Best Album: Savoy Brown - Steel
Rating: 8/10

I took a chance on this one. I had never heard Savoy Brown, but I got it anyway, and it's good! It's all bluesy rock, and it sounds fantastic. It was produced by Kim Simmonds, and he did a great job. There's no distortion anywhere, and the bass guitar humms my woofers at a perfect low frequency. A couple of the songs have a style that I don't particularly like which is why it's only an 8, but it's a very happy 8. Good album!

Listen to Savoy Brown - Monday Morning Blues

Ain't Life Amazing
Worst Album: Kim Mitchell - Ain't Life Amazing
Rating: 1/10

This album sucks, but I'm not going to blame Kim Mitchell for it's lack of quality. The album was produced by Joe Hardy. Here's how Joe produced this album: He took the album, played it on his 3 Watt Citizen ghetto blaster with the volume set at 10 where it was distorted to shit, mic'ed it to master tape. Everything's so heavily distorted that the album loses ALL quality and sounds like a big pile of fuzzy vegetables that have been stinking up your fridge for the past two months. When I listen carefully, I hear some quality Kim Mitchell, but the production is so bad that it ruins it. The only song that stands out from the distortion is "In The Stars Tonight". Kim, do us all a favor and record your next album with a REAL producer. Don't buy this.

Listen to Kim Mitchell - Ain't Life Amazing

Other Albums from This Year:
Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain (2/10)
Tarja Turunen - My Winter Storm (4/10)

Year: 2008

Best Album: Was (Not Was) - Boo
Rating: 7/10

Nobody knows who Was (Not Was) was until I mention that they did the song "Walk The Dinosaur" and then they say "Oh Yeah! Those one-hit wonder guys!" The unfortunate thing is they've made some great music, and they've made some truly bizarre music that is so goddam weird that you enjoy it.

This isn't one of their better albums, but it's the best thing to come out of 2008. There's two things that I don't like about this album: 1) The only REALLY bizarre track on here is Needletooth. They usually have about 2 or 3 really weird ones. 2) There is no new version of "Out Come The Freaks" on here. Every album they've released has a re-modified version of this song on it, and they broke that tradition with this release.

Other than that, the album's full of really cool funk, jazz, blues, rock, and everything in-between, just like a Was (Not Was) album should be.

Listen to Was (Not Was) - Crazy Water

Clifton Hill
Worst Album: Honeymoon Suite - Clifton Hill
Rating: 3/10

Honeymoon Suite's last REALLY good album was 1991's "Monsters Under The Bed". Since then, they seem to have mis-placed that magical sound that makes you go "ahhhh". The album "Lemon Tongue" before this was a pile of shit. This album is better since it's more rock based, but there's still not much magic to be found on here. The songs are a bit on the bland side, but it doesn't make me want to shut it off either. There's just not too many memorable songs on this album.

Listen to Honeymoon Suite - She Ain't Alright

Other Albums from This Year:
Neil Diamond - Home Before Dark (4/10)
Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy (6/10)

Year: 2009

I didn't buy or download anything from 2009

So there you have it. Not much there, but some of it is really good. I hope that the 2010s give birth to some better stuff. Let's hope!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Three 90s Movies

Today, I bought three classic movies from the 90s. I paid 50 cents each for them. They're The Lion King, Jurassic Park, and Thumbelina. Pretty good find, huh?

You're probably saying "Big deal. My local thrift store is LOADED with these things!" Ah, but there's something very special about these three movies. Let's open the cases....

They're all on the BETA format!

I thought that pre-recorded Betamax videos were pretty much gone by the mid-80s, until I came across these things. They seem to be from another country (perhaps India or Korea.) Either they're official copies that were manufactured in that particular country, or they're really nice quality bootlegs. The inserts are all done on glossy paper - in other words, they were NOT done on a home computer printer. The quality is too high for them to be shitty home-made things.


The spines on the tapes also seem to be professionally made, with the exception of the Thumbelina video which has no labels whatsoever.

A very bizarre find indeed.