Sum-41 All Killer, No Filler
I have both fond memories of this band as well as intense hatred towards them. They were funny, had catchy tunes, and are Canadian. On the other hand they ushered in a new era of trashy pop-punk and were a little too slick for me to really throw my trust into them. Despite any negative feelings though, their songs remain guilty pleasures. In retrospect, their lyrics were pretty vapid but their successful combination of 80's hardcore, straight-forward unoffensive punk, and rap makes me think of them as the band Beastie Boys would have been if they had signed to a major label early, and stuck with punk-rock. Also, "Fat Lip" was just such a great song! Plus I had crushes on all the punk-rock chicks in the video, even the girl who gets her hair shaved into a skullet.
The Smiley Kids Don't Get Bored
This is an album that I would be really surprised if anybody I knew owned. Actually if I ever meet another person with this album I will be shocked. Because I have a genetic inability to understand song lyrics, I listened to this CD for months without realizing that it's very clearly a Christian-punk band, complete with scripture recitation. For example on the song "Love Your Enemies" with lyrics like "Love your enemies even though they hate your guts yeah" when a narrator breaks into the song to recite parts of the Sermon on the Mount, I had no idea that it was indoctrinating me. Nor did I put the pieces together with song titles like "Army of Light", "Imitation Cross" (lyrics: "Jesus you're the way woah, there is no other way"), and even "Jesus is my Shrink". Because of my healthy love of death-metal bands and punk bands critical of religion, none of these song titles looked unusual to me. Upon further listening I must have been pretty dense. Despite my dislike of the lyrics, the songs were pretty well put together and they have radical riffs. The CD insert also came with a pencil and games to complete, which is pretty cool. I have nothing against Christian rock or punk or metal bands, I just don't like it when every song is religious themed. For example, MXPX is one of my favorite bands, and As I Lay Dying is technically a Christain metalcore band who has one of the most brutal songs I've ever heard in "94 Hours."
Glenn Gould and Leonard Bernstein's recording of three JS Bach Keyboard Concertos
The collaboration of two of the most charismatic and popular figures in western classical music combined on this album for a wonderful experience. Rather than playing the concertos on the harpsichord like a stodgy traditionalist would have done, Gould plays them on a grand piano, taking advantage of the dynamics and articulations possible on the modern keyboard instrument to give a new interpretation to Bach's engaging and emotionally powerful work. You can't hear Gould grunting very much on the recording which is too bad, but I like to imagine all of the insanity at work in the recording studio when these were made. These recordings flat out rock. I guess I never really forgot about them, but I did lose them for awhile.
Third Eye Blind Third Eye Blind
7000 Dying Rats Fanning the Flames of Fire
The actual album cover is much too obscene to put on this blog.
I've never known what to make of the band 7000 Dying Rats. I've never met someone who knows who they are, and I'm pretty sure only weirdos like me actually enjoy them. This album was an impulse buy while searching through the assorted "Numbers" section of Cheapo. This is the section where all of the used CDs of bands with numbers in their names were placed. This band won't be found on Wikipedia, but now you CAN buy them on iTunes, which is new. In high-school we used to leave in the afternoon and go to Cheapo, then come back to school for afternoon classes. I remember popping this CD in my Walkman and laughing my ass off the rest of the day, but replaying the album over and over again. The band is primarily a parody band. They parody the obscure underground speed-metal genre called "grindcore". The only thing about 7000 Dying Rats that sets them apart from just being a parody band though is that they are incredibly good at grindcore. So even though they spend most of their time making fun of grindcore, they also play some of the best grindcore I've ever heard. Their albums have dozens and dozens of tracks on them, but on a given CD you'll only get a handful of actual songs. The rest of the tracks are mixes of bizarre jazz freakouts, hilarious skits, and samples of terrible rap albums. The band is truly puzzling, mixing crude humor with amazing song-writing ability, such as on the track "My Nordic Butt Can Rule Nations" which starts with a speaker farting, announcing the name of the track like a European rock singer, then the song starts, which is a beautiful soft acoustic guitar solo with skillfully played bass and drums as the accompaniment. The next song? Short blasts of heavily distorted guitars interspersed with Casio drum beats and a high-pitched trumpet whine. That whine weaves its way through a large number of the tracks, forming a thread which ties the entire album together. Basically, even as a joke, it's higher concept than most of the crap out there. Kind of like the Daily Show for extreme metal. 7000 Dying Rats. Not for everyone, but for the people who like them, they mean a lot. Also, their last album, Season in Hell, is really good. And I own a t-shirt.
Rivers Cuomo Alone II: The Home Recordings
Basically that album cover should convince you enough. This is very recent CD that I just forgot about. It has home-made recordings made by Rivers Cuomo (frontman of Weezer) as well as a great booklet explaining how and why he writes songs. I'm not huge Weezer fan, but I do like them and I think Rivers Cuomo is one of the country's best song-writers. It's an interesting look into Cuomo's somewhat bizarre life and there are a ton more pictures of him in wigs to look at.
Smash Mouth Astrolounge
You mean the band from the Shrek movies? Yes. Exactly.