It's approaching that time of the year where music critics and fans pick some arbitrary number of their favourite albums over the last arbitrary 365 (or 366) day period. I'll do that too, because lists are fun (lists of that kind, anyway. Lists of chores = not so fun). But in the meantime, as a sort of a predecessor and whilst I figure out exactly where the excellent new Deftones album slots in to my arbitrary list, I've instead got another list... this one of arbitrary musical things that I thought were worthy of mention, or recognition.
Best Live Album and Best Live Band
Machine Head - Machine F**king Head Live
I was lucky enough to see them in February - they were astonishingly good. And this album reminds me exactly how astonishingly good they were, live. If you are a metal or hard rock fan and you have not seen this band live, you need to sort that (do not settle for just buying this admittedly excellent live album).
Down - Down IV: The Purple EP
best interviews I've ever read.
Best Music Video
I didn't really watch many music videos this year, to be honest. Seems slightly odd in the YouTube era, but anyway. Testament's video for Native Blood was pretty cool. But in the end, El-P produced not one but two standout music videos, for a couple of tracks from Cancer 4 Cure: The Full Retard and Stay Down. So I'm just going to give the award to El-P and then not have to figure out which is the better video. It probably comes down to whether you have a bigger thing for inappropriate puppets or 80's schtick.
[still to be decided]
I start on this, whoever is is responsible for setting local pricing of
some of the reissue box sets is ABSOLUTELY GOUGING. Both the Rage
Against the Machine XX reissue (2CD/2DVD/LP) and the Smashing Pumpkins'
Mellon Collie reissue (5CD/1DVD) are getting local pricing which is
ridiculously out of kilter with US pricing. The flash version of RATM
will set you back US$75 on Amazon... or NZ$225 from a number of local
retailers. After accounting for currency conversion and shipping, the
price difference is circa NZ$100 more if you buy locally. That's
completely ridiculous. Not quite as bad in the case of Mellon Collie
(US$128 versus NZ$225, and arguably still overpriced in USD terms!), but
still material. I suspect it's the local distributors trying to
extract the best they can out of the small NZ market - but screw that. I
buy plenty of my music off Amazon now anyway and this will only
reaffirm my commitment to do that. This is only going to hurt NZ
retailers when consumers switch to ordering online internationally, so
the distributors are probably shooting themselves in the foot.
Anyway, after that little rant, the contenders (subject to me ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO AFFORD THEM) are:
Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction 20th Anniversary
Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine XX (20th Anniversary)
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Best album released 10 years ago
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
2002 seemed like a great year for music at the time, and looking back I think it still holds up pretty well. But nothing from that year has held up as well as the remarkable Songs for the Deaf, the third - and best - QOTSA album. It's an album I always seem to return to regularly, a fantastic hard rock record which has that timeless quality to it that all really great albums have. It sounded unique and original then, and it still does. QOTSA took everything they did so well on Rated R - great hooks and catchy melodies - added a whole lot more raw energy and edginess (largely thanks to Nick Oliveri, who left not long after), and produced a hard album that brilliantly straddles heavy and melodic.
Coincidentally, ten years since he last drummed for them, Dave Grohl is back behind the kit for QOTSA during recording sessions for their new album following the abrupt departure of Joey Castillo. I'm pretty excited about this because Grohl's drumming was a big highlight of Songs for the Deaf - maybe it'll add that extra edge that they've missed since Oliveri left (it certainly worked for Them Crooked Vultures).
It's always a great track live - but this performance with occasional contributor Mark Lanegan on vocals and Grohl on the kit is one of my favourites:
Best weird obscure limited-edition singleClutch - Pigtown Blues
This is really just an excuse for me to mention this song, which is excellent. It took a while to grow on me but once it took hold there was no letting go. It's hard to imagine this on any Clutch album as it is a slightly quirky (albeit groovy) number, so I can understand the logic for the single release. Did I mention they have a new album coming next year?
Anyway, the top albums of the year will follow in the not-too-distant future...