1. The Black Keys - Okay, so I'm probably the last person on the planet to "discover" these guys. I had actually heard of them before, but just never got around to checking out any of their stuff. Well, I recently rejoined emusic and once again stumbled across their name while searching for something-or-another.
They have one of the most incredible sexy-dirty-crunch (my own term) sounds I have ever heard. When I listen to their stuff, I can't tell if I want to make out with someone because it's hot or slap someone because I'm offended. But either way, I like it! Some will probably call this group alt-country, but as someone who doesn't always love everything in that genre, I would add that they are all the good stuff and very little of the yawn stuff.
2. The New Slipknot's Disc - This has been a tough one for me. I have a long history of dislike (or at least great apprehension) for this band. They came out in my former Hot Topic days. I initially found them to be an overrated gimmicky nu-metal band amongst a heap of thousands. I saw them once back in '00 or '01 and they were pretty terrible. At the time, I also had a friend from Iowa (where they're supposedly from), who told me that there was no way the band now going by the name Slipknot was the same band that played the bar scene of Des Moines, because that band was a god-awful talentless mess. I also had a great unease over the fairly well-documented story of how Slipknot and their record label ripped off their look and story from Cleveland-natives, Mushroomhead.
Anyway as a result, I avoided the group for many years. But, I had recently been hearing really good things about their new album, All Hope is Gone. So when I came across a used copy in Boston last week, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I must admit, I'm glad I did. While many of the bands of this era have disbanded (System of a Down), lost their edge (Korn), or simply become ridiculous (Limp Bizkit), Slipknot has hung around and, to my astonishment, gotten immensely better! All Hope is Gone is one of the tightest and more inventive albums I've heard in awhile. I also appreciate their ability to stretch their sound into other metal genres instead of beating the proverbial dead horse. I don't know who these guys really are or whether or not they really pull this off live now, but damn they know how to make some awesome s**t in the studio!
3. The White Tie Affair - J and I went to see Kill Hannah a couple months ago. They were playing at this tiny club in St. Paul called Station 4. It actually reminded us of the hallowed ground that is Howard's in BG. But anyway, the White Tie Affair was one of several opening bands for KH, and they were a super high-energy, electro-pop, funfest! The singer kept alternating between hanging from the support poles and getting the entire crowd jumping up and down in sync to their technopunk beats. Much fun to be had! I've been digging their disc ever since. It's like Mono in a college dorm during February! Fast, hard-hitting, and infectiously catchy!
4. The New Metallica Disc - Oh yeah, you read that right! I have not forgotten my previous post of doom and dread. However, remember all of those qualifications of unless the initial tracks were not indicative of the remaining album? Curiously, they were all right on. The new album is well...quite impressive. Is it the disc that should've come between Justice and the Black Album? Maybe, but I would actually say it should've been where the band went after the Black Album instead of wallowing in the "Load and Reload of Crap" era. Death Magnetic is beautifully tight and assaultingly heavy. By far, "The Day that Never Comes" and the oh-so-unfortunate "Unforgiven 3" are the only weak spots on the album. The rest is the onslaught for which I've continued to carry the Metallica torch all these years, ever hoping they still had it in them!