So we're 13 days into 2010 ("twenty-ten" is how all the cool people are pronouncing it fyi) and I was reflecting the other day on the past year. For music it was pretty meh, some okay releases, quite a few mudane ones and a few rare gems. I'm going to try to break this up by genres because I listen to a somewhat wide array of music and doing a "best-of" for the entire year will result in some good releases being missed, and with the way the world is going now we can use all the good music we can get. So here we go, over the next few days we'll see what I think were the better and in some cases overlooked albums of '09.
Grunge isn't dead:
Black Gives Way To Blue - Alice In Chains
This was my pleasant surprise of the year. I had somewhat low expectations when I had heard that Alice In Chains was going to record a new album after the death of Layne however that all changed after I listened to this. Black Gives Way To Blue is not a solid release but a stunning and exceptional one. The first single Check My Brain is just as good as anything from Dirt-era Alice In Chains and showcases Jerry Cantrell simple but amazing sounding guitar style perfectly. It's all here, the energy, the harmonized vocals (it actually sounds like Jerry is doing the majority of the vocal work now, which is a-okay with me) and the gritty heavy-as-lead guitar riffs. The overall attitude of the album seems to be a bit more deep then on their previous albums which is probably directly related to the death of Layne. This is one of (if not the) best albums this year and is worth checking out. Also it should be noted that Elton John makes a guest appearance on the title track. That song seems to be a tribute to Layne and is a very nice showcase of the bands' talent.
"Hooks the size of Dave Mustaine's ego":
Homesick - A Day To Remember
The third release by A Day To Remember (ADTR) and it seems to be their stab at mainstream success. It’s easy to tell when someone is trying too hard. All bands want to be popular and be the “next big thing” the only problem is that it’s painfully obvious when bands deliberately try to be popular or “catchy” instead of writing good music. This has never been a problem for ADTR, the ease in which they blend catchy pop-punk choruses with post-hardcore breakdowns and drop C guitar work is impressive, surprisingly fresh and not a combination that one would expect to sound as good as it does. The opening track "The Downfall Of Us All" is an ideal case of ADTR's music style, the song is a great album opener and showcases the sound that make them get stuck in your head for days. The last track on this album is a nice acoustic-driven duet that shows us that vocalist Jeremy McKinnon has a softer side and is quite good at clean style vocal work as well as screaming. A Day To Remember is a band that seems like they are posed to breakout and this album might be the one that grants them mainstream success. It's definitely worth buying and checking out.