Hudson's Best of 2011, Pt. 2: Best Albums #41-60
41. Chuck Ragan, Covering Ground. It's a weird but welcome trend - former hardcore and punk rock vocalists becoming singer/songwriter troubadours. The former Hot Water Music leader's third album makes a strong case for his being the top of the heap in that ever-growing gang.
42. Male Bonding, Endless Now. It's long been established I'm a sucker for Jesus and Mary Chain-inspired noisy pure pop. Male Bonding breaks absolutely no ground but I can't help but revel in its sugary sweetness.
43. Big Troubles, Romantic Comedy. Speaking of sugary sweetness, the second album by songwriters Alex Craig and Ian Drennan features the production genius of Mitch Easter (Pavement, Velvet Crush, Marshall Crenshaw, Game Thoery, R.E.M., and his own band, Let's Active). Imagine the perfect storm of 60's Brit Pop, 80's Paisley Underground, and 90's lo-fi indie.
44. Ryan Adams, Ashes & Fire. I expected so much from this album, Adams' first without the derided (by me, at least) Cardinals since 2004's Love Is Hell. While it has enough moments to make this countdown, so much more was expected...especially since it's produced by Glyn Johns (Who, Beatles, Stones, Clash). It's a fine album...but that's about it.
45. Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing. Like Deer Tick's new album, Blitzen Trapper drop most of the folk and country elements of their prior albums and focus on the "rawk". Like Deer Tick, it may also be the album of their career.
46. A.A. Bondy, Believers. Another great collection of dark, haunting tunes from the former Verbena lead singer.
47. Title Tracks, In Blank. More tasty lo-fi garage pop fuzz from the former leader of Georgie James and Q and Not U.
48. The Wooden Birds, Two Matchsticks. Another creeper of an album whose slowcore mix of subdued guitars, atmospheric grooves, and traditional folk-pop becomes irresistible after multiple plays.
49. The Mekons, Ancient & Modern 1911-2011. 35 years after their formation, The Mekons show no signs of retiring. Their latest album may be their for ambitious yet - a look at how similar our society was exactly 100 years ago. Not being a historian, I can't vouch for their findings, but I definitely appreciate the passion.
50. Motel Beds, Sunfried Dreams. There's more to Dayton, OH than the Black Keys, Devo, and the Deal sisters. Well, there's at least one more music act in that fine city, as this fine sunshine pop-rock goodness is worth the trip to bandcamp. The site, not the cheesy movie cliche.
51. The Barreracudas, Nocturnal Missions. I can't beat this quote I found on Amazon, "somewhere between The Heartbreakers (Petty) and The Heartbeakers (Thunders)...Nocturnal Missions blends elements of dirty 70's glam and the radio-friendliness of Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour". Yes, this is Hudson music.
52. Crooked Fingers Breaks in the Armor. The latest release by former Archers of Loaf leader Eric Bachmann (hmmm, maybe former should be stricken since they're now back together) is a tad less folky and atmospheric than his previous releases under the Crooked Fingers moniker.
53. Old 97's, The Grand Theatre Volume 2. Renting out a concert hall to work on material worked so well on Volume 1 that a year later we have a second set of twangy power folk-pop. Both albums rank up there with anything the band has put out in their lengthy career.
54. John Wesley Harding, The Sound of His Own Voice. For his 19th album (!), Harding gathered together a bunch of his pals (including Peter Buck, Rosanne Cash, Laura Veirs, and all of The Decemberists) for his most lively and entertaining album in quite some time.
55. Lydia Loveless, Indestructible Machine. Talk about a family affair. The guitarist is her husband, and the drummer is her father (no word on any relation to the bassist). Together they create the kind of punkish country rock that seemed to disappear around 2001 or so.
56. HeadCat, Walk the Walk...Talk the Talk. What do you get when you put Motorhead's Lemmy, Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats, and rockabilly legend Danny B. Harvey in a studio? This take-no-prisoners, clearly alcohol-inspired blast of rock 'n' roll past and present!
57. Garland Jeffreys, The King of In Between. What a welcome return after a 20 year recording hiatus (besides a couple of European-only releases). Few songwriters capture the essence of New York as Jeffreys (or at least to this non-Easterner), and this album stands tall next to his late 70's classics.
58. The Love Me Nots, The Demon and the Devotee. Yes, another collection of catchy garage rock. Add a sultry female vocalist and I'm all in!
59. The Magnolias, Pop the Lock. Fifteen years after their last album, Street Date Tuesday, the most overlooked Minneapolis band of the 80's and 90's is back. It's unfortunate, though, that the only reason we have more great music from them is due to their own fundraising efforts through Kickstarter. It's like they never left, though, as they continue to conjure up the spirits of their Minneapolis brethren The Replacements, Husker Du, and early Soul Asylum.
60. Glossary, Long Live All of Us. I've always wanted to check out this band, but never got around to it. Seeing their latest release perched near the top of many of my friend's lists enticed me to finally do just that. I'll definitely be checking out more in the near future...mainly so I can come up with an apt description of their soul/funk/country/folk/whatever sound.