When all the cool kids (read: everyone else on this blog) jump off a bridge, you sure as hell better be running right after them to launch yourself off a convenient piece of architecture. In the same vein, I'm following suit with a 2009 list of what I'm kinda hyped for.
Working On a Dream- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band January 27, 2009
This is an important album for the house-rockin' pants-droppin' E Street Band. With the sad passing of keyboardist Danny Federici (who will appear posthumously on some of the tracks), they have to decide if they can still make music that inspires generations like the songs on and Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Tepid offerings like the title track won't cut it-- but if more tracks are like "The Wrestler," I hope the Boss is making tunes for years to come. "Outlaw Pete" is supposedly an eight-minute cut, so there might be some hope for greatness. They just have to realize that making the guitars the only audible part of the mix isn't good for a band with Clarence fucking Clemons in it.
No Line on the Horizon- U2 March 3, 2009
Another potentially career-determining album. U2's last effort a stellar exercise in mediocrity; a lack of hooks and a lot of hamfisted humanitarian metaphor/imagery combined with general buffoonery ("Vertigo") makes it seem like U2 lost the edge they had on albums like War, The Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby. Producers and mixers are all hailing the work as one of U2's best, most innovative works; Bono is being probably as misleading or vague as possible, citing "trance" and "metal" influences. I'm sort of hoping this album combines the previous album's stellar production value with some better songwriting. Who knows, maybe they're reworking Blood Mountain as a dubstep album.
Circa Survive's Third Studio LP- Circa Survive TBA
On Letting Go was one of my favorite albums of 2007. Circa Survive had sort of ditched the depressing emo atmospheres of their initial effort, Juturna, and moved on to a land of spring sunlight and new discovery. If they can continue making songs like the first eight tracks on On Letting Go, I'll be extremely happy.
Random aside: holy shit, the new Taking Back Sunday single blows.
That's actually kind of it. Saosin is recording a new album, but if The Grey EP is any indication, it will suck and not be nearly as good a trip through semi-technical pop-metal as their first LP. The new songs aren't inventive and it's impossible to say that Cove Reber has a good voice when he's essentially using AutoTune under all that voice production. I think Gary put down The Blueprint 3, which will probably be awesome. Don't count out The Hold Steady-- they've done a hat trick of albums in as many years. Coheed & Cambria might be due for something new: Equal Vision will have a good year regardless.
Best of 2008 List With Little or No Explanation
1. Phantom on the Horizon (The Fall of Troy)- The best fusion of Mars Volta-abstract algebra time signatures, terse and tense vocal delivery that would make the Blood Brothers proud, and straight up technical shredding.
2. The '59 Sound (The Gaslight Anthem)- Bruce Springsteen will never die; this band has masterfully captured the sense of yearning, sexual frustration, and caustic-summer stories that permeate Springsteen's better albums.
3. Only By the Night (Kings of Leon)- Kings of Leon ascend to new and interesting heights, incorporating some atmospherics along the lines of Joshua Tree and write soul-wrenching ballads like "Cold Desert." Keep on truckin'.
4. Stay Positive (The Hold Steady)- No, really, Bruce Springsteen will never die. A lot of songs aren't great on this album, but a lot of songs are also transcendentally amazing (see guitar solo in "Lord I'm Discouraged). Some songs, they get so scratched into our souls.
5. Fortress (Protest the Hero)- A bloody, frenzied masterpiece of technical metal from guys who write songs that are initially too difficult to play, so they must hone their game to get into the studio. A brilliant marriage of near-operatic emotions in clean vocals with more guttural screams and more math in song structures than you'd find in a differential equations textbook.