JG2’s Top Ten Albums & Singles Of 2011 (Annotated Edition)
Previously published sans annotation here. This year’s lists are dedicated to Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua (pictured, left), who died a couple years ago and has yet to receive a proper tribute in this country. Yes, I’m currently petitioning Congress to make her birthday a national holiday.
JG2’s TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2011
1. Turbo A.C.’s – Kill Everyone
2011’s greatest monument to that archaic concept of rock n’ roll and the trash culture that surrounds it. Key phrases from my original review of Kill Everyone: “crushing,” “foreboding,” “hot asphalt,” “heart-bruising melodies,” “wounded pride,” “punk aching,” and “zeal.” If these guys turn out to be stockbrokers who own property in Westchester County, I will lose all faith in humanity/art.
2. Anal Cunt – Fuckin’ A
Seth Putnam’s final stand unfurls itself as a twisted tribute to whiskey-soaked, crotch-rubbing hard rock circa 1984. Is it genuine or a complete piss take? The jury’s still out on that, but Fuckin’ A works as a curious buffer between the shrieky atonal hell of Anal Cunt’s normal grindcore and the grimy bombast of Mötley Crüe and Quiet Riot. The most accessible (not to mention most fun) record ever to bear the name Anal Cunt.
3. Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu
Lou collaborates with the rock band we all assume is least aligned with his sensibilities and creates something that’s almost as deliciously painful as Metal Machine Music. Both parties must be commended for fully committing to their ridiculous union, a Waterworld for the iPod generation.
4. Pusrad – Smarttrams
This EP of jagged hardcore punk from Sweden is only two minutes long, but it leaves some serious road burn. Pusrad manage to display a surprising amount of dexterity in their attack, leaving one to wonder why all music of this nature can’t be as boisterous.
5. Screeching Weasel – First World Manifesto
One of the most focused and fulfilling entries of Screeching Weasel’s career. Unfortunately, buffoonery at the hands of Ben Weasel derailed any momentum First World had going, so it’ll probably take a few years for devoted pop punkers to place it in their minds next to previous towering SW efforts.
6. Megadeth – Thirteen
Of course thirteen would be a lucky number for this band previously obsessed with the occult, nuclear destruction, and religious jihads. Fantastic production allows Megadeth to stretch their legs a tad and gallop along at satisfying paces that don’t embarrass them. Also, they made a video with monkeys.
7. Das Racist – Relax
The Stephen Wrights of rap nail their debut album with lackadaisical but funny rhymes over beats that alternately accost and amuse. Lazy opportunists or dada novelty? Doesn’t matter when the returns are this high.
8. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
The Beasties can get away with an album of 1980s Afrika Bambaataa video game noises because they lived through that era. As insular as Hot Sauce initially sounds, it’s ultimately a party record (even when Nas shows up).
9. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
The big stupid white bread hooky arena rock record every year needs. Plenty of gusto to match the melody.
10. Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
As I insisted before, BDM “effortlessly massage enormous amounts of feeling and harmony into their fist-clenching anthems of anger, pestilence, pain, and suffering.” 2011 offered no better soundtrack for all night Call of Duty finger-mashing sessions fueled by candy and energy drinks.
JG2’s TOP TEN SINGLES OF 2011
1. Baby Metal – “ド・キ・ド・キ☆モーニング (Freaky Morning)”
Death metal/grindcore is finally co-opted by J-Pop, and the results are life-affirming.
2. Anal Cunt – “Crankin’ My Band’s Demo On A Box At The Beach”
The imagery the chorus conjures up is hilarious. Can anyone imagine these guys going to the beach in the first place, let alone subjecting surfers to this noise as if it were Van Halen’s “Panama?”
3. Turbo A.C.’s – “Die Tomorrow”
Mainly for this lyrical gem: “Say you wanna die, but I think you’re a liar/I’ve never seen you at a Gray’s Papaya.”
4. Das Racist – “Michael Jackson”
Mainly for this lyrical gem: “Yeah, I’m fuckin’ great at rapping!”
What, did you think this Loutallica record wasn’t gonna sound like they were making it up as they go along?
6. Beastie Boys – “Lee Majors Come Again”
The Beasties can still get all 1992 on your ass if they really feel like it.
Yeah, she’s fuckin’ great at rapping.
8. Foo Fighters – “White Limo”
The Foos mainline the Cult and make you hard / wet with anticipation.
9. The Black Dahlia Murder – “Conspiring With The Damned”
Hey, this death metal isn’t giving me a headache yet!
10. Avril Lavigne – “What The Hell”
Everybody likes a little cotton candy.
Unsolicited Lou Reed & Metallica Lulu Review
Lou Reed & Metallica
Even though this strange collaboration was Lou Reed’s idea—he thought Metallica would be the perfect band to help breathe life into his tribute to Euro playwright Frank Wedekind—Lulu will forever be known as “that Metallica record with Lou Reed on it,” not vice versa, because Metallica’s sales figures are astronomical even when they aren’t being compared to that of former Velvet Undergrounders. If the heavy metal behemoths were smart, they would have played on Lulu anonymously. Honestly, what’s Metallica getting out of this project aside from another opportunity to embarrass themselves? Has it really been their dream all along to help indie rock’s Australopithecus ride the lightening? The only thing Lou Reed’s riding is his giant check to the friggin’ bank.
Metalli-fans have been pretty forgiving over the years, but smart money says the last thing your average Master of Puppets worshipper wants to hear is an album of bone-crushing riffage augmented by a senior citizen flatly reciting spoken word drivel about male sex workers and their own mountain of self-hatred. The Marianne Faithful/Metallica duet from the mid-nineties was one thing—that song (in which the elder Faithful really only hummed) was, what, three minutes and some change? Lulu pushes an hour and a half, a feature film-length musical frown that generally doesn’t seem to have an agenda beyond aggravating people who wore Slayer-stamped denim jackets in 1987. Take opener “Bradenburg Gate,” which begins with the following Lou mumblings over the gentle strains of an acoustic guitar:
“I would cut my legs and tits off
When I think of Boris Karloff
In the dark of the moon…”
Seconds later, the crushing hard rock of Metallica comes in, and it would really be something if singer James Hetfield wasn’t repeatedly bellowing the barely in-context phrase “Small town girl!” while Lou continues ranting only semi-coherently. At first, “Brandenburg Gate” seems like it might be a test wherein Loutallica has purposely front-loaded their album with something way beyond the pale so as to weed out close-minded mouth-breathers. Then the rest of Lulu unfolds, and this Boris Karloff tit-lopping song proves absolutely fitting.
The cruel Catch-22 with this album is that many of the interesting and adventurous devices Metallica employ (excessive feedback, droning keyboards, Bill Ward-style percussion) probably couldn’t/wouldn’t have been facilitated without Lou Reed, and yet our groovy refreshed Metallica is completely torpedoed by the aged underground legend as he warbles for the majority of Lulu in a most atonal manner laughable phrases like “if I waggle my ass like a dog prostitute” and “[something something] a colored man’s dick.” Twenty years ago, when Lou Reed was a scant fifty and still retained some of that Velvety touch, Lulu could have proved a chocolate and peanut butter combination. As it stands, this is chocolate and stale Metamucil.
There are moments where Loutallica comes within a football field of gelling. In an alternate universe, “Iced Honey” achieves its goal of being a successful Rolling Stones circa Sticky Fingers tribute despite its obvious stiffness; I can see Mick Jagger peacocking around to the “See if the ice will melt for you-ah!” chorus that Lou and James take turns shitting out. “Little Dog” and “Dragon” both have hypnotizing, hymnal qualities—particularly the former in its restrained quiet—not unlike the spate of material Johnny Cash recorded just before he died. That said, it would be surprising if even one of the aforementioned songs ends up on a Lou Reed or Metallica career retrospective collection any time before Earth is destroyed by a flaming meteorite the size of Russia.
Lulu’s final track, “Junior Dad,” is a twenty minute journey into the psychological chasm that separates a man from his child. The main guitar riff is an arpeggio that sounds bittersweet, as if it feels some resentment about being included in a song that’s four times longer than “Bohemian Rhapsody.” No, there is no reason “Junior Dad” has to last twenty minutes (the final quarter is just a heap of shameless heart-tugging violins), but there was also no reason Lou Reed and Metallica had to make a record together. And yet they did.
It may be one of pop music’s most frustrating and frustratingly inexplicable exercises, an album that will indeed take Generation Y’s core concept of ironic enjoyment to dark and painful places, but at least Lulu doesn’t force us to suffer the unforgivable sin of mediocrity. A new benchmark has been set. This is the aural stain rock fans will knowingly smirk about for the next decade until we’re given another Hindenburg. Oh, the humanity…but what a point of reference.
FINAL SCORE: One atonal gender-bending legend (out of four).
Who Am JG2?
A CONVENIENT PARALLEL DIMENSION
BRAVE PUNK WORLD
My second book is called Brave Punk World: The Internat’l Rock Underground From Alerta Roja to Z-Off and it is now available for purchase. It’s about the development of punk rock in other countries. All the info you want / need about it is right here (click here!).