New Mars Volta album out today

The Mars VoltaI haven’t even listened to it yet (ripping the CD now), but I just wanted to draw attention to the new Mars Volta album out today, The Bedlam in Goliath.

These guys are quite possibly the most adventurous band out there in the “mainstream” today. (Whether or not their music is what you call “mainstream,” it’s certainly no sign of obscurity to have your album featured in Target’s Sunday circular.) It’s progressive rock for a new generation. But call it what you will; how can you not like a couple of guys who look like this?

NPR has a great review of the album.

What do you get when you cross The Beach Boys, Queen and The Foo Fighters?

It might just be my ears, but I believe you get The Dear Hunter, in particular, the track “Smiling Swine.”

Despite the obviousness of the multi-layered vocal harmonies, I had never before thought there might be a musical connection between Brian Wilson and Freddie Mercury, but there you go.

This is one of numerous “post-emo” (that’s my term, I think, but you can use it) bands that have gotten my attention over the past few years, starting with The Mars Volta and especially Coheed and Cambria, but more recently Circa Survice, Chiodos and these guys (who may actually be one guy; I’m not entirely sure). At any rate, I had never really given emo much attention, mainly because it seemed like something I was about 15 years too old to appreciate, and to be honest I still haven’t really checked out any straight-up emo (whatever that might be; I wouldn’t even know where to look), but the stuff these guys are doing is unmistakably marked with the same grandiose ambitions that were the cornerstone of the early ’70s prog rock I’ve been into since high school.

The Dear Hunter’s music, in particular, is quite intriguing with its incredibly varied instrumentation and song structures. There’s nothing else quite like it, except maybe Brian Wilson’s SMiLE. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Top 5 Albums of 2005

OK, I realize that we are now precisely (give or take the days various Caesars stole from February) halfway through 2006, but I still haven’t gotten around to compiling my list of the top 5 albums of 2005. I think I actually did start one back in December but I couldn’t narrow it down, or I couldn’t be bothered to care to finish it or… something.

5. Beck: Guero
A lot of the same critics who praised 2002’s Sea Change for its growth came back to declare Guero a grand return to form over what they now called dark and depressing. Get over it! I actually liked Sea Change better, but anything from Beck is good.
4. Porcupine Tree: Deadwing
Speaking of anything from being good, here we have Porcupine Tree, without a doubt the most undeservingly underheard band around today. This album is so good I can’t even write a coherent sentence about it.
3. Foo Fighters: In Your Honor
Great album. At first I thought the idea of splitting all of the acoustic/mellow tracks onto one CD and all of the rockers onto another was a risky idea, but it actually works out great. The pair complement each other well, and are perfectly suitable soundtracks for diametrically-opposed moods.
2. Coldplay: X&Y
A lot of people I know hate Coldplay, and I just don’t get it. Perhaps they’re overrated now, and it’s just that I started to get into them before they got really big, but I think their music is full of great melodies and atmospheres.
1. Coheed and Cambria: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
OK, this one had to win simply for the fact that these guys had the cojones to give their album such a title. C’mon guys, it’s not 1974! Unabashed prog rock seems to be making a comeback, but unlike the slightly more successful Mars Volta, these guys don’t pad each track out with aimless noodling filler (and I usually like bloat-prog).