So, I was watching this video interview with The Wonder Years (because their new record is AWESOME). I didn’t realize Matt’s twin was in the band. Seriously…it’s uncanny.
Jon Feit is as O.G. as it gets with the Belchin’ Waffles crew. Matt’s known him since they were babies and the rest of us had the pleasure at Redmond Junior High. We loved Green Day together, thought of cool band names (Nubby Panties, anyone?), wrote funny swear words on a piece of paper, taped pubes in each other’s yearbooks and spilled Snapple at Olson’s. Good times.
Man, I had a blast thinking about this… I rediscovered a GRIP of great music & narrowing it down to a top ten wasn’t any easier than when I thought I had to make a top 5 list.
Music is great.
In no particular order, cuz I can’t pick gold, silver & bronze medal winners out of this lot.
Here we go…
Ozzy Osbourne — Blizzard Of Ozz
Once my guitar teacher, Chris Riche, had taught me all he knew, he recommended to me that I should listen to the works of Dimebag Darrell & Randy Rhoads & teach myself to play their shit. I did, & I feel like I owe a great debt of gratitude to those two masters (and Chris Riche, obvi). Such feats of prestidigitation as showcased in I Don’t Know, Mr. Crowley, of course Crazy Train, & the masterpiece that is Revelation (Mother Earth) have never since been matched. The piano breakdown in the middle of Revelation (Mother Earth) is powerful enough, but I get the chills the whole time, & every time, I hear Randy Rhoads just fucking unleash that huge guitar solo right up until the end of the song. That’s why the illustrious Randy Rhoads tops my list of the best guitarists of all time (style-wise).
Guns ‘n’ Roses — Appetite For Destruction
I’m a product of the MTV generation, so I remember being completely awestruck by seeing the video for Welcome To The Jungle for the first time. When that dude-ical riff kicks in, & Axl steps off that bus, it’s just the shit. Though, I read that Welcome To The Jungle is actually about Axl’s arrival in New York from Indiana (Wikipedia this album, you’ll learn a lot). Guns ‘n’ Roses are the gods of the Sunset strip. I love most hair metal, but G’n’R are my favorite & I think they deserve the status of legend. This album is so gritty… & surprisingly punk… I also love that I can recognize Slash’s style apart from anyone else, anywhere I hear it. He’s iconic. Skid Row’s self titled album is great all the way through… Motley Crue are awesome, especially their Dr. Feelgood album (Same Ol’ Situation is my jam)… & there is not a song that makes me happier than Nothin’ But A Good Time by Poison… But no one is, was, nor ever will be Guns and fucking Roses. To this day, I get PUMPED the very second the cowbell kicks in at the beginning of Nightrain & I can’t help but shriek along. Oh! & the music videos for their hits off Use Your Illusion I & II still have yet to be equaled, including November Rain, which was originally written for this album. How weird would it be if November Rain were on this CD? PS- “Axl Rose” is an anagram for “oral sex”… Thank you very much.
Danzig — Danzig I
I would be remiss if I left out Danzig, as I have a Misfits tattoo on my neck. I chose Danzig I over Evillive and/or Earth A.D. by The Misfits by a cunt hair. Though, indeed, it would have been the highlight of my life if I had seen The Misfits perform We Are 138 with the accompaniment of Henry Rollins during his Black Flag tenure, but I can’t change when I was born. I did, however, see Danzig play all my favorite Misfits songs alongside my other favorite Misfit, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein. They played twice as fast & twice as hard. My possibly somewhat unhealthy fascination with Glenn Danzig all started when I saw the music video for Mother for the first time. I thought he was so god-damned tough, with his snake-strikes, mesh shirt & mutton chops. The positive (& manly) connotations continued to surmount over the course of my life. First, (if any of you can recall) back in the day, strippers used to be themed at Déjà Vu. There was one dancer who had black hair, tattoos, dark eye make-up, but most importantly, a leather matching undies set complete with bat wings coming off the bra straps. She was incredible. She danced to Twist Of Cain and The Hunter off of this album. Then, years later, my favorite thrash metal band, Himsa, played this record in between sets right before they took the stage almost every time they played at El Corazon, or Graceland, as I knew it then.
Himsa — Courting Tragedy & Disaster
Oh man… This is one third of the three-way tie I have for first place in my top ten list of all time, EVER… Along with I’ll Shut Up When You Fuck Off, and Wages Of Sin (see below). Where do I start? Since the beginning, my favorite songs on any particular album were the hardest, fastest &/or most obnoxious songs. In my quest for ever harder, ever faster music, I was guided by an old friend by the name of Cody Votolato (OW, my foot! I dropped a name!). I went to one of Cody’s bands’ shows & when I met up with him, he introduced me to some guy in the back of the venue (whom also was named John) who was selling merch & his own collection of old punk t-shirts. In retrospect, I should have bought that Poison Idea shirt from him. Anyway, Cody told me I’d really like John’s band, they’re playing before (The Blood Brothers). *oh my god, I just googled Cody… He’s a way bigger deal than I knew* Back to the story: John had just taken over Himsa as the singer, thereby making them good. Back then, they had a DJ & he would play movie quotes in between songs. Like, from Army Of Darkness: “first you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me… blow” followed immediately by the opening crash & riff ripping into their hit song Kiss Or Kill. During a song, John saw a kid in the crowd making fun of his barking, then promptly Patriot-missile-dive-punched the kid. Afterward, I saw the kid’s friends dragging him out of the pit, nose spewing blood, & John got back up on stage (band still playing, BTW) & yelled “don’t fucking mock me”, then finished the song. My mouth was agape in rapture. They continued their set filled with hammers & pulloffs, subharmonics & double bass drum throughout. Cody was right, Himsa just acquired their biggest fan. This particular CD is their second offering since the local hero John Pettibone had taken the helm. After a couple personnel adjustments, they culminated to create this thrash masterwork. With Pettibone’s obvious hardcore influence, & the melodic thrash input from the symbiotic duo that is Sammi Curr & Kirby Johnson, this album hums beautifully from Dominion to When Midnight Breaks. I dare not even begin to describe my love for each song, or else this list wouldn’t end. To this day, this CD is my favorite to play on guitar for myself. From the time Pettibone took over the band, to when they broke up, I went to every show they played in Seattle. Even on Christmas… No… Especially on Christmas!
Britney Spears — Blackout
So you’re telling me that she had a mental breakdown, a failed marriage, a baby, THEN came out with her best shit after a 4 year hiatus?!!!… Only my girl Britney can pull that off. I still love Christina more, personally… But I love Britney more, professionally. At first I thought Britney was a better CD, but no, Blackout is the winner. Sure, Gimme More is good, but Piece Of Me, Ooh Ooh Baby, & especially Radar & Hot As Ice are the fuckin’ JAMS. I also considered a few Backstreet Boys records or ‘N Sync’s German release of their self titled album, but only Blackout is legit beginning to end. Also look out for the bonus tracks on Britney’s Greatest Hits CD. I’m not ashamed to play this CD while I’m working at my auto shop… I do so often. There’s nothing like pop music to pull you up out’a the dumps. I tried to think of all the other genres of music I listen to, if there were noteworthy albums amongst them, but no, I can’t think of a rap CD this good, nor another pop CD, nor Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin records… Not all the way through… Britney Spears, motherfuckers… Think about it. (Led Zeppelin IV is a fuckin close call, though)
Green Day — Insomniac
Again, if I didn’t throw in a Green Day CD on this top 10, I’d be lying to myself & to all of you who know me best. Yes, it’s true Dookie was my gateway album & I love it, it taught me that there was music other than what was on the radio (cuz my ex-half-brother-in-law heard me listening to it & said “if you like this, you’d prob’ly like NOFX”… Punk In Drublic, doi), but I like Insomniac better. I used to skip a few songs on Dookie, but I always loved Insomniac all the way through. It probably helps that this was Green Day’s “hardest” & fastest offerings, if you can call any of their work hard or fast… It’s all relative, I guess. I remember Green Day performed Armatage Shanks before the CD came out at a Video Music Awards one year & I shit myself. I still get a sense of childish joy & nostalgia whenever I hear that first drum beat at the very beginning of that song (and album, for that matter), & this CD holds my attention throughout.
The Almighty Trigger Happy — I’ll Shut Up When You Fuck Off
To those of you who know me, you all saw this coming, as I also have Trigger Happy tattoos. I’m so relieved Matt put Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues on his list & that Fernando put Set Your Goals on his list. That means I have room to fit all my favorites on here (kinda). Oh man, I could sing the praise of The Almighty Trigger Happy forever. If I could employ God to create my ideal incarnation of punk rock, it would end up being the entire catalog of Trigger Happy. The music I write ends up sounding like Trigger Happy (& Good Riddance, who I can’t believe none of y’all have on your lists… A Comprehensive Guide To Moderne Rebellion gets an honorable mention here). Alan Nolan’s voice has such wicked attitude & grime, Mark Gibson’s guitar work is so thrash inspired & beautiful, I fucking can’t get enough. Is it in the CD artwork for THIS album that has the guy about to take a bite out of two pieces of bread he’s holding, with someone’s dick in between the bread? A dick sandwich. HAHAHAHA!!! There’s a handful of other epic Trigger Happy songs on other recordings, but Tango is my #1 favorite song… Possibly, EVER… Not to mention this is the best album title, second only to Death By Stereo’s “If Looks Could Kill I’d Watch You Die”. I remember it was actually Matt who discovered these guys for me because he was closer with the Backwash crew whom had gone to a Good Riddance show whence Trigger Happy opened. I was fuckin’ pissed I missed it, after I’d heard Trigger Happy, so I asked my friend & neighbor, Mahroo, what it was like to see them live. To which she replied, “Don’t focus on the shows you missed, think of all the shows you DID see”. I love that quote. That is so positive. Anyway, I digress… The Almighty Trigger Happy was the best band ever to assemble (well, my favorite, anyway). Their additions to the As A matter Of Fact CD are their best work, along with their Misconduct split CD… & their remakes of both Judas & Meathook are fucking rad… Oh my God, & their 30 second song, Turn It Up!!!! Google it.
Snapcase — Progression Through Unlearning
This CD was also a gift from the aforementioned Cody. It was long ago, when we were still in high school, when I was listening to Pantera & Slayer thinking it’s the hardest shit. Cody suggested I check out Snapcase. I did. The rest is history. When those drums usher in the following onslaught of noise to come, I shit myself every time. This album is important for several reasons. It was the catalyst for my crusade for hard music. From here I went towards the hardcore movement that was going on back then, totally shepherded by Cody. He helped me discover SO MUCH great music for myself. I owe him for such a gift. This CD is also important because between this album & Set Your Goals, I learned a lot about myself. Progression Through Unlearning is all about the significance of introspection, building self worth, finding out who you are, who you want to be, what you want & how heavily quintessential these notions are to your life. I learned what punk rock was from this album & Set Your Goals. Snapcase’s following CD has just as strong’a message, but isn’t quite as devastating, musically, as this one is. The PeeWee Herman quote at the end of this album is a nice touch, too.
Arch Enemy — Wages Of Sin
After I’d been satiated by all that hardcore, I spent the next year on a website called swedishmetal.net, categorically listening to every artist listed on there. They had at least one free sample song from every Scandinavian metal band you could think of. I had found the motherload. There seemed to have been a surge in thrash metal back then, at the turn of the century, too (thank you, At The Gates). So I now own so many god-damned Scandinavian melodic thrash metal & death metal CD’s cuzza that infernal website. Yes, I spent a lot of money (& time), but that’s how I discovered Arch Enemy, who created the final third of my three way tie for my favorite album of all time. This album thrashes so tough. The piano which then ties in to the gorgeously melodic thrash riff at the beginning of Enemy Within, enthralled me from the very inception. Ravenous is my favorite song on the record… Y’no… Cuz it’s the most brutal. There are far too many orgasmic guitar riffs on this CD to note. The guitarists on this recording are brothers, the Amott brothers… That’s right… Brothers… So it just makes sense they cooperate & create such bafflingly pretty, well orchestrated guitar work. The Amott brothers are my favorite guitarists, surpassed ONLY by Randy Rhoads (cuz Kirby Johnson blatantly rips off the Amott brothers a few times) & their singer is a chick! How wicked is that?! This CD comes complete with the obligatory instrumental track in the middle, which seems to be a staple in thrash albums. Arch Enemy is the only band that I keep up with & still buy their music when it comes out (cuz Himsa & Trigger Happy have long since broken up). Other than them, I haven’t bought a new CD (other than Britney) probably since 2007.
Darkest Hour — The Mark Of The Judas
Indirectly, I have Cody to thank for these guys, too. I went to a Dillinger Escape Plan show after Cody had introduced me to math metal. Darkest Hour opened for Dillinger Escape Plan this fateful night. I had never heard of Darkest Hour, but became a fan, instantly. I remember smiling from ear to ear the moment they started their show with For The Soul Of The Savior. They brought back an Iron Maiden- esque jubilance & humor I hadn’t seen since the 90’s (see the Iron Maiden video for Aces High). They hooked me when the two guitarists stood next to each other kinda on their haunches… Playing the song… Then the bassist came up & stood on the guitarists’ knees, thereby creating a pyramid of METAAAAALLLL!!!!!! It was fucking exquisite. They were such high energy & it was obvious they were genuinely doing it for fun. Choreographed synchronized guitar movements… It was so fucking awesome… I borrowed money from my buddy Leo so I could buy the CD right after they finished their set. This CD also thrashes non-stop, but has that classic instrumental track in the middle. Eclipse is my favorite song on this album, & it comes right after the instrumental, & when it hits… Holyyy shit… A wise man once said to me, “Without the sour, the sweet wouldn’t be so sweet”. For such a tough song to come after an acoustic instrumental song, it seems that much meaner. & I love the lightening fast picking tearing through this record, something I emulate often. They’re really sweet kids, too… & Cheeky Girls fans… Which gets them brownie points from me & mine.
Alright… Big ups to Conor for asking me to make this list, as I had a really good time making it. It also got me wondering as to what would comprise other lists I might make, like “top 10 songs” or “top 10 bands”, cuz that would be a different grouping entirely. I would also recommend, to anyone reading this, to pose this question upon yourself, as to what YOUR top 10 albums would be… Trust me, you’ll have fun thinking about it.
Ok I’m done,
The sun is shining in Chicago. Please excuse the temporary fixation with all things Jim James. Tambourine!