Regular readers might remember that three tracks from the American edition of "Get Awkward" were deleted from the album when Universal deemed them too violent. Luckily, their British label, XL, eventually stepped in and released those tracks as the "Get Damaged E.P." Put together (as they should be) this is one of the most fun, most dangerous albums of the year. Some of the subject matter can be ugly but violence has had a long history in popular music. Back in the '50s, both Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee" and the Kingston Trio's "Tom Dooley" were huge hits. Both are just as violent as Universal's main target, "Becky," a song about a high-school girl who murders her "B.F.F." and then goes to jail. Not all great songs are about great subjects. Universal should've allowed the Parental Warning sticker to do its job. To make things worse, in August, the band seemingly announced its breakup on its Myspace page. Perhaps the fights with Universal were a factor, perhaps they weren't. But, in any case, considering they only released two full-length albums, they parted way too soon. Read my original review: "Get Awkward." "Get Damaged E.P."
"Becky" ("Get Damaged EP.")
"The Kelly Affair"
"Black Hole" ("Get Damaged" E.P.)
"You're a Waste"
The year 2008 was full of great rock songs but Longwave's "Satellites" is downright perfect. Its fuzzy bass and pounding drums usher in a wonderfully ghostly guitar intro. It has a killer chorus with great pop-crossover potential. Modern rock stations across the country should instantly add this song to their playlists. Given the right exposure and radio support, it could easily go to No. 1. It's a song you have to hear. The rest of the tracks on "Secrets Are Sinister" are also appealing. Lead singer Steve Schlitz has a wonderfully distinct, natural, clear, almost deadpan delivery that he alternates with occasional falsetto passages. The New York band is probably best known otherwise for its 2003 single, "Tidal Wave," and for its stint as an opening act for the Strokes. One thing is obvious. This is Longwave's fourth full-length and the group has long deserved a hit.
"Eyes Like Headlights"
"The Devil and the Liar"
"Secrets Are Sinister"
Rilo Kiley vocalist and former actress Jenny Lewis ups her own high bar with this collection of soulful blues, country, classic rock and folk-flavored tunes. She has assembled an all-star cast to back her up, including everyone from Elvis Costello to Zooey Deschanel. "Acid Tongue" is a timeless record and further shows Lewis as an emerging talent. Read my original review.
"Jack Killed Mom"
"The Next Messiah"
The son of Crowded House's Neil Finn proves he has inherited all his father's gifts while showcasing an experimental side that is all his own. This album is amazing. Read my original review.
"Better to Be"
"This Place Is Killing Me"