Tag Archives: Little White Lies

T.G.I.F. – Top Ten Albums of 2009

Someone always disagrees

As you may or may not know, scrambling to assemble a Top Ten list of the year for anything is a pain in the ass, since many times eligible films and albums don’t come out until December. For that reason (let’s put procrastination aside for a moment) my deadline has always been Super Bowl Sunday, which use to be sometime in January. This year the Gods of Sport have decided to move the game back into February, probably to pretend its part of the Winter Olympics. And with all the wonderful decisions they have been making, who are we to question the brilliance of network television executives? 

But each year the deadline for the Village Voice gets earlier. So while I am still filtering through decisions on the lower end of the top forty, the Top Ten is cut in stone. (The full list will be available after the Super Bowl.)

I’ve already posted reviews for some of these albums, others will be forthcoming (some are not yet published in the respective magazines they were submitted to). So without further ado, I hereby announce my choices for the Top Ten Albums of 2009: 

  

One : Love and Curses (The Reigning Sound) 

Two: Lions in the Street (Lions in the Street) 

Three: National Champions (Olympic Ass Kicking Team) 

Four: 1372 Overton Park (Lucero) 

Five: Learning Love (Bobby Emmett) 

Six: More Like Me (Webb Wilder) 

Seven: Tinted Windows (Tinted Windows) 

Eight: Little White Lies (Fastball) 

Nine: Spills and Thrills (John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives) 

Ten: House To House (Tripwires) 

 

Link to my Village Voice Pazz & Jop ballot

My centricity rating, or how far off center my choices are. (Very

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R.I.P. – the Greta Garbo of authors, J.D.Salinger 

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New Album! Fastball

Make Your Mama Proud all over again

Make Your Mama Proud all over again

Has it really been eleven years since Fastball gobbled up everyone’s attention with “The Way”? All The Pain Money Can Buy was massive, with several tracks (“Fire Escape”, “Sooner or Later”, “Which Way To The Top”) blasting from every car radio, walkman and video channel for almost a year. Simply put, it was a monster album that should have greased the skids for an easy ten year ride, the kind that lame bands like Creed and Nickelback seem to have blackmailed their way into.

But nooooooo.

The follow-ups were good records, but each seemed to fall further off the radar despite solid songwriting from Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo. The music scene was changing and the labels were starting to free-fall. Perhaps it was backlash after their success; more likely there was no common place to promote a band that echoed the inventiveness of The Beatles with a sound that was equal parts garage and powerop. The Harsh Light of Day was as good or better than its predecessor, but sold poorly, and I don’t even know anyone who owns 2004’s Keep Your Wig On besides me. As a fan, even I was stunned to dicscover a live album earlier this year…four years after its release.

So don’t feel bad if your first thought upon hearing about Little White Lies is “they’re back?” Short recent hiatus notwithstanding, Scalzo, Zuniga and drummer Joey Shuffield have been throwing Fastball at you all along, and I’m glad to tell you that their heater still smokes.

Stripped down, straight-ahead and instantly infectious, “All I Was Looking For Is You” grabs you from the first note and leads the charge. Alternating poppy rockers and midtempo shuffles (“The Malcontent” is kissing cousins to “The Way”), eleven of the cuts on Little White Lies wisely dance around the three minute mark. With trademark harmonies and airtight musicianship intact, several tracks beg for the kind of exposure that their older hits received. While Fastball still channels classic pop bands in ther sound, their Texas roots flavor the stew (“Angelie” even boasts accordion).

The title track is killer; alternating a Lennon-esque rant with creative harmonies against a soulful dance beat (!) before tripping headlong into the acoustic snap of “Mono To Stereo”. My favorite is “We’ll Always Have Paris”, a perfect cross between Ian Hunter and Bob Dylan with la-la-la-la vocals and a short burst of a guitar solo that Mick Ronson would have been proud of. “She’s Got The Rain” has the bounce and piano-based pomp that Paul McCartney used to make a living from. And while “Rampart Street” may rehash a chord structure that’s been used a million times before, it sounds fresh and bright thanks to a sparkling guitar break and yes, those harmonies. The closer, “Soul Radio”, starts out like a darker tune but layers peel back until it immerses you in a more complex but equally irresistible vibe.

Fastball fans will be thrilled; those who only knew the massive hits need to get on board with the rest of us. Little White Lies sounds great (kudos, Bob Clearmountain) and is on my short list of candidates for the Best of 2009.

Visit Fastball’s official website.

Fastball on MySpace.

“The Way”?  Oh yeah… that video. Same song live, from 2007.

Sooner or Later we’ll get some videos from the new album.

But while we wait…how about a streaming concert from NPR?

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