For part 1, click here.

I’m back with the second installment of music reviews. a lot has happened since we last spake. the cold war ended, women gained the right to vote, and the formidable Roman Empire was split into the Holy Roman Empire and the Blue States.

Just to review, here’s The Dave Matthews Rating System (shamelessly ripped off from Buddyhead):

1 – This album was so good, Dave couldn’t believe it and makes this stupid face when he hears it.

2 – This album made Dave think, which isn’t an easy thing to do.

– Dave didn’t hate this album, which means it can’t be that mindblowing.

– This album makes Dave smile, which isn’t hard to do.

Now on to the “reviews”….

2 Omar RodriguezLopez – A Manual Dexterity (2004) – This is the soundtrack to the film of the same name by the Mars Volta guitarist. The film hasn’t come out yet, and i don’t know if it ever will. If you’re not into the Mars Volta , you’ll probably get annoyed very quickly. And if you are into the Volt, you’ll probably get annoyed very quickly also but thats why you like them to begin with. I suggest “Deus Ex Machina”. It sounds like a standard salsa song but with the Mars Volta playing with the knobs. Its a song even Oso would like.

The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle (1968) – This is the masterpiece by the band who brought us “what’s your name, who’s youre daddy? is he rich like me?” That line has provided me with more slaps in the face thatn i’d like to recall. This album was remastered and released this year. When i first started listening to it i thought “how could i have gone so long without hearing this album??” then by the fourth song i was thinking “what’s my name, who’s my daddy?” I’ve always been a sucker for Britpop, and this stuff couldn’t possibly offend. thats probably why i gave it the rating i did.

2 The Black Keys – Rubber Factory (2004) – Finally, the Keys up and did what I was hoping they’d do all along. make an album that wasn’t as easily forgotten. I wouldn’t be able to tell you one Blake Keys album from the other, they all sound the same. But this one pushes them a little further, straying from their standard “we’re like the White Stripes but with a good drummer” schtick. This album has actually got songs that don’t sound like Muddy Waters. My favorite is “Act Nice and Gentle” because thats what i’m always telling my boss at work.

1 dungen – ta det lugnt (2004) – Ok, if you haven’t heard this album yet you probably should. You know why? Because these guys are Swedish, and not in that annoying Hives way. They actually sing in Swedish so you’re not gonna understand a single word they say. The melodies are amazing. The guitarist sounds like he stumbled across Hendrix’ old distortion pedals. The drummer plays like Keith Moon without the bloatedness. I’m not too into 60’s psychedelic rock cause a lot of it is shite. But this stuff manages to sound like its from the same era but doesn’t have time to sing about incence and peppermints. who knows tho, they might actually be singing about incense and peppermints, thats why its better you don’t understand the lyrics.

Don Mclean – American Pie (1971) – Yea i loved the song when i was a teenager too but I never thought to check out the rest of this album. After a beautiful montage on a recent Simpsons episode set to “Vincent”, Mclean’s tribute to Van Gogh, I thought maybe i should check this album out. Well as expected, those two songs are the best on the album. There’s some other folk stuff. My brother saw Don Mclean open up for Styx in Ohio. Needless to say my brother isn’t the coolest guy around. Anyway he said that Mclean dragged out American Pie until the audience couldn’t take it no more with countles “one more time! so bye, bye, miss american pie…”. My brother says it was so bad it actually made Styx look good.

2 Tom Waits – Real Gone (2004) – I mentioned this album in an earlier post that I can’t find the link to. Well its not so much that i can’t find the link to it, I just don’t want to look. Basically I said how great Waits was and how this album is so good especially when you considerhes in his 50’s blah blah. its not as good as Styx tho.

1 The Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004) Well what can I say about this album that has not already been said? Well I suppose I could say “it sucks!” That would definitely be a first. Anyway, just to add to the hype, yada yada greatest record of the year, blah blah amazing and heartbreaking, bleh bleh better than sex, mooba mooba doesn’t get any better than this. There I said it. go get this album. if you do like it, you’re right! If you haven’t heard of these guys (or their hype) you should do so immediately (just so you don’t feel left out at hip par-tays) First song will kill you. Freddie and I couldn’t get into their show here because David Byrne and David Bowie bought our tickets. bastards. get this album or get left in the dust.

2 A-ha – Hunting High and Low (1985) – anyone who dismisses “Take on Me” as just a fun song from an “I Love the 80’s” comp is kidding themselves. One day I realized this and thought I’d check out the rest of the album. Its got some other great songs like “Sun always shines on tv” which U2 ripped off on one of their crap-ass albums and no one noticed because they were too distracted by Bono’s self-righteous pelvic-thrusts. Anyway give A-ha some credit and “Take On” this album. Hi-ohhh!

1 Brian Wilson – Smile (2004) I already posted about this album when it came out. I hope I never hear it again.

Talib Kweli – Beautiful Struggle (2004) I wasn’t too into this album. I don’t think the return of Hi-Tek is a good thing for Talib in my book (what other book are you reading?) Some of the stuff is cheesy and the album suffers from a common affliction of hip-hop albums: too many cameos. I am down with Anthony Hamilton but I don’t want to listen to Faith Evans. and if I want to hear Common, I’ll turn on my tv and wait for the Dr. Pepper commercial where he raps about “keeping it real” while making sure his fingers aren’t covering up the Dr. Pepper logo on the can he’s holding.. .I think Talib’s talent far exceeds that of his guests and doesn’t need to rely on them to push the album. but hey, that’s just my opinion. man i really could go for a Dr. Pepper right now.

2 Jeff Buckley – Grace (Limited Edition) (2004) – This is the new reissue of Buckley’s only proper studio album he was able to record before he got the urge to go swimming in the Mississippi river and meet his dad Tim. Originally released in 1994, it is probably one of the only instances of the son of an established musician proving himself more capable of his father. These songs are really something and I checked out the new remaster that came out this year. its got some bonus tracks that do little to add to the overall beauty of the record. In case you need to be reminded of this, check out his haunting version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. I think they played it on the OC which must be good for something.

Cocorosie – Cocorosie (2004) This album was recorded by two bored sisters in their apartment in paris. it sounds like the soundtrack to that new Anna Paquin movie.

John Lennon – Acoustic (2004) this is one of those many posthumous albums comprised of the “music i’ll record so i don’t forget how the song goes, but this is in no way intended for public listening….that is, until, i’m long dead and my surviving family runs out of suitable material to release” . his version of cold turkey is probably the only thing worth the money you’ll save by downloading this album.

2Muddy Waters – At Newport 60 (1960) What is it about Newport that drives the audiences at its festivals to go cray-zay? There are songs on this album where you can just hear people getting down. The occasional “yeah!” “hey!” or “woo!” yelled mixed intermittently with absolute hysteria as Muddy does his thing. you only wish people these days could get so into the blues as they do during Muddy’s set.

Annie – Anniemal (2004) so apparently Annie is the new Kylie Minogue. I think thats a good thing? Anyway, this albums got a couple good songs, a few bad ones, and a handful of others i don’t feel like describing. I’ve had “Chewing Gum” stuck in my head for days (the song, not the substance) and the first time I heard “Heartbeat” i almost started dancing, but then I remembered I was in a meeting and not supposed to be listening to music at all. good times. anyway, annie is the new kylie, who was the new madonna, who is now called Esther.

Handsome Boy Modeling School – White People (2004) Yikes! Man does this shit suck. Let me just say that I’ve been behind everything Dan the Automator does. The first Handsome Boy album was at least listenable. This is pure shite. I dunno whats wrong with the guy. Him and Prince Paul need to stick to what they’re good at: making music that doesnt sound like this shite! John Oates as a guest spot?? Where the fuck is Daryl Hall?? There’s no Oates without Hall, ladies. And don’t these guys know that any album that relies on Tim Meadows’ hilarious “ladies man” character is bound for flop-town? Come on! I dunno what happened. Now, thanks to these guys, there’s finally an album with both Mars Volta and Linkin Park. Gratsi, punks. Gratsi indeed.

2 Elliot Smith – From a Basement on a Hill (2004) Okay, before I go any further let me just get the schmaltzy, ironic, insepid, “really makes you think” comments out of the way first:

From a Basement on a Hill is the posthumous release from fallen troubadour Elliot Smith. His “suicide” last year came as a shock to many, but to some it was expected. He was another legend cut short by the tyrrany of drug use. He simply was not made for these times. This final album is his legacy; in many ways, a “fond farewell from a friend” we knew so well, yet never really knew at all. He touched our lives with his beauty and sadness, and then left as quickly as he came. Elliot Smith, you truly were From a Basement on a Hill.

So I never really could listen to any of his albums except for Either/Or. The other ones just didn’t live up to it. I gave this albums a couple listenings and it definitely grew on me. Was it because it was his last before hitching that ride to stiffsville? perhaps. Perhaps not? definitely.

2John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Double Fantasy (1980) so after hearing the Acoustic album I decided to check out some real recordings. this is obviously Lennon’s last studio album, the one he was working on when he was killed. a lot of fans love it because its his last album. a lot of people hate it because yoko’s on it, and she’s got more than just one song. Yoko’s out there. You can really see how ahead of her time she was when you compare her stuff with the music scene nowadays. anyway, this is a good album for anyone who wants to hear how good John was feeling in the year before his death. if you want something more edgy, check out Plastic Ono Band. And if you just plain want to hear something otherwise unlistenable, check out Two Virgins.

The Wrens – Meadowlands (2003) Okay I first heard this album last year when it came out, it was hard to avoid after all the amazing press it got. But I just wasn’t into it. Now I have this friend, see? He’s been telling me that this album is better than Pixies, Radiohead, Pavement, Modest Mouse, all of them. He keeps saying this. So I decide to listen to it again, maybe there was something I missed? Anyway, I must’ve missed it again. I gave this album an excellent chance to win me over and it couldn’t. There are some good tracks, but i really get bored towards teh end. Maybe its me? Maybe its the drinking. either way its not better than the Pixies.

And from there I will call it a night. Can’t wait to read your feedback! Seriously, leave long and detailed comments about why my choices rock/suck. we’re all going to die anyway. cheers!