An All Day Buffett – Margaritaville Style

Jimmy Buffett brought his party to Orlando on his Welcome To Fin Land tour last night. I’ve seen Buffett a few times in the past, and his shows have become predictable.  It’s typically that same laid back, feel good, beach party vibe; a formula that he’s mastered.  Realizing that the pre-game festivities are typically as much fun as the show, I decided to focus on that aspect of a Buffett show this year.

For this year’s tailgate, our group ratcheted the experience up a bit by booking a party bus.  So, for this review, the beers were flowing almost as quickly as the fingers were hitting the keyboard.

  • Eight hours before showtime: My wife and I exit the house with a case of Yuengling, a case of water and a few pounds of marinating garlic shrimp.
  • T -7.5 hours to showtime: Arrive at the departure rendezvous point. There are 24 of us on the bus and enough coolers, bags, chairs, grills, etc… for a group 10 times our size. We learn the bus has a blown tire and is on the side of the highway somewhere.  Pacing myself, I grab a Diet Coke. Need to stay sober for awhile…
  • T-7.25 hours: We take advantage of our unexpected break and we pose for a group photo. I suggest all of the women get on their knees. They refuse…
  • T -7 hours: Tire still not changed.  Crack the lid on beer number one.
  • T -6.5 hours: Tire repairman is on the spot, somewhere on the ludicrously expensive toll roads of Central Florida. Bus will arrive shortly. Party in the driveway begins to pick up. Beer 2.
  • T -6 hours: Still waiting. Someone passes around some Cuban sandwiches. Not a fan of mustard nor pickles on my sandwich and our raw shrimp is probably not the best alternative. Stick with my liquid lunch. Beer 3. Flexibility is the key to a happy life.
  • T -5.5 hours: We’re enjoying the driveway party so much, we make plans to do it again the next weekend.  The neighbors hope we are joking, but look up the phone number for Code Enforcement just in case.  Suddenly, the pure white bus appears like a vision. Someone yells out “Looks like a bloodmobile.” It does.
  • T -5 hours: It takes us thirty minutes to pack.  We really have a lot of stuff, more than we could ever possibly need…
  • T -4.5 hours: We arrive at the arena. Our driver parks and rearranges the bus three times, as the clueless lot attendants can’t figure out where to put us. Twenty minutes later, we park right where we started. En route, another beer, two jello shots and dozens of photos. No one tries the stripper pole, but the ride is a blast.
  • T -4 hours. My wife hears “Escape (The Pina Colada song) at a neighboring tailgate and confesses it was her first 45.  Really? Shouldn’t that be disclosed during the dating process?  Where was the responsible parenting? Although I think I need a shot, I grab another beer.
  • T -3.5 hours. A confused Parrothead named Bridget/Gretchen adds the name of a Buffett song to everyone’s red Solo cup to keep us from getting confused.  By this time there are 40 happy people who already have song names on their cup. I don’t know 40 Buffett songs.  I’m okay with drinking out of a bottle the rest of the day.
  • T -3 hours. Cruise the tailgates and see a very diverse crowd. We visit the tailgate spot for the split personalitied Bridg-chen. Although confused she’s pretty damn artistic.  Here’s her posse doing Margaritaville Tequila shots.  Is there anything Buffett doesn’t slap his name on and sell? They are in front of her Cheeseburger in Paradise tribute. I passed on the shot.  Tequila is bad bad stuff.
  • T -2.5 hours. Damn the food is good. The grill is fired up. Awesome brats, appetizers and Jerk chicken wings. Go to cook the shrimp and realize we need aluminum foil to keep them from falling through the grate. Rest assured, there’s a roll in one of the many crates we spent 30 minutes packing.  These folks are like Boy Scouts, we have everything we could ever want (and great company, too).  The shrimp is pretty damn good, too.
  • T -2 hours. David and I kicking ass at beer pong.  Well, mostly David, but I still get to bask in the victories. We go undefeated, but the problem with Beer Pong is that even the winners still drink a bit. Afterwards, sit down in one of the 600 chairs our group packed and sip some water. Good idea…
  • T -1.5 hours.  Last tour through the lots. Very festive group, but truthfully  more subdued from past Buffett shows, either because his fans are getting too old to party, or because the new lot under I-4 just doesn’t have the same ambiance. We notice a huge cross on a nearby building overlooking the crowd as we talk to a nice group winding down their tailgate.  They’re all devout Christians.  Seems like kismet, or maybe just all of the beer I had consumed?
  • T -1 hour. The group packs up and most head to the Amway Center. A few of us stay behind, preferring our $1 beers to the $11 beers inside. We watch three people stop our driver and negotiate to use the bathroom. (Note to self on a future business idea).
  • T -15 minutes. We’re in the arena, and the place is alive, a very cool vibe. I make a rest room stop just as a haggard looking Parrothead Redneck stumbles in. Someone yells “We have a leaker.” There’s a small wet spot on the front of his jeans. The Dude turns the corner, stumbles, almost regains his balance then goes down.  The stain gets a lot bigger. So much for the cool vibe…
  • T -3 minutes. We step into the seating area as “Hot, Hot, Hot” pumps through the P.A. with beach balls flying, happy fans singing and swaying; the festive atmosphere is definitely back.

As for the show itself; the concert was classic Jimmy. Clad in boat shorts and bare feet, he seemed to be having fun, and the sold out crowd had a blast. Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band kicked off the show with “The Wino and I Know” and were sounding great right from the start.  Shortly afterwards, Mac McAnally slid into Alan Jackson’s role from “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and the party kicked up a notch. The show was laid back throughout and generally just a fun time.

The two hour set featured all of the hits and a few nuggets, as well (see the setlist below), before wrapping up with a rousing version of “Fins,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and then Jimmy alone on stage with a nice acoustic version of  “Tin Cup Chalice,” a great way to put a wrap on two hours of buffet and eight hours of pre-game festivities.

Rock On! Cretin

Check out more photos on RARAsFarm’s FaceBook

Jimmy Buffett Orlando Concert
Jimmy Buffett Live in Orlando

Setlist

The Wino And I Know
License To Chill
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
Pencil Thin Mustache
Come Monday
Life Is Just A Tire Swing
Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes
Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit
Bama Breeze
Volcano
Cheeseburger In Paradise
One Particular Harbour
Creola
Floridays
Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw
Margaritaville
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor
School Boy Heart
Last Mango In Paris
Knee Deep
Woman Goin’ Crazy On Caroline Street
A Pirate Looks At Forty
Back Where I Come From
Southern Cross

Encore
Fins
Brown Eyed Girl
Tin Cup Chalice

Musical Manure – Random Crap from the Farm

OK – It’s been a few weeks since I emptied this fragile mind, and there are a slew of little tidbits threatening to drip out and disappear forever. With a full-day Jimmy Buffett tailgate experience looming, I need to free up some room for the insanity I’m sure to witness.

It seems like the rumors of a Queen tour with Adam Lambert on vocals is about to become a reality. TMZ is reporting it, so it has to be legit, right?  I love Freddie, and think he’s one of the greatest rock and roll performers ever.  His voice was powerful, passionate and unique, and no one will ever be able to replace him.  Still, Adam might just be the best choice to follow. I think he’s a better fit than Paul Rodgers who gave it a shot years ago. The greedy folks at MTV have some good video of the new incarnation but it’s a bear to access. Try Youtube for some lower quality snippets.

I recently stumbled across Sleeper Agent’s “Get It Daddy.” They’re a young garage band out of Kentucky with a ton of potential. The sixsome is led by 24 year-old singer-guitarist Tony Smith and features riveting vocals from 18 year-old Alex Kandel.  Check out “Get It Daddy and the rest of their album, as our album of the week: Celabrasion – Sleeper Agent.  And, here’s a nice bonus find, follow this link to get to know the band a little better: Prison Sessions

The Kaiser Chiefs exploded onto the rock scene at the end of the last decade and then just disappeared. The Brits took a hiatus.  Now they’re about to release a new album in March.  The first single, On the Run has hit the streets.  Good stuff!

Listening to Slow Poison The Bravery’s 2009 release.  I’m surprised it was never a bigger hit. Great song by an excellent band. Here’s the video which is actually pretty damn good, too: Slow Poison.

Remember The Neon Trees from their gigs opening for The Killers a few years ago?  They’re back with the first single Everybody Talks off of their forthcoming album, and it absolutely rocks.

About a month ago, RARA’s Contributor Kari wrote an interesting piece about the Emergence of the Banjo in rock music today.  Since then, I seem to hear it everywhere, particularly with music from the Great White North, with bands like The Acorn and Elliott Brood. It’s a welcome addition.

OK, that’s enough for today.  Have a great week, and look for my post-Parrothead tailgate experience shortly…

Chevelle – Hats Off to the Comfortable Old Model


The early generation Chevrolet Chevelle models were fast, powerful and muscular. Over the years, they morphed into a safer more reliable, and less exciting product.  Unfortunately I see the same thing happening with Chevelle, the hard rocking trio from Chicago.

Their sixth album, Hats Off to the Bull was released last month and generally has got their same comfortable feel, with a few strong songs.  Overall, it seems like the same old safe, mass produced rock and roll.

If you’re a fan of Chevelle, you’ll likely find this year’s model to your liking, especially the first single off of the album “Face to the Floor.”  It’s been a staple on rock stations since it’s release because it’s a powerful, memorable song with an excellent guitar riff and a nice hook that superbly features the guitar and vocals of front man Pete Loeffler.

A few songs later, the album takes a slower and deeper turn with “The Meddler” and it works extremely well.  After “Face to the Floor,” “The Meddler” is the best song on the album.  Unfortunately, it is surrounded by a lot of mediocrity.

Other than the two aforementioned tunes, the rest of the album is really quite average.  There are a few strong rockers in the mix, particularly “Ruse” and “Pinata,” but overall most of the rest of the album blends together.

The band also throw in their now standard offering of one ballad, and it’s one of the highlights of the album, “Prima Donna.” It’s a nice acoustic number and seems to be a good comfortable place for Pete Loeffler.  He’s toyed with the thought of an all acoustic effort in the past and it looks like it would be a nice future project.

All told, it’s a decent album, but like many other contemporaries in the post-grunge arena, this effort seems to be stuck in the same old rut as the prior models.

Van Halen’s Best – Our Farmer’s Dozen


The Best of Van Halen

Let’s be honest, the real Van Halen is the band we knew and loved in the seventies and eighties. We’re talking, Diamond Dave, Alex and Eddie and Michael Anthony. All of the other incarnations were weak imitations of the real thing. With that being stated, I took a look at the best Van Halen songs of the David Lee Roth era, which by default included the aforementioned line-up. Many of their best songs include brief intro songs – for those tunes, I’ve included both titles.

Only six albums over six fantastic years, from 1978 to 1984, but so many great tunes to sift through.

(You can click on each title to hear a snippet of the song or order from iTunes)

Bonus Track: Happy Trails – Diver Down – this one closes out the album, and is a happy singalong in perfect four part harmony and a damn near perfect way to close out what proved to be a great album.

12. Runnin’ with the Devil – Van Halen – the first track off of their first album. Great bass and harmonies from Michael Anthony, and the first of many great Eddie guitar solos. The perfect start to a perfect album side.

11. Eruption / You Really Got Me – Van Halen – the band’s first single and the second song off of their debut.  And, no, I am not just going to run through all of the Tracks on the amazing debut album. The band learned a few Kinks song as they started out and this one was probably their best.

10. Cathedral / Secrets – Diver Down – Starts with a clever instrumental featuring Eddie’s playing around with his guitar – using the delay and fast-rolling the volume knob to emulate church organ sounds.  “Secrets” has got a great bass driven beat and some nice bluesy vocals from David, who got some of the lyrics from old Indian greeting cards.

9. Panama – 1984 – Another fun video, this song was actually written about fast cars.  Panama is reportedly the name of a car. The music is great, but this is really a showcase for David’s vocals.

8. Intruder / (Oh) Pretty Woman – Diver Down – Another great cover version from the guys, this time putting a nice spin on Roy Orbison’s classic.  The instrumental intro featuring Alex’s powerful drumming is as good as the song itself.

Cool Van Halen items now available on eBay

7. Hot for Teacher – 1984 – It’s an incredibly fun song about a kid’s crushes on his hot high school teachers, and two decades before Debra Lafave’s notoriety. It’s David Lee Roth and Alex at their best.  This one beats out fellow 1984 hit “Jump” as their best video.

6. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love – Van Halen – Great guitar intro that Eddie started as a punk rock parody. It’s a fun song about casual sex and it absolutely rocks from start to finish.  You have to love the lyrics: “You’re semi-good looking.”

5. Ice Cream Man – Van Halen – Another great cover song, this one a bluesy cover of John Brim’s 50’s hit.  This one actually features David on acoustic guitar for the first verse. It’s the best example of the band’s, especially David’s, love of classic Blues.

4. Little Guitars – Diver Down – Eddie on a miniature Les Paul.  On the intro he offers up some amazing finger picking (with his pick) in a beautiful solo.  After that, it’s straight forward rock and roll with a bit of Flamenco feel to it.  One of Eddie’s most diverse and entertaining songs.

3. Everybody Wants Some!! – Women and Children First – The song starts out with some tribal beats and Eddie on the whammy bar, then the guitar thunders into the song.  From there it’s just straight forward kick ass rock and roll.

2. And the Cradle Will Rock… – Women and Children First – The fantastic beginning is Eddie on guitar and Wurlitzer piano as well as a Leslie rotation speaker cabinet to get that cool dopler effect.  Cool stuff, and it absolutely rocks throughout.  Definitely one of Eddie’s most complete and diverse songs.  Crank it up!

1. Unchained – Fair Warning – The album was mediocre, but this song is just about perfect. Love the interlude where David and Producer Ted Templeman trade a few barbs, as well. This song epitomizes the DLR era.  David’s vocals are spot on, Eddie’s guitar riff is perfect, and Alex and Michael are great, too.

There you have it. Twelve amazing songs and I’m sure I left out a few great ones, especially off of the first two albums: songs like “Jamie’s Cryin'” “Little Dreamer,” “Beautiful Girls” and “Dance the Night Away.”  As I reflect on these choices, it’s interesting to note that my Top 3, are all of what I felt were their two weakest albums…

Let me know your thoughts.

Rock On – Cretin


Of Monsters, Men and a Nashville Muse



A friend of RARAs Farm recently made us aware of a nice offer for fans of Alt-Country / Folksy Rock. In advance of the release of her forthcoming album, Kate Tucker is offering a free download of her latest EP, Ghost of Something New, beginning today, January 9th. The talented singer songwriter from Akron, Ohio has relocated to Nashville where her music has taken a bit more of a country feel.

The first song on the EP, “Revolution”is fantastic. It’s got a great driving beat, excellent guitars and most of all superb, memorable vocals from Tucker. All-in-all, it’s a nice collection of songs from a talented singer songwriter.  Dwonload the EP for free during the month of January at Noisetrade.

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After downloading the EP, make sure you check out Tucker’s poignant cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” This video also features RARAs Farm favorite Michael Sheppard and his Lovedrug band mate Jeremy Michael Gifford.

In the same genre, Of Monsters and Men, a young band out of Iceland have found a bit of notoriety over the past few weeks.  Sirius XM’s AltNation has added their wonderful new single “Little Talks” into their rotation, and the single was the Free Single of the Week on iTunes (linked on our Free Music Friday page). The band reminds me a bit of Mumford and Sons, and even more of the under-appreciated and immensely talented English band The Beautiful South. Keep your ears tuned for this quintet – big things are on the way.

From these two hot new bands to the other end of the spectrum: Van Halen returns to the airwaves with Diamond David Lee Roth, nearly three decades from his last album.  The new single “She’s The Woman” is rumored to be released in the next few days. It’s actually not all that new, as it was originally recorded by the band in 1976.  Here’s Rolling Stone’s review of their preview show at NYC’s tinyCafe Wha last week.

I stumbled across this Youtube channel recently from FrontStepGames, where they feature good new Indie rock each month: check it out, good stuff: Songs You Wish You Found

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2012 – Not Just the End of the World

I took a quick tour around the internet to capture some of the items we have to look forward to before the impending end of the world.

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Here’s a primer for the next few months:

  • In the first five weeks of the year, both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr release new albums.
  • As they announced from Times Square on New Years Eve, Van Halen will release their first album with David Lee Roth since 1984 (that’s 28 years for those of you counting at home). They’ll release their first single and start selling tour tickets on January 10th.  The odds of them finishing the tour? 12:1.
  • Albuquerque’s The Shins  will release their Fourth album, Port of Morrow this March

Heavily anticipated 2012 releases with unknown dates:

  • Punk legends Green Day, The Offspring and Rancid all have new stuff on the way.
  • Six of today’s top bands will return to the charts in 2012: Muse, The Killers, Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, MGMT and Linkin Park
  • Classic Rock fans will see new albums from legends Bruce Springsteen, Rush, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Guns and Roses (Slash has an album on the way, too).
  • Hard Rockers Metallica, Alice in Chains and Marilyn Manson deliver new goods.
Two RARAs Farm favorites have new albums o the way:
  • Lovedrug
  • The Last Royals
A few other artists who may be of interest to RARAsFarm readers:
  • Adam Ant
  • Alice In Chains
  • Bad Religion
  • Garbage
  • Keane
  • Kiss
  • Queensryche
  • Soundgarden
  • Suicidal Tendencies
All told, lots to look forward to, while we still can, of course…
Mike G – January, 2012


2011 Top Rock Songs

2011 was an interesting year for rock music, with a tremendous focus on artists with original sounds.  Sure, a few of these tunes have a familiar feel, but far more offer us a unique new sound.  That’s  exciting stuff and leaves me anxiously awaiting 2012. Check out the RARAsFarm Top 25 and let us know what you think.

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Bonus Track: Songbird – The Drowning Men. This album was released in 2009, but just re-released in the US this year. “Songbird” is a fantastic song that evokes darker memories of The Arcade Fire.

25. Shake It Out – Florence and the Machine. She’s back with a new album. Honestly, Ceremonials is not as powerful as 2009’s Lungs, but this tune is solid.

24. Get Some – Lykke Li. The Swedish muse told us this one was about power, everyone still believes it’s about sex.  Either way – the song rocks.

23. Sing – My Chemical Romance.  This is probably the most mainstream song the band has ever released.  It’s a synth-laden anthem in waiting.

22. Burn – Papa Roach. This was one of the few new ones on their live Monsters of Annihilation album. Glad we didn’t need to wait for their next studio album for this one.

21. You Are A Tourist – Death Cab For Cutie. The band’s first number one hit, and well deserved. The guitars and layered vocals are beautiful.

20. The Roller – Beady Eye. Liam Gallagher seemingly channeling the Beatles, and it works very well.

19. If You Wanna – The Vaccines. A fun little ditty that will leave you singing. Reminds me lots of their UK brethren The Kaiser Chiefs.

18. Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys. This one was off of their previous album Brothers. The trance-like bass and drums are addictive.

17. Go Outside – Cults. A great debut from the young duo out of Manhattan. The sound is fresh and new. and features a xylophone solo.  Nice…

16. Help Is On The Way – Rise Against. The band’s highest charting song, and first to really garner some overdue mainstream attention.

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15. Changing – The Airborne Toxic Event. The West Coast rockers do it again. This one again features superb vocals from Mikel Jollet.

14. Baby Don’t Dance – Mother Mother – Ryan Guldemond’s unique vocals highlight this quirky hit from North of the Border.

13. New Low – Middle Class Rut. Finally a commercial success for this under appreciated band out of Sacramento.

12. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People – The hip, happy song with the dark lyrics swept the world and the festival circuit this summer.

11. Black Night – Dodos. The freight train drums and addictive lyrics powered this song to the band’s most significant airplay.

10. The Sound of Winter – Bush. Gavin and Company are back after a ten year hiatus. and sounding as good as ever.

9. Crystal Vases – The Last Royals. This catchy tune reminisces on a relationship gone bad, and is the highlight of the band’s excellent debut EP.

8. Shake Me Down – Cage the Elephant. The best song on our album of the year, Thank You Happy Birthday. The lyrics reflect on life’s disappointments while hoping for something better. (Check out The Albums of the Year)

7. These Days – Foo Fighters. It’s Dave Grohl’s favorite song that he’s written, ever.  Mine, too.

6. Colours – Grouplove. Christian Zucconi’s unique vocal stylings, grunts, groans and a distinctive sound make this the best offering off their excellent debut.

5. What About Us – Handsome Furs. This one brings back memories of a great 90’s rock dance tune from another excellent young Canadian band.

4. Lonely Boy – Black Keys. The only band with two songs on this list, and this might be their best ever. Great stuff off the just-released El Camino.

3. My Body – Young the Giant. These California rockers, created this gem in ten minutes at the conclusion of what was otherwise a crappy day. Amazing.

2. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall – Coldplay. I think it’s their best ever, and we’ll be listening to this one forever.

1. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie – Red Hot Chili Peppers. It started with a bass chord Flea couldn’t get out of his head.  It morphed into be the best Rock song of the year.

You can sample all of the songs below…

Rock On – Cretin

The Best Albums of 2011

When I started this, I suspected that when we look back on 2011, we wouldn’t consider this an amazing year for music.  Unlike the amazing contributions we heard both twenty and forty years ago, this year’s contributions seemed a bit  more mediocre.  Nonetheless, after digging through the candidates, it became clear there were a few future classics out there.

So, grab your favorite beverage, crank up the music and check out the RARA’s Farm Farmer’s Dozen, the Top 12 albums of 2011.  Take a look and a listen, and let us know what you think:

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Bonus Selection: The Last Royals EP (read the RARAs Farm review)
This eponymous debut from a talented band out of New York City was one of the best discoveries of 2011.  Everyone knows their wildly popular “Crystal Vases,” but the rest of the EP is just as good, and quite diverse, especially for a four song sampler.  These guys have a ton of potential; look for their first full length album, Twistification hitting the streets soon.

12. Angles, The Strokes
Returning after a five year respite, the lads from New York are back, and in great form.  All of the classic garage sound we’ve come to love from the band, as well as some more modern stuff, and an occasional retro rock flashback – the result is a long overdue strong return. The first cut “Machu Pichu” is a great example of their newer sound.

11. White Rabbit, Egypt Central (read the RARAs Farm review)
The second album from this Memphis based quartet was one of the best hard rock offerings of the year.  Kick Ass features a wide variety of polished powerful rock and has prompted well deserved airplay on stations like SiriusXM’s Octane. The title track is an excellent hard rock tune, while “Goodnight” spotlights more of the ballad side of their repertoire.

10. Move Like This, The Cars
These guys are back for the first time since the eighties.  The only original member missing is the late Benjamin Orr who passed away ten years ago.  The rest of the band sounds eerily similar to their trademark sound that made them New Wave royalty.  It’s odd that so many other bands are tapping into that 80’s vein nowadays, but these true masters couldn’t get a sniff of airplay.  Nonetheless, it’s a nice overlooked return effort.

9. Codes and Keys, Death Cab for Cutie
Benjamin Gibbard and Chris Walla took a new approach for Death Cab on this album, eschewing their previous guitar laden sound for more of a keyboard driven groove.  It’s a refreshing change and makes the album more enjoyable than their previous six.  “You Are a Tourist” and “Stay Young and Go Dancing” are prime examples of the excellent new sound.

8. Torches, Foster the People
A nice debut from the L.A. trio includes their huge breakout hit “Pumped Up Kicks.” Their sound is modern through and through and Mark Foster’s vocals truly unique.  Admittedly there are a few weak tracks on the album, but the good far outweighs the bad.  Make sure you check out “Helena Beat” and “Don’t Stop.”

7. Covering Ground, Chuck Ragan
The long-time punk rocker turned folk troubadour gifted us with this excellent collection of introspective songs early this year. His gravely voice is paired perfectly with the stripped down instruments: an acoustic guitar, a fiddle and a stand up bass.   The songs reflect on a tough life on the road and the loved ones in his life.  Grab a whiskey and give it a listen.

6. Suck It and See, The Arctic Monkeys
Album number four is the band’s best yet.  It’s a different sound for the foursome, and a welcome change.  “She’s Thunderstorms” is a great opening cut on an album packed with excellent tunes all the way through to the closer  “That’s Where You Belong.” “Piledriver Waltz and “Black Treacle” are two of the stronger offerings. Listening to the band I’m reminded of a comfortable old favorite: Echo and the Bunnymen – good stuff!

5. Eureka, Mother Mother (read the RARAs Farm review)
In our album review, we described their unique sound as a diverse collection of alt-country-dance-funkadelic-harmonic rock. It’s impossible to classify their sound as anything but original; they sound like Mother Mother, period. Their sound is all their own, and it’s great stuff. The group revolves around the infectious harmonies of brother/sister combination Ryan and molly Guldemold. The Canadians really shine on “Baby Don’t Dance,” “The Stand” and “Chasing It Down.”

4. El Camino, The Black Keys
The Akron based duo broke through last year with the hugely popular album Brothers. This one might be even better.  There’s a bit more commercial appeal to this one, and the songs will translate well into live versions on their forthcoming tour. It’s straight forward, stripped down raw rock and roll; sounds a bit like a modernized version of Bad Company, if you can imagine that.  “Lonely Boy” is one of the best songs of the year, and has plenty of competition on the rest of the album. “Money Maker” and “Hell of a Season” are two other powerful tracks.

3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher and friends prove that there is life after Oasis for both brothers.  Liam’s Beady Eye project was decent, but Noel’s new offering is great stuff.   The talented guitarist penned all of these tunes and nails the vocals throughout. Some of the tunes will remind you of What’s The Story Morning Glory era Oasis (“Dream On” and “AKA What A Life”), which is a good thing, and all of them are well produced and written. Favorite track: “The Death of You and Me.”

2. Never Trust a Happy Song, Grouplove (read the RARAs Farm review)
A great collection of songs from this quintet who met by chance at an artists’ retreat in Crete a few summers ago. The band has put together a fantastic assortment of Alt Rock anthems.  The feel of each song is distinctive yet they weave together nicely thanks to the consistent strong vocals from Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi. “Chloe” is the best cut on the album, but has plenty of company including “Colours,” “Lovely Cup,” and iPod favorite “Tongue Tied.”

1. Thank You Happy Birthday, Cage the Elephant
Fantastic album that also has a cool back story: The band basically had an album in the can ready to release when they realized no one was really passionate about what they recorded. They started over leveraging songs that the band members were planning to use for their own side projects.  The result is a tremendous passion-filled trip from the opening notes of “Always Something” through all dozen tunes.  “Around My Head,”  “Aberdeen” and “Shake Me Down are already classics for the quintet from Kentucky. It’s only their second album, but these guys are key linchpins for the future of American Rock and Roll.

There you go, twelve great albums that will define 2011 music for years to come.   Let us know what you think; what did we leave out? what doesn’t belong? And, if you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out how these discs compare with some classics: The Best of 1971 and The Best of 1991.

Rock On – Cretin

 

A Rock 'n Roll Community

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