10. Brian Bonz & the Dot-Hongs - From Sumi to Japan
I saw these guys open for Nightmare of You, and was pretty much stunned by how good the lead singer's voice is. His stage banter is some of the funniest I've heard too. The mix should focus on his voice a little more, but if you lie down and listen to the album, you will be rewarded.
9. Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey & the Groogrux King
"If you don't like this record, you're a fucking retard," said Dave Matthews behind the scenes of the Fuse documentary I worked on. Bold words from a guy whose albums I'd never listened to, so I gave this one a shot. The musicianship is excellent, and I'd venture to say that there are even a few retards who would enjoy this album.
8. Nightmare of You - Infomaniac
Their eponymous debut is my favorite album, and while this sophomore outing is good, I can't help but say I'm a little disappointed. The departure of two members of the band, including their amazing drummer Sammy Siegler, and the fact that the "demos" posted on their MySpace didn't seem to be re-recorded for the album, hurt it a little.
7. Trevor Hall - Trevor Hall
I heard a song by this guy playing in my brother's car, and I asked his wife who it was. She told me it was Kings of Leon, which shocked me 'cause it didn't sound anything like Kings of Leon (It didn't suck.). It doesn't suck. It's a nice blend of rock, folk, reggae, and East-Indian styles with songs you can work out to or get high to. I've only done the former so far.
6. Maxïmo Park - Quicken the Heart
Ah, the third album. This one ends up fitting the cliché quite nicely, taking equal parts from the enthusiastic first album and mature second to make a blend that can now be defined as their sound. While I still prefer their debut, this one is quite refreshing and probably their most accessible.
5. Sea Wolf - White Water, White Bloom
In the midst of my cross-country journey, I saw Sea Wolf perform at Saint Louis University. I bought their new album, and it stayed in my CD player for the rest of the West. (I listened to my iPod mostly, but if the radio signal had too much interference, the CD player would go on.) Very cohesive set of tunes.
4. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I think it borrows a little too heavily from It's Never Been Like That, but that was a great album, so it makes sense that this would be good. Not a substitute for their spectacular live show though.
3. Metric - Fantasies
Some people dismissed this album for its production, and while it does sound a little different than the previous discs, it's still Metric. Hear and see the songs performed live and you'll realize that. I can't stress enough how important it is to see these bands live.
2. Jupiter One - Sunshower
I picked up a random CD one night at Fuse, and it was this. It was the CD in my player until I got to St. Louis. I even had the pleasure of seeing them during my stop in Cincinnati. A really solid rock/pop album. Take a chance.
1. Fun - Aim & Ignite
The soundtrack of my summer, and a great album to fall in love to/with. There are so many different sounds on this album from the ELO-like harmonies of "All the Pretty Girls" to the steel drums of "At Least I'm Not as Sad (as I Used to Be)" to the gospel choir of "Barlights." It's all held together by the distinctive voice of former-Format singer Nate Ruess. I read an article where someone pegged his voice as "off-Broadway," and yes, there is a certain theatricality to it. Add all this together, and I'll be damned if you don't get an experience that is exactly the name of the band: Fun.