Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2005

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 15, 2005

By Steve Newton

Both young upstarts and grizzled old-timers made my Top 10 this year, proving yet again that good rock ‘n’ roll transcends generational boundaries. And needs lots of guitars.

Audioslave Out of Exile
With the help of producer Rick Rubin and mixer Brendan O’Brien, former Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine members prove that they’re capable of making albums as good as, if not better than, those of their previous outfits.

Caesars Paper Tigers
The obvious draw to this Swedish quartet’s latest CD is the re-release of the impossibly catchy “Jerk It Out”, from the original iPod TV ad, but there’s loads of other outstanding, hook-filled numbers here as well.

Mando Diao Hurricane Bar
Another fresh-faced Swedish act hits the mark with a killer batch of ’60s-influenced pop and garage-rock tunes.

Graham Parker Songs of No Consequence
He’s been operating below the radar of the mainstream music scene for years now, but Parker still has a natural propensity for cutting, incisive pop tunes, whether skewering media conglomerates (“Vanity Press”) or exposing fraudulent relationships (“She Swallows It”). Songs of no consequence, my ass.

Matt Mays + El Torpedo Matt Mays + El Torpedo
The perfect synthesis of Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, with a touch of early Red Rider thrown in for good measure. “Cocaine Cowgirl” is one of the two best guitar-rock tunes of the year, along with American Minor’s “Walk On”.

American Minor American Minor
I haven’t heard such tasty, wailin’ southern-rock guitars since Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd. Former Blind Melon members Brad Smith and Christopher Thorn produced this youthful quintet from rural West Virginia, and helped them fashion the debut the Black Crowes only wished they’d delivered.

Alvin Youngblood Hart Motivational Speaker
Scintillating blues-rock, with excursions into ZZ Top-type southern boogie and straight-ahead country. Check out the instrumental bonus track, “Shootout On I-55”, with wild slide by the North Mississippi Allstars’ Luther Dickinson.

Neil Schon i on u
Yeah, I know, Neil Schon used to play for Journey. Yeah, I also know Journey started sucking donkey dicks after the Infinity album of ’78. But the melodic guitar work on these soaring, new age-y instrumentals is just plain beautiful.

John Hiatt Master of Disaster
One of the States’ most talented and prolific tunesmiths hooks up with the esteemed Dickinson brothers, Luther and Cody of the North Mississippi Allstars, for an awesome foray into rootsy rock and down-home country-blues, sharply produced by Dickinson patriarch Jim.

Death Cab for Cutie Plans
“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” always makes my wife cry, but I love that about her. Pesky tune chokes me up, too. Plans is one of the finest pure-pop albums since the days of the Beatles.

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