1. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
I listened to this album more than any other this year. To me it is the Foo Fighter's magnum opus. Rarely do you hear such a great arrangement of tracks on an album. Sometimes I would start listening to it and it would easily repeat twice without becoming bored or monotonous. I think this will be one of my favorite albums of all time as I get older. On a personal note the second single on the album, "Walk" helped me understand and work through a huge change in my career and life. Listening to the song actually helped me gather courage to push harder and get a job I love. "Walk" will be one of those songs I will listen to ten years from now to remember a time in my life when things were in flux and what it took to push forward and keep my head up.
2. Puscifer - Conditions of My Parole
Puscifer has always been a enigma to me. Tool's James Keenan Maynard started this electronica project that was once focused on hyper sexual musings and offensive displays of Christianity against the back drop of lewd conduct. At first I couldn't get into their music. With Conditions of My Parole there was a change in Puscifer that I didn't see coming. The album is mostly a meditation on ecology and the human will to heal, hurt, love, hate, build, and destroy all at the same time. Maynard's vocals and lyrical content is some of the best I have seen since Tool's Lateralus. This is a great album for any Maynard fan or someone who loves trance/electronica.
3. Blue October - Any Man In America
This could be the most depressing album I have ever listened to. The entire album is about a disturbing divorce and custody battle over a little girl. It plays like a series of vengeful and hurtful voicemails that a fracturing couple would leave each other. I have always been attracted to albums filled with heartache and pain. I guess it is my version of watching daytime talk shows to vicariously experience catharsis in a stranger's pain. Any Man In America, was release at the time my parents were going through a custody battle over my little brother; so the album was a great way to work through some of the dissonance and ugliness that divorce creates. In the long run I fear that this album will seem self indulgent a few years down the road because it is not a timeless piece. For most people it plays like a selfish outcry of rage at the lead singers ex-wife, instead of a timeless meditation on the trappings of two people breaking off a relationship.
4. Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot III
I have always been a Sammy Hagar fan and I always will be. Chickenfoot is a breath of fresh air for me. Their first album was okay. It had some great songs, but still lacked in lyrical content. The second album oddly titled 'III' shows the band has grown to much more than a echo of 80's arena rock. Tracks like Something Gone Wrong, Come Closer, and Three and a Half Letters remind me of why I fell in love with Sammy Hagar's solo albums when I was younger. They all tell a story of redemption and a universal need to help others.
5. Drive - The Original Soundtrack
I loved the film Drive. I think I love the music more than the movie after listening to the soundtrack. Nightcall by Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx could be one of the coolest songs I've ever heard. Every beat is a reminder of what it was like to drive through the green/yellow haze of smog on warm nights in Southern California. This is one of the those albums I will revisit when I want to feel the sense of freedom that an open road gives someone who loves to drive fast.