5 Most Truly Abysmal Songs of 2010

This is a short list, despite the fact that there were a lot of great songs that filled my mindspace this year.   When I sat down to write this list, though, these are the ones that I was totally enraptured with this year and I will celebrate them here…

Hot Head Show – Whiskey Pocket/The Lemon:  Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to this EP and I usually find myself listening to these two songs in tandem multiple times.   I just can’t get enough of this band and this is also an easy new entry on the 10 Most Truly Abysmal Songs of all-time.


Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down:  Different than anything on the debut CD and a great indication of the daring and fun sonics to be found on the new Thank You Happy Birthday CD, this song took a couple of listens to really sink in.  I mean, I liked it at first but it wasn’t until after the 3rd or 4th listen that I realize that I LOVE it.


HIM – In Venere Veritas:  Yeah, I know there are some who say HIM is just too slick, pop and “American” anymore, but good music is good music.  I’ve always loved Ville Valo’s voice, which is on full-range display here, and the music is both driving and atmospheric.  Great mix, too!



The Damned Things – We’ve Got a Situation Here:  Scott Ian is becoming somewhat of an icon given that he’s highly sought after for documentary interviews and commentary given his intelligence and wit.  Oh yeah…he’s a kickin guitarist, too, and this “side project” sounds nothing like a side project.  It’s a totally committed band that totally rocks with modern production and respectful nods to influences.   This song has been on my daily “Wake Up” list since it came out in late 2010.


The Sword – Tres Brujas:  I still remember hearing the advance single and loving this song.  Several months later (and one missed concert due to their drummer bailing on them), I’m still loving it.   Perhaps not coincidentally, this one has what seems to be a permanent spot on my daily “Wake Up” list, as well.   And a good time was had by all.


Crash Karma – Awake:  Quite possibly one of the most uplifting and purifying rock songs I’ve ever heard in my life.   Beautiful mix and arrangement, beautiful hooks, and a beautiful vocal performance from our man Edwin.  Yes, this one has been on my daily “Wake Up” list since last April or so.  Rock on, Crash Karma…

10 Most Truly Abysmal Albums of 2010

It’s here, ladies and gents…the 10 albums that rocked my Abysmal world in 2010 (the year we make contact…remember?).   Yes I know, the list is very guitar-heavy but I can’t help it.   I wanna rock.

And for those of you new to the Sonic Abyss who are worried that I don’t know the true meaning of  the word “Abysmal”, please refer to the Abysmal Law section of my blog.   A sense of humour is mandatory in The Sonic Abyss:)

They are presented in no particular order, save for the Most Truly Abysmal Album of the Year which still has my head spinning in all of the best possible directions…


Hot Head Show – The Lemon EP:  Oh man, I don’t even know where to begin.  I can’t think of anything to say that I haven’t already said about this intelligent, humourous and fiercely original band.  And this is just an EP.  Their debut full-length CD (title: The Lemon LP) is due for release in March.  I hope I can handle it.   I have listened to the whole Lemon EP every single day since I got it back in April and it just sounds better every time.  Incidentally, the tandem of Whiskey Pocket/The Lemon is a new addition to the 10 Most Truly Abysmal Songs of all-time.  You really must hear this band to believe it…your life will be all the better for it.  Click here to download it free courtesy of Hot Head Show.

And now, the Most Truly Abysmal Albums of 2010…

The Fibs – The Fibs:  Now truth be told this is a demo and I know each individual Fib (Mike Berg and Ryan Shelley, respectively), but all bias aside I love this music.  It’s Mike on guitar and vocals and Ryan on his “makeshift drum.”  It’s a cajon, but someone from the local paper who took a picture didn’t know this and the caption under the picture immortalized the cajon as a “makeshift drum.”  But I digress.  The songs are just plain cool and Berg’s sense of melody has a lot of nice unexpected turns…especially on “Smile on Tap.”  And the line “No one can argue when they can’t understand you” from Chemistry is one of my favorite lines ever.  Show The Fibs some love and listen for yourself by clicking these words.

Crash Karma – Crash Karma:  Admittedly, I’m going to listen to anything Stuart Chatwood or Jeff Burrows (ex-Tea Party) are involved in because I know it will be worth it.  Those guys will always be in my personal hall of fame.  When I found out that Burrows was in a Canadian “supergroup” including former members of I Mother Earth and Our Lady Peace (two excellent bands), I was a little leery because “supergroups” rarely come close to living up to the hype.  No worries.  Crash Karma’s debut was an instant inclusion on this list upon its release last April, as track after track is both powerful and uplifting.  A most welcome addition to my music library and hopefully a taster for more great music to come. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Crash Karma MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM

Clutch – Live @ the 9:30 Club (DVD):  I’ve chosen to include this live DVD in the 10 Most Truly Abysmal Albums of 2010 list simply because, aside from a handful of tracks from “Strange Cousins…” to open the show, the live set consists of the entire Clutch self-titled CD from 1995.   I never was a huge fan of that CD (entirely because of the thin, restrained production) until I saw Clutch live and watched the Full Fathom Five DVD and realized that my favorite live tracks were the songs from said self-titled CD.  To have the entire album in a live format is a dream come true and just showcases a collection of songs that sound every bit as good 15 years later. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Live At The 9:30 Club AND OTHER CLUTCH MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM

The Sword – Warp Riders:  Oh, how I anxiously awaited the release of this disc since the legendary Dr. Chado first introduced me to The Sword’s music early last year.  When I first met Dr. Chado 4 years ago, he was known by many as Chadrock.  I know why.   Dude knows his rock.  When I saw the totally 80’s science fiction cover of the CD and heard the advance single of “Tres Brujas,” I knew this was going to be a special disc.  It’s not quite the over-the-top classic I was expecting, but it’s still excellent and I still make regular return visits.  A killer release. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Warp Riders AND OTHER SWORD MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM

Skeleton Key – Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon (rediscovery from 1997):   I felt compelled to include this on the 2010 list because upon rediscovering it this year it became obvious to me that is could easily have been released this year…probably with better results saleswise.   Way ahead of its time and an artesian well of mind-bending sonics, Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon deserved more than an award for its packaging (complete with holes through the cover) and a grammy nomination.  Discover or rediscover this disc for yourself and hear a shining example of what “timeless” music really is. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon THROUGH AMAZON.COM

HIM – Screamworks (Love In Theory and Practice):  I was admittedly late getting on the HIM bandwagon with the 2000 version of their ridiculously good cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” and am consistently in awe of the vocals of frontman Ville Valo.  Some hardcore HIM fans argue that the band has tried to be too “American” starting with 2005’s Dark Light.  I dunno…one could argue that Screamworks and its predecessor Venus Doom are more slickly produced than previous efforts, but HIM has always been a band wherein melody is just as important as power and I believe they would have more mainstream popularity in the US if not for the darkness of the lyrics.  The pop sensibility has always been there, so I can’t fault them for cleaner production that allows for even greater appreciation for the arrangement and mix.  And In Venere Veritas is a classic in my Abysmal world. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice AND OTHER HIM MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM

Amorphis – Magic and Mayhem:  Only once in a great while can any band do what Amorphis has done here.   There are many old-school fans of Amorphis who will disagree with me on many levels, but Amorphis has reworked old material (up to and including the Elegy CD) and made everything better while bringing to full fruition the epic nature of  the sounds that originally made me a fan on their second release Tales From the Thousand Lakes.   Guttoral vocals sound committed and pro, while the clean vocals are melodic and equally powerful.  Amorphis today sounds exactly the way I always wanted them to, much thanks to raging vocalist Tomi Joutsen. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Magic & Mayhem: Tales From the Early Years AND OTHER AMORPHIS MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM

The Damned Things – Ironiclast:  I’ve been on board with Scott Ian since his band Anthrax’s first album Fistful of Metal somewheres around 1983 or 1984.  He’s one of the best and most intelligent interviews out there, an innovative mind, kickin’ guitarist and anything he’s involved with is worth a listen.  The Damned Things is no exception.  I’ve seen reviews that have criticized the “commerciality” of this disc, but I beg to differ.  Sure, there are some nice hooks you can sink your teeth into and melody for miles…since when is that a bad thing?  Ironiclast is just brimming with hooks, grooves, juicy guitar tones and melodies you’ll be singing along with time and time again.  There are also some great guitar harmonies that work as both strong hooks and as sincere homage to the great Thin Lizzy.  A great rock album. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Ironiclast THROUGH AMAZON.COM

Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis:  Of all the whacked out bands I gravitate toward, Dillinger Escape Plan without a doubt is THE most whacked.  Even more so than Meshuggah, I think, because DEP injects melody amongst the chaos and it almost acts as an exclamation point to highlight the completely deliberate nature of what probably sounds like a cacophonous racket to most.  One of those bands that succeeds in making me question my own sanity.  Always a challenging listen and always well worth the time, DEP’s Option Paralysis shows a band in total command of their craft and in possession of a sound that is very much their own. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Option Paralysis AND OTHER DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN MUSIC THROUGH AMAZON.COM