Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Personal Top 5 - Chris D'Orso

I always thought I was the musical black sheep in the group, but then I read Ron's list. So maybe not. Still, only three of these discs (Butch, Ben, and the Crowes) appear on our overall Top 50.

(Yes, I know we're only supposed to post the top five. Sue me.)

1. Butch Walker – I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart
I can't overstate the way I feel, musically, about Butch Walker. I discovered Butch about twelve years ago, during the waning days of the Marvelous 3. I love everything he's done, whether it be M3-styled rock, like his solo debut, or moodier singer-songwriter stuff, like 2008's "Sycamore Meadows." He's always doing the right things for me, and this year's disc has been an earworm since the day it was released, way back in January. He's an electric live performer, whether he's with the full band or sitting by himself at the piano. There isn't a bad song on here; this was the album of the year for me, hands down.

2. Ben Folds – Lonely Avenue (with Nick Hornby)
Part of me feels like Ben's been mailing it in since the "Suburbs" album. "Silverman" was good, but thin; and then the "fake leaked" version of "Way To Normal" was better than the real thing. The EP series captured bits of brilliance, however, and his a cappella "greatest hits" from 2009 was a stroke of genius. He got together with author Nick Hornby to write lyrics for this album, and the result is awesome.

3. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
I was despondent over the fact that founding drummer Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater; I'm so thrilled that I finally saw them live two summers ago after twenty years of fan-hood, because I know that they won't quite be the same. Portnoy left to help A7X, whose drummer Jimmy "Rev" Sullivan passed away a year ago; he filled in here, playing the parts as written by Sullivan. Word now is that A7X has decided to move on without Portnoy, and Portnoy says that the DT door is closed as well. Fellas, cut the crap. You need each other the way Steven Page and Barenaked Ladies need each other.

4. Steven Page – Page One
Speaking of guys who left bands... I'll admit that I doubted Steven Page as a solo artist. I heard his dreck with the Art of Time Ensemble, and dreaded what "Page One" would sound like; but it's really a solid -- well, I'll say it -- Barenaked Ladies album, just without the Ed songs. "A New Shore" is great; so are "Marry Me" and "Monogamists." In fact, if you took the best tracks from this, and added the best tracks from

5. Barenaked Ladies – All In Good Time
this, you'd have a really solid BNL album. The thing with BNL was always the interplay between Ed and Steve in the songwriting process. Some will call it sacrilege to compare them to Lennon-McCartney, but they had the same dynamic; you had Ed songs, and you had Steve songs, but they worked so damn well together. They always threw a Jim song and a Kevin song or two on the records, and that was fine, because it added a little side flavor. My fear was that in the absence of Steve, the Ed songs would lose their pop sheen, and that the Kevin songs would be too high in the mix. And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. "Four Seconds" tries to follow their hit single formula, but falls short; it needed Steve in the studio. That said, there's genius here. "Every Subway Car" is brilliant, vintage BNL. "You Run Away," clearly a kissoff to Page, wouldn't have happened without the breakup. It's just... I wanted more.

6. Thunder – Live at the BBC (1990-1995)
My favorite rock band ever; they broke up last summer after twenty brilliant years. This set is a little bloated and way too expensive for the casual fan, but it came with an autographed print, so I pounced. I would have tried to mix up the setlists a bit; I don't know that I need five more versions of "Backstreet Symphony," but whatever.

This isn't a clip from any of these live sets, but it's a good intro to the band:

7. My Chemical Romance – Danger Days
I discovered MCR thanks to the McDonalds/Best Buy Monopoly promotion a few years back; I had a handful of dollars that were about to expire, so I picked up "The Black Parade" on a whim because I loved the single. MCR really bring it here; I'm surprised this didn't wind up on anyone else's lists. It's a solid continuation of what they've always done.

8. Black Crowes – Croweology
Cool reworking of their songs; like a greatest hits, yet somehow better.

9. The Union – The Union
This is where Thunder guitarist Luke Morley landed after the band broke up; he hooked up with young guitar slinger Peter Shoulder and put together a brilliant "slab of rock," as they say. "This Time Next Year" is their second single; go buy it and support Childline Rocks.

10. Slash - Slash
What's not to love about Slash? Saul Hudson wants you to sing on his album, you go sing on his album... and you know it's going to kick your ass. From Ozzy to Fergie, there really isn't anything on here that doesn't deliver.


  1. What the... posting TEN instead of five? There's always gotta be a rebel in every bunch. I've just never known a rebel who liked Ben Folds so much. :)

  2. Hahaha...Way to be a rebel, Chris. I haven't heard many of these, so I'm planning to check them out. Thanks for expanding our minds. :)