This month's Top 15 is packed with the heavy stuff, from Serj Tankian flying solo (once again) to 10 Years brooding over all the evil robots ruling the planet to Rob Zombie remixing his Mondo Sex rock into Mondo Sex Head electronic-rock.
With very little surprise, rocketing straight to No. 1 is Baroness' Yellow & Green, a sonic pilgrimage that will certainly go down as one of the year's very best full-lengths. Napster cohort Chuck Eddy hits the nail square on the head in his record review: "Baroness' longest, most ambitious, least metal album is quite the Rorschach test: Whether you mainly hear classic rock, rural prog, indie folk, alt-grunge, psych or emo in its cascading wide-screen structures and unabashed growl-free harmonies could say a lot about you." In my Rorschach, I hear a band taking the hypno-chug of Led Zeppelin III and grafting it to a dark, doom-laden sound that's heavily inspired by two of my all-time faves: The Misfits and The Doors. There's a dash of Bad Religion's anthemic suburban alienation, too. All of which is to say Yellow & Green is a self-conscious statement-of-intent album that possesses all the bombast, sprawl and high-minded philosophizing of the best '70s rock. This is a good thing!
Yellow & Green might be the best title below. But don't for a minute think that means you can skip everything else. Coming in at a No. 2 that's closer than you might think is The Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten, a touching and introspective crawl through the same dive bars and back streets that have been home to everybody from Social Distortion to vintage Bruce Springsteen to The Hold Steady. And a little further down the list is Saving Abel's overdue follow-up to 2010's Miss America, a Southern-fried, grunge-baked slugfest aptly named Bringing Down the Giant
And now on to our Top 15...