In a year when the new wave of indie bands sounds like a desperate effort to capture an ageing boy band fanbase, it’s worthwhile to recall the words of avant-garde rocker Keiji Haino: "The reason rock music today is worthless is because it’s only trying to do the possible. But I believe that rock means the impossible, the incomplete." We see this period akin to that of the '60s when free jazz exploded on the scene in reaction to the safety of cool jazz. So what’s really exciting in rock today are the multi-genre collaborations, the avant-garde ferment that’s fuelling the sound of freedom.

1. Spring Heel Jack
Amassed (Thirsty Ear)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

2. Jackie O Mother****er
Change (Textile)
For once, a band which lives up to its name.

3. Merzbow
24 Hours A Day of Seals
(Dirter)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]
Four CDs of gorgeous noise that cascades, swirls and swallows you up in its inky undercurrents. First heard this in a hole-in-the-wall Tokyo shop dedicated to avant noise and was convinced after an hour of being totally knocked out.

4. Force Vomit
Give It Up For The Trustfund Rockers
(BigO)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]
Click here... to order the album

5. The Flaming Lips
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
(Warner)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Yanqui U.X.O.
(Constellation)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]
If you’ve just got on the Godspeed trip, check out also the Shalabi Effect, a very interesting, very overlooked Godspeed-related band.

7. Chicago Underground Duo
Axis and Alignment
(Thrill Jockey)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

8. Paul Westerberg
Stereo
(Vagrant Records)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

9. The Roots
Phrenology
(MCA)

10. DJ Spooky
Optometry
(Thirsty Ear)

11. Boards Of Canada
Geogaddi
(Warp)

12. K-Rad
Deli Mood Spot
(Someoddpilot Records)
Ambient that goes on an experimental, industrial bend. More chilling than chill-out.

13. Steve Earle
Jerusalem
(E-Squared)
There are a few souls out there who still tell it like it is.

14. Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man
Out Of Season (Go Beat)

15. Tom Waits
Blood Money
(Anti)


16. Nightmares On Wax
Mind Elevation
(Warp)

17. Voiceout
Allergy
(Sonic Wave)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]
In its title track, Voiceout have contributed a modern song about $ingapore: "Life in hypocrisy, sweet talk - brutality/No sense of sympathy, drawing blood - no mercy/You’re my allergy!" Geddit?

Click here... to order the album

18. Kelly Willis
Easy
(Ryko)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]
Discovered by Nanci Griffith, need we say more? But really, Easy looks at first mainstream then remains naggingly plainspoken.


19. Porcelain
I’ve Got A Really Important Thing to do Right Now But I Can’t Do It Cause I’m Asleep
(Talitres/Drunk Dog)
[Note: Click on the album cover for the review]

20. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The Last DJ
(Warner)
The ghosts of The Byrds ring out from Tom Petty’s anguished breast. As he sings: "there goes your freedom of choice/there goes the last human voice/there goes the last DJ". Petty must have known X’Ho in another life.

Click here... for the year's albums off the beaten track, as compiled by Bill Glahn, whose Piss On It: The Best Of Live! Music Review will be published by BigO Books this coming year.


For more... email singbigo@singnet.com.sg with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."