· The Secret Machines Now Here Is Nowhere
Driving, heavy, huge drums punctuate some of the best musical chaos I've ever heard. Ethereal guitar slinks around distorted keys and bass, and the groove supports shaky, plaintive and sometimes slightly disturbed vocals. If they represent what's new today, then I'm very interested in new music. Finally.
· Old Skull Get Outta School
Quite possibly the worst "music" I've ever heard. In 1989, three 10-year-olds were handed instruments by their parents, and in a fit of wishing they were skateboarding instead, recorded this utterly craptastic disc. You can't tell whether you're listening to a work of art or paint through a jet engine.
· Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
A longtime fan of Peter Gabriel, I was intrigued to listen to his work with Genesis in the early '70s but never got around to it. His style with this band was a little different but very telling of some of his later music. It's a little dated, but then so am I.
· Soul Coughing Ruby Vroom
Who could have known that standup bass would lend itself so well to Hip Hop grooves, and that obscure, English-degree lyrics would layer effortlessly with random keyboard samples? You cannot keep yourself from moving while listening to this album. These guys continue to rock my boat, and I'll always have them in heavy rotation.
· System of a Down Toxicity
Unlike so many other Metal acts, this one manages to be angry and frenetic without sounding trite or overly dramatic. They work dynamic changes into their music that go from full-speed-ahead, I'm-going-to-rip-your-arms-off intensity to a quiet whisper in a heartbeat. Plus, I swear Cookie Monster is in the band ... and he's hungry.
THE WHITNEY BARRICKLOW BAND performs Feb. 18 at the BarrelHouse.