Just because my Top 5 is finished doesn't mean I'm done. Hell no! There are definitely still a few loose ends to tie up this year. Too many, in fact. So I'm going to have to split 'em up into two parts!
In what is quickly becoming a tradition for my End of the Year List-Making, I must now go back and scratch the whole last week or so of posting, because it turns out only one album counted this year. And just like Peter Fox's Stadtaffe last year, I only heard about it once my countdown was winding down and didn't have a place to put it. Besides, putting it anywhere on any list would be pointless: this album needs to be put on a list all its own. So just who in the world could have released something so mind-blowing that it would shame all of my other entries this year into the muck and mire of unimportance?
Why, Andrew W.K., of course! It's been awhile since I'd heard from the man. He released Close Calls With Brick Walls in 2006, but only in Japan (it was later released in the U.S. on Load Records, the Providence, RI home of Lightning Bolt and White Mice), and after that I'd heard he was working on three albums at once, but nothing ever surfaced on my radar.
Those three albums turned out to include a disc of covers of fourteen of the most popular J-Pop and J-Rock songs of recent memory (not mine), fittingly entitled The Japan Covers and a party-rock reworking of the soundtrack to the influential, decade-spanning anime Gundam. Both of those albums include translated lyrics, in very broken english. He's... sorta really into Japan, I guess. I just hope he leaves the creepy stuff to Rivers Cuomo.
But the most important of this trilogy does not have a thing to do with Japan. It doesn't have much to do with anything at all. Especially anything you've come to expect of Mr. Wilkes-Krier. Because 55 Cadillac is an album of classically-inspired, improvised instrumental piano pieces. Eight of them in total. All of them with names like "Begin the Engine," "Night Driver," and "Central Park Cruiser." All of them fucking beautiful and unbelievably brilliant. All of them ready to make your head explode because you had no fucking idea the guy who sang "Party Hard" could play the fuck like this. Unless, of course, you've seen him live, in which case you've seen him do exactly that and when you told all of your friends later, they didn't believe you in the slightest.
Well, now you've got proof. All but forty minutes of proof. Forty minutes of some of the best piano-playing you've probably ever heard--or at least the best piano-playing you've ever heard from a guy with long, greasy black hair, ripped up old basketball shoes and matching sweat-stained white jeans and t-shirts. Just go listen to it. Right now. That's all there is to say, because words do not do it justice. I've said my piece.
Oh, and watch this and this too. He's pretty much the coolest guy ever.