The two albums I’m listening to the most right now

…are about as disparate as you could imagine.

The Hold Steady “Boys and Girls in America”
Easily the most exciting album I’ve heard in a long time. Like Randy Newman singing for Blur and performing in “The Last Waltz.” With only one month remaining in 2006, I can’t imagine another album supplanting this one as my pick for “best of the year.” If you’ve yet to hear the disc, start with “Chillout Tent” and go from there…

Rhapsody of Fire “Triumph or Agony”
The strangest habits I picked up this year are Viking and symphonic metal. Spinal Tap comments aside, I enjoy discovering bands who sing about Thor and elves. I know, I know, “Is that a 13-sided die in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?” Rhapsody of Fire are a symphonic metal band from Italy who are simply amazing. Every song has a sweeping sense of drama, heightened by the presence of Christopher Lee on one track. Epic, virtuoso, and cooler than your sneering self would ever want to admit.

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