14. Gates of Slumber—Hymns of Blood and Thunder (Rise Above) Review here.
13. IQ—Frequency (InsideOut) Review here.
12. Led Bib—Sensible Shoes (Cuneiform) My wife zeroed in on this at Dr Disc in Hamilton and told me I should buy it. My wife is a genius. This London jazz-rock quintet have laid down a scorcher of a album—nothing sensible about it. Mixing infectious themes with all-out skronk, it always threatens to blow the roof off the joint.
11. The Decemberists—The Hazards of Love (Capitol) I had to live with this album for a while, but I eventually discovered that The Hazards of Love is start-to-finish great. They ratcheted up the progressive tendencies of The Crane Wife for this concept album/song cycle/rock opera/ whateverthehell. The big riffs and keyboard solos take stabs at Heep/Tull rock majesty, but fall a bit short—they're so polite. I like them as they are, though. I appreciate the intent. The songs stand together well, the reprises fall where they should, and Shara Worden's turn as The Queen is spectacular.
(None of these records make any sense together.)