In July 2005, we here at Get Out published our list of the top 50 songs of all time by Valley artists, and while we were compiling the story we knew that, after all of the brainstorming, the listening and the research, we’d undoubtedly leave off some deserving tunes that had evaporated momentarily from our collective conscience.
And did we ever hear about it.
It was a collective effort, but my name was on it, so I was the one piling through the incensed e-mails and listening to the phone calls from Valley music fans saying, “How could you leave off (insert song here)? Your list has no merit without (insert song here) on it.”
And I was the one accosted in clubs by music fans and even members of some local bands who took umbrage with the list. In some cases, those bands were absolutely right.
An exact science this is not.
So, being the glutton for verbal and e-mail abuse that I am, my name is again on the top of another list of Valley musical nostalgia, as this time we at Get Out have put our heads together to compile the top 25 albums by Valley bands.
Here is what we came up with (excluding bands from Arizona that left the Valley and made it elsewhere — that’s a list for another day).
25. “Spittin’ Into the Wind” by Tramps & Thieves (2006)
After an acoustic EP titled “Mill Avenue Cowboys,” Valley alt-country faves Tramps & Thieves broke out the drums and the electric guitars for this delicious slice of country rock. Key cuts: “To Hell With California,” “Sidewinder” (hear mp3).
24. “Humbucker” by The Piersons (1996)
The Piersons openly rejected the jangly “Tempe Sound” in favor of fast power-chord-propelled tunes that were way ahead of their time. The band’s Replacements-style live shows were often sloppy affairs, but this first record, released on Zia Records founder Brad Singer’s Epiphany label, cleaned up the band. Key cuts: “Helen Reddy,” “Pink Dress.”
23. “Somebody Somewhere” by Truckers on Speed (2002)
If you were to guess from the band’s name, you’d think they’d be a hopped-up country band that sings Dave Dudley-type tunes, but Truckers on Speed are a full on rock 'n’ roll band, and this disc breathes fire — fueled by Gibson Les Pauls and Marshall amps, from the opening barrage to the closing moments. Key cuts: “Irish Speedball,” “Cindy Crawford.”
22. “Phunk Junkeez,” by Phunk Junkeez (1992)
With a whip-smart sense of humor and a rock-based rap groove, Phunk Junkeez — led on this disc by Soulman and K-Tel Disco — prefaced the rap/rock boom of the mid- to late ’90s with this, their debut disc. Key cuts: “I Am a Junkee,” “Going Down to Buckeye.”
21. “Pledge Allegiance to Rock and Roll,” by Steppchild (2005)
Listening to Steppchild, you’d think you were in 1974, when thick, blues-based metal riffs and wailing vocals were the order of the day. Add a dose of the band’s wicked sense of humor and you have an album that makes you smile while banging your head. Key cuts: “Sixteen Year Old Lover,” “Mustache Ride.”
20. “A Passage in Time,” by Authority Zero (2002)
Blending hard-core punk with reggae and ska elements, Authority Zero’s infectious debut disc is one of the finest of the post-Sublime era. Key cuts: “A Passage in Time,” “One More Minute.”
19. “Doomsday for the Deceiver,” by Flotsam and Jetsam (1986)
Back in the ’80s, Flotsam and Jetsam were bona fide local superstars, their thrash metal every bit as heavy as anything Metallica was doing. Ironically, Flotsam bassist Jason Newsted joined Metallica after the release of this, Flotsam and Jetsam’s debut disc on Metal Blade. Key cuts: “Hammerhead,” “Desecrator.”
18. “Saccharin and Trust,” by Sugar High (2001)
Pure pop combo Sugar High’s infectious melodies and crunchy guitar chords harken back to The Raspberries and Badfinger, an era of power pop considered the genre’s golden age. Key cuts: “100 Years to Love You,” “Personality Pills.”
17. “Call Me Lonesome,” by Dave Insley (2005)
Insley has been mixing punk and country since Ryan Adams was in diapers, and his first solo disc — a straight country effort — contains evocative, clever lyrics set to honky-tonk twang. Key cuts: “There’s Gonna Be a Few Changes,” “Just Call Me Lonesome” (hear mp3s).
16. “God Was Created,” by Vehemence (2002)
Brutal, crushing death metal with machine-gun drumming, vicious guitar riffs, throaty, screaming vocals and memorable melodies snaking through the mix, Vehemence was the premier Valley metal band of the early millennium, and this is their most powerful work. Key cuts: “Made for Her Jesus,” “Lusting for Affection.”
15. “Unhappy Hour,” by Beat Angels (1996)
With a swagger that was reminiscent of The Rolling Stones and, especially, The New York Dolls, the Brian Smith-led Beat Angels celebrated the underbelly of drinking culture a la Charles Bukowski and wrapped it all into infectious glam/pop tunes. Key cuts: “Hungover With Jenny,” “The Most Beautiful Loser in Town.”
14. “Death City,” by Grave Danger (2004)
Psychobilly doesn’t get any better than this, with Kevin Daly’s reverb-drenched surf and rockabilly guitar runs strafing a frenetic, pounding rhythm section on tunes that could be the ultimate soundtrack for B-movie horror flicks. Key cuts: “Death City,” “Kill Kill Kill.”
13. “The Bull, the Balloon and the Family,” by Reubens Accomplice (2004)
The duo of Chris Corak and Jeff Bufano craft impossibly melodic pop, with chiming guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies, and it’s impossible not to wonder when Reubens Accomplice is going to be picked up by a major label. This is alt-pop at its very best. Key cuts: “Big Apple, Small Heart,” “Underneath the Golden Grain” (hear mp3).
12. “Glass Heroes,” by Glass Heroes (2005)
If the Glass Heroes sound like classic punk, it’s because they are — Heroes honcho Keith Jackson has been writing punk tunes since before he could get a driver’s license in the ’70s. The band is now signed to TKO, and their soon-to-be -released disc is being produced by The Damned’s legendary drummer Rat Scabies. Key cuts: “Kick Down the Doors,” “Going Down Fast” (hear mp3s).
11. “Cup Runneth Over,” by Gloritone (1998)
Tim Anthonise is the only guitar player in town who can make a single Les Paul sound like a chorus of guitars, using an array of open tunings to ballast Gloritone’s driving rock with distinctive melodic voicings. A truly original band, Gloritone is beginning to play shows again after a lengthy hiatus. A welcome return. Key cuts: “Halfway,” “John Wayne.”
10. “Hang on to Nothing,” by The Pistoleros (1997)
One of the architects of the “Tempe Sound,” The Pistoleros, led by brothers Mark (guitar) and Lawrence (vocals) Zubia, this major-label release was the last great record to come from a band that made its bones on Mill Avenue in the ’90s. Key cuts: “The Hardest Part,” “Hang on to Nothing.”
9. “¡Americano!,” by Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (2004)
Written during the buildup to the Iraqi war, Clyne wrestles with being a stranger in his own country as he sits in his “second home” in a “Third World cantina.” Key cuts: “Counterclockwise,” “Your Name on a Grain of Rice.”
8. “Artists and Whores,” by The Revenants (1998)
Singer/songwriter Bruce Connole has led Valley faves The Jetzons (new wave) and The Strand (power pop), but The Revenants, Connole’s noir country combo, features his best work, and “Artists and Whores” is an alt-country classic. Key cuts: “The Light at the End of the Bottle,” “Even Hookers Say Goodbye” (hear mp3s).
7. “1001,” by Dead Hot Workshop (1995)
Dead Hot Workshop’s singer/songwriter Brent Babb is the poet laureate of Mill Avenue, and this, the band’s major-label debut, proves why there were so many literature majors from ASU hanging out at Dead Hot shows during Mill Avenue’s ’90s musical heyday. Key cuts: “Burger Christ,” “Choad” (hear mp3s).
6. “Valley of the Yakes,” by JFA (1983)
JFA (or Jodie Foster’s Army) took their love of skateboarding and Black Flag-styled hard-core punk and put the two together to create a brand-new genre: skate punk. This debut disc made them heroes for skaters across the country. Key cuts: “Preppy,” “Johnny D.”
5. “Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy,” by The Refreshments (1996)
A perfect disc for a road trip south of the border — thematically, a mythical Mexico plays a large part in singer/songwriter Roger Clyne’s work — The Refreshments’ fun debut disc is chock full of pop hooks and Clyne’s clever, smirking lyrics. Key cuts: “Banditos,” “Nada.”
4. “Dog Problems,” by The Format (2006)
Released this past summer, this epic pop masterwork is a grow-on-you classic from the best pure pop band to ever emerge from the Valley. The duo of Sam Means and Nate Ruess write timeless pop in the vein of Brian Wilson’s late ’60s Beach Boys work, but with a harder edge. Key cuts: “Time Bomb,” She Doesn’t Get It,” “Oceans” (hear mp3s).
3. “Jimmy Eat World,” by Jimmy Eat World (2001)
The album that broke Jimmy Eat World on a national level (the CD has gone platinum several times over), this disc is the one where the band was finally able to crystallize their best elements — stinging guitar work, layered vocal harmonies and punchy, punk/pop song structures. Key cuts: “The Middle,” “Sweetness,” “Get it Faster.”
2. “Meat Puppets II,” by Meat Puppets (1984)
A brilliant pastiche of hard-core punk, country and psychedelic rock, this disc redefined the boundaries of punk, as the band’s “Black Flag-meets-Grateful Dead” sound, with Curt Kirkwood’s swirling guitar work, elevated the hard-core punk genre beyond mere bar chord fury. Key cuts: “Lake of Fire,” Plateau,” “New Gods.”
1. “New Miserable Experience,” by Gin Blossoms (1992)
With six of the tunes here penned by late founding member of the Gin Blossoms, guitarist Doug Hopkins, and the others penned by the talented Jesse Valenzuela and Robin Wilson, this was the record that put Tempe on the musical map. The Hopkins-penned “Hey Jealousy” became an MTV staple and “Found Out About You” is the best tune he ever wrote. A classic. Key cuts: “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” “Allison Road.”