Category: Best Of

  • Top 5 Drum Albums of 2008

    The end of the year is upon us, and that means one thing for media sites the world over: best-of lists. Bazillions and bazillions of best-of lists. We here at BDT are by no means immune to this journalistic cancer, and so have put together our five favorite drum albums from 2008. We compiled the winners by checking our iTunes playlists for the songs that got the most spins. After eliminating tracks released before 2008 and ignoring stuff that would surely undermine our badass reputation (e.g., Sara Bareilles and Katy Perry), we came up with the discs you’ll find below. Mind you, these aren’t necessarily the best drumming performances the year had to offer; they are simply the ones that we listened to most often….which, actually, is pretty much the best testament one can offer.

    5. Dafnis Prieto, Taking the Soul for a Walk

    We downloaded this gem of a disc back in March, and it quickly became our Latin-infused jazz standard for 2008. Nothing else new in that vein came even remotely close in terms of number of listens. That’s all due of course to Prieto’s drumming and compositional instincts—textured and nuanced without being intrusive or masturbatory. We love this dude and can’t wait for a 2009 release, hopefully a live recording with his sextet.

    4. Army Navy, Army Navy

    We have so much affection for this indie pop debut and have played it so often that Army Navy managed to bust into the top 5 even though it was released just a few months ago. The drumming here is a masterful lesson in tune-conscious playing, so we weren’t shocked at all to discover that Pete Thomas, the longtime drummer for Elvis Costello, cut the tracks.

    3. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend

    Hipster darlings, and deservedly so for clever lyrics and catchy rhythms, the band Vampire Weekend made college kids everywhere in 2008 feel the white-washed African beat in their feet. We’ll give drummer Chris Tomson all the credit.

    2. The Mars Volta, The Bedlam in Goliath

    This is perhaps the one true drummy drum album on our list, but even it is primarily an example of what real musicians do with sophisticated, daring compositions. Very few drummers can play as many necessary notes as Thomas Pridgen does here, and the result is stunningly beautiful and monstrous and perfect.

    1. Stanton Moore, Emphasis! (On Parenthesis)

    Can we be any more emphatic about our love for Moore? Creative, grooving, and deliciously chop-laden all at the same time, this album has been on almost permanent repeat since it was released in April.

  • Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Drummers

    There are just a few hours left before the jolly fat fellow stuffs himself down chimneys the world over. Because you’re just now getting to your xmas shopping (don’t even try to pretend otherwise), we’ve put together a handy list of stocking stuffers for the drummers in your life. Forget the candy canes, underwear, socks, and photos of fat Aunt Bertha’s 30 cats. This is the stuff that drummers really want to find swinging from a mantle. We’ve listed our choices from roughly the least to the most pricey.

    5. Drumsticks. Every drummer uses them, and every drummer goes through enough pairs to level a rain forest. If the thumper in your life already has a bag full of virgin wood, just buy another pair anyway. Trust us. Depending on the brand and model, you’ll only have to shell out somewhere between $6 and $16. And in case you are interested in giving gifts to absolute strangers, I am hoping for a pair of Vic Firth’s new and hot black 5As.

    4. Subscription to a Drumming Magazine. What?! We’re recommending an actual, old-school magazine? Yep, print is not dead quite yet, and that’s particularly true of drumming magazines, which still are the main source for extended interviews with pro drummers. The great granddaddy of drumming mags is of course Modern Drummer. A one-year subscription to this stalwart publication costs $29.97. The more hip DRUM! magazine and its superb sister publication TRAPS cost $19.95 and $15, respectively, for a one-year subscription. Drumhead, the new and quite good-looking kid on the block, can be had for $24.95 for a one-year subscription. Those are the biggest and best print drum mags published in America. For international magazines written in English, check out Drummer, Rhythm, and Drumscene.

    3. Bass Drum Beater. If your drummer uses felt, pick up a wood model so that s/he can experiment with the differences in sound and feel. Though many current pedals, like Taye’s awesome Metalworks, already come with a multisided beater (e.g., wood, felt, and plastic), having a spare is still essential for every gigging drummer, and it never hurts to give an extra to all garage warriors as well. A good beater will set you back somewhere between $15 and $40.

    2. Metronome. Timing is everything for drummers, and most of us will spend our lives trying to get it just right. Help us out a little by slipping a metronome our way. There’s an enormous variety available, ranging from about 30 bucks right up to a couple of hundred.

    1. In-Ear Monitors. So you’re a big Cheddy Johnston with plenty o’ bucks to spare? Spend some of them on the ultimate stocking stuffer for drummers: in-ear monitors. They allow us to hear what the hell our bassist is playing on all those stadium gigs, but more important they allow us just to hear period. In-ear monitors protect our delicate tympanic membranes from harmful volumes and frequencies so that we’ll have a long lifetime of thumping bliss. In-ears range from $200 to over $1,000, but if you gift a pair, you’ll forever have a club-wielding bruiser as a best buddy.