The Bad: And a Few Stunk . . .

1. Oasis, Heathen Chemistry (Epic): This bloated corpse of a band, overhyped from its first note and compared to the Beatles during its brief peak, was never all that. It's always written bland songs. Even its hits are just glossy hooks and shimmery guitars bereft of any substantive content. But Heathen Chemistry is a real stinker, a jumble of clichés that aren't catchy and sound like they were written by John Tesh.

2. Anti-Flag, Mobilize (A-F): A mess of recycled protest slogans and tuneless music, the leftist band Anti-Flag hopes to free Mumia and fight the government. But even George Bush could pen more inspiring lyrics, and Dick Cheney likely could come up with more interesting music.

3. Mudhoney, Since We've Become Translucent (Sub Pop): Back in 1989, Mudhoney rocked as hard as Nirvana. But that seems like an eon ago. Since then, the band has released its fair share of crap, culminating in Since We've Become Translucent. Its attempts at psychedelia have never managed to be any trippier than your girlfriend's lava lamp. Other tunes rock limply like dead opossums.


Music criticism

4. Guttermouth, Gusto (Epitaph): Guttermouth is about as funny as any random guy wearing a tank top and baseball cap who just downed a 12-pack. Reflecting all the worst frat-nitwit aspects of the Orange County punk scene, Guttermouth manages to make the Bloodhound Gang sound like Beethoven.

5. Coal Chamber, Dark Days (Roadrunner): This sort of extreme music for extremely pierced mall rats needs to be killed off for good, perhaps run over by an SUV in a mall parking lot. Oh, the anguish, the alienation of growing up in the suburbs. Mom won't buy the kids their favorite breakfast cereal, so they tattoo themselves and wear dark eye makeup in protest.

6. Andrew W.K., I Get Wet (Island): This type of numbskull rock makes AC/DC seem like brain surgeons and Twisted Sister like rocket scientists. Song titles include "Party Hard," "It's Time to Party" and "Party 'Til You Puke." The musical equivalent of generic beer, Andrew W.K's caveman appeal woos weightlifters, spandex-wearers and ex-members of Anthrax.

7. Guided by Voices, Universal Truths and Cycles (Matador): Universal Truths and Cycles? Why would anyone name an album that? This has got to be the Frogs imitating some group of pretentious, art-school wankers, no? Is the singer really English, or does he just sing that way to meet women? Will indie/emo rock kids fall for anything? The answer is yes.

8. Voodoo Glow Skulls, Steady as She Goes (Victory): With rare exceptions (Operation Ivy, Citizen Fish) ska and punk have made an icky mix, affording an excuse for jocks to arrive in force at gigs and beat people up. Providing a perfect soundtrack for slam-pit thuggery are the Voodoo Glow Skulls, a group of bros who play superfast as the singer yelps in a nasal voice only a mother could love.

9. Tiamat, Judas Christ (Century Media): Once a black/death metal band from Sweden and then a goth metal band when it hit its stride, Tiamat is now just hokey, singing about love and astrology. And Judas Christ is an incredibly slow, overproduced album with lyrics that will make some of the band's most ardent fans wince. Nobody wants to hear goths sing about snugly bunnies, but Tiamat rhymes that with "hug me honey" on the hideous "Love Is as Good as Soma." Yuck!

10. Various Artists, Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile (Shady/Interscope): Since when did selling millions of records mean a rapper like Eminem could buy credibility from groveling music critics? Has it always been that way? Of course, if they'll fall for doodoo like Pearl Jam, why not Eminem? This soundtrack includes the melodramatic, masturbatory Eminem hit "Lose Yourself"; a trite, sleep-inducing song from Macy Gray; and a far worse one by Nas.

In case you were wondering, here are Adam's best 10 for the year:

1. Arch Enemy, Wages of Sin (Century Media)

2. MC Paul Barman, Paullelujah! (Coup d'Etat)

3. Tender Trap, Film Molecules (K)

4. Cee-lo, Cee-lo Green and His Imperfections (Arista)

5. . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Source Tags & Codes (Interscope)

6. Stereo Total, Musique Automatique (Kill Rock Stars)

7. Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf (Interscope)

8. The Queers, Pleasant Screams (Lookout!)

9. They Might Be Giants, No! (Idlewild/Rounder)

10. Original Sinners, Original Sinners (Nitro)

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