FU MANCHU, King of the Road (Mammoth)
Whatever the chemical imbalance is that causes the sickest new school skiers to invert in the halfpipe, the same stuff plagues the songwriting and performance of Fu Manchu. King of the Road is the band's seventh album, and it's got so much low-register grit and adrenaline that if you play it too loud, you can feel it shaking around in your guts. The fast-and-mean-as-hell attitude this band cops is exactly what it takes to succeed in competitive freeskiing; they've even got a song called "Hotdoggin'."
JUGHEAD'S REVENGE, Pearly Gates (Nitro)
Much of the music associated with the pipe-and-park scene has simply migrated there from the long-thriving underworld of power-chord skate punk. Jughead's Revenge are a current staple of the genre, playing it fast and clean like their legendary forbearers, the Descendents. Interestingly sprinkled with literary song titles ("Faust Part 2"), surf rock ("Swell"), and Ric Ocasekisms ("Just What I Needed"), Pearly Gates is California hardcore as bright and perfect as the halfpipe dreams ricocheting between the ears of untold thousands of high schoolers.
PRIMER 55, Introduction to Mayhem (Island/Def Jam)
Never mind for a moment that the thrash-metal-meets-hip-hop concept has been beaten to a bloody pulp over the past two years (thank you, Limp Bizkit). The stuff is both enraging and listenable in a way that old-school metal never was¿an excellent stimulant for courting bodily injury. As played by this new Memphis quartet, it's also undeniably funky; something in the chemistry of this rhythm section gives songs like "G's" and "The Big F--k You" a vital bounce. The operative concept here, however, is violence.
Best album for keeping the creative juices flowingin the terrain park:
PARLIAMENT, Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
Best extended jam for drinking a beer on the deck in the sun:
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, "Mountain Jam"
NOFX, "The Decline"
Best album for switching from ski boots and hat head to suede shoes and hair gel:
FRANK SINATRA, That's Life
VARIOUS, Organ-ized: An All-Star Tribute to the Hammond B3 Organ