Music comma lots of.
Okay, so I know I said I’d try to round things out a little from just writing about music, and I will. Further, I know that if you read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ll have heard a ton about some of the bands I’m going to mention below. But there’s a reason, trust me.
See, in much of the same way that the list of Oscar nominees brings out those people that want to check out the films that are up for awards, yearly “Best Of” lists make me take a retroactive, research-like look at the bands and albums that made other people’s years.
So for the past month and then some, I’ve been acquiring and checking out different bands and albums that have made an impact on people’s lives, shot to the top of the lists in terms of acclaim, and so forth. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of some of those discs now, in no particular order.
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water
While Fire doesn’t exactly stretch the imagination in terms of what an screamo-rock outfit are capable of, it still rings out as a creative and catchy offering. The Water disc, however, was both unexpected and brilliant. Unlike anything I’ve ever heard from a harder core like Thrice, it marries the concept in ways words simply can’t describe.
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Just fantastic, a really creative effort that translates well live; not only had I found a site offering a full live concert, I remember seeing them on SNL not too long ago. This album is brilliant, and each song unique and as valuable as the last.
|The Spill Canvas
No Really, I’m Fine
I very much enjoy this disc – I’ve been aware of this band for awhile, but mostly unimpressed due to the fact that the band’s catalogue seemed mostly and lamentably locked within an unfortunate mid-tempo limbo, relying a little too heavily on lyrical prowess and intensity. On this latest effort, the band aren’t afraid to push the boundaries some, play with some new rhythms and go sonically to places they seemed too afraid to tread before.
I’m no fan at all of Feist, I can’t lie. But based on the strength of a few songs I’d heard over the course of the year, I did sit down and give it a listen, and I have to admit that it’s simply brilliant. The whole record is absolutely genius, and very well woven together. It creates an atmosphere that is both harmonious and pleasant, and is just aurally delightful.
Again, I’m no real fan of Radiohead… at least, the Radiohead we’ve seen following the wave of success that “OK Computer” rode on. But I feel that with this new album, the band are sort of returning to a form we haven’t seen since the late 90s. True, their songs still feel very avant-garde to me, in ways that make me feel musically small and feeble, but the brilliance therein is more than obvious, and the album is more than listenable.
|Iron & Wine
Though I had heard the odd track on a Zach Braff soundtrack or two, I hadn’t really come to notice Iron & Wine (or more specifically, artist Sam Beam) until this past year. I got a copy of this record from an insistent friend who spoke very highly of the music, and I have to say that he was correct in every way – the atmosphere and tones laid out on this record are unparalleled, and the deceptive simple/difficult guitar melodies cutting throughout are feverish. Also, lyrically, this album is crafty and clever, and should not be missed.
Though James Morrison doesn’t exactly have a style all his own – that soulful acoustic sound has been around for ages – he does marry it well with one of his unassuming gifts: a voice like an ancient soul singer. Reviews I read about the album stating that it lacked true feeling despite the Briton’s incredible voice were mistaken, I feel. Though he doesn’t belt everything out like a modern day Janis Joplin, James Morrison delivers every word with a true compassion.
|All Time Low
So Wrong, It’s Right
There isn’t a whole lot that can be said for this album, outside of the fact that it’s a very solid effort that I predict will reside on my iPod for some time. It reminisces of Cork Tree-era Fall Out Boy; catchy and quirky, the songs are alternately average and stellar. The tunes that impress do so with a masterful songcraftsmanship, the rest are fun at least.
Life In Cartoon Motion
This was a total impulse; not exactly my cup of tea, I will say that this record makes incredible fare if like me you have a four year old daughter who loves to dance like a maniac with you. The vocals are impressive, I haven’t noticed to much specific beyond that.
That about covers it for me of late, though I admit there’s more yet to be heard. Keep in mind that these are simply records culled from the blogs and magazines touting the kings of the past year. I’ve obviously written about much more music in the last twelve months (ahem, The Junior Varsity, Boys Night Out, Paramore), but didn’t feel I should include them here.
For reference, a few other great discs of the year that I would wholly recommend (that I discovered on my own) would include the latest works of The Junior Varsity (Rip), Boys Night Out, Silverchair, Daft Punk, Common, and City And Colour. I’m undoubtedly forgetting a few.