Midnight Organ Fight - Frightened Rabbit
I am pretty sure that I will never get sick of this album. I am still picking up on new sounds every time I listen. I read a review when this album first came out that said something about how good the backing vocals were, and I think the last time I listened to this album I finally heard what that reviewer was talking about. The reason that I hadn't heard it before was because I thought some of the vocals were synths! Maybe that speaks more to my ear than it does the production, but I keep being moved by how delicate and complete these recordings seem.
This is a lyrically dark album, to be sure, but the music is almost always hopeful, swelling, or triumphant, which is, to me, quite attractively existentialist: we know that death is the end of us, that all things are meaningless, but the fact that we have resolved to make art means that we move in spite of death. The song "Heads Roll Off" (I posted the video here) is just about the best existentialist rock song I've ever heard ("It's not morbid talk, just that nature's had enough of you").
Thank you, Frightened Rabbit, for bringing despair back to the mainstream.
Total 'Album of the Year'.
The Airing of Grievances - Titus Andronicus
My good friend Curt said it best when he said, "Bruce Springsteen meets Desaparecidos."
I felt a bit displaced listening to this album with all its youthful angst and punkish ambition, but I'd be flat out lying if I said this wasn't one of the most inspiring albums I've heard in a long time. I sort of felt the same way about Defiance, Ohio's The Great Depression last year, but Titus Andronicus is less snarky and more sentimental (or perhaps just more introspective, and thus more self-effacing), and in spite of myself, I think that I will probably always prefer the latter.
Low-fi recording, long guitar rock-outs with hella-riffs, and codas like "Your life is over"--I am so fucking emo . . .
Matador Singles '08 - Jay Reatard
I purchased this album just about a week ago, under very sad circumstances. Atomic Records, indie record store staple of Milwaukee for the last 24 years, is closing in February. I bought the last copy of this cd that they will ever sell. Upon realizing this, the store manager, who sold me the cd, gave me the card that represents the cd in the store (the kind that lots of record stores use this to save space). I felt sad.
But the music made me happy. Jay Reatard is a tough guy who makes rough recordings, but just like in Stephin Merritt's work, I always sense a bit of sincerity behind Jay's grave or assholish humor. Am I crazy to say that Merritt and Reatard have a lot in common as songwriters?
Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust - Sigur Rós
For people who were wondering whether Sigur Rós could pull off shorter, poppier stylings, feast your ears on this.
Sigur Rós is beautiful without ever being trite (perhaps it's hard to be trite singing in a made-up language; though some might say it's quite pretentious). The English translation of the album title is "With Buzzing in Our Ears We Play Endlessly." If my life was dictated by the movements of a Sigur Rós album, I would be the most beautiful person in the world. I would smash the face of the world with love.
We Brave Bee Stings and All - Thao & The Get Down, Stay Down
At first I was going to say "token Asian female vocalist" but I know that this is just an awesome folky album.
Hat tip to my friend Alex Stegeman for the suggestion lo those many months ago . . .
Next Year in Zion - Herman Düne
Who likes French crooners? I do!
Herman Düne frontman David-Ivar Herman Dune (aka Yayajoni) does some sweet covers of tracks from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, not to mention songs by Ice Cube, The Moldy Peaches, etc. You can probably find them by doing blog searches.
Because my first exposure to these guys was the home recordings and YouTube videos, this studio album kind of disappointed me with its crispy production. But the songs on Next Year in Zion are funny and dark and sweet, perhaps in part because of the French accent in which they are sung. The 1-2-3 / Apple Tree EP (2008) provides a nice middle ground between the lo-fi stuff and the newer full-length.
I posted a video here, and included a track each from the album and EP and Yaya's cover of "Today Was a Good Day" in the playlist below.
Rip It Off - Times New Viking
Short, crunchy nuggets of audio gold. Buy the vinyl if you can.
Little Wars - Unwed Sailor
For some reason, this band is not on All Music Guide. An underrated instrumental effort.
Hold On Now, Youngster - Los Campesinos!
Twee punk? Whatever it is, if fucking rocks my eyeballs loose.
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
I imagine that one day I will return to this album and really appreciate it again, but for now, it's a bit played out. I've heard Paul Simon is a jerk.
Alopecia - WHY?
Seeing them at the Jackpot in Lawrence was a blast. Giving hope to all kinds of word nerds everywhere.
Street Horrrsing - Fuck Buttons
I don't know what to say about 'electro' stuff. It's pretty good.
Visiter - The Dodos
I think I just like the song "Fools" but the 'organic' drumming is a plus in my ears.