Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Top 25 Albums of 2010

                              25. Sleigh Bells - Treats
Sleigh Bells take indie pop to a whole new level. This album is pure upbeat lo-fi pop with a hint of hip hop rhythm. I highly recommend jamming out to this in the car with the windows down on a warm summer's night.

24. of Montreal - False Priest
If anyone knows how to have a good time, it's of Montreal. "False Priest" is filled with psychedelic dance beats and a whole array of sexual innuendos, thanks to the humor of Kevin Barnes. Solange Knowles and Janelle Mona are guest vocalists in this album, making it one of this band's finest works yet.

23. Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard

With its beautiful instrumentation and string instruments, "The Orchard" captivates its audience. This album is absolutely incredible to listen to when driving around with friends whilst passing through gorgeous scenery.

22. The New Pornographers - Together 

The New Pornographers never disappoint. This Canadian indie-rock group delivers catchy lyrics and vibrant melodies. This album is a grower. Right away I enjoyed it, but I seem to enjoy it more and more with each listen. 

21. MGMT - Congratulations

When I first heard "Congratulations", I thought to myself 'wow, these guys must have tripped on acid while recording this record.' "Siberian Breaks" was apparently based off of an acid trip Andrew VanWyngarden had while surfing. The whole album reminds me of the Beach Boys blended with some crazy electronic beats, but is unlike anything MGMT has done before. This LP was definitely inspired by the 60's, and that is totally not a bad thing.

20. Citay - Dream Get Together

Citay takes Led Zeppelin-esque guitar riffs and mixes them with dreamy psychedelic pop. This album sounds like it could have been made in the 1970's, but is wonderful nonetheless. This is a record to lose yourself in.

19. Past Lives - Tapestry of Webs

With obvious shoegaze influence, "Tapestry of Webs" is Past Lives's best work yet. It combines experimental rock with post-hardcore and consists of smooth hooks and riffs. This LP is quite unlike Jordan Blilie's work with The Blood Brothers. The unusual hyper chaos of TBB is not as evident in Past Lives; it's more subtle. Don't let it fool you though-this is still a solid record.

18. Interpol - Self Titled

Interpol's latest album is layered in intricate beauty. I'll admit, I was not impressed upon my first listen. This is a real grower, but once you give it more chances it stands out as one of 2010's greatest. 

17. Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring

This Welsh indie-rock band has matured and developed into outstanding musicians. Gareth's lyrics are as innovative as ever. This band keeps it fresh without being too pretentious and continues to impress me every time.

16. The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers

The Album Leaf's partially instrumental (Jimmy LaValle does vocals for some tracks) "A Chorus of Storytellers" is just like the title implies. You literally feel like you are being taken to a whole new place, as the imagery of stories sometimes makes us feel. Overall, it's one hell of a record and I would suggest listening to it when wanting to just space out with the music. It's a very dreamy album. 

15. Daft Punk - Tron: Legacy OST

I know, I know. This is clearly NOT just a new Daft Punk record, but the soundtrack for Disney's new movie. Nonetheless, it is fantastic in every way. Dramatic and upbeat, I'm almost certain that it immensely adds to the climax of the movie (although, I haven't seen it). Just listening to it makes me feel like I'm in some awesome fantasy land in the middle of a raging battle. Listen to it yourself and find out. 

14. Tunng - ...And Then We Saw Land

Associated with the genre "folktronica", this band is some of the best music I have ever heard. Each lyric is gorgeous and I especially love how original their sound is. They incorporate multiple instruments (including the banjo, mandolin, etc.) and create extraordinary tunes. I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys folk music, but keep in mind Tunng takes folk to a whole new level.

13. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

James Murphy knows how to make the best dance-punk out there. The tracks are a bit lengthy, but that is merely because it's a dance record. Each song makes you want to get off your ass and get  down. Seriously. 

12. Tokyo Police Club - Champ

"Champ" is the epitome of my summer soundtrack. It is catchy in every sense of the word, not to mention Dave Monks has a sexy voice. I don't know what else to say about this album other than it's phenomenal. What are you waiting for? Check it out, man!

11. Beach House - Teen Dream

This record is pure dream pop goodness. It's soothing to listen and drift off to. The atmosphere of this album is unlike anything I've ever heard before. Truly and utterly wonderful beyond words.

10. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

This album is unlike anything Sufjan has done before, and I love it. At first, I didn't like it all that much. I was disappointed that he changed his sound to electronic and drifted away from his precious banjo, but when I pushed those feelings aside and actually listened hard I realized how brilliant he still is. The instrumentation in this record makes me feel like I'm in a Disney movie and the lyrics are still astounding. Don't be alarmed by Sufjan's distinct change in sound; he knows what the hell he is doing, and he's not fucking around.

9. Wolf Parade - Expo 86

Words cannot describe how much I love this band and Spencer Krug's unique voice. I feel like this group can do no wrong! Every album they have put out has been fantastic! I'm at a loss of words for how good this is. You'll just have to find out for yourself.

8. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Let it Sway

Produced by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, "Let it Sway" is the definition of a solid indie rock album. These musicians have indeed matured and developed their sound into catchy masterpieces.

7. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

"Plastic Beach" is one hell of a record. It smoothly blends the genres of hip hop, electronic, rock, and even some Arabic music. It's everything I expected from them and more. Totally the album I would blast at a party or would bump in the car. A bass boosting album for sure, one that you should listen to as loudly as possible.

6. Stars - The Five Ghosts

I'm convinced that Canadian artists are pure geniuses at making good music. The newest Stars album is indie pop at its finest. The lyrics are light-hearted and humorous at times and then other times are much deeper. The music itself is uplifting and a real grower. I love it more and more by the minute. This just might just be the best pop album of 2010.

5. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise 

Anthony Green's vocals get better and better by the album it seems. "Blue Sky Noise" has a more polished sound to it. I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about that at first. My initial thoughts were along the lines of, 'this sounds so mainstream.' It's not that I hate mainstream music or anything. I just never thought of Circa as a mainstream band. However, they have signed to Atlantic, a major record label. Regardless, Circa still has what it takes. The raw emotion within this album is what stands out most of all. I think this is Anthony's most honest work-he even wrote a song about his wife's miscarriage. If you decide to listen to this, brace yourself. It's an emotional album, and that's what is so good about it.

4. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

This is, yet again, another band I was worried about. Their rising popularity made me think they would become a bunch of sell-outs and gradually lose all the significant elements I so love about them. They did not disappoint me though. I gave the record multiple chances and even read the lyrics along with it and began to fall in love with "The Suburbs" and its entirety. I particularly love the theme of being lost and not knowing where you belong. Arcade Fire knows how to paint this imagery so beautifully. 

3. Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Yeasayer is probably the catchiest music I've heard in a long time. It is very rare that I can listen to an album completely and thoroughly enjoy every single track on it. This is one of those rare gems, of course. It's got some great beats that make you want to dance, some hooks that take you back to the 80's, and an overall kickass sound. One of my all time favorites: timeless.

2. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

This record has to be one of the best ever made. Okay, I might be a bit biased because I'm a huge Titus fan, but the point's amazing. Patrick Stickles knows how to write crazy good songs and sings them with his voice that so accurately depicts the suffering he writes about. What may seem like a lenghty album actually seems shorter than it really is if you play as many times as I do. It's a magnificent concept album with incredible imagery, and I know it'll stick with me the rest of my life.

1. The National - High Violet

I wrote an album review about this before (check out my other blog posts), and I can honestly state that this is my favorite album of 2010.  "High Violet" is layered with such deep explosive passion. I have never heard anything like it before, and it blows me away every time. The National is basking in greatness, for this record is their best yet. 

It's been quite some time...

My sincere apologies for not posting any album reviews lately (not that anyone has noticed anyway). Being at college makes me feel as if my hands are tied and can no longer perform any kind of writing other than schoolwork-related. Shitty, I know. 

Anyhow, I decided that it's about time I get back into this since this is truly enjoyable for me. It's always great to spread the word of good music. I shall post a blog of my top 25 albums of 2010 and I may even do another album review in the next week or so. Either way, I'm getting pretty stoked about it and you should be too (because I need more viewers and fans out there haha). Whoever is reading this out there, I can't thank you enough! Stick around in the next week, and I'll definitely be posting something worthwhile! (:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: The National - High Violet

Upon my first listen, I was slightly skeptic. The lyrics of the opening track "Terrible Love" were a little bizarre: "It's a terrible love and I'm walking with spiders." Little did I know, this album grew on me like a plant in the summertime. Each track holds its own brilliance, and yet, I think it's pivotal to listen to this album as a whole and not just your favorite songs. Matt Berninger's deep baritone voice is simply beautiful as he sings such honest lyrics, "I'm afraid of everyone, I'm afraid of everyone. With my kid on my shoulders, I try not to hurt anybody I like. But I don't have the drugs to sort, I don't have the drugs to sort it out, sort it out" (Afraid of Everyone). Berninger claims he is a "confident liar" in the song "Coversation 16", but it seems to me like his lyrics couldn't be more truthful. 

As the album progresses, you start to hear each piece come together to make up a whole beautiful work of art. Like a puzzle, it's essential to hear each piece so that when put together, you have a prize outcome. The tracks "Sorrow" and "Anyone's Ghost" are haunting and leave the listener in suspense, waiting to hear what other good vibes the album has to offer. Though somewhat self destructive at times, Berninger's lyrics maintain a sense of self evaluation, but he doesn't always describe that sense in an obvious tone. By use of imagery and metaphors, he weaves a spiderweb of analytical self image and dark (and sometimes unlikely) fears. "I was afraid I'd eat your brains, 'cause I'm evil" (Conversation 16). He is reiterating the word "afraid"; fear appears to be a theme throughout this album. 

The first 5 tracks off the LP High Violet seem to build up to the gem "Bloodbuzz Ohio", which was also made into a well-done music video. Once you get to this part of the album, you experience such a subtle intensity that it immediately draws you in. If you thought the first 5 tracks were great, then you will be blown away by these next few masterpieces. "Lemonworld", a dark yet catchy tune, admits Berninger's painful truth, "You and your sister live in a Lemonworld. I wanna sit in and die." Although these words are depressing, the song itself is so upbeat that it's almost uplifting. The thing about The National is that Berninger can come up with some of the most clever but strangest lyrics, and they still have a significant effect because of his sincere baritone voice. Many National fans have commented on some of the mind-boggling lyrics of his, such as the ones from "Conversation 16" (as mentioned earlier), but many agree that if sung by anybody else it would just sound ridiculous. 

If High Violet doesn't sink in on your first listen, give it a few more spins and I can guarantee that you will witness the dark beauty it so flawlessly captures. This is one of the few masterpieces released this year, and I highly recommend checking it out. It never gets old; it's one of those albums that has so much it reveals that it remains timeless. Like an onion, it has numerous layers and each time you listen you get through a different layer. Once you get to the very core of its meaning, you can't turn back. You're sucked into a world of irrational fears, dark imagery, and honest truths, and yet, the music accompanies these sad and painful themes and turns them into something remarkable and gorgeous. 


Monday, August 2, 2010

My undying love for the music of a man named Conor Oberst

Hello, my name is Melanie. And as you can probably already tell, I'm new at this. This is my first ever blog. I randomly decided one day that I was going to create one of these so that I can ramble on about my favorite music without clogging the newsfeeds of my fellow Facebook friends. Anyway, what I particularly wanted to talk about was a certain talented man. This man is a skilled musician who has been in several phenomenal bands: Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Commander Venus, Monsters of Folk, and many more. I'm assuming that you already guessed who he is (and the title gives it away), Conor Oberst. What can I say? The man's a genius. If you haven't figured out why I love him so much then you should check out his work, it's really quite brilliant.

First of all, I've been listening to bands like Bright Eyes since my early years of high school and in all honesty, I hated Oberst's voice when I listened to the song, "Lover I Don't Have to Love". Now, that was back when I still listened to overproduced artists like Fall Out Boy and The All American Rejects so I shouldn't have been so quick to judge. What didn't I like about his voice? Well, all I can is say is take a good listen to any song he's ever made and you can easily tell why. His voice is unlike any other, it's shaky and not exactly in the right key at times. People often claim that he is a modern day Dylan and to me, this seems almost dead-on. One lyric that admits his trembly voice, "I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice, but failure's always sounded better" (from the song "Road to Joy"). Now if anyone is a failure than Conor is certainly far from it. However, I wholeheartedly agree with the point he is making. Just because you're a singer, it doesn't mean you have to have the ideal "perfect" voice. His voice sounds so sincere, so fragile, so...passionate. Many would argue that he doesn't have a radio friendly voice, but why does that even matter? It's unique and every soulful word he sings is close to being tangible to its listeners.

So go ahead, listen to a Bright Eyes record. This man is a lyrical genius and has helped me during the roughest times of my life. If you're wondering why he is my favorite artist of all time then stop wondering. It's obvious. Listen to "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" or "Lifted or the Story is in the Soil...Keep Your Ear to the Ground" and read the lyrics along with the music and THEN tell me you hate his music. Sure, his voice is an acquired taste, but just like I like my coffee black with no cream or sugar to hype the taste, I like some of my music. What we have here is one of the most honest singers and writers I've ever heard, who puts so much of himself in everything he does. And yet, he leaves it to his listeners to decide if his songs are paintings of his life or the lives of others, or perhaps both. Regardless, Conor Oberst sure does know how to paint a pretty picture with words and instruments.