Sunday, January 09, 2011

The End of Year Review II: Music 2010

Thank you, Amazon.

Once again, I am a victim to Amazon.com.  Deals of $3.99 MP3 albums, and $5.00 album selections monthly, made me grateful that I could buy music that I never got to buy, sample things I wanted to try, and get some fantastic albums on the "cheap".  Unfortunately, "on the cheap" translates to "too much money spent in the long run".

I could not possibly review every single album I bought this year.  Some I did not listen to in full or properly (or remember?) and some are very old and I will not put them on this list but as with previous years, I will stipulate that this 2010 Review List will comprise albums that were not released in 2010 but ones I did purchase this year having just missed the 2009 window.

9. Ok Go - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

H1 made a very interesting observation the other day when she heard "White Knuckles" for the first time.  "Why does this sound like Prince?", she asked.  I had not heard that when I listened before she said it.  What the hell was going on here?

Nothing, really.  Ok Go has always had this sort of 1980s sound to them.  Fun, with a bit of a throw back to that decade.  I like it.

I re-listened to "Oh No" to figure out if maybe I was too involved in liking a crappy band back in 2005.  I'd say no.  I still really enjoy the tracks from "Oh No" but what about "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky"?

Ok Go maintain some of their fun nature but sometimes...sometimes, they have me wondering why so cacophonous and the album as a whole very uneven.  These particular songs are interesting in parts musically but Daniel Kulash sings a lot of the songs the same way.  Sadly, that makes for the album being mostly forgettable save a few stand out tracks.


Songs Worth Listening to: "Skyscrapers", "I Want You So Bad I Can't Breathe", "White Knuckles"

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 = 6.  It's a tie: "Skyscrapers" vs. "White Knuckles".

Album Cover Review: "D".  That was retro but not very appealing.

8. Spoon - Transference

It may have taken me years but I think I finally got H1 to like Spoon, or at least recognize their coolness.  And they are pretty damned cool.  They continue to make music for themselves and if you're fortunate enough to be on the Spoon train, you're probably pretty cool yourself.  That's not a shout out to myself but an honest feeling.   

That said, Transference may not be the best damned album this year and truthfully, I can say that I have not fully loved any Spoon album I've managed to get my hands on (and thanks to Amazon, I got many for my collection this year).  As far as Spoon albums go (and ones that I have), this is not the greatest.  But what the eff do Britt Daniel and Spoon care? And for that matter, why do I? I'm very happy that I now own some of the best songs ever, that graced this album.  I am happy to hear Britt with his raspy, quirky vocals.

"Cool".  It's the only word I can use to describe this man.

Songs Worth Listening to: "I Saw the Light", "Written in Reverse", "Before Destruction"

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 < 6.  It's a pretty close race, actually but I'm going to go with "I Saw the Light".

Album Cover Review: "A-".  There's so much off about it but it's also so raw in a way.  I really like this one.

7. Vampire Weekend - Contra

I've said my bit on Vampire Weekend.  I cannot stand behind hipsters which is exactly what they are.  I tried very hard to listen with an open mind.  I found that getting past the grating voice of the lead singer, there were some songs on here that were not so painful to my ears and dare I say, good (okay, that cut me deep to say). 

Being a sucker for pain, and impartiality in my reviews, I gave their first effort a spin.  I'd be lying if I said I could not see some appeal but it's still not enough for me to give either album any sort of heavy rotation.

Contra is certainly not the worst thing I have heard.  I am still unconvinced that this is the best band since Wonder Bread.  I find them pretentious and having seen them live, I find they're more appealing on stage than recorded and cleaned up.

Still, there's an inkling of fun there on some of the tracks.  Just do not expect me to be singing their praises to the highest decree any time soon and attending their shows paid with by my own money or of my free will.


Songs Worth Listening to (Contra): "White Sky", "Taxi Cab", "Diplomat's Son" and "Giving Up the Gun".

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 > 6.  A winner is H1 with "Taxi Cab" vs. my "Run".

Album Cover Review: "F" I hate it.

6. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Sometimes, I miss things.  Often times, I miss things, I'd say.  This is partially due to my stubbornness, my lack of interest or in this case, my lack of television viewing.

Last year, when everyone was bopping their head to some Phoenix song they had heard on some car commercial, my head was probably buried in some video game or watching some Anime.

If not for TD5, I'd not have a lot of things.  Sometimes he fails me, as I am sure I fail him.  We differ on musical taste sometimes, and other times, we're right there with each other.

It may take me some time to get on the same page with him if it's going to happen (because sometimes, I really wonder what he's thinking...haha.  The same can be said of me!) but once there, I appreciate what he does for me. 

His introducing me to Phoenix has been a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, I want to defend myself from liking this band by claiming that "Hipsters ruin everything by taking good music and claiming it as their own!" as such is the case with Phoenix.  Are they really hipsters? Remember that I cannot stand behind hipsters but one thing is for sure, there are probably a ton of hipsters out there who have probably already hailed Phoenix as their favourite 'discovery' and scoffed at all for not knowing them and already discarded the band for something else (whatever that is, I don't care to know).

On the other hand, who can deny that the songs on this album are just so easy to enjoy? There's something very catchy in the drawls of the lead singer's vocals coupled with the very catchy accompanying music.  The album would be higher if I could listen to it in its entirety, and if I could get past the fact that I recognize the formula: a lot of repetition of certain words in the lyrics of every song.  It gets boring after a while but for those songs that get into your head and won't leave - that's the Power of Phoenix.  Good luck getting away from those danceable, sing-along tracks.

Songs Worth Listening to: "Lisztomania" (I shudder to think how many times I listened to this blasted song), "Armistice" , "Lasso", "1901"

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 < 6.  A Winner is Me with "Lasso" over "Love Like a Sunset Part II"

Album Cover Review: "C" Meh.

5.  Interpol - Interpol

Recently, I have been so engrossed in listening to "Success" that I can't tell you what the rest of the album sounds like.  My initial impression was that the first half was good, and I couldn't get past that.  I definitely remember disliking the last two songs.  A lot.  It's in no way a bad album but it's not "wow" amazing either.  Interpol tried something new and sampled a little bit with different style while remaining Interpol at the heart of it.  The album is really heavy on the bass, which saddens me as this is Carlos D.'s last venture with the band - the bass really shines on these tracks and it's just a sad reminder of the greatness that is gone.

I was upset when he left but as someone said to me, "he's just a bassist...easily replaceable."  I must disagree.  It'll be interesting (?) to hear the next album by Interpol without him - a potential disaster? We'll have to wait and see...

Songs Worth Listening to: "Success", "Summer Well", "Try it On"

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 > 6.  A winner is H1 with "Barricade" over "Always Malaise (The Man I am)"

Album Cover Review: "B".  A broken up word "Interpol" and a "broken up" band?  So sadly fitting and depressing.

4.  Menomena - Mines

Who knew Menomena had a new album this year?! No one told me! I found it by accident and was happy.  I loved their previous "Friend and Foe" and expected much.  At first though, I was wondering where my weird little band got to.  The music was tighter and definitely heavy on the rocking guitars, more coherent and catchier.  I was waiting for that one unconventional track to kick in when it happened - they do strange fantastically.  Then I listened to the rest of the album in full and realized they never really strayed too far.

The vocalist I like is absent as lead on some of the songs and its his songs sung that I gravitate to the most from this album, leaving about 2 or 3 songs of the 11 that I have a hard time liking.  .  All in all, I'm pleased with this album and will be listening to it a lot in the future.

Songs Worth Listening to: "Five Little Rooms", "Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy", "Taos", "Queen Black Acid" and "Tithe".

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 > 6.  H1 wins this round with "Tithe" over "Bote"

Album Cover Review: "B" Is that a real thing hanging out in the forests of Oregon? I will have to research.  It certainly is freaky.  Weeping Angel like! Doctor Who nightmares I will be having.



4.  Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Original Soundtrack and Original Score

It's not often I make it to the movies and these days, it's not often I feel inclined to go to a store and buy a c.d. much less a movie's soundtrack.  After seeing Scott Pilgrim though, I knew I had to get thee to a record store! Such things do not exist anymore though, do they? Okay okay, so they do but why go through the hassle when I could buy everything off Amazon? Ugh.  See the trend by now? See it?!?!


Anyway, there's so much to love about Scott Pilgrim if you're a nerd like me.  And hey, even if you're not a nerd like me, you could still appreciate the movie! And if you couldn't appreciate the movie, could you at least appreciate the motion picture soundtrack? Yes.  Yes you could.  There are classic rock tunes, punk songs, songs about garbage trucks, songs by Crash and the Boys featuring that "one girl who's a boy too", and the best fake band around named Sex Bob-Omb.  Could you ask for more?

If you're a nerd such as I, you could easily appreciate the Scott Pilgrim Original Score.  They're a great collection of songs that are artfully crafted to suit every scene and every character - a walk in the snow, a multitude of video game fight scenes, a bass battle, Ninja Ninja Revolution (oh how I long to play this frickin' ridiculous farce of a game), and a Bollywood influenced track of greatness.  Come now, need I carry on? Fine.  If you needed just that one more incentive to run out and see the movie if just for the music, then know that Nigel Godrich created the music for the score.

Songs Worth Listening to (from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): "Black Sheep" by Metric, "It's Getting Boring by the Sea" by Blood Red Shoes, "Threshold (8 Bit)" by Brian LeBarton, "We Hate You Please Die" by Crash and the Boys, "We Are Sex Bob-omb" and "Threshold" by Sex Bob-Omb

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 < 6.  A winner is Or 2 with "I am Sad, So Very, Very Sad" over "O Katrina!"

Songs Worth Listening to (from the Original Score): "Slick (Patel's Song)" by Dan The Automator and Bryan Lee O'Malley, "Katayanagi Twins vs. Sex Bob-omb" by Beck and Cornelius, "Bass Battle", "Fight!", "Ninja Ninja Revolution" by Dan The Automator, "The Vegan" and "Boss Battle".

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 < 6.  A winner is me with "Talk to the Fist" over "Love Me Some Walking"

Album Cover Review: "A".  They're the same on both save the change in colour.  I love them.  They've got Michael Cera.  And just a coolness about them.  I quickly glossed over my love for Michael Cera because it was probably the right thing to do.

3. Broken Bells - Broken Bells

I wanted to like this album more.  I felt as though I should have liked it more than I did.  With the talents of Danger Mouse and James Mercer (of The Shins, a band I enjoy), I felt like there was something wrong with me for being so blah about it.  As you see, it still made number 3 on my spot, and that's due to the fact that in truth, it is a good album.  However, it's one that does not stick in my brain.  I could stare the track titles all day and not remember what each song sounds like until I actually listen.  The album is great while it plays - catchy and sometimes haunting, with a touch of weirdness in sounds that just don't quite fit together but sound good all the same - but when I'm away from it, I do not crave hearing the songs.

H1 vs Or 2: 5 > 6.  A winner is H1 with "Sailing to Nowhere" over "Trap Doors"

Songs Worth Listening to: "October", "The High Road", "Mongrel Heart", "Sailing to Nowhere"

Album Cover Review: Exactly what is it? Don't know but it's kinda ugly.

2.  Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures

Again I must mention my love/hate relationship with Josh Homme... every single time he puts something out there and I am afforded a listen, I MUST complain.

This time around for this album which I got for $3.99 (Amazon...ugh), I can say the relationship is leaning heavy on the love side.  Quite heavily in fact and as much as I would like to be a scornful bitch, I cannot, due to the fact that it was on heavy rotation for me.  Songs I thought I hated were no longer on that list as I listened through again, and overall I just found myself loving near the whole blasted thing.  The album is alternative rock - non-whiny, hard rock vocals; good heavy guitars; fantastic bass and shining drumming.  Did I expect less though, really?

I may be inclined to give credit to Dave Grohl's and John Paul Jones' contributions on the album as the reason for greatness but that's just my being an arse.  I suppose Homme made it great too...

Songs Worth Listening to: "Bandoliers", "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I", "Reptiles", "Dead End Friends", "Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up"

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 < 6. A winner is me with "Scumbag Blues" over "Elephant"

Album Cover Review: "D".  Them Crooked Vultures are just ugly, sorry.

1.  Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

Wary of the number of collaborations Damon Albarn boasted on the album before its release, I listened with excitement but mostly with bated breath.  I started 2010 on a huge Gorillaz kick having just finished my End of Decade Review and having re-discovered the awesomeness of Demon Days.  I was very much looking forward to Plastic Beach and found that it was a welcome effort.  It was no Demon Days for me, but quite good nonetheless.  The artists were indeed plentiful and initially I really missed my fake little band, i.e. I missed more vocals by Damon Albarn.  I missed hearing 2D!  "They" (cartoon band Gorillaz) felt absent on the majority of the songs.  I realize what I love most about Gorillaz' tracks are the heavy use of technology sounding sounds with little blips and beeps amongst the synthesizers, beats and funk.

Still, with a concert under my belt, and really just a fantastic eclectic mix of songs, Plastic Beach gains number 1 for me in 2010.

I was introduced to new artists, marveled at legendary artists and found Albarn's gift of mixing and blending styles of music together to be nothing short of brilliant.  Not just the guest vocalists were the talents but Albarn infused brass bands, an orchestra and middle eastern sounds into the fray and created something wonderful, varied, catchy and of serious musical depth in one very together, very ambitious album.

Albarn himself on his vocals were melancholy, meaningful and dreamy.

There was not much for me to hate here except perhaps Snoop's track which I felt to be the weakest of the lot.

Songs Worth Listening to: Did I not just say the entire thing? But if I MUST choose some, then go with these "Some Kind of Nature" featuring Lou Reed, "Sweepstakes" featuring Mos Def, "Rhinestone Eyes", "To Binge" featuring Little Dragon, "Intro" featuring Sinfonia VIVA and "White Flag" featuring Bashy and Kano

H1 vs Or 2 = 5 < 6. A winner is me with "Superfast Jellyfish" featuring De La Soul and Gruff Rhys over "Stylo" featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def. 

Albums I Chose to Not Place in a numbered spot:

"High Violet" by The National.  I had a hard time getting into this album.  I will have to really sit and listen some more before I pass any, if any, harsh judgments.

"Champ" by Tokyo Police Club - much of the same from their last entry.  I like some of them a lot but they did not stick in my brain for the most part.  Whether that makes them forgettable I am not sure.  I do not want to pass judgment like that.

"Fantasies" by Metric - I like this one.  TD5 thought it dark and I agree with that assessment.  There's nothing wrong with dark for me but I'm not sure how this album manages to be dark and tragically sound like it came from the 90s alternative pop scene even though it was released only 2 years ago.  There are some pretty decent songs on this one though.  "Twilight Galaxy", "Gold Gun Girls" and "Satellite Mind" come to mind.

"Night Train" EP by Keane.  It's basically not...really "reviewable".  What a mess that was.

"The Fall" by Gorillaz.  I only got this on Christmas day and haven't had time to listen.  It might make this year's review or maybe I'll just speak on it briefly right now from my initial impressions.  It's what I expected.  It was created on the road and mainly through a bunch of apps from the Ipad.  It's raw, mostly instrumental and not bad.  I really enjoy "Revolving Doors".

"Thirteenth Step" by A Perfect Circle.  I didn't listen yet.  Liked what I heard from track 1 though but of course I did.

"Gimme Fiction" by Spoon.  This is a stellar album.  I owned a few tracks before but when Amazon had it on sale for $5.00 one day, I jumped on this and their others.  It really is just quite likeable and a solid collection of intelligent songs.  Great band, and a great album that I am proud to own.  Songs of Note: "The Infinite Pet", "The Beast and Dragon, Adored", and "I Summon You".

"Up From Below" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  Unfortunately, other than it's very awesome name, this band is one I really cannot get into.  Let me just say it now loud and clear: I cannot get behind hippies! These are some serious hippies.  Seriously serious hippies.  Why do I have it? I heard one song by them I really liked and someone gave me a chance to listen to the whole thing.  No.  Other than "Home", I cannot back this album.  Really though, listen to "Home".  It sounds like it could come off a weird Tarantino soundtrack.

"Grace" by Jeff Buckley.  I haven't listened yet.  Don't judge me!

The Beatles Collection.  The only damned reason I am not numbering this on my list is that The Beatles do not deserve to numbered in some stupid little list of mine.  Growing up, I had various of their greatest hits but never had the full anthology.  I got the re-mastered collection for Christmas in 2009, and have taken the time to really go through these albums.  It has been a freaking joy doing so.  Everyone knows them or at least, everyone SHOULD.  Too many times I have seen people talk about how The Beatles are overrated but those people are just saying things to say things to get a negative reaction and attention.

The Beatles and these albums are so revolutionary it's just amazing.  No words of mine can describe aptly just how important this band is and will forever be.

That's not to say they are all golden because there are some really horrid songs present but as an overall experience, there's just nothing bad here.

Honourable Video Game Music Soundtrack Mention:

No More Heroes series.  The first by Masafumi Takada and the second game composer by Akira Yamaoka.

And that's that! The End of Reviews for Music for 2010.  Phew.  Thank goodness for me.  I cannot believe I started compiling this crap since October of last year, only just now finished and this is what I have to show for it.

Maybe I won't listen to music this year!

2 comments:

  1. Well, it seems to me that I lost the 5 vs. 6 song showdowns. Pfft. Interestingly enough, I pretty much thumbs down all the Vampire Weekend songs that come up from that album on Pandora. I just see the album cover and I see red. I must have thumbs downed "Run" on every single account multiple times. I even think I finally thumbs downed "Taxi Cab." Har.

    The blog says Nattai. Not you, Bloggie? Not you what? not you who lost the song showdown? Not you loving VW either? Make yourself clear, please.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, VW are rather annoying for the most part. If they get rid of the lead singer, things might be better for them!

    For a while there, I thought you were winning the war as per usual.

    Uh, not sure what sort of rudeness is this but the blog has this to say:

    "tushrou"

    ReplyDelete

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