Top 5 Albums of 2010

part 2 of 3

5. The Drums – The Drums

Out of Brooklyn comes my favorite new band of 2010. The Drums are upbeat and lively, this album was perfect summer fun. With key tracks such as “Let’s Go Surfing” and “I Need Fun in My Life” you get a sense of joy, as opposed so many of depressing songs coming out of the independent arena. This band has fun and they write fun and they make you feel fun. Catchy, musical, and awesome!

Listen to: “Let’s Go Surfing”, “I Need Fun in My Life”, “Me and the Moon”

4. The Social Network Soundtrack – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

With The Social Network being my favorite film of the year, it is no surprise I also loved the soundtrack. It is amazing because Trent Reznor has no history or credentials when it comes to film scores, and yet he blows me away. This soundtrack is simple while being highly complex at the same time. It flows so perfectly in and out of consciences thought, you feel like you are in a dorm room creating Facebook, you feel as though you speaking to attorneys, and you feel as though you have betrayed your best friend. Music is perhaps more connected to feeling then pictures, at least in this case I listen and I am transported to the environment of the film. I also feel is prophesizes the future and it has a post-modern quality that lets us know Facebook will always be around.

Listen to: “In Motion”, “Penetration”, “Magnetic”  

3. The Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens

Stevens’ first linear thought since Illinois, this was a return to songwriting and less experimental then his previous two releases. Like The Suburbs, it is mature and it is impressive to see where Sufjan Stevens has come to, with haunting vocals, simple melodies, complex chords. You need to listen more then once to actually understand that this album is his best yet, maybe not your favorite, but from beginning to end, his most complete.

Listen to: “Futile Devices”, “Now That I’m Older”, “Impossible Soul”

2. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

After 2005 there was a very high expectation for this little band from Canada, and I am one of the many who was sadly disappointed with their sophomore effort, Neon Bible. I was skeptical when listening to The Suburbs and it surpassed my concerns and came to be my favorite Arcade Fire album thus far. It is mature in its mixing and writing and epic in its vocals and production; you scream and hum in the same sitting. Like a blast to the ears, this album was an instant hit in my car and on my stereo.

Listen to: “City with No Children”, “We Used to Wait”, “Sprawl II”

 1. The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth

The Swedish folkster, Kristian Matsson, has come to write, perform, and record like the great folk heroes of the 1960s. This is one of the few albums this year that I listened to all the way through over and over again. What is it about European folk pop that makes it so much better? I really want to know, but Matsson is the best for right now. Other then Dylan and Bazan, I do not know of a more relevant folk writer for his time. His screeching vocals and his absolute soul is what brings you to believe this guy could actually break your heart with his music. A perfect album in all regards.

Listen to: “You’re Going Back”, “King of Spain”, “Love Is All”

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Top 5. It’s what you like, not what you are like.

One of my favorite films, and novels, is High Fidelity. In this story we have a record store owner who sits around with “the musical moron twins” and they rank their top 5 things, such as; records, side ones/track ones, movies, etc. I play this often with my friends and now I will be sharing it with you.

In the film the main character played by John Cusack says

“…I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth, and by this measure I was having one of the best dates of my life.”

Please feel free to disagree with my top 5 lists, I welcome yours as well.


Your Kids Are Gonna Love It

Who remembers Punk Rock? Everybody does. At some point in the late 90’s or early 00’s, pop culture had become saturated by it. It’s broken into so many sub-genres now I can’t even keep in track. Even though it had origins from before I was born, the genre has a rich history that I appreciate.

Bands like The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Clash inspired an entire generation of kids with perhaps little to no musical talent to pick up some cheap guitars and play power chords as fast and as loud as they could. A generation of garage bands making lo-fi recordings on cassettes and giving the middle finger to all forms of authority. Just thinking about all those people making loud, abrasive music that their parents had no chance at understanding and dressing to stand out and be different at all costs gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Well, as always, the more things change, the more they stay the same. If you’re on the internet as much as I am, you may have heard of the fairly new musical genre of Dubstep. I could be way off, but I see a lot of similarities between Dubstep and Punk. Like Punk, it started in the U.K. (Just for the sake of my argument, you dig?) and has an extremely loud and distorted sound that older people will find grating to their ears. (I must confess, I’ve found many Dubstep tracks exhausting to listen to). But, I’m the curious type; with a little patience, I am beginning to see the appeal.

Just imagine a bunch of people with samplers, synthesizers and recording equipment making music out of their garages, living rooms and kitchens. It’s not so different than people with guitars, drums and amps and holding a mic up to a speaker. The only difference is that we live in the future now. Instead of passing out cassettes at back-yard concerts, anybody anywhere can put their music on the internet and be heard. Also, I’ve even found that a lot of Dubstep music has some very anti-establishment vibes to it.

I know I’m late to the party on the popularity of this music. However, Dubstep influence is starting to creep into pop music. Like Punk before it, some are claiming it’s already dead.

At any rate, I find the genre to be fascinating. A whole new generation of “garage bands” coming to life online. You may not like the sound of it and you may write it off as no talent garbage. But, I think there is something about it that appeals to people on a very instinctual, visceral level.

Like any good Punk song worth its salt, a Dubstep song feels like it kicks you in the gut repeatedly and then refuses to stop. Headphones or speakers with a good bass range recommended. And of course, louder is better.

The Speaker Tweakerz feat. T La Roc – Floor Damage by The Speaker Tweakerz

Be sure to check back often for more cool Dubstep tracks to jam out to and if you are really interested in this interesting genre of music, check out dubstep.fm on iTunes under Electronica or come hang awhile at r/dubstep.

-Daniel


Top 5 Songs by The New Pornographers

I spent the months of November and December with nothing but albums by The New Pornographers playing in my car. It seriously got to a point where it didn’t feel right hearing something other than this fantastic band coming out of my car speakers.

It took me awhile to warm up to this band. They were pretty different from most of the stuff I listen to. But, like truly great music, it grows on you and then sticks with you. Now I see the creation of new pop/rock music a fruitless endeavor, as it is now obviously perfected.

Also, I can’t resist the great irony of the band’s name. Their music is always pleasant, positive and sometimes even beautiful. I rarely know what they are singing about but their lyrics are packed to the brim with great rhymes and alliteration and fantastic word use.

On a personal level, I was listening to this music while some really cool things were happening in my life and helped get me through a somewhat stressful holiday season. So, here are 5 songs by The New Pornographers that stand out as some of my favorites:

1. “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras” from Twin Cinema (Some excellent drumming in this song. Hard for me to ignore).

2. “My Rights Versus Yours” from Challengers (Warning: This song can and will get stuck in your head for days).

3. “Adventures in Solitude” from Challengers (Turn up both the bass and volume on your headphones or car stereo. Just trust me on this, OK?).

4. “Crash Years” from Together (The word catchy doesn’t even do this song justice. The whistling; you’ll start to wonder if it will ever your leave your head).

5. “Up in the Dark” from Together (Remember what I said about #3? Same instructions, only louder. This song has weird mystical powers at super high volumes).

If you enjoyed these songs even a little, be sure to buy some of their albums or songs!

-Daniel