so i probably could rant about how much a letdown the year was compared to last year's straight-up indie lovefest bandwagon that i jumped on whole-heartedly (in case you were born this year, last year brought some righteous spins from: the arcade fire, the national, lcd soundsystem, mgmt, iron and wine, spoon, the white stripes, etc.) In fact if I put a list together of the past two years' ten albums i think there would be 7 from last year and my top 3 from this year.
my list is based almost exclusively by the albums played on my itunes except for Circus by Britney Spears which would top the list as it was the only thing that played in my car when the girlfriend was in the car with me
10. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
This album got a lot of play. I'm okay with these guys coming out with an album every year. They're pretty good. Kevin Barnes is crazy. I wish they would have brought the horse to Milwaukee. You know they'd be a perfect band to book on halloween or your birthday...they're just that kind of band.
9. The Welcome Wagon - Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
So this one fills the "sufjan void" for my year. And growing up an evangelical christian kid, it takes me back to when i was in church as a child...you know offbalanced harmonies...vocals, pianos, and organs, overpowering the drums...and that older guy who taught himself to play the guitar with a fuzzy blown amp playing his interpretation of the stuff he listened to in college. If you haven'd jumped on the welcome wagon yet...then do it! (sorry, that was bad)
8. Atmosphere - When life gives you lemons, you paint that sh*t gold
Props for not rocking every song through the autopitch or the vocoder or whatever it is. I really dig Slug and how he's all about saying whatever it is he wants, even if it makes him seem like a pathetic kid from the burbs. I listened to this one about 5 times and then went back and listened to all of the old atmosphere stuff. It ranks right up there and even has some radio-friendly sounding stuff.
7. Fleet Foxes
I overlistened to this band in the summer, but really it's more of a winter cd. The harmonies are pretty slick, and the instrumentation has a lot of variation. This is one of those bands that could probably go in any one of many directions with their future albums and i can't wait.
6. Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Animal/Not Animal
The dust of retreat cd was real good. Between these two cds there are enough good songs to say that this one is comparable. I honestly didn't look forward to a new cd because i thought it would be a lackluster effort after the past efforts (read: Death Cab, Raconteurs, etc.) However, this one came out at the perfect time, as the leaves were changing colors and i was doing a lot of driving.
5. Ryan Adams - Cardinology
I'm going to go ahead and defend this one. He's no more pathetic than he is on love is hell and he doesn't have a ton of filler like his three 2006 albums which i usually listen to as one album seeing that they came out at roughly the same time. Further...as far as i can tell he does not yell "guitar solo" at any point in the album, nor is there a "halloween head" or something that ridiculous. Therefore, i have nothing to do but listen to the album straight through and conclude that it's pretty great. The songs are good and fit well together. One thing i do know, is his albums are now becoming more like his live shows: will we get the "3 hour 'rock your face off' ryan adams" or will we get the "tired and ornary ryan adams who loses it and walks off after an hour because some dude requested something off heartbreaker"
4. Drive by Truckers - Brighter than Creations Dark
So did they lose something when Jason Isbell left the band? Heck yeah they did. They lost the ability to have 5 minute inpromptu guitar solos durning every song. Therefore, their focus has to be more on the songwriting. The new album's songs remind me of the songs on old DBT albums like Southern Rock Opera. Sure there are a couple songs that are mediocre but that's okay since there's 17 songs or so on the album. Patterson brings his quality stuff like normal, but the difference between this and previous albums is that Cooley brings some awesome jams. He's not that bad at playing guitar either. It may have been the 2 times i saw them this year, but they bring the rock without all the scenester/hipster elitist bullcrap that hinders so many bands around these days. Why isn't PBR sponsoring their whole tours?
3. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
This one definitely is the only dance band on my list this year. I listened to it quite a bit. It probably gets this high on my list for 2 reasons: 1) It's the only electronic/mixup cd that i really liked and i really did give some good efforts. Crystal Castles were hard to listen to, i didn't really get into the new stuff by The Faint, and Ratatat really fell short on their disc this year. 2) I like that as easy as the stuff has to be to do, as accessible the programs and songs to put together have got to be, and as sucessful as Greg Gillis is doing the mash up thing, that not everyone is doing it yet.
I went to a girl talk show and it was a kickin' show, but i go to a ton of shows. the real tell of the live show is that there were more kids at that sold out show trying to buy tickets from us as we walked up than at the equally hyped vampire weekend show from earlier in the year.
2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
I really love the hold steady. In my mind there was no way they were going to put out another boys and girls in america, and they did. This disc was my summer jam. Like for the whole summer. It was disc 1 in my six disc changer and i listened to it on the way to and from work, on the way out and back on weekends, on drives with the girlfriend, and when i was working in the kitchen at camp. When i cranked it up it became a completely different album, and i stopped mid conversation almost by reflex, to turn up the volume, when the solo on lord i'm discouraged came on.
1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
So in my life there are rare times when i'm on the "cutting edge" of anything. I have pals that turn me onto new music and so-on but i first heard of Bon Iver last december when friends drug me to the show at Mad Planet. We got in since the show only sold tickets at the door. It was awesome. It was like seeing Joanna Newsom where it's so awesome you don't want the music to ever stop.
I bought the cd at exclusive company in Appleton the day after Christmas last year. It was my cd of last winter and there's already been indication that it's going to be the cd of this winter as well (i fear i've possibly already overlistened to the Blood Bank album which is playing as i type this).
All 9 of the songs are in my itunes top 5o songs. Sometimes i don't know what Justin Vernon is even singing about, but regardless the music is perfect. I've listened to this cd driving between Appleton and Green Bay in the harsh winter cold, i've listened to it as i fell asleep as the chill sets into my underheated apartment, and I can even crank it up and play "steering wheel drums" though there often aren't drums on the album.