Friday, November 30, 2007

It is Essential that I find more clever ways to use the word Essential

Bam! Here they are, #18 - #13...they look delicious, have seconds.

Neon Bible – Arcade Fire

Working for the Church while your family dies, You take what they give you and you keep it inside. Curtains pulled tight and heart poured out as Arcade Fire wrote the most morose album I’ve ever owned…and they did it with style. The very sound itself is black, underscored with a glaring Neon glimmer of hope that envelops the listener. As the album plays through the themes of loss, despair, confusion and doubt smother, but the jubilant rhythms and anthems of chorus allow you to look beyond the shadows and into the soul of the music, and that’s where the heart of Arcade Fire lies. It’s not what most expected as a follow up album to Funeral, but once it was unearthed there was no denying its force. The songs are more hit and miss than the critics and fans owe up to, but when they are ablaze few bands capture such passion. If early trends predicted that Bruce would be the new black in ’07, then Neon Bible was the multi-billboard ad campaign in Times Square. Antichrist Television Blues I still believe deserves a cosign notation to the Boss, and although I am not part of the music populous that feels Bruce is a national treasure I do feel this to be the best track on the album…so maybe there is something more to this trend?
They know my name cause I told it to them, But they don't know where and they don't know, When its coming, oh when but its coming Keep the car running!

The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse – The Besnard Lakes

It’s the work on the high hats that truly snagged me here. I suppose the parallels this album draws to Animals – Pink Floyd is what gives it its power. There is also the wash of guitars that roll in and out, soaring and plummeting, altering with the subtle ebb and flow of the vocals as the stories unfold. Then there is the voice that serves as the muse to these stories, a rarity in rock, a female lead. Then comes the complex element that makes this listen so intriguing; the ambling voices and electronic muffling placed at the intro and outro of songs throughout the album, creeping in at the dénouement of the thunderous climaxes. What Brightblack Morning Light did for stoner folk music in 2006, The Besnard Lakes have done for psychedelic in 2007…given it new intent and a fresh body by stripping off the binds that weigh the genre down. 2007 also saw a re-release of their previous LP as well as an adjoining EP to Dark Horse, but there will be no cheating this time around, Dark Horse stands as valiant effort alone. Bringing the earnestness of southern rock to the woozy headed vibes of the late ‘60s and tossing in some modern day production values and the Besnard Lakes’ days as the Dark Horse on the horizon are numbered and the coming of a new way is fast approaching.

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? – Of Montreal
(reviewed by reader Jejune, quite nicely I might add)

This is easily the most danceable record about an existential crisis that I've ever heard. The best songs on it feature a nice contrast between jaded, personal lyrics and upbeat, glammed-out music. Kevin Barnes has always had a gift for uniquely expressing universal themes like alienation and love, and this album features some of his strongest writing (My personal favorite line is "Somehow you've red-rovered/ The Gestapo circling my heart"). It's nice to see a lyricist who hasn't run out of interesting ways of phrasing things after a bunch of albums (Monsieur Tweedy, I'm looking in your direction. Was that a cheap shot? Sorry, I'm just trying to fit in on this blog.) It's true that the album is kind of front-loaded; there's not much after "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" that really stands out. But that seems kind of appropriate for one of the great late-night records of all time: if you can't close the deal with the cute androgynous girl in the glasses after the first 6 tracks, then don't blame Kevin Barnes.

Plague Park – Handsome Furs

Cadence, speaking verses over downtrodden and torn pleas of vocals with the searing brilliance of craftsmanship upon keys and chords, Handsome Furs have the most underrated album of the year and I am proud to sing it’s praise! It’s jittery, prickly, creepy and reeking of lover’s quarrels. This is the other half of what makes Wolf Parade such an amazing sound. The strength that Boekner brings with fragile voice is hard to describe and in perspective is even more tedious to enjoy. It’s the delicate balance of terror in lyrics and love in meaning that give repose to such prose as
I stood outside in the bright black nightBeneath their buzzing power linesAnd I saw a number in the sky, in the skyAnd if there's a God, he's a little gunAnd he holds you closely inside these wallsBut he hates his babies most of all .
This is the one album that I am timid to share with others for fear that they’ll discover just how odd I can be. As Krug reaps the benefits of endless praise for his works, the other wolf in the parade has earned his chops here and some. The drum machines vary little over the course of the album and the tracks do resemble alternate takes on the same theme but it’s still a creative portrait. Despite the pulse of songs and numerous time changes and crossovers that structure, the element that gets below my skin and swims in vein is Boekner’s eeriness. He describes Handsome best; "basically Wolf Parade without the guy that everybody likes and no real instruments."

Emotionalism – The Avett Brothers

This title frustrates me. It makes the band sound soft and beyond the glory of it’s bar brawling past. A blatant misnomer and a discredit to an enduring and sweeping album. This is storytelling music at its best and its might should be told of. I have pride in heritage and am a Carolina boy tried and true. Although it would be easy to wave the Carolina flag for Ryan Adams, it’s the Avett Brothers that are heroes to the graces of the Tarheel state. The folk craft is perfected here as the brothers turn down the hollering and lean in on the harmonies. The album delivers with tales that all can relate, tales of home, family, love, tradition and finding yourself while having some fun. Being real is what the Avett’s do best; this is some of the most sincere music you’ll find. Emo, does have a gentle, grown up feel to it, but it is a thin veil to those who know how raucous and vibrant the live show is. I tip my glass to these boys and can’t wait to hear what they come with next. A live album?

Strawberry Jam – Animal Collective

Jejune strikes again! I own and listened to Feels, the predecessor to Jam and I missed what it was. When I was told to take another run with the band I discovered what I had overlooked. What it is is that Animal Collective sounds, for all intensive purposes, like nothing else. They are inventors of sound. So when the songs echo discordant and alien, it’s not that they are flawed, it’s that you’ve never heard this before. You rookie! The lyrics, as alluded to previously, resemble the Mad Lib effort of drugged out Ivy League students, desperate for something bold and inspiring to tear down the mundane and conservative. It hooks, stammers, rumbles and joyously screams, belting out ‘you may not get this, and that is our secret!’ Rabid fans of this Collective claim Jam to be a vivid effort, but short of the peaks that they have reached. As new addict taking his first few hits, I’m naïve to the drug and feel at comfort with what I dabble. Praise be-a-plenty to the bizarre, it has never sounded so endearing. I am slowly becoming addicted.

WOW, can you believe it? Next time I post it will be to list the 12 Essential albums of 2007! It seems like yesterday that I reviewed the little bluegrass show of Chatam Co. Line and LTME was launched. (tear) Looking forward to closing out on a high note.
As always, thanks for reading and taking part…it keeps me motivated.


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