Top 9 of a so so year.

Hey there, so here's the thing. I sat down the other day to write down a top 10 albums of the year list (like everyone is doing). When I was finished, I had 9 albums. That says two things about me; I didn't listen to a lot of music this year, and maybe, this year wasn't a good year for music. I've checked out other people's lists to see if I missed anything... but alas, I either didn't hear it (Janelle Monae, Broken Bells), or I didn't particularly like it (Diamond Rings, Beach House, Robyn).

The second point works for a few of my favorite albums of the year as well. Let me explain. The Arcade Fire released a fantastic record this year, one of my favorites, but it's the worst Arcade Fire album. That statement shouldn't be quoted out of context, my current rating of Arcade Fire albums goes as follows: "Funeral" 5/5, "Neon Bible" 5/5, "The Suburbs" 4/5.

The other big album this year was from Kanye West. Yes, it's a really good album. The production is inspired, "Power" is the song of the year... but... If Kanye had spent just a little more time developing his lyrics, I'd be a happier man. There are wonderful lines like;

"Lost in translation with a whole fuckin’ nation
They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation
Well, that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation"

only a few lines away from a clunker like:

Fuck SNL and the whole cast
Tell ‘em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass
More specifically, they can kiss my asshole
I’m an asshole? You niggas got jokes"

I don't expect gold from hip-hop lyrics. But I do expect it from albums that are being pegged as the best of the year, and albums that will probably define a generation. But that's just me.

So for me, nothing was Great. There wasn't anything that really jumped out at me. Maybe I'm just in a weird place this year. Last years list seemed much more exciting (you can read it here), but is Mos Def's "The Estatic" really better than "My Dark Twisted Fantasy"?

Here's my 9:

9. The Many and the Wise- Birdsacrosswater

The problem with this album is that it's not easy to get a hold of. Yes, you can find it on Bandcamp, but there is little to no promo on this album. I'm a huge fan of his work, maybe you'll get something out of it.

8. Working for the Music Man- Daniel Romano

I saw Daniel for the first time at Pop Montreal, and i was floored. A wonderful songwriter.

7. Brothers- The Black Keys

Dan Auerbach's "Keep it Hid" was one of my favorites last year. This isn't quite as good as that album, but it's the pure psych/Blues/Rock that we come to expect from the Black Keys.

6. When You Left the Fire- The Wilderness of Manitoba

The Wilderness of Manitoba has made a wonderful progression from their first EP to this album. The production value has improved quite a bit, and they've come into their own sound (Fleet Foxes comparisons were far more rampant for the earlier album). Great harmonies, and musicianship.

5. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy- Kanye West

Well here it is. For all my complaints, this is a good record. "Power" knocks me over every time.

4. Forgiveness Rock Record- Broken Social Scene

When I first heard this record, I didn't really like it, and put it away for a few months. On further inspection, I've grown to love it. The stripped down lineup is a wonderful contrast to the mess that was 2005's "Broken Social Scene".

3. And Now We Sing- Olenka and the Autumn Lovers

Full disclosure. I'm on a couple of tracks. You can hear my honking saxophone off in the distance. Either way, Olenka has reached a new height with "And Now We Sing", doing away with the Open-door policy of her last efforts, she's put together a solid band who perfectly accentuates her subtle songwriting. Olenka is still one of the best songwriters working anywhere, and, that we can call her our own, is something to be proud of.

2. The Suburbs- Arcade Fire

My only complaint with that album is that it's too long. I've been in a lot of arguements about this, but I stand my ground! There is too much filler. Songs like "Modern Man" and "Wasted hours" would make great b-sides, but do little to propel the album. "Sprawl" is a great example of how to do a 2 parter... unfortunately "Half Life" is not. The thing is, the songs that are good are really good. "The Suburbs", "Ready to Start", and the "Sprawl" songs are some of the best of the they've written.

1. Wild Hunt- Tallest Man on Earth

Solo singer/guitarist albums can be pretty lame. "The Wild Hunt", and 2008's "Shallow Grave" are not. Why? For me it comes down to interesting guitar playing, interesting voice, strong Melodies, and engaging imagery. The Tallest Man on Earth has all of those things and more. All the way from Sweden.

Honorable Mention: This is Happening- LCD Soundsystem, Provincial Parks and Breaking Hearts- Handsome Dan and his Gallimaufry, In The Dark Tower EP- William Delray, Swim-Caribou, Contra- Vampire Weekend.

So, what do you think? Was it a good year for music? Anybody have the same problem as me? What does your list look like?


Sam Allen said...

Don't forget the best song on the album... ROCOCO!

Sam Allen said...

Also, Beach House is great!

Shawn William Clarke said...

Not sure that Rococo is my favorite, but it's good! Also, for some reason, I just can't get that into the Beach House. Ultimately I feel bad about this post. I really didn't listen to enough to throw my opinion around. And I think I may have been in a sour mood. Oh well!