Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Top 30 Albums of 2008

I am such a fan of "favorite things of this year" lists, especially albums. It's so fun to compare notes with other people, groups, organizations and see what was notable to whom for what reasons. Sometimes it's validation (or not) of my view of songs/albums, and other times it becomes a way for me to find out about records that may have avoided my radar. Last year, I added a youtube video of a song from albums, and it felt like the post took forever to load. Needless to say, I will forgo that this year. Like I said on the "favorite songs" post, if you're interested in learning more, search the internet, youtube, google, myspace, Hype Machine, etc.

30. The Dodos – Visiter
While this album is kind of hit or miss for me, the hits definitely outweigh the misses. Pitchfork has compared them to a more unplugged version of Animal Collective, and to some extent, I can see that. It’s stripped down music, but there’s a lot of heart to it, from the energetic drumming to the driving acoustic guitars to the occasional supplemental shout. Strengths include “Red and Purple,” “Fools,” and “Jody,” and while I can live without some other tracks, their unconventional quirkiness isn’t enough to take away from the album’s successes.

29. The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me
This album is a soothing, yet odd little collection. It occasionally goes off-kilter (complete with Radiohead from Kid A-style percussion), but it comes back with a soft landing. You then realize that you’re better for the journey. There’s still a smoothness and subtlety to the execution here that’s heartwarming. The occasional gentle strum of the acoustic guitar with the soft but driving rhythm section give their music warm undertones that make it an enjoyable listen. Favorites include “Good Lies,” “The Devil, You + Me,” and album closer “Gone Gone Gone,” which sounds like a song you could hear playing during the credits of either The Office or an indie film. It provides an appropriate anticlimactic end to either a short story or an album built on subtlety.

28. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Another very enjoyable record for Death Cab for Cutie, although it’s clear that they are taking some chances with this record. Its more unconventional song structures mix with the band’s knack for solid pop songs for a record that is a pleasant listen. Songs like “Cath…” and “No Sunlight” are really catchy, and despite the lyrics, they bring out a sense of optimism that is infectious. I do wonder, however, what’s up with the 4 minute intro to “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Overall, though, Death Cab has another catchy, smart record that grows well with a few listens.

27. Earlimart – Hymn and Her
If you were ever in the mood for some more Elliot Smith-esque pop, may I introduce Earlimart to you. In songs like “God Loves You the Best” and “Cigarettes and Kerosene” I swear the male singer Aaron Espinoza sounds just like Elliot. Other times you get some pretty good moody pop music. They have a great combination of instruments, and the songs from female vocalist Ariana Murray (“Time for Yourself,” “Before It Gets Better”) bring a nice balance to the record. It’s got a good range to it.

26. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
The softness and intimacy of this album is quite striking. This album has gotten a good bit of attention around the blogosphere for good reason. With little more than a guitar and the occasional percussion, Bon Iver have managed to capture emotional connection and vulnerability in a way unlike any other. I can appreciate the sentiment, even if the songs don’t stick in my mind as long as others on the list. My favorites are “Skinny Love,” “Flume,” and “Blindsided.”

25. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster/ We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
I am a late comer to Welsh band Los Campesinos!, so with some more time, it’s possible that these two albums (they released both albums this year) could have moved higher with some more time in my sights. In my few short listens, however, I have been very impressed with the combination of energy and pop crafting that has gone into both albums. The guy/girl lead singer trade-off makes for a good dynamic, and their playfulness only adds to the fun in hearing them. I couldn’t decide between the albums, so both are listed here. “Hold On…” has more energy and rawness, while “We Are Beautiful…” is a little (just a little) more subdued and focused. They don’t just follow the pop formula, though. They add something to it. Case in point: “I cherish with fondness the day (before) I met you.” The addition changes the sentiment and opens it up to new perspectives. Other strong points include “You! Me! Dancing!” “Ways To Make It Through The Wall,” Miserablia,” and “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks.”

24. Grand Archives – Grand Archives
The demise of Seattle favorite Carissa’s Wierd led to the creation of Band of Horses, who have put out two solid albums. After their first album (the better one, IMHO), guitarist Mat Brooke (who had also been in Carissa’s Wierd) left the band to start Grand Archives. The result is a pretty good album of familiar melodies that are just done well. It doesn’t stand out as a heartbreaking, mind-blowing experience, but that’s part of the appeal for me. It’s just a nice, straightforward album with the occasional whistle, harmonica, and well executed melody. High points for me are “Torn Blue Foam Couch,” “Sleepdriving,” and “A Setting Sun.” It’s a good Sunday afternoon, relax with a good book album.

23. British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
With an album title like “Do You Like Rock Music?” one would expect the new British Sea Power album to be a broad, sweeping rock n’ roll opus that wears its ambition on its sleeve. While the band doesn’t exactly meet those expectations, they do put together a collection of tunes that manages some atmospheric finesse. It stumbles in a few places, most notably the end song “We Close Our Eyes,” which is just a reprise of the opener “All In It.” The problem, though is that the reprise is almost 4 times longer than the opener and just repeats the ideas in the first. High points, though, kick through with driving melodies and leave such low points in the dust. Recommended tracks include “Down On the Ground,” “Waving Flags,” and “Atom.” The middle half of the album is definitely worth it.

22. Longwave – Secrets are Sinister
This album made an impression on me in its unyielding catchyness. It’s good indie pop that ranges from the crunching guitars and keyboards to quasi-ballad with clean guitars and pretty melodies. All in all, it’s worth a few listens. Sure, the song structure is fairly predictable, and the band kinda blends the styles of bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, Paloalto, and Death Cab for Cutie, but that’s not really a bad thing, right? Sometimes, the way you can combine these influences is a benefit in and of itself. “Sirens in the Deep Sea,” “Satellites,” and the album closing title track inject a little sunny optimism, but not too much.

21. Glasvegas – Glasvegas
I have a special place in my heart for Scottish bands whose lead singers don’t lose their accent when they sing. Glasvegas join the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit in that category. I feel like the accent adds a sense of emotional rawness and vulnerability that gives the music an extra quality. Add in Glasvegas’ anthemic, crunching guitars, and you have a winning combination. They happen to have one of the best tracks of the year in my opinion: “Geraldine.” The song is from the perspective of a social worker trying to keep poor, drug addicts from going off the deep end, and you don’t realize it until about halfway through the song. The turn of phrase just gets you. It’s so memorable and emotional that it alone makes 2008 in music a good year. It’s not the only solid track, though, to be sure. Opener “Flowers and Football Tops,” “Lonesome Swan,” and “S.A.D. Light” are also great songs in their own right. It’s not their fault that they are overshadowed by such an achingly beautiful song.

20. Mates of State – Re-arrange Us
Another soft spot goes to married couples who form a band together. Part of it’s the hopeless romantic in me, and part of it has to do with the fact that many of them make solid music. Along with the Submarines and Viva Voce, we can add Mates of State. While this album isn’t as strong as their previous effort, Get It Back, it’s certainly a very pleasant listen in its own right. On this record, Kori Gardner mostly trades in her Yamaha Electone organ for a piano. The result is a little loss of the edge earlier albums had, but in exchange we get a more sustained focus on crafting good, memorable pop songs. “Get Better” is one of their prettiest songs, and “My Only Offer” doesn’t trail that far behind. All in all, this is a well executed pop record. The only thing I find lacking is some of the umph that was so visible on Get It Back and All Day EP. With a little more intensity, this is a record that could have easily cracked the top ten, but obviously it’s still good enough to make the list.

19. The Week That Was – The Week That Was
Peter Brewis of Field Music took a hiatus from his main project to craft a side project, The Week That Was. Their debut album boasts an expansive reach (with 9 members working together seamlessly) while still retaining a focus that makes the album so darn enjoyable. They pack a lot into only 8 songs (32 minutes), so I don’t feel like I’m being shortchanged. Plus, it’s so easy to listen to this album 3 or 4 times without realizing it. It works in familiar elements with new twists, and the carefully crafted smoothness of songs like “It’s All Gone Quiet” and “The Airport Line” work so well in contrast with the pounding percussion of “Learn to Learn” and the album’s strongest song, “Scratch the Surface.” This is certainly one of those albums that might have been even higher if I had been able to listen to it since April or May. This one needs room to breathe; trust me, it’s worth it.

18. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
That’s right. The blog darlings of 2008 made it here. The album is just so darn catchy, and they even have a song with my name in it (“One (Blake’s Got A New Face)”). The first couple of listens were the most unsure, but once the tracks sink in, they’re pretty much there for good. My top 3 favorites on the record are “Oxford Comma,” “A-Punk,” and “M79.” There’s just something so fun and laid back about their music. I think senses of escapism and playfulness in both the lyrics and the song structure really help this record grow on you quickly. Plus it benefits from The Week That Was’ knack of crafting a short, good album so that you can put on repeat a few times without getting sick of it. As the songs mature, they add some depth, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. To me that quality is a rare thing. If only more groups could capture some playfulness in their music.

17. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Another blogosphere recommended group. This duo has had a great year, including getting the cover of SPIN magazine (November). Their record suggests that they’ve earned it. It’s dramatic psych-rock that somehow manages to sound both retro and futuristic at the same time. Either way, from the opening keyboard riff on first track “Time to Pretend,” you realize that you are somewhere (or when) else. They use a broad range of instruments and sounds, and that keeps the record from falling into a rut or feeling too repetitive. They give off sounds that remind me of Yeasayer’s debut album and even Animal Collective (especially on “Pieces of What”). For me, though, the star of this album is the dynamic keyboard that provides some of the driving melodies that make the record shine. Other favorites for me include “Electric Feel” and “Kids,” a close second for favorite track on the album behind “Time to Pretend.”

16. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
After such a journey into the unfamiliar, it becomes time to move into more comfortable territory, and for that I turn to Tokyo Police Club. They’re a pretty good indie rock, post-punk-y band whose latest album Elephant Shell delivers that comfort in droves. With almost every song clocking in at under 3 minutes, they deliver the energy and emotional outpouring you expect from the genre without overdoing it or wearing themselves too thin. I don’t have much more to say about this album, mostly because there’s not much new with it. They just do what they do well enough to make for quite satisfying repeat listens. I’m a fan of “Juno,” “Your English is Good,” and “Tessellate” (my favorite).

15. Sigur Ros - með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Sigur Ros has been all about making some excellent ambient music for years now. I’ve enjoyed their music since Ágætis Byrjun, but I was unsure if they would be able to branch out without losing the core of their sound. I was even more unsure when Takk… came out because, even though I liked the album, it felt like it was too much of a departure from what they had done before. This record, though, pretty much puts to rest all those fears. It’s beautiful, but it brings in more pounding, driving percussion from Takk… in a way that doesn’t feel too overpowering. There’s an intensity to this record that I hadn’t gotten from previous records. The beauty of the record overflows, and this becomes one of those albums that can accompany both mellow and content moods. It’s hard to pick favorites for this record, but I really like “Festival,” “Við spilum endalaust,” and closer “All Alright,” which is the first song Jonsi sings in English.

14. The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead
This record has enough good indie pop sensibility to draw you in closer with every listen. Starting with “Lately,” a song whose narrator is trying to convince himself that he’s over his ex, you begin to understand where singer/guitarist Brandon Summers is coming from. I think it has something to do with a subtle Dylan-esque quality to his vocals. It’s very nice music, but you get the sense of melancholy pervading every note. There’s a sense that the hammer of harsh “reality” is always just beyond our peripheral vision waiting to invade and take out our slowly tarnishing “idealism” (whatever the words in quotation marks even mean). “Can’t Say No” bombards you with the despair of contemporary American lifestyle that compels you to join in even as you want to retreat. It’s a great expression of the cognitive dissonance I’ve been feeling for years every time I go into a mall or Walmart. Other solid tracks include “Shed Your Love,” “You Can Come To Me,” and “Broken Afternoon.”

13. Hello Saferide – More Modern Short Stories from Hello Saferide
This is just a beautiful record. Swedish band Hello Saferide have crafted one solid pop album, no question. Music journalist turned lead singer Annika Norlin has a solid singing voice, and the crafting of songs is just wonderful. She’s able to capture longing and lack so well without being depressing; her wit is something to marvel. There are points in which she tries too hard, and those become noticeable for sure. Overall, though, they don’t really take away from the album’s splendor as much as they serve as a temporary distraction from sentiments you can feel running from start to finish. My favorites are “Lund,” “Middle Class,” and very favorite “Anna,” a hypothetical about a child that the narrator and partner would have had if the partner had not left. The unique perspective Norlin takes throughout this album is both heartbreaking and refreshing at the same time.

12. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
The melody of this album is just spellbinding. I guess that’s what happens when you have both a violin and a cello in your band, but still, they manage to use each instrument so well that the music has real heart to it. You can feel it in every note of this record. From album opener “Ghost Under Rocks” to “Dying is Fine” and even in the low point of the album, their cover of Kate Bush’s “Suspended in Gaffa,” you know that the band is 100% committed to the sonic output. This is an indie pop band that wears its heart on its sleeve, and that genuine outpouring only makes the beauty of the album’s well-crafted songs even stronger and more palpable. Lead singer Wes Miles is both a good singer and someone with the knack of giving all he’s got to a song. This album is worth a significant investment of your time, and I would expect this band only to get better in the next few years.

11. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
The Stand Ins is a sequel (I think) to their excellent previous album The State Names (which made it to #10 last year). Again, this one deals with headaches and pressures of trying to make it in acting as well as the relationship between the star and the audience. While I’m still a slightly bigger fan of The Stage Names, I am quite impressed with the follow-up. They build on the crafting of the previous records (BTW, Black Sheep Boy is also incredible), and Will Sheff’s storytelling is still quite strong. Plus, he’s quite a good singer, the kind you have to hear live. As an aside, I saw Okkervil River and the New Pornographers this past May, and I became convinced that Will Sheff and Neko Case both have voices that must be heard live. In person, they each blow away their respective album performances. This record stands up on its own as it extends on lyrical themes and carves out its own musical niche.

10. The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride
I got turned onto John Darnielle’s project a couple years ago, but I have since been stunned at his knack for using details to sketch out wonderfully intricate stories, complete with characters’ thoughts and realizations (“This Year,” “Dance Music,” “Woke Up New,” and “No Children” are the top 4 must download tracks from The Mountain Goats). He is an amazing lyricist, able to express emotions better than just about any songwriter I’ve heard. His new album, Heretic Pride, doesn’t have an overarching theme like his last 2 or 3 records have. Each song is its own separate story, but they all still work so well. “Sax Rohmer #1” is probably the high point on the album, but other enjoyable songs include “Autoclave,” “So Desparate,” and “How to Embrace a Swamp Creature.” This album has the benefit of working together as a complete package without a song or two going just far enough astray to make you want to skip it (probably the only shortcoming of his previous records for me).

9. Headlights – Some Racing, Some Stopping
Yay for twee pop! This is one of the best indie pop albums I’ve heard in a while. From the very twee-tastic “Cherry Tulips” to the Camera Obscura-like sounds of “On April 2,” this album delivers unabashedly straightforward gushy pop that is just a joy to listen to. It’s all about soft sounds and ambient guitar and keyboard melodies. The guy/girl lead singer switch-off is also part of the formula for success. The attention to melody and harmony are so enticing that it’s easy to get lost in the album, even though it clocks in at just above 30 minutes. Other standouts for me include “Get Your Head Around It,” and “Market Girl.”

8. M83 – Saturdays = Youth
As a child of the 80s, I can say that this album touches that soft spot of nostalgia that I have for my childhood. It most definitely has the 80s sound, but in a way, it’s also very not 80s. The synthesizers and soft, new wave sounding vocals are definitely a throwback to the decade of the rubik’s cube and Back to the Future, but there’s also something very now about the songs on this album. In other words, I don’t think that the 80s would have been ready for this music. There’s some over the top instrumentation and percussion, but it is always complimented with a sense of calm that I don’t recall from Simple Minds or Modern English. High points are “Graveyard Girl,” “Kim & Jessie,” and “We Own the Sky.” The journey back in time is both awe-inspiring and comforting, especially with the 10-minute wind down “Midnight Souls Still Remain” to close out the record.

7. Deerhunter – Microcastle/Weird Era Cont
I enjoyed Deerhunter’s previous album, Cryptograms, even though I thought there were times when it wandered around in ambient noise for too long. Their latest release is a double album of sorts. Microcastle is the main album, but along with it comes Weird Era Cont, this bonus disc with as many songs as the primary recording. Since they work so well together, I’m keeping them together for the purposes of this ranking. I’ve listened to Microcastle more, but both records hold up well to repeated listens. On both records, Deerhunter stray back into the world of pop music with more discernable melodies and instrument arrangements that make it less work to get acquainted with the songs. Standouts from Microcastle include “Agoraphobia,” “Saved by Old Times,” and one of my favorite songs of the year, “Nothing Ever Happened.” If you hear no other Deerhunter song ever in your life, download this one. It’s the truth, especially the back half of the song where the instruments just take over and finish out the song. “Nothing Ever Happened” becomes the heart of the album, as well as its peak. The rest of the record basically revolves around this high, but there isn’t a disappointing track between 25 songs.

6. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant EP
Fleet Foxes have had a wonderful year! They’ve gotten tons of recognition, played on practically every late show on television, and put out a debut EP and LP, both of which are wonderful. The harmonies on the record are heavenly, and the band isn’t stingy with them. You have no shortage of lyrics are about the mountains, or open fields, or woodland creatures in the snow. There’s nice imagery, and the music is so wonderfully crafted that it’s difficult not to enjoy both records from start to finish. Sun Giant EP opens the door with songs like “Drops in the River” and “English House” giving you a taste of what to expect on the full length LP. The eponymous album picks up where the EP leaves off and just goes farther out into the wilderness with confidence. High points on the LP include “White Winter Hymnal,” “Ragged Wood,” “He Doesn’t Know Why,” and closer “Oliver James.” Congratulations for Robin Pecknold and the rest of Fleet Foxes on two solid recordings in one great year.

5. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colors
I have been a fan of this album since April, and I mentioned back in May that it was one of my favorites. Things haven’t really changed much since then. I’ve given the record some breathing space, and it keeps coming back to me with enough life and energy to be its own battery. I never cease to be amazed at how Cut Copy can weave their way through various musical genres with relative ease. You start out with indie pop, move to 80s new wave, go to progressive rock, stop off at dance, and back without realizing just where you were going until you’ve gone through it all. The song construction is tight, and the variety blends so seamlessly that it’s really quite a feat that they’ve managed to retain credibility as they put all the songs into one collection. They don’t lose musical integrity as a band no mater where they take you. I still think that “Feel the Love” is one of the best Track 1’s of the year. It’s just bright and shiny without trying too hard to get your attention. Other solid standouts include “Lights and Music,” “So Haunted,” “Hearts on Fire,” and “Strangers in the Wind.” This is one of those albums I put on when I’m in a rut writing and need something to help me get my second wind, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

4. Santogold – Santogold
Oddly enough, I’m even surprised at myself with how high this record is on my list. Maybe sometime later, I’ll rethink things and decide that this wasn’t very bright, but for now, it’s #4. Santi White (aka Santogold) takes the genre-hopping that I just mentioned with Cut Copy and goes about it in a completely different way. Rather than weaving seamlessly from one genre to another, she blatantly jumps from clever indie rock/pop (“L.E.S. Artistes” and my favorite on the record, “Lights Out”) to M.I.A.-style underground dance/R&B (“Creator” and “Unstoppable”) and everywhere in between. The transition is abrupt, but on this record, that seems to be part of the point. Each song has such strength of voice and character that there’s no need for her to justify the broad range of music on this album. Her voice is unique, and it’s actually quite refreshing to see her refuse to be bound by traditional musical genres, incorporating whatever she thinks will give her work something fresh and unique. It’s also amazing how Santogold can put out so many songs that are ridiculously catchy yet still credible enough to avoid being corny. Some of my other favorites include “Say Aha” and “I’m a Lady.”

3. Portishead – Third
Ok, first off, I was not trying to be funny by having Third be my #3 album of the year. It’s a coincidence. I am, though, so excited that Portishead is finally back with another record. As I mentioned in my May post, the hiatus was way too long. It’s so fascinating to see how the 10 year break has influenced Portishead’s song construction. I mean, think about it. The last time Portishead released a new album, Bill Clinton was President. For one, they still have retained the basic sound and somewhat gloomy outlook that became a trademark for their first two records. The shift, however, comes in some bold new innovations. There’s the pulsating Hammond B-3 organ on “We Carry On” that feels like an irregular heartbeat, the ukulele olde timey quasi-song “Deep Water,” and of course, the pounding drums that drive the album’s strongest track (and possibly one of the best songs Portishead has ever done), “Machine Gun.” Beth Gibbons’ voice is as fragile and intimate as ever. They rely less on samples and more on the raw combination of instruments, and somehow that move feels right. After listening to the record a few times, it becomes clear to me that this record could not have been made or released in 2000, 2002, or even 2004. This feels like the right time for Portishead to come out of hiding and make their mark. I hope it doesn’t take another decade for a follow up, but if that’s what it takes for another masterpiece like Third, I would be willing to wait if it came to that.

2. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
TV on the Radio is definitely one of the most innovative and edgy bands out there right now. Their previous record, Return to Cookie Mountain, is probably one of the most difficult albums I own. I got it a couple years ago after it started showing up on so many year-end lists, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure the record out. I have played it numerous times, let it sit for a while and come back to it, and still I am puzzled by some of it. Part of it for me is that the innovativeness is inseparable from a raw abrasiveness that I can’t quite put my finger on. Well, that trepidation weighed heavily as I listened to Dear Science, and I was both puzzled and blown away at the same time. In one sense, I wondered if this was the same band that gave us such off the wall tracks as “I Was a Lover”? At the same time, though, I knew that this was the same people, but something is very different here. The album has lost that abrasiveness without giving up innovation. It’s much more palatable. The unfamiliar is still engageable in a way that I still haven’t found with Cookie Mountain. This is a much smoother and accessible record than the previous work was, and I am convinced that both the band and I are better for it. The chaos has settled, but it’s not gone. It’s something that feels less scary and presents itself as pure possibility. Of course, some of the songs are about the current political climate and the hope that things will stop sucking soon (“Golden Age”), but they do so without a sense that all is lost. There is a hopefulness and focused energy on this record that makes it so freaking astounding to listen to over and over, even as it ventures into new territory. As with many albums on this list, this one should get a few listens with the headphones so that the music can connect directly with the music and you don’t have to worry about the atmospherics of the room interfering with the subtleties.

1. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight
To be completely honest, I’m very surprised that this album hasn’t surfaced on more year-end lists than it has. When it has shown up, it’s been more toward the bottom of the list. I do not know what is up with many of the music mainstay organizations. This album not only got good reviews, but it is one of those albums that breaks in nicely. In May, I said that this was my early favorite for album of the year, and while there was a while when I wasn’t sure that would hold up, I can’t deny that this has been my favorite record to listen to all year. I’ll echo the comments I made on Glasvegas’ debut about how I totally heart Scottish bands whose lead singers keep the accent when they sing. Scott Hutchinson has a unique ability to sound both strong and fragile as he sings. There’s also a really great connection between body and state of mind with songs like “The Modern Leper,” “Good Arms vs. Bad Arms,” “Head Rolls Off,” and another one of those pivotal ballads, “Keep Yourself Warm.” Hutchinson’s strength as a songwriter comes in this understanding that emotional and physical connections are inseparable (the central line in “Keep Yourself Warm” is either genius or hackneyed depending on who you ask, “It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm”…I’m less concerned with whether it’s clever and more interested in how it informs the album’s perspective). In fact, the relationship between biological processes/embodied experiences and perceptions/memories/ideas becomes one of the central themes of the album that surfaces in new ways with each song. It touches on the overflowing emotional journey that comes with life, relationships, and human interaction that becomes filtered through an existence in a body that is fragile, vulnerable, and always already limited. All in all, this record is very human. It has ups and downs, surprises and disappointments, successes and frustrations. The Hutchinson brothers are able to articulate parts of that complexity through the complex relationship between music and words, and the listener is better for the engagement. At first, the realization of how vulnerable we really are as a people can be disconcerting to say the least, but the more I got into this album, I started to understand that this vulnerability doesn’t have to be a weakness. It can be strength because once you understand its parameters and learn to live your vulnerability, you don’t have to give in to despair. The determination in “Floating in the Forth” with the line “I think I’ll save suicide for another year” (probably the best line of the album) gives me a reason to look forward, not with hope that things will get better, but rather with the understanding that the uncertainty of tomorrow or next year can be as inspiring as it is debilitating. Ultimately, it’s worth it to see what the unknown could bring.

If you actually made it this far, thank you very much for reading and Happy Holidays!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Frightened Rabbit have put out a live album where they basically play The Midnight Organ Fight in order. It's called Liver! Lung! FR! It's cool to hear how the songs translate in a live, but intimate setting.


Carolyn said...

i love earlimart! so cool to see them on someone's list, they're so low key. :)

just bought frightened rabbit last week after seeing it on a few top 10 lists and am all agog. wish i had bought it months ago!!

nice writeups. ;)

Blake said...

Thanks! And thanks for reading!