Friday, July 29, 2011

Album of the (Last) Year

This is massively late because I could not distance myself from this album at all. Objectivity was out the window. I had waited for it more excitedly than any album ever- not even sure why.1 I really liked his first four, but all had major faults and none in my personal Top 25.2 The fact that it exceeded my wildest hopes was an unreal experience, a first. So I gave in for months, soundtracking every run, multiple drives, and a fair amount of jobsearching, and then went away from it, for three3 whole weeks. When I came back, I was still rabid. Now, after 2 months and only hearing again the library's Parental Advisory version, I have come to terms with my fanboy impulses and feel like I can contain them.

Just to start my conversation, here are the top five tracks4

Top Five

5. Lost in the World
4. So Appalled
3. Runaway
2. All of the Lights
1. Power

I'm going to restrain myself to bullet-points because I'm most interested in hearing what others think.5

+Pusha-T is fucking ferocious

+Jay's Monster 16 is actually good, after he finishes reading off every monster Wikipedia could find, and his So Appalled set is fire

+Ye shouts out '30 Rock' oh yes

+different exotic fishes!

+Pat texted me: What's your theme song? POWER

+When All of the Lights leaked, it should have been a goddamn national holiday

+Its a new era when hip-hop has better guitars than indie 'rock'

+The interlude between Power and All of the Lights was necessary to prevent brain-explosion manslaughter charges

+Dude flew everyone into Honolulu like a SPECTRE mastermind. Who else is this possessed with perfection? Someday I'm gonna write an essay comparing him to Brian Wilson. (Weezy F is Bob Dylan in this scenario. I think.)

+Dear credited 'handclappers' Ian Allen, Wilson Christopher, Uri Djemal, and Chris Soper: I challenge you all to a clap-off! I should have been the one flown into Hawaii! I'm a great goddamn clapper. Do you know how many standing O's I've started? Sure, I can't keep a beat for more than a minute, but technology can fix that, and the resonance I get is uncanny.


Q: Is this a 100% album?
A. No. 'Hell of a Life' veers into the grotesque and 'Blame Game' has limited replayability, regardless at how good Chris Rock is in it. But the interesting question here is, can something be flawed and still perfect, as if its massive ambition can justify a couple slips? Exile on Main St. has "Turd on the Run" after all.

Q: Have we already had the album of the decade?
A: I hope not, but I would be happily surprised if there was a better one.

Q: Can we get much higher?
A: No

2which you'll see soon
4the easily offended should replace So Appalled with Gorgeous. or Dark Fantasy. or Devil in a New Dress
5in my mind this is the only thing people want to take about these days, a contradictory pile of empirical evidence notwithstanding

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top Five Dinosaur Jr. Albums

5. Where You Been
4. Beyond
3. You're Living All Over Me
2. Bug (lost out for Don't)
1. Farm

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Iron+Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean OR Beardos with Golden Pipes: Godfather Edition

Unfortunately professional, like late career Paul Simon1 or something. the Complacency Curse. I feel like producer Brian Deck saves his best stuff for Califone and shuffles his JV ideas off on the too-easy-going Sam Beam, who admittedly, is not firing on all (lyrical) cylinders either. I remember being psyched out of my mind when I thought he and Califone were recording an album together, a la Calexico, but it was only a tour together. Still I hoped he'd picked up some of their strange, original view on Americana, but instead Sam worked with their producer and set his sights on, he proclaimed, 70's FM. Back into that chest-hairy womb2, huh?

Not that I don't enjoy the album; its tailor-made for bleary-eyed Sunday mornings, when you can disappear to do laundry and come back five minutes and pick up right where you left off. "Your Fake Name" has that great slowburning crescendo thing I'm a sucker for and "Tree by the River" is a keeper as well. But most of the rest falls into a Shepherd's Dog B-side no-man's land of mostly unmemorable tunes gussied up with fancy, sort of soulless production. I would LOVE to hear Sam fronting a genuine New Orleans ensemble, but I don't want him singing over a dude in Chicago's idea of what those Dr. John outfits sound like.3 These songs are Rube Golbergs where the eventual goal is to start the next song, forty hamster wheels later.

I put together a little ranking of essential Iron+Wine for the non-converts, and was mildly disturbed to realize most of the songwriting that I love from Sam is nearly ten years old. He had demos for 90% of the songs on these releases back when he sent Creek Drank the Cradle to Sub Pop back in 2002. I'm gonna try not to dwell on that too much.

Top Five Iron+Wine Albums

5. Our Endless Numbered Days
4. Around the Well
3. In The Reins
2. The Sea & the Rhythm/Woman King4
1. The Creek Drank the Cradle

My favorite Sam song, still somehow unreleased:

1pitchfork also used this as a touchstone, but i didn't read them til after i published this
2 shag-carpeted womb might have been a better joke.
3 Big Burned Hand. ugh.
4yes, sonically and chronologically different EPs, but spliced up makes a great album. though i'm not sure i can ever listen to Jezebel again.