Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Modern Music

Finally! For the first time in what seems like forever I've become invested and interested in new music releases. So far, 2009 has proved a rich, rewarding year for new releases. I'm usually very particular about what I listen to; meaning, I know when I'm in the mood for a certain album or artist. And for the first time in almost two years that mood has revolved around new albums and artists. Of course, many of my music obsessions for the year also hail from years other than 2009. Here are what's been in near constant rotation on my ipod this year; for the most part, all of these albums are enjoyable through and through, but I've noted some of my favorite selections:

New releases:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!; the best thing about the YYYs is that they could have been the worst kind of one trick pony. But they've shown remarkable growth over the years I've listened to them, and their latest is no exception. In fact, it builds and improves on all the elements of their arsenal. I think an electronic edge was just the thing they needed.
Favorite songs: Soft Shock, Heads Will Roll, Dull Life, Skeletons, Zero

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest; such a surprisingly good album! And I never would have thought that this band would be one to explode. I remember seeing them open for Feist and thinking that although their music was pretty, but with the exception of "Easier" and "Knife" it was way too boring to actually go anywhere. I was very wrong, as this album is one of the most listenable and impressive follow ups I've ever heard. Especially by a band that could have gone either way.
Favorite songs: Two Weeks, Southern Point, While You Wait for the Others, All We Ask, Fine For Now

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca; despite putting it on this list, I can't find anything I think is all that remarkable about the Dirty Projectors, other than the fact that they have some unusual song arrangements, and pleasing harmonies. But this album is definitely a fun and easy to listen to. And I listen to it a lot, so there must be something special here.
Favorite songs: Cannibal Resource, Temecula Sunrise, Useful Chamber,

Passion Pit - Chunk of Change EP and Manners; I'm not sure when the EP was released, but I started listening to both it and the full length album at the same time, so I'm including them together. For me, Passion Pit came out of nowhere, recommended to me by one of my best friends because it would be "my new summer jam album," to which she was completely spot on. This band is nothing but exhilaration, excitement, and pleasure.
Favorite songs: Cuddle Fuddle, Sleepyhead, The Reeling, Moth's Wings, Swimming in the Flood (and pretty much everything else)

Bat for Lashes - Two Suns; Bat for Lashes' first album was pretty average except for "What's a Girl To Do?," although Natascha Khan had an undeniably beautiful voice. Two Suns improves remarkably on her talents, and the whole album is much more cohesive (and interesting).
Favorite songs: Glass, Two Planets, Daniel

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career; Camera Obscura are so much less the Belle and Sebastian knockoff (although it was an enjoyable knockoff) that they used to be, and this album is their most impressive so far.
Favorite songs: French Navy, The Sweetest Thing, My Maudlin Career

Older releases:

Animal Collective - Sung Tongs, Feels, Strawberry Jam, Merriweather Post Pavilion; even though MPP came out this year, I'm including AC in older releases because I never really appreciated this band (like, at all) until this album came out. Before now I thought they were kind of kitschy and weird although they had a few fun tunes, but the release of Merriweather prompted me to take them much more seriously, and see that they are truly one of the most talented and innovative bands of all time. Seriously. Watch out for these guys because they're changing the way we think of music. The music they make is beyond description; it's like nothing I've ever heard. I'm so glad I am finally able to appreciate them for the geniuses they are, not just for Merriweather, but for a lot of their previous work as well.
Favorite songs: Did You See the Words?, My Girls, Fireworks, Brother Sport, Daily Routine, For Reverend Green, Chores, Leaf House, Grass, Banshee Beat, and so many more.

The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Clouds Taste Metallic; I'm still continuing my love affair with The Soft Bulletin, but have also come to appreciate the quirks of Yoshimi... as well as the earlier work in Clouds. I can't express how much I'm looking forward to their new release this fall.
Favorite songs: Slow Motion, Buggin', Race for the Prize, A Spoonful Weighs a Ton, The Spark That Bled, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1, Fight Test, Do You Realize?, and countless others.

Deerhunter - Microcastle, Weird Era Continued; Microcastle was one of my top albums of 2008, but I didn't come to fully appreciate it until this year. I think it took a solid love of My Bloody Valentine first or something. But my Deerhunter listenage has grown exponentially in the last few months. I love the shoegaze haze of their music; it's hypnotizing.
Favorite songs: Never Stops, Agoraphobia, Little Kids, Saved By Old Times, Microcastle, Nothing Ever Happened, Vox Humana, Calvary Scars, Calvary Scars II/Aux Out, Dot Gain

The Magnetic Fields - Holiday, Charm of the Highway Strip, 69 Love Songs; mostly I find myself listening to Holiday on repeat. 69 Love Songs is epically fantastic, but a little taxing to try and listen to all at once. Charm of the Highway strip shows tremendous growth from Holiday. I enjoy all three, but Holiday gives me the most enjoyment; 90's synth music is kind of hard to come by. It's not really an instrument/sound associated with mid nineties music. But one thing permeates all three albums, and that is Stephen Merrit's awesome lyrics. Catchy, yet clever, ironic, and complex, it harmonizes perfectly with their indie-pop sound.
Favorite songs: In My Secret Place, Deep Sea Diving Suit, Strange Powers, Take Ecstacy, Absolutely Cuckoo, Crazy For You (But Not That Crazy), and (once again) so many more.

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