FT5: Albums of the Year…so far
Let’s face it, every site is doing it, and perhaps we’re a little late on the run in, but technically, we just got to the midway point of the year, so I was holding off until the exact date–I don’t want to get ahead of myself. So, in all honesty, this is going to be sort of a list of my 2011 albums of the year up to now, but I reserve the right to drastically change my opinion on any, if not all, of these choices. Come on, it’s just now July, so I’ve still got six months to hammer things out in a fully functional list. Please remember, this is one man’s opinion, not the site as a whole, nor do we disagree with your opinions, unless you like that new Beyonce.
5. Jeff the Brotherhood – We Are the Champions
This record is great. It’s probably the most versatile record that has come across my ears in quite some time. I’ve used this at the gym while working on thinning out the hips; I’ve blasted it at parties, trying to get everyone amped; I’ve just listened to it around the house. It’s got bits of garage/toner rock to it, but there’s this great pop sensibility that aligns itself with that crunchy sound, giving you anthems to shout at the top of your lungs (this leads to odd looks at the gym by the way). Now, the only thing that worries me about We Are the Champions is the longevity. I get the feeling that I might play this record out too many times before I even start listening to something else, so we’ll see how time holds up with this one.
4. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
It’s weird, but everyone seems to have dismissed this record as soon as it came out. The band rode a wave of of hype for years, and you know what, I think this album deserves more credit than their self-titled. At first, the harder production took away some of the little idiosyncrasies that we all adored so much, but Belong demonstrated the band has what it takes to promote their creativity, and still push their sound. After seeing the band live, showing a bit more panache, I immediately went back to this record and fell in love. It might not have the twee references and succinct pop moments, but in the end, that’s what makes it superb. Belong is no Pains of Being Pure at Heart II.
3. Wye Oak – Civilian
I can’t tell you how beautiful I think this record is. Any time I need to just let myself drift away, I go here. In my mind, it’s 2011’s Teen Dream, giving you these undertones of pop, but coated in dense songwriting, giving you a landscape in which you can get lost. Jenn sounds terrific in the setting the duo created, and this is perhaps going to be an album that people come back to time and time again, celebrating the calm that came with Civilian. If you haven’t spent enough time with this record, then you need to go back to it, and you’ll be amazed that it’s better than just about anything else that came out so far.
2. Cloud Nothings – s/t
This probably should by my number one record so far, based on the number of times I played it, but I’ve got a special one, to me anyways, for that. One of the things that really took to me when listening to Cloud Nothings is how mature and studied the sound seems, yet the band is so young. They sound like they’ve been listening to early indie rock since birth, giving you fast-paced tracks filled with noise, all the time maintaining that pop sensibility. It’s a lot like listening to Superchunk, steadily just building and building, giving you track after track that you can blast on high around your house. I find it hard to see anything else being this great for the rest of the year.
1. King Creosote – Thrawn
This record came as a complete surprise to me, blowing me away from the moment I put it on my stereo. I’ve grown increasingly attached to the vocals, living somewhere in the realm of Midlake, but much more fitting to a modern sound. There’s all kinds of quirky pop songs in this collection, and then he goes and throws a slow-burner at you, breaking your heart all the while. I’ll admit I had no idea who this guy was, but now, I have a feeling I’ll be haunted by my inexperience, as there really hasn’t been a record I’ve enjoyed listening to as much as Thrawn. I can go back to it weeks from now, and I’ll get caught up again, waiting to find something else I find as moving. As of now, nothing’s quite gotten there, and I’m not sure if anything will, so this record has to be my top of the year so far…and it is quite possible it will stay that way. This is not a grower, it’s a keeper.
I know everyone will have their own opinions and disdain for my list, so here are some things that I considered that may or may not make my year end list, and spots are debatable.
Things I like, but left out:
Girls Names-Dead to Me/Craft Spells-Idle Labor/Antlers-Burst Apart/Mind Spiders-s/t/Cave Singers-No Witch/Cut Copy-Zonoscope/Papercuts-Fading Parade/Yuck-s/t/Tim Cohen-Magic Trick/Secret Cities-Strange Hearts/Snowmine-Laminate Pet Animal/Colourmusic-My ____ is Pink/Other Lives-Tamer Animals/Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues
And no, I will never but Bon Iver or James Blake on a list, unless it’s an overrated list. Bon Iver needs more Kanye, and Blake is unlistenable–in my opinion.