2009 Top 50 Albums

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Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

FT5: Album Covers of 2009 (So Far)

1120top5coverAt a time when we are all witnessing the CD’s imminent demise and the convenience of digital files running rampant, thankfully from an art perspective, a vinyl re-emergence is upon us. While sound quality is obviously seen as the most important reason why we are seeing audiophiles jumping back on the vinyl bandwagon, album artwork is also getting a much deserved close-up. With the vinyl album requiring more elaborate artwork packages, bands are re-thinking the overall aesthetic and producing some great work, which only enhances the overall music experience. 2009 has been a great year not only for the ears, but for the eyes as well and below are my picks for the Top 5 album covers from 2009 (so far). Honorable mentions go to Animal Collective’s cover for making me dizzy from staring at it too long and Neko Case for badass picture of the year. Obviously art is about as subjective as subjectivity can get, so give us some feedback. Who’s your number 1?
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Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion

Rating: ★★★★½

How does one truly classify a band like Animal Collective?  Let alone, how does one place a name on something that is easily unidentifiable?  You can’t, which has often led to praise for this band, as many love that which we don’t completely understand, yet sounds so beautiful.  Merriweather Post Pavillion is the first Animal Collective album that fully reaches beyond and into the masses.

From the get go, the band quickly falls into their typical IDM driven pop music. However, from the first entry on this album, there is a certain clarity to the vocals.  Animal Collective obviously has pushed beyond their own borders, grasping onto the vocal element with a clearer sense of purpose than before.  It’s a breath of fresh air, with a presence all it’s own.

This oddity in styling is reemphasized by the band choosing to also stay a little closer to the mainstream with the lyrical content.  Not only do the vocals sound better, but the lyrics aren’t coated in outsider allusions.  Oddly, this is the closest the band has come to writing meaningful lyrics that will translate to the laymen.  Don’t fret though, the band still primarily seems to use the vocal as an instrument in itself, as lyrics repeat time and time again.  This is where many people will find the Brian Wilson comparison obvious, though they’ve clearly expanded with spending time writing lyrics.

Many will claim that the album closer “Brothersport,” which caused loads of Internet controversy with its leak is the most accessible of the songs present here.  It would be hard to argue that all songs are not accessible this time round, but also consider “Summertime Clothes” as another popular ditty as the mini-chorus of “I want to walk around with you” dances along.

While this may be the first complete album the band has put out, there are always going to be detractors to an album by this group.  Occasionally, the band repeats itself too often, making the listener lose focus in the progression of the song.  It goes on a bit long, and many will get detached as they listen.  In all likelihood this album will be best on vinyl, listened to one side at a time. This is fortunate for all us fans because the band releases the vinyl version on January 6th, while Domino Records will release the CD version on January 20th.

As usual, the band has the knack to suspend listeners in a pop-induced trance, as rhythms steadily pound in your ears, accompanied by the vocal as an instrument.  It’s difficult to predict how some will react, but most can admit that there are many beautiful moments created by clever crafts of Animal Collective.