because everyone loves a list of 10 things.
First: Ireland was great! More details to follow.
Top 10 albums of this list I’ve been kinda keeping up with:
10. Animal Collective- Feels- I’m so glad this made the top 10. “Grass” and “The Purple Bottle” transport me to some primeval nature-worshipping world. I mean, the whole CD does. Probably another good camping-trip CD.
9. Of Montreal- Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?- This grew on me a lot. Each track individually is pretty good, but to listen to the CD straight through, it’s a carefully choreographed absolutely-messed-up descent into depression. The “carefully choreographed” is the key; never before have Kevin Barnes and crew sounded so crazy while sounding so planned. His David Bowie stage persona is also intriguing.
8. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists- Shake the Sheets- Ted is everything you’d want in a punk rock hero, but he’s very clean about it. He’s simultaneously a society-fighter and a guy you’d want to hang out with. And this disc rocks straight through, from “Me and Mia” (the most catchy song about eating disorders) to “Walking To Do” (a call to arms for everything!)
7. Broken Social Scene- Broken Social Scene- Fuzzed-out and spacey, rocking but not indulgent, long-haired but pleasantly poppy, and did I mention Emily Haines (from Metric) provides (awesome, awesome) vocals?
6. The Knife- Silent Shout- This is dark and brooding, icy electronic pop at its best. Wait, did I say that about The Knife before? The difference is that this disc is tighter, more polished, and more nightmarish.
5. The Arcade Fire- Funeral- Ten songs, and only three of them are maybe possibly if-you’re-really-in-a-hurry skippable. It’s got two halves, first the “neighborhoods” and then the “other songs”, which both sound like stellar concept EPs in their own right, but combine into maybe (objectively) a top-5 00’s album. Maybe even #1. This is epic.
4. The Go! Team- Thunder, Lightning, Strike- cheerleader vocals? Really? Toss in horns, lite-rap, and a half-gallon of enthusiasm, and you have the second-most-fun record I’ve ever heard.
3. The Fiery Furnaces- Blueberry Boat- I’m not going to pretend this is head-and-shoulders over anything else they’ve done, but it’s at least head above anything else they’ve done, and it was so fresh at the time. It felt like prog rock meets the new millennium, but instead of long-haired obnoxious 70’s dudes, it was this quirky brother and sister combo. Eleanor provides the pipes, Matt provides the insane genius, and together you get this mash of pirates, private detectives, computer cafes, tropical trees, a train line, and a lost dog. If the Arcade Fire is epic, this is vainglorious.
2. Of Montreal- the Sunlandic Twins- Maybe I like this CD because every song is a keeper. Maybe it’s because it’s got the poppy hooks to draw you in but also the moody stuff like “Oslo in the Summertime” and “The Repudiated Immortals” to keep you interested over time. Maybe it’s the associations I have with being lost in a magical Austrian ski resort with pretty much just this CD to keep me company.
1. Architecture in Helsinki- In Case We Die- Okay, this is it. This is the pinnacle of pop music. This is the standard against which every new pop CD must be judged. Songs like “Wishbone”, “It'5”, and “The Cemetery” are simultaneously catchy, precious, rocking, and only two minutes long. “Neverevereverdid” and “In Case We Die, Parts 1-4” are like the prog-pop epics of the Fiery Furnaces distilled to their radio-friendly essences. And between all that, they find time for “Maybe You Can Owe Me” and of course “Do the Whirlwind,” which has not gotten old in the three years I’ve known it. This disc is a masterpiece.
And then the honorable mentions: a few discs that, in retrospect, I maybe should have put on this list.
Andrew Bird- Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs, around number 60
Broken Social Scene- You Forgot It In People, around 40
The Pipettes- We Are the Pipettes, maybe as #89 just clinging on to an entry in this list
David Byrne- Music for the Knee Plays, about #70, although maybe that’s too generous
Whew! Tune in again in another 4 years and maybe I’ll have another top-100 or so list!
Welcome back! We should hang out…
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