The following represents what I consider the top ten albums of the last decade. The decision was beyond hard, but this reflects the albums which hit me the hardest and stuck with me the longest.
PROS: fan-serving | full-band parts not overdone | heart-felt songs
CONS: not memorable as a whole
If you have heard the name Allison Weiss before, then you probably already know her story. When she was fifteen, she began playing guitar to impress a boy in her creative writing class. Several years, a profile on every social networking site you could imagine and eighty-some YouTube videos later, Allison Weiss continues to build an ever-increasing fanbase. Unfortunately, any fan of hers can tell you that Allison Weiss is most certainly underappreciated. There is no lack of dedication, talent or heart in the sounds Allison Weiss creates, and it seems as though she just needs a little something to push her over the top. Her newest release, …Was Right All Along, is a step in the right direction.
Posted in Album Reviews, tagged 2 Beards, Charlie Fink, Cherrytree Records, Indie, Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale, Rock, The First Days of Spring, Vertigo Records on November 11, 2009| Leave a Comment »
PROS: can mend a broken heart | more mature sound
CONS: depressing | boring | emotionally draining
Noah and the Whale’s second album The First Days of Spring, which came out October 6th, was not “fun fun fun” to listen to. The album was written about the lead singer Charlie Fink’s recent split from girlfriend Laura Marling, who also used to be in the band. The band lacks variety without a female voice to offset the deepness of Fink’s sound.
PROS: effectively experimental | change in pace
CONS: Karen O can be a frog
Soon after “Do You Realize” was named “Oklahoma’s state rock song” The Flaming Lips must have grew tired of pleasing the masses. On the latest album, this psychedelic pop has degenerated into a crunchy nonsensical pile of sound. I mean that in the best way. Embryonic is an ingenious layering of textures through which lead singer, Wayne Coyne, leads us on a sort of psychedelic journey. While the lyrics and compositional aspects of the music are by no means spectacular, it is their presentation that is spot on. The thought that most frequently crosses my mind when I listen to Embryonic I bet the studio is a mess…I mean absolutely trashed. By the sound of this music, it seems like Coyne is just walking around smashing on objects lying around the room and pushing buttons on synthesizers with no particular method to the madness. But then you realize, in the midst of all this noise, a very careful bass line is emerging. And then if you can sift through all the crunching and crashing you will realize that these sounds have quickly evolved into drumbeats. Still drenched in overdrive, distortion and the like, the first track “Convinced of the Hex” rises from the sound.
Posted in Album Reviews, tagged "Weird Al" Yankovic, 4.5 Beards, Black Eyed Peas, Comedy, Electronic, Flight of the Conchords, Hip-Hop, Indie, Sub Pop Records, The Lonely Island on October 20, 2009| Leave a Comment »
PROS: catchy | quality musicianship | never drawn-out | great replay value
CONS: “Fashion Is Danger” | few true “new” songs
I Told You I Was Freaky is, from beginning to end, undoubtedly fun – and perhaps the best comedy music album released in recent memory. Though ten of the thirteen Flight of the Conchords tracks on this album have been released as singles on the American iTunes store, I Told You I Was Freaky is the first time these songs have been put together in one package for worldwide distribution, and more importantly, this is the first chance fans have gotten to own these songs on an actual disc.
Posted in Album Reviews, tagged 4 Beards, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Classical, DM Stith, George Gershwin, Indie, John Williams, OST, Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Welcome Wagon on October 20, 2009| 4 Comments »
PROS: incredible sonic landscapes | inventive album packaging
CONS: a lot to chew
As classical music goes, I am no connoisseur. I want something that will hold my interest and that I can appreciate for its artistic merits. The BQE is an innovative piece of artwork. It is a mirror that we can see ourselves in and reflect upon the state of industrialization, innovation and American culture. What The BQE is not is easily accessible. True, you can listen and enjoy with greater ease than the typical neo-classical Phillip Glass or Steve Reich, but it remains challenging even for the most die-hard fan.
Posted in Album Reviews, tagged 4 Beards, Amy Cole, Canada, Folk, Garage Rock, Indie, Kanye West, Paul Banwatt, Saddle Creek Records, The Rural Alberta Advantage on October 19, 2009| Leave a Comment »
PROS: good song progression | unique voice | good harmonies
CONS: first track feels out of place | not enough female vocals | too simple
With the recent Kanye West outburst, which once again demonstrated the egotism and entitlement of some artists, it is refreshing to see a genuinely nice band. And that is exactly what The Rural Alberta Advantage is. In their recent appearance at the Memorial Union Terrace, the band was earnestly interested in meeting their adoring fans and humbly getting acquainted with them.