Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Top Groovy Tunes from....ah, who the hell knows when?

Hey yo/It’s about that time/To break forth the rhythm and the rhyme ( I may have used that intro to my Top 10 music picks last year, but no one can prove it because the old blog is gone forever! Haha!) I decided this year since you could read Top 10 lists from people who actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to objectively identifying 2004’s musical standouts, I’m only going to rank the albums I actually purchased this year. I wrote down all of my album purchases down in my little notebook, and it turns out I didn’t even buy enough to fill out a Top 10, but I came in pretty close at a solid 9. You see, my better half has invested all of his funds in CDs, that is he buys and downloads music at the rate bunnies reproduce, so I often find FREE! BURNED! CDs in my purse and don’t feel the need to add to the mammoth collection that’s probably growing as I type.

So without further ado, here are my “Just Fine Nine” albums for which I actually forked over the scrilla. Some of them rule, a few suck, and most of them aren’t even from this year. Of course, and yet again, the white boys are going home victorious.

9.Sea Ray, Stars at Noon
I saw this band open for Metric and The Stills (two albums I do own, but did not purchase…you see how this works?) last summer. They were electric and fantastic on stage, so off to the merch table I skipped to buy the album. I’ve listened to it about twice and don’t have any recollection of how it sounds. Mike says he hates it, and while we don’t always agree on music (ahem, Fiery Furnaces anyone?), I’m going to have to take his word on it since I’m not working with much here, so at 9 out of 9 it shall go. A lot of people I know (and I know about 15 people) think this is a great album, so take this with a grain of Sea Salt. BUT you should know Sea Ray has broken up, so they’ll never again be able to capture the glory of their live show that wrenched $8 from my withered claw.

8.Peanut Butter Wolf, My Vinyl Weighs a Ton (1999…gasp!)
I remember the day I picked this one up, a halcyon spring day when I purchased not one, not two, but three albums from the used CD racks at Tracks, giving us a third of this list’s entries; in retrospect a very important day, no? Well, I never got around to listening to this album because three Cds in one day is a little overwhelming to me. From all the stuff I can find on the Internet, though, it sounds like I might want to dust Ole Wolf off and give him a second chance. PBW is the alter ego of a California teen who began Djing at block parties and ended up collaborating with greats like Nas, Kool Keith and the Pharcyde. Allegedly, he’s one of the most talented and innovative stars of the underground rap scene. And to think this gem is just sitting on a shelf in my apartment. Add Music Reviews calls this album, “A modern hip-hop classic with great production, tonsa' turntable work, and a lineup of ill emcees. PBW's a genius.” Good enough for me. Maybe I’ll break this out when I get home tonight.

7.Spoon, Kill the Moonlight (2002; only two years behind the curve on this one)
Ugh, I can’t believe I actually linked to a Pitchfork review and worse even agreed with it. They gave this album a solid 8.9/10, citing its energy and use of silence and space, mixed with pure and driving rockin’ beats. It’s upbeat and pensive at the same time, a smiling album with a decidedly dark sneer. Kill the Moonlight has a strong throbbing pulse; it’s a full-bodied dance album with its heart crashing into bruised ribcages and soul dripping out of every lyric.

6.RJD2, Since We Last Spoke
Wooooo! It’s an album from this year! Since We Last Spoke is the much-anticipated follow up to 2002’s Dead Ringer. I’ve never heard Dead Ringer, but from what I can tell, Since We Last Spoke is this Midwestern (yeah, you read that right!) turntablist’s “rock” album response to his last more electronic-infused offering. While SWLS does indeed rock, bringing in equal parts hair metal, funk, indie rock, hip-hop and everything in between, electronica certainly still plays a major part in RJD2’s music. These songs would be perfect for 1970’s-themed cop shows, blaxploitation movies, or in some cases annoying British romcoms. While some of his sonic goals are a little lofty and overarching, I’ve got to give the guy credit for his energy and innovation.

5.Pinback, Blue Screen Life
You know what’s funny? I’m so slow at buying albums, Pinback just released a new one this year and I’m still just sinking my ears into this three-year-old CD I picked up on Sunday…and I think I like the new one better. Anyway, if you kinda sorta still like emo but you’re too damn old to be listening to The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World (the resemblances here are uncanny), and you can’t stand hearing your favorite band sullied on the OC, Pinback is for you. Besides, wound up like a Rolex, they’re musically tighter than Pedro the Lion and waaay less emotionally vulnerable (read: whiny) than Death Cab For Cutie. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of the above-mentioned bands, I’m just not too proud of it. If you know what I’m talking about, and you’re not too busy writing in your journal about how your 8th grade girlfriend broke your heart, you might want to pick this one up. (Check out highlights "Concrete Seconds" and "Penelope")

4.Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Yeah, so if you haven’t heard of this album and kind of know what it’s about, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s going to be on everyone’s top 10 list, and shit, I even bought it in a reasonable amount of time. It’s good, and I’m still not sick of “Float On” yet. Sometimes I worry about Modest Mouse. Not only because Isaac Brock has issues, but because “Float On” was a happy, bouncy radio-friendly single to come from on of the most uncuddly bands in the mainstream right now (uh, death metal excluded I guess). The rest of MM’s music is brilliant, but it sounds nothing like the anomaly that is “Float On” and I can’t imagine it going over to well if it’s ever piped into a mall’s omnipresent speaker system. It’s not pretty shopping music, and GASP! People might start to think. I just hate to think of them being labeled as a one-hit wonder, when there’s so much substance behind their latest stylish incarnation.

3.Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights
Again, not the new, much-lauded album, the old one. I finally bought Turn on the Bright Lights the same day as Peanut Butter Wolf and Spoon; a day that shall live in infamy. Pretty much I love everything about TOTBL. I adore “Untitled” so much I could listen to the song’s merry-go-round “ahhhhs” over and over for hours. I love the exhausted tribute “NYC.” And I can’t get enough of Carlos D’s Paul Banks' voice, which channels Joy Division’s Ian Curtis prefectly. From the first time I heard this album, I loved it, which is not normal for me. I usually have to listen to it a good three times before it can start to sink in. I think that’s why I’ve been avoiding their sophomore effort, Antics, even though I know it’s supposed to be wonderful.

2.Built to Spill, Keep it like a Secret
A definite pleaser from the freezer. I used to play songs from this album on my radio show my sophomore year in college. Somehow I never got around to buying it until a few weeks ago. It’s a solid, intelligent pop rock album not unlike Death Cab for Cutie with more edge and power. Yeah, so that’s all I can think to say about that. It’s a good, intensely listenable and likeable indie rock album. “Carry the Zero” is definitely my favorite song.

1.The Avalanches, Since I Left You
Mixology at its best, shaken and stirred into the perfect party cocktail, flowing smoothly from beginning to end with flavor to spare. Aside from an EP, this is the only album from Aussie turntable impresarios and musicians The Avalanches. This gang of six sample brilliantly and extensively from innumerable obscure and well-known archives of records, mix it with their own instrumentals and create a musical theme that floats throughout the album. Several of the songs sample Madonna’s “Holiday,” marking the first time she gave permission for her work to be used within another artist’s work. I had a bunch of these songs on my computer for years, but listening to this endlessly busy and invigorating album as a whole is a completely different and exciting experience.

Did you buy that Sea Ray disc? I could have swore I picked that one up. I remember being at the show, almost out of cash, and wanting it. Maybe you loaned me the extra dough. Then again I remember talking down the guy at the merch table to get one with a broken case for $5. Either way, the CD is not that good IMO, so you can have it!
I think you did want it but I bought it, so I'm counting it....geez I'm trying to scrape around for nine measly CDs here. I don't want it either. We should leave it outside Target.
ooooo, love the avalanches. so glad you finally bought that album this year; i am actually on my second copy b/c #1 was left on a train in new zealand (DAMNIT!). and agreed as far as interpol...i adore totbl and have put off listening to antics, even though ui received it as a b'day gifty in oct. crazy :)
Hey ladies. No updates lately. Don't start getting all In The Congo on me now.
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