TEN RECORDS THAT I LIKED THIS YEAR, (or 9 that I liked along with some other albums that came out before 2005…)
These are in no particular order. Particular order doesn’t really matter right now.
PAINT IT BLACK ‘Paradise’
It’s strange to look back and remember what emotional states I’ve been in while I was into certain records. When Paint It Black’s ‘Paradise’ arrived on my doorstep in early spring of 2005, I was angry as fuck, and I needed some understanding sorely. I was broke, I was working a job I hated to get by, I hated where I was and I wasn’t spending any time doing the things that make myself who I am. My answer to the dilemma was to listen to a 20-minute long record that mirrored my emotions. ‘Paradise’ may have been more political than what I was feeling at the time, but the anger, confusion and displacement were spot on with me. I don’t have a favorite song or anything, but ‘Paradise’ as a whole did re-instill my faith in passionate, pissed hardcore music. Thank you Dr. Dan!
THE NATIONAL ‘Alligator’
I don’t actually know why I like this record so much. It’s not crazy original or blazing any new trails, but they do what they do unbelievably. And what they do is write pop music that’s uncomfortable in its own skin. The National are judgmental, sarcastic and self-defeating, and their music is a unique mix of latter-day Sebadoh, the quieter moments of the Pixies, and something that’s now officially going to be known as succinctly National. (Well, not officially, but they have a way of doing things their own way….)
The vocalist’s voice reminds me of the guy from Crash Test Dummies at times, but I’ve had an intervention with myself to not let that aspect affect how much I really like this record….
PICASTRO ‘Metal Cares’
One of the most unexpectedly somber records I got to know this year. I got it in September, following the anger, confusion and general dirt mood I had been feeling most of the summer. It basically said to me, “Take a deep breath, relax and live damn it, live.” So I did. Because of some haunting, brooding chamber pop. I never said my brain was normal…..
STARS ‘Set Yourself on Fire’
A record about breaking up and falling in love that immediately transports me back to the early 90s Teen Beat/Simple Machines/Small Factory school of indie rock. The production is turned up a hell of of lot and some of the songs are blatantly cheesy, but the gems more than make up for the clunkers. “When there’s nothing left to burn, you hafta set yourself on fire.” How true old man, how true.
SUFJAN STEVENS ‘Illinois’
Predictable selection, I know. Once again, it got me through a place that I now refer to as “a rock and a hard hole.” It made sense at the time. Really…
MEDICATIONS ‘Your Favorite People All in One Place’
So there’s two trains of thought in the anger school: straight up and subversive. After the in-your-face-ness of Paint It Black, I needed something a little more analytical to get me mad throughout most of the summer. Then Devin O’Campo and the Medications camp drops their first full length and my summer quandary is solved. I listened to this record every fucking day for two months. It’s frantic and technical and rocking and not easily digestible upon first listen. I’ve kinda thought about the Medications formula a lot over the past few months, and here’s what I’ve deduced: the band is comprised of three incredible musicians who equally compliment each other instead of overshadowing each other. Middle-aged symbiosis, trying to make sense of the world without tearing it apart in the process….
THE LONG WINTERS ‘Ultimatum’
A record written completely about one premise; hope ultimately ending in disaster. Can someone say “Yeah, like hello, 2005…” for me? Anger, disappointment, displacement, running followed by more running, and then this record in late November. At the point when I got this record, I was entering the calm after the storm, and it felt good to reach the disaster part of each song and ultimately know that everything would inevitably be ok….
SLEATER KINNEY ‘The Woods’
(In my best stoner voice) Cause it’s fucking loud!
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN ‘Push Barman to Open Old Wounds’
Not fair technically, since it’s a ‘best of’ collection of sorts written way before ’05, but man if it didn’t get me out of the house this summer, and then onwards into exploring the back alleys of Glasgow this past fall. ‘A Century of Elvis’ may be the best human/cat interaction song since ‘Please From A Cat Named Virtue’ from The Weakerthans. Call me a sucker, but human/cat dialogue gets me every time…
And #10: the option to say that I liked and re-introduced myself to a lot of records released prior to 2005, including Centro-Matic, The Notwist, Vague Angels, Harkonen, Minus The Bear, The Headlights, Nedelle, Walking Concert, Lungfish, Owen, etc….