Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Jodi Root.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)
Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
No other album could possibly come close to the heavy rotation Teen Dream got on my iPod this year. The combination of Victoria Legrand’s lush vocals and dream pop instrumentation is seriously too good to be true. Tracks like the dizzying “Norway,” epic “Zebra” and the surreal “Silver Soul” are twistedly abstract, romantic and damned enchanting.
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Love him or hate him, Kanye knows how to get your attention. After a pretty rough couple of years, West came hurdling through the haters with his most epic release to date, dropping My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as his musical redemption. West proves he’s got power with his sleek beats, addicting hooks and rhymes (seriously, who else can get the masses singing toasts to ‘douchebags’?) and featured partners in crime ranging from Elton John, Jay-Z to Bon Iver.
Robyn – Body Talk (Cherry Tree) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Released just in time to secure a spot on my top 10 of ’10 list, our favorite Swedish pop princess compiled her Body Talk trilogy into one cohesive album. Body Talk as a cumulative whole, vs. the three separate eps, rivals the greatness that was her breakout self-titled 2008 comeback. Dropping dance party anthems like “Hang With Me,” “Dancehall Queen” and “Indestructible,” girlfriend proves she won’t be dancing on her own any longer.
The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
While we will sadly never again experience the epic greatness of another Funeral, Win Butler and crew made a damned fine attempt with The Suburbs. Blowing away their sophomore release Neon Bible, The Suburbs was one consistently memorable collection of epic instrumentation and overall indie goodness. Tracks such as “Month of May,” “Sprawl II,” “Ready to Start” and “The Suburbs” are undeniable examples of awesomeness.
GAYNGS – Relayted (Jagjaguwar) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Not such Broken Social Scene has the indie music scene witnessed such a superhero line-up. The debut release from Midwesterners GAYNGS, Relayted is such an irresistible compilation of sleek, synth heavy, 80’s throwback baby making music that George Michael was pretty much forced into retirement. Who knew the dudes from Bon Iver, The Rosebuds and Solid Gold had such a seductive side to ‘em? Burning hot.
Phantogram – Eyelid Movies (Barsuk) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The majority of male/female duos are shiny, happy pop music. (See YACHT, Mates of State, Matt & Kim, etc). Phantogram is not one of those bands. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter make musical love into mystery, driven with their synth and bass driven melodies and gaspy, seductive shared vocals. Eyelid Movies is eleven tracks of electronic indie dance bliss.
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Virgin) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Anything Damon Albarn touches turns to gold (or at least it should). Even after just releasing the greatness that is Plastic Beach in 2010, Albarn has already announced his intentions of a follow-up album, which was recorded on their current tour—on an iPad. Not sure how he’ll get guest artists like Snoop Dogg and Lou Reed onboard with this current method, but by now I’m pretty sure whatever Albarn’s got up his sleeve is destined for greatness.
Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Who knew some random Polaroid photo from the 80’s would blow up into the biggest indie lawsuit of the year? Luckily for the gentlemen of Vampire Weekend, it turns out there’s much more to Contra than their obscure album art. Tracks like “Giving up the Gun,” “Cousins” and “Holiday” are just a few of the album’s upbeat pop ditties, proving these prep rockers are more than a one album success act.
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
James Murphy is a pretty righteous dude. This is Happening was one of the year’s biggest hypes, and if you’ve listened to the record, you’ll see why. “You Wanted a Hit,” “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Home” are several exemplifications of how Murphy and co. have raised the bar on electro-indie bangers once again.
Caribou – Swim (Merge) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Daniel Snaith is a mathematician by trade, but he’s better known to the masses as the indie electro composer Caribou. Swim is his best release to date, bursting with formulaic layers of samples, reverb, synth, bass and whatever other magical components he throws into the mix. Impossible to stand still while listening to, this album is consistently mind bending from start to finish.
Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ amd Music Director Billy Kalb.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)
Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
I was wary of Kieren Hebden’s foray into techno with 2007’s Ringer EP, given what a fan I was of his earlier work and his previously glitchy, jazz-inflected sonic palette. But There is Love In You brought me back. Sprawling and ambitious, club-tested at London’s legendary Plastic People, Love in You is a near-perfect album. It’s dark but warm, mechanical and organic all at once, and the reassembled vocal snippets convey a beauty that lyrics could not. Absolutely stunning.
Sam Amidon – I See the Sign (Bedroom Community) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Almost entirely slept-on despite some decent press, Sam Amidon’s third full-length came to my attention almost by accident and soon became one of my favorites. Amidon is what you might call a folk singer, but he chooses to draw on material that’s often centuries old: immigrant songs, murder ballads, wedding dances. Rather than go the route of stuffy traditionalism, he imbues his versions with cues taken from 20th century classical minimalism, chamber pop and Arthur Russell. They’re old songs, but Amidon makes them glow like new.
Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Société Expéditionnaire) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
No band this year wrote a better song about cannibalism. Chicago’s own Judson Claiborne put together a fantastic full-length of moody folk-rock in 2010, and if you haven’t heard it, you’re doing yourself a considerable disservice. Sometimes haunting and bible-black, other times bursting with joy, Time and Temperature is one of the most honest, rewarding, and genuinely likeable records I heard this year. Check it out.
The Walkmen – Lisbon (Fat Possum) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Both the National and the Walkmen mine similar territory; early on, both bands explored the angst of coming to terms with adulthood, wrestling with new responsibilities and figuring out where you belong in this grown-up world. By 2010, both have mellowed a bit, more comfortable in their skin. There’s still plenty of doubt and pain, but it’s been tempered with quiet confidence and an appreciation for the good things. That’s not to say they’ve become boring, however; what they lack in larger-than-life size they more than make up for in ever-increasing depth.
Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Not Part 1, not Part 2. I’m talking about the whole damn thing. Signed to her own label and free to do whatever she likes, Swedish pop sweetheart Robyn released EPs at a furious clip this year, compiling her favorite songs onto a full-length album last month. Part of the joy of Body Talk was hearing what she’d come up with next, from synth-pop ballads to dancefloor ragers to duets with Snoop Dogg. Not everything hit the mark, but there’s enough quality material for a very, very killer iTunes playlist — Robyn gets exactly what being a pop star in the 21st century is all about.
Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Dubstep has mutated into something…something approachable. Mount Kimbie’s Crooks and Lovers is more than your standard issue dubstep: the rhythmic sensibility is almost the same, but the pop sensibility is off the charts. Which is to say: it’s danceable, but chilled out; it’s abstract, but upfront; it’s hazy, but laser-focused. It’s just right. And even so, it’s totally unexpected – and rarely this well-executed.
Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Atlantic) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
A year after the death of the King of Pop and a thousand media laments of how no one makes big-tent pop albums like Thriller anymore, two wildly creative talents made a couple of big-tent pop albums… and the wider world hardly noticed. A real crime, I promise you, and those who missed it will inevitably come to regret their error. Full-to-the-brim with innovative production and killer hooks, Sir Lucious and The ArchAndroid satisfied the pop itch like few other albums this year could. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Jason Adasiewicz – Sun Rooms (Delmark) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
With his partners-in-jazz Mike Reed (drums) and Nate McBride (bass), Jason Adasiewicz is busy redefining the role of the vibraphone in the genre. No great surprises here if you’ve heard any of Adasiewicz’s work elsewhere (and considering how prolifically collaborative the dude is, chances are you have), just some wonderful performances and warm, inviting tones (like a sun room, get it?). If jazz isn’t really your thing, this could be the album to change that. And if jazz is your thing, you’re in for a treat.
Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (HoZac/Sub Pop) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
You know what so much of the current garage-rock revival lacks? Hooks. You know what I Will Be has in abundance? You guessed it. Dum Dum Girls are a melodic steamroller, and nothing will get in their way – not boys, nor rivals, nor rules. Boosted by killer production from Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, The Go-Go’s), singer Dee Dee radiates effortless cool and confidence, and she’s totally earned it: when you can write songs like this, being a total badass should come naturally.
The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Like a cinephile going out of his way not to see overt Oscar-bait, I avoided ear contact with the much-hyped third Arcade Fire album as long as possible. But something pulled me in; I’d hear a fantastic song on CHIRP, or I’d be in the car with my girlfriend and she’d put it on. And you know what? Sometimes hype is warranted. This band continues to get better, and fortunately, they’ve also dropped the heavy-handed doom and gloom of Neon Bible in favor of graceful, instantly memorable pop songs. They’re still rallying against the world, of course, but this time around, it’s much easier to join in.
Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)
White Hinterland – Kairos (Dead Oceans)
In Tall Buildings - In Tall Buildings (Whistler)
Matthew Dear – Black City (Ghostly International)
Caribou – Swim (Merge)
Mike Mills is often overshadowed by Michael Stipe and Peter Buck in R.E.M., but he’s been a vital component from Day 1. In addition to his steady bass playing, he’s a wonderful harmony singer and even took the lead on the band’s hit cover of The Clique’s “Superman”. To top it all off, he’s a really nice guy. So let’s salute Mike Mills on his birthday by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
Wilco – Camera (More Like The Moon): This is a fuzzy rocker that sounds like it was recorded around the time of Summerteeth but was deemed too heavy for the album. Or perhaps it was committed to tape during The Ghost Is Born sessions, but somehow didn’t fit. Regardless, this is a sunny pop-rocker with a mix that emphasizes the guitars and bass with Jeff Tweedy’s voice coming from under all this fun noise.
Emitt Rhodes – Holly Park (The Emitt Rhodes Record): This is an Anglophile’s delight, with the cult popper doing a baroque pop number that is pure 1967, even though it was recorded a few years later. This is an immediately appealing song.
Little Richard – Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave (The Georgia Peach): This is a brassy blues number that would be well suited for Nat King Cole or Fats Domino. Little Richard keeps his piano playing in check, but can’t tame his soul shouting. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as it elevates what is otherwise a merely decent song.
Madness – House Of Fun (Ultimate Collection): One of Madness’s all-time great singles, a jaunty number about…buying condoms? Yep, and the band’s use of coded language isn’t sniggering. Instead, it serves to amplify the nervousness of the spotty faced teen protagonist who is at the chemist’s shop asking for a plunker. The carnival style music makes this one of the most creative pop singles of the ‘80s.
Wings – Spin It On (Back to the Egg): Macca wasn’t immune to punk rock and one of his characteristically packed to the gills ‘70s albums, he tipped his hat to this new wave with this speedy pop ditty. The song is so simple and McCartney is having a blast. A hidden gem.
Martin Newell – The Greatest Living Englishman (The Greatest Living Englishman): Newell is an eccentric British pop artist who led the cult bands Cleaners From Venus and The Brotherhood Of Lizards. On this album, he worked with XTC’s Andy Partridge and while this is a low budget affair, Partridge brought out the classic ‘60s foundation in Newell’s writing, and the result sounds like a collaboration between Syd Barrett, The Move and The Kinks. This is a swell album.
Julianna Raye – Tell Me I’m Alright (Something Peculiar): Raye was related to some big wig at Warner Brothers Records. Thus, she got a deal. And thus, she got Jeff Lynne to produce her album. As it turns out, this wasn’t just nepotism in action. Raye has a great smoky baritone voice and penned some swell ‘60s inspired pop songs. Of course, Lynne has a way to make that type of stuff shimmer, and the jangly music is a perfect vehicle for Raye’s wonderful singing.
The Yardbirds – The Nazz Are Blue (Ultimate!): The title might make it seem like this is one of The Yardbirds’ psychedelic forays. However, this is just an oddly named blues rocker with the expected red hot guitar work.
Bad Religion – Hooray For Me (Stranger Than Fiction): A melodic mid-tempo track from a band that is better known for high velocity rock. This song almost has a ‘50s rock foundation and even with a typically declamatory Greg Graffin lead vocal, there’s an uncharacteristic wistfulness underlying this song, even as the lyrics are defiant. Cool track.
Shudder To Think – She Wears He Harem (Get Your Goat): On this album, Shudder To Think double the arty and weird quotient, with the guitars becoming more angular and the bass lines adding to the dissonance. This only encouraged Craig Wedren to stretch his voice to its limits, adding new feats of vocal acrobatics. This is not for everyone, but I like how Shudder To Think underpins everything in basic hard rock sounds, and then messes with conventions, while still creating oddball hooks.
Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from station volunteer Josh Lesser.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)
Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (XL) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Sure, at first blush a punk concept album loosely based on combining coming of age in New Jersey and the American Civil War seems like an unlikely pick for best album of the year. But Titus Andronicus puts the full force of their rage, youth, and passion into track after shout-alongable track, and thesis statements on the state of America and youth abound ("we have enemies everywhere", "you will always be a loser", "its still us against them"). Listening to the album, or, even better, at witnessing their live show, its impossible not to get swept along with them. Essential Tracks: "A More Perfect Union", "Four Score and Seven"
Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago (Matador) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Shearwater continues their growth from folk side project (from Jonathan Meiburgs former band, Okkervil River) to one of the most unique bands out there with this album. Lushly orchestrated and densely lyrical, each song builds its own particular mood and atmosphere while Meiburg wails and howls and whispers above it. The album moves effortlessly from gloriously uplifting to ominous and claustrophobic and back again. Essential tracks: "Uniforms", "God Made Me", "Castaways"
Girl Talk – All Day (Illegal Art) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
While I havent lived with this album as long as some of the others, I can't say I was more excited about any album on this list dropping. And while on first listen it didnt seem as immediate or complex as former albums, the test for me for Girl Talk is whether it makes me want to giggle and dance at the same time. And once he mixes Rhianna and Fugazi on the second track, it did. Essential Tracks: "Let it Out", "Thats Right"
The National – High Violet (4AD) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
When I want existential dread and wine soaked–sadness, I need look no further than this incredible record. Even the hopeful songs have terrifying images (being carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees, for example). Themes of protecting your children, craving sorrow, and, of course, zombies infuse this record with a maturity that wasn't present as much on the previous National albums, and they are no worse off for it. Essential Tracks: "Bloodbuzz Ohio", "England"
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Brutalist Bricks (Matador) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Brutalist Bricks explodes out of the gate with a song about suicide bombings, and never looks back. Returning to the political rabble rouser form he did so well on Shake the Streets Ted Leo and co. sound tight, together, and focused. Perfect for long drives and short bursts of righteous anger. (bonus points for the amazing, Paul F. Tomkins-starring, music video sending up American Idiot: The Musical) Essential Tracks: "The Mighty Sparrow", "Bottled in Cork"
Midlake – The Courage of Others (Bella Union) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Pretty much any album Midlake released after the near-perfection of Van Occupanther would have been a let down for me, but Courage of Others goes a long way towards soothing that pain. Rainy day music written by druids, its almost surprising to hear them address more direct, less mystical notions on songs like "The Courage of Others" (which evokes neither ancient kingdoms nor moss covered hillsides, and speaks more to emo kids than forest children). But they do both eually well, it turns out. Essential Tracks: "Rulers, Ruling All Things", "Acts of Man"
Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Like Midlake, Frightened Rabbit had the tall order of following up one of my favorite records of the last five years (Midnight Organ Fight). And while this album took a while to grow on me, grow it did. No other band reaches quite the heights that Frightened Rabbit does at its best when it mixes pedestrian images with soaring backings to pack the perfect punch. Sadness rarely sounds as joyful as they make it sound. Essential Tracks: "Things", "The Loneliness and the Scream"
Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises (Caldo Verde) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
I've been saving this one for the winter, because a July release date for a Sun Kil Moon album seems somehow inappropriate. While I will admit Kozelek stripping back to his man-and-his-Spanish-guitar persona is not my favorite one of his (preferring the more produced, full band sounds of the Red House Painters and his first Sun Kil Moon album), I will eagerly absorb anything this man does, and Admiral Fell Promises has not disappointed. I look forward to many cold winter days alone with this album. How many things can you that about? Essential Tracks: "Alesund", "Sam Wong Hotel"
"Ready to Start" from The Suburbs by Arcade Fire (Merge) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Maybe this is out of place on a Best of the Year list, but I feel I can't in good conscience discuss this year in music without pointing out the two albums that disappointed me the most. Two new albums from two of my favorite bands...I felt my cup would runneth over. But try as I might to get into The Suburbs, I just cant do it. There are tracks that I like, and one track that I love (hence giving the nod to "Ready to Start" as a standout of the year) but I fell in love with both Funeral and Neon Bible within the first couple of listens. And while it may not be fair to compare them all, compare I must, and this album just does not clear the bar. I'm still holding out hope for Arcade Fire, that someday it might just click...
"We Can Get Together" from Heaven is Whenever by The Hold Steady (Vagrant) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
...As for The Hold Steady, "We can get together" is a great song, and keeps with the bands mission statement, but for the most part, the rest of the album is pretty forgettable.
Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' favorite music of 2010. Here with a list of his 10 favorite singles from 2010 is CHIRP Radio DJ Dan Morgridge.
(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)
"Bombay" by El Guincho, from the album Pop Negro (Young Turks) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
"We are going to explore the cosmos in the ship of the imagination." So states El Guincho in his Carl-Sagan-esque intro to the B-movie/home cinema/let's-film-some-shenanigans (NSFW) video for Bombay, his opus of 2010. The bizarre feats of cinema displayed juxtapose the somewhat sorrowful lyrics - but if you don't speak Spanish, just sit back and appreciate the melodic and almost percussive singing. The instruments weaving in and out, the steel drums and hand claps, and the echoed final cry will keep the song growing in your head for a long time.
"Tin Man" by Future Islands, from the album In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
While "Tin Man" and my number one song share a prominent steel drum, Future Islands match it with a muscular guitar and the inimitable gruff wails of lead singer Sam Herring. The summer jam for driving around right before sunset, few other songs this year can come close to the gamut of emotions this tune can serve.
"Not In Love ft. Robert Smith" by Crystal Castles (Motown) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes I always have a soft spot for musical re-imagination - I always find art begets art, so I love seeing someone professionally do the same thing and succeed. Taking the raw material from the rarely-mined field of Canadian glam new wave, Platinum Blonde's tune got an injection of chiptune steroids from Crystal Castles. But then for the December release, the band replaced the anemic, computerized vocals of Alice Practice with none other than Robert Smith. The Cure frontman pours his heart into it like he was 17 and just dumped, instantly owning the song like his name was Hendrix and it was about a joker and a thief.
"Burden Of Tomorrow" by The Tallest Man On Earth, from the album The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
In another universe, Swede Kristian Matsson is the world's best Bob Dylan impersonator. Lucky for us, here he's found just enough of his own songwriting voice (and just slightly more forgiving nasal tones) to be an electrifying artist in his own right. From an album of rock-solid songs accompanied only by his own guitar, banjo or piano, Matsson's narrow stand-out is the bright-eyed gleam of "Burden Of Tomorrow", a mythological origin story: "Oh but rumor has it that I wasn't born/I just walked in one frosty morn" - yelped with enough passion that you could almost believe him.
"Runaway" by Kanye West, from the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
It feels almost criminal to not give Kanye the top spot in this list. You can almost imagine he would go through infinite numbers of online reviews, leaving anonymous comments saying "8.5! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH OF A GENIUS I AM FOR PUTTING CHRIS ROCK AND APHEX TWIN ON THE SAME TRACK?!?" But his hubris aside, Kanye has spent a year collaborating on an album with an all-star cast, but more importantly, with the Internet itself. Leaking demos left and right, posting songs without real lyrics, jumping up on tables to rap as the songs hit him - in the cult of the amateur, Kanye is king.
But to describe his finished products as amateur would be a grave mistake - love or hate him, Kanye has agonized over every second, pored over every sample. "Runaway" is the perfect microcosm of the album: a seamless blend of egomania and melancholy, both unsatisfied and unrepentant. Some of the lyrics will cause bystanders to grimace - "I sent this girl a picture of my dick/I don't know what it is with females, but I'm not too good at that shit" is as unrefined as you can imagine a song lyric- but are we grimacing at Kanye, or with him?
"Plastic People" by Four Tet, from the album There Is Love In You (Domino) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Four Tet's paean to the club he has used as a sounding board for much of his latest album is a peculiar lie on it's surface - a quiet, scruffy ethereal sound. But it's tempo is pure dance - a touch of two-step, a hint of rave, and a mix of whatever else it takes to get a full crowd at the Metro dancing again (like he did here in October). It's a perfect tune for when everything outside is moving fast and everything inside is moving slow.
"Meet Me In The Basement" by Broken Social Scene, from the album Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
When a band whose vocal talents include Feist, Emily Haines, and several other occasional lead singers, you have to credit them with some moxie for calling an instrumental jam "something that's become our anthem" at the Pitchfork Music Festival this year. But by golly, the song has legs that go all the way to the floor, and the guitar interplay is some of the finest you can bang a head at. Bonus points: the anonymously-submitted video bashing the G20 summit in Toronto that the band put on their YouTube channel.
"The Gaudy Side Of Town" by GAYNGS, from the album Relayted (Jagjaguwar) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
2010 was a banner year for Justin Vernon. Playing cover tag with Peter Gabriel, having Kanye West decide to make "Woods" the backbone of his penultimate track on his craziest album yet - but you could argue that it all started with him getting to have a little fun with GAYNGS. Not to say that anything on Relayed comes off as tongue-in-cheek; somehow, the band plays a tribute album to 10cc's I'm Not In Love with perfect conviction and execution. But “The Gaudy Side of Town” has a mournful 80’s sax wail, slinking bass, and all-high-hat scattered drums mixed with Vernon ditching his mournful winter hibernation voice for a whispery croon of schmaltzy sleaze, and you have to wonder if playing such a fun role didn't help send him into bigger superstardom (for better or worse).
"Generator ^ Second Floor" by Freelance Whales, from the album Weathervanes (Frenchkiss/Mom and Pop) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Weathervanes earned its share of detractors - whether for the band's spontaneous concerts, wacky instruments like a watering can, or some of the rather grating selections from the album itself. With outstanding biases aside, the elements displayed in just the first two build-up minutes alone are stunning - banjo lead, washboard and accordion ambiance, glockenspiel taking over, and then an electric guitar somehow tastefully topping it all off. Then the harmonies pop in, and suddenly you're not cheerfully singing along in the streets to this kind little tune about accepted death.
"O.N.E." by Yeasayer, from the album Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian) BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
One part Animal Collective, one part George Michael, all parts capable of making you dance like the dirtiest hippie imaginable. Anand Wilder sings his own "I Will Survive" like he's so over it, he's already in Copacabana wearing wayfarers and flirting with anyone who might bring him a Mai Tai.
"Heaven's On Fire" by The Radio Dept.
"Dancing With The DJ" by The Knocks
"Neighbor Riffs" by Surfer Blood
"Low Shoulders" by Toro Y Moi
"Ducktails" by Art Vandelay