Saturday, April 18, 2009

St. Vincent - Actor

St. Vincent's first album (Marry Me) was a terrific debut. Strange and intense and amazingly listenable. I didn't think there was any way she would be able to top it.
After my first couple listens to Actor, I assumed I was right. It was good, but it wasn't as good as Marry Me. There was only one standout track, and the rest all seemed to blend together. It still sounded good, but it didn't compare to Marry Me.
I listened to it again. And again. And again.
After 5-6 listens, it clicked. Every song became spectacular. My previous standout track was still my favorite track, but the rest of the album was not far behind. And now, every time I listen to this album, it gets even better than the last time. Marry Me was good. Actor is great. There's not a down song on the album.
This album is currently on my short list for Album of the Year. It's still early, I know, but this album has a real shot to be my favorite by the end of the year.
If you liked her first album, you definitely need to check this out. If you haven't listened to her first album, check this out. It's extremely creative (and sort of quirky) chick pop. I usually compare her to Regina Spektor, but this new album is better than anything Regina Spektor has done.

Rating: 5/5

Favorite Song: "Marrow"

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What I've Been Listening To

Here are some albums that I've been listening to lately.

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Front to back (frog track aside), this is probably my favorite album of hers. Before this, Fox Confessor was probably my favorite, but there were still some tracks I wasn't crazy about. I think this entire album is stellar. It really hit me on my fifth listen. Just fantastic stuff. I love it. The full instrumentation of some of the songs ("This Tornado Loves You", "I'm an Animal") sounds amazing. The lesser instrumentation of other songs ("Magpie to the Morning") sounds amazing. And her stark cover of Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget Me" is breathtakingly gorgeous. Everything she did on this album works. As I mentioned, I could've done without the 30 minutes of frog noises at the end of the album, but, since it's at the end, it doesn't really bother me that much.

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Song: "Don't Forget Me"

U2 - No Line on the Horizon

I like this album much better than I thought I would. There are some tracks that I really don't care for at all ("Get on Your Boots" and "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" being the main culprits), but it's pretty good for the most part. The title track works extremely well as an opener. I really like "Moment of Surrender", but I cringe a little every time that line with the ATM comes on. Still, the music is so good (I love the keyboard and string section lurking in the background) that I can't help but like it.
There are a lot of parts on this album that sound less like a U2 album and more like a new album from a U2 cover band who has written their own music. It's not just sounds like a rehash of their older albums. It's better than How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which was my only requirement for the album.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Song: "Moment of Surrender"

Handsome Furs - Face Control

I didn't listen to their first album, and I'm not really that into Wolf Parade. This album, however, completely blew me away. Great electro-rock music, complete with a rough voice and catchy melodies. I listened to this album after hearing how good it was...and it completely exceeded those expectations. Jump in your car, roll down the windows, and crank this album. You'll love it.

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Song: "Radio Kaliningrad"

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

I have a personal vendetta against Animal Collective and their legion of loyal fans. I have never understood the love and praise heaped on their heads. Apparently there's a fine line between "genius" and "unlistenable", and I have always counted myself among the latter camp. That is, until this album. They have taken their sound, polished it up a bit, and made a great pop album. They took their love of Brian Wilson and have turned out an album that is extremely creative and listenable. Personally, I didn't think they had it in them.
It's not all fantastic. I could do without the repetition of "Guys Eyes" and the lyrics of "Taste". A couple of the songs go on for a bit too long (I suppose that's to be expected when listening to an Animal Collective album).
Most of the songs are good, though, and there are a couple of great songs. "My Girls", "Bluish" and "Lion in a Coma" are the ones that stand out above all the others.
This album definitely isn't for everyone, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's the best album of their career. And it's not even really that close.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Song: "My Girls"

Hopefully I'll follow up this post with some other random albums I've been listening to. Hopefully.