Albums of 2011 (80 - 71)


23. Dez. 2011, 4:23

Albums of 2011

80 – 71

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

I love me some PB and J Harvey but this review is kind of embarrassing for me. This has gotten more re-reviews than any other album I've ever written about.

At first I hated it. I was let down. It wasn't what I'd come to expect out of Harvey.

I felt guilty for being that selfish and re-reviewed it a few months later. It got a better review but nothing to write home about.

A few months after that, the overall ranking that it earned changed but the review was kept the same.

Here we are, on the fourth review (and the page count has doubled). Close to a year later, I think I get it and I'm pretty impressed. I really think she could have done a better job tying up all the loose ends but she would risk watering down the message if she went down that path, and it's a little too strong of a message to risk compromising. I expect a great deal out of war albums and just as much from Ms. Harvey. This exceeds the standards of the former and at least meets the latter's.

I wanted this to be the album of the decade but hey, good enough. But I really shouldn't have to resort to settling for a mild emotion on a Harvey album. It certainly isn't rushed but I think a different approach would have really sold me on the concept. I do hope I'm one in a million on this one though, I want her to do well. If there's any proof that I'm shrugging off all bias, the fact that I am placing an artist who has a perfect track record with me this far down the list would be it.

I am ecstatic that she won the Mercury Prize for this album, but that doesn't mean it holds a candle to Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. I really do have a love affair with The Colour of the Earth though. Oh my, that song rendered me misty-eyed for at least a month.

I still don't know though. I mean, I know this is a great album, but it just hasn't 'clicked' for me yet. I don't care if I'm “supposed to” like it, so I'm not going to move it up...yet. I bet it takes me a few years, let's say around 2013 or 2014, before I truly get it and then I'll move it up. Probably to the top ten. I don't know. I'm just not sold on an album that I know I should be. So irritating.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You

Look at this flipping' album cover. Are kidding me? That is just so awesome. That album cover will always impress me. Always.

Anyway, as everybody and their third-world grandmother know, John Frusciante is no longer a part of this band. Now, normally losing one of the greatest guitarists that is currently living, breathing, and recording would slow some bands down but obviously not the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Now I for one have a very conflicted opinion of Stadium Arcadium. It had some amazing material on it but it absolutely failed as a double album (as most of them do) because there just needs to be nothing but legendary material on a combined release for it to be stable.

Again, I don't know if the boys have learned their lesson, what with this album being practically an hour long. It does work though, don't get me wrong, it is just the right mixture of familiar and unexpected. RHCP tend to be one of those bands that are ahead of one's expectations though and I don't feel as if that aspect of their experimentation is as prevalent on this album. Still great though.

Brett Anderson - Black Rainbows

The former Suede frontman sure knows how to put out albums. This is quite enjoyable. By the way, anytime I say 'quite' I obviously mean for it to be read in a posh British accent. I say words like 'balls' and 'legit' so I obviously mean for 'quite' to be read as a condescending compliment.

Anyway, this is good. It keeps a simple and understandable tone throughout yet still manages to be somewhat diverse as well. I don't think it comes close to any Suede record, but it's still a respectable output.

Crooked Fingers - Breaks in the Armor

I totally dig the album cover and I totally dig this album in general.

Former Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann leads the brigade into another great album release. I've liked pretty much everything they've ever done and this certainly isn't any different. It doesn't become to graining or drag on for too long and that is certainly something that usually ends up happening to albums of this genre.

I can't say it's the most Earth-shatteringly original thing I've ever heard, but it certainly holds its own in the grand scheme of things.

Robin Pecknold - Three Songs EP

Screw it, this may be a ridiculously short extended play (at only three songs, one of them being a Chris Thompson cover, one an original, and one a duet.) but it's still an EP. The leader of Fleet Foxes is joined by Edward Droste of Grizzly Bear for a great collaboration on one song and overall it's just a really nice little chunk of music to enjoy.

That's it. There aren't really any superfantastically deep themes that you can explore on two songs of your own and someone else's added in too. To be honest though, if this cat ever goes solo, it might even be on par with the Fleet Foxes albums, if not better.

Oupa - Forget

Here's my one complaint: the vocals are are mixed improperly and it frequently peaks into the red.

That's it.

That's all I have against this album on account of it being so amazing.

Again, the concept that the universe is amazing is based solely for the fact that Yuck and Oupa are fronted by the same man. One second he's distorting the crap out of his guitar and the next he's making sure his piano is as quiet as possible. It's just unfathomable.

Daniel Blumberg, if I ever have a daughter, you get first dibs on marrying her. At first she'll hate me for arranging her elopement, but then she'll hear your records and start singing a different tune if you catch my drift...

*wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *nudge* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

Mutemath - Odd Soul

I don't think this is as good as previous MUTEMATH releases, and that is very unfortunate. It's not that it's bad, because it isn't, it just feels unoriginal.

I don't feel like MUTEMATH is the only band that could pull this album off. Though, I will say, I absolutely fall head over heels in love when a 'classic-rock inspired' album makes occasional use of a drum machine. They don't do it often, but it really makes me love All or Nothing, more so than if they would have just used a conventional approach.

A lot of this definitely feels like they want to be the next The Black Keys but when they occasionally bust out those synths and 808s, it's just pure magic. Okay, so maybe it's just this album's awkward start that throws it into a weird whirlpool of doubt. Basically everything from All or Nothing on is good, so just a good start is what this album is lacking. That's all.

Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones

Oh yeah, this is nice. This is the album I expected out of PJ Harvey. Singing about death and England? Well-tread ground for sure, but this is a different take on the matters. The difference here is Turner's commitment.

You want an album about a lifeless United Kingdom? You're going to get it, in a variety of techniques and approaches as opposed to the same instruments and tempos being used over and over and over again. This is quite an enjoyable forty-five minutes. Again, I'd love to make a film out of this album.

The Globes - Future Self

I want to place this album much, much higher. I really do. So much higher. But I just can't justify it.

Maybe if every track was as magnificent as Pretty Birds Above Our Heads or Japan it could have swung a much higher vote. But they aren't, so it can't. But at least I can use this as ammo in the 'My Indie Crap Can Beat Up Your Indie Crap' arguments I always seem to find myself in and I advise you to do the same.

Brian Eno And The Words Of Rick Holland - Drums Between The Bells

Let the record show that I am reviewing the 'instrumental + spoken word' version of the album, not the 'instrumental only' version. And what a most peculiar album it is.

You have the brilliant new instrumentals from Brian Eno with the spoken poetry (not song lyrics) of Rick Holland. Does it work well? Yes. But don't mistake that for an enthusiastic, "Yes!"

I am firmly on the side of the fence that believes that Eno is one of the few gods of music and he sure doesn't tarnish that proclamation on this album. There's a lot of gold here, but not all of it is. The beauty is that most of the songs are brief, so anything that's not up to par is only brief and anything that is magnificent doesn't collapse over itself. It's nothing more than a fun little experiment and I believe it fulfills both of those definitions.

It's like listening to a nice art-house film without seeing the imagery. But you get to create your own, it's just a matter of how good you are at doing that (You know, having an imagination). The execution may be somewhat smug, but I'd rather have smug undertones than arrogant overtones. This is definitely one of those albums that you listen to on a long walk through the forest. You aren't doing yourself much good if you listen to it indoors.

You say that you haven't heard any of these albums? No excuses, click on the picture below to listen to a track from each release.

Playlist length = 43:33


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