Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2009: The Year of Lists - Carrie “Colossal Youth” Wade

And the hits keep on coming. This one comes from the mind behind Colossal Youth. I think I've suggested that you read her blog and gaze upon her beautiful photos before. If you have yet to do so, click on the link and make it happen.

It should also be noted that the opinions expressed in these posts are not those of comoprozac (a pseudonym) or of the owner of this blog. The lists are entirely attributed to the author identified below.

1. Logos – Atlas Sound

I find few things truly remarkable anymore. Little seems to amaze me. As a music junkie nothing is sweeter than listening to an album for the first time and being stunned. Your ears perk up to what you hear, you listen more intently, words take on meanings, endorphins release, and maybe you cry a little at the beauty of an activity so simple, yet so powerful. It’s a rare pleasure for me, even though I consume more music per year than I once did the feeling of hearing something wonderful comes less frequent than it did in my younger days. But sometimes certain things penetrate my cynicism, and this album has managed to do that. It’s stupid, but good music tends to make me a better, happier person. This album is just one of those reaffirmations I need every now and then that the world isn’t quite so horrible, that there can be select moments of beauty, even if short-lived.

Logos is my new security blanket album. And particularly since I listened to it all morning recently when ulcerating and puking my guts out, that verifies its power to calm and sustain me. Stay in bed, it’ll get better eventually.

2. Childish Prodigy -- Kurt Vile

A lot of the stuff on my list this year is inspired by some of the shows I went to, particularly the legendary weekend of Boomslang, which climaxed on the final night with a Kurt Vile and the violators show. It’s always one thing to hear the album, but live music can be hit or miss as anyone who has ever played in a band or gone to a live show can attest to. Kurt Vile comes across just as well in both formats.

But the album…childish prodigy boils over with angst, which is very becoming of the mop headed Philadelphian. Many critics have considered him the cross between Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, but he’s less kooky than old Neil and not as obnoxious as the Boss. He is a brilliant songwriter and musician, but is subtle in his execution. I rank this one above God is Saying this to You? Because of the three song wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am of “Overnite Religion,” “Freak Train,” and “Blackberry nights.” I think the juxtaposition of these three tracks is brilliant. Plus, “Freak Train” has a sax solo.

3. Wind’s Poem -- Mount Eerie

Phil Elverum knows how to appeal to all my sensibilities: he’s able to tastefully go metal, mix in some of his classically impressive singer-songwriter acoustic stuff, and even toss in some pretty non-gay synthesizer action (inspired by Twin Peaks, he said in an interview with The Believer). Inspired by time in Norway, this album is the result of his time in a cabin connecting with nature and his long love of death metal. I don’t know how he’s able to make it sound good, and still own these genres—which are a massive departure from his usual oeuvre, but he does, and it’s pretty awesome.

4. Post-NothingJapandroids

Sometimes I just need to rock the fuck out. Japandroids enables this. Also, this year I got really into minimalist guitar/drums bands. I find it impressive how they can get such an incredible sound with just your bare necessities (and a ton of pedals).

5. God is Saying This to you? – Kurt Vile

This album is more cohesive, and lower key than Childish Prodigy. It relies more on a singer-songwriter aesthetic, which is good for staring into the coal black abyss of my soul--an old pastime of mine. However, I don’t care to do it much anymore.

6. The Floodlight Collective – Lotus Plaza

I know a lot of critics knocked Lockett Pundt for being “too much like Deerhunter” with his solo work, but that doesn’t stop it from being an album that struck me in a particular way. For me, the past musical year has been about rediscovering/reaffirming my love of Deerhunter (loved cryptograms when it first came out, but forgot about it over summer 2007, didn’t flinch when microcastle/weird era came out, but now I’m surrounding myself with anything these dudes touch because I’m kind of “over” animal collective). Anyway, I’m mainly enamored with Pundt’s compositional skills. His ability to craft dreamier sexier druggier soundscapes than what one might normally see on an Atlas Sound or Deerhunter album establishes him as the true inheritor of the shoegaze traditions of My Bloody Valentine and other giants of dreamy, sexy, druggy music from twenty years ago.

7. Bromst – Dan Deacon

Back when I reviewed this for the Bathysphere, I explained my love of Dan Deacon taking root in my childhood record collection. My favorite album was an Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album, which I listened to year round, probably every day. But I didn’t listen to it normally. No, Alvin and the gang were not chipmunky enough for me, so I would put the setting on 45 rpm rather than 33 (which was the recommended playing speed) to speed it up. Dan Deacon albums are just big bundles of explosive joy and gratuitous amounts of energy to best be enjoyed at parties and on sunnier days. Also, going to one of his shows will only increase your appreciation of this music. He’s a whacky man worth seeing.

8. Farm – Dinosaur Jr.

Best reunion ever? It wasn’t until recently—after reading Our Band Could Be Your Life this spring—that I came to fully appreciate Dinosaur Jr. I remember when Beyond came out, but I didn’t really bat an eye, and my appreciation was limited to a few stray tracks I had collected during my high school days and when Beyond came out. But Dinosaur Jr is now near the top of bands I hold in the highest regard. They’re talented musicians that still manage to churn out good music that stays true to their aesthetic. I think age has done some favors to their sound, as J. Mascis’ aging voice cracks enhance his devil may care grunge delivery.

9. Helvetia’s Junk ShopHelvetia

I don’t buy a lot of music (though I try to make up for this by paying for shows and buying merch), but sometimes I can’t find what I desire, so I have to shell out some cash to acquire it. The Static Cult Label is one of these outlets that I would never hesitate to pay for an album. It’s almost always guaranteed to be well worth my money, if not merely the music, but the quality of vinyl (hand-pressed as thick as a dinner plate). However, the album is pretty outstanding as well. It’s the kind of album that arrests attention, and sounds incredibly familiar yet unlike anything else. Helvetia’s music is difficult to put your finger on, but enjoyable nonetheless. I’m an avid fan.

10. Merriweather Post Pavillion – Animal Collective

I was reluctant to even include this on the list, since I found it to be a disappointing album because most of the aspects of AnCo I love--Avey Tare’s vocal acrobatics, Panda Bear’s dynamic percussion--are largely absent from this album. I know it’s stupid to expect anything from these dudes, but the “more accessible” nature of this album is less appealing to me. However, I ranked it because of the sheer number of outstanding tracks on this album. Though none of them endure as well as their counterparts on previous albums, there are a lot of very enjoyable tracks countered by others which I can barely stand to hear. Their finest work shows in “Also Frightened.” “Bluish.” “Guys Eyes,” “Taste,” and “Brothersport.” (“My Girls” hasn’t held up well in my ears). I’m also including it, because the release of this album has enabled me to move on musically and listen to things other than Animal Collective, so it’s important in that respect.

Carrie “Colossal Youth” Wade is an aspiring information professional (librarian) who will soon transplant to Illinois in pursuit of an education beyond a BA in English. Her hobbies include readin’, writin’, bloggin’, makin’ music, photographin’, and screenprintin’.

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