Here’s a list of my favorite, or at least most listened to, albums from this past year.
Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Elvis Perkins in Dearland’s self-titled, second album arrived this year and it has been in constant rotation on the record player since it’s arrived. It is seriously one of our daughter’s favorite albums, she loves all the upbeat songs especially. I loved the first album, Ash Wednesday, and listened to it none stop while I was in England for three months. Whenever I listen to that album now I can’t help but remember that time in our lives, Emily was pregnant with our first daughter, and I was studying away at Woodbrooke making great life-long friends. Their sophomore effort is even better than the first, the songs are very diverse, deeply emotional, spiritual and psychological. Do yourself a favor and listen to them. Here’s how:
If you follow this link, you can preview a number of songs on google’s search page.
Here’s a full concert on NPR.
And here are two videos from the new album that are marvelous.
David Bazan – Curse Your Branches
I’ve been a long-time David Bazan fan, and Pedro The Lion, if you haven’t taken a listen, then you really should. I have no doubt David Bazan has been called many things, but as far as I am concerned he really is one of the most authentic singer-song writers in our generation. He writes about the stark reality of life, faith and doubt, brokenheartedness, greed, infidelity, and well, you name it he’s singing about it. It’s no easy listening, but it is the poetic enveloped in the beautiful simple sounds Bazan has become well-known for. His music will shock you, and maybe it will wake you up or maybe it will turn you off. But either way, there will be a response to his music. His most recent album, Curse Your Branches, is about his losing faith and struggling to make sense of life after a conservative faith that is only comfortable with answers and not questions. It’s difficult stuff, but it’s real and that’s why I love it.
Here’s how you can find him:
His blog has some great information on where he’s playing (he’s from Seattle) and links to articles and interviews, etc. He pretty regularly updates his twitter which is cool. And you can stream some of his music on myspace.
M.Ward – Hold Time
When M.Ward’s warm, cozy album Hold Time came out I didn’t think twice about ordering it in vinyl. Ward’s fuzzy tones, sleepy style, and upbeat lyrics captivate me. This album is no exception. I simply love it. And Epistemology is hands down one of my favorite songs of the year:
I learned how to keep my head from something Paul said
About keeping the fruit in the spirit from the chorus down to the hook
And sometimes I wonder what in God’s name did I do to deserve you
Oh, to deserve you
The whole album is rich with lyrical content, and even some probing spiritual themes though Ward claims no part in having a faith that I know of.
Here’s two songs from the album:
Monsters of Folk- Self-Titled
Let’s face it super groups are 9 out of 10 times pretty terrible, I think the Traveling Wilbury’s are the only exception I can think of, that is until Monsters of Folk. Now, they’re not exactly a super-group in the same way that the Wilbury’s, I only knew of two of the four members before hearing about this band, but nonetheless the group is made up of four outstanding musicians: Conor Oberest, M.Ward, Yim Yames, and Mike Mogis. This is a really fun album with many great singles on it, two of my favorites are Temazcal and Man Named Truth.
You can hear more on their myspace and here are two videos:
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes
I heard about this group from LA just about a month ago on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series and as far as I was concerned their music was infectious. Since I got the album, our daughter L and I have been listening to their single Home and 40 Day Dream pretty much non-stop, she even knows the words to both songs and sings along (and tries to whistle – it’s really cute). Home is by far my favorite song of the year, it’s really simple but I love it anyways or because of that. Anyways, I really like a handful of songs on the album though the album itself has some dead spots in it (IMO) I still think it should be in my listen because of how often we listen to it.
Do yourself a favor and watch the tiny desk concert.
Here’s Home on MTV:
Laura Gibson – Beasts of Seasons
Her album “Beasts of Seasons” is really in my top five, it’s a great album and it’s got some longevity to it. It’s also perfect for the rainy NW. Here are two videos of her playing, a review from pitchfork and some photos.
Two other honorable mentions:
Elizabeth Mitchell – You’re My Little Bird – It didn’t come out this year, but Emily and L both love this album and have been listening to it a lot.
Andrew Bird – Noble Beast – It’s not bad, but just didn’t have the stickiness of some albums for me.
I recommend the NPR All Song’s Considered listing from this year if you’re interested in finding out about more new music.
How about you? What have you been listening to and loving this year?