Friday, September 11, 2009
Apologies to the Queen Mary (Wolf Parade) (2005):
Perhaps the decade’s best rock debut, Apologies...is the introduction many of us got to Wold Parade, namely Spenser Krug and Dan Boeckner. Starting with the fantastic You are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son, the album’s themes of inter-personal relations and obsessive paranoia. Krug’s lyrical genius shines through as he lilts things towards a funky disposition (Grounds for Divorce), lyrical melodrama (Fancy Claps) and idealism steeped in mere self-belief (Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts). Krug manages to twist his voice into very timeless ether to records these tracks—especially the groovy ender, It’s A Curse---as if his band is sojourning along space and time and not lighting up the joint for the first time. Then there’s the huge groundswell of I’ll Believe Anything which shifts Krug’s now trademark tense refrain. Though they’ve spawned other projects, namely Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs, the team best shines here and even after so many spins and years passed, it’s clear to see why.
Veckatimest (Grizzly Bear) (2009):
Depending on your musical taste, this would have been the most or second most anticipated album of 2009. The initial leak was a bad rip but by the time the real stuff hit, it was clear that a year-end list contender was here. Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen create the type of tender brilliance (Live with You, Foreground) that no one else can. Their chorale, heavenly harmonies are spun so tightly, so cleverly crafted that it leaves one gasping for breath afterwards. Then there are simple ballads like While You Wait for the Others that simply reel out sickly brilliance that even Animal Collective might be a bit jealous. Yet if Droste and Rossen play around each other then it’s left up to Christopher Bear to connect whatever seams spill.You hear the guitar riffs lulling Two Weeks into precision as well as the tenderness of All We Ask. Not to mention the beautiful, poetic lyrics that indicate the creative process involved on this project. Whereas Animal Collective returned home from different point origins to Merriweather Post Pavillion, Grizzly Bear manifest time well spent on the island of Veckatimest…bringing us their wondrous result.
Kid A (Radiohead) (2000):
Any attempt at following up the massive Ok Computer would prove to be a task so consider Kid A the reverse of that album, the opposite image staring out of the mirror. If Radiohead ended the previous decade on the cusp of drawing art and technology together then they entered the new one showing withdrawal symptoms. This is a sharp withdrawal, an acute understanding of how pyrotechnics work and maneuvered for an effect that ironically comes to the same conclusions. It opens with Everything in its Right Place, a fitting last kiss goodbye yet it emits warmth and loneliness in buckets. The title track threads minimalism to a new high because up to then bands hadn’t figured out how to assimilate so many technological gains in music into a simple, humane body of work. And yet for all the triumphant artificial intelligence (The National Anthem) there is enough of the human touch to keep things vitally in check (Optimistic, Idioteque).