BotB – Chaddigan’s Top 10 Bitchin’ Albums
Oh! How I am the self-proclaimed “slacker-bastard child” of (((withoutsound))). I enjoy being able to write and share all of my worthy aural adventures, and am grateful for the opportunity allowed by the two cool cats that run this BotB bitchin’ venue. However, my academic lifestyle hasn’t been the most accommodating to the documentation of all my melodic archaeological digs. But fear not! I have been given a bone! So with this bone that was fetched by this Year of the Dog, I will take full advantage to reflect, and exhibit this past year’s most successful conquests.
My Top 10 Bitchin’ Albums of the Year
So it was the Year of the Dog?! Psh! More like Year of the Schmog, and by Schmog I mean Horse(!)…of course. Two stallions made my 2006 list: Band of Horses and Rock Plaza Central’s Are We Not Horses?. Seven weeks too late was the release of Besnard Lakes’ Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, which has been cruisin’ my ear canals, as if it were a water taxi in the French Rivieria. Then we would have had a trinity of horse, and you know what they say about trinities? Me neither, but I bet they say something Star Wars-ish, Lord of the Rings-esque, or Indiana Jones-y *tapping my desk in speculation*. Anyways enough of this jibby-jab, and on with jibby-jab in the form of list!
10 Grizzly Bear – Yellow House
Grizzly Horse, er I mean Grizzly Bear, not to be confused with the Ohio band Bears saluted by Seamus, is a different breed of bear all together. Their sound doesn’t come across fierce as one would think a Grizzly Bear would sound, but more eloquent and precise with orchestra-like sweeping arrangements. The album is titled Yellow House after the house that they recorded the album in, but I think it describes their sound best. The album sounds like an old Victorian-style house filled with centuries of mysteries. I, for one, am compelled to solve them. Who else is in?
- Listen to Plans
The songs beautifully alternate between themes of apprehension to stock-sure confidence, frustrated naivety to enlightened clarity, and gritty disrepute to shining glory. The music grinds and soars accordingly, accenting the multifarious feelings and emotions triggered by our robotic friends’ transformational journey. Needless to say, it’s a well-bred affair.
- Listen to Our Hearts Will Not Rust
8 Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up, I Am Dreaming
What can I say? Spencer Krug is one prolific and consistent musician. He must be taking notes from his Swan Lake band-mate, and (((withoutsound))) favorite Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. When he’s not busy knocking down awesomely good albums in the super-groups Wolf Parade and Swan Lake (not to mention contributing to Frog Eyes), he is making even more satisfying music in his solo gig, Sunset Rubdown. He is in full creative control on the album Shut Up, I’m Dreaming. He finally has a whole album length of room to stretch out his balladry tendons and flex his anthem muscles. May I ask you what’s better than an album full of ballads and anthems?
7 Man Man – Six Demon Bag
No ‘best of’ list is complete without some good ole European polka flavored waltz, and I ain’t talkin’ about your drunk German Grandpa’s Frank Yankovich records. Six Demon Bag may not be Celtic but it will have you beltin’ out sing-a-longs as if you were six pints deep in a pub in Ireland. *Warning: Do not play this record in traffic with the windows down. Adam Sandler wouldn’t even understand your paraphrasing of “All I want to be is a shovely bubbly gobbly gook” let alone the commuter next to you (they all gonna laugh at you). If you’ve given this record an honest try and it still doesn’t garner your appreciation, I urge you to see this troupe live. They put on one of the best and most energetic live shows I’ve ever seen, and that alone is worthy of a spot on this list.
- Listen to Feathers
6 M. Ward – Post-War
After spending a considerable amount of time exploring the outer rims of the universe, I like to ground myself with a nice slice of timeless Americana. M. Ward has become one of my earthly staples, and his latest album Post-War has got me mountain bed-bound. While listening to this album, I often imagine M. Ward co-billing a Sun Records tour with the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. His sound can easily translate into the golden-era decade. Speaking of translations, how thematic is the Post-War jewel, Chinese Translation, for this Year of the Dog reflection? The track is what I call an M. Wardian fortune cookie, and Jim James is there to help you crack it open and take the proverbial ride… in bed! Zing! (Wait a minute: Ew.)
- Listen to Chinese Translation
How much would you enjoy a super group made up of Doug Martsch (Built to Spill), James Mercer (the Shins), and Rob Crow (Pinback)? Wouldn’t they just create the most relaxing yet rocking, strong-enough-for-a-woman but-made-for-a-man kind of music?
- Listen to The First Song
4 Nobody & The Mystic Chords of Memory – Tree Colored See
Mix two parts psychedelic folk with one part hip-hop and you will find yourself at my #4. Nobody is beat-maker Elvin Estella, and Mystic Chords of Memory is estranged Beachwood Sparks member Chris Gunst and his newly-wed wife Jennifer Gunst. I know what you’re thinking, and let me assure you it works. Don’t get this confused with some shitty rap-rock band – this is different territory. I believe this to be one of the most beautifully and melodically lush albums of the year, and to prove it you can cut open it’s belly to see how many of my Sunday mornings it has consumed.
- Listen to Broaden a New Sound
3 Vetiver – To Find Me Gone
Upon first reviewing the track listing for Vetiver’s To Find Me Gone, I was disappointed to see the song “Been So Long” included as the lead-off track. It was one of only two studio tracks on the 2005 EP Between. I don’t like previously purchased songs taking up precious real estate on a highly anticipated new release. I almost skipped directly over it to get to the new goods, but now I know why it’s on the new album. They reworked it by stripping it down and rebuilding it. It begins with a quiet drone which is followed by a tribal heart-beat pulsing drum, and is ultimately accompanied by breathy chanting background vocals. This song builds like a slow train gaining a slow momentum until it finally breaks and has a return to form, a return to the familiar. Beautifully executed so much so it gave me goose bumps; they took an acoustic ballad and turned into something more, something spiritual. The first song sets the tone for the growth the band has achieved. To Find Me Gone is really to find me home.
- Listen to Been So Long
Their music itself creates a home-spun cocoon of comfort. This is good mellow stuff. Don’t hold your breath anticipating a change in tempo. Just allow the mellow moods to drift you away.
- Listen to Star Blanket River Child
1 Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – The Letting Go
Like most of my experiences with Will Oldham, this album did not hook me upon my initial listen – it was a grower. It’s not that there are unconventional sounds and melodies to adjust to, in fact it is quite the opposite: it is conventional, stripped-down and bare. It does what Oldham does best; it stirs up a lot of uneasiness, and then nurtures to gratification. I wasn’t able to just throw on the new Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album to uplift the spirit as I rocked out the mundane normal daily tasks. It would not give up that kind of power, for this LP demanded full attention along with long melodic marinating. It was even, at first, impossible to play the album over conventional speakers. It required the intimacy of an ear-locked headphone commitment. I had to experience these confessional tales as if they were my own. The more I listened, the more I found comfort in the battling elements of light and dark the album effortlessly weaves together. The result is an excellent representation of what a harmonious yin yang symbol would sound like.
- Listen to Cursed Sleep