Jul 7, 2012

2011 in Music – Fourth and Final Installment

The fourth and último installment. Hope you enjoy. 


Toe tapping music that will more often than not have you walking to the beat as if you were part of a music video. The album is that good starting off with the exceptional Second Song. Pianos, bass rhythms, all blends into one irresistible groove that shows that there is definitely fantastic music coming from new bands. Keep your heart keeps the rhythm flowing and more often than not, I’ve found myself swaying to the song. That’s the album in the nutshell, good enough to have as background music, great enough to use as a soundtrack on a personal video, great enough to listen to with your best headphones to get all the bleeps and all in between. It’s rare that a band can pull off an album that is immediately accessible and yet intricate, so click repeat all and enjoy. By the way, it’s not all just dancing music… Killer Crane sound like it was made for the dawn; it grows, and grows and swells beautifully constricting in its tension yet grandiose in its release. The thing is that the songs on Nine Types of Light have such lush instrumentation that keeping track is a hard task… one that shouldn’t be our concern anyways. As listeners, it’s our sole duty to listen and enjoy… and with Nine Types of Light, nothing can come more natural. Choice Tracks: Second Song, Keep Your Heart, No Future Shock, Killer Crane, Will Do, New Cannonball Blues, Repetition.

In a phrase: This album is tight like a tiger. From the opening track it’s clear that the intention was to present the Foo Fighters in their prime, putting out their best album since The Colour and the Shape, which is still the milestone to beat. In terms of variety, it also seems to have the widest range of musical styles. Bridges Burning is a classic rocker that sets up for wanting more. Then you have Rope, a midtempo rocker with a lot of heavy riffs and a super poppy chorus. Then you have Bob Mould from Hüsker Du offering backing vocals and guitar to Dear Rosemary, one of the brighter highlights of a great album. Then things get heavy with White Limo, a track that rips into your eardrums echoing shadows of Queens of the Stoneage. Then you go back to another classic midtempo rocker in Arlandria which is a great hookfest. So what’s next? How about an uplifting song. You heard right, These Days reminded me a bit of Learn to Fly, but with a softer approach. The album is chock full of great tracks, it’s well balanced, played and written solidly and all you could want from the Foos. Choice Tracks: Bridge Burning, Dear Rosemary, White Limo, Arlandria, These Days, I Should Have Known, Walk.

If anything should be clear to me by now is that Ben Harper is incapable of making a bad record and equally incapable of making a record I REALLY need to listen to repeat times. Somehow he hits an awkward middle ground where good lyrics, great songs and excellent guitar licks please my palate without compelling me to leave this album for repeat listens. That peculiar gripe aside, once again, Mr. Harper and Co. demonstrate that they can tackle many a genre within the span of an album while continuing the case for being a band you need to see live. The first track “Don’t give up on me now” is a midtempo song which isn’t a barn burning opener though it’s good… now the second track shows how good Harper can be. One of the definite standouts of this album is the moody “I Will not be broken”. Strings, a background chorus and various other details take this track to another level that few tracks on the album can keep pace with. Then there’s Rock N’ Roll is Free… inspired by Neil Young and without about half the balls and grit of Uncle Neil, it’s a fine song that’s fun and catchy, though still way shy from the source material. Then you have Feel Love, another stellar standout track that clearly shines in its heartbreak. Then you have track 5, Clearly Severely, a song that grabs you by your genitals and doesn’t let go for 5 minutes with by far my favorite track of the album and one of the best from Harpers varied career. As if that weren’t enough, Spilling Faith follows, a groovy number with great lyrics, piano and enough swagger to make you want to walk like Lenny Kravitz in leather pants and is followed by a jam session which is optional, something very nice if you don’t want to indulge in the 5 minute psychedelic jam session. Afterwards there’s Pray that our love sees the dawn and Waiting on a Sign, which are good though not mind blowing. Then you have a stomping fuzzed out lap steel guitar ditty called Dirty Little Lover which echoes the Black Crowes and really works. Then, the album unfortunately ends on a track that I have rarely been able to sit through completely, Do it for you, do it for us. The song is ok until the end verse gets repeated and screamed to death… and not in a cool, that’s an interesting soul blasting way. Really, I’m not too big a fan of the song probably because it drags on like a minute too long and without it, I would have been perfectly fine with it. The thing is that the track starts out super cool and somehow manages to get to the point of being annoying. I know it’s a dick thing to say, but that’s how I felt about it, mainly because it could have been such a great track with a little less indulgence. That being said, Ben once again offers up a good selection of tracks with some true gems thrown in the mix. Choice Tracks:  I Will Not Be Broken, Feel Love, Clearly Severely, Spilling Faith, Dirty Little Lover.  

The title of the album is appropriate because it’s the same band with a new angle. Fun, poppy, happy go lucky… these aren’t things I usually associate with The Strokes, yet that’s what you get in this album. Just listen to Machu Picchu and Under the Cover of Darkness and tell me that it isn’t finger snapping good music. It’s as if the rules have changed and they opted for something a bit brighter and to just have fun. You can sense this in a song that sounds like it came off a The Cars album in Two Kinds of Happiness with a super solid chorus that’s is completely different from the rest of the song - one of my favorite tracks on the album. There’s an eighties vibe to a couple of tracks and all in all, it’s another solid album. Choice Tracks: Machu Picchu, Under Cover of Darkness, Two Kinds of Happiness, Life Is Simple in the Moonlight

Other albums you may or may not enjoy, which I haven’t heard yet:

·       Wilco - The whole love
·       Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2
·       Cake - Showroom of compassion
·       PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
·       Paul Simon - So beautiful or so what
·       The Lonely Island - Turtleneck and Chain
·       Journey - Eclipse
·       Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
·       Kaiser Chiefs - The Future is medieval
·       Arctic monkeys - Suck it and see
·       Yes - Fly from here
·       Nick Lowe - The Old Magic
·       Mastodon - The Hunter
·       Machine Head - Unto the locust


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