Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Graduating Class of 2010

(EDIT: For reasons varied and convoluted, some stuff got left off the list. So hopefully this is now the definitive list)
Since it panned out so well as a digital reminder last year, I've decided to compile yet another gargantuan list of all the albums and EPs that have graced the ears of Al's Music Rant over the course of the year. The truly dedicated amongst you will note that, where possible, I've linked to previous features and reviews on the blog.
Think of it as a reminder of the year's catalogue before it gets handily categorised and humourously scrutinised (The Good, The Bad & The James Blunt awards) and glorified (Top 15 Albums of 2009). Or like one of those photomosaics, a small collection of individual elements that contribute to the larger landscape that was the 2010 musical landscape. Strap in, it's gonna be a bumpy ride...

65 Days of Static - Heavy Sky
Arms - EP
Aucan - DNA 
Big Scary - Autumn
Big Scary - Winter
Cynic - Re-Traced
Dirty Projectors - Mount Wittenberg Orca 
Fairchlid Republic - Ships Are For Sailing
Hundred In The Hand - This Desert
The Jezabels - Dark Storm
Mastodon - Jonah Hex OST
The Melodics - Paint Me Gold
The Nymphs - The Nymphs
Sleep Parade - Mr Identify
Steven Wilson - Cover Version VI
Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People
(EDIT:) Summer Camp - Young
TesseracT - Concealing Fates

65 Days of Static - We Were Exploding Anyway
The Acorn - No Ghost
Alcest  - Ecailles De Lune
Anais Mitchell - Hadestown
anaROBIK - Operator's Manual
Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here 
Antony And The Johnsons - Swanlights
The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Autolux - Transit, Transit
Balmorhea - Constellations
Barb - Barb
Biffy Clyro - Lonely Revolutions
Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left-Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
The Black Keys - Brothers
(EDIT:) Blue Hawaii - Blooming Summer
The Body - All The Waters of the Earth Shall Turn To Blood
The Bon Scotts - Oddernity
Boxharp - The Green
Brandon Boyd - The Wild Trapeze
Brandon Flowers - Flamingo
Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Cloud Control - Bliss Release
Cog - The Sound of Three (Live)
(EDIT:) Crippled Black Phoenix - I, Vigilante
Crocodiles - Sleep Forever
Daft Punk - Tron: Legacy OST
David Bowie - A Reality Tour (Live)
David Bowie - Live @ Nassau Colliseum (Live - Station To Station anniversary)
David Gray - Foundling
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Deftones - Diamond Eyes 
Delphic - Acolyte
Demians - Mute
DM Stith - Heavy Ghosts Appendices
Doves - The Places Between: The Best of Doves
Dungen - Skit I Allt
Electric President - The Violent Blue
Elephant9 - Walk The Nile
Eliza Doolittle - Eliza Doolittle
Ellie Goulding - Lights
Eluvium - Similes
Eluvium - Static Nocturne
Everything Everything - Man Alive
(EDIT:) Foals - Total Life Forever
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Four Tet - There Is Love In You
Frost* - The Philadelphia Experiment (Live)
Fyfe Dangerfield - Fly Yellow Moon
Garry Schyman - Bioshock 2 OST
Gayngs - Relayted
Gemma Ray - It's A Shame About Gemma Ray
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
Girl Talk - All Day
Glenn Richards - Glimjack
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Herbie Hancock - The Imagine Project
High Places - High Places Vs. Mankind
Interpol - Interpol
Intronaut - Valley of Smoke
Isbells - Isbells
Jaga Jazzist - One-Armed Bandit
James Murphy - Greenberg OST
Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid
Jenny And Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now
jj - jj n° 3
Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
Jonny Greenwood - Norwegian Wood OST
Jónsi - Go
(EDIT:)  Jónsi - Go Live
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Karnataka - The Gathering Light 
Kele - The Boxer
Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
The Kissaway Trail - Sleep Mountain
Klaxons - Surfing The Void
(EDIT:) Kno - Death Is Silent
Kylesa - Sprial Shadow
Laura Veirs - July Flame
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Les Discrets - Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées 
Lightspeed Champion - Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You
Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul II
Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man
Marina And The Diamonds - The Famly Jewels
Mark Ronson And The Business Intl. - Record Collection
(EDIT:)  Marnie Stern - Marnie Stern
Mavis Staples - You Are Not Alone
Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
Medeski, Martin And Wood - Radiolarians
Menomena - Mines
Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life
Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro - Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro
Murder By Death - Good Morning, Magpie
Mystery Jets - Serotonin 
Nada Surf - If I Had A Hi-Fi
The National - High Violet
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday
The Ocean - Anthropocentric
The Ocean - Heliocentric
Oceansize - Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Sepulcros De Miel
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Pain of Salvation - Road Salt, Pt One: Ivory
Panic Room - Satellite
Parades - Foreign Tapes
Pat Metheny - Orchestrion  
The Phantom Band - The Wants
Phil Selway - Familial
The Pineapple Thief - Someone Here Is Missing
Prince - 20Ten
Pure Reason Revolution - Hammer And Anvil
PVT - Church With No Magic
Quandary - Ready To Fail
Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard
Richard In Your Mind - My Volcano
Richard Skelton - Landings
Roky Erickson With Okkervil River - True Love Cast Out All Evil
The Roots - How I Got Over
Rufus Wainwright - All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
(EDIT:)  S. Carey - All We Grow 
She & Him - Vol. 2
(EDIT:) Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
The Soundcarriers - Celeste
Spock's Beard - X
Steven Wilson - Tape Experiments 1985-86
Strong Arm Steady - In Search of Stoney Jackson 
(EDIT:) Sun Kil Moon - Admiral Fell Promises
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
Tired Pony - The Places We Ran From
Tobias Cummings - A Trophy
Tokimonsta - Midnight Menu
Tom McRae - The Alphabet of Hurricanes 
Unitopia - Artificial
UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall
(EDIT:) Vampire Weekend - Contra
Various Artists - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World OST
Various Artists - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Warpaint - The Fool
Way Out West - The Effects Of The Weather
Wild Nothing - Gemini
Wolf Parade - Expo '86
Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Young Heretics - We Are The Lost Loves

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two Zero One Zero

I have to admit that ever since i've taken to becoming a (semi-)official writer of music, I've pretty much treated each year as an excuse to build up towards deciding my annual end-of-year list. Like a sort of audiophile's long-distance marathon, it's a year-long stretch. Such an approach feeds the kind of excitement and passion it takes for one to start their own blog and declare their taste - and furthermore the writing about their taste - worthy of other's interest. The thrill of discovering that new sound or band to fall in love with, earmarking each track in the back of your head as a potential best or worst single of the year. Artwork is scrutinised for its ability to fuel analysis and refleciton, while above all else, the sharing of what's new and what's great as a way of validating your own likes and dislikes about today's fickle music industry.
 Except that lately around these parts, that hasn't been the case. If you're a regular reader of The Rant, you may have noticed that 2010, thus far, has had little of this fanfare. Of course always keeping one proverbial finger on the musical pulse is exciting, but it can ocassionally obscure the details. If you're constantly checking in on what Pitchfork or Stereogum are touting as the next best thing, you can sometimes lose sight of why you got into this whole music 'appreciation' thing for in the first place. 
I know I have. That's why this year I've been doing a lot more listening (and re-listening) to older stuff. The albums that I loved intensely, cracked jewel case and all, that got me excited about music and defined my tases to begin with. Those times when I was younger and would have to make a crucial choice as to what CD I would be spending my hard-earned on. This was of course in the days before torrents and leaks, before 'the blogosphere' and Napster was still in its infancy. Discovering the contents of what lay beyond that image of the baby swimming on the cover was exciting because, apart from cursory listens from friends and the radio, there wasn't a real way to explore a record before you bought or heard it. The only real way to engage was in putting it on, poring over the booklet, listening again and again, taking it all in. A good album would share its secrets with you, as you tired to use it to create your identity - and vice versa. Even if it was one of a million identical copies, or, to quote Full Metal Jacket, "there are many like it, but this one is mine."
I'm not trying to lament some by-gone golden age, and without wading into the sticky semantics of the digital revolution vis a vis music accessibility, I will say that this sort of nostalgic reverlry is the excitement I try to recreate when discovering new music. It's just that attempting to recreat that potent moment where you lose yourself in a record, occurs less these days, for whatever reason.
That's not to say there hasn't been the deflowering of some virgin bands for me this year (Janelle Monae's The ArchAndroid, Warpaint's The Fool and Everything Everything's Man Alive spring to mind; and of course Big Scary and Kimbra), it's just that this hunger for the next big thing can be draining. I've found that whenever I get jaded trawling through press releases for bands I don't really care about, or skipping straight to the 4 or 5 star reviews desperate for something that'll grab me - that all I need to do is revisit the classics. The very bedrock of my not un-sizable music collection, those records that have a staying power long after track twelve comes to a close. 
It's not for nothing that weezer's Pinkerton gets re-issued in a deluxe version next week, and I'll be there, willing to shill out for another copy of a record I already own but with all the unnecessary trinkets. Giving money to a band that are now a shallow parody of their former glory. Why? Because it's one of my favourite records of all time, and all the copies of Raditude and Hurley in the world can't change that.
What's my point? I guess it's simply that you should go back and listen to those albums and bands you loved when you were fifteen because chances are it'll still sound good. Fucking good.

On that note, I want to hear your stories about the albums you fell in love with. I've got a little sort-of project in which I want to interview and collate people's stories about their CDs. If any of the above resonates with you then please shoot me a line here, or on Twitter and we'll sort something out.

Speaking on that topic, here's the review of the latest from one of my old-skool faves.

Jimmy Eat World - Invented (Interscope, 2010)
Arizona’s finest exporters of emo-pop return with album number seven, and after a brief dalliance with producer Butch Vig for 2007’s Chase This Light, they return to the reliable embrace of Mark Trombino. In doing so, it demarcates Invented as a potentially ‘safe’ record.  While lead single My Best Theory buzzes like the boisterous sound of past singles Bleed American and Big Casino, its chugging mid-tempo riff and forlorn lyric (“the answers come back unanswered”) are a bait-and-switch for what is the band’s most tender set to date.
Jimmy Eat World have always dressed up their simple hooks with the irresistible dressing of polished harmonies and glistening production, and Invented does little to break the band’s tried and true formula. The only attempt to change up their game is in bandleader Jim Adkins’ new writing style. Inspired by a photography series of female portraits, Invented finds Adkins creating fictional narratives written from the other gender’s perspective (thus the title). An interesting idea, but the result strays little from his usual love-stung lyrical territory, simply swapping the ‘his’ for ‘hers.’
Only long-time fans will really notice the subtle nuances to the group’s brand of grand-staged emotion. Strings are brought forward in the mix, while the likes of Movielike and the epic title track are built upon acoustic guitar. Aside from that it’s cathartic sing-a-long business as usual. That's not to say that business isn't good. Once the record hits its stride – which coincides precisely with the glistening opening of Stop – there’s a near-perfect run of tunes that sit proudly along the best in the Jimmy canon. In fact, it’s only when they attempt to crank the aggression factor back up, with Action Needs An Audience, that they falter.
As the closing Mixtape circles around the refrain of “you don’t get to walk away, walk away” in a familiar yet comforting swell of textured chords, the lasting impression is that even heart-on-their-sleeve emos, it seems, can age gracefully.

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