20. Portishead- Third

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     After a departure of 11 years, Portishead returns with their best album yet. The trip-hop icons have certainly evolved, and as Pitchfork’s review by Nate Patrin states, it’s almost as if Third is a re-debut. The sampling and instrumentation on the record are fantastic too. Consider this: Beth Gibbons’ incredibly pure voice surrounded by free-jazz horns, cow bells, electronic drums and a shit ton of electronic sampling machines that I probably couldn’t pronounce, all I know is that sometimes it sounds like the music itself is stretching. The music itself has made a big leap towards the more psychedelic realm…and by leap I mean that the music is absolutely drenched in rhythm that is about twice as fast as anything that Portishead has ever done; it drips with outstanding effects. Amid the beautiful romps of electronica, the band also put a few surprises on the record. The haunting acoustic “The Rip” and the ukulele fueled folk piece of “Deep Water” create nice distractions while the rest of the album, including the electro-industrialized “Machine Gun,” rumbles and builds in the background. Third is a transformative album created by a band that many didn’t even think of existing anymore; it’s a win-win situation really: Gibbons’ incredible voice is back with much better equipment and sound to sustain it.

“Machine Gun” Filmed in Berlin————->


19. Sigur Ros-Ágætis Byrjun 

      Sigur Rós proved themselves to the world with Ágætis byrjun. When this giant of an album came out in 2000, the band introduced “indie-music” with the beautiful droning effects of classically composed 11-minute epics songs. The two things that really got me with this record was that absolutely no one was making music like this when it came out and, secondly, no one had a voice like Jónsi Birgisson. It sounded as though the alien-looking baby on the front cover was making all of the noise and ridiculous falsettos; it sounded foreign, but something very soothing was still retained in his voice. It is a must-hear just for the experience of listening to something completely refreshing and new.

“Ny Batteri” Live—————>


18. Sonic Youth- Murray Street

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     In 2002, Sonic Youth returned to true form with their stunning release of Murray Street. I attribute some of the rekindled musical genius of the band to the new addition of Jim O’Rourke. Of the albums seven songs, about four of them are some of the best experimental jams that Sonic Youth have put out since Washing Machine’s, 19-minute “The Diamond Sea”. The other parts of the album, however, lead into more accessible rock with the slightest touch of melody, such as”The Empty Page.” All-in-all the album has become an essential release the band, afterall, the decade cannot possibly be complete without a lethal dose of one of the strongest, most unwavering and influential bands in history: Sonic Youth.

“Disconnection Notice” Live——————–>


17. Beck- The Information

      The Information is this decade’s catchier, sharper and better produced Odelay. Produced by Nigel Godrich, Beck once again made his unique thumbprint in the world of music.  The album’s sound bounces without hesitating to change style, rhythm, or musical genre, for that matter. Beck relays his songs in the form of hip-hop, alt-country, rock, electronica, dub, and even a little soul. Even though the album contains 15 staggering songs, (totaling the album length at just under an hour) the album is laced with several songs that help the album flow and continue on its long course. Such key tracks include: “Elevator Music,” “Cellphone’s Dead,”  “Nausea” and “No Complaints,” and the list continues to accumulate to some of Beck’s finest. This album was so important in this decade because it reminds musicians and fans alike of the narrow and often elusive bridges that need to be crossed to combine music genres and forms, and we’ve learned in the last ten years that nobody does it better than Beck.

“Nausea” Live on Letterman——————->


16. Joanna Newsom- The Milk-Eyed Mender

     Joanna Newsom has to be the beholder of one of the most quirkiest and recognizable voices on the planet. You either love her music or you hate it. I am one of those many people who jumped on the bandwagon early and loved her as soon as I heard the first few harp chords of “Bridges and Balloons.”  It’s an album that, upon first listen, will transport you into another fairytale world. Newsom sings these remarkable stories full of light-hearted wisdom: “Never get so attached to a poem, you forget truth that lacks lyricism(“En Gallop”)” and other, more whimsical make-believe narratives :  “I killed my dinner with karate – kick ’em in the face, taste the body(“The Book of Right-On”).” As soon as you hear someone sing a line like that, your brain should be sending off some signals, telling you that something surrealistically amazing is happening!  The Milk-Eyed Mender certainly raised the bar for story-telling lyricismAnd I don’t know about you, but I’m never going to be satisfied with “normal fairytales” again. Why listen to Mother Goose when I got myself some Joanna Newsom?

Quite the performance of “Peach Plum Pear” :)———————->


15. Kanye West- Late Registration

     This record breaks all of the previously made rap agendas and re-creates them. It defies both mainstream and alternative tastes. Late Registration is one of the first universal rap albums. West’s collaborative spirit is essential to his success in the last five years. They push the boundaries open for collaborations with the likes of Common and Lupe Fiasco, while still sharpening his own skills on the mic and with his beats. Another part of his arsenal that makes West’s albums so powerful is his ability to express the vastly different lifestyles that he’s experienced.  Late Registration speaks volumes about several intertwining lifestyles in America (urban life, the struggle with the American Dream, the borders of stereotypes and race, and a community trying to survive). The genius of West is how clearly he displays these views of America that he has faced, while still retaining whole-heartedly focused on his rhythm. “Can I talk my shit again?” If you keep making them like this then, yes, Kanye, be our guest.

“Touch the Sky” Live———————>


14. The Stokes- Is This It

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     This record is a classic and there’s no debating it. Too often has this album been put through the pretentiousness of music critics, either comparing it to The Velvet Underground’s first release or just shrugging it off as not being “deep” enough. The truth is that The Strokes managed to capture an edgy, youthful and reminiscent view of the romanticized “living on the edge” America. The first verse of the last song, “Take It or Leave It” is the most important on the whole album: “Leave me alone, I’m in control.” The phrase is the quintessence of the album and it really speaks for a generation. Many bands could not have started if it weren’t for The Strokes, and as they prepare to release their fourth album, sometime within the next year, many anticipating fans will stand in line to hear another cut of immortal catchiness.

“Soma” Live in Hollywood——————>


13. The Flaming Lips- Embryonic

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    ****SPOILER ALERT****: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is NOT on this list. I know a lot of people are going to argue that Yoshimi should be on here and that maybe it’s too early to rank this album, but let me finally break the news to everyone, if you haven’t noticed by now: Embryonic goes far beyond what Yoshimi was meant to accomplish. Of course, Yoshimi is a great album and a classic one. It made everyone realize that there was hope for humanity…and for music, but by the time The Flaming Lips released At War With the Mystics in 2006, you could hear the physical exhaustion of what the band had already accomplished. What once were songs of euphoria and hope, such as “Do You Realize” and “Race For the Prize,”  now turned into cheesy reissues of those same songs, like “Free Radicals.” It was definitely time for the band to move onto another, much bigger adventure to continue giving their artistic statement to the world. The Flaming Lips took on a radical change for this album, honing in on their influences like Miles Davis(“On the Corner”), Joy Division(“Unknown Pleasures”) and The Beatles(“The White Album”) and creating a brew of songs that questioned their faith in the optimism that they so proudly gallivanted around with. In the end, The Flaming Lips still want to keep the optimism but in order to keep it going they had to first question why they even had it in the first place, and Embryonic was their answer. Eighteen songs void of pop-like sensation and instead filled with static, the isolation that was felt on their Christmas on Mars film, and horrific images while Wayne Coyne sings like it’s his last breath: “I wish I could go back, go back in time…but no one really ever can.”

 “Convinced of the Hex” Live——————–>


12. The Raveonettes- Lust Lust Lust

Lust Lust Lust

     This one could come as a shocker to some people, but it is definitely one of the most underrated albums of the decade. Lust Lust Lust offers a perfect blend of noise and bursts of pop explosions. Even more impressionable, though, is the minimalist style that Sune Wagner and Sharin Foo used to self-produce their music. The album blends Everly Brothers-styled harmonies with Jesus and Mary Chain-styled distortion, but yet everything is done with just a couple of guitars and a very simple drum kit. I was immediately entranced in their music as soon as I heard them play “Aly, Walk With Me,” the first song on the album, live on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic radio station. The song has this repetitious, almost hypnotizing, build-up until exploding into these glorious layers of noise that are enough to make you permanently cringe. You can check it out here, on YouTube at the bottom of this review. It’s unlikely that we’ll see the likes of an album quite like this ever again, so soak up every last chord of distortion and every last harmonizing pitch while you can.   The Raveonettes- “Aly, Walk With Me” and “Lust”


11. M83- Saturdays=Youth

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     Agonizing beauty is what you get when you spin this record for the first time. “You Appearing” is the opening track that starts with flowing piano chords and is then eventually drowned out by synthesized drones and slowly, but surely, Anthony Gonzalez’s voice takes over and the album then leads the listener into a rediscovery of the teenage years and youth. That first minute has to be one of the most beautiful openings to any album. Even though it’s so simple, the first piano chords are the most memorable statement from this album- its like a dagger. Even though the album is rejoicing in youth, the opening is as tragic (prompted by the loss of these precious years?) as it is bright. The biggest sensation on this album has been the sing-along, “Kim & Jessie,” which brings young love to the forefront of nostalgia. “Couleurs” is an eight and a half-minute gorgeously layered song with funk guitars and crashing effects, it’s certainly a high point on an album that contains 11 very different songs. It tries to cover all of the aspects of youth while adding a touch of the eighties, a decade with a profound influence on Gonzalez (just look at the very well-thought out cover). Though M83’s past endeavors, such as Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, have also proved to be fantastic voyages of sound, experiment and expression, none hold the beauty and compositional wholeness quite like Saturdays=Youth.

Watch “We Own the Sky” live here——————->


10. LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver

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     James Murphy, where have you been all of our lives? Why couldn’t your music support the school dances instead of that inconsistent pop and rap trash? There are so many points in one’s life when you need a great soundtrack. For instance, everyone needs a great “break-up soundtrack”, “a reunion soundtrack”, an “on the way to school/work soundtrack,” etc. etc. Well, James Murphy and his genius that is LCD Soundsystem is here to cure your dance and feel-good days. Every beat and piece of songwriting on here is perfect…yes songwriting too. Just when everyone is about to leave your New Year’s Party, just crank “Someone Great” or “Get Innocuous!” and you’ll be bound to have a whole floor of dancers and crazies again. Please, people, if you havent listened to this, just do me a favor and do it…at least once, even if you have to suffer through it (is that possible though?) But seriously, Sound of Silver has broken through to another tier of dance music beats and was revolutionary in “laptop music.” Murphy also has this uncanny ability to combine these beats and blips with great rock riffs for an ultimate combination of pure thrill. It is the type of combination that only Murphy, an experienced musician who combines nostalgic rhythms with modernistic overtones, can create.

“Get Innocuous” Video—————>


9. Animal Collective- Feels

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     Feels is the kind of record that you listen to over and over and over again, each time gaining some insight into what perfection actually means in music. Afterall, Animal Collective continues to search for a perfect sound. With each album they expand their perimeters and experiment with their style. For instance, this year’s Merryweather Post Pavillion is heavily influenced by their very own Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), resulting in sample-heavy effects and the layering of sounds. Strawberry Jam uses a lot of samples too but singer, Avey Tare (David Portner) and his voice, which really stands out as another instrument, anchor everything else on the album. Feels, however, is much different- it combines every member’s influence into one very sentimental and explosive record. Even though the album is a wholesome one, and relies on every song to make the next one sound just as good,  there are songs that stick out among the rest: “Grass” sounds like a tribe marching into town. It relies on pummeling drums and Avey Tare’s voice, which soars upward and then in a split second shoots back down and then it explodes into a chant-like scream. And then there’s “Bees,” sounding like the sonic equivalent of floating down a peaceful stream. The song requires a great deal of attention, but it is definitely worth it because each strum takes you somewhere else. Again, Tare’s voice stands out as it matches the swirling effects of the “noise man:”Josh Dibb (Deakin). Animal Collective has said that this was their “love album” and the best evidence of that is in the two songs: “Banshee Beat” and “Daffy Duck,” which are two soothing songs that rely on a perfect balance of gentle beats and an almost whispering voice that help wrap up one of the band’s most direct and focused albums. In “Banshee Beat,” the last few lines read: “Confusions not a kidney stone in my brain but if we’re miscommunicating do we feel the same? Then either way you look at it, you have your fits, I have my fits, but feeling is good.”
 If you think about it, Animal Collective has helped create this generation’s sound; they’re the ones that encouraged all of us to “Turn Into Something.” With their squawks, blips, lyrics and soaring sound, Animal Collective is bound to help create the nostalgic ear forty years down the road.

Here’s a cool video for the song “Grass”—————>


8. MGMT- Oracular Spectacular

       To anyone who is young or to anyone still young at heart, this album is for you. MGMT has managed to immortalize youth and it’s ideals within these ten songs. Through electro-synth pop and tweaks of new-age psychedelia, Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser establish an anthem for childhood and make-believe. “Electric Feel” is easily one of the best songs of the decade, it is ridiculously universal, dancy and catchy; as if psychedelic song-making took lessons from disco beats. “Time to Pretend” sums up the child-like anthems of the album connected with nostalgic times: “I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life. Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.” Then the “fast living” stops and the lyrics turn its course: “But there is really nothing, nothing we can do. Love must be forgotten, life can always start up anew. The models will have children, we’ll get a divorce…Everything must run it’s course. We’ll choke on our vomit and that will be the end. We were fated to pretend.” MGMT sings about embracing the “live fast, die young” motto, but then things start to seem disrupted and MGMT takes notice that nothing can me perfect forever. The song seems to take on what the 60’s culture stood for but then MGMT critically examines the ideal and then create one of their own: “Pretend.” The song speaks volumes for independent communities and people who accept the notion of living freely and for yourself but in moderation; putting a spin on what “live fast and die young” represents today. Other songs like “Kids” come straight out of childhood, with images of playgrounds and playing with insects. The song seems to lead through life’s stages and how one ought to: “Control yourself, take only what you need.” As MGMT works on it’s sophomore album, this one will continue to inspire.

Music video for “Time To Pretend” —————->


7. The Shins- Chutes Too Narrow

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      Oh! Inverted World was The Shins’ first mark in the world, and a good one it was. The sound was woven in and out of a  pure pop sensation and hazy production. It was immediately clear that The Shins were a band to be beckoned with and it left fans crying out in anticipation for a second record. Although most critics feared the “sophomore slump,” The Shins ended up putting out their best album to date: Chutes Too Narrow. The beauty of this album is that it’s perfectly clear and ordinary. Unlike most bands, who try to exceed everything that everyone else has ever done, The Shins take pride in presenting their originality in familiarity. For some reason, this album has always reminded me of  home; everything is very relaxed and natural. That’s not to say there aren’t surprises though. For instance, the detail in the instrumentation and in the inventiveness of James Mercer’s voice are astounding. Anywhere from the random claps and one shout that start the album, to the lead-ins of one song into another, everything is filled with a level of preciseness that few records are able to out-do. Chutes too Narrow also has something that it’s predecessor failed to allow for: each instrument has its own space to play different notes (while the drums may keep a steady beat the guitars ramble into another direction), the only thing holding everything down is Mercer’s soaring voice (that can probably hit most notes and pitches). This only increases the originality of the band. It’s no wonder that the records is an impeccable classic that has left its mark as a founding album for the modern sound.

 Live from Australia——————>


6. Bob Dylan- Love and Theft

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     Thirty-one. That’s how many albums Bob Dylan had released when Love and Theft came out in 2002. It’s astounding to even think of someone with such prolificacy but Dylan has always been like that, even from his start in New York City in the early sixties. Love and Theft picks up right where Time Out of Mind (1997) left off. In an album where it seems that Dylan isn’t sure how love, music and life will hold up in the approaching millenium, Time Out of Mind was Dylan’s moody return to form. Love and Theft, however, is the album that really created Dylan for what he is today: the cowboy-hat wielding bard for the America that may or may not have existed long before he ever became influential in music. It’s Dylan’s best piece of work since 1975’s heartfelt Blood On the Tracks and his warmest and loosest record since collaborating with The Band on what became known as The Basement Tapes. Laced within these songs are also a sense of humor that Dylan rarely openly shows: “You’re gonna need my help sweetheart, you can’t make love all by yourself.” If by some rare chance that you never believed Dylan to be much of a storyteller, then this album will do it for you. He solidifies himself (for what? The 31st time?) as a true poet and this time. You can gather around the fire while Bobby D. serenades you with ancient tales of victory and loss: “I say ‘How much you want for that?…Man says ‘three dollars.’ ‘All right’, I say, ‘will you take four?’ and “By the way, what happened to that poisoned wine?’ She said ‘I gave it to you, you drank it.’ Po’ boy, layin em straight. Pickin up the cherries, fallin off the plate. Time and love has branded me with its claws. Had to go to Florida, dodgin them Georgia laws.” These strange tales come from one song on this record- its amazing the ability that one man can show. By the twelfth and final track (“Sugar Baby”) the audience is immersed in a whirlwind of 1920’s-sounding production style and an homage to America’s southern folklore. Do not overlook this album- it ranks right up there with some of Dylan’s best.

 Great audio clip from performance in Canton, Ohio!————–>


5. M.I.A.- Kala

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     Kala has quite simply changed hip-hop, rap and anything associated with the two forever. Hell, it can even be narrowed down to: Kala has changed beat making forever. Named after her mother, the album confronts the Sri-Lanken issues that she grew up with. The album itself was recorded all over the world including: India, Liberia, Jamaica and Trinidad. On her second record, M.I.A. makes this decade’s best use of patterns, rhythms and beats. Everything flows while still being fresh and all-encompassing. On “Jimmy,” M.I.A. sings sweetly while these instantly catchy beats bounce everywhere around the refrain. The classic hit, “Paper Planes” makes use of swirling effects while M.I.A. creates her own legacy and brand, crystalized in the verse: “Bona-fide hustler, makin’ my name.” Instead of using the music industry’s top producers, M.I.A. has opted out for lesser-known collaborators from around the world. It seems like (as it also sounds like) their style of music is linked to the likes of ancient tribal drums and simplistic beats that are stripped of their ancient tastes and re-run through modern, more complex systems that make incesant prototypes. Kala will offer you something you’ve never heard before that is held to this standard. Every time I put the album in the CD player (which sounds so outdated compared to the sounds on this album) I am always blown away by the audacity of the buzz and the clatter that encompass this record. If you havent heard by now, M.I.A. (no matter how many times the U.S. rejects her visa) will not go away. In fact, she makes it clear on this record that she’s here to stay: “M.I.A. comin’ back with power/power.” Well, then more power to her.

Official Video for “Paper Planes” —————>


4. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible

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     Arcade Fire is a band that loves to wield its complaints and troubles into a large-scale raw sound, at least that’s what they showed us on their first record, Funeral. Neon Bible, however, shows a band wielding out the same complaints, just on a bigger scale. Everything seems big enough to take on the world. With the album’s outward cry to humanity, instead of outcries on personal levels, Neon Bible proves the adaptability of the band.  With a church organ, accusatory lyrics and worldly concern, Arcade Fire set out to fire up their protest. “Windowsill” takes on shadowy lyrics on a person’s refusal to take part in something that may be wrong: “I don’t wanna fight in the holy war. I don’t want the salesmen knocking at my door. I don’t wanna live in America no more. Because the tide is high, and it’s rising still, and I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill.” The best thing about the song structure that Arcade Fire creates is that they aren’t songs that erupt right away, they take their time to carefully develop and eventually they burst and crescendo. The heavy foward-moving pace of the drums match the onward progression of the album and mixed within are the voices of Régine Chassagne and Win Butler, the husband and wife duo who really set off the band. The result of everything is a gigantic burst of an outward cry that culminates into one of the best protest albums of decade.

“Black Mirror” live——————>


3. Interpol- Turn On the Bright Lights

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     When the album was first released everyone was rejoicing that they had found the next Joy Division. In truth, Paul Banks’ emotional lower register of his voice do resemble that of Ian Curits’ and both bands emerged from the depths of punk, but the music itself is far different. Where Joy Division prospered in stark and minimalistic production, Interpol is the complete opposite. They lavishly accept the benefits of well done production. Interpol have a perfect mix of steadily paced drums, interfering guitar riffs and the dramatic flair of Banks’ voice. The beginning of the album is extremely organized, starting with one high-pitched  guitar chord and then the snare is hit and the bass and the rest of the drums come in shortly after. For as structured as the album seems, the music itself is incredibly affective and powerful. From the touching tribute to the band’s hometown city (“NYC”) to the explosive, anger-ridden “Obstacle 1,” Interpol creates the most passionate record that I’ve heard this decade. It’s passionate while retaining the small things that shimmer on an album, like small lines that you pick up on after a couple of listens, such as in the song “Leif Erikson”: ” She says It helps with the lights out. Her rabid glow is like braille to the night.”
      After the intense build up before and during “Roland,” you can hear the anger dissipate as “The New” comes into light:
“I wish I could live free. I Hope it’s not beyond me, settling down takes time. One day we’ll live together and life will be better…But I can’t pretend, I don’t need to defend some part of me from you.” But believe me when I say that regret has never sounded so good and refreshing.

“Obstacle 1” Live—————>


 2. Panda Bear- Person Pitch

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     Here’s the thing about Person Pitch: it is impossibly good. Every nuance, every loop and every sample are absolutely perfect. It’s hard to see how a human mind can create such a masterpiece. In addition to being a modern-day classic, the record is euphoric; the ultimate “feel-good” or “summer” album. “Comfy In Nautica,” the record’s first song, starts with a clatter of percussion that escapes into choral-like “Ah’s” placed alongside hand claps. The song is reliant upon two tones that tick back and forth like a clock. The only thing that connects the tones are Noah Lennox’s voice and the background effects, which sound like a jet passing by, ever so slightly in the background. As the song fades out into an elongated bass drone, the second track, “Take Pills,” seeps in;  in some awkwardly juxtapositioned way. The beginning of the song is led by a repetitious tambourine and Lennox’s voice as it continues to chant at unbelievable pitch levels. The best part of the song however, is when the second part comes rushing in with adrenaline: the album’s essence finally arrived.

      The third song, “Bros,” which is a twelve and a half-minute opus, is the centerpiece of the album. As soon as the song begins you can start to see Lennox’s DJ-like style take over as samples pass under, over and through other samples, and even his own voice. It’s clear at this point that Noah Lennox has something else to offer, besides what he already contributes to Animal Collective. Some samples soar, some float, some can barely be heard, some last the whole song, some last just a couple of seconds, but it is in these samples and instrumentation that give the album its genius and prosperity. Everything starts to collect and cycle faster and faster until it reaches a climax. At this point (and really at any time during this record), you can hear owls, a baby crying, gadgets being opened, gasses being exchanged, a match being lit, coins being tossed, subway doors opening and really anything else that your imagination will lead you to. It’s like your traveling through a tunnel and along the sides of the tunnel are all of Noah Lennox’s influences and inspirations. Over all of this lies Noah Lennox’s voice that channels the Beach Boys’ sense of melody and other DJ’s sense of playfulness and adaptability. It easily has my vote for the best song of the year. As “Bros” comes to a close, the beauty of the record is transferred to a shapeless and meditative fourth song, “I’m Not.” It’s a swirling design and seems like a  song where Lennox is rejecting everything that stops him from being complete. The meditative thought is immediately barricaded in by loud thump and the next, incredibly optimistic song (“I want you to know that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”) comes barging in as one song split in two parts. At 12:42, “Good Girl/Carrots” is the longest song on the record and where the songwriting comes heavily into play. Among all of the beats used for this song the ones that stand as the forefront sound like objects being bounced down corridors, doors being opened and shut, a squeaky shoe on a clean floor, insects, and the list can go on, but  the effects on this song are ever-changing as the vocals remain a constant, as it changes pitches on the high register. The song leaves the album as very gentle chimes ring softly in background and fade into “Search For Delicious.” This song also has a meditative quality to it. Everything is extremely light; a nice break from the clatter of repetition and sampling. The song is probably the closest you will ever get to a sonic paradise. Light samples gently try to overtake the melodic basis for the song, but are then erased by a chant or a louder wave of “soft melody.” The album closes with “Ponytail” and it encompasses everything that the record holds: melody, astounding sampling, and meditative beats. The last song also brings light to the whole album. Like I said above, the record is extremely “feel-good” and this is the song that sums that feeling up. It bring that extra ray of light into play for the whole album. Person Pitch will grow on you forever, mainly because there is so much that it offers to wrap your mind around. It is one of those albums that you will constantly gain inspiration from.

Music video for “Bros”———–>

1. Radiohead- Kid A

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     It’s the album that feared technology and the new world, while at the same time using those same technologies to recreate modern music. Every song on this record lives in its own environment. Whether it is the ambient Eno-esque “Treefingers” or the dark electric disco  of “Idioteque,” Radiohead has created ten separate vessels living in spite of the thing it fears. Radiohead came into this record by wanting to tear down what they already had: fame and glory from the beautifully layered electronic rock album OK Computer. As most fans were expecting a replica follow-up for the band’s fourth album, Radiohead released an album that tore down the remaining limits of rock and electronic music and built them back up. I shouldn’t even classify Kid A as “rock” or “electronic” because it really takes a little bit of everything from many genres. The true beauty of this album though, lies in the fact that it was one of the last albums to arrive on the market completely fresh; from then on it seemed that many were starting to try out digital downloads and ripping them off of the internet.

     The first Radiohead album I got was OK Computer and then The Bends and only a few years ago did I picked up Kid A and popped it on my MP3 player and instantly became horrified. From the first line: “I woke up sucking on a lemon” to the fact that I really couldn’t hear Thom York’s voice on “National Anthem” and then the unsettling crispness of “How to Disappear Completely. ” It was so confusing to hear the crazy transition or, lack-thereof, between OK Computer and Kid A. I first heard Kid A on my MP3 player as I strolled down the halls of a hospital, visiting a relative. But even though it sounds odd, there are so many similarities to the environment that is created on the record. Very sterile, dark and scary as hell! Here are the parallels: The powering horn section of “National Anthem” while going up an elevator, walking down the hall of a floor while a couple of nurses stare and the echoes of “How to Disappear Completely” are ringing and finally, the walking up to the hospital doors and entering as the feeling of being lost immediately corresponds with the minimalistic squeals of Yorke’s processed voice on “Kid A.” Since then I’ve come to greatly respect the album for what its done for music as a whole and allowing other musicians the chance to break down their walls as well. Speaking of walls, I also feel that “Kid A” is the answer to Roger Waters’ emotions on “The Wall.” Radiohead responds here by saying: “Go ahead and tear down your own wall…you can always rebuild it.” The songs on this album, originally intended to be songs of solidarity and adjustment, have now turned into songs of rejoice. After seeing them live at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio for their In Rainbows  tour, the band willingly played these songs, but the vibe was completely different. Almost as if Radiohead is rejoicing that they made the choice to start over, simply because they had the freedom to do it. Kid A is a whole album deserving a whole listen through; it is perfectly devised and produced to give the listener exactly what he or she should get from this record. Another great thing about this album is that the silent moments, either in-between songs or in the actual song, are equally as rewarding as the louder moments. Every moment of the 50 minutes and one second that are on this record are some of the most crucial that has ever happened to music.

“How To Disappear Completely” Live————->

“Everything In Its Right Place” Live————–>

“Idioteque” Live———————————–>

—I truly appreciate everyone who took the time to read this. I put some real thought and time into it and tried my best to get this wonderful music out there! Please feel free to comment, thanks for the support! —–Happy Holidays, Jeff S.

Overrated Albums

December 10, 2009

Hey Everyone and welcome to the first “Music as Art” blog! Today we’ll be talking about overrated albums.

 1.  Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca- Ok, so this album came out earlier this year with rave reviews about the constant changing pop perfection that is the basis for the band’s sound. But it seems like its all too much. If you examine the amount of change in Dave Longstreth’s divisive voice and in the tonal control of the album  (as it progresses), you’ll see that the band tries to perfect their sound too much while at the same time trying to give their audience too much detail . Bitte Orca sounds congested with too much of the same strained detail. I’ll be interested when they can change their sound a little bit.

2. MC5-Kick Out the Jams– If you want the best review of this album read Lester Bangs’: Its spot on:

      “About a month ago the MC-5 received a cover article in Rolling Stone proclaiming them the New Sensation, a group to break all barriers, kick out all jams, “total energy thing,” etc. etc. etc. Never mind that they came on like a bunch of 16 year old punks on a meth power trip—these boys, so the line ran, could play their guitars like John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders played sax!Well, the album is out now and we can all judge for ourselves. For my money they come on more like Blue Cheer than Trane and Sanders, but then my money has already gone for a copy of this ridiculous, overbearing, pretentious album; and maybe that’s the idea, isn’t it?(Rolling Stone Magazine -April 5, 1969)

…I couldn’t agree more, the album does have this overbearing power in attitude and sound. If Bitte Orca had too much detail, this doesn’t have enough. Its a whirlwind of poorly played intrumentation and screams. For wanting to “liberate” their audience, the MC5’s music is a worn down, blunt sword only trying to do the job; they’re stabbing and missing.

The Smiths- The Queen Is Dead- I’m not going to argue that this album isn’t good, because it is. I’m only arguing against many critics who put it as the best Smith’s album…..have they ever heard Strangways, Here We Come? Its a classic album waiting to happen! No one can deny “Girlfriend in a Coma” or “Lastnight, I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.” Out of all 4 Smiths albums I would rate them in order from best to worst as follows: “Strangeways…”, “Meat Is Murder”, “The Queen is Dead”, “The Smiths”.

To Be Continued….

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December 9, 2009

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