Saturday, January 31, 2009
Andrew Bird can probably whistle better than half of the population. With Noble Beast, his fourth full length album, that is Bird’s secret weapon and it’s probably the most vital instrument he uses for this album. The Chicago native doesn’t disappoint with 14 new tracks that are filled with eerie tones and woozy violins that also includes a deluxe edition bonus disc, Useless Creatures, with eight instrumental songs.
Whether it’s better than Armchair Apocrypha is debatable. Because the two albums are so different, it’s hard to compare the two. While Armchair Apocrypha presents his classically trained violin talent and his instrumental capabilities better, Noble Beast showcases Bird’s ability for songwriting. On his previous albums, it seemed like he focused on instruments first, then lyrics. With Noble Beast, the instruments are only just a component and this time around, lyrics take over. Instead of writing songs in more imaginative and fable-esque language, almost like poetry, (for example, “my dewy-eyed disney bride, what has tried…swapping your blood with formaldehyde?” from the song “Fake Palindromes” on The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Bird’s second solo album,) his lyrics are more real and personal to him (“I will become this animal; perfectly adapted to the music halls,” he sings on “Anonanimal”). Even though this is evident in Bird’s newest effort, there’s still the same metaphoric banter in his some of his songs (“I’m flailing to the whir of a snack machine and muted screams of an old regime,” from “Fitz and the Dizzyspells”).
Noble Beast is something new for Bird and something refreshing however, his instrumental capabilities and poetic, metaphoric lyrics should never be forgotten because that’s what Bird is notorious for.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Friday, January 30, 2009
Courtesy of Associated Press
10. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping. The Athens, Georgia psychedelic powerhouse Of Montreal came back this year with their ninth studio album release, Skeletal Lamping. During an interview with Pitchfork Media, frontman Kevin Barnes described the album as “sort of all over the place,” and said “there really isn’t necessarily a sense of continuity there and it's definitely funkier.” Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, an earlier Of Montreal album, is definitely better (and was more of a commercial success) but their newest effort is worth a listen. Songs like “Nonpareil of Favor,” “For Our Elegant Caste” and “Gallery Piece” are key tracks that bring fun to the album.
9. 3OH!3 – Want. Want is one of the most fun and funniest records I’ve ever heard. I fell in love with the Boulder, Colorado crunk duo from the moment I heard the electronica instrumental “Trapp.” You have to have a sense of humor to listen to them. Key tracks include “PunkBitch,” “Don’t Trust Me” and “Chokechain.”
8. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology. To be honest, it’s Ryan Adams…need I say more? Since Adams has become sober, his music has been better than ever. His last two albums, Easy Tiger and this one with the Cardinals, Cardinology, have been filled with more polished, catchy alt-country songs. The first song on this record, “Born into the Light,” is one of my favorite songs Adams has ever written. The album was also placed at #14 on Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2008 list.
7. Margot & The Nuclear So and So's – Animal!/Not Animal. This album grew on me the more I listened to it. I still love The Dust of Retreat, their first album, but no one can duplicate that brilliance. Because of their feud with their label Epic Records regarding creative control and the album’s direction, the band released two albums. Epic Records put out Not Animal, while Animal! was available for download and distributed by the band. Many of the songs appear on both albums but there are some differences. The best tracks on both albums include “A Children’s Crusade on Acid,” “Broadnipple is Burning,” “At The Carnival,” and “German Motor Car.”
6. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals. Anyone who mashes up Metallica and Lil’ Mama is brilliant. Greg Gillis, a Pittsburg native and former engineer, has been selling out shows across the country while becoming one of the most sought out DJ’s in the music industry. New York Times Magazine called his music “a lawsuit waiting to happen.” The album sounds like one long, fantastic song. Feed the Animals is available for download on a pay what you want basis.
5. The Killers - Day & Age. The Killers get better and better with every album. Their third album, Day & Age, is no exception. In an interview with The Quietus, lead singer Brandon Flowers said that songs on the album were inspired by Elton John, David Bowie and Lou Reed. He said that the track “Neon Tiger” came about when he “was trying to write like MGMT.” The album sounds like half of the songs could be from their debut, Hot Fuss, and the other half from their second effort, Sam’s Town. Key tracks include “Human,” “Spaceman,” “I Can’t Stay” and “This is Your Life.”
4. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs. The sixth album from Bellingham, Washington’s Death Cab for Cutie was much more experimental than their recent records Plans and Transatlanticism. “I Will Possess Your Heart” from Narrow Stairs is one of the best songs they’ve written. The last track is a low key Postal Service-type song, “The Ice is Getting Thinner,” and has frequently been used in movies and television shows. My favorite tracks are “I Will Possess Your Heart,” “The Ice is Getting Thinner,” “Cath…” and “Your New Twin Sized Bed.”
3. The Hush Sound - Goodbye Blues. One of the best bands kept secret in the music industry, The Hush Sound, released their third album Goodbye Blues in March of this year. Alternative Press coined it as one of the most anticipated albums of 2008 and the album was worth the hype. The Hush Sound are now more mature with this album and their enhanced jazz influence works for them. Greta Salpeter’s voice has never been stronger. “Break the Sky,” “Medicine Man” and “Love You Much Better” are the best songs.
2. Weezer - Weezer (The Red Album). Many people weren’t pleased with this album but it’s a step forward for rock music’s coolest nerds, Weezer. At least it wasn't another Maladroit, am I right? This is the best album they've released since The Green Album. The band should have let Brian Bell sing a long time ago -- his voice illuminates the record on the last half. “The Greatest Man Ever Lived,” “Troublemaker,” “Pork and Beans” and “Cold Dark World” are instant classics for Weezer fans.
1. Jack’s Mannequin - The Glass Passenger. The highly anticipated second album from Jack’s Mannequin, The Glass Passenger, is a collection of songs filled with hope, optimism and heart. When lead singer Andrew McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblast leukemia in 2005, Jack’s Mannequin went on a hiatus until he was done with treatment. During his treatment, McMahon wrote the album, which was released in September. However, The Glass Passenger doesn’t even compare to their first album Everything in Transit. Still, it has been on my “Top 25 most played” playlist on iTunes all year and is the best record of 2008.
x-posted in The Brick