With half of the year past us already, music in 2010 has been off to a great start. This May in particular has seen many amazing album releases. Therefore I wanted to give pause and take a look at the best albums of the year, so far. In order to accomplish this I turned to the brightest and most passionate young minds on Twitter. Here is what everyone had to say:
'Eyelid Movies,' the debut full-length from Phantogram, gets my pick for album of the year - so far. I was a fan of them back when I only had their 5-track EP to play on repeat, over and over. This duo from Saratoga Springs, NY has managed to craft their varied musical influences into a powerful and concise vision. Sarah Barthel's smooth and airy voice is perfect accompaniment for the band's club-like beats and their great mixture of synth lines and grungy guitar riffs. When Josh Carter sings, his decidedly less polished voice still works, occasionally masked by effects. His vocals don't wow you or generate tons of excitement, but more importantly, they don't detract from the big picture. As you listen, you discover that more than any single element, it is the overall package that pulls you in and leads you from song to song. Call it shoe gaze trip-hop or use the band's own classification of "street beat psych pop," but no matter what label you place on them, you'll certainly be entranced. Look for this band's popularity to continue rising at the quick pace Sarah and Josh are currently enjoying.
Like any good pirate, I snagged The Black Keys’ new album, Brothers, about a month before its release. Rarely do I resolve, undoubtedly, to purchase a record after downloading it for free. The market, legal and otherwise, is saturated with today’s-big-thing, flavor-of-the-day, “indie” buzz; it’s rare that I’m truly moved by a new record in this constant flow of music. Brothers has a soul that jumps right out and leaps inside me instantly. What separates The Black Keys from so much of today’s “indie” music is their hooks and how effortlessly they churn them out, how they are just a part of the band. Timeless yet modern, with every record they get better and better. This is the one! These Akron boys did Muscle Shoals justice and vice versa! I can’t stop spinning it, its soul leaps out of my monitors and into me every time. Brothers is what I require from music, plain and simple. Soul!
There has been so many amazing albums released this year already it's crazy. Quite a lot of them are favorite bands of mine too which makes it even harder to say that a new band is my favorite so far. I just bought the new National, Cloud Control and Black Keys. The Black Keys is incredible, definitely their best for a while, so stripped down and bluesy it hurts. But as for Local Natives, last year I was randomly sent a link to their backyard cover of Cecilia and had really high hopes of a killer debut album. It also helped my anticipation when their Australian release was delayed for a few months over the new year due to problems with iTunes. Eventually we got their album around the same time as the new Vampire Weekend was released. I'm not ashamed to admit that I put off listening to Contra because I couldn't stop listening to Gorilla Manor. As a whole I think the album works so well because it reminds me of the best parts of the other bands I love. That and their harmonies sounds like a mass choir of the best voices in indie/alt rock combined, Fleet Foxes crossed with Arcade Fire and a touch of Band of Horses. This album actually made me miss all my older favorite bands and in a way reminded me why I love them and to listen to them more. It feels like Gorilla Manor doesn't try to be one thing. It's not too pop aggressive or too obscure, too instrumental, too soft or too indie heavy but it's all the best of those sought of releases rolled into one natural and thoughtfully constructed sound. Also, sometimes it's dangerous when bands sound too much like their contemporaries but the Local Natives sound is so focused on its own voice that I don't think it will appear transparent over time. I'm a sucker for strings, keys, songs that are crescendo heavy singalongs with a touch of country twang (Wilco twang not Blue Grass twang) and the soft folk sensibility of songwriters such as Jim James and M.Ward, so that could explain why, even after just hearing The Black Keys Brothers, Local Natives debut still holds the top spot
The album is great because from track to track you never know what you are going to get, yet it all comes together in cohesive genius. The track O.N.E. makes me want to dance, and it's just as strong lyrically. The way they weave sound and lyric together is an incredible journey. Each song goes right into the next without a dull moment
Sophmore efforts are always tough, but I feel that Vampire Weekend preserved what makes them stand out, while pushing boundaries at the same time. The result is an album that I have had on repeat since it was released. They succeeded in making another record that keeps me interested the whole time, and leaves me wanting more.