What I’ve been listening to

As the year comes to an end, I begin to experience the largest influx of music to my collection.  There is a very good, and actually, a very obvious reason for this jump; everyone starts putting up their list of top albums of the year.  Some sites have wasted no time in producing this list.  Prefixmag.com and Pastemagazine.com released their 50 top albums of the year.  I will do my own little post for my top 5-10.  I haven’t really decided what quantity, but I am not knowledgable enough to even declare these the best.  They will be titled more my top favorite albums.  Anyway, with the releasing of each new list, I am introduced to albums I didn’t really realize had been released or been deemed top of the year.  So this time of year really opens up my knowledge of certain albums I may have missed.

I like to try to keep up with my music posting on here, but it takes me a little longer to formulate my thoughts on different types of music.  Therefore, I decided to do sort of a brief little description of a few albums that I have really been getting into at this moment.  I can’t say they are the best or anything.  Some of these were released recently and that is how I found them, while I managed to find a few others through a few different sites listing of their top 50.

The first album I have been listening to off and on was released fairly recently.  I know a lot of people abandoned Coldplay well after their second album.  I, however, have really tried to hang with them all through different albums that have enjoyed some commercial success.  I do really enjoy this album: Mylo Xyloto.  I doubt that it makes it into my top favorite albums of the year, but it has a nice mix of poppy and slow songs.  I do get a little frustrated with them using dedicated tracks to simply transitioning from one song to the next.  I hate it when an artist gives a song a title and then has a thirty-second interlude that is supposed to count as that entire song.  I guess it’s really artsy, but I feel a little cheated.  Chris Martin’s vocal ability is still really the focus here; however, the band can really create some catchy songs that keep your foot tapping.  I think I’d be completely satisfied with most of the songs, but some of the lyrics are just sappy.  “You used your heart as a weapon / and it hurts like heaven” has to be my favorite.  Still an overall enjoyable album though.

Another album that I really enjoy, which was found on a top 50 list, is the album “Middle Brother” from Middle Brother.  Middle Brother is a little bit of a different type of band.  They are kind of considered a minor super group.  They are composed of three members from three different bands (Deer Tick, Dawes, and Delta Spirit).  This helps them develop a little bit of a following anyway; however, I’m not really sure how this release got by me.  Released March 1, 2001, This album is interesting because it features different members taking over lead singing duties for different songs.  “Daydreaming”, the opening track, is really country sounding.  The lead vocalist has a really raspy delivery, and there is some harmonizing that takes place that really adds a country vibe to it.  Other songs like, “Blood and Guts”, have a much cleaner feel to it.  Here the vocalist sounds almost has a Jeff Buckley feel as he hits the more enthusiastic parts of the song.   Overall the album has a really relaxed sound to it, but there is a certain passion that shines through on the majority of the songs.

The third album that has seen heavy rotation in the past few weeks is a sort of random album that also resulted from a top of the year list.  I think was actually something off Paste’s top new bands of the year, but it is a band called Seryn.  This is a 5 piece outfit out of Denton, Texas.  This band has a much more folk feel throughout the entirety of the album: “This is Where We Are”.  “So Within” beings with some really quick guitar finger plucking and harmonizing.  It’s a really nice almost serene intro into the album.  This melds into a melodic and emphatic second half of the song that really introduces the listener very nicely to their sound.  I overall really like their use of different instruments to create their album.  I think I’m becoming a big fan of the banjo in songs for sure.  They also use instruments like the violin, ukulele, accordion, pump organ, and various other instruments to create an extremely full sound.  They are a big fan of really getting each member involved in the vocals that really helps their music seem unified as well.

An album that has been getting a lot of press as of late is the new Black Key’s cd “El Camino”.  I have to admit to being a fan of these guys; although, I won’t try to fake like I’ve been with them since their first CD.  On this album, the Black Keys seem to follow a somewhat similar form to their last one.  Dan Auerbach has one of those voices that is perfectly fitting to the style of music they play.  Here he once again keeps up his bluesy delivery that really draws listeners in.  The music is still heavy on the guitar and drums, but of course, that is what the only two members play.  The guitar will go off on riffs to really add a ton of depth to a lot of the songs, and the drums drive the songs forward.  “Lonely Boy”, their single off the album, and “Hell of a Season” shows their ability to get people off their feet and dancing, while “Little Black Submarine” (my favorite song on the album) shows how they can be both reflective and quiet while blasting off into a mid-song breakdown that could bring a stadium roof down.  If you like Black Keys, you’ll still like them after this one.

I’ve saved Dawes’s album, “Nothing is Wrong”, for last because it is the one I’ve been listening to the most over the past few weeks. Ironically, I happened on both Dawes and Middle Brother without realizing right away that they shared a member.  Dawes has a folk sound that perhaps borders slightly more on a country feel.  I don’t like saying that because I hate to say I like anything that can be called something close to country.  Either way, this is isn’t your honky tonk country.  The music Dawes produces is both melodic and catchy.  It has the ability to calm you down, while also making you want to sing along.  Lead singer, Taylor Goldsmith, has perhaps some of the cleanist vocals I’ve heard on a recording in a while.  The music blends well with the vocals and one never really overpowers the other.  Most of the music is mid-tempo to low key reflective material; however, other songs like “How Far We’ve Come” and “Time Spent in Los Angeles” display their versatility.  You’ll definitely find yourself singing along to their song “If I Wanted Someone” when they harmonize the lyrics: “If I wanted someone to clean me up I’d find myself a maid / If I wanted someone to spend my money I wouldn’t even get paid / If I wanted someone to understand me I’d have so much more to say / I you to make the days move easy”.

Some of these albums may have made it onto my top albums of the year list if I had found out about them earlier, or if they had been released earlier.  Right now I keep jumping around to all of these albums, and I wouldn’t tell you about them if I didn’t like them.  So load a few up on Spotify and see what you think.

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4 Comments

  1. I am a total Black Keys fan, much to the dismay of a number of my friends. This new one is an interesting album. I agree with you on Black Submarine (it stars out sounding a lot like something on Dan Auerbach’s solo album, and ends up melting your face off). I am also pretty fired up about Gold on the Ceiling.

    • Yeah I like Gold on the Ceiling as well. I think I’ll end up with liking this album even more as I listen to it more and more.

  2. saw Dawes here in KY a few months ago…damn good.


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