It’s been a while since I did one of these types of posts. Right before I jumped on a plane for a little trip to Jamaica, I loaded up my Ipod with a few new albums to be enjoyed while traveling and on the beach. I really like having albums that remind me of my trips to different places. I’ve already stated how Bon Iver’s self-titled album will always bring back memories of Italy for me. Additionally, I listened to a ton of Star’s “Heart” album while traveling to and around Spain. I wasn’t really sure what album would catch my attention on this particular trip; therefore, I decided I had to have a few just incase one of them wasn’t quite doing the trick. In the end, although a few albums seemed to find their way to the forefront of the playlist, I think it was more about the entire rotation of this trip. I didn’t find myself landing on one album or another too often. I even had to throw on The Shin’s new one more than a few times as well. Here are the albums that helped me chill out on the beach.
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball – I’ve had a soft spot for The Boss for years now. I grew up in NJ, but I didn’t grow up listening to his music. In college, my friend and I started to hunt down different vinyl we thought we would enjoy. It was at that time I ended up picking up a bunch of different classic Springsteen records and ultimately loving his stuff. Therefore, when this one came out, I had to jump on it right away. Bruce’s music always sounds like Bruce, but he manages to put a different spin on it in different ways. I don’t know if he has ever had so many songs that have such an Irish country feel to it; however, I like it. His voice works really well with the style. The title song, “Wrecking Ball”, is one of my favorite songs on the album. It has some great NJ references to it that give me some pride that Jersey Shore took from me. There are, unfortunately, a few songs I’m not really all that into. “Rocky Ground” is a somewhat boring song, and it has a little R&B breakdown in it that I find rather annoying as well. Bruce needs to stick to what he’s good at. Additionally, I can’t help but think “Swallowed Up (In The Belly of The Whale)” is too boring as well. Thankfully there is enough good real Springsteen material for me to still enjoy this record on the whole.
Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now – This guy released an album a lot of people went crazy for a few years ago, and I just couldn’t get into it. It was one of those albums I put on time and time again, but I could never find a love for it. Thanks to the wonders of Spotify, I gave this new album a chance despite the fact I couldn’t get down with that album. Thank goodness I did get this one. This album has to be one of my top albums on my playlist right now. Earle has a really bluesy and twangy quality to his sound. A lot of the songs on the album are pretty quiet and easy listening, but they were giving me exactly what I needed for the beach. His twangy quality only picks up even more on songs like “Memphis in the Rain”. I think one of the things I like most about him is the Elvis Costello sound I hear in his voice and delivery. “Baby’s Got a Bad Idea” has a great Costello rock feel with a country twinge to it, and it’s one of the more up beat songs on the album which I appreciate.
Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal – This band was discovered through quite a few different mediums. Paste has been talking about them for months, then I caught the video randomly on TV a few times, and I finally saw a favorable review on another resource. I figured I needed to give them a chance. This band comes from Iceland who has also given us great acts like Bjork and Sigur Ros, so I was even more interested in them for that reason. Good music seems to come out of this strange little country. They provide a really big full sound on all of their songs, which I really like about what they do. I also appreciate the fact that they have both a male and female lead for the band. They tend to lean more on their female lead, but it gives them a lot of ability to harmonize on nearly every song. Of course, every member seems to get in on the chants which they seem to include on a whole lot of songs. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I think it adds to that full sound. “Little Talks” is the lead single off the album, and it may be slightly misleading to someone new to the band how uptempo most of their material may actually be. “Little Talks” is definitely the fastest song on the entire album. The other songs provide some really full, slightly ambient music with some great harmonized singing. They kind of remind me of The Head and The Heart with less folk influence.
The Decemberists – We All Raise Our Voices to the Air – If you’ve been reading this little blog for the past year then you know I love this band. Earlier this week I reviewed Colin Meloy’s book, I have reviewed their latest EP release on here too, and I named “The King is Dead” my favorite album of last year. I guess I have a little crush. This is a two disc live album from the act out of Portland. Let’s face it, you don’t go get a live album unless you really like the band. I wouldn’t go get a live album from a band I had never listened to before, and I won’t expect you to do that either. I got this one because I do enjoy listening to the banter that goes on in-between songs, seeing how they change up material live, and I like to support the bands I enjoy the most. I have The Foo Fighter’s live acoustic album too. Most of the songs are performed fairly similar to how they were originally composed, but I’m alright with that for the most part. Meloy opens the whole album by letting the crowd know they are in the wrong place if they are looking for Keith Urban. It at least gets you laughing before they even play. Another highlight for me is on a song titled “Dracula’s Daughter”. Meloy declares that it’s the worst song he has ever written in his life. He sings a song about the woes of being Dracula’s daughter before transitioning to “O Valencia!” You’re not going to go get this one if you don’t like the band, but if you’re a Decemberists fan I think it’s worth checking it out. If nothing else it ends up sounding like a greatest hits record performed live.
There were a few other albums I got for the trip, but I think these are the strongest out of all of them. If you’re in the mood for some new music in your life, these are some good albums to check out. While I have two new albums downloading as I type this out, I know these albums will stay in rotation for a while to come.