from Fear Is On Our Side
This is the best animated music video I’ve ever seen.
This is the best animated music video I’ve ever seen.
One of the most difficult questions for me to answer in recent years is What’s your favorite band of all time? There are a lot of bands who have had a lot of impact in my life. As I get older, I gravitate toward a much easier sound. The bands I have followed for the last decade or so are downright soft. A couple of these softer bands not only get regular rotation, but manage to create music that I identify with better than any other music I’ve ever listened to.
But one band started the whole thing. My music addiction can be traced directly to Operation Ivy.
I hated Silence of the Lambs. Hated it. And not because it was too gruesome or because I somehow convinced myself that it was a bad movie. No, my distaste is much more basic. I found the movie exceptionally frustrating as a sequel.
“A sequel?” you say? Yes, a sequel. It’s somewhat more common knowledge now than it was in 1991, but Silence of the Lambs is, in fact, a sequel. The original movie is a classic thriller called Manhunter. I watched it with my mom when I was, I dunno, like 12. More than being a great childhood memory, it is an amazing movie.
Unfortunately, as a sequel, Lambs fell flat. I went into it expecting an extension on the first brilliant film, but, of course, it was intended to stand on its own.
That’s how I felt about Travistan.
I’ve been seriously contemplating writing a Best Albums of 2007 list in the first few weeks of the year, just to see how close I can get. Most of it would be based on expectation and conjecture. I wouldn’t be able to account for the surprise hits or debut albums. And, of course, it is impossible for pre-emptive Best-of lists to measure the emotional impact any specific album will have had by the end of the year. So I decided against it. Regardless, this is shaping up to be a very good year for music.
Well, Wincing the Night Away is a sure bet for the Top Ten of 2007. If ten better albums are released this year, I’ll be shocked. In fact, if this album ends up on 5 or fewer Top Ten lists over at Metacritic, I’ll eat a crayon.
Compiling a list of Best Albums is actually a lot easier that deciding on the Best Songs. So much comes in to play with individually released tracks because they are essentially short-form advertisements for artists. A single has to create a lot of buzz before it has any serious impact. There’s also the One Hit Wonder effect. A song may perfectly represent a given year even when it comes from an artist or band with no real staying power (remember Soul Asylum? Yeah, neither does anybody else).
Full albums, on the other hand, are a much better representation of an artist’s actual talent. Critics can conveniently ignore the One Hit Wonders and concentrate on the albums that actually made you stop and listen. More importantly, those of us who are hopelessly addicted to music actually prefer listening to full albums. Rather than playlists with a lot of great singles, we throw whole albums onto our iPods.
By the end of the year, you generate a pretty clear idea of which albums made the biggest impact. Typically, it’s the albums that you could listen to without skipping a single track. In Must Own Monday tradition, the ten albums below the fold provide the best and most complete albums of 2006.
It’s not about being the best played, most accurately sung, or having the tightest production. Truly great songs do two very important things: They create an emotional reaction in a broad range of listeners and they have a tendency to change the landscape of the music industry. That’s a tall order and not easy to pull off.
Picking a song of the year is very tricky business. Some songs like the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963) and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991) are the kind of rarities that had an immediate and sustained impact. But those are the exception rather than the rule. Other songs like Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” (1983) and the Romones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” (1975) were essentially cult hits in their time, but have come to be regarded as truly great and industry-changing songs. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess (for example, none of these songs won a Grammy, but then again, when have the Grammys ever been an accurate reflection of great music? I digress…), so picking a “song of the year” in the same year the songs are released is a little silly. Can we really predict the impact a song will have before that song has a chance to make an impact? I wonder.
This year we’re lucky (or unlucky depending on your taste and temperament). You may not realize it, but we were all party to one of those rare few that actually changed everything. It hit like train, spread like wildfire, and will have a permanent effect on the music industry. The trouble this year is organizing #2 through #10.
Quick history of Alias:
Alias (which is his alias, obviously) is white and grew up in a small town in Maine. After catching the hip hop bug, he started creating his own beats and perfecting his signature, double-time rapping style. He and a friend decided to start an artist collective called Anticon and moved out to the Bay Area. Much to everyone’s surprise (his parents most of all, I’m sure) he was very very very good…
My first thought when I heard this: Woah. Where did that come from?
This album is shockingly good for a band that doesn’t get national attention. These cats just know how to make solid rock and roll. It’s just a bit harder than your run-of-the-mill indie rock and less pretentious than modern emo. It’s not ground-breaking, but it isn’t trying to be. It’s just good, new-fashioned rock. When we’re old, grey, and thinking about retirement, the “classic” radio stations will play music that sounds just like this.
I’m not even sure where to start.
This album is nothing less than essential. Our Endless Numbered Days is not only one of the best albums to be released this decade, it contains the best love songs recorded in a generation. Put simply, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this album. It’s more than good. It’s perfect.
Emo music has had two distinct phases. Originally, emo was basically country music for hardcore kids: clean-cut mid-west kids singing about how sad and angry they are that a girl broke their heart. Whiney and predictable, yes, but it was also a new and oddly exciting branch of the ever-changing genra the rest of the world refers to as “punk rock.”
Then something happened. Some time in the late 90′s, emo got happy and poppy. The whiney, depressed, geeky, no-life, loser singer/songwriter was replaced with the pretty, tattooed, occasioanally sad, constantly complaining, but very well produced artiste.