Hope everyone enjoyed Ethan's picks yesterday. Today we move on to Andre's picks, which per his instructions are in no particular order. But, um, he may like Blitzen Trapper a little bit.
Fruit Bats - Tripper
I've never been addicted to crack, but there were times this year that I understood what it was like when you just needed that fix. Easily the album that got the most spins on the old player this year for me, or at least the album I would have gone on Maury Povich to tell the world that I've accepted that I have a problem.
Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
At the top of my playlist for when I finally get that van I've always been talking about. You've got rock time, tender sensuous time to accompany pillow talk time, back to rock time, and then jaw harp time thrown in for good measure. All essential components for when you are airbrushing those eagles swooping down to pull the excalibur out of the stone on the side of your van. RAWK!
tUnE-YarDs - Whokill
"Huh?" "What?" "No you DIDN'T". Just a few of the expressions that still come up when this comes on. Notable mostly for melodies that have a way of penetrating your brain like that ear bug from Star Trek II You ain't gettin' that one out, man. No way, no how.
The Rosebuds - Loud Planes Fly Low
I never thought an album with the lyric "complicated dance move" would ever show up on my favorites list, but I also never thought a shirt that changes colors when you get all hot and whatnot would have caught on in the early 90's either. At least it educated people on the fact that heat is contained in the armpit area for longer periods of time that in other areas of the body, which is good to know if you are caught in an avalanche, but maybe not so good when you are going through puberty and can't make it through math class without...oh never mind. Basically, if I had myself a hypercolor shirt on while listening to this album I would suspect it to change multiple times throughout, as it takes you on a roller coaster ride of chill numbers, to straight up rockers and back that is extremely enjoyable throughout and will age much nicer than that shirt in your closet.
Cass McCombs - Wits End/Humor Risk
The first time I heard Wit's End I thought somebody either slipped ludes in my drink or I got shot in the neck by a dart that had been wiped across the back of a poisonous frog. Then I actually took a listen along with Humor Risk, his second album out released this year, and realized why this guy is considered to be one of the best songwriters working today. Cass also reminds me that oh ya, its pretty cool when an artist you like puts out two good albums in one year, because making music is their job, so it probably makes sense that they would make more than 10 songs every 2-3 years like most other bands. Besides Blitzen Trapper naturally.
Papercuts - Fading Parade
I think this band has a knob on their amps labeled DREAM THICKNESS. This one goes to 11 in terms of sounding like they are playing the soundtrack to my dreams deep in some foggy cave. But not a wet swampy cave. A warm cave where sugary candies are brought to me by wood elves as I sink deep into mattresses made from the hair of fairies. OK, I may have gone to far, but this album will make it all better.
The Decemberists - The King is Dead
I was a fan of some of their previous work, but I knew quite a handful of folks who were not, and I often found it difficult to find reasons in an argument for why they were any good. So when the pompous literary a-hole front got dropped, they provided the proof that they are really a talented group of musicians that sure can write and play a damn good song even without the cover of all the theatrical hoopla. I just hope they stay the course.
Beirut - The Rip Tide
Since Beirut's inception I was never quite sure if his music was schtick or not. An effort to simply get peoples attention, like a sign that says "Hey look at me! I do this weird thing, with these different instruments!" because honestly, sometimes that's all the indie rock audience is interested in. Safe to say I sensed a hint of irony in it all. But after seeing him live this year and then hearing his latest album, in which he choose to hone the Beirut sound rather than venture into some vastly new territory, was exactly what I need to help me put many of my doubts or prejudices aside, allowing me to finally enjoy the music and the quality of the band he has assembled around it.
Crooked Fingers - Breaks in the Armor
I never saw this one coming, but after a few listens I couldn't stop listening to this. Originally a side project of former Archers of Loaf-er Eric Bachmann, Crooked Fingers just have a knack for straight up quality songwriting, reminded you that it doesn't have to be something completely new and different; it just has to be done well, and with genuine feeling.
The Amazing - Gentle Stream
I don't know what is in the water in Sweden, but based on the sound of this it's some combination of THC, sugar, and ground up records from the 70's. As cliche as many people might think this sounds, I'm setting out my prediction that next year will be the year when it is finally cool and original again to jam out and rock on an album like these guys. Why are the Swedes always at the forefront of this stuff? I guess its just so damn cold there, you gotta keep rockin' or you'll go all gangrene and shit.
Sweden, huh. Who knew?
That's it for Andre's picks. Tune in tomorrow as our word economist fills you in on his somewhat louder, less cosmic picks for the best of the year. Until then....