2011: The Best Of The Best

12월 26, 2011 at 2:29 오전
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By John Glynn

2011 has been a pretty good year for music, so I decided to compose a list of my five favorite albums.

5. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
In 2009, The Decemberists’ medieval rock opera ‘The Hazards of Love’ received a mixed reception. It pitted the band’s most loyal supporters against those with little time for Elizabethan syntax and folk-metal guitars. Two years later, ‘The King is Dead’ was released. It is a melodic offering, but with much of the frills and embellishments stripped away, resulting in a lean, jaw-droppingly good mix of American and Celtic influenced folk songs. This album is a massive leap, the self-assured swing of opener ‘Don’t Carry It All’ sets the tone, and song for song, this is definitely their best work set since breakthrough album, ‘Picaresque.’

4. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
‘Ashes & Fire’ is a rather impressive album, it was was produced by Glyn Johns—renowned for producing acts including: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Clash and The Rolling Stones. At times, Adams is at his unrivaled best. With the exceptional talents of Norah Jones singing backup and playing piano and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on keyboards, this album packs quite the punch. Adams is known for his distinct use of acoustic and electric guitar as well as the delicate use of drums. It starts with the song ‘Dirty Rain’, classic Adams, uncontrived, raw emotion painting pictures of moments in time. The album shifts gears effortlessly, from the heel-tapping luminosity of the title track to ‘Do I Wait’, very much the perfect love song. The subject matter is also admirable, and Ryan’s struggle with the more intimate moments in human life, including heartbreak, segregation and the human desire for companionship, really gives this album a profound type of intensity.

3. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
Bearing in mind the praise bestowed upon TVOTR’s last album, ‘Dear Science’, this follow-up seemed to arrive to a somewhat muted trumpet blast. You can’t pick a fault with the music; the boys have created a sound that is significant but shaded, forceful but delicate. It can burn up as promptly as it can fade away. TV on the Radio make momentous music for momentous times. TVOTR haven’t been this honest about their feelings before. “I’m gonna keep your heart / If the world falls apart / I’m gonna keep your heart,” Malone admits on the chorus of the stirring, mandolin-laced ‘Keep Your Heart.’ This track resonates with a rather Paul Simonesque type groove. Soon after, on ‘You’, Malone admits, “you’re the only one I ever loved.” Luckily for us, the brilliance of TV on the Radio is not a switch that can be flicked off too easily. “I’ve tried so hard to shut it down, lock it up, gently walk away,” Malone sings on album opener ‘Second Song.’ Undoubtedly, many music lovers around the world are hoping that these guys never walk away.

2. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Three years ago, Fleet Foxes astounded listeners with their self-titled debut album. Their beautiful harmonies were faultless, and frontman’s Robin Pecknold’s lyrical genius resulted in mass media attention. The band shifted more than 200,000 copies of their debut album in the U.S. alone. They also performed on “Saturday Night Live” and played sell-out shows across the world. Superstardom beckoned.
Cringe……… That is the usual reaction when music meets poetry. Five minutes into Helplessness Blues, their 2011 hit album, it dawns on the listener that they are in the presence of a song loosely based on the exertions of WB Yeats. Fear not, this album is fantastic. Its class lies in the superiority of the songwriting, which, for all its intricacy, never sounds as if it’s been agonized over in the way it supposedly has.
Helplessness Blues was born out of a somewhat troubled conceptual phase; it is tainted by uncertainty, insecurity and the acceptance of growing older. However, it is also a thing of magnificence. The idyllic outro of its title-track or the fervent surge of ‘Grown Ocean’ demonstrates, at its nucleus lies a real sense of awe and optimism.

1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
The best album of the year proves that real music isn’t dead. It’s the sophomore offering from Justin Vernon, a loveable 30-year-old Wisconsinite who records as Bon Iver and looks like a guy that you might ask to fix your boiler.
Vernon has created a modern day masterpiece. ‘Bon Iver’ emerges from a feverish trance, managing to deliver an almighty punch. It’s fluid and victorious — a wave of acoustic guitars and mounting drums accompanying Vernon’s hallucinogenic voice. His signature emotional falsetto remains a constant – a unique type of croon that falls closer to, say, TV On the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe than it does to all the acoustic musicians to which Vernon has been compared.
Quite simply, it’s the sound of superior music, music that seems to come from somewhere truly special.

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