Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Albums of the Year (so far)

Last year was a pretty down year overall for music for the Big Sexy. Of course there were awesome new bands, bands that I was finally exposed to and good efforts from long time favorites. But overall, it was not as strong as in years past. I am pleased to announce 2011 is making up for it! As we are entering the summer months, there are already enough great albums to have a top 5 albums of 2011. Some of these might be off the radar by the time the BS Awards are released at the end of the year, but I have a feeling many will still be high on the list, including a likely wire-to-wire winner. I encourage you to seek out these excellent albums and add them to your ipod toot-sweet.

1. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light See the review below for a detailed description and fawning for this excellent set of music. Get it. Really. There is a sea of youtube videos from a Live on Letterman webcast out there. Here is Bridge Burning. The background vocals are rough on this, but you get the idea. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZFMTjQ7Xi0&playnext=1&list=PLB9919D1E902A0681

2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs It's tough to put this here as this album was on top of a lot of 2010 top alternative lists. It wasn't on the Big Sexy list as I hadn't heard it. I knew of it, I just didn't take an immediate shine when I took a listen. But when many of my favorite albums last year were on the same lists as Arcade Fire, but just lower, I thought I should give it a shot. I was late to the party but I'm enjoying the time just the same. The Suburbs is about exactly what it sounds like it is, growing up in the Suburbs. Arcade Fire is headed by a husband and wife team from Montreal. Win Butler, the lead singer, describes the album as a cross between Depeche Mode and Neil Young. I can buy that. They are pretty theatrical sounding, if that's possible. Here's my favorite song from the album and the most rocking Ready to Start. It is from The Daily Show. I have found they only book guests I love the TDS and The Colbert Report. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-12-2010/arcade-fire---ready-to-start

3. Awolnation - Megalithic Symphony What would happen if you mixed the electronica of LCD Soundsystem with the Prog Rock leanings of Muse and added Maroon 5's singer. I'm not sure, but that doesn't seem like a good idea. That is the best way I can describe the awesomeness of new band of the year Awolnation. There is a lot of variety on this album that is very good from beginning to end. Plus the album cover is the best of the year and is unlikely to be topped. Their "hit" single Sail is not even one of my top songs on the album. It is cool though. Here's the video... http://www.youtube.com/user/awolnation#p/c/E61B647F92CE08AA. This song is more upbeat and the vid is fun. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN5AXq4WvZI

4. Cake - Showroom of Compassion I have loved Cake for a long time. You don't get to be my size with a considerable sweet tooth. But one of my first ever compilation cd's was a collection of my favorite Cake songs, cleverly titled Pure Frosting. I don't think my kids would think we were camping if they didn't hear that mix. Their unique sound has been varied but similar for nearly 20 years. Showroom of Compassion was their first studio album in almost 10 years. I can't believe it has been that long. This album is very similar to the others with some musical growth mixed in. But there are still kickin bass lines, awesome trumpet blasts and the vibra-slap is used more than on any other album. Not all the songs are top notch and it is not my fave Cake album of all time, but there are more than a handful of songs on this album that are brilliant. Brilliant enough to carry the whole album. Here's one of those great songs at the 98Rock studios right here in Sactown. It's Lil' Sexy's favorite song of 2011. He especially likes it because of the name drop of the Candlerock Lounge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuYU09zLIQU

5. The Decemberists - The King is Dead I loved their last effort, the weird and emotional fantasy rock opera, The Hazards of Love. I thought it would be one and out for them. I'm not a fan of their older stuff and think I was just caught up in the story and emotion of the HoL. I got this on a whim and it is really good. Colin Miloy has hanging out with Peter Buck of R.E.M. and damned if it doesn't show, especially on the near R.E.M. knock-off, The Calamity Song. Overall, The King is Dead has almost too much twang in it for me. However, their Cool Out songs are very emotive, especially Rise to Me and Dear Avery. Rise to Me is an ode to his wife and son. When Colin sings "My darling, my sweetheart, I am in your sway" I am very touched. I had never heard that phrase before, but it is very loving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4LfzxI07q4&feature=fvwrel

Not quite making the top 5 but still getting repeated spins on my ipod:

Radiohead - The King of Limbs Radiohead has turned into one of my favorite bands and there most recent album might be my favorite of several landmark albums, but The King of Limbs hasn't quite hit me too hard yet. It's a little too spacey for me. I like this song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT6zpCY44LMLM but overall I am not moved. (If you have seen the official video for the song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfOa1a8hYP8&feature=relatede , the previous clip is more amusing) For Radiohead to succeed with the Big Sexy it needs to move my soul and not my ears. So far this album is not a hit.

The Lonely Island - Turtleneck & Chains So far, I really like this. It is mainly a rehashing of all of their SNL Digital Shorts with a few new songs. A good chance this ends up on the Top 10 BS albums of the year list. Sadly the album does not include the brilliant "3 Way" from the last episode of the season. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi7gwX7rjOw) They get excellent guests musicians throughout the album. This clip for The Creep includes Nicki Minaj http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLPZmPaHme0 . I may have three little creepers for halloween this year. I guess only if Twin Sexies can't find shinny suits and boxes.

Art Brut - Brilliant ! Tragic! Art Brut is another of my absolute favorite bands. They are a punk-ish group with good, simple, fun rock melodies and hooks. But what pushes them over the top is the hysterical lyrics and personality of very British frontman Eddie Argos. Eddie is the only artist from a band that I actually ever talked to. I got to hang out with him briefly and awkwardly before and after a San Francisco show a couple years ago. I haven't had this album long enough to properly rate it. Right off, I suppose I'm a little underwhelmed. Eddie likes to talk his singing. I think he may actually be trying to sing more hear. On this song, it songs more like whispering. The music is great, but I think I'd rather he talk his way through it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_IGqNoB4eI I'll have a better feel about this album by the end of the year.

Cage the Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday This is another album that was out at the end of the year in 2010 but I didn't get into it much until this year. Cage the Elephant had a minor hit a year or so ago with Ain't No Rest For the Wicked. I liked that the first 50 times I heard it, but got tired of the song and wrote this bank off as a one hit wonder. I gave them more of a chance and this new album is very good. http://www.youtube.com/user/cagetheelephant?blend=1&ob=4

I owe it to Ted to try out the new Kills CD and am getting geared up for new LMFAO and Modest Mouse. There are so many great months ahead for me and my ipod.

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