ben folds - rocking the suburbs

Ben Folds: Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001)

There’s no way for me to be impartial when it comes to Ben Folds, and specifically his first solo album Rockin’ the Suburbs.  Sorry if that makes me bourgeois or vanilla or uncool.  Ben Folds Five was a huge deal for me finding a way through a lot of feelings of depression and anxiety during my 20s, and the way the songs on this album mirrored so many moments of my inner life was scary.  It’s a huge musical touchpoint for my life, one I can’t listen to without getting emotional. Continue reading “Ben Folds: Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001)”

arctic monkeys - am

Arctic Monkeys: AM (2013)

What is AM, specifically in the context of the fifth Arctic Monkeys album?  Is it Ante Meridian?  Amplitude Modulation?  or is it, in the words of frequent collaborator Josh Homme simply sexy music for After Midnight?  It doesn’t matter; the Arctic Monkeys have crafted a dark velvety album of late night tunes that merge the murk of Humbug and the pop of Suck It And See into a far more cohesive and engaging listen. Continue reading “Arctic Monkeys: AM (2013)”

arctic monkeys - suck it and see

Arctic Monkeys: Suck It And See (2011)

Moving away from the heavier doom of Humbug, 2011 finds the Arctic Monkeys embracing the lessons of simpler arrangements and more straightforward songwriting.  Pop-infused like opener “She’s Thunderstorms” and “Black Treacle” chart the course for the tongue-in-cheek Suck It And See.  It’s the first time the band sounds like something other than completely themselves, and despite the strong collection of songs here it’s this album where I start to fins myself wandering a bit in attention. Continue reading “Arctic Monkeys: Suck It And See (2011)”

arcade fire - reflektor

Arcade Fire: Reflektor (2013)

Put aside for the moment the pretension and Pitchfork accolades.  Forget the fact that Reflektor, the follow-up to Arcade Fire’s Grammy winning The Suburbs, was premiered by streaming it in its entirety set to Marcel Camus’s 1959 film Black Orpheus.  Forget all that, listen to the first two tracks and then think about this:

What if those songs came out in 1980, and Joe Strummer was singing them?  Continue reading “Arcade Fire: Reflektor (2013)”

arcade fire - the suburbs

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (2010)

Sometimes you get a lot, and sometimes you get little.  Arcade Fire was all the rage about a decade ago, and I fell into the hype, trying to convince myself I could see the things in The Suburbs that others saw, or felt.  I don’t think I every actually got through the album in its entirety back then, and it was through the skin of my teeth I did so this time. Continue reading “Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (2010)”

Animal Collective: Centipede Hz (2012)

My first thought when I finished listening to Coming to Centipede Hz was that I wish I had taken a few more days to expand upon the brief entry I posted for Merriweather Post Pavilion. Where that album found Animal Collective opening up and exploring new avenues born out of circumstance (guitarist Deakin took a leave of absence), Centipede Hz feels like an awkward attempt to fold Deakin back into a mix that was built for the opposite purpose.  Continue reading “Animal Collective: Centipede Hz (2012)”

Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

If I had a college “experimental” phase it was about a decade or so after graduating from college and involved (surprise) music as opposed to anything more prurient and, you know…fun.  Tired of the monotony of metal and hanging out with a bunch of friends who were younger than me I started to dip a toe into the pool of indie rock and pop, or as I liked to call it (and still do) “Pitchfork Music.”  Things like Blonde Redhead, Kasabian, Smoosh, Grizzly Bear, Dirty projectors….and yes, Animal Collective.  If there was any album that was constantly raised on a pedastal as the be all, end all of independent pop music, it was their 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion.  So of course I had to buy it…  Continue reading “Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)”