Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Best Albums of 2009

Best Albums of 2009

No Line On The Horizon-U2
definitely not the greatest U2 record ever, but a solid one that provided us with new tunes to sing. It shows growth since the last one which is hard to achieve after being a band for 30 years. Has great new classics like "Breathe" and "Moment of Surrender".

download:No Line On The Horizon

Hello Hurricane-Switchfoot
the band's 7th studio album, and their best. they showed that becoming and independent paid off. More musical creativity, some of their best lyrics, and all around a great record. Deals with pain, storms, surrender, commitment, and hope. there is a past blog reviewing this album to its entirety. convicting and unashamed. buy it.

download: "Always" and "Your Love is a Song"

Noble Beast-Andrew Bird
i couldnt get this cd out of my cd player for months. sometimes i would listen to a song and as soon as it was over listen to it again. its that good. Mr. Bird at a career high.

download: Privateers

It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright!-mewithoutYou
mewithoutYou took a wild turn in their discography that was foreshadowed by their previous album, "Brother, Sister". They went soft on us. A band that was once categorized with other hardcore bands changed their sound dramatically to that more of an indie rock band. The album has a tuba in it. But this is a good thing. Aaron Weiss' lyrics are still strong, but he has fallen in love with a storytelling songwriting that is different from the past. Good different.

download: Allah, Allah, Allah

Wolfgang Amadeus-Phoenix
SNL had to introduce me to this band that has been around for quite some time. I am embarrassed to admit that. Regardless, i was very impressed and grew to respect this French import. Solid album that is getting them noticed around the world.

download: Lisztomania

Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King-Dave Matthews Band
First band release since the death of LeRoi, a key member of the band. However, the album is an homage to him, and one of DMB's best. They captured their live enthusiasm and energy into a studio album.

download: Alligator Pie

Middle Cyclone-Neko Case
She will sing your face off. Enchanting voice in an enchanting record. A very under-hyped artist with original and creative ideas.

download: Next time you say "Forever"

Monsters of Folk-Monsters of Folk
called by many the greatest collaboration since Traveling Willburys, composed of M.Ward (She&Him), Jim James (MMJ) and Conor Oburst (Bright Eyes), a folk band for the ages. Its always great to see things like this happen and work. M.Ward's breathy voice, Jim James' haunting sound, Conor Oburst's Dylan-esque songwriting, whats not to love?

download: Say Please

The Blueprint III- Jay-Z
i'm not usually a rap listener, but when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performed this at the VMA's i was forced to take notice. i have always been a Jay-Z fan and i consider this one of this best works. If anything, he has too many guest appearances on the record (have some faith in yourself Jay!). Youtube the VMA performance of Empire State of Mind. Will leave you breathless.

download:Young Forever

Far-Regina Spektor
The follow up cd to the one that made her mainstream, she gives her fans a good and solid record. Sadly it is missing some of the "strangeness" that was Regina, and the personality that it gave her albums. maybe she was too "out there" for some people and when she toned it down she got airplay? who knows, but her sound is definitely honed and perfected. A beautiful record.

download: Eet

Honorable Mention:

New Moon-Various
as much as we all hate to admit it, the Twilight series did something right. At least when it comes to the music. With new tracks by Death Cab, the Killers, Thom York, Muse, Bon Iver and more. an indie dream come true.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Reaching Maturity

Switchfoot is releasing their 7th studio album, Hello Hurricane, this November 10th. They have come a long way from their freshman album, "Legend of Chin". They have grown in multiple ways. First in the most obvious is the fact that they now have 5 members as opposed to the 3 they started out with (Jon and Tim Foreman and Chad Butler). In addition this has caused them to grow in their music. They have evolved. They dont find a happy formula and stick to it because it has worked before. Because of this, each new album they release is filled with something new, something that they have never tried before.

This is the first album released on their new independent record label lowercase people records. This is good news because it gave them creative rights over all of it and took the pressure off from the big time labels. And it shows. They tackle issues like God, pain, drug abuse, commitment and much more layered things. The band's personal beliefs bleed into the record making it very personal.
I have listened to the album several times and am flabbergasted (yes I just used that word) by it. It is a window to the human soul. The album is full of hurt and sometimes despair. But more than anything its full of hope. The title track, Hello Hurricane, is an amazing glimpse into the identity of the record. The chorus is welcoming the storm, letting it know that it cannot prevail. "Hello hurricane, you're not enough. Hello hurricane, you can't silence my love". It is a "though storms may come" kind of track of someone holding on to real hope. Lead singer Jon Foreman quotes the Apostle Paul and says, "everything I have I count as loss". It is a song about surrender to something bigger and greater than himself. The first single, Mess Of Me, is a harder, full on rock kind of song. With a driving guitar riff, Jon Foreman has referenced the infamous line of the film Braveheart as being the inspiration: "Every man dies, not every man really lives." This comparison is seen easily as in the chorus he says, "I wanna spend the rest of my life alive". It is also a cry against drug abuse and showing them that it is not the answer. When they first released this single, they hid thousands of copies of it all over the world and on Twitter posted the locations. Followers of Switchfoot would find them, and upon Switchfoot's request copied it, hid it somewhere else, and Tweeted the location. A great launch.
My personal favorite is the song Always. It is a track of commitment to the Heavenly Father. It talks about surrender, scars from the journey, sin, and second chances. It is ultimately a worship song sang in thanksgiving to someone full of grace.
Needle And Haystack Life is the opening track, and is very U2-esque. The tempo of the song is like U2 around Unforgettable Fire, but the maturity of the lyrics and vocals are like U2 around How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
The album has a great variety of songs that range from upbeat guitar rock songs to great ballads and heart-wrenching songs. Cover to cover this is an amazing album and is in my opinion Switchfoot's best. Jon Foreman did a few solo E.P.'s before this album was made and you can see that he learned a lot about songwriting from that experience and has since carried over to Switchfoot. Mark your calendars, on November 10th, go and get one of the best albums of the year.