And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.
04. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost! (DFA)
Every time I put this one on my record player and the vinyl gets a spinning I am reminded of how good these songs are. These are just fabulous disco songs, perhaps with a slight pop edge, and they roll on just so smoothly and they make me so happy. They’re just so darn catchy, and then we are only talking about the stellar songs and not even about the real highs. One of them being ‘Jam for Jerry’, a song in memory of the late Jerry Fuchs, which (as a Jerry Fuchs tribute should) has some amazingly tight percussion thrown in there. I also love the emotion in the chorus though, “I’ve got the feeling I’ve done / Something half wrong / It surrounds me / Drowns me in it”, or something to that effect. The thing is, they got it right when they made this song so catchy, so danceable, and not some half-assed ballad.
Another highlight is that they got Michael friggin’ McDonald on the closer of this album. And perhaps none were pleased more than they themselves, but anytime you get such a powerhouse on vocals, even if it just is for one track, that’s amazing. It also is what McDonald stands for, you know? The album, it may sound strange, but one of its big assets is that it is so darn easy on the ear. The songs are so catchy, so smooth, so easy to listen to; and yes, that’s most definitely a skill. To make songs that you don’t have to work for, but that just ease into your ear. Just a tremendous debut.
Holy Ghost! - Some Children (Free Download) by DFA Records
04. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy (4AD)
Annie Clark has returned! Three albums in, St. Vincent really seems to turn out to be the kind of artist who just can’t disappoint. As soon as I heard ‘Surgeon’, the first single of this year’s album, I knew we were going to be in for a threat. And how amazing is this album? It is off to a bit of a false start with ‘Chloe in the afternoon’, based on a 1972 film by the same name by Éric Rohmer. The song comes across unnecessary repetitive and a tad uninspired, but perhaps you actually need to have seen the film to fully appreciate it. However, as soon as the second track ‘Cruel’ begins to play, all is forgotten. Accompanied by a rather nifty video (in which Annie gets abducted by a motherless family and shreds in the trunk of a car - while bound and gagged) she returns to where she left off with her last album Actor: pop songs that could feature in Disney cartoons, but with a dark twist.
Compared to Actor, the melodies have gotten much grander, and perhaps more appealing to a more general audience. Also, the album is more balanced, with tracks flowing into each other almost unnoticeable. And then there are the guitar riffs such as in the chorus of the aforementioned ‘Surgeon’. Wow. And the solos are even more impressive if played live: the whole set tends to turn into a guitar jam session featuring only Annie Clark (and in case you haven’t actually seen her: that is pretty amazing). She really has nailed it on this album.