When listening to Paper Television it's not hard to find yourself wondering if Khaela Maricich was attempting to write hip-hop songs. This is the most oddly original release of the year and yet it still remains highly accessible thanks to Maricich's cute vocals surrounded by the erractic and catchy electronic instrumentation by Jona Bechtolt. The lead track "Pile Of Gold" demands repeated listenings and never seems to get old. Paper Television's very original oddly heartfelt lyrical approach pays off in all of these tracks big time. It's a dance party, it's an experiment, it's a love story at a dance club on Mars, and lastly it's a very unexpected and impressive step foward for The Blow. This is how girls think, guys.
My good friend Chris brought Hot Chip's The Warning to my attention after meeting him at work. I had no idea what I was in for, but in the end it justified working. This isn't just a band that shares electronic similarities with the Postal Service, but it's a band that kicks the shit out of them. It's a very accessible and enjoyable album to sit and listen to without being bored. The Warning feels like i'm 'there' for something very important in music for once. It's how i'd imagine it felt listening to early New Order records for the first time, waiting for the next one with a little bit of excited anticipation to see what's going to happen next with every new song.
The only album on this list and only album from 2006 here due to sheer greatness and sentimental affiliation. My favorite night and day of the year is documented in M. Ward's Post-War. Ward's cover of "To Go Home", from Daniel Johnston's long out of print 1982 (very) lo-fi recording The What Of Whom. This song is the reason the repeat feautre was added to stereos and discmans. Another notable mention is my personal favorite track, "Magic Trick", a song about a magician, I mean a girl, it features my top lyric of the year, "She's got one magic trick/just one and that's it/she disappears". Post-War is full of graceful heartache, many questions, and stark romanticism. It may be my soul.
Here is a record by Destroyer, Primarily Daniel Bejar of the New Pornographers and more recently of Swan Lake. I recall when I first illegally got ahold of Destroyer's Rubies. Everyone who came around at this time I raved about it to and spoke of comparisons to Dylan's Blood On The Tracks then played for them, "Painter In Your Pocket", a tale about the East Vancouver art scene. Sometimes I also played "A Dangerous Woman Up To A Point", which was followed immediatley by, "Yeah, that does sound like Dylan!". Well, I no longer think of this disc in association with Dylan or anyone else. It's simply a Destroyer album to me these days - and that ain't a bad thing. So, why don't you come around anymore?
The first track on The Hold Steady's Boys And Girls In America quotes Sal Paradise from Kerouac's classic novel On The Road ("Boys and girls in America / They have such a sad time together") the song then goes on to describe a conversation between drunkard poet John Berryman and the Devil. The pace for the album you're about to hear is set perfectly. Tales of boys and girls in america doing drugs ("Hot Soft Light"), taking drugs and having sex ("Chillout Tent"), regretting it all ("First Night") and partying harder than ever ("Massive Nights"). This is all backed by Thin Lizzy riffs and instrumentation you'd swear was the E-Street Band. Whether you're on your way to a party or coming down from one this is the album you need to be listening to. It's nothing short of amazing folks.
It's been a hell of a year for the Swedes. Seemingly unknown Swedish acts have been popping up all over like blonde children from the Children Of The Corn. I knew they were here to stay last week when I turned on late-night God Conan O'Brien and squeeled with baffled delight that his musical guest was Peter, Bjorn and John. The performance was more than I could ask for. They are true showmen and heck, they even had special guest vocalist on the incredible first single, "Young Folks" Victoria Bergsman, whom recently departed from The Concretes. She is the most adorable and shy girl I've ever witnessed on my television. Naturally, I fell in love with both and most likely so did the rest of the nation. When I bought this album a few months back it hadn't been released stateside, but I did not give a second thought to the purchase of the more expensive UK edition. I simply had to own Writer's Block. It is indie-rock at it's prime. It's catchy, cool, and slick as Peter Morén's dance moves. A must have!
The first time I heard the song "Knife" from Grizzly Bear's Yellow House I knew that this, their second full length album was going to be a major statement. The album contains lush Beach Boys harmonies, chugging Velvet Undergroundesque guitars, and it's both intimate and ambitious. Albums like Yellow House come along just when you think that the room for creativity in rock music is running down and drop you out a window like a piano. If you enjoy the creative side of indie-rock that retains it's emotional undertones Yellow House is for you.
Remember the classic scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High in which Mark asks Stacy out and receives pointers from Damone? One of his many tips is to play side one of Led Zeppelin IV. Well, if that movie was made in 2006 instead of 1982 Damone would have told Mark to pop Junior Boy's So This Is Goodbye in the cd player. Lead singer Jeremy Greenspan's voice carries a rare fragile grace. This is surrounded by an impenetratable wall of syntheziers provided by Matt Didemus. So This Is Goodbye is another indie/electronic album on this list that kicks the crap out of anything the Postal Service has ever attempted. If Led Zeppelin IV was guaranteed to get you some hot action, So This Is Goodbye will atleast get you some tongue.
Speaking of hot action... Jenny Lewis' solo debut from her work with Rilo Kiley, Rabbit Fur Coat, is a stunning collection of country-rock and Americana songs that wouldn't be out of place on a Gram Parsons recording. Rabbit Fur Coat wouldn't sound out of place either at a local beer soaked honky-tonk. Its songs tell stories exploring themes of infidelity, jealousy, and reflection and include a slew of interesting various characters. The best compliment I can give to this album is to say that it is better than any Rilo Kiley album to date. Highly reccomended for a lonesome night of introspection and close listening. I'm pretty sure some of my ex-girlfriends could have wrote this album...