Month number two of keeping track of my favorite music releases ended up quite well, even if I spend a good part of the month continuing to listen to stuff from January. I guess that’s how it should be, eh? A bit of variety this month, with a bit of electronica, some country rock, some noise rock, some indie pop, and even a silent film connection. I should note that unlike my Scorecard post for movies, I’m not listing everything I listened to, but only stuff I liked to one degree or another. You can see how these fit in with the rest of the albums I’ve heard this year on my 2012 Favorites page (below the movies). And you can listen to my favorite songs of the year over here on Spotify.
Goldfrapp – The Singles
Okay, so this isn’t strictly speaking NEW music, but the album did release in February, and I have been listening to it a whole, whole lot, and I do kind of consider it my re-introduction to Goldfrapp, so I’m counting it. I’ve heard a few Goldfrapp songs before (notably “Strict Machine”), but I wasn’t enough into electronic-infused music until now to really get into her stuff. I guess Jonathan is having an effect on my musical tastes as well. I’m still not hugely into electronica, but this falls somewhere closer to the electronic end of rock for me – just a step or two beyond the synthiness of Metric or Blondie, and with good vocals and melodies layered in. It pretty much hits all my buttons, and it’s been almost on repeat all month (don’t worry, I still made time to listen to some other things), and it may not stop anytime soon. Granted, a singles album has a leg up on other albums since it’s kind of a “best of” record, but yeah, whatever.
Heartless Bastards – Arrow
I may have to rethink my anti-country music stance, because both of my favorite actually new albums this year have been either country or folk inflected to some degree (the other being First Aid Kit – see last month’s post). Apparently if there’s enough rock in your country rock, I may quite easily become a big fan. Which leads me to believe that it’s just modern-day Nashville that I don’t like. Erica Wennerstrom leads this band with highly distinctive growling vocals, just the right sound for this raw sound. Something in the instrumentation and power vocals (especially on “The Arrow Killed the Beast”) also reminds me of my favorite Neko Case album, Blacklisted, which I’ve heard described as “country noir.” That epithet fits Arrow as well.
Tennis – Young & Old
One of the cool things about Spotify is that I can introduce myself to bands that I had no idea existed before – I can usually find out about hot new bands from Stereogum or other buzz-tracking blogs, but sometimes one slips through the buzz cracks. Tennis is husband-wife duo (my favorite thing!) Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley from Denver, and they’re on their second album with Young & Old. I’m not sure they’ll reach the upper echelons of my musical taste that husband-wife duos like Mates of State and The Submarines enjoy, but they definitely put a smile on my face with these songs.
Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
After hearing the opening bit of this album, I was all prepared to dislike and dismiss it – it’s a little too noisy and chaotic for me at the beginning, with the shouting going on under the singing. But I decided to stick it through and listen to the whole album at least once, and somewhere by the fourth song or so, I found myself genuinely enjoying it, as it settled into just the right amount of noise rock. By the end, I was ready to immediately play it again. That’s not been the norm as I try to take in two or three new releases a week lately, so it was a refreshing surprise. (I can’t remember if I’ve listened to their previous releases or not; I’ve certainly been aware of the name, but perhaps I dismissed them too early before, as I almost did this time.)
Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled With Light
Fanfarlo is a fun band, and very personable the time I met them after a show at Amoeba – I even have a signed ‘7 from them. :) Even though I find this new release lightly enjoyable, I can’t say I’m a big fan, though. I won’t turn it off, but it runs a bit to the overly twee/hipster side, even for me. The song “Shiny Things” (see video below) is fairly solid and avoids some of the unnecessary quirk, but it’s all over “Replicate.”
Air – Le Voyage Dans La Lune
Being the burgeoning silent cinema aficionado that I am, I couldn’t let this one pass me by. I’ve heard various things by Air over the years, and it’s never really been my thing as anything but a novelty, and to be honest, that’s pretty much what this is. They were tasked with writing a new original score for Georges Méliès A Trip to the Moon, newly restored in its original hand-colored version, and this album is that score plus a few more tracks. I don’t love it, but it’s an interesting fit with the film most of the time.