We're about halfway through the calender year, which means that the numerous, fragmented voices of the music world are voicing their various opinions on "top" this and that for the year to date. Although 2011 needs more legs to keep up with the almost unbelievable breadth of 2010, we've had some gems! Let's talk about five of our favorite albums so far here at Baeble.
1. Foster The People
Timing is everything, especially for the young, spiffy LA sunshine band Foster The People, who lit their Torches
just in time for summer to provide them with ample BBQ stages for anthemic glory. Their tight, trendy take on tuneage, a smoothie of radio-friendly, clap-your-hands rock has the subtelest tinge of a young MGMT, perfect for usurping the latter's throne of the bro-band you secretly love. While many dither in the chillest of waves or whatever portmanteau people are using to descripe bands like The Weeknd, FTP are sticking with the tried and true methods of their already legendary peers. Congratulations, it's working, kids.
2. Bon Iver
, Bon Iver
Musically, Bon Iver's sophomore effort Bon Iver
has much more going on with it than their 2008 debut For Emma
. The songs are more electrifying, more elaborately arranged. There's a greater variation between tracks, featuring everything from post-rock, to acoustic burners, to stadium-sized ballads. Now this newfound aspiration for greater horizons is not to say that it's any better than the beautiful simplicity of For Emma
...as in our minds, the two are virtually incomparable. But what Bon Iver
does show is Jason Vernon's inherent ability to venture into uncharted territories and still come out victorious. Between 2008 and now, there has obviously been some big things that have happened in Vernon's life (signing up for an array of collaborations, most namely Kanye West), but what's held true is Vernon's indisputable ability to rise above all with heartfelt and elegant songs, making his newest release one for the ages.
, w h o k i l l
If looks could kill, we're not sure if the answer to w h o k i l l
would be tUnE-YarDs, necissarily. But once you get over the sporatic capatilizations and dig into this tome, it's obvious the cover doesn't denote the meticulous attention to melodic pragmatism coupled with unwieldy exploration. It's a delciate balance, and one only acheived previously by the strange pop of Dave Longstreth's Dirty Projectors (funny Garbus should sound so similar to Longstreth in her constructions). tUnE-YarDs isn't the band you take home to mother, but it's brash and irreverant of the more ubiquitous fads of independant music, which is a good start for anyone looking for something a little more interesting than one-four-five guitar distortion.
When Adele's debut album 19
hit shelves two years ago, the concept of such a young girl (19 at the time) with such a strong, ranging voice was hard to get past for most listeners, and in end, it's what drove her album to the top. This time around with the release of her sophomore effort 21
, Adele doesn't have the newness factor to rely on to push her music. But luckily for her (and us), there's a lot more going on for her than just a pretty voice. On 21
, the British singer demonstrate's that her uncanny ability to write rock solid soul songs is just as impressive as her high-towering voice. "Go ahead and sell me out/And I'll lay your sh*t bare," sings Adele on the inebriating tune "Rolling In The Deep". Her tone rings much tougher on 21
, and all that jazz fluff that maintained her last album has been clipped and trimmed. All together, the new LP is a undeniably a step forward, and goes to show that when you combine a powerful voice with even more powerful lyrics, what results will always be exemplary.
5. Fleet Foxes
, Helplessness Blues
What makes the Fleet Foxes' new album Helplessness Blues
such a great record, is that it's much different than their 2008, self-titled debut. Three years ago, fans fell in love with the Portland rockers' ability to bring forth bright and easy folk songs that didn't feel too artificial. The album was wonderfully sunny, but when compared to the Fleet Foxes' latest quest, there's a stark change in mood. Helplessness Blues
is a nod to the band's prolonged journey from then to now, arriving as a deep, intricate look into man's constant battle between hardship and serenity. The record is particularly emotional, and is not as casual a listen as their debut was. But it's because of this ability to take risks—coupled with their excellent sense of empathy—that makes Helplessness Blues
such a success.