Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top 10 albums of 2008

These are my favorite releases of 2008

10)Sun Kil Moon- April

A slow burner of an album. Once you get into it however, Kozeleks lyrics stick straight to the heart. The guitar playing is some of the most soothing at times, as well as technical at times. Excellent effort from Mark Kozelek and crew.

9) No Age- Nouns

A reverb heavy rocker of an album. I can see where the sonic youth comparisons come from, yet dont be fooled, this group definitely has a style of their own. The slower moments are just as good as the loud ones from these new Sub Pop boys.

8)M83- Saturdays=Youth

One of the first albums that can convey what it means, and feels like to be a teenager. A new direction for m83, as this is their poppiest, most accessible album to date, but it is an undeniable classic none the less.

7)Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend

Perhaps the freshest sound of the year, Vampire Weekend's debut is one of the most repeatable records of the year. Lighthearted, fun, and bouncy, this band from Columbia seems to have a unique style that, hopefully, will stick around

6)Sigur Ros- Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust

Not only is it one of the best releases of the year, but it has the best album art of the year as well. The cover perfectly matches the new tone brought forth from the boys from Iceland. A carefree, hopeful record is a breath of fresh air from their usual dark, omnious sound.Yet dont be weary, it is still some of the most hypnotizing music released today.

5)The Walkmen- You & Me

An excellent rock album. The wails, the reverb, the pulsing drums. This record lets you know what it's like to be at a Walkmen concert. Also "In The New Year" is one of the best singles of the year.

4)The Hold Steady- Stay Positive

More serious than anything Finn and co. have ever done before, Stay Positive doesn't really stay true to it's name, yet no one can be upset about it. Finn's writing is on point here probably more than ever as he deals with themes such as murder, fate, faith, and love.

3)Beach House- Devotion

Listening to this cd could make anyone feel like they are dreaming. I'd never heard of this group and got the cd on a whim, however I was very glad that I did. The album is soothing from start to finish, and the bands sound is unique and delightful.

2)Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes

Give the Shins a southern twang and add a little My Morning Jacket and you get Fleet Foxes. The writing on this album is impeccable, as are the tones. This album is earthy, and I only mean that in the best possible way. A record that surely benefits from repeat listens.

1)TV on the Radio- Dear Science,

Far and away the best album of the year as well as one of my favorite release from these boys from Brooklyn, and that's saying a lot. It's their most accessible, yet it's never poppy. The lyrics are more down to earth and real. Oh yeah, the music is addictive as the world's hardest drug. Warning, once you pop this cd in your cd player, you will not eject it for a long while.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Working On A Dream

Why do we love the artists that we love?

How can a piece of music change a persons life so dramatically?

I'm a big Bruce Springsteen fan. Actually, the word fan is an understatement. I am what one would call an obsessive fanatic. I own all of his albums, have seen him live, and salvitate over every bootleg that I can get my grubby hands on.

Sure I can get annoying. After last year's Magic came out Lia, my girlfriend, had to threaten a seperation in order for me to listen to anything else.

I'm just kidding. It never got that bad. But almost...

But I'm not the only one who suffers from this kind of debacle. I've heard of people creating shrines in their homes to artists such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors. One of the parents of one of the kids I give swim team lessons to still wears all of the Fleetwood Mac t-shirts shes bought from every single concert she's ever seen. And I've never seen her wear the same one twice.

Now I cant explain why these people love who they love. But I might be able to give some insight on maybe why The Boss means so much to me.

It's people.

His words are about people that all of us can see. The old man at the bar wondering if and when his wife will come home (You're Missing). The young kid watching his older brother go off to war--something he doesnt yet, and may not ever understand (Born in the U.S.A.). The guy who lost all of his hopes and dreams racing the car he built with his best friend (Racing in the Streets). People coming together for a cause they believe in (The Rising). Lastly--the one who we all can relate to--someone who just wants to get out of the town that he's grown up in (Born to Run, 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy), Growing Up, etc).

His words--his--honesty give people something to relate to, something to believe in. When Bruce Springsteen endorsed President-Elect Barack Obama it came as no shock to us E-Street fans. It seemed like the perfect combination. Here we have a singer who has always represented the common-man, as well as the youthfulness of america; and we have a politician who works hard for the average working American, the one living paycheck to paycheck.

Last night during the Redskins Cowboys football game, Bruce Springsteen premiered his single "Workin' on a Dream" off of his upcoming new album. While campaigning for Barack Obama he would always say the same thing before playing an acoustic version of the song--"This one goes out to Senator Obama"

Out here the nights are long, the days are lonely
I think of you and I'm working on a dream
I'm working on a dream

Now the cards I've drawn's a rough hand, darling
I straighten the back and I'm working on a dream
I'm working on a dream

I'm working on a dream
Though sometimes it feels so far away
I'm working on a dream
And I know it will be mine someday

Rain pourin' down, I swing my hammer
My hands are rough from working on a dream
I'm working on a dream

I'm working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it's here to stay
I'm working on a dream
Well our love will chase trouble away

I'm working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I'm working on a dream
Our love will make it real someday

The sun rise up, I climb the ladder
The new day breaks and I'm working on a dream
I'm working on a dream

I'm working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I'm working on a dream
Our love will make it real someday
I'm working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I'm working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday

What dream is he talking about in this song? In context it's about a man creating a family. However Bruce has never meant for his lyrics to be read on the surface level. This song could be seen as a vintage Springsteen song. America, the youngest country in the world, obviously has it's problems. It has it's kinks that are years and years away from being solved. However we are getting there. If the american people can rally behind Barack Obama, we can all get to work on the American Dream. A place where everyone--no matter your race, creed, sexual orientation, no matter anything--can come together, raise a family and live.

That is why I love Bruce Springsteen, he, as well as his songs, represent an America that is not only willing to admit it's faults, but work to change them selflessly for the betterment of all of it's citizens.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wall-E a little film with a lot to say

Wall-E was perhaps the most important film of the summer that will probably not be seen as much as it derves to. The one and a half hour long computer-animated "kids" movie said more about people in that small time frame than most films put together. Now films are obviously up to interpretation and everyone has their own opinion. However, I have decided to compile a list of the themes that I thought Wall-E decided to bring to light.

1. We Are Relying Too Much on Technology To Make Our Lives Not Only Easier, But Better

The whole idea behind the advancement of technology is to help make humankind smarter. By this I mean in doing things such as helping us to cure diseases, to make art more accessible to a broader audience, to, in theory, improve life on Earth. The problem is that e have become spoiled by technology. The days of kids playing stickball or setting up soccer goals in their backyards have been replaced by kids playing Guitar Hero or just vegging out on the couch Tivo'ing reruns of Hannah Montanna. Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Guitar Hero or Tivo. They are great fun. The problem here is that people have become to dependent on these things and have lost sight of the simple joys of going for a run outside, or playing catch with your father. We must find a way for these things to co-exist or as Wall-E warned...we are destined to grow into blobs that can hardly even stand up, let alone walk. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Everything We Need To Be Happy Is Already Inside Us

Yes. I'm going to get sappy here. Love. Friendship. That whole thing. But it's true. Not only has our technology seperated us from the outdoors, but it has seperated us from each other as well. What's the entire idea behind the telephone?  It's a device that let's us talk to people with out even having to see them. And caller-id allows us to choose who we dont want to talk to. Have we become a society who is scared of each other? Have we become so self involved that we are beginning to not even need each other at all? Wall-E was lonely for hundreds and hundreds of years. Then one day he found his purpose. Eve.

3. We Only Have One Planet.

Sure this theme has been explored before (An Inconvienient Truth) but never in such a unique way as in Wall-E. In a not too distant future Wall-E is the one robot left in a world that has been so covered in waste that the inhabitants have just left instead of trying to clean it up. They left the place they had called home for as long as time existed. The past two themes are directly tied to this one. The whole film is about what can happen when human emotion is replaced with one thing: apathy. Are we doomed to destroy not only our way of living, but the place we live as well?

Wall-E is a fantastic film. It is coming out on dvd on Tuesday. I would buy it but I have no money.