Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tops in Pops '09: The Bottom Half

I welcome any suggestions to artists I should be listening to. In the meantime, here's Part One of my musical favs of the year.

10. Public Enemies soundtrack- Elliot Goldenthal’s mixture of 30’s era swing and contemplative mood harmonies perfectly sync up with the luscious Hi-def images of Michael Mann’s film. I’ve long admired the work of Goldenthal the composer, and with “Public Enemies”, he reaches a new plateau.

9. Ida Maria “Fortress Round My Heart“- Part of this album is way to pop for my taste. But once you push past the first seven tracks of “Fortress Round My Heart“- obviously meant to score on American alt radio- Ida Maria’s voice melts into something very cool. Part Nena in the 80’s and part soulful exploration of some raspy blues tunes that linger, the stunner on this album is “We’re All Going To Hell”. I look forward to whatever she does next.

8. Dinosaur Jr “Farm”- Not that I’d expect J. Mascas and his band mates to re-invent themselves, and with “Farm” they sound just like they did in 1992. And that’s a great thing. Either one is a fan of Dinosaur Jr’s crushing guitar sound and Mascas’ slurred vocals or not.

7. Pearl Jam “Back Spacer”- Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, Pearl Jam have crafted a tight, economical album full of blistering tunes. I’ve long been a fan of Pearl Jam, and this is probably their best record since “Vs.” The same sense of focus rolls out through every song and each track consistently surprises, while Eddie Vedder’s voice sounds just as competent and powerful as it did when they burst onto the grunge scene 20 years ago.

6. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead “The Century Of Self”- On first listen, the new album by Texas prog-rockers And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead felt like they were still searching for an overreaching sound. Subsequent listens has narrowed their sound into something adventurous, revealing an exciting mixture of post-rock noise and more straight forward rock. It’s albums like this I love.

Part 2 (The Top 5) tomorrow.....

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