I do not listen to a lot of recently released music, and this is for two main reasons: firstly, I am always broke, so I can't pay for new CDs or downloads. Secondly, new music tends to be a little on the shitty side. Just sayin'. I trolled through nine Wikipedia pages telling me all of the albums released in the last five years, and I whittled the list down to ten albums that I'd heard and loved, then easily culled them back to five. That, in my opinion, stands for a shitty, shitty, shitty five years of music. But I digress. Here are the five albums that stuck out, like shining jewels, in a pile of shit.
5. ALICE IN CHAINS - BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE (2009)
The fourth studio album of my favourite band of all time, Black Gives Way to Blue was welcomed by fans who had waited almost 15 years for a new album, and was the first album with William DuVall on vocals.
DuVall, in my opinion, sounds enough like the late, great Layne Staley to pay great tribute to him, but sounds different enough that he's not impersonating him. The songs on this album matter just as much to the avid listener as the songs on Dirt or Jar of Flies or any of the other albums -- they kept their roots while they explored their new limits.
What the album is lacking, however, is that extra sound that bands can only achieve from hard drugs. Think of all the great bands at the peak of their trip, then think about the albums they released after they got clean. I'm not saying that they're bad off the drugs, I'm just suggesting that maybe they were better on them.
4. THE SHINS - WINCING THE NIGHT AWAY (2007)
Third album from indie folk band The Shins, and has just as much bubblegum pop as should be expected from these guys.
Of their three albums, this one is ranked second on my list, with Oh, Inverted World placing first. Wincing... was great, of course, but I found the appearance of too many songs like "Black Wave", "Spilt Needles" and "Pam Berry" to be off-putting. The harsher, cutting sounds are not what I was expecting from the usually very upbeat and perky Shins, and I found that kicking off the album with one of those particular songs to be very hit and miss. That said, however, the rest of the album plays with the joyful tones known, loved and anticipated from The Shins.
3. LYKKE LI - YOUTH NOVELS (2008)
(actual music video cannot be embedded, but is worth a watch)
The debut album from Swedish indie pop singer Lykke Li, a shock to my system that made me question if I really am a tomboy, or if deep down, I actually have girl parts.
The album was a dreamy mix of pop and indie. She has a sweet voice and an innocence to her lyrics that made the album beautifully serene, with the occasional danceable track thrown in so it's not too boring. The first song I heard was the above, "I'm Good, I'm Gone", and it kindled a small passion for the sweet lyrics and punchy tunes. Other songs like "Breaking it Up", "Complaint Department" and "Little Bit" have the same upbeat zeal, whereas other songs such as "Tonight", "My Love", "Window Blues" and "Dance, Dance, Dance" are slow moving and emotional. The songs are all so different while at the same time they have a lot of similarities - it's a great album, is all.
2. THEM CROOKED VULTURES - THEM CROOKED VULTURES (2009)
Debut album from rock supergroup starring two fantastic musicians and one guy that I'm willing to admit has talent, but I personally think it a moussed-up douchebag. I'm not naming any names, but let's just say that the Foo Fighters can suck a dick.
My mate Ryan recommended this album to me shortly after it came out (very shortly - maybe a couple days after it came out), and then I thrashed it for the next two or three months. I love the grungy/garagy sound they have, the perfect mix of Nirvana and Queens and Zeppelin (hmm I wonder why... great analysis LDG).
I think if I were to make any criticism about this album, it would be that the order of the tracks is not quite right. To some people this wouldn't matter, but to others (and that is to say, to me), this is one of the most important parts of an album. If the songs don't flow, then the whole album is off - a song can be completely ruined by what song follows it, what song precedes it, and sometimes, if one song is ruined, the album can be ruined, too. The problem with the order on this one is that all of their best and most memorable songs are at the beginning of the album. Luckily, this does not ruin the album, because the album is great. I just think that if the later songs were ordered differently, splicing the rest of the best, perhaps they would be more known to me. Perhaps they may even sound better.
This is entirely my opinion, of course. Don't send hate mail. Though I don't know who I'm talking to, no one reads my blog.
1. THE BLACK KEYS - ATTACK & RELEASE (2008)
Fifth album from blues rock duo The Black Keys, resulting in my immediate conversion to Blackeysology, a new religion founded by the alien living inside Tom Cruise.
This is just a fucking fantastic album. It's just awesome. I can't listen to one of the songs without wanting to listen to the whole thing. I don't even know what to write about it right now, it's just too good, I don't know where to start. The lyrics, the guitar, the vocals, drumming, the random extra instruments that they shove in (listen to "Same Old Thing" featuring drummer Patrick Carney's uncle on the flute). The whole album is one, big, emotional heroin trip that ultimately results in eargasm. I want to have their babies.