It's March and I'm doing my year-end music roundup. Sue me.
1. TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
Dear Science, is so distant and disjointed that the raw sentiment underlying Tunde Adebimpe’s melodramatic vocals isn’t merely tolerable— it’s downright enjoyable. Everything fits on this album and nothing is out of place (though I’ll admit the second half is nowhere near as stellar as the first). Some people get it, some people don’t. What can I say, I’m one of the former.
2. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
THE overlooked album of this year’s “Best Of…” roundups. Re-branded from ‘Hottest New Band’ to ‘Yesterday’s News’ in a Pitchfork minute, Wolf Parade seem to have been dumped into the “Been There, Heard That” bin along with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and countless other once-hyped groups. Yet At Mount Zoomer is even stronger than Apologies to the Queen Mary; the songwriting’s as tight as ever, while the over-the-top Arcade Fire-esque histrionics that marred the group’s first record have been drastically toned down by both Boeckner and Krug.
Why, then, was At Mount Zoomer largely ignored by critics? Could it be that these supposedly rational arbiters of taste are just as susceptible to trends and fads as the rest of us? ‘No,’ they’d likely say, ‘that’s not it at all… on a different note, have you heard this band, Vampire Weekend?!?’
3. No Age – Nouns
Striking a perfect noise:melody ratio, Nouns is the sort of new take on old-fashioned rock and roll that would make Iggy Pop (or at least the ever-gyrating skeleton that now bears that name) proud. And they’re a two-piece! As someone who loved Death From Above 1979 enough to overlook the fact that You're a Woman, I'm a Machine was really one song rehashed eleven times, I’ve got to applaud another duo that can rock.
4. David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Great album from one of rock’s greatest musical pairings. Byrne’s voice is starting to go, however, which definitely isn’t a good thing—“The River” and “Strange Overtones” are perfect examples of the effects that age can have on vocal chords that were already stretching thin 30 years ago.
5. Randy Newman – Harps and Angels
Now 65 years old and resting comfortably in Pixar’s sizable pocket, Randy Newman still manages to be as snarky and satirical as ever. God bless him for that.