Tag Archives: Fiona Apple

Awesome Albums of 2020 Top 13-1

17 Dec

#13

Black Eyed Peas (8 awesome; 3 good; 1 ok; 2 meh; 1 dislike of 15 = 

53.3% awesome; 

20% good; 

Awesome good avg = 36.65%

80% OK & up; 

6.7% dislike

Awesome – dislike =

46.6% awesome

Awesome good avg – dislike =

29.95%)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/16/black-eyed-peas-translation-album-review/

Every song could just blend together on this album.  The theme is perfectly executed, where the individual songs can hold up on their own, but the album could be played and the listener might never know when one song ended and the next began.

At one point, I thought Translation would be my winning album of the year.  I decided to weight dislikes heavily though–b/c it takes a LOT for me to not like a song at all.  And I just can’t get behind using the word “bitch” to convey someone you don’t like or respect.  And it pains me to mark down Will I Am because I think he does have a good heart (he is my VERY favorite episome of Songland because he was so nice and fair and awesome), but I can’t get behind that one song…

#12

Taylor Swift (6 Awesome; 7 good; 2 ok; 1 meh; 1 dislike of 17 = 

35.3% Awesome; 

43.8% good; 

avg awesome/good is 39.6%; 

88.2% ok & up. 

Dislike = 5.9%

Awesome – dislike = 29.4%

Awesome good avg – dislike = 33.7%

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/25/taylor-swift-folklore-album-review/

What a good album–it’s an understatement.  Taylor Swift again shows her dexterity as a writer and performer.  She really can do anything!  Do I like Dream-Pop?  Absolutely not.  But I like Taylor, she’s a sentimental favorite of mine, and I can appreciate what she’s done here.  This album’s strongest feature was the layered writing, which embedded so much information, that it drove multiple listens–genius.  Folklore is most definitely the most lyrically-robust album of the year.  Like Apple’s work, Taylor shows she has a keen knack for saying, showing, and musically burying meanings everywhere.  Just don’t call folklore “Alternative” IT IS NOT IN THE ALTERNATIVE GENRE.  This is most definitely an attempt at dream pop like Lorde and an inspiration to Taylor, Lana del Ray.  But more hooks and catchiness.  Taylor can’t help but to write earworms.  It’s a good departure and makes me excited for whatever is going to follow.

This album was also heavily penalized for a poorly written (in my opinion) hastily added song.  I expect more from a writer of Taylor’s caliber.  She could easily write a hundred better Covid songs, and she should have.  There’s really no excuse for just throwing a song on an album.

#11

Lauren Alaina 

Getting Good (2 awesome; 2 good; 2 ok; meh; dislike of 6 = 

33% awesome

33% good

Awesome good avg = 33.3%

100% OK & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/10/lauren-alaina-getting-good-ep-review/

I never knew given the choice between some drinking break-up album and a more traditional country good-girl album, that I would prefer the latter.  But in this case I did.  I felt like the Getting Over Him wasn’t very authentic for Alaina.  I suggest she #1, just combine into an album in the future.  #2, stay true to herself, because without even knowing there was a choice I gravitated to her more true story.

#10

Kenny Chesney  (4 awesome;6 good;2 ok; meh; dislike of  12= 

33.3% awesome;

50% good; 

Awesome good avg = 41.65%

100% OK and up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/kenny-chesney-here-and-now-album-review/

It feels to me like Chesney knows the exact combination of elements to make a winning record.  And he’s combined them (as he always has) to make a good record.  What I’m not getting, is a lot of genuineness, authenticity, or enthusiasm for making music.  It all seems very detached and formulaic.  Also, this party guy is wearing thin, and feels a bit disingenuous to me.  I’d like to see an album with more introspective, that I can tell Chesney feels.

#9

Brothers Osborne (4 aweseome 2 good 1 ok 3 meh OF 11 = 

36.4% awesome; 

18% good) =

Avg of awesome and good = 

27.2%

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/15/brothers-osborne-skeleton-album-review/

The album takes a sharp turn on song 5.  It goes from trite, bro-party country to something better.  I wish they would cut out the first 4 songs, actually–it’s that much of a change.  

#8

Green Day (4 awesome; 4 ok  of 10 = 

40% awesome; 

Awesome & OK avg =

60% good

80% ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/03/green-day-father-of-all-album-review/

I think this album utilized the piano better than some of their past works.  And that fast pounding on it, does a lot to increase excitement.  There is also a James Dean sort of 1950s enthusiastic rebel sound that’s still punk-pop, but a little retro.

#7

Indigo girls (4 awesome;  4 good;  3 ok;  meh; dislike of 11 = 

36.3% awesome; 

36.3% good; 

Avg of awesome & good  =

36.3%

100% OK and up.)

#6

Selena Gomez  (7 awesome; 6 good; 4 ok; meh; dislike of 17  = 

41.2% awesome; 

35.3% good;  

Awesome good avg = 38.25%

100% Ok & up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/selena-gomez-rare-album-review/

Does it feel personal to anyone else that Bieber got 4 Grammy nominations for an unpopular album, full of derivative lyrics, and Selena was snubbed?  Like, she calls him out in this album, this solid, good album.  But he gets the noms and she doesn’t?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Unless politics and or money were involved…

#5

The [Dixie] Chicks (5 awesome; 5 good; 1 OK; 1 meh; dislike of 12

41.7% Awesome; 

41.7% Good; 

Awesome good avg = 41.7%;

91.7% OK & up)

Grammy nominations proved that The Chicks still aren’t off the blacklist. Which is ridiculous considering the political polarization, and mainstreaming of talking $hit about the top politicians. And the Shit-Show that is Trump. The music industry should be groveling at their feet. And fans should be telling them they suffered from being ahead of their time. But here we are, back in hypocrisy-land.

#4

Dua Lipa 5 awesome; 3 good; 1 OK; 2 meh of 11 =

45.5% awesome; 

17.3% good

Awesome good avg = 31.4%

81.1% OK & up)

The album reminds me a little of the ‘Bring It On’ Soundtrack.  Nothing ground-breaking here, but a fun listen all the same.  There are glimmers of potential on this album.  And when Dua Lipa embraces her own voice, that’s where things go right.  This artist reminds me of a hybrid between Katy Perry’s California-girl lite pop and 1980’s vanilla, Debbie Gibson. And too often she veers into the easy, superficial sound rather that challenging the status quo of pop. 

#3

Aloe Blacc (8 awesome; 1 good; 1 ok; meh; dislike of 10 = 

80% awesome; 

10% good; 

Awesome good avg = 45% 

100% Ok and up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/17/aloe-blacc-all-love-everything-album-review/

Overall, a very strong album.. Each song builds on the last, and it fits a cohesive theme.  I’ve heard Blacc use his voice more and would have liked to see more low and super-high notes, but it still left me with a lot of feeling.

#2

Fiona Apple (all good–heavy intellectual = 100%)

(8 awesome; 4 good; 1 ok; meh; dislike of 13 = 

61.5% awesome; 

30.8% good 

Awesome good avg = 46.15%

100% OK and up

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/fiona-apple-fetch-the-bolt-cutters-album-review/

I initially was happy to see Fiona Apple releasing music again, because it’s been a long drought, and she’s historically an artist I like.  And on first listen to the album, I could see there was a lot going on and it should be good.  Do I like to listen to it the most?  No. Do I think Apple had the most technically sound and spectacular album of 2020?  Yes.  I think she deserves album of the year Grammy.  But Apple doesn’t just hand it to you.  You have to work to understand and appreciate Fetch the Bolt Cutters.  And it’s also intentionally not that sweet and pretty and pleasing to the ear.  Apple has made known she can sing beautifully, and play piano with virtuosity, but here she chooses not to.  So it’s a little work to listen.  But also a cerebral masterpiece.  Smartest work of 2020–and that’s saying a lot with folklore on the scene.

TOP ALBUM OF 2020:

Kesha (14 awesome, 2 OK of 16 = 

87.5% awesome; 

Awesome + ok avg = 

93.75% good

100% OK and up)

https://kit10phish.wordpress.com/2020/12/23/kesha-high-road-album-review/

Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters Album Review

14 Dec

I Want You to Love Me:  Beautiful, swirling piano.  The notes are held so long they become discordant.  Singing slowly transitions from sweet to rough.  The song breaks down at the end with piano fluttering and dolphin vocalizations.  It feels weird, but must be symbolic?

Shameika:  Unlike the last song, this song sounds good right away.  The piano playing elevates all of the songs, and you can tell the vocals are very intellectual.  There is so much going on in the song (production-wise, instrumentally, and lyrically), you have to listen several times to pick up what Apple is putting down.

Fetch the Bolt Cutters:  More spoken word, which reminds me of when Jewel used to strip down to poetry.  And the singing remains “off” and intentionally displeasing to the ear.  “I grew up in the shoes I was told I could fill.”  There are many gems of lines in the song.  It’s about filling expectations, then later, realizing what you want to do, and who you want to be.  She is fetching the bolt cutters to remove these chains society has placed upon her. There’s barking and heavy breathing at the end.  Maybe a symbolic, being chased and pursued, for going your own way.  Fear, but defiance in spite of it.

Under the Table:  Apple, won’t be silenced.  Not for society.  Not for her partner.  “Kick me under the table all you want, I won’t shut up.”  The piano steps up, and Apple goes into more of a singing shout to show her passion about the subject.  There is more off-key shout-barely singing, and the piano does a lot of the work.

Relay:  The beat is consistent with the last songs, moving effortlessly through the album’s theme.  A lot of production.  Many repetitions of the phrase.  Fiona presents herself strong here, not a victim, or soft or helpless.  “Evil is a relay sport when the one who’s burned turns to pass the torch.”  And “Presenting your life like a fucking proaganda brochure” is such a great line.  “. . .  If I hate you for hating me I will have entered the endless race” is the key to the meaning of this song.  Pitting women against each other is our patriarchy’s way to hold us all back.  There are some wailing sounds that I don’t understand.  Is there a cello in here?  

Rack of His:  The initial notes and background sound like that popular Matt & Kim song.  More rough singing to tell a story, which was cerebral to the extent I had to listen several times before I picked it up.  She loved this person so much, and they were only with her to avoid boredom.

Newspaper:  More barking.  An incest song?  It’s difficult to listen to details of grooming and manipulation of an incestuous father.  But it’s a good, and an important song, to put out in the world.  The singing is rough again.  Seeing this sister(?) being abused in the same manner makes Apple feel close to her.  Though the father is manipulating them to dislike and distrust each other.  She does vibrato at the end.  Closes with random thumping.

Ladies:  Repeats, “ladies ladies ladies” four times in harsh, displeasing tones before starting to really sing.  “Yet another woman to whom I won’t get through”  The ex wife of another ex of mine, but the dress at many degrees of separation.  Apple is part of the social puzzle that has women policing other female behavior to reinforce patriarchy.  She emphasizes, whether we play along, enforce, or rebel, we’re all still part of that system.

Heavy balloon:  A lot more repetition–Apple really wants to stress her message to the listener.  There are many thoughtful lines.  “I spread like strawberries” “I’ve been sucking it in so long, I’m bustin’ at the seams.”  “The bottom feels like the only safe place that you know.”

Cosmonauts:  Apple is startlingly smart.  She has lines like, “Your face ignites a fuse to my patience…  Be good to me before you’re gone.”  And “Way more gravity than when we started off” to tell us this relationship has gotten burdensome and heavy.  It’s good imagery.  There are chaotic rounds near the middle of the song.  “Started off” is repeated, then shouted.  It emphasizes the difference from where the relationship began to where it has ended up. Ending with Apple whispering.

For Her:  A group of female voices.  “Treating his wife like less than a guest”  “Trying to act like the other girl acts”  The lyrics get fast.  It nearly sounds like a sports chant.  Beat.  A fun sounding verse.  “Like you know you should know when I came to bed, like you don’t know what you did.”  A pretty big musical break– to show a different day?  It almost sounds like the next song.  “You raped me in the same bed your daughter was born in.”  A chorus, but it gets increasingly sharp(?) and displeasing which ends the song.  I think it imitates how things went sour in her life?

Drumset:  She doesn’t understand why the subject of the song, didn’t want to try, and took it all away.  The drumset is gone.  This person won’t take calls, won’t talk at all.  The song ends on “aaannnd” maybe the next song will continue the story.

Oh I Go:  Sung in lower tones, like stage whispering at some parts.  Many levels of voice.  Choppy phrases of woodwind(?) end the song.


I initially was happy to see Fiona Apple releasing music again, because it’s been a long drought, and she’s historically an artist I like.  And on first listen to the album, I could see there was a lot going on and it should be good.  But Apple doesn’t just hand it to you.  You have to work to understand and appreciate Fetch the Bolt Cutters.  And it’s also intentionally not that sweet and pretty and pleasing to the ear.  Apple has made known she can sing beautifully, and play piano with virtuosity, but here she chooses not to.  So it’s a little work to listen.  But also a cerebral masterpiece.  Smartest work of 2020–and that’s saying a lot with folklore on the scene.

Best of 2012: NEW ALBUMS

6 Jan

Best Music Produced in 2012:

Finally.  I intended on publishing this on New Years Eve when it’s a little more relevant.  These important decisions take time, and listening.  Several listenings to really pars apart the minute details between albums.  It’s a more subjective measure, then just copying LastFM statistics.  You can’t use the stats, because albums produced later in the year are at a disadvantage.  So this is based on my careful listening and whittling of songs–as well as my own unsubstantiated opinions and feelings.  Oh, and let’s get this out of the way right off the bat–I in no way italicized or put into quotations album or song titles.  This took a look time to write (as you can see by the post date of Jan 6), and I just didn’t devote any more time then necessary to grammar.  Just appreciate the music, and forget proper English, OK?  So finally, finally the long awaited, BEST OF 2012 ALBUMS blog (from good to *glorious–for you, mom).  Enjoy–I know I enjoyed listening and writing it.

Thriller

Honorable Mentions:

30.  The Fray–which I found a little too churchy to stand up.

29.  Jack Johnson’s live HI benefit album, which featured many other artists, but was too libertine.

28.  Rhythms Del Mundo with their African remixes of popular songs.

the Fray

27.  Carrie Underwood-Blown Away

Meh–I can’t say I was.  I found it too poppy for the most part.  I want a little more range and a little more country twang from Carrie.  What I got was a very commercial effort and three songs I could settle on liking.  Maybe next album, Carrie will write more of her own material, get back to her roots, or at least construct the CD without sales figures and commercial appeal in mind.

Carrie Underwood

26.  Matt & Kim-Sidewalks

I suppose I like the IDEA of the album much more then I actually liked Sidewalks.  Indie music seems so cool, so hipster.  But each song was too similar to the next for me to really appreciate the whole album.  After a quick couple of listens I was tired of hearing the same song in slightly different variation.  I found only two songs which I liked for longer then a day.

25.  Ke$ha-Warrior

Mmmm, this one was good for working out, and I’m sure dancing.  I fount it to be a slightly immature record though.  Maybe I dislike a very genre-specific record.  It certainly makes sense that I redered a very country-pop, indie, and dance-pop albums to the bottom of my 2012 list.  On this one my attention was only captured momentarily, the songs were too poppy to hold up even over a week.  I think Ke$ha has potential as an artist if she can write a little deeper lyrics, while keeping the dancy beats.

24.  Jason Mraz-Love is a Four Letter Word

At first I was very enamored with Love is a Four Letter Word.  I couldn’t get enough of the catchy tunes, and Jason’s commentaries about the songs.  It just didn’t hold up over time though.  The more I listened, the more I got annoyed with certain songs, or intros to the songs.  So unfortunately  what started out as a very, very good thing, ended up on the chopping block so to speak.  By the end of the year I was left with just 5 songs I felt were outstanding and liked to play repeatedly.

where's Peter

23.  White Rabbits-Milk Famous

Apparently, in my best-of 2012, I require several things:  Originality, while being true to the expected sound.  Check.  Coolness factor.  They have it.  Many good songs, that mean something to me and that I can listen to anywhere and on repeat.  Sure.  Several Genres.  This is where the White Rabbits fell flat.  They are indy and hipster and original, and yet each song on Milk Famous was much the same.  Just OK.

cherry

22.  Pink-The Truth About Love

I like Pink.  Always have.  I don’t care how immature or how volatile a person she is.  And this album was no exception, I found songs I could sing to, feel emotionally, and dance with.  And I loved how she featured other artists for the first time.  Good things–I like six songs.  But a good, chart-topping, year wowing album requires more then one awesome single and a few notable duets.  There is just no way to put The Truth About Love at the top of any list.  When you listen, you know it’s the junk food of female pop artists. Pink may have a little more staying power then most, and she may have slightly more to say lyrically, but there is just something about this album that isn’t adult.  Despite serious subject matter, Pink is unable to delve deep into her (or my) psyche to warrant serious success.  I want more songs like “Sober” and “Who Knew” that really stop me in my tracks while still being singable.

21.  Alicia Keys-Girl On Fire

Alicia does a good job straddling the line between R&B, piano, pop, soul, and jazz music.  For that, I have to rank Girl on Fire toward the top-more albums of 2012.  In addition, good CD title too.  That said, I only liked six of the offerings.  Usually, with Alicia’s music, I can’t really LOVE each song, but grow attached to at least one.  Not so with Girl on Fire.  No song really grew on me as they had with past albums.  So she gets mediocre rank.

LF polar bear

20.  Minus the Bear-Infinity Overhead

I just expected more.  There was nothing wrong with Infinity Overhead (except that terrible, gritty video for “Steel & Blood”) but I had hoped for more.  The songs were good.  Easy listeners, that were repeatable.  Indy and cool and true to their roots.  I guess I looked forward to the album release so much that these seven songs I ended up liking most did not measure up.  Good music, but a let-down all the same.

IMG_20120901_173242

19.  Dave Matthews Band-Away From the World

I really hate to say it–I do.  Especially as a relatively new fan, whose favorite moment of 2012 was The Gorge Concert on Labor Dave Weekend.  Away From the World wasn’t the best CD DMB has ever put out.  Sure, “Mercy” grows on you and the video concepts are amazing.  There are just no stand out songs, and certainly not of sufficent length, jams, or live footage.  Now, I’m hungering for a new album already, because 2012’s just didn’t do the band justice.  I wish I could rank this one higher. . .

18.  Alanis Morressette-Havoc and Bright Lights

I’m not afraid to say it–I loved Jagged Little Pieces.  Not a popular opinion anymore.  It was one of my staple CDs for years–still is in the case of a break up.  After Jagged though, Alanis sort of lost her edge for me.  I didn’t really love her efforts until this year.  And this album features a lot of songs I don’t hate.  Though I can’t really say I felt much toward them.  I would classify Havoc and Bright Lights as unobtrusive.  The best album Alanis has put out in years, but not a knock out, stand out by any means.  It’s good background or study music.

my x-mas 14

17.  Bon Iver-Stems Project

This album was produced very early in 2012.  And it’s sits toward the middle of my favorites list despite eventual categorization as just unobtrusive, because it has a couple things.  Different variations of the same song?  Surprisingly a good idea.  It has a very original vibe?  Yup.  Indie? sure.  Hipster? definitively.  And yet, it’s not presumptuous.  Stems Project may not have any stand-alone, stand out songs, but in it’s achievement as indy-hip minus the attitude, I commend it.

Fiona Apple-Criminal

16.  Fiona Apple-crazily long obnoxious title, I’m not going to try to write out.

Jarring.  That’s the most effective description I can think of for *insert longest most unwieldy album title of all time here*  This is over a couple of other artist offerings, because even though I could hardly listen to some of the songs, Fiona was saying something.  Sometimes in a good way, oftentimes exceeding my listening saturation point.  I do like that Fiona did her own thing.  She made her own rules, and really went for it–not keeping an eye on record label profits.  Respectful effort for sure, and I can see potential again, because we all know Fiona can be a little unstable and unpredictable as a person–though she channeled that nicely for the album.  I do suggest less shouting and a shorter title for the next project.  Oh, and by the way, I don’t know if anyone can beat Fiona’s singing chops with her garble-waver and range of pitch.

15.  Amy Ray-Lung of Love

I always have love for any half of the Indigo Girls.  And I feel like Lung of Love has a more country feel to it.  Which is an awesome addition to the rock, folk, and punk infused grooves she already has going.  Extra bonus points for incorporating Brandi Carlile’s voice.  I also like the other featured artists on this album.  Except, I don’t know what it is, but Amy Ray has this way of getting a momentum where every song has the same vibe.  Even with all those different genres and contributing artists.  I start to wonder where one songs ends and the other begins.  And it isn’t in a cohesive–this CD has a theme way.  It’s like she finds an original sound, then sticks to that same sound too much, so that by the end of the CD it’s not novel at all.  I say an album that goes together is fine–but too much of a good sound just becomes boring.

Indigo Girls

14.  A Fine Frenzy-PINES

I love the enchanting whimsy of A Fine Frenzy in general.  And this album, certainly gels together in a nice theme.  Problem the best presented cohesive package of the year.  The only trouble with PINES is the length of some of the songs.  A couple of my favorites are 6-7 minutes long.  A few are just extraneous in length.  Anyway, a nice dramatic effort, that will last in time for sure.

CO wildflower

13.  Green Day-Uno, Dose, Tres

Though there were technically three albums, I judge as one musical effort this year.  Of course, conceptually, the guys deserve kudos for thinking outside the box and producing three separate  yet combinable CDs each several months apart.  I think it’s a great marketing ploy, it’s different, and it’s creative.  Together-it’s a lot too many songs, that tend to blend toward one sound.  Many songs lack their own characteristics, instead being obvious “fillers.”  Yet, I’m not sure I would have liked the 12 songs I ended up liking well, AS much if they would have been on just one disc, as one offering.  So I rank Green Day as top of the middle in my 2012 list, if nothing else for their creativity in bucking a rigid label-system to produce three mini-albums at three intervals.

12.  Keane-Strangeland

There was a different vibe on 2012’s CD then Keane had in the past.  Still good, just another variety   The one thing I disliked was really based on a feeling, then tangible qualities.  I felt like Keane had a certain umm, what’s the right word?  Not arrogance–that’s too much.  Just a level of comfort and familiarity that comes with being sure of success.  I got the feeling Keane feels established enough to not TRY and struggle to make it anymore.  Which, they may have a well-established fan-base, but I think very few artists truly get to stop worrying about their number of listeners.  It ranked just slightly lower because it’s heavy Europe.  There is just a UK vibe that, as a true American (I suppose) turned me off.  This makes it sound like I didn’t like the record at all, which isn’t the case at all.  I felt very strongly toward the 12 songs I did like though, and there were plenty more offered on Strangeland.

11.  Eisley-The Valley

It’s difficult to believe that more then one person is singing.  The blending is impeccable.  I think the musicality, the beats especially, are improved from their last few albums.  If I had to describe what Eisley does to me when I listen to The Valley, it’s to tear delicately.  The lyrics and peaceful pitch gets inside my head and heart, and the emotion behind along with the instrumentation rips at my insides.  It’s a soft assault on my sensibilities.

NV Feb 2010 241

10.  Maroon 5-Overexposed

I have no idea what it is.  These guys are just different from everybody else.  I really can’t put my finger on what makes their music so outstanding.  They can say mean things in ways that get stuck in your head.  Their beat initiates dance moves unparalleled.  They are poppy, and seem uncategorizable (yeah, I make up words to suit my purposes) as anything else.  Yet, it isn’t mindless, bubble-gum dance pop that is fleeting and superficial.  A relative flurry of music in the last two years doesn’t hurt to keep them on the radar.  But it’s more than that, too.  I guess that’s what is so great about Overexposed–you don’t know what makes it shine, and why you can’t stop listening.  But you do.

9.  Trampled by Turtles-Stars & Satellites

Damn you Trampled by Turtles!  First off, they get marked down where no one else was even judged, for NOT having any merch featuring a group of turtles, or any turtle at all.  If an animal is in your band name you HAVE to have it on at least one piece of merchandise!  Rawr.  Anyway, the music–ugh, I wanted more fat-playing banjo and fiddle.  I wanted upbeat, dancing blue-grunge or whetever they call their hybrid bluegrass, country, rock, indy, folk music.  But Stars and Satellites was quiet and thoughtful.  Which is not bad.  Not at all.  Just not exactly what I wanted.  So even though I liked every single song, and found no problems (other than the afore-mentioned merch dearth) they are here.  Because the prior CD was better.  That’s all.

turtle line 2

8.  Lifehouse-Almeria

The same band, but just different enough to be totally new–that’s the beauty of Almeria.  I liked the bouncier, dancier songs, though they were still laid-back and chill as Lifehouse has ever been.  I liked this especially, because with such a dramatic change of style, it doesn’t seem forced or over-marketed.  I don’t see Lifehouse catering to record labels or commercial interests with this change.  It just feels like an establishment of maturity.  A great effort, and I can’t want for more.

7.  Ben Folds 5-The Sound of the Life On the Mind

Yay they’re back!  Ben Folds +/- Five is like a club.  You just have to know to understand.  And apparently, I hold membership, because I’m finding it difficult to explain this to outsiders:  It’s less piano (which I loved) but still awesome.  Though the songs on The Sound of the Life On the Mind (or something to that effect-damn, keep album titles short!) seem somehow more down-tempo they are still captivating.  And not really down-tempo.  I totally just said two opposing statements, but it makes sense if you compare the older stuff to this new release.  At any rate, I found seven really solid songs and can’t stop listening to them.  What else can you say, but listen?

6.  Matchbox Twenty-North

Another YAY, they’re back.  What’s the refrain–again with more feeling?  That’s how I felt with North.  It’s everything great about Matchbox 20, lyrically superior, emotion, singable, textured.  But with more feeling.  Every song resonated with me.  I left the CD wanting more.  That’s why they’re in this position.  Also, they don’t really transcend genres or have a purely original sound.  That’s not criticism, just when you have to rank the best albums of a year it comes down to the meticulous details to differentiate the top from the superior.  And these guys are comfortably at the top.

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5.  David Gray-Foundling

A surprise new favorite.  Like everybody else I had heard David Gray, liked some of the more popular songs, then regaled him to the background.  Between 2012 Draw the Line and Foundling, I found 20 songs that I could not tire of.  Yes, they are still good for the background, but the more I listened, the more I felt in tune with David’s unpretentious croonings.  A secret success, that’s already has a huge fan-base.  Add me.

4.  John Mayer-Born & Raised

Growth, so much growth can be ascertained from this album.  I’ve always liked John, but I found Born & Raised to be his best work yet.  It was just the right blend of emotional, country, soul-searching, and pop.  I liked nearly every song, and thought the effort raised above commercial marketing and genre alone.  He stood alone and was his own person, overcoming, sameness (cute guy + guitar) syndrome.  It feels like John grew up, and with that maturity found his real musical niche.

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3.  Adele-21

Oh the talent! I have nothing new to say, that hasn’t already been said or written throughout the year.  This gal is the real deal–no disputing that.  Belying her physical appearance, she can belt it out like a soul-queen.  Riveting and heart-felt, that’s how I would describe 21.  And the ONLY reason she doesn’t rate higher on my list, is she put the album out too early in the year.  Last January, and due to over-play, I’m somewhat over it.  As much as a person can be, anyway.  Not Adele’s fault, or by any lacking of the music quality at all either.  I’ve just had enough for now.  I see this album will be classic, and remain on best-off all-time lists.

2.  Brandi Carlile-Bear Creek

Believe you me–I wanted to pick Brandi’s CD as the top album of the year.  If only for cute-ness factor (Brandi’s not the album).  But there is that ONE song on Bear Creek that I alone just do not feel.  Everyone else likes it, but this is my list, and that song took the CD down a notch.  Anyway, Bear Creek is amazing.  I feel it transcends genres, is re-playable, goes with any activity or mood, and does well live. I also thing it will stand up to the test of time.

Brandi cute cowgirl

And–drumroll please–the number one album of 2012–as I see it:

1.  Mumford & Sons-Babel

Musically and lyrically.  Catchy with longevity.  Multiple listens in a variety of contexts.  I deem Babel the number one album of 2012, just because I was able to listen to it everywhere over and over without tiring of it.  Also, because I enthusiastically liked each song.  The ONLY downfall is Mumford & Sons don’t tour in the U.S. widely if at all.  I would happily take in a concert of theirs!