T for Tom

2011 Music Review

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on August 29, 2011

I’m not doing too bad in life if I’ve been able to afford a few records from this year.  Here’s a few thoughts on the few I’ve gotten hold of.

1. Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”

Fleet Foxes follow up the hype from their groundbreaking debut self-titled album by delivering “Helplessness Blues”, a refreshing, breath-taking romantic folk-journey replete with a covering sense of awe and reality.  Focusing more on the melodics of guitar harmonies, Helplessness is often both vast and concise, sweeping from tunes that break your heart to rhythms that shake your feet, all while written around the cause of the human condition – making altogether an unforgettable album, for its music, for its purpose, and for its ability to make us feel great about being alive.  “Helplessness Blues”, the title track, is by far one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard; written about the loss of purpose in the common world, it’s a guide for finding a place in this coincidental existence, as simple a life as “If I had an orchard/I’d work ’til I’m sore/and you’d wait the tables/ and soon run the store.” If only we could all find peace in hard work, and living together we’d never need another day or another life.

2. Bon Iver – “Bon Iver”

I bet you didn’t think Bon Iver could do better than “For Emma… Long Ago”, because neither did I.  In fact though, he has.  Returning with simple arrangements and low vocals, Bon Iver does what “For Emma” couldn’t – make you feel good.  A complete 180 degree from the debut album, “Bon Iver” is full of sweet melodies that make you feel good about love.  That’s an indictment that makes his wonderful, for longer than an emotion.  This time maybe for a lifetime of enjoyment.  I love this record.

3. Elbow – “Build a Rocket, Boys!”

After finally making headway into the mainstream British scene with 2009’s award-winning “The Seldom Seen Kid”, Elbow for the first time write a record as a frontrunner, and come through with flying colors.  Returning to their earlier style, the band records songs that are at all times synchronicic, driven by singular rhythms and drum lines, but still finding a changing harmony to move the song.  Eschewing the dark sentiments from their early albums however, Guy Garvey sends us a message about the power of having our hands to good: “Build a Rocket, Boys!”  Let this record take you away.

Other 2011 LPs –

Cake – “Showroom of Compassion”

Danger Mouse & Danielle Luppi – “Rome” – sung by Jack White and Norah Jones, it reads like a soundtrack to a 1960’s western, composed by Danger Mouse and Italian film composer Danielle Luppi.  It was recorded on the original analog sound equipment used by Ennio Marcione to record the soundtrack to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”.  Wonderful.

Gorillaz – “The Fall” – recorded and written entirely on an Ipad.  Very visceral.

Ben Harper – “Give Till It’s Gone” – Rock’n’Roll Ben Harper again.  Great record.

Incubus – “If Not Now, When?” – very mature record, with a simple message: “If Not Now, When?”.  If you ever liked Incubus buy this record.

Iron & Wine – “Kiss Each Other Clean”

Booker T. Jones – “The Road from Memphis” – amazing Memphis organ blues, with some cool cameos by Jim James and The Roots.

Limp Bizkit – “Gold Cobra” …go ahead, judge me.

My Morning Jacket – “Circuital” – a step back by the leaders of the alternative scene, it’s a more mature record that doesn’t make too many daring steps in any direction.  Written entirely by Jim James, the record is a smooth Rock’N’Roll album, still worth your listen for any fan of good music.

Raphael Saadiq – “Stone Rollin” – British interpretations on 1960’s rock’n’roll meets modern soul.

The Strokes – “Angles” – if you like The Strokes, you’ll like this album too.

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