This proved to be a somewhat daunting task for little old me, reviewing albums as a whole. Alas, some of us are engineered to see the forest, and some the trees. I, belonging to the latter, have founded a subdivision of the same perception, sometimes hardly seeing the trees for the leaves, and the veins upon the leaves, and the bugs driving on these miniature sidewalks, all whilst dancing to the rhythm of the neighboring woodpecker’s facial drumbeat. Alas, one can easily ascertain from the aforementioned: I often get lost in these forests. However, I shall do all in my power to try and hoard the remnant shrapnel that is my concentration.
I personally believe that the times we are in the midst of have too much character, so to speak, to be ignored. The albums chosen are ones I feel either honestly reflect these times without the distortion of anything but eyes and conscience. Or ones that have chosen to mock the times, to build a citadel against their malice, slicing their disagreeable transience with the ambrosic weaponry of guitar strings and the like. Music that can coexist with the times, and isn’t conspicuous in its saliency can only be seen as mute.
A quick scroll through any news site will reflect, the times aren’t great. I observed once, in the midst of an early morning rant that instant-gratification has never looked so ugly, while it wreaks havoc on the tomorrows of those ‘gratified’ and the todays of seemingly everyone else. The sudden awareness of our own ephemeral existence has only brought out the most parasitic in us. Sex and money. Money and sex. The end of the world is going to be a transcontinental orgy on a pile of flaming dollar bills. I guess the only thing you can do is look over next to you and see if someone else is trying to light their cigarette on the flames. These albums served as those polite kinfolk. And they are resplendent, whether in their submissive sadness or their documented reveries.
1. Helplessness Blues – The Fleet Foxes
If there was one album I had to describe as being redolent of life, in its absolute entirety, it would be this one. Helplessness Blues reads as an audio collection of all youthful velleities that ever dared to sprint from one ear to the other, spoken and unspoken. All the veracity of senselessness sculpted into lyrics and echoed harmonies reminiscent of all the world’s voices were you to confine them in a room of mirrors, they seem to go on and on, aeviternal. Were I allowed to offer the universe a symbol of rapprochement in several MBs, this would be my gift of choice.
2. El Camino – The Black Keys
Niccolò Paganini. Tommy Johnson. Robert Johnson. Johann Georg Faust. Dan Auerbach. That is all.
3. King Of Limbs – Radiohead
Somewhat of a short circuit seems to occur between the synapses usually designated at bridging the eyes and ears whilst listening to this album. Upon the brain’s registering that headphones have been settled, the eyelids automatically raise a white flag to gravity. I think this phenomenon is due to the sheer omnipresence of the songs, a narcotized sort of loop-de-loop madness that has the sounds ricocheting from one second to the next, but not without Thom Yorke’s usual scenic paintbrush in hand (albeit soaked with somewhat paler colors than those in In Rainbows and other albums).
4. Another Nice Pair – The Black Angels
I realize listing this album is cheating in a sense, as Another Nice Pair in fact collects certain songs from the first two LPs, but life isn’t fair. If the means must be trickery, in order for the end that is The Black Angels’ making this list, then listen to the damn album and call me Machiavelli. Like the psychedelic legends whose song serves as their namesake (The Velvet Underground), they don’t exert the kind of fervent and fast-paced energy one would draw motivation for progress from, unless it’s motivation for lighting up you’re seeking. There are no timelines to speak of within these songs. It’s as though they decided not to move forward toward certain uncertainty, but rather dreadfully plummet into hollow depth again and again, transcribing the trip with lyrical and melodic flares sent to those of us standing by the hole.
5. I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are always authentic and true to the consistently bipolar entity that is… well, them. The chill, melancholy and at times even creepy shell that usually served to integrate almost every song in the Chilis’ oeuvre was exuviated with the departure of the legend that is Frusciante. However, Klinghoffer doesn’t attempt to acquiesce and imitate, but rather announces his presence in an almost Daphnean manner, albeit still managing to showcase his tremendous talent. No labyrinths, just their usual arabesque storytelling.