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Every year a new set of albums come out that change how we think about music and how our iPods are populated. It seems like I ran into some amazing albums this year. I thought I would post a list of the five albums that have made the biggest impact on me over the past year. In no way am I implying that these are the best albums, they are just the ones that have gotten stuck in my headphones. They are in no particular order.
The Suburbs-Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire continue a run of amazing albums that seem to strike a chord and resonate with the zeitgiest. Both emotional and cutting, it feels like it could be the soundtrack for life in America. It walks a fine line between being an album mourning lost innocence of the past, brutal honesty about the present, and anticipation of what the future holds.
Oh, and bonus 500% Hipster cred if you listen to them.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-Kanye West
Yes. Kanye is a total jerk. Yes. Yes he is. Anyone who tweets “I like me” has a real problem.
But I can’t get over this album. I have always loved Kanye’s use of melody in his music and this album is no exception. The songs stretch beyond trash-pop generic lyric and contain impressive orchestration and production. There is plenty of self-aggrandizing and boasting about the brand of handbags Kanye purchases for his conquests, but that is par for the course. Many indie music fanatics will turn their noses up at this album based on… well… the very fact that it is Kanye. I can’t really blame them, but I know I would listen to way more hip-hop if I could find more stuff like this.
Just watch the music video for the album. The full length one is 34 minutes long, below is a snippet containing one of the standout songs of the album.
Gorilla Manor-Local Natives
This is the first release for the Local Natives and I cannot wait to hear more. They are a described as an psychedelic version of the Fleet Foxes.
I love everything about this album. Each song is a soundscape between your ears. I am not really sure how to describe it any better than that. I love the literary references spread throughout the album. With panning guitars, etherial harmonies, overdriven bass, and complex driving drum parts this is an album that needs to be listened to with headphones. Better yet, go for a walk in the snowy woods while listening.
(For those sharp eyed viewers out there, this video was filmed before a certain Mumford and Sons music video.)
The Age of Adz- Sufjan Stevens
I think we can all agree that Sufjan has taken the music scene by storm. If you do not agree, just go back to watching VH1. I will call you when I start talking about Lady Gaga. Which is hopefully never.
Where past Sufjan albums were mellow and could place you in a catatonic state, this album is surprisingly abrasive. It is an album that needs to be digested through headphones. I found myself disliking it initially, but then was humming and singing snippets later in the day. As time has worn on I have become endeared to it.
This album signals a maturing in Stevens’ sound, a desire to be more creative, and the confidence to do it. I am excited to see where he takes his music.
The Wild Hunt- The Tallest Man on Earth
Great album. I already wrote on this album several months back, so I will let you read about it there.
I figure I would be doing the world a disservice by not mentioning Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons.
I did not include them on this list because I first heard their album in 2009, when it was released in the UK. So I am categorizing their album as a 2009 release. I thought about adding it, but it would have meant getting rid of one of the others, which I did not want to do.
If anyone wants to know what I am thinking about when I set up a playlist for an event, here it is.
Edit:- The posting is gone. It was for pictures of cherubs kissing. Was not worth the $25 asking price.
Seeing as everyone on the internet has to be weighing in on the series finale of Lost, I figure I might as well type out a few thoughts. This review is spoiler free- so have no fear- no major plot points are revealed.
In short- I was satisfied with the finale. In no way was it perfect. Those who watched it with me know that I did not want Lapidus to take off. Good Grief. I wish everyone could taxi and take off of a desert island in a large jet. I wanted them to crash, it all seemed way to convenient.
This brings me to the main point. Lost is a TV show. Think about that. It is a TV show. To believe that any TV show will change your life- fulfill you intellectually and fill the God-shaped void is just as crazy as thinking using Axe body spray will make super models make out with you. This is the same media as The Simpsons and Wanda at Large (Remember that one?). Once you view it as a piece of pop-culture media, getting mad about it seems stupid.
The mysteries of LOST were not solved. There were many small mysteries that I believed were never going to be answered, but I did think that there are two huge questions that should have been answered. It is probable that even the writers, Damion Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse have no clue what these are. Maybe if we think and watch everything again we will come to our own conclusions.
1.) What is the island?
I know it is a physical entity, but knowing why only certain people can get there or why leaving is difficult would have been nice. It could be that leaving the island has always been possible, but fate locks people in. Maybe fate, not physics is what binds people to the island. Still, the question is unanswered.
2.) What is the Dharma initiative?
We have had little nuggets of answers through the past two seasons, but there was no solid answer. We have been told it was a big psychology experiment. We have also been told it was an attempt to tweak the fabric of the universe. We have no clue.
On the other side of the coin- what made Lost amazing was the development of characters and the time spent on the personal struggles and stories of each of them. It is a show about the search for meaning and purpose in life. The role of family- how parents impact their children and how children can cause parents to do whatever it takes for their children’s sake.
While the Lost finale was not entirely intellectually stimulating. It was emotionally fulfilling. Good art will fulfill emotionally. That is what Lost did. It speaks to our desire to find purpose and connection- that is what the island did. It connected these characters in ways they would have never expected and it gave them all purposes. Purposes that they had all been destroying their pre-island life searching for.
The finale lacked the big “Oh my gosh” moments. But it did create closure and did end the personal and emotional stories of the castaways.
Lost was about the characters, not the mystery. The finale demonstrated that.
I was walking down Grand River today, and I noticed the poster in the window of Blockbuster for the new 2012 movie. I have not seen it, and to be completely honest, I don’t want to. But I was wondering, is there a single apocalypse type movie that is any good?
The Day After Tomorrow
Nothing comes to mind… feel free to let me know if there are any good movies in this vein….
(P.s., I’m pretty sure that having aliens and or Will Smith automatically makes this type of movie not awful, but I’m thinking along the lines of natural apocalypse; aliens, robots, or russians don’t count. )