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Old 12-23-2015, 02:04 PM   #271
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I get that but it's just a little baffling to me to see lists with Miley Cyrus and Def Leppard and no mention of TPAB. It's all me though, people are gonna listen to and like what they like. I just figured more people had heard Kendrick this year.
Oh come the fucking fuck on, man. Did you see the name of the person who had the Miley album on their list?

How you could be baffled by that is what's truly baffling.
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:17 PM   #272
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In the immortal words of Colin Greenwood:

"You have not been paying attention."

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Old 12-23-2015, 02:49 PM   #273
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But he's not supposed to be likable. He's not supposed to be likable in that song or in Thirsty Crow. He's said as much.

Only a few songs on the album are actually about him being in love: the title track, Chateau Lobby, and I Went to the Store are pretty much it. True Affection could be about Emma I suppose, but it's really just about modern long distance relationships. Apartment through Thirsty Crow is about him mocking himself: those two are about how petty he is, while Astride Me is about how he's not sure he's earned anything with her. Aside from the closer, the second half of the album isn't even about the "thesis" of the album. Strange Encounter is about a one night stand, and Ideal Husband lyrically sounds like it could be on Fear Fun. Bored and Holy Shit are both, according to him, more about turning back outward and looking at the world again. He said they're evidence of where the next album is going.

Basically, I'm saying that if you think The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment is about him patting himself on the back for being smarter and funnier than the girl he's describing, I think you're misreading a lot of what he's trying to say lyrically. Anyone ripping him for being a prick seems to have missed that he's doing that already.

Also, if you're going to criticize the musical arrangements of this album, I don't see why you'd stop here and not just criticize the genre as a whole. Father John Misty is one of the few folk artists I enjoy precisely because his singing and lyrics breathe life into otherwise boring music. Folk music is boring by its nature.
So in a nutshell, what you're saying is:

1. Tillman is a dick and plays into that, so if you don't like it, listen to another album.

2. Folk is always boring, so another boring folk album isn't worth complaining about.

As a fan of folk music, the latter is not a valid point at all IMO, so let's agree to disagree. In fact, I wouldn't even say this album is boring. His musical arrangements and instrumental choices sound like they belong on an album from half a century ago (outside of True Affection) and it clashes with the modern concerns and outlook of the music, but it's on purpose. It's novel and I see what he's doing, but it's strained. There are also very few melodies I can bring to mind when the album ends, which is a fairly important aspect of good folk music.

So OK, the album isn't specifically about Emma, but damn if it doesn't set a path for that relationship. Strange Encounter creates a context for Tillman's growing interest in a steady relationship (not having unfamiliar women die in his apartment). Holy Shit absolutely does come back to the topic of love by the end, albeit in the abstract. The Ideal Husband exists in the same universe as Strange Encounter, with a narrator that's firmly stuck in the present showing us his past lifestyle which he hopes doesn't catch up with him. The last verse seems to be part of the main storyline.

Virtually every track on the album sketches out in greater detail the personality of Tillman so the listener can think to themselves, "who would want to settle down with this fuck?" That's the point. We get a lot of stray thoughts and observations, but they serve the same unified purpose in the end. Which is great on paper, but he's more actively abrasive here than on Fear Fun and while that was certainly the goal, I don't care for it. It wouldn't be an issue if more of the melodies stuck with me, but they don't. I find Strange Encounter endlessly interesting to talk about (it's one of my favorites on the album), but I can't remember how it goes off the top of my head.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:03 PM   #274
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I guess I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

1. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (15 points)
2. Bjork: Vulnicura (13)
3. Beach House: Thank Your Lucky Stars (12)
4. Beach House: Depression Cherry (11)
5. Vince Staples: Summertime '06 (10)
6. Destroyer: Poison Season (8)
7. Deerhunter: Fading Frontier (7)
8. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly (7)
9. EL VY: Return to the Moon (5)
10. Julia Holter: Have You in My Wilderness (5)
11. Grimes: Art Angels (2)
12. The Dead Weather: Dodge & Burn (2)
13. Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear (1)
14. Neon Indian: VEGA INTL. Night School (1)
15. Wavves & Cloud Nothings: No Life for Me (1)

And some comments and such, spoilered for length and for those who don't care:

 

1. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell

Few if any albums I have heard lay the soul of the artist as bare as Carrie & Lowell. The story is well-known at this point, so I'll focus on the execution: there is not a single wasted moment on the entire album, a lean 43 minutes that impeccably balances gentle acoustics with ghostly ambiance. The hushed vocals replicate a journey through the narrator's mind, a voyeuristic look into memories both genuine and manipulated through grief, drugs, fatigue, and any other number of demons put baldly on display. Yet somehow among these harrowing themes are some of Sufjan's most infectious melodies, something like the end of "Should Have Known Better" serving as a brief flash of hope amid a larger sea of despair. The bravest and best moment on the album comes at the very end: "Blue Bucket of Gold," a track that could have been a saccharine collection of Hallmark statements about a mother's love always being with you instead takes the form of a naked plea for companionship. There are no tidy answers to be found here, no catharsis or revelation of self-empowerment. It is the rare album whose challenge to the listener is rewarded many times over; the true piece of art that inspires perspective on one's own life. Carrie & Lowell is an accomplishment in every sense of the term and one of the finest albums in recent memory.

2. Bjork: Vulnicura

Vulnicura set the stage for a year of intensely personal musical statements and remained a standard-bearer throughout the whole of 2015. After two grandiose and arguably overblown projects in Volta and Biophilia, Vulnicura dissects a long-term relationship with both surgical precision and clear-eyed reflection. The production is a star here, balancing orchestral tapestries with industrial electronics while allowing ample space for Bjork, always a singular voice, to tell her stories on her own terms. "History of Touches" is as emotive a song as 2015 has to offer, a naked confession of waking in the middle of the night and focusing on the final moments spent next to someone who for years was at the center of your life. The trick is that it's not played for pity, but rather as an elegy for something that brought a lot of good among the pain. Such maturity lifts Vulnicura far beyond the confines of your typical break-up album and into the realm of pathos we all can appreciate in some form.

3. Beach House: Thank Your Lucky Stars

"Slow-burner" is a term probably overused in discussing music, but Thank Your Lucky Stars fits the bill. Even more languid and nocturnal than usual for the band, Stars benefits from more layers than any other Beach House album, minor distortions and slightly off-kilter chord changes revealing themselves with every listen. There's a sleight of hand here in that, although no one song jumps out as exceptionally catchy, I find myself often waking up with them in my head. Victoria, as divine as ever, seems slightly disaffected across the album, her sublime vocals hanging in the background so that arguably her best batch of lyrics require the listener to strain a bit in order to grasp them. "She's So Lovely" is the key to the album, never quite giving away if said loveliness is a source of admiration or disdain. Beach House might be looking into the void here, but fortunately for us they are crafting beauty even from that darkness.

4. Beach House: Depression Cherry

Yes, I am a Beach House fanboy. Depression Cherry takes an ever-so-slight backseat to Thank Your Lucky Stars on account of being less consistent. The highs, though, are higher, the majestic "Sparks" and ephemeral "Bluebird" among their best-ever songs. The latter is most indicative of the album's aesthetic; the production gives it a distant feeling, almost like a satellite transmission struggling to come through a radio, the song grounded only by a simple but oddly memorable drum machine loop. And despite several critical protests to the contrary, there is a good bit of innovation here as well, as in the choir on "Days of Candy," the fierce distortion on the guitar work in "Sparks," and the spoken-word bits on "PPP." Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars collectively prove that Beach House is working as a model of consistency and delicacy of craft that few bands can match.

5. Vince Staples: Summertime '06

Such was the shadow cast over the hip-hop landscape by Kendrick Lamar this year that I only even heard of Vince Staples a few weeks ago. But damn if this guy isn't a prodigy, and an unapologetic one at that. The look at Black urban life here is unsanitized, a portrait of a young man taking up a gang-banger life on account not of ill intent but raw necessity. Whereas Kendrick's album took a more macro view of the problems facing the African-American community, Staples is intensely focused on the day-to-day dynamics and the street attitude that develops as a means of survival. The industrial production on a track like "Norf Norf" makes the precariousness of daily life palpable, just as the frantic beats on "Jump off the Roof" capture a sense of temporary euphoria and invincibility from whatever triumphs one can find. Lean and muscular even at twenty tracks, Summertime '06 is a shot of adrenaline with ideas to spare. I'm looking forward to what Staples does next.

6. Destroyer: Poison Season

Unjustly overlooked both on this forum and in the wider music world, Poison Season displays Mr Bejar in all of his curve-throwing, beat-poet glory. The pop sensibilities of Kaputt are still here, just more layered and expansive. Whereas Kaputt had a wonderful but somewhat one-note trick up its sleeve in the Weather Report-style sax, Poison Season is a masterclass in balance, from the jazz inflections on "Archer on the Beach" to the multi-suite "Bangkok," the latter one of the best songs Tom Waits never wrote. The lyrics are inscrutable as they so often are on a Destroyer record, but the mood of a tired, maybe fading optimism works well alongside the instrumentation. People should be giving this one a hell of a lot more credit.

7. Deerhunter: Fading Frontier

What a hell of a run Deerhunter is on. "Snakeskin" is about as apt a title as a lead single could have, weaving and agile with an irresistible groove - and who would ever have expected to say that after the claustrophobic atmospherics of Halcyon Digest or the searing garage rock of Monomania? Elsewhere, we get some straight-up indie pop gems in "Living My Life" and "Breaker" as well as a spaced-out Gary Numan homage in "Ad Astra." It's not a weighty album, but it is a lean, consistently strong collection of tracks.

8. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly

Deftly merging political vision and personal reflection, Kendrick arguably captured the spirit of African American disaffection more profoundly than anyone in music (or larger media) this year. The brilliance is in the record's ability to will that disaffection into something positive: individual pride extrapolated as a rallying cry for a wider Black consciousness and activism, perhaps captured best in the seething "The Blacker the Berry" but also in quieter, meditative tracks like "How Much a Dollar Cost." The "interview" with Tupac that concludes the album is one of the most inventive moments of the year in its execution but also in its search for a community voice, a role Kendrick seems oddly hesitant to assume despite the big-picture nature of the album as a whole. That battle between ambition and anxiety gives the album an authenticity that is perhaps its greatest strength.

9. EL VY: Return to the Moon

Half Matt Berninger doing some pop experiments, half brooding National-esque vignettes. Still a great collection of infectious and endlessly-quotable songs. Here Matt is inhabiting some past selves - the Ohio kid searching for his identity, the 20-something looking for a new social scene, the rocker feeling cocky on his first foreign tour - and doing so with humor and a fair bit of self-deprecation. This is all familiar ground, but across the album he shows he has the vocal range to work with sunnier (the title track) and raunchier ("I'm the Man to Be") instrumentation than we might initially have thought, boding well for wherever his main band goes next.

10. Julia Holter: Have You in My Wilderness

Julia Holter's earlier work was beguiling for me: thoroughly impressive but also difficult to love for reasons I can't quite articulate. On Have You in My Wilderness, though, all the pieces have fallen into place. It feels simultaneously of a bygone era, like some 60s jazz lounge or a black-and-white film soundtrack, and very much of the moment. Songs like "Lucette Stranded on the Island" and the stunning "Vazquez" have a whimsical atmosphere, poppy despite (what feels like) classicist instrumentation, defying any kind of easy categorization. It's the kind of album that can please you on a surface level or as an immersive experience - an accomplishment indeed.

11. Grimes: Art Angels

The AV Club headed its review of Art Angels with "Grimes brings the horror to the dance floor," which is probably the best and most succinct encapsulation of this album one could write. There is a sense of dread running through these otherwise effervescent tracks, but it's more of a dread Grimes is instilling in those who would dare stand in the way of her seismic ambitions than any fear on her part. Inconsistency is a minor issue here, but the sense of ease in fantastic songs like "Flesh without Blood," "Kill v Maim," and "Realiti" suggests that in the near future she is going to put together a masterpiece.

12. The Dead Weather: Dodge & Burn

This is what I have been waiting for from a Jack White project: something with the muscle and playful menace that made the White Stripes one of the best bands of their generation. Alison Mosshart is the perfect inhabitant for these feral songs and sentiments, and as though she wasn't sexy enough to begin with, we get to see her in full-on chanteuse mode in "Impossible Winner" as a cap to the album. Good, dirty fun here of the type you don't see too often anymore.

13. Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear

A love story for the cynical, forlorn, and wandering, delivered with the flair we have come to expect from the esteemed Mr Tillman. The man's eye for the minor bullshit that pervades our lives and the macro costs associated with it are peerless, as in such misadventures as "The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment," but his wider view on finding companionship amid endless distractions is just as important: the song "Holy Shit" alone speaks more truth in four minutes than most albums did across their entire runtime this year. Misty still has a tendency to emphasize a clever turn of phrase at the expense of the song itself, but the high points on Honeybear more than compensate for it and make it one of the more consistently thoughtful albums of the year.

14. Neon Indian: VEGA INTL. Night School

The chillwave tag will probably always follow Alan Palomo despite VEGA INTL being anything but sedate - rather it's a funked-out raver with energy to spare. "Annie" was quite possibly the jam of the summer, an insistent groove underpinning a sweltering 80s atmosphere. Vega might run a bit short on ideas in the second half, but the high points are among the highest of the year.

15. Wavves & Cloud Nothings: No Life for Me

In only a shade over twenty minutes, Nathan Williams and Dylan Baldi rampage through an impressive collection of rough-hewn garage rock. The format helps to minimize the less charming tendencies of the two main bands (especially the aimless jams of Cloud Nothings) and maximize the hooks. This one flew under the radar but is well worth a listen.

Honorable Mentions:
Empress Of: Me
Earl Sweatshirt: I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
Kurt Vile: B'lieve I'm Goin' Down

Songs of the Year:
Sufjan Stevens, "Blue Bucket of Gold"
Beach House, "Sparks"
Destroyer, "Archer on the Beach"
EL VY, "Return to the Moon"
Best Coast, "California Nights"
Father John Misty, "Chateau Lobby #4"
Neon Indian, "Annie"
Lower Dens, "To Die in LA"
Small Black, "Boys Life"
Bibio, "Petals"
Deerhunter, "Ad Astra"
Grimes, "Flesh Without Blood"
Chvrches, "Never Ending Circles"
Kurt Vile, "Pretty Pimpin"
Julia Holter, "Vazquez"
Tame Impala, "The Less I Know the Better"
Beck, "Dreams"
Empress Of, "Standard"
Viet Cong, "Silhouettes"
Kendrick Lamar, "How Much a Dollar Cost"
Vince Staples, "Norf Norf"

Superlatives:
Best album title: Earl Sweatshirt, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
Best album cover: Desaparecidos, Payola
Best vinyl edition: The Dead Weather, Dodge & Burn vault edition
Best new album from old-timers: Wire, Wire
Late-year release no one talked about but should have: jennylee, Right On!
My best discovery from years past: Yo La Tengo, Painful
Most disappointing album: Modest Mouse, Strangers to Ourselves
Most unnecessary victory lap: David Gilmour, Rattle That Lock
Album with the most recycled ideas: Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
Album most in need of an editor: Kamasi Washington, The Epic
Most average album: Wavves, V
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:13 PM   #275
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I can't say enough positive things about Julia Holter and her new album. She's also cute as hell.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:26 PM   #276
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I think you guys made me subscribe to KEXP youtube channel so that i wont be too out of touch with indie bands.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:33 PM   #277
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So in a nutshell, what you're saying is:

1. Tillman is a dick and plays into that, so if you don't like it, listen to another album.

2. Folk is always boring, so another boring folk album isn't worth complaining about.

As a fan of folk music, the latter is not a valid point at all IMO, so let's agree to disagree. In fact, I wouldn't even say this album is boring. His musical arrangements and instrumental choices sound like they belong on an album from half a century ago (outside of True Affection) and it clashes with the modern concerns and outlook of the music, but it's on purpose. It's novel and I see what he's doing, but it's strained. There are also very few melodies I can bring to mind when the album ends, which is a fairly important aspect of good folk music.

So OK, the album isn't specifically about Emma, but damn if it doesn't set a path for that relationship. Strange Encounter creates a context for Tillman's growing interest in a steady relationship (not having unfamiliar women die in his apartment). Holy Shit absolutely does come back to the topic of love by the end, albeit in the abstract. The Ideal Husband exists in the same universe as Strange Encounter, with a narrator that's firmly stuck in the present showing us his past lifestyle which he hopes doesn't catch up with him. The last verse seems to be part of the main storyline.

Virtually every track on the album sketches out in greater detail the personality of Tillman so the listener can think to themselves, "who would want to settle down with this fuck?" That's the point. We get a lot of stray thoughts and observations, but they serve the same unified purpose in the end. Which is great on paper, but he's more actively abrasive here than on Fear Fun and while that was certainly the goal, I don't care for it. It wouldn't be an issue if more of the melodies stuck with me, but they don't. I find Strange Encounter endlessly interesting to talk about (it's one of my favorites on the album), but I can't remember how it goes off the top of my head.
I don't expect fans of folks to agree with me on that, I just found the idea of criticizing his folk for sounding like folk odd. I guess that's not what you meant there.

I don't mean that you should love him because he's self-aware, I meant that I read your post and Axver's and it seemed like you were both saying, "This guy thinks he's hot shit but he's actually an asshole!" Which seemed like a hilarious misreading to me.

I also don't understand the melodic criticism, because I find his melodies endlessly catchy, Strange Encounter being one of his best. Really the only thing that he does a decent amount of that bothers me is when he relies too much on the "ohhhh ohhhh" type of singing, which he does a lot of on True Affection and Smiling and Astride Me (not coincidentally my two least favorite songs on the album).
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:36 PM   #278
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do you guys know any indie/alt rock bands with shreddy guitars? or technical instrumentation?
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:36 PM   #279
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I hate Kendrick's alien voice as much as the next person, but I don't know how anyone could NOT enjoy those beats.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:38 PM   #280
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do you guys know any indie/alt rock bands with shreddy guitars? or technical instrumentation?
I'm not sure how anyone defines shreddy guitars anymore but The War on Drugs has great guitar parts.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:42 PM   #281
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I'm not sure how anyone defines shreddy guitars anymore but The War on Drugs has great guitar parts.
shreddy guitar playing mostly means something form people like Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai. I just wanna hear alt. rock's take of these fast, technical guitar playing.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:47 PM   #282
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I don't expect fans of folks to agree with me on that, I just found the idea of criticizing his folk for sounding like folk odd. I guess that's not what you meant there.

I don't mean that you should love him because he's self-aware, I meant that I read your post and Axver's and it seemed like you were both saying, "This guy thinks he's hot shit but he's actually an asshole!" Which seemed like a hilarious misreading to me.

I also don't understand the melodic criticism, because I find his melodies endlessly catchy, Strange Encounter being one of his best. Really the only thing that he does a decent amount of that bothers me is when he relies too much on the "ohhhh ohhhh" type of singing, which he does a lot of on True Affection and Smiling and Astride Me (not coincidentally my two least favorite songs on the album).
Actually, I think the album sounds pretty different from a lot of the folk that's out there right now. Julien Baker, Ryley Walker, Laura Marling, Jessica Pratt, all of that is very 70s throwback (Nick Drake, Van Morrison, etc.) and Tillman seems to actually be going further back in time.

And yeah, not sure about his J Tillman work (need to look back into that), but he's had a sardonic wit from the beginning. Now it's just being emphasized because it's part of the album's concept. I definitely don't think he's suddenly discovered a new side to his personality and is beating us over the head with it.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:48 PM   #283
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shreddy guitar playing mostly means something form people like Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai. I just wanna hear alt. rock's take of these fast, technical guitar playing.
You like Mastodon?
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Old 12-23-2015, 04:04 PM   #284
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You like Mastodon?
I haven't really gotten into them though I like their early things. like leviathan.
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Old 12-23-2015, 04:31 PM   #285
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Love reading your short capsules, iYup. Thanks for posting that.

Having listened to Julien Baker a couple more times this week, I'm disappointed I didn't find a place for her in my top-15 (she was a honorable mention). I really like that album.

Another folk album that was very underrated this year: Joan Shelley's Over and Even. I only got it a few months ago due to a recommendation from my record store. They didn't have the Julia Holter album and suggested this one instead, even though the only thing they have in common seems to be the female leads. But I go back to it very often still.
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