Archive for May, 2010

Favorite albums of the first third of 2010.

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Can’t believe the year is one-third over already! Here are the 5 albums that have made the biggest impact on me so far this year. May come back and do a concert round-up later as well.

1) Beach House: Teen Dream (Sub Pop, 26 January 2010). I’ve always liked Beach House; the group creates such a dreamy, atmospheric mood. But Teen Dream is a step change from previous albums; the duo puts a structure around those hazy watercolors without losing any intensity. Stunning. (My album review: Washington Post Express, 25 January 2010).
2) Roky Erickson & Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-, 20 April 2010). It needs to be said: most of the time, collaborations and/or supergroups just aren’t as good as the sum of their parts. But this one works astoundingly well, perhaps because these are all old Erickson songs, just re-orchestrated by Okkervil River. Whatever the reason, though, it succeeds, and Erickson’s demons– while still fresh in his memory, seem to be a thing of the past. (My album review: Washington Post Express, 19 April 2010.)
3) Jónsi: Go (XL, 6 April 2010). If collaborations don’t always work out as planned, then solo albums by the frontman of a distinctive group are certainly risky business as well. Jónsi manages to transcend the Sigur Rós sound while still remaining quite true to it. (My album review: Washington Post Express, 6 April 2010).
4) Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me (Drag City, 23 February 2010). As if Ys didn’t make it totally apparent, Joanna Newsom is hugely influenced by prog. Still, despite its 3-LP length, Have One On Me doesn’t feel overwhelmingly massive; each disc stands on its own, and there are many charming moments here.
5) Jack Rose: Luck in the Valley (Thrill Jockey, 23 February 2010). I was out at a friend’s birthday dinner in December of 2009 when I started getting a ton of emails on my phone citing rumors of Jack Rose’s death. As much as I’d like to dissociate Luck in the Valley from that event, it’s impossible: this is his last planned album. I got to see him in venues as expansive as the 9:30 club and as tiny as someone’s living room, and every time, I just fell in love with his intricate finger-picking guitar style. We are lucky that he left us this album (and so many others) by which to remember him. (My album review: Washington Post Express: 22 February 2010).