Monday, December 30, 2013

but now I see me in everything you don't say:

Kevin Devine - "Bulldozer"
iTunes / amazon mp3 / hard copy

Finding the appropriate place(s) for Kevin Devine on this year end list was a fairly difficult task with not one, but two fan funded albums released for our benefit. Sometimes you have to go with your gut, and for me “Bulldozer” came out on top this year over, still on the top ten list, “Bubblegum.” A little more personal with a lighter feel, “Bulldozer” grabbed and held my attention from first listen. One shouldn’t feel compelled to deny how the title track had you bopping along and thinking fondly of your own “Little Bulldozer” because no matter how personal Devine gets with his lyrics, the joy of music is to add your own meaning to the lyrics so kindly crafted for our ears. The heartfelt ideas of this wordsmith don’t stop at romantic ideals, as two stand-out tracks off the album talk of Hurricane Sandy aftermath. Devine touches on how the devastation was more than just watching helplessly as structures were demolished, but also to the idea of home, how that word is valued, and who and where it may be -- “My father built this place / In 1928 / I’ve got nowhere to go. / Where would I be? / My life is here / Entirely.” A true storyteller, Devine captures you with his vulnerability and keeps you coming back.
Tegan And Sara - "Heartthrob"
iTunes / amazon mp3 / hard copy
Heartthrob: the throb of a heart; sentimental emotion; sweetheart. When "Heartthrob" kicks off, we’re welcomed with open arms to an album that was made to be danced to - to the beat of the drum reminiscent to the beat of one’s heart. Your foot starts tapping along with the bass drum, and about forty seconds into the first single “Closer” you’re off in your own world - this feeling stays with you throughout the whole album about the most relatable of all topics, heartbreak. We’re given hope that we’re not alone and all we really need is an album full of vibey synthesizers and keys plus beats to get us through. 80’s dance music? Absolutely an influence, and it’s great to see Tegan and Sara take a chance with these songs showing growth by moving away from what many consider their comfort zone and reaching out to and connecting with a new fan base. As usual, there is no limit to substance and heart in this album, and the lyrics will prove to you just that. Singing along to “I Was A Fool,” for instance, will prove to be very cathartic - “If you’re worried that I might have changed, left behind all of my foolish ways, you best be looking for someone else without a foolish heart.” Listeners will become hooked to this album as quickly as they may have found themselves hooked to a new crush - but with the good kind of butterflies this time.
Owen - "L'Ami du Peuple"
iTunes / amazon mp3 / hard copy
Things that feel like a constant in my life? Owen’s music. If ever I’m feeling lost or looking for something to ground me, I always go back to his music. There’s something so simple yet complex about Mike Kinsella’s talents, especially his intricate guitar playing, and it’s easy to get blown away by the musicality of his albums. What may be better than his musicality you ask? His seemingly no fear attitude when it comes to singing some of the most honest lyrics you’ll ever come across. To me, that feels like a large part of why people appreciate Kinsella and his music - in a word full of constant badgering and people trying to hide their flaws, Kinsella has no problem being straightforward and embracing his ways in a public forum. In a song titled “Coffin Companion,” Kinsella reminds us that we’re not in it alone, and that you’re not the only one who feels down and out. “Coffin companions: early to bed, and weary to rise. A girl with work to do; a boy with two thorns in his side. Of all the coffins in all the dreadful corners of the world, you chose mine, and I yours.” Another favorite of mine, “Bad Blood” touches on the fact that we all have to work with the cards dealt, heredity and all. We’re not perfect, but we do our best to be who we are. I’m constantly coming back to “L’ami Du Peuple,” Owen’s best work to date, and I hope you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief and doing the same.
BOY - "Mutual Friends"
iTunes / amazon mp3
"Seven little numbers, baby, they could be a start. Seven little numbers, baby, I know yours by heart." After stumbling upon BOY’s “Little Numbers” on YouTube and falling for a sentiment we know all to well, I was immediately hooked and started searching the internet for ways to purchase an album. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was one, “Mutual Friends,” but sad to read that it wasn’t going to be released in America until this year. Without a second thought, at the end of last year, I purchased a download of the album and my debit card was charged an amount in Euros. This was one of the few times when risking your debit card getting stopped due to strange activity was completely worth it. "Mutual Friends" made getting from point a to b, wherever that may have been, all more the worthwhile and with a skip in my step. The duo of Valeska Steiner (bassist) and Sonja Glass (singer) have created a masterpiece, and from the first sounds of the album and opening track (appropriately the sound of needle to vinyl) "This Is The Beginning," you're transported into the riveting world that this pop duo has created especially for you. "Open the boxes, unpack what you own. Hang up some posters and make this a home. Walk down the stairs, and open the door, look at the things you've never seen before." That's exactly what this album is, a fresh take on all of your surroundings. It's time to see things through a new light, and that light is all thanks to BOY.
The Lonely Forest - "Adding Up The Wasted Hours"
iTunes / amazon mp3 / hard copy
To be honest, I didn't see this coming. I really didn't expect this album to win me over like it did, but boy was I wrong. This is more than just kicking the winning field goal to secure your victory by one point, The Lonely Forest went ahead and hit grand slam to win the game with their latest album. Yes, to state it plainly, they knocked one out of the park. From the simplicity of the opening with the listener's main focus being the vocals with minimal backing to the very last crescendo into the fade away to close out "
Adding Up The Wasted Hours," you're in for possibly the most sonically pleasing album you've heard in quite some time. You'll be won over by first listen, but there's something new thanks to the many layers to catch you and your heart off guard with every listen. Each song discusses relationships, in their various forms, so you're bound to have your heartstrings pulled by thoughts you've most likely tried to push out of your mind. "Lovric's" is a standout track on the album, and in a whimsical way it brings forward the inconsistencies of our heart and our feelings - you know, being human. "Still everything that you do makes me want to sail to you, and I can see there's a line that I won't cross - you need time." After three studio albums, The Lonely Forest has proven themselves to me after "Adding Up The Wasted Hours." These gentlemen from Washington state deserve countless accolades for creating the most solid rock albums of the year -- I am incredibly grateful for it; hopefully you will be too.

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