Red by Taylor Swift is an eclectic pop album that happens to serve as Taylor Swift’s ascension to the top of pop. The album is a collection of singles so there’s not to be written about it as an album, unless I’m interested in retelling stories written about Taylor Swift’s move away from country or to the forefront of pop, which I’m not.
Instead, I’d rather offer up my opinion on which songs I think are the best on Red. Of course, the post title is me making fun of any blogger or musical journalist that thinks their opinion matters in any definitive way on such important things as Ms. Swift. You can buy Red on iTunes. Below are my rankings and YouTube videos to listen to the top two.
Fall has arrived and so has a contender for my album of the year. I thought The Lumineer’s self-titled was going to cruise home unchallenged, but that’s not the case.
Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron has arrived and it left quite the impression on first listen and again on subsequent listens. It captures a lot of what I loved in my favorite album of last year, Youth Lagoon’s The Year of Hibernation. There’s a certain mystic quality about both of them. While the latter is easily called dreampop, the former is a bit harder to classify.
Dreamy music, no matter how it’s classified has a great draw on my ear. Lonesome Dreams proves this; especially the signature stretch from She Lit A Fire to I Will Be Back One Day to The Man Who Lives Forever. Those three are among my favorites and to have them back-to-back-to-back out of the ten tracks is quite a stretch of music that I’ll go back to if I’m only listening to 10 minutes at a time.
Another trait Lonesome Dreams seems to share with The Year of Hibernation is the standalone quality of the individual tracks–they can be listened to as singles or they can come together in cohesive matter that creates an album as opposed to just a collection of singles. Simply, the listening experience is rewarded with one track flowing nicely into the next.
So fall has arrived and it has unsettled the complacency of summer. I thought I knew my favorite album of 2012. Now I’m not sure.
Regardless (and without any doubts), Lonesome Dreams is one my favorite albums of this year. I’m just going to enjoy it some more and not worry about it. It is out today. Featured below are Time To Run and Brother.
A few years ago, a neighbor and friend of mine was blasting “What You Know” from his apartment, and I stopped over to ask him which band had written the song. He showed me a setlist with the Two Door Cinema Club logo at the top, and put a few songs on his speaker system. I proceeded to get my hands on Tourist History, and I’ve been listening on repeat, dancing awkwardly, and recommending it to everyone I know for a little over two years.
Beacon is the follow up to Tourist History, and throughout the past few weeks of listening, I’ve grown to appreciate a new direction for the band. Beacon is much more cohesive than it’s predecessor. It brings more than just eleven new songs for the band to play live. It brings a solidification of a specific sound for the band to call their own.
I find small moments from various songs keep drawing me back for repeat listens. The haunting vocal chorus in “The World is Watching”. The choir ending to “Sleep Alone”. The minute long Arctic Monkeys-esque jam at the end of “Someday”. The horns in “Sun” that lead into the bridge. One word: Addicting.
As you make your way through the album, these moments are found interwoven throughout forty minutes of electro-pop that is truly a joy to experience. Working long hours over the past few weeks, I began to listen to Beacon on my commute home. As I make my way through DC, and out of the city on the bus, I find myself waiting in anticipation for these small moments to jump out of each song. As I leave the bus and walk the few blocks to my apartment, Alex Trimble sings the following lines as I walk in the door to my building:
Take the deep end and swim ’til you can stand
Cause it will make a difference in the end
Trip the shutter and keep the picture close
Save it until you need it the most
I’m coming home
It’s truly a feeling I can relate to at just that moment. The album ends and I enter my apartment to relax for the evening.
Beacon is available today and Two Door Cinema Club is on tour this fall in the United States. Take a listen to my favorite song off the album – “Sun”.
I wanted this post to somehow tie together my first trip to Seattle and my obsessive listening to Passion Pit’s Gossamer during that trip. I couldn’t really make it work it in a way that properly complimented one another.
I’ll have to spend more time in Seattle. I want to check out Belltown more, I want to actually go to the Space Needle instead of just snapping a picture of it, and it was nice to have good seafood back in my life. There and now, the last part kicked up my cravings for crabcakes even more, which were already at an absurdly high level. I honestly will spend the rest of the time I spend writing this, thinking about jumbo lumps. Nevertheless, I want to talk about Gossamer.
Passion Pit’s sophomore has been the first album to supplement The Lumineers debut as my most listened to in several months, which may not signify much to you, but it lets me know how much I like it.
Gossamer is not a decade-defining record. It may only be the band’s second best album. It’s not a career turn. It’s not so many things. I feel that people have overcompensated for Michael Angelakos’s story of bipolar disorder by heaping praise on it because it soundtracks the personal trials of the lead singer. I think we can point to the Pitchfork feature for this false gilded praise.
At first, I was glad that Pitchfork did that feature. It was a great story, and what Larry Fitzmaurice did needs to happen more often in journalism, not just music journalism. Yet, after cultivating an audience of slacker-elitist music listeners with their equally disappointing, haphazard “reviews,” it should serve as no surprise that this simple-minded mob (and let me not mince words, Pitchfork sought to ignite a music revolution; they just picked the army of idiots, which may mean monetization and wider exposure, but ultimately, also means you can’t change the music industry if you’re the hipster Tiger Beat) would not wholly comprehend the complexity of the situation, let alone the album.
Further, it does a disservice to what is one of the best pop albums of the year in my opinion. By attaching to one simple aspect of a more complex story, people misrepresented it. It’s not profound simply because someone is suffering a mental illness and willing to sing about it.
Gossamer is an album that I can listen to again and again. Yet it is oddly detached. It’s enjoyable and happy sounding; it’s depressing and lost–a record for our times.
While it seems obvious, there is this stark contrast of the poppy sheen of many of Gossamer’s songs with the lyrics and underlying sentiments. All that glitters is not gold. Here is a band making music that is rather personal but guarded by the sound they’ve developed. I don’t think this is by chance. It has been said that some criticism of the group’s first record deeply affected Angelakos. There is distinct lack of the helium vocals and increased attention to the lyrics on Gossamer. I assert this is probably pre-emptive (don’t give the critics anything to criticize) and that the music served as a cocoon from all the problems and criticisms and difficulties of life. It’s this bubble, safe and wonderful, in the mind of the creator and the listener.
I found a place, I found a place, I found a place where we belong
Michael Angelakos didn’t need a cover story, much more helpful would have been a friend. Reading between the lines, I hope that Fitzmaurice is there for him like his fiance is noted as. I fear because some level of detachment is expected nowadays. Well, at least Pitchfork readers got what they can call a brilliant story out of it. All that glitters is not gold…