I've always struggled with OutKast. I know they're great. I can listen to them and appreciate the skill of their arrangements, the way they flawlessly blend styles and genres, their incisive, creative lyrics. But it's always been an intellectual connection, rather than an emotional one. Listening to Stankonia, the singles stand out, as does "Bombs Over Baghdad", but everything else sort of blurs together.
Hey, Solange's version of "Stillness Is The Move" is pretty much amazing, isn't it?
Strange Mercy, St. Vincent's latest album, is a glorious thing, a crystalline construction that's both delicate and strong. It makes sense that Annie Clark and David Byrne ended up working together, because they have a similar talent for building whole worlds within one song. Also, she gets sounds out of a guitar that few other people can.
It took me a while to get a grip on The Suburbs, Arcade Fire's third album. It was released in August 2010 and I excitedly purchased it, but on first listen, something didn't click. There were great songs, but the album as a whole didn't slot into place in the way previous ones did. I put it aside for a while, and came back to it in November, when it suddenly all made sense. I was walking through the city listening to it and I literally said out loud "Oh...it's a winter album" because it totally is. Something about it works so well with walking around in the darkness, pulling yourself close inside your coat.
Perhaps the iconic record of my high school years, Take Off Your Pants And Jacket by Blink 182 still has a direct line to certain areas of my brain. I was a pretty sedate teenager, so songs like "Roller Coaster" and "Reckless Abandon" conjured images of a world of carefree adventure and freedom that was beyond my anxious, shy reach. Listening back to it now, it makes me nostalgic for a past I never had, an odd experience that probably doesn't do my maturity level any good, but who needs maturity when you have pop-punk guitars?
I was late coming to The Mountain Goats, only discovering them about two years ago. My discography is scattered, with chunks from various albums and only Transcendental Youth as a complete record. At some point when I am less broke, I will trawl through Amazon completing my collection. Until then, I will console myself with the fact that my sporadic assortment includes "No Children". I know it's everyone's favourite Mountain Goats song, but there's a reason for that. It's a beautifully simple expression of a seldom recognised emotion with a nice line in iconic lyrics.
I mentioned the doldrums I found myself in when listening to this particular patch of albums, and no section represents it better than listening to Temple Of The Dog's self-titled album followed by Pearl Jam's Ten. I would have been around at exactly the right time for grunge, had I listened to anything beyond local radio at that time, which wasn't known for it's "alternative" bent. Listening to these albums now, I'm glad they hold no nostalgic affection for me, because they're awful. Self-indulgent, monotonous and glum, there's no albums that have made me ask myself "Why do I own this?" more.
"Wires and Waves" by Rilo Kiley