(sorry this is a little late)
Time for me to eat a little crow because….well….the new The National record is great.
Vampire Weekend – Contra (I really had mixed feelings about this record before it was release, Cousins hadn’t captured my attention like I wanted it to and I could see the commercial hype machine gearing up. Well I am glad to say that I was wrong about my apprehension because this record is great. The loose notes that held their previous record together have been turned into full orchestrations. From the first time you hear “Horchata” you know that this is going to be a different kind of record and the expanded sounds really mesh well with the VW sound.)
The National – High Violet (Another record that I was deceived by a crummy song “Terrible Love” which fails to go anywhere. After dozens of listens I realized that this album was dense, heartbreaking and epic. Songs 8-11 are four amazing tunes flush with horns, tension and lead singer Matt Berninger’s trademark crooning. While this album doesn’t have a “Mr. November” hard rocking screamer, what it does have is a mature band making the best music of their career.)
Baths – Cerulean (Something about this record hooked me on first listen. Blips, samples and vocals have become a staple for so many musicians that it is hard to wade through all the crap to find something worth a second listen. Baths really has constructed a unique record with very layered and loose feeling songs. Every time you think you have the sound pegged, it turns in a different direction with echoing vocals or a track that could be easily turned into “house” music at a discotheque.)
Guilty Simpson – OJ Simpson (Madlib has outdone himself on this record, surpassing his work under his own moniker “Quasimoto”. He has put together a very fluid and well thought out record and utilized the strengths of MC Guilty Simpson. Letting his more aggressive style peek out but not take over the overall feel. Instead he created some beats that help ground Guilty Simpson and keep him from sounding like an angry Wu Tang record. Make no mistakes, Guilty’s name is on the cover but this is really a Madlib record through and through.)
The New Pornographers – Together (This record is most likely not to make the year end list but that isn’t to take away from it’s quality. The Porno’s really gel on this record letting AC Newman and Neko really pull together some of their best duets such as “Valkyrie In The Roller Disco”. After all these years I have worried about the quality of song for the band because of all of the side and solo projects but all the greatness is still there, pop hooks and Dan Bejar quality craft in all.)