Tag Archives | Elbow

Top Five Albums – 2017

It seems bonkers that this is my 8th annual Top Five Albums post. What’s not bonkers is that it’s the only post on this site all year. I’m nothing if not consistent.

First, here are the previous years for comparison:
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Second, this was the year of the concert for me. Early in the year Julie and I went to Radiohead. That was followed by a trip to Seattle with my son to see U2’s Joshua Tree tour. I killed two birds at that concert as Mumford & Sons opened. Later in the year we saw The National at “The Schnitz” (Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall). This concert was simply amazing. The Schnitz is a perfect venue for music and The National did not disappoint. To date it is my second favorite concert of all time, only being surpassed by the U2 Elevation concert in February of 2002. I attended that show in Kansas City and it included U2’s tribute to 9/11. While nothing can compete with that emotionalism, The National came pretty close. Julie and my daughter saw The Killers just a few weeks ago (I was happy to skip that one). But, I was super bummed that I missed out on a chance to see Elbow here in Portland. All in all it was a great year of live music.

Like 2014 & 2015 I need to file a couple of complaints. U2, you’re killing me. Songs of Experience is dreadful. Arcade Fire, be careful. If I’m not mistaken Everything Now is your 5th studio album. I’ll give you a pass on releasing something this bad…but you’ve been warned.

Most, if not all of these albums, plus a few more from 2017 can be found on this Spotify Playlist: URL | Spotify URI.

Now to the things I did like…

Honorable Mentions

  • Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
  • Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
  • The Shins – Heartworms
  • Vagabon – Infinite Worlds

Top Five

5. Big Thief – Capacity

Big Thief is new to me, but I’m glad I found them. Maybe they’re new to a lot of people as this is only their second album. This is an excellent album. I like it not necessarily for the music, but for the lyrics. Each song tells a story…some of them not easy, but all of them good. Mythological Beauty is one of my favorites.

4. LCD Soundsystem – american dream

You might be fooled into thinking this is a feel good album based on the music, but like Capacity it’s emotional, and sorrowful, and sad. But man is it a good listen. It’s tough to combine techno and somber, but you just have to love an album with a song entitled Emotional Haircut.

3. The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

If you read the 2014 Top Five you’ll remember The War on Drugs holding the top spot. This album is just as good. Yeah, they still remind me of Springsteen. Did you know that The War on Drugs is made up of a 38 year old one man band? Yeah, me neither. This is another album filled with sadness. Maybe that’s the theme for this year.

2. Elbow – Little Fictions

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. I have no clue how this band is not more popular; especially within my demographic. I love love love this album. Musically, lyrically, all of it. It’s a slow grey day with a whiskey and a cigar kind of album. And yeah, more sadness. Go listen to the song with the album’s name, Little Fictions. It’s my favorite song of the year.

We protect our little fictions
Like it’s all we are
Little wilderness mementos
But there’s only you and me here
Fire breathing
Hold tight
Waiting for the original miracle

1. The National – Sleep Well Beast

The previous high mark for The National was number three in 2010 with High Violet, but they get the top spot this year. Indie rock? American rock? I’m not sure what genre they live in, and ultimately it doesn’t matter; the songs on this album aren’t easy. Turtleneck, the end of I’ll Still Destroy You, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, are all musically manic and lyrically morose. If you’re going through the five stages of grief this should be the soundtrack for your life. And seeing them perform these songs live adds a whole different dimension. Pitchfork says of this album that Tom Berninger isn’t singing about how to enjoy life, but how to endure it. Agreed.

Favorite song: Guilty Party

You’re sleeping night and day
How d’you do it?
Me I am wide awake
Feeling defeated

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I know it’s not working
I’m no holiday
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
We just got nothing
Nothing left to say

Another year gets away
Another summer of love
I don’t know why I care
We miss it every summer

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I’m the one doing this
There’s no other way
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
I just got nothing, nothing left to say

It all, all catches up to me
It all, all catches up to me all the time

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I know it’s not working, I’m no holiday
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
We just got nothing, nothing left to say

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I’m the one doing this, there’s no other way
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
I just got nothing, nothing left to say

It all, all just catches up to me
It all, all catches up to me all the time

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Top Five Albums–2011

Despite what a friend said last year about 2010 being a bad year for music, I thought it was a good year. Maybe that’s because Mumford & Sons Sigh No More and Arcade Fire’s Suburbs are 2 of my favorite albums. In fact, I would argue that 2011 was no better than 2010, and in some respects, a little worse. I don’t think there was a stand out album this year. There were definitely some good ones, but nothing grabbed me quite like last years albums did.  There were several good albums that didn’t make my top five…my Honorable Mentions if you will. They include in no particular order: The Black Keys – El Camino, Sigur Rós – Inní, The Decemberists – The King is Dead, Radiohead – The King of Limbs, and The Poison Tree – The Poison Tree. One album, in particular, was good, but didn’t quite live up to expectations, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto. And there was one album, that for the life of me I can’t quite figure out why it’s included in most everyone’s top 10 list – PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake. I thought it was a contrived, over sold, preachy, screeching mess. My top five this year leans toward the somber and sad, with one exception. My list is varied and very different from last years list. But like last year, I’m including an album that might incite a little ridicule by my friends. Oh well, I liked it.

#5 Adele – 21
Like Brandon Flowers last year, this choice might catch a little ridicule. But let’s be honest, Adele’s voice is second to none. The vocals on this album are simply amazing. I thought I would tire of this album after a few listens, but I keep coming back to it. Sad at times, empowering at others, well rounded, solid. Best song – Take It All

 

#4 Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys
Probably the most upbeat of my five albums (Stay Young, Go Dancing), and Death Cab for Cutie’s best album to date. Driving bass, a saloon piano, and maybe a little bit too much hi-hat. But you’ll be tapping your foot, and singing along. Best Song – Portable Television

 

#3 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Wispy, airy, singing out in a wheat field kind of sound, but with amplification. The first three songs warm you up, almost like inside pitches in baseball, they get you ready – then Battery Kinzie is like a fastball right over the middle of the plate…a strong, sit up straight kind of song. Crisp guitars, tight vocals, a really nice album. Best song – Helplessness Blues

 

#2 Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Listen to the first song, Perth, and wait for the swell at the 2:35 mark – you’ll be hooked. The lead singer, Justin Vernon, sings a lot in falsetto and it works. The song titles are mainly geographical (Perth, Minnesota, Hinnom, Calgary, Lisbon), and the lyrics may not make the most sense. But the album works, and you’ll want to continue to listen. Best Song – Calgary

 

#1 Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!
I am amazed at how this album has been left off list after list for top albums of the year. Maybe it’s because Elbow doesn’t get much play here in the States. I found Elbow, or maybe they found me, while living in the UK. Their previous album, The Seldom Seen Kid, was really good and was met with critical acclaim  – in the UK at least – but Build A Rocket Boys! is exponentially better in my opinion. It is melancholy and somber, yet inspiring and uplifting. With songs like Neat Little Rows it is anthemic, and it is reflective with The Night Will Always Win. The lyrics are tight, with each song telling a story. The music doesn’t get in the way, but is good enough to stand on it’s own. I simply love this album.

And let me say a few things about the album’s best song – Open Arms. There are very few songs that extend beyond themselves…that move you at your core…that touch your soul…that become part of the story of your life. Until Open Arms the only song that I would put in that special category was U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. This song, this year, was for me. It is me. It is both the man I am, and the man I hope to be. In a year that was undeniably difficult for me this song brought me to tears, and face to face with God. Lyrically it captures the story of the prodigal son, found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15:11-32. It tells the story of a community that welcomes back with open arms the man that once left them. This community, in celebration, reminds the man of the boy he used to be, and says “It’s okay, you’re home, and you’re accepted.” I’m posting the lyrics below for you to read through, but if you have $5.00 go buy the album on Amazon, or just spend 99¢ on the song.

You’re a law unto yourself
And we don’t suffer dreamers
But neither should you walk the earth alone

So with finger rolls and folding chairs
And a volley of streamers
We can be there for tweaks and repairs
Should you come back home

We got open arms for broken hearts
Like yours my boy, come home again

Tables are for pounding here
And when we’ve got you surrounded
The man you are will know the boy you were

And you’re not the man who fell to earth
You’re the man of La Mancha
And we’ve love enough to light the street
‘Cause everybody’s here

We got open arms for broken hearts
Like yours my boy, come home again
We got open arms for broken hearts
Like yours my boy, come home again

Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
The moon is out looking for trouble
And everyone’s here

Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
The moon wants a scrap or a cuddle
And everyone’s here

We got open arms for broken hearts
Like yours my boy, come home again
We got open arms for broken hearts
Like yours my boy, come home again

Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Come home again

The moon is out looking for trouble
The moon wants a scrap or a cuddle
The moon is face down in a puddle
And everyone’s here

As always, I’d love to hear your opinion, and your favorites this year.

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