I’ve just recently begun listening to a lot of random 2006 releases that I missed for one reason or another last year and a whole bunch of great new ’07 stuff. This is shaping up to be a really strong year. In fact, I can’t recall a better start to a year in quite some time. There was ’05 (I think) with the two Bright Eyes records and M83, M. Ward, Will Oldham’s “Superwolf” album and some other good ones as well. All that stuff was kind of high profile, though, and a lot of the stuff I’ve heard and liked in the last month has come from out of the blue (with one very notable exception).
First things first though – last year’s leftovers. A review on a blog I landed on randomly and now can’t find led me to Rock Plaza Central, a wonderful and weird band that is kind of deriviative of Neutral Milk Hotel but still pretty unique. Their album is of the concept variety, and while I usually don’t care for those, this one is about mechanical horses, and that is just too weird not to be drawn to. Anyway, it’s a very listenable album with a lot of unique and layered sounds and the writing is absolutely top notch. I wasn’t surprised at all to find out that the lead singer and principal song writer also has a couple novels under his belt.
The first month of ’07 has been fantastic. First things first, the best album I’ve heard in a long time is Menomena’s Friend and Foe. Yes, I like it better than the new records by The Shins, Of Montreal, Deerhoof, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and I absolutely love all of those discs. (I didn’t really care for the Of Montreal or CYHSY albums at first, but they have both grown on me the more I’ve listened.) Friend and Foe just stands alone for me right now, though. It is absolutely epic in it’s sound, with walls of noise that expand and crash all around you. At the same time, though, it has it’s share of light, almost goofy moments. These guys remind me quite a bit of Wolf Parade, not so much in their sound, althoug there are some parallels, but in the way their music hits me emotionally. Their record sets a pretty high bar for the rest of the year – if this album isn’t in my top five at the end of the year, this will have been one of the greatest music years…..ever?
How ’bout The Shins getting huge? I guess we have Zach Braff and Natalie Portman to thank for that. THANKS ZACH AND NATALIE, FOR CAUSING ONE OF MY FAVORITE BANDS TO BECOME WAY, WAY OVEREXPOSED! This many people can’t really like The Shins, can they? I mean, these are the same people who buy Christina Aguilera and Black Eyed Peas records. Even my dad seemed to like them on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, and he usually only likes music that has banjo in it (nothing against the banjo, I love bluegrass as much as the next guy, but my dad aint the rock n’ roll type is all I’m saying).
Anyway, really looking forward to Chinese Democracy. No rush on that, though, Axl.