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My Favorite Music of 2016

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2016 by sethdellinger

It’s that time of year again, oh friendy friends!  Time for my favorite music of the year blog!  For those who haven’t slogged through these before, allow me to get these perfunctories out of the way:

  1. All music on this list is NEW music that was released in calendar year 2016.
  2. A mix CD of songs from my list can be easily obtained by messaging me and asking.  Those on my “mailing list” will receive one without asking.
  3. I am not saying this was the “best” music of 2016.  I used to say that but people got their undies in a bunch.  I’m just saying it’s my “favorite”.
  4. If you’re interested in lists from years past, they can be found here:
    My Favorite Music of 2009My Favorite Music of 2010My Favorite Music of 2011

    My Favorite Music of 2012

    My Favorite Music of 2013

    My Favorite Music of 2014

My Favorite Music of 2015

And before I proceed with this year’s list, I’d like to address what was probably my biggest disappointment of my music listening life: this year’s Band of Horses release.  When I heard of the album, and learned it’s title, and saw the artwork and read the tracklist, I was perhaps the most excited I’d been for a new release since the height of my Pearl Jam fandom.  I fully anticipated making it the number one album on my list this year.  Instead, it does not even appear.  The reviews were very mixed–some were ecstatic whereas others reacted quite like I did, and many were very neutral.  So obviously it can be heard many ways.  I personally, after listening about ten time during it’s first month of release, may never listen to it again.

I’d also be remiss if I did not mention Prophets of Rage, a supergroup combination of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill.  Again, many detested it and many loved it; I loved it and thought it was beyond the bee’s knees.  However, for the most part, it was not new music, and it does not make the list, but it formed a very important part of 2016 for me.  In addition, Neil Young+Promise of the Real released a live album, Earth, that felt as fresh and vibrant as a new studio album and I listened to that thing like crazy, but again: not really new.  Now: my list!

15.  Explosions in the Sky, “The Wilderness”

14.  Ray LaMontagne, “Ouroboros”

13.  Public Enemy, “Man Plans God Laughs”

12.  Kiefer Sutherland, “Down in a Hole”

11.  DJ Shadow, “The Mountain Will Fall”

10.  A Tribe Called Quest, “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service”

The Tribe’s triumphant return was well worth the wait, with lyrics poignantly reflecting the temper of the times and thankfully light on misogyny.  And the beats are dope.

9.  M83, “Junk”

thqjx379jnM83’s new album is a kind of throwback space funk jam-off, like a ride in a technicolor elevator, with purple felt walls.  Impossible to dislike.

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Warpaint, “Heads Up”

Warpaint have now built upon the dark, groovy introspection they created in their first two albums with more intricate jams and a subtle pop sensibility; their musical landscape is now a universe all their own.

7.  Mexico City, “When the Day Goes Dark”

This powerful Australian band hadn’t released any new music for six years.  Their return when-the-day-goes-dark-1-600x600was worth waiting for, as they morphed from terrific bar band into a piledriver of country and blues rock.  A potential classic.

 

 

 

 

 

6.  Jim James, “Eternally Even”

The mastermind behind My Morning Jacket didn’t connect with me on his first solo album a few years back, but this year’s “Eternally Even” tickles my Jacket bone.

5.  Paul Simon, “Stranger to Stranger”

Simon is never bad.  But as he ages, I seem to keep thinking he is getting better and better; his lyrics become more adventurous (from The Werewolf: “The fact is, most obits are mixed paulsimon_strangertostranger_rgb-640x640-e1460038643460reviews./ Life is a lottery, a lotta people lose./ And the winners, the grinners, with money-colored eyes/ they eat all the nuggets, and they order extra fries./  But the werewolf is coming.”), his music more modern, playful, daring.  “Stranger to Stranger” is a delight from start to finish, but especially for those familiar with his full body of work; his evolution is a bewildering achievement.

 

 

4.  Emily Wells, “Promise”

Wells is an astonishing talent, and “Promise” proves she’s an artist worthy of canonization.  Eschewing her previous catchy violin hooks and hip hop undertones, here she digs deep–the level of introspection at times becomes hard to watch.  But ultimately, while not an album of happy, singalong songs, “Promise” proves instead to be a key addition to any music library concerned with–frankly–the meaning of life.

3.  Radiohead, “A Moon Shaped Pool”

What’s still to be said about Radiohead?  They are as good as everyone says, as is this album.  Including a studio version of “True Love Waits” (re-worked for piano) nearly broke me in half.

2.  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree”

Cave’s son died tragically while the band was recording the album, and it can be heard in every sound.  It’s a quiet, low-tempo, mostly spoken-word collection of songs, and it is not for the faint of heart.  It is brave, and it is terrifying, but it does not wallow.

1.  Bon Iver, “22, A Million”

bon-iver-22-a-million

I haven’t said much about this album online, as I grew into it slowly, and it came out shortly after a few albums I’d been talking about at length, so I figured I’d stop clogging up everybody’s feed with my music stuff.  But as I kept listening, and listening, and listening, it became clear this album was not going to go away. It is an album of absolutely confounding elements–it incorporates so many genres, styles, and influences, it’s amazing it is coherent.  And it sometimes approaches unlistenable, as vocalist Justin Vernon simply sings through a synthesizer without any music for long lengths of time.  But ultimately it’s not about being catchy, or easy, or even “artsy”.  The album is a true experience, and one that is deeply felt.

 

Winter Songs #1

Posted in Rant/ Rave, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2014 by sethdellinger

As winter nears, I being to again turn to the songs that I most associate with this most dreadful of seasons.  We all have different ways we experience music, and our own unique ways we have them tied to specific sensory sensations or memories from our own pasts.  Many of “my winter songs” have little to do with winter; I was just listening to them heavily during winters, or maybe even just once during a very winter-specific moment.  Of course, the same goes for “summer songs”, etc.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to post a few of the more prominent of my own winter songs; usually without personal commentary, but sometimes with.  In the process, I’d love to hear about some of your own “winter songs”!

This first one is one I listened to a lot during a winter, but is also thematically about winter.  “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” by Arcade Fire is an almost wholly unique song in the rock world, at least lyrically.  It tells the story of two kids (who are next door neighbors) whose town is subjected to an enormous, almost apocalyptic snow storm.  They dig a tunnel from one bedroom to the other, and then escape to the surface (supposedly their houses are actually buried) and they begin a life by themselves in this new winter world, eventually almost forgetting the details of their past, and their “skin gets thicker/ from living out in the snow”.  Using very few words, lyricist Win Butler has crafted a song with layers of intense meaning and emotion that I can only begin to write about in this space.  Interspersed with this tale is the love story of these two kids…and perhaps your love story, with the person you love.  Perhaps YOU are the couple living alone in the barren white world.  For my money, you don’t get a more romantic line than

“You change all the lead
sleepin’ in my head to gold.
As the day grows dim
I hear you sing a golden hymn:
the song I’ve been trying to sing!”

If you watch the video below and really like the song, there is a BADASS live version if you click  here.

 

 

 

And if the snow buries my neighborhood,
and if my parents are crying
then I’ll dig a tunnel from my window to yours.
Yeah, a tunnel from my window to yours.

You climb out the chimney
and meet me in the middle of the town,
and since there’s no one else around
we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know.
Then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow!

You change all the lead
sleepin’ in my head.
As the day grows dim
I hear you sing a golden hymn.

Then we tried to name our babies
but we forgot all the names that,
the names we used to know.
But sometimes we remember our bedrooms
and our parent’s bedrooms and the bedrooms of our friends.
Then we think of our parents.
Well, what ever happened to them?

You change all the lead
sleepin’ in my head to gold.
As the day grows dim
I hear you sing a golden hymn:
the song I’ve been trying to sing!

Purify colors. Purify my mind.
Purify colors. Purify my mind.
Spread the ashes of the colors
in this heart of mine.

 

 

Hoffman Film Fest, Day One

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , on February 3, 2014 by sethdellinger

For the next however-long-it-takes, I’ll be watching a Philip Seymour Hoffman film every day, starting with the ones I own on disc and maybe venturing in to ones available to stream.  I’ll post brief photos and videos here, and maybe a few words on the film.  I’m starting off today with the “biggie”, for me anyway, “Magnolia”, which I talked about at length in yesterday’s blog post.  Watch the clip of Phil in this film below:

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Philip Seymour Hoffman was important to me.

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , on February 2, 2014 by sethdellinger

Philip Seymour Hoffman was important to me.

How does one write a blog entry about how the death of an actor is going to cause them to literally mourn without sounding like a cheeseball dweeb?  I’m pretty sure one does not accomplish this.  So here goes.  Prepare for the cheeseball dweeb.

Celebrities and artists die all the time, and I see people getting all verklempt over it and I think they are fools.  Get over it, I think.  You morons.  You had an emotional connection to Paul Walker? I think to myself.  What jibberjabs.

But Philip was different.  Philip was an artist.  He connected.  He was important.

My first exposure to him was in the movie “Magnolia”, which I would watch probably a hundred times during the most desperate years of my alcoholism, and which is probably the most important movie in my own personal history.  “Magnolia” is not a happy movie.  It is not a hopeful movie.  “Magnolia” didn’t help me get sober.  But I learned things from that movie that continue to shape who I am today.  Things like owning my regret and not denying it.  And recognizing when obsession goes too far and finding another place to put your love.  Embracing my inadequacies.  And on and on.  Now I grant you, Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t write this movie, and he didn’t direct it.  But he did act the fuck out of his part in it.  But more importantly, he chose to be in this movie.  That was his true gift: choosing the right projects to be in.  Movies that meant things.  Movies that were high art without being art films.  Movies that could move you without being trite, or saccharine, or unnecessary.

Even Philip’s few “sellout” movies were well chosen.  “Along Came Polly” might be a populist comedy, but his part in it rings true, and gives the movie heart without giving into sentimentality.  Also, in it, his character coins the term shart, which is still floating around our culture.

Philip didn’t just act.  He directed exactly one movie: “Jack Goes Boating”, an adaptation of a Robert Glaudini stage play (Glaudini wrote the film’s script, too) that most people missed, but such is my love for Mr. Hoffman that I saw it in a theater, and own the blu ray disc (not many can say that, I assure you!).  “Jack Goes Boating” touches me deeply—makes me come to terms with uncomfortable truths about myself, such as my depth of selfishness, my fears of commitment, my reasons for pushing others away—and much of that power is owed to Phil’s perfect sense of tone (oh how I wish he’d directed more!), his powerhouse acting performance in the film, and, of course, the fact that he chose the project.  He knew what to choose.  Watch this clip from “Jack Goes Boating”. 

I felt like I knew Mr. Hoffman.  If I’d ran into him on the street, we would have just started talking, I think.  I wouldn’t have been starstruck.  I would have thought, oh, it’s about time we hung out.  Maybe this makes me creepy or weird, but I think it’s just a testament to a man who built an astoundingly successful acting career by putting trust in his audience, and there being an audience out there who wanted desperately to be trusted.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was important to me.

It’s Not Bullshit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 25, 2012 by sethdellinger

Thirft stores.  Elizabeth Taylor in her prime.  Tapioca.  The Occupy Movement.  Chipping from the rough with a nine iron.  Corduroy.  Bevelled edges.  Public transit.  Micro-loans.  YouTube.  Gay marriage.  Blu-Ray Disc.   Crescendoes.  Mark Twain.  Febreze.  Cork boards.  Roe vs. Wade.   Sun Dials.  Road ID.   Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   The Sierra Club.  The three-camera sitcom.  Glossy paint.  The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.   Welfare.  The GI Bill.  Advil.  Waiting periods for gun purchases.  Boots.  Megabus.  Varnish.  Synchronized Swimming.  Egrets.  Carbon offsets.  Matt Lauer.  Not feeding the Mogwai after midnight.   Net Neutrality.   Mandolin.  Psychoanalysis.  Stiff penalties for illegally downloading and stealing music or movies.  The price of a US postage stamp.  History Detectives.  Comic books.  Actually listening to the voicemail I left.  Attempting to find your own true self.   SETI.   The freakin’ elliptical machine. Crosswalks.  Pierced navels.  Bananas.  Tipping the barista.  Sustainable fishing.  Netflix.  Paisley.  Day-Quil.  Hot dogs.    Geothermal energy.  Wearing a seat belt.  Staycations.  Water parks.  The price of concessions at the movie theater (get over it).  Presidential libraries.  Jazz fusion.  Curling.   Abstract Expressionism.  Craigslist.  Dancing in the rain.   The Large Hadron Collider.

My 77th Favorite Song of All-Time

Posted in 100 Favorite Songs with tags on March 8, 2012 by sethdellinger

Click here to see all previous entries.

…and my 77th favorite song of all-time is:

“In this Light and on This Evening” by Editors

Editors–a British band who have previously gone by the name The Pride and Snowfield—were, for a split second in 2007, the really-hip band of the moment on the indie scene, although their keyboard and reverb-heavy neo-goth approach made them unique on the scene.  However, just about all their newfound rabid fanbase deserted them upon the release of their sophomore album (actually their third album, but their second major release) In  This Light and on This Evening, which was extremely different from their debut; words from “experimental” to “heavy-handed” have been used to describe the album.  So it should come as no surprise that I love the album more than anything else they’ve done.  Especially the title track, which is dense, dark and drenched in sadness, in stark contrast to the two lines that make up all of it’s lyrics, in intense repition:  “I swear to God, I heard the Earth inhale moments before it spat it’s rain down on me.  I swear to God, in this light and on this evening, London’s become the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.”  But please, wait for the ending; there is a major pop that will clip your toenails.

 

 

My Favorite Music of 2011

Posted in Rant/ Rave, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2011 by sethdellinger

Yep, it’s that time of year again: time for my self-important yet entirely meaningless year-end lists.  This year will feature three lists: music, movies, and a miscellany list like this one from last year.  We start out with the music list.

Boy-howdy, this was a crowded year of music for me!  I would estimate that well over 50% of musical artists that I am passionate about had a release of some kind this year.  At one point, it actually just seemed like too much.  I wasn’t able to give my full attention to some albums, as they were coming too fast for me to keep up with.  (one casualty of this may have been the new Cold War Kids album, which I did not like, but it was sandwiched between a lot of other releases.  This year marks the first CWK album to not make my list.  Also, The Decemberists released TWO albums this year and I found them both snooze-ville).  There even, unfortunately, remain some releases I’d love to hear but I just don’t have the time or attention span to squeeze them in (new albums from Deer Tick, Tegan and Sara, Arctic Monkeys, and a live Sigur Ros release are among the 2011 recordings that will have to wait until 2012 in the Seth household).  So it is with all this in consideration that I admit to being such a pansy when making this list, I absolutely had to expand my rankings from the 15 slots of last year, to 20 slots this year.  That’s right; not only could I not narrow it down to 10, I couldn’t even narrow it down to 15.  Give me a break.  I don’t get paid for this.

Also new this year, I have included “post rock” bands in my listing.  (for a description of the genre, click the link)  In years past I have left them off my list, as the style only appeals to a small group of people, but the genre has become such a large part of my listening life, I could not in good faith leave them off my lists any longer.  There were two new albums from two of the heaviest hitters in the genre this year, and they’re both fantastic examples of the post rock game (at number 6 and 13 on my list).

As always, a mix disc chronicling my list will be sent out automatically to folks on my “mailing list”.  It will only feature songs from the top 15 on the list, however, due to the inherent limitations of the compact disc.  (if you’re on my mailing list, you know you are.  Although I typically don’t send the mix discs to my parents, who are otherwise on the mailing list.  So, Mom and Dad, if you want one of these, let me know!)  If you are not on the mailing list and would like on it, just let me know via whatever method you and I usually use to communicate.  But if you want in on the mix disc, let me know ASAP, I’ll be mailing them out soon.

Also, bear in mind (to prevent silly mean-spirited arguments that would prove you know nothing about art) this list is meant to represent my favorite music of the year, not my notion of “the best” music of the year.  You cannot argue with what was my “favorite”. And so, without further ado, my top 20 musical releases of calendar year 2011:

20.  Radiohead, The King of Limbs

19.  St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

18.  Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean

17.  Wavves, Life Sux

16.  Drive-By Truckers, Go-Go Boots

15.  Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials
I was slow to the party with this band, but I’m now firmly on Team Florence.  The lead single, “What the Water Gave Me”, will make you happy to be alive.

14.  Young the Giant, Young the Giant
One of the best debut albums I’ve ever heard.  I can’t wait to see where these guys go as they get their artistic feet under them.

13.  Mogwai, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Mogwai has always been further down my list of Post Rock bands than they are for most; I tend to find them too flippant in a genre that is typically super-serious.  But this album blew my socks off; it is harder and more in-your-face than most Post Rock, while maintaining the necessary pretentious artiness that makes my hat fly off.

12.  Indigo Girls, Beauty Queen Sister
I continue to have no idea why the world at large insists Indigo Girls are only for sappy women or butch lesbians.  If perfectly-crafted, heartfelt songs about the most intense mysteries of the human condition (with amazing harmony!) are for butch lesbians, then schedule my appointment with a surgeon.  This album proves the ladies can and will keep making compelling music for much longer than most songwriters are able to.

11.  The Trews, Hope & Ruin
The bar-rock Canadians from my 2009 list make a triumphant return!  This album falls short of the majestic magnificence of 2009’s No Time for Later, but contains at least two songs that made me get out of my seat the first time I heard them (“People of the Deer” is a straight-up Earth-scorcher).

10.  Real Estate, Days

This Jersey quartet is often accused of being a tad “sleepy” or intentionally understated, but ever since I saw them open for Deerhunter last winter, I’ve been a convert to their introspective, trance-like style of shoegaze rock.  Here is the outro to “Wonder Years”, off their superb album from this year, Days:

9.  TV on the Radio,  Nine Types of Light
 
Certainly the most anticipated art rock release of the year, following their spectacular 2008 album Dear Science, many people were afraid we’d never get another TVoTR album after they announced a “hiatus” in 2009.  Then, in early 2011, they announced Nine Types of Light, and almost immediately thereafter, bassist Gerard Smith was diagnosed with lung cancer and promptly died.  Needless to say, the touring and promotion for the album was all quite bittersweet; but in the end, the album is a huge testament to this band’s power: soaring, soulful and at times, relentlessly rocking.

8.  Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

Nothing brings me closer to full-on hipster status than my affinity for Fleet Foxes.  As my tastes evolve from ultra-modern, hyper rock to a more toned-down, Americana fusion, no band epitomizes my own evolution better than this band.  Stopping short of “country” but straying far from “rock”, the Foxes make me see and smell the Appalachian mountains of back home with every note.  A friend of mine once gave as his reason for disliking Fleet Foxes as “it’s like church songs for hipsters”, and I thought to myself that sounded like exactly why I do like them.  And it doesn’t hurt that on Helplessness Blues,  frontman Robin Pecknold seems to have been singing from inside my own skull.  “So now I am older than my mother and father when they had their daughter…what does that say about me?”

7.  The Airborne Toxic Event, All at Once

Just watch this from start to finish and tell me it didn’t change your life:

6.  Explosions in the Sky, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

The other “post rock” band on my list, they could also arguably be called the most commercially successful (they did the theme song for the TV show “Friday Night Lights”, which is one thousand times more mainstream exposure than any other post rock band).  Happily, with their first new album since their profile increased, they did not make simpler, more straight-forward songs for “the masses”.  Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is probably their  most challenging album to date, while maintaining the heightened level of spiritual raw emotion that has always made them impossible to ignore.  The ten minute album closer, “Let Me Back In”, although wordless, is a dirge-like cry of sadness for a lost love, reaching a level of thematic complexity that is new for a band that occasionally relies on bombast.  And if this CD doesn’t win the Grammy for album packaging, there is a serious problem (yes, they give Grammys for that…just not on television).

5.  Wilco, The Whole Love

I’m a relatively new convert to Wilco.  Despite them being constantly talked about in the same breath as a lot of bands I adored, I resisted them because of the label “alt-country”, but it turns out, in the last few years, that label started sounding attractive to me.  So I started trying them out (and it turns out that “alt-country” is totally meaningless, anyway).  Then this year’s The Whole Love came out, and I was totally blown away.  Few albums—of any genre—contain so many varying styles of music and so much depth of feeling and subtextual meaning.  Check this performance on Letterman from this year, of the album’s lead track, “The Art of Almost”:

4.  Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What

Paul Simon has always been one of those songwriters who I knew I loved, but I always stopped short of being an active fan (buying albums, listing him among my favorites, etc).  But when one of his songs came on, I was always rapt. (honestly, I like his solo work about 100 times more than his stuff with Garfunkle).  But this year, as he released an new album, he did a promotional blitz that managed to work perfectly on me.  First, there was this extraordinary appearance on Jimmy Fallon, followed by appearances playing songs from his new album on just about every talk show I tuned into for a week or two.  And I just fell totally in love with these songs.  Musically they are low-key but extremely inventive, and like most Simon songs, they really shine lyrically.  They aren’t the straight-forward, heart-on-sleeve urgent missives that he wrote in his most productive years, but rather, these songs are complex, surprising, bold lyrical poetry that could just as easily be studied in a textbook as played on Jimmy Fallon.  I know that’s not necessarily a ringing endorsement for a lot of people—too much thinking, perhaps—but it seems like magic to me.  Plenty of songwriters at this stage in Simon’s career are just falling back on old formulas (if they’re making new music at all), but Simon is challenging himself and his audience.  “Rewrite” examines the regrets one might have with old age, but through the lens of an artist who can craft how the world views them. It seems like a song Bob Dylan would write if he stopped worrying so much about writing like Bob Dylan.  Album-closer and title song “So Beautiful or So What” poses some of the most complicated questions associated with making art—is something art just because it’s beautiful? Or conversely, does beauty DISQUALIFY something from being art?  And how important is it if art is good, if the artist is enjoying creating it?

3.  My Morning Jacket, Circuital
MMJ continues to be the most mystifying, chameleon-esque, dynamic band out there today. Are they space funk?  Jazz fusion?  Heavy metal?  Even they don’t know.  To be an MMJ fan is to be a fan of rock in general as well as this band’s unusual mystique.  Circuital easily ranks as my second favorite MMJ album (It Still Moves remains firmly in first).  Here is a video from the show I attended on this year’s tour.  I was front row, directly in front of Jim (the singer)…the song is “You Wanna Freak Out”, from Circuital:

2.  Death Cab For Cutie, Codes and Keys

  On first listen, I was afraid Codes and Keys was the album where DCFC had started sucking.  Nothing caught my attention, and the lyrics sounded suspiciously like Ben Gibbard had given in to writing songs specifically to sound “Gibbard-y” (although it is a testament to his songwriting prowess that nobody familiar with his songwriting would fault me for making it an adjective).  But then, a few months after it came out, it clicked.  And then I remembered that is how every Death Cab for Cutie album has always been for me.  They simply do not pop out at you and declare their presence immediately.  It may sound dramatic, but I’m gonna say it like this anyway:  Death Cab songs contain universes, and sometimes these multi-layered, subtle, textured universes reveal themselves slowly, bit-by-bit, and sometimes, over the course of years.  (every year I find myself re-amazed in new ways by their album Plans.  I suspect DCFC fans will know what I mean when I say I just now *got* the song “Summer Skin”).  If there is a criticism to be leveled at the band, it is that these encodings (ha!  see how that applies to this album’s title?) and hidden universes can often obscure a listener’s personal attachment to a song.  I love the DCFC classic “Amputations” because I finally see how it’s looping, counter-acting guitar structure helps to inform the subject matter of lovers who consistently return to a poison relationship that is never going to work.  But I don’t love it, necessarily, because it’s important to me.

But once Codes and Keys clicked for me, it did become important to me.  Still around are the intricate, hidden gems of musical structure and lyrical content so slick it disguises itself as ordinary, but under that veneer are some of the most prescient, precious conceptual leaps in modern rock and roll.  Frontman Ben Gibbard surely knows that each word he writes will be picked over and analyzed by finger-wagging hipsters (on whom he relies for paychecks), yet he’s not scared to write an essentially atheist screed in “St. Paul’s Cathedral”:  “When our hearts stop ticking/ this is the end/ there’s nothing past this.”  I was actually one of the first to put this song up on YouTube.  You can see my little video here.  I also found myself delightedly surprised, upon returning to the album after initially dismissing it, to find that the title track had a nearly-hidden crescendo at the end, in a little bit of musical trickery it somehow hid itself rather cleverly at first.  Now, when I listen to “Codes and Keys” (the song) I am physically and emotionally moved to a point of near-ridiculousness by the final 2 minutes.  Anyone who is trying to get into DCFC, or is skeptical but interested, all I can suggest is that you give it some time to sink in.  No other band will more richly reward a patient listener.

1.  Hey Rosetta!, Seeds

  It should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever read my blog that my favoritest band in the world of all time and forever would get the #1 spot this year.  I’ve written nearly ad infinitum about this band, so I won’t waste time going back over why I adore them so much.  If you’re new to my blog, scroll up to the tag cloud on the right and click on the Hey Rosetta! tag, which will take you to a plethora of gushing fanboy raves about them.  Seeds, their third album, for me ranks squarely as their second best album, but it would take, as far as I can calculate, a literal act of God for any artist to top their previous album, Into Your Lungs (and Around in Your Heart and on Through Your Blood).  As far as follow-ups go, Seeds delivers, with enough emotional peaks, insane tempo changes, and heartfelt epiphanies to last two more years, when hopefully the world will have it’s fourth Hey Rosetta! album.

There are many high-points on Seeds, both emotionally and musically, and somehow, nestled in there and almost hidden is the gem “Yer Fall”, which admittedly is not the standout on the album, but after seeing them live in support of this album five times, I can confidently tell you this slow-builder is certainly the live centerpiece (even though it doesn’t get played every show).  I’ve posted a video of it below, and if you watch just one of the videos on this page, I implore you to make it this one.  Please stick with it to the end; after multiple tempo changes, the song builds to an emotional climax that, even now as I was searching for the best video to post of it, makes me weep.  It ends on a stark note, as most of the band sings with Tim, the lead singer,  “My love is dead.  I buried it.”  This video doesn’t even do justice to what I saw on the road this year.  In the small clubs, each member of the band loudly sings the final lines into any microphone they can find; the result was an incredible cacophony of intense raw emotion:

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