Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Albums 1-3

3 - Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails ~ I hadn't planned to think of this album as such a great piece.  But as I began to "rank" art, I realized that this incarnation of my beloved NIN is downright awesome.  First, come back with "Came Back Haunted"...how does one re-invent oneself (see Haunted)?  So, I'm a sucker for all things dystopian (funny, Google doesn't seem to know that word and thinks it is misspelled???  Or, maybe it is an adjective and I am using it in a noun form???).  I digress (and sip another Manhattan).  The incredible use of sounds to convey a message like "Satellite" in unreal.  One can feel the data swirling overhead.   More then anything else though, Trent creates a new version of music by transforming instruments into something other-worldly.  Take the last few bars of "In Two"... if satan herself could play guitar and loved jazz, she couldn't have produce such sounds (I promise - turn it up with headphones on)...which instantly stop ][ and lead into "While I'm Still Here" (second best transition of the year!):

Only thing I've ever done

Ticking time is running out
Closest I have ever come
Ticking time is running out

Oh, so tired on my own
Ticking time is running out
Best days I have ever known
Ticking time is running out

Thankfully, someone didn't follow through on the suicide.  So, all we have are his Hesitation Marks.

2 - Tales of Us, Goldfrapp ~  Incongruous and subtle.  These are words to describe the surprise of the year.  When I heard Goldfrapp had a new album, I immediately dusted off the dance shoes and got really excited.  Then, it came out.  I was confused, stunned, verklempt.  How could my peeps put out something so "boring"?  However after 1476 listens, it is now confirmed to be the number 2 album of the year.  I love intensity in my music; and somehow, it is achieved in all its glory in the quietest and simplest by a cinematic view of humanity.  Slowly, every character comes to life.  "Drew", "Jo" and "Annabelle" feel like old friends (albeit probably dead). I've never been empathetic, but somehow these songs bring real emotion to life.  I actually care what is happening to "Simone".  One of the most poetic is "Clay"...best I can tell, soldiers fall in love only to die young wondering what might of been.  "Thea" may yet have remixes that fill the clubs, but in its simple form we can still sway to the mystical vision.  I have concerns ranking it #2, because time may put this in the stratosphere! Watch "Drew" here

1 - Trouble Will Find Me, The National ~  Downer, I know.  But, gloomy perfection can win the day.  From the first refrains of "I Should Live in Salt", you know the feeling of regret whether you've dealt with it yourself.   The self-loathing doesn't let up in "Demons", but one can at least groove a bit through the up tempo "Don't Swallow the Cap" and encourage the protagonist to "pat yourself on the back" and not kill himself.  Now that we are entrenched in a person's misery, "Fireproof" let's us mope about the fact that others seemingly have no problems.    The pace picks up as people start drowning in the "Sea of Love" and falling apart in "Graceless", but the themes remains dark.  Certainly a highlight for me is the offhanded mention of Morrissey's Bona Drag whilst pining that "(i've) become a television version of person with a broken heart" in "Pink Rabbits".  Every slow song will break your heart and cause you to wonder how we get through the isolation and desperation that exist in our modern world.  The atmospheric tone of the songs match the lyrics perfectly.  Maybe I'm becoming middle aged myself and questioning how it all works, because this album touched me more than all the others.  I want my maudlin music to be agonizingly raw yet beautiful, and this album delivers over and over (and over and over...A Richard Bunn will get the point!).

Buy Trouble Will Find Me

p.s.  There is actually one more to come...but, it just couldn't be grouped with the rest!