WKNC Pick of the Week, December 2, 2010
By John Gomes, WKNC Daytime deejay
It’s that lovely time of the year where we put up Christmas lights, enjoy egg nog shakes at Cook Out and look back on the year that was. 2010 proved to be an eventful year, despite all the terrible moments — earthquakes, oil spills, that bad call in the Maryland football game — this year saw the release of some good albums. I highly recommend my personal Top Five list for your listening pleasure over break.
The sophomore release from this eclectic group is a warm, pop-infused masterpiece—a curious departure from the darkness of their 2007 debut album. Yeasayer introduces huge, pulsing synths and primal rhythms into their sound, resulting in some infectiously upbeat and organic numbers. Odd Blood isn’t one-dimensional, however. The album features a couple of heavier, darker tracks to balance out the pop sound. Yeasayer remains experimental as ever, exploring everything from R&B to Middle Eastern dance music. The end result is a well-rounded, highly enjoyable album. (Bonus points for the band self-producing it.)
Possibly the most anticipated album of the year, Arcade Fire’s third release garnered universal praise. Like Odd Blood, The Suburbs represents a new sonic direction for Arcade Fire—gone are the Baroque sounds and grand crescendos that defined the band’s sound. Instead, the album maintains a latent energy throughout every song, steadfast rhythms layered with rich textures and tones. These elements form the perfect vehicle for the album’s main concept — innocence and coming-of-age set in the backdrop of suburbia. Poignant and poised, The Suburbs is Arcade Fire’s best release yet.
Though many artists are doing the retro surf-rock thing nowadays, Best Coast does it best. The group is led by Bethany Cosentino, whose approach is refreshingly simple — reverb-heavy guitars, easy chord progressions and honest lyrics about boys, her cat or getting high. Sure, it seems like a third-grader can write these songs — “One day I’ll make him mine / And we’ll be together all the time” — but there is beauty in the simplicity. The songs on Crazy For You are little pieces of pop perfection — they’re sweet, short, and will stay in your head for days. Put this album on and you’ll feel like you’re on a beach.
Broken Social Scene is a rather apt name for the group whose massive lineup continuously changes. With so many band members playing so many instruments and adding so many sounds and textures, Forgiveness Rock Record is inevitably orchestral and grandiose. Each song exhibits a different dimension of beauty, from the majestic climaxes of “World Sick” to the melodic angularity of “Art House Director.” Though not as cohesive as previous albums, Forgiveness Rock Record is still classic Broken Social Scene — lush, resplendent and larger than life.
Dan Snaith, who operates under the name Caribou, is an electronica artist and British mathematician. Naturally, you wouldn’t expect those two things to go together. Swim evokes the same reaction with its out-of-left-field collection of tracks. Flip-floppy synths, divine bell chimes, and even jazzy flute flourishes all coalesce atop powerful, danceable grooves while whispery vocals echo and modulate in and out of your consciousness. This is not your father’s electronica album. Each and every song evolves into something surreal at the end, with elements of rock, jazz and psychedelica thrown in the mix. Out of all the albums on this list, Swim sounds the most transcendental.