Wednesday, October 6, 2010

favorite albums: 7-5

the albums on this portion of the list are all curious. they all feature bands with eccentric lead singers who sing songs of conflict and resolution. if you were to listen to them in a row (7, 6, 5), you would hear stories of despair and hurt, finished up with comfort and hope. maybe we should try it sometime.

7. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007) - Originally this album was intended to be a concept album about a boat crew that dies in every song. That didn't pan out, but this album by Modest Mouse, which usually plays second or third fiddle to the two prior releases, is my favorite from these Seattle boys. Unlike the ebb and flow of "Good News...", We Were Dead pumps out hit after hit of intense, yet catchy, tunes.

Is there anything that stands out about this album compared to others? Maybe nothing obvious. The simple fact is that this album is consistently enjoyable and somehow finds its way into my car CD player more than almost any other album. The guitar work is deliberate and complex. The drum beats are intricate and, at times, involve two sets (see the video below). Brock grabbed the public's attention with Good News, then came back with an in-your-face follow-up without any apologies attached.

Key tracks: Dashboard, Spitting Venom, Fire It Up

6. Brand New - The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me (2006) - There simply has not been a more anticipated release in my life. Brand New had disappeared after touring for a while post-Deja Entendu release. Their web site was barren. There were no signs of life or things to come. Then in January of 2006, nine demos hit the internet without warning or desire from the band. The demos were odd, rough, and confusing. The music was darker. The lyrics were increasingly complex. Brand New's direction was accidentally released to the world.

November of the same year found the release of this masterpiece. The songs are intense. Listening to the album almost makes you scared. A couple songs have long intros (Limousine, Degausser) and there aren't as many singles as before. Although, I do remember listening to the first track, Sowing Season, over and over in Andy Armstrong's SUV that autumn. It's all I wanted to hear. Brand New had roped me in with an album that allowed for a lot of interpretation, mainly because Jesse Lacey isn't one to tell people what he's thinking in a straightforward manner.

Key tracks: Sowing Season (Yeah), Jesus, You Won't Know

5. mewithoutYou - Brother, Sister (2006) - Aaron Weiss is the most intriguing man in music. The lead singer of mewithoutYou puts together the most eccentric, confusing, and entertaining performance in music. He flails around stage, singing/speaking with plenty of emotion and a limited amount of focus. The band behind him, though, is what makes the music complete. The music is intricate and diverse. On Brother, Sister, mewithoutYou puts together an album filled with incredible drums, entertaining guitar and bass riffs, and plenty of extra bells, horns, and accordion. The lyrics are mystifying. They explore the connection between God, man, and the world. Weiss seems to have a better grasp on the world around him than any of us.

The band is captivated by their music on stage, but it's hard not to be captivated along with them. The album builds and drops throughout. The first track, "Messes of Men", is a prime opener that starts with some recited words by Weiss and blasts into an intense verse that keeps you swaying and sets up the rest of the album. The three "...Spider" songs tell the story of a spider that is born, grows, and dies, much like our own existence. Each song hits on different characteristics of our existence in this world, finishing with the track that has been a finisher for many of their shows since, "In a Sweater Poorly Knit". Give it a shot, it may be the most interesting thing you listen to all year.

Key tracks: Messes of Men, C-Minor, O Porcupine

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