July 23, 2012


Well I've probably put this off for too long.  Brendan and I started Really Important Reviews in February 2009 on a whim, on a shitty little google-sites layout, bored out of our minds and eager to share our pre-teen opinions with the world. Owen hopped on in May, and we moved to official website format. Unable to maintain that, due to money problems and frustration with fairly basic html, we decided to make it into a blog, and the rest is history. Though we may not be fantastic writers, we've still grown a hell of a lot since we started out (see any review from 09/10), and I'm proud of what this blog has become over the years. We've gotten a handful of requests from various artists to review their stuff, which admittedly feels awesome, not to mention that Owen's "free swag stack" has grown to two cds! If anything, it's been an amazing experience.

We've decided though, that reviewing music just isn't fun anymore. It turned from "Yesss, can't wait to write about this!!", to "Oh shit, something else I have to write about. Alright, might as well." As far as 'Charlie Reviews' goes, I had high hopes for that as a series, but I honestly don't see it making a comeback either. I have a few ideas, but my dog is a pain in the ass to work with. He's no Air Bud, that's for sure.

However, Owen and I have thought about starting another blog. Unfortunately thesnackbowl.blogspot.com is taken (bastards), but we'll figure something out. Our hopes are that it'll be a less-serious, more eclectic blog, where we'll post anything and everything; short reviews, cool findings, funny pictures, interesting articles, lists (we do have a lot of fun with those), and even some of our own little tunes (Owen and I are working on our own musical projects). If Brendan joins too, it'll inevitably turn into exclusively cat pictures, but we'll manage. So I promise you that we'll start this project by the end of August, if not within the following weeks, so check back soon!

On a side-note, I have a RateYourMusic account, where I sometimes give short little reviews for albums, if you're at all interested.

Thank you for being, and stay awesome, k?

 Was that too weird of an ending? Oh whatever. Thank you for reading.


April 28, 2012

Charlie Reviews: The Men - Open Your Heart

Check out Charlie's opinion about noise rock/hardcore punk!


April 22, 2012

Review: Ty Segall & White Fence - Hair

Ty Segall and Tim Presley, a.k.a. White Fence are busy guys. But so is everyone else in the garage rock scene, it seems. The usual yearly string of releases from these guys started earlier this month, with the release of White Fence's nostalgia-fueled Family Perfume Vol. 1 (Vol. 2 coming out in May), which would have been considered slightly ahead of its time, had it come out in 1968. Now here we are with Hair, a similarly 60s-esque record, devoid of fillers and filled to the brim with catchy riffs and explosive energy.

The album opens with "Time", a track that should signify which of the duo's styles comes through more, and who drew the short stick, so to speak. To be honest though, it isn't immediately clear who comes out on top here. There styles are so similar that if there is a heavy lean towards one or the other, it's hardly noticeable. The track starts off with an eerie count-up, followed by 3 banged-out chords bleeding in anticipation, then out of nowhere the song goes soft and kicks back for a few minutes, but picks right back up towards the end. The next track, "I Am Not A Game" is nothing but pure feedback-soaked bliss. I'll be damned if this isn't the best song of Ty Segall's career. Other stand-outs include the firm-footed "Easy Ryder", the psychedelic, sunshine-drenched "(I Can't) Get Around You", and the quickly-paced "Scissor People", which pulls a few tricks here and there.

There are little moments on this that make me love it even more, like the incredible solo on "I Am Not a Game", the steady beat on "Easy Ryder", the piano solo and Ty's pouting on "Crybaby", the harmonies and brief transposition on closer "Tongues", the amount of 60s influence shining through "I Can't Get Around You", the unexpected raw takeover of "Rag", and so on. If there's one thing these guys have been consistent with over the years, it's changing things up, no matter what, so it's no surprise that they've refined this even further with Hair. It's easy to guess why they've managed to stick out in the increasingly-overcrowded garage rock scene.

I have mentioned a few key tracks here, but honestly, all of these songs are fantastic in their own right. It's got so much raw power, but at no point does it drag down or forget the listener. To put it simply, Hair is pure, jangly fun, released at just the right time. Quite frankly, it's better than anything these two have done before. I feel like it's already summer, and only these guys can do that for me.


April 3, 2012

Review: Zammuto - Zammuto

Nick Zammuto leads a simple, peaceful life somewhere hidden away in Vermont with his wife and kids. That's where he runs his merch shop, where all of the architecture is built by him and his wife, where The Books last and final album The Way Out was recorded, and where he spends most of his days. One can only imagine that this is also where he keeps his mouth-watering vinyl collection, from which he draws his famous samples. On this album however, he depends less on sample-usage, and more on his own vocals. But that's not the only thing that's vastly different about Zammuto.

The thing that struck me immediately was the way it opened. Throughout The Books' career, they made a point of not using drums in their sound, and instead used vinyl pops amplified by pvc pipes, guitar cuts, or a cello bow hitting its strings. But instead of avoiding this again, the album opens with a set of bombastic drums, which I thought was pretty funny. The exuberant "YAY" continues with Zammuto's signature boyish vocals, which are hard to recognize at first, due to the fact that they're chopped up to the extreme. It's either something that you'll instantly dig, or that will instantly put you off.

All of the tracks here are distinctly different from each other, which applies for most Books records. On Zammuto however, almost each track introduces a different vocal effect. But instead of smothering the simplistic charm of his voice as you would expect, it makes the songs a lot more enjoyable. On "F U C-3PO" for example, the lower-harmonizing effect on his voice adds a whole new texture to an already incredible song. The overwhelming use of auto-tune on "Too Late to Topologize" didn't have me sold at first, but I got used to it, and it's actually one of my favorite tracks. Other fantastic tracks include "Idiom Wind", with its dramatic string section, which goes sinister towards the end, and the equally-dramatic "The Shape of Things to Come". Even the 37-second "Crabbing" is captivating, though the concept is simple; a sample of a man from a 40s or 50s movie, but with the pitch of his dialogue edited to fit a sort-of honky-tonk piano melody of the same era. I'm still not sure how I feel about "Zebra Butt", the most bizarre track on the record, but it sure is catchy as hell.

This is an album full of life, packed with wacky sounds, catchy syncopation, and oddly-satisfying experimentation that I can only assume is the product of bottled-up boredom in an isolated home in rural Vermont. Zammuto is a pleasant surprise, unexpectedly risen from the ashes of a once-great project. There's no telling where this guy is going next, but I'm sure it'll be just as great.


April 2, 2012

Review: Whirr - Pipe Dreams

There is a common preconception that shoegaze is easy. However, after several toss-away debuts over the past few years have taught us, simply stacking loads of reverb on slow burning guitar riffs does not make an album hip, trendy, or exciting. While Whirr's newest release Pipe Dreams may not be of the garbage-bin quality that several of the most recent attempts at shoegaze have been, the band's latest record is not without its faults. When at their most adventurous, Whirr are brilliant. However, the shoegazing group have a tendency to hide boring tracks behind layers of reverb.

Reverse, the album's opening track, is fantastic. Its soothing female vocals and gentle fuzz are nothing more than a tease of what is to come. Junebouvier, Home Is Where My Head Is, and Toss are all enjoyable songs that I see myself listening to for a while to come. The two minute and forty second blasts of blissed-out fun do The Jesus and Mary Chain proud, and Flashback is more than a subtle acknowledgment of the work of Galaxie 500. However, these songs sit on either side of the six minute snoozer, Formulas and Frequencies, which is a bit of a downer in the middle of the album. Hide and Wait, two of the last few tracks on the album, also feel empty and unfinished. The B-Side will leave most listeners wishing for just a bit more.

Regardless of what you think of Pipe Dreams, it won't take you long to make up your mind. These three minute tracks are easily digestible and, for the most part, are worth a listen. Although the album can get boring, Whirr reach career-long highs on the standout tracks Junebouvier and Home Is Where My Head Is.


March 30, 2012

Review: Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP

Daniel Rossen has always been my favorite Grizzly Bear. His distinctive vocals and ability to craft quite a melody is what makes Veckatimest for me. Though his tracks might not be as immediate or as catchy as tracks like Two Weeks or Cheerleader, his general presence on the album is what ultimately made me love it.

Silent Hour/Golden Mile isn't anything outside of his comfort zone, it pretty much plays like a Department of Eagles album. The EP starts out with a strong folk intent and the usual carefully-crafted chord progressions on Up On High, then shoots for a more traditional structure and varying time signature on the whimsical Silent Song. If those first tracks weren't fresh enough, the EP continues with Return to Form, a track characterized by its harsh guitar plucking, making it seem like it would fit very snug on In Ear Park, Department of Eagles second LP. Saint Nothing brings the mood down to a beautifully haunting piano melody, backed by a soft, breathy horn section. This is definitely one of the best works of Rossen's career. The EP ends on a low note with Golden Mile, not to say it's a weak poor track, just not nearly as captivating as the previous 4 ones.

What we have here is just further confirmation of Daniel Rossen's mastery of beautiful chord/song progressions, within the comfort of his own little folk-rock bubble. Maybe he could have tried something new, but for now at least, I'm totally content with the what he's been offering. Plus it's something I've had on repeat for a while, so I see no reason to give it anything under an 8.


March 26, 2012

Friends With Kids

Friends with Kids is the latest film from Jennifer Westfeldt, the writer and star of 2001's "Kissing Jessica Stein". Westfeldt stars in the film as Julie, a single woman living in the same building in New York as her best friend ("Party Down" and "Parks and Recreation"'s Adam Scott). The two seem to be the only single people in their group of friends, one the new parents (Chris O'Dowd and Maya Rudolph) and the newlyweds (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig). The two decide to follow suit and try to grow-up by having a child together, and awkwardness ensues. The film becomes less about the goofiness of having a child, like "Knocked-Up", but it actually ends up being a dark comedy about the trials and tribulations of relationships and parenthood. Scott an Westfeldt have great onscreen chemistry and they really nail the friend-zone vibe that Westfeldt gets across brilliantly in the screenplay. The people that I assumed would be the comedy heavyweights in the film were Wiig and Hamm, actually have the most dramatic parts in the film, as two people who's marriage is completely falling apart. The performances are great and the screenplay is fantastic the friend-zone feeling that I know way to well. However, the ending is very cliche and Westfeldt's director skills could really use some serious work. Overall, it is an interesting film that kept my attention.
My Grade: B+

March 25, 2012

Review: Beach House - Bloom

Beach House certainly weren't the first to bust out the retro synths and easy going beats in the dream pop scene, but I think we can all agree that they're basically governing it by now. Since their 2006 self-titled debut, this duo has been churning out a consistent line of dreamy melodies, characterized by simple beats, blissful guitar lines, and lead-singer Victoria Legrand's vocals, which I can only describe as a crossover of the soul of Robert Plant and the rasp of Janis Joplin (though not quite as raspy).

Bloom starts out with a beat that sounds like it was made by randomly selecting a couple drum packs from Fruity Loops (pretty off-putting at first), and then the familiarity immediately flows back with those first reverb-packed guitar notes. As the song continues, it's pretty apparent that Beach House are exactly who they were a year ago. The rest of the record pretty much plays out as you would expect from these guys, with nothing to really throw you off. If anything changed, I guess it would be that the beats here are even more basic, but that's why they work so well with the songs. The record sort of plays like a filter. All of the watery stuff gets flushed out and forgotten, while the stuff that holds weight and substance remains to swirl around in the back of our minds happily. Moments like this include Myth, the euphoric opening of Lazuli, the distant guitar on On the Sea, where Victoria seems like she's really getting into it, The Hours, and Wishes. Also Irene, the warm 7-minute conclusion, has a strangely pleasant one-note-drive in the middle that you would think would get monotonous quick, but ends up making the track a whole lot better.

While the positives outweighing the negatives, Bloom doesn't exceed my expectations, but it certainly takes 50 minutes of my life and shows it a good time. Sure it's essentially their previous albums with a different face, but honestly, I'm perfectly fine with that. They've found their niche in the music scene, and they're still rocking, or rather "popping" it with all they've got.


March 24, 2012

R.I.R.'s 50 Favorite Albums of the 2000s

As promised, here's Owen and my list of our favorite 50 albums from the decade. We tried to keep it tight, but there are quite a few close contenders below the list. Leave a comment and let us know what your favorite album(s) of the decade were!


50) Neko Case //
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)

49) Snow Patrol // Final Straw (2003)

48) Spoon //
Kill the Moonlight (2002)

47) Portugal. The Man //
The Satanic Satanist (2009)

46) Camera Obscura //
Let's Get Out of This Country (2006)

45) Peter Bjorn & John //
Writer's Block (2006)

44) Death From Above 1979 //
You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (2004)

43) The Decemberists //
Castaways & Cutouts (2002)

42) Deltron 3030 // Deltron 3030 (2000)

41) School of Seven Bells //
Alpinisms (2008)

40) Radiohead // Amnesiac (2001)

39) The Unicorns //
Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? (2003)

38) Daft Punk // Discovery (2001)

37) Cannibal Ox //
The Cold Vein (2001)

36) Franz Ferdinand //
Franz Ferdinand (2004)

35) Grizzly Bear // Veckatimest (2009)

34) Death Cab For Cutie //
The Photo Album (2001)

33) Radiohead // In Rainbows (2007)

32) Thee Oh Sees // Help (2009)

31) LCD Soundsystem //
Sound of Silver (2007)

30) The White Stripes // De Stijl (2000)

29) Madvillain // Madvillainy (2004)

28) Bibio //
Ambivalence Avenue (2009)

27) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart //
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2009)

26) Tapes 'n Tapes // The Loon (2005)

25) The Avalanches //
Since I Left You (2000)

24) The Postal Service // Give Up (2003)

23) Coldplay // Parachutes (2000)

22) Sufjan Stevens // Illinoise (2005)

21) Death Cab For Cutie //
We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes (2000)

20) The Walkmen //
Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone (2002)

Besides their conscious attempt at a more produced, "epic" rock album (Bows + Arrows), none of their work hits quite as hard as their gritty and intense debut. Somehow this record manages to balance scratchy/raw guitar chords, strained vocals, and loud drum beats with pretty melodies and the delicate ping of an old Steinway upright. Only one band could pull off such a gratifying combination as well as The Walkmen did here.


19) Shugo Tokumaru // Exit (2008)

Only one man knows how to take a guitar and several other instruments you used to play with when you were five, and create playful, colorful pop songs that you take you back to your childhood like the Japanese-born Shugo Tokumaru. To call him talented is a grave understatement. Just to the opening track Parachute can get anyone's head spinning with the catchy-as-hell melodies and perfectly-layered guitar lines in an instant. The next nine songs are no exceptions. I stumbled upon his music just a few months after Exit was released, and I'm so glad I did.


18) Cut Copy //
Bright Like Neon Love (2004)

Australian techno-pop group Cut Copy had nothing short of a tasty debut. 2004's Bright Like Neon Love is arguably the group's strongest release to date. The Aussie's first LP is 40 minutes packed with electrojams, from the funky That Was Just a Dream to the blissed-out Electric Neon Payphone. However, what separates Cut Copy from the dozens of similar acts is the amount of character that invigorates their electronic grooves.


17) The Shins //
Wincing the Night Away (2007)

Few albums have earned such a soft spot in my heart as The Shins' third LP. Wincing the Night Away is the pinnacle of the The Shins' work, as they broke up briefly afterwards. Frontman James Mercer's simple tunes drive an infectious album filled with delicious hooks. Wincing the Night Away is nothing short of superb.


16) Death Cab for Cutie //
Transatlanticism (2003)

Simply put, Transatlanticism is fantastic. The intricate ballads and the unique lyrical style of Ben Gibbard started a revolution in the early aughts. Dozens of bands spent millions trying to achieve the sound that this Seattle-based foursome found such success with. While the sea of corny piano ballads written by their peers that followed may have tarnished many's view of the original, there is nothing cheesy here. Transatlanticism is beautiful. It walks the very fine line between 2001's "too cool for you" lo-fi release The Photo Album and 2005's "too popular for you" LP Plans. The band's current decline makes Transatlanticism even more bittersweet.


15) The Go! Team //
Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2004)

If 'fun' could be described in sound, it would be this album. Honestly, after listening to this for the first time, I couldn't listen to an album, even among my favorites, that didn't give the same playful/energetic feel that this one did. Each little thing on this album fuels the energy and awesomeness along; the jangly, lo-fi guitars on Panther Dash, which make it feel like a superhero tv show intro, Ninja's rapping, the bombastic drums, and even the horns, which add a whole new texture to the whole mix, whereas the light-hearted melodies and occasional harmonica/recorder give it that childish vibe that makes it so unique. Each song has its own character, which makes it feel more like an album of singles (in a perfect world, all of these songs would be hit singles), but I mean that in a good way. I can guarantee you that Thunder, Lightning, Strike is unlike anything you've ever heard before.


14) Sufjan Stevens // Michigan (2003)

The first in what we were all hoping would become the alleged "50 States Project", Michigan was a huge leap away from the sporadically enjoyable, mostly-cacophonous electronic blips on 2001's "Enjoy Your Rabbit", to a much more inviting, though still unique sound with a variety of instruments that all came together to form completely moving songs, both lyrically and melodically. If anything, Michigan is an achievement in capturing the feeling of growing up in rural America. None of the songs here reach the epicness of tracks like Jacksonville or Chicago, but they don't need to. In my opinion, no one nowadays can quite write a song as touching as Sufjan can. And on Michigan, his ideas and intentions came together best.


13) The Strokes // Is This It (2001)

It was 2001, and the world absolutely stoked for The Strokes' first major album Is This It. The Strokes were arguably the world's first buzzband; the hype surrounding Is This It was absurdly huge. However, the New York group lived up to expectations and brought everything to the table: casual garage rock, great tunes, more guitars than you can count, black leather jackets, long hair, and, most importantly, Julian Casablanca's signature "I don't give a FUCK" lyrical style; the chic New Yorkers just radiated cool. 11 tracks and 35 minutes of tasty guitar licks, Is This It is totally rad, man.


12) Belle and Sebastian //
Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)

Scottish twee legends Belle & Sebastian were at a pivotal point in their career in 2003. After taking the nineties by storm (quietly) with delicate, sentimental, and introspective acoustic tunes, the well was starting to run dry. They were five albums into their career, and lyricist Stuart Murdoch was struggling to sing about girls like Judy dreaming about horses with the same gusto he could five or six years before. Critics were beginning to slap labels like "self-parodic" on the Scots. All of that stopped with the release of Dear Catastrophe Waitress, however. The introduction of the full band playing more than one or two measures a song coupled with more electric instrumentation transformed the group's sound. Waitress was certainly nothing like anyone they had done before, but few could protest the band's changes, as these songs are simply too damn good.


11) St. Vincent // Actor (2009)

After dropping out after three years at Berkelee and then playing guitar in Sufjan Stevens' backing band, Annie Clark had all the indie cred anyone could ever want. All she had to do was release a revolutionary record and hop on a tour bus with the likes of Grizzly Bear and Andrew Bird and she would be set. Actor is that record. Its fuzzed out guitars and classical arrangements are a work of art.


10) The White Stripes //
White Blood Cells (2001)

It took a while for The White Stripes to gain the world recognition that they did when Seven
Nation Army came out, but they definitely got a whole lot popular with this release. On this record, they cleaned up their sound even more than they had done on De Stijl, but still sticking with their iconic just-guitar-and-drums set-up that, still to this date, they've managed to pull off the best. Sure this album isn't completely devoid of filler, but there's 16 tracks here, so it's chock-full of excellent material. Plus the balance between fun, blastable tracks like opener Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, Fell in Love with a Girl, and Aluminum, and more laid-back ones like We're Going to Be Friends and The Same Boy You've Always Known is done really well here. Plus, all of the other tracks straddle the line between the two differences, so you're not completely disoriented and thrown off. Basically, this is the most cohesive, well-balanced White Stripes LP there is, and the one with most of my favorites.


09) Radiohead // Kid A (2000)

Hmm...how should I start yet another evaluation of this record? Well, I don't love this album to pieces, I don't think it's a masterpiece, and it's not my favorite Radiohead album, but it's a really great and innovative record that I think everyone should listen to at least once in their lifetime, and I think that these guys did a pretty interesting and risky thing with the incredibly huge amount of hype that came with this. I can say though, that none of their other albums quite managed to match the broad soundscape of this album, and the sonic textures of each track are extremely immersive, some more so even than those on OK Computer or The Bends. Sure it has a few moments that I don't really dig, like How to Disappear Completely, which seems to be a favorite among fans, and also Idioteque, which starts to annoy me pretty quickly, and though Optimistic and Morning Bell are great tracks, they could be a little more captivating. But regardless, this is a solid record from a still solid band that have yet to lose their creative spark.


08) Broken Social Scene //
You Forgot It In People (2002)

Like Thunder, Lightning, Strike, this is another album that's really hard to compare with
anything else. The idea of an 11-piece band seems like a recipe for an incohesive mess, and granted, it is pretty messy, but in the best way possible. Even the slightly bizzare production done on this album (eg. Stars and Sons, KC Accidental) works so well with this band. We've got loud, in-your-face guitars and loud, in-your-face drums on one side, and string arrangements on the other, which makes for an oddly satisfying blend. Plus, Leslie Fiest makes for the occasional appearance on vocals. The album has its mood swings too. Right after the knock-out 4 opening tracks, it goes into a chill-out sesh with Looks Just Like the Sun and Pacific Theme, then the incredibly blissful, emotional drive of Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, then straight back to catchy beats and raw guitar licks on Cause=Time, then a little later, the emotions come flowing back with Shampoo Suicide and fan-favorite Lover's Spit. It's hard to describe their sound exactly, so I'll put it into a poor analogy. It's kind of like a band of homeless geniuses with ADHD were picked up off the streets and given instruments. It's dirty, it's all over the place, but it's brilliant.


07) Stars // Set Yourself on Fire (2004)

Set Yourself on Fire is a slow-burner that, at some point in anyone's life, will garner his affections. A guy named Torquil and a girl named Amy sing a multitude of duets on this '05 release. The album is totally precious, and these sweet melodies are best listened to late into the night. Even the powerful hit Ageless Beauty, is more sweet than sour. While Stars may have called this album edgy at the time, Torquil's definition of edgy probably means throwing rose petals or something. Oh wait…


06) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah //
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)

Apart from the very skippable first track, there isn't a single weak track here, and I genuinely
mean that. Though for some, the vocal delivery on almost every song is impossible to get used to, to me it's only a minor speed-bump in an otherwise superb rock record. Though consistent, each song on the album is it's own little odd-one-out, like 'Details of the War', a slowly churning alt-country ballad with a great harmonica part, 'The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth', an immediately likable song with shuffling drums, an upbeat feel and synthy goodness, 'Over and Over Again', a more subdued song that plays it cool with an excellent bass line, 'Is This Love?', a song characterized by its trotting guitar chords and especially quirky vocals, or 'Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood', which stays the same almost throughout, but is one of the more enthralling tunes. I can't say I'll be forgetting this LP anytime soon.


05) Coldplay //
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

Coldplay is an easy target for those with "good music taste". Frankly, if you look at my iTunes library, Coldplay looks pretty cold and alone among everything else there. As unfitting as it may seem in this list, I sort of grew up with Coldplay, and maybe that's why I don't immediately detest them. But also, there is more sufficient reasoning for my affection towards them. Perhaps not in their lyrics, but in so much else. A Rush of Blood to the Head is an incredible stadium rock album devoid of any fillers, and jam packed with excellently-crafted melodies, whether they be guitar-driven or piano ballads, strung together with memorable guitar licks. The production is excellent, everything resonates beautifully, and the hooks are undeniable. I mean who doesn't admit that The Scientist, Daylight, or any of the songs for that matter, aren't catchy as fuck? Plus, it's a fantastic late-night-car-drive record. There's something in there for everybody, you just have to listen closely.


04) Arcade Fire // Funeral (2004)

There's not too much to be said about Funeral that hasn't already been echoed on every music blog ever. Arcade Fire's first LP was in many places the album of the year, an honor that the Canadians arguably deserved. The group has an enormous sound that commands your attention. The album showcases some great tracks; look no further than Tunnels and Wake Up and I'm sure you'll understand.


03) The Books // The Lemon of Pink (2003)

I've only known of The Books for a few months now, and this album is already one of the most played on my iPod. "Life changing" is a bit strong, but it holds a special place in my musial library, getting along with the other sample-based artists there, but with enough character and independence to fend for itself perfectly fine. Unlike other sample-based artists, the samples they use here are really fascinating, and mostly completely random. The first time I listened to this, I was waiting in anticipation for what sample or sound would come around the corner next, and by now I'm basically playing them in my head as or right before they go by. Much like their also-fantastic debut Thought For Food, it's got me wondering how they found someone saying something like "One day, a girl climbed into a tree. She climbed down from the tree the next day, god bless her", or an old Italian woman reciting the months in Italian, or even "One day son, you'll grow up to be....uh....woman." And sometimes, it's even kind of beautiful; "Welcome to the human race, you're a mess." I could go on and on about the vocal samples, but I don't have to.

Despite the jarring effect that this collection of sounds has on the mind at first, The Lemon of Pink also succeeds on an emotional level, especially on tracks like There Is No There, Take Time, or That Right Ain't Shit, which is why I put it only slightly higher than their debut. It's a shame the duo had to come to an end, but they ended on a high note, so I can't complain.


02) Andrew Bird //
The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005)

Eggs is without a doubt Bird's masterpiece to date. After dabbling in the swing scene with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and then noodling around with Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, Bird finally launched his solo journey. It was this album that, in 2005, introduced to the world the whistling and violin-strumming maestro. Eggs is brilliant; it's packed with simple melodies and the acoustic instrumentation gives Bird's whimsical wordplay room to breathe. From the soaring Fake Palindromes to groovy My Skin, Is, The Mysterious Production of Eggs is sure to entertain.


01) Wilco // Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

By far Wilco's strongest effort, YHF was written with such a broad emotional landscape, that it's hard to imagine that at the beginning of their career, these guys were writing simple country/folk songs. Maybe I love this album so much because I Am Trying To Break Your Heart was my first real introduction to music, but I think it has more to do with the fact that each song here makes its own perfect contribution, yet as a whole, YHF succeeds on every plane. The melodies are superb, the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) electronic elements nestle in with the basic instruments so well, and the lyrics are simple and even silly at times, but when sung by Jeff Tweedy's wholesome raspy voice, they seem like they mean the world.

This is a record that won't be repeated by the same band ever again, but more importantly, it's a record that only gets better every time I listen to it, and a record that will remain a classic for years to come, at least for me.


Close contenders:
Amon Tobin - Supermodified
Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Andrew Bird - Weather Systems
Beulah - The Coast is Never Clear
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Bright Eyes - Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
The Dismemberment Plan - Change
Elliott Smith - Figure 8
Fugazi - The Argument
The Futureheads - The Futureheads
Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle
M. Ward - Post-War
The Microphones - The Glow Pt. 2
The Notwist - Neon Golden
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R
Say Hi To Your Mom - Impeccable Blahs
The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
The White Stripes - Elephant