“Eyes to the Wind” is *amazing*. I hear Dylan too, but I also hear Petty, Knopfler, and even Neil Young. Glad that artists like War on Drugs and Kurt Vile are reviving classic rock for us younger people who didn’t get to experience it the first time around!
Your snow day sounds exactly like my snow days. My wife makes chili and we watch old episodes of Gilmore Girls (we own every season). And no, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a man who enjoys Gilmore Girls. It’s one of the best-written shows of the 2000s.
Also, Atlas is a really enjoyable album. Perfect for early spring.
Elliott Smith’s music pulled me through some of the darkest times of my teenage years, so it’s impossible for me to be totally objective about this. But I would say that the songs of his that affected me the most during those years were the more raw, lo-fi ones. I love XO because it managed to balance big-budget production and orchestration with Elliott’s vocal and lyrical vulnerability, but Figure 8 seems to sacrifice that vulnerability for the sake of pristine production. Roman Candle is definitely more raw and vulnerable, but I would place it lower on my list because Elliott Smith’s songwriting sense doesn’t seem to have fully blossomed yet. It sounds more like a series of promising sketches rather than fully developed ideas. New Moon, on the other hand, despite being packaged as a series of early sketches, sounds surprisingly complete and cohesive in comparison.
That said, my list would probably look something like this:
3) New Moon
4) Elliott Smith
5) From a Basement on a Hill
6) Figure 8
7) Roman Candle
Agreed. I’m not sure what I’m happier about: that Vampire Weekend made #1 or that ANYTHING beat Yeezus. That album just does not hold up to repeat listens.
I just figured he was a big fan of David Mitchell.
Am I the only person who thought Champ was really underrated?
Love how sludgy that bass is! YES! Gimme more!
Best Song: “Hey Ya” by Vampire Weekend.
It’s been a confusing year.
This song is everything I love about Stephen Malkmus. As long as he continues to write pop-leaning rock songs, the world will be a decent place.
There’s another great self-referential moment in the song that I missed the first couple times I heard it. The opening part is a garbled sample of the opening piano notes from “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).”
That was Chris Tomson, I think. But yeah, it’s not that weird that Ezra plays sax. Most musicians these days play several instruments. It’s still cool, though.
It’s leviOsa, not levioSA!
I just happened to listen to HTTT a few weeks ago, and commented to a friend how I thought it was Radiohead’s most underrated album. It was the first Radiohead album that came out after I got into them. As a 15-year-old, HTTT was darkly magical — I was in awe of it.
Listening through it again, the only songs I would consider cutting are “We Suck Young Blood” and “A Punch Up at a Wedding.” Everything else is indispensable in my opinion. The last three songs, “Myxomatosis,” “Scatterbrain,” and “A Wolf at the Door,” I still consider to be three of my favorite Radiohead songs ever.
Couldn’t agree more. “Pensacola” was my least favorite off Monomania at first. Now I realize it’s incredible.
I wish I could give you a thousand thumbs up.
I would also put “Like New” on my top 10 list.
Someone has a strong opinion. Yeesh. Calm down, there.
On another note, I <3 LOCKETT PUNDT 4EVER.
I love that you put “He Would Have Laughed” at #1. Halcyon Digest is my favorite Deerhunter album, and every time I listen to it I look forward to that song most of all.
I totally agreed with this review when I first listened to the album. I especially disliked the title track. Then something clicked, especially with the second half. Now I think Bankrupt! is almost, if not totally, on par with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. I have a feeling more and more people will have the same experience after giving the album a little bit of time.
New Girl is actually very funny, even if you don’t really like Zooey Deschanel.
I agree with this list, too. The best Spoon albums are a mixture of tightness/coherence and experimentation. Transference was too experimental, and I would argue Gimme Fiction is almost too tight/coherent, which makes it a tad less interesting on repeated listens than Kill the Moonlight or Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. A Series of Sneaks has a lot of great ideas and moments, but it’s too rambling and uneven. AKA, not enough tightness/coherence.
That’s my little philosophy on Spoon albums.
Ben, I think that’s only partially true. I agree that “prepackaged mainstream music” is not as pervasive anymore. When it was pervasive, everyone who identified with indie music had to grasp at and claim everything that was indie, whether it was great or not. Now that mainstream music is no longer a relevant distinction, the stratification of great indie vs. not-so-great indie has bubbled to surface a lot more. In effect, we’ve won the battle against mainstream culture, so we now have the luxury of being nit-picky about our indie. A band that indie culture would almost unanimously praise in 2003 (I.E. The Decemberists) would attract a lot more naysayers in 2013.
However, I’m not arguing that Mumford & Sons would have been more critically accepted 10 years ago. I think in every age of music culture, artists fall into one or both of the categories you talk about: indie and mass culture. These categories will always exist to some degree, and they have only a small correlation to the quality or craftsmanship of the music. Plenty of mass music is of a high quality, and plenty of indie music is of a poor quality. I don’t think any conscientious music lover would argue Mumford & Sons is bad on the grounds that it has mass popularity. On the same note, I don’t think any conscientious music lover should argue that it’s good simply because it’s massively popular. Tom’s article isn’t doing that. He’s merely saying, “Hey, this band is massively popular; we should at least give them a second look and see if there’s a good reason why they are.”
We live in an era of music consumption that is highly individualistic. Hence your conclusion: “you decide what you like.” This individualism is a modern idea, and it has its pros and cons. We can’t listen to, much less judge, music in a vacuum. That’s why we come to an online community to see what others think about music. In some cases, we find that an artist garners a ton of praise, and the people who don’t enjoy that music are at least willing to concede that, while they don’t enjoy it, they know it’s quality music. Thus, their judgment falls under the realm of taste. You’ll hear people say something like “I’m not really into R&B, but I can see why people really like Frank Ocean.” That’s usually a sign that the artist in question is good. In other cases, an artist will be much more polarizing, with some people absolutely hating the artist and trying to argue against them with objective criteria. I do believe in objective criteria, and I do believe that Mumford & Suns fall short of those criteria almost across the board. Tom didn’t dare to compare Mumford & Sons with Led Zeppelin; he did, however, compare them to Skrillex. My guess is that even he knows it’s because there’s a fundamental, objective difference in quality that tends to get pretty well sorted out in retrospect.
My point is this. We can say to one another, “you decide what you like.” But as conscientious consumers of music in a community of other consumers, don’t we have a responsibility to steer our neighbors clear of bad music when we can? Not with superiority, smugness, or aggression, granted, but at least with conviction.
I revisited this album for the first time in a long time recently while driving across the country. I played this particular album at the start of my trip, around 3 in the morning. Let me just say, that is one of the best moments to experience it.
Fun song. Terrible music video.