Paste Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of 2017

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Here are my quick takes on this year’s list (a slow work in progress)

Here’s Paste Magazine’s list, in case you want to read how professional reviews are written instead of what’s below.

#50 – #46:

#50 – JD McPherson- Undivided Heart and Soul.   I’m going with “upbeat modern rockabilly”. It’s not at all like modern country, but there’s a tinge of down-homeiness going on here.  

#49 – Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer – Not Dark Yet.  This sister folk duo surprised me with the light lyricism and superb musicality.  A great listen to kick back to on a night at home!

#48 – Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – Matter of Time.  I started off my treadmill action in 2018 with this beauty this morning.   Jones excels again with this record filled with positive vibes in a turbulent time in the US.   I highly recommend checking out this one when you need a boppy pick-me-up!

#47 – Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights – I’m a sucker for soft-toned female singer-songwriters.  If that’s sexist, I’m sorry.  I’m among the newest Julien Baker fans, however, after listening to this gorgeous album.  There are suggestions that this album is about the ending of a relationship, but I also caught a glimpse of satisfaction and renewal intertwined in the lyrics.

#46 – Weaves – Wide Open.  This one didn’t really grab me, even though it had all the normal pre-requisites to be right up my alley:  A Canadian band with some boisterous lyrics and heavy guitars.  I’m glad I gave it a shot, but this album felt too teeny-boppy (hints of early Weezer and Oasis come to mind) for my taste.  Perhaps I was just in the wrong mood when I listened.

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#45 – Wand – Plum.  This….was interesting.  There were 2-3 intentional lulls of sound that acted as preludes to a tune.  Some of the songs were catchy and probably become more tolerable with consequent listens.  I wasn’t hooked, but there were some bright spots along the way.

#44 – Sallie Ford – Soul Sick.  This is overall some easy-going, boot-tapping, gritty rock.  There is some dark imagery and lyricism, but there are other very moments where the upbeat tempo gets me outta my seat and bounce around the room.

#43 – David Bazan –  Care.  I did about five minutes of research, but I couldn’t place where I know this voice.  I was very confident it was on a soundtrack from the late 2000s–possibly starring Zach Braff or Jason Bateman.  Anyway, I can see this type of singer-songwriter on those sorts of higher-budget indie films about 30-40 year-old men going through some type of crisis.  This pinpointed identity may not appeal to all readers, but rest assured, Bazan’s album is still worth the listen.   

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Same As It Ever Was

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This is a miniature music-related commentary.  I say that only because much of what I blog about pertains to fiction writing or is crystal clear evidence that I’m spiraling out of normalcy.

I’m a fan of this Scottish trio named CHVRCHES.  Their second full-length LP is due out at the end of September, and I’ve been reading some articles about the band’s constant touring, their musical inspirations, and their individual interests outside of the success of the band.  I read one this morning from stereogum.com that was well done, so I’m going to post it below now.

The Unflinching Gaze of Chvrches – Caitlin White

Ms. White, I believe, does a tremendous job cataloging the band’s history and newsworthy moments of the last few years.

What really bothered me was the dissatisfaction of some of the comments posted beneath the article.  One response suggested the band is too hyped and that the two released singles from the upcoming album sound too similar to the first work.

In short, he/she was baffled that three musicians were producing songs in 2015 that paralleled the sound of the songs those same three musicians produced in 2012-13.

I’m having trouble understanding what the comment suggested.  Was he/she anticipating a George Strait-feel to this new LP?  Perhaps the lack of the increasingly common “(feat. Pharrell Williams)” attached to a track’s title pissed him/her off.  Maybe he/she fully expected Lauren to have played only the triangle while Iain and Martin smashed trash can lids in between hate-riddled racist commentary.

The band sounds the same.

No Shit.

Artists are known for their breakthroughs, whether it be in music, the visual arts, or in live performances.  However, if we think about what artists do over their careers, we ought not be too stunned that later work can draw parallels to early work.

Monet’s work is pretty easy to spot to even the amateur fan.  A slightly trained eye can see the politically driven work of Banksy without being told he created it.

Mumford and Sons recently stepped away from their highly popular sound with their third LP and, in my opinion, did some pretty good things with it.  On the other hand, most of the feedback I’ve heard (and said at first) was that they didn’t sound like themselves.

What’s an artist to do?

I’m just curious if anyone thinks I’m way off base here.  If you’re still reading this and wish to speak to this notion of expecting musicians or any other artists to constantly reinvent themselves over and over as a bit overwhelming and a little unrealistic (or quite feasible and proven), please comment.

By the way, this blog is pretty much like my other shit…so I don’t expect a lot of charged controversy to stem from it.

Peace, friends…keep peace in your hearts.  We’re only here for a little while, ya know….