9. Real Estate - Real Estate
8. Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP
7. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure of Heart
4. The Black Ryder - Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
2. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
It's been almost three years since Grizzly Bear's last release Yellow House but since then, blogs and magazines kept count of every day between then and the release of Veckatimest and by the looks of it, not one person was disappointed. This album is truly brilliant. It rides a “more is more” philosophy and carries vocal harmonies by the barrel full. Veckatimest, named after an island in Massachusetts, starts inconspicuously with “Southern Point,” a Daniel Rossen-led, slice of jangle pop. Second track, “Two Weeks,” is perhaps Grizzly Bear’s finest moment. It’s the band’s most pure “pop” song, as frontman Ed Droste emotes about a relationship over laid-back, hip-hop-like keys and a plucky bass line. "Two Weeks” showcases Grizzly Bear’s eye to detail best; nothing here isn’t highly considered and crafted (much like the entire record.) Chris Bear’s drums roll and saunter underneath Chris Taylor’s harmonies. Droste’s lengthening of the song’s key phrase (“I told you I would stay”) and the addition of Beach House vocalist Victoria Legrand on the chorus make for tiny little moments that create a completely satisfied song, and listener.
Hype can be a cruel and unforgiving mistress, but Veckatimest surpasses the expectations. It plainly improves Grizzly Bear’s sound, and lends itself well to multiple plays, because with each repeated listen reveals another perfectly crafted moment you may have missed last time.
1. Girls - Album
"Girls frontman Christopher Owens grew up in the Children of God cult. His older brother died as a baby because the cult didn't believe in medical attention. His dad left. He and his mother lived around the world, and the cult sometimes forced his mother to prostitute herself. As a teenager, Owens fled and lived as a Texas gutter-punk for a while. Then a local millionaire took Owens under his wing, and Owens moved to San Francisco. There, he and Chet "JR" White formed Girls, and recorded Album, their debut album, under the influence of just about every kind of pill they could find."
This dejected tale is the kind that not only couldn't be made up but also has the weight to overwhelm a band so much that the music could never shine through. This is not the case. The songs Owen writes are simple and about heartbreak. He's playful; he has fun with it but there's always a wounded, raggedy hiccup at the back of his throat, one that implies worlds of hurt beyond the simple break-up songs he's singing.
Album is musically messy and simple. It has all the guitar-jangles, sha-la-la harmonies, muffled heartbeat drums of a Beach Boys album but it's that jaded, dark side that lends a total seduction. It turns me on like "Heroin" turns me on (the song doofus.) This is great album for a good old-fashioned bedroom romp. The film clips are the perfect visual for the sound... dirty d.i.y scene scapes of San Francisco under the stars and bettes in bras. I want to say lo-fi but I think it's more than that. I think the scuzzy elements and staticy sounds are all part of the production in creating what this band is all about and it's wrapped in a extremely well executed music. Without being showy about it, they swing from rushing power-pop to acoustic campfire sing alongs to "Morning Light", which is a truly bang-on revival of shoegaze and we all love a little bit of shoegaze.
I think despite all this hoo-haa, the real reason I adore album is because of its modesty and rawness. If I were to ever meet Christopher Owens I'd wanna get real wasted with him and probe him to find out what lies behind the songs but in the meantime I'm just gonna put this on repeat and turn it up real loud.