Part IV of IV: New Trends
Welcome to the final installment of this patchy attempt to analyze my own musical taste.
Since 2005, one or two Canadian artists have dominated my musical landscape each year, due mostly to the excitement that builds with repeated live shows. Final Fantasy owned 2005, Elliott Brood was the sound of 2006, and Jon-Rae & the River dominated the summer of 2007. The Acorn and Rock Plaza Central filled 2007 and 2008, each fueled by the release of a brilliant concept album, and the raucous bluesy gospel of Bruce Peninsula marked 2009. I think I may have finally tired of Ontario death-country/folk-rock collectives. A very different strain of recent releases has done more to alter my overall experience of music in the last several years.
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Also dating back to my summer of post-punk and gin, Person Pitch is the perfect hot weather album. It sounds like The Beach Boys, if they had turned electronic and done even more drugs. This album was my introduction to that whole swath of recent music that takes elements of pop and combines it with the repetitive, mood-altering qualities of electronic. Prior to Person Pitch, I couldn't really get behind music that eschewed typical melodies in favour of repetition; after Person Pitch I began listening to Animal Collective and even found myself appreciating Philip Glass (I attended a ballet set to his music and had something of an “a-ha!” moment). Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) seems to have his fingers in a lot of great stuff these days, collaborating with Atlas Sound (the solo project of Deerhunter's Bradford Cox) and with German ambient electro musician Pantha du Prince (see below).
Zomby – Where Were You in ‘92
It took this great throwback house/dub-step album to make me realize that club music needn't be bad just because I don't want to dance to it. Only one or two of the tracks on this album actually makes me want to get up and groove (and that's only because I recently learned what house dance looks like), yet all of the tracks rock. Once the album began to make sense to me, I could hardly listen to anything else.
Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
Again, once I really started listening to this album, I could hardly listen to anything else. Never thought I would become a fan of ambient electronic, but here it is, my favourite album of 2010 thus far. The songs emerge gradually, taking on many textures and rhythms, and then changing altogether in one moment. This album will never be boring. Incidentally, the cover art has been my desktop background for about seven month. It shows a tiny church accessible only by boat on the edge of the Koenigsee in Bavaria, a perfectly gorgeous spot.
Dirty Projectors – Rise Above
Dave Longstreth et al have really made waves in the Brooklyn music scene in the last few years, and hence, in the North American music scene. Their latest full-length, Bitte Orca, is the critical darling and crowd favourite, and they have since had relatively high-profile collaborations with David Byrne and, most recently, Bjork. This output has all been fantastic, but, as I mentioned in a post from last year, I'm still partial to the earlier “cover” album. Rise Above is Longstreth's rewritten version of Black Flag's 1981 album of the same title, and the combination of the simple punk lyrics and the sparse instrumentals makes this a painfully vulnerable listen. Like a Xiu Xiu album. The alternating minimalism and crashing noise seems characteristic of a lot of “avant garde” pop rock these days, and I like it. Frankly, they're not that great live, so here's the album version of my favourite track.
Thus endeth the series.