Note: This blog entry has not been written for the sake of other people. If you wish to read it, thank you for giving it twenty minutes of your time and attention. In reality, its purpose is purely therapeutic and it has given me the necessity of reflection.
Documenting my own personal thoughts, issues and emotions isn't something that I necessarily do often, but on this windy spring afternoon in Tasmania, I'm making an exception. I'm sitting here outdoors in a recreational reserve, leaning against a foreign fence and reflecting upon the last four years of my life and just how magical they have been. In front of me there is a little creek complete with a miniature little waterfall that interrupts my thought process. I can hear the laughter of children in the distance perhaps as they prepare to propel themselves down slides or compete with each other to see who can swing higher and daringly jump the longest. As a sidenote, I must remember to thank the owner of the property whose fence I'm currently leaning on - their unrestricted wireless internet connection is very much appreciated even if it does occasionally, sporadically falter and fade like the afternoon's sunshine in and amongst the clouds. There is a reason why I'm here, but it is merely just to get away, to escape, to break down where nobody can see. 1373 days after I found and fell in love with the girl of my dreams, today marks the day where we officially called our relationship off and I consequently lost my best friend.
Four years ago, I was seventeen years old and I had essentially given up on the prospect of love and relationships. They felt like compelling illusions and I was so exhausted when it came to making them work. I had only recently stepped out of a turbulent eight month relationship with a girl who I had affections for during high-school, and that ended so disastrously that at the time I was certain that I just didn't care anymore. Towards the end, we became nothing more than prolonged silences in cigarette scented rooms, and instead of confiding in me, she turned to substances and opted to pour all of her emotions into overfilled ashtrays. In what is still to this day one of the worst and most regretful things that I have ever done in my life, I left this girl without a semblance of goodbye. Although we later solidified remnants of a friendship years later, I vowed to myself that I would never be a person that gives up easily, that hurts or disappoints people in the process, and instead I want to be positive, supportive and willing to put other people before myself - I hope that I've accomplished this and that I continue to do so.
During this period, I focused predominantly on my studies, my sporting pursuits and I quickly learned how therapeutic music can be when you need an escape. I was playing Australian football and enjoying every individual training session, every intensely competitive game on the weekend, and then I would return home and lose myself in the music that I adored. People often say that you find the person you're waiting for when you stop looking and subsequently least expect them - I'm delighted to say that this was an accurate representation as to how it happened for me. It occurred from essentially the moment I found her. I was captivated by her words, I was mesmerized by her charm and playfulness, and I was lost in her inviting ability to engage anyone who wished to spark a conversation. She was breathtakingly beautiful in such a natural fashion, and her smile remains the very best and sweetest that I have ever seen. She could make anybody smile with apparent ease just by smiling at them first - and I loved and gravitated towards that.
It got to the point where we would be talking and writing to each other every day, I would often find myself dropping everything I was doing just to spend an extra ten minutes with this girl, and her company was soon the highlight of my day and would continue to be nearly four years onward. It took me a few months to work up the courage to tell her just how much she meant to me. Even then, I was verbally clumsy and although I desperately wanted to do so, I didn't mention how I felt for her outright. Instead, I was quite cryptic and often concealed my emotions, but she picked up on it and before long she had cleverly maneuvered me into a corner where I could do nothing except express my love for her. However, it wasn't all fairy tales and sparks flying from the outset, she had been hurt by people before and was reluctant to open up and trust so quickly. We took baby steps together, I reinforced my appreciation for her when she was at her lowest points, and eventually she told me three of the most amazing, poetic, life changing words that I've ever heard; I love you.
The first year was unbelievable. I've used the term 'perfect', and I maintain that belief because everything just felt right when we were together. We made it to our first anniversary and I remember wanting to do something so special to celebrate it. Twelve months is such an important milestone that deserves to be recognized and acknowledged, and I needed the right gift. I had began searching desperately in the weeks leading up to it - I had subtly asked all her friends what kind of gifts she treasures, what kind of jewellery she prefers to all others and eventually I got the answer I was looking for. She had fine taste in silver, and so I searched hard for a beautiful ring to fit securely on her finger. I can't even begin to express the number of jewellery outlets I visited, the number of times I retraced my steps walking back and forth whilst peering down into all the display cabinets. Eventually, I found the piece of jewellery that I had so painstakingly searched for in the form of a beautiful, elegant $550 ring, and I couldn't have been happier with my purchase. Deep down I told myself that the next ring I buy for her will signal something so much bigger, almost as big as the journey I wanted to take with her.
I had never been happier in my life. There were times we argued and days where we remained upset and distant, but we knew that we were strong enough to overcome any obstacle that attempted to prevent us from where we were heading together. Over the next year there would be many more indescribably amazing moments to share. She was fiercely passionate about her favorite bands, one of which happened to be All Time Low, and I recall how her friend had been in a position to hear their new album, Nothing Personal, before her and the remainder of the general public. That set about a chain of events that made me pursue a career in writing and reviewing upcoming album releases. I began writing with the sole intention of obtaining an advance copy of All Time Low's next album, whenever it came to writing and recording it. Eventually they announced a release date, I received the album two months in advance and we listened to Dirty Work together in what is still one of the best moments and memories in my life. I guess you could say that she is the reason I write and also the reason why I'm unafraid to showcase it.
She finished high school not long afterwards, and she was to be going off to a prestigious college such was her educational prowess. She was placed on her school's honor roll, she was inducted into the National Spanish Honors Society, and her grades were all fantastic. Despite all the awards and achievements she accumulated during her education, it wasn't even the fact that she was regularly being the best, I found myself swelling with pride at just the amount of effort she continually put in. What I loved most though was her desire to make a difference and to immerse herself in extra-curricular activities. She was involved in the theater company where she played on-screen roles as well as did much of the work behind the curtains, she spent countless hours in charge of editing her school magazine and yearbook to make it as lovely as it could look for all the departing students, and she was a vocal and passionate voice speaking out in favor of equality. Perhaps the biggest and most touching thing that I can remember about her high school education is that she loved the thought of, and opportunities relating to volunteer work. There was this one memorable conversation we had where she was searching for direction, and so this lead to her becoming involved in Project Teammate. It's where she helped an intellectually disabled student, she built a friendship, she made the student positively glow in those small hours for one day per week. She would come back and tell me all about it, and you should sense the happiness, the satisfaction and the fulfillment that she felt.
That summer was difficult, though. That very same prestigious college had accepted her application request and from then onwards, she was in two places at once both mentally and emotionally - the college where she knew her future would take her, and a small town she knew she would be soon departing. She spent the holidays with friends she would hardly see for twelve months, and I suppose that's the beginning of how we started to drift apart. With the benefit of hindsight, it was mainly my fault. I had become so attached, I was selfish, I wanted to make the most of those three months before the world as I knew it was to be thrown into spontaneous chaos. I wasn't a very supportive person and I think I made her feel guilty about spending time with friends as opposed to focusing on us. I have no excuses, but in my defense, she was soon to be rooming with multiple other people and we would be apart and unable to communicate for large portions of the time. If I could go back, I would've never stepped in her way. Mistakes have a habit of derailing everything.
That year while she was away at college was without doubt the hardest thing that I had ever done. She was in a room with three other girls, we had no privacy, we were unable to webcam without getting interrupted and towards the end it wore us down and I believe it became too difficult for her. Once again, I shoulder the vast majority of blame. She was spread so thin, she tried to please everybody, she was caught between being social and going out with all of her friends and knowing that I was probably waiting on her. When you're young and you've never experienced the kind of freedom and rush that the college lifestyle can potentially give you, I should have known to be more understanding. We were on the verge of breaking up numerous times, but we managed to somehow keep it together long enough to make up and work it out. The end of year vacation came, but I think the year we had just experienced had taken its toll on our relationship - at least in her mind.
Three weeks ago, just when she was on the verge of leaving to resume college, we made the decision to break it off. Originally it was planned to be a break but it soon became apparent that she was unable to deal with the pressure of be without each other for another nine months. As any person would when they're about to lose the person they love more than anything else in the world, I tried to be reassuring that everything would be okay, that I could deal with being a last priority in her insanely tight and difficult schedule, but unfortunately my words had lost their meaning. Today I admit defeat and everything that has come before it has culminated in this break-up. I keep thinking about the quote that says, "If you love them, you'll set them free and if it's meant to be, they'll come back to you." And as I continue writing this, the children long since having vacated the park I currently occupy, I'm also marginally comforted by the thought that maybe in five years from now, we'll start again and live happily ever after.
Because you see, I love this girl and I forever will.
I've spent nearly the past four years of my life devoting myself to her to the point where she has now became part of who I am. She has assisted in making me the person that I am today. Likewise, I'm so proud of the person that she is and I hope that there's a fraction of me that she can see in her someday. I now know that in order for her to fulfill her dreams and to pursue all of her goals, she needs to be weightless, unrestricted and free of the burden that both I and the relationship have placed upon her. I owe it to her to let go, so that her dreams can move mountains and hopefully change the world - at the very least, she's managed to change mine and make it illuminate more than it ever would've if she hadn't been in it. Sometimes to let go of someone or something you feel you can't live or go on without is to prove that you love; in this case, I hope I've just proven it to her one last time.
As I finish that last paragraph, I suppose I should leave the comfort of this secluded portion of the recreational park for although the afternoon is a pleasant one and radiates with the warmth of spring sunlight, I feel it's time to close a chapter that I never wanted to finish. I know that when I finally finish here, I'll prepare to walk home in the same manner that I walked here three hours earlier - alone and vulnerable for the first time in nearly four years.
Unlike many, I was quite late in discovering the musical prowess and endeavors of the Florida based quintet, Anberlin. For the longest time, I had absolutely no idea who they were, what they had achieved, and what they were aiming to represent. Now that I mention it, I'm still able to recall the moment that I became aware of their musical existence. There was a obnoxiously large banner on this very website promoting their recent signing to Universal Records, and there was also information accompanying the image stating that their latest full-length would be arriving later within the year. Just a week prior, I had discovered the daring piano driven beauty of Everything In Transit courtesy of Jack's Mannequin - a record that greatly impacted and altered my taste in music to the point where I was no longer satisfied with playful power chords, predictable song structures and contrived lyrics. All aforementioned musical traits were a staple of my limited music collection to that point in 2008. That blend and style of music was all I had ever known, it was all that I had ever really been exposed to during my youth, and so at the time of discovering Anberlin I was searching somewhat aimlessly in a desperate attempt to find new music that could successfully charm, captivate and absorb me like I had never previously known or experienced.
As it turns out, that over sized banner that I was forced to view every time I scoured the AbsolutePunk front page for the latest news and updates intrigued me to the point where I felt compelled to, at the very least, give them the briefest moment of my time. I hurriedly, impatiently typed in the band name into a search engine, and I clicked upon the first track that I was able to see. From the moment the subdued and equally luscious finger-picked guitar tones of, "Dismantle Repair" drifted and danced elegantly through the sporadic static of my speakers, I was motionlessly mesmerized. I was hooked by the opening verse as it subtly attempted to lull me, its lone audience member, into its dark and brooding atmosphere only mere moments before a stunning chorus was to fiercely explode with all the momentum, passion and pulsating energy that it could muster. I'm not even sure it would be possible to count the sheer amount of times I replayed that tune over the next few hours. I searched the lyrics and I sung along to every line in unison with lead vocalist Stephen Christian as if the song was my own, and then I took the massive step of purchasing the album that, "Dismantle Repair" was taken from; Cities.
This would be my first experience listening to a full Anberlin album, and I recall being so impressed with its underlying direction and overall cohesiveness. It was everything I wanted and needed musically at the time. As anyone would do, I then decided to backtrack and explore their discography. It was a wise decision that resulted in quite a powerful connection being built over time with the band's sophomore release, Never Take Friendship Personal. Yet, unfortunately, I could never really relate to the debut, Blueprints For the Black Market due in part to its poor production values and the fact that the band hadn't yet found their own signature sound. Consequently, I've always been of the opinion that the album itself is quite bland and forgettable outside of a select few tracks that I'll occasionally return to. Alas, Cities and Never Take Friendship Personal kept me occupied and entertained throughout my first full year of college education in Melbourne, but by that time I had overplayed these two particular records to the point where I felt a growing detachment taking place. My music tastes were broadening yet again, but this time I was so immersed in the world of indie and folk music- genres that still hold my attention and capture my heart more than any other to this day.
I temporarily fell out of love with Anberlin. That overlarge banner had long since disappeared from the front page, the album that it was promoting had already been released and I watched curiously, but entirely removed from the topic as the reaction to New Surrender was far from unanimously positive. From the outside looking in, I heard cries that it was a regression, that the band had lost their spark, they had misplaced a majority of what made them so unique, original and special. I watched as the album was essentially tossed aside in favor of other releases, but by that time I was engrossed within the world of A Book Like This by Angus and Julia Stone, I was captured by Sad Robots by Stars, and so I let my view of Anberlin continue to fall by the wayside. In fact, I still hadn't bothered to give any time or attention to New Surrender by the time that their follow-up, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place was released to varying degrees or mixed emotions and feelings.
Eventually I was ready and prepared to dedicate adequate time back into the band and the previous two records that they had worked so painstakingly hard to create. I was at a time in my life where I could love the indie music that I hold so close to me, but I could also finally experience enjoyment and find redeeming qualities within the music and bands that I used to love, also. After all, every band and artist I've ever loved has directly contributed to developing my taste in music into what it is today. It may sound silly to those who haven't been through it, but it took me quite a long time to realize that and get to that point. I quickly fell in love with New Surrender from my initial listen, and I readily admit that I still sometimes struggle to understand why the record is perceived so poorly and judged so harshly. "Breaking" is so energetic and the chorus is enormous, "Retrace" is beautifully delivered and the lyrics are penned so poetically, "Breathe" is a slow-building ballad with guitar tones reminiscent of "The Unwinding Cable Car", and "Haight St." has that addictive, soaring sing-along chorus that refuses to leave your head for days after succumbing to its melodies. I'm slightly less positive about Dark Is The Way in that it was great for the first few weeks, but then the choruses began to fall flat, the melodies turned tiresome and the record, at least in my own personal opinion, suffered as a direct consequence.
That leads me to the present. Until this evening, I've never really considered formulating any meaningful first impressionable thoughts regarding upcoming releases, and there are two main reasons as to why this has been the case over my writing and reviewing career to date. Firstly, for anyone who has read any of my previous reviews on this website, you'll more than likely be aware that I prefer to incorporate as much detail and analysis as I possibly can into my album reviews. I listen to the records extensively and I explore every individual facet of the record as thoroughly as can be until I'm satisfied and comfortable enough to sit down and compile six (or maybe closer to a dozen!) lengthy paragraphs on why you should, or in some cases, should not purchase the record in question. The second reason is intertwined directly to the first in that consequently, first impressions don't complement my writing style. In fact, first impressions are designed to be short, spontaneous, and can change quite drastically over the course of multiple repeat listens. As such, I may potentially have a completely different mindset regarding this release tomorrow, next week, next month, or even through to October when Vital is due for its worldwide release. I would also like to note that I will not be reviewing this record on behalf of AbsolutePunk, and whoever has that distinct honor will undoubtedly do a wonderful job.
I've heard the comment thrown around that Christian has stated Vital is their heaviest record to date, and whether that is indeed an actual quote from the frontman, I encourage audiences to refrain from going into this record believing that you're going to hear anything too aggressive around every corner. There are certain tracks that do indeed embrace a heaviness long since lost since the days of Cities, but it's never heavy for the sake of being heavy, and it's always deliberately juxtaposed and contrasts well with the quieter elements of the band. The melodies have not been forgotten, the choruses are much more original and have far more substance and replay value than those featured on Dark Is The Way, which is another enormous positive. It's difficult to say whether fans will enjoy this record as much as I currently am because I've never been downright disappointed with the material Anberlin create and I possibly don't hold them to the same immeasurably high standards that other individuals do, but I am confident enough to declare that everyone will find something to love throughout the duration of Vital.
Just for the sake of a brief teaser, "Other Side" is unequivocally my favorite track on the release after a few listens. Synth and heavy waves of distortion are prominent from the outset and a piano driven melody propels the track forward at a very deliberate rate. It's quite a beautiful introduction that makes the listener feel uneasy, as though the track itself is cloaked in equal amounts of impenetrable darkness and fierce moodiness. Christian's vocals cautiously waltz into the mix soon after, but the unsettling atmosphere is only further heightened when you hear that there are multiple of his own whispered vocal layers lurking hidden away and barely audible below a surface of reverb and minor key melodies. As a listener, you're just trying to make sense of the foreign surroundings that you find yourself in within "Other Side", but you're incapable of doing so as Christian continues, "Will we ever get the chance to walk alone in this life when we find out that we're home?" It's at this precise moment that those whispers within the background begin to sinisterly hiss, the production sounds like it's on the verge of tearing chaotically at the seams, and everything that has come before it culminates in the most stunning chorus you're likely to locate on Vital. Spiraling guitars wail heavily in unison, drumbeats pulsate aggressively, keyboards fluctuate and melodies soar to previously unseen heights as Christian succumbs to the outpouring of emotions the track has been able to conjure to this point. He sings with a startling sense of frailty and wounding vulnerability, hints of desperation etched into his pleading and high-rising delivery, "Love me, love me, why don't you know me? Hold me, hold me and you'll trust me, trust me."
As I mentioned earlier, it's debatable as to whether everyone will gravitate towards this release like they did in regards to Cities, but they're back to somewhere resembling their finest. From a selfish standpoint, I love it and that's good enough for me. As I'm so heavily invested in the indie and folk genres, it's so nice to be assured that there are still bands like Anberlin who continue to keep me coming back to this type of music. Vital is released this October, so make sure you pick it up!
Memoryhouse implement beautiful, wistful, bittersweet hooks accompanied with luscious ambient pop textures to create one of the most stunning tracks that I can recall hearing for quite a while. The results are simply breathtaking. See for yourself.
I've found myself with some free time recently due to having completed the traumatic process of revising and then subsequently completing my end of year exams. Thus, I've managed to compile a list containing twenty-five full-lengths and a further five EP's that I deem to be the best of this sensational year for music. I apologise in advance for the length.A
1. Angus and Julia Stone - Down the Way
Put simply, this is a brilliant record in every facet imaginable. Initially released in March, Down the Way essentially held the illustrious number one position on my own personal list for the remaining duration of the year. It's a sincerely beautiful album that captures intimacy, luscious harmonies, breathtaking melodies, and it's unmistakable delightful and enchanting. Down the Way possesses something remarkable and special because despite the overwhelming number of plays it has received since its release, the instrumentation is still delightful, I'm still as engrossed within the lyrics as I ever have been, the dual vocals are just as gorgeous as the very first occasion I heard them. This is one of my favourite albums in years, and it's such a big call, but I see this having timeless qualities ingrained into it. Down the Way is deserving of the title, album of the year.
The back story behind this record is extremely fascinating. Julia and her brother Angus had been on tour overseas promoting and performing songs from their debut, A Book Like This, to the point where Angus was thoroughly exhausted. They had also written and recorded what was to be their second album and my number one record of the year, Down the Way during this time. Alas, with Angus returning home to Australia indefinitely, Julia was forced to cancel the remaining dates of their tour overseas. Julia had no idea if Down the Way would ever see release or even if they would ever play music together again. It was that serious.
Instead of returning home herself, Julia remained overseas for a few months living with close friends in a two room apartment where she would write what is predominantly her debut solo full-length, The Memory Machine. It's candidly honest, saturated in sincerity and cascades with profound beauty and elegance within every note played and lyric sung. It's an enthralling and equally breathtaking debut where Julia's unique vocal delivery provides the purest of illumination even in the darkest and most insecure of lyrical settings.
Perhaps an unpopular selection if the all too frequent negative reviews that The Five Ghosts received upon its initial release are anything to go by, but I feel they're unjust because this record, at least in my view, is simply delightful. Amy Millan's stunningly gorgeous vocals burn and soar with patient regret in the superb "Changes" whilst Torquil Campbell takes the lead during the verses in the dynamic up-tempo "We Don't Want Your Body". The Five Ghosts is inspiring and its true beauty and complexity is found in its ability to render listeners temporarily incapable of diverting their attention from an album that is wonderful and charming.
Sally Seltmann released her third full-length, Heart That's Pounding in April of this year, and if you like indie-pop music and this somehow slipped completely under your radar, then I would highly recommend taking a listen. It's instantly loveable, Sally's vocals are absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, and it's a record that's so optimistic and contains luscious melodies throughout its forty minute duration. It's buoyant at every turn, vocal harmonies are everywhere and it thoroughly deserves a spot in my top five.
We Built a Fire is the second album from Icelandic septet Seabear and features indie-folk-virtues and subtle intimacy. “Fires Dies Down”, and the full-bodied “I’ll Build A Fire” plump with rumbling drums, violins, and female vocal harmonies whilst my personal favourite, “Lion Face Boy” is a a mid-tempo, string-filled pop number that builds and escalates into an enthusiastic chorus full of horns and easy melodies. Unfortunately, We Built a Fire was often overlooked upon its release, but for those who had the distinct pleasure and fortune of stumbling across it, we were able to decipher all its intricacies and quietly delivered lyrics. I don't know about you, but I immediately fell in love with the effortless charm that Seabear possesses.
When I sat down last December to write a most anticipated list, this was definitely my number one. Nobody had heard of them, perhaps nobody still has, but they created a debut containing atmospheric indie-rock with a touch of ambiance thrown in for good measure. Tracks such as the absolutely stunning "Years, Days, Months" explore cinematic, post-rock soundscapes to captivating effect. "Answers" contains the band's catchiest chorus with lead vocalist Edd Simpson conveying a sense of dramatic urgency over the band's signature cryptically complex lyrics. It may not have reached the top position despite it being my most anticipated of the year, but it's a thoroughly fantastic record regardless of its position.
A few months ago, this probably would have been sitting second on my list, but as it turned out other records continued to have a far greater impact on me when it came to revisiting them. Upon its release, I Believe You, Liar had me instantly hooked from the moment I heard songs such as "1997", "Underground" and "Spanish Temper". The latter track being the highlight of this wonderful album. There's not a lot more I can say except that it's actually quite harsh to have listed this album so low. It was a wonderful year for Australian music, and Washington is an enormous reason why that statement should be believed.
After having leaked late in 2009, this still had the lasting appeal to make my top ten of this year. Originally it took a fair while to connect with me lyrically and musically, but when it did, it had an enormous impact. It's one of those records where the lyrics are so expertly crafted that it's effortless to picture them vividly and immerse yourself within them. The instrumentation is beautiful, the production could potentially take a little time to get familiar with, but once Teen Dream is able to weave its magic, there's no way of resisting its charm and the unmistakable passion it conveys.
I feel as if this record didn't get the attention it deserved. After the publicity and exposure jj no.2 received before and after its initial release, somehow this managed to go vastly unnoticed. I manages to improve upon its previous effort in every facet explainable and contains soothing vocal melodies and a remarkable sense of positivity and optimism scattered throughout the lyrics. The music and instrumentation is both carefree without carelessness, and self-aware without being self-conscious. With it, they build an ice bridge arching from Gothenburg into the heart of Melbourne, Australia, and everywhere in between.
Bright Lights and Bruises took me completely by surprise. Prior to its release I had no idea about its existence but the emotion and passion within Jay Malinowski's vocals is just so unique, distinctive and inspiring. The record itself contains enthralling piano melodies and prominent acoustic guitars that help to make the vocals soar with momentum and cascade with vulnerability. Honestly, I can't praise this record enough. The vocals alone make Bright Lights and Bruises a must listen. The song below is titled "Santa Monica" and one listen should be enough to utterly captivate you into wanting to discover more of this wonderful talent.
Another release that happened to come out of nowhere, certainly I wasn't anticipating it or expecting anything remotely like it delivered. I feel the beauty within this record is that it's emotionally conflicting yet it feels so natural, precise and complete. The lyrics are simplistic yet fascinating, and the beauty behind them is that they show the listener what's occurring within these tracks, never actually telling them which is powerful because these lyrics have the ability to relate themselves to any situation the listener interprets. The Agreement has somewhat of a melancholy, mellow vibe coursing through it feel, with only a few deceptively upbeat songs with catchy rhythms. Alas, Lakes was an under appreciated release, but pleasantly surprising all the same.
Young The Giant have enormous potential and their self-titled debut album did nothing to convince me otherwise. It's fabulous and completely blew me away. "My Body" is absolutely brilliant and would have to be one of my contenders for song of the year. The reason why it's listed so low is because I just haven't been able to spend enough time with it, but from the somewhat limited opportunities it has had to win me over to this point, it's well and truly succeeded. It's very unlucky not to be placed higher. It's phenomenal.
The Autumn Film's debut full-length, The Ship and the Sea reminds me ever so slightly of a female fronted Copeland. "Mended" and "Sirens" are perfect examples of exemplifying that statement. It has literally had no talk or promotion on AP which is quite disappointing, but for anyone who reads this and loves indie-pop music, then this is a great record to purchase. It doesn't have any special qualities about it, but everything it aims to achieve, it does extremely well. The melodies are very good, the lyrics focus upon a variety of topics and themes including love, heartbreak and through adversity, finding our true selves. The piano is prominent in the majority of the songs which is another nice and appreciated touch.
This is the perfect indie-folk spring seasonal record, and in a way it reminds me of Seabear. Humbly understated and under appreciated, Peasant spends 10 tracks trying to bring you into his world where you’ll need to slow down in order to appreciate the immersive beauty. The entire record is brimming with brilliance and its poetical thoughtfulness; it's addictive and thoroughly intriguing as well as being one of the better singer/songwriter releases of 2010.
I stumbled upon this from a thread Eda created in General, and I'm so glad that she recommended it because it's sensational. From what I can gather from the people who have implied that they like it, it tends to be a grower, but for me personally this was able to immediately connect and have an impact with me. The Procession continues the dark and moody style of her first release with moments of exaltation while her vocal work on this album is amazing along with the symphonic backing arrangements. The Procession projects feelings of isolation and occasionally elation whilst on certain tracks vocal crescendos add to the ambiance of this album. Overall, The Procession features songs of aural and ambient beauty. Dreamy, melancholy, and momentum building emotion.
What's Fair are the only genuine pop band on my list, and their debut Fill This Space is another one that I was fortunate enough to stumble across merely by chance. Female fronted lead vocalist Jo Pollock has a simply gorgeous and beautiful voice that fits the instrumentation perfectly. The band's biggest asset is their ability to write and perfect a quality, catchy and infectious chorus seemingly at will. It really gives each individual song tremendous accessibility, but also their own personality and charm which is always crucial for a relatively unknown band when looking to obtain and develop a sizable fanbase. I have no doubt that if AP had caught onto this, it would be a well received, widely adored release. If you're reading this, I urge you to give the track below a moment of your time.
Initially I had Leche by Gregory and the Hawk sitting comfortably in this position, but as recently as a couple of weeks ago I discovered Puzzle and was completely blown away by the intricacy of the instrumentation and the breathtaking vocals. Icelandic orchestral poppers Amiina used to be part of the string section for Sigur Ros, so that's definitely a noteworthy comparison and there are certainly resemblances and distinct similarity in their attempts at the cinematic, the sublime and the quiet-loud dynamic. Regardless, Puzzle is a beautiful listening experience from beginning to end, and what it lacks in originality it just about makes up for in sheer resolve. There is never a sense that the band is anything less than sincere, and when making music this unashamedly emotional, sincerity is pretty much the most important ingredient. Lovely, beautiful music.
I certainly didn't expect Early Summer to make my end of year list because my initial response to the record wasn't negative, but it was far from ideally positive. I'd never before heard of Amaya, but the song that really turned it all around was "This World Can Make You Happy". The song does an excellent job at showcasing how enchanting her vocals are throughout the duration of the record. I can definitely sense a little bit of folk, a whole lot of pop and a minuscule portion of country influencing the creation of Early Summer. Amaya's vocals are definitely the highlight and reason for the lengthy lasting value and staying power. It's a fabulous record and another terrific Australian release.
Listen to: [button=http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/triplej/newmusic/amaya_laucirica/this_world_can_make_you_happy.mp3]"This World Can Make You Happy"[/button] Myspace Official Website Purchase
19. Rocky Votolato - True Devotion
This is such a touching and emotional album. Rocky battled and struggled through depression and severe bouts of anxiety throughout the writing and production of True Devotion, and perhaps that's why it's so heartfelt and sincere. Rarely does an album reach such enormous heights when the creator himself was predominantly at his lowest. It's a beautiful album and in hindsight should have made it higher on my list, but alas, at least it still receives its well deserved recognition. Below is a track titled "Sparklers" and every single time I hear it, it still sends and delivers shivers and chills down my spine. Absolutely breathtaking.
This was fortunate to be on my list because I'd given it that many listens to no avail, but whilst I was compiling my list I fell head over heels for "O.N.E" and that was the real turning point because once I was hooked, it wasn't about to let go. Consequently, I now essentially adore this record. Yeasayer was fighting for this last spot with such other bands and artists as Jonsi, Efterklang, Corinne Bailey Rae, Silent League and Los Campesinos.