I don't want to be too wordy (or verbose, if you're studying for your SATs) and just introduce this with a "hey, I'm still breathing, no- I didn't forget about you" kind of post, you know?
20. Portastatic- Be Still Please (Merge) rating: 75
I love it when a band's name doesn't sound like they sound. Take, for instance, Portastatic: I was thinking a Dutch trip-hop act with a dreadlocked DJ spinning backwards Gustav Mahler symphonies over beats produced by the RZA. So then- Portastatic is an American Indie Rock Band (an A.I.R.B. for the uninitiated) that relies on an acoustic guitar-driven and that heavily orchestrated, overtly lush pop sound to give it a feel specifically nothing like the washing machine brand name that it implies. Another album recommended by Pitchfork.com, this time by David Raposa. Damn it, I really wanna write for Pitchfork so badly! Fave Track: You Blanks
19. Justin Timberlake- FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive) rating:76
I was like, "I'm so not even going to review this, I could care less..." But, at my girlfriend's urging, I decided to give it a try. And you know what I thought after the first time I listened to it? "I have to listen to this again!" So I listened to it two more times. Because I had this terrible feeling that I'm almost ashamed to admit- I really, really like this album, and if I listened to it again, maybe I'd come to my senses and see that it sucked. But it doesn't, not even close. See, I want to write about music for a living, as a profession, so that means listening to and objectively reviewing both the good and bad points of a record. I wanted to say that this record is only good because of Timbaland's stellar beats and production (10 of the 14 tracks here are by Timba, not to mention the way he segues each song perfectly with interludes and preludes, something that I'd like to see more of in the future...) but the fact remains that Mr. Timberlake actually writes very well and sings even better. This album has everything it needs to be a huge hit: the club bangers, the slow ballads, the introspective songs, etc. But what I think makes it a good album is the "adultness" of it. He's talking about sex here, but not that "in da club on da dancefloor" tired, cliche sex. He means real, loving, grown-up people sex. And that shows great maturity for a boy-band expatriate. Fave Track: What Goes Around.../...Comes Around
18. Band Of Horses- Everything All The Time (SubPop) rating: 77
Whoa, this guy sounds exactly like My Morning Jacket's Jim James. Just like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's lead singer sounds like David Byrne. Confused? I'll make it easier for you- this album is excellent. Good pop from SubPop. I read a lot of blogs and visit a whole gaggle of reputable music sites on this here good old internet. This band was recommended by Pitchfork's Stephen Duesner back in March, and I'm glad I took that guy's advice. Think of (to borrow Duesner's comparison) crossed with MMJThe Shins gives you a Band Of Horses. Fave Track: The First Song
17. Belle & Sebastian- The Life Pursuit (Matador/Rough Trade) rating: 79
Oh my, does twee pish get any better than this? Scottish pop will always have a place in my heart, ever since Stuart Murdoch beckoned me to step into his office back in 2003 (I know, I was late catching the Belle & Sebastian wave, so sue me) I haven't cared that most critics think B&S's best is behind them. It's never too late to jump on the bandwagon, even if everyone seems to want to jump off. I even had a brief fascination with learning Scottish slang because of B&S. Away an bile yer heid, the blues'r still blue, mind ya. Fave Track: We Are The Sleepyheads
16. The Dears- Gang Of Losers (MapleMusic/Arts&Crafts) rating: 80
"I hang out with all the pariahs, everyone is almost done with me..." croons The Dears' Murray Lightburn on Ticket To Immortality, the second track on Gang Of Losers. The soulful introspection and lyrical beauty of this album is juxtaposed thematically with some of the most eclectic musical compositions of any album this year. I like the new direction The Dears are headed for- becoming ever more optimistic despite their gloomy past. Sometimes I listen to an album and think to myself (and occasionally I say it out loud) "How the hell is this band not huge, like insanely huge?" I think it's because when words are written and set to music, and those words suddenly carry weight, they give themselves power and they become all too real. This album, emotionally, is one of the realest of the year. It hits very close to home, almost uncomfortably so sometimes. So, shall we call it Canadian Brit-pop, or should I just call Mr. Lightburn the black Mozza? Fave Track: Ballad Of Humankindness
Okay then, keep your channel tuned for #s 11 - 20. Meet me here tomorrow...