I’ve listened to this album no fewer than ten times through in the last week, each time with increasing admiration for the brilliance embedded in the deceivingly simple construction of each of the album’s twelve songs. Miracle Temple listens like a true album should, a healthy mix of ballads, jangly bar tunes and alt country swooners that disintegrate into downtempo Allman Brothers’ esque guitar jams, all made something exceptional by Heather McEntire’s flawless vocals evocative of my imaginary rendition of what the experience of a long drive through the hills of North Carolina (they do have hills, right?) must be like.
Leages You Belong Here starts flashy and direct, sweet wa wa guitars and very specific metaphors of what romantic love is all about lead off a wholly entertaining album made with the intention, or at least having the effect of, making a Wednesday afternoon watching my daughter play in the living room feel like being in the throes of an all night party montage commercial for Bacardi featuring people old enough to know better or a Ford Taurus comprised of a cast far too young to have given up on life. And in reality, as long as the soundtrack is going to be the same, I’d take the living room with Weezy Baby over the inevitable hangover and probable ‘clap from drinking too much cheap booze or negative investment, likely breakdown and crushing realization of finding myself inside a terrible decision. But I digress. Leagues stays funky to the point of me being willing to use the word funky twice in one sentence on a blog I intentionally make available to people I know personally and whose opinion of me as a writer and human I value. Every song is driven by a steady beat, anthemic vocals often drifting into synthy falsetto and a sense of genuine purpose and composition. Lyrically, no university will be adopting Leagues 501 anytime soon. But that’s perfectly fine with me. Leagues have the ability to construct an ideal illusion of being present for the perfect moment in time back to back ten times over in somewhere close to forty minutes, which is about the most I could ask for from any album.
It’s nice to see bands realize the value of their music. And that isn’t meant to belittle The Lighthouse and the Whaler’s specific variety of jangly folk rock that comprises their overwhelmingly consistent album This is an Adventure. Instead, they realize that $7 is a perfect price for an album that doesn’t miss getting the most out of every song, is available for preview on Bandcamp, and embeddable for lowly sporadic bloggers like me. They first showed up this morning in my living room while I was dancing in a really white guy sort of way with my daughter to the apty titled ‘Sunshine Indie Pop’ playlist (or something like that) on Songza, a free internet radio app that has incredibly not left Pandora smoldering in the dust. The lead song, ‘Pioneers’ doesn’t sound wholly original in a genre defying way by any means, and in making this my first recommended post in quite some time, I realize how through selective framing of my endorsements, my musical taste might look like it’s losing a little adventure, or at least trending toward redundant. Being aware of this fact, I’m gonna remain steadfast and put my seal of approval on the whole of Adventure as the perfect album for a Saturday morning when a convergence zone shuts down any potential of local wind on the water, but broken clouds in the distance and beer banana pancakes with my wife and daughter are a far more than equitable substitute for freezing my ass of on Lake Washington. Anyway, it’s supposed to nuke tomorrow.
I’ve been off the radar for a while, a mix of lethargy and plenty of other baby related distractions have kept me away from the computer screen but still inundated with music. And when I set out to write this post, I saw it initially as a potential return to at least some sort of compositional cadence. That will not be the case, at least not with this post. I’m banging out a final few sentences in a dark room, hoping my daughter will sleep for about the five more minutes I need to finish up. With one day to go before the new releases for 2013 start up, A$AP Rocky’s newest is my most anticipated for tomorrow. That being said, and just in time to meet the cutoff for a best of 2012 compilation, here’s my list, in some particular order, of the albums I listened to the most in 2012. The playlist to accompany it doesn’t necessarily contain my favorite track off each album, but does a decent job representing what was, for me, a very strong year in music. If there’s anything I’ve missed either through omission or faulty judgement, don’t hesitate to comment below. I promise I’ll approve those comments quicker than I’ve done in the past.