Quick Before it Melts

And then there were eight.

by  |  June 7, 2009  |  7 Comments

By midnight tomorrow night, I have to submit my top five albums from June 1, 2008 to May 31, 2009 to the good folks at running this year’s Polaris Music Prize.  When I was asked to participate as a juror for this year’s award, I thought, “Hey, this’ll be a snap!”  What I didn’t realize at the time was that my fingers wouldn’t be doing the snapping, it would be my brain.  Narrowing a list down to about 15 was easy, but culling the herd down to a mere five has proved to be incredibly difficult.  So much so that at this point in time, I can’t even say for certain what the order of the final five will be, but I figured I’d share with you where I’m at right now, and look back on some of the best music I’ve heard this year.  Here are the last eight albums standing, in no particular order (yet), and with no final decision as to which five will be on my list.

Rae Spoon Superioryouareinferior

(08 September 2008)…Superioryouareinferior, a beguiling album, like it’s creator, defies easy categorization. It’s roots are in folk and country, but there’s inspired moments where computerized beats and sampling adds an unexpected–but very welcomed–twist. His lyrics are like a mini-geography lesson, traversing this country from sea to sea. Along the way, you not only visit physical landmarks and historic sites, but you get to see a soul laid bare, and a life not many of us could ever expect to experience.”

MP3: Rae Spoon “Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down”
Myspace: Rae Spoon

Attack In Black Years (by One Thousand Fingertips)

(28 February 2009) “…as much as I liked Marriage I was really looking forward to what they would do next, because like Sloan before them, I could hear the evolution of the music in some of the more pop tracks, and was sure that the best of Attack In Black was yet to come.  I don’t like to say that I was right, but I was.”

MP3: Attack In Black “Liberties”
Myspace: Attack In Black

Pink Mountaintops Outside Love

(28 May 2009) “Those who are familiar with the Black variety of McBean’s Mountain songs may appreciate the softer, sentimental side on display here.  “While We Were Dreaming” features vocals by McBean’s Black Mountain band mate Ashley Webber, set against a hauntingly beautiful tune reminiscent of Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval’s work with The Jesus & Marychain.  “And if I could find your heart/I would pull it from your chest/and smash you with my fist til it was beating…” she croons, making your knees buckle, and your heart melt.”

MP3: Pink Mountaintops “While We Were Dreaming”
Myspace: Pink Mountaintops

The Dears Missiles

(21 October 2008) “Missiles is a massive, multi-layered affair, and it’s in no hurry to get from here to there. It’s a decidedly downtempo pace throughout the album’s 10 tracks, but when the music is this beautifully rendered you don’t mind taking your time to stop and smell the roses. Lyrically speaking, the mood is all about atonement, redemption, and rebuilding what once was. Lightburn repeatedly asks the listener for forgiveness or for a second chance, or to scrap everything and start all over again…Some day, the story of how this album got made is going to make a great addition to the 33 1/3 book series.”

MP3: The Dears “Meltdown In A Major”
Myspace: The Dears

Bruce Peninsula A Mountain Is a Mouth

(01 January 2009) “It’s kind of hard for me to put into words, but when listening to Bruce Peninsula, it’s almost as if I can smell the earth in their melodies, feel soft, cushion-like moss in the percussion, feel the warm breeze in their rousing choruses, as if the country–the very land of Canada itself–were singing and playing the music.  Earth songs, indeed.”

MP3: Bruce Peninsula “Steamroller”
Myspace: Bruce Peninsula

Japandroids Post-Nothing

(29 May 2009) “Post-Nothing surprised me with it’s melodic undertow, dragging the listener into its chaotic clatter.  While they’re just a duo, Japandroids manage to sound as if there’s an army of guitars and drums behind blistering tracks like “The Boys Are Leaving Town”.  I expected something akin to DFA 1979, but instead found a band who are clearly blazing their own trail.”

MP3: Japandroids “Young Hearts Spark Fire”
Myspace: Japandroids

The Rest Everyone All At Once

(14 May 2009) “Adam Bentley’s voice is strikingly reminiscent of Robert Smith’s, especially on album opener “Coughing Blood/Fresh Mountain Air”.  That song sort of encapsulates everything that’s great about The Rest: brooding in tone, but airy and spacious in composition; romantic without being sappy; layered and lush without overdoing the melodrama.”

MP3: The Rest “Coughing Blood/Fresh Mountain Air”
Myspace: The Rest

Wolf Parade At Mount Zoomer

(12 May 2008) “Wolf Parade’s second full-length really sounds like a transitional album, but not in the way you might think. The transition here is between the members side project bands and how the have influenced and infused themselves into the fabric of what is Wolf Parade.  Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner are beginning to reach Lennon/McCartney-like individuality, as it’s easy to pick out their contributions if you know their side-project work. I think that’s what I’m liking most about this album–a near seamless whole that can still be clearly divided based on the songwriter, and the external influences they bring.”

MP3: Wolf Parade “Call It A Ritual”
Myspace: Wolf Parade

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  1. Jordan says:

    I hope everyone working on the polaris puts as much effort and research in to it as you do! This is awesome to see!

  2. herohill says:

    I hope that Missiles isn’t one of them 🙂 I just couldn’t get into that record.

  3. scrobytilt says:

    i can just go crazy listening to post-nothing it really makes my day everytime i hear it

  4. Jim says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Jordan. I take the responsibility seriously, I guess. It’s a pretty big deal to me to have been asked. Keep reading for more!

  5. Jim says:

    Ha Ha! Oh, Brian, if only I knew what those five albums were! I’m still undecided on two (and Missiles is one of them).

  6. matthew says:

    Are you sure we listened to the same Dears album? It was probably the easiest cut from my list, and that was out of 150-200 albums!

  7. Jim says:

    I think you may have misunderstood my comment, Matthew–Missiles doesn’t look like it’s making my list. But I still do like it.

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