Tag: American Princes
All gels and liquids are banned on flights after an alleged terrorist threat involving baby formula or something. A bunch of indie kids are left pondering how in the hell they are going to get their hair to look SO EMOTIONAL after stepping off the tarmac. Aaron Spelling dies. TV remains shit. Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, discoverer of Led Zeppelin, and all-around musical great guy, dies after hitting his head at a Rolling Stones gig. On the album front, it was a bit of a weak year.
10. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
I always loved Neko Case’s soaring voice (who doesn’t?), and Fox Confessor was the moment when she convinced me of her musical, as well as vocal, talents.
9. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ pretty much defined 2006, but its mother album was strong throughout. Cee-Lo’s bizarre but somehow resonant and vulnerable lyrics, combined with the excellent music contributed by Danger Mouse, formed an immersive experience that sounded old in soul but new in musical terms. Follow-up The Odd Couple was probably even better developed musically, but lacked the defining hit provided by ‘Crazy’ on this album.
8. Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
Beirut’s Zach Condon does not lack in self-belief. He pulls the typical summer-abroad in some country, and then goes home to New Mexico and manages to write an accomplished and immersive slice of folk rooted in the places he’s been. He pulled it off first and best with Gulag Orkestar, drawing on time spent in Eastern Europe to build a paean to the former Eastern Bloc, blending Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Serbian traditions and more rootless Roma underpinnings with straightforward, indie rock vocals, concocting a stew that felt relevant to record buyers in the west.
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones
The YYYs’ debut, Fever to Tell, was scrappy and roughed up in a charming way, but Show Your Bones proved that Karen O and crew could play with the big boys (and girls).
6. American Princes – Less & Less
Boys from the American south like Kings of Leon, American Princes have the melodies that should give them at least modest recognition in the wake of their more famous geographical counterparts. Less scrappy than the Kings, American Princes mix a healthy dose of punk into classic rock architecture, throwing big guitar hooks underneath the usual songs about love and loss, crooned in Collins Kilgore’s pleasant but world-weary yelp.
5. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
The Arctics acted as a reminder that northern English music could be smart and full of dry wit, not just the mindless (but fun, sometimes) yobbery of Oasis and their many goonish fans. ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ was, and remains, incredibly exhilarating, a brash and punky slice of rock that simultaneously snarls at and provides danceable fodder for many a club night. Slower tracks like ‘Mardy Bum’ were the perfect comedown after the wild night and hinted at more depth and emotion to Alex Turner’s writing. Follow-up Favourite Worst Nightmare was nearly as good, but this year’s Humbug is a bit of a weary misstep. Here’s hoping they find their footing again soon.
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were never the most mature of bands, and their socks-on-cocks white boy take on funk never resonated deeply with me. Once they started to grow up a bit, and once John Frusciante revealed his true Brian Wilson-like auditory singularity and vision, the band blossomed into real juggernauts.
3. Calexico – Garden Ruin
On this album, Calexico backed off its heavy Tex-Mex flavouring a bit, making it more accessible without dumbing it down.
2. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
TV on the Radio are not an easy listen. They challenge you and require your full attention, but this attention is rewarded in time with genuinely warm and soulful – but never pandering – music. 2008’s Dear Science was another great record, so these boys are by no means done releasing quality music.
1. The Hold Steady – Boys & Girls in America
The Hold Steady get a lot of comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. It’s fair in some senses, but not so fair in others. Bruce speaks for the noble working man, the one who maybe makes some mistakes but is just looking for his chance in life. Craig Finn and the Hold Steady see a more complicated vision of good and bad – and redemption – and chronicle the lives of wasters and drunks and druggies and trouble makers throughout America. The album is nicely summed up by its first sentence, lifted from Jack Kerouac: ‘There are time when I think that Sal Paradise was right: boys and girls in America have such a sad time together.’ Finn takes you through the rest of the album, further developing the mythos and characters he’s built through several albums, constructing an accurate depiction of life and its ups and downs when you’re born in the middle of nowhere.