For this quarter I’ve gone back and forth between picking albums to listen to and having dynamic playlists determine what I listen to. For most of March I was listening to a bunch of free South by Southwest samplers with some pretty GREAT music. Not a lot of repeat among the artists there so none of them appear on this list. Some of those songs could potentially end up in the most listened song list at the end of the year.
1. Anberlin (89) – I spent a lot of time listening to their last album, “Vital”. As I mentioned before, I think it’s the strongest of the past three albums and a real return to the power and return to the energy of the earlier albums while still exhibiting the personal growth of the last few years. A while ago I was only marginally keeping tabs on the band, I’m now once again excited for their next album.
2. Frank Ocean (84) – I’ve spoken about Frank Ocean at least twice now in these quarterly reviews. His music may or may not be your cup of tea, but the lyrics are playful while also expressing true emotion. He uses humor to its best purpose – helping us swallow uncomfortable truths. I really, really can’t wait for his next album.
3. MC Frontalot (69) – I heard an interview on Science Friday with MC Frontalot and it made me load in some of my favorite songs. I think he mentioned he has an album coming out revolving around kid’s stories – that could be very interesting.
4. Fall Out Boy (50) – I was reminded of how much I loved the final album and then there was the announcement that the group would be reuniting to put out another. In celebration I listened to “Folie a Deux”. Still a great album! (Of course, there aren’t 50 songs on FoD. I having to like a lot of their songs so the dynamic playlist tends to bring them up a bit)
5. The Black Keys (44) – Danielle got all four albums for her birthday and some other event. I listened to all the songs and developed the following opinions of The Black Keys. They are talented musicians. There isn’t really anyone that I know of that’s currently making the type of rock they’re making. What genre is it? Folk rock? It seems to have a very old-school feel to it where the guitar seems half country and half rock – like the rock of old. I also think that on any given album their songs sound a little too similar for me. So while I will enjoy hearing songs here and there, I will probably not ever listen to entire albums again. I like the first album the least and the last album the most. The middle two are tied for second. I really like the song “Next Girl” from the Brothers album.
6. The Beach Boys (40) – If I could scrobble the music I listen to at work (unfortunately I can neither install the last.fm scrobbler nor listen to streaming music at work) The Beach Boys would be number by a long shot. I listen to “Pet Sounds” almost every day at work. I really, really like that album. I’d read it was a response to The Beatles and I think it’s a very worthy response.
7. Relient K (34) – Unlike Anberlin, Relient K hasn’t shown signs of returning to their old, more rock sound. I’ll definitely approach the next album with caution. However, I do enjoy those old songs.
8. James Primate (33) – This came from an album I got off of Bandcamp involving the soundtracks to a few indie games. A fun listen.
9. Five Iron Frenzy (32) – As I continued to get antsy about the new FIF album, due out within the next few months, I went back and listened to some of my favorite songs. The End Is Here is a real high point for the band and I can’t wait to see how they have evolved in the past eight years. Their only released single so far is pretty awesome so I’m excited. A recent interview I read about the new album sounding a bit grittier and having somewhat darker lyrics makes it sound like it might be the lovechild of the old Five Iron Frenzy and Brave Saint Saturn and that’s quite exciting. While the first BSS album was a bit goofy and a bit saccharine at points, the final two are in my top 10 rock albums.
10. The Roots (27) – I tried to get into The Roots when their latest album came out and everyone was talking about how awesome they are. But based on the 30 second snippets on Amazon I couldn’t tell if I’d like it. But after watching Jimmy Fallon over the past year and hearing how talented The Roots are as the house band I decided to give them another chance. This time I got the first two compilation albums. It made me realize there were others doing rap like the first two GRITS albums. In fact, GRITS was probably musically influenced by The Roots as they were around first. I LOVE that early Roots stuff and I’ll have to make sure to listen to these albums again. I really wish GRITS had stuck with this style rather than going for Dirty South.
11. 2 Mello (26) – Daniel passed along this mixtape that combined Jay-Z’s lyrics with Chrono Trigger music. Overall, it’s a great composition. I think The Grey Album is a better mix and more consistent since it takes all its Jay-Z lyrics from The Black Album. Also better than the other rap I’d heard over Chrono Trigger music – YTCracker’s Chrono Nurga.
12. Cory Johnson (24) – These listens came from listening to this album. As I told Dan, I’m over Legend of Zelda and Mario covers. Let’s see some Portal, Assassin’s Creed, or other games. Still, this is a great album. Wonderfully done covers.
13. Fantastic Plastic Machine (22) – I’d taken a bit of a rest from listening to Fantastic Plastic Machine. It’s the kind of music that I just can’t listen to over and over like I can with some other albums. But a recent Fresh Air interview made me think about the eponymous first album – the one which is the most Shibuya-Kei (???) and listen to it again. While Luxury and the subsequent albums have some good songs, this is the one in which I like the greatest percentage of the music.
13. Jake Kaufman (22) – He has a great album of the Double Dragon Neon soundtrack. It’s a throwback to the Double Dragon of my childhood. It’s bombastic and crazy and a lot of fun to listen to.
15. Danny Elfman (18) – Danny Elfman continues to appear nearly every quarter for the second or third year now. He deserves it – his soundtrack work is great!