There have been a few hype-worthy albums released already this young year. Maybe people saw how it worked for Vampire Weekend last year to release an album before we even got over our champagne hangovers. Or maybe people are really aliens. Think about it.
Anyway, not only were these albums at the beginning of this year, they're at the beginning of the alphabet. AC Newman, Andrew Bird, Animal Collective and (travelling all the way down to "B") Bon Iver all put out records that helped make my 2009 start out all ablaze with accord.
AC Newman's "Get Guilty" is a pop album from a pop mastermind for people who like pop-rock-n-roll. Pop, pop, pop. Newman is the frontman for one of my favorite pop bands The New Pornographers, and is adept at expertly-crafting melodies that are intelligent and fun at the same time. He's also Canadian. Think about it. Anyway, this album is so easy to get into ("Changeling" is a standout single) and is a great eye-opener for people who think of the All-American Rejects as the face of pop rock.
Andrew Bird. Ah... Andrew Bird. That's my reaction to his new album "Noble Beast". I just love this guy. And I can't possibly match his wit or gift for prose. Bird is a classically trained musician (read: he plays the violin and lays off the drum machine), so his whimsical lyrics dance playfully off his arrangements. (See? I can't out-Bird Bird.) From the get-go, Bird's trademark whistling and silky-smooth voice dig in with "Oh No" and other standouts on the album include (but are not limited to) "Fitz and the Dizzy Spells" and "Anonimal", in which I can already picture every fan at his show singing along sincerely to the lyrics "Hold on just a second, don't tell me this one, you know I know this song, I love this song". So true.
Next up is Animal Collective's "Merriweather Post Pavilion", certainly a salute to Merriweather Lewis of Lewis and Clark and their incredible journey to the west coast of North America. Or another vague indie album title. Either way. This album has received the most acclaim and buzz of all this month, but I'll just admit it now: I don't really get it. Not that that prevents me from enjoying this fuzzy, electro-experiment of layered sound and vocals. Maybe it's good that I don't get it. I don't get how that douchebag "daredevilled" his dirtbike on top of Paris Las Vegas on New Year's Eve. But it was clearly awesome. Me understanding why it's awesome has nothing to do with it being awesome. And that's a relief. "My Girls" is especially reassuring.
Finally, Bon Iver put out an EP (which I believe stands for Elvis Poops, but somehow means a shorter-than-normal album) this month called "Blood Bank". If you haven't had a chance to experience "For Emma, Forever Ago", his LP (which means a normal-length album, and I believe was named for Luke Perry), you really should. At the risk of taking on the tone of your annoying little cousin on facebook that thinks he or she knows everything about anything that's cool... Bon Iver is so hawt!!! LMAO!!! Seriously though, he's amazing. This EP is too short to really show the breadth of what this supremely low-key and emotionally evocative singer/songwriter can do. But I love it. The track "Woods" is a freaky, freaky, haunting vocal piece that I can't stop listening to. It makes me want to befriend a cactus and drive my futuristic space car into a lake. Think about it.
Looking to prioritize your early season purchases? Of course you are, you recession-proofer. I'd say... Bird, then Bon Iver, then Animal Collective, then AC Newman. But like any good dryer sheets, they're all worth a spin.