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2024 Album-A-Day: Week 2

Second week of my album-a-day thing. See the tag for the previous entry.

January 8th: Græ by Moses Sumney

I'd been meaning to check this one out for a while because Mic the Snare loved it so much, and I really enjoyed this. I actually kept revisiting this when not listening to my list. It's music that's not beholden to any genre or specific style, and it's free to explore all these different textures and styles. The lyrics discuss topics of love, loneliness, identity, and sexuality, and even when I don't understand what he's talking about I love his voice. (sometimes I don't pick up on lyrical themes. )Songs like "Colouour" and "Cut Me" are smooth and understated, but then something like "Virile" is heavy and aggressive. Whatever weird direction this album goes in, it works.

January 9th: Morbid Stuff by PUP

Every time I listen to a Jeff Rosenstock album on Tidal (which is often), the first song on the track radio tends to be "Can't Win" by PUP. After falling in love with that song, I decided, "I ought to check out an album of theirs." I decided on Morbid Stuff because I'd heard people talking about it when it came out, and I really enjoyed this album. I've made no secret about how much I love punk rock, and this is the perfect combination of a classic punk sound with a modern sense of anxious fear, much like my beloved Jeff Rosenstock. I need to point out a specific lyric that I love, from the song "Scorpion Hill": "If the world is gonna burn, then everyone should have a turn to light it up." Perfect. I also loved the song "Kids" with that wrecking ball of a chorus. I can't recommend this enough."

January 10th: Boys & Girls and Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes

This was a double feature, because I thought, "Hey, this band only has two albums, why not listen to both?" Strangely, my first exposure to this band was through Brittany Howard's solo work, before I'd heard their signature song "Hold On." After listening to both of these albums, I can confirm that I absolutely love this band. The music, at its core, is blues rock, but there's all of these pieces taken from other styles such as psychedelic and punk, and at the front of it all is Britanny Howard, an amazingly gifted singer and guitarist with so much power in her voice. I'm never getting over something like "Hold On" or "Shoegaze" or "Gimme All Your Love" or "I Ain't the Same" because they're all amazing. These albums are both masterpieces.

January 11th: Phantom Power by the Tragically Hip

I'd heard of the Tragically Hip before this week, but the only song I knew was "Poets," which is on this album, and to my knowledge it's their most popular album, so I began my relationship with the Hip here. First impression: I like them. Their style reminds me of R.E.M to some extent, but with the lyrical abstraction replaced with hyper-specific Canadian references. Gord Downie's voice has a unique power to it, Rob Baker's riffs drive the songs forward, and the compositions all have these amazing hooks. "Bobcaygeon" and "Fireworks" were some of my favorites here. Also, Crash Thompson, I love you, but I don't get why you don't like "Poets." It's a good album opener.

January 12th: Drums and Wires by XTC

This was my first time with a full XTC album after knowing some of the singles for many years, and I really like this album. They remind me of other bands I like at the time, such as Talking Heads or Elvis Costello and the Attractions, but with a unique take on the cultural confines of suburban England and about ADHD and anxiety. It's easy to tell which songs were written by guitarist Andy Partridge and which were written by bassist Colin Moulding. Andy's songs, such as "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty" and "Millions" have that Talking Heads-ish janky affect to them and more wordy and idiosyncratic lyrics, while Colin's songs such as "Making Plans for Nigel" and "Life Begins at the Hop" are more polished and pop-friendly. My understanding is that this caused some tension in the band, as Andy was aiming to pop music but was being outperformed by his bassist. I'm getting off topic; my point is, this is a good album.

January 13th: Parachute and Goldfly by Guster

I wasn't very familiar with Guster until last year, when their song "Either Way" entered my track radio after listening to Ben Folds Five, and I then listened to their album Lost And Gone Forever, which I enjoyed. I had put both of these albums on my list, and after doing both Alabama Shakes albums, I decided to make this one another double feature. Both of Guster's first two albums are very enjoyable, with their unique sound involving their two vocalists singing overlapping lyrics and bare-hand percussion. Some of my favorites on these albums were "Eden,," "Dissolve," and "Demons." I must also mention the elephant in the room, "Airport Song," which... um.... yeah. Gross. Creepy. But other than that, I liked these albums.

January 14th: Picaresque by the Decemberists

How in all 9 circles of hell did I not listen to this sooner? This has all the hallmarks of things I love:

  • Non-traditional instrumentation
  • Lyrics with weird narratives
  • A lead singer with a weird voice
  • A variety of styles

There is not a song on this album that I don't love. "The Infanta" is a raucous opener that kicks the door down with group chants, "Eli the Barrow Boy" is a beautiful dirge, "The Sporting Life" is an upbeat song about everyone hating you, "The Bagman's Gambit" is a fascinating story, and "The Mariner's Revenge Song"- HOLY SHIT THIS SONG. My point is, I really like this album.

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