Saturday, December 24, 2011

Frank's Favorite Albums 2011: Nice Singing/Songwriting Brah Edition

Here are a couple albums by dudes that write and perform their own work. I bet there are some good chick albums too if you check back later.

Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
May 3 Wichitia Recordings

This is the third album  from longtime Super Furry Animals front man Gruff Rhys and trumps anything he has done solo or with SFA. My Welsh fixation in the 90's was focused mainly on Gorky's Zygotic Mynci who were artier and more pop oriented than the hard rocking Furies. Still I have always held a little place for SFA and there fusion of hard psychedelia pop and tongue in cheek sense of humor.

From the start Gruff has been an amazing songwriter which was often overshadow by the big production of early SFA albums along with his tendency to sing in his native Welsh. Hotel Shampoo is very reminiscent to a Beetles' album incorporating a variety of avant-pop styles rooted in syrupy hooks and unique instrumentation. And like most Beetles' albums there is not a clunker on here.

Jens Lekman - An Argument With Myself
September 20 Secretly Canadian

Jens Lekman, you never let me down my man. One of the greatest songwriters working today released this five song EP of tracks that he felt wouldn't fit on his upcoming album. Each one of these tracks is vastly different from the other and filled with Jen's deadpan black humor and meticulous observations on the heart. The title track is one of the wittiest, charming and beguiling of recent memory and so obviously it is  my favorite track of year. I don't know what Pitchfork was thinking leaving it off their top 100 tracks of the year but including anything with a little Drake stank on it.

This release continues the tradition of Jens topping himself with each sparingly delivered album. The reason for this is his brilliant combination of modern Bacharach music that serves as perfect backdrop for his masterful storytelling. A perfect example, "Waiting for Kristen" tells the story of a night spent searching for Kirsten Dunst through the streets of Sweden. Upon arriving at a club he hears she might be at the following lyrics (turning at the space to the chorus) follows,

"What she's doing here, you think?"
"I heard she's filming with von Trier."
"Hey Klara, how's your night?
Did you know about Kirsten? Have you seen her?"
She says:"Yeah she was here,
But she was turned away at the door."
I know, I know, I can't believe no one told her before

That in Gothenburg we don't have VIP lines
In Gothenburg, we don't make a fuss about who you are
In Gothenburg, we don't have VIP lines
But then I bit my tongue, and the taste of blood was so strong


Funny story. I saw Jens back in 2004 in support of "When I Said I Wanted to be Your Dog" at Emo's in Austin. After the show I bought my girlfriend at the time a tshirt and asked him to sign and inscribe something along the lines of how he thought she was beautiful and he would love to have sex with her. He said that made him feel uncomfortable and just signed Love, Jens. Good guy.

Destroyer - Kaputt
January 25 Merge

I am a big fan of Ban Bejar's work with Canadian super group The New Pornographers and an on again/off again fan of his work with Destroyer. He is with out a doubt an amazing songwriter but sometimes his dense lyrics come off as rambling to me. With most Destroyer songs tending to be 5+ minutes long he does not leave much breathing room for the listener.

Now this album is totally different! Dan pulled a little 180 on us and released a surprisingly unpretentious and sophisticated album of a genre I just came up with, indie-adult contemporary. The album floats along with breezy female backup vocals, sultry saxophone and an uptown laid back vibe through out. Recommended for fans of Avalon era Roxy Music and other classy blue eyed soul albums of the early to mid-eighties.

No comments:

Post a Comment