Tuesday, December 22, 2009

there was a band playing my head

Top 10 Albums Of The Decade

10. k.d. Lang - Hymns Of The 49th Parallel (2004) (LB)

I managed to reach 2004 without ever having even considered buying a k.d.Lang record. I've also managed to go from 2006 (when I bought this one) without considering buying once since....

Hymns Of The 49th Parallel is an album of cover versions of songs originally performed by fellow Canadian artists. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell loom large, as does Leonard Cohen with Lang's terrific cover of Hallelujah gracing this album years before Simon Cowell got his paws on it.

I bought this album on a trip to Canada in 2006. It is, unquestionably, one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. It's the perfect accompaniment to a late night at home - acoustic in nature with a fantastic choice of songs including the superb After The Gold Rush, Helpless and Love Is Everything the highlights.

I thought long and hard about including this here, but after deliberation and listening to it a couple of times I simply couldn't ignore it, even if it's perhaps from an unusual source.

Listen To: After The Gold Rush

10. 30 Seconds To Mars - A Beautiful Lie (2007) (bedshaped)

Every track on this album is a killer. Jared Leo's vocals are really strong on this album. And he can really holler! The guitars are medium heavy, but the drums....the drums are just outstanding on this album. If you could find true passion from playing the drums, it's here on this album.

Lots of good guitar and keyboard hooks throughout this album, not to mention some fantastic vocal talents being shown off. It's a turn it up loud and sod the neighbours kind of album. It's noisy. Noisy and thoroughly enjoyable.

Anybody who's tuned into one of the music tv channels can't fail to have seen one of their videos. Probably for From Yesterday, although I always thought the video for the title track was their best. Mind you, come to think about it, The Kill was a brilliant video too!

This album may well be their pinnacle, their previous releases are fairly mediocre. Although their latest album is sounding very good indeed. Although there's an over-use of children's choir type backing, noticed even after the first listen.

Favourite track....? The Kill. Jangly guitar and pounding drums. That's what this song is all about. Add Jared's great vocals and you have a great example of damn fine rock music. This was the song which had the video a la The Shining. A really great music video in tribute of a really great movie. I can appreciate that screaming vocals may not be everybody's cup of tea, but seriously, this is a great, great song from a terrific album.

Listen to: The Kill

10. Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) (Swisslet)

The Kings of Leon have never been bigger: released in September 2008, Only By The Night was the biggest selling album of 2009 and the single, Sex on Fire, has been all but inescapable.

For me though, the band peaked in 2004 with the release of this, their second album. Their debut, Youth & Young Manhood was a joyous riot of southern-fried rock and roll and it launched the band, all long hair and musketeer beards, to the world. Judging by the tone of Aha Shake Heartbreak, fame and fortune does not seem to have brought the band happiness. Like many second albums, the lyrical subject matter was inspired by the band’s new life on the road: all groupies, drugs, parties and booze. Does singer Caleb Followhill sound happy about that? Does he hell. Far from it.

If Youth & Young Manhood was the party, then Aha Shake Heartbreak is the hangover. Instead of glorying in his new-found status as a rock God, we find Followhill worrying on The Bucket about his hairline, and on Soft about his inability to get it up. Pistol of Fire, meanwhile, seems to be a cautionary tale about sex with groupies (or possibly your sister). Ow indeed.

The band of three brothers and a cousin sound better here than on anything else they’ve recorded. The first album was raw, Because of the Times is dirty and full of skuzzy feedback, Only By The Night is polished and commercial – too polished, if you ask me, but here they sound just about perfect. Before they became the megastars they are today, the Kings of Leon used to be labelled as “The Southern Strokes”, but they’ve long since outstripped their New York contemporaries. There’s no front or posturing on this record, but there is plenty of heartfelt, soulful rock and roll.

Listen to: Milk

3 Discussions:

Blogger bedshaped said...

If it's included in a list for Albums Of The Decade, then it's gotta be worth a listen, right? So, I shall be giving Ms Lang a good old listen when I get round to it.

Aah, yes. A truly great album. I still can't help but love Only By The Night just a little bit more though. Even if it is more polished. And you're right, it is.

9:51 PM  
Blogger swisslet said...

I can't help it, I liked the KoL best when they had silly beards and played those gallop-along, ballsy rock songs.... I like their other stuff, but their newest and most successful album is, for me, their least satisfying. Good to seem them get so huge though.

Gotta love kd lang too, although I've not heard that record at all - something I'll have to remedy soon, I think. I've not even heard of 30 seconds to mars at all! Best get myself to youtube or lastFM, I think. To be in this list it's got to be worth a look, right?


12:27 PM  
Blogger LB said...

I've never got the Kings of Leon. Sorry....

9:11 PM  

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