Part two of my list of great albums that didn’t quite make my top ten list continues. You can find part one here.
Karin Dreijer Andersson has a prolific musical history. She has collaborated on numerous tracks by fellow Scandinavians Röyksopp, and The Knife’s Heartbeats has been covered numerous times. Her debut solo album doesn’t stray too far from the pitch-shifted multi-tonal vocals that give The Knife such a distinctive sound; Fever Ray is marked by sparse beats and deep lyrics.
This is pop music, through and through. But it’s well-written, uplifting, and magical pop music. Florence Welch has an imposing voice, and she uses it to great effect. Kiss with a Fist, the first single, is a spunky tune about a couple that are a little too close, but it’s not even the strong point of the album. Opener Dog Days are Over just makes you want to sing along until your neighbors yell at you, and if Drumming doesn’t get your toes tapping, there’s something amiss.
Natasha Khan has one of those voices that makes you stop and really listen. At once airy and prominent, the songwriting on Two Suns complements her voice perfectly. Leadoff single Daniel has been playing nearly every day since I found out about this album. I only recently found out about Bat for Lashes, but I am already hooked.
Tarot Sport is the perfect album to listen to while you’re doing something else. That’s not an insult to the album; on the contrary, the droning noise rock and minimalist beats make this a favorite programming album. There’s more substance to the songs on Tarot Sport than on their previous album Street Horrrsing, but I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that makes this band more mainstream.
Gallows is bringing back good old punk rock, and they don’t care if you want it or not. Vocalist Frank Turner spits and sneers at you through every one of the brutal tracks on this album. Even the acoustic act one of The Vulture gets you pumped for the inevitable: Gallows knows how to rock. This is a band I’d love to see live.
The Number Twelve Looks Like You seems to be one of the most overlooked bands in recent memory. I never hear anyone talk about them, yet they have outdone themselves musically album after album, and they continue to be a group whose releases I really look forward to. Unfortunately, the band broke up in November. The most technical of mathcore dominates Worse Than Alone, with time signature shifts, key changes, and varying tempos galore, this album requires your full attention. What a parting gift for their fans.
I had the immense pleasure to see Mssrs. Homme, Grohl, and Jones in Austin, TX at the Austin City Limits music festival in October. No one knew any of their songs, but everyone knew that they were listening to something special. And who should expect anything less from this trio? The pounding tempo change at the end of No One Loves Me And Neither Do I leaves you in awe, and, if for no other reason, see them live for the intro to Elephants.