Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Buyer's Guide (Other)

Other Sections:

-Introduction
-Progressive
-Symphonic/Power/Folk Metal
-Accessible Metal
-Alternative
-Classic Metal
-Mainstream Rock
-Melodeath/Doom/Goth
-Extreme Metal
-Other

Other

Not every album fits directly into a category. In just 8 categories, it’s hard to cover all of the recommendable 2007 albums, so it’s necessary to have another category for miscellaneous albums that either don’t fit into a category, fit into genres that had an excessively poor year, or are part of genres outside of rock, metal, and alternative.

Beastie Boys
The Mix-Up

As great of an album as The Mix-Up is, its primary audience is classic Beastie Boys fans. No, it doesn’t have turntables, clever rhymes, or any vocals to speak of, but this is still an album done in classic Beastie Boys style. As an instrumental album, The Mix-Up leaves something to be desired, but it’s not a typical instrumental album. It’s an album that sees one of the most creative artists in recent memory going back to their roots to create an album that’s almost the opposite of their last release. Both the album and the reason for making an album like this is something only Beastie Boys fans will likely be able to understand, but that’s also who the album is for. If that’s who you are or are shopping for, you won’t be disappointed.

Björk
Volta

Volta is another example of an album that is strictly for fans. It’s a solid and something beautiful release that fans of Bjork will likely enjoy. However, it doesn’t do anything too different from past albums, and those aren’t already a fan of the unique singer should avoid Volta without hesitation. Volta is for the fans, and those fans should be more than happy with the results. It may not do anything too different or unique, but Bjork is still as good as ever, and there’s a large amount of quality to go around. It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by Volta, but it’s also hard to imagine it surpassing anyone’s expectations.

Bruce Springsteen
Magic

No, Magic isn’t a must-buy five-star album like Rolling Stone thinks it is. In fact, it’s a rather average hit-and-miss album that probably won’t appeal to anyone outside of Bruce Springsteen’s fan base. However, if you’re looking for a last minute gift for a friend or family member that likes either Bruce Springsteen or classic rock, this album becomes recommendable. Magic is for fans of Bruce Springsteen more upbeat 80s sound, and the sound still works well today. The problem is that Springsteen has already played this sound and played it better many years ago, but those looking for either a classic sounding Springsteen album or a trip down memory lane should enjoy most of Magic has to offer.

Caribou
Andorra

Andorra is a beautiful melodic album that belongs in the collection of every music fan. Nearly every moment of the album is exceptionally unique, even to the point where its genre is almost impossible to determine. Caribou certainly has influences that shape the parts of their sound, but the sum of those parts has never sounded quite so beautiful or unique. Andorra is an album that almost anyone can like, and you don’t have to know anything Caribou to be able to appreciate it. It’s simply a beautiful and melodic piece of work that is an example of music and art in its best and most creative form.

Common
Finding Forever

Rap is not a genre that is found on rock lists like this one, and the inclusion of Finding Forever doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best rap album of the year, but there are enough indie fans that listen to Common to warrant the rapper a chance to get a spot in this buyer’s guide. Fortunately, Finding Forever takes advantage of the opportunity. Common has crafted a solid rap album that’s accessible for fans of both mainstream and underground rap. On top of that, Common has found has a fan base in the alternative community, and those fans will not be disappointed. Find Forever is a lyrically driven album that excels through intelligence, message, and flow. Common doesn’t rely on tricky rhymes to get his point across, and the result is an album that can be recommended to those who are otherwise uninterested in rap music.

Elliott Smith
New Moon

It’s hard to mention a new Elliott Smith album without reminding the reader of his untimely death in 2003. As difficult as it is to remain neutral listening to something with as much of an emotional back story as New Moon, it would undermine to quality of the album to suggest that the death of Elliott Smith has caused the album’s reviews to be overly positive. In all actuality, this collection of unreleased songs from 10+ years ago is actually a very high quality album that works on its own as a legitimate full length album. Anyone that likes beautiful well-written music should give this underappreciated artist a try, and New Moon is a great place to start. If you’re already a fan, however, this is pretty much essential.

Iron and Wine
The Shepherd’s Dog

Although Iron and Wine has found a rather large audience in the indie rock community, their sound isn’t for everyone. Casual fans of alternative should first be warned that Iron and Wine isn’t typical alternative rock, and that’s why The Shepherd’s Dog wasn’t placed in the “Alternative” category. However, that doesn’t mean alternative fans should stay away from the album. The Shepherd’s Dog is simply a magnificent album from start to finish, and anyone that doesn’t expect to hear major elements of rock music should get this without hesitation. It’s simply a beautiful and well-written piece of art that deserves to be appreciated by anyone who appreciates beautiful and well-constructed art. That being said, this is a folk album at its core, and there will be people who just won’t be able to enjoy Iron and Wine’s sound. Even with that, The Shepherd’s Dog is worth taking a risk on. It’s just too good of an album to pass up.

LCD Soundsystem
Sounds of Silver

On just their second full length album, LCD Soundsystem has created another brilliant piece of work that mixes some exceptionally catchy beats with some truly creative experimentation that works throughout the entire album. Fans of their first album will almost certainly enjoy this, and fans of dance, electronica, indie pop, or alternative rock should add Sounds of Silver to their list this holiday season. It has everything an indie rock fan could want, and it isn’t even an indie rock album. This is an album that almost any fan of music can enjoy, and fans of indie electronica that doesn’t already own Sounds of Silver should do something about that as soon as possible

Lupe Fiasco
The Cool

Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool is the second rap album to make this list, and it might very well be the best rap album of the year. Due to it being released just a week before Christmas, it may be one that will be better served as an album worth getting with any left over holiday money, but just make sure you get if you are a rap fan. Even fans of mainstream rap will likely enjoy the catchy beats, but that doesn’t mean that’s all the album is. Fans of Lupe’s first album should be pleased with the progression of The Cool, and progression is what truly makes The Cool an exceptional record. This could almost be described as progressive rap, as The Cool is a concept album that tells a dark and intelligent story with a large amount of thought and experimentation. Even though it doesn’t always live up to its potential, the scope and intelligence of the album is almost revolutionary for mainstream rap, and the result belongs in the collection of every rap fan.

Puscifer
V is for Vagina

V is for Vagina is an album that’s both difficult to explain and interpret. It’s an industrial album by a progressive rock vocalist, and it’s an album that is probably better suited for fans outside of the industrial genre. Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) is the man behind the music, and those who will get the most out of it are those looking for an experimental album that will take some time to truly understand. It can be argued that there really is no way to understand an album like V is for Vagina at all, and it’s instead the pure weirdness of the unique sound that Maynard has created that gives his Puscifer project an intriguing edge. It’s a very strange album to say the least, and although it’s not something that can be wholeheartedly recommended, it certainly deserves to be noted and praised for being an album that truly experiments and branches out. Just make sure you keep it out of the reach of children.

1 comment:

Alan said...

carrots that wander never fading, raiding, YOUR heart