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Posts Tagged ‘rock n’ roll’

Yesterday I was in H&M—guilty—and a familiar tune came through the sound system.  It was obviously a holiday-themed lineup and what to my wondering eyes ears should appear, but Starflyer 59’s “A Holiday Song (Happy Holidays)” to bring me great cheer.  This track is rather an oddball off of 1998’s The Fashion Focus and what starflyer59-030911struck me most about hearing this song in public is that Starflyer really hasn’t gained much notoriety over the past fifteen years that they (or rather “he,” referring to Jason Martin, the only consistent member of the group) have been making music.

Starflyer is fairly prolific, having released eleven albums to date, and even with that under their belt, they remain under the radar.  They’ve a sound somewhat difficult to pin down (what if The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., New Order, and David Bazan produced magical offspring…), though characteristically shoegazing indie rock.  Maybe I’m a sucker for music that requires patience, but if you’ve not given Starflyer 59 a significant listen I’d encourage you to change that.  To perhaps help change that, here is a quick guide I’ve made to briefly describe each of their studio albums:

Silver (1994) – Shoegaze/dream pop, highly-distorted/effected, rock.

Gold (1995) – Slightly more pop than Silver.

Americana (1997) – More of the same shoegazing rock, though less engaging than Gold and Silver.

The Fashion Focus (1998) – Less My Bloody Valentine-esque, more keys.

Everybody Makes Mistakes (1999) – Moving in the same direction as The Fashion Focus, (except “A Dethroned King,” perhaps the thickest track on the album).  Excellent songwriting.

Leave Here A Stranger (2001) – Similar to Everybody Makes Mistakes, though a little darker (lyrically) and recorded in mono (as opposed to stereo).

Old (2003) – Back to the harder rock/shoegaze style.  Perhaps their best release to date.

I Am the Portuguese Blues (2004) – Loud guitars, straightforward rock n’ roll.  Jason Martin is Portuguese.

Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice (2005) – Resembles a lot of 80s pop and new wave music (even some synth bass), with some very dancy/catchy tracks.  A very fun listen.

My Island (2006) – I actually don’t own this album yet, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty fun pop rock.  The music video for the single, “I Win,” features actors instead of the actual band.

Dial M (2008) – I also don’t own this album, but it just came out this past October and from what I’ve heard it’s pretty fun rock.  There are currently a few tracks from the album on Starflyer’s Myspace page.  The album artwork is pretty bitchen’ too.

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Greg has done an excellent job of raking in this year’s best (at least in his highly-informed opinion) albums.  That’s great stuff (I’m only speaking generally because I actually have a more negative review for Coldplay’s Viva La Vida), but how much of it will we be listening to in two years?  Because music is in-and-out so frequently I’ve composed what I consider the best albums of 2008, though none of them were released this year.  Lend me your ear eye.

If you or I were to look at a list of our favorite albums from two years ago it would probably be different than the list we would make today.  I’m suspecting a lot of the albums that I considered my favorite from two years ago have lost ground in my personal rating and that is not to say that the latest albums have replaced them.  What I’ve found is that through recycling the music I listen to I sit with an album longer and it really grows on me.  For instance, I first heard Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 in 2001.  Since then this album has been climbing its way up my list and I considered it my favorite album of 2005 (even better than Come on Feel the Illinoise!, the quintessential indie-folk hit that year).  If Greg’s picks were subjective, mine will likely be hyper-subjective.  This whole thing also has to do with the fact that the music I listen to usually gets to my ears one of three ways: by way of NPR/KCRW, by way of associated acts (i.e. I heard of Sufjan Stevens because he once played in Danielson, an earlier favorite of mine), or by way of a highly sophisticated (and elitist) filtration system consisting largely of Greg Stump.

With all of that said, I must also add that I have not purchased much new music from this year.  In fact, as I look at my computer the only albums I see in my iTunes library from 2008 are Ratatat’s LP3, Danielson’s Danielson Alive EP (free online), and Danielson’s Trying Hartz.  I’m not against new music, but I suppose that after sampling I wasn’t compelled to buy many new full albums this year.  That is not to say that I’ve not grown in my musical breadth: according to my “date added” information in my iTunes library I’ve added more than forty albums to my iTunes this year (and it’s not over), thus I’ve purchased more than forty albums this year (buying used music on Amazon is incredible).  So out of the albums that I’ve purchased this year here are my top ten.

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