Monday, August 16, 2010

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #20: The Lawrence arms - Oh! Calcutta!

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

The formula is not overly complex. This is not ground-breaking music. When I first heard Chicago's The Lawrence Arms, I said, "Yep, this sounds good," and left it at that. But then the cravings took over. There is something inherently crack-like in the construction of these songs. I can't quite put my finger on it (if I could I would start my own band). After a lot of thinking, I arrived at my quandary. How can something that is obviously intended to be angry and shouty be so damn gleeful at the same time?

Each song leaps out of the starting blocks on fire and builds upon itself until it inevitably arrives at a series of triumphant crescendos. In sluggish moments, there is nothing better to yank me out of a funk. A quick spin of Oh! Calcutta! and I am ready for whatever the world throws at me the rest of the day. And the songs stick in my head for days and days. That's the crack-like thing. If I don't have access to the actual songs, I'm going to sing them to the great annoyance of those around me.

I really don't know what most of the lyrics are and I certainly don't pay any attention to what they may mean. I really don't even know what the theme is. "Count all your fingers tonighight!" makes sense enough for me. I could really pick any album by these guys (none are very different), but this one has the most energy and the one where they play most to their strengths - the aforementioned angry glee.

By the early 00s, the mainstream had already gobbled up the vanilla offerings of Blink 182 and Green Day, which essentially washed away any remaining edge left in the genre. Tweens that didn't follow those bands to bouncy, brainless pop-punk got lost in the Emo wilderness, swaying and braying to the tugging of heartstrings. So it is to their credit that The Lawrence Arms persevered in the face of such an overwhelming tidal shift. Then again, I can't imagine them shifting gears. This is what they do best. Oh! Calcutta! is the last album they've released, and probably the record in this Top 50 that points back to the 90s the most. The band is still around, having put out an EP last year. I eagerly await the next full-length, but thanks to the strength of this record, I can get my fix anytime I want.

These are short, so you get three today. Play 'em all. LOUD!

Previous Entries:
#21 - Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
#22 - Mission of Burma - The Obliterati
#23 - Don Caballero - World Class Listening Problem
#24 - The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
#25 - Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
#26 - Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
#27 - Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows
#28 - Common - Be
#29 - The Futureheads - News and Tributes
#30 - The Black Keys - Rubber Factory

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