Monday, January 31, 2011

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #15: Interpol - Antics

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

When evaluating Interpol, a friend of mine once scoffed, "They made a great album then they made it two more times." This was before 2010's eponymous release. And his biting statement is pretty true. They are not an outfit striving for diversity. Their singer is limited. Their songs don't even think about the existence of other genres. When I read my list to see what we had left, I was surprised to see Interpol this high. But then I played the record again, and instantly remembered why I had them where I did. I shouldn't have doubted myself.

When "Next Exit" begins, it does so at a pace that says, "I'm not going out of my way for you here." Still, it's got a groove that pulls you along in its own plodding way. Anyone who was feeling impatient is will be pleased as we quickly get to "Evil." The first time I heard this song, I was totally blown away, and haven't ever lost that feeling. It is without a doubt one of the five catchiest songs of the decade, and the chief reason why the album makes the top 15. This is one of those songs that, as soon as it ends, you have the urge to play it over again. What starts off with a gripping but calm groove explodes at the one-minute mark where the intensity increases before the track keeps building from there. The peak doubles as my favorite non-word vocal of the decade, Paul Banks' "awww!" that comes 2:52 into the song. It probably doesn't mean a damn thing, but it just sounds so cool. The song is simply a big part of my life. I don't think I've had a party or road trip in the last six years that didn't include it somewhere.

We're in the top 15 now. One track simply isn't enough. "Narc" keeps the groove going and builds to its peak where Banks hollers "You should be in my space, you should be in my life!" Between the pounding "Not Even Jail" and blend of light guitars and heavy everything else on "C'mere," there are other worthy additions to the Interpol oeuvre. Again, never steering too far off the charted course.

It is worth nothing that the mid-00s saw a tremendous resurgence of Joy Division inspired, dark indie pop. You can pick your preferred branch between Editors, The Bravery, stellastarr*, The Killers, and The Rapture, just to name a few. But nobody did it with more panache or talent than these guys. Maybe it doesn't point to anything new, but putting this album on again reminded me how perfectly they crafted their driving intensity.

If Turn on the Bright Lights was about a night in Gotham, Antics is where we pick up the day after. In the end, this dark, monotonous music somehow rings beautifully, and it's that touch of additional brightness that makes this Interpol's best release. They are likely to be a band lost to their (retro) time. I don't think people will be clamoring for an Interpol reunion tour in 2020. But by doing this list, I reminded myself that this is an album worth returning to.

The audio stinks on this video, which is a shame. But play it anyway.

Previous Entries:
#16 - Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
#17 - Jens Lekman - Oh You're So Silent, Jens
#18 - Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
#19 - Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
#20 - The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!
#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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unyielding Commissioning Believes in Comebacks

We haven't had an update from UC since may of 2009, and that one was titled "Unyielding Commissioning Apologizes for Being Away So Long." Living in Argentina, it is pretty hard to stay on top of some of the goings on like I used to. Bands rarely come here, and the movie releases keep getting pushed back later and later. Far more impactful has been a heavy amount of work from both my job and planning my upcoming wedding. Those and other factors have seriously cut down on my connections to life on the internet, which means I don't have links for you like I used to. That said, EdWord passed me along some info that requires comment, and is just the kind of thing this type of posting was designed for. And come to think of it, there's a lot more worth discovering, so UC has plenty of good stuff to share with you today.

Please, please, please, please - I once briefly debated my buddy Erik about whether reunion shows are worthwhile. The band in question was Archers of Loaf. Erik's take was that he'd already seen them and no thrown together reunion tour would be the same. Mine was that I'd never seen them, and I'd take a half-assed reunion tour over nothing. And I'm not saying it would even be half-assed, just that I'd be ecstatic with half an ass anyway. That conversation inspired pleading on this blog some three and a half years ago.

Well, perhaps the band did indeed read my comments. More likely they simply realized that it was high time to kiss and make up because Pitchfork is reporting that Archers of Loaf has reunited for at least one show. I have long claimed that I would travel back to the US just to see these guys perform. They sure as hell aren't coming to Buneos Aires. We can only hope that they had as good a time as the audience seemed to and will give us the pleasure of some more shows. And I bet that Erik goes, too, even if it may not live up to his fond memories of earlier performances. Fingers crossed for hope!

There's no secrets this year - after 2009 was a general disappointment in both film and music, 2010 came back with a lot of high-quality, innovative stuff for our listening and viewing pleasure. I had been planning to provide a comprehensive summary of all those year-end lists, but, well you've probably read the ones you want. Just in case, here are Roger Ebert's Top Feature Films, Top Foreign Films, Top Documentaries, and Top Animated Films.

Meanwhile, over at Via Chicago, Jon has been putting together his year-end lists and is doing a smashing job of it. Starting with an Intro and then continuing into his EPs and Reissues, he is merely getting warmed up. Part III has his Favorite Songs of the Year, and is highly recommended. He not only lists 100 tracks worth checking out, he links virtually all of them to youtube videos where you can quickly make your own estimation. We can assume the album list is on its way, but given how comprehensive his work has been thus far, let's cut Jon some slack and be patient. Besides, you have a lot of new music to listen to!

There's just one Hitch - Erik Lundegaard has been posting some comprehensive and insightful reviews of Alfred Hitchcock films. Probably not worth reading if you haven't seen the movies in question because of the spoilers. But surely you've seen some of these masterpieces, right? The list thus far:

No, not that AFI - Trey Hock of Scene Stealers has been counting down the AFI's top 100 movies of all time. He's about halfway done having recently delivered a top notch review of A Streetcar Named Desire. Trey has kept up a pretty amazing pace. I can't even seem to get through 50 albums yet he keeps churning through these movies (many of which he doesn't end up liking). From Streetcar you can access the previous 53 reviews and look for your favorites.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gettin' the Groove On, Deep

There is a ton of really cool stuff going on with soul music these days. If you're like me, you've been waiting for this to happen for deacdes. Maybe soul can finally turn a corner. Yes, most of this music is technically backward looking. But to be great, soul doesn't require innovation. Hop on board before we call it a movement. Some great labels worth exploring:
Daptone Records
Stone's Throw Records
Groove Attack Records
Strut Records (More jazz/funk than soul in this case, but still worth a visit.)

For now, check the hell out of Charles Bradley. Oooooh oh ohhhhh...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011