Shuffle of the week #17

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Electric Light Orchestra – Believe Me Now (Out of the Blue, 1977) [singlepic id=182 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Short track from side 2 of the famous rollercoaster of joy, written and produced by Jeff Lynne within three and a half weeks. This seventh studio album could be considered the endpoint of the transition of The Move’s sound  to the symphonic interpretation of earlier Beach Boys and Beatles work .

2. Robert Palmer – Where Can It Go (Double Fun, 1978) [singlepic id=185 w=80 h=50 float=left]

We travel one year in time, to run into another turning point in somebody’s musical career.  Palmer’s last attempt to inject exotic elements into the traditional rock sound before turning to pure and traditional rock again. After moving to the Bahamas two years earlier, the choice for Caribean influences might not surprise here.

3. Beatles – For You Blue (Let It Be, 1970) [singlepic id=180 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Brought this album along during my last vacation and finally had to conclude that it can not compete with the group’s earlier work. Of course it contains juwels from all three writers (‘Get Back’, ‘Across the Universe’, ‘I Me Mine’), but fails to hold on to that level like former albums did. This song however reached epic proportions after seeing the accompanying clip in Anthology. Announcement of All Things must Pass.

4. Bob Dylan (& George Harisson) – All I Have To Do is Dream (Possum Belly Overalls, 1970) [singlepic id=219 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Quite a sick transmission from the shuffle to this absolut gem (a cover of the Everly Brothers’ big hit in 1958) from a lost album. Got it from Pittsburgh, and turned out to be a bootleg from Dylan’s 1970 recordings for the album New Morning. With the support of among others George Harrison, Bob is warming up by playing some of his own songs together with old rock classics like this one.

5. Wilco – One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend) (The Whole Love, 2011) [singlepic id=186 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The beauty keeps coming. This one here is the long closing track, built around a fantastic, slow and simple returning guitar riff, of what probably was 2011’s best rock album. Maybe even one of the best bands out there today. Also suited for several summer evenings.

6. 65daysofstatic – Hole (The Fall of Math, 2004) [singlepic id=179 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Apparently we were having a break halfway the concert, as a total change of décor takes place. English instrumental post-rock, with this song being the second single from their debut album. Single version itself leasted 30 minutes.

7. Santana – Mother’s Daughter (Abraxas, 1970) [singlepic id=194 w=80 h=50 float=left]

All Riiiiiiiiiiiiight! Favorite track from Santana’s fantastic second album. Differing from the well-known songs of the album because of the fact it was one of keyboard player Greg Rolie’s songs. Perfectly illustrates the way he wanted the band to evolve.

8. Gong – The Pot Head Pixies (Flying Teapot, 1973) [singlepic id=183 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Living in the seventies again this week, but everything turns a little more psychedelic with this strange song. Might give this album another shot.

9. Dream Theater – The Great Debate (Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, 2002) [singlepic id=181 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Let’s put all clichés of progressive metal in one song, including an intro about George Bush and stem cells. Is there a concept on this album? Of course there’s one, here we go. First disc is about lifetime struggle (5 tracks), second disc is one huge  track about mental illnesses. That makes six tracks together, all six no longer present in my music collection.

10. Lambchop – Ohio (OH(Ohio), 2008) [singlepic id=184 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The intro was great this week and so is the outro, as Kurt Wagner waves us goodbye with this opening track from the self-epynomous album. One of my most recent captures.

“Just like a mad dog you’re chasing your tail in a circle”: Apple Venus Volume 1 (XTC)

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Year: 1999

Genre: Pop Rock, Baroque Pop

Preceded by: Nonsuch (1992)

Followed by: Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) (2000)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

 

We’re only making plans for Nigel, we only want what’s best for him. We’re only making plans for Nigel, Nigel just needs this helping hand. You know the song, I knew the song. But only after some months of enjoying XTC’s Apple Venus Vol. 1 I discovered that that song came from a band with the same name. Of course I guessed that it must have been another obscure end seventies new wave band, as I was convinced that I had been listening to the official announcement of Brian Wilson’s Smile during my hot summer.

Swindon, South-West England, has a typical maritime climate, alternating mild winters with cool summers. So Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge, who were both raised there, must have been developing a thorough appreciation  for those rare hot summer days that come around a year. The explosive peak of this process might maybe be heard on XTC’s 1986 album Skylarking. An album they could not even have imagined (I guess) 14 years earlier (at the age of 17 and 19 respectively), when they formed The Helium Kidz.

After Terry Chambers (1973) and Barry Andrews (1976) joined the band on drums and keyboard, they released their debut album White Music in 1978 as XTC. Later on that year Andrews left the band and was replaced by keyboardist/guitarist Dave Gregory, whose sixties oriented guitar playing resulted in a classic rock sound that can be heard on the third album, Drums and Wires, which contains the hit single mentioned above. While Nigel must have been happy in his life,  Partridge wasn’t during the support tour of their fifth album in 1982. As he suffered from stage fright, he personally signed the end of the band’s touring history. But as four dudes from Liverpool had proven earlier, this doesn’t necessarily goes at the expense of the band’s sound.

This new studio band consisted of three members, after Chambers left one year later due to his migration to Australia and missing incomes from touring (not being a song writer). Somewhere in 1986 then, the band ran into the legendary Todd Rundgren, probably because he had produced The Band’s Stage Fright earlier. So not very surprisingly Rundgren (who was hired to launch a commercial comeback) and Partridge would clash frequently during the recording of Skylarking, an absolute pop gem. Although worth a review of its own, we travel on to 1999. XTC had released their last album in 1992, after which the band went on strike till 1998 as a result of a dispute with their record label. Again: this doesn’t necessarily goes at the expense of the band’s sound. With their own home-studios and on their own label, they started the Apple Venus project: bringing together the songs they had written during their break…

It must have been immediately clear for them that ‘River of Orchids’ had to kick off this ambitious project. Push your car from the road, walk into a forest and put on the album. What follows is a small pop opera about this beautiful world that would come to light if all roads were overgrown with flowers. A little dull and passé you might think, but even the greatest victims of today’s society might prefer walking into London on their hands instead of playing a consciousness killing game on the IPad after hearing the mind blowing, multi layered bird call from Partridge. This outstanding vocal performance is supported by some plucked cello’s at first, but when the orchids start growing and the concrete slowly disappears, all kinds of orchestral instruments are thrown in.

On ‘I’d Like That’ we run into somebody we would like to share this new world with. Less orchestration this time, but simply Partridge’s voice and an acoustic guitar, with a nice effort to introduce Paul McCartney in this idyllic scene. Talking about the Fab Four, on ‘Easter Theatre’ it even sounds like the entire Sgt. Peppers’ orchestra is with us now. Performing together with Partridge, whose vocals are again peaking here, it looks like they even deviate from the song during the chorus and start playing fragments of ‘She’s Leaving Home’. It’s alternated again with a very calm song, ‘Knights in Shining Karma’. It’s a slow ballad and in my opinion one of the least tracks on the album.

After four songs from Partridge it’s time for one of Moulding’s two songs (‘Frivolous Tonight’). Musically not as strong as the previous songs, especially because of the fact that Moulding’s voice doesn’t reach the same level as that of Partridge. However, a very recognizable song for guys who like to hang out in a pub now and then: talking about nonsense, drinking beer and telling jokes while they reveal their childlike nature. It is followed by the absolute highlight of the album: ‘Greenman’. For me it’s representative for and the midpoint of the whole album: the lyrics that describe a purist adoration for nature, the sophisticated vocals (Partridge), the richly orchestrated parts with a different instrument in every part of your ear,… But above all it’s the way the song develops during the song itself as well as the way it keeps developing while listening it over and over. Every time you hear it you’ll discover another interesting sound, another effect, another place to imagine.

‘Your Dictionary’ gives the album some variation again, as it’s another vocals + acoustic guitar song. However, it’s by far the most poppy one on the album, although it contains the most cynical lyrics  of them all. This song about relational troubles is without many doubts based on Partridge’s own personal life and contains a beautiful piano part in the middle. ‘Fruit Nut’ is the other song that Moulding contributed to the album, which indicates more or less that he had a less creative seven years than his bandmate. But again, this one is kind of comical. It lyrically reminded me somehow of Brian Wilson’s ‘Vega-Tables’ but also musically, Smile (and its predecessors) is not far away.

We’re nearing the end of the album with the ninth track, ‘I Can’t Own Her’. Another intro with string arrangements here, with piano and harp joining subsequently. Good song (entirely dominated by the bombastic orchestrated parts), but no highlight. The last song that really stands out musically, is the penultimate track ‘Harvest Festival’. It’s built around (again) Partridge’s magnificent vocals (especially during the chorus) and Dave Gregory’s keys. Gregory by the way left the band during the recording of the album as he favored more guitar playing instead of all the orchestral instruments on the album. This of course made XTC in fact a two men project at that point. For us it’s  also about time to leave, as ‘The Last Balloon’ is leaving. Although lyrically not bad at all, Partridge is looking one more time at this sad and materialistic world and decides to leave, it’s musically a little too elaborate in my opinion but you might disagree on that one.

So if there’s a Vol.1, there must have been a sequel, right?  Although this is not always the case, there indeed was. Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) was released one year later (the original plan was to release them as one double album), and contained more (electric) guitar songs. Dependent on your taste you might prefer that one but in my view it doesn’t have the magic of Vol. 1, about which I once read in a review: ‘Apple Venus is unlikely to win XTC many new fans’. Well, this certainly wasn’t true for me and somehow I’m happy that this was my first acquaintance with the band. If only for the fact that I could not have been affected by the syndrome of thinking that an artists’ early work is pro definition better. Enjoy and dream away.

Top Tracks:

1. Greenman
2. River of Orchids
3. Easter Theatre

Shuffle of the week #16

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Caribou – Brahminy Kite (The Milk of Human Kindness, 2005) [singlepic id=171 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Canadian Daniel Snaith released his first two albums as Manitoba, before changing his stage name to Caribou (due to a lawsuit). As such this third album was released, which contains some of his best work together with Andorra (2007). The two times I saw the band live couldn’t have been more different: first time in a dark tent together with around 40 other people, second time at Berlin’s Wuhlheide, being Radiohead’s support act during sunset.

2. Girls in Hawaii – Colors (Plan Your Escape, 2008) [singlepic id=173 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Continuing in the 21st century with this song from Girls in Hawaii. Other than the name might presume, we’re not talking about some girlpower group here but about an indie rock band from Belgium, whose sound might remind you of Grandaddy. Touring again this year with their new (third) album.

3. Cotton Mather – Camp Hill Rail Operator (Kon Tiki, 1997) [singlepic id=46 w=80 h=50 float=left]

We ran into this album before and in response to that I caught myself listening to it again for a couple of weeks. So I revalue this nineties gem once more to ‘most underestimated album of the decade’. Not much worthy material followed, but the band has reunited again since last year and is working on a new studio album!

4. Interpol – Obstacle 1 (Turn on the Bright Lights, 2002) [singlepic id=174 w=80 h=50 float=left]

A lost album really, despite being played a lot of times a couple of years ago. Actually very curious whether it would deserve the same amount of appreciation today. (update: their latter albums might still be worthless, this remains absolutely great)

5. Modest Mouse – Bankrupt on Selling (The Lonesome Crowded West, 1997) [singlepic id=175 w=80 h=50 float=left]

And back to 1997 with a track from a personal favorite of music professor Hofmeijer. He took it all the way to Greece to introduce it there 15 years later.  Great timing.

6. Seasick Steve – The Dead Song (Dog House Music, 2006) [singlepic id=178 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The first old dinosaur entering the stage this week, although he only broke loose this century. Very pleasant contribution, thank you Steve. (update: listened to the album as a whole some more times and gave up, goodbye Steve).

7. Pink Floyd – San Tropez (Meddle, 1971) [singlepic id=177 w=80 h=50 float=left]

At last we’re digging deeper into rock music’s archives with, of course, Pink Floyd. It’s the only song on the album that was entirely written by Roger Waters, who obviously also takes the lead vocals. The contrast with last song couldn’t possibly have been bigger.

8. Beatles – I Will (The Beatles (White Album), 1968) [singlepic id=137 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Staying in the mood with such another great feel good song from the master of the genre. And if you ask me to lay down and listen to the White Album the next couple of weeks, I Will.

9. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Night of the Lotus Eaters (Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, 2008) [singlepic id=176 w=80 h=50 float=left]

One of my favorite songs from the bands 14th studio album. Saw them live during the same year the album was released and what a great impression they made. Time to check out their latest (15th) album, Push the Sky Away, released earlier this year.

10. Guided By Voices – Little Whirl (Alien Lanes, 1995) [singlepic id=172 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The shuffle suddenly came to an end one and a half minute later after one of GBV’s longer songs. If mister Pollard is listening, there is still a fan in Belgium who offers his bedroom as studio to record the next album.

Shuffle of the week #15

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Grizzly Bear – Knife (Yellow House, 2006) [singlepic id=165 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Can’t you feel the knife? It’s Grizzly Bear’s second album, with the title referring to the bands own version of Big Pink, where the cd was recorded. After getting to know Grizzly Bear with this album, I kept following them which lead me to listening their last album Shields for the last couple of months.  Another strong album, although it has to been said that there’s a thin line between creating a typical sounds and repeating oneself.

2. George Harrison – See Yourself (Thirty Three & 1/3, 1976) [singlepic id=85 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Second time we run  into a track from this album, on which Harrison succeeded another time to combine some cheerful melodies with confronting lyrics to reflect on.

3. Frog Eyes – The Oscillator’s Hum (The Folded Palm, 2004) [singlepic id=164 w=80 h=50 float=left]

One of my favorite rock voices from the past couple of years must surely be Carey Mercer’s one, not only to admire on Frog Eyes’ albums (for example on this third album, the provisional highlight being their sixth album: Tears of the Valedictorian) but also on those of side-project Swan Lake.

4. Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (Teaser and the Firecat, 1971) [singlepic id=163 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Over to the third part of Cat Stevens’ famous 1970-71 trilogy, of which this might even be the least part, despite being a great album.  On it of course one of Cat’s biggest hit singles ever, ‘Morning Has Broken’, which ironically was the only song on all of those three albums that he didn’t write himself.

5. Kraftwerk – The Robots (Minimum Maximum, 2005) [singlepic id=166 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Fantastic track from this bands’ 2005 live album. It originally appeared on their 1978 album The Man-Machine and both song and album can be classified as classics.

6. The Fall – Mother-Sister! (Live at the Witch Trials, 1979) [singlepic id=168 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Other than the title does presume, no second live album in a row here. To the contrary, as this was the debut studio album from the British post-punk band. Not really getting into this.

7. Throbbing Gristle – Weeping (D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle, 1978) [singlepic id=169 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Welcome to the mysterious world of Throbbing Gristle. A moment I waited a long time for. Not that it’s one of my favorite albums or something, in fact I can’t say anything significant about this album. I got it once when it was recommended to me by a book, I listened to it a couple of times and put it back on the digital shelf. Once in a while it was hit by the shuffle and I glared out of the window to see if something could explain the suspicious noises I heard. Now it’s finally the moment to search for the true meaning of this album. (update: still searching)

8. Buena Vista Social Club – Orgullecida (Buena Vista Social Club, 1997) [singlepic id=162 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Track that sounds somehow misplaced on this rainy afternoon, but part of a great album. Recently read an interview with Ry Cooder, who could be considered the creator of this project after all, in which he said that this album and its success unfortunately also threw a dark shadow on the life of many members of the band.

9. Phish – Run Like an Antilope (Lawn Boy, 1990) [singlepic id=167 w=80 h=50 float=left]

During the very first shuffle of the week we already ran into this  debut album. This ten minutes lasting jam originates from the second album and is a true recommendation for those who like an ocassional improvisation now and then.

10. The Allman Brothers Band – Whipping Post (At Fillmore East, 1971) [singlepic id=161 w=80 h=50 float=left]

We totally continue to jam with this track, what a great way to close a shuffle and stretch it just a little longer! It covers the entire second side of this double live album and gives you a legitimate reason to exuberantly play some air guitar on a Wednesday morning.

“She’s trying to make a devil out of me“: Abraxas (Santana)

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Year: 1970

Genre: Latin Rock, Jazz Rock

Preceded by: Santana (1969)

Followed by: Santana III (1971)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

The border between Mexico and the USA is an interesting phenomenon. It’s the border with the most legal passages in the world. Besides, it’s probably also the border with the most illegal passages worldwide. Whatever the exact numbers are, Mexico as well as the US are both benefited somehow by this flow of immigrants. Cheap manpower is needed in the US, while the money transfers in the other direction are needed to support the Mexican economy. Carlos Santana was one of those numerous Mexicans crossing this border when moving from Tijuana to San Francisco and although I have no clue about his support of the Mexican economy, I do know he enriched the US and the rest of the world with Abraxas.

In this hippie capital of America, young Carlos was a live witness of the arising flower power culture. This led him to discovering different kind of musical genres, thereby slowly creating his own musical melting pot. In a time and at a place where a dozen bands a day were founded (with another dozen breaking up again), it was no surprise that Carlos himself was discovered one day. However, each of these discoveries in those days came with a legend, so here we go: Carlos was discovered while substituting the guitar player of an improvised band (composed by members of different bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead), that was replacing an intoxicated Paul Butterfield.

Carlos quickly formed his own first band shortly afterwards: the Santana Blues Band (1967). He recruited David Brown from California on bass and Gregg Rolie (the original singer of Journey later on) from Seattle on keyboards and lead vocals. Some replacements and additions on drums and percussion were passed through before the band was shaped that would shine on the legendary Woodstock stage. It really stood out on this line up filled with psychedelic and folk rock bands, thanks to the Latin percussion setup consisting of congas, timbales and bongos. The eccentric combination of the rhythms that these instruments were able to produce together with Carlos’ traditional blues rock riffs made their performance a huge success; the Mexican immigrant was conquering America.

The band’s first and self-eponymous album (1969) was released as a logical outcome of this break-through and became a great success in Carlos’ new homeland. Does that mean that it was all good news for the band at that point? Certainly not, as the tensions within the group were following the success. The percussionists were dealing with personal issues and on top of that Rolie and Santana were having different views on which direction to continue with the band. Rolie wanted to emphasize the hard (blues) rock roots of the band, while Santana wanted to widen the jazzy sound. However, before the original Woodstock line-up would fall apart, it released two more parts of a legendary trilogy: Abraxas and Santana III.

Abraxas kicks off with ‘Singing Winds, Crying Beasts’ (written by conga player Mike Carabello). This track is in the end nothing more than the intro of what’s about to come, but an intro can hardly sound more perfect. With the album sleeve in my hands I’m slowly leaving the world I’m laying in while I’m sinking in this Fata Morgana of mystical sounds. Calmed at first by the wind chimes, but being startled suddenly by the crying beasts that are rising from Santana’s guitar. Aware of the danger but still a little uncomfortable because of this strange world I’m entering, I’m starting to hear some identifiable sounds. This is one of Fleetwood Mac’s early hits I’m listening to: ‘Black Magic Woman’, written by Peter Green. However, this version (sung by Rolie) has transformed the original blues rock song in an esoteric epos, thanks to the adding of versatile percussion, the mix with ‘Gypsy Queen’ and of course the enchanting guitar licks of the master himself.

I’m completely under the spell of this album now and another familiar composition has reached me when I recognize ‘Oye Como Va’ from the legendary Tito Puente. But instead of the flute and a brass section I’m overwhelmed by a striking combo of Greg Rolie’s pumping organ and Santana’s dancing guitar riff, interchanged by the Latin vocals. By adding these rock and blues elements to this song, Santana was laying the groundworks for Latin rock. But how about Santana’s own writing skills? Just when I’m reaching for the album sleeve to find about this, ‘Incident at Neshabur’ starts to play. Carlos wrote this song together with Alberto Gianquinto, which turned out to be a gem. Starting with a strong portion of jazz fusion, the song immediately grips you at your throat, strengthening this grip with a sequence of rhythm changes. The song keeps growing and growing with one solo after another, before releasing you with a relaxing outro. Time to take a breath now, before turning the record over.

The first song of side 2, ‘Se A Cabo’, immediately kicks us back into the album. It’s another fast song, but a lot shorter this time. Written by conga and timbales player Chepito Areas, it may be no surprise that the percussion is taking control of this song. But let’s not stray off too much, as the best song of the album is waiting for us: ‘Mother’s Daughter’. Maybe not that well-known as some songs on Side 1, as it doesn’t have that typical latin rock sound many people associate with Santana. But the real hard rock roots of the band are to be heard right here (clearly a song written by Rolie), with the vocals, guitar, bass, organ and  drums forming a great combo.

Variation is one of the secret powers of this album, tremendously illustrated by the way ‘Mother’s Daughter’ is followed by ‘Samba Pa Ti’, another song that was written by Santana and another latin rock classic. By far the slowest song of the album, completely instrumental and obviously dominated by the guitar playing of Sir Carlos. Over to another Rolie song then with ‘Hope You’re Feeling Better’, which was the third single of the album after ‘Black Magic Woman’ and ‘Oyo Como Va’. The song illustrates once more the great rock ‘n roll voice of Gregg Rolie, who opens the song himself with a great organ intro. The guitar playing is more raw than on the rest of the album, making this song a last highlight. Sure, there’s one more track left, ‘El Nicoya’, but this is in fact the most disappointing part of the album. After such a great intro, you might also expect some more inspiration in bringing it to a conclusion.

Abraxas knocked Cosmo’s Factory from #1 in the US, to be replaced at its turn (temporarily) by Led Zeppelin III. As pointed out already in this review, this success was mainly due to the fact that it contains so much variation without becoming an incoherent collection of musical genres. The smooth transitions between different genres give this album a very mature character, especially for a band that only just had its break-through and had to release its second album. Let’s finish with a quote from the album’s back cover, a line from Herman Hesse’s book Demian, that explains where the band got the name for the album from (the painting was used as album cover), and which is meanwhile also applicable to the album itself:

“We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it Abraxas….”

Top Tracks:

1. Mother’s Daughter
2. Black MagicWoman / Gypsy Queen
3. Hope You’re Feeling Better

Shuffle of the week #14

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. José Gonzalez –Hints (Veneer, 2003) [singlepic id=158 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Starting slowly with  the Swedish (born in Gothenburg, parents migrated from Argentina after the junta seizing power) singer-songwriter José Gonzalez. This not so impressive song was on his debut album, on which he’s the only musician, signing for vocals, percussion and his classical guitar sound. Hard to imagine he started his musical career in hardcore (punk) bands.

2. Vampire Weekend  – Oxford Comma (Vampire Weekend, 2008) [singlepic id=160 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Example: ‘My favorite albums are Graceland, Revolver and Foxtrot.’ or ‘My favorite albums are Graceland, Revolver, and Foxtrot.’ The only difference between the two is the oxford comma before ‘and’. I listened the album a gazillion times during 2008’s summer and relistening it entirely again (great album) made me decide to give their third album a shot, as I considered their second one a miss.

3. Fleet Foxes – Your Protector (Fleet Foxes, 2008) [singlepic id=157 w=80 h=50 float=left]

The shuffle infiltrates my brain and switches immediately to the absolute top album of that same summer, or even the entire year. Personally I already consider this one an all-time classic. This track in particular was my incentive to get into it, but it quickly became clear that this album is full of gems.

4. Beatles – Because (Abbey Road, 1969) [singlepic id=1 w=80 h=50 float=left]

As a fan of vocal harmonies, I am spoiled this week when the masters of the genre come around with one of the highlights of Abbey Road. Hearing it again made me start a new poll: ‘Which band has your favorite vocal harmonies?’ . From earlier polls we can conclude that OK Computer is your favorite Radiohead album and Wish You Were Here was chosen as best Pink Floyd album. Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band was elected as best album of 1967.

5. Animal Collective – Daily Routine (Merriweather Post Pavillion, 2009) [singlepic id=118 w=80 h=50 float=left]

If Fleet Foxes was 2008’s best album, then this surely was a worthy successor in 2009. I’ve put this album on a couple of times again after last times’ shuffle and revalued its geniusness once more. Finally time to get that last album:  Centipede Hz.

6. Arcade Fire – In the Backseat (Funeral, 2004) [singlepic id=155 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Looks like we’re heading towards another shuffle of the recent past again, but there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. Next one served is Arcade Fire’s debut album. It had been 5,6 years since I heard it, but giving it another shot makes you realize we’re talking about a classic here… again. Here again the follow-up album disappointed me, time to get The Suburbs!

7. Radiohead – Idioteque (I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, 2001) [singlepic id=159 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Fantastic live intermezzo of today’s rock (?) emperors. An absolute highlight in every live performance that I witnessed yet. The original version is of course to be found on their studio album Kid A (2000). The influences of Aphex Twin on the band around that time are clearly noticeable on this track.

8. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Third Stone from the Sun (Are You Experienced, 1967) [singlepic id=25 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Wake me anytime for a short trip to 1967, and this one brings us to Hendrix’ planet full of guitar effects with vocal intermezzos from Dr. Spock. Fantastic debut album from the Experience, further defining the concept ‘power trio’.

9. Bob Dylan – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965) [singlepic id=3 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Time for some nostalgia with one of Hendrix’ great examples, Bob Dylan. Not nostalgia in the sense  of ever having been able to witness Bob’s glory days, or even play his revolutionary and  renovative albums at the time they were released. More in the sense of this album being the first album I ever reviewed for this blog, at the same time being the starting point for plenty of other albums that were reviewed afterwards.

10. The Decemberists – Grace Cathedral Hill (Castaways and Cutouts, 2002) [singlepic id=156 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Closing this week with an album that’s 11 years old meanwhile, but I only discovered it last year and in this way it was also my first acquaintance with the band. Some very good songs on it.