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Off Key With Eric D. presents the Top 12 Albums of 2012!!!

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Greetings and good tidings, friends in music,

Following on last year’s ridiculously short “best of the year” album reviews for your iPhone 4S viewing convenience, I’ve decided to up the ante this year by pulling together even shorter reviews for your now-outdated smartphones. That having been said, enjoy the no-more-than-one-sentence album discussions that make up the Top 12 of 2012:

12. Spiritualized – “Sweet Heart, Sweet Light” [Japanese version] (Double Six)

J. Spaceman’s latest is better than the album before it, which was better than the album before that, which was worse than the album before that, which was worse than the album before that, which remains a truly legendary recordKey tracks: “Hey Jane,” “I Am What I Am,” “Life Is A Problem”

11. The Big Pink – “Future This” [iTunes pre-order version] (4AD)

“Future This” may not be the monolithic example of excellence that was The Big Pink’s 2009 debut, “A Brief History of Love,” but its cutting-edge beats and massive hooks keep the band’s popularity from falling like dominos, dominos, dominosKey tracks: “Stay Gold,” “Hit The Ground (Superman),” “77”

10. Cat Power – “Sun” [Japanese version] (Matador)

While Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) may freak out over everything, you’ll freak out over how good her new album is.  Key tracks: “Cherokee,” “3,6,9,” “Nothin But Time”

9. Bloc Party – “Four” [Limited Edition] (Frenchkiss)

Bloc Party’s “Four” represents a lot of things: the number of members in the band, the years since their last album, and the amount of times you’ll have to listen to the new album before it starts sounding like old Bloc Party.  Key tracks: “Octopus,” “Day Four,” “We Are Not Good People,” “Mean”

8. Lavender Diamond – “Incorruptible Heart” [iTunes version] (Paracadute)

It took five years for indie folk-pop outfit Lavender Diamond to release a follow up to their much beloved debut, but the results are nothing short of epic and, as is their hallmark, lovey-dovey.  Key tracks: “Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now,” “Forgive,” “Oh My Beautiful World”

7. David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Love This Giant” (4AD/Todo Mundo)

A balancing act between songs that are brilliant, blasé, and overly bombastic, all backed by a brass band, one wonders why these two titans of indie rock didn’t just call their album “Like This Giant.”  Key tracks: “Who,” “Dinner For Two,” “Outside Of Space And Time”

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Off Key With Eric D. presents the Top 11 Albums of 2011!!!

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Greetings music lover,

Normally I would count down the top 20 records of the year, supplementing each with a nifty diatribe as to why they were so awesome and prevalent in the given year. However, in an effort to balance out my busy nature and, more so, not conform to myself, I’ve decided to focus upon the top 11 records of this year, a year which conveniently ends with the number 11. Get it? I thought you would. Anyway, without further ado, here are those best records of the year, discussed in bite-sized reviews so you can read them on that brand new iPhone 4S you got for Christmas:

11. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” [iTunes version] (Sour Mash)

Finally, Noel breaks away from his [expletive deleted] brother to go out on his own, releasing an album that proves him to be the only good thing to come out of the late Oasis.  Key tracks: “(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine,” “Stop The Clocks,” “A Simple Game Of Genius”

10. Atlas Sound – “Parallax” [Japanese version] (4AD)

Atlas Sound’s latest album, their most accessible thus far, is the sixth album frontman Bradford Cox has released in the last 4 years. Calling him prolific is an understatement.  Key tracks: “Te Amo,” “Angel is Broken,” “Terra Incognita”

9. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Belong” [Japanese version] (Slumberland)

Pains’ second album makes their first album sound like crap.  Key tracks: “Belong,” “Anne With An E,” “Strange”

8. St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy” (4AD)

Annie Clark’s latest album is more strange than merciful, taking a slightly divergent direction that concedes a less enthralling listening experience than her first two records. It’s still good though.  Key tracks: “Cruel,” “Cheerleader,” “Surgeon”

7. My Morning Jacket – “Circuital” (ATO)

After the interestingly eclectic, indie/neo-psychedelia headache that was 2008’s “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket returned this year with an album that (thankfully) sounded like their much-revered older work, in turn making for much-revered newer work.  Key tracks: “The Day Is Coming,” “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” “Outta My System”

6. Friendly Fires – “Pala” [Japanese tour edition] (XL)

“Pala” is the perfect second act to Friendly Fires’ dance pop story, gyrating its way into our hearts with songs about love, loss, and films with talking dogs.  Key tracks: “Live Those Days Tonight,” “Hawaiian Air,” “Hurting”

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Off Key With Eric D. presents the Best of 2010!

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm

20. Clinic – “Bubblegum” (Domino)

For a time, it seemed as if British indie-punk-alternative band Clinic felt satisfied in releasing the same sort of album over and over again. Case in point: every record since 2002’s universally lauded “Walking With Thee” sounds relatively similar to the one before it, both musically and, at times, thematically. Thankfully, with the help of St. Vincent producer John Congleton, the perpetually-masked Liverpool lads burst their repetitive bubble with “Bubblegum,” their sixth album. Unlike its high-strung, faster-paced predecessors, “Bubblegum” is the band’s most down-tempo effort, focusing to gorgeous effect on slow, ’60s-esque chord progressions via lightly-chorused guitars. The end result is not too dissimilar from lounge music, in fact. When considering this album’s change in direction, it’s quite pleasant to hear a version of Clinic that’s free of distortionsKey tracks: “I’m Aware,” “Baby,” “Radiostory”

19. Twin Shadow – “Forget” (Terrible/4AD)

If you’ve pigeonholed Twin Shadow as another one of those indie rock-meets-electro bands that have permeated Pitchfork for the past few years, well, prepare to be pwned. The band, essentially a one-person project helmed by newcomer George Lewis, Jr., released its debut album with this year’s “Forget.” Meandering through an 11-song set of primarily mid-tempo synth- and bass-driven songs, the record sounds like a long lost piece of 1980s output from 4AD, coincidentally the label Twin Shadow is signed to overseas. One could liken it to a chilled-out, retro beach house party that’s not soundtracked by Beach House. Sonic suppositions aside, one thing is for certain: “Forget” is definitely something to remember.  Key tracks: “Tyrant Destroyed,” “When We’re Dancing,” “Castles In The Snow”

18. Beach House – “Teen Dream”/”Zebra EP” (Sub Pop)

Following on the Beach House reference from the last review, the band themselves have one of the better albums of this year. Their third foray into the LP format, “Teen Dream” is a great deal like its two predecessors, save the greater amount of hooks and the fact that lead singer Victoria Legrand‘s voice isn’t buried by the band’s signature layers of dreamy reverb this time around. It is appropriate that “dream” is in the title as the record is a perfect slice of dream pop, warm and ethereal, and perhaps even furry. Anyway, furthering the album’s greatness is the “Zebra EP,” a piece of 12” vinyl released exclusively for Record Store Day that includes new versions of two album tracks plus two blindingly brilliant new songs that should have honestly been on the album itself.  Key tracks: “Zebra,” “10 Mile Stereo,” “The Arrangement,” “Baby” Read the rest of this entry »

Off Key presents the Best of 2009

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I realise this is about five months past its date of publication, but the poignant commentary still holds true…

 20: Atlas Sound – “Logos” (Japanese version) (4AD):
In 2008, the demos for Bradford Cox’s second solo outing as Atlas Sound leaked onto the internet, causing the enigmatic Deerhunter frontman to throw an unbelievable hissy fit and nearly putting the kibosh on the album’s release. Fortunately for the world, the record, “Logos,” did indeed come out this year and is surprisingly better than the demos that preceded it, not to mention the project’s first album, 2007’s “Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel.” As an added bonus, the Japanese release contains four additional songs from the demo sessions tacked on at the tail end, allowing the record to rise to mesospheric heights.
Key tracks: “Walkabout,” “Quick Canal,” “Difference BT”

19: The Raveonettes – “In And Out Of Control” (Vice):
Let’s face it: The Raveonettes’ latest release, “In And Out Of Control,” isn’t their best album. However, it does contain some of the band’s best songs, displaying their special brand of heart-breaking/warming pseudo-pop and super-violence sung in the sweetest, most reverb-laden way possible. Overall, it’s another sensational Raves record, with them going back to what they did best on 2005’s “Pretty In Black” and records previous and mixing it with what they learned on 2007’s “Lust Lust Lust” and its succeeding EPs.
Key tracks: “Bang!,” “Last Dance,” “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed),” “Suicide”

18: Julian Plenti – “Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper” (Matador):
This album is… great. But it’s no Interpol. Then again, Paul Banks (a.k.a. Julian Plenti) knows this. The songs on “Skyscraper,” his first solo outing, are miles more upbeat than anything found on his now-ridiculously-famous main project’s records. Essentially, he did what every noteworthy frontman starting a solo career should do: recorded an album that doesn’t stray too far from their original band’s sound, but altered the tone and the lyrics to reflect something new and fresh. In 2002, Banks sang “New York cares”; seven years later, this is him caring back.
Key tracks: “Only If You Run,” “Games For Days,” “Unwind”

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Greetings space travelers…

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm

At very long last, following a year of fan questions, queries, pleas, and federal negotiations, the fine website for nigh-legendary music column Off Key With Eric D. has been launch-ed. Stay tuned for a scintillating smattering of delectable disc- and digitally-driven dietary dishes on the most mouthwatering music of the modern era.