Saying that you love music doesn't really mean much. Everyone likes music, in some form or another. I am no music critic and have no merits to my name to judge a melody, but I love music. Before deciding to study magazine design and journalism, I spent a good amount of time planning to go to a private school to study sound engineering so I could mix CDs and maybe one day be a music producer. I used to play guitar (I'm no musician, don't get confused), and listen to music every free moment I had-- that, I still do.
I did a lot of musical exploration to find out what I liked, and while the occasional mainstream pop song will sneak it's way onto my iPod, it's really filled with Brit bands, indie tracks and alternative/pop songs. Genres often are meaningless as well, since those labels are simply attributed by the listener, but hopefully you can get a sense of what I listen to. I need a catchy melody, an amazing chorus.
Don't you love that feeling when you're listening to a song for the first time, and something just clicks in you-- and you're hooked. To this song, this band, this record. You listen to each track... and it just works. The whole thing just works. Well, this has happened to me a couple times, so I thought I would share these albums-- the albums where you love EVERY single song and will happily sit down and listen to it on repeat for weeks on end. Those albums you never delete off your iPod or iTunes. Basically, the ones with no fault in your eyes. Well here are mine, and if anything, hopefully you can find some great new music today!
1. Under the Iron Sea- Keane
You all have already heard me rave about this album. Every song is perfection. You can tell when you listen through it how much emotion the band was going through and feeling. If you don't know the history of the band, just read the lead line on live magazine: "How pop's favourite public schoolboys went from five million albums to rehab--and back again." I really am fascinated by this band. "Under the Iron Sea" never loses my interest. And Tom Chaplin's voice is SO AMAZING words can not even describe. (They are working on a new album now. I'm dying inside, you have no idea.)
Here is Keane at O2 Arena in London performing "A Bad Dream." Their live performances will give you goosebumps, I swear to you.
Please refrain from judgment on liking this John Mayer album! With him I feel like you love him or you hate him, but honestly I haven't listened to anything he has done EXCEPT for this one album, strangely enough. I admit, his personal life has kind of gotten in the way of his musical career, or at least to be taken seriously. But this album is fantastic, chill, relaxing, and great study music. And for some reason it always reminds me of New York City. Perhaps I listened to it the last time I was in NY, I can't remember.
One of my best friends saw him live last year and said he was pretty amazing... but take a look for yourself. I think he is a great musician. Here is "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room."
3 & 4. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not & Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys were a huge influence on me when I started becoming obsessed with British culture. Alex Turner's Sheffield accent, the culture-infused lyrics, and style of playing I had never heard before. The songs on their first two albums are so sing-able, you can't help but sing in that same accent, sort of embarrassingly enough... I'm hooked on the Arctic Monkeys-- not so much now with their last two albums. They changed up their style so much, I admit I'm disinterested. I tried so hard on their third album "Humbug," but I'm not sure I can go on. But I will never abandon their first two albums. Alex Turner is a true genius.
I saw them live last year in Lawrence, Kansas of all places, in this little venue, but the crowd was nuts for them-- one of the best concerts I have ever been to, honestly. I don't like to brag, but I was indeed in the front row, and yes, Alex made eye contact with me. I died and went to heaven. Though I wish the band was a little more open, but I fully know they aren't a big bantering, silly bunch. They are the proud British type, but I love that about them. Listen for when Alex says, "who set that up?" during their performance of "Brianstorm."
5. Costello Music, The Fratellis
Just like my weird obsession with England, I also have a very/almost equal weirdness with Scotland, partly fueled when I discovered The Fratellis many years ago. Their music is so FUN, so upbeat and rocking. When I listen, I feel like I'm in a Scottish pub, singing with friends. Though much like the Arctic Monkeys later albums, The Fratellis sophomore album disappointed me unfortunately, and now the band is on a hiatus for the moment, but good news! Jon Fratelli, the frontman, has started up a solo career! So google that now.
Here are The Fratellis performing "Baby Fratelli" in a music video that backs up the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film "Hot Fuzz." Why did I pick this? Because "Hot Fuzz" is BRILLIANT. Please do yourself a favor and watch this hysterical movie. And this song embodies The Fratellis spirit so well.
6. Inside In/Inside Out, The Kooks
What can I say about The Kooks? They are for sure, the first modern British band I feel in love with. I think if I had to, I would blame them for turning me into an Anglophile. Their first album, Inside In/Inside Out absolutely exploded in the UK. I don't remember how I discovered them, but after their next album came out (named Konk, which is very very good still), I bought band merchandise for the first time online, and became properly obsessed. Their first album is so raw, it's not musical perfection: all cleaned up, digitized, etc. It's like a live performance, but done in the most amazing way. It's hard to explain. It's true British music, guitar riffs are fantastic and rough, it's just true talent. Plus, their style had, and still has a huge influence on me. I wore skinny jeans, a loose shirt and a cardigan with the sleeves pushed up for like a year straight in high school, modeled after Luke Pritchard.
I saw them live in 2008 (oh my god, that long ago??) after Konk came out, in Kansas City, but they weren't even headlining. They were the intro act to Death Cab For Cutie, but honestly their hour long performance was more rocking, more exciting, captured everyone's attention better than the other bands, including Death Cab. To be honest, I remember people cheering more crazily for The Kooks than Death Cab. A guy in front of me turned around and said, "What is this? It sounds like people are more excited for The Kooks then Death Cab!" To which I responded: "That's why I'm here!" Their live performance was phenomenal. SO MUCH energy, they sounded perfectly true to their albums, only BETTER.
The Kooks "Naive" at Radio 1's Big Weekend. (ps. their new album just came out. Still have to buy it, I heard it's a slight departure from their other stuff, so we will see what happens...)
7. Wolfgang Amadeus, Phoenix
Phoenix is a very odd little French band that has captured my heart. I knew about them before the 1901 craze, I liked that single from "Wolfgang Amadeus" as well as Lisztomania, but the rest of the album I kind of blew off as boring and moved on with life. Well then 1901 became this HUGE success (I want to say in 2009?), then just this year, yes 2011, my friends at work would not stop talking about Phoenix, as they are huge fans, so I listened through it, song by song. There it is, I was done. Loved them. Loved the album. And little did I know, not only were they asked to perform THREE songs on Saturday Night Live (only the fourth band in the history of SNL to be asked to do that, along with Paul McCartney, U2 and Coldplay), but they won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2010. I know with a first listen people will only be drawn to 1901 and Lisztomania, but trust me. Give it time, you will fall in love.
In other news, frontman Thomas Mars just married long-time girlfriend, filmmaker Sophia Coppola, with which they already have two kids together. Now, will they be the most talented offspring ever? Yes. Here is Phoenix on Letterman. Brilliant performance.
(More fun facts: Thomas Mars is not his real name. Don't know what it is. Also, he wears the same shirt for every performance, and he has a lot of them. In Rolling Stone, he said he has "not quite three digits, but close."
8. Little Voice, Sara Bareilles
Gorgeous Sara Bareilles. Loved her since "Love Song" came out, but now that that has been seriously overplayed, her new album is also VERY excellent. I feel like Sara Bareilles gets written off a lot as just another female singer/songwriter without the glitz and glamour of Katy Perry or Lady Gaga. But that's why I love her and her debut album-- it's pure talent. She can write this perfect melody, sing it with passion, and I feel like I can relate to a lot of what she writes. I'm a sucker for the piano too. (maybe that's a reason for why I love Keane so much?) She creates GREAT songs, simply with the piano.
Some of her songs make me feel like I'm walking this beautiful field in an English countryside for some reason.. and who wouldn't want to feel that? Here she is performing one of her most beautiful songs, "Gravity"
I hope you guys check out some of these albums-- I know they won't work for everyone, but hopefully at least one of them did! But I'm always open for new, great music too. What are your "perfect" albums you've loved from beginning to end?
The Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation-- The Wombats
Hopes and Fears-- Keane
Alright, Still-- Lily Allen
Sigh No More-- Mumford and Sons
These Streets-- Paolo Nutini
Kaleidoscope Heart-- Sara Bareilles