This is the first of two posts where I’ll be reviewing the music that I listened to throughout the second half of 2009. Later, I’ll be reviewing the movies as well as the TV shows that I’ve watched within that same time period.
Brand New – Daisy (2009)
A lot of people on AbsolutePunk.net will disagree with me when I say that Daisy is Brand New’s best effort yet. Following 2006’s amazing The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, Daisy is almost like a “TDAGARIM part 2.” It’s darker, more challenging, and more intense, and shows Brand New continuing to progress and create a brand new sound with every record they produce. What some people have against the record is that they think the lyrics aren’t as good as they were on their previous record. This could likely be due to the fact that the writing was split between lead singer Jesse Lacey and lead guitarist Vincent Accardi, whereas on previous records, Lacey was the main lyricist. I tend to ignore the lyrics when listening to this record, because you can’t really tell what Lacey is screaming half the time. But hey, it sounds amazing and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Was it worth the three years’ wait in between records? I think so. 9/10. Personal favorites: “At the Bottom,” “Gasoline,” “Bought a Bride,” “Daisy.”
Eisley – Combinations (2007)
It’s said sometimes that the album you hear first from a band becomes your favorite album of that band, regardless of which ones the band put out first. This is exactly the case with me and Combinations as well as Lydia’s Illuminate. I don’t mean to say that their predecessors were bad. I’m just saying I was so instantly and strongly attached to these ones that I didn’t really give the bands’ previous albums enough time to really sink in before I moved on to different things. I don’t really have much to say about Combinations, though. Don’t get me wrong, I may sound a bit unenthusiastic, but I really do love this album. Beautiful vocals, beautiful music, interesting songwriting, and a darker, more matured feel than 2005’s Room Noises. 8/10. Personal favorites: “Many Funerals,” “Invasion,” “A Sight to Behold,” “Combinations.”
Lydia – Illuminate (2007)
I just can’t get my head fully around this album. Even within individual songs, there are changes in tone, as the album as a whole expresses a wide variety of different emotions. However, interestingly enough, this is one of the most cohesive records I’ve ever listened to, so much so that it just wouldn’t work if you didn’t listen to it in order from track 1 to track 11. Not only is it one of the most cohesive albums I’ve listened to, it’s also one of the most beautiful. Leighton Antelman’s commonly-misinterpreted-to-be-female lead vocals and Mindy White’s definitely-female backing vocals blend together perfectly. Illuminate is so calming that it just might put you to sleep, in a good way, and yet the sounds are so interestingly layered and the compositions so complex that you’d want to stay awake trying to pick out every little subtlety. 8/10. Personal favorites: “This is Twice Now,” “I Woke Up Near the Sea,” “Stay Awake,” “All I See.”
Manchester Orchestra – I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child (2007) and Mean Everything to Nothing (2009)
When I first heard of these guys, it was on a roster of who was opening for a Brand New headlining show. I had no idea who these guys were, so I went in there with an open mind. I was amazed. I didn’t enjoy their set more than I enjoyed Brand New’s merely because I already had such an attachment to Brand New’s songs, but once I got home, I immediately looked up Manchester Orchestra’s songs. I got hold of their albums, and both of them have been in rotation for months. I would usually say that Brand New was my most favorite band, closely followed by Thrice. My logic behind that was that both bands were putting out the best music I’ve heard, but while Thrice marginally rises the bar with every album, Brand New meets that bar with half as many. Manchester Orchestra, though, they come in there with their debut album and it’s already as good as the albums Brand New and Thrice put out last year. Manchester Orchestra’s sophomore album is neither better nor worse, just different. There’s nothing wrong with that, really, they don’t have to improve with every album like Brand New and Thrice because they’re already way ahead of the curve. A user on AbsolutePunk described them as safe indie rock. I can agree with that. They’re indie, yet still highly accessible to the mainstream crowd. But what really sets these guys apart from most other bands I’ve listened to is that their songs have some of the most powerfully moving moments I’ve ever heard. Andy Hull, who has a high-pitched voice similar to that of Silversun Pickups, sings about his faith and how he struggles with it. Listening to the lyrics, you’d think he was much older than he really is, which I think is amazing. Hear these guys out, because they are just one band that must not be missed. 10/10. Personal favorites: “Now That You’re Home,” “Where Have You Been?,” “I Can Barely Breathe,” and “Alice and Interiors” from I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, and “Shake it Out,” “100 Dollars,” “My Friend Marcus,” and “Everything to Nothing” from Mean Everything to Nothing.