When I first saw the trailer for this film I thought to myself “looks sorta like that TV show ‘Skins‘” (of which I mean the original British version…don’t even get me started on the American MTV bullshit remake) and I wasn’t entirely off base. This film is sex, drugs, and rock and roll – plain and simple; but it does so with heart and searing visual flair. It all made sense in the Q&A after the screening when writer/director Alexandra McGuinness explained that she had a background as a stylist and a large interest in fashion, because the way this film is photographed is a bit reminiscent of classic fashion photography. “Lotus Eaters” follows a group of young upper class brits living their life in that aimless cycle that we all at some point or another fell into in our teenage years. At the center is a blooming yet turbulent relationship between two of the main characters Alice and Charlie, the latter of which has a bit of a drug problem.
The movie spirals around their lives as if a fly on the wall taking you from one situation to the next, whether it be a wild party with vodka-baths, or buying ridiculous clothing accessories. The movie is lean at just 78min, and is pretty light on plot but heavy on character. It was the last act of the film that really just had me hooked. Once the wave finally crashes down on the never-ending party these lads live, it begins to take a more pensive route. One that ultimately ends up making this film a wild ride. Top that off with Alexandra’s seriously kick-ass taste in music (I’m talking best soundtrack of the year) and seemingly instinctual mastery of blending visuals with music and you end up with a fascinating gem of a feature debut.
I would just as quickly warn people to never watch this film almost as much as I would plead others to. Its glacial pacing, stream-of-consciousness structure, over two-hour runtime, and minimalistic story will probably have unsuspecting filmgoers instinctually reach in their pockets for a quick few rounds of Angry Birds as they pan it for being too artsy. I often wonder if films of this nature will slowly become extinct as our collective attention spans dwindle into the length of adorable-kitten videos on YouTube.
At any rate, this film propelled me into a rather pensive funk for the proceeding few days after seeing it. What ended up being so note-worthy was its unbelievably accurate depiction of how we remember our lives, and more specifically our childhood. Textures, smells, inconsequential moments, or snapshots of seeing the world when you were two feet tall. These moments bubble to the surface, often without too much context of what came before or after it, or even what age you were. ‘The Tree of Life’ plays out much in the same way. After the introduction of a 1950′s family grieving a loss, we are transported back in time…you know to the big bang. Upon witnessing the very formation of life itself, we eventually catch back up to what most would consider the main ‘plot line’ of this freeform existential journey. The film is visually astounding. I mean serious eye candy. Captured images of profound greatness. Do you get what I’m saying? Pop this one in after a nice bubble bath, or perhaps a few hours of meditation because this isn’t a film that’s gonna quiet a restless mind.
It’s not often phenomenal filmmakers have turn around time between films as quickly as Fincher. After releasing “The Social Network” in October 2010, he’s already back with his next project which slides snuggly in next to other Fincher classics like “Se7en“, “Fight Club“, “Zodiac“, and “Curious Case of Benjamin Button“. Yeah, this guy has certainly been busy making some of the greatest films of the last 10 years. It’s well known that ‘Dragon Tattoo’ is a remake of a 2009 Swedish film, leaving many to wonder just why the film is so necessary. While I more often than not join the rally of ‘leave great foreign films alone!’ (as I did when they remade the brilliant Swedish film “Let The Right One In“) I can’t help but make an exception if the film is helmed by a visionary director such as Fincher.
But enough about all that, this movie is badass. Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, the damaged and strong anti-heroine, glues your eyes to the screen and demands your attention in one of the years best performances. As far as tone goes, this mystery thriller focuses much of its drama on the slow unraveling of the murder mystery at its core and refrains from loud set-piece-destroying action sequences. It’s very much akin to Fincher’s more recent work of “Zodiac” and “The Social Network” where he has been seriously flexing his ‘make long dialogue scenes way more gripping then any standard action scene would be’. To top it off, his frequent cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth paints stunning visuals into each frame with his uncanny eye for visual perfection. Trent Reznor’s score is yet again a perfect pairing to the visuals, and keeps the sense of menace and dread up even when really all we’re watching is our main characters flip through old news articles and investigating every corner of a photograph. That is what filmmaking is all about.
OK, I can’t argue it. We’ve all seen a quirky coming-of-age love story before, however ‘Submarine’ manages to rise above its own framework to offer a comedy with outstanding characters, emotional depth, and a so-british-it-hurts style humor for the 2011 generation. The film sinks its teeth deep into the visual medium its presented in with a fresh and lively style. Consistent across the writing, cinematography, directing, and editing the film hits its tone so perfectly on all ends it becomes hard to not be swept away in its heightened reality. 15-year-old Oliver Tate is wise beyond his years, and his hilarious introspective internal rants give us a great sense of the depth of his character. Character is something this film packs in by the tons. Each player in this tale has a perfect array of flaws, quirks, and oddities that make each scene a joy to watch as more layers are peeled back. A classic love story told in an unconventional way. Its odds and ends make this an addicting watch.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what about this depraved dark comedy I found just so outrageously hilarious. In many ways, it’s the sum of its parts, but truly the comedy orbits the hysterically straight-faced performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the aimless stoner metal-head deadbeat Hesher. His unapologetically don’t-give-a-flying-fuck attitude accidentally finds its way into a grieving family of three mourning the loss of mama-bear. It’s dark tone is played for laughs on just about every turn of the story, and does so without shame. Despite its mostly bleak tone, Hesher keeps things energetic and entertaining with seriously fantastic performances, killer writing, and well-rounded characters. Hesher is filmmaking turned up to 11. In fear of over-complicating things, it’s easiest to say: this film fucking rocks.
Don’t call it a cult film. OK, you can if you want, but interestingly director Sean Durkin prefers that the misguided and reclusive group that begins molding Martha’s mind to do the ‘right’ thing unconditionally not be so attached to the classical definition of a ‘cult’. I think really what he’s getting at here is that “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is a ‘cult’ film without the over the top cheesy elements involved. Don’t expect any sacrificial lambs, speaking in tongues, and velvet robes in this one. This is a group that could very well exist in our modern world, and is unnervingly easy to see how someone in a vulnerable state of mind (i.e. Martha) could find solace and a sense of community among her new-found brothers and sisters. This is crucial in understanding just what makes “MMMM” so powerful and truly chilling. Powerhouse performances from Elizabeth Olsen as Martha as well as John Hawkes as Patrick, the ‘cult’ leader, make this a serious knockout of a feature-length directorial debut. The film is firmly grounded in reality, while Martha struggles to understand her own. smoothly transitioning between her life since escaping the cult and the deep-rooted memories from when she was still a part of it make you as the audience sometimes question what is a dream, memory, or is really happening. The audience is constantly trying to make sense of the events and what it will mean for Martha’s transition to life in our normal society. You never really know more than Martha, down to this brilliant film’s final frame.
Miranda July is odd. If you haven’t seen her video blog, watched her interviews, listened to her audio-stories/spoken word albums, or seen her debut feature “Me and You and Everyone We Know” (which along with ‘The Future’ she wrote, directed, and starred in) then it may be a bit hard to judge whether “The Future” is going to be your thing or not, but suffice to say it’s another addition perfectly in line with her off-kilter humor mixed with child-like wonder. In other words it’s brilliant. Describing the plot of the film actually doesn’t do much good in enhancing your understanding of what this film is truly about. Sure it involves love, modern-day dilemmas of technology, existential mid-life thoughts, and a talking cat – but really this film is more about then that. Absorbing the film into your mind offers you a rather insightful tale of…well…life. despite its abstracted fun-house mirror presentation, this film at its core is a grounded and relatable human story. Miranda July has often been discredited to just being ‘weird for weird’s sake’ but in truth what makes ‘The Future’ just so inciting is wondering just how it is that Miranda July is going to present the next scene. Her unique penchant for storytelling makes her work less about trying to figure out WHAT will happen next, but more so HOW it will happen. Call it weird, but I call it transcendent.
‘A beautiful film about the end of the world’ is this films tagline, and there truly isn’t a better way to sum it up. When was the last time you saw a film about the end of the world that doesn’t show people rushing into stores to stock up on supplies, frantic newscasters warning people to stay inside, the Golden Gate Bridge being destroyed, impossible scientific experiments like lasers that can destroy asteroids without any debris entering earths atmosphere, or Bruce Willis. In Lars Von Trier’s (Antichrist, Dogville) latest film, he explores the real emotions of a handful of characters as they begin to come to terms with the fact that their lives, and the lives of all human beings on earth might soon be coming to an end. The uncertainty of the situation and the wide personalities of the four main characters here cast a relatable shadow in the audiences direction. Would you be the one to doubt it until the last minute? Accept it and enjoy your final moments? Panic and convince yourself there must be a way to stop it? Fantastic performances from Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg blended with the unmistakable cinema-verite style of Lars Von Trier’s eye as well as his latest obsession with super-slo-mo imagery make this film remarkably powerful and existential.
It’s always refreshing when films are able to take you beyond the simple presentation of a story, and Life in a Day does just that while still remaining captivating and interesting. ‘Life in a Day’ essentially boils down to being a 95min video time capsule of what life was like for humans around the world on June 24th 2010. The result is both fascinating and deeply thought-provoking. Pieced together from thousands of clips that were submitted by people from around the world filming their day, this is a project unlike any other before it. By eliminating the arguably invasive film crew from this documentary, and handing the camera over to the subjects themselves (i.e. everyone on earth) we get undeniably candid and personal moments that would otherwise be stifled by a bunch of film dudes making sure the shot looks good on the other side of the room. When I say this film is beautiful, I’m not talking about the camerawork, lighting, or visual effects – I’m talking about the deep undercurrent of human feeling this film has sewn throughout its running time. In watching this film, you’re sure to find connections to your own life and raise some questions about how you’re living it. It’s an experience that will happen for those willing to open themselves up to it. This film rewards audience members who allow this film to absorb into their minds. It turns out it’s one of the most rewarding experiences that film has provided this year.
This film is impossibly twisted, unmistakably unsettling, and far beyond just ‘dark’. Often picking my ‘favorite’ films just comes down to the visceral feeling a film gives me. After all, a truly effective film is the kind of film that literally gives you chills, or overwhelming emotion that lingers hours, days, sometimes weeks upon seeing it. So it was a no-brainer for me to place “We Need to Talk About Kevin” firmly at the top after experiencing what can only be described as a ‘my skin is crawling’ moment during the closing credits. This film is NOT for everyone. For example: children, people interested in seeing movies to escape/feel good, or people who would not like to be aware of the irreversibly fucked-up scenario of raising a child that has serious psychological problems. So its audience is a little limited.
The deranged insanity of the demon-child in question ‘Kevin’ is actually played by three actors at different stages of his life. toddler, adolescent, and teen. While the adolescent Kevin does have the most screen time, it will undoubtedly be the teen Kevin (played by Ezra Miller) who will give you death-stares in your nightmares. In fact it’s not just his performance that stands out as exceptional, but his mother Eva (played by Tilda Swinton) as well. The complex emotions of Eva that drive the fractured narrative through its depraved story of the constant search for a normal life catapult this film into territory of universal fear and doubt of ones abilities as a human. It’s a rough ride for your psychological state, but this film is dementedly visceral and unmissable for anyone willing to stomach it.
1. It Is Not Meant To Be
2. Desire Be Desire Go
3. Alter Ego
5. Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
6. Solitude Is Bliss
7. Island Walking (iTunes bonus track)
8. Jeremy’s Storm
10. The Bold Arrow Of Time
11. Runway, Houses, City, Clouds
12. I Don’t Really Mind
Innerspeaker, the new album from new nostalgic psychedelic group Tame Impala, is one of my favorite albums of 2010 thus far. This Australian group might garner some relation to fellow Aussies – Wolfmother, but rest assured these guys are occupying a whole new breed of retro-rock. The album is trance-inducing with its grooves, while in your face and full with its all-encompassing mixing. guitars frequently pan around your head like jets overhead flying through clouds perhaps a bit smokier then your average cumulus. This album is absolutely drenched in sonic soundscapes of thick walls of crunching lo-fi guitar riffs. The bass grounds the music into its skeleton with melodic thumping trance-like lines. The drums are barreling and immediate in their execution and will plummet your body into pulsing with them. The vocals are some spaced-out otherworldly harmonies that will have you singing along. This album, while nothing groundbreaking, does quite a lot of things pitch-perfectly right.
MGMT’s first album “Oracular Spectacular” is on a short list of amazing albums of near-perfection for me. Upon saying that, “Congratulations”, their follow-up, is an album that stands on its own in the MGMT catalogue (you can call it a catalogue after 2 albums…right?) and will disappoint some, and surprise everyone.
This movie completely surprised me. i went with no expectations and really didn’t think i would love it. i left the theater nearly exhausted from laughing and found this to be one of the best comedies of the year. it has an off the wall humor that i love and deals with very real and entertaining characters that all have some fantastic quirks. The comedy comes fast and often in this film and is relentless. also i must say i HATE “larry the cable guy” or whatever his real name is, but he is ACTUALLY funny for the first time ever in this film. thats a plus right? a must see off-the-wall comedy.
9. Avatar IMAX 3D
this film has just recently become the highest grossing film of ALL. TIME. surpassing Titanic. yes this actually means that the 2 highest grossing movies of all time are BOTH by James Cameron. you lucky bastard. well unlike titanic, this movie is pretty awesome. the story is a bit painfully cliche in how it plays out and the dialogue is particularly bad from the humans in the story (especially the walking cliche that is the evil military general). well those are the negatives that i had to get out of the way, and once you get those out of the way in watching this film there’s still a lot of positives that make this worthwhile. of course, visually this is the most advanced thing you can see to date, and it really is remarkable what it accomplishes. the world of Pandora he has created has some extremely rich and creative ideas in it that absolutely should be seen. i particularly enjoyed the way the blue people physically attach themselves with the other animals to become one with them. really beautiful and imaginative work. you may have noticed i put “IMAX 3D” next to this, because honestly i feel that this movie would not have been in my top 10 if i hadn’t seen it in AT LEAST 3D. seeing it in IMAX was a wonderful addition too, but do not see this movie on your computer in 2D. its just too visually and aurally overwhelming to watch in such a small way. overlook its shortcomings (there are definitely some) and enjoy its profound message of relevancy to our modern culture.
8. Pirate Radio
this film, which is about an illegal british radio station broadcasting from the seas in the 60′s is brilliant. the film cuts between our main story on the boat to the big-wigs at the corporations trying to shut them down. the back and forth is brilliantly paced and offers a an awesome sense of rooting for the little guy. the cast of characters on the boat are very colorful and hilarious. they enrich the whole film making every scene comic gold. the acting is superb, and the film is absolutely beautiful. of COURSE the soundtrack is full of some of the best 60′s music you can find and will keep you tapping your foot through the whole ride. i loved how realistic the main character was and the very british style humor found throughout the film. the story is awesome, but let me tell you…the ending to this movie is just the most kick ass thing ever. just when you think everythings gonna end happily ever after…think again. in a brilliant double-take this movie fakes you out in a way that had me smiling all the way back to my car. totally brilliant way to conclude an already awesome film.
7. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
the latest Terry Gilliam film is also the last film starring Heath Ledger. in case you don’t know, he died while this film was in production and Johnny Deep, Colin Ferrel, and Jude Law filled in the rest of the scenes so the film could still be completed. the amazing thing is, they worked around it brilliantly. it works perfectly with the logic of the film and is something you’ll barely notice. despite all that this film is the most visually awesome film i’ve seen in years. wonderfully colorful (especially when characters enter their own imagination) with amazing acting all around (minus Mini-Me…he sucks at acting. what the hell is he doing in this film??) Tom Waits plays the devil in what is probably the most perfect role ever, and kills it. my favorite performance from Tom Waits ever. every scene he’s in is overflowing with life and character. this film also has some VERY monty python-esque humor in it (in case you don’t know, Terry Gilliam was part of Monty Python) with one moment which involves can-can dancing police officers that had me crying with laughter. the story doesn’t really fully come together in the most perfect way at the end, but it was something i easily overlooked as Gilliams movies are always a bit open ended. if you don’t mind not fully understanding the conclusion, this is an absolutely must-see film.
6. Taking Woodstock
wooooahhhh man. this film is, like, totally groovy man. a film starring Demitri Martin (yeah i know i look like him) as the guy who actually helped get Woodstock a place to host the festival after being misplaced is a visually exciting film with deep characters and very well acted scenes. its a drama / comedy so don’t expect to be cracking up the whole time, but there are definitely some laugh-out-loud moments in this film. its more serious tone really works well though for our main character who begins learning a lot about himself and who he is. the films climax of course involves the festival…and well…acid. and. its. awesome. one of the most visually interesting scenes of last year and something that needs to be seen. this film has a pure 60′s vibe and lots of heart.
this fairly small movie that premiered in Cannes is a unique and creepy film that has an awesome simple concept and a killer story. A man is sent to the moon by corporations to help mine out resources that our helping our diminishing supply on earth. after up there all by himself (and a robot that he talks to) for 3 years he begins to see things on the shuttle. is he going crazy, or is there more to it? oh come on you KNOW there’s more to it. and the “more” im referring to is something worth checking out. creepy, wonderfully shot, a great story, and brilliantly acted which is a must for a film like this that really only has one character. the unique twists that begin unraveling results is some very uniquely written scenes that shouldn’t be missed by any film-lover.
4. 500 Days of Summer
this is one of the most creative and inventively fun films i’ve seen in a long time. it has an undeniable personality and clearly has a deep love for the audience. this movie will just make you have a good time watching it. its fast paced, written extremely well and with a sharp sense of honesty of human relationships. i loved the visual style and the way it constantly played with new and interesting ideas. i particularly enjoyed the split screen sequence that shows you the main characters “expectations” and “reality” simultaneously. you see what he wanted to happen and what really happens in a brilliant, and sad series of events during a party. totally brilliant. there is also a brief song and dance moment that cracked me up. complete with cartoon birds flying around and interacting with the main characters. this is inventive filmmaking that is a breath of fresh air. also worth mentioning is the KICK ASS soundtrack to this film.
3. District 9
I do not like sci-fi or alien films. well, generally speaking. This film changed my perspective on that. Extremely thought-provoking, outstanding story, and a relevancy to our modern world that is the scariest part of the film. This film is a massive achievement for being outrageously entertaining and extremely deep. the area that is District 9 is a character itself. slummy and disgusting and it is extremely rich in backstory. because of all the backstory and the documentary-like setup this film feels very gritty and real. if aliens did come to earth, this is probably the most accurate way to describe how we really would treat them. like shit. a metaphor for where we have gone as humans and how little we care about anything but the bottom line. THATS some scary shit.
2. Worlds Greatest Dad
This film is the most fucked up comedy i think I’ve ever seen. to say it’s a dark comedy is an understatement. Robin Williams stars as the father of a truly messed up son. I love Robin Williams as an actor and he of course steals the show in this film. I can’t tell you what happens about a third of the way into this film, but i can tell you it changes the whole film and is seriously unpredictable. and once it happens you may think to yourself “well that was fucked up, i don’t think it could get much worse then…” BUT YOU’D BE WRONG! this plot turn has the film progressively get more and more fucked up as we see the lengths our main character goes to and how truly deranged, yet human he is. if you have a dark sense of humor (like me) and like messed up characters and stories (oh yes, me) then you absolutely need to see this film. one of my favorite performances by Robin Williams to top it off.
1. Inglourious Basterds
Oh Quentin Tarantino. you seriously kick ass at making films. this film is jam packed with absolutely killer scenes. this film was the only film i saw multiple times in theaters last year was a film that i can’t wait to watch again. from one of my favorite opening scenes of just pure tension that ends in an astounding climax that starts the film with a bang (somewhat literally) to the final chapter that is an extended scene in a movie theater which is set up so well you know it couldn’t be bad, and it just relentlessly exceeds expectations. Anyone who says Tarantino has lost his touch must really desperately want to think that, cause this is on par with all his other films. a classic film that absolutely needs to be seen to be believed. as always, the use of music is some of the best in the business, and the dialogue is not only engaging, but the most cleverly paced writing you’ll find in any screenplay. do yourself a favor and see this amazing film.
Almost Made it:
This Richard Kelly film (the director of one of my all time favorite movies Donnie Darko) is a very good film with an absolutely brilliant concept. a couple is offered a chance to get 1 million dollars for pushing a button at the cost of knowing one person they don’t know will die. of course that is only the beginning of the story. the movie is thoughtful and goes some very unexpected places. visually its astounding and offers some very unique ideas on humans morals. unfortunately the story seemed to lack something towards the end. very ambiguous much like “Imaginarium…” but i felt in “Imaginarium…” there was much more to latch onto and a message i felt more involved in. still a worthwhile film to check out.
A visual masterpiece. Going away from the CG mentality of modern films, this film was actually a stop motion film. almost unheard of nowadays. because of it though there is just a soul that the film has that is undeniable. the story is your typical childrens imagination story, but it’s a proven formula and it works perfectly well for the film. the “real world” is filled with an ugly color palate of browns and greys, while the imagination world is colorful beyond belief AND (if you see it in 3D) has much more depth to it. There are a few memorable scenes in this film thats worth checking this out. the main drawback for me was that the story wasn’t particularly original or unpredictable.
Where The Wild Things Are
this movie should have been one of the best films of the year. it had an incredible children’s story to draw from with dark undertones, it did away with the far too overused idea of CGing EVERYTHING, it was directed by Spike Jonez, it was absolutely beautifully shot, it had a soundtrack by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (who released one of my favorite albums of ’09, and yet when it came down to it…it was boring. how the hell does that happen?! the beginning was awesome and then when our hero Max travels to the magical land of his imagination everything comes to a standstill with the story. almost nothing (and i really mean that) happens in the world of his imagination. how, you say, is it possible to screw up the potentially most interesting part of the story? i have no idea. but it was done. the ending was solid, when he retuns to the real world. essentially the first 15min and the last 15min are the only interesting part of this film. the middle had me ancy in my seat waiting for it to be over.
A lot of people hate Rob Zombie’s films. I’m not one of them. or should i say i WASN’T one of them. i loved his reboot of the Halloween franchise and found it to be the best Halloween film ever. it was supremely fucked up and went into a back story that brought life to the masked killer. unfortunately this sequel to his reboot was completely terrible. i REALLY wanted to love this film, but there was just nothing to latch onto. The story was uninteresting and almost unrecognizable. the whole film was too over-bloated with this scene OVER AND OVER: Michael happens upon someone alone. Michael chases them. Michael kills them in a ridiculously fucked up way. and ok, its not like the first film didn’t have killing in it, but it had a deep background and interesting story which made you care about the people running from Michael. if i meet a character 5min before he dies and all he was doing was smoking a cigarette, why am i gonna care for the 10min of watching him be gruesomely killed? the answer is i don’t, and the killing seems like its only there to make the film more violent. this is Rob Zombies worst film by a long shot, and the only film of his i really don’t like. it’s a shame Mr. Zombie.
10. Matt & Kim – Grand
Fun, quick, awesome punk / pop songs are sometimes all you need. this album is just under 30min and there is no messing around. 11 songs that rarely go over 3min. this album is like snack food, except reeeally good snack food. i’m talking like deep-fried nachos smothered in chocolate sprinkles and whipped cream.
9. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – It’s Blitz
YYY’s swtiched it up, and it’s awesome. this is their dance album, and dance you will. synths galore and plenty of killer vocals from frontwoman Karen O. this may not be my favorite YYY’s album, but it most certainly is one of the best albums of the year and contains a couple of their best songs.
8. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
I didn’t know Grizzly Bear before this album, but after hearing this album i was an instant fan. Beach Boy style vocal harmonies, and absolutely beautiful musicianship makes this album a soothing and emotionally powerful album that begs to be heard.
7. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening
the single off this album “Percussion Gun” is one of the best songs of the year, and the rest don’t disappoint either. if you like Radiohead, check these guys out. like Matt & Kim these songs feel absolutely crammed with brilliant ideas. unlike Matt & Kim the songs also have emotional value. the use of piano is unique and extremely interesting. you’ll have to hear it for yourself.
6. The Mars Volta – Octahedron
The Mars Volta are still my favorite band, and as much as i feel like i need to talk about why i DIDNT give it a higher place on my top 10, i’d rather say why its on here in the first place. this is an AWESOME album. if you’ve never heard The Mars Volta this is probably the easiest place to start. they consider this their “Acoustic” album. it isn’t really acoustic, but it is definitely their most restrained album. the songs aren’t epically long, they contain very digestible song structures, and the melodies are beautiful. this album is amazing, but i do hope they return to the weird for the next album.
5. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
SPEAKING of returning to the weird, The Flaming Lips did. in a BIG way. this double-album will seriously piss off fans who expected them to continue down the path of the pop (as they were slowly beginning to do the last couple albums) but for me….well its just about the best album they’ve ever put out. this album is weird as hell, but holy shit is it good. 60′s Psychedelia is back in style and The Flaming Lips are paving the road in new directions. it’s also hard not to mention their incredible live show when talking about them. so ill reduce it to this string-of-words sentence: space-bubble dancing-animals confetti-cannons birthed-band-members. yeeeah. well anyways this album is incredible. LONG LIVE THE WEIRD!!
4. The xx – The xx
A stunning first album from these british young-uns. their sound is made up of male and female vocals trading back and forth over restrained guitar and bass and simplistic drum machine beats and most importantly; silence. yes silence. the use of space and silence on this album is why it ranks so highly for me. they never seem to get too loud, yet somehow it feels overwhelming powerful. these songs will stay ingrained in your head, and all the while you’ll wonder “how the hell do they do it?” if these guys continue making albums this good in the future i may have to question if they are actually aliens sent to create beautifully restrained music for us humans to learn from. that or just ANOTHER brilliant british band.
3. Girls – Album
This SF band essentially made the PERFECT album to listen to in SF. the songs are a mix of surf, garage / lo-fi, shoegaze / wall of sound, and AWESOME. you know…the genre? after seeing these guys play their album release party at Ameoba Records in SF i was sold. they are INCREDIBLE. every song on the album is a deranged pop song that will somehow pull at your emotional strings AND make you wanna go lay on the beach in SF and watch the fog roll in. support these guys! come on, they named their debut album “Album”. sold?
2. Mew – No More Stories…
i put a “…” cause the albums full title is an entire poem which is the lyrics to a stunning song in the middle of this album. so yeah, these guys are conceptual prog-rockers. this album, however, shows incredible range. there’s some beautifully quiet lullabies, some full force dance-able rock songs, some twisted time-signature stuff that will have you scratching your heads to uncover what all the instruments are playing, and even a backwards / forwards song. yes a song that can be played backwards AND forwards with lyrics that are only uncovered by playing it both ways. this album is brilliantly paced and each song is seriously a masterpiece. truly a musicians album. this is difficult and remarkably beautiful music.
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post-Pavillion
This album changed my perception of music. truly. after hearing this album non stop when it came out back in January (it STILL is in heavy rotation on my ipod) i realized what ELSE music could be. the music is almost fully made up of electronics and samples of anything from water drips to a didgeridoo. all this is swirled together with sincere and psychedelically modified vocals from 2 singers who blend their voices in a way reminiscent of the Beach Boys. this is the psychedelic music of the future. this album is also their most “pop” album but this is far from anything you’ll be hearing on the radio. their use of extensive sampling and the amount of electronic sounds is something that can only be done now in the age of information and technology. for that this album feels like a work of art that is pushing things to the limit with what is available now. and, well, its also the most emotionally impact-ful album of the year. this is music backed by serious passion. its dynamic, engrossing, and hypnotizing. this is one of my favorite albums not ONLY for the year but of all time. check this album out. now.