by Richard Southard, The River editor
After doing these posts for a few weeks, and covering a number of main genres, it appears I’ve exhausted what would be my “easy” choices. There are plenty of other genres that I could share (at least) five albums for, but it think it might be time to mix-and-match a little bit. So, rather than looking at a certain genre, we’re just going to take a quick look at five albums, from various origins and styles.
This is also coming from the idea that I, along with many others, do not have many “focused” days when it comes to music. I don’t often wake up thinking “It’s sunny out, but the wind is just a tad aggressive. It’s a melodic metal day.” Maybe that’s just me, and that wouldn’t be very surprising.
Did you know that, according to SPIN, the average American listens to about four hours of music each day? Just thought I’d mention that. It seems surprising at first, but now, I can’t help but think that it should be higher.
Looking at this intro, it seems to be a bit scattered. Maybe there’s some importance to that, because now we’re getting into a few suggestions that are just as scattered and mixed-up. They’re all similar, however, in how awesome they are, so do give any of them a try if any interest you.
James Blake – James Blake
Similar to this post, it’s difficult to pin down James Blake with an exact genre. Electronic is a big part of his style, but it also holds a heavy emphasis on vocals, many of which are of an R&B variety. The way this album works with overlapping vocals (“I Never Learnt to Share”) and effects (“Lindisfarne”) makes it quite a unique listen. I’ve read James Blakes’ music being defined as “post-dubstep” because of the big influence of modern electronic in his work. I have no clue what that means, however, so we’ll leave it at that.
The Strokes – Is This It
Is This It might not be a very unknown album in the music world, but it sure is a damn good one. Being an indie rock album that holds quality across the board, it’s easy to see why this album is considered to be important development of modern alternative rock bands. The album takes a simplistic approach that doesn’t utilize any overproduction or sudden shifts in sound. The result is a very smooth listen, with fantastic rhythms and melodies.
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
When I suggested five hip-hop albums last week, this album could’ve easily made it onto the post. While the instrumentals across the album are great, what really shines here is Aesop Rock’s lyricism. With interesting wordplay, fast flows, and moments that are both abstract and strange, the words themselves is what ultimately makes the album very memorable. “Shrunk” is probably my favorite, where he describes himself in a shrink’s office, giving his personal information in the form of complex and expressive statements (except for “My social is sudoku”, which is pretty to-the-point).
Sigur Rós – Valtari
I consider Valtari to be my introductory post-rock album. What’s interesting about that is that I find it to be much more than just that. The title track “Valtari” is a long and dream-like instrumental track that feels more like ambient music. “Four Pianos” is a stunning sequence of (obviously) piano and violins, which creates a fading, atmospheric conclusion to the album. But the vocals are excellent as well, such as on the gorgeous “Ekki Múkk”. ‘Varúo” is my favorite track, with a vocal and drum build up that actually managed to make me tear up on my first few listens. Definitely a staple among my suggestions.
Deafheaven – Sunbather
After I graduated high-school, there was a long period of time where I had abandoned my obsession metal. With all the different music I was finding, metal didn’t seem to have many interesting things to hear. Sunbather was an album that proved me wrong. It’s actually been described as black metal, but it’s an album that takes inspiration from melodic metal, shoegaze, and even post-rock. While I don’t find the screamed vocals to be that special (in fact, some of it is inaudible), the instrumentals are dynamic, bright, and epic. The cascading layers of guitars are a constant throughout the four “main” tracks, while the interludes all bring a slower, transitional moment to the album’s large-scale. There’s a lot here that can catch the interest of one who hasn’t heard much metal, and that’s probably the reason it stunned me so much. Give it a chance. You (hopefully) won’t regret it.
In the process of writing about these five albums, I’ve actually managed to come up with a few ideas for a more focused post (folk music, new music, the need and importance of genres). Rather than erase what is already here, though, I’ll just save those ideas for the upcoming weeks. In fact, with halloween on the rise, perhaps there’s a theme that can be done next week for that.
However, if there’s a genre or subject that you think I should be discussing, please feel free to voice the idea (whether it be in comments on social media, or through The River email). A main purpose of these posts, as well as The River itself, is to establish a community. To me, music is one of the best forms of it (community, that is). I hope I’ve managed to suggest something interesting to you, and if not, then at least we can spark some conversation.
Thanks to everyone for the read, and the support. Until next week, enjoy the music.