Archive for February 10th, 2011

The Captain Discusses Modern Rock 2010 Part Sieben

12.  You Must Be Out Of Your Mind – The Magnetic Fields

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve thought of The Magnetic Fields as a legitimate band.  The band released 69 Love Songs, an ambitious and universally adored concept album, back in 1999.  Since then frontman Stephin Merritt has spent the last decade alienating his fans with two borderline unlistenable albums.  After making his masterpiece with 69 Love Songs, I think Merritt was determined to find a new sound to reinvent the band.  So it was a pleasant surprise to hear the band return to its classic sound on Realism.  The low-key string and acoustic arrangements hearken back to the rich sound the band perfected in the nineties.  And as usual with The Magnetic Fields, the lyrics to the song are witty and wonderful.  I think at this point Merritt is content to give the fans what they want, which is fine with me. 

13.  Night & Day –Chief

I was noncommittal about including this track for quite awhile, but eventually I caved in due to the beautiful harmonies on display here.  Without them, this whole album would be forgettable.  Such is the problem with the first half of this track, where the harmonies are largely absent in favor of singer over a basic drum beat.  While oftentimes a minimalist singer/drummer verse focuses the melody, here it falls flat.  It takes a full band crescendo in the refrain along with the soaring harmonies to make this song stand out.  The band clearly has talent; hopefully they will be able to focus more on their strengths if they record a follow-up.

14.  Modern Man – Arcade Fire

Much like their previous two albums, Arcade Fire has a wide range of styles and tempos on The Suburbs.  

And also like their previous albums, I find myself gravitating towards the end of these spectrums, preferring the rocking and calming tracks.  Modern Man is a mellow masterpiece and by far my favorite track from their new album.  2010 was a great year for Arcade Fire, and hopefully 2011 will be even better as there is a widely spread rumor that the band will be touring with Portishead.  How cool is that!

15.  Paradise Circus – Massive Attack

The last couple of years in Modern Rock have included tracks by nineties artists that I thought were long since dead.  This year two fantastic back-from-the-dead bands are back to back.  First up is trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack.  I could write a master’s level thesis about how vital and influential Massive Attack was in the nineties.   After 1998’s Mezzanine the band has been virtually absent, only releasing one forgettable album in 2003.  2010 was supposed to be the bands triumphant return with the release of Heligoland, but it didn’t really work out that way.  Almost the entire album is bland and forgettable, except for this incredible song.  I completely missed this track, and it was only due to a last minute suggestion by my college roommate Eric that I discovered this it1.  Not only does the song feature the same lush arrangement that made Massive Attack so essential a decade ago, it also features Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star on vocals.  This was by far the nicest surprise of the year. 

16.  Ophelia – Kula Shaker

In terms of long since dead bands from the nineties, it never even occurred to me that Kula Shaker would reform.  The band had an amazing debut album, K, back in 1996 and that’s about it.  According to Wikipedia Kula Shaker released an album in 1999 and one in 2007, but this is news to me.  The last time I heard anything from the band was their kickass cover of Hush from the I Know What You Did Last Summer Soundtrack, which says a lot. 

Needless to say I was quite surprised to hear frontman Crispin Mills’ voice after such a long absence.  I wasn’t hoping for much from Pilgrims Progress

so I wasn’t disappointed.  Most of the album sounds like a watered down attempt to recreate their debut album, but there are a few great tracks here.  Ruby is a nice mid-tempo rocker, but this track is the real standout.  The mellow vibe and the Stairway To Heaven pan flute really set the mood.  It’s not the most exciting return, but it’s better than most. 

Ciao,

The Captain

1  This is actually the last song added to Modern Rock this year.  With the Captains Quarters down at the time, I decided to forego my usual suggestions contest.  Luckily Eric mentioned this a few days before I started burning copies of my discs, and I was able to swap out another track with this little beauty.

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