Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Best of 2009, so far

A few months ago I blogged about a newish band and a great new album. As we head into the half way point of 2009, I would like to declare that album as the best I have heard in 2009, so far.

As I said last week, we have a lot of the year left and plenty of good music to see, so I doubt it will end up my #1 (there are 2 others competing right now I will mention tomorrow and the next day), but
Here is what I said a few months ago:
Robin Hilton of NPR's All Songs Considered mentioned on their blog that 2009 was already a much better music year than 2008. Considering the lack of great albums in 2008, this is not hard. He spoke of the obvious contenders, including U2, Animal Collective, Andrew Bird (overrated), M Ward and The Decemberists, along with some surprises, including what he considered the best album so far, Hospice by The Antlers.

Intrigued by the album name, I decided to pick it up. It is nothing less than stunning. An amalgamation of Sigur Ros and Bon Iver (hence, Robin's love) with pieces of Elbow, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire in there also, this 23 year old creator of an orchestra in his basement is a wonder to behold. Dealing directly with death, grief and pain, this is a surprisingly easy album to listen to. Ignore the lyrics and be transported another world, simple and dense. Listen closely to the lyrics and be torn apart, yet still transfixed on the beauty of the music created.

I have been listening to this album nonstop for a few days and find myself repeating it 3-4 times in a row before moving on. It is quiet, but heavy. It is worth your time and listening pleasure. Let me know what you think. Make sure you listen these songs.

A few months later (today):

I have listened to this album countless times during the past few months. It is an album of extreme melancholy, but surprising hope. The swoons and swells dip and rise at an almost classical level, just when you think the song is slowing to a painful pace, the crescendos build and you realize you are experiencing life and death in all its unvarnished reality, ups and downs, anger, sadness, hope and resolution.

The album is not about death, but about dying (not the singer dying, but a friend or family member) and coping. It sounds depressing, but it is not (unless you listen closely to the words).

The Antlers myspace.
You can check out many of the songs from the album on youtube.
Buy it here.

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