Artist: Matt & Kim
Comments: Being so close to the end of this year, I decided I wanted to hear something genuinely festive, and there’s something so real, honest and happy about Matt & Kim’s album Sidewalks. Of course, their single “Block After Block” is just inspiration to yell “Yeah” for no good reason, and, isn’t “leave good for great” (in the song “Good for Great”) such an uplifting message to hear when you’re down and depressed because your year sucked? However, there’s no better experience than listening to these songs live, so if you have the chance to see Matt & Kim on concert, take it! It’ll be worth your time.
Artist: The Cool Kids
Album: When Fish Ride Bicycles
Comments: I unearthed this album from my “Summer Jamz” vault this past week when looking back through 2011’s catalog, and it continues to impress me. Although we had to wait for what felt like half a decade for this pipe dream of a record to drop, the end justified the means. Mikey Rocks’ rhymes and Chuck Inglish’s stellar beat production make for a hip hop record that even manages to attract folks unfamiliar with the genre. The guest appearances don’t hurt, either: the iconic Bun B, Mayer Hawthorne, Ghostface, and a handful of others are the perfect icing on top.
Artist: Sleeping With Sirens
Album: Let’s Cheers to This
Comments: Normally, I’m a pretty cheery person, but sometimes I just want to listen to something rough and amped-up. I got that with Sleeping With Sirens. I was a pretty big fan of their first album, but an even bigger fan of their second that was released in May of this year. I fell in love with their memorable one-liners throughout songs, the drum beats that get stuck in your head, and of course, Kellin Quinn’s vocals. There is a whole new facet to the idea that there is actual singing as opposed to inaudible screaming until the chorus (not that I’m against the screaming). I’m pretty obsessed with “If You Can’t Hang”, “Fire”, and “Tally It Up, Settle The Score” – and those cleverly written lyrical digs. Who would have expected such a great band to come out of Orlando?
Coments: Endlessly has all the components of Rockferry, but is definitely more upbeat. The whole album makes me feel like hopping in my Deloreon to London in 1962, Duffy just has that kind of effect. The first track, “My Boy”, is a dance track reminiscent of the 1960‘s that feels like it is being played live – you can hear cheers in the background. It is a sarcastic little song about being a lady cougar. She is telling the audience that she is his lover, not his mother. Duffy manages to combine great beats and lyrics with her superb voice to make fun, relatable songs. If upbeat and happy aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Duffy didn’t leave you out. Tracks like “Breath Away”, “Too Hurt to Dance” and “Hard for the Heart” remind us that the girl is not all fun and games. Endlessly is a solid follow up to Rockferry that showcases a concrete balance between the happy and melancholy, something all music lovers know a thing or two about.
Artist: My Dying Bride
Album: The Dreadful Hours
Comments: I needed something dark, deep and wonderful to escape to after the trek back to reality from my Christmas break, so I reached for the band often called ‘my favorite.’ My Dying Bride are an English black metal band that gives meaning to the genre term, yet transcends it in almost every way. They seem to achieve dynamic perfection without diligent effort, something any musician can learn from, and 2001’s The Dreadful Hours is the best example of it. After more than a dozen records, this is the one to pick if you want an intro to the band. Each carries a distinct artistic direction and subtle-yet-distinguishable thematic aura, but The Dreadful Hours is a perfect emotive journey. Nothing is musically overdone, though Aaron Stainthorpe’s vocals reach new heights through crisp performances and innovative tracking that you won’t find anywhere else in metal. And, as all My Dying Bride records, each member knows when to shine and when to shut up. Solos are hidden in harmony, strength in sensibility. Humble orchestration make this record – the result – much larger than the sum of each clear, concise, simply-set track. Like a great novel, take the time to lose yourself in it, cover to cover. I must’ve done that a hundred times ten years ago when it came out, and hundreds more since.