Welcome back, friends. Last time we briefly discussed five quality records I’ve accumulated over the past year and it’s time to devote a quick minute to five more.
So, on to part 2 of my collection of CDs in my car….
1.) “Drones” by Muse
A very ominous record with lyrics about over-glorifying violence, excessive militarized force, fear of becoming nothing more than a piece of the system and an overwhelming paranoia about losing one’s sense of self worth and individuality, “Drones” sees Muse departing from their usual synth rock operas to a more classic rock inspired sound. From the opening cries of “Dead Inside,” frontman Matthew Bellamy sounds desperate for someone to listen to him before it’s too late. I remember hearing Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop say the instrumentation sounded more “hair metal inspired” (or something along those lines), which I agree with. While the new sound isn’t really my style, it’s interesting to see Muse go into such an overtly political direction. I would’ve enjoyed some subtlety, though.
2.) “Kintsugi” by Death Cab for Cutie
I’m pretty indifferent to this record. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing really exceptional about it that stands out to me. There’s some great alt rock singles like “Black Sun,” “No Room in Frame,” “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” and “Good Help (Is So Hard to Find),” and I enjoy singing along. I feel some strains of DCFC’s older work on tracks like “Little Wanderer” and “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life,” but I feel like this is their most accessible record. People who’ve never listened to Death Cab before can still enjoy this record because it’s fun, it’s easy listening, it fits snugly into the “alt rock/adult alternative/mainstream alternative” category. And maybe it might help people discover more of their older stuff.
3.) “Disgraceland” by The Orwells
At first glance this may seem like a typical punk/garage rock inspired teen outfit from Chicago that sings about adolescent struggles like relationships, wanting to live a carefree life and wanting to defy authority.The instrumentation, on a whole, kind of reminds me of The Replacements. But around the fifth track, this record starts to get dark. Themes of hopelessness, coming to terms with mortality, frustration and discontent with society and wanting to stand for something bigger than yourself are prominent. The record may start as a fun little jam session with a “boys will be boys” attitude with the song “Southern Comfort”, but as it progresses lyrically, it has a lot of emotional baggage that’ll make you think. I have a theory that The Orwells are the angsty, angry teenage version of Cage the Elephant, but that is a story for another day. Regardless, this is a fantastic record.
4.) “Melophobia” by Cage the Elephant
And speaking of Cage the Elephant, here’s their 2013 foray into more straightforward alt rock and less of the messy, Pixies-inspired indie rock that they started with. Not to say that there aren’t still strains of that original sound on this record; on the contrary, the opening track “Spiderhead” and “It’s Just Forever” sounds like something Cage the Elephant could’ve placed on 2011’s “Thank You, Happy Birthday.” While I personally loved their brash, noisy early stuff, I enjoy the more stripped-back sound, especially on singles like “Come a Little Closer” (which had a spacy, echo-y, atmospheric vibe), “Telescope” (which had a resigned and apologetic lyrical delivery about feeling lost in life), and “Cigarette Daydreams” (a somber, bittersweet song that I view as the more mature version of 2011’s “Right Before my Eyes”).
5.) “The Moon and Antarctica” by Modest Mouse.
By far, this is the masterpiece of the bunch. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve got a strange fascination with Antarctica. An almost hour-long indie rock jam, this record manages to be a noisy, atmospheric, experimental, spaced-out, thrashing collection of distorted punk rock-inspired tunes with some wildly symbolic, stream of conscious lyrics. And it is magnificent. It gets slow in parts, and the sound does occasionally wax repetitive, but this record is sure to be an inspiration for bands born from listening to early 2000’s alternative rock for years to come. And there are some great surprise tracks as well, from the folky simplicity of “Wild Pack of Family Dogs” to the catchy groove of “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes.” And if you’ve never walked off into the sunset with “Dark Center of the Universe” playing in the background, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.
And that, friends, is all I have for now. What are you thoughts on these records? What are your favourite CDs to keep in the car? Let me know in the comments.
And as always, thanks for reading, and God bless.