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I appreciate album covers in an artistic manner, almost as much as the plastic inside of them. From the minimalism of “Beatles for Sale” to the complexity of Talking Heads’ “More Songs About Buildings and Food,” album covers give every album its own identity before you even put it on. This year has brought many good album covers. Here are my five favorites.
The opening track on an album is intended to get the listener’s attention, and to make them want to listen more. The closing track should insure they finish satisfied, although, as many albums this year showed, artists often cop out when it comes to delivering the finale. Satisfying opening and closing tracks never seem to be celebrated enough, so here are the best of 2012.
Radio station WNIC 100.3 has been playing Christmas music since early November, but Eastern Michigan University’s Chamber Choir and University Choir the joined together to share and sing Christmas songs for students to enjoy at the Light and Life concert.
I’ve listened to a few hundred albums this year. That means I’ve listened to thousands of songs which, in turn, means I’ve listened to too many lyrics to count. Therefore, a list of my favorite lines of 2012 can hardly be official. Still, these are just the lines from this year that have hit me the hardest, that I just couldn’t get out of my head, and that made me want to quote them on Facebook.
Musical guest appearances are wonderful when done right, and pointless annoyances when done wrong. Here are five from 2012 that were done absolutely right.
This year, I was more fascinated with singles and individual songs than I ever have been before. Thankfully, I did this without losing my love of albums as full pieces. But, there is a certain charm to great singles and hidden gems resting in albums that aren’t good as a whole. So, these are the year’s five best choice cuts.
It was approximately 10:45 on a gray Saturday morning in January 2011 when Jim Cherewick, Eric Gallippo, Ed Golembiewski and Aaron Quillen met at Ypsilanti’s Hen House and wrote six songs. This was
the day that Congress was officially born.
Of all the “greatest bands of all time,” Steely Dan has always been one of the more bizarre ones. Featuring two core members, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, and backed by studio musicians, Steely Dan is a jazz-rock band that formed in the ’70s. What differentiates them from most jazz-rock bands is Fagen and Becker’s keen understanding of both jazz and rock, as well as their perfectionist recording style (my favorite Steely Dan album, “Katy Lied,” is famously hated by the two due to its supposedly poor sound quality).
Since this has been such a disappointing year for music, it figures that country music would suffer. There are normally only three or four very good country albums in a good year so, in a year like 2012, it’s practically hopeless.
It’s been nine years since the idea for local outfit The Vagrant Symphony was formed on Eastern Michigan University’s campus in 2003. Chris “Chewy” Anderson, the founder, Joe O’Dell, the 12th member, Alexis King, the 13th member and Bennie Phinisee, the 14th member, are the backbone of the giant psychedelic folk band that’ll be celebrating its ninth anniversary in December.
Crafting a song with both a catchy melody and meaning involves a great deal of skill. While many of the artists currently topping the charts seem to specialize in pumping out hit after soulless hit, Florida-based band Go Radio has mastered the art of creating music that is as meaningful as it is singable.
It’s Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for and appreciate all the people and things you love. As a music fan, I am probably going to spend Thanksgiving the way I spend most of my free time: listening to records. I’m going to try to make it more meaningful, though.
As somebody who loves indie music as pop, I appreciate tunesmith bands like Vampire Weekend, Spoon and The Hold Steady more than supposed musical innovators like Animal Collective and Sigur Ros. By this measure, Imperial Teen is one of the purest indie bands around, and also one of the best.
Every year, regardless of how flaky the music industry seems, it has a key album or two for every music fan. Since 2008, every year has brought at least one album I consider nearly perfect. In 2008, it was Vampire Weekend’s debut, in 2009 it was the self-titled “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,” 2010 brought both Robyn’s “Body Talk” and Avi Buffalo’s self-titled album and 2011’s was Wussy’s “Strawberry.”
The great thing about radio is that, depending on the station, it can play new music or a favorite genre of music. Unlike an iPod, where you end up hearing the same songs over and over again (don’t kid yourself—you may claim you’re always updating your music, but you’re still skipping the same songs), radio has the potential to
play music you would have otherwise not listened to.
There’s a charm to side-projects, but that doesn’t mean they’re generally more than just something for musicians to do before their main attraction releases something new. That’s why it’s so impressive when one turns out really well. Divine Fits is one such case.
This year has been hard on the guitar. If Decca Records had said, “Guitar groups are on their way out” in 2012 rather than 1962, it would have seemed a lot more reasonable. A few of this year’s best albums have shown the instrument used impressively, and the most enjoyable guitar solo of the year was played by John Mayer on Frank Ocean’s “White.” But for what 2012 has lacked in guitars, it has made up for in synthesizers.
Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, better known as RZA of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan, performed at The Shelter in Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall Oct. 12 as part of “The Iron Fists” eleven-city tour to promote his directorial debut “The Man With the Iron Fists,” which will be hitting theaters Nov. 2.
Things have been going well for P!nk since “Funhouse.” Things improved with her husband, she had a baby girl, and she decided that she wanted P!nk, previously just a stylization, to be her official name. In the midst of all that, she also recorded her best album since “Missundaztood.”
I was a James Bond fan before I was a music fan. A lot of the first songs I remember liking are from the James Bond movies. From the John Barry scores to the title songs, almost every track from these films is ingrained in my mind. However, they just don’t seem quite as awesome as they did when I was a kid.