2011: A good year for my music library
“Rome,” the concept album by collaborators Daniele Luppi and Danger Mouse (one half of Gnarls Barkley) featuring Norah Jones and Jack White. This atmospheric and moody album was inspired by scores of Spaghetti Westerns predominantly directed by Sergio Leone. Not only was this performed on vintage equipment (an increasing rarity these days) but the orchestra was made up of musicians who originally performed Spaghetti Western scores. The entire moody album plays like the score to a film and inspires beautiful and varied visual imagery. And despite its sometimes melancholy sounds, there is a subdued sensuality to it. The vocal and lyrical contributions from Jack White and Norah Jones match the forlorn score perfectly. Atmospheric and moody. Hello soundtrack for life.
Okay, so Cee Lo Green’s “The Lady Killer” actually came out in 2010 but I didn’t get it until 2011. This splendidly produced album was comparable to “Rome” in that it sang the imagery of a film or story to you. The first single “Fuck You!” was bound to be a hit by its very nature but the rest of the album lived up to the first single’s hype, and maybe surpassed it. Finally, we get cohesion from a solo Cee Lo album with his distinctive voice and soulful track composition. From the upbeat tracks to the ballads, the lyrics are clever and the old-school vibe is on point. Another album that is nearly perfect. Cee Lo, I love how weird you are.
My countdown for Adele’s next album started right after I got finished listening to the first one so, it goes without saying that I was excited. Adele’s followup to her debut album, “19” became both a critical and commercial hit. “21” showcases the raw power of her voice which has the uncanny ability to turn even her mediocre tracks into spun gold. She is a tremendous live performer and in an age where live performances are either good by virtue of their flashy antics, Adele stands alone moving audiences wearing understated black with a lone microphone as her prop. Her songwriting has gotten clearer in relating her pains compared to the poetry from “19”. I didn’t love every single track on this album but it was well worth the wait and she is worthy of the hype. Heartbreak always makes for good albums.
Remember the days when you would literally count the hours until an album dropped and waited in line outside of Sam Goody or Virgin Records Stores or something with a tent and hot chocolate and pee in a water bottle. For me that was this album. So, I did the 21st century equivalent and waited until 12am precisely on July 12 and downloaded this album from Itunes. Sorry guys, but I had been saving a giftcard for months so I could get it with no issues. Incubus has not had a completely new album out since the 2006 release of “Light Grenades” and I was getting antsy. The announcement of this album literally had me on edge until it finally debuted. It wasn’t exactly what I expected but honestly, Incubus albums never really are. Without realizing it, they single-handedly deliver albums never the same as the last and right now, they’re working on subtlety. This album is all about nuance and lushness. Incubus audiences are literally split over this album. You either vehemently hate it, love it or enjoy it and appreciate it for their musical growth and the lush production. I fall in the latter category. Admittedly, it isn’t my “go-to” Incubus album but it is a beautiful album none the less. Worthy of the wait? Hell yeah. This quintet always manages to improve from the last album both as a unit and as individual musicians. This album allows the listener to hear individual nuance and brings even more musicality and refinement to their already impressive catalog.
I’m proud to say that after a year long drought, my Itunes library has been restocked and my ears are ecstatic! Keep it comin’ guys, keep it comin’.