It’s now the end of March – one-quarter of the year down. Just three months ago, I made my picks for albums/songs of the year. I gave you a list of 20 albums I believed to be the best of the year 2009. Now, I listen to A LOT of music, but as much as I try, I simply can’t filter through all that comes my way. Through these 3 months, I’ve had time to digest the multitude of tracks that I downloaded at the end of year preparing my lists. Here are 2 albums that, if I were to go back, would’ve made my list:
The first sorely overlooked album is Vetiver’s Tight Knit. The band, now on their 4th album, has often been associated with ‘freak folk’ acts like Devandra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, but I find their brand of folk to be far from freak. I’ve sampled Vetiver’s back-catalog since picking up this disc, and much of it is quite pleasant. Their songs tend to be low-key but feature prominent bass lines that create an equally lazy and positive vibe. Nowhere better have they found this niche than on Tight Knit.
A single song from this album found its way to me by list-making time and made my Top 50. ‘Everyday’ is easily the most accessible song from the album, but as you may have guessed from me taking the time to write about Tight Knit, it’s definitely not the only good track. The album begins the way I like ‘em – with an easy-going acoustic number. They increase the groove throughout the next couple tracks, but for the most part, the first side of the album remains peaceful. Beginning with ‘On The Other Side’, things start to get more interesting. ‘More of This’ stands out as the liveliest track in the set with a soft-punk guitar leading the way. Tracks 8 and 9 takes the sound a little lower to the ground with a hint of jazz. The final track, ‘At Forest Edge’, brings things full circle, setting the album down softly. The interesting mix of tempos and overall mellow attitude make Tight Knit a completely listenable album best enjoyed from a turntable on a lazy Sunday. Try it out.
Vetiver - More of This buy Tight Knit: [CD][Vinyl][mp3]
Not only did I miss this album last year, I also missed a chance to catch Dawes live back in 2009. They played a string of shows opening for This Mornin’ favorite Deer Tick and made a stop in Austin (check out a review of DT’s show with photos). Not having heard of Dawes, we decided to skip the opener in lieu of cheaper drinks down the road. Poor decision.
I downloaded Dawes’ debut North Hills just before finalizing my year-end lists. Their impassioned, harmony-laden ‘Give Me Time’ caught my ears first and sneaked in to my Top 50 Songs list. But that song is simply one of eleven amazing tracks. North Hills is a very accessible sort of Americana. Frontman Taylor Goldsmith leads the band’s chill-inducing harmonies with a smooth, almost familiar voice. North Hills supplies just about every variant of the folk/Americana sound you could ask for. Songs like ‘Love Is All I Am’ and ‘Bedside Manner’ keep the instruments subdued, allowing Goldsmith’s tender lyrics to come through bare and personal. Electric guitars are turned up in ‘When You Call My Name’ and ‘When My Time Comes’ creating a full sound that come across as uniquely Dawes. The rhythm section ushers in ‘My Girl To Me’, an impressively busy bass line keeping the groove. Although the stellar harmonies are present throughout, they boys of Dawes are simply showing off on ‘Give Me Time’ and ‘Take Me Out of the City’. I could go on, but just know that had I given North Hills a proper listen last year, it would have easily been a Top 5 album.
Dawes - Bedside Manner buy North Hills: [CD][Vinyl][mp3]
Dawes deservedly found themselves abuzz earlier this month at SXSW. Playing shows alongside last year’s breakout act Deer Tick sure didn’t hurt their cause. Even more, Taylor Goldsmith joined forces with DT’s John McCauley and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit to create of supergroup of prodigies who call themselves, simply, MG&V. They debuted at SXSW and you can catch some videos here.