Everything else seems to be falling apart – countless rough days both at work and at home, with unfulfilled destinies that seem to remain stubbornly out of reach. If there can only be one thing that remains constant, I will gladly put the best tunes of them all to the test. (See lists for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.)
Wasted without you.
The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream
Confidently crowning Lost in the Dream as the year’s best since its release in March certainly speaks volumes; and yet many months on, this revelation fails to let up. Armed with shimmery guitar riffs, gleaming piano chords and the humble sounds of the harmonica, The War on Drugs have created an hour of solid music that never overstays its welcome. The sprawling tracks tell tales of emotional heartbreaks and lost ambitions, with crescendos that emerge into winning stories of triumph. Their soulful lyrics and blue-sy tunes are sure to withstand the test of time, making this elegantly-crafted masterpiece one that you can lose yourself into come rain or shine.
Favourite tracks: “Under the Pressure”, “Red Eyes”, “Suffering”, “Disappearing”
All will be revealed.
It has always been easy to get swept away with Real Estate’s breezy melodies, and their third effort is certainly no exception. Atlas oozes a casual warmth and familiarity, as though the band has beckoned you to join them on a weathered couch by the sea for a moment of wistful reflection. While the tracks still bring you the promise of a thousand summers, they come with more than just the usual spot of rain this time around, as the band takes to masking their fear of solitude and loneliness behind their trademark cheerful harmonies and idyllic guitars. Life may be a journey without a map, but Atlas will make you all the richer for it in any case.
Real Estate plays at The Gathering, Fort Canning Park, Singapore, on 14 February 2015.
Favourite tracks: “Had to Hear”, “Talking Backwards”, “The Bend”, “Crime”
On my own.
Posse’s modest and understated Soft Opening seemed to have popped out of nowhere – one minute they were virtual unknowns, only to become a best kept secret the next. Unlike a colourful jack-in-a-box, however, the Seattle group conveys in true matter-of-fact fashion the embracing of its idiosyncrasies and contradictions, even as the maddeningly slow “Talk” is nonchalantly placed before the decidedly more illustrative guitar jams in “Shut Up”. If this is meant to be just the opening gambit, then we look forward to more to come from this young band.
Favourite tracks: “Afraid”, “Shut Up”, “Jon”
Everybody needs to feel.
Sharon Van Etten
Are We There
Sharon Van Etten has never been one to shy away from confessionals and intimacy brought on by the weight of love, instead choosing to unapologetically sing about self mutilation and stamp them into her lyrics with the passion of a madman. And yet this, coupled with angry guitar licks and booming piano keys, serve as pale comparisons to the powerful and delicate vocal work on full display in Are We There, which she demonstrates with absolute tenacity, exposing the pain and vulnerability underneath. It creates a giant swell of emotions both devastating and beautiful, drowning you in eternal misery and heartbreak. Evidently, Van Etten held nothing back for her fourth album as she announces her arrival and boldly takes her place among one of America’s finest female singer-songwriters today.
Favourite tracks: “Afraid of Nothing”, “Taking Chances”, “Your Love is Killing Me”, “Our Love”
Also listened to:
Jumping the Tracks, +/-
This is All Yours, Alt-J
Morning Phase, Beck
Ghost Stories, Coldplay
The Take Off and Landing of Everything, Elbow
Shields B-Sides, Grizzly Bear
El Pintor, Interpol
Darlings, Kevin Drew
Power, Corruption and Lies, New Order
St Vincent, St Vincent
Present Tense, Wild Beasts
Shriek, Wye Oak
Bah, outdoor music festivals. But I was really only there just for them, and that was all that mattered. Well, that, and finally getting to talk about my version of “Pink Rabbits” with them. A wry grin on my face at fondly reminiscing that secret meeting with the band is imperative.
My review of The National’s outing at The Hostess Club Weekender, Fort Canning Park, Singapore on 22 February 2014 can be accessed here.
It is quite clear by now that my heart belongs to only one band, and I do not think I can ever make enough apologies for this.