Music, etc.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Top Ten: #4,3

The countdown is winding down and we're getting closer to the year's best release. Today marks the first appearence of a solo female vocalist, as well as the second. I reviewed one of them just around a week ago, so I'm going to pull the old cop out and pretty mush repost my exact review, only this time from a more advanced perspective, having giving the album many more listens.

4) Regina Spektor-Begin to Hope

The album kicks of with easily the years most catchy song. A lot of Spektor fans were upset about this, becuase they felt Regina gave up on her old style in favor of the radio-friendly tunes on "Begin to Hope." She hasn't lost that flare for songwriting though, drawing the listener deeper and deeper into the songs are multiple listens.

Regina has one of the most beautiful voices in modern music, a benefit that only helps the ambitious love songs on "Begin to Hope" work out really well in the end. In easliy the songs most eccentric song, Samson, Spektor sings to the mysterious Samson, "You are my sweetest downfall, I loved you first." As the soft piano-backing is drowned out by Regina's high note, the song begins to take on a mystical tone.

On the next track, she sticks with the love theme in "On the Radio." The song can put anyone in a good mood. The song portraits a young couple with no regrets as they lie together in a car as "November Rain" comes on the radio.

Spektor takes on the persona if a prostitute on my favorite track on the album, "Hotel Song." The poor, lost narrator searches for love in a dark hotel room, optimistic at night, but in the morning she is sad and lost one again. "I have dreams of orca whales and owls/but I wake up in fear/you will never be my, you will never be my dear/will never be my dear, dear friend," finishes up the catchy, yet depressing song.

Regina, with her beautiful voice and knack for song-writing has created one of the most delightful albums of the year. It is hard not to sing along with every track on the record, it is that good.

3) Joanna Newsom- Ys

After all of the hype about it, I thought that Joanna Newsom's new album simply title "Ys" would disappoint me greatly. After one listen though, I can say that it completly blew me away. Not to hate on "The Milk-Eyed Mender" but "Ys" puts Newsom's freshman effort to shame. This time around, so much is going on in each song, too many themes to fully grasp. Thats the true wonder of it though, it takes time and if you're willing to gather up all of the beautiful allegories and metaphors, then you're in for a tremendous treat.

One song in particular, "Monkey & Bear," almost brings me to tears. Newsom's song-writing skills really shine in a story of two friends, and the decieveing tricks we will play on our firends, regardless of the consiquences, just to benefit ourselves. Newsom's voices weaves maticulously through fantasy and reality to make some of the most breath-taking moments in recent music memory. Each song, ranging in the five to sixteen minutes range, tells a beautiful story.

The utter ambition and uniqueness gives this album a completely refreshing feeling. Newsom's harp perfectly coats each beautiful song. She even trows in some Jew's harp on the absolutly stunning "Cosmia." Unlike all of the other albums on this list, you won't find a guitar, bass, or a set of drums anywhere in album. Instead, a lovely arrrangements of strings creates a surreal feeling throughout.

It also is a great bonus that Newsom's voice is actually bearable on this five song mix. Again, it's not that I did not like her previous release, I thought her voice was weird for the sake of being weird. This time, we get a more polished, beautiful version of the pierceing voice that plagues "Mender."

I've never been a big Newsom fan, but if there ever were a time to convert, it is now.


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