b1. Vampire Weekend - iVampire Weekend/i/b
It's a bit uncertain exactly what Vampire Weekend was aiming for when the boys from New York wrote and recorded their self-titled debut album. The song "Mansard Roof" sounds like a mix between The Beach Boys and The Monkees, while "M79" has not only a small orchestra of strings and woodwind instruments, but also island-like guitar sounds and tribal chanting. Whatever it is, it works in a wacky, tripped-out way. Cryptic lyrics and odd beats, including some techno blended in, might sound like an unlikely mix of elements, but their compilation of quirky sounds just fits with their quirky name.
b2. Oasis - iDig Out Your Soul/i/b
Noel and Liam Gallagher are back with the rest of Oasis to present their latest studio effort, iDig Out Your Soul/i. The Gallagher brothers are not only famous for their poetic lyrics and radio hits; they are infamous for their violent behavior and hatred toward the world and toward each other.
Physical fights, one involving a cricket bat, numerous arrests and assault charges are all part of the Gallagher boys' legacy. But all of this angst and pent-up aggression must give them plenty to work with because iDig Out Your Soul/i is just as good as 1995's i(What's the Story) Morning Glory?/i and 1998's iBe Here Now./i
The first single off the album, "I'm Outta Time," is classic Oasis: moody, melodious and full of a mysterious lyrics. "Waiting for the Rapture," shows the anger that most times the Gallagher boys only display outside the studio. Violent guitars and heavy drum beats offset an echoing voice, giving listeners a feeling of unease. But the big question: will it provide another song as popular as "Champagne Supernova" or "Wonderwall"?
b3. The Raconteurs - iConsolers of the Lonely/i/b
Jack White is a god when it comes to fusing musical styles together and creating his own brand of warped rock and roll. And he's done it again with iConsolers of the Lonely/i along with his fellow Raconteurs, Jack Lawrence, Brendan Benson and Patrick Keeler.
While The White Stripes, Jack White's band with ex-wife Meg White, sounds more polished, The Raconteurs sometimes sound like four guys getting together to jam, as proven on the chaotic, guitar-driven "Hold Up." But then there is a full trumpet section along with roaring guitars to open "Many Shades of Black," probably the most creative track on the album.
There is no low point in iConsolers/i. The follow-up to the band's wildly successful first album, iBroken Boy Soldiers/i, this sophomore effort is chock-full of quirky beats, great lyrics and unique tunes. b-KA/b
b1. Bon Iver - iFor Emma, Forever Ago/i/b
Here's the schtick, just to get it out of the way: This album was made by one man, Justin Vernon, after he had spent three months in a Minnesota cabin in isolation. Yes, he recorded all of the instruments and dozens of layers of vocal harmonies by himself. Yes, he had just been dumped by his girlfriend of many years and, yes, you can tell.
But what's important is that none of this matters.
In an era