Quarterly report: My favorite albums of the past three months
As June fades into July, we follow yesterday's rundown of individual tracks with a list of my 10 favorite albums of the past three months.
(1) Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix I was waiting for an album to come along and grab me by the collar this year; here it is. On their fourth album, Phoenix meld the sleek synth pop and guitar rock that has characterized their career into a monolithic metropolitan masterpiece. Smart, savvy and relentlessly accessible from the opening singles to the deep cuts, it's been the dominant musical force in my life this spring and early summer. Even their meandering attempt at krautrock, the ill-advised two-part "Love Like a Sunset," can't snuff out my appreciation for this record. (Try "Girlfriend" instead. I embedded it below.)
(2) Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest As noted in the singles roundup, "Two Weeks" was the first time I found Grizzly Bear worthy of more than a snooze. The rest of Veckatimest is equally fascinating, a giant step forward for one of music's most elegant-yet-adventurous ensembles. (Although that middle section does drag a bit.) Ed Droste talked to Pitchfork about learning to edit yourself, and I've got to agree with the guy: Their restraint really paid dividends here. The record especially came alive for me after seeing them perform these songs in concert, so be sure to catch them next time they come through town. (Get on it, Wexner Center!)
(3) Micachu and the Shapes, Jewellery What wonderful, unusual music from London kids with no boundaries on their plentiful inspiration. Instruments clean and fuzzy cartwheel through a mix that bounds from third-generation dubbed indie rock cassette to next-level party playlist. It sounds a bit like the static between radio stations, only Micachu and company are far too futuristic to be compared to such an old-school mode of mass media.
(4) Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca From those first shimmering chords of "Cannibal Resource," it's clear Dave Longstreth has come down to Earth for this latest Dirty Projectors release, though the snaking arrangements and bizarre vocal patterns prove he's still hovering a few inches above the ground. Art-pop in the truest sense, Bitte Orca rewards and inspires as often as it challenges and perplexes. Side note: "Two Doves" is one of the most beautiful ballads I've ever heard.
(5) Future of the Left, Travels With Myself and Another Snarky, sadistic, superb: The fourth McLusky album we never got.