I really enjoy when the big time artists have to battle it out on street date. It is like presidential elections or the Olympics. I just really love myself some serious competition. But I don't really like sports events... maybe I secretly do down deep somewhere and just let myself enjoy them every 2 years for the Olympics. Only a couple months to go until august and the summer Olympics will be here before we know it. Let's just hope China can become a little bit nicer by the time that rolls around. Every once in a while two big releases come out to compete against each other for sales, but it really seems that most days there is always an easily predicted winner. Of course, the top seller at Amoeba and the top seller around the country are rarely the same. Belle & Sebastian or Living Legends might be our number one record while Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken take the lead across the nation. Last year Kanye and 50 Cent battled it out for the number one spot. I was really hoping for a battle between Madonna and Mariah Carey this year. I tried to persuade Madonna's label to bump the release date up a couple weeks like they had for Gnarls Barkley -- that way Madonna could have battled Mariah for the number one spot somewhat handicapped, without as much time for promotions and advertising. But it didn't happen. We just get Mariah this week. It does sort of amaze me that she is still relevant and making hit singles. I thought she would have gone the way of artists like Taylor Dayne and Jody Watley at this point in music. They all had huge top singles and albums at one point but quickly fell off the charts. They may still put out albums and play the gay pride circuit but they just don't have that crazy staying power that Madonna and Mariah have. I also find it hard to believe that Mariah Carey has the most number one singles of any solo recording artist. Even if you are not a fan of these ladies you got to give them respect for surviving this long in the business and still putting out singles and albums that drive their fans crazy. Other than a new Mariah there is not a whole lot out this week, but I am excited I get to finally talk about my favorite album of the year. I have had a couple but this new album for sure takes over as the best of the year. The band is called M83. Please join me in loving them. They are fantastic.
Just in case you were wondering what an "M83" is, it is an intermediate spiral galaxy approximately 15 million light years away, also known as the "southern pinwheel galaxy." But it also a fantastic band from France. Saturdays=Youth is the fifth album by M83. They put out an ambient album last year called Digital Shades Vol. 1, but I have yet to hear that one. The last real album was Before the Dawn Heals Us, which came out in 2005. Mute is the brilliant label that brings us these great albums. Like most electronicy "bands" there is one main person doing most of the work. M83 is basically Anthony Gonzalez. He parted ways with his past collaborator Nicolas Fromageau for this new album. The music is of course a shoegazing sort of sound, which seems to be all that I am listening to lately.
The album is absolutely brilliant. I seriously could not like this album any more that I do right now. I listen to it at least once a day. I had to pull back a little bit because I was really worried that I was going to wear it out and suddenly fall out of love with it. But I am listening to it again right now and I guarantee that that has not yet happened. The album has elements of ambient and shoegaze. The songs are beautifully structured and epic sounding. There are definitely some sort of traditionally structured pop songs on here hidden beneath the ambient sounds. The album features both male and female vocals. The first and second single from the album are "Couleurs" and "Graveyard Girl." I really do love the whole album, but my two of my favorite songs are right at the beginning of the album. I like when an album opens up with a fantastic track. There is no point in having to wait until the middle of the album to hear the best track-- but these are not the only great songs. The whole album is solidly full of brilliant songs.
The first song is "You, Appearing." It is one of those dramatic songs that opens up with some piano playing, but the song is filled with ambient layers. It is dreamy and dramatic, and it just hooked me the first time I heard it as those female vocals come into the song midway through. The sound of the album drastically changes as the second song abruptly starts, but that first song is just sort of warming you up for the album. "Kim & Jessie" is this next song and probably my favorite. It is one of those songs that I just want to start over as soon as it ends. I just want it to be one of those songs that lasts 15 minutes. 5 minutes and 23 seconds is not long enough for this song. It transports me to that dreamy happy place that shoegaze music tends to do. If you love it than you really love it. If you don't like it than you just sort of don't like it. I can't really imagine somebody hating this music. But I guess someone out there probably does. "Skin of the Night" is the third song, and I actually love it as much as the second. It sort of combines the ambiance and piano playing of the first song with the song structure of the second song. Male and female vocals are layered over one another. I love it, I really love it. I am going to listen to the whole album again after I am done writing this. It is also the perfect headphone album-- one of those albums that just sounds better on your headphones. It will change your view of wherever you are going when you are listening to this album. I really do love my headphones. It is nice to just drown out any other noises and only have one album as your soundtrack. This album will for sure be remembered as being attached to this year and my memories of this year. The songs themselves will become intertwined with my memories. The album is barely out and I am already looking forward to my memories of my love for this album --that is just how much I like it.
I also really like the song "Up"" and "Too Late." The album gets a bit more ambient towards the end. It ends perfectly with "Midnight Souls Still Remain." Even the name of the song is perfect. This last song is over 10 minutes long. I really would have been happy with all the songs on this album being more that 10 minutes long, but it is a nice goodbye to the album. I usually take a couple minutes to think about what this album did to me after it ends, sort of like at the end of a really good movie. Or a really good, brilliant and sad movie that you know will effect you for the rest of your life. This album has already changed me somehow just from listening to it. I swear that really good music is like intensive therapy, just a lot cheaper and a lot less dangerous. Everybody has their own type of music that makes them feel this way. Some albums you just like a lot. Some albums make you happy or make you want to dance. Some albums make you happy to be alive. Some help you get through some tough times in your life. Some albums help you to fall in love. Some album motivate you to change your life or just make you content that you already love your life. Sometimes they just make you happy that you know your friends. But it is the most brilliant songs and albums that do all these things. This new album by M83 is one of those albums.
also out today...
My Bloody Underground by Brian Jonestown Massacre
Live in Liverpool by The Gossip
Konk by The Kooks
Shade Side Sunny Side by For Against
Time to Pretend by MGMT
Dazzle Ships reissue by OMD