What I Am: Listening to This Week

I am usually a couple of years behind on my new music acquisition these days. Another of the many sacrifices I’ve needed to make in order to buy diapers. Thank goodness for my local library and iTunes. I had to give up my subscription to Rolling Stone, too, because it simply filled me with unfulfilled longings. Some women buy shoes; I buy music (or, I would, anyway).

I would like to thank Pandora for introducing me to Arcade Fire and The Killers. I would talk about how deeply indebted I am to her, but then she might hit me up for money.

Arcade Fire, Neon Bible (2007)
I do not know how to put into words the dark, compelling beauty of the music that Arcade Fire makes. Call it art rock, call it indie; these terms simply do not encompass the lush soundscapes and epic lyrical scope of each and every one of their songs.

What can I say? My critic chops are rusty, yo.

And into these tracks of beauty and darkness are injected upbeat, almost-pop songs like “No Cars Go” and “Keep the Car Running”. Songs that make your heart joyful, make you seat dance, and yet there are still wonderful dark undercurrents here that will simply pull you under and drown you.

If you like Radiohead and/or the Decemberists, then put Arcade Fire on your playlist. That is all.

rpm choice track: Very difficult to pick one. Gun to my head? I’m still deciding between “Keep the Car Running” and “(Antichrist Television Blues)”. And “Black Mirror”. And the title track.

Yeah, I know. Bang.

Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs (2008)
As a happily married women and mom of two, I always think I should be beyond Death Cab for Cutie. Ben Gibbard sings about love and longing and loss in uplifting, plaintive, and, frankly, sometimes creepy ways. But I just can’t quit them.

Narrow Stairs is less orchestral than Plans (their 2005 album), but still hauntingly melodic. The instrumentation is much more straightforward, even occasionally rocking: guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, Gibbard’s vocals over everything.

The build-up and execution of the single “I Will Possess Your Heart” is perfection. And no other band can make a song about a twin-sized bed so poignant and lovely.

rpm choice track: The 8-minute epic “I Will Possess Your Heart”.

The Killers, Day & Age (2008)
If I had to write a one-word review of The Killers, the one word would be: earworm. Catchy, poppy, light-hearted, with lyrics that belie the bouncy-ness of the tunes.

Brandon Flowers’ voice seems to ache with longing, although I don’t mean to make him sound like a total drama queen. I’ve heard The Killers dismissed as a “construed Las Vegas boy band” although the boys do play their own instruments as far as I can tell. And they are from Vegas. And Bono from U2 has his eye on them, with a modicum of respect.

Alls I know is I like ’em.

rpm choice track: Spaceman

What is your new favorite album? Anything turning you on so far in 2009?