Sometimes you buy albums and the reality doesn't live up to the promise, but it seems like recently I've been doing the opposite: getting albums cos they pop up in last.fm or emusic or whatever but not expecting much, then a couple of months later I realise I'm obsessed with that album and couldn't imagine life without it. Here are some:
I was in Copenhagen and suddenly came across a branch of 12 Tonar the icelandic record shop. Well I had to go in there and buy something and I ended up with this - at the time I thought it was good, but I also thought that it was one of those musical equivalents of a holiday-romance, you know? You get home and you realise there's nothing to it. But how wrong I was. Kira Kira makes ambient abstract wandery music, and a lot of people do. But this stuff is somehow really meaningful, the atmospherics don't seem to be just there for their own sake, there's stuff going on in here.
Tuneful synthpop, vocoders everywhere, surely too glossy for my taste? No way! This album rocks. Even the instrumentalish tracks are great.
I love the recent tendency towards proper heavy math-rock. For example You Slut whose amazing single On the count of 13 blows me away. I expected to love their album and it's good but somehow this other band, Maybeshewill, I downloaded their album just to see, and it's just amazing. The way they push the dynamics around (e.g. on Seraphim & Cherubim) really pulls the raw emotion out of those heavy mathy chords, something expert there that I don't understand. (The sound reminds me of a band I liked a while back called Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia, by the way. Anyone remember them? Post-rock with great desolate lyrics)
When I first heard Xavier Rudd I thought it was nice stuff, but not my usual sort of thing, reminded me of Paul Simon a bit too much. It's very wholesome music, the kind of thing you might expect to hear while you're wandering around the hippy shop, and I don't normally expect to want to own that kind of music. This stuff is so good though, the songwriting has enough meat to it that it bears many listens. He plays the guitar so nicely, and the didgeridoo too... properly...
Out-there experimental surf music. Twangy guitar, spasmodic drum machines, sax, strange sound effects... and some free-jazz-ish wandering too. Whats going on?
That description sounds like a record you might play to impress people with what a weird record collection you have, you know, nothing more than an insane novelty. But the slightly out-there-ness and the zany track names might distract you from the fact that there are some brilliant surfy tunes in here, great enough to be famous. (But they aren't, of course.)
Very abstract, strangely primal music this album. Animal Collective vary a lot, between weird out-there stuff and tuneful melody. I don't think I'd have liked them if I started from the normal end. This is the weird end. But it's not just some noodling - it has an amazing creative atmosphere, where primal stuff and weird sounds mix together to create inexplicably great moments.