Best tunes of 2010: #17 Band Of Horses “Compliments”

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At the number seventeen spot on this, my best of 2010 list, is “Compliments”, the first single off Band of Horses’ third album, “Infinite arms”.

To be honest, Band of Horses is a group that I know very little about. I can tell you (because I looked it up) that they are an American rock band formed by Ben Bridwell in 2004 and that he really is the only constant in a band membership that seems to be forever in flux. I don’t own physical copies of any of their albums so I’ve never read liner notes or lyrics and never really knew what any of them looked like until I watched a bit of live concert footage on YouTube at my buddy Tim’s place one night. I know that I really liked their first three albums and that those three albums are so consistent that I’m often not sure which songs appear on which album and am even not quite clear on certain songs’ titles, not even the ones I really like.

The funny thing (to me anyway) is that while listening to their music, I was able to create a picture of them in my head and when I saw them on the aforementioned live footage, they closely resembled the image I had of them in my head. On that night anyway, they were a southern rock band, kind of a CCR or Lynyrd Skynyrd for the 2000s, leftover hippies, shaggy and bearded, decked out in jeans and non-descript T-shirts and bandanas. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

And now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way, I gotta say: “Compliments” is a rocking track! It’s anthemic and big. Right from the get go, the reverb guitars catch all attention and the bopping rhythms and crashing cymbals make you want to get up and dance. And if not to go that far, at least to stomp your feet or clap your hands or to join in on the rhythm by making noise in some other way. The gang vocals too, beg for you to join in, no requirement for perfect pitch or a certain tone of voice. Shouting is just fine with Bridwell and company. And damned, if doesn’t feel great.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.

Vinyl love: Blur “Think tank”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Blur
Album Title: Think tank
Year released: 2003
Year reissued: 2012
Details: 7 of 7 in Blur 21, anniversary box set, black vinyl, 180 gram, 2 x LP, Gatefold sleeve

The skinny: Blur’s 7th album is their first recorded as a trio. Though Coxon appears on the album’s final track, he effectively left the band during its recording, given the usual artistic differences. It continues down the art rock path forged by “13” with obvious influences from Damon Albarn’s time spent working with Gorillaz.

Standout track: “Out of time”

Best tunes of 1990: #10 Concrete Blonde “Bloodletting (The vampire song)”

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I have always been an avid reader and in my early to mid teen years, it was all about the horror fiction. “Different Seasons”, the collection that included the story upon which “Stand by me” was based, was my gateway into Stephen King and by 1991, I had read most of what he had published. I had also sampled a good portion of the works by John Saul and Dean Koontz, and then, my friend John suggested I check out Anne Rice. I was only about a hundred pages into “Interview with a vampire”, the first book of her Vampire Chronicles series, when the lyrics of the title track off Concrete Blonde’s 1990 album “Bloodletting” started to make a whole lot more sense.

Indeed, Anne Rice’s works seemed to serve as a sort of spirit guide to the entirety of Concrete Blonde’s third album, if not lyrically, definitely in mood and scope. This album took the American alt-rock trio into gothic rock territory and strangely, served the band up their greatest commercial success (as already mentioned in the post on “Joey”‘ which appeared at #21 on this list). Every song is tight and fit cohesively into the album as a whole, evoking the New Orleans of Rice’s books, like a gloomy, romantic, and steamy graveyard with violence lurking in every dark corner.

The lyrics of the title track are more an inference than a retelling of the first book, that dark and empty house where the vampire Louis recounts his story to a journalist, along with that of the enigmatic Lestat. In case you’ve never read the book, nor seen the film adaptation that starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, I won’t say much more about it but if you’ve listened closely to the lyrics, you can probably guess how it all ends. However, you don’t have to be an Anne Rice fan at all to enjoy this track, just a taste for the macabre. It’s all eerie screeching sounds that hint at bats and howling winds that rustle decaying leaves. The bass is evil and deeply foreboding, the guitars are a scratching at your bedroom window, seductively asking to be let in. And then, there’s Johnette Napolitano, a deeper and sultrier-voiced Siouxsie Sioux, her delivery sending chills all up and down your spine.

I got the ways and means
To New Orleans
I’m going down by the river
Where it’s warm and green
I’m gonna have a drink and walk around
I got a lot to think about
Oh, yeah

A great, great track, but definitely not one for the faint of heart.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.