#4 Album of 2010: Lifejackets by Mimas

Mimas has already ushered in a new era with Lifejackets, their sophomore album. The loud, unhinged aspect of the band has nearly vanished in favor of control. In the realm of indie music, restraining this type of indulgence is admirable, and it's why this album ranks high on my year-end list.

My favorite part of both Mimas LPs, one of the only things that feels as if it has remained constant between albums, are the lyrics. No other band devises such quirky lyrics as this one. Just to give you an idea of the scope, the topics on Lifejackets range from failed bloggers to growing a moustache to crime scenes. At one point, Albertsson sings "The state stated that they will start stopping stalkers/stalking girls standing at stands asking for still water". Let's just take a moment to marvel at that brilliantly constructed alliteration.

Alright, moving on.

Just because they've eschewed their post-rock tendencies doesn't mean that they've dulled down any. The instrumentation is vibrant-as-ever. Drums skitter more than crash, guitars frolic instead of explode. Horns, handclaps, and "HEY!"s pop their heads in from time to time. It almost feels like the band is playing on a playground in your backyard, and inviting you to join them. That's how fun this album can get in spots.

When the Danes take it down a notch and expose a more serious side, the result is just as affecting. On "Relationship", a piano comes in to accompany Albertsson's unique squawk of a voice as he croons of a failing relationship, and how people should always remember the things that keep us going, the things that keep us afloat like lifejackets. It's a thoughtful, mature ending to an otherwise festive and youthful album, but like the rest of the tracks, it puts a smile on your face. Mimas is pretty good at doing that.



#5 Album of 2010: Melted by Ty Segall

Ty Segall knows how to melt your face. He has perfected the formula for doing so: hyperinfectious, in-and-out garage-psych jams.

The product is Melted, Ty's third release in 18 months. Although the man is highly prolific, how surprising is this? There's really not much complexity to what he does: the songs, on the surface, sound like they could have been written in 10 minutes. But who's to say that good music has to be deep, complex, and rich in meaning? This album's sole purpose is to kick ass, and I love it for that.

Now I mentioned the term "garage" a little earlier, and I want to make this clear: this album doesn't suffer from repetition, a terminal illness that so many garage-rock LPs fall victim to. There is an undeniable air of similarity between each song, but each track on Melted takes on a life of its own and has its own distinct identity. It's impossible, for example, to mistake the crunchy sludge of "Finger" with the happy-go-lucky stomp "Caesar" that follows it, or to mix up the pseudo-blues of "Mrs." with the British Invasion textures of "My Sunshine". The album is carefully constructed to equalize the energetic with the laid-back, allowing the minute versatility to shine in the background while Ty frenetically pumps out hook after hook in the foreground.

This album's not afraid to get weird, either. The majority of lo-fi rock tends to be straightforward and recorded on the worst equipment imaginable to create that bedroom aesthetic, without frills or anything of the like. There is a surprising amount of experimentation to be found on this album. The end of "Bees" goes from steady to highly volatile in the span of two seconds, in which pitch and speed are distorted into a clattering mess of a climax that somehow returns to its ground state in the final seconds. There is a flute outro on "Caesar", an uncharacteristically brooding intro on "Imaginary Person" and creepy vocalizations thrown in "Girlfriend" and "Alone" for good measure. All of this gives you something to sink your teeth into after each listen. This is a little bit more than the straight-up rock and roll of yesteryear.

Melted isn't a masterpiece. It's not intended to be. Instead, it chooses to be a hell of a good ride, and an innovative one at that.



Plans for the rest of the year

There are a measly (checks calendar, counts days) 23 days left in this year, so I figure I'll lay out how I plan on spending them.

Firstly, the blog. The next 5 posts are going to be my top 5 albums of the year, with a little write-up for each. That should be plenty exciting (for me in particular, who has, for the first time ever, downloaded enough current albums to compile such a list).

Secondly, the YouTube. Yes. The YouTube. Since I'm bound to have a lot of downtime between the end of college applications and the start of college, I'm gonna start making vidjas again. I made a picture to celebrate the occasion:
I imagine you enjoyed that.

Thirdly, I'm finishing up applying to colleges. Sent in my first application last night to Middlebury College (WHEE!). I'm powering through the rest of the supplemental material over the course of the next couple of weeks and then I'll be ALL DONE. (Not at all, of course. I have to fill out my part of the financial aid stuff immediately after, which will take forever and a day, but will obviously be worth it in the end)

So that's the rest of my year. Yours?