I have some down time as I’m trying to clean out my external hard drives from old back-ups and started listening to some of my music on iTunes. I am not always up-to-speed on the new “in” music for the year and sometimes it takes me a few years before I really appreciate an album. This year there were some really stand out albums that came out and that I really enjoyed listening to. Here are five of my favorites.
5. Lady Gaga — Born This Way
I guess it wouldn’t be me unless I did mention Lady Gaga somewhere in my breakdown for the year. She not only came out with one full-length album, she also released a remix album of the tracks on “Born This Way” at the end of the year. While this isn’t my favorite Lady Gaga album, that would be “The Fame Monster,” I did find some songs on this album that I fell in love with and of course there were a few that made me want to rip off my ears. As a whole, I enjoyed the new territory and I did expect more from her, but I did find myself listening to this album a whole hell of a lot.
4. Amanda Palmer — Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
I use to follow Amanda Palmer religiously on Twitter for a few years, but after a while even an ardent fan can get too much Amanda Palmer, which is why it took me a little after the fact to find out about her “Goes Down Under” album that came out. It wasn’t until I heard, and saw, the remix of “Map of Tasmania” that I was hooked into this cheeky set of tunes that she wrote while touring the “Land Down Under.” My favorite is definitely “Map of Tasmania” and I would definitely go out and get the remix versions by “The Young Punx” which feature Peaches.
3. Teddybears — Devil’s Music
I had inadvertently listened to Teddybears over the past few years without really knowing it and it finally dawned on me after I heard Robyn’s cover of “Cobrastyle” where I had heard it before. This year they released another great album following up on their 2006 debut “Soft Machine” titled “Devil’s Music.” It’s wide and varied but keeps a consistent strength of songs through the whole album from start to finish. They also team up with some great guests artists including Eve, The Flaming Lips, the aforementioned Robyn, and my personal favorite, CeeLo Green & The B-52’s on the track “Cho-Cha.”
2. Florence + the Machine — Ceremonials
I had listened off and on to Florence + the Machine’s previous album “Lungs” earlier in the year, but it never made a huge impact on me. When I heard their initial offering of “What The Water Gave Me” a few months ago, I was ravenous! When the full album came out a few months later, I could just put it on and listen to the whole album as I worked and it seemed each song was as good or better than the last.
1. Darren Hayes — Secret Codes & Battleships
Without a doubt, “Secret Codes & Battleships” was the album I was waiting most intensely for the entire year. Darren Hayes had been working on this album for the better part of two years and constantly teased his fans with updates here and there about the progress of the body of work. When it finally did come out in October, I was amazed at how perfectly themed the entire collection was. I rated each song of the 12 track album 5 stars in my library. I bought the super-deluxe fan edition which included a vinyl record just because I ended up loving this album so much (I don’t own a record player!) The second CD included in the fan edition wasn’t anything to sneeze at either. It included some very well-archetechtured songs that for one reason or another did not fit into the grand scheme of the album as a whole. Mysteriously, after some digging around, I had found a song titled “I Wanna Know” by Darren Hayes earlier on in the year that I absolutely loved and hoped would be released on this album — it wasn’t, and it wasn’t found on the CD of extras either. Why I can’t seem to find a release of this song will be lost to the ages, but I hope one day it will end up somewhere worthwhile.
These artists didn’t release a new album this year but they did pass along singles or “teaser” tracks to whet our appetites. 🙂
I Will Never Be the Same – Hold (Instrumental), Fantasy
I am a huge fan of Josh Atchley’s “I Will Never Be the Same” project and supremely upset that I’ve never been able to see him live because he’s all the way in Los Angelos, and I will probably never get the chance to go there anyway. That being said, I’ve been frothing at the mouth since his “Standby” album release in 2009 for more music and he has been slowly releasing a few teaser tracks here and there and hopefully he will be releasing a full-length album later this year. You can listen to these teaser tracks on his SoundCloud page. My personal favorites are “Hold (Instrumental)” and “Fantasy.”
Marina & The Diamonds – Radioactive EP
I was turned on to Marina & The Diamonds whenever I saw a fan-made video which integrated the majority of her songs from “The Family Jewels” into a remix that accompanied a professional-level music video featuring some of our well-loved princess fairy-tales from history. She released an EP late last year called “Radioactive.” It varies greatly from her previous album, but I have to say the song is extremely catchy and dance-worthly. I am looking forward to a full-length album whenever she decides to release it.