Crate-Digging: My recap of albums beginning with the letter "A" – Part 1


So here I am at the end of albums beginning with the letter A that are on my iPod. It’s taken me the better part of six months to get through it. So if I keep going at the same pace, assuming the number of albums that begin with A is the average amount of albums for each letter, I’ll be done in thirteen years. Hope you’re going to stick around that long!

That’s a pretty long time. And the backlog will only get bigger. In fact, there are a few A albums that have come across the transom that I won’t even get to until I get back around to the top of the alphabet. Holy crap…

This column is a recap of my sojourn through my digital crates, and it’s been illuminating. I’m going to give out awards, and anti-awards. I invite analysis, disagreement, and discussion. This is fun, people! Interact!

Best record, from the vaults:

Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary. There’s not a whole lot of argument here – this is one of the best records I own, period, let alone the bestest of the As. Yep, we like Wolf Parade in these parts. The songwriting tandem of Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug is unrivaled. Gush love along with me over at yonder review.

Runners up:

  • Starflyer 59 – Americana. Quite possibly my favorite Starflyer album – it’s one that gets me every time. Heartbreaking and hopeful, in all the right ways. Plus, Jason Martin loves My Bloody Valentine, and that’s certainly a good thing. It’s also the last true shoegaze album he recorded, before migrating to more Britpop and dream pop pastures.
  • Pixies – At the BBC. This is a fast, fun, headrush. Pixies are one of the greatest bands of all time. They thrive in live settings. There’s something for everyone on this compilation. If this was Surfer Rosa or Doolittle, it may have beaten out Wolf Parade, but those records don’t begin with “A.” But “awesome” begins with “A” – At the BBC is certainly awesome.
  • Akron/Family + Angels of Light – Akron/Family + Angels of Light. You will get religion listening to this record, in the old-fashioned snake-handling, fire-and-brimstone sort of way. And then Akron/Family becomes Michael Gira’s Angels of Light backing band, and it all turns creepy, in an icky kind of way. I love it.

Best record, first time listen:

Ween – All Request Live. I had to give it to Ween; I had so much freaking fun listening to this live-in-studio document. The band balances its trademark humor with intense musicianship. They treat us to rare and unreleased tracks. They laugh at each other. You can just sense the fun they’re having. If only Chris had done a full review in his Ween discography… I’d’ve loved to have been the counterpoint. Recall, in fond detail, the experience with me.

Runners up:

  • Tonstartssbandht – An When. It was hard not to give the award to this record, but Ween really deserves it. I used the adjective phrase “gloriously weird” when describing An When, and I stick by that. The band alternates between white-hot lo-fidelity and sampledelic pop psychosis, with a Spacemen 3 cover here and a Bambi cover there. It’s pure bliss, and a defining full-length debut from a band whose subsequent releases I can’t wait to hear. They’ve gotta have a ton more tricks up their sleeves.
  • Converge – Axe to Fall. Possibly my favorite hardcore record. Brutal, pummeling, inventive, relatively inviting. Had I listened to this album in 2009, it probably would have made my year-end top 10. Oh well.
  • AGES – And to the Moon We Went. This is a deft sculpture of feedback and noise, and it really tells a good story if you read into the passages. It ebbs, it flows, it loses you in space. Headphones are key.
  • Dan Deacon – Acorn Master EP. The first real inkling of where the human cartoon was going to end up with Spiderman of the Rings, Acorn Master pops and squirts and bubbles and hums in all the right ways. It’s a party in every bite. And I love his cover of “Splish Splash.”
  • Black Kites – All Wrong EP. It doesn’t get more straight up indie rock than this, but the three tracks on this EP certainly announced the presence of the Black Kites. Two singers – one male, one female – complement each other perfectly, lending each song a sense of energy and immediacy that a single voice might have lost. If only this were a full-length instead of an EP…

C’mon back Thursday for Part 2:

  • Most Improved Record with Age
  • Record That Sounds the Worst with Age
  • Least Favorite Record (New Listen)
  • Most Disappointing Record
  • And more!

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