5. tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L
Look, I’m not saying I’m a tastemaker or anything. But when I saw tUnE-yArDs (honestly? Is that how the kids are typing nowadays?) open for Sunset Rubdown 2 years ago, I knew that they were destined for greatness. Or she, really, because tUnE-yArDs is all Merrill Garbus. Watching tUnE-yArDs play live is like watching music personified. They are a 3 piece on stage, although it is unclear to me how important the 2 dudes are in the recording process. From what I understand, it’s all pretty much Merrill, hanging out at home with a 4-track and a loop pedal and that fucking incredible voice that gives you chills in places you didn’t know could get chilly. She has real videos but you really gotta see what she does live to truly comprehend how talented this motherfucker is.
4. Toro Y Moi – Underneath the Pine
I don’t know how to make a case for this one. Don’t know anything about these dudes, never felt motivated to investigate. It’s just a really nice record and I like it quite a bit. That’s it. Okay. We’re done. You can stop looking at me now.
3. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Unlike tUnE-yArDs, who I clearly single-handedly launched into the heights of fame and fortune, I didn’t want anything to do with Girls when I first encountered them. I saw them open for Los Campesinos! at El Rey and they seemed like a bunch of mopey longhairs who seemed very uninterested in performing their musical compositions for the likes of me and my friends. I’d heard buzz about them beforehand, too, but when we watched them, all my friends were like, “why did you make us get here so early?” But then later their record came out and the buzz turned massive and I bought it and liked it quite a bit, although I’m still a little confused about why people are so into “Hellhole Ratrace.” That song goes on forever.
That was then! Now is now, and Girls have a new record out that sounds like they took every era of American rock and mashed them all together and then added some kind of filter that made it all sound both modern and timeless. There are lots of bands that are doing some of the things Girls are doing, but there are no bands that are doing all the things Girls are doing. Because Girls are doing a lot of things! Some of the record sounds like Led Zeppelin! Some of it sounds like the Beach Boys! Some of it sounds like Bert Jansch! Not really, I just wanted you to know that I know who Bert Jansch is. They even have a song called “Vomit” that is way better than a song called “Vomit” has any right to be. Good job, Girls! Way to make a record that is good to listen to!
2. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
What does emo mean? I like to consider myself pretty up on music. I could give you a definition for all sorts of popular music terms and subgenres. But I’ve never been able to figure out emo. I mean, I know there was a time when one might apply that term to like Dashboard Confessional or the Promise Ring or whatever. And I know that Weezer’s Pinkerton is like supposedly the proto-typical emo album, even though Weezer is not really an emo band. I guess maybe the definition is like earnest lyrics + guitars? So then why aren’t Fugazi emo? And what are the Smiths? I think the real truth is that it’s one of those terms, like “hipster,” that the people who best fit the description only use to derogatorily describe other people who fit the description. Like a poseur calling another poseur a poseur.
I don’t think the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are emo, as much as their band name might suggest otherwise. But if they are, then I really like emo. Because this album is so good! The guitars are huge and the songs have hooks hooked to hooks with hooks. If this had come out in 1994 this band would be playing stadiums. It’s like the sound you would feel in your brain if you jumped out of a plane and landed in an ocean full of marshmallows.