This is a music list, not a baseball list. Still, it is what we at RtM are calling the Prince Fielder list, formerly the Ryan Braun list.
For those who don’t know, Prince is a hefty man, and an amazing baseball player.
The young, soon to be former Milwaukee Brewer, hits homers like it’s easy. If he keeps up playing the way he’s started out, his place in Cooperstown is assured. However, if he suddenly started hitting .200 next season, we’d all wonder what the hell happened, and he’d never be in the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter could retire tomorrow and be a first ballot HoFer. Prince Fielder is too early in his career for that.
The mere fact that this list was originally named for Ryan Braun, who is now suspect after having a positive PED test, only shows how precarious a young person’s potential can be.
These bands are like Prince Fielder. They’re amazing, and if they keep it up they’ll be in the Hall within another few albums. However, if they start teaming up with Nickelback and lil’ Wayne, and making shit music tomorrow, we’d all talk about how great these bands were in the past. They just don’t have the number of albums necessary for the Hall to be a lock.
See who made it after the jump
Scott: She’s sort of already in the HoF because she made it into The Muppets as a cameo. That’s a far greater honor than any silly little blog can bestow. Okay, let’s be honest, just about anything is a far greater honor than RtM can bestow, but still… The Muppets!!
Feist brings an effortless soul to her work. There is a personality to her work that I find irresistible.
Without forcing it, she’s able to meld styles and genres into seamless songcraft that makes it impossible to know where one influence stops and the next begins.
With Metals, Feist continues crafting folksy-bluesy-rock-popishness that is easy to fall in love with. If you don’t like Feist, I feel sad for the fact that your family has to deal with your drug problem.
Brian: One of the many things I appreciate and love about Leslie Feist’s music is the intimacy of it. Listening to any of her albums is like having her perform for you in your living room. Her voice possesses such a strong and apparent expressiveness. So much is conveyed and transported through the medium that is her voice. It is this transparency that only makes her music better. And, as Scott mentions, her voice and talent is versatile enough to switch between and meld genres with ease. I love the flourishes of strings and horns that pop up here and there. The record is dynamic; playing with loud and soft, and the aforementioned genre changes. But what it all comes down to again is her voice. She has such great control and mastery of it. It is what sets her apart from so many other female songstresses. A one of a kind performer, she is on her way to RtM HoF honors!
2. Bon Iver
B: Let me just say this off the top: By this album alone, I would put Mr. Justin Vernon in the RtM HoF. This is brilliant and breathtaking. If you are looking for the same Bon Iver that brought us the stripped down and lovely “For Emma, Forever Ago”, he doesn’t live here anymore. Backed by an 8 piece band including two drum kits, up to 3 guitars, bass, trombone, trumpet, violin, synths, and percussion, the lush layering of these instruments create a sonic landscape of epic proportions. Vernon’s falsetto is still beautiful, and when he uses his chest voice, it makes you wonder why he sings falsetto so often (he owns a lovely, rich baritone voice). Every song is extremely listenable, but I’ve found that this album shines as a unit. Sit down, and listen to it in its entirety. Cannot wait for the next Bon Iver album!
S: This album is stunning. Vernon is a master. Some of the instrumentation Brian mentioned above is the sort of synth that is supposed to sound terrible. Yet, much as he did with auto-tune on Blood Bank, Justin Vernon takes sounds and instrumentation that are supposed to be terrible, and makes something hauntingly beautiful out of it. The fact that Brian and I create these loopholes to be able to discuss every single album we loved this year shows that we aren’t very good at picking our five or ten favorites of the year, but if I were forced to pick five this would undoubtedly be on my list. Every song is a goldmine that I can hear over and over again without diminishing my ability to hear the song afresh.
I’ve also been madly in love with his cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” since my first listen.
S: It didn’t take long for Zachary Francis Condon’s voice to start feeling like an old friend. The fact that his vocals are so unique, combined with how much I love said vocals, make for a listening experience that’s akin to wrapping up in a warm blanket on a cold winter day.
With The Rip Tide, which was recorded in my native state of New York, Beirut releases their most accessible album yet. Often, when a band becomes more accessible, they go the route of recording something vanilla that lacks flavor, so stupid people cover it with ketchup and swallow it without thinking. Not so with The Rip Tide. Instead, Condon was able to keep that quirky european charm that influences the New Mexico-born artist’s work, while also channeling an old school pop vibe that results in an album I’ve listened to over and over and over again.
B: Just what we would expect from Beirut. These are really good pop songs, marrying Zach Condon’s affinity for Balkan instrumentation and electronic elements. It is a tight, compact album that is another stone paving Beirut’s way into RtM’s Hall of Fame.
4. St. Vincent
S: If being sexy was all one needed to make it into the HoF, then I would vote Annie Clark in twice. Alas, that doesn’t factor into the decision-making, so it’s still a little early in her career to induct her just yet. I do think her chances are pretty great, though. Her collaboration over the years include The Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens, Kid Cudi, and The National. When people are consistently around brilliance, it’s usually because they bring something to the table, and it usually inspires greatness in return. So Ms. Clark should be just fine moving forward.
This album is another reason we need so many lists. I can’t imagine leaving it off a top ten, but there are so many albums I feel that way about. Still, I think if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to pick a top ten, Clark’s position would be safe. I absolutely love this album! Her songwriting is witty and honest, her vocals are intoxicating, and she crafts songs like she’s been doing it for longer than her short 29 years of life would actually allow. I’m so looking forward to what St. Vincent will do next to continue solidifying her place in the Hall.
B: Maybe THE best album of the year. Annie Clark is a monster. A true virtuoso. And her guitar playing and singing are front and center the entire time. This speaks to the fact that the producer and the artist had a singular vision and understanding (Annie Clark did co-produce the album). She apparently wrote the album while sequestered at the Ace Hotel in Seattle in 2010. (HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?!) The music is quirky at times and intense. She plays with sound, creating walls of guitar, thick with fuzz. Her voice still cuts through it all. She makes her brand of so-called baroque pop accessible, despite its many intricacies.
5. Fleet Foxes
B: Robin Pecknold and company can straight up ball, son! These dudes can write songs with the best of them. This album HAD to be good. There was so much riding on it being good. Their debut had set the bar impossibly high, AND it just about ruined Pecknold’s relationship with his girlfriend. But you know what? She heard the finished product, and she understood where Robin had come from. This album is beautiful enough to mend relationships!
S: The boys from Seattle are finally back with their sophomore album. Pushing their trademark sound into a 70’s pop/folk vibe was pretty audacious, but they pulled it off.