Ten albums I liked (in alphabetical order) by Jonathan Cargill (Dead Oceans co-captain)
Beach House – Teen Dream A minimal and captivating album. Teen Dream seems so well thought out and deliberate in it’s mood and dynamic yet doesn’t feel forced or compromised. It’s Beach House doing what they do best and they totally nailed it.
Broken Bells – Broken Bells I’m a fan of Brian Burton’s (aka Danger Mouse) production. I’ve been wary of his other collaborations with “indie rockers” but this project with James Mercer (Shins) really came together in a pleasant way.
Raheem Devaughn – The Love & War MasterPeace This feels like an attempt to make his own version of What’s Going On. Raheem didn’t make as an iconic album, but he did make a very smart and well executed album that finds a balance in themes (sexual and political) and styles (existing between old school soul and contemporary R&B).
Francis & the Lights – It’ll Be Better This resonates with me because it reminds me of 80’s popular new wave a la Peter Gabriel, which I reveled in the first time around. Francis’ voice is certainly similar to Peter’s. The elements of Prince inspired elctro funk, upbeat tempos and catchy melodies make for a solid intelligent pop album.
Jaheim – Another Round His fifth studio album and it’s more of what you’d expect from Jaheim. And I ain’t complainin’. For me, it’s his voice and those Vandross-sized moments hit the spot.
Alicia Keys – The Element of Freedom At first I was skeptical when I heard Jay Z was involved as I was afraid he’d turn her personal and intimate songs into overproduced soundbites appropriate for NBA ads. Well he’s barely on the record and there’s plenty of room for Alicia’s heartbreak and angst to shine through. I really like how the beats are very present but don’t compete with the intimate piano and voice.
Maximum Balloon – Maximum Balloon I’ve been a fan of Katrina Ford (vocalist for Jaks, Love Life, Celebration) for a long time. Her collaboration on the song “Young Love” is what initially brought me to this album. Turns out the rest of the tracks are pretty great too. Dave Sitek’s a talented dude.
John Mellencamp – No Better Than This This is the Coug’s 21st studio album and a departure from what made him famous. This is the folky-bluesy album that was recorded in mono on an old tape machine at Sun Studios, and the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, one of the oldest African-American congregations in the United States and the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where blues legend Robert Johnson recorded. All perceived pretension and novelty aside, it’s a very charming album with a great vibe. It also made my list because we Bloomingtonians have to stick together.
Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz Sufjan plugged in his drum machines and samplers and got weird… and it works.
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker I first heard this with no context whatsoever and thought it was a reissue of a long lost psychedelic classic then I found out it’s a contemporary album and now it sounds forward thinking. Swirly goodness.