So my history with Ari Hest is kind of strange. Way back in what must have been 2001, my friend Erica was playing this CD at her desk of this son of a friend of her fathers named Ari. It sounded good and so I asked for a copy, but it got lost in the shuffle. Fast-forward a few years, I’m hangin around the A&R department of Columbia (26), and Ari’s doing a soundcheck, and had apparently been signed to RED INK (our indie distributor). So I sit in for it with my bud Jared and get hooked. Before you know it, I’m going to see him for the second time at Irving Plaza. He puts on a great show and I’m wandering around afterward looking to see if theres anyone from work there and lo and behold who do I see but Erica. Small world moments abound, and is just another reason why I’m still not sick of this record.
“Someone to Tell” is a mishmash of re-recordings of songs from several of Ari’s previous records, and having heard some of the original versions, I’d say these have more of a sheen to them consistant with his hooky acoustic pop (yes, I’m not too much of a snob to use the p-word. It’s filled with hooks that the Mayer / Mraz / Yorn’s of the world wish they could come up with, delivered with a full rich baritone (I’m not sure thats right…deep but not Barry White deep). I’ll spare you the track-by-track recap, except to say “They’re On To Me” will be in your head for weeks after hearing it, and “Someone To Tell” reaffirms my statment that songs in 6/8 are just naturally better and ends with one of those three part harmony moments that could just go on forever and stay sweet. And the songs in between, they ain’t so bad either.
You can hear pretty much the whole album at AriHestPlayer.com.
This record is a permanent fixture on my iPod and iTunes at work and at home, and I dont see that changing anytime soon.
Anyone who spends any time with me knows that tho I’m a bit of a music snob (mouths shut), I also have pretty eclectic taste. I was also one of the few New Yorkers to shun the whole lo-fi garage rock thing. My feeling is, pop and rock music should include, oh I dont know…melody. There was some weird taking-pride-in-lack-of-songwriting-skill that I hate, that being the main reason I can’t stand Punk music. So when bands like Coldplay (for which even mentioning that they are always compared to has become ubiquitous) and Travis began worrming their way back into the mainsteam, no one was happier than I to have the melody return to pop music.
And then I heard the Keane record.
Keane are a three piece band consisting of bass, drums and piano. The lack of a lead guitar gives the group a more restrained sound less inclined to veer off toward the power chord moments.
The first three songs solidly land “Hopes And Fears” amongst the most cherished of albums in the realm of music. Solid hooks, soaring choruses, lyrics both simple and heartfelt and production worthy of the songwriting. “Somewhere Only We Know” begins with a hook that would only make any sense on keyboards (check The Killers “Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll” for a similar riff that comes off a lot harsher on guitar) and continues through a chorus that will be in your head for days.
The next track, “This is the Last Time” is one of those soaring songs that you just want to crank up and spin and sing along to at maximum volume. In serious contention, it uses its simple octave bassline and Tom Chaplin’s amazing voice to churn up a slice of massive shimmering U2-meets-”Friday I’m In Love” that can only be described as majestic.
And so it goes for 11 tracks, some ballads, some weaker than others, but overall this is one of the strongest records of quite some time.
Buy: Hopes & Fears
So this is a new thing and we’ll see how far I get. I thought I’d write some reviews of my top 10 albums of this year to explain how tthey got there.
I started doing the top 10 thing at my old gig, who had a semi-official way of doing things when istarted, but nowhere to post them, until I redesigned their intranet and made it a yearly event. As a side note, this is the first year I haven’t worked there, and they’re not doing it, so there you go.
It’s a very High Fidelity thing to do, but since I’m a music geek, it fits.
So, without further ado, in no particular order, my reviews of the top 10 records of 2004… You know… above this post.
Top 10 for Jeremy Meyers (firstname.lastname@example.org). They are A Full-time Employee. It is not in order.
1. Nothingface – Skeletons (The only record with screaming I can stand. That says something)
2. Ambulance LTD – Ambulance LTD (Still not sick of it.)
3. Lamb – Between Darkness And Wonder (Some of the most beautiful music in any genre ever. Far and away the best record of this year.)
4. Anberlin – Blueprints for the Black Market (Best pop record of the year (sorry, Pay The Girl). Hella catchy and happy and not Christian for a Tooth & Nail Record)
5. Audio Bullys – Ego War (The Streets injected with the spirit of Daft Punk and Les Rhythmes Digitales. Shake yer booty music.)
6. Electric Six – Fire (Let’s start a nuclear war!)
7. Bubba Sparxxx – Deliverance (Real southern hip-hop. With banjos. And harmonicas. Timbaland’s best production work in ages.)
8. Daniel Lanois – Shine (Yes, that Daniel Lanois. He of U2 fame delivers a moody reverby masterpiece of confessional singer-songwriter angst)
9. Atmosphere – Seven’s Travels (Best intelligent hip-hop release all year. Doesn’t sacrifice the beats.)
10. Ascii Disko – Ascii Disko (Electro-House is the new everything.)
CD Overlooked Last Year: Daniel Bedingfield – Gotta Get Thru This (Justin Timberlake + The Streets = … well, you know.)
Biggest Letdown of the Year:
Top 10 for Jeremy Meyers, email@example.com, in no particular order
1. Chicane – Behind the Sun (Includes the most beautiful track ever, “Saltwater”, featuring Marie Brennan of Clannad)
2. Apoptygma Berserk – Welcome to Earth (Dancy, Hard, Wonderful. Check out ‘Eclipse”
3. Moby – Play (well, maybe not great quality, but it sure is catchy)
4. BT – Movement in Still Life (Lush Shiny Trance. Check out “Dreaming”)
5. Banco De Gaia – Igizeh (Great Ethno-Trance. Check out “Obsidian”)
6. Underworld – Everything, Everything (Go get the DVD. Underworld is the best live band ever.)
7. Iris – Disconnect (Great intro to modern Synth-Pop from these Texans)
8. Fila Brazilia – Brazilification (Best Of the remixes from this Pork Recordings staple. Includes their amazing mix of Lamb’s Cotton Wood)
9. David Gray – White Ladder (If you haven’t heard this by now, go pick it up.)
10. Delerium – Silence EP (especially the Sanctuary Mix)