Landry’s Top 10 Albums of 2013!

What can I say, I love lists. Buzzfeed, give me a job please. Happy 2014 everybody!

 Top 10 Albums

10. Volcano Choir – Repave 

Justin Vernon’s experimental Bon Iver side project. Moody and textured and super weird. “Comrade” may be the prettiest song this year. 

9. Kanye West – Yeezus

The harsh sounds and weak lyrics still can’t take away the fact that Kanye is still one of the most interesting artists working today. Nothing has ever sounded like this. The chorus of “Blood on the Leaves” will always give me chills.

8. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend has matured in this 3rd album, removing the fun but slight sounds of their previous work for a more fleshed out, lyrically deep album. Themes of death and aging repeat themselves, but the band attacks them with clever wordplay and their playful sound, especially in “Diane Young”.

7. Chvrches – Bones of What We Believe

My favorite “new” band. The synthpop sound is infectious and lead singer Lauren Mayberry has a gorgeous voice. Very easy to dance to, especially alone in your car. Favorite songs: “Gun” and “Mother We Share”.

6. Drake – Nothing Was the Same

Feels like his most personal album, unexpectedly my favorite rap album of the year. Drake is the master of a great hook and though his lyrics get to repetitive sometimes, no one can pick guest artists as well as him. Just listen to “From Time” featuring Jhene Aiko to hear what I mean.

5. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

Anything she does will make my top 10.The 1st four songs form a beautiful movement, flowing into each other and expanding upon the album’s weighty theme of love vs. logic (noted by Paste). Must be listened to all at once to get the right affect. “Master Hunter” is a highlight.

4. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

The LONG awaited 4th album from the famous electronic duo does not disappoint. So much dance-worthy stuff here, especially “Lose Yourself to Dance” and maybe the single of the year “Get Lucky”. I mean, nothing beats Discovery, but the awesome disco pop throwback sound of this album (plus those sweet helmets!) shows that they still got it.

3. James Blake – Overgrown

Even better than his self-titled LP, Blake’s electronic R&B sound continues to evolve and his lyrics are beautiful, quiet meditations on childhood and relationships. You’ll feel every emotion. Check out “Retrograde” for starters.

2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Saddest thing ever, so typical National. No one can write lyrics that express relationships and the fear of adult life as well Matt Berninger. That unique baritone is as rich as ever and really stands out in “Pink Rabbits”, the highlight of the album. You’ll never look at salt the same way too.

1. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

This one was easy, knew it would be #1 as soon as I heard it. Way more ambitious lyrically and musically than Future Sex. Most of the songs go over 7 minutes, yet they never feel repetitive since he is constantly shaping the sounds into new rhythms and melodies. Each song is so unique and Timbaland’s production makes for great loops and beats throughout. You all know I love “Pusher Love Girl”, but then “Blue Ocean Floor” happens, with almost no beat of melody. All this ambient and soulful ballad needs is JT’s incredible vocals, and he nails it. Part 2 was a disappointment, but I’ll probably never take this album out of my car’s cd player.

Best of the Rest (no particular order)

Beyonce – Beyonce
Pusha T – My Name is My Name
Chris Thile – Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1
Aoife O’Donavan – Fossils
Sarah Jarosz – Build Me Up From Bones
J. Cole – Born Sinner
Tegan and Sara – Hearthrob
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Rhye – Woman
Phosphorescent – Muchacho
Washed Out – Paracosm

Let me know what I missed! Comments welcome.

Frozen: A Fresh Perspective

“Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”

Frozen

First note, spoilers ahead, so skim in caution! Second, I really liked this movie. Sure, it suffered from weaker songwriting, and I still don’t know why Josh Gad was a snowman in this movie or what the purpose of that character was (just comic relief?), but I walked out smiling all the same. What I didn’t expect though, was unpredictability. Seriously though, in a Disney princess movie? Don’t these all follow the same formula drawn up by Walt all those decades ago? Let’s go over a few surprises:

  1. There was no clear bad guy for the majority of the movie! Kinda maybe thought the twist with Hans were coming, but still, excellent execution. In fact, I wouldn’t of minded if the only “bad guy” was the Queen’s fear of her own power.
  1. Having already seen Tangled, I started rolling my eyes when Kristoff looks like he’s going to save the day with his “act of true love” to unfreeze Anna. I assumed this was just another rehashing of the prince saving the damsel in distress. But, twist, the act of true love is sisterly love when Elsa throws her arms around her frozen body and weeps. Though I am getting sick of the emotional roller coaster Disney is trying to create with this ending (virtually the same in Tangled), this change was unique and welcome.

Once the movie was over, I eagerly looked through the credits to see if there were any hints to why the movie had such a new perspective on the princess story. It only took a second for the director slide to appear and show that there were two directors, one man (Chris Buck, director of Tarzan) and one woman (Jennifer Lee, screenwriter of Wreck it Ralph and Frozen). Now, I’m sure it was a collaborative effort, but I’m inclined to think that Ms. Lee was a big part of changing that “true love’s kiss” that occurs at the end of every Disney princess film. This is an awesome message to young girls (I watched it with my little sister who also loved it of course). On top of that, Anna is really awkward and goofy just like a real person! I could write a whole other article about how I feel Disney has often been a poor influence on young girls, but they got it right this time by creating a character that is relatable and virtually saves herself, without the help of a dashing prince.

There’s nothing I love more than when a movie takes familiar tropes and completely rewires them. Frozen did this admirably, telling a thrilling story with a positive feminist message. I hope it’s a sign of the future. It will be nice to see more Jennifer Lees at the helm!

Fun fact, the brilliant short “Get a Horse!” that shows before Frozen was directed by Laura MacMullen who became the first woman to solo direct a Disney animated film. She better not be the last!