I am releasing two CDs a day in new blog posts until I get to all ten, so you do not have to bother yourself with scrolling to get to the new information. For those jumping in mid-list. If you want to know what's come before, you can read the full blog HERE.
As always, comments are appreciated, especially if you have a list of your own for me to read.
#8 Samantha Crain – Under Brand & Thorn & Tree: Samantha Crain has probably appeared on my Top Ten lists more than any other artist. She is prolific and continues to grow CD after CD. Her songwriting gets stronger, and she continues to sonically advance her music, making creative choices that prove she cannot be tamed. Under Brand & Thorn & Tree opens with “Killer,” lyrically earnest but musically whimsical, offering a synth part that tries to distract the listener for the subject at hand, “The killer of girls, the killer of self; turned the Garden of Eden into a fiery hell.” Her voice is as distinct as I have ever heard, and I have seen her pull it off live for years whether backed by full band or just her and her trusty Martin. The album is full of gems. Standouts for me: “Outside the Pale,” “You or Mystery,” “Moving Day,” and “Cold Hands.”
#7 Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi: I cannot pronounce it, but I sure do love to listen to it. I hate to say it, but a sad Benjamin Gibbard is better than a happy one. He was too content when he was married to Zoey, as evidence on Codes and Keys and his solo recording, both decent recordings, but Kintsugi is Gibbard at his best, scorned and passively letting us know it. Okay. I cannot prove any of that, but in my mythical land of star relationships this was a contributing factor to the brilliance of this recording. Of course, Chris Walla is also at his best on Kintsugi, and we are all still mourning his departure from the band, but the tapestry of sounds he has created is inspiring. I cannot stand this disc because every time I think I’ve solidified four or five standouts, I listen to the next song, and I am equally enamored. Lyrically, Gibbard is up there with Waits, Foucault, Isbell, and Farrar. He tells universal stories, and he makes them accessible to all while applying every poetic device available. Kintsugi deserves an hour of your time with headphones and no distractions. You’ll emerge better from the experience.