This week has not just not an amazing amount of four albums I had heard before (and was very happy to listen to again), but also one of my nominations. But not all is well...
2. Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out vs. 1. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
Oh dear... Two artists I would put in my artist top 10, both who never made something truly disappointing and who are presented here with peak albums (though both also have on album I like even more). They are also opposites. Dig Me Out is straight-forward and derives power out being direct. It wasn't a hit album, but it feels like it is filled with hits anyway. Have One On Me on the other hand is a challenge. Difficult compositions with difficult lyrics, both elements that need time to digest or to fully grasp. But once it does it becomes something truly special. I give the vote here to Have One On Me, because it feels just a little more like one-of-its-kind.
5. Django Django - Django Django vs. 4. Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
Another challenging match-up. I hadn't heard Django Django as I somehow assumed it wouldn't be my kind of thing, but I was wrong. It's a consistently entertaining set of songs. I thought it would win, until I listened to Born to Die again. It was the third time hearing that one. I recall that I was underwhelmed by it the first time, that it grew on me the second spin and now I really feel it is something special and perhaps still underappreciated, even if Ultraviolence is better and more consistent. There is something to Lana Del Rey that just gets to me.
8. Avey Tare and Panda Bear - Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished vs. 3. Leonard Cohen - Live Songs
There is no way of saying this nicely without losing honesty, so I just say it directly: I can't recall an album I listened to from start to finish that I hated more than Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished. If it wasn't for this game I wouldn't have finished it. Heck, I wouldn't have made it past the first track. This song, Spirit They've Vanished, literally hurts my ears. Yes, literally. This is no overstatement: the high-pitched bleeps there seemed to sting in my ears. The other song were only metaphorically painful, but that didn't make it exactly a more easy ride. It's just one horribly misconceived song after another, full of unnecessary, annoying sound-effects (all these cracks and stuff) and off-kilter compositions that go nowhere. It seems like the songs are constructed out of bad sounds that instead of becoming beautiful together just highlight each others' ugliness. And the most grating element, outside of track 1's bleeps, is Avey Tare's voice.
This is all not really a surprise. I tried to get into Animal Collective a couple of years ago. Merriweather Post Pavillion and Strawberry Jams were doable, even if I didn't like them all that much. But Sung Tongs and Feels were insufferable and I never listened to them again. Still, I would have preferred these two albums to these beginnings. Since many people seem to like the album I want to ask an honest question: what do you all like about this? It's not just that I don't care about Spirit They're Gone, it might be the only album I can't find any rational reason why anybody could like it, which is a strange thing to say.
Fate, always the joker, has played tricks on me again and so my least favorite album of the game is pitted against one of my own nominations. Live Songs is an album that had been out of print for a long time, but happily it is available on Spotify. It's really a forgotten album in Leonard Cohen's discography, probably because it was hard to get for so long. I feel it deserves a rediscovery, at least among Cohen fans. It might have become my favorite of his after Songs of Leonard Cohen and perhaps You Want It Darker. The album shows another side of Cohen, someone more emotional and on the edge of despair than he ever allowed himself to be on studio recordings. Please Don't Pass Me By, which never appeared on an actual album, should rank among his best songs, if you ask me.
7. Astor Piazzolla - Libertango vs. 6. Autechre - Confield
Another tough choice. These two seem opposites, but they had something in common to me. Both opened with an amazing song and are followed by songs that aren't quite as amazing but always very good. These songs also follow something of a template from the opening track. I likes both and could have voted for either, but the offbeat charm from Confield won out this time.