Thumbnail Reviews: Ten Comfort Albums

Music is something that I don’t write about often (or really at all) on this blog which is odd considering how endlessly inspiring I find it. So, I’ve decided to write ten thumbnail reviews (consisting of 50 words or less) of albums that I love for one reason or another. These aren’t new albums or artists. In fact, most of these albums have been out for several years. They are just albums that I seem to always turn to when I need something familiar– something that I know I can listen to all the way through and know all the words.

I must admit, having only a 50 word limit was more difficult than I thought it would be. It really made me have to think about what was most important about the album that I wanted to convey to you. Feel free to leave me a comment with your favorite “comfort albums”. I’m always up for discovering new music!

Sufjan Stevens
Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)
A truly magnificent album: inspiring, intense, and stirring. Stevens has created a propulsion of songs that seamlessly flow into one another. His instrumental compositions are breathtaking in their breadth and delicacy. Stevens’ artistic vision is so complete. This is music in its purest and most beautiful form.

mewithoutYou
A to B: Life (Tooth & Nail)
One word: relentless. mewithoutYou bury listeners with weighty guitars and pounding drums as vocalist Aaron Weiss screams out his hauntingly poetic lyrics. The fervor in his voice makes it effortless to connect with him and his words. Not many albums can make you sit up and take notice like this one.

Mates of State
Team Boo (Polyvinyl)
This husband and wife duo relies on an organ, drum kit, and back-and-forth conversational vocals to create a buoyant flood of sound. Their voices are filled to the brim with emotion and heart-squishing goodness. The harmony created is unique in its ability to be both severe and alluring simultaneously.

Cursive
The Ugly Organ (Saddle Creek)
An enthralling, emotional powerhouse that rips your head off and then gently sews it back in place. This album’s sum is much greater than its parts. The music reminds me of walking through some dense forest in the middle of the night: dark and impenetrable.

Death Cab for Cutie
The Photo Album (Barsuk)
This album makes me homesick; for what, I’m not entirely sure. Gibbard’s voice has just the right amount of sweetness to it as he croons about different vivid memories he has encountered over his life. The entire album is like looking at a stranger’s photo album: intimate yet ambiguous.

Regina Spektor
Soviet Kitsch (Sire)
Biting, ironic lyrics are driven by forceful piano melodies. Spektor skillfully sings about divorce, death, and suicide making the topics somehow seem beautiful and charming.  Her voice resembles a young girl’s: giddy and raspy in all its messy, fluctuating loveliness and using cute little vocal noises to convey her feelings.

Minus the Bear
Highly Refined Pirates (Suicide Squeeze)
This is the soundtrack to late-night summer parties. Swelling rhythms of dizzying time signatures are driven by mathy guitars and tenacious percussion, and topped off with a pinch of electronic beats. Witty and sharp lyrics round out this flourishing revelry that is anything but refined.

Rilo Kiley
The Execution of All Things (Saddle Creek)
A quintessential indie-rock album framed by Jenny Lewis’ deliciously sexy vocals. The lyrics beg to be sung along to at the top of your lungs. The music seems a bit too measured at times, but over all this is an album you will want to listen to again and again.

Copeland
Beneath the Medicine Tree (Militia Group)
Unbridled emotions are strewn together by sweeping guitars and surgical drumming. Punctuated by engaging piano solos, Beneath The Medicine Tree drips with sincerity. Aaron Marsh methodically crafts rich melodies with his soothing voice that will keep you captivated from start to finish.

Pretty Girls Make Graves
The New Romance (Matador)
Both daring and neurotic, this album uses colorful vocals ranging from whispers to screams in the span of a few seconds. The music is wonderfully complicated; with layers of sound effortlessly building atop one another. If nothing else, it’s worth keeping around for those impromptu dance parties in your bedroom.

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2 thoughts on “Thumbnail Reviews: Ten Comfort Albums

  1. Your music taste is impeccable! Illinois and A to B Life are two of my all time favorite albums. I just saw Copeland not too long ago, but Eat, Sleep Repeat would be my favorite by them. Keep up the good listening!

  2. Funny, there’s a song on the Photo Album that I actually have categorized as ‘homesick’ in my iTunes. How he references Railroad and Holly, two streets in Bellingham, my college town, is just so poignant–and the same seats in bar stools…It’s just such a perfect capture of life there and how I felt after graduating, and again when I moved away from the northwest for a short period of time.

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