4: Laura Stephenson and the Cans – Sit Resist. There’s not a single bad tune on this album, you can sing along to almost all of them, and they pull off the “multiple genres but overarching mood” thing perfectly.
3: Jenny and Tyler – Faint Not. Their cute pop turned into churning folk-rock overnight, and the effect is hair-raising and goosebump-inducing. There were few moments as dramatic as the full-band entry in “Song for You” this year; Faint Not was the only album that made me write the sentence “I forget to breathe.”
2: The Collection – The Collection EP. The melodies and instrumentation seem effortlessly perfect on this folk album. David Wimbish’s lyrics and deft and quick, delivered in a vastly adaptable voice that seals the deal. “Stones” is just a wonder.
Just like IC puts out its year-end best-of list in February, my half-year best-of doesn’t hit until August. This list includes the music I covered while at the Oklahoma Gazette.
If you would like to see this list visually, I’ve created an Independent Clauses Pinterest page that also includes the best artwork that’s crossed IC’s path in 2011 and a list of best books about pop music.
16. Chad Valley – Equatorial Ultravox. ’80s dance-pop revivalism that captures both the playful nonchalance and wistful romanticism of the first disposable music era.
Sometimes an album invades my consciousness and takes up residence. It pushes all other music out. It becomes the only thing I want to listen to. It puts me behind on listening to and reviewing other music. Most recently, that album has been Brine Webb‘s O You, Stone Changeling.
Webb’s album is based in the acoustic guitar, but his compositions are so intricate and yet expansive that they transcend genres. The tunes are all, however, completely devastating. From the distressed lyrics to the downtrodden tone of the songs to the artwork, this whole album is under the weather.
But it is morose in the most beautiful way; tunes like “Rrose Hips,” “Paper and Bone” and “Cigarette Tree” impact me in a way few songs are able to. Not only am I able relate to the lyrics and feel the emotion laden in the tunes, the songs hit so close to home that I have to examine myself. Rare is the album that turns the microscope on the listener.
Webb does this by turning an unsparing lens on himself. The themes here of remorse, memory, apathy and even death make other “confessional” artists seem like they’re going through the motions to grab attention. You wanna get really raw? Try writing “Ghost Family.” Try performing “Ghost Family.” Wow.
The elegant acoustic rumination “Rrose Hips” is on my best songs of the year list, as well as the haunting piano tune “Paper and Bone.” I don’t put many songs on the list, but Brine has done it twice. The album itself is definitely on my list, as you can’t have this many good songs and not be there. It’s an album that will grab and hold you. Listen to the whole thing here. And do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing. It’s worth it.
Check the album release party this Friday at Pepe Delgado’s on Campus Corner in Norman. The Nghiems will open, and they’re also releasing a CD. Bonus!
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.