• 01-25-2010, 11:53 AM
    Best of 2009 Revisited: Antlers "Hospice" rises to the top
    I love this record. Been listening a lot to it over the last few weeks, in fact it's just about all I've been listening to, well... except for some favorites by Richard Buckner and Tindersticks and Woven Hand... and have to say, brilliant. Quiet, yet epic sounding, there's a sweeping grandeur at times that goes well beyond the normal confines of pop music. Conceptually and musically, it reminds me a little of that great Eels Electro-Shock Blues that I also love, but leaning more toward the post-rock sound of something by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, with parts of My Bloody Valentine as well. Even some late-era Talk Talk, though not quite that indescribable. But name checking aside, this is a fantastic record, and wholly original... mesmerizing. Almost shockingly so. I think it now has become the best I've heard from 2009, but this one will be playing a long time (well, ya never know, might be sick of it next week, but it does have that feel... :)).

    And very well mastered too, even without the obligatory proviso "for a modern CD" that we normally have to throw out for credibility's sake. Saw a few mentions around, including Slosh and me here, and had been meaning to give it a listen, but you know how that goes, just too much available these days, then came across that NPR list awhile back I posted in the year end thread, and that gave me the final push I needed (plus it was one of the only lists I saw that had my favorite Signal Morning in the top 10 ... and plus I think that same Slosh buddy might've handed me a link, though I do have the full-bit version now :))...

    Best Music Of 2009, From Robin Hilton : NPR
    Robin Hilton - December 15, 2009 - Back in February, I wrote on the All Songs Considered blog that the new music of 2009, at that point, was already better than all of 2008. Some listeners charged me with heresy. It's not that 2008 didn't have memorable records (I'm thinking of Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and Deerhunter's Microcastle). But, early on, 2009 seemed like it was going to be an unusually strong year. As the months passed, it just kept getting better, with new releases from St. Vincent, Wilco, Metric, The Dirty Projectors and many more.

    For that blog post in February, I made an early Top 10 list, knowing full well that it would change and evolve as the year wore on. Now that we're at the end of 2009, I've looked back at that early list and found that four albums held on to the end (The Antlers, The Decemberists, Jason Lytle and Laura Gibson), while the other six (Animal Collective, M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Dan Deacon, U2 and Mirah) dropped off my personal list.

    We all have our own system for making a list of favorite albums. All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen gives songs star ratings in iTunes, then looks to see which he rated highest during the course of a year. NPR Music producer Lars Gotrich reorders slips of paper with album titles on them, searching for the right mix. I go entirely by memory. When December rolls around, which albums stand out? Which ones are strong enough that I remember them and still listen to them at the end of the year? I had a hard time picking just 10 this year. But the ones listed below are a good place to start.

    1. The Antlers
    Album: Hospice
    Song: Kettering

    The Antlers self-released this stirring concept album in January and toured the country, playing for tiny clusters of curious listeners in noisy bars. By August, Frenchkiss Records had picked up Hospice and given it a proper release, while the band booked sold-out shows at the Bowery Ballroom in New York and other venues usually reserved for more established acts. Hospice, frontman Peter Silberman's elegy to a dying friend, rattles the heart. At times, it's full of so much grief and longing, it's admittedly a little hard to take. But instead of evoking despair, Silberman's poetry, his soaring orchestrations and delicate falsetto leave you in awe at how fragile and beautifully mysterious life can be on spaceship earth.
  • 01-25-2010, 04:41 PM
    a friend showed up recently with a stack of Hospice cd's, giving them out to who ever would take one (he bought the 12 or 15 cd's), - he was that into it. I didn't really feel the love - liked it ok and thought a few songs were pretty strong. It was a big creeper for me and I kept grabbing it for car rides and then finding myself donning boots to go get it outta the car for a few spins in the evening. It makes me think of Arcade Fire a bit (Funeral more than Neon Bible) but much more personally initiated rather than ensemble-created. Good stuff that I think will continue to gain it's creeping traction.
  • 01-26-2010, 08:56 AM

    Originally Posted by jonnyhambone
    a friend showed up recently with a stack of Hospice cd's, giving them out to who ever would take one (he bought the 12 or 15 cd's), - he was that into it. ...Good stuff that I think will continue to gain it's creeping traction.

    That is being into it! But I can kinda see it. In fact, I've even done that a couple times on a smaller scale. And that was also what was behind all of our comp trading. I bet there are people here that have sent out 30 or 40 copies of one of their comps!

    But once Hospice does creep up on you, it feels kind of personal, and it's natural to want to share that connection with others, maybe forgetting that it wasn't an immediate love, or that most will just think you're odd. People have to make their own connection, and it will probably take a few listens, if at all. I wasn't there from go either. But there was something about it that did really strike me from the first time. Some of that "Funeral" feel you mention, but more intangible, not quite as direct. And had me "donning boots" too. Great expression, but you need to make an extra copy for the car during winter months :)
  • 01-28-2010, 06:00 PM
    I bought it last week after hearing a track on Sirius XM...
    ...and reading your comments. I only listened to it once but had too many distractions, so I can't say much about it...yet. I did like several tracks that I was able to hear uninterrupted, but I need to be alone with my Studio 100s pushed to a decent volume.