Posted in Listed

Favourite Albums of 2019

5.  Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains:  The music world lost a lot of great musicians in 2019 including David Berman of Purple Mountains.  This was my first introduction to the man’s music and was touched by many of the lyrics contained here.  Knowing what happened to Berman soon after release makes some of the songs hard to listen to but this is part of his legacy that he passed on to us. Purple Mountains touches on many of the emotions we all feel from time to time and let’s us know we are not alone. This album will live on for a very long time.

4.  Robert Forster – Inferno:  Another long running musician that I was really hearing for the first time in 2019.  Ex of the much-loved Go-Betweens, Forster doesn’t sound dissimilar to Leonard Cohen and at times on tracks like “The Morning” and “Life Has Turned A Page” he offers much wisdom.  Like Cohen, Forster’s music is mature and on the cover he looks dapper as hell.  We can still aspire to be this cool.

3.  Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride:  This came out in May and was ready made for the summer. More complex musically than past releases and adding in a few cameos, most notably from Danielle Haim, this continues to increase the range of Vampire Weekend releases.  Many gems to be found here including “Sunflower”, “How Long”, and especially our song of the year – “Harmony Hall”.  Like most albums at 18 tracks long, there are a few that can be skipped but those are relatively few on an album that can be played on repeat for several hours.

2.  Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!:  This album is getting lots of love even from people who don’t normally show it to Del Rey. Admittedly, the last few albums can be a bit hit and miss at times but this one never lags and distills the best of her sound onto 12 songs. “Venice Bitch” was a favourite from last year and “Mariners Apartment Complex” sounds like a movie in four minutes. “California” and “The Greatest” are timeless tracks that could have been released at any time in the last 40 years.  This is Lana Del Rey’s best album.

1.  Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel:  It’s not very often a straight up rock record gets us this excited but Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. delivered blow after blow on their debut.  It’s amazing that this literary band released poem collections before forming a band, as they seem ready made for the big stages in the UK. “Hurricane Laughter”, “Chequeless Reckless”, and “Boys In The Better Land” are a roar heard across the world as people keep falling for the band’s charms.  This is the best rock album we’ve heard in years.

Posted in Album Reviews

Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (2019)

The music world was saddened on August 7th of 2019 when it was learned that Silver Jews and Purple Mountains founder David Berman had passed away aged 52.  Berman had enjoyed success with the Silver Jews but over the years had not played much music.  When his mother died in 2014, he was inspired to get back to playing music and after a few false starts he hooked up with Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere of the band Woods to help play and produce the album that would come out in mid-July, also titled Purple Mountains.   

While there is overarching sadness throughout the album, it is mixed with clever/funny lyrics. Upbeat opener, “That’s Just the Way That I Feel” features the line “when I try to drown my thoughts in gin, I find my worst idea know how to swim.”  “Darkness and Cold” is both touching, sad and funny as Berman speculates on what it would be like when his ex-partner starts dating someone else.  Later Berman ruminates on a similar theme when he sings that “I see lots of normal men yearning to obtain her, I’m a loser, she’s a gainer” on the excellent “She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger”.

While I’m not going to be one to complain about how hard men have it, there is a serious problem of men losing friends over the years and becoming more isolated. With a great guitar line and excellent drumming, on “All My Happiness Is Gone”, Berman sings that “lately I tend to make strangers wherever I go, some of them were once people I was happy to know. “Nights That Won’t Happen” is a look at all the lost dreams due to a separation or death.  While the sadness is palpable throughout, Purple Mountains is a special record that most people should be able to relate to in one way or another.

8/10