Riley Breckenridge, the drummer of our favorite Irvine alt-rock band, Thrice, starts his weekly column today. He's going to blog about everything from local haunts to his favorite bands, so watch out for your weekly dose of Riley's 3hree Things.
Inspired by May's wealth of quality music (a bounty that has effectively set me a month or two behind because there's just not enough time to digest so many great records and keep up with current releases) I decided now's as good a time as any to write a few short capsules on my three favorite records of the first half of 2010. Note that I chose to use the word "favorite" rather than "best", because I don't consider myself one who knows what's best for anyone else's ears, by any means.
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Local Natives, Gorilla Manor
Formerly known as Cavil At Rest, and recently relocated to Silverlake by way of Orange County, Local Natives released their debut album under the new moniker in February and have gone from being truly "local" to captivating ears and audiences nationwide. It's a highly infectious record, rich in soaring melodies, buttery harmonies, and energetic percussion. The hooks are so strong (without pandering to baseline pop sensibilities) that it's the kind of record that will have you singing along by the time you hit the second chorus of most of the tracks, and then carrying those melodies everywhere, in the car, in the shower, wherever you might choose to hum the melodies that dig their claws into your conscience.
The Black Keys, Brothers
Based on their debut at No. 3 on the Billboard chart with 73,000 copies sold first week (which in this climate, and for a band that is considered to still have a firm hold on its "indie" credibility, is remarkable) I know I'm running the risk of preaching to the choir with this pick, but Brothers is just outstanding. At fifteen tracks, and nearly an hour long, it avoids being downtrodden with filler or repetition, and manages to stay captivating and fresh even after multiple listens. I think a large part of that strength can be chalked up to the quality of vocalist, Dan Auerbach's melodies, and the flawless production and arrangements by the band, producer, Mark Neill, and Dangermouse ("Tighten Up".) As crowded a month that May was for music, Brothers managed to elbow it's way to the top of my "Most Played" list, which is a testament to its high replay value.
Deftones, Diamond Eyes
This pick may seem like an outlier on this short list, but I've got a soft spot for heavy music. After what must have been an incredibly difficult year and a half following a car accident that left, bassist, Chi Cheng, in a coma, and a couple of releases (2003's self-titled Deftones and 2006's Saturday Night Wrist) that had the unenviable task of living up to the bands definitive release (2000's White Pony) I had some doubts about this record, especially after hearing that they'd shelved an entire record (Eros) that they'd written with Cheng. Those doubts were put to rest no more than six-minutes into Diamond Eyes and never resurfaced. It's a brutally heavy record that builds on the aggression of their early releases, expands on the dynamics, melody, and atmospheric sections that made White Pony their masterwork, and proves that even after 22 years, the Deftones are as good as ever.