10 albums of the Ohs you may not have heard…

There are several albums that I treasure right now which only a few people seem to know about. Sure, if you’re a DJ or a music aficionado, you might know these albums, but for those of you who do not have the time or energy to search for lesser known bands and/or albums, I decided to put this little list together. So here’s 10 albums from the ohs that you may not have heard, but probably should hear (in no particular order):

  1. Immaculate Machine – Zeros and Ones (2005): The first time I heard this band, I had no expectations. They were the opening another band and I was late getting to the show. I walked in just as they started “Broken Ship” and couldn’t believe such a talented band was the opener. By the end of their set, I was in love with all things Immaculate Machine. From “Army’s” fight for artistic purity, to the stance against fear mongering in “Latest Breaking News,” power pop has never been so deep. Side note, you might recognize the female vocalist: she’s also with The New Pornographers and often times substitutes for Neko Case.
  2. Vienna Teng – Inland Territory (2009): If a folk singer and a classical composer were to have a kid, that kid would be Vienna Teng. Inland Territory, Vienna’s fourth studio album, may just be her best album yet. The songs are darker than those of her previous albums. For example, No Gringo talks about a future where Americans have to sneak into Mexico to survive:  Radio talks about a fictitious bombing in San Fransisco and the media’s 9/11-esque coverage. Inland Territory is not an album to listen to when you want to feel happy, but its a great album to listen to when you need a good cry, or just want to hear beautiful music.
  3. Black Kids – Partie Tramatic (2008): This album is just pure pop fun. But while its pop, its not, by any means, the crap you might hear on top 40 radio. Sure, there’s the crowd pleasing “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You,” which sounds like it should be blaring from every American Eagle store in the country. But there’s also songs about people taking advantage of people, and how  deeply one night stands cut one’s soul. This album is for people who like to dance, but also like to think.
  4. The Violet Burning – I am a Stranger in this Place (2000): This is technically a best of album, but Micheal Pritzl decided, instead of repackaging these songs, re-record them all together – often time with a better feel than the original. The result is an amazingly dark and hauntingly beautiful album. Perfect for playing on a cold, rainy night.
  5. Beirut – The Flying Club (2007): I first heard this album played in a coffee shop, and knew I had to have it. One gets the feeling of walking along a quiet street in the middle of Paris when listening to The Flying Club. The songs are light, but beautiful. Free, but full of meaning. As someone with a BA in English, I have to admire the poetic feel of the lyrics. Try not to smile too much while listening to this album.
  6. Dressy Bessy – Sound Go Round (2002): I bought this album the day after a family friend died, so its always had some dark overtones to it. But despite the dark overtones I’ve laid on Sound Go Round, this album is pure sunshine wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of bliss.  There’s an interesting juxtaposition in the songs “I Saw Cinnamon” and “Buttercups.” In “I Saw Cinnamon,” we get the story of a free spirited man whom everyone likes. In “Buttercups,” however, we get the story of a woman who does her own thing despite the people around her – those around her finally give up on trying to change her, and even “Clap for her.”
  7. Treaspassers William – Having (2006): Another dark and beautiful album from Treasspassers William. The songs on Having feel like they’re longing for the safety and innocence one finds at home. On a side note, fans of Mercury Rev might be pleased to hear that Dave Fridmann produced this album.
  8. The 1900s – Cold and Kind (2007): I discovered this band quite by accident. I walked into their show during Musicfest NW (2008) to see a friend and had no real plans of staying. But as the 1900s started playing, I knew I HAD to listen to the entire set. When I got home, I downloaded Cold & Kind and played it so much, 4 of the 12 tracks are still in my “100 most played songs” Itunes playlist. The music is often light, with a 1970s pop feel, but the lyrics are anything but light. The lyrics talk about such hard subjects as choosing to spend their life single (as opposed to being with the wrong person), to throwing away one’s set of values to pursue what they really believe.
  9. Menomena – Friend and Foe (2007): Those of you who read my Top 25 albums of the zeros album may recognize this band’s name; Menomena’s first album was actually my number 3 pick of the decade. The second (proper) studio release was a great follow up to I am the Fun Blame Monster. When one looks at this album’s cover, one gets a surrealistic feeling – The lyrics and music of Friend and Foe follow through with their own surreal flavor. The entire album feels like a restful dream.
  10. Havalina – Space, Love, & Bullfighting (2002): This album is almost sad, in the fact that it is the last album Havalinia (Rail Company) ever put out, and was sort of a last ditch effort to keep the band together after several members left. Despite these factors, Space, Love, & Bullfighting is a wonderful and smart piece of music. Havalina is known for doing themed albums, but this is the first album where the band merges two unrelated themes (Latin America and the Space Age). This merging makes a very eccentric album of course, but despite the eccentricity of the album, the songs are all very accessible – not to mention just a lot of fun.