A few celebrated albums from the past year that I only got around to recently...
Band of Horses - Everything All The Time
I didn't think too much of this at first. I've always liked "The Funeral," which is a great song, but the rest of the album put me to sleep. It's tough for down-tempo rock to get my attention. But after closer inspection, I think it's just the initial track ("The First Song") that bores me. I liked the guitar arrangements a lot, something I missed when not listening to the album in the proper environment (read: loud). So apparently my negative reaction was a matter of sound fidelity. Who knew? Anyway, they're the real deal.
Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
I heard one song off this album a while back and liked it, but never listened to the album. It's good stuff. Not exactly original... she's working in the same general area that Tori Amos, Sarah MacLachlan, Fiona Apple and others have worked for years, though she's been labeled otherwise ("piano folk"). But she definitely stacks up. She's got a light, sweet, simple touch that just plain works. And her take on the pixie/fairy voice is so much better than Joanna Newsom's, it's not funny. At the very least, she's earned an invitation to the International Piano-Babe Conference.
Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
I've now listened to a few of their albums (this, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out) after having never heard them before. I'd put them in the same class as Stereolab, where I appreciate them and have a feel for them, but they aren't a big deal to me on a personal level. Regardless, I sure like the opening track on I Am Not Afraid. Good stuff. I'm still chewing on this one though (80 minutes per album is an awful lot to handle).
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
Lo and behold, everyone was completely right about this. It's so good. "The Champ" is perfect. Anyone person who chooses that song as his or her personal theme music would hear no complaint from me. Nothing much more to say about it... except that I love onions on my steak.