Monday, December 15, 2008

# 8 "Let's go on pretending, that the light is never ending"

I'm having a lot of fun with this countdown thing. I clearly miss my days of college radio. Anyway, having a blog is almost more interesting right now, at least I have no responsibility and I can do things at my own pace. Sike, I miss WQFS more than anything. Anyway...

My Number Eight record of the year is the second release from Baltimore's own Beach House, entitled "Devotion," which came out way back in February. Beach House are a male/female duo comprised of Alex Scally(guitar/keyboards) and Victoria Legrand(vocals/keyboards). Apparently Victoria's uncle is some famous french guy. I had recently lost interest in this release even though I had been listening to it pretty regularly for most of the year. I put it on again the other day, and to my surprise the therapeutic and calming feelings of warmth and nostalgia that made me melt into the floor when I first heard it back in February came right back to me. It came out at a time when I was just beginning to get over major depression. Last winter was not so good for me, and if I am kidding myself I'd say this period of depression lasted only a couple months, but those who know me best would remind me it was more like the majority of 2007, and into the first couple months of 2008. When February came around and I was beginning to put things in greater perspective and started feeling better about my life and the choices I had made, this album came along and helped me out a lot. It was right at that period that comes at the end of winter when it's not necessarily getting warmer, but it's getting less cold, and that was more than enough for me. It was a reminder that things could soon be good again. That change comes, and that a period of brightness can only follow a lengthy period of darkness like the one I was coming out of.

The sea of wistful, lazy, reverberating nostalgia you find yourself floating through upon first listen is comfortable and familiar, like you've heard this album before, or maybe this is just the album you've been waiting for. Perhaps if Nico was the frontlady for Grizzly Bear, or Cat Power got Danger Mouse to produce her next album, it might sound a little like Beach House.

Victoria's vocals are haunting and beautiful, particularly on standout tracks like "Turtle Island," a song that seems to promise you that times of fleeting, simple, calm, and hopeful youth are not all over like the winter so assured you they were, her vocals make this song absolutely marvelous. "Gila" and "You Came To Me" are two of the best songs of the year hands down. Their cover of Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last A Long Time" is chilling to the bone, and what's best is they make it their own rather than giving us an exact replica of Johnston's well known tune. The slow and bluesy "Heart Of Chambers" is oddly sexy, and Victoria's vocals over Alex's arpeggiated guitar scales make her sound years and years older, wiser, and more mature. Her voice sounds worn and tattered, yet vibrant and beautiful, like that of a veteran singer even though this is only Beach House's second album. The great sustain and production values on her vocals sound like they're coming at you from the opposite end of a long, wide, wooden hallway in a 16th century celtic house while she sings at you from 100 feet away. Basically her voice is like the vocal version of John Bonham's drums. Not really.

This is a soothing record for the spring time that you might want to put on on a bright sunday morning, or perhaps when you're stoned in your bedroom or driving around on a late early summer night. Definitely deserving of its place in any top ten, I am glad that they call Maryland home. I've never gotten to see them play live and this must change ASAP!! Enjoy the videos below, two music videos to aforementioned songs. Definitely check this album out if you haven't already, I don't think you'll be dissapointed.


"You Came To Me"

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