I really, really hate the Grammys. Just getting that out there. This year though, I was pretty intrigued by some of the picks in the various categories, and I've made it a bit of a 'tradition' to listen to as many of the nominees as I can and 'rate' them according to the system that I use in my personal music library, which is based on a 5 star scale. If nothing else, it's really great for the purposes of getting your Facebook friends all riled up--but it also usually leads to good discussion and new music discovery. I thought I'd try and replicate that here! So, post anything you want to say about the nominees--write reviews, give them starred ratings, discuss and debate with other Head-Fiers, whatever! Just try and keep it civil. :-)
I'll start--with what I think of the Best Album Nominees:
The Black Keys: El Camino 4/5
I've never seriously followed these guys, though on the few occasions I've run into their music I've always enjoyed it. Things are no different with this album, and it's convinced me that The Black Keys are an act I might have to start following. Sure, they aren't breaking any boundaries here or even doing anything that's really that exciting--but man, do they rock. The fare they provide never really rises much above meat and potatoes level, but it's mighty filling stuff, and they're passionate enough about their brand of bluesy garage rock that you can't help but just go along with them, wherever they take you. Very good stuff.
fun.: Some Nights 1.5/5
It's not the worst album I've heard nominated for a Best Album Grammy, but it's pretty close. Almost the last thing the world needs is more manufactured power pop that hews too closely to its influences, and that's all this provides. Sure, it's catchy, but do you know what else is catchy? The Black Death.
Mumford & Sons: Babel 2/5
I've got the same problems with this album that I did with their previous album--strip away the folksy influence and you've got pretty standard pop, on top of which both albums sound almost painfully static. Where's the variety at, guys? That said, their first album is still better than this by some distance--if nothing else, at least it sounded sort of fresh the first time you spun it. This one is just all rehash. Go listen to Fleet Foxes instead, and thank me later.
Frank Ocean: Channel Orange 5/5
Beautifully idiosyncratic R&B that phases through so many styles and emotions in the course of its one hour that it very nearly leaves me breathless after every listen. I should offer this disclaimer though: I'm a huge sucker for nice R&B, and nice R&B is just not a thing I've been getting in recent years, a few bright points aside. So when handed something this solid and this fresh-sounding, yeah, it's sort of love at first sight. More so than any other album in this category, it also sounds like a whole, complete album--how often does that happen these days? Here we've got narrative framing, skits, and connected stories, all woven together into a lovely, orange braid. And it all sounds so honest. Even if at moments it's being honestly silly.
Jack White: Blunderbuss 4/5
It's not the strongest album he's been associated with, but he's still the most dependably groovy guy working in modern garage rock. Lots of variety, plenty of filthy jamming, and White's solidly clever and spot-on lyrics all work together to give this album some serious forward momentum--it's almost over too soon. I only regret that I haven't listened to it until now!
Edited by metalsonata - 12/11/12 at 3:32pm