For any Midwesterners out there, spring is almost certain to be one of your favorite seasons. The summer is sweltering hot and humid. Winter (not this year fortunately) can be cold, wet, and depressing. Fall is probably my favorite season, because more often than not the past ten years it means I get to watch post-season Cardinals baseball. But spring means the birds are starting another long season, and the anticipation is at a fever pitch.
It was a little bit hard for us decide which albums really fit in with the tone of spring, but we kind of decided on more upbeat, hopeful and lighter fare all around. Not a lot of options in those regards from some of my favorite artists like Neil Young, Nine Inch Nails, or Something Corporate (I kid, I kid). But there is still some amazing music in this vein, and here is what we have decided is some of the best of the best. As always, let us know what we missed, neglected, or stupidly included in the comments. Enjoy.
10. The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow
Oh, Inverted World put The Shins on the map, but Chutes Too Narrow condensed their sound even more to tiny, poppy bit-sized pieces. Songs like “Turn a Square” and “Pink Bullets” are the songs that any good spring is made of.
9. Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
A lot of Fiona Apple’s catalogue is a little emotionally intense, and some of it pretty dark. Apple shows her lighter side on Extraordinary Machine, giving her a valid entry on our list exemplifying the tone of the season. The title track is so upbeat, it might even be called bubbly, but we expect Apple to be back to her sad-sack but still phenomenal self on her upcoming June release (which is her first release in seven years)
8. Jonsi – Go
Sigur Rós wealth of material sounds oddly seasonal for some reason, and vocalist Jonsi follows in that same vein with his solo debut, Go. Jonsi’s voice sounds a little warmer behind the backing of strings and woodwinds, compared to Sigur Rós’ denser work. Also, along with the previous work with Sigur Ros, Go points strongly toward Jonsi’s future work as a film composer.
7. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Bitte Orca has a springy vibe throughout, but the shrill howls on “Cannibal Resource” could wake the flowers from the ground all by itself. You won’t find a song from on our list that screams spring tonally or lyrically.
6. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food
More Songs About Buildings and Food is one of my favorite pick-me-ups when I need to put a little spring in my step (pun intended). “Thank You for Sending Me an Angel” is probably our favorite example of that shot-of-adrenaline attitude on More Songs, and in fact in all of Talking Heads’ catalogue.
5. Crosby, Stills & Nash– Crosby, Stills & Nash
We thought about Déjà vu for a bit to see if we could include throw the Y on the end of the CSN, but Crosby, Stills & Nash’s debut just fits so perfectly into our theme of spring. Not to mention, their debut has probably the group’s best song (“Suite – Judy Blue Eyes”) and their most underrated song (“Helplessly Hoping”). “Helplessly Hoping” is also a primer in alliteration.
4. The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
“All You Need is Love”, “Penny Lane”, and “Strawberry Fields Forever” highlight this Beatles’ classic. While most Beatles’ albums aren’t exclusively light on subject matter and tone, Magical Mystery Tour comes the closest.
3. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over Sea
Jeff Mangum served as a forefather to modern day indie folk rockers like Beirut, Arcade Fire, and the Decemberists by making sprawling, energetic, and dramatic folk music, teaming with life like the spring itself. Songs like the flat-out beautiful title track and fuzz punk of “Holland 1945” were made to be played this time of year.
2. David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Surprisingly, David Bowie hasn’t gotten as much love on LxL as he probably deserves. He is certainly one of our favorite artists, with a catalogue that is as diverse as it is accomplished. Hunky Dory is luckily able to fill the David Bowie-sized hole on our website with the likes of the all-time spring classic “Changes”, along with spring being the time of the year when Wes constantly stares at the cosmos and wonders whether there is “Life on Mars?”.
1. The Zombies – Odessey & Oracle
Relentlessly melodic, trippy and cheery, The Zombie’s make one of our lists for the first time with their 1968 masterpiece Odyssey & Oracle. In my humble opinion, this album holds up extremely well with much more congratulated albums of the era by artists such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Songs like “This Will Be Our Year” and “Time of the Season” exemplify this week’s spring theme and helped push this album to the top spot.
Todd: Kanye West – Graduation
Graduations happen in spring, and the title of Kanye’s third LP is Graduation. We’re going to have to be honest, it seems to us that almost every hip-hop album feels summery for some reason, and Graduation was the best way to include some hip-hop and also show one of my favorite youtube videos of all time.
Wes: Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
The Flaming Lips’ big commercial breakthrough was at least somewhat a product of a more electronic and synth-heavy production on The Soft Bulletin. Not coincidentally, these elements along with an uplifting lyrical viewpoint make this album a spring delight.
Austin: The Sound of Music – Original Soundtrack
I’m not afraid to admit that I like a good musical. The Producers was another obvious choice here (“Springtime for Hitler”), but The Sound of Music just seems too fitting thematically to spring with several upbeat, hopeful songs. As a side note, this was the last production by the Hammerstein half of Rogers & Hammerstein before his Hammerstein’s death. What did Rogers do after Hammerstein’s death in the next 17+ years of his life? Nothing, that’s what. Hammerstein wins.