Tag Archives: joanna newsom

Acclaimed Albums – Ys by Joanna Newsom

List item: Listen to the 1000 Most Acclaimed Albums
Progress: 321/1000
Title: Ys
Artist: Joanna Newsom
Year: 2006

I don’t know how often I have mentioned on this blog that Joanna Newsom’s Ys was an incredibly formative album for me. Feels like it has been an awful lot, but it is hard to really get across how big an album this was for me in 2007. I listened to it mainly because it was ranked by the Metro as their album of the year in 2006. 

The following months meant a lot of repeat listens to the point that it pretty much drove my mum mad. It was also an album that I ripped onto my Xbox 360 so I could listen to it in the background whilst playing games of Viva Pinata as well as having a track that I completely transcribed onto the back of one of my chemistry exercise books. That’s how important an album this was to me.

Ys was like nothing I had really heard before – and this is from the era that I had become a Bjork obsessive. The lyrics were so multi-layered and dense to the point that I am still listening to it some 14 years later and having different phrases catch my ear. Granted, there are still some things, like the entirety of ‘Monkey & Bear’ and the astrophysics line of ‘Emily’ that are forever etched into my soul.

Joanna Newsom’s voice is not everyone’s cup of tea. I really understand that and felt broadly the same about Anohni’s voice until a few years ago. Hell, I find her album The Milk-Eyed Mender to have a few moments that just cut through me like a knife. But with Ys she exudes charm and an extreme ability on the harp. How often is a hard the primary instrument on an album, especially played with the polyrhythms that I don’t think I have heard outside of her music.

Ys is an album of beauty that delights and challenges. It has so many moments in these absurdly long songs – ranging from 7 to 17 minutes – that stick out. The opening harp of ‘Cosmia’ and the section in ‘Only Skin’ that begins with the lines ‘All my bones they are gone, gone, gone’ are some of my favourites and are both incredibly different from one another. I listen to her work on ‘Sawdust & Diamonds’ and am in just complete awe of her dexterity – let alone being able to play and sing at the same time.

Truly this is one of the most important albums in my life. I can imagine, if I had any talent or real need to be a singer, this would be an album I would talk about in interviews. It is the album that probably helped send me on the path to Illinois and eventually a short obsession with Florence + The Machine.


In Review: Music Of 2015

It’s the end of 2015! What a year it’s been for me. Marriage. Honeymoon in Japan. It’s going to be one of those years I will always remember.

Also, what a crop of music! I guess the older you get, the more artists you love begin to culminate. Still, for my music taste, it has been exceptional. So I figured why not pre-empt future updates on the Acclaimed Albums list, and a possible expansion of that list when I reach 100%, by going through the music of 2015 followed by a Top 20?

Did Not Chart

I listened to a lot of music this year. According to Last.fm, this might be the most varied I have ever been when it comes to sheer number of different tracks. This means that there are quite a few albums that did not crack my personal Top 20.

One I am going to rather obviously point out is Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. This is the album that will appear on the next update of the list.  I know that this makes me some sort of musical philistine, but this is where I am with rap albums. No matter how acclaimed or important it is… I just can’t get to the heart of it. Also, the liberal use of the n-word just makes me plain uncomfortable. I did like ‘King Kunta’ though.

Now, for the main event. My Top 20 albums of 2015!

Platform 1#20 – Platform by Holly Herndon
#19 – Wildheart by Miguel
Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper#18 – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper by Panda Bear
#17 – Endless Vacation by Annie
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit#16 – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett
Blackbirds#15 – Blackbirds by Gretchen Peters
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful 1#14 – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine
#13 – Hairless Toys by Roisin Murphy
Have You In My Wilderness#12 – Have You In My Wilderness by Julia Holter
Natalie Prass#11 – Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass
Currents#10 – Currents by Tame Impala
M3LL155X#9 – M3LL155X by FKA twigs
#8 – In Colour by Jamie xx
Emotion#7 – Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen
Divers#6 – Divers by Joanna Newsom
Vulnicura#5 – Vulnicura by Bjork
Froot#4 – FROOT  by Marina & The Diamonds
Art Angels#3 – Art Angels by Grimes
#2 – Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens
#1 – I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty

15 in 15: Albums

At the beginning of the year my mum had the idea for us to come up with Top 15 lists of songs, albums and movies over the last 15 years (aka since the beginning of the millennium). As a change of pace to this blog I thought I would share these three lists seeing how we are at the in-between stage of the years. Today: Albums.

Treats#15 – Treats by Sleigh Bells (2010)
Body_Talk#14 – Body Talk by  Robyn (2010)
PipettesWeAreThePipettes#13 – We Are The Pipettes by The Pipettes (2006)
TheKnifeSilentShout#12 – Silent Shout by The Knife (2006)
St_Vincent_artwork#11 – St. Vincent by St. Vincent (2014)
july-flame#10 – July Flame by Laura Veirs (2010)
Stories_From_The_City,_Stories_From_The_Sea#9 – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea by PJ Harvey (2000)
Funeral#8 – Funeral by Arcade Fire (2004)
Janelle_Monáe_-_The_ArchAndroid_album_cover#7 – The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe (2010)
Florrie_-_Late#6 – EPs by Florrie (2010-2014)

(I know this is a bit of a cheat, but she has never released a full length album… and these four EPs are some of the best pop music out there so I consider them as a combined double album)

Ys_cover#5 – Ys by Joanna Newsom (2006)
Grimes_-_Visions_album_cover#4 – Visions by Grimes (2012)
41E7jdntfGL#3 – Strange Mercy by St. Vincent (2011)
Sufjan_Stevens_-_Illinois#2 – Illinois by Sufjan Stevens (2005)
BjorkVespertine#1 – Vespertine by Bjork (2001)

This post has had the extra benefit that allows me to cross off two albums from the Top 250 list.  Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea by PJ Harvey and Ys by Joanna Newsom are now considered crossed off.

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 40/250