Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now

Five Albums You Should Be Listening To

Each week, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Josh Modell, editor-in-chief of The A.V. Club.

Yeasayer, Odd Blood

Yeasayer, Odd Blood

You picked a great time to ask me about "right now" — the first quarter of 2010 is ripe with amazing music, including the second album by shaggy Brooklynites Yeasayer. There was nothing to indicate on their first album, the also-awesome All Hour Cymbals, that an '80s-fetishizing synth-pop band was underneath the modern-hippie maneuvers. But here it is, the answer to the question nobody was asking: what if Erasure sprung from the freak-folk scene? "Ambling Alp" is one of the best songs of the year.

Retribution Gospel Choir, 2

Retribution Gospel Choir

The last person you might've expected to make a raw rock record in 2010 was Alan Sparhawk, singer-guitarist of the generally slow, sad Minnesota band Low. But Sparhawk exorcises his demons with a fierceness in this side project, a power trio that takes that term very seriously. Retribution Gospel Choir keeps it simple — guitar, bass, drums, vocals — ripping through half an hour like men on a mission. And live, it's even better.

R. Kelly, Untitled

R Kelly Untitled

Since this is Nerve, can I admit my fondness for the bizarre sexiness of mad genius R. Kelly's music? There are a half-dozen unstoppable hits on his latest full-length, including "Pregnant" and "Number One," but they're all dwarfed by "Echo," which basically consists of Kelly telling a woman exactly how he's going to sex her. There are hooks enough for three songs, including "sex in the morning / sex all day" and the bit where Kelly yodels. Yes, he yodels. If you've been ignoring him all these years, it's time to get familiar.

Clem Snide, The Meat Of Life

Clem Snide, The Meat of Life

Clem Snide have struggled in semi-obscurity since the early '90s, cycling through various incarnations and sounds on record since 1998's masterful You Were A Diamond. At the center of every lineup has been the incredible songwriting and lyricism of Eef Barzelay, who writes classics so casually he makes it seem easy. His band's seventh album, which comes out February 23, adds several to the canon, including the gentle, terrific "Please" and "Walmart Parking Lot."

The Wedding Present, Bizarro

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present — a British band once referred to as something like "every Smiths fan's second-favorite band" — released their second album, Bizarro, twenty years ago, and it still sounds every bit as fresh now. Mastermind David Gedge writes lyrics about failing relationships better than just about anyone, and the band that backed him in 1989 could strum like nobody else. Acknowledging the past, The Wedding Present will perform the album in its entirety on a U.S. tour in April. It won't generate as much excitement as the Pixies performing Doolittle, but to some people it's just as important.

Commentarium (17 Comments)

Feb 03 10 - 10:09am
hijack man and his monkey

R Kelly is a genius

Feb 03 10 - 10:12am

That Clemsnide song would make a perfect wedding song. I gotta dig into their albums.

Feb 03 10 - 11:40am
zebra outlet

Yeasayer is competing for my album of the year right now. Though it's only February. Nice picks Josh!

Feb 03 10 - 2:28pm

Good suggestions. Will check out. Meanwhile, can someone (preferably Josh) explain Beach House to me? I don't get it/them.

Feb 03 10 - 3:29pm

The Gaslight Anthem.... Check em out... wait dont i like their small shows!!!

Feb 03 10 - 10:10pm
talisman MD

What's everyone's opinion on the new Vampire Weekend? I dig it.

Feb 04 10 - 5:58am

I think there's such a thing as hearing too much music. Because every time I see a "music editor" of some magazine or blog talking about what I "need to hear" now, it's inevitably something not only disappointing but actually not very good. You guys just reach wayyy too far into the nooks and crevices of ultra-contemporary (i.e. came out this afternoon) music and end up with what merely sounds good to your warped sensibilities of the moment. And as far as the R Kelly tune, is anyone else as sick as I am of the perpetually AutoTuned, digital-keychange pop song phenomenon that is destroying one otherwise OK song after another? Ugh. If you can sing, FUCKING SING. Otherwise you're all Ashlee Simpson as far as I'm concerned.

Feb 04 10 - 1:12pm

@ talisman MD - Contra is what I listen to every morning. Awesome sophomoric album.

Feb 04 10 - 4:28pm
zebra outlet

@PO, that's a silly contribution. New music is great and because you don't know it doesn't make it less so. You sound like my grandmother talking about the internet. What music do you actually like?

Feb 04 10 - 4:44pm

all of these tunes suck big time ......

Feb 04 10 - 5:11pm

Where is the link to the previous weeks 5 albums you should be listening to?

Feb 04 10 - 5:28pm

Sophomoric or just sophomore?

Feb 04 10 - 6:52pm
outlaw sol

I dig Contra as well, great album. Wedding Present is great as well

Feb 04 10 - 7:05pm

This music critic seems to have forgotten he was posting 4 weeks into the year.

" of the best songs of the year" Really? Guess it sounds better than "of the month."

The R. Kelly blurb is more hyperbole. The gimmicky use of autotune kills whatever potential the song might've had. Isn't that what Kid Rock does to mask the fact that he can't sing?

Feb 06 10 - 12:40am

Anyone else digging Lucero? These guys are so great. Like if Bruce Springsteen had a baby with The Replacements.

Mar 21 10 - 11:56pm

All those bitching about the utter mediocrity of everything right now, I certainly hear ya, but I have to at least give this list credit for being the most interesting, varied, and consistently decent of the four of these "Five Albums" deals I've read thus far. I'll never be able to hear R. Kelly without picturing Dave Chappell imploring us to pee on him... which, while hilarious, would probably stop me from respecting Kelly (not to mention, of course, the events that led up to that spoof) even if he wrote the modern version of Beethoven's 5th. Which he sure as shit won't, so I'm safe in the hyperbole.

Apr 23 10 - 10:35am

Nap wrote: "Anyone else digging Lucero? These guys are so great. Like if Bruce Springsteen had a baby with The Replacements."

Abort! Abort! Abort! Abort! Abort! Abort!