WVAU Top Music of 2010: #2

Victoria Rocco, Morgan Wheaton

#2 Album: Beach House – Teen Dream

Last spring, my friend begged me to go to see Beach House with her. I was adamant about not going because all I knew about Beach House was that they had a song about a zebra. “A song about a zebra,‰” I thought, “I‰’m not hip enough to understand that man.‰Û

But over the course of the year Teen Dream found it‰’s way into my rotation (largely because it came on right before Teenage Dream) and I found myself hooked.

Teen Dream represents an interesting step forward for the Baltimore duo of singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally. For their first effort as a part of Sub Pop, the band drops most of the lo-fi influence present on their previous albums, Beach House and Devotion. Instead, Beach House creates a drastically different sound that immerses the listener in its sonic beauty. Songs such as “Used to Be‰” and “10 Mile Stereo‰” express an energy not usually seen in Beach House recordings, with their continuous build and tremendous explosions of sound.

However, Beach House still manages to keep their mysterious quality, carried by Legrand‰’s haunting voice. On Teen Dream she sheds the reverb that blanketed her singing on previous Beach House albums, allowing for stirring vocal performances. While her voice easily floats among the synthesizers and the drum beats throughout the rest of the album, Legrand‰’s power is most heavily felt on “Real Love‰Û. Here, she appears only with a piano, allowing for the full capability of her voice to be felt. It‰’s deep emotional performances such as this that echo other dark female performers such as Nico and Stevie Nicks.

With its dark emotional undertones laid beneath a dreamy exterior, Beach House‰’s Teen Dream sounds like waking up after a night spent with the Beach Boys. And although Glee hasn‰’t covered it yet, Teen Dream is an excellent album that deserves to be in everyone‰’s headphones this year.

Written by Morgan Wheaton

#2 Song: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”

As part of the concept album, The Monitor, A More Perfect Union perfectly establishes a connection between an escape from oppressive, indecent New Jersey to find community in Boston, and the Civil War, being a battle between the hateful South and the accepting North. This seven minute long song opens with an eerily rustic recording of Abraham Lincoln, and closes with an empowering quote by William Lloyd Garrison. In between, you can find appropriately rambunctious guitar riffs, hoarse, half-yelled vocals, and civil war reminiscent battle cries.

Reminiscent of many bands worthy of emulation across all spectrums, Titus Andronicus have produced a song comparable to the punk energy of the likes of Dropkick Murphy, the rhythmic and folky feel of the Pogues, and stylings of The Boss.

This song is really all about regional identity- leaving New Jersey to find “where the well of human hatred is shallow and dry,“ in Boston, but failing to leave everything Jersey behind. Attachment to the Garden State is made apparent by all the name-dropping done in this album opener- the Newark Bears, Pine Barrens, Parkway, etc, painting a picture of Jersey completely opposing any works by MTV.

Written by Victoria Rocco