I've never listened to Noah and the Whale before, but this album, Last Night On Earth, is instantly likable. In fact, it was this album that made me decide to change my weekly "review" into a "recommendation." As I was listening to this album several weeks ago, it occured to me that I just wasn't ready to move on to the next review. I wanted to savor this album: coming back to it after a couple of weeks hiatus makes me realize this is exactly the kind of thing that I've consistently enjoyed for years.
To set the stage, Noah and the Whale is an English "indie folk" band from London. According to Wikipedia, the band's name is "is a combination of the title of one of the band's favourite films, The Squid and the Whale, and the director of the film's name, Noah Baumbach." Sounds good enough for me, so that can stand without further comment.
At this point, I'd say that this is my favorite album of the year. That's not to say it's the best or the most important, but it's the one that occupies the "sound of the first part of 2011" in my head right now.
Compared to some of the darker, more edgey music that I've listened to thus far this year, this is a simpler and more upbeat album. It is a more forward looking and ultimately optimistic collection that doesn't extract the emotional toll that so much "indie" and "alternative" music takes on a listener. Combined with some great hooks and catchy lyrics, it's a thoroughly satisfying album that I expect will stay in my permanent rotation for quite a while.
The first single that the band released from this album is L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. It's a pithy, catchy song with a great video:
Tonight's the Kind of Night is probably my favorite song on the album. Charlie Fink posted an interesting piece on the bands website where he compared an earlier version of the song:
with the final version:
Aside from being a great song, I really want to compliment Fink for having the guts to post an early version of the song for public consumption. If there's one thing that I've learned from my short tenure in the music business, it's the tendency to not want to release anything before it's time. It's hard to expose the underbelly of the process, but it's a great way for the audience to really learn more about the it; and I appreciate it immensely.
Here's the video for Give it All Back:
In the interest of moving on to the next review, I'm going to leave this one here, but I encourage you to buy and listen to the whole album if you like what you've heard.