Laundry day is one of the most nagging items on your chore list, but it has to get done. Whether washing clothes at home or going to the laundromat, here are some good albums from 2005 to check out while you stare at your whites spinning foamy circles in the washer.
School of the Flower – by Six Organs of Admittance: For the laid-back folkster in you, this quiet release from the low-fi outfit is great to zone out to while you’re sudsing your work clothes. Gentle drums wash in and out of the tracks on this album, as subtle acoustic guitars slowly build looping melodies that could pass as lullabies.
Tender vocals conjure an old-country pastoral scene; gray clouds and an English countryside seem painted in the background of this album, and, even when the title track churns up a noisy fury, something classical and populist, something natural and antique seems planted at its base.
Black Mountain – by Black Mountain: What started as a side-project of hippie/classic rock-rooted acts like Jerk With a Bomb and Pink Mountaintops, Black Mountain evolved as 2005’s revival of the best ideals of Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones.
Commentary floats in and out, as the motifs of war and modern destruction are ever-present, but the core of this album is its slow, guitar-driven groove. Thick gashes of electric distortion and a steady bass make you think of swaying to old-school Ozzy Osbourne or the Doors on tracks such as “Faulty Times,” while rollicking drum-and-tambourine jams such as “Modern Music” and “No Satisfaction” recall the cheekiest barrelhouse blues of Jagger, Richards, and company. This album’s edge makes it a perfect match for washing your dark loads.
Picaresque – by The Decemberists: Nautical themes have always abounded in the work of this Oregon-based outfit. Their latest offering features fantastic narratives that seem lifted from Indiana Jones or old James Bond movies. There’s plenty of intrigue and, as always, the lyrics are straight out of a creative writing program. Watch the waves crashing in the washing machine as you listen to “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”, in which a sailor-swallowing whale makes an appearance in a strange love story. This album will definitely satisfy your craving for pop, but you’ll get the satisfaction of listening to something literate and classy as well. Just be careful not to sing along with your headphones on.
Everything Ecstatic – by Four Tet: Over the past few years, Kieren Hebden (aka Four Tet) has fought his way up the ranks of electronic artists to become one of the most well-respected in his field. Hebden’s samples always sound organic and comforting, with plenty of plucked strings to ground the laptop-driven songs in reality.
The most upbeat of Four Tet’s releases, Everything Ecstatic has a bevy of catchy drum loops at its center, with choppy snares emerging from storms of static, electronic bleeps coagulating into dance steps from Hebden’s chaos of collected noise. The keys come predominantly in majors here, and you’ll come away from the album feeling strangely optimistic. Cheer on your tee-shirts as they try to keep pace with Four Tet’s beats in the drier.
The Woods – by Sleater-Kinney: If music is a purifying experience, then the most recent album by Sleater-Kinney is a baptism by fire. While the trio has always sported a punk edge, The Woods unleashes a blitzkrieg of overdriven guitar solos and arena-sized drum runs. From Corin Tucker’s piercing wail of “Land ho…” in the album’s opening track, “The Fox”, to the who-can-shred-harder guitar duel of Tucker and bandleader Carrie Brownstein on the eleven-plus minute “Let’s Call It Love”, this album is constantly in your face.
The lone track that could be construed as pretty, “Modern Girl”, is twisted out of recognition by distortion and disillusionment; on a record that seems to drag its listeners kicking and screaming through a maturation process, this track reminds you that, before you get clean, you have to get a little dirty. Give your young spirit a scrub behind the ears with this one while you try to get the grass stains out of your blue jeans.
There’s no getting around it. At some point you’re going to have to spend a few hours washing, drying, and folding. Do some multitasking and give these albums a spin; see if the experience isn’t a little more rewarding, a little more fun, and little less of a chore.