#11 on the 2011 Musical Bacon Calendar
Last Night On Earth by Noah and the Whale
According to Last.fm, I listened to Noah and the Whale more than anyone else in 2011 with the exception of Radiohead. Before logging on to Last.fm to see just how much NatW I had listened to in the past year, I had a hunch they were at #1. But being second to the allmighty Radiohead is a comfortable spot to be in.
Last Night On Earth has got to be one of the most satisfyingly listenable albums I’ve ever encountered. There’s not much new about the songs contained within. Nor is there much that I feel I could hold up as great examples of amazing song writing. Chances are if I tried to compile my favorite songs of the past year, none of these songs would be in the top 20. But on the whole, this album is immensely likable.
Nearly every song is great. Unlike their last album, The First Days Of Spring, which came out in 2009 and topped out at #4 on the Calendar due to the overwhelming sadness of the entire album, Last Night On Earth is fun. It’s electric, it’s exciting, it’s just good pop.
I got to see Noah and the Whale perform recently at the Neptune, and was very excited to see lead singer Charlie Fink performing just as he does in the above video: with exaggerated rock-star moves and poise. I wrote about the performance, and Fink in particular:
On stage, Fink has managed to somehow take on affectations of both [Tom] Petty and [Michael] Stipe, combining them into an amalgamation of awesomeness. He and the band dress in full suits, as if they’ve just arrived from a debate match, which makes their stage presence all that much more impressive. These guys are rock stars, and Fink especially so. He’s come into his own over the past five years, arriving at a persona that’s completely comfortable in his skin, making Stipe-esque rock star movements on stage, leaving you giggling and impressed, PUNCtuating the SYLlables of his SONGS with purposefully POINTed, POPping motions of his HANDS and HIPS.
Fink’s barritone is his Tom Petty connection. Fink’s voice isn’t as nasal as Petty’s (thankfully), but it has the same deep range, and he often uses it to talk his way through a song rather than sing, just like Petty (although with an unmistakably English accent). And with every “Thank you very much” after nearly every song, that voice, that smile, those movements all slowly win you over to his cause.
This album may not win you over the first time you hear it. But if you do download it, give it exactly three listens. By the third go round, you’ll have trouble getting the letters “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N” out of your head and singing “And it feels like his new life can start. And it feels like Heaven” to yourself in the shower. I guarantee.
Next up: the TOP 10!
12. Codes and Keys by Death Cab For Cutie
13. Valley of the Headless Men by Ravenna Woods
14. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two by Beastie Boys
15. James Blake by James Blake
16. Hysterical by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
17. An Argument with Myself by Jens Lekman
18. The Whole Love by Wilco
19. My Goodness by My Goodness
20. My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men
21. Gloss Drop by Battles
22. Showroom of Compassion by CAKE
23. A New Kind of House EP by Typhoon
24. EP by Grouplove
25. Fan Chosen Covers (Best of) by Eef Barzelay
26. TKOL RMX 1234567 by Radiohead
27. Organ Music Not Virbraphone Like I’d Hoped by Moonface
28. Heavy Boots & Underwoods by Ben Fisher
29. The Rip Tide by Beirut
30. Collapse Into Now by R.E.M.
31. I Am Very Far by Okkervil River