The Horse Comanche by Chadwick Stokes
I love it when we get to the point in each year’s Top 31 when every album makes me want to say “Oh my god, you’ve got to hear this album; it’s SO GOOD, from start to finish.” That’s where we find ourselves today.
The Horse Comanche by Chadwick Stokes. Oh my god, you’ve got to hear this album; it’s SO GOOD, from start to finish. Up until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I hadn’t heard of Chadwick Stokes. I had a short date with a woman in which we talked about the Top 31, and she recommended a handful of things she’d been listening to this year that I should check out. The dø (at #15) and Chadwick Stokes were both in her list. And while she and I didn’t fall in love, I did fall for these two albums, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. New music can come from the most unusual of places, but personal recommendations are always preferred.
I hear many familiar inluences in the soft but strong songs from Stokes and company, from Elliot Smith to Paul Simon to the little known Seattle artist Tim Seely (whose 2005 album Funeral Music feels like a sibling to The Horse Comanche). You can hear the whole album over on Bandcamp, and here’s a great Tiny Desk Concert from April of this year.
I’m a big fan of the video above, for the song “Our Lives Our Time,” which is my current favorite on the album (but that will probably change tomorrow — there’s so many good songs on this record!). The video has all the right elements for a video: it’s simple but effective, and keeps you watching through the whole thing to see what changes as the camera slowly spins. The changing dates on the billboard in the background appear to relate to various key civil rights moments on Earth, from the release of Mandela from prison to Massachusettes becoming the first state to legalize gay marriage.
I’m surprised I haven’t heard Stokes on KEXP this year, or maybe I have but it was before I was paying attention. If you love the bulk of the albums I mention on the Bacon Review, then you’ll love this album, too. It’s too good to pass up.
14. Grace Love & the True Loves by Grace Love & the True Loves
15. Shake Shook Shaken by The dø
16. La Di Da Di by Battles
17. Sky City by Amason
18. What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World by The Decemberists
19. Untethered Moon by Built to Spill
20. Viet Cong by Viet Cong
21. The Magic Whip by Blur
22. Savage Hills Ballroom by Youth Lagoon
23. Not Real by Stealing Sheep
24. Beat the Champ by The Mountain Goats
25. Gliss Riffer by Dan Deacon
26. Dark Bird is Home by The Tallest Man on Earth
27. Gunnera by Pfarmers
28. Swimmer to a Liquid Armchair by Ricked Wickey
29. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
30. Live in Seattle by Moufang / Czamanski
31. High by Royal Headache