Posted by: themostbrianever | April 25, 2008

#7: Modern Times

As my faithful readers will readily attest to, I love to talk about the music I have been listening to and enjoying. I don’t consider myself some sort of great music critic or elitist but I definitely have strong opinions that I’m not afraid to share with whoever will listen. I think this makes me more of a ‘blowhard’ than an ‘elitist.’ Oh well.

On that note, I have been taking a look at the music I have really enjoyed over the last couple of years and decided to blog about my findings in the ever-popular list format.

Specifically, a top ten list of my favorite albums released since Jan. 1, 2006.

An important caveat: This list is not meant to be read through the eyes of music criticism so much as personal opinion. I love these albums and they were my favorites for possibly completely subjective reasons,.. and I may or may not make any attempt to tell you why they should be objectively lauded.

Lastly, I would love to hear your list or alternate opinions/choices. Tell me why I’m full of it about Radiohead or why I totally missed the boat on Springsteen’s ‘Magic’ (yep, not on my list). The list will count down from number 10 with a new album each day.. Here we go!

10: Neon Bible (The Arcade Fire)
9: April (Sun Kil Moon)
8: Raising Sand (Robert Plant & Allison Kraus)

7) Modern Times (Bob Dylan)

If this guy keeps it up, he’s going to be considered one hell of an artist someday. All musical blasphemy aside, I am an unabashedly biased Dylan-phile. I love nearly everything the man has put on tape and he quite easily laps the field in the ‘Brian’s-musical-hero’ department. That having been said, his recent 3 album renaissance has been shocking to even the most hard-core fans of Mr. Zimmerman.

Beginning with 1997’s Grammy-winning Time Out Of Mind, Dylan has crafted 3 superb albums that have produced both huge sales and rave reviews, a rare combination. In fairness, however, Dylan has said himself that he considers the true trilogy to have begun with the second of these three albums, “Love and Theft.” Needless to say, this is wickedly exciting because it means that he plans to make at least one more record! (He is notorious for hating the studio)

Modern Times is probably my least favorite album of this manufactured trilogy. Time Out Of Mind, thanks to Daniel Lanois’ production, was a mystical journey into loneliness and an aging mind fighting against time – Startlingly honest and unquestionably fresh. “Love & Theft” took similar themes in a far more satirical ‘wink-wink’ direction and made it an inside joke with a rollicking soundtrack. Modern Times completes the circle and finds the same old man alternately talking about how his best days are both in front of AND behind him. Quite frankly, the music is just more appealing to me on the first two records. The individual songs on Modern Times are not quite as strong and the overall product suffers a bit as a result. Keep in mind that by ‘suffers a bit’, I mean that the album is still in my top 10 for the last 2 and a half years. Modern Times certainly has its transcendent moments, but overall carries less power and mystery through to the end. As usual, though, Dylan’s less-than-best work soars far above almost everyone else.

[Note: I saw Dylan live in Indianapolis last year and he played nearly every song on the Modern Times’ album. The show was a watershed moment in my life. To read my blog post on the experience, click here]

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