Back at the beginning of this year, I was extremely skeptical about the direction music would take after 2011's less than flattering assortment of music. It might just have been my fault after having high expectations coming off 2010, which was a fantastic year in music. In 2010, the albums that got a lot of attention and were considered the 'best' of the year lived up to the expectations set. A similar thing happened for 2011, even if the majority of the best music went under the radar. Anyway, as time went on this year, something different happened. Every hyped album, every 'great' album, every 'hot new artist' failed to impress me in the slightest. I decided the only thing I could do was to really look for good music, because it surely wasn't going to come to me. That's how I happened upon Brothertiger's debut record Golden Years.
Brothertiger is the pseudonym of Ohio native John Jagos, who has been recording under that name (to the best of my knowledge) since 2009. He released a hand-full of singles and EP's throughout 2009-2011, all to generally positive ratings and reviews from the select few who've had the luxury to have heard of him. Even now with the release of his debut album on Mush Records, Jagos' music hasn't exactly exploded into the machine we call popularity, and I probably wouldn't even be reviewing this now if what was popular in 2012 was more enjoyable to listen to. Despite that, Golden Years is, at this point, one of the best albums to be released in 2012.
Something odd about today's music is how there is infinite originality in throwbacks. What I mean by that is simple; some of the music today is original because it's similar to music made in the past, and Golden Years is kind of a throwback to 80s synth-pop and 90s dream pop. The use of synthesizers and heavily layered ambient and vocal layers all set to infectious beats create a sound that hasn't been capitalized on by many artists in quite a while. While this music sounds like the 80s counterpart to bands like M83, it still retains its own musical identity.
Something tells me that this might just be because of my eccentric taste in music, but I love it when artists go outside the boundaries of conventional music, and believe me, that's what Golden Years is great at. Songs like "I've Been Waiting" and "Lovers" are the epitome of pure bliss, whereas songs like "Suddenly, Voices" and "Turquoise (Skyline)" are thought-provoking numbers. That's probably my favorite aspect of this record; any of the tracks would do great as standalone songs and equally well when compiled together into an album.
Golden Years reminds me of many things (the color purple being one, but that's not the point), and can be a lot of things to a lot of people. Personally, I see it as a relaxing experience that can transcend peoples' understanding on contemporary music, and I seem to find myself listening to it more recreationally than other records from this year. The fact of the matter is possibly surprising to some, but it's that Golden Years doesn't know exactly what it wants to be, and that's not a bad thing by any means. It opens the door to variety, and with electronic music, it's a welcome change that I am glad to finally see. From what I've heard on this album and other releases, I see bright prospects in John Jagos future, and I feel that Golden Years is just the tip of the iceberg. And until he releases his next album, I'll be anxiously waiting for more.
B. W. Everett, 20/06/12
1. The Young Ones
2. I've Benn Waiting
3. Wind at my Back
4. Too Convinced to Care
5. Reach it All
6. Suddenly, Voices
7. Golden Years
9. Out of Line
10. Turquoise (Skyline)