23.) The Antlers - Hospice (2009)

I've previously talked about what a great year 2009 has been in music. It's one of the top years of the decade in terms of really great records being released. Having said that, no record had a bigger effect on me then The Antlers' incredible Hospice.

Released independently by the band in March, the record received so much attention that French Kiss records picked it up and re-released it in August. The story of Hospice is one similar to Bon Iver's For Emma... in that lead Antler Peter Silberman took a break from the world and created the record alone and broken. As a result, Hospice is a very personal work that follows Silberman as he deals with the death of someone close to him.

Now, I don't know what's true here and what's fiction and it's unclear who the person is who has succumbed to cancer (it appears to be a young girl), but it doesn't matter - the record is so moving, so raw to the point of shattering but ultimately so hopeful that you need nothing more than the time it takes to hear Hospice to be moved by it.

Hospice isn't always an easy listen. It's literally a chronicle of a man dealing with seeing someone he loves slowly die - not exactly Animal Collective-fun-party-times, but that's what makes it such a triumph. No punch is pulled and frankly the record is so much better for it. It's an emotional ride and Silberman ensures that you feel every moment of it.

Hospice is the type of record that changes people. That's a bold statement, for sure, but it's true. It's a perfectly realized piece of art with scads of memorable pieces. When Silberman's voice first hits the out of control heights it does on the chorus of "Sylvia" - that's the kind of shit you don't forget. Or when you listen to "Two" and you can see the hospital Silberman's singing about or when hope is finally found during "Wake" when our narrator finally find closure and decides not to suffer alone.

I probably overuse the term beautiful when I describe records. I hope, however that doesn't dilute my saying it here. Hospice is an absolutely beautiful record. It's beautiful in its agony and it's hope. It's beautiful in its execution and in its nuance. Its beautiful in its words and its scope. Everything about Hospice is right and harrowing and amazing. It's the best kind of record in that it makes you feel its every moment. It grabs you and once it's through it proves itself as unforgettable.

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