Tuesday, November 30, 2010
(Just to put him in rage mode, I very nearly inserted a Steve Addazio picture instead.)
Here's the seventh list in our top ten of 2010 series by one of my favorite writers, PandaPierce. I refuse to endorse him by that embarrassing name he's listed by.
Let's go inside the mind of a PandaPierce. /teleportation sound
10. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
The only rap album that made my list. I always preferred 3000 to Big Boi, mainly because I thought Dre had more artistic merit, but after a few spins of Lucious Leftfoot I knew I had been way off base. I expected to get nothing but bangers, and there are some on there, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how sprawling this album was. The variety found on the 15 tracks is almost un match in terms of hip hop albums. Each track can standalone, but at the same time put together it all makes sense, and for that I admire the hell out of it.
9. Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
I think as much as any band on earth Emeralds are difficult for me to describe my affinity for. My attachment to this album is mostly rooted in the late nights I spent tossing and turning with this playing in the background. The album isn't a monumental effort, but it is a perfect drone album, yes perfect. Each piece reflects a different mood, and while some say it's difficult to be moved by drone music, with Does It Look Like I'm Here I find that to be a very easy task.
8. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter are that perfect storm kinda band. Bradford Cox is as talented as anyone on earth at writing lyrics, and each of their albums challenge the listener to think, and to be ready to digest a whole lot of experimentation and sometimes even pain. I've always personally felt that they hadn't found that right combination of interesting yet accessible, which isn't so much a problem but rather a small kink that I felt if worked out it could be the recipe for a masterpiece. Halcyon Digest may just be that masterpiece. That combination of interesting and accessible was done perfectly here. The album never loses its experimental charm, but it manages to still be immensely satisfying as soon as you pick it up.
7. Caribou - Swim
Swim is an album that makes you want to dance, cry, and applaud all at the same time. Swim is, in my opinion, among Snaith's most challenging works. After 6-7 listens I was ready to give up. I got that what it was but I couldn't feel it, like I had with his other albums. One night I put the album on after a few weeks of not listening to it, and it suddenly clicked. That moment of clarity, if you will, remains one of the highlights of my musical year. My mind opened up in a way that could only happen when you're listening to a Caribou album, and I was so glad to have that feeling back.
6. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
For a while this was my album of the year, and while it's true that I have had a bit of a disconnect from this album recently I'm not going to get into that. I equate this album to the white people version of The Infamous by Mobb Deep. The first time I heard Infamous I was riding around my old neighborhood, and I could see the things that were being narrated on the record, that was a special moment. For my money the Suburbs does just as good of a job as capturing a place, feeling, or moment and perfectly illustrating it to the listener. The point of the album is the Suburbs are hell, they are painstakingly dull, and the sad message of the album is they will always be like that, and there is no getting out. Oh well, I wasn't really looking to be cheered up by Arcade Fire.
5. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
When I was thinking about my favorite songs of the year I noticed I never thought of any single song on Cosmogramma. Sure, ...and The World Laughs With You, and Zodiac Shit are brilliant but listened to by themselves they just don't work; to me that's how an album should be, one big piece of music that floats on and on, and seemingly never loses focus. I see a lot of people complain that Cosmogramma leaves them with no emotional movement, so what? This is music in it's purist form, just enjoy its brilliance.
4. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
I'm a huge civil war buff. I read tons of civil war books each year. The film Glory makes me cry. Lincoln is my hero. This album was made for me. The Airing of Grievances was an album that left me wanting more, sure I loved it, but I felt like a guy that could write this well and was oozing such energy could really make a masterpiece if he got his aim straight. The Monitor is the more mature big brother to the angst ridden Airing of Grievances, it focuses on historical events, growing old, and yeah sure, it's also pretty heavy on the angst. This album reminds me of my favorite album of all time, In the Aeroplane over the Sea, but in this case we have a genius songwriter obsessed with the Civil War instead of World War 2...neat.
3. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
Well Michigan, Illinois, and Seven Swans are all in my top 20 favorite albums ever, so it's safe to say I'm a pretty big Sufjan fan. When I finally realize what this album was going to be I was a bit hesitant, but I reminded myself "hey, it's Sufjan, he can do it!" And he sure did. This album is like a dream come true for me. Sufjan doing beautiful experimental folky music? Yes please. All the songs are top notch. I Walked and Too Much are both top 10 songs of the year. The title track never fails to give me chills. And what about the 25 minute closer? It's a lot to digest but it's brilliant too. The man can do no wrong.
2. The Books - The Way Out
Admittedly I had nearly fallen out of love with the Books, who were once my favorite band, at the time of this albums release. The Way Out shook my world up though. I was reminded just why I loved this band so much. Each song is a testament to what words, thoughts, and ideas of any human can mean to another person in a completely different situation. When I listen to the Way Out I feel more in place in the world, I am reminded we are all one, and as cheesy as that may sound it is exceedingly rare for anything, not just music, to make me feel that way. All You Need Is a Wall is my song of the year, at the moment as well, it is almost painfully beautiful.
1. The National - High Violet
The National have always been one of my favorite bands, but they have never made THAT album, well they hadn't until High Violet. Alligator did a good job getting you out of your seats, and shooting chills up your spine. Boxer did a good job relaxing you and taking you to a place of odd comfort. High Violet does both of these things, and perhaps even better than those two albums did in their own right. The entire concept speaks volumes to me. I hate the city, it drains the life out of me, I never want to go back; I feel like this album feels the exact same way. It's about being lost, finding solace, making it through the dull parts in life, it's about the small pressures we all feel every single day, it is extremely human. I will be listening to this album for the rest of my life.
So there's Panda's top ten albums of 2010. Another day, another new #1 album.
Expect the next top ten list late tomorrow; I'll be out of town until late tomorrow night.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Welcome to the second week of the LPC staff's top ten lists featuring their favorite albums from 2010. Today, we feature one of our more unique writers in StarFoxDisciple. SFD holds a job hosting a radio show at the University of California - San Diego's radio station (KSDT). It's titled "Stoned Out of My Mind" after a song by Speed, Glue, & Shinki and he goes under the DJ name Debaser.
It's a show that features some of the best garage punk/rock out there along with great psychedelic music and more. It airs at 5 PM ET/2 PM PT every Monday and it's always worth the hour-long listen.
This is a different list - SFD preferred to not rank these albums - but different doesn't mean it's bad. It means it's just that much more awesome.
Here's SFD's top ten albums of 2010:
sun city girls - "funeral mariachi"
The final album by one of the most special, unclassifiable bands that has ever existed. Along with the rest of their output, this album is hard to put into words, so you might as well just listen to it!
crazy spirit - s/t 7"
The best hardcore punk album of this year, on so many levels, Would even appeal to people not so much into the genre, I'd imagine. It is just pure awesomeness that you want to nod your head along to until you get a migraine.
drunkdriver - s/t
I am not even sure if this album even saw a true release. It was originally going to come out on Load, but they got dropped due to drama in the band and then Parts Unknown was going to release it and I am not sure if they ever did. Anyway, this is band synergy to the maximum. American hardcore in the vein of Brainbombs; ear-shredding hostility. Shit you listen to when you're mad and want to feel insanity incarnate.
jim shepard - "v-3 next album"
Jim Shepard is a god. This is the material recorded for his band V-3 in the 90s (before his suicide) never released before, but finally out on proper issue on Columbus Discount Records. No-holds-barred lo-fi rock in its most pure manifestation. Bummed out drug anthems ("I thought there was no need to worry, surely no need for alarm / I sent my brother two-hundred dollars and he put it in his arm"). Imagine a more organic sounding GBV or Pavement, if you can, and it sounds like that except better.
guinea worms - "sorcerers of madness"
Guinea Worms have been around for quite some time and never really gotten much attention. Their first album after all that time (a double LP at that) is difficult to put into perspective without first realizing that this isn't just some new upstart band but rather a fixture of the contemporary Ohio garage rock scene. And since the recordings on it could have been written at any point during the band's long existence, it may seem incoherent as a start-and-finish album, but if you consider it more like a relatively old band's first (belated?) trapse into the world of full-length albums, as kind of an anthology of what they've done in that time, it will make that much more sense.
the men - "immaculada"
Brooklyn punks that cross so many genres you never heard anything like this before. From black metal to power pop, these dudes put their own spin on whatever the fuck the feel like and it sounds incredibly good. Self-released and they have another album in the works, expect to hear more about them in the near future from those wiser than I.
swans - "my father will guide me..."
It's Swans, it's Michael Gira, and it's a really good album. I'm not sure what else I can say that a quick Internet search would put more eloquently.
slices - "cruising"
Before I heard that Crazy Spirit ep, this was my hardcore punk album of the year. Incredibly good traditional hardcore with a few pauses to let you catch your breath then kicks you in the balls when you think you're ready (you're not).
nothing people - "soft crash"
Every new release I hear by these guys is better than the last, and this is their greatest work to date. Disconcerting creep punk for late-night listening.
salem - "king night"
In spite of their sub-par live shows, this is a band with a vision of combining two genres that, to any rational person, probably wouldn't make a lot of sense. But when you actually hear it, Christ on the cross, does it sound good. Darkwave and Southern hip-hop... who'd a thunk, right?
Great job as always, SFD. Don't forget to give a listen to his show sometime at ksdt.ucsd.edu.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Good morning and go to hell. Black Friday is a woman of negotiable affection and I'm not waiting until 5 AM again for cheap basketball tickets.
Anyway, Sawyerson's got a top five list of albums ready for us today. Because he wasn't able to listen to an overbearing amount of new music this year, he made the decision to just post five albums. As a bonus, he's included his least favorite album of the year.
Take it away, Sawyerson:
5. Bee vs. Moth - Acronyms
I plan on posting this album soon so I won't spoil much of it. I will say that it's a genre-bending escapade built on a foundation of Latin jazz. It's definitely one of the more fun albums I've heard recently.
4. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I'm sure many of the LPC writers will have this on their list somewhere and my thoughts will probably be among the least insightful. That's because this album doesn't make me want to think about with any depth. It doesn't capture me like Funeral or Neon Bible do. That being said, it is catchy enough to entertain me. That's not quite what I want from a band like Arcade Fire, but it's something.
3. Univers Zero - Clivages
The_Red_Agent posted a great review of this album back in August. This is a wonderful chamber rock album with some beautiful melodies but also with an undeniable dark overtone.
2. Marco Benevento - Between the Needles & Nightfall
This was the very first album posted on LPC and it might still be my favorite. It's some of the only music I've heard that relaxes me and commands my attention at once.
1. Neil Young - Le Noise
Just about every review I've read of this album has used the same word to describe it, and I'm going to use it too: Raw. Le Noise features Neil Young, his voice, and his guitar, as presented to us by producer Daniel Lanois. This is a very intimate album with lyrics ranging from seemingly autobiographical, to storytelling, to thoughts on the world in which we live today. This album could very well be entirely acoustic but Neil Young performs six of the eight songs with an electric guitar. The result is a crunchy sound that contrasts with Young's high voice. This album is truly a sonic experience.
Since I was only able to provide five albums, I thought I'd also share my least favorite album of 2010.
Fitz & the Tantrums - Pickin' Up the Pieces
If you could somehow look up two words in the dictionary at once and view the combined definition, Pickin' Up the Pieces would be the result of the combination of "blue-eyed soul" and "plagiarism." There is no reason for an album like this to be made in 2010. This is nothing but a feeble attempt at creating a whited-up version of soul music, which I'm pretty sure was old by the '80s.
So today you've seen a #1 that's really unlike any other #1 album we've had this week, but there's also some common appearances on here - the Suburbs will be on a lot of lists, Univers Zero will make it onto a few, etc.
Today is Black Friday. Second servings of turkey can't come soon enough.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Happy Thanksgiving to all of the readers and staff of LPC. As something to read while you're in between your sixth serving of turkey and fifth serving of cranberry sauce or whatever you people eat, here's another top ten list from the LPC staff. This one comes from our writer Blitzrules240, who specializes in indie rock, alternative rock, and Colts football.
I'm attempting to watch a Thanksgiving parade while typing this, so I'll keep my part short. Here's Blitzrules240's top ten albums of 2010:
10. Minus The Bear - OMNI
Minus The Bear follows up Planet Of Ice with another Psychedelic, Sexy Acid Trip.
9. Dirty Tactics - It Is What It Is
One of the best bands I discovered this year, Dirty Tactics style of punk rock is a refreshing thing to listen to.
8. Sleigh Bells - Treats
One of the more entertaining albums this year. Sleigh Bells style of music was something new to my ears but I enjoyed it.
7. Foxy Shazam - Foxy Shazam
Said to be one of the most energetic rock bands on the planet, Foxy Shazam's self titled follow up to Introducing is a Masterpiece.
6. Weezer - Hurley
Weezer redeem themselves from the failure that was Raditude with a solid album that has almost no flaws...except Where's My Sex.
5. Vampire Weekend - Contra
Vampire Weekend has yet another solid album with Contra, The albums just makes you want to lay on a beach sipping lemonade as babes play volleyball in tight swimsuits.
4. Alkaline Trio - This Addiction
This Addiction was one of the best albums I listened to this year. Matt Skiba's lyrics in this album are so full of passion, this is in the top 5 for sure.
3. Ludo - Prepare The Preparations
Ludo is a hidden gem for most. The guys for St.Louis got big air play with Love Me Dead but this album tops it with a genre bending album which is genius.
2. Electric Six- Zodiac
Dick Valentine is a goddamn genius, the man behind Electric Six brings out another feel good, dance your ass off, jam with your socks on album which is pure gold...but it wasn't the purest gold.
1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
OK, you all knew this was coming. I loved this band from the moment I heard Neon Bible. This album is far beyond that. It's a beautiful album and it's my Album of the Year.
So with this list, we got to see some names you wouldn't normally see on LPC and that's a good thing. Well done, Blitzrules.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and thanks for making LPC the great site it is.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Back again today with another top ten list for you readers. Today, we're featuring CaptainCommonSense's top ten albums of 2010. Much like thessad, his main interests in music are indie rock and hip-hop, but you can't ignore his taste for noise rock and metal.
Without further ado, here's CaptainCommonSense's top ten albums of 2010:
10. No Age - Everything In Between
No Age is without a doubt one of my favorite noise rock bands ever, and definitely my favorite from the 2000's. Why? Because No Age is just great at writing catchy noise rock songs that stick with you. Like many of the other albums on the list, it's something you could see yourself listening to months from now, maybe even a year or 2 later.
9. The River Empires - Epilogue
29 Tracks. 29 Tracks usually is a big signal for me that an album is not worth my time. In this case those 29 tracks are some of the best 29 tracks this year. This Bluegrass/Prog Folk album is exceptionally great, and it manages to keep a person's interest all over the 1 and a half hours of great music this almost effortless churns out. It sounds like what would happen if Sufjan Stevens and Wilco (On their more country sounding sounds) teamed up and I enjoy this every time I listen to it.
8. Envy - Recitation
Despite me not being able to understand a word they're saying, I love this CD because of their ability to play. Although it is kind of alleviated by the fact that a lot of it is Post Rock, the Spoken word & Screamo portions in Japanese still hold my interest. I'd probably write more about this if I actually got it but it's definitely worth a listen or 2.
7. The Black Keys - Brothers
I've never listened to The Black Keys before. In fact, I had just jumped on the MTV bandwagon when they started playing their songs during commercial breaks for The Real World. I kind of expected this to suck but I was really, and I mean really, surpised at how fun this is. The Black Keys are a indie Blues Rock duo that's just now getting mainstream attention for this album, and with this I can't really see how I didn't notice these 2 before. The soulful singing and rough guitar work seems like something I would have picked up sooner. It's definitely a fun album, sort of in the same vein as "Is This It?" by The Strokes as it's a simple album that you could just replay over and over and over again.
6. Big K.R.I.T. - K.R.I.T. Wuz Here
My friends, I bring you the second coming of Pimp C. K.R.I.T. skyrocketed from being virtually unknown to one of the premier underground rappers/producers in the South. K.R.I.T. starts of the record with 2 of hardest songs of 2010 so far: Country Shit and Return Of 4Eva. Country Shit especially becomes a Southern anthem following other songs kind of like Southern Hospitality but from a "Pimp" mentality. As a rapper/producer he naturally has an exceptional ear for music and he knows how to make tracks bump. Lyrically the tracks shift between UGK/Big Boi style pimp-ish lyrics to politically influenced Goodie Mob songs. The best part about this is it whets your appetite for more of this, and leaves you excited for more of his work.
"Winners never lose, how dare you confuse us
They quote what I spit like Confucius"
5. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
From the very first time I heard Cosmogramma I could tell it's going to be an album I listen to for years to come. Cosmogramma is a fusion of Flying Lotus's influences: Jazz, Hip-Hop and IDM. The album comes across as an almost flawless experiment in mixing and matching these. It's something that anyone can sit there and enjoy, wheather they like Hip-Hop or Electronic.
4. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Before I go on, let me say that 808's is nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. Now if 808's was good, how does one improve on that? Does he follow it up with another sad auto-tuned affair or does he go back to his straight rapping roots? He certainly has evolved a lot as an artist over the years, going from his early production and his rise to fame because of that, to his humble rapping beginnings, then moving on to his more experimental stuff on 808's (and Graduation I guess, he tried a few new things on that too) and now to this. This piece of work.
I purposely tried my best to ignore the G.O.O.D. Friday tracks, as a bunch of the songs that made it on the album were apparently taken directly from G.O.O.D. Friday (don't quote me on that though). I tried to surprise myself by waiting and seeing what Kanye had in store for us. His whole Phoenix movie thing on MTV didn't really get my hopes up for the album much as it seemed like he was trying too hard to be "artsy" and it would probably blow up in his face, but the singles like Runaway kept me from losing all hope. The beginning is more of "Old Kanye" as he's putting more of a focus on his rapping instead of his singing, which is always welcome, while the latter half is more of "New Kanye" where he does a lot of singing, but not really anything reminisent of 808's (In fact, the only track that sounds 808's ish is Lost In The World). It kicks off pretty light but then progresses and proceeds to take us on a joyride with Kanye at his most experimental, and as makes this one sound "different".
3. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
According to a Pitchfork review, Halcyon Digest is about the joys of music discovery. I guess it's fitting that when I heard this album for the first time I was really excited because it was eye opening. Like there was pre Halcyon Digest 2010 and a post one for me because when a record like this drops, it changes the whole landscape of music in a period. The discovery of that particular song or band that you can just connect to is an awesome experience.
The sound of this album is just really fucking amazing, for lack of a better word. It's intoxicating to the point where you could spend days listening to this 1 CD and never get tired of it. Which is what I've done, on top of Pilot Talk and Kanye's new album, I've been listening to this one a lot lately just trying to take it in more, and it's gotten better with every playthrough. Helicopter stands out as the best track on the album and probably my song of 2010. He Would Have Laughed is another song that I greatly enjoyed as it was a tribute to Jay Reatard, member of The Reatards. This entire album just manages to have a sort of feel to it, different from some of the stuff they did before, like a sort of sincerity that you just don't find much anymore. I love it. I absolutely love it.
2. World's End Girlfriend - Seven Idiots
I haven't played a Final Fantasy game since I was about 16, but I've always wanted to revisit the series. The sights and sounds shifted between light-hearted to sorrowful in a descending fashion, like it's taking you from the norm and then slowly dragging you down to the end. I get the same feeling during this album. I really have to get around to thanking Red for this one, as it's probably one of the most mind blowing pieces of music I've ever heard. I was immediately curious as to what kind of CD could leave him not knowing what to classify it as, so I naturally had to hear what this was. The moment I started listening to this, I was just awestruck at how amazing this album sounds. The math rock-ish guitar riffs to the glitchy sort of beeps crafted some sort of entrancing sound that carried my emotion as the album progressed. As the album went on and the tone became more sad and dark, I actually sort of felt the same, which doesn't happen very often. And on the earlier tracks such as "Les Enfants du Paradis", the upbeat feel it had left me feeling cheerful. It's almost an Opera, but there no scenes or acts in the conventional sense, just his instruments telling a devine tragedy.
1. Curren$y - Pilot Talk
Curren$y has had a weird career so far - he was on Young Money, one of the most hated labels on the internet, left there in 2007 and got signed to Amalgam to release "This Ain't No Mixtape", his debut album. From there, he released more mixtapes such as "Smokee Robinson" and then came out with this earlier this year. This then became my album of the year from when it came out (I believe back in June) to about October, and for good reason. Curren$y's lazy yet technical and well thought out way of rhyming is almost as good as the weed he was smoking probably all throughout this album's conception. Curren$y's flow is intoxicating and addictive, and when backed by what almost sounds like live instrumentation it basically becomes audio dope. Curren$y always was a fun rapper to listen to because the laid back feel of his music is almost like a modern day Snoop Dogg. On Breakfast it kind of hits you why you like Curren$y in the first place, he can get away with rapping about anything because he can make things sound...well...hot. Over a jazzy beat he just went off and started rapping about playing NBA Live while eating snacks and then goes on to say "Off brand mother-fucker/Odd number/You are not even/On my level...". I guess that's just part of his appeal, that almost "I don't care" sort of effortless feeling that you get when he raps.
So on today's list, you got a new #1 album, but you've seen a recurring theme so far - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy really is that good.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Welcome to the inaugural edition of our writers' top ten lists for 2010. Because we've got a quickly growing community here at LPC, we wanted our readers to get the inside look at the best albums of 2010 by way of using our thirty-writer staff's varied opinions on the best music of 2010.
Every list will be different - like snowflakes, everyone's unique. (Sorry for your third-grade nostalgia there.) Some will be polar opposites of others, but what we're hoping to accomplish is getting every writer (and the readers) to voice their opinions on 2010's musical stylings.
Today, our first top ten list is presented by our writer thessad. The majority of his Last.fm scrobbles come from two genres - indie rock and hip-hop. His list reflects that, but his number one album might just come as a surprise.
Without further ado, here's thessad's list, sent to me on Last.fm:
10. Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
Great balance between black metal and softer parts, usually based on acoustic guitar or piano. Vocals are tolerable if you're not into growling.
9. Shad - TSOL
Great wordplay-based conscious rapping over a varied selection of beats, with some big highlights in the latter, and a very consistent performance for the former. I maintain that Shad is the best emcee in the scene at the moment.
8. Freeway & Jake One - The Stimulus Package
The production is hard to dislike, and the more you listen, the more the same can be said for the emceeing. Freeway gives a rock solid performance that fits perfectly over Jake One's soulful beats.
7. Sadistik & Kid Called Computer - The Art of Dying
Great album with precise technical emceeing and drifty, abstract production. Features what I think is the hip hop verse of the year, the final verse on Save Yourself.
6. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
It's hard to imagine a three disc album by a lady who sings like a banshee working, and yet, it exceeds that, as this is as easy to listen to all the way through as any three disc album I can imagine. Filled with beautiful moments.
5. Beach House - Teen Dream
It's, in a word, dreamy. Great, hypnotizing melodies. Great, hypnotizing backdrops.
4. The National - High Violet
The songs sound nice at first, but become ingrained in you the more you listen. Somewhat hypnotic baritone vocals with lush instrumentation and great drumming. Definitely a grower.
3. Kno - Death is Silent
Another hip-hop album about death, this one from the CunninLynguists producer Kno. Extremely cohesive, and Kno gives off a surprisingly impressive performance as an emcee. Nonetheless, the production is, undeniably, the highlight. May/Will/Has alienated some due to the concept/darkness/overall nerdiness but it's still one of the best hip hop albums of the year if you can get with it.
2. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
New sound for Sufjan, very electronic. Whole is greater than the sum of its parts, though a few songs can work well outside of the context of the CD, i.e. I Walked and Vesuvius. Impossible Soul is a crazy, progressive, 25 minute song featuring one specific movement that'll have everyone singing.
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Amazing production drives a vaguely conceptual album that is unlike anything you've heard before. Amidst a flurry of apparent flaws the strengths of the album just continue to overcome the weaknesses making for an incredible experience.
So there you have it - this might not be the first list you'll see with MBDTF at the top. Yeah, Pitchfork might blow sometimes, but it's the first new release (not counting reissues) in eight years to be given a perfect 10.
Debut LP from former frontman of The Horrors (that's The Horrors from the US, not the UK band). Heavily blues infused garage rock and rockabilly revival. Excellent songwriting and lyrics which is great to actually be able to hear as the production isn't as scummy as other bands that delve into the whole 50s/60s garage vibe.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Named in honor of the three-word codes used by short-wave radio operators, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot can often evoke such an image in a listener’s mind. Perhaps one of the most brilliantly-crafted pop albums of all time, the Chicago alt-country rockers’ fourth album takes listeners on an existentialist trip, creating a loose sonic meditation on distance and love, using random radio signals as a metaphor.
These songs are not ordinary pop songs by any means. Utilizing blips, radio pops and starts, and all forms of odd sounds and fillers pushed through filters, the band creates a sonic palette that ends up sounding like nothing else before it. Songs like “Ashes of American Flags” and “Poor Places” end in a chaotic catharsis of distortion. “I’m The Man That Loves You”, probably one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, is utterly destroyed by short bursts of ear-splitting, finger-bleeding guitar soloing. The closing track, “Reservations” could not have ended the album more gorgeously and elegantly, leaving the listener lost in a world of ambient sounds.
As lyrically sophisticated and provocative as it is noisy and serene, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is often a dark and melancholy affair. The piano-led “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” is a portrayal of drunken lovesickness, delicately laced with a cacophony of noise, whistles and percussive clutter. The acoustic “Radio Cure” is glum, moody, intriguing and emotional. “Ashes of American Flags” is a cold, chilling poem that is not so much cynical as it is a longing for the days of honest patriotism.
That’s not to say there’s not enough radio-friendly pop to go around, with the anthemic country psychedelia of “War on War” or the nostalgic yearning for a time of youth, innocence, and Kiss covers in “Heavy Metal Drummer”. The song “Pot Kettle Black” in particular makes you wonder just what Reprise was thinking when they dropped Wilco from their label because the album, in their opinion, wouldn’t sell.
You continue to listen to radio station with all of its static and cluttered noise. It is a sound that is sad, celestial, and lovely. You suddenly begin to feel much warmer as a cathartic sense of comfort washes over you. The music makes you feel relieved; you are at peace.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
(pictures courtesy of Tweedsmatic)
When I first heard the G.O.O.D. Friday tracks, I thought, huh, this is pretty damn good, I wonder what I'd think if he just released this as the album, yet when I first saw the tracklist and realized that those keeping up, myself included, had already heard five of the eleven full songs on the album through G.O.O.D. Friday and the singles, I smiled to myself; another overhyped disappointing album. Oh well, I wasn't anticipating it too much. When I first saw the Runaway music video, I thought "What's Kanye thinking? This is stupid." I didn't realize at the time that this meant I had already heard all of the songs on the album, and I wouldn't realize this until I had already given it a 5 on here. When I first heard the album in full, though it was the clean version, I didn't feel particularly impressed, but I enjoyed the music, very much so. I thought it would be a top 3 album of the year at the least. I mean, Lost in the World is pretty iffy, and wtf is going on at the end of Runaway? Rick Ross on Devil in a New Dress? That doesn't fit at all! RZA on So Appalled? He ruins the vibe! Hell of a Life? How forgettable! Fergie on All of the Lights? UGH!
Then I kept on listening, and it just became more and more clear how absolutely fantastic this album is. How it blows every album this year out of the water. How it makes all other hip hop albums sound inconsequential in comparison. How some of the above mentioned flaws were revealed to be my own first-listen-shortsightedness (Hell of a Life, Lost in the World, the ending of Runaway), while others are legitimate flaws (Rick Ross, RZA, Fergie) but don't even come close to breaking the overall experience that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Normally in album reviews I'll talk about how there's no filler, or how it's all cohesive, or how many highlights there are, but this just feels like it's somehow past such trivial matters. Forget cohesiveness, this is the embodiment of Kanye West in music form! All his little idiosyncrasies, his ego, his douchebagines, his eccentricity, all seem to be living and breathing throughout the album. Filler? Forget filler, there's not a track here that's below great, let alone one that's there just to fill up space. Highlights? Where to start...
It's hard to try to pick highlights because the songs themselves, the songs on the same album, the album that's beyond cohesiveness, are apples and oranges. Sure, you want to say Dark Fantasy because of its infectious beat, funny Kanye lyrics and orchestrated chorus, but then you remember Blame Game's great Aphex Twin sample, John Legend chorus, a moving Kanye performance and a hilarious Chris Rock skit that isn't even out of place... but wait, everyone KILLED it on So Appalled! But wait, it has to be Runaway, with the isolated piano and Kanye surprisingly delivering a great singing performance... but shit, those horns on All of the Lights...
And on and on and on. There's no clear-cut best song; there's no clear-cut worst song. They all represent different themes and moods and complement each other. Since downloading the leak, I haven't even listened to any of these songs outside of the context of the album. Honestly though, I'd have to say the worst song is Gorgeous, because the beat is completely static, but then this isn't a problem at all, because it's still such a great beat, still such a great song. It's just not quite on the next level the rest of the album still seems to be on. Still, do you think you'll ever start up the album, and then hear Gorgeous start up after Dark Fantasy's gone through its last hurrah, and think, "Oh, come on! Not this repetitive shit!" Hell no, it's an extremely enjoyable song, it just falls a little short of the rest; not really on hip hop terms, but on musical terms. On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy terms.
So, as I said, Gorgeous is the potential worst song because of the beat being static, meaning that the rest of the production is very dynamic. Well, it is a Kanye album, isn't it? Of course the production's the high point. You've never heard Kanye beats quite like this though, and not just because he got some help from names such as No ID and RZA. Hell, you've never heard beats like these, period. Kanye had a $3 million budget, and you can tell. He certainly uses orchestration to its full extent on songs like Dark Fantasy and All of the Lights, but knows when to go back to laid back samples, like he does on Blame Game. Devil in a New Dress starts as another laid back, soulful sample-based beat before launching into a progressive guitar section, then coming back down to earth for the Rick Ross epilogue.
As far as the lyrics go, Kanye certainly has his usual charm about him, and a lot of emotion as well when he wants to use it. Nothing really reaches the conscious highs of his old songs like All Falls Down, but that's more than forgivable. One thing that's noticeable is that he doesn't seem to be completely off the mark with his lyrics sometimes, as he has been in the past. Some people may question a line like "Praises due to the most high, Allah/Praises due to the most fly, Prada/Baby I'm magic, ta-dah!" but in context, and with his delivery, it all works out perfectly and I don't think there's a line out of place. He's in this mode for a lot of the album, but he gets emotional at times, most notably on Blame Game, and to great result.
There's one song on the album where it doesn't seem like anything should work, and it just does. If you haven't heard the album, picture this. If you have heard it, pretend you haven't and you're reading about the next Kanye West single: A sparse piano hits the same note repeatedly, before going into a basic melody. Da, da, da, duh, da, da, da, duh. Drums and a growling bass comes in, while a vocal sample yells "Look at'cha!" repeatedly. Kanye comes in and starts singing about relationship troubles, with the hook "Let's have a toast for the douchebags/let's have a toast for the assholes." Pusha T does a verse, Kanye sings and raps some more, and then the song starts to fizzle before Kanye mumbles into a vocoder for three minutes, producing a large buzzing sound. ...Sounds like Kanye's ego's getting the best of him, right? Wrong. Everything about the song works, whether it should or not.
In summation, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a hip hop album like none before it. Its original approach to production and thematic use of ideas make it one of the most rewarding listens in the entire genre. This album is Kanye. Graduation and 808s & Heartbreaks weren't Kanye. They were just what he was doing at the time. Hell, not even College Dropout and Late Registration were Kanye. This album seems to have his very essence at its center, and that, more so than any guitar lick, orchestrated chorus, clever pun, or deep thought, is what makes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a complete and utter success.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The final studio album from Sun City Girls. For those not familiar with the band, the Girls formed by brothers Alan and Richard Bishop in 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona, who formally disbanded in 2007 after the untimely death of drummer Charles Gocher. During their nearly three decades together they released a dizzying array of some of the most unique and challenging experimental music to come out of America. Combining influences ranging from surf rock, punk, movie soundtracks, freejaz, traditional Middle Eastern and African music, spoken word, and free improv (as well as having borderline performance art live shows) the group may seem absolutely impenetrable from the outset, especially if you don't know where to start.
Well, "Funeral Mariachi" is a pretty good place to begin. While most SCG albums are seemingly entirely idiosyncratic and chock-full of unpredictable weirdness, this album has probably the most coherent number of actual "songs" in their catalogue, while still remaining unmistakably Sun City Girls. This is very obvious from the first few moments of the opening track "Ben's Radio" which eventually gives way to a spaghetti western vibe which is densely prominent throughout the majority of the album. There is heavy Ennio Morricone influence here, especially in the second half of the album (including a cover of Morricone's "Come Maddelena"). The standout track for me is "The Imam" combining Middle Eastern instrumentation and chanting with SCG flair (I swear I hear a rubber ducky as part of the percussion). While tracks like "Black Orchid" and "Blue West" are straight out of 60s Italian Westerns.
"Funeral Mariachi" is a wonderful final record to one of the most mysterious, engaging, and challenging bands of the 20th century.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
R. Loren (Pyramids)- vocals / textures
J. Leah - vocals
Ted Parsons (Swans, Jesu, Godflesh) - drums
Simon Scott (Slowdive) - electronics
Aidan Baker (Nadja) - guitar
Colin Marston (Krallice, Behold... the Arctopus) - guitar
Vern Rumsey (Unwound) - bass
Prurient (Dominick Fernow of Hospital Productions, Cold Cave, etc) - noise / electronics
James Blackshaw (Young God Records solo artist, Current 93) - piano
Hildur Gudnadottir (Touch Records) - cello
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) - vocals
Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) - vocals
Marissa Nadler (Kemado Records solo artist, appears on Xasthur's latest record) - vocals
David Tibet (Current 93) - cover art
Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer) - design, layout, painting, collage
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Can't type much. Too busy needing a change of pants thanks to this.
Strange coincidence this leaks one day after the announcement of the release date.
Link to download removed at Matt Mondanile/Ducktails' request
Buy (link to purchase will be up eventually, I'm assuming)
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
At one point named by Pitchfork as 'The best band in the universe' (sorry if that put anyone off), Yo La Tengo are a band than can blend different sounds and styles of music effectively as they please. I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One is a hard album to describe because of its diversity. For Deerhunter fans, here's the Deerhunter of the 90's (and early 00's). For others, here's a unique, interesting rock record.
The album's sound is at times matched by its lyrics. On the dreamy, distant-sounding 'Deeper Into Movies', Kaplan sings "I've been getting messages from outer space; They expire light in the window in the sky; There goes my mind." On the more melancholy, low-tempo songs such as 'Stockholm Syndrome', lyrics like "You're heart is broken, and the doors are open" leave no misunderstanding. Homage to influences is not lost on them aswell, with very intriguing covers of the Beach Boys' 'Little Honda' and Lee Pockriss' 'My Little Corner of the World', as well as hints of Beatles on 'Autumn Sweater' with familiar toned whispers of "In the beginning..."
Thirteen years ago, Yo La Tengo packed 68-minutes of shoegaze and post-punk inspired music into an album and called it I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Today, that heart's still beating, because this album is just as unique and strong as it was in 1997. From the short and quiet opener 'Return to Hot Chicken' to the beautiful cover of 'My Little Corner of the World', this album is engaging music right to the end. The high points are 'Sugarcube' and the 10-minute noise clusterfuck 'Spec Bebop'.
Try it (Track 14 fixed)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I really can't put my thoughts about this CD into words. I love experimental music and I love this CD but I honestly don't know what to say to convince you that it's a good album, and I've spent a few days trying to think of something to say about it. Each song is great, except for Melody 8 which is 30 minutes of pure noise so it's pretty much a novelty track but 1-7 are quality math rock songs, and definitely worth a listen or 2.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Take one banjo, a strand of Christmas lights, some electronic beats, two awesome beards, and a Tina Fey lookalike and you get the foundation of The Seedy Seeds, an indie-folk-pop band from Cincinnati, Ohio. I discovered The Seedy Seeds when I saw them play a show at a record store in the fall of 2009 and I wasn't quite sure what to think at first. There were some sort of synthesized beats coming from somewhere I couldn't see. Their drummer used a very minimal set wrapped in Christmas lights that flashed every time he hit a drum or symbol. One of their singers was a woman who kind of looked like Tina Fey dressed in what looked like black nurse's scrubs who alternated between guitar, synth, and tambourine. Their other singer was a balding guy with a beard and a banjo. I assumed they were some sort of novelty band that was just goofing off. But then when I listened more closely I realized they were not that in any way. Their songs were filled with emotion and were very well-written and they were being performed pretty well too. (Is that passive voice killing you? Well suck it.) This is the kind of music that can make you want to move and sing along at once. Or you can lie down in a quiet room and enjoy it just as much.
I can't help but get a nostalgic feel from this album. You don't have to look farther than song titles such as "Winter '04" or "My Roots Go Down" to think that there's something these three are reminiscing about. Plus it's called Count the Days so there's already the theme of time there. When I listen to it I feel at ease, as if I'm experiencing something familiar that I've experienced before. All from an original sound I've never heard anywhere else.
Official Site | MySpace | last.fm
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I still distinctly remember when I had first heard Through Silver in Blood. The only metal I had heard up to that point had been bands like Metallica and Slayer. I originally picked up the album because the name sounded cool and I loved the cover art, but nothing could prepare me for the hell storm I was about to witness. I became entranced by their absorbing, tortured, and melancholic sound; it was unlike anything I had ever heard before.
The tracks on the album are composed of sludgy riffs, distorted bass playing, berserk tribal drumming, eerie ambiance, and tortured shrieks all drenched in a layer of thick, fuzzy sludge. Never has such a feeling of utter hopelessness ever been portrayed in music as it has been portrayed here. Though Neurosis is not just about bombastic blasts of noisy sludge, but also about eerie ambient sections that play off the louder ones. This creates a feeling of rising tension before the jarring noise. They create a bleak atmosphere that is at the same time filled with an intense feeling of uneasiness.
This album was definitely meant to be listened to as a whole, as Neurosis creates an almost hypnotic listening experience. They are able to play a section for just the right amount of time to mesmerize you, but not bore you, something many artists fail to do. Just as you are being hypnotized by a repeating sludgy riff, the band shifts gears, throwing you into a cacophony of jarring noise and tortured shrieks or a vast ambient soundscape that is both beautiful and unsettling.
If there was any one single standout track on this album, it would have to be the opening title track. Some bands create musical universes with their complete work or with an album. Neurosis manages to do that with a single song.
There are few artists that are able to create as much emotional tension as Neurosis does and Through Silver and Blood showcases them playing at their loudest and most intense. It is, in my opinion, their finest album and one of the greatest metal albums of all time.
In short, fucking amazing.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Three months. That’s how long I’ve been dreaming. Sometimes, when you dream, you jolt awake. You’ve been falling. Sometimes you wake up, sometime in the early morning, and you can’t feel your arms. You slept on them. Sometimes you wake up, and you’ve no sense of place. No recollection of location. You’ve lost it. Times when sunlight is xenophobic, the paleness of its grimace seems alien, foreign, like a hypochondriac at rest. When the fleeting glance of a beautiful girl is as devouring and inexplicable as the rising shore – casted eyes, deep rhythms, a sense of weightlessness. A timeless ambiance, an escape, transference. The melodious, harmonic crashing of Helios.
Sometimes you wake up. You’re not sure why, but you do. You recognize it. Sometimes you pull off at the wrong exit. Sometimes, you write your lovers name down as your own, their name on the front of your mind. Sometimes, when thinking of her, I respond with “two please”, even when I’m alone. It doesn’t matter. I’m lost, placeless, evading my permeating reality. Escaping the weight of my own. This is the sound of Helios; an escape without a means, a constant reminder of her, of my own longing, of a love that pervades in me with every ounce of being.
Eingya is Helios’ sophomore album, but I’d like to start with this one. Perhaps his most respected, revered, and highly rated album, even. On the surface, this is one of those perfect elevator pieces, with its meandering acoustical melodies and soft, twinkly ambient overtones. Bird chirping samples would even suggest its own self-parodied pretention, what’s more obvious in a blissed-out ambient piece than birds? It’s precise in its execution, stringent, even static, in its deployment and structure. His flow is transparent when juxtaposed to other works in the genre, his melodies without excitation, exact in their prose and repetitious in their emotional lull. But Helios is not an exacting claim, nor an exclamation point, nor an impression on time, but rather a reflection of timelessness. What Helios does is provide the softness and methodical beauty of transient soundscapes – a divide, a soft lull, an incomprehensible tug towards something so very distant, so very trivial, delicately entwined in the rifts of time. For Years And Years and Bless This Morning Year are perhaps two of the most perfect ambient pieces composed on this album. Slow, nostalgic, deep churning melodies that drone on, but unlike Helios’ cousins in the ambient genre ( Nadja, for example ) they sputter in for only a fraction of a moment. These songs do not need to reach outwards towards the +20 minute mark. Their intent is not to immerse the listener in the textual reverb and flow of the sounds, but rather provide a foundation of nostalgia, of memory. To wander around an open-house. And like a good painting, like a perfect kiss, like the hum of your loves afterglow, stamps itself in everlasting memory.
Caesura is the third album released by Keith Kenniff under the Helios moniker. If anything, this is an extension of what Eingya is. His usage of kicks and electronic rhythms is more predominant, but his methodology is still moving in the same direction. Twinkly melodies, low drum notes, some kicks to path a track. It feels more like a composite piece than a dwindling rumination a la Eingya. Ideas are more obvious and figurehead the albums themes; elevator music for transnational elevators. Sounds and harmonies that complement sunsets over distant canopies; the nirvana of a touch, a soft gesture. A smile. His experimentation is incredibly welcomed and increases the replayability of the album, and, if anything, results in the greatest track on the album: A Mountain of Ice. A slow, harmonious build into a beautiful fragment of clean, plodding kicks with the slight whisper of melody. It heeds the call of his prior album; romanticizing with memory.
I don’t have much to say about Unomia, but I recommend giving it a listen after the aforementioned two. It’s good, but underdeveloped. His maturity in both composition and execution is young, and it lacks the finely tuned polish of his follow ups. As expected. It is still however an important album in Helios' growth as a sound, and nevertheless has some absolutely beautiful moments.
I want to express, once again, how fulfilling these albums are when taken as such. Music for warm summer nights when your friends are out and the house is empty and the sun is sinking just below the horizon. The phone might ring, but you won’t answer. Birds chirp outside a window somewhere, probably in a tree. Being birds. The swooshing pass of a car. The scream of children at play, chasing one another in the streets, dancing in and out of nightlight shadows. The distant kick of a pop can. A knock on the door that you don’t answer. But it’s okay. Because you’ve already forgotten all about that.