Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 10-1

Top 50 albums of 2013

Previous: 50-41
Previous: 40-31
Previous 30-21
Previous: 20-11
After listening to over 275 albums from 2013, we are finally to my top 10.  Feel free to post in the comments for how I am an idiot for not having (insert album) on my list at all.  After all, maybe I didn't even hear about it, or maybe I thought it was garbage. 

Victim of Love
10) Charles Bradley- Victim of Love

Charles Bradley's sophomore release has seen almost entirely positive reviews.  And I am glad to see that.  I will admit that I have not heard nearly enough James Brown in my life, but listening to Bradley really reminds me that I need to.

I had not heard of Charles Bradley before this album, and when I first heard this I assumed he had been successfully writing soul music for a few decades, not a James Brown impersonator just now getting into the music business.

As far as the music goes, Bradley has a great voice.  It is aged and solemn and really feels like it fits the sound of the music.  Tracks like "Victim of Love" really show it off too.

tracks like "Dusty Blue", on the other hand, sound like they have been taken straight from a blacksploitation film. 

Honestly, I do think of soul as a rather dead genre.  Bradley, however, didn't get the memo, because he just put out an album that sounds like it is from the golden years of the genre.

Buy the album Here, and listen to the title track Here.

Orbs and Channels9) Saåad- Orbs and Channels

After recently giving praise to K'an, this ambient album slightly trumps it by showing that sometimes it is less about what you say than what is said.

With Saaad's 2013 release, we are given a very dark, mellow done/ambient.  Fans of Juliana Barkwick's Nepenthe will probably love this (though who knows, I wasn't a huge fan of Nepenthe).

Tracks like "Savara" feel hollow and emotionless (I mean this in a good way), but most, like "Lure of Conquest", create a dense layer of drone that emphasizes on creating a thick sound.

Stream the album Here.

Mercurial Rites
8) Hair Police- Mercurial Rites

"We Are Ready to Lose the Final Grip" is one of the first understandable vocal parts to this album.  And it is memorable.  by the time "We Prepare", the opening track, is over, you know that you are in for a very intense ride.  Some place between Robert Beatty's solo work and Whitehouse, this album takes intense vocals and pairs them with a noisey drone/industrial combo that is both exciting and unique

"Scythed Wide" is the best track on the album by far.  It is one of the best tracks that I have heard all year actually.  If you were a fan of Robert Beatty's solo album from this year, take some time and try this album.

The whole album can be streamed Here, and can while I think it is sold out everywhere else, it is still pretty cheap on Discogs.

The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow
7) Diamond Terrifier- The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow

I often mention this album to people who spoke about the latest Colin Stetson LP, a New History of Warfare: Vol 3.  Zs saxophonist, Sam Hillmer, really stepped it up with The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow.  While the message is the same from his previous solo LP (remove attachment to worldly possessions), the execution has greatly improved; both in portrayal and in presentation.

"Shrine Flu" is the first of the four tracks on The Subtle Body and it immediately showcases the strange, almost offputting vocals.  If this is your first listen to this album, do not let the first 10 seconds dissuade you.  After many listens those parts begin to make a lot more sense and fit with the overall sound.  4:15 in, however, Hillmer shows off a very similar style of playing that can be seen on Stetson albums.  Rather than ride Stetsons coat tails though, this sound is quickly lost for the ambient style swells that Diamond terrifier is more prone to do.

One of my favorite aspects of Ddiamond Terrifier's work is the unique sound created from his setup.  Having listened to quite a bit of experimental music involving saxophone, Diamond Terrifier really has found its own unique sound, and with this sophomore release Hillmer shows himself strengthening and building on that style.

Take some time and look through Diamond Terrifier's Soundcloud, and buy the album Here.
6) Dreamdecay- N V N V N V

This album was absolutely overwhelming the first time I listened to it.  I was told it was 'alternative rock', and reluctantly gave it a go.  I was expecting a crappier version of Arctic Monkeys, and instead got a slow, brooding, Liars-esque band stuck in the era of They were Wrong so we Drowned.  

The track titles are one of the first things that is absolutely boggling about N V N V N V.  It is like Dreamdecay were making a cryptic concept album that isn't meant to be solved. 

While "Ceiling Fan" may be one of the more accessible songs on this album, this is an album that should be listened to from start to finish (though I will probably say that about all of my choices in the top ten).

Both years I have made my top 50 lists I have taken that time to look up where albums are selling.  partially to promote bands I like, and partially (if I dont own a physical copy already) to see current costs.  I was disappointed to see that this is no longer in the label's store.  I plan to snag this up sometime in the next month at Discogs.

Whether you plan to follow suit or not, stream the album Here.

Joe Panzer and Greg Stuart
5) Joe Panzner and Greg Stuart- Dystonia Duos

This album is definitely the most underrated album on my list.  Two tracks long, Dystonia Duos feels like watching only the final half hour of an epic movie.  Right from starts the album is a blast of noise.  The noise on Dystonia Duos, though,  is done quite tastefully.  Never did I find myself irritated by a high pitch or harsh squeal.

The whole first track, "Dissection Puzzle", really plays out like an epic conclusion; it is dramatic, filled with tension, and it is very exciting.  Even in the later half of the track, as the focus shifts from noise to drone, the drone keeps that spark of excitement to it (which is very rare for drone).  It is not until the last two minutes where the sound finds itself really calming.

The other track, "Casa De Pedras", plays out like the resolution.  While bursts of noise sputter out from time to time, the overall sound is one constantly being more and more docile, as though the duo has been wrestling with this wild sound the entire time and slowly have begun to tame it.

In the end, this is a really unique album.  It does a great job melding noise with ambient and its unique approach of a large wind-down really made it stand out.

Listen to the first track Here, and purchase the CD through Erstwhile Records.

EDIT: I have now found out that this album is much more like watching an Entire epic movie, and 
that the first track of three tracks had never properly transferred to my iPod.  Yeah it is embarrassing, but I'm a busy guy, so o well.

A History of Every One
4) Bill Orcutt- A History of Every One

I was introduced to Bill's solo work through A New Way to Pay Old Debts when I finally heard it last year, completely unknowing that he was in Harry Pussy.  I found his play style wild, imaginative, and it somehow kept getting stuck in my head.  With A History of Every One, Bill's sound is similar, but the inspiration is different.

On A History, Bill plays covers of various songs throughout history:. "When You Wish Upon A Star", "Black Betty", "White Christmas", and "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" are all present.  But these songs are grotesque, mutant versions of their former versions.  Surely the vocals of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" weren't meant to be crooned out, and "White Christmas" is not something I would ever put on to celebrate the holiday (though it is my favorite track on the album).  No, these songs may have remnants of their past self buried deep within them, only to be found by Bill, but they are truly unique in sound now; kind of like Bill's four string guitar and the sounds that come out of it.

While I don't fully understand Bill's overall concept for the album, I don't mind at all.  I enjoy the mystery I feel surrounds lack of knowledge sometimes, and with Bill Orcutt the mystery fits just fine.  One of my biggest regrets of 2013 was not having the funds to buy his 7" box set special edition of this album before it sold out.  Still need to hunt down the songs from it so I can hear it at least.

Listen to a track Here, and get a copy Here.

3) Tim Hecker- Virgins

The first time I heard Ravedeath 1972 I was blown away. I had been listening to a lot of Ben Frost- By the Throat as well, and was just really liking this newer, more aggressive style of ambient.  Then, for some reason I never bothered go through Hecker's discography.  When I heard Virgins was coming out, I quickly pre-ordered and Hecker did not disappoint.

Virgins makes it so high on the list simply because of how overwhelming the whole album is.  I do think it falls slightly short of Ravedeath 1972, but it takes risks and changes up the style of the drone-ambient.  In a world filled with vines and tweets, many will probably call this album boring.  Regardless, I think it is a standout, must own from 2013.

You can stream the album Here, but with this style music, you should probably Buy it to hear it in a nice high quality.

Life Cycle of a Massive Star
2) Roly Porter- Life Cycle of a Massive Star

Roly Porter's sophomore release, Life Cycle of a Massive Star, takes his style on Aftertime and: improves on it, adds a great concept to it, better album art, and makes the piece very concise so nothing feels excess.

With this release, the listener is taken through the life of a massive star, from its beginnings as a "Cloud" to when it finally becomes "Massive".  As it moves through the five parts, each track feels accurate to its title, and the whole album is cohesive and flowing.

If you had Virgins in your top album lists for 2013, give this a try as well; this definitely will appeal geared to a similar audience.

Preview it through Experimedia Here.  they are out of the LP, but CD copies are still available.

Terribly Well
1) Sightings- Terribly Well

I have been a pretty big fan of Sightings since high school.  Before this album came out I even interviewed guitarist Mark Morgan about its upcoming release.  Sightings albums seem to be pretty consistently good.  

Sightings are great because of their unique sound.  The guitar is played in such a strange, mutated manner, and the drumming somehow compliments it with its strange patterning.  The bassist does show from time-to-time that he is capable of funkier lines, but he plays quite reserved to match the rest of the band's sound.

Although with the addition of synths (which is hard to even notice), Terrible Well continues this overall style of rock music that is all their own.

Listen to a track Here, and purchase a copy of this album from Dais Records.  Sightings stated in an interview that there was more that was recorded than just Terribly Well but they plan to wait until they break even from pressing this album before they release it.  Understandable, but I am only buying one copy, so some others out there need to pick of the slack so we can hopefully get another release this year from them too.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 20-11

Top 50 albums of 2013

Previous: 50-41; 40-31; 30-21

20) Blue Sky Black Death- Glaciers

It is amazing how fast 14:26 seconds can go by.  So often I put this album on and go to look at what point in the track a section of the song is on and I am on song two.   With Glaciers, Blue Sky Black Death give us 5 long tracks.  All five tracks are much better than any of the tracks on their Euphoric Tape that also came out this year (but to be fair, there gear had been stolen before that release and it was to raise money for more gear).

Much like Noir, overall Glaciers is an album that is rich with uplifting moments.  All throughout the music sounds like the embodiment of the sound of success after a long struggle.  It is hard to name favorite moments of this album, mainly because of track lengths.  this feels like an intentional thing, as though Blue Sky Black Death were just tired of people having an easy time stealing their beats without at least half-attempting a remix.

That said, the vocals on "IV" may seal the deal.  While there are tons of great moments on this album, those flow throughout the track and just sound great.

While you and me both missed the limited printing of this on vinyl, it was posted Here, so check there for future prints.

The Watcher
19) Haunted Horses- The Watcher

In this year's Top Noise Rock Albums of 2013, I mentioned Haunted Horses' 2011 Pyramids of Glass (which isn't on discogs, but I promise it happened).  I bring it up again because The Watcher really is a perfect refinement of that sound.

For those who haven't heard Haunted Horses, their sound lies some place between Liars' sophomore album and Sisterworld.  It is usually grounded in rock, but layered vocals can bring an art punk sound to the album at times.  It is an album best listened to in the dark, and the type of album where I have a real hard time discussing songs for because I never pay attention to them as I let the album run.

Take a listen to the album Here.  Also, if you aren't still waiting for your next job to start/ behind on your mortgage, take a moment to buy a copy on either cassette or vinyl Here.  I really wish that I owned either, and hope that in a couple months they still have a copy left for me to get.  Feel free to comment and let me know if you got one, if not just to rub it in my face.

18) David Dominique- Ritual

One of the best parts about writing album reviews is that I occasionally get sent albums to review.  A lot of the time they suck and I simply email back that they suck and tell them why.  Sometimes though, you get send a killer, underrated, free jazz album.

David Dominique reached out to me in December asking if I would write up a review of his album (I didn't).  I was going to, then I realized I could just discuss how awesome it was in my top 50 instead, because it definitely belonged on it.

Ritual just has a lot going for it.  Inclusion of the electric guitar in the opening track is great.  Tracks like "Mooey in Paradise 2" have a great pacing to them, filling the sound with a pulsing energy. 

While the compositions tend to sound influenced by more traditional jazz ("Golden Retriever" for instance), Dominique's ensemble show on tracks like "Ritual 4/ Release" that they are capable of penetrating, powerful sounds as well.

This album is great, and is one of my top jazz albums of the year.  Seriously, take a minute to listen to it Here and buy it there too.

17) Fire! Orchestra- Exit!

Exit! is often seen being described as the music equivalent of Twin Peaks.  I know I made that connection before even seeing others say it.  This comparison comes from the outlandish vocal parts and their lyrical content ("This is not a tunnel, it's a cave", "Fire stay with me").  Further, the repetitious bass becomes an almost hypnotizing backing to the otherwise chaotic sound of the band.  Finally, if you have seen Twin Peaks you understand the absurd nature and feeling the black lodge has.  This music has a similar fantastic nature to it.

While Gustafsson still plays with that 'swelling' style, overall, he takes a much smaller role in the orchestra that I imagined.  his 'solos' tend to be duets with another brass instrument.

If you enjoyed this album, Fire!'s album from this year was also quite good.  I put this one higher though because Exit! really is a much more ambitious project.

Listen to part one Here, and buy the album on Rune Grammofon (the shipping is a pretty big slam if you live in the states).

Virginia Plane
16) Lasse Marhaug and Bruce Russell- Virginia Plane

This album really stands out to me.  Maybe it is because one of my circuit bent Casio's use to make a noise similar to that at the beginning of "Remake/ Remodel", or maybe it is because one of my best friends in high school loved Roxy Music.

Regardless, this album makes a point to be a noise album without really being a noise album.  while all the sound is really noise, it feels like free-improv (so basically noise, yeah i know).  If you want to try some noise music, but have only sampled Merzbow in the past, you may have better luck with this one.

Preview a track Here, and buy it Here to support Marhaug so he can keep putting out tons of albums each year.

Coming Apart
15) Body/Head- Coming Apart

I would say finding it difficult to finish an album is sometimes a sign of a great album.  It is pretty rare that I would consider that a sign of a great album, but Coming Apart may be one of those times.

This isnt the most challenging album in the world.  Actually, most of the tracks are easily digested on their own.  But piled on one after another, the tracks that make up this album create quite a beast of a listen for me.  The atmosphere of the album coupled with Kim Gordon's (sonic youth) voice, but I literally feel beat by the time the album is through.

Maybe it is the blasts of guitar placed into an otherwise quiet album.  Some of the guitar solos (can you call those that?  I guess Bill Orcutt would) are truly violent in nature.

Also, Kim's voice is great.  "Murderess" is such a simple track and executed by her so perfectly.

Listen to the first track of this album Here.

Guerrilla toss
14) Guerrilla Toss- Gay Disco

I believe when I mentioned this album in my Top 10 Noise Rock Albums of 2013 post I stated, "Last week’s outline of my top 10 didn’t have Guerrilla Toss mentioned, and now they’re clocking in at number 4".  Now, only a few weeks later, Gay Disco is number 14 on my list of albums from 2013.  Why?  This album is contagious.

A member of Guerrilla Toss stated in an interview that they made this album trying to make a pop album.  In the sense of creating a pop album they failed miserably, but, if you like dance-punk noise rock, you should pray that they continue striving to make a pop masterpiece.

Guerrilla Toss were suggested to me back when Jeffery Johnson came out, and I wasn't a fan.  But, I am more than happy to admit I had undersold them.  Gay Disco is the album that disproves all the people (like myself) that doubted them.

While they were nice enough to post it to stream on there Bandcamp.  I suggest you purchase it and help these guys out.

Also, Guerrilla Toss, come back to Columbus.  I missed your show here a few years back and you have never returned.

Ninja Tune
13) Letherette- Letherette

In my opinion Daft Punk really dropped the ball with their new album.  No, it wasn't terrible, it just was only okay.  Daft Punk have shown that they know how to Electro House and obviously, while cudos for trying something new, should return to that sound.

If you were disappointed as well, or just want to get some good French House (they aren't french though), Letherette is probably up your alley.  The sound on this album is just plain fun and I was kind of surprised when I found out this was released on ninja tune, as it is almost too fun for that label.

For a debut album, Letherette is a fantastic starting point.  It is much more tame than stuff you would find on Ed Banger Records (except maybe Strip Steve), and embodies more of the French House sound than the Electro House approach.

My only fear is that Letherette will pull a Clive Tanaka y su Orchestra and never make a followup.

Buy the album Here, and listen to a track from it Here.

12) K'an- Anima

Anima is the debut album from ambient/drone artist K'an, AKA  Paolo Bellipanni.  Right from the start of Anima, I could tell by the chopped and static-laced sound that the album had potential.

This album and Saad- Orbs & Channels have both ended up being on in my car quite a bit recently; mainly because of how similar they are.  Both are just perfect for being played at high volumes in an enclosed environment.  While this album is a good listen through headphones, I find its expression really comes out when played very loud in a small space.  Tracks like "Arsons Beneath eclipsed Waters" and "In a River of Light You Carve Intersections of Darkness" remind me of feelings of grief, while others, like "In a River of Thorns You Mean the Path to Deliverance", remind me of stess and times of failure.

I say 'remind me', because the sounds on K'an leave the listener quite distant from the actual emotions.  Rather, during those tracks, I reflect on those feelings, but usually feel at peace.

This album is free on bandcamp at the moment, so go grab it Here.  And try to leave a couple bucks, that way we might see a physical release from K'an with his sophomore album.

White Shadows in the South Seas
11) Mike Cooper- White Shadows in the South Seas

White Shadows in the South Seas doesnt have very ambitious beginnings, but nonetheless, once you have finished the album you will probably agree that it is a very ambitious album.  While the album starts with a small, light hearted loop, once the second track begins it is quite apparent that this album is not nearly as warm as it first seemed.

At first the field recordings of tropical wildlife feel very playful, however, as the album goes on the overall sound gets darker, as though nightfall is approaching.  By the time "The Ordeal" begins, Cooper has the listener placed in a dark and grim forest, with only strange foreign sounds.

Slowely, after this the instruements return and Hawaiian-styled- harmonies begin to overrun the electronic squeals and chirps of bugs.

For a guy in his 70's, Mike Cooper obviously still has quite a bit of inspiration left in him.  Buy the album Here, and preview it Here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 30-21

Top Albums 30-21

Previous: 50-41; 40-31

Spontaneous Combustion
30) Decoy with Joe Mcphee- Spontaneous Combustion

The freejazzblog is a really great place.  If you have never been there, I suggest checking it out.  I have found quite a few great albums this year through there, and this was one of them.

When it comes to reviewing jazz, I am quite terrible at it.  I use the wrong words, clumsy expressions, and really just don't know enough to accurately talk about it.  I reread This review of this album and immediately knew my review would fall flat in comparison.  But, I will give it a few words anyway.

The drum set is definitely unique.  It and the saxophone (obviously) are what makes this album stand out.  Other than the snare, the majority of drums seem absent, instead replaced with cymbals, hi hats, and other metallic percussion.  It takes this album about 11 minutes to really warm up, but once it hits it goes fierce, with the organ and drums really sweeping up the sound.  After this surge finally slows, we get a really nice slow sax part. 

This album is good at staying in the free-jazz realm while still maintaining the 'jazz' aspect (unlike, say Albert Ayler).  If you are a fan of more traditional jazz, and want to venture into a wilder territory, this may be a good album for you.

Listen to a sample and pick it up Here.

29) Power of the Horns- Alaman

I actually didn't find this on freejazzblog (though they do have an excellent write up Here).  Alaman is some great Polish jazz that incorporates a combination of free jazz, hints of African styles, and the repetitious yelling of "Alaman", all within the first 7 minutes of the album.  From there, the track begins to find its groove as a more traditional jazz track, but as is often the case with albums like this, that quickly begins to become a strange mutation of its original tune.

There are only a few jazz albums I enjoyed more than this one this year, but this one is definitely up there for having the most energy.

I havent gotten a chance to check out the other albums on For Tune Records, but I liked this album and I like puns, so I probably will be working my way through their catalog.  Get Alaman Here.

wake up awesome
28) Yeh/ Lee/ Marhaug- Wake Up Awesome

I was unable to get ahold of two Marhaug albums that came out this year and have been unable to hear them.  Given how great this and Virginia Plane were, that is a real shame.  For Wake Up Awesome, Yeh continues to do her bizarre cello play style, while Lee drums and Marhaug plays the cup of water or whatever he does.

Really though, it doesnt matter what he is actually doing, because the end sound is great.  Of Yeh's 3 releases this year, i felt her solo album was the worst.  Her sound is overwhelming and really great, but often it feels like one piece of a bigger puzzle.  Here though, her sound feels a perfect fit.  Some of the tracks go pretty out there (it is improv after all), but overall, given the background of this album and the artists coming together for it, it is surprisingly accessible.

Try a sampling of the album Here.

Without Noticing
27) Fire!- (Without Noticing)

Gustafsson's music is a hit or miss for me.  When he is off (the collaboration with Stetson for instance), his saxophone is so overbearing with its bursts that it completely destroys the track.  On this, however, he is on point, delivering intensity to the sound while still creating a memorable sequence to the tracks.  I have talked to many who disagree with my opinion on Gustafsson, but they aren't writing this list, so too bad.

As far as (Without Noticing) goes, Gustafsson's band create a very similar sound to that of their Fire! Orchestra album of 2013.  Often a repetitious loop sets in that holds each track together.  "Would I Whip" really showcases this, and quite excellently.

Even when Gustafsson's saxophone is at its most outlandish, he still keeps it on a leash.  "At Least on your Door" has his sax sputtering out at the listener, but it a quieter, muddled manner.

Finally, Gustafsson's band rocks.  They end up being slightly on the backing band side of things on this release, but it is obvious the drummer has some talent.

Listen to a track Here, and if you can afford the massive shipping charges to the US, buy it from Rune Grammofon.

Exorcise Tape
26) Demon Queen- Exorcise Tape (Esorcizzare Nastro)

I was initially a little underwhelmed when I heard the first previewed tracks from Demon Queen.  But, I make a point to preorder my Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow albums nowadays, so I decided to risk it.

Boy am I glad I did.  Demon Queen is a real nice change of pace for Tobacco.  Sure, Zackey Force Funk isn't going to be remembered as some rap great, but his mix in the album feels right.  Rarely does he take the spotlight, but when he's on it sounds good and when he's absent his influence on the sound can still be felt (with the exception of "Love Hour Zero").

As far as the previewed tracks go, they feel great when listened to within the confines of the album.  As far as 'Satanic Stripper Music' (yes that is the genre it was tagged as when I used my download code) this album may be the best the genre has to offer.

Stream the album Here, and buy one of the beautiful hot pink records Here.

The Invisible Curse
25)  Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet- The Invisible Curse

I feel like I have told my readers that I dislike Lescalleet and Dilloway.  Yeah, I know, everyone likes em, Yadda Yadda Yadda...they just usually are a miss for me.  I still will check out some of their new stuff, and almost always I just end up disappointed.  Heck, even Lescalleet's collaboration, Photographs, was a huge letdown to me, despite the numerous high praises I heard it receive.

The Invisible Curse, however;  now this was an album I could get behind.  I haven't heard a Drumm album I cared for since 2012's Relief, so this album was just beyond all expectations for me.  Over its two tracks, this duo create a great sound that combines Lescalleet's minimalism with Drumm's intensity.  The end result being an album that keeps to lower pitches, leaves static to a minimum (it is definitely there though), and blends noise, ambient, and drone is a way that makes me glad I have given Lescalleet so many chances.  Sure, this is only 15 minutes long and I should probably just consider it an EP...well I never bothered to check which it is, and I really like it.

Glistening Examples has the whole thing for stream, so take advantage of that Here.

Urban Problems
24) Cavityfang- Urban Problems

I've Said it before, and I know I am going to say it again.  Table & Chairs Record Shop is on the ball.  Last year they released Kingtearsbattrip (which has only gone up in my book since last year).  This year, they released Cavityfang's Urban Problems.  This is one of the two most under-appreciated jazz albums of the year (not going to give the other away just yet).

Urban Problems has style.  I have heard many better jazz recordings as far as technical work goes, but this is not about that.  If this album was about technical work, they probably could reduce the number of drummers in the band from 3 to 2l; but it isn't.  Rather, Urban Problems is a great, fluid album that explores many different sounds, from the slower "Average Shopper" to the fast paced "Rara".  With these tracks, either drums are driving them or they are creating offbeat time signatures which work to restrain the pace.

"Droopy-Eyed Monster Shuffle" is a great closer for this album.

Don't believe me? Stream the album Here, and then support Table and Chairs so I can boast more about their releases in the future.

Endless Endings
23) Moshimoss- Endless Endings

One part Baths, one part Blue Sky Black Death, Moshimoss has found a nice niche within the downtempo realm.  Endless Endings is an album that sounds depressing, but feels uplifting.  Often the percussion is click and tap samples, yet some tracks feel quite percussive.  Really, the sound has an oxymoron feel to it at times, but in a great way.

My favorite track, as well as one of my favorite track of the year, is "Yellowish Green Experience".  It features almost bjork-like vocals (as fans of Baths probably have heard) and creates a great, uplifting sound.

If you like downtempo, like either Baths or BSBD, or just want to listen to a warm album with fantastic production, give this album a try.

You can here a sample Here, and get the album Here.

22) Jefre Cantu-Ledesma- Devotion

The first few moments of Devotion may be slightly offputting, given the swirls of static, but underneath them is a humming synth similar to one of the ones found on Tim Hecker- VirginsDevotion is very much about digging through the sound while you listen and picking out all the details mixed in layer-by-layer.

Technically, this was an EP, but it is relatively long (21 minutes) and was better than Gift of Tongues (though that was also good).  If anything, part of Devotion's strength is in it's short length.  This album is quite gripping and still ends sooner than I expect it to.

There is a warmth to the noise found within this album.  Maybe it is the strings layered in.

Listen to the album and buy it Here.

Melt urself down
21) Melt Yourself Down- Melt Yourself Down

London based Melt Yourself Down released this debut album this year.  Their sound is funk mixed with 'world' music.  I was a big fan of 2012 Funk Police- Hot we are, Funk we Play, and this album is pretty similar.  Also, if you are a fan of The Rapture this album may be for you.

While overall melt Yourself Down is a funk album, some of its strongest tracks are not actually funky at all.  "Free Walk" is one of the best tracks on here, and it is really quite mellow.

Honestly, I listened to this album probably ten times this week trying to figure out what I wanted to write, and the word "Good" was the only thing that kept coming to mind.  So I'm going with that.  This album was Good.

Buy and stream the album Here.

Continue on to 20-11

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 40-31

Previous: 50-41

Armed Courage40) The Dead C- Armed Courage

This album is that nice mix of noise and drone.  If someone came over and asked what noise music sounded like, I might think about putting "Armed" on for them to listen to.  the noise is quite mellow, and the snare drum and intermittent guitar strums help give a backbone to the sound.

One of this albums strengths is how uncategorizable it really is.  Between its two tracks it covers quite a lot of ground.  "Courage" is a track that fans of Radioheadwould probably relate to.  The guitar tone and drum styles and even vocals all remind me of a Kid A sound, just further distorted and stretched out into a much longer piece.

Both tracks are on youtube, so listen Here and Here
The album can be purchased Here

BIT00239) Bitches- Bitches

I take quite a bit of time to write up things like this top 50, and albums like this are just the opposite of musical criticism.  Nothing about this album begs I write about technical ability, composition, or really anything that implies a longstanding greatness.  But this is the perfect album to listen to when you aren’t looking for those things.  It is relatively accessible, easy to listen to, filled with angst, and perfect for helping with venting anger.

The track “Aching Body” is also the perfect track for pre-gaming with buddies before a long night on the town.  Hopefully these guys get picked up by a bigger label, so I can see them over here in the states.

Stream the album and buy it Here
Everlasting Records
38) Guadalupe Plata- Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata carry that blues rock sound recently repopularized by the Black Keys.  This Spanish group have really nailed the funky southern blues sound.

My mother is one of those people who usually disregards all music not sang in english (including Seu Jorge sadly).  I had this album on when she stopped by one day, and it was a rare exception for her...and I guess i can see why.  The lyrics themselves almost feel secondary when the voice sounds so naturally fitting to the music.

This is the type of album to suddenly be sought 40 years later by collectors after it finally gets the recognition it is due.

Stream the album and buy it Here

Let's Hang Out
37) Quttinirpaaq- Let's Hang Out

This is sludgier, heavier, and takes far more risks than its 2013 sister album NO VISITORS.  Quttinirpaaq is one of those bands I have been happy to support since finding them.  I already wrote up a praising review of Let's Hang Out Here, and I really don't have too much else to say about it.

Overall, this is a band that is doing thing right.  Their records are always packaged beautifully and nicely colored, their sound is only getting better, and they seem like Average Joe's.  

Stop by their Bandcamp Page and give them a listen.

Hey, Vay Bae-Bays
36) Zebra Pulse- Heh, Vay Bae-Bays

I still have a hard time believing all the tracks on this album are live and improvised.  Zebra Pulse are a drummer and three others (who work mainly with tape loops and samples).  

I guess genre-wise, this album is electronic free improv.  Really though, it jumps between trip hop and jazz.

"Technical Space Composition No. 5" and "Hillbilly Galactic" are probably the standout tracks to me, though the album was great from start to finish.

If you were a fan of Nero's Day at Disneyland, this is probably for you.  While it is way less glitchy, it still carries a similar out-there, electronic aura to it (and this is all around a much stronger album).

Listen to it and buy it Here

Billions and Billions35) Sissy Spacek- Billions and Billions

If you aren't a fan of harsh noise, just skip this entry and consider my list a Top 49 (actually probably a Top 47 or 46 by the time it is all said and done, but oh well).

Sissy Spacek are pretty famous in the noise world, and for good reason.  This year alone I got to hear two great albums from them, both of which sounded quite different.

Wreck was a very in your face album.  right from the get go the listener was hit with a pretty thick chunk of noise, and while it constantly molded and reshaped itself, it was apparent that the sound overall was going to remain front-and-center throughout the album.  

Billions and Billions, on the other hand, shows Weise giving the listen a little room to breath.  Here, after taking a few minutes to get acclimated, I found that the sound feels quite open and was a much easier listen. Maybe easier isn't the right word, as Wreck wasn't any more difficult.  Maybe a 'friendlier' listen? I don't know.

Regardless, one of Sissy Spacek's strengths has always been keeping the sound constantly interesting, and on Billions and Billions that is definitely still true.

Listen to it and buy it Here.  Also, I believe it came out on cassette too, so if you are a collector of those, hunt it down now while you can still find it in the wild.

Joke in the Hole
34) Eric Copeland- Joke in the Hole

I was a big fan of Mr. Impossible last year.  While I had never heard Copeland's solo stuff, I have found that overall I tended to like Black Dice but not like Black Dice offshoots.

Because of that reason I put off listening to this album for quite a while.  Boy was I wrong to sit on this.

With Joke in the Hole, Copeland makes some of the best sound collages I have ever heard him do.  This album takes the noise pop sound of Mr. Impossible, and makes it even more accessible and adds more funk.

Many Black Dice fans may dislike them going towards a more accessible sound, but with Joke in the Hole Copeland shows us that he really can pull off this strange sound like noone else.

Stream the album Here

funfun sessions
33) Thiago Franca and Kiko Dinucci- Funfun Sessions

I really enjoyed this years' Dada Radio Sessions by Franca, Dinucci, and Machado.  It felt like a much better implemented Niechęć.  I dont even remember how i found it, but I am glad I did, because it led me to finding Funfun Sessions.

This album has an accoustic guitar and saxophone casually improvising off one another.  Maybe its the casual, welcoming approach in their sound.  Maybe it is how easy they make their duet appear.  Regardless, on Funfun Sessions Franca and Dinucci's sound just seems to connect.

Sure, this may not be the most technical jazz improv piece, but the graceful interplay between the two artists really makes this album.

Listen to a track Here, then hunt this down.

A Life is Everywhere
32) Cindytalk- A Life is Everywhere

I had never heard of Cindytalk before this album.  The person who recommended me this album told me it was quite odd I had never heard of them, then directed to a page discussing how long they had been around and how influential they were.

I don't know how this album compares to their other works, but on its own it is a great album.  most of the tracks push into a harsher ambient territory.  Static plays a very critical role in this album, with sounds of oceans, cicadas, and wind all being created though it. 

Tracks like "To a Dying Star" remind me of Superstorms' 2012 release, while "On a Pure Plane" reminds me of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.

Listen to a track Here, and buy it there as well.

Strong Place
31) Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House- Strong Place

This was a great jazz release.  Its strength is in how each instrument in the quintet is so interconnected with the others.  With many albums if you isolated the instrumental tracks you would still have melodies, harmonies, and percussion.  With Strong Place, any instrumental track played alone (except maybe Laubrock's saxophone) would sound lost and misguided.  

Anti-House's compositions though, sound tight and well planned.  Time changes never feel forced, and overall the groups strength lies in its reliance on one another.  Even Laubrock stays as part of the group and doesn't try to control the sound.  The end of "Count 'Em" (my favorite track) has Laubrock playing note for note with the pianist.

The result is a unified sound that feels like it has come from a collective conscious rather than a group being ran by one of its members.  This allows for the sound to explore more interplay between the instruments and makes for a great album.

Purchase it Here, and listen to a live performance Here.