Tuesday, December 21, 2010

20 Non-Metals That I Never Got Around To

Taking a look at the internet's impressions of 2010 has lead me to this - another list of missed opportunities. Mostly stuff I'd thought about along the way, some too-recent-to-have-got releases, with some Best-Of's intrigue mixed in... These are not necessarily the (non-metal) albums that I think would have made the year-end list. They're just some records I haven't yet found my way to picking up.

#1. Night of the Vampire DVD - Roky Erickson & The Black Angels

Night of the Vampire
"Night of the Vampire" - live, Hallowe'en 2008

Destroy The Brain review (7/10):
That being said, the production quality on this release is superb. The cinematography is great (minus some unnecessary post production effects) and the live performances are intermixed with backstage footage and interviews with his backing band, the Black Angels. The audio mix is perhaps some of the best I have ever heard on a live release, as the levels for all instruments are clearly heard and nothing gets lost.

#2. Powers of Audition - Jonas Reinhardt

Powers of Audition
"Atomic Bomb Living" from Powers of Audition (2010)

Pop Matters review (6/10):
Reinhardt has a knack for accentuating the capabilities of the synthesizer without necessarily falling into clichés, and clichés are the synth instrumentalist's worst enemies. The manner in which the music progresses within each track is more considered than most, but for this reviewer, much of it slid into a miasma of similarity... At its best, the music actually achieves the alchemy of true minimalism in the tradition of Eno, even if Reinhardt is a totally different experience.

#3. Burners - Robedoor

"Radiant Command" from Burners (2010)

Pitchfork review (6.9/10):
Given they spent five years making thick, open-ended drones, Robedoor's recent move to more song-oriented material could have been sonically restricting... Last year's Raiders saw them reveling in the doom-metal that had always bubbled under the surface of their noise. Now they do the same on Burners with other sides of their sound-- namely, grooving krautrock, gothic sludge, and the psych-garage of the Stooges and Spacemen 3.

#4. ...Sun, Broken... - Mugstar

...Sun, Broken...
"Ourobouros" from ...Sun, Broken... (2010)

Dusted review:
After a brief synth intro, the song resolves in a repetitive chug, quite Hawkwind-like with a side of Oneida, courtesy of the chirping organ hits that keep things moving. The interplay of the guitar and organ evolves only slightly, and drags here and there, so the song seems to lose momentum around the five-minute mark. Nonetheless, the guitar riff is beefy and the prog-rock breaks with organ emphasis feel pretty good.

#5. A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding - Moon Wiring Club

A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding
"Queen of Puddings" from A Spare Tabby... (2010)

Belbury Parish Magazine:
A kaleidoscopic selection of Edwardian parlour hip hop confectionery, from our friends in Clinkskell . Its available on vinyl and CD, both of wich are lavishly illustrated and packaged. Its the Moon Wiring Club's best and most enigmatic release to date. However, this being the eccentric world of MWC, the two versions of the album are very different - in fact the similarities are carefully hidden and artfully woven into each format.

Quick! Check out these various links to free EP & mixes!! (Hmmm... might need to update the Top 10 Free Internet Albums list.)

#6. My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky - Swans

My Father Will Guide Me...
"Eden Prison" from My Father Will Guide Me... (2010)

Tiny Mix Tapes review (4.5/5):
But Gira is far from young nowadays, and he's certainly learned that nihilism is a dead end. Despite those few harsh words, this is a record whose sounds, at least, speak to the continued human capacity to appreciate terrible beauty. Unlike the earliest Swans records, this is a collection of actual songs, rather than textures or rhythms, and while there are sweeps of electricity now and again, what dominates are the analog, the acoustic, the old, and the wooden. There's nothing 'folky' here, mind you, despite Banhart's appearance; this is not the New Weird America, but the Old Horrific America, full of screaming violins and rusty saws and half-tuned pianos and panicking mandolins and moaning trombones.

#7. See Birds EP - Balam Acab

See Birds
"See Birds (Moon)" from See Birds EP (2010)

Absolute Punk review (88%):
But in the midst of me killing this hip-nasty kid's dreams of always being too hip, maybe there's some sort of mainstream silver lining. (I guess the real irony here is that I am calling what we do on this silly website mainstream. Did you hear that new Taylor Swift song? Of course you did.) No, the good thing is that even though Mr. Koone is making these sort of aqueous, blissed-out, found sound collages, and doing so in a way that almost any Joe Schmo can enjoy, is quite amazing. It also helps that the See Birds EP is much less, well, terrifyingly creepy than other Drag aficionado outputs like those of Salem or even How To Dress Well...

#8. Halcyon Digest - Deerhunter

Halcyon Digest
"Desire Lines" from Halcyon Digest (2010)

Pitchfork review (9.2/10):
This record marks a distinctly different approach for the band, more streamlined and stripped down, and in its sparest moments, it echoes the stark intimacy and one-take effortlessness of records like Neil Young's Tonight's the Night or Chris Bell's I Am the Cosmos. Fans of the band's earlier stuff may understandably miss some of the old electric-guitar squall, but Halcyon Digest's expanded instrumental palette ... creates endless depths of intricacy and nuance to explore in headphones.

#9. Sunrise - My Education

"Sunrise" from Sunrise (2010)

Dusted review:
The music of My Education, a five-piece group from Austin, Texas, tends towards the classical side of the spectrum. If you've read any recent think-piece about how the lines between rock bands and classical ensembles are blurring, you could pretty easily swap their name into the list of case studies provided without sacrificing accuracy.... The seven songs heard on Sunrise, their latest album, are taken from a soundtrack the band composed to F.W. Murnau's silent film of the same name. Thankfully, these works function well on their own, removed from the context of flickering lights and moving pictures.

#10. Teen Dream - Beach House

Teen Dream
"Zebra" from Teen Dream (2010)

Prefix Mag review (9.0/10):
There's chilly organ lines that sound like they're transmitted from inside the icy walls of the Fortress of Solitude. There's guitarist Scally's hardly there guitar riffs that crest like the splashing of a pond's waves. And then there's Legrand's brassy, showtimey voice that audibly quakes with longing. And that's it. There are no new tricks here, no new-found musical explorations. Just an assured confidence that comes with experience.

#11. Innerspeaker - Tame Impala

"Solitude is Bliss" from Innerspeaker (2010)

Aquarium Drunkard review:
Psychedelic music typically references an out-of-body experience. Dungen are masters of the genre, so were Cream and The Beatles, and all of these bands will certainly creep up as Innerspeaker massages your sense of hearing. Hell, even vocalist/guitarist Kevin Parker's voice sounds so naturally close to John Lennon. But there's more being explored here beyond the band's peers, hallucinogenic panning and weed references. Themes of love and loss, crawling away from it and second-guessing the decisions that underlie break-ups are all laid out on the table.

#12. Not Music - Stereolab

Not Music
"Everybody's Weird Except Me" from Not Music (2010)

Pop Matters review (8/10):
But what's most appropriate about Not Music is that captures many of the qualities that have defined Stereolab over the years, so stylish and creative in its aesthetic, yet so geekish and workmanlike in its approach to making music. Effortless as they might feel, Stereolab songs, even the deepest b-side grooves, never sound tossed off, and the tracks on Not Music are no exception. The new LP is particularly representative of the group's later albums, which have fewer peaks but almost no valleys, with maybe not as much killer, but definitely no filler... Just because Stereolab made it look easy blending together its very own hybrid of kitschy jazz, art music, sixties pop standards, and post-rock so fluidly and fluently doesn't mean that it was.

#13. The Road OST - Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
and Grinderman 2 - Grinderman

The Road
Soundtrack Suite from The Road OST (2010)
"Bellringer's Blues" from Grinderman 2 (2010)

The Quietus review:
With this in mind, many might have expected a return to the fire-and-damnation Cave of early works like the Bad Seeds' debut From Her To Eternity, but cannily it's the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness that really sets this soundtrack apart. The film may be cheerless but there are smatterings of hope that make it such a compulsive experience, and it is often these brief moments where Cave and Ellis lift us.

#14. Le Noise - Neil Young

Le Noise
"Love and War" from Le Noise (2010)

Consequence of Sound review (4.5/5):
Neil Young does what Neil Young wants to do. That's the way it's always been. In the 80s, he made electronic records, rockabilly albums, and endorsed Ronald Reagan. In recent years, he made a George W. Bush protest album and documentary, wrote an album about his custom-built electric car, and released a sequel to a record that never came out. He's unpredictable, and maybe that's part of what's so exciting about him as a recording artist. Sometimes it works, and other times he gets sued by David Geffen for making albums that are "musically uncharacteristic of [his] previous recordings."

#15. Crazy for You - Best Coast

Crazy for You
"When I'm with You" from Crazy for You (2010)

Pitchfork review (8.4/10):
Scene-famous boyfriends, a quote-generating Twitter feed, scuffles with bloggers, and the most meme-generating feline since Keyboard Cat got carpal tunnel: Yeah, it's safe to say Bethany Cosentino, who writes and records with cohort Bobb Bruno as Best Coast, is a long way away from her days as a member of drone/psych outfit Pocahaunted. Best Coast's full-length debut, Crazy for You, serves only to increase that distance from the outré-music scene; the brief record delivers on the promise of a strong string of singles released over the past year. Just as Pocahaunted loosely capture the basic feel of dub and reggae, Crazy for You is a meditation on the stickier hooks of classic indie pop, with slight detours into surf-rock... and countrypolitan balladry.

#16. oOoOO EP - oOoOO

"Burnout Eyess" from oOoOO EP (2010)

Resident Advisor review (4/5):
While it would be easy to dismiss this record as superficial and faddish considering its connections to witch house, a quick listen through the six tracks reveals a deep level of musicianship at work. Much like the ghostly apparition on the cover reaching out for a deathly embrace, this EP drags you into a lush, dark world constructed from fleeting sounds and spine-tingling melodies and vocals. Whether witch house ceases to be fashionable is irrelevant. oOoOO have produced a wonderfully deep record that is likely to prove as enjoyable today as it is in five or ten years.

#17. I, Vigilante - Crippled Black Phoenix

I, Vigilante
"Troublemaker" from I, Vigilante (2010)

The Line Of Best Fit review:
Musically, Crippled Black Phoenix has a particularly wide wingspan taking in an array of styles. Rather than a shocking grab bag of influences thrown together in haste, everything here is constructed with an exquisite eye for detail. So whilst the band may find itself most readily associated with the post-rock scene (the likes of "Bostogne Blues" could easily have been written by Silver Mt Zion...), there are also allusions to prog-rock, classic and stoner metal, folk, Celtic influences and, naturally, pastoral classical music.

#18. Olympia - Bryan Ferry
and Small Craft on a Milk Sea - Brian Eno

Small Craft on a Milk Sea
"Lesser Heaven" from Small Craft on a Milk Sea (2010)
"You Can Dance" from Olympia (2010)

Disquiet .MP3 Discussion Group:
I find it impossible to play Small Craft as just another new album, without confronting the leviathan of Eno's legacy and the unrealistically high hopes that legacy continues to inspire for his music, while simultaneously coming to grips with the soberingly reduced expectations I think it is fair to sum up for most of us with the leaden shorthand of Late Eno. Had Woody Allen adapted Nick Hornby, I am sure High Fidelity would have included a scene with a therapist, a couch, and a heated discussion of this topic. "Can we get back to your feelings about Late Eno?"

#19. Congratulations - MGMT

"Siberian Breaks" from Congratulations (2010)

SPIN review (8/10):
With help from producer Pete "Sonic Boom" Kember of legendary psych-rock traffickers Spacemen 3 and Royal Trux's wastrel diva Jennifer Herrema, the Brooklyn-based duo may have concocted the most playfully artful bad-trip pop album since the Monkees' 1968 soundtrack Head. VanWyngarden claims he's abandoned irony and wants to reveal "who we really are." Ergo, judging by Congratulations, MGMT are really just earnest, unjaded fanboys - fanciful Anglophiles who worship Syd Barrett, Ray Davies, Marc Bolan, et al., and would rather stay home, listen to records, and geek out...

#20. Butterfly House - The Coral

Butterfly House
"1000 Years" from Butterfly House (2010)

Drowned In Sound review (6/10):
Here on Butterfly House, stripped of a guitarist and most definitely not doing anything 'wacky' in their photoshoots, The Coral have continued this natural progression. There's plenty of harmonies, acoustic guitars and strings, while frontman James Skelly deploys what can only be described as a croon throughout. At certain moments, this works fantastically well. As you'd expect, lead single "A Thousand Years" is gorgeous, summery psychedelia, phased vocals cruising their way towards San Francisco, circa 1967.

Just more on the possible to-do list...

No comments: