Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 50-ish Records of 2010 (#21-#30)

Wherein we continue our journey to the top, after previously wandering through #'s 41-50 and #'s 31-40.

21. Dagger Paths 2xCD edition - Forest Swords

Dagger Paths EP
"Glory Gongs" from Dagger Paths EP (2010)
"If Your Girl" from Dagger Paths EP (2010)

Genre - Witch-House Drone-Psych Dub
Official/Myspace -
Location - Liverpool, UK

Review - Pitchfork [expanded / original]
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - No Pain In Pop, Forced Exposure

Oh, how we joked about Witch House... "It's the new Hauntology," we laughed! Well, it is. I know, I know - this probably isn't technically Witch House (or maybe even Drag), maybe it's actually Dronestep. But "sub-genre" isn't even useful anymore, we're now into micro-genre's. We have to create new categories almost as fast as styles proliferate. Anyway, this stuff is super-duper. Just click the title link for more details. Loops, drones, guitars, disembodied voices, immaculately built-up moods - I was caught off-guard!

22. Commune Cassetten - Sylvester Anfang II
On the Beach - Edgar Wappenhalter

Commune Cassetten
"Damia(a)n" from Commune Cassetten (2010)
"Missing Heights" from On the Beach (2010)

Genre - Funeral-Folk Kraut-Drone
Official/Label -
Myspace -
Location - Belgium

Review - Foxy Digitalis
Download - n/a
Purchase - Forced Exposure

I definitely liked the previous self-titled one (#9, Drone/Ambient 2009). They're from Belgium - kinda Satanic, but also hippies. Don't let 'em into the Hollywood Hills! All kinds of psych, grooves, experimental vibes, and so forth. Not too heavy, more moody than anything. But each tune creates a little world to inhabit and deal with. The less said about On the Beach, the better... I'm warming to parts of it, but not so much the whole.

23. Primitive Neural Pathways - Steve Moore
Speicher 67 split-12" with Maxime Dangles - Steve Moore
Timespan Remixes - Majeure + remixers
Also various free sounds, such as "Sunstar" by Miracle, and others found here.

Primitive Neural Pathways
"Bayern Kurve" from Speicher 67 split-12" (2010)
"Teleforce" [unremixed] not from Timespan Remixes (2010)

Genre - Neo-Italo disco / Electro-Prog remix
Official - SteveMoore2600
Myspace - Majeure
Location - Chicago? Pittsburgh? Brooklyn?

Review - Inverted Audio
Stream: Primitive Neural Pathways [side A/side B]
Stream: "Bayern Kurve"
Download - Speicher 67, Timespan + remixes
Purchase - Temporary Residence Limited, Forced Exposure

I hope by now everyone is aware that I'm kind of a fan of Zombi: co-#2 of 2009, #1 of 2006, and #1 from 2004. No new Zombi this year, but a few separate things from the duo... Believe me, it's not the same thing. Steve Moore (synth/bass) is doing less proggy and horror soundtrack type stuff, leaning more towards late-'70s/early-'80s Italo disco. "Bayern Kurve" was released as part of a techno 12" series on Kompakt, and it's probably outside the usual spectrum for that. But also at the edges of Steve Moore's oeuvre. Primitive Neural Pathways is currently shipping, but I've listened to it plenty! Different kind of soundtrack vibe, but pretty damn fine. Timespan was a decent chunk of last year's co-#2 with Maserati. A.E. Paterra (drums) did it all himself, and here we get some okay remixes from Justin Broadrick (a.k.a. Jesu), Blackstrobe (???), and Steve Moore (of course). Not strictly essential, but somewhat interesting.

24. Sing A Song - Shawn Lee

Sing A Song
"It Takes Two" from Sing A Song (2010)
"Fade Up" from Sing A Song (2010)

Genre - Now Soul
Official -
Myspace -
Location - London, UK

Review - A.V. Club
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Much like last year's #1 record (Shawn Lee Presents Soul in the Hole), this follows Lee's neo-soul leanings away from his spy-jazz and other studio electronic projects. But a bit less so... Slightly less spectacular guest singers, and fewer absolute stand-out songs, drop this one quite a few slots in a stronger year. But anyone who dug Soul in the Hole basically has to grab this - it still has lots going for it.

25. Debaixo das Pedras (Under the Stones) - Os Haxixins

Under the Stones
"Meu Bem" from Debaixo das Pedras (2010)
"Que nem Diamante" from Debaixo das Pedras (2010)

Genre - Brazilian '60s Fuzz Garage
Official/Myspace -
Location - São Paulo, Brazil

Review - Rated Muzik [translated]
Download - n/a
Purchase - Record Heaven (Sweden)

Such excitement from the garages of Brazil!! The self-titled debut (#5, 2007) was more from the '60s fuzz-punk mold and blew me away. The new one might actually be better, but I can't be as shocked by South American stylistic fidelity to US regional '60s rock. On Debaixo das Pedras (Under the Stones), Os Haxixins has developed through their decade of inspiration - going from mid-'60s party-rock closer to late-mid-'60s Elektra roster hippy-rock. Yep, we're almost in Arthur Lee & Love territory here!! So just barely out of the garage, a little catchier, a little more complex, a little darker but less raucous. I'm so glad to have discovered this band.

#26. True Love Cast Out All Evil - Roky Erickson with Okkervil River

True Love Cast Out All Evil
"Goodbye Sweet Dreams" from True Love Cast Out All Evil (2010)
"True Love Cast Out All Evil" from True Love Cast Out All Evil (2010)

Genre - Texas Legend
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Austin, TX

Review - Houston Chronicle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Kind of a letdown, relative to a new Roky Erickson album. I mean, I'm a huge long-time super-fan, and it had been too long since his last one. Like All That May Do My Rhyme (1994), this is mostly older material - which is fine. An old(?) lo-fi recording of "Devotional Number One" starts off on the right track (now), but then strings and noise rise and drown it out. It's fairly cool, except... why? Because of Okkervil River. On the flip side, the arrangement and backing for "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" would not have been Roky's idea - but it works well. Unfortunately, there's too much "Okkervil noise effects" thumbprints, compared to complementary back-up-band support. It's great that Roky's out there playing (saw him twice in about a year!) and making records, and there's still some great Roky material here. But I wanted a Top 10 record...

27. Holy Ground: NYC Live (with The Wordless Music Orchestra) (w/ DVD) - Mono

Holy Ground: NYC Live
"Ashes in the Snow" from Holy Ground: NYC Live DVD (2010)
"Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)" from Holy Ground: NYC Live (2010)

Genre - Cinematic Heartstring Post-Rock Live with Orchestra
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Tokyo, Japan

Review - Paste Magazine
Download - iTunes
Purchase - Temporary Residence Limited, Forced Exposure

Ranked almost entirely for the DVD. For some reason, I really never play the audio-only thing, although I listen to quite a lot of Mono records. But the DVD is seriously great, being about their standard live set from last year (#7 Live Show, 2009) - with an orchestra!! Plus I'll admit to being heavily into live performance video releases. It sounds like it should work, and it does so better than I'd expected. The orchestra adds something, but generally steps back enough for Mono to be the main show. Great for the fan, and I'd think a good introduction for those unsure about this whole Japanese emotive instrumental post-rock schtick.

29. Death Voyage - Expo '70
Where Does Your Mind Go? - Expo '70
Center of the Earth re-issue - Expo '70

Death Voyage
"Building Celestial Tapestries" from Death Voyage (2010)
"Close Your Eyes And Effortlessly Drift Away" from Where Does Your Mind Go? (2010)

Genre - Guitar Space Drone
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Kansas City, MO

Review - Foxy Digitalis
Download - other Expo '70 on Amazon, on iTunes
Purchase - Norman Records

I can't explain why I dig Expo '70 so much, but I totally do. It's really, really abstract - and really, really droning. Something about it just nails a spacy out-there-ness. Guitars, bass, guitars that sound like synths, some actual synths, effects-effects-effects just going over patterns and repeating and layering. For really long periods of time, but new stuff just keeps happening - within songs and then again when the next one starts. Very occasionally, there will be a significantly new wrinkle: a glitchy rhythm track, Ligeti-style noise-tones, the piano on "Transgressing Outward Which Is Inward" from Where Does Your Mind Go? But for the most part, the same components are re-worked over and over expanding the frontiers of the possible. I'm just along for the ride.

29. Live at 013 - Roadburn 2009 - Farflung

Live at 013 - Roadburn 2009
"Unborn Planet" (live) from Live at 013 Roadburn 2009 (2010)
"Silver Shrooms (live)" from Live at 013 Roadburn 2009 (2010)

Genre - Post-Punk Space-Rock
Official/Myspace -
Location - L.A., CA

Review - nothing...
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - All That Is Heavy [LP / CD]

Farflung's 2009 live set was terrific as a stream from the Roadburn site, but the stream wasn't very stable and it came through computer speakers. This release seems like the exact same audio source, pressed for your Hi-Fi stereo system. Awesome enough!! I only had their debut (#5, 1995) and the last one. But I'm a fan of the whole style (high-octane space-rock), and this just makes me want to seek out more releases.

30. Fin Eaves - Cloudland Canyon

Fin Eaves
"No One Else Around" from Fin Eaves (2010)
"Mothlight Part 2" from Fin Eaves (2010)

Genre - Glitch Shoegaze
Official/Myspace -
Location - Brooklyn / Germany

Review - Pop Matters
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Holy Moutain Records, Amazon

I picked this disc up at the same time as Dungen's Skit I Allt (#31, 2010), and the two have parallelled each other for me ever since. I very much liked their previous one Lie in Light (2008), and something got lost since then. With Cloudland, it was literally one of the main duo. And so gone is the Kraut-y drivin' drone, and it's replaced with a dense shoegazin' thrum. Whereas Dungen got cleaner and clearer, they've gotten more distorted and submerged. Either close listening or distracted detachment benefits Fin Eaves. It's a good album, but ultimately suffers from my expectations.

Fjree Feather EP

No comments: