Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top 50-ish Records of 2010 (#31-#40)

Gotta keep moving if I'm gonna make my train! Here's the next ten entries on the 2010 Top 50 (or so). If you're not familiar with how it works, or just overlooked it, check out Records #41-50 here - or immediately below this post.

Finally posting the "bottom" 10, I realized how fond I actually am for most of them... And these are even better. Not quite to unqualified recommendation levels yet, but fortunately I didn't buy a lot of crappy albums this year. Check it out!

31. Skit I Allt - Dungen

Skit i Allt
"Skit I Allt" from Skit I Allt (2010)
"Marken Låg Stilla" from Skit I Allt (2010)

Genre - Indie Prog Folk
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Sweden

Review - Prefix Mag
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Mexican Summer, Amazon

I wish he'd just start singing in American! (joking...) A really good album, if maybe a little too laid-back overall. I discovered Dungen late with 4 (#5, 2008), which saw similar complaints vs. earlier freakierness. So maybe I don't have room to complain, and there's no denying the songwriting and especially clear production. But still, fewer of the high-energy rockers like the groovy psych-jam of
"Högdalstoppen" or "Brallor." Still, a quality softer folk-rock record, with a little prog and psych in the mix.

32. Phosphene Dream - The Black Angels

Phosphene Dream
"Sunday Afternoon" from Phosphene Dream (2010)
"Yellow Elevator #2" from Phosphene Dream (2010)

Genre - Drone-Rock Psych
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Austin, TX

Review - Drowned in Sound
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Might have overrated Passover (#3, 2006) a bit, but I still dig their neuvo-retro take on various '60s Garage-Drone-Psyches. Lots of tunes, a little bit more variety than earlier stuff. Not as serious, less war and death and pestilence, but the upbeat stuff is still more ominous than fun - hauntings, elevators, "Bad Vibrations," etc... And then you still have a "River of Blood" and the return of at least one sniper.

33. Porcelain Opera - Rene Hell
Also the bonus CD, Rogue Camera

Porcelain Opera
"Razor. P+" from Porcelain Opera (2010)
"Gas" from Porcelain Opera (2010)

Genre - Deep-Kosmische Synth
Official/Blog - Salon Turnkey
Location - Portland, OR

Review - Fact Mag
Stream - Porcelain Opera
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure, Amazon

Future-music, just like in the good ol' days... Everything seems built atop synthesizer rhythms that dip sidewards. Tension's made to build and build, only to eventually be forced to disperse. Release is so 20th century. This could have been terrible, and at times I wondered. But in the end, I found the whole thing attention-grabbing, stark and arresting in a really good way. The bonus disc isn't quite as developed or varied, but it's like some really good demo's for the future. I've grown to like it more and more (which gives me hope for #44).

34. Prophecy of the Black Widow - Umberto

Prophecy of the Black Widow
"Temple Room" from Prophecy of the Black Widow (2010)
"Red Dawn" from Prophecy of the Black Widow (2010)

Genre - Electro-Soundtrack Horrorscapes
Official/Myspace -
Location - Kansas City, MO

Review - सølγ שаябlɛş
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure

The guy who is Umberto has/does played keyboards with Expo '70 (#7, Drone/Ambient 2009), but it's different. This one's better even than From the Grave... (2009), which I liked pretty well. The album is laid out like a horror movie soundtrack or score (maybe of the '50s or '60s), with track names evoking horror movie locales, clichés, and storylines. And the music fits that bill overall, being ominous and spooky keyboard creepy-crawlers. With Steve Moore busy remixing and exploring other genres and collaborating outside of Zombi, Umberto seems poised to pick up the mantle of horror-synth jams. Also has a little of the jazzoid New Age Outlaws vibe sometimes, specifically in "Someone Chasing Someone Through A House." Goodness.

35. A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind - The Amorphous Androgynous

A Monstrous Psychedlic Bubble
"Flow Motion" by Can, from A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble... (2010)
"Opus of the Black Sun" from A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble... (2010)

Genre - Psychedelic Mix-Up
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Manchester, UK

Review - Prog Archives
Download - different volume(s) on Amazon,
Purchase - others at Norman Records

This mix CD came free with Mojo magazine (Feb 2010). And I don't think I can discuss The Amorphous Androgynous without mentioning BTWS - so there. Includes previous Astral award-winners The Yellow Moon Band (#8, 2009), Dungen (#5, 2008), and Can (#1, 1973 and #4, 1972). Other artist I like a lot, such as White Noise, Donovan, Comus, and Jean-Claude Vannier... The Am/And themselves, plus others that fit the bill: adventurous psych/prog/pop. I'm very appreciative of all the free Mojo mix cd's that come with each issue - but frankly these guys are the professional mixologists. Probably the single best Mojo edition, one I'd easily buy with real cash money!

36. "Antler Wings" split-7" - Ancestors/Graveyard

"Antler Wings" by Ancestors, from split-7" (2010)
"As the Years Pass By, The Hours Bend" [studio] by Graveyard, not from split-7" (2010)

Genre - Epic Heavy Rock
Official -
Myspace -
Location - L.A. / Sweden

Review - Ritual Room blog
Download/Purchase - other Ancestors on Amazon, on iTunes
Purchase - All That Is Heavy

Rocks!! Cool updates of some older rock sounds. Really need to get Ancestors' Of Sound Mind (2009), which Vinal Edge put in their Best-Of list/CD. Everything I've heard of their psychedelic progressive doom has sounded excellent. Graveyard's music was absolutely not what I was expecting at all, given their band name. Will also try to check them out at some point. FYI: you can hear the title track from Ancestors' Neptune with Fire (2008) on blog comp #2. Bonus FYI: NWF's cover artist!

37. Totem Two - Master Musicians of Bukkake

"Patmos" from Totem Two (2010)
"The Heresy of Origen / Coincidentia Oppositorum / The Crystal Reformation" from Totem Two (2010)

Genre - Ceremonial Mysticism
Official/Myspace -
Location - Seattle, WA

Review - Roadburn
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure

The sequel! Discovered them with Totem One (#11 non-Metal, 2009), and the Masters are still plying their Eastern Mystic instrumentals - descended from the pseudo-serious (non-silly) aspect of Sun City Girls. I think I've warmed to the new installment since first getting it. The opening track seems like one of those abstract album-launching intro's, which would be fine at intro-length rather than 12 minutes! The second track ("Perde Kaldirma") is also slow, repetitive and long – only less so. But it gets better from there… and by the end, "Patmos," it’s actually really fine.

38. Fresh Millions - freshmillions

"Forever (live)" from Fresh Millions (2010)
"The Helicopter" from Fresh Millions (2010)

Genre - Synth-Heavy Rock Motion
Official/Myspace -
Location - Austin, TX

Review - Austin 360
Stream/Download - BandCamp, iTunes d/l
Purchase - Insect Records

Nice little surprise! After Ween at Stubb's, we dropped in on some big revue happening at The Mohawk across Red River. Fun show, catchy grooves, good mix of electonics and "real" instruments, live playing and sampled backdrops. Duly impressed, I picked up this CD. Only 1 or 2 duff sequences on the whole album, which is phenomenal for a college-town synth/samples/live instrument electro-funk outfit.

39. Returnal - Oneohtrix Point Never
"Returnal" 7" single - Antony / Fennesz (OPN)

"Returnal" from Returnal (2010)
"Returnal" from the 7" single (2010)

Genre - Decadent Synth Squiggles
Official -
Myspace -
Location - NYC, NY

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - Amazon, both on iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure

I did a whole series of posts on OPN's Rifts (2009) – and Leyland Kirby's trilogy-pack. Like that collection, Returnal boasts some really nice material... and quite a bit of "filler" - stuff other people might like the most. "Nil Almirari" - I don't listen to NWW for a reason. A lot of pleasantly drifty mush, and a few strong numbers. The title track is by far the best of those few, and the 7" clarifies the song and provides an interesting, different perspective. I’m glad to see this getting quite a bit of attention around this time of year. Oneohtrix was far from the only artist mining this stylistic territory, and hyperactive industriousness seems more the rule than the exception for those. But worthwhile all the same.

40. Mexican Easter EP - Giant Princess
Zip Zop Wow vinyl re-issue - Giant Princess

Mexican Easter cassette
"Wishing Well" from Mexican Easter EP (2010)

Genre - alt.pop
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Houston, TX

Review - 29-95
Stream/Purchase - both records at BandCamp

Sorta '90s indie songcraft – echoes of Pavement, Sebadoh, Flaming Lips, that era of bands who mixed rock, pop, post-punk, and some kind of personal "alternative" style. It's got pretty good songwriting, a retro-sound but a young energy, plus some organ/synth – which isn't typical for this kind of group. Mexican Easter is much better - more developed, more focused, fewer and better songs. I'd downloaded the debut when it was digital & free, but now it's been re-released on vinyl. There's also Mexican Easter: The Movie (Pt. 1: "Gunplay"), which I haven't yet watched.

Rogue Camera bonus disc

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