Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2011

[posted 1/1/12, noon - backdating for clarity...]
Did you miss the previous post, with #'s 11-20 of 2011? Well, here are the top albums for the year we just concluded. Since I'll be doing individual write-ups (coming soon), commentary is kept to a minimum... I'll also link to full posts in the relevant sections below. Enjoy!!

#1 Deep Politics - Grails

Deep Politics
"I Led Three Lives" from Deep Politics (2011)
"Daughters of Bilitis" from Deep Politics (2011)

Genre - Tibetan Crime Jazz
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Portland, OR

Review - Pitchfork
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd.

This album totally confirmed my initial impressions, because it's excellent. Grails manage to update their style(s), without losing the quality of material or depth of thought which have made them perennial favorites (#6, 2008 and #19, 2010).

And it looks like and sounds like Lilacs & Champagne (½ Grails) will be doing something similar in about a month.

#2 Rare Forms - Woodsman
Mystic Places EP - Woodsman

Rare Forms
"Insects" from Rare Forms (2011)
"Parallel Minds" from Mystic Places EP (2011)

Genre - Psychedelia
Official/Tumblr -
Myspace -
Location - Denver, CO

Review - The Line of Best Fit
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Lefse Records, Fire Talk Recs

Picked up Rare Forms at Austin Psych Fest, where they were one of the best I saw. Mystic Places came late this year, and I think I've decided Woodsman are more appropriate for the EP format. Both great releases, though, and I've also really gotten into the older ones too.

A little late, but there's also this Woodsman-curated Christmas comp, with them doing "Little Drummer Boy." Download available!

Chaudelande Volume 1 - Gnod
a split LP - Gnod/A Middle Sex

"Tron" from Chaudelande Volume 1 (2011)
"Vatican" from INGNODWETRUST (2011)

Genre - Rumbling Drone-Groove Psych
Official/Tumblr -
Myspace -
Location - Salford, England

Review - Head Heritage
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - GNOD

Despite being last year's co-#5, I really only became familiar with Gnod themselves during 2011. Specifically during a massive free-download CDr-discography dump in January (still there). Then 2011 brought 5 sides o' vinyl, which were all pretty much smoking hot!

Here's another holiday mix that I'd missed, from The Committee to Keep Music Evil - includes a sweet Gnod track from Chaudelande!

#4 777: Sect(s) - Blut Aus Nord
777: The Desanctification - Blut Aus Nord

"Epitome II" from 777: Sect(s) (2011)
"Epitome VIII" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)

Genre - Industrialized Black Metal
Official/Myspace -
Location - France

Review - Treble Zine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Eitrin Editions

I've covered these releases up through a very recent post, but I'll say it again: Blut Aus Nord is quite simply tearing it up. They've done great work recently (#1 of 2009 Metal Next 10, and #16 of 2010), and this series continues that trend - while calling back to previous styles & efforts.

According to the BAN Wikipedia page, part 3 will be called 777: Cosmosophy (2012?).

#5 Escape Velocity - Zombi
Slow Oscillations EP - Zombi
Ben Nevis 7" - Majeure
Synthesizer of the Gods - Majeure
Fluid Window - Miracle

Escape Velocity
"Shrunken Heads" from Escape Velocity (2011)
"Time of Troubles" from Escape Velocity (2011)

Genre - Neo-Italo disco / Electro-Prog
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Chicago, IL? NYC, NY? Pittsburgh, PA?

Review - The Metal Minnute
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Relapse Records

Zombi has been whole or in part: #1 of 2004, tops in 2006, co-#2, 2009, and contributors to last year's #23 Records.

The full album's Italo disco synth-prog builds on its immediate success, despite the nagging desire for some more blow-out drumming and rock instrumentation. The remix EP is free at Amazon. The Majeure releases were a nice complement, and I'm definitely looking forward to 2012's split LP.

#6 Abzu - Absu

"Abraxas Connexus" from Abzu (2011)
"Circles of the Oath" from Abzu (2011)

Genre - Mythological Occult Metal
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Plano, TX

Review - Pitchfork
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Candlelight [CD / LP]

Finally caught a live show by Absu, famed for the #2 of 2009 Metal Next 10 and the Black Metal Classic Tara (2001). The new album (2nd in a 3-part series) started out strong and just kept growing and growing on me, all the way through the final epic (6-part) tune. Lotsa fun on this one!

#7 Sun and Shade - Woods

Sun and Shade
"Pushing Onlys" from Sun and Shade (2011)
"Who Do I Think I Am?" from Sun and Shade (2011)

Genre - Folky Psych-Pop
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Brooklyn, NYC

Review - Paste Magazine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Woods

Continuing in the tradition of At Echo Lake (#6, 2010), with a few stylistic tweaks and detours, Woods don't shake up the world. They just. win. games!! ... I mean, write good songs.

#8 Lost in the Glare - Barn Owl
Shadowland EP - Barn Owl

Lost in the Glare
"Shadowland" from Shadowland EP (2011)
"Turiya" from Lost in the Glare (2011)

Genre - Open-Desert Mescalinesque Dream-Drone
Official -
Myspace -
Location - San Francisco, CA

Review - Dusted Magazine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Thrill Jockey Records

I definitely wanted Barn Owl in the Top 10 last year. #11 Record of 2010... so close! This year's double-whammy of shamanistic drone-doom is too much to deny. Deep, mang.

The title track from Shadowland was also featured on Vol. 6 of the blog compilation download series.

#9 Music for the Tactile Dome - Jonas Reinhardt
The Prime Revealer EP - Jonas Reinhardt

Music for the Tactile Dome
"Smokey Jotus" from Music for the Tactile Dome (2011)
"Only Pharaoh" from The Prime Revealer EP (2011)

Genre - Krautronics
Official -
Myspace -
Location - San Francisco, CA

Review - Foxy Digitalis
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - The Great Pop Supplement [EP] / Forced Exposure [all others]

Two years ago, I titled a post about Jonas Reinhardt "Euphonious Kraut Metronomy." This was contrasted with the next post, called "Amorphous Synth Burble" - about Emeralds' What Happened (2009). With these new records, the Jonas has managed to bridge the divide between those two descriptions. Works pretty well, too...

#10 An empty bliss beyond this world - The Caretaker
Eager to tear apart the stars - Leyland Kirby
Intrigue & Stuff, Vol. 1 - Leyland Kirby
Intrigue & Stuff, Vol. 2 - Leyland Kirby
Intrigue & Stuff, Vol. 3 - Leyland Kirby

an empty bliss beyond this world
"All You Are Going to Want to Do is Get Back There" from An empty bliss beyond this world (2011)
"My Dream Contained a Star" from Eager to tear apart the stars
"Live for the Future, Long for the Past" from Intrigue & Stuff, Vol. 1
"Eventually It Eats Your Lungs" from Intrigue & Stuff, Vol. 2
"The watcher and the watched" from Intrigue & Stuff, Vol. 3

Genre - Modern Classical / Ambient Hauntology / Electro
Official -
Location - Berlin (still, I think) via UK

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - LK Bandcamp, CT Bandcamp
Purchase - Forced Exposure

Earlier on, I covered the return of The Caretaker (#3, Drone/Ambient 2009 and #1, Drone/Ambient 2005). At some point in 2011, I took Mr. Kirby up on his offer of an annual digital subscription - so I got all of these without even having to leave the sofa.

Lots and lots and lots of music, ranging from the early-20th ballroom loops (of Caretaker fame) to something approaching dance music (in some alternative dimension). Should be an interesting read...

1 comment:

Roots said...

great list ! thanks for all the albums....I'm totally on board for the GRAILS no.1 choice. that album is pure genius.