Saturday, January 21, 2012

Honorable Mention 2011: Not so bad...

This post ended up much, much more massive than I'd originally intended. Essentially it's all about the 2011 music that was not in the Top 20, but that I still wanted to talk about before I moved on.

21. Diotima - Krallice
Orphan of Sickness EP - Krallice

"The Clearing" from Diotima (2011)
"Litany of Regrets" from Diotima (2011)

Genre - Lovecraftian Urban-Decay Black Metal
Official/Myspace -
Location - Brooklyn, NYC, NY

Review - NPR
Download - Bandcamp (both), Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Profound Lore

Several of these competed valiantly for the 20th slot, and then again for the honorary 21st. But Krallice was the hardest one to drop in the first cut, so here we are. Diotima might well be Krallice's best album, and the previous one was #13 Metal division 2009. But for some reason, I just haven't (yet) gotten drawn into it like the other two. I'm sure I'll give it another try, and the error of my ranking ways will probably dawn on me eventually. But here we are. A raging beast that pummels and lacerates, at great length, it will wear you down unless you train as if for a marathon.

The Orphan of Sickness free-download EP consists of Orphan covers. Krallice played covers at a tribute show for the Brooklyn band's late bassist, then released the recorded versions online. It's available at Bandcamp or from this Brooklyn Vegan article, which explains further. Pretty damn rad for your 0¢!

And here's a nice Krallice overview from ((unartig)), whom I covered here.

The Whole Love had a good year.

It feels weird to follow up Krallice with the dad-rock scene, but 2011 provided some high-grade maturity for your listening pleasure, and to ignore it would be just plain dishonest.

"The Art of Almost" by Wilco, from The Whole Love (2011)

As happens occasionally, Wilco injects their mid-tempo tunecraft with some weirdness - most recently with the out-there guitar spazz of Nels Cline. This year, there's the electro-shuffle beatz of the opener (above). The Attractions pump-it-ups with "I Might." And if you got the expanded limited 2-disc set, the Krauty exploration of "Speak into the Rose." And y'know, various other quality tunes in the Wilco mode.

"Monkeys Uptown" by Iron & Wine, from Kiss Each Other Clean

I've listened to most of Iron & Wine's records, and they're good indie folk songs. Sounds like he's moving more into band-mode, which makes this probably my favorite of his so far. More funky with the likes of "Big Burned Hand" or the monkeys song up there. But watch the language, Sam! There's also an official video for "Godless Brother in Love," but that's more typical of the old style...

"Circuital" by My Morning Jacket, from Circuital (2011)

MMJ have gone seriously into the maturation process, which I somewhat fault them with - but not too much. It's more about missed opportunities. They still know how to rock, and to have fun. Like with "Holdin Onto Black Metal" (not a Black Metal song).

"Coffee and Friends" by The Literary Greats, from Black Blizzard

This Houston band, which had been getting some national attention for awhile now, makes some pretty good albums - and still might make it to the big leagues.

And finally, The Decemberists put out The King is Dead, which was supposedly great. I'm actually just including for the "Row Jimmy" b-side to "January Hymn." That's all.

Demolished Thoughts
Learning to sing!!

Here are two releases that I liked overall, but were mainly notable for their not-really-singing vocalists trying to actually sing for real... with variable success.

"Benediction" by Thurston Moore, from Demolished Thoughts (2011)

Not a great year for Thurston, but he did release a nice album done with an acoustic & cello-based combo. Get a taste, with like "Mina Loy" or "In Silver Rain with a Paper Key." Oddly, I'm not entirely sure about my advice on the giving up of day-jobs.

"All the Heavy Lifting" by Mastodon, from The Hunter (2011)

Mastodon still bellows, but it has been increasingly tuneful over the last couple of albums. The full-on singing on The Hunter has caused some outrage amongst dedicated fans, but I've only kinda liked them for not that long. Plus I try never to fault bands for progressing, and Mastodon clearly wants to be progressive. Or as I've posed before, they "are currently going for the post-stoner-psych-metal Allman Bros." It's no Leviathan (2004) but seriously, come on. For examples, the singles "Black Tongue" and "Curl of the Burl"... plus "Stargasm" (just because of the 2001 video).

Tago Mago
Recollections, reissues, regardless...

Extra-superb year for what this section covers! Especially the #1 of the reissue subset of honorable mentions!!

"Mushroom" by Can, from Tago Mago (1971, 40th anniversary)

Oh yeah. Can was #1 in 1973 and #4 in 1972, and will most likely prosper in a few more '70s Top 10 lists. I mean, from opener "Paperhouse" through closer "Bring Me Coffee or Tea." Absolutely especially "Halleluhwah," also "Peking O" and oh yeah, "Oh Yeah." Holy Krautrock, Batman!! (And this isn't nearly my favorite CAN...)

Also, there's a bonus disc with 3 jams from a 1972 concert, which I haven't yet given my undivided.

"Past is Past" by Demdike Stare, from Tryptych (2011)

Demdike Stare's 3xCD set Tryptych is mostly made up of their recent vinyl trilogy (a big chunk of #8, 2010), but included several all-new CD-only tunes. Among the new tracks are 2 parts of "Library of Solomon" ("Book 2") and the continuing saga of "Nothing but the Night." Here's an interesting YouTube mash-up with new track "Filtered through Predudice."

I've already done a series of FB posts on Demdike's mix-CD Make Do & Mend/02. Go there first, but I've also found some Fusioon, Philippe D'Aram's "Des ecuries," and Acanthus' "Violent Library."

"Ronettes" by The Black Angels, from Phosgene Nightmare EP (2011)

This Black Angels 10" bonus tracks compilation was released for Record Store Day 2011, and contains such elusive treasures as "Melanie's Melody," the "Entrance Song (Rain Dance version)," and the Rokyesque "Choose to Choose."

Honky - Just A Man (Live in Austin TX) by therockgarage

The Rock Garage: Texas Live Concert Series, Volume 1 - V/A

Pretty decent collection of good versions of several excellent songs. Label is supposed to release a Pong live album sometime, hopefully! (Maybe.) In order of appearance, live versions of:
Honky - see above...
Nashville Pussy "Good Night for a Heart Attack"
Pure Luck "Your Face or Mine"
The Hickoids "Stop It, You're Killing Me"
Texas Sapphires, with Rebecca from Sincola
Pong "Click OK" (from #1, 2005)
Ugly Beats "I'll Make You Happy"
Brutal Juice "Waxing Gibbous"
Churchwood "Vendide Fumar"
Hi-Watt Crucifixers "Concubine"
Lions "Screaming Out"
Pocket FishRmen "We Kill Evil"
Amplified Heat "Strong Arm"

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (OST)
Videogame soundtracks of the year?

Well, it's gotta be my autographed 4xCD with everything from the GOTY (including 42 minutes of "Skyrim Atmospherics"). Right?

"Dragonborn" by Jeremy Soule, from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim OST

I've been getting these soundtracks since Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002). But not so fast! Check this out...

"The Cloud" by Jim Guthrie, from Sword & Sworcery LP: The Ballad of the Space Babies (2011)

The musical component was completely intergral to this awesome game, which was also one of my faves this year. Physical/vinyl edition is sold out, but you can still buy digital from Guthrie's Bandcamp.

"The Glasshouse with Butterfly" by Tomáš Dvořák, from Machinarium OST (2009, iOS release 2011)

Okay, maybe this doesn't totally exactly count, but I played this a lot on the iPad. Great game, great soundtrack! Physical/vinyl re-issue is still available, plus digital at Floex Bandcamp.

Exotic Pylon Records
Online Mixes and releases:

Not always free, but definitely sometimes - these are things I got from the interwebs over the last year or so...

"From Now On Let's" by White Rainbow, from From Now On Let's: The Mixtape (2011)

I'm not entirely sure about White Rainbow's new direction, but I will admit that I have funked out to this release more than a couple of times. Check out what he's doing these days over at Bandcamp. Mostly at Name-Your-Price, which is not identical to Free (but can be).

Maximum Brain (Maximum Cherry + Brainworlds) >> October 8, 2011 by MAXIMUM CHERRY

Maximum Brain is Maximum Cherry (Matt Cherry from Maserati) and Brainworlds (Mason Brown, touring member of Maserati) together, free-download opening set for Hans-Joachim Roedelius (of Cluster/Harmonia) at The Earl (Atlanta, GA). Also check out various live and other Name-Your-Price stuff over at Brainworlds' Bandcamp.

"How New Jam from '73" by Fresh Millions (2011)

Download as FREE the single/EP (??) from their Bandcamp site. Not quite as good as the #38 Record of 2010, nor the live show we caught after Ween @ Stubb's - but still...

Asuuna - Adderall Canyonly (2011)
Moving along! Some free drones from the awesomely-named Adderall Canyonly - from Field Hymns' Bandcamp, via the band website.

XLR8R Podcast #196 - Demdike Stare
It's a tough call, but I'm pretty sure Demdike's MIXwork usually exceeds their own album releases. Get it here! Also, very late in the year: "Irrational Advice" mix via Modern Love Records. Can't go wrong, trust me.

BBC6 Mix - Forest Swords
Still waiting for info on new Forest Swords, but you can download this mix via Altered Zones. Includes Demdike Stare, Oneohtrix Point Never, oOoOO, Julian Lynch (above), King Tubby, and... Lil' Kim?

The Gateway of the Montster (Weird Tales for Winter) - The Advisory Circle w/ Moon Wiring Club
An audio-interpretation of the 1910 book by William Hope Hodgson. Download the whole thing in two parts: here. Then explore both the Weird Tales site and the related Exotic Pylon site. You can thank me later!

The return of Zeuhl!

Almost there...

"I of Infinite Forms, Part I" (Part II) by Ga'an, from Ga'an (2011)

More purely Zeuhl than the following.

"RW" by The Psychic Paramount, from II (2011)

Less purely Zeuhl than the preceding.

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