Friday, December 28, 2007

Best Albums of 2007

I'm surprised that, in sorting my iTunes by year and cramming almost 7 or 8 albums into a week long period, how many good albums actually came out this year. It doesn't help most of the albums didn't sell, have promotion, or were popular, so the perception for me was that this year was awful, but there's some great stuff that went in under the radar, especially the 4th quarter. Also, I have to make notice that I was disgusted at how predictable, banal, and boring all the popular music websites lists were. Rolling Stone tried throwing a curve-ball with Kala, and Pitchfork continues to employ a bunch of tone-deaf retards with BA's in literature and shitty lo-fi garage bands that strive to mix the "atmosphere of Three 6 Mafia with Sleater-Kinney's riotgrrl polemics!!!!!". Ugh. Only two of the writer's lists were decent on that ziggurat of failure. An obelisk of twee, if you will.

Anyway, here's my best of list. Apologies for the lack of uniformity to the jpegs.

37.Bjork, Volta- I guess? I stopped checking in after Verspertine, really. Medulla had it's moments, though

36. The Hives, The Black and White Album- If I give it 4 more listens in '08, it might move up to the 20's, but though a solid record, it just wasn't that great or catchy. I'm just happy to've seen 'em live, really.

35. Les Savy Fav, Let's Stay Friends- Eh. I hate the sound of all of these bands, but there were three songs I liked. Sort of.

34. Behold...The Arctopus, Skullgrid- On principle alone, they deserve mention, dammit. Ridiculous tech metal? YES. Great record, but it's at 32 just because, like Dysrhythmia and Electro Quarterstaff, I don't see myself listening to this album very often, unless I'm studying or in a prog mood.

33. Blu & Exile, Below the Heavens- A more likable West Coast Lupe Fiasco that, with another record and the right beats, could easily become a solid B-level MC, catalog-wise.

32. Communication Corporation, I.P.O.- No one’s heard of them outside of my school, and they’re the only good thing to have come from there, despite Dan Deacon and Regina Spektor’s popularity. Really cool and odd mix, sort of like Parliament’s odder side with Oingo Boingo and and white trash leanings. I think you’d have to get the record from me direct to check it out, haha.

31. Insect Warfare, World Extermination- A really consistent grind album, that I checked out from one of the metal album rip blogs I frequent solely based on the band name and album cover. Shallow, but it worked out and it’s solid, with a few tracks actually breaking the mold of most grind and merely being okay and not great, specifically “Self Termination”. The drumming is ridiculous and I love it, but there are two songs that dip oddly into mathcore and deathcore out of nowhere. Still, fun album. Way to go, Texas. If only they’d do the more mid-range grind throat vocals I love so much instead of this half-guttural crap.

30. Talib Kweli & Madlib, Liberation- I won’t shut up about this EP. Mostly because the phrase “good Talib Kweli album” is a complete fucking misnomer, along the lines of “Islam is a religion of Peace”. But, offered for free in early Jan/late Dec 2006, this record is really really good and Talib is actually interesting and consistent. For a change. Too bad it’ll never happen again since that whole Kweli/Common/Mos Def/OkayPlayer crew fails on every level. Oh, and fuck DefJux.

29. Busdriver, Roadkillovercoat- A couple of okay songs, but so far his first record to disappoint me. The dip into TV on the Radio musical territory is predictable, but still great. I sorely regret not going to see him when he was touring with Deerhoof (!!!). Now why is he on Epitaph?

28. Obituary, Xecutioner’s Return- The latter half of the album is unremarkable and not really great or bad, but the first 6 or so tracks are great and a refreshing burst of both good Obituary and old school death metal, albeit sludgy in a rock way (And in standard tuning with the tone knob with 0, no less). Ralph Santolla needs to chill out on the blues-shred.

27. Dizzee Rascal, Maths + English- Still not that deep, but has some genuine bangers, especially the UGK track

26. T-Pain, Epiphany- It had filler, but considering how awful Rapper Ternt Sanga is, it’s a miracle I can say it has some addictive, amazing songs at all. His next album will probably be ridiculously good. I honestly believe that.

25. Necro, Death Rap- I've been interested in at least checking the quality of Non-Phixion/Ill Bill/Necro for a while, ever since the ads for Prefix For Death aired ad nauseum during Headbanger's Ball in 2004. Surprise, surprise, Death Rap is good. No, really. I always thought it fascinating that that whole crew not only love both hardcore NY rap and death and trash metal, but do both in their free time. Usually people in rap have shit taste in rock and metal, and vice versa, but the Gym Class Heroes-esque rap Necro does incorporating the names of a horde of metal bands in a song attests that the guy knows his shit. Plus, on this album, he somehow managed to have great beats, if you ignore the awful hardcore/metalcore-rap tracks. But the mish-mash of influences and the fact that the guy had been doing this for 20 years enables him to have the understanding of how to actually meld the atmospherics and George Romero-isms of the best old school metal with good rapping and really fun, creepy beats. Creepy in that awesome, "Dawn of the Dead" way, not creepy like Thom Yorke's paranoid bleating over a minimalist soundscape and etc. I never though I'd say this, but I recommend checking the record out, it's consistent enough, and he's actually a very competent rapper, save a few tracks. Redundant lyrics are the main drawback (name dropping everyone from Euronymous to Malcolm McLaren and doing 14 tracks about fucking you up gets old), but that's compensated by the album's positives and just as an example of something even rarer than a Mewtwo: A good horrorcore record.. Plus, Jedi Mind Tricks suck now, so this is a good alternative for all your angry white NY rap needs.

24. Radiohead, In Rainbows- Nothing shocking here. Just a haunting album with still prevalent jazz influences and a weird woodsy otherworldliness and paranoia. It’s Radiohead-on-autopilot, and it’s still a solid album with a few really interesting moments, but in now way is there much to be surprised or ballyhoo about on the record.

23. Wu-Tang Clan, 8 Diagrams- Like 11 good songs, see the best songs of 2007 part II blurb. Also, why is Shavo Odajian playing bass? Damn, homie.

22. Styles P, The Ghost Sessions- Surprisingly likable pre-album album. Some of the best NY beats I’ve heard all year. Beats 8 Diagrams because I genuinely liked this record better, despite how much more interesting 8 Diagrams is.

21. Saul Williams, Niggy Tardust- Better than Amethyst Rockstar and the last two NIN albums, not as good as Saul Williams. But then again, not much is. Surprisingly downbeat and melancholic and tends to have very obvious Reznor-isms musically, that work well enough.

20. Pig Destroyer, Phantom Limb- It takes me forever to digest PxDx albums, and this wasn’t an exception. It’s alright, which is still miles above most drum/guitar albums released this year. Still fast and heavy and a haphazard mix of grind, thrash, hard rock and death metal, and now apparently with a guitar tuned to G! If you ever wondered what a distorted didgeridoo sounds like over blastbeats, listen to Phantom Limb.

19. The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible- What annoying pieces of shit. But still, good album. If only it had less filler, I might consider buying rather than stealing this thing from Soulseek. LOLZ.

18. Sean Price, Jesus Price Supastar- “ was all cool at first, you know, rappiiiiiiing about nooooootiiiiiiiiiiiing...” 30year-old’s>20 year olds. I deleted half the record for not being as great or immediate as the 7 tracks I loved, but really, this album is pretty fucking consistent, despite my elitism. And the God needs to pay his light bill, cop the record.

17. Jay-Z, American Gangster- I realized recently that there isn’t a Jay album that I like the whole way through. Every record had shitty tracks or filler or lame verses. Really puts things into perspective. In regards to catalog, the best Jay albums are, in order, Reasonable Doubt, Vol 1, Hard Knock Life, Blueprint, and this, with this record having more good songs than Blueprint or Hard Knock Life, but suffering from waaaaaaaay too clean, light, and glassy production and Jay’s still subpar rapping and lack of editorial vision. He’s about a B-/C+ still. Next year? I guess. Still hoping for a classic eventually.

16. Calle 13, Residente O Visitante- Warmer, less reggaeton, weirder, and denser than the first record, but that also meant the rewards required a lot more listens. I still enjoy the first album more, but it suffered from some filler while this manages to continue the wacky, worldly and artistic take on Hispanic rap that they’re blowing up from.

15. Deathspell Omega, Fas...- Basically a spiraling maelstrom of black metal, just incredibly serpentine and busy. From the onset of the first notes, my mind halves and eats itself. I can’t explain it, but there’s such a Neurosis-y/Converge-y comfort zone for me with Deathspell. Probably all the esotericism and angular guitars and monk-like persistence. I still don’t know how I feel about this album, and it’ll probably be months before I really absorb it, but for now, as polarizing and tech-metal (Finger tapping! Trills!) as it is, it still delivers. At least until I get around to hearing other good recent black metal. Pretension wins.

14. Ghostface Killah, Big Doe Rehab- I don’t know if I would buy this album. If you love good street-level NY rap, this album is flawless, but for the Ironman/Supreme Clientele/Pretty Toney/Fishcale heads, this is OK. Still, great stuff on here, if a bit predictable.

13. Justice, lowercase t- I wanted to hate this album so badly. Sooooo very badly. I resisted so much. But the blown out, shitty high mid-EQ overdone cage-rattling synths and occassionaly complete Daft Punk pastiche works in an era where even well-reviewed electronica isn’t really that great. I already despise hipster electro, but this shit has enough know-how, like Chromeo, to push a batch of good songs. Not really more than two or three crap songs on the album, yet maybe due to sequencing or something else, I cannot listen to this record in its entirety. And oddly enough, for electro/dance, there’s only once actual dance-able song, the best track on the album and probably my favorite song of the last couple of the months besides “Child of the Ghetto”, “Stress”. Riggodamndiculous. If I only knew how to break. I swear to God, I will play this song on repeat on 11 until the rapture starts in Brooklyn.

12. Chromeo, Fancy Footwork- Oh fucking shit this is actually good. I like Chromeo, and were one of a ton of bands I fell in love with based on a single or singles and then was disappointed by the album (like in 2003 when I somehow thought I’d enjoy Eighteen Visions and Atreyu…ugh). A review described “She’s In Control” as being completely true to electro and 80’s R&B, but to a fault where there weren’t really songs on the album. Now, this album is nothing but great hooky songs that build on the previous demonstration that Chromeo aren’t ironic douchebags, they know exactly what they’re doing and this isn’t simulacrum or a facsimile of the sound like most retro bullshit in this decade. Shit, the choruses of “Fancy Footwork” and “Bonafied Lovin’” even have the chord changes down perfectly. Plus, those ridiculous pentatonic synth riffs! Fuck me. I initially downloaded this when it came out months ago, and then deleted it since I was, am still, inundated with 10 gigs of un-listened-to or unabsorbed albums and didn’t concentrate on it. I regret that now, because I love this album. (And as a by-product of that delay, I missed out on the two sold out Chromeo shows in NYC next month.) This is just a really great, solid fun record, although there are moments where Dave’s affable player singing doesn’t hit the spot on a track or two, but I was dancing to the album in Queens yesterday while it was on my iPod, so they succeeded.

Note to Justice: You are not dance music if I can't dance to you. Chromeo get it, you should, too.

11. Grinderman, Grinderman- Rock music…in 2007? Am I hearing right? Actual, blues based, ballsy, funny, edgy, good, rock music in 2007? Shiiiit. And to think I’ve never listened to Nick Cave before this record. And never will, actually. Listened to this while playing "Okami", as well as Devin the Dude, I can’t recommend that combo enough. Sadly, this sounds exactly like what The Stooges’ The Weirdness could’ve been. This makes me kind of angry at Iggy Pop. This is literally a Stooges record, except laced with Cave’s weird serpentine proselytizing and very Americana/Beat Poet/The USA is fucked-up-and-I-revel-in-it lyrics. It’s refreshing to hear everything great about rock done one great consistent album, from the almost live-quality rawness and idiosyncrasies peppered throughout the music on the guitar to the fact that he fucking BUZZES for the chorus of “Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars). One of few records this year I’d probably buy.

10. Patton Oswalt, Werewolves and Lollipops- Curveball motherfucker! Goddamn about time. I don’t believe comedy albums should be excluded from year-end lists, especially motherfucking Patton Oswalt. Not nearly as good as Feeling Kinda Patton, but NO OTHER COMEDY ALBUM IS. Bold words, even with all this Bill Hicks, Carlin, Demetri Martin, Todd Barry, Maria Bamford, Eddie Izzard, David Cross, Dave Attell, and Daniel Tosh on my iTunes. Still, really funny and smart, clearly showing that he was indeed a lit major in the construction of his material. A solid, satisfying follow-up.

9. Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today- It’s hard to fuck up doom metal. One, it’s extremely easy and fun to play. Two, it just requires tom-heavy drums, a guitar tuned down to c-standard and played through a bass-heavy amp, and a bassist, maybe distorted. Three, you’re just playing pentatonics, heavy blues, and flat fifths. Four, you never have to ever play faster than maybe 128bpm, unless you’re High On Fire. And five, even if you suck, you’re better than shit bands in other genres, since doom metal is so intrinsically hypnotizing and listener friendly. An external crushing bombast vulture. Electric Wizard, which I got inspired to get into because of Christian and my desire to listen to more doom and stoner stuff, are mockingly consistent and great. Heavy as shit, and completely engrossing.

8. Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris- It needs to be said that QOTSA are underrated and only made one shit album out of 5 records. Despite some musical and lyrical miscues, with the former being kind of shocking considering that problem absent from the first two QOTSA records entirely, the record is weird, even more acidic and robotic than before, and managing to evoke good 70’s rock without actually sounding like it. And, it’s the first record with absolutely no stoner rock influence at all, which new. Really, it’s like Rated R II, with the whole albums cues taken from “Leg of Lamb”. A cruel reminder that all other modern rock sucks.

7. Lupe Fiasco, The Cool- I really, really thought he’d hit the sophomore slump like Tower 2 (to paraphrase Phonte, “I make darkly funny and endearing 9/11 references in online posts about Lupe Fiasco”, from Little Brother), but nah, he makes an album more diverse and just as consistent as the first. Only four tracks I didn’t like, and two of them are growing on me, or rather, I’m learning to ignore what I hate about them. I can’t quite forgive the production in terms of EQ, which I guess to combat the lack of mids and muddiness on Food and Liquor, he and Soundtrakk overcompensated and made the album anemic. Low end? No, alright. Other than that, he annoyingly implies a technique on some tracks that I will ONLY accept from the guy who popularized it, Lil’ Wayne, the weird over-enunciating for emphasis or dynamics. Listen, this is almost as bad as whisper-rapping when anyone except Wayne does it, and Lupe should know better. I have to fight through “Paris, Tokyo” and “The Coolest” to not throw another dart at my giant Fiascogate cardboard cutout. Can’t fault the guy otherwise, he managed to make me keep the shitty Snoop track because he makes a shiva reference, and I’m not about getting hard for nerdy references, but I kept the abomination anyway. That’s a first. I have to make a note of how weirdly moody and melancholic all of Lupe’s stuff is. I think his insistence in thinking the Foo Fighters record was one of the years best albums (what? Lol) and the dour nature of even his pluckiest tracks are quite in line with alternative rock. So, as opposed to the lazy use of the term, I think this is genuinely “alternative rap”. I just hope he makes “Little Weapon” the third single, since it feels like that type of track. And “Hip Hop Saved My Life” is incredible.

6.Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam- How did I forget this record? I love the band as an idea and what they do, the stacked harmonies, droning riffs and entrancing rhythms. The problem was, only three songs on Feels were any good. They were amazingly weird and beautiful at the same time, like a folk-y 00's Beach Boys, and the consistency issues has been taken care of Strawberry Jam, which is pretty much one of the last records I listened to this year though one of the first albums I downloaded then promptly deleted due to disinterest and inundation. But though initially annoyed by the big change in the bands sound and approach, such as, like Behemoth, refining all of the overdubs and harmonies from a major feature and songwriting tool to just part of the atmosphere, and going from weird "I drank the punch, yah" psychedelic folk to this weirdly chunky, weirdly full and lush indie rock set-up, where nearly every track is a waltz time, 5 minute journey built upon a ridiculous amount of tremolo effect. After a while, it became very moving and engrossing in a way that I haven't heard in much indie rock this year, which is usually pretty disposable and, frankly, bad and haven't heard since Return To Cookie Mountain which I feel is one of the 10 best albums of the decade so far. Anyway, the album art is awesome, and it turns out the change in sound was a good thing. The record actually does sound wet and juicy and thick, like jam. Or maybe my synesthesia is acting up.

5. Battles, Mirrored- This record is ridiculous. I checked it out because of Joey and Christian putting it in their best of lists, so I figured, what the fuck, in the last minute cramming I’ve done the last week or so. And after two listens or so, it all unfurled as this crazy, crazy clusterfuck of a record. One, the guitar and drum tones are beautiful and this is one occasion where being flawlessly clean was a boon rather than hindering an album. There were alternations on the guitar sound, but it was never distorted, just super clean, slightly dirty, or glassy. And most guitarists can attest, if you’re going to be attempting the kind of inspired wankery on this album or a lot of playing in general, you have to be really good to not cower behind a minefield of over-compressed, mid-scooped distortion. Listening to the record, it struck me how powerful and dramatic it is when the spare vocal parts on certain songs do come in, and how all of the melodic figures and riffs on the album managed to be both complimentary in a compositional way and memorable. It reminded me of what I wanted Strawberry Jam to be, a logical electric continuation of previous Animal Collective albums. Really, it reminded me of the sound and dynamics of Dysrhythmia plus Animal Collective and a bit of Behold…The Arctopus’ spazziness and riffage, except exceptionally controlled and just managing to exist as tangible songs. Patton Oswalt once said his favorite records are the ones where you could tell they were having fun, and, like Grinderman, this record is just engrossing and fun. As opposed to Grinderman, it’s oddly bright and sunny, and glassy without being sterile. It’s a feel good prog record!

4. Devin the Dude, Waiting to Inhale- This shit became part of me after about 3 or so listens. It didn’t really click, or rather, I didn’t get into the 5 or 6 beats that I didn’t initially like, until I let it soak in while playing Okami. This record, minus the awful Lil’ Wayne, Bun B track, is fucking amazing and a bittersweet reminder of the lyrical focus and sharpness that has been missing from rap since Eminem started sucking in 2002. That is the comparison to make, as that brand of fat-less, hilarious, engrossing lyricism is very much like the first two and a half Em records, as well as the best rap songs ever made. You can pop shit on a mixtape all you want (Lil Wayne and all of NY), but if you can’t write a great, memorable song lyrically and structural, and maybe even through layers and humor and adlibs on that shit, lest even be decent or have more than one bearable verse, than you ain’t shit. From elegant to elephant.

3. M.I.A., Kala- Only one bad song. And it’s darker, has more depth, and has more replay value than Arular, which I miss my copy of but apparently not enough to buy a new one. I’m serious in stating that if you don’t like M.I.A.’s music, not talking about her personality or politics or image, but her actual beats and melodies and hooks, that you have shit taste and your head is up your ass. One of four records on this list I actually purchased this year. Or at least, I plan on buying Graduation eventually. Still, something I can quite put my finger on prevents it from being higher on the list, something akin to the toasting and lyrical sketches still not being filled in enough, I think. I love how awkwardly off-key the third verse in “Jimmy” is. Also, she lives in my neighborhood, and I’d love for her to be my sugar mama. I got bills and shared interests.

2. Kanye West, Graduation- Hohohoho. This is a clusterfuck of an album. Lyrically, it’s mostly competent mnemonic place holding, but shit, that’s all I ask for in music. Anything beyond is just bonus points. And, clearly, despite some quotables on most tracks, Kanye said all the good shit on College Dropout, which absolves him from trying to outdo himself in that arena. But all the songs are on point. Even the bad ones are somehow still good in context of the album. Now, if he could’ve only not ruined that beat by enlisting Chris Martin to sing on it. What a dumb move for someone who claims to be so forward-thinking. Over time, this might shift down to 3 or 4, but for now, it’s definitely number two, for me.

1.UGK, Underground KIngz- Even with the bloated unnecessary-ness of a double album, still a great record, and sadly, a swansong. Even though it could’ve been sequenced a lot better, it’s a fantastic enough album for me to put myself through the two hours it demands. I kept 23 of the album’s tracks, but even if you shaved it down to 16 or 17, it’s the best album of the year.

Bonus Track!!! I haven't heard the new Wolves in the Throne room yet, or more than about 10 seconds of the first track, but I have to add this to the best of, though I can't really rate or put it in the list because I haven't listened to it yet. But regardless, it's probably good.

...y entonces!!! I also, though not anticipating the future shitty year that'll continue my shitty winter and fall, can't wait for the new Mos Def and 2 Trill and new Ludacris and Mastodon and Nas and etc. It should be an interesting 2008. Interesting about the year-end wrap-up is that I got to check out a lot in this last two months that I had missed or didn't dig the first time around, since I spent the majority of my time with things released before 2007. But seeing as my list is 37 albums long and that the top 15 is composed of albums I either own or will end up purchasing, this year was a lot better than I thought back in the summer.

...y mas entonces tambien!!! And an end of the year shoutout to my favorite blogs. Shoutout to Brandon for always being on point and interesting and making me want to make this blog in the first place, as well as being an analytical lit nerd about everything. Shoutout to Floodwatch for being on-point on music theory to a degree I hope to attain soon, or at least when it comes to drum theory. Oh, and being really informed on classical and electronica. Shoutout to DocZeus for being hilarious and bringing the hate. Last shoutout to Joey for the same biased reason I enjoy Brandon's blog, having similar tastes and opinions, plus your shit is mad organized and I'm easily impressed by effort.

I look forward to stealing from all of you.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Favorite Songs of 2007, Part Two

Jonny McGovern- “Somethin For The Fellas That Like The Fellas/Don’t Fall in Love With a Homo”

Jonny McGovern is awesome. My familiarity with him as an entity goes back to this short lived Alan Cummings-hosted gay variety show (I forget the name) on Comedy Central. It was canceled after 3 episodes, but I got to see Jonny as well as lesbian rock band Betty, who would go on to a degree of fame through "The L Word". Anyway, I saw this video late 2006/early 2007, near New Year's Eve on LOGO, actually, as he was hosting a special, and the video premiered, and I was blown away. What sold me was Linda James (Champagne Sparkle Magic Aviance)'s verse and the accompanying beat change. I quickly had my roommate exclaiming (or ejaculating, HOHOHO), "My mussy's on fire!".

On a lark, I eventually downloaded and subscribed to his podcast in May and it is seriously the best podcast on the internet. It manages to be hilarious, layered, relevant, and actually feel like a real radio show. Plus, as a homophile, it's a real boon to learn about the ball houses and just great subcultural shit in general. The latter video is his second single off his album Gays Gone Wild as well as "Somethin' For The Fellas" and the podcast's theme song. I can be seen in the second or third row, with a short Caesar, throwing up devil horns at the end of the set. If only more on LOGO was half as good as "Gay Pimpin' With Jonny McGovern".

Interpol- “The Heinrich Maneuver”

I couldn't have been more disappointed with the last album. I love the first two albums, so it's not a big loss to me when bands I know to be great and consistent (Interpol, Mastodon, etc) falter. This song grew on me after a couple of listens, but I felt it wasn't anywhere as strong as any of their other songs, and usually bands I like make shitty third albums (again, Mastodon, Kings of Leon, Islam, etc), so I saw this coming. My only regret is never having seen them live. But, anyway, this is Interpol-by-numbers, but it's still catchy, shitty video and all.

The Horrors-“Sheena Is A Parasite/Count In 5’s”

These songs are from last year, but the album came out in 2007 and British albums come out there first anyway, so fuck it. Like everything in Britain, this band was overhyped and fapped over for no real reason. Although, if I heard this song on a demo, I'd probably subscribe to deluded hyperbole, too. Turns out the Horrors aren't anything to care about, but like most NME bands they do have one or two legitimately amazing songs. 2 minutes long, with good riffs, organs, snarling vocals, and bursts of noise all from guys who are modded out "Village of the Damned" clones with a boner for the Cramps and Nuggets. Plus the video is great.

Electric Six- “Down at McDonnellz/Infected Girls”

Electric Six are getting crappier with each album,, which is disheartening considering they were one of many things from 2003 that I thought would become huge. Once again, I shouldn't be in charge of marketing or A&R for anything, since I tend to be wrong about what people will like. There were some good songs on Switzerland, like "Infected Girls", and "Chocolate Pope" but at this point their insistence on releasing an album a year will just bring my hopes up just to be gumfucked by Dick Valentine's inability to replicate the greatness or Fire, or even Senor Smoke. I should also note that these songs aren't really that good. Haha.

Dizzee Rascal
- “Pussole (Old Skool)/Sirens”

Maths + English was maaaaaaaad decent. Dizzee's records are weird, because there's no sonic or lyrical depth to them, but he's still really consistent. I was surprised at how much better this album was than I'd thought it'd be when I checked it out over the fall. The trend he rode died over here long ago, and Mike Skinner has put out horrible overhyped pieces of shit ever since Original Pirate Material, which was fucking flawless. Consistency is all Dizzee really needs, and he pulled it off. "Pussyole" is ill and it's fascinating in the way regional approaches always are. "Sirens" even manages to sneak in a nu-metal/KoRn bridge at the end and get away with it. I just wonder if he has the ability to actually experiment lyrically. (Shame the album was download only in the States)

Despised Icon- “In The Arms of Perdition”

I really really dislike this band. I think Canadian tech-death/deathcore sucks, despite being as interesting as it is as shrapnel-like bombasts of modern metal. They are bar none probably the worst live act I've ever seen, even considering shitty open mics at my school. Awful. But I dig this song for managing to exists in stages. The song switches from Canadian tech/modern death metal (a la Cryptopsy) to metalcore, to tough-guy hardcore, to deathcore. To untrained ears or people who have interesting enough lives to not care about these sort of distinctions, it's all the same thing, but this one song is an interesting picture of the current state of metal and hardcore and basically encompasses everything in the last 5 or so years into one song.

There is one thing I love about deathcore, the breakdowns are NASTY. You haven't lived until you've seen a girl spin-kicked without remorse by some fat 6'3 hardcore kid.

Deerhoof- "The Perfect Me”

This album was seriously overhyped (but what isn't within the marketing term known as "indie"? Fair and informed objective assessment is unheard of when there's sweaters involved), and The Runners Four was actually their first completely solid record, as opposed to all of their other albums which have a bunch of great songs and then some not-so-good ones. Friend Opportunity was the worst album they've ever put out, consistency-wise, but this song is great. It's hard to absorb and recognize new sounds when you're constantly listening to current and past music and downloading 20 or so GB a year, but there's always a weird tension in Deerhoof songs, it's noisy and experimental and shambly and lo-fi while still maintaining it's poppiness. And they somehow have riffs. What a concept for a modern rock band.

Devin The Dude- “She Want That Money”

Devin's record tested me, because the rhymes were all clever and funny and memorable, but the music is everything I hate to hear in rap or otherwise. Beatwise, it's the sort of third-rate shit you'd hear white college students who dig Wu-Tang, Pharcyde, and jam bands to come up with if you asked them to make something. Still, you get used to it because the reward is Devin as a rapper and this song is one of the few on the album to actually not sound really pedestrian or way too subdued. Plus, I ended up quoting this shit for a week.

"I'm the only nigga that can make her left thigh shake...Oooooooooooooooh"

Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah
- “Satan Said Dance”

Their only good song. My friend Miller used to say that it's hard enough to write one great song, and that's all it takes,and I've taken that into my belief system. It's still weird to run into bands with one gem and nothing but crap, like CYHSH. It never makes sense, there's so much great shit going on here, yet it's absent from their other songs. Still, the Thom Yorke-meets-David Byrne vocals, sense of space and arrangement, post-punk gang vocals, and catchiness of it all made this one of few songs this years I listened to on repeat. Plus, it makes me bemoan the death of dance-punk and legitimate 00's post-punk, as opposed the rampant misappropriation of disco drums and jangly Telecaster cliches every band parrots now, regardless if they sound like REM or the Smiths.

Cephalic Carnage
- “Endless Cycle of Violence”

I don't like Cephalic as much as I thought I did. But still, I like them a lot. This song is a concept often-ignored by critics or fans: The catchy death metal/grind song. There's a lot of them, but the idea I guess is that "extreme" metal can't be as catchy as say, Twisted Sister. This track, off the unfortunately crappy Xenosapien shits all over that concept. Still, I'm going to sit through Emmure and Darkest Hour to see them next spring.

Artic Monkeys
- “Brianstorm”

Another example of both a standout song on a crappy album and an overhyped band. But, as opposed to CYHSY and The Horrors, I like the Artic Monkeys as a band and as people. And I find it interesting that no one discusses how every riff they have sounds like it should be in a Bond flick. Seriously, all spy movie shit. This song, and the video, is ridiculous and reeks of "we found our formula and therefore have decided to throw in a lot of clever musical tricks for this record". Sad how soon they've been pushed to the side for hipster-electonica.

The Almost- “Say This Sooner”

I don't make personal attacks on people I don't know very often, but I can't help but point out how much of a twat this guy and everything associated with Solidstate/Tooth and Nail/Christian music/00's post-hardcore and metalcore is. He's a dog-faced ginger who is colorblind in one eye and legally blind in the other, I guess an unrelenting faith that Jehova will heal his uselessness comes with that.

I kid the Christians. Because Muslims won't let me. Har har.

Regardless, from personal experience, all these suburban crackers doing emo, pop-punk, post-hardcore, and metalcore these days are remarkably solid musicians and are very professional. They all suck, but that's beside the point. They all seem to be multi-instrumentalists with good work ethicc (although, isn't that what Throwdown is always yelling about? The importance of your 401k in relation to your family? [Forever!]), and understanding of composition and a weird fetish for overblown Christmas-y instrumentation and arrangements, Sufjan Stevens style. This song is maybe the fourth catchiest of the year and haunted me until it finally left my head a few months ago. Now that I've watched the video again just now, I'll have to wait another couple of months to get my mind back.

Adam Joseph- “Faggoty Attention”

More Jonny McGovern-related music. Adam Joseph is another LOGO artist, and he co-produces all of Jonny's recent musical output. He's also a huge fucking twink, or as he's lovingly referred to, "a soul hummingbird". There's some snarky politically relevant stuff hidden in the song, particularly the line "And I won't ask, won't tell/Promise you won't go to hell". It's a solid pop-dance track in a Daniel Bedingfield way, and the guy has good pipes (lolz), and I'm a sucker for him referencing taking his straight trade "back to Brooklyn", as my borough is now a haven for well-to-do hipsters and unchecked gentrification in general.

It's faggoty!

50 Cent- “I Get Money/Amusement Park”

The two best songs made all year are this and "Int'l Players Anthem". If you disagree, you're fucking wrong.

INDEFATIGABLE. Gotdamn. And 50 actually does two solid, memorable verses! Hell froze over! If only his albums weren't dull as shit.

In regards to "Amusement Part", I think the beat is better than people realize, and that's really the only reason I included it on the list. If 50 would stop rapping and just do interviews, I'd be really happy.

The White Stripes- “Rag and Bone”

Icky Thump, despite the great title, wasn't good. It had it's moments, but it was all to shallow and spare to care about. Then again, the band has 4 great records, so at this point, Jack could shit on a CD-R and I would still count them among my favorite bands and proselytize about how great they are. This song is just fucking fun. It's nice to hear them wind down, and to hear Jack mention modern technology on a record (Turntables!)

Cam’Ron- “Child of the Ghetto/Glitter”

Alright, "Child of the Ghetto" is the third best rap song of the year. I didn't pay it much mind when this diss video came out in the spring, but it slowly sunk into my brain and I ended up downloading the Hot 97 clean rip off Limewire. Then I found out that he was rapping over the title track to G. Dep's double wood 2001/2002 album. Which, like "Int'l Player's Anthem", shows that if a hot beat fails with the original artist, someone should definitely come through and revive the shit. Not only is it archetypal overblown string-based NY rap, but the dude did 3 flawless verses. The fact that I can recite most of the song by memory and listen to the track every day attests to that.

Oh, and "Glitter" is just weird. For once, I agree with Breihan on the track. Actually, fuck that, I agree with Brandon.


Also, fuck everyone, the Cam'Ron diss videos were hilarious.

Diddy- “Last Night”

I sort of hate and love this at the same time because it's half-brilliant and half-crap. But my boner for good 80's R&B wins in the end. Seriously, if Puffy's producers and songwriters can replicate Purple Rain-era Prince this well, why can't Prince stop making THE WORST MUSIC EVER? If "Guitar" isn't a sign that religious reform is a necessity, I don't know what is. Jim Henson? I guess.

LOL blood transfusions.

Snoop- “Sensual Seduction”

"If you don't know by now/Doggy dogg is a freak, freak, freeeeeeeeak"

Video of the year. And the fourth best song of the year. The levels of awesome in this song are unparalleled. I might be biased that Snoop tried to resuscitate 80's R&B in a song and video (not the first time, his Doggy All Stars shit from 2002 was like this but not as good) and not only succeeded perfectly, but showed simulacrum 80's-jocking 20 year-olds how retarded and useless they are. Now watch the album be terrible.

Boys Noize- “Oh!/Superfresh”

To be perfectly geeky, there are tonal colors and textures I, and most people, respond to that are interpreted as being "pretty" or "jazzy" or etc. My favorite elctronica manages to evoke that "prettiness" in vocal hooks on in the chord sequences, all while maintaining dance-ability and a maybe some really good riffs. I stumbled onto Boys Noize in a 25th hour scramble through iTunes to see if I missed anything for my Best Albums of 2007 list for next week. This album had three or so tracks that I really like, despite being touted by the reactionary set as being the answer to or better than Justice's Long T album. On further listen, it ain't, and the sound of electro revival is already anathema to my ears, but that may change when I turn 21 and become a raving party-hopping, well-dressed barslut. Until then, I'm just trying to bring back house music.

Wu-Tang Clan- "Wolves"

I was meaning to do a quick final non-list post for the year on the Wu/Ghost records, and might just blurb it later, but one thing I wanted to touch on was how oddly dated 8 Diagrams is. In terms of atmosphere and sound, it just sound like RZA made a weirder The W. Now, half of the album is crap just because the bad tracks are boring and never go anywhere or some of the Wu are noticeably listless (Looking at you Shallah Raekwon), but this track is a 2000-era club banger. A shame this doesn't have a video or didn't come out 6 years ago, it might've done the Wu some good. The failure of 8 Diagrams, besides inconsistency and the members of the Wu themselves (again, RAEKWON) is that though there are welcome experiments, no concession to any sound post-2002 was made. Pimp C and Kanye changed with the times for their records this year, adopting synths and glitz usually absent from their output, while some of 8 Diagrams could've fit right in with Wu-Tang Forever. Although, as with Jedi Mind Tricks and every non-Ghost Wu solo record of underground NY rap this decade, that have more to do with the indisputably huge influence that Wu-Tang Forever has. In terms of success and record sales, this is an awful decision. But I doubt much could actually bring the group back to prominence in an era of awful hip-hop and low sales, anyway.

Lupe Fiasco- "Paris, Tokyo"
He's either a lying bastard or a secretive douchebag. Regardless, he captured the vibe perfectly on this song.

Prodigy- "Mac 10 Handle/ABC"

Mobb Deep sucks. They have for a long time. I love The Infamous, and it's one of a handful of brilliant project-rap albums, but they were never interesting lyrically and really just lucked out with beats from time to time, last time being "Quiet Storm" where they got bodied by Lil' Kim, which is never a good look.

But these two Prodigy songs from this year are surprisingly great. Mobb Deep's entire existence is to be menacing over menacing beats, and "ABC" and "Mac 10 Handle" do that great. I didn't care much about return of the Mac, and I care less about HNIC 2, but the shit is affecting. The guy is going on an up north trip (hahahahaha) for a mandatory 3 1/2 illegal gun sentence. Of all people to be caught by my city's new draconian gun laws (Yeah, guns are dangerous, but a mandatory 3 1/2? What the fuck.), I never considered Prodigy would get sent up. Hell, even T.I. is on house arrest. Then again, T.I. has been more successful than Prodigy since I'm Serious, which speaks on the sad failure of Queensbridge rappers and Mobb Deep. Plus, the guy gets his career essentially ended, and starts writing illiterate blog entries and filming videos where he kills a cop (played by Zed from Pulp Fiction/the villain from the Mask!). And I'll probably end up not caring about these songs in a few months, anyway.

Nas lost.

Saul Williams- "Scared Money"
...Niggy Tardust was essentially, musically, a good NIN record. It wasn't as good as Saul Williams, but few things are, and 2004/2005 just happened to be a great release period. I like the album, but by far my favorite track is the one Saul produced himself, an awesome sweltering track that emanates his Hatian background, only pausing for an ill break straight from the previous album, sort of reminiscent of "Grippo".

Obituary- "Face Your God"
An awesome, sludgy return to form. Although Ralph Santolla should chill on those flashy guitar solos.

- "Ignorant Shit"
I talked about this already in my review of American Ganster, but I have to add a fun fact: Did you know Pimp C rocked this sample before both BIG and Jay on Too Hard to Swallow? It was on "Crampin My Style".

Ghostface Killah
- "SupaGFK/Killa Lipstick"
I gotta add that Meth is killing the Wu record this year. I never much liked him lyrically, and he's gotten better at that now. Weird that he's having a resurrection as Ghost is, arguably, faltering a little. RZA was right, he should've waited until February to release Big Doe Rehab, especially considering the record is a consistent and less weird version ofMore Fish. But still, haunting samples and really well done, but there's a crispness and cleanness to the record that, like American Gangster, bothers the shit out of me. Crust up the EQ a little, man.

Calle 13- "Tango Del Pecado"

Not nearly as catchy as their other stuff, but still quotable and great.

Britney Spears
- "Heaven On Earth"
YES!!! Competent 00's dance pop. Weird to say a Britney Spears album was overrated, but Blackout, no matter how much of a slave I am to good pop, was not good at all, even with the blatantly phoned in performance and legion of producers. But, this track and it's overwhelming bubblegumness are perfect. I'm just glad there's no bad flavor-of-the-month guest rap verse or attempt at bad pop-rock. Britney, there's already someone who had defined a workable career path for you: Her name is Kylie Minogue. In times of desperation, think "What would Kylie do?"

Chromeo- "Bonafied Lovin'"
Chromeo>Justice. Fuck I look like trying to put Justice on at a party?

Justice- "Stress"
Still ridiculously amazing. I'm obsessed with this song. It's this paranoid electro/breakdance...thing that has ruined my life. Only danceable track on the record, also. Bus' it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Felchathon Spectacular 2007 - A Year n da Musicks

Some weeks back, Chris(topher) had asked me to sneak in a guest post with my signature Sigourney Weaver flare, and feeling in the sassy mood to annoy my downstairs neighbors with the sound of my balls descending, and while it's taken me a few days (what in between finals and porn) I've decided that time is either now... or possibly at a later more convenient time for everyone's sleep/work schedule? I'll be the fly in their chardonnay. LULZ ALANIS.

So I guess it's 1977. Not that I mind, each dying year beckons the return of days when minimalist electronica didn't mean waves of unaffected tuneless dirge, and country music didn't (for the most part) suck. Lately, I've become a soundtrack fan, for movies which haven't been made, and probably will never see the light of day. Still, I fantasize about the contrasting imagery of gypsy jingles mingling with ultra-pop, and the result is something along the lines of this here list, ideally populating some Federico Fellini film from the archives of clandestine arthouse backrooms. We're living in bad times for forward music, so the next best thing is to repress the mind into believing we're in some type of cornucopia of golden age throwbacks (I GUESS). That being said, this year has been my first foray into a lot of unchartered waters (previously avoided ambient/electronica, modern crust punx, post-R.I.O. avant-prog and psychedelia). Either way, past experiences dictate that I won't truly grasp this year well into spring of 2008. Let's get on with it.

#'s 50 - 11

50. Lifelover - Erotik

49. The Intelligence - Deuteronomy

48. Der Blutharsch - The Philosopher's Stone
Before I even got started on 'Philosopher', I had already been informed that much of the martial aspect to Blutharsch's songs had been vanquished in exchange for faux post-punk douchebaggery. That was tragic news considering my man Julian Albin had decided this would be their real last 'industrial' album (if he even decides to not pull the plug on the band). Listen, I get that some people are still on their Boyd Rice fanboy phase and need to have everything served to them on a trumpeting quasi-fascist platter, but this parade has clearly been winding down, and I commend Albin on taking the experimental way out in Der Blutharsch's swansong. There's a lot of entrancing stuff here, entrancing in the ethereal Death in June sense. Weird how one of the 90's most abrasive and cryptic martial bands faded away with such poise and grace. Farewell.

47. Glorior Belli - Manifesting the Raging BeastI GET IT FRANCE, your bands are ridiculous. I was surprised to find out that GB had been dishing out tracks under Southern Lord's watchful eye, but given the album's preference for slow to mid-tempo songs, it should have become increasingly obvious. People have clumped Glorior Belli into the strand of sharp philosophical black metal of bands such as Mgla, Onskapt and early Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord. They continue the tradition well.

46. Blotted Science - The Machinations of Dementia

45. Bong-Ra - Full Metal Racket
I've had a long running affair with Bolt Thrower's 'War Master', and it topples easily over most of the work submitted around the same time by their English comrades. Upon picking up Full Metal Racket, I quickly learned that so had Jason Kohnen when he so flagrantly injected references to Bolt Thrower (among other particularly top-notch things) into this album. Everyone from Terrorizer(yayayay) to Earache(bO0O0O0) gets a name-drop, but the stand-out tracks are undeniably the 'Ram Waster' reference and the breakcore cover of Cenotaph. Delicious. I recall this being the exact same reason I fell in love with Necrony a while back. You just can't go wrong with a Cenotaph cover.

44. Wolfbrigade - Prey to the World

43. Phosphorescent - Pride
Matthew Houck can talk to me about whatever he wants. Rarely can I comment on how easily an artist's slow-spoken/half-sung/yet-somehow-multi-layered reverberated whisper translates (or in his case, transubstantiates) on to vinyl, and even fewer and far between are the instances in which I can say I give a tranny's handbag about the message being sent across the airwaves (especially in our oft times dodgy southern boy's case). If I ever bought vinyl. No, Houck brings together his penchant for lo-fi recording and sad melodies together with an uplifting religious undertone that sits surprisingly well with me. Having taken Marissa Nadler under his wing for those few shows was definitely kosher, and I only wish I could've witnessed it. Both can put on quite a heartfelt performance, so I've read. That voice definitely helps seal the deal.

42. Hypothermia - Rakbladsvalsen

41. Weedeater - God Luck and Good Speed

40. Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass
Aesop has gone a long way since Labor Days, and his signature beats and delivery are still in tact. The fact that he still manages to fly over heads is a sad monument to this year's output (I spit on JMT's last effort, and I never got around to 8 Diagrams, so). Multi-faceted and sharp as daggers, this guy's always gonna be on top for a variety of reasons, one of which I must admit isn't his voice. I shouldn't be that shallow that I have to weigh in the fact that he STILL sounds pre-pubescent, even though he spits out at the rate of 3,000 stings per second. Hell of a production job on this record, though.

39. Psychedelic Horseshit - Magic Flowers Droned
These guys understand. This music is similar to a broken relative who was probably a drug-addled gambit who survived the housing crash and the war on drugs, a few gang stints and perhaps even a back alley abortion or three, and in their cold grimace you see the stark urgency that you can only taste from their bleeding odour. Being 15 and a hispanic woman, you turn back to your T-mobile sidekick, passing up on the goldmine that is a ruined life with willing lips to decry. Magic Flowers Droned is a compact unpredictable bitch, and there's a lot happening here that I wouldn't understand even if I went out out of my way. After all, I am that slut who just won't listen. After a few tries though, you understand just how much it means to these guys to be able to purposely butcher the music, and the people it's intended for.

38. Amon Tobin - Foley Room

37. Wold - Screech Owl
I've only ever really been impressed by two or three other black-noise acts since I heard of its inception. Dead Raven Choir are probably the biggest band spearheading this movement, and have always had a pretty impeccable approach, and then there's Abruptum who are a fucking joke and should be euthanized on sight. Despite the self-proclaimed black-noise label that Wold use, there's a certain level of atmosphere and cohesion that really obstructs me from calling them genuine noise. Perhaps black-noise for its own sake has to include a certain amount of overlapping dissonant tunefulness that allows it to exist as an entity apart from both dark ambient and harsh noise as well as straying away from the ritual black ambient bands that have been associated with the Midwest and USBM. In any case, Screech Owl delivers, and shouldn't be passed up by enthusiasts of said music genres.

36. Battles - Mirrored

35. Secret Mommy - Plays
Alright, the gimmick is pretty clear. Everyone uses a slew of not very common instruments, plays them like a gang of mong-eaters, leaves the skinny guy with the laptop to copypasta and there you have it. It should, by all account, sound sillier than this, but in its own way, there's a craft here that can be explored and exploited to make serious shit unlike anything seen before on urth. I gasped at least twice during this album to how much the arrangements worked, although someone tell these people not to drown in their own novelty.

34. Inquisition - Nefarious Dismal Orations
I love the outerlying cum-crust that a lot of bands have that completely make listening to them a giant negative for a nice portion of the population. My countrymen Inquisition have always been shat on because Dagon croaks like an oversized bullfrog getting stuffed with dicks. Lucky for me, I love Dagon and the artwork alone for the majority of Inquisition's album covers is so over the top, that I can't help to want to strangle naysayers for not worshiping these fellas (at least for not loving the covers). The record itself is as truly Inquisition as droning ritualism gets. What's great is that through the lacerating frequencies, you can still get a slight peek at some of of the more quality guitarwork to grace this specific blend of sludge-esque black metal in a while. Also, doesn't the title sound like it could've been by Demon Burger?

33. Band of Horses - Cease To Exist

32. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
Sound judgment tells me I should have never cared about this album to begin with. It's ghastly and unoriginal. Assholes probably listen to this. But I can't stop that now, not after I've exchanged Elephant 6 for the crystal meth that fuels my faggotry.

31. Totalitär - Vi Är Eliten
Sweden is still a hotbed for hardcore and death metal, despite the beatings and mediocrity that has plagued them since the mid-90's. Known to me through their split with Dropdead,
Totalitär bring a helping of that second generation crust that's in such dire need of making a comeback. The rundown's pretty orthodox, and there's nothing here that would displease Anti Cimex or their ilk. Violently political, these veterans don't get down like a lot of the watered down crust-by-affiliation bands that have been getting so much attention at festivals like Obscene Extreme.

30. Bongripper - Hippie Killer
An epic sludge 10-piece with an uptempo pizzazz that would play pretty well as a one-track full-length but is broken down for accessibility's purpose. It has it's calm eerie moments, but the innovation is consistent making the entire album and all its different movements work well as a concept one-piece, from the loud amp-exterminating riffage to the obvious Neurosis passages.

29. The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

28. Forgotten Woods - Race of Cain
Ever since Neige took over vocal duties, I knew this was an album I'd have to come across. Lo and behold, it turned out to be better than the godawful Peste Noire compilation released this same year. That, plus Amesoeurs doesn't seem to have a full-length headed our way any time soon, and Alcest is entirely fucking overrated.

27. Yacøpsæ - Tanz Grosny Tanz

26. Gallhammer - Ill Innocence

25. The Pax Cecilia - Blessed Are the Bonds
This gets the award for cross-pollination effort 2007. Granted a lot of teh post-post-hardcore nowadays leans towards the mathy apocalyptic side, few really try to apply this epic post-rock template as principle. A not too shabby hybrid has resulted, combining the labyrinthine crust-influenced post-hardcore (emo violence lulz) with the doomy post-life sounds of Explosions in the Sky to create something which makes complete sense. How this didn't happen sooner is anybody's guess.

24. Behold... The Arctopus - Skullgrid

23. Tartar Lamb - Sixty Metonymies

22. Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters
I'm gonna risk sounding like a clitshaft by announcing that I've liked this band since before their release of Diadem of 12 Stars, and I couldn't for the life of me have predicted their untimely snowball into hipster canon. Yeah yeah, post-metal is a fabricated genre meant to produce hype -- Jesu's kind of bland -- Southern Lord doesn't have a single decent band on their current roster -- I know what the vernacular states. Politics tossed aside, this is the beauty of experimental USBM to the core. The Twilight collective (i.e. the spice girls of USBM) is tired and uninspired, and I would rather hear the death-rattle of my only child than sit through a Xasthur album. But in between Vrolok and WIITR, things might ending up not seeming so bleak for our locals after all. In spite of their self-centered claims at having breakthrough ideologies.

21. A Whisper in the Noise - Dry Land
Steve Albini makes a better producer nowadays than he does attempting to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time. I love the man, but 'At Action Park' is never going to repeat itself. The substance here is undeniable, and kept to a bare minimum. Very unlike the steamroller-type projects Albini is known to be involved with, aWitN travel the road of soft-sounding aurally pleasing melodies drenched in darkness and ambiguity. To clear up things, Albini's not actually in aWitN, I only mentioned him because of my own gaping disappointment with 'Excellent Italian Greyhound', which save for Spoke (which could actually be my favorite song of the year) is a bona fide piece of dick.

20. Blood Freak - Multiplex Massacre
Maniac Neil has long ago established himself and all his incarnations to be Razorback's grandest. Two consecutively sexy albums in under two years makes Neil the man with the keys to my heart. It would be the tits if Blood Freak played a New York show, now that they've decided to start performing live. Or MDF.

19. Akron/Family - Love is Simple
Because I refuse to acknowledge Panda Bear.

18. Burial - Untrue

17. Deathspell Omega - Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeturnum
Mikko Aspa can't do wrong. Sure, the momentum behind this band has spiraled out of control and this material doesn't sound half as dense as their last three albums, but as far as an avant-garde record goes, this shit isn't the pits. It definitely makes up for the abortion known as Supervillain Outcast.

16. Weekend Nachos - Punish and Destroy
How is powerviolence fairing off these days anyway? I've now solely been keeping up with Sylvester Staline as well as going back to the reliably awesome Infest and at times No Comment, but these guys put the a much-needed punch to the back of the head of this dead prostitot. For a genre that's pretty much hit rock bottom (Mind Eraser...), there are a few bands out there that still like to not make a mockery of the music.

15. Akitsa - La Grande Infamie

14. Fall of Efrafa - Elil
Neo-crust the way it was meant to get down. This is the sequel to Owsla, and part two in the group's concept trilogy. With each song clocking in at approximately 20 minutes each, the amount of work and cyclic progression which revisits passages from other FoE works to form a sort of chain of concepts around which this chapter is built is astounding, and difficult to really encapsulate with anywhere less than three listens. A bit drawn out, if you're not into the depth of most contemporary doom, but pays off in the end when all the bits and pieces form a carefully-orchestrated work of a collective WTF.

13. Walknut - Graveforests and Their Shadows
Slavic NS is about the most ridiculous and comically misinformed ideology you can try to formulate and rationalize. However, loving the smell of their own shit and failing to come to terms with history has never stopped half the buffoons from Blazebirth from making tragedy in the form of black metal. Regardless, this album stands out beautifully, and has some of the best atmosphere this side of Belketre. Formed by members of the Nitberg and Temnozor camps (hence a lot of the pagan imagery), Graveforests may be the sole reason I don't completely discard Russia into its own self-ingesting potluck of ratty underachievement.

12. The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls with Sand

11. Rome - Confessions d'un voleur d'âmes

The Top 10

10. Diagnose: Lebensgefahr - Transformalin
Ever since 'Death - Pierce Me', the thunderous hypestorm that Nattramn has managed to conjure isn't very much unlike the hipster-posturing non-existent allure of complete scat brulee extravaganzas akin to this year's 'Sound of Silver'. The harrowing stories of dementia and ward-house isolation coupled with aversion therapy and electroshock treatment have become legend, and I have to be honest, played a big part in my interest in Transformalin. Now, I'm no idgit. Anyone with a cubic liter's worth of brain fluid can tell it's clearly a pitch, though fetching. That being said, this album is pretty linear in its diverse take on ambient. Aside for being predictably haunting (the pitch, THE PITCH), it has its incredibly spectral moments. Particularly the last track, which as I try to describe to the best of my ability, is harking HARD on Axis of Perdition, though the album draws influence from a lot of contemporaries in both the dark ambient (think Lustmord) and post-industrial/noise (think Masonna when he's not trying to kill your face) worlds.

9. Atrium Carceri - Ptahil
Quintessential ambient album of the year. The bleak minimalism which gives way to the running wild of the human mind, helped along at times only be the eerie samples scattered about is what sells this record. True, that can be said about any dark ambient act, but not to the extent of Atrium Carceri, who incorporate so many elements of neo-classical suspense, that this makes for a simultaneously soothing yet murderous listen, doubling the apocalyptic factor behind its merit. Not the most relaxing of music, and definitely not for people who don't appreciate the effect suspense can have on a listening experience.

8. Ulver - Shadows of the Sun
Beautiful. Black Sabbath cover and everything. Garm is a free-thinker if I've ever seen one, and has proved time and time again that genre confines serve to diminish the cause of music, rather than to elevate it to its next form. Shadows of the Sun isn't the type of music you'd want to pump through speakers or play while there's a multitude of people around you. It works best in solitude, with the freedom to close your eyes and really dive into the exponential amounts of atmosphere being brought to the table.

7. Marissa Nadler - Songs III: Bird on the Water
The vocals take incredible prominence to the work Nadler tries to present, and if I'm to delve into intense female songwriting tradition, I definitely prefer her stylings over the cholesterol ball of pretense of Joanna Newsom. Trying to re-capture the past isn't a feat at all to Marissa, who's incredibly cute to boot, and pours her soul into painting the withered image of lost hope and despair. The lyrical content is some of the most realistically depressing I've read in a while, taken to an extreme by the somberness of her voice. She's not the best at displaying variety in terms of lyrical or emotional range, but what she lacks in diversity she makes up with being able to hone herself with mass precision.

6. Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
There's absolutely no one who has any valid excuse for not liking this album. The dirty slutty awesomeness is still served by the buckets, even though the amps aren't receiving the ample amount of punishment of previous releases. It grooves and wrecks, and definitely urges me to bang my head, in the most genuine of ways. Much more accessible and less wall-of-sound than Dopethrone and Come my Fanatics, but all the while more infectious. As the epitome of good taste, you'd best stay the hell away if you're not gonna salivate once it's done. And shame on you.

5. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times
The zenith of performance avant-fuck deliver once again, this time indulging in the metallier side of things without qualm. The parabolas of bi-polar behavior in this record are a testament to SGM's true virtuosity, but it's not as if anything less was expected. Sprinkled with about three dozen different styles of music, the content is unrelenting, and given their perfectionist streak, downright excellent. From their quirkpop to their soulful funk, back through a series of gargled intersections, this is a trip worth listening to at least for its novel fragmentation. If they don't touch upon what your heart desires in one of their episodes of schizophrenia, you my friend, have a Marklar's taste in music.

4. Bone Awl - Meaningless Leaning Mess
The amount of Amebix worship is worthy of a tribute album, although abstaining from a lot of the old-school nihilist sounds of our godfathers by having a holdover elements from raw visionaries Ildjarn. In fact, these guys have been dubbed Ildjarn clones, but why would that imply even slightly being a negative thing? It's raw, fuzzy and frantic, with your occasional outburst to keep you off-guard. In a year heavily lacking in good crust punk, the black metal camp has stepped up to fill the void in our tumultuous hearts.

3. EAQuartett - Electroacoustiquarett

Oh John Zorn, how you broke my heart this year. I believe that you haven't really been exposed to either avant-prog or post-grindcore until you've sat through all of Torture Garden, which is impossibly suffocated among the limitless catalog this fellow Queens-dweller has amassed throughout the years. Sure Naked City shines the brightest, but is in reality only the most retarded of his other mentally-impaired works. I should preface that by saying I love retards, and ackowledge the unrecognized contributions made by them to society on an everyday basis. While Zorn squandered his potential by bringing in the tired irrelevance known as Mike Patton for Heliogabalus, the quartett were off plotting to rock the world of free-form spectrum-variant experimental jazz-fusion. What does that mean? These guys cover as much ground as Zorn at his best, and do it with a surprising fluidity. But better. Much better. Criminally overlooked album.

2. Kemialliset Ystävät - Kemialliset Ystävät
Romanians are such a blast. By Romanians, I mean the Finns, but being ignorant of the diaspora mechanisms behind eastern Europe, I dare not comment on its intricacies. This sounds Romanian, though. Can't pinpoint exactly what I mean by that, but if it's Finns playing Romanian music for an Italian film score, than I'd win the lightning round. Psychedelia confounds me, and when it doesn't, it leaves me utterly devastated at how frequently I've shat on it.. it sucks being in a lake of ignorance. About this record: it's a procession. A caravan of different cultures that strike me as innumerable and seductive to the core. The palette requirement of this multi-culturist multi-instrumentalist smörgåsbord has been pleasantly fulfilled, while I whip my head back and try to imagine who are the curious people that travel this landscape.

1. Midnight Juggernauts - Dystopia

What's in a name? Do you ever wonder if people's names influence the outcome of their personality, or have the capacity of metamorphosing their every physical nook and cranny, just because? Would I act or look any differently if my name was Sergio (allegedly it almost was)? We already perceive other people differently based on the phonetics of their name's pronunciation, in coherence with our past experiences with people of the same moniker. But let me stop contemplating any further out of fear of validating the useless self-absorbed bullshit that's got shallow parents everywhere throwing millions of dollars into something as entirely loathsome and unnecessary as the baby-naming industry. Sweden definitely knows what I'm talking about. I'm anxious to meet a 15-year old girl with an invisalign mouthpiece and a Conway tiara named Bathsheba, and shake her parent's hands and buy them a drink for not being modernist assholes.

I bring this up because I can't think of the last time I thought to myself of how a band's name fit their music so freakishly well. These are the tracks to which unicellular pseudopods gyrate, and would perhaps find themselves sharing the stage with Alexander the Great and the Marquis de Sade (read: violently imposing queers). Nebular is the word for this strobe light parade, and one of the better things to have risen from Australia this year, although stellar seems to be a running theme with the Aussies (Stargazer comes to mind). Seemingly mindless (these guys have more depth than your average shlomo jocking a false genre named indie rave) fun is to be had, with a nice dose of X-Files mixed in with dizzyingly well-executed after-hours roller rink nostalgia. Dirty and shameless, this flickering spotlight and extraterrestrial falsetto cuntiness describes my current self down to a tee.

- Christian