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  • Albums of 2012

    Dez 19 2012, 17h12


    Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

    Animal Collective returned to the musical panorama following the critically acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavillion – The band have opened up their dusty suitcase of magical potions and tales to rejuvenate their sound back to a point where it was most bedazzling. The enigmatic howls of Avery Tare and whines of Panda Bear are more apparent on their current offering. The album sounds earthly yet abraded in comparison to its predecessor. Centipede Hz is not for the casual walking around Urban Outfitters listener, but for those who have adapted their ear lobes, put patience in their earphones to embrace the cryptic psychedelic sound of Baltimore’s finest. Fans of their mid-2000s work are in for an audible treat. On a disappointing note. Yes, it doesn’t have as much moments of wonder as listeners craved and sadly, it was a washout not to include Honeycomb / Gotham on the track-listing.







    XXYYXX - xxyyxx

    Although only a ‘mix-tape’ it is probably the most impressive releases since House of Balloons by The Weeknd. The late-teens Floridian producer has shined years before others are even musically aware, a find blend of garage beats, chopped up and layered out beautifully for an already momentous first step in music, it will be more interesting than an episode of Breaking Bad to see what planet this musical voyage goes to next. If there is any criticism, the album does at times does get lost in itself and lacks a sense of true direction.







    Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble

    This album mixes both dancehall and garage perfectly together in a bowl of blasé sound. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs or TEED as they’re known for people who don’t like to press their keyboard too often have released an album that seems to be stuck between future and past, there are a lot of late nineties vibes going on in some songs, yet still a fresh sound of dance adorns the track-listing also. I guess the name makes sense now if you think about it in that way… Nevertheless, this album is enjoyable, if not the most groundbreaking, it certainly adds new light to the spectrum of electronica.






    Why? - Mumps, etc.

    After a callow Pitchfork review gave this album 2.7 out of 10, I myself, as a zealous Why? fan, had to wonder, maybe, this was the decline of one of the best bands to mix words and head noddin’ beats together into an enveloped sound of utopian epitome? I read the review with an uncluttered mind and raised eyebrows – There were a lot of points I agreed with, like Yoni Wolf becoming increasingly self centered and trickier to relate to. Mr Wolf raps about what it’s like to be the singer of Why?, not what terrible, romantic and fantastic disease it is to be born as a human, like he did back in the day when no one knew about things like Instagram. The review got lost in a ball of hatred, but if one actually listens to the album there are a lot of future-classic and poignant rhymes included in Mumps. Etc, especially on songs such as As a Card/White English/ Way High On Highway 13. I implore every Why? fan and listener of hip-hop to heed this album on a deeper level. Give it time and patience and it will become a cousin you get on with who is talented at tapestry.


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    Beach House - Bloom

    Whispy, husky vocals return, the choked behind too many malboro lights voice of Victoria Legrand is as impressive as ever. After Teen Dream it was fascinating to see where the band would go with their sound. The answer? A more accessible and heartfelt album has followed. Their sound has more power toward it and this makes for a brilliant platform for the band to excel within the limelight. Now when you’re in Starbucks, wishing you weren’t with the person from across the table, you might here Legrand’s voice in the background reminding you that, it’s okay. With albums like this, they might one day surpass Animal Collective with the title of Baltimore’s finest musicians.







    DIIV - Oshin

    Oshin feels like one elongated soothing song with jerky guitar riffs, steady drums and opaque vocals, where lyrics are difficult to decipher through the glass of cool. But it is the guitar that guides the album forward with an unusual charm in its melody. How Long Have You Known, is a fine example of DIIV’s instrumentation talents. Their sound may not be so unique drawing from the 80s and post-chillwave era but the band are one of the best at what they do. DIIV are named so as a tribute to the band all having water astrological signs, but one would be a fool not to let Oshin take a dive into your waterfall of a heart.






    Polica - Give You the Ghost


    An innovative form of digital blues is here for the world! Some of the best descriptions I’ve read about Polica have been “sounds like Fiona Apple fronting TV on the Radio” or “a cyborg Norah Jones meets current Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead” but Polica are their own creature and they bring together elements of compassion, emotion and mollifying nature together in this album. The lyrics are quite personal but not too personal, so thus meaning they are accessible to listeners. Tracks like Dark Star and I See My Mother are particular highlights, exhibiting Channy Leaneagh’s vocals as a front-woman. An unforgettable live performance really propelled this album in to repeated listens for me. The way in which the band dovetail the digital with traditional is a joy to perceive. There’s got to be a reason somewhere why connoisseur of cool Jay-Z is a fan right?







    Heavenly Beat - T A L E N T

    A bedroom project that has gone remarkably right.





    Passion Pit - Gossamer

    Alike their former record, Gossamer rushes through the same veins on the human body –pumping electric charm with a side order of misery and self-doubt. Passion Pit are quite simply one of music’s clearest oxymoron’s. They blend such poignant and self-deprecation with a perplexing glow of hope and candy covered happiness. Passion Pit are the contemporary answer to musical bi-polar. Michael Angelakos is once again impressive in his delivery of thought provoking lyrics – although at times the album does feel a bit like hand-picked synth pop compilation rather than a journey or story, it still bleeds brighter than its adversaries in the swimming pool of what it takes to have guts.





    Twin Shadow - Confess

    “It’s too poppy”. “It’s too mainstream”. “They’ve sold out”. These are some examples of things you may have heard about this album. Yet another sophomore album this year that has exceled and exceeded the expectations set by music bloggers. Confess is more accessible and is more pop like than Forget, but having said that, although lacking subversion – it does display a lot of progression and improvement in style. Sometimes things get more popular because they are good, and that can be said about this album too. Another album to get lost in the mystical area of modern pop pretentiousness. Be careful what you’re seen listening to on that subway train! Tracks like Golden Light and Run My Heart express foot-stomping and heart flooding emotion within. Everyone should be careful what they do with their other shadow.






    Santigold - Master of My Make-Believe

    One of the coolest owners of female body parts returned this year, to light up the world with her sense of style and nonchalant unique lure. Santigold’s simpressive sound was on full display on Master of My Make Believe, which mixes both an urban sense of pop and progressive cheerful indie. Singles like Disparate Youth and The Keepers should be given away on the back of cereal boxes for kids to learn about how good music can be.





    Purity Ring - Shrines

    Shrines is a succinct and concise album of splendor and wonder. It develops throughout delivering cryptic stories behind gorgeously full electronic beats. The vocabulary and vocals of lead singer Megan Jones is nothing but charming and could create a sparkle of awe in even the most miserable of hearts. The Canadian duo have a lot to live up to after this album of cool. Shrines would be that one friend who you never really get to know, but is always mysterious to you and has cheap magic tricks in their pocket at all times. Shrines is the red fish toy you place on your palm, but now, changes colour! Purity Ring are as au courant as you can get.





    Wild Nothing- Nocturne

    That tricky album, the second album – the album that makes or breaks bands in the public’s sniper eye. The pressure was on, boiled up and intense, there was sweat somewhere, dripping graceless and reckless down a forehead. But Wild Nothing delivered a dream of an album. Nocturne is delicate and charming to the listener, it contains a few songs that will make most hearts feel warm and cozy at any room temperature. The sleepy-pop shoe-gaze feel to the album makes it very tranquil and gratifying. Wild Nothing have developed as a band and on this album it’s even more evident. The album, like their first, contains a few anthems for the lonely pizza regular to chant in to their mirror of misfortune to. The album has a distant sound to it, almost like the band are playing through an opaque piece of glass, but nonetheless Nocturne is lovely, in all synonyms and connotations that the word generates.





    Jon Talabot - ƒin

    A late entry for me, but an emphatic one. The Spanish wonder-kid came from nowhere and blew my mind away with a million and nine bazookas with his debut album ƒIN. The abstract and majestic arrangement of electronica is a wonder to behold here. The album is uplifting, haunting and mysterious all in one impressive entity. Fin develops one song after the other, it simply is one of those albums that you must to listen from the first second until there’s nothing but silence in your speaker system. Talabot creates a sense of wholeness in this album, that only leaves the listener perplexed and ready to hit repeat. If Fin was a 6.30pm dinner date, you would not realise that everyone has left, the lights are off and the staff are now asking you to leave, it’s that engrossing.









    How to Dress WellTotal Loss

    I don’t know where to start when talking about this album. It is just so powerful, soulful, significant, ardent and bursting with emotion I feel like my fingers are going to seep in to my keyboard just listening to it again. Tom Krell blends his exultant voice with the good ol’ rhythm and blues. After reading in an interview he is a fan of Mariah Carey, put me off How To Dress Well, but if you look under the veil, you can see how he has turned something horrible and used it, adapted it, in to something of such exquisiteness and zeal that it really shows the condition of being human. One of the deepest and poignant albums I have ever heard in my life. Total Loss is heartbreaking, even for those who do not longer own blood to pump around. It is sentimental, compassionate, wonderfully arranged, full of spirit – it’s the best album of the year.






    Conclusion

    On the whole – 2012 was just as impressive that ’11, all due to a lot of acts returning with impressive second albums. Darkness and melancholy plagued my charts this year, not that it’s a depressive thing, but it was interesting to see how many haunting albums full of emotion were strong this year. A more psychedelic and meaningful year in the world of audio – I can’t wait to see where next year takes our wilted minds. I was quite close minded with my genre types this year, especially in regards to punk and rap.


    Honorable mentions:

    Frank Ocean - ORANGE
    Crystal Castles - (III)
    Blackbird BlackbirdBoracay Planet EP
    Tame ImpalaLonerism
    BurialKindred EP
    Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
    Hot ChipIn Our Heads
    Django Django- Django Django
    Tanlines - Mixed Emotions
    DeerhoofBreakup Song
  • Albums of 2011

    Jan 24 2012, 2h40


    Serengeti - Family & Friends

    Intelligent poetry from a percipient tongue, what more could you want? Yes that question is rhetorical. Serengeti’s rap skills are humorous, modern, hip and thought provoking but primarily relevant to the world we live in. The album was produced by Why? frontman Yoni Wolf, and this is evident in the sullen jazzy instrumentation, which plays a key role in the background to guide the listener along through the cave of rap. Great visulisation, use of metaphors, joyful hooks and stories are all packed in neatly. Family & Friends is a must listen album that all hip-hop fans who have a few brain cells and no bling on their wrists. Shakespeare would spin in his grave, if we knew where he was buried. A ground-breaking virtuoso in the rap game.





    Yalls - Yalls

    Weird, weird, weird. Prepare your facial muscles with grunts and widened eyes before listening to this album. This would be the album chosen to accompany a film about colour changing water. Yalls’ versatility will surprise at first and means that he stands apart from the rest of the crowd at the musical subway station. Tracks like Germs are proof of the creepy seductiveness within the album. There’s really nothing else out there that gives as much depth and meaning in a charming and heart-warming style enveloped in a sandwich of rarity. The album’s allure comes from a tender place but still mysterious enough to elude the mainstream by miles, miles, miles.






    tUnE-yArDs - Whokill

    After listening to this album for the first time, it was clear why the stylization of the band text letters was so off putting and annoying to typographers in high buildings. tUnE-YarDs are the sort of crazy art project that would of sounded awful in plan but in action has bloomed in to something beautiful. Hypocrites would laugh towards Merrill Garbus’ project at first, but in their minds will not be able to help but fall in love with the allure and become entrapped in lust of her quirky nature. Biznessis a fine example of the album’s uninhibited, wild and creative psyche. Garbis ignites the north-American underground nu-funk scene with her llama voice and diversity of instruments. Elements of R&B, Folk, Funk and Afro-pop all combine together to make this one of the most enigmatic and magical sounding albums of 2011.





    Toro y Moi - Underneath the Pine

    American Apparel under cover model Chaz Bundick continued 2011 in a similar fashion as he did in ’10. Following on from his album Causers of This, which I awarded the 6th best album last year and impressive Freaking Out EP that was an enjoyable highlight this year, all thus helping Toro Y Moi get the nod ahead of the honorable mentions below. Underneath The Pine displays the musical direction of Bundick, as he focuses less to the ‘chillwave’ aesthetic sounds and incorporated an auxiliary funky and electro pop sound. Toro’s music is farther polished, accomplished and richer sounding, but whether this is a positive thing is debatable as the album does get a bit boring after a while, like looking at someone’s sexy parts for more than 4 hours. How I Know is one of the album's strongest tracks, beautiful lyrics mixed with rising charm. The album perfectly combines a retro sound that somehow feels futuristic. This is his worst release to date but having said that it is still a very impressive effort. What’s next from Toro Y Moi?





    The Weeknd - House of Balloons

    Rhythm and Blues was jiggled up in 2011 by the Toronto based genius of his time Abel Tesfaye. House of Balloons is not only subversive within its own genre but in all modern music. Dirty R&B would be the best way to describe The Weeknd’s sound if you were at a party and someone with annoying eyebrows requested to know. House of Balloons is full of samples, cutting-edge techniques and naughty lyrics. Playing with tempos and tones keeps the album not only interesting but engrossing, aiding listeners to once again appreciate a genre that some would agree has remained stagnant since the mid-90’s. When I first heard House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls, my mind was blown like a piece of toast that had been left under a spaceship. Truly fashionable stuff.





    WU LYF - Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

    Manchester based heavy popers gifted listeners with the greatest musical adventure on offer from the United Kingdom in 2011. Go Tell Fire to the Mountain is an album that demands to be listened to all the way through for it to be nutritious to a wary mind. The journey takes one through a blaze of feral emotions, haunting howls and cries of being alive with blood in veins and tales behind eyelids. WU LYF capture in sound, human kind’s animal instinct to survive and prosper, there is a sense of ‘togetherness’ within the music that goes amiss in 99.2% of rock bands. In places the instrumentation is similar to Modest Mouse, with dazzling drum loops and twitchy guitar chords. The voice of Ellery James Roberts is scarily wonderful and absorbing as he screams callously vague lyrics. After listening to this album I felt like I had grown a monster in my stomach that I had to yell to get out. WU LYF have created an intelligent and abstract form of rock that subtly evokes positive feelings about life.






    Metronomy - The English Riviera

    Mercury prize nominated and habitually-heard-in-backgrounds-of-lifestyle-documentary-television-shows renowned Metronomy returned in 2011 with a adjusted line up and a polished sound to their ‘funky body swaying music’. It’s of no wonder that the music industry was continually typing all the letters of their band name in the correct order this year. A respectable album for middle aged chemistry teachers to admit they adore just as much as hydrogen. Metronomy’s net cast wider and longer than ever before with The English Riveria. Tracks like The Look and Corinne display the band’s flexibility in all things syncopated. If English Riviera was transformed in to a town, I'd bet it would be full of rich lovers who drink continental coffees and cocktails all day long in swanky cafés wondering the meaning to life.







    Architecture in Helsinki - Moment Bends

    Australian indie-boppers Architecture in Helsinki developed their sound to suit society's moods in 2011. Moment Bends is danceable and eye-popping, the mixture of male/female work well together and add charm to the band's sound. The use of drum machines and synths help translate an almost 80s pop sound stuck 20 years into the future. The album is easy to listen to and although it may become tiresome like a rhino hitting you with it's horn perpetually, it's stronger songs like Escapee and Contact High give the album the edge to make it into the top 10.





    Panda Bear - Tomboy

    The hypnotizing rhythmic solo project of Animal Collective co-founder Noah Lennox has done nothing but impress ears over sad oceans and dull lands. Tomboy is a masterpiece in avant-guard musical creation. Following from his previous two albums Lennox finds his voice further more elevating the mind and heart in to a utopian place of lucid dream music. Beach-Boy-like harmonies and waves of emotion offer the listeners’ mind to an abstract portal to dive within. If you want to dream about holding hands with a recently radiant lover and summer ice creams sucked in slow-motion – getting stuck in a zone of future nostalgia for a night then this is the perfect album for the occasion. Tomboy is like a strangely attractive version of its cousin Merriweather Post Pavillion that works selling sofas and slightly broken furniture.





    Craft Spells - Idle Labor

    If you placed Joy Division, the year 2011, alphabet spaghetti and sugar free wine-gums in to a vicious blender and kept that baby spinning all night… Craft Spells would be the final result of the smoothie. Although using a predictable and obsolete style the California outfit manage to make music that is pleasing, relaxing and comforting. Idle Labor is the perfect album for many occasions from missing lovers; picking noses; counting coins; performing finger dances and kicking balloons around an empty hallway. Craft Spells’ sound has charm and kindness which has made a lot of people smile slowly with others, with pets and on their own this year.






    Friendly Fires - Pala


    80s pop mixed in with a tropical twist is the perfect way to describe this album to a person with a short attention span. Pala is one of those albums that does not offer any major surprises but delivers track after track a pleasing and warm pop sound to the listener. While some of the album sounds indie the rest sounds very neon-futuristic. Friendly Fires have taken the best direction possible after their debut album, meaning that Pala has spread its wings and is now flying high.






    Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

    Shabazz Palaces create some of the most interesting music I’ve ever heard in my life. Black Up is an untamed hip-hop record that smashes the conventional template of urban music. It does takes a while to knock down the wall of your musical inhibitions and acquire your taste to truly appreciate the music of the duo, but once you do, you will feel like you understand something greater than expected. Each song is fascinating, emotive and unpredictable, ending up somewhere vastly different from where it began. Sub Pop were so intrigued by the duo that they're the first hip hop band they have signed to their label. Black Up is certainly an album I never expected to like but impressed me from start to finish. The lyrics aren’t obviously special, but the delivery and mix with erratic beats and bass combine to delightful results.





    Washed Out- Within and Without

    Washed Out released their debut long play this year after two successful EP’s in ’10. Like Toro y Moi, Earnest Greene has veered away from the aesthetic and found a sound unique to his own. Within and Without is the perfect album to sink into your mattress to, or levitate above your pillow, if you have that ability downloaded in your human system. Greene has created a elegant, subtle and flourishing album that rewards more with every listen. A truly admirable effort from the much hyped on the blogs artist. The music takes the mind to a relaxed and reflective place. Washed Out are unlucky to miss out on the top spot as this is a really remarkable release from them this year. The soundtrack to adorn many lovers’ tongue-locking sessions, as the music would suggest more than the album artwork. Perfect, or as the French say when speaking English correcly… perfect.




    Neon Indian- Era Extraña

    Was the world expecting Neon Indian’s sophomore album to be this brilliantly great? I certainly wasn’t. Era Extraña is wonderfully caught between a 80’s imagined future and the present, the album sways our kneecaps from side to side, and makes our palms want to hold the flesh on the back of hip-bones. If I ever needed a soundtrack for falling in love in a chemistry class or swimming pool, this would be it. The themes of love and lust make it simple for any non-robotic to adore and relate to. The hazy sounds mixed with twinkles of space combine fluidly to give the album a sense of positive nostalgia. I get excited every time I listen to Era Extraña, this is the album 2011 didn’t know it needed, but desperately did.






    M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

    From the moment Zola Jesus howls on the opening track Intro - the listener knows deep down in the back of their throat, that they are set for a spectacular adventure with Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. What’s even more remarkable is that the album is a double long play, 22 tracks of soulful chants and music at its best. The album is tender, but full of energy, possibility and life – Anthony Gonzalez’s voice is more powerful and poignant than on previous albums. After the critical acclaim of Saturdays = Youth, I’m sure many people were expecting a drop in form from M83, but on the contrary – they have improved and excelled once again, arguably creating one of the best albums of all time. Tracks like Reunion where the yelps of (“You make me feel my soul”) reemphasise why messier83 reach somewhere visceral in the body and mind that one didn’t know was alive. This album makes me feel alive more than ever and creates fresh emotions under rib-cages. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming captures hope, love and dreams and transforms them in to something tangible. With this album M83 have undoubtedly elevated themselves into one of the best musical acts of all time.



    Conclusion:
    This year was full of hope and expectation, some of it resulted in let downs, but in a few occasions I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of some acts. The top 3 albums are all of remarkable quality and I'm sure I'll be listening to them for years to come. There were many musical acts who bloomed and I'm excited to see the direction music will take in 2012, especially in the urban section. Sadly I didn't listen to much punk or hardcore this year, it was just something I struggled to listen to, apart from one album I just felt there was nothing fresh or interesting in the genre.

    Honorable Mentions:
    Foster the People - Torches
    James Ferraro - Far Side Virtual
    SBTRKT - SBTRKT
    Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne
    The Lonely Island - Turtleneck & Chain
    Pictureplane - THEE PHYSICAL
    Set Your Goals - Burning at Both Ends
    COOLRUNNINGS - Dracula is only the beginning
    Hudson Mohawke - Satin Panthers
  • Albums of 2010

    Dez 28 2010, 23h37


    Anamanaguchi - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (Original Videogame Soundtrack)

    A perfectly constructed video-game soundtrack starts off the list. Anamanaguchi step up from their honorable mention last year and merit a place by releasing nostalgic glitchy beats to adorn toe tapping and button bashing moments in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World game. The soundtrack on its own glimmers a fresh spark within mainstream music, taking things to a whole new (secret) level. The trajectory of the band hasn't changed at all since Dawn Metropolis, they are still as hyperactive as ever, innovative and bursting with extra lives from the '80s. Without a doubt some songs only thrive within the context of the game, but Another Winter and Just Like The Movies express a versatility that mean they would go down well at any house-party-with-guests-who-once-spilled-spaghetti-on-a-SNES. Wanna bring some snacks over, play some v-games, decrease our pee-bars and accelerate our hearts? Yeah you got the idea!





    Errors - Come Down With Me

    Errors returned in 2010 with an album for their mothers' to be proud of. Following on from It's Not Something, But It Is Like Whatever their musical voyage continues hovering by in a similar fashion. Keeping listeners shakin' their metaphorical hips with their own interpretation of modern disco. Sway-enduing and knee bending bleeps sweep the consciousness away from idle dancers. Errors show progression with this album, exactly what I'm sure they were aiming for since its conception. From the opening track Bridge Or Cloud? we are taken on an adventure through european influences and culture with four caviler scottish boys. Fizzy synthetics and twee electronic guitar twangs merge together to give a fascinating charm to the album. Errors have came a long way and now go on to inspire many contemporary bands starting out today. An album for the Scottish music scene to be proud of exporting.





    Sleigh Bells - Treats

    This band met in a cafe... Well, that's what 'they' say anyway. Ex-Posion-The-Well guitarist teams up with pop vocalist Alexis Krauss to create an edgy, brutally noisy and engaging album. Treats is like it's name, but for only those who suck the sour candy to access greater rewards and health problems. The contrast in sweet breezy vocals and violent guitar thrashes provide a fresh intrigue in an otherwise obsolete club. Sleigh Bells' rare style make it of no wonder that M.I.A spotted this duo and snapped them up to her own record label, NEET Recordings. In a world of bored-attention-seeking-bloggers, this album snares its teeth right back at the world. Treats is powerful, kind and ground breaking; a strange yet tasty concoction to find in a musical cocktail. It's like someone really really pissed off The Ting Tings and injected them with alarming amounts of testosterone.





    Small Black - New Chain

    The chill is over but we're still waving. Small Black picked up the baton in the interestingly named fresh music style of 2010 ''. A relaxing, hypnotic, and shoe-gazing style that is zeitgeisty in all weather seasons. The album New Chain is arguably inferior to their Small Black EP, but as a collective effort for 2010 Small Black make it in to the list. Heart warming tracks allure ears with sweet whipsy vocals, that are encoded with enchanting lyrics to decipher through the reverb. Search Party is a stand out track on the album being a prime example of their promising sound. Well worth checking out if you are ignorant to their existence. A wonderful and intimate live performance late on this year proved they can translate their magnetizing sound to a live audience. If Small Black were a relative, it would be your favourite one to hang with at those horrible family get-togethers.





    Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (II)

    Naming your second album the same as your self titled debut; gives off the impression that your band is a bit blasé. The electro-punk duo of Crystal Castles deliver their second album like they signed for their first, in a face-down-who-cares-what-you-think-manner. But with greater expectations on them this time, it's clear their sound has become more polished. Perhaps a sign of the band maturing and growing or just affording better equipment. Their sample of Sigur Ros on track 'Year of Silence' is the albums only let down, there's nothing innovative or inspiring about it at all. Tracks like 'Baptism' and 'Celestica' help show Alice Glass's diverse abilities as a singer, from screaming teenage angst rage to angelic nun who's never seen Sister Act. The album is alluring and contains sorrow in the right places, 'Vietnam' is clear example of this. However their hysteria of hissy fits make it hard to completely respect them as an act. Did they live up to the promise of the first album? Only just.





    Minus the Bear - Omni

    Funky ambient psych art-rock. Minus The Bear are already, or have been called underground trend setters, connoisseurs of progressive music. But somehow will find themselves at the back of the list, of many peoples' favourite band lists. In 2010 they released Omni to the public, which collectively is the tightest and most compatible album they have released as a band. Omni has a futuristic grunge feel with guitar effects galore and strange loops, but all that work well to wrap around lyrics, giving their most complete feeling and agile album. Minus The Bear certainly have a unique sound and it's on full display here, track 'Animal Backwards' displays a bear caught between past and present . Sadly Omni lacks a sense of self-deprecation that fans will be used to. Yet all this positivity leads me to wonder if the only way is down from now, sucks to be a cynic.





    M.I.A. - MAYA

    A strong return from M.I.A after a 3 year gap in albums. After the fame that 'Paper Planes' brought to her, MAYA reveals the place Mathangi Arulpragasam is at now in her life, holding a mirror up to modern society like a well rehearsed magic trick. We hear the usual ingredients to expect on an M.I.A album: A lady never afraid to speak up, multi-culture influence, captivating disco bounces, addictive chants and subtle political opinion; her own view of contemporary life captured on a CD. But the album goes further, leaking humble sentiments of searching for a meaning not only in the world, but also in herself. 'Tell Me Why' and 'Caps Lock' show an emotive side to M.I.A's music, something that we may not be accustom to with her previous egocentric undertones. It's clear from this album M.I.A is self-concious of her present and connective technologies, but still is cool enough to express it in a nonchalant manner. For those who say it's not as good as her previous work, you need to listen deeper, "Stay until it gets better" - Well it did. M.I.A's best album to date.





    letlive - Fake History

    The little-well known California band letlive debut within the top ten with their loud, angry and violently energetic album Fake History. In places their style is reminiscent of post-hardcore favourites Glassjaw. Vocalist Jason Aalon draws comparisons to many other hardcore front-men, but what separates him is that little bit of backbone and mettle. H. Ledger no doubt a song entitled after the late actor, is a track that demonstrates letlive's potential and promise in the future. Melodic choruses and soulful chants combine to help letlive shine bright in a genre that usually gets lost in it's own reflection Listening to Fake History is like waiting for a grenade in sandwich shop to explode.





    Beach House - Teen Dream

    From the opening guitar arrangement and breathy sighs of vocalist Victoria Legrand on 'Zebra' at the beginning of this album, it was obvious in those spine tingling first few moments Tean Dream was going to be something wonderful to get over. Teen Dream is a stunningly crafted and produced album, each song flows effortlessly in to the next, which gives the sense of dreaming and floating, constantly. The Malboros that Victoria must of been eating has given her voice a charmingly dusky feel to it. The Baltimore-based duo are caught romantically between celestial grips and nostalgic future visions. Their graceful guitar twinkles are kind to experienced ears. Definitely a perfect night-time album. If there's one word to describe this album, it has to be 'elegant'.





    Toro y Moi - Causers of This

    Being released 4 days in to 2010 gives Causers of This the advantage of more days to grasp listeners' admiration. But with that extra time comes the test of time. Causers of This has proved through the year that it's one of the best albums out there. Chazwick Bundick has created an album that's enchanting and soft. If this album was a photograph, there's no doubt that it would be over-saturated and hipster lookin'. But the album is enigmatic, tender and awkwardly charming. Although this music style is not the easiest to enjoy, Causers of This prospers. To put it simply, it's psychedelic electronica with the most heart. Music for geeks trapped between fear and cool. I wish I seen my first naked lady to 'Fax Shadow'.





    Javelin - No Mas

    'Urban Outfitters wardrobe sex noises' that's the best way to describe the strange sounds that will come out of your speakers when No Mas is played. Javelin are like Holy Fuck's younger brother who didn't get Scalextric for Christmas, so was forced to show interest in the names of butterflies. Some songs sound like extravagant theme songs from a '70s cop drama while others should only be played in real love-shack. East meets west in contemporary influences to give Javelin just enough weirdness to be a cool kind of strange. Javelin bring back the word 'funky' in an admirable way. Their sexy samples make crazy dancing tangible once again.





    Tokyo Police Club - Champ

    Youthful Canadian indie gone right. an enjoyable album from start to finish. Tokyo Police Club have stepped up from their debut album, showing maturity with pleasant and boisterous filled anthems for their audience. It's sweaty, hair over your face time. Wonderfully chill lyrics than help the listener empathize easily with the feelings expressed in this package. Nearly Champion.





    Blackbird Blackbird - Summer Heart

    Snoozy hypnotic loops and yelps that could charm a hyperactive cat in to a nap. Blackbird Blackbird are reminiscent in places of Four Tet and early YACHT but walk far enough away from their subordinates to create their own style of sound. Mikey Sanders' bedroom project is raw, and unique, watch out for him in the future. 'So Sorry girl' sounds like the whimpers of a dying cosmonaut in a supermarket isle, Summer Heart is the most perfect album I've found to play when you're going for a nap, make you scrunch up on your bed like a fortune telling red fish in a sweaty palm. Maybe this should of been the soundtrack for 2010's hit film Inception? Maybe then it would get the respect it deserves.





    A Day to Remember - What Separates You From Me

    Only being released at the beginning December makes this album a late entry. But What Separates You From Me dives straight in like a bomb diffusal expert who was busy masturbating but just made it back to the scene in time. Catchy choruses, melodic break-downs and punchy riffs, what more can you ask for? With Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory involved with producing the album, what else would there be to expect? A Day To Remember are moving ever more slightly moving towards 'pop-punk', something that might not go down well with some of their fans, but has seen them produce their most gratifying album to date.





    Yeasayer - Odd Blood

    Like last year, there was nothing else out there in 2010 to compete with Odd Blood. Yeasayer's second album makes the top of the list with mesmerizing and beautifully endearing songs. If there ever was an honest and humble disco record without the cheesiness, then this is it. Madder Red a particular highlight on the album with its absorbing chant compiled with somber lyrics. This album is creepy in the right places, while seductive and charming at the perfect moments. It's this combination that means Odd Blood over-flows with splashes of different ideas and influences. Yeasayer are a band that have gone their own way and not followed trends or expectations, this album is evidence that they took the magical road on their journey. Put this album in the Futuristic Love Songs section of the record store please.

    Conclusion:

    I got in to music a lot more this year, instead of skimming the surface I got much deeper and in to some obscure bands. But on the whole, as far as the top 5 albums go, I would say that 2009 had a better list. But I found 2010 was a more interesting year for music, which seen the rise of '' to the corners of the mainstream.


    Honorable Mentions:

    Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner
    Four Year Strong - Enemy Of The World
    Baths - Cerulean
    MGMT - Congratulations
    The Naked and Famous - Passive Me Aggressive You
    Fences - Fences
    LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
    Girl Talk - All Day
    65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway
  • Albums of 2009

    Dez 27 2009, 22h24


    Why? - Eskimo Snow

    Glockenspiel art hip-hop!
    Maybe I'm being slightly biased because I'm a big fan of Yoni Wolf. OK I'm completely biased. But still this is a brilliant album from start to finish. Admittedly it's not quite on the same level as previous albums Alopecia or Elephant Eyelash. Though it's not far from receiving similar accolades. Why? are second to none in their delivery of raw melodic beats mixed with compelling modern rhymes. Eskimo Snow is a continuation, a squeal to a bands poetic journey that just gets better and fresher.



    mewithoutYou - It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright

    There's nothing remarkable that separates this from all of the honorable mentions(see below). They are all great albums. But I give Mewithoutyou the nod ahead of the rest for one reason... progression. Their sound has developed and matured gracefully, but still remains interesting, edgy and a bit crazy. Many of the songs on this album may be mistaken for a children's nursery rhymes, but take that statement in the best form you can. Aaron Weiss's vocals and song writing abilities are, to put it bluntly, superb. This album feels more like a book of imaginative tales.



    Fever Ray - Fever Ray

    Fever Ray is the pseudonym of Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson, one half of sibling electronica duo The Knife. Having a following like The Knife do, people were always going to give Fever Ray a chance. With that chance she has not disappointed, in fact the complete opposite. Her self titled debut is impressive, chilling and haunting. Disturbing but in all the good she doesn't need to go to a psychiatric ward ways. Like a strange, cool auntie you wish you had, her Scandinavian weirdness and ghostly voice make her a glowing light in a swimming pool of dull water.



    Bat for Lashes - Two Suns


    Natasha Kahn's vocal performance on opening track 'Glass' alone puts this into the top 12. Two Suns is a good album overall, but if it weren't for Natasha Kahn's musical ability and voice, no one would be aware of its existence. I guess I'm trying to say she makes the songs more than they are, which is only a compliment to her. At times it feels like you're listening to her mind at work, her thoughts processed through sounds, something that only makes you feel closer to the music. In her own way she is innovative and lovely to listen to, that same lovely that has made Bjork a massive fan of hers.



    Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy

    This is the album that won the Mercury Music Prize this year. It had everyone standing in front of their CD collections, skimming through their i-tunes, whispering in hushed tones "Wait... What, who's she?"
    A black female rapper from London may be hard for listeners to relate to. Most people will overlook her music because of who she is and not what. (which is a clear mistake.) Once you get past preconceptions and listen there's no doubt that Speech Therapy is the best rap album of the year. It deals with realistic, deep and honest themes. None of this fancy cars, murder and bling shit. Her clever rhymes blend into stories of struggling in our modern world, living with a heart full of hope in tough times.



    Passion Pit - Manners

    Off the blocks, this album is fun and enjoyable. It feels like your face has been shoved into a yogurt of electronic rainbows. You get up, don't wipe them off and start dancing. Although at times Michael Angelakos's singing can give you earache(I can't listen to Sleepyhead anymore. Ouch!). It remains a highly admirable and inspiring album. Manners adds more saturation to life in general, and will help create many silly dance moves. As if you didn't have enough already. But what you may miss while you're dancing is how good some of the lyrics are. It's one of the hidden qualities that sets apart Manners from its many electo-pop siblings this year.



    Atlas Sound - Logos

    It was difficult to find the perfect adjective to describe this album. I went through a few but always came back to the simple and over-used beautiful. So beautiful it is, and as sickeningly pretentious as it sounds Logos is more of an experience when you listen to it, rather than similar songs grouped together. It is intriguing, with every listen a new discovery is hiding. (whoops, I just made myself sick.)



    Dan Deacon - Bromst

    Dan Deacon is a musical genius. There's no better way to describe him. Just like Mel Gibson is a Jew hater. Dan Deacon is a Musical Genius. There, simple I repeated myself. His gift to ears in 2009 was Bromst, a masterpiece and landmark in avant-garde electronica. You'll find it almost impossible to find a similar album, or half as well produced. Tracks like Snookered and Of the Mountains show how his sound has developed. To quote Dan himself "It is more a celebration than a party now." Too good. But the best description I've read of this album was by Kevin Barnes from of Montreal "This is the sound you'd hear if you died of Playstation, that is a cause of death, right?"



    Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus

    I'm going to be strange and describe this as "easy listening". My main reason for doing so is because this album is so charming and easy... to... listen... to. Wolfgang Amadeus is fantastic, or should I say fantastique. It's one of those albums you can listen to all week, ignore it for a couple of days, then listen to it again and it will somehow feel as new as the first time you heard it. These four French men have delivered a very enjoyable album to the masses. What proves on paper it's a great album? When there's a remix album made in the same year.



    Set Your Goals - This Will Be The Death of Us

    This album's probably looking at the others around it on this list, wondering why everyone is so old and well dressed. Jokes aside, Set Your Goals this year released a promising album. Packed with punchy, incredibly catchy sing-a-longs. Each song's filled with explosive angst and a youthful glow. This Will Be The Death Of Us is bursting at the seems with its own energy. I wouldn't rest this CD against my bedroom door in case it blew the hinges off. Seriously fun, a real stand out in its genre.



    Mew - No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories the World…

    I've known of Mew for many years, but never really given them the listening time. But I'm so glad I did this summer. No More Stories... is wonderful, perfect and other superlatives that make it seem cool. It's noisy, raw and captivating all at the same time. The album holds an upbeat and positive tone to which will produce nostalgia and melancholy even in the darkest minds. Like a jig-saw that's put itself together when no-one was looking. Denmark's best musical export? I'd say so.



    Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

    Part of me didn't want to give this album of 2009. Mainly because I'd feel like a cliche hipster following current trends. But there's a reason why people wouldn't stop bloggin' about this since it's early web-leak in late '08. Merriweather Post Pavillion is a unique and rare creature. Inspiring, dazzling, delicate and kind. While other tracks on the album will be more popular 'Bluish' and 'Also Frightened' stand out, showing the quality of their creativeness. Dreamy vocals splashed over mesmerizing ambient tones, sweet harmonies, radiant bass loops and elegant lyrics, all combine together to make Merriweather Post Pavillion simply outstanding. If this album were a doughnut it would be a Pink Jammie, delightful, creamy and tasty!


    In Conclusion:

    2009 was the year of Random Celebrities dying and the year Animal Collective delivered an album to open up our rib cages and pour into our hearts. I'm sure MPP will still be played 20 years from now. Of course there were many albums I never listened to that would of maybe made my list. This is only one opinion, one set of ears, but I hope you enjoyed 2009 in music as much as I did.

    Honorable Mentions

    Every Time I Die - New Junk Aesthetic
    Health - GET COLOR
    Regina Spektor - Far
    Thrice - Beggars
    Girls - Album
    Paramore - Brand New Eyes
    Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II
    Anamanaguchi - Dawn Metropolis
    Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
    Jamie T - Kings & Queens
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!