Best of 2011


Dez 26 2011, 8h18

25. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo

24. Neon Indian - Era Extrana

23. YOB - Atma

22. Cough - Ritual Abuse

21. Wild Flag - Wild Flag

20. Into It. Over It. - Proper

19. Cults - Cults

18. Braids - Native Speaker

17. Red Fang - Murder the Mountains

16. Destroyer - Kaputt

15.Iceage - New Brigade

14. Nerves Junior - As Bright As Your Night Light

13. Title Fight - Shed

12. Grails - Deep Politics

11. Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage

10. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
Fucked Up, to me, have been the Best Hardcore band I've ever heard for
years now. Except that they're not Hardcore. Not in aesthetic or ethic,
or really sound and style. What I really mean is that more Hardcore bands
should make music with the intensity, relentless passion and growling
fervor that Fucked Up do. I personally still prefer 'Chemistry of Common
Life' overall as an album, but this comes pretty close while taking a very
different approach. Overtly more aware of their pop abilities, spinning a
musical tale in concept album form, 'David Comes To Life' is a must listen
for the entire rock music community.

9. Bill Callahan - Apocalypse
I wasn't sure how Callahan could top his previous album, the immaculate and
relentlessly beautiful 'Sometimes I wish I were an Eagle'. He couldn't
really make something prettier, so, he made something weirder which he is
no stranger to. Though, for all the albums eccentricity, it manages a
clear identity, and establishes itself as another solid production from a
man who has nearly perfected his craft over the last 30 years. Though
only 7 songs, dusty and plucky tunes settle in and hit just the right spot.

8. La Dispute - Wilflife
La Dispute gets a lot of hate. Many write frontman Jordan's high pitched
vocals off as whiny and obnoxious, and the lyricism as overly verbose and
too pretentious for punk rock. Thing is, they may not be wrong. The
vocals are hard to acclimate to, and the poetry is dense, but I think that
makes the treasure of this band all the more worth the investment of time
and energy. They don't take the easy way out. They don't produce the
songs you want to hear because you want to hear them, they create what they
want, because they are correct in remembering that music, after all, is art
first and foremost. Having said that, Wildlife sounds leaps and bounds
more mature. The Whines are less whiny, more substantial. The stanzas are
seemingly less dense and infinitely more fluid. But their ability to evoke
raw emotion has reached new unimaginable heights. Standout track 'King
Park' can make a grown man weep if it catches you in the right mood. And
this absolutely what music should do; make you feel something.

7. tUnE-yArDs - whokill
I certainly wasn't sure how to feel about this at first. Is it a man or
woman? Are they white or black? How do you even begin to classify its
style? But once you get past these ultimately meaningless questions, you
reveal and incredibly fun, upbeat, and vibrant collection of tracks from a
young artist excited about making music. Its an album of soul and
confidence, and yet it remains almost definitively delicate and whimsical.
An interesting paradox for such a delightful and unusual album.

6. This Will Destroy You - Tunnel Blanket
Okay, so, someone in TWDY clearly had was having a rough winter and decided
to break into his collection of black metal. From album opener 'Little
Smoke' TWDY engulf you in slow churning fuzz, like a fog of dark ambient
sound washing over you, and undoubtedly influenced by, if not directly
referential, to the often overwhelming drones of noise of black metal.
Maybe they were taking a cue from Phil Elvrum's 'Winds Poem' admittedly
inspired by a love of Xasthur and the like, maybe its just a wild hair, but
its ultimately a much needed change from the beautiful yet complacent
sounds of TWDY's earlier work, which though moving, often ended up sounding
too close to Explosions In The Sky and similar post-rock artists. With
Tunnel Blanket, they've really carved their own sound, a dark moody
depressing-at-times one, that I am totally okay with.

5. Pianos Become the Teeth - The Lack Long After
There was a time when I could never have imagined genuinely and
wholeheartedly liking anything that could be labeled "screamo", much less
consider putting it in the top 5 albums for a given year. But the last
several years have found myself searching through past and present for
music with passion and heart, and one would be hard-pressed to find a band
that performs with more catharsis and raw emotion than Pianos, and they
truly manage to transcend any genrefication. I was unexpectedly blown away
by the sheer intensity of their breakthrough 'Old Pride' and expected a
solid follow up. Not to be disappointed, 'The Lack Long After' provides an
emotional outpouring that would make Conor Oberst blush. Some fans, and
detractors, jokingly label them sadcore given the depressing and deeply
personal nature of their lyricism, but the pain that is felt deepest in the
heart often compels itself to the most beautiful art.

4. Touche Amore - Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
Much of the sentiment I feel toward Pianos Become the Teeth can be equally
shared with Touche Amore, if for slightly different reasons. While Pianos
achieve catharsis through emotional pain and coping with loss, Touche do it
through unadultered self-deprication and introspection, and the result is
noticeably more aggressive and perhaps ironically more confident. Straying
away slightly from their hardcore roots 'Parting The Sea...' is crafted
with more attention to melody and the beauty of form, but the music is by
no means less fierce, with front-man Jeremy's vocals and piercingly coarse
as ever. The real triumph of the album comes from the lyricism. Not as
brainy as La Dispute, not as heavy-footed as Defeater, not as sophomoric as
Title Fight, not as .. well, sad, as Pianos; they lyrically outplay their
contemporaries at nearly every point; furthermore they convey a sense of
self-loathing, frustration, defeat and ultimately acceptance in a way
that's in my opinion, unparallelled. Despite its brevity, I have no problem
saying this is the mostly finely crafted work of punk-rock I've heard in

3. Real Estate - Days
Maybe it's a sign of getting older, maybe its just a reasonable adaptation
of taste, but more and more I find myself disenchanted with the sunnier,
shinier, poppier acts that come around. A healthy taste for the heavy and
dischordant has replaced much of this, but also a lingering disappointment
remains with much of the new indie-pop community that I once felt so akin
to. Classics like Modest Mouse, Deathcab, Of Montreal seem as giants next
to new buzz bands like Girls, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Beach House
who at best seem mediocre, and at worst are painfully boring. I say this
because despite my love-loss with pop music, when something really great
comes along, it really makes me flutter. Real Estate is a behind that
knows how to be effortlessly pretty, musically weightless, while still
remaining substantial. The sunny dreamy sound is made better by the fact
they're a Jersey band, but there is a certain chill to their sound that
still grounds them, to me, as an East Coast band. Days isn't an album that
will change anything, at least not in the immediate, but it is a
masterpiece of indie-pop easily on the level of 'Moon and Antarctica' or
'Sunlandic Twins', a piece that will only grow more fondly in the hearts of
listeners with age.

2.M83 - Hurry Up We're Dreaming
This album shares in common with many other in my list a very high standard
for approval set by an exquisite previous album. Only with M83 its more
like several exquisite previous albums. If I'm being completely honest I
didn't quite think 'Hurry Up' was the masterpiece I hoped it would be, and
everyone else seems to think it is. But in all fairness, I personally feel
2005's 'Before the Dawn Heals Us' is a perfect album, and is solidly
positioned in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. This is completely
preference, and perhaps not a fair measure to ask to be topped. I was
overly-judgemental in my first listen. I felt it too clean, to poppy, not
enough noise, not enough raw atmosphere. But after repeat listens and
contemplation i realized: this is not 'Before The Dawn Heals Us', and I
didn't have the same problem with 'Saturdays=Youth' though it much more
squarely defined itself as a bit of an 80's throwback. Inevitably,
although I don't feel its Gonzales finest work, 'Hurry Up..' is still a
pristinely crafted work of pop music, by one of the greatest artists of our
generation. In a year that, overall, I felt was somewhat lacking
musically, 'Hurry Up..' is an unavoidable juggernaut, and realistically one
of the finest albums in years.

1. Deafheaven - Roads to Judah
It may seem to anyone that knows who deafheaven is, that such a relatively
unknown black metal band would be at the top of my list. And to anyone who
doesn't know who deafheaven is, it will still seem odd that a relatively
unknown black metal band would be at the top of my list. I'll be the first
to admit that my foray into the realm of metal has been a gradual and
recent one, born out of bordom, curiosity, and desire for something simply
heavier. But even those not deeply entrenched in the metal community may
know what an inclusive and at times esoteric community it can be. A little
searching on the internet, or their page, and you might see the
disparity of opinions about this band. Black Metal KVLT lifers often
attack the duo for not being real black metal, often labeled as Hipster
Black Metal, given their proclivity for shoegazy melodies, and their
atypical-of-black-metal song structure and overall sound garnering
attention from many typical listeners of hardcore, punk, ambient, and other
forms of metal. And even if the tag isn't fair, the reasoning behind it is
valid. They are NOT a typical black metal band. And though I'm by no
means a go-to source on any genre of metal, i think as an ostensible
outsider, I have perhaps more right any to judge the band within, and
outside, the confines of the genre, free of the self-righteous dogma that
often plagues the communities core. And as an outsider, I must say: I
cannot stop listening to this album. I don't shy away from the fact that
i'm a sucker for ambient noise, shoegaze, and droning volatile guitars, and
all those things come together so perfectly in this band, and on this
album. But not only does it have the intensity and darkness oft invoked by
black metal, their ability to think outside metals confines allows it to
flourish with immense beauty. The drums are relentless, the wails of the
guitar are oppressive and poetic, the screams of the singer are as sincere
as they are menacing. And while Liturgy, another band labeled as hipster
black metal, is being lauded and championed by many sources despite an
album that was honestly limp and heartless and best, Deafheaven still goes
on relatively unnoticed. I walked away from 'Aesthetica' feeling drained,
uninspired, and wishing the whole time it would end. I walked away from
'Roads to Judah' feeling inspired, and wanting more, and more, and more.
Deafheaven is not reinventing the wheel here, but at this point its very
hard to do that, and in a genre that largely values new albums by how well
they fit into the pre-conceived notions of what they should sound like, I
don't think there is really any need or merit to judging them on the basis
of pure ingenuity. 'Roads to Judah' is an album of tragic magnificence,
wailing for nearly 40 minutes with incomparable brutality and elegance.
There is a fear that their sound may just be a gimmick, a one trick pony,
but even if this is a fluke, its the most magificent accident a lover of
noise could ask for.

Honorable Mentions: The Wonder Years, Helms Alee, Parts & Labor, Thee Oh
, Krallice, Tombs, Rwake, Prurient, Russian Circles, Rob Crow,
Defeater, Ampere


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