Top 20 of 200ate


Abr 14 2009, 14h27

OMG it just deleted everything I just wrote for some fucking reason. In summation:

2008 sucked ass
2009 is already better
Nobody but Sisi will read this
Here is my top 20 of 2008:

20. Lair of the Minotaur - War Battle Metal Master

To be honest, this album is pretty fucking cool. But the list has to start somewhere, and this is it. I wrote this one last, so I’m kinda tired, but yeah, it’s a sweet album, just not that important or particularly interesting. It serves it purpose though, when I am in the mood and feel like smashing stuff, this is a pretty great soundtrack.

19. Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward

Since “Choirs of the Eye” its been a steady decline. Blue Lambency Downward is completely unremarkable. Sure its texturally interesting, but if you can’t actually stay awake while listening to it, and then can’t actually remember anything from it, its not successful in being interesting. Kayo Dot fall further into meandering foreplay and never actually give a pay off. There is tension, but no release. Kayo Dot are being cock teasers.

18. M83 - Saturdays = Youth

M83 go for a much poppier and simplistic sound on this one. It works for them I think, but to be honest, I miss their atmospheric, synth drenched wonderfulness. Wow, I can’t believe that word is in Word’s dictionary. I’m not normally one to complain about a band changing sound if they do it well, and I think M83 have succeeded somewhat. I guess I’m just going to have to bring it down to the fact that I’m just never in the mood for this. Its pretty good though I suppose…

17. Sleepmakeswaves - In Today Already Makes Tomorrow

It seems like this was the year of bands releasing lesser quality outputs as their previous releases. Sleepmakeswaves is one of these bands. The EP was so great. A really eerie sound, combined with a simple beauty. The production was what really aided that EP in having an original sound in a genre full of mediocrity. With the new one, that atmosphere has all but disappeared with the clean and crisp production. Now they just sound like every other post rock outfit, its technically great, but it lacks its own flavour. And yeah, the violin doesn’t work.

16. Russian Circles - Station

I fucking love Enter. It has such an amazing atmosphere with no lack of technical precision and stunning song writing. Station is quite a step off. The technicality is still there, and the atmosphere is somewhat there, but the song writing isn’t anywhere near as interesting, and there isn’t much here to latch on to. It needs some more listens, but at the moment it is a significant disappointment.

15. Gojira - The Way of All Flesh

My first exposure to Gojira, and initially it was a great first impression. Technical, precise metal in the vein of Meshuggah. Wonderful production, and what seemed like great song writing. That is until I listened to it through until the end, and then a few times more. This album is quite forgettable. Aesthetically its pretty great, and in small doses its quite fantastic, but the lack of variety in song writing and sound drags it down heavily. I will try their earlier material methinks.

14. Ascend - Ample Fire Within

Really great idea here from Greg Anderson and Gentry Densley. Take the fusion elements from electric era Miles Davis for instances and meld them with modern ideas of noise and drone music. The two seem to go hand in hand in theory, and on “Ample Fire Within” the band create some really great textures and sounds. Some of it is absolutely wonderful and very expressive, but once again, it fails to hold the attention of the listener for very long. Its great to sleep to though, which isn’t always a bad thing.

13. Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling

Mogwai’s recent album is a strange beast indeed (notice the pun….kill me). It has some wonderful textures and sounds here, and some of it is absolutely mindblowing, but once again, the band fails at keeping coherence and therefore loses the attention of the listener, which is a shame, because I believe that this band has the ability to stun listeners (See “Young Team” and “Rock Action”) but they constantly fall short. Oh well.

12. Sun Kil Moon - April

Amazingly emotional and raw stuff here. Some of it is painstakingly beautiful and extremely depressing. Problem is, its so god damn long, and it never really deviates from the sound it creates on the first song. After a while, you are either asleep or listening to something else. However, patience is a virtue I suppose, as there is some gold on this album, its just you need as much patience as you do when you watch “Australia” perhaps. OK, maybe not that much, but you get the point.

11. Young Widows - Old Wounds

Fairly straight forward Noise/Sludge Rock here, but of the higher calibre. Many bands attempt this sound in the vein of Melvins or Big Black, and many fall into the category of mediocrity. Young Widows don’t quite get to the level of these bands, but they definitely make themselves noticeable, with this ass-kicking slab of visceral rock. Good stuff.

10. Melvins - Nude With Boots

Melvins continue on the path they have recently been travelling down, and that wouldn’t be a problem much at all if all of the songs hit home runs like they did on “(A) Senile Animal”. Unfortunately some songs really miss the mark and come off as completely forgettable. But who really gives a shit, because when the Melvins hit the mark, its amazing, and they do it many times on this record, something we should all be grateful for.

9. Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak - Hand Over Fist

Not much good hip hop was released this year at all. Hopefully 2009 will see some quality released. Until then, Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak’s “Hand Over Fist” can help quench the thirst. Stunning release here. While retaning a modern approach to hip hop, the album is very referential to hip hop of years gone by, both musically and lyrically. A great hybrid of the new and the old. Mictlan spits hot fiya. Its awesome.

8. John Zorn - The Crucible

I have been very hit or miss with Zorn’s recent output, his “Magick” experiments and what not, seem pretentious as fuck, and the sound itself is all too similar to latch onto particular moments or even separate songs. On The Crucible however, this does not apply. Each song has its own identity, while maintaining the overall sound and ethos these albums are attempting to create. Patton isn’t nearly as annoying, and the music is fascinating. Good stuff here. Zorn needs to slow down, as “The Dreamers” wasn’t nearly as good as this.

7. Colour Haze - All

Ah Colour Haze. So god damn good. Colour Haze have made the same album about 5 times, and in no way am I sick of it. Psychedelic/Stoner rock in the vein of Kyuss. Who the fuck could get sick of that? Although, to be fair, they have experimented with some different sound on All, and it feels much more conceptual than other efforts, but when it comes down to it, this is one hella fun album, with amazing psychedelic crescendos and some stunning riffs and vocal melodies. Wonderful band.

6. The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath

I loved Amputechture. Well, maybe not loved, but I enjoyed it. Loved 4 songs, liked the others. Was a let down from previous albums, blah blah blah. Along comes Bedlam. The most energetic and visceral album The Mars Volta have released, and its great to hear. Somehow, the intensity manages to carry throughout the entire album, and while certain songs stand out, its still a fantastic effort. Ignoring The Mars Volta’s first 2 albums, Bedlam is fucking phenomenal. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, but its still quite a great record.

5. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

I was extremely excited upon the release of this album. I adored Takk.., and after seeing Heima, I was almost busting nuts daily. When I heard Gobbledigook, I was even more excited. The track was unlike anything they had recorded in the past, and this change in direction was very welcomed. When it finally came, I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t blown away. The album inhabits an extremely positive ambience, which is fantastic, and when seeing them live, these songs are amazing. My only problem with the album is its lack of continuity. This is an album of songs, rather than a single piece of cohesive music. This is not necessarily a problem, but sometimes the flow doesn’t work as well as previous albums. I still adore this album, and some of the songs here are some of my favourite that the band has released. It’s a fantastic record, it just doesn’t live up to previous outputs.

4. Meshuggah - obZen

For some reason, if Boris don’t change their sound it sucks, but if Meshuggah don’t it still rules. Yeah I guess it makes sense, Meshuggah are pretty fucking awesome. Meshuggah take a bit of a break from the sound they solidified on Catch 33, and come back to the thrashy, fast-paced style of Chaosphere. They don’t disregard their current sound, actually they don’t disregard any of their sounds. obZen kind of sounds like a Meshuggah best-of, and that is in no way a bad thing. Crushing, mechanised music from one of the greatest metal bands working today.

3. Secret Chiefs 3 - Xaphan: Book Of Angels Vol. 9

This time Secret Chiefs 3 get called up to play from Zorn’s coveted Book of Angels series, and they do an absolutely stellar job. They strip back the strange grindcore/death metal elements from their sound (which I don’t necessarily not enjoy, just sometimes it breaks flow and sounds awkward) and concentrate on their amazing ability to infuse genres with a style that is recognisably their own. This album gets better from the first track onwards. Epic, sweeping and just plain downright fun. Love it.

2. Boris - Smile

Many people ragged on Boris for not changing style, which completely went over my head. If anything, I believe that this is quite a large step above Pink (which people compare the sound to). On Smile, Boris merge the two sounds they have been playing with recently; awesomely fuzzed out garage rock and spacey textural atmospheric jams of sort. However, what separates Smile from other attempts is that Smile fusses the two sounds so well. Throw in some electronic experimentation, and you have my second favourite album of the year. Listen to “You Were Holding an Umbrella” and be destroyed.

1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

For any band to release something this concise, raw and moving is a huge feat. For a band to release this as a debut is absolutely mind blowing. S/T by Fleet Foxes is such a clear, well thought out record, managing to sound entirely original while also harkening to similar acts of the past. Something many bands fail to do. It is hauntingly beautiful both musically and lyrically and close to perfect as perfect can be. It feels pure with no pretention, i.e. its amazing. I have no hesitation placing this at the top of my list, and urge all to seek it out.

So yeah, 2008 was the year that I lost interest in most new releases due to the simple fact that there weren't many. Also, my big revival in my interest in film didn't help. But I'm back this year and loving the amount of great new releases out there for me to discover and learn to love. Thank ye all and good night.


  • Richaod

    Statement number three disproved! (my RSS fixation means I come across just about everything :P) Though I definitely agree that 2009's been far better already. Somehow, amongst the 50 or so albums I listened to, only Fleet Foxes, Sigur Ros and Gojira are here. Loved the first two, although I can't help but think the Fleet Foxes album is almost more indicative of their potential than an achievement in its own right. And finally, no Opeth? :P

    Abr 15 2009, 17h25
  • sim_maiden

    Yeah Opeth wasn't very good. They have kind of become a parody of themselves. Its so boring, and really isn't very relevant (see: Fear of a Blank Planet). Fleet Foxes charm lies partly in its faults I guess. Its not a perfect record, but it strikes a chord in me that very few albums do.

    Abr 16 2009, 8h31
  • Richaod

    mmm, I found Watershed a bit mediocre... and it says a lot about last year that it'd still be in my top ten or so. I always seem to see the opposite in Porcupine Tree to you and Sisi - I find In Absentia and Deadwing to have this weirdly straightforward, sometimes guilty pleasure (especially Shallow, Halo, Open Car) vibe. But I loved Fear of a Blank Planet and Insurgentes. Maybe I just see them as a better prog than pop band.

    Abr 18 2009, 16h52
  • five_four

    Good list. I'm surprised you put TMV so high though, ha!

    Abr 20 2009, 8h28
  • plattopus

    I thought Ghost Reveries was where Opeth became a parody of themselves to an extent (a very small extent when compared to, say, Dream Theater), but they managed to reverse that with Watershed. Definitely check out From Mars to Sirius by Gojira if you haven't already. I'll add Ascend, Young Widows, Sun Kil Moon and Colour Haze to my to-do list.

    Mai 8 2009, 7h47
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