Joining the end of year predictable best of list train
If you guys want uploads of any of these, just ask.
1. Towers - Full Circle - Metalcore/all around heavy album
I posted this on my blog earlier this year, hopefully you guys grabbed it then. If not, do yourself a favor and get it now. Essential listening for anyone with interest in heavy music.
2. Emeralds - What Happened - Drone
Fantastic drone pieces from the three-piece improv group. First track is so uplifting, it gets a bit more challenging after that but never tedious. It also ends on a great note.
3. Natural Snow Buildings - Shadow Kingdom - Drone/Psychedelic Folk
Gigantic album, as one can see from the first track: 25 min of thick, complex drone. The last minute finally lets up into a folk melody, which the French duo continues for a couple tracks until the next drone monolith. The drone/ambient influence can be heard in all their work, though, which is what keeps their folk from becoming stale. The atmospherics on this album are amazing, and at times even better than Emeralds. The only reason it is third on the list is because at 2 hours and 39 minutes, it's a bit hard to get through in one sitting.
4. Wolf Eyes - Always Wrong - Noise
Here Wolf Eyes continues the noise found on 2007's Human Animal. Short pieces that can reasonably called songs, in the sense that they are distinctly different from the more extended improv sets they have released. The quick pace helps the songs stay fresh and abrasive. Standouts are We All Hate You, the most fucked up dance track I've ever heard, and Droll/Cut The Dog, probably the best ending track of the year. Happy stuff.
5. Nadja & Black Boned Angel - Self-Titled - Drone/Drone Doom
I'm a huge Nadja fan, as well as a huge Birchville Cat Motel fan, who is part of Black Boned Angel, a drone band that creates some of the bleakest music possible. When the two get together, you know it's gonna be huge. This is two tracks over 50 minutes, and there is no other way to listen to this than to let it destroy any hope you had. Terrifying shit. Listened to this high, it was like walking through blood fog or some other equally ridiculous metaphor.
6. Henrik Schwarz / Âme / Dixon - The Grandfather Paradox - Minimal Techno
This is not so much an album as a mixtape compiled by some producers using the sources and highlights of minimal techno as source material. The result is 1 hour and 8 minutes of continuous beats, ranging from the swell's of Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint to synths created in college labs when that kind of stuff was still relevant. In short, it is a history lesson as much as a mixtape, and a great one at that.
7. Brand New - Daisy - Indie Rock
Posted this one too, I've always had a soft spot for Brand New. This album isn't the life changer that The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me is, but it is still a solid work with enough great tracks to keep it going. Noro is the song competing with Wolf Eye for best ending track.
8. Nosaj Thing - Drift - Instrumental Hip Hop/Glitch Hop, whatever that means
Quirky electronica release that deserves its spot on this list for Fog, one of the best tracks of the year. That one track captures this album's magic: bringing a sense of mystery and wistfulness to purely electronic sounds. The organic sounds on here remind me of Shuttle358, which is a huge compliment.
9. Kreng - L’autopsie phénoménale de Dieu - Dark Ambient
Sample-based dark ambient release that truly creeps me out in the best way. The approach is better than the result, which sounds like an insult, but it's really not. It's just a little too long. Apparently the vinyl version is shorter, and I've been listening to the CD version, which might explain it. Either way, I'll be looking for more from Kreng.
10. Zs - Music of the Modern White - Avant-garde
More weird shit from Zs. I can never truly describe them, as I'm sure anyone that's heard them can understand. On this release, they've dropped the labyrinthine mathy parts for a more textural approach using repetition, and throughout the album's 6 parts they mix it up enough to prevent things from becoming stale. Of course some parts are better than others, but that's to be expected since most of what they're doing is completely unlike anything else on the current music scene.
1. Nadja - Clinging to the Edge of the Sky - Drone/Ambient
Nothing particularly groundbreaking here, just a nice long track to get lost in.
2. Burial / Four Tet - Moth / Wolf Cub - Dubstep/Electronica
Moth is hands down the best track of the year, but Wolf Cub keeps this EP from being the best of the year. Too much Four Tet influence and not enough Burial. Moth, on the other hand is urban, melancholy, and has a wonderful ambient techno influence.
3. Rome - To Die Among Strangers - Neofolk
Rome also had a good album this year, but that had a little too many dull moments to get on the best of list. This EP, however is all quality, and shows the Berlin singer-songwriter's poetry and knack at creating his unique mood very well.
4. Dial - Dial EP - Metalcore
Another gem from a stagnant genre, much like Towers is. Dial doesn't do metalcore quite as well, but the relentless anger in these songs is great.
5. Wolves in the Throne Room - Malevolent Grain - Black Metal
Whether you like female vocals or not will determine if you like this EP. Of two tracks, one is the usually excellent black metal that WitTR makes, and the other is a much more melodic track with the infamous vocals dominating. I personally like it, but others haven't been so kind. Either way, this is another quality record that is short enough to get past the problems of Black Cascade, WitTR's 2009 full-length.
7 months ago