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cyanide breathmint’s best of 2011

This seems to be getting more difficult every year! 2011 was filled with so much great music and I feel like I had such little time to appreciate that. This year’s rankings were truly the hardest ever to compile. Looking past the sheer volume of great new (and “newish”) acts which have emerged, old favorites returned with new offerings, there’s also the fact that my tastes have been diverging in two distinct directions.

My love for shoegaze has has come into the forefront this year, somewhat shattering the usual suspects for top 25 positions. Nevertheless, all those beautiful walls of noise simultaneously crashing down upon my ears couldn’t ever make up for good song writing and talented vocalists. I think that’s reflected in the mix of albums in this year’s Top 25.

I had originally planned doing “reviews” for the top 10. However, I only had enough patience and focus to get the top spot for you. I have included a sample mp3 for each of the top 25 albums. If you would like to grab all of these at once (plus a few bonus tracks), click here.

[UPDATE DEC 26 2011] The honorable mentions have been updated after reading my colleague betweenthesound’s amazing 2011 write up. If you haven’t seen that, you should go read it now (or perhaps right after you finish this post). She managed to (once again) slam me with a gang load of records that were way beneath my radar, but that would definitely have put huge dents in my Top 25 list as it stands.

Without further ado, here they are…

Top 25 Albums:

25) Asobi Seksu – Fluorescence

Asobi Seksu – Counterglow

24) The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

The Mountain Goats – High Hawk Season

23) The Dodos – No Color

The Dodos – Companions

22) Radiohead The King Of Limbs

Radiohead – Morning Mr Magpie

21) Brute Heart – Lonely Hunter

Brute Heart – Hunter

20) Future Islands – On The Water

Future Islands – Give Us The Wind

19) Dearling Physique – Deadeye Dealer

Dearling Physique – Oh This Currency

18) Neon Indian – Era Extraña

Neon Indian – Polish Girl



16) Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

Thurston Moore – Orchard Street

15) Screen Vinyl Image – Strange Behavior

Screen Vinyl Image – My Confession

14) The Vera Violets – In Between Fires

The Vera Violets – Down Tonight

13) The Horrors – Skying

The Horrors – Endless Blue

12) Ladytron – Gravity The Seducer

Ladytron – Moon Palace

11) The Antlers – Burst Apart

The Antlers – Every Night My Teeth Are Failing Out

10) Active Child – You Are All I See

Active Child – Shield & Sword

09) I Break Horses – Hearts

I Break Horses – Winter Beats

08) Atlas Sound – Parallax

Atlas Sound – My Angel is Broken

07) Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

Laura Marling – All My Rage

06) Zola Jesus – Conatus

Zola Jesus – Hikikomori

05) PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

PJ Harvey – In The Dark Places

04) M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

M83 – Raconte-Moi Une Histoire

03) Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi – Love Won’t Be Leaving

02) Brief Candles – Fractured Days


Brief Candles – The Sentiment

01) Ringo DeathStarr – Colour Trip

In nearly every review, interview, blurb, or blog post post you’ll read about Ringo Deathstarr, you’ll find three common elements.

1. Trio from Austin

They’ve actually gone through a couple lineup changes over the past 5 years, but have mostly stuck to this formula. The creative element is lead vocalist/guitarist Elliott Frazier. After bassist Alex found her way into the band (2007) by apparently just showing up for practice, things have mostly settled down, just finding the right drummer (as of this writing / hopefully “final” – that’s Daniel Coborn).

2. These guys sound like My Bloody Valentine

Drownedinsound put it this way ” If in the meantime you’ve lost your copy of Loveless, you could do far worse than listen to Colour Trip.” Yeah, it’s true. Too bad Loveless

3. The bassist (Alex Gehring) (now going by “galexy”) is so hot

So there, that’s out of the way. If it’s a more recent post you might read about how these kids just toured the UK/Europe with The Smashing Pumpkins. I have to admit kind of hate those dudes, but ultimately it means more exposure for Ringo Deathstarr and so I guess it’s not a bad thing. Moving beyond those tidbits, you get into a the music.

In case you haven’t noticed I don’t do traditional reviews. I leave it to others to finely dissect the record. Instead of telling you how it sounds (just listen for yourself), I offer you how the record felt. Colour Trip hit hard for me. This was probably my favorite record Fever Ray’s 2009 debut, and going back further it would have to be Snowden’s Anti-Anti (2006). Before I totaled my car, this record could very often be heard at extremely high decibels pulsing through the streets of Baltimore weekday evenings. Dark  reverberation and the haunting fuzz draped chanting of Alex form the basis of my song of the year – Two Girls (stream/download below). For the life of me I can’t tell you what the fuck she is saying, but she is saying it just right. Besides being the single most addicting track of 2011, there’s an equally worthy video directed by Alex, which you can also find below. Be forewarned: One might say it’s NSFW.

Ringo Deathstarr- Two Girls

Honorable Mentions [Highly Recommended]

Austra – Feel It Break
Girls – Father Son Holy Ghost
Hunx & His Punx – Too Young To Be In Love
Metronomy – The English Riviera
Radical Face – The Family Tree – The Roots
Shad[]wb[]x – Lady Doome [EP]
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Washed Out – Within & Without

Honorable Mentions [Enjoyed]

Arc In Round – II [EP]
Apparat – The Devil’s Walk
Battles – Gloss Drop
Björk – Biophilia
Big Black Delta – BBDLP1
Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Brazzaville – Jetlag Poetry
Chad VanGaalen – Diaper Island
Class Actress – Rapprocher
Com Truise – Galactic Melt
Computers Want Me Dead – Computers Want Me Dead
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
Destroyer – Kaputt
Dolorean – The Unfazed
Ducktails III – Arcade Dynamics
East River Pipe – We Live in Rented Rooms
Echo Orbiter – More Batteries
Feist – Metals
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Grimes & d’Eon – Darkbloom [split ep]
Haley Bonar – Golder
Haujobb – New World March
Hercules & Love Affair – Blue Songs
High Places – Original Colors
IAMX – Volatile Times
Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow
LAKE R▲DIO – Delta
Little Insects – Brighter Than Darkness
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – On Welfare
Lumerians – Transmalinnia
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Malajube – La Caverne
Morpheme – Infection
Niva – Feverish Dreams [EP]
Mogwai – Earth Division [EP]
Music for Headphones –
Niva – Feverish Dreams [EP]
ohGr – Undeveloped
Passwords – Passwords
Phantogram – Nightlife [EP]
Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t – Lost in the Pancakes
Prefuse 73 – The Only She Chapters
Rachel Goodrich – Rachel Goodrich
Seapony – Go With Me
Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Starfucker – Reptilians
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic
Stevie Nicks – In Your Dreams
Stumbleine – All for your smile
Taken By Cars – Dualist
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong
The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low
The Sea and Cake – The Moonlight Butterfly
Tropic of Cancer – The End of All Things
TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light
Tycho – Dive
Ume – Phantoms
Vondelpark – nyc stuff and nyc bags [EP]
Wagon Christ – Toomorrow
Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP
Wooden Shjips – West
Woodsman – Mystic Places
Wire – Red Barked Tree
Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting
Yuck – Yuck
††† – † EP

- breathmint

cyanide breathmint’s best of 2010

Looking back at 2010, there were quite a few wonderful records , many coming from new (to me) acts. I noticed, though, that I tended to start falling behind this year in terms of volumes listened to. That wasn’t despite a massive amount of downloading, thanks to probably the best (and worst) thing to happen to my constant new music addiction since ever, Scouring through literally tens of dozens of records either listened to once or maybe missed entirely, I scrambled to put together this year’s list for the last couple weeks. This probably happened more haphazardly than in previous years. I also realized I hadn’t quite given enough attention to many things I either liked or loved upon first listen. So, for the first time, this year’s “top 10 albums” may be more symbolic of what I listened to most than the my actual perceived ranking of them. Nevertheless, I think I have made up for this by including a more exhaustive than ever section of honourable mentions for the completist or those who are looking for a serious challenge in completing  their year in lists/libraries.
As usual I have also included some additional lists including records which disappointed me (i.e. I was either expecting or hoping for more from this) and popular records I disliked. Some rules I established for myself last year (noted below) are supplemented with another new addition, “best eps.” I have also tried to include lots of sample mp3 stream/downloads too. If you would like to grab all of these in one sweep, you can do so by clicking here. Also, just for fun, I decided to put all the samples from top records and top EPs up as 8tracks mixes too. You can find those here. Now, without further delay:  cyanide breathmint’s best of 2010.
01) no compilations, live recordings, re-releases, etc.
02) electronic (primarily) and/or instrumental albums have a seperate list (see below)
03) each end of year list may contain albums released over last 15 months. once rated, an album may not appear on a subsequent best of year list.
04) EPs have their own list.

Top 10 Albums:
10) The Knife – Tomorrow, in a Year
I talked about this record earlier this year at the outset of this blog. I think it’s pure genius, and its release just so happened to oddly coincide with my own reconnection with a lifelong love of opera music. I probably listened to this a hundred times early on and then put it to rest for the remainder of the year. Check out Annie’s Box, probably the best example of Karin’s ability to sing opera.

09) Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Like The Knife, Deerhunter is a standby favorite favorite for me and probably wont surprise anyone by making my top 10 – but I have to say this wasn’t included by obligation. I found Halcyon Digest to be their most enjoyable offering yet. And after getting to see them live for the first time in 2010, I have an all new appreciation of Bradford’s quirky awesomeness. It was hard to choose which mp3 to sample, but Desire Lines seemed to be the best fit for an intro.

08) ✝ DE△D VIRGIN ✝ – Anxieties
2010 was the year in witch (harhar) I became acquanited with this emerging “style.” I had originally written up a primer, believe it or not, on the entire “genre.” After putting hours of work into it I decided it wasn’t really publishable. If anyone really wants this, though, drop me an email and I’ll send it your way. Anyway, amongst the large variety of styles which are bulked together under the witch house label, my favorite has been that of ✝ DE△D VIRGIN ✝. After a few EPs, a full length called Anxieties emerged and blew me away. Anything less distinguished from “witch house” wouldn’t stand a chance of making my top records list.
07) Rasputina – Sister Kinderhook
If you know and love Rasputina, this record is as good as any other. Wish I could say more, but that’s all I’ve got. I’m going to see her in February at the Ottobar in Baltimore and I’m planning on recording audio. If you’re interested, there will definitely be downloads links up here after the show.
06) Serena-Maneesh – No 2: Abyss in B Minor
This record was recorded over a period of two years, partially in a cave near Oslo. Need I say more?
05) Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
This took me a while to fully appreciate. I now think I like it as much as if not more than her first, Alas I Cannot Swim.
04) The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Everyone knows this. I don’t have anything to say except that it owns.
03) Beach House – Teen Dream
This is their best record yet. They also make me proud to be a fellow Baltimorian. Still haven’t gotten to see them live yet, but I’m looking forward to it!
02) Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
I think this is the most ambitious and probably technically the best record of the year. The songs spanning three discs strike me in so many different ways it’s hard to believe these are all one studio album and not some retrospective “best of.” I very much hear/feel a Joni Mitchell vibe in this. Robyn and I had the chance to see her play a few months ago and we were thrilled. Joanna is probably one of the best performers I’ve seen, and her entire crew was impressive. I also got the sense she is a real perfectionist (best evidenced by the woman who took about 45 minutes to tune Joanna’s harp before the show). Once again, very hard to choose a sample. This one is probably my favorite of the record… today.

01) School of Seven Bells – Disconnect From Desire
So, that brings me to the best. As I mentioned above, this probably wouldn’t have one on technical merits alone, but thats not what good music is all about. School of Seven Bells connects with me on a very personal level and that’s what I look for in trying to rank out records. 2010 was a mixed bag for the band, riding on a wave of late success from their last record Alpinisms which slipped underneath the radar in 2008 but was noticed in a huge way last year. Everything seemed to be working well for them, but I was both shocked (and not-so-shocked, this is for another post) when they announced Claudia was leaving the band – but, luckily for us, they would be continuing on just Alley and Benjamin. I had the chance to see them play in Baltimore shortly after and they managed to melt faces regardless. Sure the missing harmony was sad, but they held their own and put on a ridicurad performance. It will be interesting to see where album # 3 falls with the new dynamic. In an appropriately titled summary…
Top 10 EPs:
10) No Wave – Nameless One
09) The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car
08) Girls – Broken Dreams Club
07) Balam Acab – See Birds
06) Team Ghost – Celebrate What You Can’t See
05) Sunglasses – Sunglasses EP
04) The Radio Dept. – Never Follow Suit
03) oOoOO – oOoOO
02) White Ring – Black Earth That Made Me
01) Snowden – Slow Soft Syrup
People who know me know about my Snowden addiction. Jordan Jeffares is my heroin. After waiting the last four years for a follow up to Anti-Anti (the 2nd best album of the last decade), 2010 brought an EP featuring five tracks comprising a preview of Anemone Arms (album #2). If I could justify counting this as a record, it would be #1. I could not, so it made top EP instead. I’ll have more to write about Snowden soon, over on Good News.
Honourable Mentions: Awesome (in no particular order)
Faun Fables – Light of a Vaster Dark [probably would have ranked top 25 if I had more time to digest]
A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Autumn, again [amazing band that’s “new” for me in 2010, thanks Doreen]
Wild Nothing- Gemini [thanks for this, Omar]
Warpaint – The Fool [probably would have ranked top 25 if I had more time to digest]
The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – Fireplace
The Radio Dept. – Clinging To A Scheme [amazing band that’s “new” for me in 2010, thanks Anna bear]
Michael Parallax – Mountain [Fl native weirdo / ridicurad musician you should keep your eyes on]
Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
Cotton Jones – Tall Hours in The Glowstream
Autolux – Transit Transit
Small Black – New Chain
How to Destroy Angels – How to Destroy Angels
Zola Jesus – Stridulum II
Girl Talk – All Day [if I could justify counting DJ records as “albums” this probably would rank top 25]
Emily Reo – WITCH MTN
Eels – End Times [very close call for a top10 spot]
Secret Knives – Affection
JJ – N° 3
JJ – Kills
Secret Cities – Pink Graffiti
Four Tet – There Is Love in You
Tender Forever – No Snare
Maps & Atlases – Perch Patchwork
Kim Boekbinder – The Impossible Girl
Engineers – In Praise Of More
Sufjan Stevens – The Age of ADZ
The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele
Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement
Kula Shaker – Pilgrims Progress [this could fill an entire post. perhaps it will someday.]
Lauren Carder & The Multiple Me – Lauren Carder And The Multiple Me [for fans of Laura Marling]
Little Insects – Almost Ghost [Orlando transplant in Brooklyn / badass to keep an eye on]
Mountain Man – Made The Harbor
No Age – Everything In Between
Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws
Ghostland Observatory – Codename: Rondo
Owen Pallett – Heartland
Rafter – Animal Feelings
British Sea Power – Zeus EP
Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo
Blank Dogs – Land And Fixed
Nina Nastasia – Outlaster
Shapes and Sizes – Candle to Your Eye
Mynabirds – What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood
Suuns – Zeroes QC
The Extra Lens – Undercard
Faudel – Bled Memory
Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
Jenny And Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now
Toro y Moi – Causers of This
Honourable Mentions: Good or Decent (in no particular order)
Electric President – The Violent Blue
Best Coast – Crazy For You
Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It Easy
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt
Perfume Genius – Learning
Women – Public Strain
Of Montreal – False Priest
Villagers – Becoming a Jackal
No Age – Everything In Between
M.I.A. – /\/\/\Y/\
OK Go – Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Everything Everything – Man Alive
Good Shoes – No Hope, No Future
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
Biggest Disappointments: (in no particular order)
Kula Shaker – Pilgrims Progress
Of Montreal – False Priest
LCD Soundsystem – This Is It
Hot Chip – One Life Stand
M.I.A. – /\/\/\Y/\
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Let It Sway
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles ( II )
Popular Records I Disliked:
The National – High Violet
Yeasayer – Odd Blood
A Life Like No Other – A Life Like No Other
Future Islands – In Evening Air
Sleigh Bells – Treats
Best Electronic/Noise/Other/Instrumental/Witch House:
— electro/noise/other (in no particular order)
Nice Nice – Extra Wow
Meat Beat Manifesto – Answers Come In Dreams
The Flashbulb – Arboreal
Truth – Puppets
EF – Sons Of Ghosts
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles ( II )
Billions and Billions – Billions and Billions
Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m OK
Tobacco – Maniac Meat
The Books – The Way Out
Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
— instrumental/non-electro (in no particular order)
Maserati – Pyramid Of The Sun
Faust – Faust Is Last
The Octopus Project – Hexadecagon
— witch house (in no particular order)
White Ring – Black Earth That Made Me [thanks to Erica for introducing me to this and to Witch House]
oOoOO – No Summr4U & oOoOO (s/t) [2 EPs]
Salem – King Night
▲⃝ ▲⃝ ▲⃝ – CD-ROM
Balam Acab – See Birds
/// ▲▲▲ \\ – CDR
†‡† – CDR
Modern Witch – Dark Secrets of the New Age
Indian Jewelry – Totaled
✝ DE△D VIRGIN ✝ – Anxities
LAKE R▲DIO – The Weather
Creep – Days EP
~▲†▲~ – ~▲†▲~
❖ – k n i g h t
Ʌ – Nothing [single]
VICES†OF†YOUTH – silence=death [single]
Black☻Skin – Casa Nostra [single]
- breathmint

tokyo’s 2010 list(s)

I can’t begin to compete with the lovely and detailed postings of fellow Cyanide Breathmint contributor AlmostAGhost (although I totally agree with the #1 choice, right on), but I will be lazy and cross post something I compiled for a music discussion board that I actually took me a number of hours to drag up from the depths of my brain and the playlists on my media player.

This stream of conscious rambling of my musical tastes is a decent primer to sum up everything I’ve experienced musically this year.  To keep this fun, I will using a single sentence to describe each of the most important albums (to me) of this year.

Your musical tastes are as valid as anyone else’s.  In the times of Pitchfork I feel that it’s urgent to tell you that there is no objective scale to music, so have fun and listen to music that drives you.

That being said, making these lists is damned fun and I love seeing them from other people.

For summary purposes (and the tl;dr crowd), here are my top 5 from this year:

5. Beach House – Teen Dream
4. Eluvium – Similes / Eluivum – Static Nocturne
3. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (II)
2. The National – High Violet
1. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Top tracks of the year in no order (not necessarily released this year):

Eluvium – The Motion Makes Me Last (listen here)
Darkstar – Need You (listen here)
Memoryhouse – Bonfire (listen here)
Crystal Castles – Baptism (listen here)
Best Coast – Something In The Way (listen here)
Bright Eyes & Neva Dinova – Tripped (listen here)
The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio (listen here)
Teen Daze – Gone For Summer (listen here)
Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo (listen here)
The Arcade Fire – Modern Man (listen here)
Real Estate – Out of Tune (listen here) – [if i had to pick a favorite track this year, this is it]

And here are the remainder of items which I discovered this year, along with musings on the aforementioned:

Releases That Came Out This Year That I Either Don’t Care For, Didn’t Crack The Top List, or I Was Too Busy To Listen To (In Alphabetical Order)

The Album Leaf – A chorus of Story Tellers: Probably the most boring Album Leaf album ever, please get your stuff together and do something interesting because I honestly love your work.
Brian Eno – Small Craft on a Milk Sea: His ambient work is some of my favorite, just haven’t gotten around to this one.
Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record: BSS’s first album is bloody perfect and in my desert island discs, this one is kind of boring and I just really don’t care.
Dark Tranquillity – We Are the Void: OG melodic death metal band with way too much filler material.
Darkstar – North: Gave one listen and liked it, but pales in comparison to their single (mentioned later).
Dntel – After Parties (I and II): Such a huge fan of Jimmy Tamberello, just haven’t gotten around to this.
The Drums – The Drums: This is the 80’s, but so much fun.
Florence + The Machine – Lungs: The gf loves this, and the girl has some serious pipes.
Gayngs – Relayted: I’m all for super groups that include Justin Vernon.
Girl Talk – All Day: Don’t really care for this one, still consider him the gold standard of modern mashups (Dilla’s ‘Donuts’ and Shadow’s ‘Endtroducing’ still have my heart).
God is an Astronaut – Age of the Fifth Sun: This band makes the same album over and over, post-rock to listen to while you read Orson Scott Card.
Jonsi – Go: Haven’t gotten around to this, but the single was absolutely stunning.
Peter Wolf Crier – Inter-Be: Tumblr recommendation, just makes me want to listen to The Dodos (although this is pretty good).
Phillip Selway – Familial: Haven’t gotten around to this, but I’ve heard great things.
She & Him – Volume Two: I love Zooey and I love M. Ward, but I just didn’t get around to this.
Sleigh Bells – Treats: So hyped, but never got the chance to listen to it.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Let it Sway: Heard a few on shuffle, and I certainly hope it’s better than I think it’s going to be once I sit to listen to it.

Albums That Weren’t Released This Year That I Was All About (In Alphabetical Order)

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA (1984): Such an amazing record, been living by this vinyl ever since I got it in the mail from an awesome friend of mine.

Burial – Burial (2006)
Burial – Untrue (2007):
Did not appreciate this in 2007, but am absolutely in love with Burial this year and lord knows what changed, but I don’t care because this material is golden.
Darkstar – Need You / Squeeze My Lime (2008): On recommendation fell in love with these the tracks here that became my late night soundtrack.
Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992): Hands down the best black metal album I’ve ever heard.
Erik Satie (composer) – 3 Gymnopedies: From the movie ‘Man On Wire,’ not a huge classical piano fan, but this composer’s work is one the precursors to ambient music and I fell in love with these 3 songs.
Grouper – Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (2008): Echoey, shoegazed, and lost in thought, this album is absolutely beautiful.
Jay Reatard – Blood Visions (2006)
Jay Reatard – Watch Me Fall (2009):
Seriously kicking myself for not seeing him play live in Orlando, but holy shit these albums rule.
JBM – Not Even in July (2008): Best opening act I’ve seen in years with some of the most heartfelt songs.
The Life and Times – Tragic Boogie (2009): Closing band at a hipster-as-fuck-post-rock-show who absolutely DESTROYED for the 15 remaining concert patrons and who’s work you need to pay attention to.
Lymbyc Systm – Love Your Abuser (2007): Beautifully complicated music.
Pajo – Scream With Me (2009): Pajo’s work with Aerial M means a whole lot to me, and him slaying with lo-fi covers of The Misfits is almost too much to take.
Scott Walker – Scott 3 (1969)
Scott Walker – Scott 4 (1969):
The best singer I had never heard of, this man is immensely under-appreciated.
Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993): One of the best things to come out of the ’90s that I had never paid attention to.
Songs: Ohia – The Lioness (2000): I’ll never be bored of tortured souls and acoustic guitars.
Tim Hecker – Radio Amor (2003): Living proof that electronica is unique and means something, which somehow manages to move mountains in your brain.
Warpaint – Exquisite Corpse EP (2008): Dreamy, drifting passages with a cohesive drive.
Worriedaboutsatan – Arrivals (2009): Minimalist beats that are epic to listen to while programming.

Top List Of This Year Even Though My Opinion Doesn’t Matter And Everyone’s Tastes Are Valid So These Lists Are Stupid (In Alphabetical Order)

Adam Haworth Stephens – We Live On Cliffs: Singer from Two Gallants makes a solo record with pop hooks and succeeds valiantly.
After the Burial – In Dreams: Waited for so long for this thirty minute collection of lovely deathcore songs.
Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit: One of the most unheard names in metal who actually do something unique and meaningful release a sprawling epic unlike anything they’ve attempted previously.
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs: Paints the most vivid and poignant picture of living in America in 2010 and is simply the best record of the year.
Avey Tare – Down There: Animal Collective is on vacation, and I can only get my fix this way until Panda Bear gets his next LP out.
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms: Solid tracks and someone who was clearly drunk when choosing the track order.
Beach House – Teen Dream: Even as a fan of their sleepy stuff, this self-actualized album is an absolutely perfect release from start to finish.
Best Coast – Crazy for You: One half of my favorite indie couple, I love Best Coast.
Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time: Power metal from these German dudes will never be old to me.
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (II): The death of guitar based music to the tune of Alice Glass screaming, this kicks all ass.
Daughters – Daughters: Suggestion of a friend and holy shit is it epic.
Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions: His first solid release since his debut, with a tear jerking re-take on ‘Christ Jesus’ sans-guitar.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest: The creepiest cover art with the best dreamy slow jams all year.
Deftones – Diamond Eyes: Thanks to some fessing up with friends, I am no longer ashamed of my love for the Deftones and this is a solid release to fan the flames.
The Delta Mirror – Machines That Listen: Apartment electronica with a personal feel that drove a good many of my programming sessions.
Eluvium – Similes
Eluvium – Static Nocturne:
One of my absolute favorite musicians releases an amazing record with his own vocals (for the first time since his start) and then releases the best white noise influenced ambient electronica record I’ve ever heard in the same year.
Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma: Programming music strikes again, this makes my brain work in overdrive.
Forest Swords – Dagger Paths: The result of a clicking fest which yielded some sparse and interesting electronica.
Freelance Whales – Weathervanes: This album needed to come out in 2000, because it’s the most lovely, idealistic, and naive indie rock record I’ve ever heard and today’s hipster just cannot accept it anymore.
Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks: Legit live show and great lyrics give me great reason to appreciate these guys.
Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner: Add to the heap of electronica this year, weird and dancey and everything in between.
Infinite Body – Carve Out the Face of My God: Almost in my top 5, this is dark, droned out, weird, and melodic all in one fell swoop.
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: Never listened to Kanye, but I’ll listen if you’re collaborating with Justin Vernon #everybodyknowsimamotherfuckingmonster.
Kid Ikarus – Kid Ikarus: Lovely post-rock, plain and simple.
The Last Felony – Too Many Humans: Face punching death metal, delivers exactly as promised.
Memoryhouse – Choir of Empty Rooms
Memoryhouse – Caregiver / Heirloom 7″
Memoryhouse – The Years EP
Memoryhouse – To The Lighthouse 7″:
“Chillwave” band with a heart and some shoegazy dream pop to boot, please listen to them and thank me when you find yourself day dreaming.
The National – High Violet: This didn’t make sense until I saw it live, but holy shit is the band alive with a damned good record to prove it.
Owen Pallett – Heartland: Close to my top 5, saw him twice this year live and just a wonderful collection of baroque pop songs.
Panda Bear – Tomboy EP
Panda Bear – You Can Count On Me:
My Animal Collective jones gets more or less filled with releases like these.
Quasi – American Gong: Pacific northwest rockers and Elliott smith friends, so by default I’m all ears
Real Estate – Out of Tune / Reservoir #3 7″: Best slacker rock, hands down.
Soilwork – The Panic Broadcast: My favorite Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal band released their first solid album in years.
Stars – The Five Ghosts: A forgettable but albeit solid release, a few awesome tracks keeping this in the top list.
Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises:
Such a huge Mark Kozelek dork and what a gorgeous album.
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast: Best thing to come out of Florida, fun live, fun on vinyl, don’t screw up the record deal boys.
Teen Daze – Four More Years EP: Suggestion of an awesome friend, and what a great EP to fuel my late night work shifts.
[The] Slowest Runner [in All the World] – We, Burning Giraffes: Best and only baroque influenced post-rock I’ve heard.
This Will Destroy You – Moving On The Edges of Things: This band refuses a single classification and goes all drone on your ass just to say fuck you to the post-rock crowd.
Tokyo Police Club – Champ: Am still in love with ‘Elephant Shell,’ but I’m so happy to see these guys progressing.
Vampire Weekend – Contra: Who doesn’t love Vampire Weekend (seriously)?
Warpaint – The Fool: Dreamy and awesome, please listen to this.
Wavves – King of the Beach: The other half of my favorite indie couple, still love his sophomore release more (raising valid questions of my taste in recording quality) but am so happy to see that he’s letting his influences show with reckless abandon and trying out normal recording practices.
Worriedaboutsatan – Heart Monitor: Grabs you by the chest.

- tokyo

2010 so far

If 2009 started off hard and heavy with a series of awesome records (for the record: yes it did), “2010 so far” is a bit underwhelming for me personally. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few solid records now which have made my regular rotation.

The Knife – Tomorrow, In A Year. Leave it to The Knife to not disappoint! I didn’t know what to expect when I heard (over a year ago) that their next project was to accompany an opera about Charles Darwin (that was being produced by a Danish experimental theatre group), but I expected to be pleased. Having under a dozen listens under my belt it’s difficult to try and write anything resembling a proper review of this, because it’s actually quite layered and complex. I may or may not attempt something like that later, but for now I can say for sure – I love this and highly recommend you check it out! It is definitely the most unique record I have heard in I can’t say how long! Buy it here.

The Knife – Minerals

Eels – Endtimes is the last record (so far) I have found this year which immediately drew me in. It documents Mark Everett’s (he IS Eels) 2005 divorce with his wife and the feelings which ensued. It’s some heavy stuff, definitely not something you should expect to throw on at work to quickly pass the time while coding. This is definitely a highly recommended record, though. Check it out now [full album stream on myspace], or buy it here.

Eels – A Line In The Dirt

Beach House – Teen Dream. I don’t have a ton to say about this record, except that I am appreciating it more than their previous work, and it seems to be continually growing on me with each lesson. More later? Buy it here.

Beach House – Used To Be

Four TetThere Is Love In You is filled with dreamy reverberated percussive samplings, warm and hypnotic synth hooks, and a nice selection of processed vocals which serve both to tie together the nine tracks and add a layer of emotions to what might otherwise be complete abstraction. This isn’t strictly dance music but there are definitely elements of that, with some intermingled segments of house tempo 4/4 showing up on tracks like ‘This Unfolds’ while others such as ‘Plastic People’ pretty much operating exclusively in that vein. Recommended – buy it here.

Four Tet – Circling

Yeti Lane‘s self titled debut is an example of why I am paying (slightly) closer attention lately to European bands (they’re French!) lately. It’s Beatles-esque psychedelia with a good dose of what apparently is my favorite (its taken me years to realize this) genre: newgaze (or nu gaze). That’s “new” (post-2000?) shoegaze. I recently thought of this term and after googling it was disheartened to find someone had already thought of it and in fact started a group dedicated to the idea (and here I thought I was so clever). In any case, check them out if you like that sort of thing buy it here). And by the way, don’t mistake my having placed “nu gaze” just after mentioning these guys are European as some sort of intended statement. Mosts of the groups emerging in this genre are coming out of the US.

Other stuff I’m enjoying (but not obsessing over):

Get Well SoonVexations. These guys seriously wowed me with their first record Rest Now, Weary Head! You Will Get Well Soon so I had very high expectations/hopes for this one. Although it hasn’t quite lived up to them, this is a solid record and I recommend it to fans of their earlier stuff.

EfterklangMagic Chairs. I have heard good things about these guys before, but this was my introduction to their music, and I dig. Looking forward to checking out (what has been described as quite varied) back catalog soon.

Good ShoesNo Hope, No Future. Maybe the only upbeat(ish) record so far of 2010 I have found/dug. Did I miss out on some mutual agreement that everyone else was going to release slow and quiet records from now on? I hope not, and after hearing Good Shoes I’m optimistic someone will be rocking out real soon (Snowden, I’m looking your way).

Then there’s the stuff I’m not really digging.

Everyone is going on about Yeasayer. I am a naysayer. I dislike the dude’s voice, and for me that’s easily enough to kill it. Hot Chip’s latest One Life Stand is just as disappointing as Made In The Dark (which I insist should have stayed in the dark – OH SNAP). These guys are a bit of a mystery to me having shown such weak efforts after 2006’s The Warning which is, to put it quite simply, amazing. I hope they get it together soon.  Vampire Weekend – Contra. Meh. A multitude of other recommendations have come my way and been dismissed as mediocre at best. If anyone has a tip, I’d love to hear from you.

–more quite soon–

- breathmint