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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


17) ∆AIMON – AMEN

∆AIMON – AMEN


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
SBTRKT – SBTRKT
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 – Life.in.Mono
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, what.cd. 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.
Rules:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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04) The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Everyone knows this. I don’t have anything to say except that it owns.
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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.

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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…
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Top 10 EPs:
10) No Wave – Nameless One
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09) The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car
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08) Girls – Broken Dreams Club
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07) Balam Acab – See Birds
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06) Team Ghost – Celebrate What You Can’t See
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05) Sunglasses – Sunglasses EP
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04) The Radio Dept. – Never Follow Suit
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03) oOoOO – oOoOO
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02) White Ring – Black Earth That Made Me
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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.
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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
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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
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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 )
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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
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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
GR†LLGR†LL – 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
H∆UNT3D HOUS3 – S3XY TIM3 3P
Ʌ – Nothing [single]
VICES†OF†YOUTH – silence=death [single]
Black☻Skin – Casa Nostra [single]
- breathmint