Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best of 2010: Top 20 LPs (11-20)

Alright, well, it took me a while to muster up the courage for this but here we go.  It's been a great year so instead of whittling it down to just 10 and choosing between way too many albums to list as 'honorable mentions', I'll just man up and make a big list for the albums I know deserve to be heard.  Alright.  Deep breath.  Here we go.


Another Sargent House curveball, Tera Melos is known for their spastic, super-human brand of mathrock.  This album shows that they can do more than just change time signatures on a dime.  I'll admit, it was a bit of a grower, but once I latched on, it really sunk in.  The first noticeable difference is the prominence of vocals.  Yep, they aren't instrumental anymore.  This could've probably been discerned by the vague presence of vocals on their last EP but I definitely didn't expect them to be in the foreground like this.  Another huge change is the new drummer.  Few (if any) could live up to Vince's jazzy, unhinged style but this new guy does his best to fill in those enormous shoes.  The drumming is much more conventional than past releases but this also lends itself more to the music now that vocals are more involved.  Also, the song 'Aped' is about a pet chimp some crazy woman in CT had that mauled her friend, nearly killing her, so that's pretty damn cool.


I absolutely adore these guys.  I just hung out with some of them tonight and they are truly some of the greatest dudes I'll know in life.  Good thing they make amazing music and I don't just have to pretend to love it.  Like I said in my Suns review, these guys share band members, allowing for bountiful chemistry and an emotional bond that few bands, or even groups of friends in general, ever hope to achieve.  A concept-album or sorts, Make it Easy on Yourself is an emotional journey and offers all the highs and lows you could ever hope for.  I implore you to check this out and if you like it, definitely order the vinyl.  The packaging is sick (because I helped put some of it together, of course) and the music on the wax is even sicker.

This is on the list because I'm a sucker for anything Phil Elverum related and this is just a giant cluster of unreleased songs, different versions of songs I already love and what seems like random (glorious) crap he decided to record when he had nothing better to do.  Sifting through it and finding stand-out tracks made it all the more rewarding.  If you dont love Microphones/Mount Eerie related things, this probably isn't for you but it's great anyway and definitely deserves its spot on here.

This virtually unknown group of gentlemen from the northwest corner have, in my eyes, accomplished something truly glorious.  Self-releasing a debut LP of this magnitude is so impressive to me, I can't go without appreciating them and the hard work they've done.  The production is stellar and the songs can go from sounding like Don Caballero one second to sounding like American Football and everything in between.  If they don't blow up soon, I'll all but lose hope in underground music and blogging.  LISTEN TO IT, PLEASE!
Bongripper - Satan Worshipping Doom

Ok...I know what you're thinking.  Between the album art, outrageous, high school-sounding band name and edgy album title, I could understand some kind of preconceived notions regarding this album.  I don't really care.  If you do what I almost did and judged the band before listening to this sonic endurance test, then you are truly an idiot.  Despite the silly band name, these guys definitely have some serious work ethic.  4 body-withering tracks all clocking in at over 11 minutes each is truly a feat considering the instrumental aspect and contextually complex song structure.  You read right, no death growls here, not a single word is uttered, nor are any words necessary.  This behemoth of an album lets the music speak for itself and it's calling you out on your bullshit so you should probably listen.


Dark Dark Dark seems to be on a great path.  These rompers hailing from Louisiana have taken a big step from their previous album, The Snow Magic (posted on this very blog a while ago).  The musical direction retains their folksy, jangle-y sound and the male/female vocal partnership while branching off and really creating a sound of their own.  Lots more piano and involved drums keep the pulse while tons of other instrumentation fills in the mix.  This is, overall, a darker (no pun, shut up), more reflective sounding record.  The melancholic vibe never gets old and really draws the listener in with it's atmospheric and emotional qualities.  Perfect for the coming winter.  

Ok, shit's about to get weird.  This two-piece JUGGERNAUT of a band from RI is out of control.  The otherworldly chanting, outrageously loud guitar and insanely strained and tormented vocals are enough to make most people plug their ears and run from the room begging for mercy.  If you listen a bit closer, the swelling sea of distortion creates such a dense, sludgy atmosphere that is truly unique and its all carried along by the pounding drums.  The shrieks emanating from the guitarist's mouth sound as if he has fallen into a hole somewhere far in the background and is being consumed by massive, flesh-eating worms of some kind.  This is apparently to simulate the effect of their live show.  Apparently at their shows, he foregoes the silly luxury of microphones and instead, shreds his vocal chords to roar over the already ridiculously loud wall of sound created by the two of them.  This album blends so many different genres together in such odd ways, it's almost futile to try and describe it.  Sludgy, doom-laden, blackened , depressive, thrashy, gargantuan and brutal are some words that come to mind.  Sound good?


Snowing was a band that I personally thought got way too much hype for what they were.  Street Smart Cyclist was pretty good (all 7 songs they ever did or whatever) but all this hubbub and the guy can barely sing in the right key and let's be honest, this twinkly shit is getting out of hand.  This album is definitely beginning to change my opinion on the matter, at least with this band.  The production is worlds better than their debut EP.  It's raw but everything stands out how it should.  The lyrics are really intense and are quite humorous at times, the dueling guitars are always exciting and the band as a whole really changes up what this new wave, twinkly, so-bad-it's-good emo trend has become.  If they keep this up, maybe it won't become so stagnant.    


If you've been into Maps since the beginning of their strange career, you might've been in the same mindset as me when listening to this album for the first time.  They released 2 EPs over 5 years before finally releasing this debut LP and the result couldn't have been more shocking and initially disappointing.  Dumbstruck by the lack of frantic tapping and screeching vocals, I was naïve to dismiss it so soon.  After cooling off, I quickly realized that Dave Davison (if that's not his name, don't judge me, I'm too lazy to look it up even though it would take less time than writing this) had really matured as a songwriter and the band was his vessel to create what is essentially an amazing amalgamation of complex, intelligent rock and pop music.  A real grower if you've been a fan since they're debut and an extremely appealing, perfectly flowing album for any first-time listener.


So, I posted a pretty great review of this already so it's there in the link if you want to know more.  I'm trying to save time here so I can get outside and welcome the winter with some lunar eclipse action.  

Cool.  10 more to go!
I know you're thrilled...

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