Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best of 2010: Top 20 LPs (4-10)

I'm too tired to do all 10 so I'll leave some extra suspense and leave my top 3 for whenever I wake up.  I'll also remember to do them in reverse order so you have to scroll halfway down the page to find out what I ranked highest for no other reason than the fact that on the way down, you might have more of a chance to be dissatisfied with my list or, if you're lucky, find something you really dig.

 Enough self-deprecation, onto the list.  It's been a long night and I feel as if I do my best writing when I'm sleep deprived.  Less inhibition and whatnot, you get the idea:


Take 1 part black metal, 1 part screamo and a handful of relentless brutality and you have...a stupid metaphor that barely begins to describe how astounding this band is.  This album has no 'Intro' ambient track or any eerie samples or field recordings of rustling leaves.  Celeste comes out swinging immediately, cracking you in the face before you have a chance to even guess what to expect.  The traditional black metal tremolo picking and chord structures paired with the vocals more associated with screamo or post-hardcore make for a hard-hitting and visceral experience.  These Frenchmen rarely give you a chance to take a breath but when they do, it's brooding, dissonant and haunting.  Morte(s) Nee(s) is a powerhouse of an album and will have your head banging to the down-tuned chugs in no time.


Would it be bombastic or ostentatious to call this album a modern soul classic?  Probably, but this is my piece of internet and I can pretty much say whatever I want and you might've ended up here because you actually find yourself agreeing with me some of the time so it doesn't really matter does it?  Anyway, this, out of most of the albums on my list, has definitely received a majority of any kind of 'mainstream' press.  The soulful, heartbroken, meaningful lyrics can make anyone's heart ache.  Just look at the song titles and you'll get the picture.  Not to say it doesn't have its share of the up-beat, riff-heavy garage rock we've all come to expect from the Akron duo.  Their last album, Attack and Release, really had me worried and was a huge letdown.  With more instrumentation than the previous album, these guys sounded like they lost the energy and soul they radiated as a simple guitar + drums formula for years.  This album restored my faith in their ability to create and excel.  Nostalgic poetry, rockin' solos, rugged vocals and soul you thought died with detroit (more on that later); this album has it all and is solid all the way through.


I find it impossible to ignore this band's absurdity.  Their musicianship is almost overshadowed by their ludicrous stage presence and general approach to what some might call 'songwriting' but I don't think they'd have it any other way.  I've enjoyed this band for quite some time but after recently seeing them live, I can't help but be impacted by such a passionate and honest performance.  This album was meant to embody their live show and pack as much life as you can into a reproduction of something as intimate as their music.  Yeah, I just described The Chariot as intimate...not the first adjective one might think of but I think it's an interesting way of perceiving their music and helps to get to the core of what's being conveyed here.  The first song is comprised entirely of one chord + insane amounts of feedback.  Over and over again.  How could a band make a song so 'simple' yet so inspiringly intense and energetic?  It barely even makes sense and that is the beauty of this album.  Pure expression.


This album barely made it onto my radar in time but I can barely express how glad I am that I found this.  The title of this album could, understandably, be off-putting to some.  I know what you may be thinking, "Yeah Matt, just what we need, another pompous rapper who thinks hes the best thing since Uncrustables".
But all you need to do to realize this is different is listen to the first 20 seconds.  This album is a reflection, a recounting of this man's life and what happened during it in the past year.  Don't get me wrong, the album has plenty of classic hip-hop pomp with all the trimmings but it's much less contrived than other albums you might have heard of on several other 'best of' lists this year...Let me just set something straight:  Kanye West compared to Black Milk (in terms of everything from production to lyrical content and general persona) is the equivalent of the gross, store-brand knock-off cereal sold in bags sitting on the bottom shelves of the cereal isle.  In other words, a cheap, blatant imitation.  
Snag this album and "Dark Twisted Fantasy" practically deletes itself off your ipod.


After his EP collab with Jackhigh, Teebs finally went ahead and released his debut LP, Ardour.  The soundscapes created on this record are so vibrant and lush, you can't help but get lost in the ebb and flow.  Each new addition to the ocean of sound creates a brand new texture and carries on the previous idea while evolving it and constantly shifting directions.  The whole album feels like a series of little auditory adventures, each one unique but also thematically relevant to one another.  Teebs' use of certain sounds is carving out a signature sound niche that many would never dream of pulling off.  The bell and chime tones accompanied by junky sounding snaps and clicks reverberate throughout the album and form countless dreamy atmospheres to get lost in.  The Flying Lotus influence is undeniable as Teebs appears to be the grasshopper to sensei Flylo.


The album artwork is by Toby Driver, need I say more?  Really though, this LP is a great step forward for underground music.  It's really stepping up the production value, lyrical content and musical aptitude lost on many bands trying to be the next Cap'n Jazz.  When you hear this record, many familiarities in the music might arise but as much as you try, it becomes very difficult to pinpoint what you think you might be hearing.  Their style is unique and powerful for a 3 piece band.  Both the guitarist and bassist scream so the call/response mechanic is utilized often and with great success.  The rigid bass lines hold it down while the guitar is non-stop, all over the fretboard and the whirling dervish drum style only amplifies the intensity.  Buy this album, it's beautiful on vinyl and the band deserves it.  They're also amazing live.


Yeah, I did just post this not too long ago...Regardless, it's simply an amazing album and just never gets old.  Check out my review by clicking above.

Alright, time to go die in bed.  If I wake up, maybe I'll finish my top 3 with some really well-written commentary.

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