Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kroda: Schwarzpfad (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums from 2011
#10 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Purity Through Fire
TRT: 50:40

There's something very primal about Kroda. Hailing from The Ukraine, they incorporate a lot of the rich folk history of their country into their works, both through the instruments used and the lore reiterated. There's an undeniable beauty to their work, in both the cacophony and the quiet. This is a very memorable release with plenty of replay value.

01 Schwarzpfad I (First Snow)
02 Schwarzpfad II (Universal Provenances)
03 Schwarzpfad III (Forefather of Hangmen)
04 Schwarzpfad IV (Heil Ragnarok!)
05 Schwarzpfad V (Cold Aurora)

Other Lives: Tamer Animals (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#9 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Western Folk Dream Pop
Label: TBD
TRT: 40:16

For 12 was recommended to me for a compilation I was putting together. The compilation fell through, but I fell for this song, and immediately checked out the rest of the album. What we have here is a band that at times reminds me of Mumford and Sons, sometimes Bon Iver, maybe even a little Radiohead, yet their clear vision and western slant make their sound unique and refreshing. I doubt these folks will stay under the radar long, since they're currently touring with Radiohead (as well as being released on their imprint), which is good, because we need more high profile quality music on the airwaves.

01 Dark Horse
02 As I Lay My Head Down
03 For 12
04 Tamer Animals
05 Dust Bowl III
06 Weather
07 Old Statues
08 Woodwind
09 Desert
10 Landforms
11 Head East

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blut aus Nord: 777 - The Desanctification

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#8 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Experimental Black Metal
Label: Debemur Morti
TRT: 43:47

These longtime black metal jauggernauts are relentless. After a career almost old enough to vote, they're still not ready to give up the ghost. Instead they're turning up the intensity but releasing a three part series of albums for their ninth, tenth and eleventh full length offerings. This is the second in the series (with the third part due out in early 2012), and it is monstrously depraved. They've pulled a page from MoRT, and really upped the industrial sound of the drums, giving them a pummeling machinelike pulse, which enhances the eerie guitar atmospheres and schizophrenic vocals. They've given us yet another journey to hell, and I don't think we're coming back from this one.

01 Epitome VII
02 Epitome VIII
03 Epitome IX
04 Epitome X
05 Epitome XI
06 Epitome XII
07 Epitome XIII

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nero: Welcome Reality (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#7 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Electro Dubstep
Label: Mercury
TRT: 61:05

This two man DJ group has been lighting up stages and playing sets all over the world for many years, so the expectation for their debut album was pretty high. But I don't think anyone thought this was the album they'd make. Instead of going for the "easy kill" by coupling some nasty drops with some glitch ambient intros (rinse/repeat), they wrote an actual album containing actual songs. You can tell they put a great deal of effort into these tracks, they're not just a handful of club-friendly wubs and wobbles. This album is like the best parts of Justice and Skrillex combined with Nero's own singunature production. The result speaks for its self. Glitchy grooves, catchy hooks and drops that are somehow more "wholesome" than "filthy". This is one that's going to be getting a lot of play from me for a long time.

01 2808
02 Doomsday
03 My Eyes
04 Guilt
05 Fugue State
06 Me and You
07 Innocence
08 In the Way
09 Scorpions
10 Crush on You
11 Must Be the Feeling
12 Reaching Out

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rwake: Rest (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#6 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Label: Relapse
TRT: 52:48

It's nice to see a band mature their sound without losing sight of who they are, and these southern sludge lords are not fucking around. While not as primal or violent as 2007's Voices of Omen, it's hardly deserving of such a sleepy title. Rwake focus more on the atmospheric side of their sound this time around, but there's still plenty of aggression to be found, and plenty of vicious grooves to be had.

01 Souls of the Sky
02 It Was Beautiful But Now It's Sour
03 An Invisible Thread
04 The Culling
05 Ti progetto
06 Was Only a Dream

Gem Club: Breakers (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#5 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Piano-driven Atmospheric Melancholy
Label: Hardly Art
TRT: 37:49

Christopher Barnes channels the essence of melancholy and brings to mind "slowcore" pioneers Slowdive, while Barnes' haunting vocals are reminiscent of the Norwegian band The White Birch. Using his voice and his piano (with occasional help from cellist Kristen Drymala), Barnes creates immense atmospheres that are at once arresting and engrossing. His lyrics captivate your imagination, and whether hopeful or tragic, they come across with a sense of urgency and honesty that is sorely lacking in music these days.

01 Twins
02 Breakers
03 Lands
04 Red Arrow (John)
05 I Heard the Party
06 Black Ships
07 Tanager
08 252
09 In Wavelengths

Leprous: Bilateral (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#4 of 11

Year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: InsideOut
TRT: 58:05

Leprous' last album, Tall Poppy Syndrome, really impressed me, so my expectations were very high for this one. And apparently they were up for the challenge. They really took things up a notch. Everything they did right on TPS, they improve upon. Vocalist Einar Solberg is particularly impressive. His performance on TPS is excellent, but there are several points during this album that my jaw literally dropped. These guys are the real deal, and they're raising the bar for progressive metal in spectacular fashion.

Also I don't usually bother making "best songs" lists for any given year, but gun to my head, I'd probably have to say my favorite track from 2011 is Forced Entry.

01 Bilateral
02 Forced Entry
03 Restless
04 Thorn
05 Mb. Indifferentia
06 Waste of Air
07 Mediocrity Wins
08 Cryptogenic Desires
09 Acquired Taste
10 Painful Detour

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wolves in the Throne Room: Celestial Lineage (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums for 2011
#3 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Atmoblamet
Label: Southern Lord
TRT: 48:51

Wolves in the Throne Room will always hold a special place in my blackened heart, because they are the band that unlocked black metal for me, and it has since become one of my most-listened to and favorite genres. After the release of the straight-forward and mostly mediocre Black Cascade, I feared they had lost their touch. Yet again, I'm happy to be wrong in such situations.

Celestial Lineage gets back to the incredibly well constructed atmospheres of their first two albums, and some how, some way, makes them more vast and full-sounding than ever. In addition, there are some absolutely magnificent riffs to be found here. While that's always been the case, they're much more prominent on this album. Specifically (and you know I don't like singling out tracks), Astral Blood is one of the most black plague infectious tracks I've ever heard. I spent several weeks humming guitar parts (much to the chagrin of my wife). And when I got it on vinyl...let's just say Side C has gotten many many times the play the rest of the album has. I think I must have picked up the needle and started it over maybe 12 times in a row that first day. I would highly recommend picking up the LP if that's something you're in to.

01 Thuja Magus Imperium
02 Permanent Changes In Conciousness
03 Subterrenean Initiation
04 Rainbow Illness
05 Woodland Cathedral
06 Astral Blood
07 Prayer of Transformation

Blue Sky Black Death: Noir (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#2 of 10

Year: 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Instrumental Trip-hop
Label: Fake Four
TRT: 62:41

While they started their career solidly in the realm of instrumental hip hop, over the past couple albums they've been moving more and more in the direction of washed out electronics and trip hop. They've also become more interesting as they mature their sound. Noir is like a warm day on the tail end of summer. Everything seems calm and laid back, but you just have a feeling that a storm is brewing on the horizon, and you can't shake your sense of unease. Like a hallway where there's enough light to keep moving, but not enough to see what's at the far end. Blue Sky Black Death prowls in those shadows, waiting.

01 Our Hearts Of Ruin
02 Sleeping Children Are Still Flying
03 And Stars, ringed
04 To The Ends Of The Earth
05 Farewell To The Former World
06 Falling Short
07 Gold In Gold Out
08 Where Do We Go
09 In The Quiet Absence Of God
10 Where The Sun Beats
11 Starry
12 Fire For Light
13 Swords From Driftwood
14 Sky With Hand

Arms and Sleepers: The Organ Hearts (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Albums of 2011
#1 of 10 (Album of the Year)

Year: 2011
Genre: Ambient Electronic Soundscapes
Label: Expect Candy
TRT: 41:01

This duo from New England showed up on my radar sometime shortly after their second full length Matador was released in 2009. I liked it and checked out their first album, and liked it as well, but it wasn't until late in 2010 that I really started to get into their sound. That's what they do. They create lush and layed soundscapes that appear simple on the surface, but become more intricate as you start to pay attention to and pick up on the subleties. When I saw them in April of 2010, The Organ Hearts was slated for release about a month later. After they opened their set with the first three tracks from the new album, the anticipation became palpable, and I bought it the day it was released.

This is their best release to date. Everything I love about their previous releases is here, but magnified. At first blush this seems to be the most minimalistic and ambient material they've created, but as you become more familiar with the music, more and more things begin to pop out at you. Over time, listening to this album becomes like watching a time-lapse video of a mountain meadow as it transforms from winter to spring, and the flowers bloom from the frozen ground.

01 Kepesh
02 Tusk
03 I Sing the Body Electric
04 The Afternoon Child
05 A Smile in Sofia
06 Antwerp
07 Serie Noire
08 Reprise
09 Yesterday's Child
10 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
11 Atelier
12 Airport Blues

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Marshmallow Ghosts: The Mashmallow Ghosts (4/5)

Year: 2009
Genre: Spooky Indie Rock
Label: Graveface Records
TRT: 11:36

The Marshmallow Ghosts is a bit of a revolving door band made up of Graveface Records artists from Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Appleseed Cast, Dreamend, and who knows who else.

This was released as a super-limited edition 7", with a a song on each side. The record is simply hypnotizing as it spins, especially in the dark (glow in the dark records? we truly live in a miraculous world!).

It's a fun little collaboration, and it's good tunes too! The first track is my favorite, as I feel it captures perfectly that creepy/something is around the corner/am i going to die? feeling without being overt or cheesy. It's the perfect soundtrack for a night out Trick or Treating, or to give the room an eerie yet whimsical tone.

I'm looking forward to hearing their new full-length, hope it's as strong as this brief release.

01 Shrieks
02 Creaks

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mal Etre: Torment (4.5/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Kunsthauch
TRT: 49:39

Production quality in black metal is an extremely touchy thing. There's a fine line between "great atmosphere" and "this sounds like fucking shit". This one man band from Switzerland finds the perfect balance. Washed out and hazy, dark and ominous, beautiful and memorable. Sad, gloomy, tortured, depressive...I could go on and on. Just imagine The Cure playing black metal in a mountain forest covered in fog.

01 Vie Impure
02 Forest
03 My Funeral
04 Unblessed Beings
05 Sad Day
06 Son Ame Saigne
07 October Falls

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mountain Goats: The Life of the World to Come (4/5)

Year: 2009
Genre: Singer/Songwriter Indie Folk Rock
Label: 4AD
TRT: 43:08

In my youth, lyrics were very important to me, as important or more so than any other part of the composition. At some point in my musical journey, their importance dropped off dramatically. I think it was a combination of growing up and also being exposed to more and more great music with terrible or lackluster lyrics.

The Mountain Goats joins the elite few bands/artists that remind me what a joy it is to actually dwell on a songs' content in addition to its sound.

On this album, John Darnielle takes the inspiration for each song from a different bible verse, and tries to transpose the scriptures meaning into a context relevant to our current world. Some of these are extremely poignant and thought provoking (such as the utterly soul-crushing Matthew 25:21), and some leave you with a quirk of a smile at how he drew the connection (the slightly creepy and off-the-wall Genesis 3:23), but all of them make you stop and think, the seed verse adding an entirely new level of depth to the already well written songs.

Darnielle has been releasing albums under The Mountain Goats moniker for twenty years, and I'd been told numerous times in the last six or seven that it would behoove me to check him out. Well better late than never, and I'm giddy with excitement to dig into the breadth and depth of his massive back catalog. Don't make the same mistake as I did, listen to this immediately.

011 Samuel 15:23
02Psalms 40:2
03Genesis 3:23
04Philippians 3:20-21
05Hebrews 11:40
06Genesis 30:3
07Romans 10:9
081 John 4:16
09Matthew 25:21
10Deuteronomy 2:10
11Isaiah 45:23
12Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace

Search Amazon for The Mountain Goats

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song (4/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Country
Label: Mercury Nashville
TRT: 1:45:33

I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from an expert on country music. Outside of a Johnny Cash, I've never really been impressed by what I've heard from the genre. So when NPR was reviewing this album last year I was dubious, but intrigued. And when they played Lonely at the Top, I immediately tracked down the album for further investigation.

While The Guitar Song is a sprawling release, covering two discs and close to two hours, it's remarkably consistent in quality. Sure there's a few tracks here and there that cross into the twang, honky-tonk and "good 'ol boy" stylings that initially caused me to dismiss the genre outright. But for every one song like that, there's two or three that are poignant, earnest and refreshingly down to earth. Tracks such as the aforementioned album opener, Can't Cash My Checks, Good Morning Sunrise, et cetera, are frank, honest (sometimes painfully so) and you can sense that Johnson is in this to exercise his own demons, and any fame or fortune that might come along with that are merely added bonuses.

Apparently he's pretty popular and well known in the country music scene, so it's not like I'm unearthing an obscure gem here, but for someone quite far from informed on the matter, he's quite a find, and has sparked my interest to find similar artists of his mettle. Perhaps he'll do the same for you.

Disc 1 (Black)
1Lonely At the Top
2Cover Your Eyes
3Poor Man Blues
4Set 'Em Up Joe
5Playing the Part
6Baby Don't Cry
7Heaven Bound
8Can't Cash My Checks
9That's How I Don't Love You
11Mental Revenge
12Even the Skies Are Blue

Disc 2 (White)
1By the Seat of Your Pants
2California Riots
3Dog in the Yard
4The Guitar Song (Featuring Bill Anderson)
5That's Why I Write Songs
7Thankful for the Rain
8Good Morning Sunrise
9Front Porch Swing Afternoon
10I Remember You
11Good Time Ain't What They Used to Be
12For the Good Times
13My Way to You

EDIT: file was reported by the IFPI, you'll have to google it for yourself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nadja & OvO: The Life and Death of a Wasp (4/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Noir Doomjazz
Label: Adaigo 830
TRT: 34:16

Nadja has made some excellent music, and some extremely boring music, so I always approach a new release with a healthy level of skepticism. By about a minute into this one however, I completely forgot to be skeptical. This is completely different from anything else Aidan Baker or OvO has ever done. Yes, it's still gloomy, yes at times it's got some doomy drone, but the atmosphere here is very noir and has a feel more like Bohren & der Club of Gore than Jesu. This is also a strange album due to it's subject matter, with creepy Jarboe-esque vocalizations meant to be the wasp that is doomed to a liquid grave. It's weird as hell. And I love it.

01 Movement 1: A Wasp Flying Around the Sugar Jar
02 Movement 2: Trapped in the Jar
03 Movement 3: Put Some Sugar in My Cup, Please
04 Movement 4: Drowned in Coffee

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bohren & der Club of Gore: Dolores (4.5/5)

Year: 2008
Genre: Slowburn Doom Jazz Noir
Label: Ipecac
TRT: 58:23

This band kept popping up on my radar, and after one particularly avid fan beseeched me to bump them up in my queue, I obliged.

This is the definition of "mood" music. Dark, slow paced, schmaltzy and ominous, Bohren & der Club of Gore took jazz and made it what they wanted it to be, not what it was "supposed" to be. It really blows my mind how much I enjoy this, as jazz has never really been very agreeable to my sensibilities. The best thing is, apparently their early catalog is even better than this one.

I highly recommend putting this on while you read a good book, it sets an absolutely spectacular atmosphere.

01 Staub
02 Karin
03 Schwarze Biene (Black Maja)
04 Unkerich
05 Still am Tresen
06 Welk
07 Von Schnäbeln
08 Orgelblut
09 Faul
10 Welten

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Black Sheep Wall: I Am God Songs (4.5/5)

Year: 2008
Genre: Sludge Metal
Label: PID
TRT: 60:05

Regardless of the quality of he music (which i consider quite good), this is very likely the heaviest thing I've heard in my life.

Their guitar tone is the most righteously ungodly thing ever.

It's like drowning in concrete.


02Care by Carcinogenic


04Modest Machine


06Lamb... gayy

07D327ht2qwbref2 5g2

08Ten Fucking Billion


Search Amazon for Black Sheep Wall

Monday, August 15, 2011

22: Flux + ESP (4.5/5)

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Mathpop
Label: Best Before Records
TRT: 47:55

At first I wasn't entirely sold, but the more I listened, the more sold I got.

Now I'm bought and paid for.

They're like Circa Survive meets The Mars Volta meets Meshuggah meets glitter and glowsticks.

I'm in love. I can't get enough.

01 Plastik
02 Gotodo
03 Flux
04 I Am That I Am
05 Disconnecting From the Grid
06 Kneel Estate
07 Loopwhole
08 Power Is So Yesterday
09 Perspective Pleiadian
10 Susurrus
11 Abdomental

their EP ESP (Extra Sensory Play) is also fantastic.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Natural Snow Buildings: The Centauri Agent (4/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#10 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Psychedelic Folk Drone
Label: Vulpiano
TRT: 106:57

A Massive 2-disc venture, Natural Snow Buildings creates a unique vastness, an expanse unparalleled by anything but their own catalog. This is the soundtrack for swirling endlessly through the vacuum of space.

Disc 1
o1Our Man From Centauri

o2The Accidental Remote Viewer

Disc 2
01The Psychic Circle/Uchronia

02Black Holes

03The Storm of Resurrection

04Moscow Signal

05Phantom Twin

06Stuttering Probe

07Solar Flares

08Emergency Network Farewell Broadcast

09Memories Found in a Bill From a Small Animal Vet

Natural Snow Buildings on Vulpiano Records

Fang Island: Fang Island (4/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#9 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Indie Dance Rock
Label: Sargent House
TRT: 31:27

After a falling out with fellow band-members in Daughters, Nick Andrew Sadler decided he was done with drama, and just wanted to have some fun. Joining up with fellow musicians from Providence, RI, they started a band whose music they describe as "everyone high-fiving everyone", and dammit, that's about as good of a description of their music as can be made. Just turn it up, crack a beer, and let go. Just be sure to leave one hand free for five fingered affirmation, which is sure to abound.

01Dreams of Dreams

02Careful Crossers


04Life Coach


06The Illinois


08Davey Crockett

09Welcome Wagon


Search Amazon for Fang Island

EDIT: DMCA complaint, apparently Sargent House is affiliated with Atlantic Records. You'll have to wave a wand at Google to find a link.

Daughters: Daughters (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#8 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Noise Rock
Label: Hydra Head
TRT: 27:56

A lot has changed since Daughters released Canada Songs back in 2003. A lot has changed since 2006's Hell songs. So much so, that the band quietly disassembled in August of 2009 after having a "falling out" revolving around musical differences and mutual unrest with the recorded material finished in June. Everyone went their separate ways, with guitarist Nick Sadler going on to start the band Fang Island (more on that later).

Later in the year, vocalist Lex went to drummer Jon and they decided to release the self titled Daughters album, stating in a Noiscreep interview: "We started this band and we're the only two people who have been through it consistently, so there was no reason to stop altogether and throw the whole thing away".

And thank goodness. The third full length from Daughters (their longest to date) is by far the most accessible material they've ever released, straying far away from their spastic grind-influenced debut, and only keeping the "drunken Elvis"-esqe vocals from the follow-up. Daughters is still demented, but in a noise rock, art core sort of way. It's easy to see why the band collectively threw up their hands in disgust.

Lex went on to say to Noisecreep that he's "not knocking anyone who enjoys this record, because I enjoy parts of this record. But I think if people like it, it's because it was written for them to like it, if that makes sense." On the surface that seems like a dick thing to say (though Lex is far from a stranger to lambasting fans and critics alike), but if you take a good listen to the album, you can actually see exactly what he means.

01The Virgin

02The First Supper

03The Hit

04The Theatre Goer

05Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are One)

06The Dead Singer

07Sweet Georgia Brown

08The Unattractive, Portable Head

Search Amazon for Daughters

The Seven Fields of Aphelion: Periphery (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#7 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Ambient Piano Dreams
Label: Graveface
TRT: 38:08

Another member of Black Moth Super Rainbow (in addition to Tobacco and Power Pill Fist) that has decided to dabble into the solo arena, thank goodness. Whilst Tobacco captures the dirty chip hop side of BMSR, and PPF exemplifies the noiser chaos side of BSMR, The Seven Fields of Aphelion channels the ambient and atmospheric side. Ethereal, surreal, soothing and thoughtful, we're treated to a softer, more contemplative and drifting floating away on a dandelion puff in a secluded mountain meadow, on the cusp of summer and autumn.

01 Slow Subtraction
02 Grown
03 Pale Prophecy
04 Wildflower Wood
05 Cloud Forest (The Little Owl)
06 Mountain Mary
07 Saturation : Arrhythmia
08 Fever Sleep
09 Lake Feet
10 Sunburst Chemicals
11 Michigan Icarus
12 Starlight Aquatic

Search Amazon for The Seven Fields of Aphelion

Mains de Givre: Esther Marie (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#6 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Classical Drone
Label: Textura
TRT: 46:29

Mains de Givre (Frost Hands) is a a partnership between experimentalist/guitarist Eric Quach and classically trained violinist Emilie Livernois-Desroches. What they've managed to do here is created a wonderfully dense soundscape of whirling, swirling, and often enveloping washes of slowly evolving loops and variations originating from strings, more often violin than guitar, but melded together expertly. The result is at once menacing and ominous, while somehow hinting at light on the cusp of breaking through the brooding storm clouds.

Not too shabby for a couple of Canadians.

01 Un Chœur Dâmes En Détresse
02 Le Cercle Des Moeurs
03 Cauchemar Noir Et Rouge
04 Larmes Sanglantes

Search Amazon for Mains de Givre

The Glitch Mob: Drink the Sea (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#5 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Electronic Glitch-hop
Label: Glass Air
TRT: 59:33

I'd heard about this collective before, but never got around to checking out any of their sets. After touring extensively for several years, this is their first official release, and it was received with mixed reactions. Many were let down at the direction they pursued here, because it's apparently quite different from their live approach. Having not heard anything but this album, I came to the table with no expectations and no preconceived notions about what I was or was not going to hear. And if those opinions would have caused me to dislike this, then I'm quite glad of their absence, because this album is excellent.

Every track has something different to offer, and each song has a life and will of it's own, all coming together to form a blissful journey from start to finish. Glitchy electronics drenched in lush production and beats that are, at times, driving and at times simply walking in the background, marry to create arresting sonic soundscapes.

01 Animus Vox
02 Bad Wings
03 How To Be Eaten By A Woman
04 A Dream Within A Dream
05 Fistful of Silence
06 Between Two Points feat. Swan
07 We Swarm
08 Drive It Like You Stole It
09 Fortune Days
10 Starve The Ego, Feed The Soul

Search Amazon for The Glitch Mob

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Julie Christmas: The Bad Wife (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Albums for 2010
#4 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Sludge Rock
Label: Rising Pulse
TRT: 41:51

Full disclosure, I'm pretty much a sucker for anything this woman has a hand in. Battle of Mice, Made Out of Babies...whatever. So even though I tried not to get too excited about this album when it was announced to be in the works several years ago, I had little doubt I'd be into it.

Hooray for realistic expectations. Ms. Christmas combines elements of both the aforementioned projects, but highlights a more delicate side of her muse on this release. By "delicate" I don't mean "weak", this is a very dark and ominous album, but it doesn't quite cross the line into metal this time around. "Restraint" might be a better description, as there's still a definite aggressive thread running throughout.

As one familiar with her previous work might expect, The Bad Wife is a concept album. While not immediately obvious and not entirely fleshed out, it tells the story of a woman who is desperately attached to her beloved, but in the end her co-dependency and instability drives him away from her. The fact that the details are cloudy and the outcome vague only adds to the atmosphere.

01 July 31st
02 If You Go Away
03 Bow
04 Secrets All Men Keep (Salt Bridge, Part II)
05 Six Pairs of Feet and One Pair of Legs
06 Headless Hawks
07 The Wigmaker’s Widow
08 I Just Destroyed the World
09 When Everything is Green

Search Amazon for Julie Christmas

Sleigh Bells: Treats (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#3 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: The Noisiest of Pop
Label: Mom + Pop
TRT: 32:00

The story of Derek Miller (ex-guitarist for Poison the Well) and Alexis Krauss (former middle school teacher) meeting at a Brazilian restaurant in Brooklyn, and then practically the next week beginning work as Sleigh Bells would be meaningless if Sleigh Bells failed to be memorable.

Well, love it or hate it (and there's roughly equal proponents of each), Treats is hard to forget. At first I was quite dubious when a friend was telling me about this "hip hop noise pop" duo that was making waves in the underground. My skepticism lasted for about 32 minutes, roughly the length of their debut. Then I hit play again and turned it up a bit and all of a sudden, I was completely sold.

They may never be able to match the intensity and sheer energy found here on subsequent releases, but dammit if they haven't invented their own genre and executed it perfectly with their first release. Other bands have sort of dilly-dallied around this sound, but Sleigh Bells nails it to the wall and then pulls the walls down around their heads.

So roll down your windows, throw out all of your preconceptions about what "hipsters" or "pitchfork" think about this, and turn that shit up until your ears bleed and your mind melts.

1Tell 'Em


3Riot Rhythm

4Infinity Guitars

5Run the Heart


7Rill Rill

8Crown on the Ground

9Straight A's

10A/B Machines


Search Amazon for Sleigh Bells

Jónsi: Go (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#2 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Dreamladen Clouds of Glitter and Sparkly Wonder
Label: XL
TRT: 40:17

Sigur Rós has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time now, so I was understandably chagrined to hear they were taking an extended sabbatical from recording anything new. Imagine my elation when I got wind of this release.

Of course, there's always a niggle in the back of your mind when someone from a favorite band goes solo, but I was confident it would be good, whatever direction he went in.

What we get here is a perfectly-crafted antidote for when the world's ills begin to overwhelm the soul. Instead of the brooding, expansive, climax-driven soundscapes Sigur Rós has been known for over the past decade, Jónsi takes the essence of this and magnifies it to exultant levels. Go is one of the most uplifting and life-affirming albums I've ever heard. Even when he gets reflective, the inherent hope of being alive is still palpable. The pacing and balance between upbeat and somber is also executed much better than on the last full band effort.

It's like injecting rainbows and fairies directly into your bloodstream. This album should make anti-depressants obsolete.

01 Go Do
02 Animal Arithmetic
03 Tornado
04 Boy Lilikoi
05 Sinking Friendships
06 Kolniður
07 Around Us
08 Grow Till Tall
09 Hengilás

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The River Empires: The River Empires (Epilogue) (5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Not Metal" Picks for 2010
#1 of 10 (Album of the Year)

Year: 2010
Genre: Whimsical Cinematic Indie Folk Orchestration
Label: Self Released
TRT: 88:41

Jesse Ribordy and company came out of nowhere this year, and launched what could turn out to be one of the most epic series of releases of the decade, and perhaps of all time, if fully realized. I know that sounds a bit presumptuous, but after dozens and dozens of start-to-finish listens to this 88 minute masterpiece, I can come to no other conclusion.

The River Empires (Epilogue) is, as the title implies, a summary of the larger tale, which is scheduled to be released in reverse order over the next 3-5 years in the form of three more double disc sets. Additionally, these sets are meant to be soundtracks for three movies (though it now seems Ribordy is leaning toward as mini-series instead to avoid the possibility of one movie getting picked up and the others left to the wayside), telling the tale of "two children who, during one particular summer, find a glass bottle with a message in it that changes their lives forever." As a summary, the Epilogue makes little sense since we don't yet know the story, but once the narrative is complete, it's intended to be "a nostalgic look back on the beginning of a strange and terrifying idea called The River Empires."

The length of this release might seem daunting at first, but after 2 or 3 full listens, recurring themes and motifs begin to emerge, and the tantalizing lack of details will begin to take root in your mind. Ribordy and Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter) utilize a plethora of instruments, including the banjo, piano, xylophone, various strings...with the notable absence of guitar for all but a few tracks. This gives a very cinematic feel to the recording, and it's not at all hard to imagine it working as a film accompaniment. Imagine a marriage of Anathallo, Sufjan Stevens and (unsurprisingly) The Dear Hunter, and you'll have a bit of an idea of their sound, but hardly a complete picture of it.

Sometimes innocent, sometimes sinister, As dark as it is beautiful, this is the beginning (end) of something vast. A massive undertaking to say the least, but if they can pull it off i have no doubt The River Empires will go down as one of most ambitious visionaries of our generation.

Disc 1
01The River Empires Theme I
02Overture in Thales Summer

03Our Neighbor, the Earth

04The Coventry

05Galloping Through Day Blooms

06The Harbourland

07From Faye to Astral

08A Toast to the Snake King

09The First Message

10Catacombs and Orchards

11Three Tigers

12The Stag Hollow Fair

13Lull Of Celeste

14From Outside the Cellar

15Vcias in the Pines

16A Dimmer Lux


Disc 2
01Witches Blossom

02The Curse of Maybel Cains


04The Motorbike

05The Pelican

06The Backyard in Sparkles

07Land of Canoes

08Theon, the Fox

09An Elliptic Figure From Borelli

10The Marching of the Clocks

11The Woods of Northland

12The River Empires Theme II

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Fleshgod Apocalypse: Mafia (4/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs from 2010
#5 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Label: Willowtip Records
TRT: 23:57

Tech death is far from my favorite flavor of metal, and I'm extremely picky within the genre. Fleshgod Apocalypse does a good job with keeping away from the "virtuoso" (read: wankery) of many of their peers, utilizing clean vocals and symphonic elements to add balance and contrast to the otherwise brutal assault on the senses.

01 Thru Our Scars
02 Abyssal
03 Conspiracy of Silence
04 Blinded by Fear (At the Gates cover)
05 Mafia

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Tobacco: La Uti (4/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs from 2010
#4 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Wonky Glitch-hop Electronics
Label: Anticon
TRT: 18:39

A few new tunes and a few tunes off 2010's Meat Maniac, but re-recorded with guest vocals from other Anticon artists. This brief EP contains some of Tom Fec's best work, not in any small part due to the guest appearances; it just works. It works so well. I sincerely hope this is a taste of what's to come, because the further into Hip Hop he delves, the fresher and better his grooves seem to get.

01 TV All Greasy (Feat. Anti-Pop Consortium)
02 The Injury (Feat. Doseone)
03 Lick The Witch (Feat. Rob Sonic)
04 2 Thick Scoops (Feat. Serengeti)
05 Sweatmother (Feat. Height)
06 Unholy Demon Rhythms (Feat. Icicle Frog)
07 Lamborghini Meltdown (Feat. Zackey Force Funk)

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Nekrasov: Perishable Things (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs for 2010
#3 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Blackest of Metals
Label: Self Released
TRT: 14:33

Apocalypse. Armageddon. Nuclear Holocaust.

Basically what Merzbow would sound like if he made a black metal record, viscerally offensive to the senses.

01 C.Z.V.M
04 O FOOL!

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Mouth of the Architect: The Violence Beneath (5/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs for 2010
#2 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Label: Translation Loss
TRT: 31:07

I consider MotA to be one of my favorite post metal bands, and The Ties That Blind is an absolutely magnificent album. However, I thought that their last full length effort, Quietly (while still good), was a marked step down from their first two offerings, which dampened my expectation of their future output.

Confidence: Restored. The Violence Beneath starts off with the title track and goes straight for the jugular, almost as if to say "how dare you doubt us". These three original tracks are chocked full of pummeling riffs and grooves, but as on their first two albums they balance the aggression with tasteful ambiance and atmosphere, which at times add more weight to the mix than the heavier sections.

The post metal poster boys show a more emotional side of their muse with their closer. Opting for an interesting cover of Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes, converting the 80's pop anthem into a noisy yet restrained swirl of feedback laden doom.

01 The Violence Beneath
02 Buried Hope
03 Restore
04 In Your Eyes

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Cloudkicker: ]]][[[ (5/5)

Joshua's Top Five EPs of 2010
#1 of 5

Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Polymetric Metal
Label: Self Released
TRT: 15:46

Ben Sharp said in an interview recently that one of the main reasons he started making music was to see how many layers he could fit in a song. This brief EP is a testament to that. Moving in a bit of a different direction than The Discovery, ]]][[[ is more focused on the build up than the pay off, but because of this the pay offs are some of his best to date. A nice little bite-sized snack that is substantial, regardless of size.

1. #
2. %
3. $

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Necrite: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top Ten "Metal" Picks for 2010
#10 of 10

Year: 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal Drone
Label: Flenser Records
TRT: 70:10

Thus passes the glory of the world. That's how the Latin translates. It has Templar Masonic origins, and has quite a few occultic and Lovecraftian implications.

This album is about the complete annihilation of everyone. The first three tracks are meant to rub the face of humankind in the "filth" of it's own existence, while the rest of the album transitions, as the band puts it, "from painting a picture of human disease, to a vision of cleansing. It is a worship of Armageddon and the end of life in which everything is reset to a pure blackness."

pretty nihilistic stuff, but this message and ethos are perfectly complimentary to the utter black abyss that the music found here evokes. Nasty, ugly, filthy, and as heavy as the subject matter demands, this is an album to listen to with all the hatred in your heart exposed and gloating.

01A Mass for the Harvest of Death
02Bereft of Hope
03Bathing Open Wounds With Shards of Glass
04Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
05Worship the Sunn((O))

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