Friday, February 27, 2009

Valet: Naked Acid (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#1 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Psychedelic Minimalism
Label: Kranky Records
TRT: 43:47

I walked through a room where this album was playing, and I instantly fell for it. The lush textures and dreamy atmosphere are unmatched, and the smoky, sensual and dark vocals of Honey Owens drip over the heavily layered soundscapes in such an elegant way. This is the sort of album you put on repeat, and just sink further and further into it’s hypnotic mystery.

01 We Went There
02 Drum Movie
03 Kehaar
04 Fuck It
05 Babylon 4 Eva
06 Fire
07 Streets

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Grouper: Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#2 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Acoustic Drone
Label: Type Records
TRT: 45:41

Liz Harris has been creating static-drenched drone albums for several years now, but with this release, she progresses her sound further than ever. Instead of focusing on the guitars and the feedback, these elements act as a cocoon of sorts, a framework of sounds that support her quiet vocal stylings and acoustic guitar strumming. The result is warm and inviting, and very relaxing, while maintaining a certain quality of unease to challenge your comfort level and keep you engrossed.

I was not at all surprised to find out Grouper hails from the same Portland music scene as Valet.

01 Disengaged
02 Heavy Water/ I'd Rather Be Sleeping
03 Stuck
04 When We Fall
05 Traveling Through a Sea
06 Fishing Bird (Empty Gutted in the Evening Breeze)
07 Invisible
08 Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
09 A Cover Over
10 Wind and Snow
11 Tidal Wave
12 We''ve All Time to Sleep

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Nine Inch Nails: The Slip (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#3 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Electro Glitch Rock
Label: Null Corporation
TRT: 43:47

Trent Reznor has come a long way since the days when he would force fans to wait 5 or more years between records. With Year Zero released a mere two years after With Teeth, following that a year later with Ghosts I-IV. And then scarcely two months after the digital release of Ghosts, Reznor springs another full length album, The Slip.

There’s a rumor circulating the internet that The Slip is a closer view at the “Great Destroyer” of Year Zero. While I can certainly see the similarities, and with a little creativity connect the dots between the two, I would tend to think the stories are related in content and context, but not actually one and the same.

With this release, Reznor combines the raw energy of Pretty Hate Machine with the polished intensity of Year Zero, rounding it out with the commercial appeal of With Teeth. While I wouldn’t say this is anywhere close to his “strongest” album, it has a strange addictive quality to it. Whatever issues I may have with the pacing and flow (towards the end of the album), I just can’t stop listening to it. And the higher the volume, the better the experience.

01 999,999
02 1,000,000
03 Letting You
04 Discipline
05 Echoplex
06 Head Down
07 Lights in the Sky
08 Corona Radiata
09 The Four of Us Are Dying
10 Demon Seed

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Clark: Turning Dragon (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#4 out of 10 (tie)

Year: 2008
Genre: Electronic Dance Glitch
Label: Warp
TRT: 46:35

Combining schizophrenic glitchy electronics with big beat dance floor beats, Chris Clark has created the perfect amalgamation of experimentation and control. Unashamedly Infectious and unabashedly catchy, it’s hard to name an album that’s more fun to audit.

01 New Year Storm
02 Volcan Veins
03 Truncation Horn
04 For Wolves Crew
05 Violenl
06 Radiation Clutch
07 Ache of the North
08 Mercy Sines
09 Hot May Slides
10 BEG
11 Penultimate Persian

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Earth: The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#4 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Southern Drone Rock
Label: Southern Lord
TRT: 53:24

Perfectly crafted tracks with immense depth and character are nothing new from these pioneers, but who would have guessed drone could be this catchy? Never before has a drone album captured my attention as fully as this one. This has to be the most accessible drone record ever written. Earth have truly reinvented themselves, and I for one am extremely impressed.

01 Omens and Portents I: The Driver
02 The Driver
03 Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)
04 Engine of Ruin
05 Omens and Portents II: The Carrion Crow
06 Hung From the Moon
07 The Bees Made Honey In The Lions' Skull

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Anathallo: Canopy Glow (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#6 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Indie Rock
Label: Anticon
TRT: 44:22

After a release as ambitions as 2006’s Floating World, it’s hard to know what to expect from the follow-up. Instead of trying to push the proverbial envelope even further, this troupe of musicians wisely took a step back and a step away from their previous work, and released a much more subdued, subtle and contemplative work of art.

Canopy Glow is probably the most “consistent” of all their albums, in that the contrast between delicate and bombastic is played down considerably, keeping a relatively even keel throughout. But one must not confuse “even keeled” with “uneventful”. The changes of pace, while less drastic, are executed with the same expert precision previously displayed.

01 Noni's Field
02 Italo
03 Northern Lights
04 The River
05 Cafetorium
06 Sleeping Torpor
07 All the First Pages
08 John J. Audubon
09 Bells
10 Tower of Babel

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Goldfrapp: Seventh Tree (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#7 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Electro-Pop
Label: Mute Records
TRT: 41:34

This album has such a vibrant warmth to it, it’s hard to ignore. Though I can’t imagine why anyone would try. When I look back on the summer of 2008, this album will be playing in the background of my thoughts. Atmospheric, free flowing and with a general sense that every thing is right in the world, it’s the quintessential album for a roadtrip with the windows down, or sitting on the porch with the sun shining down and a book in hand.

01 Clowns
02 Little Bird
03 Happiness
04 Road to Somewhere
05 Eat Yourself
06 Some People
07 A & E
08 Cologne Cerrone Houdini
09 Caravan Girl
10 Monster Love

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M83: Saturdays=Youth (4.5/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#8 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Electro-Pop
Label: Mute Records
TRT: 62:10

Anthony Gonzalez has a way of overhauling and reinventing his music, while always managing to maintain his signature sound. Saturdays=Youth is his tribute to the decade he grew up in, and he sought to recreate the experiences he had as a kid stumbling through the 80’s. Along with Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree, this album is sure to brighten your mood and lift your spirits with it’s warm energy and glow of discovery. Even the darker tracks contain a certain level of optimism, as na├»ve as it may be.

download part i
download part ii

01 You, Appearing
02 Kim & Jessie
03 Skin of the Night
04 Graveyard Girl
05 Couleurs
06 Up!
07 We Own the Sky
08 Highyway of Endless Dreams
09 Too Late
10 Dark Moves of Love
11 Midnight Souls Remain

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Flying Lotus: Los Angeles (4/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#9 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: "Trip-Hop"
Label: Warp Records
TRT: 43:17

I regrettably neglected this album for quite awhile, but from the first listen I knew it would be getting hours of play. People call it “trip hop”, but I’m not really familiar with the ins and outs of this genre. All I know is that I adore the atmosphere created by the static-drenched glitchy beats, so warm and inviting and fresh upon each new listen.

01 Brainfeeder
02 Breathe . Something/Stellar Star
03 Beginners Falafel
04 Camel
05 Melt!
06 Comet Course
07 Orbit 405
08 Golden Diva
09 Riot
11 Parisian Goldfish
Sleepy Dinosaur
13 RobertaFlack (feat. Dolly)
14 SexSlaveShip
15 Auntie's Harp
16 Testament (feat. Gonja Sufi)
17 Auntie's Lock/Infinitum (feat. Laura Darlington)

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God is an Astronaut: God is an Astronaut (4/5)

Joshua's Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2008
#10 out of 10

Year: 2008
Genre: Epic Post Rock
Label: Revive Records
TRT: 61:14

This might be the best post-rock band in existence. Never stagnant, always interesting, and creating epic builds in record time. If such a thing were an Olympic event, they’d take home the gold medal every time.

01 Shadows
02 Post Mortem
03 Echoes
04 Snowfall
05 First Day of Sun
06 No Return
07 Zodiac
08 Remaining Light
09 Shores of Orion
10 Loss

Search Amazon for God is an Astronaut