Category Archives: Black Metal

Best Albums of 2011

So here goes. I’ve been listening and pondering, and listening and pondering, and the list you see below is the result. I put some of these on my best-of list months ago, and some of them went on as recently as a few weeks ago.

I’ve placed the albums in order of most played; however, that may not mean much.

Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
For some reason this album didn’t get much attention. Post-rock may be passe, but I enjoyed it. It carries on where “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” left off.

Solkyri – No House
I’ve never heard of this group before getting a hold of this LP, nor have I read much in terms of reviews. However, they play a steady, guitar-driven version of post rock that uses ambiance and secondary instrumentation effectively.

The Antlers – Burst Apart
I guess I have to mention “Hospice” in relation to their new LP. They’re different. “Burst Apart” isn’t a concept album, nor is it rapped up in nostalgia and deep pathos like “Hospice.” Instead, the new album is forward moving, and lyrically it shows a more mature view. “Burst Apart” shows much growth from the previous album, and that works fine. After all, isn’t that what musicians are supposed to do?

Destroyer – Kaputt
I never thought I’d be listening or reviewing an album such as this, but I must say, it’s good, albeit in a weird way. Daniel Bejar creates a weird and throwback world without the pastiche and retread. I know, that doesn’t sound possible, but he does it. The music video below is what got me hooked on them. I just can’t explain it.

Grails – Deep Politics
They’ve stepped it up yet another notch by creating an entire film soundtrack, but it’s so good that they don’t even need the film to accompany it.

Long Distance Calling – S/T
I like post-rock bands that can create a sound distinct all to themselves, and Long Distance Calling do that quite easily. The (orgasmic) stand out on this album is “The Figrin D’an Boogie,” which starts at mid tempo speed, slows down with a sparse and almost ethereal bridge, uses a slow meandering guitar lead, then throws in more and more instrumentation until the song bursts. It’s amazing.

Russian Circles – Empros
It’s different than their previous offerings, almost a more black metal guitar sound at times, but it’s good, a classic even.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Scandalous
Does rhythm & blues exist. Yes it does, and it’s better than ever thanks to these guys., Check out “Booty City” loud.

The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind
I’d never heard of this band, and I was apprehensive after hearing the first few notes that they’d be another copy/paste bearded indie wannabee nostalgia band, but as I got more into the album my apprehension changed to wonder. They write deep and affecting songs full of interesting music. “I Just Can’t Lose” is a standout track.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Yeah, they’re good.

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
I wasn’t impressed with his last few released, but this one takes me back to the “Heartbreaker” and “Gold” days.

Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
That the music is as good as, but completely dissimilar to, the artwork intrigues me more about this album, which is full of world-ish dance rhythms and fitting vocals.

And So I Watch You From Afar – Gangs
These guys have released yet another blistering post-rock album jam packed with insane fretwork.

Bon Iver – S/T
Trendy as fuck, yes, but at least the guys have changed their sound a bit more to match up with the orgasmic Gayngs.

Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
Oh, epic death metal, how I have never appreciated thee, yet Amon Amarth continue to impress and excite my musical ears.

Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming
Old school soul song by an old schooler. This is legit.

Tom Waits – Bad as Me
And…he’s released another gem.

Elder – Dead Roots Stirring
This sophomore effort by these stoner-doomers has gone best the homage to sleep provides a more polished example of the progression of the genre.

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
More affective than effecting, they’ve traded their more rock moments for ominous lyrics.

Altar of Plagues – Mammal
This is no White Tomb, but it is surreal, bleak, unrelenting, and primitive.

Handsome Firs – Sound Kapital
Fun and steady is the best way to describe this album.

Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
This is one of those electronic albums that only comes around once every 10-odd yeras, and I don’t know if Mr. Jaar can do it again with the follow-up. Enjoy.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Blood Lust
Retro fashionability at its best, yet the deadbeats have some definite chops as they start in the 60s and travel toward the 21st century.

Krallice – Diotima
New school black metal with some atomic fretwork going on.

Rocket Miner – Songs for an October Sky
Here’s a solid post-rock album.

Wye Oak – Civilian
Deep and moody, Wye Oak voices a painful world that ends up beautiful.

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1
Their press releases indicate that they improvised this album in the studio in just a few takes. Regardless, it’s got some serious staying power.

Gary Clark Jr. – The Bright Lights [ep]
THis guys sounds much like the black keys on three of the four songs, and that fourth song is a slow cryer.

Also posted in Alt Rock/Indie, Doom Metal, Folk, Indie

Music Listens for December 12-16

Yes, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve compiled a list of music I’ve been listening to. I’d been busy grading lots of papers, finishing up the quarter, and working on a new article for Reconstruction.

Without further ado, here’s my list. (I’m debating whether to put together a 2011 best of list; I probably will.)

M83 – Hurry Up. We’re Dreaming
I had procured this album a few months ago and discarded it without much thought, then a friend suggested I try them again. There’s quite a bit of filler, but the gems are just that: gems.

Liturgy – Aesthethica
It’s like black metal, add a dash of math metal, then sprinkle a little garage band wankery in there to keep things fresh and interesting. When they’re on, they slay, but there may be too many filler songs on this album.

Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
This microhouse, minimalist techno, whatever you want to call it, album is a welcome, groovy, heavy, and interesting LP. Nicolas expands the James Blake form by adding samples and providing a bit more sound spectrum without losing the intimate aspect. This is some heavy, heavy mellow music.

Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming
Yes sir. This sweet soul album was released this year, by the way.

Vektor – Outer Isolation
And, of course, I shall save the best for last. I only procured this album yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to really soak it up, but what I have heard slays.

Also posted in Alt Rock/Indie, Electronic, Indie, Soul, Thrash Metal

What I Listened to the Most this Week: 2/7–2/11

It’s week 5 in the quarter and we’re on a roll!
“Kahlil The Prophet”
Also posted in Jazz, Post Rock, Sludge Metal

Best Music of 2010

I’ve never compiled a “best of” list, but in the back of my mind I’ve always had the yearning to. (And I’ve finally recovered from the school quarter, work, and the holidays, so now’s the best time to sit down and do it, eh?)

Below you’ll find a list of “regular” music (indie, blues, techno, pop, etc) that I have listened to the most and rated the highest over this wonderful year 2010. And below that list you’ll see my top metal picks for the year. Yes, you’ll notice my disgruntled attitude here and there regarding metal output; in the humble opinion of this listener, 2010 offered little in terms of innovation or originality on the metal front.
There is no rhyme or reason to the listed priority.

Indie/Pop/Techno

Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

This debut has good folk songwriting, a good sound, and wonderful lyrical content. I listen to at least one song of this album once a week.

The Black Keys – Brothers

Their style keeps changing, which I find refreshing in a sea of retreads and maudlin creativity. This is one of my faves for the year.

The National – High Violet

These dudes just keep getting better and better. This album is perfect for a cold rainy night when you find that you just don’t have the answers. It’s moody, reflective and poetic. One of my faves for the year.

The Tallest Man on Earth – Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird [ep]

Sure, Kristian Matsson’s other full length release of the year, The Wild Hunt, was good, but his EP has something magical in it. He gives more musical range, and embeds more emotional punch in this one.

Spoon – Transference

As with most of my experiences with Spoon releases, this one took me a while to fully wrap my brain around, but once I did, this album stuck with me.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat the Devil’s Tattoo

BRMC begs you to pay attention (or not) to get something out of their music, at least that was the case I had experienced with their past releases, but not so on Beat the Devil’s Tattoo. It rocks.

Menomena – Mines

I enjoyed 2007’s Friend or Foe, but something about Mines blew me away: it’s honesty, moodiness and beautiful arrangements.

And So I Watch You From Afar – Letters [ep]

Their full length debut was a shit show of awesomeness, and on Letters, the band points to greater things to come without providing a stop gap. This is truly blisteringly tip-of-the-spear post-rock music.

The Main Street Gospel – Love Will Have Her Revenge

When asked the question of how they got their name, the band replied that “main street” connotes an egalitarian, cross populace image for listeners; everyone gets a mental picture when they hear the word main street. However, they never fully explained what the gospel part means. I don’t know that I can summon a concrete meaning either.

The Bright Light Social Hour – S/T

I discovered this group by accident, and don’t really remember the circumstances, but they are a gem. Fun, happy, boisterous, party music is what they make and embody. This album is great from front to back.

Ray LaMontagne – God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise

I’m a sucker, I know, but hey, it’s good.

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Toundra – Toundra [II]

Here’s another spectacular post-rock offering. I’d never heard of this group, but their lack of notoriety does not belie musical inabilities: they have the compositional skills of Pink Floyd and balls out rocking abilities of Isis, all without vocals.

Vampire Weekend – Contra

It’s candy, saccharine sweet, but it does beg multiple listens.

Beach House – Teen Dream

I just discovered this group, and when I first listened to their music, I didn’t know what to make of the soft, understated songs, but upon further, closer listens, I realized the group intertwines odd melodies and lyrics to haunting effect. One of my favorites for the year.

Chief – Modern Rituals

These guys strum an understated, fad-free type of California rock. I came back to this album over and over again.

Gayngs – Relayted

Just amazing, amazing.

J. Tillman – Singing Ax

Again, Mr. Tillman crafts a subdued record rife with imagery, both religious and mythic. One might quickly skip over this “dull” album, but with some listening, it rewards.

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

Reminiscent of 60’s psychedelic rock, Tame Impala explore a genre without aping it.

Caribou – Swim

I guess they call it psych pop or something. I don’t know, but this album is chill and dance-able.

Grails – Black Tar Prophecies

Yes, I want a new drug, as they say. Here’s Grails doing what they do best.

Holy Fuck – Latin

Another psych pop album I played excessively this year, but I’m not quite sure why.

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

I don’t care what the naysayers are pouting about. This album is good.

Nedry – Condors

I have seen some interesting resurgent attempts at trip-hop , or psych-hop, or whatever you want to call it. Here’s a more than enjoyable example.

Sumner Brothers – S/T

Discovered these guys by accident, but I’m glad I did. They play a folksy, country type of music, but don’t let these genres fool you. They are all heart. I believe every song.

Black Diamond Heavies – Alive as Fuck: Masonic Lodge, Covington, KY

The Black Diamond Heavies are probably one of those bands that once seen live, can never fully be appreciated on disc. Here’s an attempt.

Paul Cary – Ghost of a Man

Paul Cary plays old school blues rock with an acoustic guitar, and he does it quite well.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and the Cairo Gang – The Wonder Show of the World

I just don’t know how this guy can be so prolific and maintain such a high value in his work.

DeadHorse – We Can Create Our Own World

Post-rock can be an (over) over done thing, and although these guys use all the normal conventions, they craft a new an interesting album. I enjoyed it on repeated listens.

The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme

Delicate, melodic, and gentle at times, but this album still simmers under it all.

Trentemøller – Into the Great Wide Yonder

This is a different album altogether than Last Resort, but it’s amazingly good nonetheless.

The Walkmen – Lisbon

A return to form; I enjoyed.

Wolf People – Steeple

If someone just handed you this LP and asked what year you thought it was recorded, you’d probably say 1967, but you’d be wrong.

The Sleep Design – All That is Not Music is Silence

Very slow and mellow at times. I liked the reverb.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I never thought that I would really get into this band. I had listened to them a number of times in the past, but nothing really stuck with me. I got The Suburbs on a whim, listened to “We Used to Wait,” and was blow away, not just by the music, but by those words.

Broken Bells – S/T

I don’t know. It just sounds good in my ear holes.

Johnny Cash – American VI: Ain’t No Grave

It’s just great.

Pet Slimmers of the Year – …And the Sky Fell [ep]

It’s short, sweet and surly. These guys know how to play a metal version of post-rock quite well.

LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

It’s all about those drunk girls.

The Redneck Manifesto – Friendship

Here’s some math/post-rock that doesn’t get overly noodley. In fact, it’s a pleasure to hear.

Metal

And now for my favorite genre.

Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit

Yep, they finally came out with another LP, and although it goes more in the direction of the Swedish black metal tradition, it does not disappoint.

Harvey Milk – A Small Turn of Human Kindness

A friend of mine walked in while I was listening to this album, and he asked, “what the hell are you listening to?” Yes, Harvey Milk are not your most accessible band. Most people in the metal “world” don’t even accept them as one of their own kin, but who cares. The band has released tongue-in-cheek records in the past, but this one is something different.

High on Fire – Snakes for the Divine

If High on Fire put out an album a year until the day I died I would be a happy man. I don’t think that will happen, but everything they’ve put out thus far has more than satisfied me.

The Wounded Kings – The Shadow Over Atlantis

This is slow, slow heavy doom. These guys listened to Black Sabbath’s eponymous song for what sounds like twenty years straight, then decided to make their own music. You can easily tell that the song Black Sabbath is burnished into their musical psyches.

Age of Taurus – In the Days of the Taurean Empire… [ep]

Here’s one that snuck up on me. I randomly found it, didn’t have much in the way of expectations, but I realized quickly that these doomsters know what they are doing. They’ve got a great guitar tone, an accomplished eye for good metal songs, and vocals that sound like Albert Witchfinder from Reverend Bizarre.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous

Amazingly gruesome. I have to see these guys when they play in the US.

Melvins – The Bride Screamed Murder

Yeah, it’s good, especially live.

Grand Magus – Hammer of the North

The sound changes slightly with each new record, but I think that’s a good thing. They get it right on their newest.

Early Man – Death Potion

They just get better and better.

Thou – Summit

I hadn’t heard of this band before reading a review somewhere, and true, they deliver an abrasive form of sludge, but they do so with a purpose. They relay a dystopic vision of the earth, one not so far from what we live in now. This album sends chills up my spine.

Also posted in Blues, Death Metal, Doom Metal, Indie, Techno

What I Listened to the Most This Week (August 30 – September 3)

Due to school starting soon, and the academic preparation it has caused me, tt seems that I have neglected this blog in the way of commentary et al. So be it. I’ve got a couple reviews and articles planned soon. Until then, my music listening history may have to suffice.

This is an oldie (2005), but this LP displays some of the band’s fastest, most brutal riffing and drumming yet.

I don’t know how to categorize these guys–it’s just some indie rock that’s equal parts infectious and poetic. I recommend them.

This disc is vastly different than Trentemøller’s phenomenal “The Last Resort,” so it’s taking a little while for it grow on me. This song is out there.

Also posted in Alt Rock/Indie, Indie, Techno, Video