Yessir! The end is nigh… so we thought we’d reveal what made our musical year worthwhile. In these internet-fueled times, tastes are so disparate & splintered, it’s always remarkable to see titles pop up on more than one list… it kind of galvanizes an album’s value amidst all the chatter.
So yeah, have a gander. We’ll post on our Facebook as well, please feel free to leave comments or your own lists!
Midway through this year & we’re already saddled with a hefty amount of big’uns. The National, LCD Soundsystem, The Black Keys, Caribou & Broken Social Scene have all released stellar efforts over the last 6 months. But as always, mid-year is a great time to assess some of the not-so-hyped nook-&-cranny-type albums that you might not have heard or maybe just glazed over while reading a blog. So here thems is…
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Before Today
(4AD) CD & LP
Ariel Pink has had a huge impact on DIY music over the last 3 years. The legend of his apparently vast vault of unheard music recorded to cassette from 1998-2002 is enough to hook the average music geek, but then there’s the tunes themselves; half-reimagined echoes of AM-radio pop & tuner dial errors. 80s new wave, lo-fi electro blippery, arm-in-arm feel good vibes & utter weirdness all blend together in a haze of modern tape-warped genius. Before Today bares a little more sheen than his historic swath of 7“s & cassettes but that’s fine, these tunes still retain the nostalgia & energy that keeps Ariel Pink one of indie music’s most enigmatic & magnetic fixtures.
Ariel Pink on the myspace
The Roots How I Got Over
(Def Jam) CD & 2LP
One of the great things about The Roots’ residency on Jimmy Fallon has been the affect it seems to be having on how they’re going to be remembered. Instead of “retiring” on the show (something the bad was apparently contemplating after a tough couple of years of slim sales & meek reviews), their creative fire has been reignited & the public’s perception of where they sit within the lineage of important hip-hop acts is being appropriately revised. THESE GUYS ARE LEGENDS. They’ve co-wrote, produced, collaborated & played live with virtually every important hip-hop artist of the last 15 years, seriously. Not to mention Tariq aka Black Thought (along with Pharoahe Monch) seems destined to go down in history as one of Hip-hop’s most underrated MCs… ANYWAY, How I Got Over – new album, chock full of emotionally grounded, mature, grown-ass hip-hop that sees The Roots collab with Jim James (of MMJ), Joanna Newsom, Dirty Projectors plus old haunts like John Legend & Dice Raw. Man, it’s nice to see some of hip-hop’s elder statesmen (Wu-Tang, Big Boi as well) reclaiming this bewildered genre.
The Roots on the myspace
Born Ruffians Say It
(Warp) CD & LP
Toronto-bred experimental poppers. Red, Blue & Yellow was a great post-Beach Boy vocal/guitar workout & Say it retains the agitated quirk & pep of that debut. Surf guitar, vox harmonies, neurotic wailing, spindly structures… in a world where Dirty Projectors are so highly regarded, Born Ruffians are certainly deserving of a second glance from fans of left-field, caterwauling indie-rock. “Sole Brother” fuses many disparate styles, but cohesively & fluidly; dry-as-bone guitar figures pin down otherwise sprawling ideas – it’s a great melange of what the fringes of pop has to offer at the moment.
Born Ruffians on the myspace
Blitzen Trapper Destroyer Of The Void
(Sub Pop) CD & 2LP
Another Portland band with serious chops, returning with another opus of 70s-inflected new classic rock. Eric Earley & crew straight up KNOW classic rock. From Laurel Canyon folkism to Band-era Dylan to Tom petty guitaring, they wrap all that’s good into one satisfying package that makes many plunderers of 70s lineage look silly. And that sums up Destroyer Of The Void. A great blend of everything that made 70s rock what it was: folk, prog, riffs, harmonies, saloon piano & killer harmonica. Plus relatable narratives that shimmy in cute aphorisms & ideas.
Blitzen Trapper on the myspace
Autechre Move Of Ten
(Warp) CD & 2 X 12”
After their return to melodicism coup-d’etat earlier this year, Sean Booth & Rob Brown hammer us with another 2010 release, the mechanical counterpart to the classic IDM ambiance of Oversteps. Move Of Ten is a rhythmic beast, grounded in tangible loops & recognizable meters of dystopian dissonance. As always, succinct sound design is the order of the day, but man, some of this stuff just straight BANGS. Ten new abstractions of rhythm, texture & pseudo-melodic inclinations. Opener “Etchogon-S” freaks 808 drums down a k-hole of verbed-out synths while “pce Freeze 28i” lumbers along at broken-beat measures… quietly, but surely, these two are cementing their place in the lineage connecting Kraftwerk, Detroit, Warp & the future. Truly mesmerizing, unearthly imaginings.
Ae’s Warp page
(Dead Oceans) CD & 2LP
Another amazing record from local legends Frog Eyes & possibly the one to see them finally reap the acclaim they deserve. From the opening guitar stirrings of “A Flower In A Glove”, the band are in fine form, but particularly Carey Mercer, who’s vocals move from caterwauling howls to sarcastic barking, leading the typical Frog Eyes maelstrom in strong fashion. We are proud.
The eyes of frogs don’t really look at MySpace…
WE WILL BE OPENING AT 10am!
April 17 is officially Record Store Day! Last year was a great success with a bunch of exclusive & cool releases on RSD & this year promises to be even crazier.
For details on RSD & cool artist quotes/interviews, wander over the RSD site …
Along with sweet exclusives & a crazy amount of new releases in general, there are a few nifty things we’ll be adding on to make Saturday radder than the raddest radness, such as…
- LIMITED PRIZE PACKS (including some of our sweet huge posters!)
CHECK OUT THE PRIZE PACKS The way the prize packs will work is on an “ask first” basis – basically, if there’s a prize pack that you want, ask us at the counter & if we’ve still got it, it’s yours! Obviously the idea here is to get down early!
- AWESOME INJECTION OF USED VINYL
Not just a normal used lot, we’ll be putting out some sweet rare records, filling up some key artist sections & adding an extra 2 bins of “NEW ARRIVALS”, giving you 3 bins of used LP glory to rummage around in.
(Constellation) CD & 2LP
Their legacy might stem from folky ensembles & collective idealism but the remnants of Godspeed! still got some gusto; Thee Silver Mount Zion sound inspired here, at one moment tapping well worn post-rock grandiosity, the next, busting out punked-up Fugazi-esque post-hardcore. Impassioned tunes & great structuring keeps Kollaps Tradixionales from falling under the “another post rock record” category, with riffs alongside the poetic bleakness that TSMZ execute so well. Kollaps Tradixionales‘ emotional arcs mirror the arduous, challenging, yet rewarding path that the Constellation collective has endured over the last 15 years.
Thee Silver Mount Zion is also on MySpace
CD & 3LP (Perlon)
As founder of the impressively out there Skull Disco label, Sam Shackleton has a rep as an uncompromising idealist – Three EPs sees Shack stick to his guns & the results are truly original sounding bass-experiments. Dark, swarming atmospheres are pelted with tribal percussion, tambourines & the odd clap. Most of these tracks build with a teeming paranoia or tension, with the catharsis usually broken by some heaving bass-drop that starts a strange, ghost-haunted train rolling. “Moon Over Joseph’s Burial” & “Asha In The Tabernacle” are menacing.
We’re happy to report that this lovely gentleman will be playing town, February 28 at Element. Details posted over here...
CD (Thrill Jockey)
John McEntire & co. have drifted into a weird realm of “near-forgotten legend” status, but few bands considered “indie” have the virtuosity & instrumental chops that these dudes wag around. In 2009, for anyone with the time & attention span to invest in something a little deeper (2 things waning in most modern music fans), few albums offered as rich a sound world as Beacons Of Ancestorship. From glitchy permutations on modern beatsmiths like Flying Lotus (“Monument Six One Thousand”) to the classic cinematic Morricone-esque jams that we’ve some to love (“The Fall Of Seven Diamonds Plus One”), Tortoise so obviously know what the fuck they are doing. Time signatures, modulating melodicism, emotional gravity, phenomenal drum work & some fierce riffage all congeal here to take a stand for serious musicianship as a vital, relevant & under-appreciated element of indie-music culture in 2009.
Nico Muhly is a 27 year old contemporary composer based out of New York. There has been much stirring about his work over the last 12 months, due in part to the deft arrangements he contributed to Sam Amidon’s All Is Well earlier this year. He has worked alongside Phillip Glass, Antony, Björk & Will Oldham & has composed a litany of works (as well as scoring a few films along the way). Mothertongue is a nosedive into Muhly’s modern appropriation of compositional ideas & propositions. Opening with “Mothertongue: I. Archive”, clipped & cut vocal snippets swarm the sound field, augmented with a deep synthetic synth tone. The results are stirring, sometimes off-putting & pretty bloody interesting. Reich-ish rhythmic clatter & Muhly’s “chamber music + electronics“ approach litters Mothertongue, as do vocal contributions from Amidon, Helgi Hrafn Jónsson & Abby Fischer. With a few more producing gigs no doubt in the works, Mothertongue is a great document of this young outsider-music talent still new to the world of indie-recognition.
Wolfgang Voigt is the mastermind behind one of minimal techno’s largest stables: Kompakt. But before his brand was dominating global dancefloors, Voigt was exploring the deep dark realms of his German psyche as Gas. Drawing from German schlager music & Wagnerian classical influences, plus ambient staples like Satie, Aphex Twin & Eno, Voigt conjured clouds of throbbing ambience & drone, ceaselessly propelled by submerged kick drums. Nah Und Fern compiles the entire Gas output — Gas, Zauberberg, Königsforst & Pop — there’s slight remastering, but nothing that detracts from the nimble balance of tension & levity within Voigt’s most revered project. A brilliant document of one of the most important canons within the ambient techno world.
(Warp) CD & 2LP
On Quaristice, Sean Booth & Rob Brown play with shorter song durations & self referential tonal terrain. Opener “Altibzz” alone bears more melody than the last two Ae albums combined, while “Simmm” plots a familiar trajectory from sinister chimes through jumbled machinery to loping ambient tones & rhythms. While still a stretch for even the most avid electronic music fan, it’s nice to see Ae acknowledge their own past & dig up some familiar, if not nostalgic, tones, rhythms & structures (see closer “Outh9X”).