Wednesday, December 21, 2011

So Many Great Records, Part 2

Ensemble – Excerpts [FatCat]

I wrote about this one on Ear To The Sound previously. My feelings for it haven’t changed.

Eternal Tapestry - Beyond The 4th Door [Thrill Jockey]

Superdrag had an album called Head Trip In Every Key. Eternal Tapestry took that title and ran with it.
eternal tapestry - beyond the 4th door (album preview) by experimedia

Explosions In The Sky - Take Care Take Care Take Care [Temporary Residence]

These guys always slay me.
Trembling Hands by Explosions in the Sky

Fatoumata Diawara – Fatou [World Circuit]

This one got on my radar thanks to Gilles Peterson. I STILL can’t believe BBC isn’t keeping him on as a host next year. If it weren’t for a whole bunch of bullshit with the cops dealing with Occupy folks (like pepper-spraying that grandma), it might have been the shittiest move of 2011.

Listen to "Bakonoba" here.

Feist – Metals [Arts & Crafts]

What can I say? This is a great follow-up to The Reminder because it is absolutely NOT a follow-up to The Reminder. She took her time and she did something new – credit to Feist for the confidence to do so.
Feist - How Come You Never Go There by Arts & Crafts

Field Assembly – Curtains [Independent]

I’m not entirely sure if this qualifies, because Curtains has yet to be released, but my buddy The Fantastic Mr. Fox sent it my way ages ago and I was blown away by it. So much so that it might make a repeat appearance in 2012 if it finds a home for release. FYI, "Daylight" is not from Curtains.
daylight by Field Assembly

First Nations - Black Beach [Independent]

Every now and then, an album comes into the station with artwork that just screams ‘you will like what I have inside.’ Black Beach was one of those.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues [Sub Pop]

Shit. How is this not on my Top 20?
Fleet Foxes - Montezuma by gypsysphere

Florence & The Machine – Ceremonials [Universal Republic]

Epic, if occasionally overblown. Plus the whole racist video business kinda bummed me out.
Florence + the Machine - Only If For A Night by Talenthouse

Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jams [Brownswood]

More greatness courtesy of Gilles Peterson, this time it’s some thoughtful hip-hop via his Brownswood imprint.
Ghostpoet - Survive It by ghostpoet

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost [True Panther Sounds]

Is this NOT on anyone’s list this year.
Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Rodrigo Fonseca

Greg MacPherson - Disintegration Blues [Disintegration Records]

Greg is one of those people who are so quiet and self-abashed that you’re constantly shocked at how loud they rock and how well they command a stage and an audience.

Check out the awesome live session Greg did for my radio show, here.

Happy Unfortunate - No Time To Sleep [Spaceship Audio]

These two local rappers were actually born in the era of hip-hop they hearken back to. Must’ve been listening to Tribe in the womb or something.

High Places - Original Colors [Thrill Jockey]

I kinda wanted to like this one more than I actually did. It was great, but it didn’t blow my mind like their self-titled record did.
High Places - Sophia by MysticalLunar

Himalayan Bear - Hard Times [Absolutely Kosher]

At times the Bear reminds me of Timber Timbre (with the haunting voice) but his music is warmer. It’s like a sad hug instead of a cold tingle in your spine.
Himalayan Bear "The Caballo" by AbsolutelyKosherRecords

Ikebe Shakedown - Ikebe Shakedown [Ubiquity]

Ear To The Sound readers will know my love for Nomo – this is from the same label and helps fill the afro-beat space they occupy in my year-enders.
Ikebe Shakedown - "Tujunga" by Ubiquity Records

Implodes - Black Earth [Kranky]

If the Mayans were right and the tectonic plates go haywire and the earth drops from beneath us, I want this to be the soundtrack to the end.
implodes 'oxblood' by kranky

Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean [Sub Pop]

It’s not as good as The Shepherd’s Dog, but an alright album from Mr. Beam is better than most things out there.

Isolee - Well Spent Youth [Pampa]

This was the very first record I put on the longlist this year when I heard an advance copy last Christmas. It stuck around.
Isolée - Transmission by Pampa Records

Jamie Woon - Mirror Writing [Polydor]

I know this dude gets a little lost in the James Blake shuffle, but his record stands on its own. Plus he got the Burial remix treatment.
Jamie Woon - Night Air by cameelah

Jennifer Castle – Castlemusic [Flemish Eye]

After previously recording under the name Castlemusic, Jennifer Castle put her own imprint on this, her most personal album to date.
Jennifer Castle - Powers (courtesy of Flemish Eye Records) by Pop Montreal

Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - From The Stairwell [Denovali]

Credit to my good friend Jeff Friesen for putting me on to this one. If you're not tuning into his great show, Scene and Not Seen, you're missing out.
the kilimanjaro darkjazz ensemble - from the stairwell (album preview) by experimedia

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So Many Great Records, Part 1

Here we are once again. At the end of the year, reflecting on all that we’ve been through. Scrolling through the longlist I’ve been keeping on Notepad in my iPod, 2011 has been an especially good year for new music – in fact, this is the longest longlist I’ve had since I started keeping track this way about 5 years ago.

Once again, my Top 20 (albums and songs) will be recapped on a countdown show on UMFM beginning at 4pm CST on December 31, 2011. Until then, I've got four posts of about twenty albums I'm going to list alphabetically, starting with A-D. Maybe you should fix and drink before you settle in...

A.M. Overcast - Shepherd Moon [Independent]

The best Pinback album Rob Crow had nothing to do with. Still hoping to get the band in for a live session at UMFM.

A.M. Overcast - Haystacks Northbound by A.M. Overcast

Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You [Labrador]

Their last album was my #1 record of 2005. This was solid, just not as mind-blowing ear-worm packed as Sing Along With… You're going to see several past Top 20 artists amongst the longlisters as the 20-of-11 features a lot of the newness.

Akron/Family – Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey on Shinju TNT [Dead Oceans]

Sometimes albums are able to overcome the ludicrous nature of their title. This was one instance.

AM & Shawn Lee - Celestial Electric [ESL]

Shawn Lee is the friggin’ king of collab. After fantastic results working with Clutchy Hopkins and Bei Bei, he teams up with AM (no relation to A.M. Overcast) and drops another funk-bomb.
AM & Shawn Lee - City Boy by AMSOUNDS

Antlers - Burst Apart [Frenchkiss/Transgressive]

“Putting The Dog To Sleep” gives “Bear” a run for its money as the most heartbreaking song Antlers have recorded so far.

Arbouretum - The Gathering [Thrill Jockey]

This may be the first time a Thrill Jockey artist didn’t make my Top 20, but there are a few more from the label on the longlist. First up is this big, ballsy rock record.

Atlas Sound – Parallax [4AD]

Bradford Cox just got a “Gummy” as one of the Top 10 Indie Rock Crushes of 2011. I didn’t submit his name (*cough, cough Feist cough*), but maybe I should have. Though based on prior appearances by Atlas Sound and Deerhunter on my year-end lists, I should probably just name the award after him.
Atlas Sound - Parallax - 03 - Te Amo by Moonpixel

Balam Acab - Wander/Wonder [Tri Angle]

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten older and expend energy keeping up with a toddler, but I just can’t keep up with all the micro-genre distinctions we seem to be making these days. Could I tell you what ‘witch house’ actually is? No. But apparently Balam Acab makes witch house and I know that Wander/Wonder is really good. So I guess I like witch house.

Baseball Project - Vol. 2 High and Inside [Yep Roc]

I play in a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of other folks involved in the music ‘business’ (I use that figure loosely since I’m including myself) so I can tell you that an album of indie-rock songs about baseball is most definitely target-marketed.
C'mon Prince (Stay In Milwaukee) by The Baseball Project

Battles - Gloss Drop [Warp]

While Mirrored ranked at #8 in 2007 Gloss Drop didn’t really blow me away like the debut. It’s solid, but it left me wondering what they were up to beside touring during those four years.
Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo) by BATTLES

Ben Westbeech - There's More To Life Than This [Strictly Rhythm]

Listening to this album is dangerous. End-up-with-a-baby-in-10-months dangerous.
ben westbeech - inflections (produced by henrik schwarz) by frau.hirsch

Black Keys - El Camino [Nonesuch]

It used to be you knew that December was a waste-land of Best Of compilations and Christmas albums so you didn’t have to worry about any last-minute entries on your list and could spend the month whittling it down. But the Black Keys had to go and make me question my Top 20.
The Black Keys: El Camino by -gaga

Bog River - Hands In The Ground [Independent]

I reviewed the record from this local roots trio for Airtimes, and I’d encourage you to give it a read.

"Before I Let You Go" can be heard here.

Braids - Native Speaker [Flemish Eye]

I had the great pleasure of recording Raphaelle Standell-Preston at UMFM years ago in a late-night session after a show. I knew then that she (and her band) were bound for greatness. Native Speaker is that greatness.
BRAIDS - Native Speaker by BRAIDS

Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming [Dunham/Daptone]

The story behind Bradley and this album is almost as good as the music itself. Almost.
Charles Bradley by Dunham Records

Christine Fellows - Femme De Chez Nous [Six Shooter Records]

Fellows always releases sleepers. And by that I don’t mean albums that put you to sleep (although she does write some lovely lullabies). I mean the great albums that fly under the radar.

Cut Copy – Zonoscope [Modular]

This album nearly made it on the strength of one amazing song, but there’s some other really solid stuff if you can get past hitting repeat endlessly on the best Talking Heads song David Byrne didn’t write.
Cut Copy - Blink And You'll Miss A Revolution by modularpeople

Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong [ATO Records]

This seems to be one of those bands that are finding their way onto a lot of disparate year-end-lists. Folkies and roots rockers love it as much as the indie set. Not sure which camp I belong to though.

Deer Tick - Divine Providence [Partisan/Dine Alone]

One of those records that feels like it should have a layer of dust on it - like you found it in your cool uncle’s old collection. These are songs that have been lived in, and still have life in them.
Deer Tick - Chevy Express by flamgirlant

Devotchka - 100 Lovers [Epitaph]

This was the great leap forward for Devotchka. They eased off on the straight-up gypsy sounds and found their own, distinct sound that incorporated their past but pointed to an exciting future.
All the Sand In All the Sea by Mad Guru

Dominant Legs – Invitation [Lefse]

I wrote pretty glowingly about this record back in September, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see it make the longlist…
8. Dominant Legs - Hoop Of Love by wepromised