The Best Music Of 2010: Non-MKE Edition
Posted 12/29/2010 by cal
Yes, there was a lot of good music produced in 2010 outside of Milwaukee too; not much in the way of rock and roll, but we'll hold down the fort here in the Brew City while the rest of the world takes care of the dreampop and chillwave and experimental electronica. I’m so sick of deciding whether or not to harp on the tidal wave of 80s retro I could puke. But if you dig post-punk and synthpop, 2010 has been a second golden age, despite how derivative it may be (cue the everything’s-a-rerun-since-The-Beatles choir). It really has been a terrific year for music (particularly for the 4AD label, holy crap), and there are buttloads of really good albums that I won't even mention here, but everything on this list is essential listening front to back.
Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
is technically number eleven, but top ten lists must end with ten, and I
can’t leave this album off the list. It may not be as catchy or as
mass-appealing as Big Boi’s old band Outkast’s masterpiece Stankonia,
but it is damn near as good. It might even be better; I don’t know, it
tickles somewhat different funny bones but both records are epic wins
on the fun-to-listen-to scale above all, and it’s tough to imagine that Sir Lucious is any less fun than anything Outkast has done.
was a gigantic void in popular music where macho, badass but still
clever and boundary-pushing rap used to exist, and Big Boi finally came
along to fill it. Sir Lucious pulls the rug out from under most
of mainstream rap; it’s all either unimaginative or sloppy as hell or
just plain vapid compared to this. This is braggadocio, it’s
insensitive, it’s dirty, but it’s intelligent and dexterous and catchy.
Big Boi brings in plenty of help on almost every track but the only
real scene-stealer is Janelle Monáe on “Be Still”; the rest are all bit parts in Boi’s show.
The only weak spot on the album is the Jamie Foxx-infused quasi-ballad “Hustle Blood”, which is has some cool moments but every chorus is an utter drag. Producer Lil Jon
seemed intent on pumping out a booty-call jingle and wound up
sabotaging what could’ve been a nearly perfect album. Just take that
track off your playlist and shorten up the mellow portion of the record,
featuring one of the best weed anthems in recent memory, “Fo Yo
Sorrows”. Then settle in for the sublime pop romp of the final four
tracks, and don’t even bother resisting the urge to listen to “Shine
Blockas” over and over again; it’s one of the very best songs of the
(TIE) 9. Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (Warp)
The two most sampledelic releases of the year are neck and neck on my list. Cosmogramma
is obviously the more dance-oriented work, but it can also be a very
calming experience, making it one of the all-time great roadtrip albums
(say, Milwaukee to Noblesville, for example); too interesting and
beat-driven to make you drowsy, and a soothing stress-reliever to boot.
It can be background music if you want, but it works equally well when
you’re concentrating purely on listening.
The trick Steven Ellison
pulls is never letting any one idea play out completely. The tracks
are brief and never cluttered even at their busiest, lending the music
somewhat of an improvisational feel but without a sense of meandering.
As a giant puzzle, the album is pieced together immaculately, defying
you to pinpoint by memory exactly where one track ends and another
begins, but taken as individuals, the songs are all self-contained and
The most impressive moments are
when FlyLo plays pure DJ, taking a basic hook and adding layer after
layer of harmonious sound, stripping away elements and adding more,
creating a seamless patchwork of sound but challenging you to remember
how exactly it all started. My favorite example is “Computer Face //
Pure Being”, one of the most pointed and concise pieces on the album.
But he’s equally adept at spacing out (could you guess from the title?)
into moody, blippy atmospherics with only the loosest attachment to song
format. “Arkestry” is little more than a brief jazz warm-up/workout
set in zero-G, but it has depth and personality all the same. And then
there are pure cosmic pop songs like “MmmHmm” that give you the chills
thinking about what could happen if FlyLo ever decided to just make a
pop album, but hopefully not at the expense of shit like this.
(TIE) 9. The Books: The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
would be a fascinating and hilarious experiment in found sound collage
even if it weren’t for the musicality. But in between giggling at sound
bites, you tap your feet, you bob your head, and you get sucked in by
some ingenious hooks. The guitar and bass lines in “I Didn’t Know That”
and “A Cold Freezin’ Night” (the latter almost has to be a tribute to Captain Beefheart’s “The Blimp”) are what the kids refer to as “sick”; you could almost call ‘em rock and roll. But not really.
Books are the ultimate stoned-college-kid late-night dialogue/music
composite mixtape engineers, but with better equipment and much more
fully realized concepts. Once the album sinks in as a whole, much of
what initially seemed like a joke becomes poignant, disembodied
fragments of lives forgotten by those who lived them, here for our
amusement, pointing out how hard it is sometimes to see the line between
cliché and universal truth.
The crux of the
album requires no samples; a dull percussive throb and a resigned bit of
poetry barely hummed, “We Bought The Flood” is like an absolution, for
those whose voices were co-opted for the album and for the artists
themselves. You might not even notice it on your first couple listens,
but it might be the best song on the album.
personally, I don’t know how anyone can listen to “The Story Of Hip
Hop” and not think it’s genius. The moral of the “Story”: “And even the
flowers talk to each other, like people do, but the sounds they make
are different. Listen carefully, and try to understand what they say.”
8. Yeasayer: Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)
have been trying for months (on and off) to think of another band whose
first and second album were so radically different that some dude off
the street would never guess they were the same artist, yet both as
awesome as 2008’s All Hour Cymbals and this year’s Odd Blood.
Fail. I’ll never get those minutes of thinking-time back. Thankfully,
most of them happened while I was also listening to Yeasayer, so none
of them were completely wasted. My most-highly-anticipated and
most-listened-to album of 2010. (Read my original review of this album here.)
7. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)
It's hard to call Arcade Fire's 2007 second album Neon Bible a sophomore slump; it sold almost as well as 2004's Funeral
and expanded the band's fanbase by leaps and bounds, although this may
have been more a function of its dynamic live shows than anything else.
But Neon Bible was a step down creatively; humorless and
accusatory, the album was sometimes powerful but ultimately an
oppressive listen. On The Suburbs, even with another potentially depressing theme unifying the album, AF has rediscovered some joie de vivre.
voice doesn't have a low-key setting, but he pulls off a somewhat
convincing lack of anxiety on the opening title track, and even though
it's a relatively lazy stroll for this band, it's invigorating. Then
the album busts into a classic AF sprint with "Ready To Start", with its
perfectly timed lyrical and musical release. Timing is AF's deadliest
weapon, and Suburbs pops with these pinpoint revelatory moments,
from the rousing surge at the end of "Rococo" and the anti-anthemic
chorus that rises from the handclap mist of "City With No Children" to
the unrelenting enthusiasm of "Month Of May", broken only by a
breathless drum break, negative space as dynamic focal point.
band's best moments exult in triumph over strife rather than just
lamenting it, but sometimes recognition of the issue is a triumph in
itself. Nowhere is this clearer than on the album's climactic tour de
force, "Sprawl II", which doesn't exactly offer a solution but it does
acknowledge the need for one, and the way Régine Chassagne
belts it out, it feels like a catharsis every time. Only those who
have never yearned for something greater out of life will be unable to
relate to it. It could be the most perfect song of the year. AF may
not be masters of subtlety yet, but when the music is bursting with this
much power and beauty, who needs to take a breath?
6. The National: High Violet (4AD)
it pays to listen to your friends. I probably would’ve given up on
this album about two listens short of falling madly in love with it if
it hadn’t been for the lavish praise of it from folks whose opinions I
respect. I’d seen the band perform twice, and the latter time left me with the distinct impression that Matt Berninger
is a big fat phony. If he’s really that tortured while he’s up there,
the grasping girls’ hands in the front row, wading through the adoring
crowd, all that antisocial behavior, that’s obviously not working, and
he should try something a little less narcissistic-rockstar to help him
get over his “stage fright” or whatever it is he’s pretending to be so
crippled by occasionally.
But on record, I believe
him. He has me so fooled on these songs, I feel like he wrote them
about me. I mean, I’m not a
vampire or other mythological beast, but I get these emotions. I’ve had
that longing, I’ve felt that loss, I’ve cursed and doubted and scoffed
at myself and everybody else just like that. Sometimes if I strain hard
enough, I can make myself think that I thought those exact words that
he’s singing: I still owe money to the money I owe…I didn’t wanna be
anyone’s ghost…I’ll explain everything to the geeks. If I pore over old
journals, I might find those exact lines.
band is good; so-and-so on guitar has the indie/post-rock thang down,
and the rhythm section is impeccably tight, but it’s Berninger’s show
all the way. It’s his haunted voice and his peculiar, biting lyrics
that cut to the bone, and the music is just an unobtrusive conveyance.
And it seems he’s pretty much done with the primal scream gimmick
(except when he’s onstage), so to evoke such white-hot passion within
his limited natural register is something I still can’t quite fathom;
has anybody but Leonard Cohen ever managed such a feat before?
5. The Acorn: No Ghost (Paper Bag)
This album reminds me of a cross between Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Fog’s last rock-song-ish incarnation. Or maybe more like a folkier, more song-oriented Tortoise.
Even as I write this, it's still growing on me, and I'm still not sure
what to call it. Once list-making season is over, I have to go back and
listen to 2007’s Glory Hope Mountain again. I may not have
given it enough chances the first time around. I feel like I’m going to
spend years trying to put my finger on what exactly it is that makes me
love No Ghost.
The genius is how The
Acorn traps pastoral fresh-air breathing room and mystery in deceptively
conventional pop songs. You can choose your approach to the album: if
orthodox guitar rock is your enemy, you’ll have no trouble ignoring that
element, but if perfection necessitates accessibility, the
eccentricities are little more than background flourishes. As long as
you're not scared of interesting, you should find an angle from which to appreciate this album.
There’s somewhat of a Grizzly Bear
aesthetic at work, only less pristine, more stream-of-consciousness
musically, more focused lyrically. And definitely more urgent more
often. Walls of sound are the toast of indiedom right now, but the
musicians of The Acorn aren’t interested; they want each strum and pluck
and tap and ping to be heard clearly, none of that blending together to
hide the individual inconsistencies. They all weave around each other
so deftly that the ascent makes you shiver, and the intensity’s got
nothing to do with loudness.
The title track
might be the first time you realize how integral a part the electric
guitar has played in this album, but it's always there, just never
flamboyant, kind of like the choice vocal harmonies. There's nothing
that sounds overtly exotic, but you might catch the hum of a mandolin or
frogs chirping or some unplaceable percussion in the background. The
songs never feel labored over, but at the same time, I kinda suspect
they were; you don't accidentally come up with such immaculate
arrangements and capture such emotion within them.
there's no need to sit and decipher the album like this; I just can't
help myself. You can just go, “'Crossed Wires' sounds kinda like Arcade
Fire, but without the melodrama." Or, "'Bobcat Goldwraith' makes me
want to dance for some reason." Or, “'I Made The Law'--holy shit, what a
song!" There's a song for whatever mood you want to put yourself in,
and they are all awesome. Get ready to leave them on your iPod for a
long time, and to smile whenever you shuffle into one.
4. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)
is the sound of one of the defining artists of our time emerging into a
new level of confidence but with no sign of complacency. His secret:
he's some regular guy you'd make friends with at a show or something.
He just happens to have this mutant creativity that is thankfully fated
to pour out of him at all times.
All of Bradford Cox’s
songs play like diary entries, even when they’re addressed to someone
else. He’s got a drowsy, stream-of-consciousness delivery and a
first-burst energy to his creativity, and the increasing sophistication
of his music is held graciously in check by the innocent musings of his
lyrics--not juvenile, but simplistic and universal in scope.
you get is half an album’s worth of hazy, loping dreampop of the
narcotic variety, so intoxicating that its net effect is intense as hell
(beware: “Basement Scene” might actually put you in a trance),
punctuated by caffeinated bursts of uplifting indie rock like “Memory
Boy” and “Fountain Stairs” and the incredible “Helicopter”. You won’t
catch yourself pepping up; it’s not that kind of uplifting. You just
can’t help feeling good about such well-crafted, subversive pop music,
blissful with no trace of ignorance.
clever variations on themes that end up making this album seep into your
slipstream all the more deeply. “Don’t Cry” is a creepier,
harder-edged and dreamier “Basement Scene”, but the similarities end
with the riff and rhythm. The energy and pace of “Memory Boy” is cloned
in “Fountain Streams”, but not the mood. The album is paced in a
disorienting series of confessional dirges and lucid dream sequences
punctuated by sudden bursts of overt intensity--sort of like life.
There’s nothing escapist about this album. You get the sense that when
Cox isn’t laying bare his own soul, he’s peering straight into someone
else’s, possibly yours.
3. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella)
begin with, the title of this album is genius. Then, for the first
time ever, I’m able to listen to the first two tracks and not be
completely off-put by Kanye’s vocal flow. It’s still a pretty far cry
from rapping for the most part, but not bad. (But imagine how
incredible “Gorgeous” could be if West was a real MC!) And then he goes
and samples “21st Century Schizoid Man” for “Power”, and I’m starting to think I’m actually going to like this album.
brain, so ingrained with anti-Kanye sentiments, struggles to pay
attention to the vocals anyway; it takes a few listens. But those few
listens (which turn into many, many listens) wouldn’t even happen if it
weren’t for the astounding craftsmanship of the tracks. I’m used to
West’s virtuosity as a producer and songwriter, but this is a new
level. The combinations of instrumentation and samples, vocal hooks and
beats, these are incredibly unique creations. It’s almost as if he’s
aiming to trump Girl Talk at his own game, but without caring if you know where any of it comes from, but instead of layered pop song fragments unrelated except for time signature, these are tight and naturalistic collages of components.
in “Power”, he raps with some authority, with some art. Does it again
on “Monster”, shockingly not put to shame by his guest stars (well,
maybe by Nicki Minaj,
just a little…). And when the song fades into a minimalist bass pulse
and some reflective ruminations, we’re really in uncharted territory.
Or maybe once-charted. This album is the (I can’t believe I’m saying this) true successor to Kala.
It’s an astoundingly varied but cohesive beat-driven pop album that
stuns you without even trying. It might be the only album of the year
where I thought to myself, part of the way through, ‘Savor this first
listen. You only get one.’ So I find myself finally freed from the
chains of caring one whit about Kanye’s public idiocy, apparently
because he has boosted the quality of every aspect of his music, and I
think he’s created a classic here. Seriously, how can he and M.I.A. not have romance in their future? How can they not be the Brangelina of egomaniacal pop stars?
way the denouement of “Devil In A New Dress” segues into the stark
piano intro of “Runaway” is chilling. Aside from Kanye’s slightly
embarrassing auto-tuned singing early on, this song is absolute gold; the
singalongs when he performs it live will be mind-blowing, but the last
two minutes or so of subdued strings and a talkbox solo that almost
resolves into lyrics might be the most enthralling moment on the album.
Just getting your head around it takes several tries, but it’s haunting
Here’s the review of the album:
amazing track after amazing track. It makes you think the emo kids
ought to have put their energy into hip hop instead of punk, because
this shit works. It’s disturbing, it’s demented, it scarcely resembles
anything happy but any time it’s not heartbreaking it’s somehow fun.
Even when it’s unpleasant, it’s impressive. And if you think Volcano Choir perfected Bon Iver’s
“Woods”, think again; I thought so too, until I heard “Lost In The
World”. Finally, the auto-tune to end all auto-tune (PLEASE), to end by
far Kanye's best album yet.
2. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Before Today (4AD)
Once again, it’s the maximum catchy and maximum weird casserole: I can’t resist it. By definition, Before Today is inescapably retro, drawing heavily from 60s psychedelic pop (to the point of actually covering an obscurity from that era, Rockin' Ramrods' "Bright Lit Blue Skies"), blatantly mimicking Bowie
on "Little Wig", and commandeering the trippiest grooves from the decades
that followed. If that were the end of the story, I would hate this album. I
At times, it’s as if they heard everything that came out in 2010 in advance and decided to show everybody else how retro is done.
Believe me, when I first heard the album, I was already sick to death
of hearing music that had already been done to death. But the songs
kept making me come back to Before Today, and after a half dozen
listens or so, the album legitimized itself. The title, and the song
"Reminiscences", and the way the first track, "Hot Body Rub", sucks you
straight into a tongue-in-cheek but unironic, um, hot tub time
machine...on one hand, it facilitates a quicker mainline to your brain,
but that kind of device rarely resonates deeply. Before Today somehow transcends camp and familiarity to become one of the most moving releases of the past decade.
Since Frank Zappa
and Kurt Cobain
died, humor has not belonged in serious music. If music contained
social commentary and pathos and aggression and soul, being funny could
only undermine it or provide a token dose of levity. Ariel Pink
reclaims the right to put EVERY emotion into his music at once. Is he
insane, or is he so sane you just blew your mind?
Musically, the album
is hotboxed in psychedelia, which also should make me hate it, but it
doesn't just sucker you into feeling trippy. It functions more as a
challenge: create meaningful, uplifting art within the confines of this
tired gimmick--I dare ya. Only a fool would try. They push the dreamy
aspect as far as your psyche can take, then start rocking out like
nobody’s business. “Butt-House Blondies” (song title of the year, no
contest) gets heavy and genuinely disturbing at times, and then “Little
Wig” cranks like the second coming of “Suffragette City” and then goes all vocal-Mogwai for its finale Then, right back into dreampop for "Can't Hear My Eyes", possibly the most 80s-Fleetwood-Mac song of the year, and that's saying something (looking right at you, Beach House). Even after you fall in love with it, you'll never remember what's around every corner.
there is some rock and roll left in indie rock. Maybe there is still
dangerous humor in the future of music. Maybe we can still think and
feel at the same time. If Ariel Pink keeps making music this good,
maybe some other folks will realize they can do it too. Maybe
revolution isn't a lie.1. Agalloch: Marrow Of The Spirit (Profound Lore)
been an enticing thought throughout the band’s existence: what if
Agalloch found a perfect synthesis between its atmospheric and melodic
tendencies and its black metal roots? That said, here are some random
excerpts from the novel I could write about this album. Hope you enjoy.
first track, "They Escaped The Weight Of Darkness", gives nothing away:
running water, atmospherics, a neoclassical violin piece that lulls you
but not into anything comfortable. "Into The Painted Grey" is the
statement of purpose. I notate it thusly: modern Krallice
ish black metal intro > piercing harmonic guitar theme > punishing screamed verses > almost Wolverine Blues
death rock > melodic black metallic build with acoustic guitar
flourishes, culminating in a rush of brilliant twin leads and ending
with a deep sustained vocal chorus. And somewhere in there, notice the
insane tribal drumming of Aesop Dekker
, who barely keeps the madness from destroying the song. That's the first song.
one thing, this album is a marvel of old-school stereophony; the
various sounds and effects that assault your ears from both sides create
a miasma of sensation, adding to the primeval resonance of the music.
Every subtle difference between the two strummed acoustics in “The
Watcher’s Monolith” adds to the rich atmosphere. I’d say “retro” but
“timeless” is more to the point.
As a whole, the album is prog in the best sense, a stylistic synthesis that's greater than the sum of its parts. A mournful piano interlude
backed by a magnified recording of a forest ends "The Watcher's
Monolith"; it's interrupted by a post-rock noise jam that explodes and
lands in the martial, tribal acoustic strum/chant that begins "Black
Lake Nidstång". Somehow, nothing feels abrupt or out of place.
Following a vintage organ dirge, just prior to the final raging blast,
there is a mesmerizing guitar loop tapestry, reprised at the very end of
the song, that sounds exactly like an interlude of a Phish
jam. Agalloch might not want to hear that, but it's true.
a sense, this is by far Agalloch’s most straightforward, accessible
album, but it’s also the band’s most complicated. It’s the kind of
album that could unite metalheads under one flag or splinter them
irrevocably. The greatest miracle may be the way the group blends the
songs together with sounds of water and weather and fauna, seamlessly as
if they were just more instruments. The band has tapped Mother Nature
herself to contribute to this masterpiece.
could go on like this for an hour. It would take as long to verbally
describe everything that goes on on this album as it does to listen to
it, after which all those words would become meaningless anyway. It's a
bona fide classic, 'nuff said.HONORABLE MENTIONThe Blood Of Heroes: The Blood Of Heroes (Ohm Resistance)
This intriguing blend of dub, hip hop and industrial is one of the dozen or so projects Justin Broadrick
had a toe in this year, and it’s a striking success on most fronts.
If only he and his cohorts (including the other busiest man in showbiz, Bill Laswell
) had found themselves a couple top-notch vocalists rather than the uncharismatic Dr. Israel
who provides the occasional lyric on this record. Call me crazy, but I
suspect this lineup ain’t stable anyway; next album could be a doozy.
Eminem: Recovery (Aftermath)
It would be easy to overrate Recovery based on how godawful its predecessor (last year's Relapse)
was. Usually when an artist stoops that low, it's over, especially
when it's on the heels of a "retirement". But Eminem must have punched
himself in the nuts enough last year to motivate a return to form. It's
not quite on par with his best work, but his commitment to new ideas
and his remarkable flow are once again at the top of the mainstream rap
Em's goofy voices and outrageous personas
were played before he drove them into the mud, so it's nice to have the
real guy unembellished and freaking out. His new thing is bizarre
plays-on-words like "standing on my Monopoly board" (on top of his game)
and "my filet is smokin' weed" (the stakes are high), which aren't as
clever as he thinks but they're still a cut above poop jokes in a Middle-Eastern accent, and he's made a full return to the tongue- and
head-twisting rhymes that few other rappers can compete with, and that
he couldn't seem to come up with on Relapse. This is the real comeback album.Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)
album may not break any new ground, but it is a flawless work of
progressive blackish metal. If you're looking for blood-curdling riffs
spliced together with maddening precision but never abandoned until
you've gotten the full effect, this is where you'll find them. In an
age where many metal bands are developing their sensitive and/or
experimental side, Enslaved is still all about putting the fear of the
devil in you and making you love it. This isn't the last refuge for
headbangers by any means, but it's the creative, technical and raw-power
pinnacle for meat-and-potatoes metal at this point.
Shining: Blackjazz (Indie Recordings)
On the strict scale of guitar-based heaviness, this album doesn’t get
the top spot, but in terms of seizure-inducing intensity of the darkest
possible mood, it’s the heaviest album of 2010. Part of the trick is an
oppressively alien style, more proof that everything has not already been done. Nobody has done anything this powerful and this impossible to categorize since Mr. Bungle. (Read my original review here.)
Sleigh Bells: Treats (Mom + Pop)
Mad guy/girl sexual tension heats up this glitch rock tour de force; you can feel it even though you never hear Derek E. Miller
's voice. Like its corresponding record of 2009, xx
succeeds with resonant minimalism, juicy bursts of simplicity that any embellishment would tarnish. Sleigh Bells are AC/DC
for indie kids, and "Rill Rill" is their "Ride On"
maybe a bit less world-weary, but it's that perfect slow number you
didn't see coming amidst a barrage of heavy guitar and screaming. Go
ahead and license the shit out of this album, guys; I'll never get sick
of these tunes.
Sufjan Stevens: The Age Of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)Twin Shadow: Forget (4AD)George Lewis, Jr.
have a feeling this one is only going to grow in my estimation; it came
out late in the year so I feel like I haven't really had the chance to
fall madly in love yet. Musically, it's extremely different from the
hand-crafted organic indie pop that made Sufjan Stevens somewhat of a
household name over his last few proper albums (particularly 2005's Illinois),
but the vocal melodies and lyrics are vintage Sufjan. It's not
radically experimental, just very electronic and brighter and bolder
than what we're used to, but immaculately arranged and produced all the
same. You get the visceral rush of what seems like an explosion of
creativity but you still feel like you've scored another super-detailed
work of art as only Stevens can deliver.
is sneaky: the first track on his debut album barely has any bass.
It's almost false advertising, but I guess if he wants to keep his
secret weapon holstered for a bit, the better to blast you when he whips
it out, who can blame him?
I love that this
came out the same year as Sleigh Bells: electronic music with effective
use of heavy guitar (just not nearly as often by Twin Shadow) and a foot
each in retro and nouveau. But where Sleigh Bells chill and freak out
in a childlike manic depression, Twin Shadow reeks of sophistication,
anything but frivolous. Some of these lyrics (particularly “Tyrant
Destroyed” and "Yellow Balloon") might make you uncomfortable with their
striking emotional baring; the gothic ache running through this album
is genuine and moving.
It’s nearly impossible
to fathom that this is the work of one man, however. The guitar/bass
interplay on “For Now" is the sound of a band, dammit! And speaking of
bass, it's the dominant force on this album, and it's amazing; emotional
and organic and often hummable, if you remember one aspect of a song on
here it's probably the bass, and this fact alone makes it one of the
coolest and most unique albums I've heard in a long time.BIGGEST LETDOWNSAvey Tare: Down There (Paw Tracks)
Yeah, I love Animal Collective
and all things considered, this isn’t a bad album. This section isn’t
called “BAD ALBUMS”. Lots of good songs here, but seriously: you’ve
outgrown the intentionally shitty production schtick, Avey. Go ahead,
fuck around, experiment, be inaccessible! You’ve earned it and you’re
really good at it. But knowing what incredible music could’ve arisen
from these germs of ideas that have been belligerently steered towards
weird and hard to hear and at some point given up on makes listening to
the album not very enjoyable. It’s shitgaze for hippies, and that’s not
good enough any more. The Ocean: Heliocentric (Metal Blade)
And then there were the truly BAD albums like this one. Last year it was Mute Math
; this year, The Ocean built on the perfection of its previous release, Precambrian
by utterly losing its way and delivering a painfully cheesy and stupid
bunch of songs. It's not so much a step backward as a complete
destruction of identity and integrity. (Read my original review here