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Top Ten Albums of 2011-jason’s List by jason

Usually, I don’t do an actual Top Ten list; I do an “Albums that exceeded/met/failed to meet my expectations” list. This year, however, I heard a lot of bands for the first time, so I really went through the year without expectations (for the most part). I guess I have to do a top ten list for 2011.

OK. These albums are in random order, though the last five will be my absolute favorites for the year.

11.
Tyler the Creator-Goblin

This one would probably be on my top 5 list if it wasn’t so misogynistic. I listened to Goblin about 20 times since I got it a couple of months ago, and I hear new things in it each time. Say what you want about this dude, but Tyler knows how to craft lyrics with layers of meaning, and his idea of a three-album concept where a man goes insane while talking to his therapist (who may actually be one of his split personalities) is awesome and well-executed.

10. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling 2
Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling-Questions are a Burden to Others
Speaking of concepts, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’s second The Prisoner inspired EP is every bit as good as the first. In fact, everything Michael J. Epstein touches is fantastic, which is why two of the bands he’s affiliated with make my list this year, but more on that later.

9.Tumblewoof Phoenix Lil Wayne
Tumblewoof-Phoenix & Lil’ Wayne
TUMBLEwoof’s mash-up of Lil’ Wayne & Phoenix is pretty rad. It’s made Mash-up Monday more than a couple of times. I can’t wait to see what this guy’s doing next.

8.
AC Deathstrike-Winter in Russia
This one might have actually ranked in my top five, but I feel like it was too new for me to make that judgement. But it’s a brilliant twee-rock album that pretty much sounds like the inside of my head does. And the frontman, Alex Dougherty, is pretty rad, too.

7. Eastern Phoebes Eggplant

Eastern Phoebes-Eggplant
Eggplant is another one I almost feel is too new to go on my list, but I love Eastern Phoebes, and I really think that this album is the most coherent work they’ve done. It’s going to be on my walkman well into 2012.

6.
Dino DNA-Dino DNA
Dino DNA. They are rad. Go listen to them.

And now, my top five favorite albums, in order.

5.
Nick Jaina-The Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here Are Gone
Back in July, I said that this album was going to be on my top ten of the year list. In fact, in the press release that is sent out for this album, I’m quoted saying that, so I’d better put this on here so I’m not a liar.

Just kidding. The Beanstalks That Have Brought Us Here Are Gone would be on this list whether I had made that proclaimation or not. Jaina brings an all-star cast of female singers to bring his songs to life, and the whole thing really gels together as an album, despite the multiple singers. Great stuff.

4. Songs for Boats Talons'
Talons’-Songs For Boats
I waited for almost 2 years for Talons’ Songs for Boats, and it was worth the wait. I mean, it’s a soft-folk album about two lovers wandering an apocalyptic landscape. What’s not to love?

3. Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library
The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library-Volume 1

This is the second Michael J. Epstein project on my list. I described it as ” Magnetic Fields meets Peter, Paul, and Mary,” and in retrospect, that’s still accurate. Twee-folk-chamber-pop FTW!, Or, as Epstein would say, “!!!”

2.Soul Khan Soul Like Khan: Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul
Soul Khan-Soul Like Khan: Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul
A bunch of mash-up artists like Frail Limb Purity, DJ Schmolli, and DJ Lobsterdust took one of the best albums of 2010 and made it one of the best albums of 2011. FACT. Some of the tracks have replaced the originals as “the version i think of” when I think of Khan’s music. Khan released a few EPs this year, but this was my favorite thing he was connected to this year.

1.
The Mountain Goats- All Eternals Deck
The last two years, The Mountain Goats have either met or failed to meet my expectations. Both Heretic Pride and The Life of the World to Come were dissapointing when compared to what John Darnielle had done before. that’s what I was so excited when I realized that this year’s All Eternals Deck was a frickin’ great album. It totally exceeded my expectations, and I expect a lot from them. The Mountain Goats are finally back to form, God’s in his Heaven, and all’s right with the world. I got to see them when they toured to support this album, and it was a great show. JD’s still got it, folks!

And that’s my top ten list. Do you disagree with any of the choices? Do you agree? Do you wish I had mentioned a different album? Let me know in the comment thingie below, and we can have a music snob ragefest civil discussion about it.

-jason



Top Best Albums of 2011 by Jayson

Out of the way. Quick & Dirty. Stuff I reviewed only. I think anyway. Order does not imply ranking. I didn’t want to re-review these here, if I had any additional thoughts, I’ve added them.

Full Lengths:

Batillus – Furnace

I spent the whole time from when the vocals where announced to when I got to listen to it worried that they’d screw it up. They didn’t. Not at all.

Matt Bauer – The Jessamine County Book of the Living

Emotionally devastating to listen to.

Letna – Adria

In this broad genre of ambient music, this was the brightest light in a year of fantastic stuff.

Wugazi – 13 Chambers

Mashups are art, 13 Chambers is proof.

We’ll Go Machete – Strong Drunk Hands

Noise rock is back, people.

naisian – Mammalian

Picking up where Isis left off.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage

Wolves’ Oceanic.

Harmondale – Spirit of 73

So one lady proves she understands country music with her first release better than any new artist I’ve heard this year.

SP-33 – Escape From Tha Carter

This is music from a real future that exists somewhere.

Mastodon – The Hunter

I was super hard on this, but honestly in the wake of a year of challenging releases, The Hunter is seriously my go to album to unwind with. Girlfriend/In the car metal for life!

Special Dispensation:

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Technically this came out in the USA, where I am in 2010, but we were actually contacted by the UK pr and reviewed the UK release of this album. I loved it, heartbreaking. I am cheating to put it in here, but I can do that.

Graf Orlock – Doombox

Yeah, the 10″ has new material, but it’s most about being a comp.

EPs:

Soul Khan – Resolution

Soul Khan had an incredibly prolific year in 2011. Of all the stuff he did, Resolution is my favorite. Khan is now one of my top 5 living MCs, real talk. Also as a thing, this has Nine on it. Seriously any day I hear ‘Whutcha Want’ on the radio, I think it’ll be a good day.

Big’n – Spare the Horses

Noise rock is back. Seriously back.

Butterfly Trajectory – EP 2011

So looking forward to what this band does next.

Witch Mountain – South of Salem

I want to listen to this and make out with a girl that has slightly crooked teeth.

So anyway, musical year in review. I kinda came back to metal this year after near total burnout last. There was some good, enjoyable stuff out there and I was glad to listen to it. Noise rock coming back was the big thing. I don’t want to get into the ‘yeah, but has it musically progressed?’ argument. It’s being back is really enough for me. As you can see by the list, though, it didn’t quite dominate my listening. Nothing really did. I view that as a good thing. This is a pretty well rounded list of the kind of music I like to listen to and review. It was also really hard to pick the top out as it was a uniformly good year here. I don’t have any major disappointments either, because there was very little I had serious anticipation for. As I sit here writing this though, I am really at a loss to say anything other than 2011 musically was the year that was.



My…um…list for 2010 by jason

Well, Jayson posted his best of list, which means it’s that time of year again. I’m going to do my list like I did last year, where I’m rating these albums not by how good or bad they were, but how they met my expectations. Because you can look anywhere on teh interwebz for numbered ratings and all that. And away we go:
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The Best Albums of the Decade by jason
December 24, 2009, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Local Music, Mountain Goats, Year End List

by jason

Well, it looks like it’s the end of the first decade of the 21st century (If you are starting at years divisible by 10). A lot of music came out, and a lot of it was great, but I was too poor to afford most of it. Keep that in mind when you start arguing with me about this list of the 10 (or 11) best albums of the decade; these are the best ones that I listened to. Feel free to suggest other music; I’m always open to suggestions. These are not numbered, but I tried to keep the absolute best at the end…

In Boca al Lupo-Murder by Death.
This is a great album by a band who had just figured themselves out. The previous album, Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them was a great concept album that had just begun to explore the Spaghetti Western feel that this band has since mastered, but In Boca was the first album where they nailed it. And it’s a concept album. I love concept albums.

Boxer-The National
I didn’t even start listening to this one until just recently, but it stayed on my rotation for a good month, and I still put it on. It’s just a solid album that works well as background music, but also holds up to a close listening. I reviewed it HERE.

The Glow Pt. 2-The Microphones
This album is one of those where you can’t really listen to individual tracks; the album is an album, not a collection of songs. It’s strange in that it feels both warm and distant, like landmarks in a desert. It is very easy to become lost in The Glow; I have actually lost my sense of time while listening to it.

The United Colors of Trouble Books-Trouble Books
If The Glow is a desert, then United Colors is an empty street in the middle of winter. This is an album by a band from Akron, and I have no idea how many times I’ve listened to it. If the LP had not come with a CDr of the album, I would have burned out the vinyl already. I reviewed it HERE.

Let’s Get Out of This Country-Camera Obscura
With Let’s Get Out, Camera Obscura managed to out-Belle-&-Sebastian Belle & Sebastian. The resuly is a beautiful album that doesn’t seem to fit any particular time period.

The Lyre Of Orpheus/Abittior Blues-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Nick Cave is really hit or miss. Sometimes, like in the case of Murder Ballads, he seems like he’s trying to hard to be dark and brooding. That’s not the case with this double album, which is probably the best thing Nick Cave has done this decade (besides, debatedly, the screenplay to The Proposition). it’s dark, but not too dark, and he manages to write a few love songs that don’t involve smashing a woman’s head with a rock.

Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs-Andrew Bird
This entire album is solid. The lyrics tend to be a little surreal (Bird admits that sometimes he strings words together because they sound good, phonetically), and his instrumentation is different (distorted violins? Yes, please!), but the two word together to make a great album. “Fake Palindromes” and “Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left” are two of my favorite songs of the decade.

Rabbit Fur Coat-Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
I got this album without knowing anything about it; it just thought the cover art was striking. I was surprised to find that a) this was a country album (kind of), and b) I loved it. “Rise Up With Fists!!!” and “Born Secular” are brilliant. unfortunately, Lewis’s Acid Tongue was nowhere near as good as this album.

Your Big Plans, Our Little Town-Balthrop, Alabama
Full disclosure: I’m friends with one of this bands members. However, even if I weren’t, this album would make my list. It’s a wonderful album about some small town dreamers waiting to get out into the world or for that world to end, whichever comes first. I missed these guys when they came to Ohio (at the Nelsonville Festival), and I stil regret it.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots-The Flaming Lips
I’ve talked bad about the Flaming Lips on this blog several times, but they have released a few solid albums, and this is one. It’s part concept album (about a karate-fighting girl who must save the world from pink robots) and part collection of songs, but the songs are great. Even more than on The Soft Bulletin, it really sounds like The Flaming Lips are maturing into a non-novelty band.

All Hail West Texas and Tallahassee-The Mountain Goats
I decided to include these as one entry. Both albums were released in 2002, and they mark the end of Darnielle’s low-fi period (All Hail) and the beginning of his proper studio albums (Tallahassee). Again, these are both concept albums, though most of the songs on West Texas work as singles, and Tallahassee features “No Children,” the song that has made more Mountain Goats fans than any other. These two, and perhaps The Sunset Tree, are the albums that I would give to someone as their first exposure to the Mountain Goats. John Darnielle is my personal lord and savior.

And there you have it. These are the best albums of the decade. If you haven’t heard them, you need to fix this immediately, before the next decade begins. So use that Christmas money (or Chanukah, or Solstice, etc., etc., etc.) and go to your local independent music store NOW.



In the New Year II by jason
December 21, 2009, 12:40 am
Filed under: Local Music, Year End List

by jason

As Jasyon posted HERE, music can help get you through the shit. It’s odd because this year, I’ve gone through a lot of shit, and I didn’t rely on music as much as I had before. I mean, back in the day, Neutral Milk Hotel got me through my divorce, so it’s odd that there are very few albums I associate with the shit this year.

However, there are 2 albums that have helped make this year one that will not destroy me.

The first piece of awfulness, which I won’t discuss here, was made less awful by, of all things, Weezer’s Pinkerton. I know I’ve talked bad about Rivers and Co. here a few times, but the 1st 2 albums are solid, and Pinkerton got it done.

The second thing is still going on, and again, I’m going to be coy and not tell you what it is. However, John Vanderslice’s Time Travel is Lonely is helping me get thought that. I’ll let you know how that turns out later.

One last album that I just started listening to again, so it will get honorable mention, is Talons’ Rustic Bullshit. It’s a thouroughly depressing album, and it matches my mood sometimes.

Anyway, that is the year that was. Hopefully, good news is on the horizon…



My…um…list for 2009 by jason
December 11, 2009, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Mountain Goats, Review, Year End List

by jason

OK. Jayson posted his top 10 list for the year, and I was going to do the same, except that this year was the year of the back catalogue for me. Therefore, I haven’t heard 10 albums that were made this year. Instead of a top 10 list, then, I’ll talk about what I have heard this year.

EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS

The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice-Moon Colony Bloodbath epThis was the tour ep for the Gone Primitive Tour. It’s a concept ep about people who work at the secret body harvesting colony on the moon, and what happens to a person when they experience the kind of isolation you can only find while watching over bodies in suspended animation on the moon. There’s a song about canibalism! Canibalism! Great stuff if you can find it. I managed to get the limited edition green vinyl copy. Not that I’m bragging.

The Flaming Lips-Embryonic
I know I’ve talked shit about The Flaming Lips before, but this album is very good. It’s much darker than their previous albums. It’s still strange…I’m sure there were many, many illicit chemicals involved in the making of this album. MGMT and Karen O make guest appearances (Karen O is particularly charming on “I Can Be A Frog”). This was a staple of my NaNoWriMo diet.

The Lonely Island-Incredibad
I almost didn’t buy this one. I wasn’t sure I could afford to buy a novelty album, but this is funny shit. You’ve seen videos for many of these songs on SNL (“Like a Boss,” “I’m On A Boat,” “Jizz in My Pants”), but some of the other tracks are great, too. My favorites might be “Boombox”, which features Julian Casablancas, and “Dream Girl” featuring Nora Jones. This was a two disc set, and the second disc has about 20 minutes of videos.

The Pains of Being Pure of Heart-The Pains of Being Pure of HeartThis was one that I have only gotten a chance to listen to a few times, but I was really impressed with it. They kind of sound like Belle and Sebastian if B & S used distortion and played everything twice as fast. “Young Adult Friction” is a great song about losing one’s virginity in a library.

The Duke & the King-Nothing Gold Can Stay
Pretty awesome AM ’70s style pop from Simone Felice, formerly of the Felice Brothers. I found out about these guys from Daytrotter. I’ve reviewed this already HERE.

MEETS EXPECTATIONS
Morrissey-Years of RefusalIt’s Morrissey. He’s mopey, and he sings about ambiguously gendered love interests. On this album, he’s pretty angry. Not much else to say…it’s worth buying.

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS
Silversun Pickups-SwoonA lot of my friends love these guys, so I bought their album. It’s not bad…it’s just kind of bland. The lead singer’s voice is overproduces and sounds like the guy’s been sucking helium. It reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins. But really, do we need another Smashing Pumpkins?

The Mountain Goats-The Life of the World to Come
You can’t spin gold all the time, and out of, what? 17 albums? this is the only Mountain Goats album that I am not in love with. It might have been in the “Meets expectations” category if it had been from anyone other than tMG. I dunno. Maybe it will grow on me. I didn’t like Get Lonely when it came out, but now, I love that album. I gave it a full review HERE.

So…this year’s closing thoughts:

It was a strange year. I met John Darnielle and John Vanderslice, I fell out of love, I sang a LOT of freaking karaoke. In the last two months, I met a nice girl to share music and laughter with. All in all, I think that despite the bad shit that’s happened, I’ve got a lot of reasons to be happy. Even if the latest Mountain Goats album wasn’t very good.