Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 10-1

Top 50 albums of 2013

Previous: 50-41
Previous: 40-31
Previous 30-21
Previous: 20-11
After listening to over 275 albums from 2013, we are finally to my top 10.  Feel free to post in the comments for how I am an idiot for not having (insert album) on my list at all.  After all, maybe I didn't even hear about it, or maybe I thought it was garbage. 

Victim of Love
10) Charles Bradley- Victim of Love

Charles Bradley's sophomore release has seen almost entirely positive reviews.  And I am glad to see that.  I will admit that I have not heard nearly enough James Brown in my life, but listening to Bradley really reminds me that I need to.

I had not heard of Charles Bradley before this album, and when I first heard this I assumed he had been successfully writing soul music for a few decades, not a James Brown impersonator just now getting into the music business.

As far as the music goes, Bradley has a great voice.  It is aged and solemn and really feels like it fits the sound of the music.  Tracks like "Victim of Love" really show it off too.

tracks like "Dusty Blue", on the other hand, sound like they have been taken straight from a blacksploitation film. 

Honestly, I do think of soul as a rather dead genre.  Bradley, however, didn't get the memo, because he just put out an album that sounds like it is from the golden years of the genre.

Buy the album Here, and listen to the title track Here.

Orbs and Channels9) SaƄad- Orbs and Channels

After recently giving praise to K'an, this ambient album slightly trumps it by showing that sometimes it is less about what you say than what is said.

With Saaad's 2013 release, we are given a very dark, mellow done/ambient.  Fans of Juliana Barkwick's Nepenthe will probably love this (though who knows, I wasn't a huge fan of Nepenthe).

Tracks like "Savara" feel hollow and emotionless (I mean this in a good way), but most, like "Lure of Conquest", create a dense layer of drone that emphasizes on creating a thick sound.

Stream the album Here.

Mercurial Rites
8) Hair Police- Mercurial Rites

"We Are Ready to Lose the Final Grip" is one of the first understandable vocal parts to this album.  And it is memorable.  by the time "We Prepare", the opening track, is over, you know that you are in for a very intense ride.  Some place between Robert Beatty's solo work and Whitehouse, this album takes intense vocals and pairs them with a noisey drone/industrial combo that is both exciting and unique

"Scythed Wide" is the best track on the album by far.  It is one of the best tracks that I have heard all year actually.  If you were a fan of Robert Beatty's solo album from this year, take some time and try this album.

The whole album can be streamed Here, and can while I think it is sold out everywhere else, it is still pretty cheap on Discogs.

The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow
7) Diamond Terrifier- The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow

I often mention this album to people who spoke about the latest Colin Stetson LP, a New History of Warfare: Vol 3.  Zs saxophonist, Sam Hillmer, really stepped it up with The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow.  While the message is the same from his previous solo LP (remove attachment to worldly possessions), the execution has greatly improved; both in portrayal and in presentation.

"Shrine Flu" is the first of the four tracks on The Subtle Body and it immediately showcases the strange, almost offputting vocals.  If this is your first listen to this album, do not let the first 10 seconds dissuade you.  After many listens those parts begin to make a lot more sense and fit with the overall sound.  4:15 in, however, Hillmer shows off a very similar style of playing that can be seen on Stetson albums.  Rather than ride Stetsons coat tails though, this sound is quickly lost for the ambient style swells that Diamond terrifier is more prone to do.

One of my favorite aspects of Ddiamond Terrifier's work is the unique sound created from his setup.  Having listened to quite a bit of experimental music involving saxophone, Diamond Terrifier really has found its own unique sound, and with this sophomore release Hillmer shows himself strengthening and building on that style.

Take some time and look through Diamond Terrifier's Soundcloud, and buy the album Here.
6) Dreamdecay- N V N V N V

This album was absolutely overwhelming the first time I listened to it.  I was told it was 'alternative rock', and reluctantly gave it a go.  I was expecting a crappier version of Arctic Monkeys, and instead got a slow, brooding, Liars-esque band stuck in the era of They were Wrong so we Drowned.  

The track titles are one of the first things that is absolutely boggling about N V N V N V.  It is like Dreamdecay were making a cryptic concept album that isn't meant to be solved. 

While "Ceiling Fan" may be one of the more accessible songs on this album, this is an album that should be listened to from start to finish (though I will probably say that about all of my choices in the top ten).

Both years I have made my top 50 lists I have taken that time to look up where albums are selling.  partially to promote bands I like, and partially (if I dont own a physical copy already) to see current costs.  I was disappointed to see that this is no longer in the label's store.  I plan to snag this up sometime in the next month at Discogs.

Whether you plan to follow suit or not, stream the album Here.

Joe Panzer and Greg Stuart
5) Joe Panzner and Greg Stuart- Dystonia Duos

This album is definitely the most underrated album on my list.  Two tracks long, Dystonia Duos feels like watching only the final half hour of an epic movie.  Right from starts the album is a blast of noise.  The noise on Dystonia Duos, though,  is done quite tastefully.  Never did I find myself irritated by a high pitch or harsh squeal.

The whole first track, "Dissection Puzzle", really plays out like an epic conclusion; it is dramatic, filled with tension, and it is very exciting.  Even in the later half of the track, as the focus shifts from noise to drone, the drone keeps that spark of excitement to it (which is very rare for drone).  It is not until the last two minutes where the sound finds itself really calming.

The other track, "Casa De Pedras", plays out like the resolution.  While bursts of noise sputter out from time to time, the overall sound is one constantly being more and more docile, as though the duo has been wrestling with this wild sound the entire time and slowly have begun to tame it.

In the end, this is a really unique album.  It does a great job melding noise with ambient and its unique approach of a large wind-down really made it stand out.

Listen to the first track Here, and purchase the CD through Erstwhile Records.

EDIT: I have now found out that this album is much more like watching an Entire epic movie, and 
that the first track of three tracks had never properly transferred to my iPod.  Yeah it is embarrassing, but I'm a busy guy, so o well.

A History of Every One
4) Bill Orcutt- A History of Every One

I was introduced to Bill's solo work through A New Way to Pay Old Debts when I finally heard it last year, completely unknowing that he was in Harry Pussy.  I found his play style wild, imaginative, and it somehow kept getting stuck in my head.  With A History of Every One, Bill's sound is similar, but the inspiration is different.

On A History, Bill plays covers of various songs throughout history:. "When You Wish Upon A Star", "Black Betty", "White Christmas", and "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" are all present.  But these songs are grotesque, mutant versions of their former versions.  Surely the vocals of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" weren't meant to be crooned out, and "White Christmas" is not something I would ever put on to celebrate the holiday (though it is my favorite track on the album).  No, these songs may have remnants of their past self buried deep within them, only to be found by Bill, but they are truly unique in sound now; kind of like Bill's four string guitar and the sounds that come out of it.

While I don't fully understand Bill's overall concept for the album, I don't mind at all.  I enjoy the mystery I feel surrounds lack of knowledge sometimes, and with Bill Orcutt the mystery fits just fine.  One of my biggest regrets of 2013 was not having the funds to buy his 7" box set special edition of this album before it sold out.  Still need to hunt down the songs from it so I can hear it at least.

Listen to a track Here, and get a copy Here.

3) Tim Hecker- Virgins

The first time I heard Ravedeath 1972 I was blown away. I had been listening to a lot of Ben Frost- By the Throat as well, and was just really liking this newer, more aggressive style of ambient.  Then, for some reason I never bothered go through Hecker's discography.  When I heard Virgins was coming out, I quickly pre-ordered and Hecker did not disappoint.

Virgins makes it so high on the list simply because of how overwhelming the whole album is.  I do think it falls slightly short of Ravedeath 1972, but it takes risks and changes up the style of the drone-ambient.  In a world filled with vines and tweets, many will probably call this album boring.  Regardless, I think it is a standout, must own from 2013.

You can stream the album Here, but with this style music, you should probably Buy it to hear it in a nice high quality.

Life Cycle of a Massive Star
2) Roly Porter- Life Cycle of a Massive Star

Roly Porter's sophomore release, Life Cycle of a Massive Star, takes his style on Aftertime and: improves on it, adds a great concept to it, better album art, and makes the piece very concise so nothing feels excess.

With this release, the listener is taken through the life of a massive star, from its beginnings as a "Cloud" to when it finally becomes "Massive".  As it moves through the five parts, each track feels accurate to its title, and the whole album is cohesive and flowing.

If you had Virgins in your top album lists for 2013, give this a try as well; this definitely will appeal geared to a similar audience.

Preview it through Experimedia Here.  they are out of the LP, but CD copies are still available.

Terribly Well
1) Sightings- Terribly Well

I have been a pretty big fan of Sightings since high school.  Before this album came out I even interviewed guitarist Mark Morgan about its upcoming release.  Sightings albums seem to be pretty consistently good.  

Sightings are great because of their unique sound.  The guitar is played in such a strange, mutated manner, and the drumming somehow compliments it with its strange patterning.  The bassist does show from time-to-time that he is capable of funkier lines, but he plays quite reserved to match the rest of the band's sound.

Although with the addition of synths (which is hard to even notice), Terrible Well continues this overall style of rock music that is all their own.

Listen to a track Here, and purchase a copy of this album from Dais Records.  Sightings stated in an interview that there was more that was recorded than just Terribly Well but they plan to wait until they break even from pressing this album before they release it.  Understandable, but I am only buying one copy, so some others out there need to pick of the slack so we can hopefully get another release this year from them too.


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