Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 40-31

Previous: 50-41

Armed Courage40) The Dead C- Armed Courage

This album is that nice mix of noise and drone.  If someone came over and asked what noise music sounded like, I might think about putting "Armed" on for them to listen to.  the noise is quite mellow, and the snare drum and intermittent guitar strums help give a backbone to the sound.

One of this albums strengths is how uncategorizable it really is.  Between its two tracks it covers quite a lot of ground.  "Courage" is a track that fans of Radioheadwould probably relate to.  The guitar tone and drum styles and even vocals all remind me of a Kid A sound, just further distorted and stretched out into a much longer piece.

Both tracks are on youtube, so listen Here and Here
The album can be purchased Here

BIT00239) Bitches- Bitches

I take quite a bit of time to write up things like this top 50, and albums like this are just the opposite of musical criticism.  Nothing about this album begs I write about technical ability, composition, or really anything that implies a longstanding greatness.  But this is the perfect album to listen to when you aren’t looking for those things.  It is relatively accessible, easy to listen to, filled with angst, and perfect for helping with venting anger.

The track “Aching Body” is also the perfect track for pre-gaming with buddies before a long night on the town.  Hopefully these guys get picked up by a bigger label, so I can see them over here in the states.

Stream the album and buy it Here
Everlasting Records
38) Guadalupe Plata- Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe Plata carry that blues rock sound recently repopularized by the Black Keys.  This Spanish group have really nailed the funky southern blues sound.

My mother is one of those people who usually disregards all music not sang in english (including Seu Jorge sadly).  I had this album on when she stopped by one day, and it was a rare exception for her...and I guess i can see why.  The lyrics themselves almost feel secondary when the voice sounds so naturally fitting to the music.

This is the type of album to suddenly be sought 40 years later by collectors after it finally gets the recognition it is due.

Stream the album and buy it Here

Let's Hang Out
37) Quttinirpaaq- Let's Hang Out

This is sludgier, heavier, and takes far more risks than its 2013 sister album NO VISITORS.  Quttinirpaaq is one of those bands I have been happy to support since finding them.  I already wrote up a praising review of Let's Hang Out Here, and I really don't have too much else to say about it.

Overall, this is a band that is doing thing right.  Their records are always packaged beautifully and nicely colored, their sound is only getting better, and they seem like Average Joe's.  

Stop by their Bandcamp Page and give them a listen.

Hey, Vay Bae-Bays
36) Zebra Pulse- Heh, Vay Bae-Bays

I still have a hard time believing all the tracks on this album are live and improvised.  Zebra Pulse are a drummer and three others (who work mainly with tape loops and samples).  

I guess genre-wise, this album is electronic free improv.  Really though, it jumps between trip hop and jazz.

"Technical Space Composition No. 5" and "Hillbilly Galactic" are probably the standout tracks to me, though the album was great from start to finish.

If you were a fan of Nero's Day at Disneyland, this is probably for you.  While it is way less glitchy, it still carries a similar out-there, electronic aura to it (and this is all around a much stronger album).

Listen to it and buy it Here

Billions and Billions35) Sissy Spacek- Billions and Billions

If you aren't a fan of harsh noise, just skip this entry and consider my list a Top 49 (actually probably a Top 47 or 46 by the time it is all said and done, but oh well).

Sissy Spacek are pretty famous in the noise world, and for good reason.  This year alone I got to hear two great albums from them, both of which sounded quite different.

Wreck was a very in your face album.  right from the get go the listener was hit with a pretty thick chunk of noise, and while it constantly molded and reshaped itself, it was apparent that the sound overall was going to remain front-and-center throughout the album.  

Billions and Billions, on the other hand, shows Weise giving the listen a little room to breath.  Here, after taking a few minutes to get acclimated, I found that the sound feels quite open and was a much easier listen. Maybe easier isn't the right word, as Wreck wasn't any more difficult.  Maybe a 'friendlier' listen? I don't know.

Regardless, one of Sissy Spacek's strengths has always been keeping the sound constantly interesting, and on Billions and Billions that is definitely still true.

Listen to it and buy it Here.  Also, I believe it came out on cassette too, so if you are a collector of those, hunt it down now while you can still find it in the wild.

Joke in the Hole
34) Eric Copeland- Joke in the Hole

I was a big fan of Mr. Impossible last year.  While I had never heard Copeland's solo stuff, I have found that overall I tended to like Black Dice but not like Black Dice offshoots.

Because of that reason I put off listening to this album for quite a while.  Boy was I wrong to sit on this.

With Joke in the Hole, Copeland makes some of the best sound collages I have ever heard him do.  This album takes the noise pop sound of Mr. Impossible, and makes it even more accessible and adds more funk.

Many Black Dice fans may dislike them going towards a more accessible sound, but with Joke in the Hole Copeland shows us that he really can pull off this strange sound like noone else.

Stream the album Here

funfun sessions
33) Thiago Franca and Kiko Dinucci- Funfun Sessions

I really enjoyed this years' Dada Radio Sessions by Franca, Dinucci, and Machado.  It felt like a much better implemented Niechęć.  I dont even remember how i found it, but I am glad I did, because it led me to finding Funfun Sessions.

This album has an accoustic guitar and saxophone casually improvising off one another.  Maybe its the casual, welcoming approach in their sound.  Maybe it is how easy they make their duet appear.  Regardless, on Funfun Sessions Franca and Dinucci's sound just seems to connect.

Sure, this may not be the most technical jazz improv piece, but the graceful interplay between the two artists really makes this album.

Listen to a track Here, then hunt this down.

A Life is Everywhere
32) Cindytalk- A Life is Everywhere

I had never heard of Cindytalk before this album.  The person who recommended me this album told me it was quite odd I had never heard of them, then directed to a page discussing how long they had been around and how influential they were.

I don't know how this album compares to their other works, but on its own it is a great album.  most of the tracks push into a harsher ambient territory.  Static plays a very critical role in this album, with sounds of oceans, cicadas, and wind all being created though it. 

Tracks like "To a Dying Star" remind me of Superstorms' 2012 release, while "On a Pure Plane" reminds me of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.

Listen to a track Here, and buy it there as well.

Strong Place
31) Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House- Strong Place

This was a great jazz release.  Its strength is in how each instrument in the quintet is so interconnected with the others.  With many albums if you isolated the instrumental tracks you would still have melodies, harmonies, and percussion.  With Strong Place, any instrumental track played alone (except maybe Laubrock's saxophone) would sound lost and misguided.  

Anti-House's compositions though, sound tight and well planned.  Time changes never feel forced, and overall the groups strength lies in its reliance on one another.  Even Laubrock stays as part of the group and doesn't try to control the sound.  The end of "Count 'Em" (my favorite track) has Laubrock playing note for note with the pianist.

The result is a unified sound that feels like it has come from a collective conscious rather than a group being ran by one of its members.  This allows for the sound to explore more interplay between the instruments and makes for a great album.

Purchase it Here, and listen to a live performance Here.

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