Archive for January, 2012
All right, here we go. There were a wicked crap load of different albums I spent time with this year, and most of them never got around to reviewing. But as we go through upgrade mode here at ishitmusic, time for a run-down of the 50 albums that are really worth your time from last year. 10 a day all week long.
50) Daft Punk – Tron Legacy Reconfigured
- The original score for Tron Legacy seemed somewhat hollow for the legacy these guys have crafted for themselves. But I think the notion was to keep things rather unframed so that subsequent producers would have more room to make these songs their own, and that they did. There’s a killer Com Truise remix, and Glitch Mobb are in their finest form, but the go-to cut is the M83/Big Black Delta remix of “Fall.” It’s the tune that turned a ton of folks, (myself included) onto the power of M83.
49) Adele – 21
- There’s a reason home-girl has sold 7 million copies of her album – she’s really fucking good. Great melodies and some of the most painfully bittersweet lyrics to get thrown on Top 40 radio in quite some time. Don’t be turned away just because your 12-year old neighbor has been playing the album on repeat for a year.
48) Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
- On their 2009 debut, North Hills, Dawes placed their boot-print in the ongoing timeline of California Americana Rock. Despite having a huge year in 2011, including backing up Robbie Robertson on tour, Nothing is Wrong couldn’t quite live up to the haunting cycle of songs on their first album. The sound is still there, but the heart-tug isn’t nearly as deep. This might be the best background-music album of the year.
47) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical
- CLHSY made two of my favorite albums of the 2000’s before going on extended hiatus in 2008. Hysterical is still the same post-punk Byrne-esque fast-backbeat-driven rock band from before, but the initial spark of enthusiasm has somewhat dwindled. “Same Mistake” and “Hysterical,” the first two cuts, portend for more than the consecutively drabber rest of the album that follows, but they’re strong enough alone to put the whole record on this list.
46) Das Racist – Relax
- Listen, I fucking love Das Racist, but I’m really worried that they think they need to start getting serious. And sure, serious to them is still wicked loco to most mainstream hip-hop today, but their increasing focus on bollywood riffs and the lack of any Billy Joel references on this album has me a tad antsy. Either way, it’s still some of the only rap being released these days that everybody should at least give a shot to.
45) Phantogram – Nightlife
- This 6-song EP from the upstate New York duo is rather grandiose compared to their earlier self-described sound of “street-beat, psych-pop” and it’s totally a move the band should continue to embrace. Sarah Barthel’s voice is as eerily soothing as she is ridiculously attractive, and I think with the right producer these guys could step it up huge on their next release. Perfect music for a 3AM after party: calm enough for half the folks to melt into the couch, bumping enough for the party to still bounce around them.
44) The Antlers – Burst Apart
- I missed the boat 2 years ago when Pete Silberman got an actual band together and released the amazing Hospice. So Burst Apart was my first introduction to the driving drift of these Brooklynites, and the first tune “I Don’t Want Love” is the defining track of the band for me. There are plenty of folks who can sound really blue with tons of space-echo on their guitar, but The Antlers have a dark tongue-in-cheek edge that gives them a touch of necessary grit.
43) Radiohead – TKOL RMX 1234567
- Radiohead albums are like jet-planes: they weave through the airwaves, change the landscape, and leave an extensive trail of their residue behind them. When compiled together, the 19 different official remixes off The King of Limbs are like listening to the album through a kaleidoscope. 5 different takes on “Bloom” sound nothing alike, including the 2 stabs by the ever-expanding Jamie xx. Caribou’s version of “Little By Little” instills a comfortable paranoia like only the actual band usually does. Caution, subsequent late night listening sessions may temporarily jostle your frontal lobe and pineal gland… in a good way, of course.
42) Wild Flag – Wild Flag
- Sure, it’s worth mentioning that they’re an all-female four-piece of 90’s indie-rock superstars, but it’s more important to talk about how much this album rocks. Perhaps Portlandia has given Carrie Brownstein some rejuvenated inspiration, because some tracks like “Electric Band” are better than anything she wrote in Sleater-Kinney. The only downfall is that she stole my beloved drummer Janet Weiss back from Stephen Malkmus’ band, but as long as they keep the Wild Flag thing going for a little while, I completely understand.
41) Work Drugs – Summer Blood
- Admit it, it’s hard to be a smooth-ass low-fi gritty-dream-drift band these days without sounding like a pretentious dick, but Work Drugs kick ass. A fan has made a video for the title track featuring beach scenes from Point Break in slow motion, and that’s exactly what this album sounds like. It grows more on me each time, and isn’t gonna leave my rotation for a while. It’s actually far superior to its’ sonic peers and older brothers from the past couple years.
When I first heard Dylan Baldi’s tunes as Cloud Nothings last year, I put the young Ohioan at the top of my list for today’s Neo-Punk sound. His self-titled major-label debut felt like somebody had found a box of lost Buzzcocks recordings. But exactly 366 days later, his latest Attack on Forever, has already found this kid who seemingly hasn’t yet in his life needed to buy a razor, escalating his sound into a much deeper and twisted realm – touching on something closer to The Birthday Party or even dare I say Nirvana. Here’s the new video for “No Future/ No Past” which features an older man getting dragged away in some paranormal fashion – it’s incredible. The song and video both increase in forcefulness throughout, and if you’ve got good headphones, I sincerely recommend rocking them the first time to embrace the full experience of this video. The resonant drone at the end makes the final scene all the better – you won’t even care that Urban Outfitters drops their production logo at the end.
With the potentiality of it being the end of the world and all this year, I am very not anxiously awaiting the stream of dub-step heavy dumb-ass dance-ballads about dancing til the end of the world that are surely right around the corner. Britney got a huge jump-start on it last year but I know there’s gonna be more of those dumb techno-jams coming, as well as a string of shitty neo-emo bands thinking they’re writing the song to make everything all right, like they’re the goddamn Wyld Stallyns or something. But then Butch Walker and the Black Widows drop this killer video for “Synthesizers,” and I’m thinking that just a couple weeks into the year, they’ve made the number one theme song of 2012. Released last summer on his album The Spade, I think Butch made the right move in waiting til January to release this video – now folks are definitely going to listen to it all year long.
Walker is usually more well known for his production work, and writing hits for Weezer and Fall Out Boy and the such. I’m sure River Cuomos would have loved to have this song on the last Weezer album, but I’m glad Walker saved it for himself. Check it out, and yeah that’s Wooderson in the video, because in some weird twist of fate, no matter how old Matthew McConaughey gets, the characters he plays in movies stay the same age.