Honorable Mentions/Lots of Killer…. Some Filler
Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder
Roky Erickson & Okkervil River - True Love Cast Out All Evil
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Menomena - Mines
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Kollaps Traditionales
The Thermals - Personal Life
Champion Comps & Soundtracks
D-Bridge & Instra:Mental - FabricLive 50
The Juan MacLean - DJ Kicks
Daft Punk - TRON OST
V/A (But Mostly Beck) - Scott Pilgrim vs the World OST
First I was Like “Uh No?” but then I was like “OK Yeah!”
Sleigh Bells - Treats
GRUM - Heartbeats
Das Racist - Sit/Shut Down/Up Man/Dude
Nguzunguzu - Mirage EP
Dinosaur Pile-Up - Growing Pains
Self-Inflected Slept-Ons/Albums I Wish I Had Listened To Before Last Week When I Saw Them On Someone Else’s List
Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
Kvelertak - Kverlertak
No Age - Everything In Between
Walkmen - Lisbon
Aggaloch - Marrow of the Spirit
Four Tet - There Is Love In You
Everyone You Love Will Disappoint You Some Day
Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love
Interpol - Interpol
Bonnie Brince Billy & The Cairo Gang - Wondershow Of The World
Miles Kurosky - The Desert of Shallow Effects
How To Dress Well - Sounds like someone managed to make a loudspeaker out of a public toilet and played a 98 Degrees song through it.
The Dream - Oh God it’s hipster R Kelly oh Jesus.
Sufjan Stevens - Now, I’m not saying that the only way Sufjan Stevens was ever interesting was that ‘50 States Project’ thing, but I defy you to find one mention of his new album that isn’t still beating that damn dead horse.
Robyn - ‘No see it totally is prefabbed dancepop bullshit, but it’s like…. foreign and unpopular, so it’s basically indie.’ Barf. Get over yourself and listen to Kylie Minogue
(speaking of…) I Listened To This How Many Times???
Artist: LCD Soundsystem
1. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Acerbic electro-hipster-king James Murphy continues his habit of making the best albums with his third (fourth if you count that work-out mix he made for the shoe people), This Is Happening. Wearing his influences on his sleeve, Murphy, and his cohorts, have crafted a record as classic as any of the Bowie/Reed/Neu! ones that inform it.
While no one song has the punch-in-the-gut impact of All My Friends, or the dance-floor obliterating fun-ness of Yeah, This Is Happening is the most cohesive, of-a-piece record they’ve ever made. Murphy has always used a curious, wonderful combination of minimalist efficiency and over-the-top grandness, so it makes sense that he’d make an album of stripped-down, almost skeletal, songs that are ten minutes long. He also avoids the cheap trick of escalating volume and crescendos that lesser artists would stoop to, instead allowing the songs to take their time, to grow or just find their groove and stay there. His sense of humour remains his secret weapon, showcased in the ridiculous, goofy Drunk Girls, and the eye-rolling, ranty Pow Pow.
If he is to be believed, it may be the last to carry the LCD Soundsystem moniker, which would be a tragedy. Still, if one were to go out, this would be a fairly excellent note to go out on.
2. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
‘Aging Lotharios Still Kicking Out the (Sex)Jams’ is not the most appealing headline, but grizzled anger-beasts Nick Cave, Warren Ellis and the rest of Grinderman make it work through pure charisma, chutzpah and awesomeness. He’s old, he’s Nick Cave, and he’ll do whatever the hell he wants.
It’s not all squalling guitars and dick-jokes though. Cave remains an unashamed word-nerd, stuffing his lyrics with his usual array of dizzying verbal constructions. Towards the end of the record pops up Palaces of Montezuma, the unexpected emotional core of the whole affair, and as delightfully Cave-y a love-song as you’ll find on any of the Bad Seeds records. At the end of the day, of course it’s a bunch of old farts that made this album. Twenty-five year olds couldn’t make this music, they’d sound preposterous.
3. Liars - Sisterworld
If Bottomless Pit stand at the edge of guitar-rock looking back and smiling contentedly, Liars are right next to them facing forwards, and their smiles look decidedly more like snarls. That being said, after all these years of stunning, confusing, often enraging experimentation, they seem to have reached a point where they’re satisfied with their bag of tricks, and can pick and choose from it at their leisure. Not only does it make Sisterworld a joy to listen to if you’ve been keeping up with all their twists and turns, it also gives it a sense of confidence that makes it a much more engaging listen than their previous records. So enjoy that while you can, I’m sure they’ll be bored soon, and their next record will be a dubstep/merengue concept album about witches.
Artist: Bottomless Pit
4. Bottomless Pit - Blood Under The Bridge
Hyper-competent warrior-monks Bottomless Pit’s latest outing may be the ultimate 90’s-guitar-rock-preservationist’s record. Aside from being made by old Seam, Silkworm and .22 stalwarts, Blood Under The Bridge feels like the natural evolution of that signature sound we all know, love, and are kind of tired of, from the atonal tunefulness to the carefully tempered guitar heroics. It would all be fairly tiresome in and of itself were it not so immaculately constructed. It’s sequenced so perfectly I can’t not listen to the whole thing once I’ve started. Stopping halfway just feels wrong.
In a year where it seems the future of music-for-music-nerds* is being fought over like it’s the last bong-hit at Hannah Montana’s birthday party, it’s nice to be reminded that a record doesn’t have to be forward-thinking (or re-contextualizing the past in new and wondrous ways) to be great. It can just be really, really good.
*’indie’, ‘hipster-nonsense’, ‘pitchforks’, whatever you like to call it
Title: Hell Of A Life
Artist: Kanye West
5. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Title: You Fucking People Make Me Sick
6. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
Rogue replicant Michael Gira and his nihilistic deathbots first started their campaign of noise-terror in the 80’s, and spent 15 years scaring the bejeesus out of anyone lucky enough to be within earshot of them. Alas, after going through every musician in the known universe, Gira decided there’s nobody fit to be a Swan, and retired the name in 1997. But Lo! In 2010 he decided to give it another go, and a new Swans record was born.
MFWGMUARTTS is a less noisy affair than their early output, but no less intense, as if Gira opted for creepy over terrifying. It suits them well, and gives the record an accessibility that will hopefully win over a whole new generation of fans, and then scare the bejeesus out of them when they try out Young God.