Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Listening - Year to Date

I have some longer posts in the works, but I can't say that I know when I'll complete them. So now seems as good a time as any to post my top twelve albums of the year so far.
  1. Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast
  2. Boris - Pink
  3. Espers - Espers II
  4. Six Organs of Admittance - The Sun Awakens
  5. Jesu - Silver
  6. Om - Conference of the Birds
  7. Mission of Burma - Obliterati
  8. The Coup - Pick a Bigger Weapon
  9. Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
  10. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
  11. Mr. Lif - Mo' Mega
  12. Brightback Morning Light - Brightback Morning Light
Comments: I'd only listened to the Matmos cd once prior to last Thursday, but since then I've been obsessed with it, and in the process it's leap-frogged over everything else and is now my favorite album of the year. I'd like to be able to describe it adequately, but I'm afraid I cannot. It's brilliantly detailed and clever and just a lot of fun to listen to. And it sounds amazing... Boris still kicks ass... Espers is a new band for me and their acoustic-folk-drone sound is beautiful... It fits in perfectly with Ben Chasny's always excellent Six Organs of Admittance. The Sun Awakens is another great one. Chasny's guitar-playing is stunning, perhaps better than ever. Some have complained that the 24-minute drone that closes the cd seems out of place compared to the rest of the album. I agree that it's quite different in tone. But it feels like a throwback to the choreography of LPs, where often one side would be quite different than the other... Jesu's short EP is awesome. It's been called "shoegazer metal", which is somewhat unfortunate, but not entirely inaccurate, insofar as it is metal, but is slow-churning, sounding a little like My Bloody Valentine... I liked the Om record so much, I bought their earlier Variations on a Theme, which isn't quite as good... Mission of Burma's second reunion album is fantastic... By coincidence, just a few weeks before buying Pick a Bigger Weapon came out I bought The Coup's earlier, controversially covered Party Music. I liked it (it's hard to hate something with a song called "5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO"), but it's a little uneven. The new one is better. It's nice to hear some truly left-wing rap that is also fun to listen to... Sonic Youth is Sonic Youth... I've been getting more into Ghostface lately, and Fishscale is good, but it hasn't quite been differentiated in my mind as much as I would like, which is possibly why it's not rated higher... Mo' Mega is the first Mr. Lif full-length I've heard. I was initially put off by his rapping style, but I've come to appreciate it. And it sounds great... Brightback Morning Light has been a pleasant, mellow surprise.

Other stuff: Just missing the cut are Love Is All and Destroyer and, to a lesser extent, Built to Spill. Belle & Sebastian's The Life Pursuit is about half good. I've not been able to find the Burial cd anywhere (no one seems to have heard of it), so I'll probably have to give up and order it online. I have listened to Scott Walker's The Drift a couple of times, but I've been unable to get into it (weirdly, the opening of the first song reminds me of US Maple, who otherwise sound nothing like Walker's music). However, I also bought Walker's earlier cd, Tilt, and that one I've enjoyed more, so I'm holding out hope that the new one will grow on me. Aside from Matmos, the other cd I've been listening to obsessively over the last several days has been Herbert's Bodily Functions. I bought it a few years ago and filed it away as "pleasant" after only a few distracted listens. I imported it into iTunes recently, and a couple of its songs playing during random shuffling got my attention. I've been underwhelmed by T.I.'s King cd. The album isn't bad, I guess, but it seems monochromatic. I have a hard time appreciating the whole "rapper taking over the world" conceit. We also bought the very nice Mark Knopfler/Emmylou Harris collaboration, as well as Richard Thompson's entertaining 1000 Years of Popular Music.

Anticipated new stuff: We're heading to France for two weeks at the beginning of September (our honeymoon, at last!), so I won't be buying any music between now and then. There are a few records I'm looking forward to: the aforementioned Burial, and new albums from Yo La Tengo, Johnny Cash, the Mountain Goats (see, by the way, Tom Breihan's nice interview with John Darnielle), Pere Ubu (still), and the new Herbert cd, Scales (as well as one or two other Herbert cds)...maybe that Thom Yorke solo album, etc.

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