Andy’s Best Albums of The Year
I listen to enough music (don’t we all?) and subject my readers to it that I feltl like I should list my albums of the year. Especially since I always post these soundtracks. Because ranking them would cause me great agony, I’m not going to put them in numerical order. I just liked these, and I will give you a brief thumbnail sketch of why. Feel free to listen along. (Yes, I made a soundtrack. I always make soundtracks.
Metz – Metz: This was a pretty good year for noise rock, as this album succinctly and noisily proves. Somewhat melodic, but mostly just noisy, and given out in short, sharp bursts.
Aesop Rock – Skelethon: I think stream of consciousness, slightly abstract rap may be my favorite kind, and here’s Aesop Rock to remind me of that. Although El-P and Killer Mike both had great albums out this year, Skelethon is the one I listen to the most.
Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool: The best description for this album I can’t take credit for, but it’s perfect. Someone described it as “the lost soundtrack to Blade Runner”, and yes, that’s exactly what it is. Lush soundscapes are merged with chilly, remote vocals, and while the synths give it a kind of ’80’s air, it’s by no means retro or cheesy. An album of dichotomies, endlessly fascinating.
Police Teeth – Police Teeth: More noise rock, although Police Teeth do give in to their mellow side on this album. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to prove an evolution of sound. Their lyrics remain quite cryptic, though, so don’t ask me to explain them.
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Cobra Juicy: Not quite as aggressively strange as their wonderful album Eating Us (which is creepy in the best way possible), this is a more optimistic, bouncy album, while still retaining an alluring patina of weirdness. I don’t think you’re ever going to take weirdness away from BMSR.
Deftones – Koi No Yokan: After experimenting with atmospheric, lower tempo rock, the Deftones come roaring back to classic form, with this aggressive, loud album, that seems to have a loose apocalyptic theme. For some reason, it makes me very happy.
The Hundred in The Hands – Red Night: Shoegaze is a nice genre, but damn if it doesn’t get a bit “same-y”. THITH isn’t exactly a shoegaze band, but they use enough of it, blended with more straightforward alternative rock, to make a hypnotic, addictive album.
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know: This was a band that I felt got unfairly smeared with the emo brush early on, when they were really just mopey Scottish rockers. They are still mopey Scottish rockers, but in a cryptic, kind of fun – and somewhat sinister – way.
A Place To Bury Strangers – Worship: Noise! Just a fuzzy, sonic wash of guitars, that deliberately swallow the vocals. A soundtrack for frustration and – what else? – revenge. I wouldn’t expect anything less from APTBS.
Man Without Country – Foe: This is a late addition to the list, and as such I know nothing about the man behind MWC. I do know this is a rare example of good electronic music this year, when good electronic music was kind of thin on the ground.
Marriages – Kitsune: What a hard one to describe. If you put the dreamy vocals of Hundred In the Hands, with A Place To Bury Strangers’ fuzz, and then tuned things down to more of a seductive pace, and threw in a last second dash of Deftones’ aggression, you’d get Marriages.
Erik Blood – Touch Screens: One more example of good electronic music, although this is melded with rock until it becomes its own strange beast, and to make it all stranger still, this is a concept album about pornography. No, really. Strangely catchy and soothing all at once.
Japandroids – Celebration Rock: I almost didn’t want to include this one, because so many critics are praising it. But it really is a good album of straight ahead, no frills rock and roll.
You May Die In The Desert – International Waters: Apparently I can’t go a year without picking an instrumental album for the list, and this beat out all comers. Instrumental rock music. No more, no less.
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles III: I’ll be the first to admit, for CC, this doesn’t break any new ground at all. But reference what I said in the MWC snippet about a lack of good electronic music, and I had to include this, because while it’s hardly earthshaking, it is really good.
Crypts – Crypts: I don’t know what you’d even call this. Shouting over keyboard noises? Kind of. Jammed somewhere in the nexus between noise rock, electronic rock, and industrial, this pretty much made the list for just being one of the most different things I’ve heard this year. I’m not sure it’s a complete success, but I’m giving it high marks for ambition and simply trying.
Honorable mention: Health – The Max Payne 3 Soundtrack: Health is an awesome noise rock band, and while they curtailed many of their usual excesses for this soundtrack, I couldn’t put it on the list because it’s mostly instrumental snippets that don’t go on for long. But the one full length song on this album, Tears, is hypnotic, and the best Health song since Die Slow. If more people get to know this desperately underrated band because of the soundtrack, that will make me happy.