Well, it's that time of the year again. for me, 2010 was kind of a strange year for music. A lot, and I do mean a lot of great releases, but nothing that really stood out over the others. I'm not very verbose this year because I've been busy as fuck researching and writing. Amazing how that'll just zap the desire to type.
Yakuza--Of Seismic Consequence
Just discovered this band a few months back. Turns out they've been around since '99 and Of Seismic Consequence
is their fifth album, and their first on the always amazing Profound Lore label. Like all of their albums, Of Seismic Consequence is a blend of free jazz, psychedelia and ethnic instrumentation and textures with their punishing, relentless metal. Probably the one album of 2010 that I've listened to more than any of the others. A masterpiece.
Janelle MonŠe--The ArchAndroid
Janelle MonŠe's debut album is one I'd been looking forward to ever since I saw a promo video she'd made for the song Many Moons made the internet rounds a while back. As far as debuts go, The ArchAndroid
is pretty damned ambitious, and in the world of contemporary R&B, that's almost unheard of. Nice to know that in this day and age, some folks still appreciate the idea of a concept album. That it's a concept based loosely on one of my favorite movies, Fritz Lang's Metropolis
certainly doesn't hurt either. I just hope MonŠe stays strange, because we need more of her.
The Great-nephew of Alice and John Coltrane released a new spacey headphone trip record that ranks among his best.
Gil Scott-Heron--I'm New Here
Holy shit, a new Gil Scott-Heron album! Couldn't beleive it, then once I heard it a couldn't live without it. This 2010 release ranks high on the list of Gil Scott-Heron's unfuckwithable 1970s releases.
Girl Talk--All Day
Another guy who is new to me this year. I'd seen the album cover for Greg Gillis's 2008 album Feed the Animals
, but didn't really know anything about it. It wasn't until I sat down and watched the documentary RIP: A Remix Manifesto that I discovered what exactly it was Gillis was doing and became instantly hooked. His new album, just like his last album and the ones before make all other mashups irrelevant.
High on Fire--Snakes for the Divine
Mayhem, mythology, conspiracy theories, three-piece thrash/doom metal. Yes please.
Shooter Jennings/Heirophant--Black Ribbons
OK, this record is just fucked up. Shooter Jennings (Waylon's son) decided he wanted to make an industrial/alt. country concept album about the radio and the end of America with some strange occult stuff thrown in. The result is this insane concept album about a radio DJ (Stephen King) playing music by Jennings' fictional band Heirophant the night before a totalitarian regime takes over the country. Even if the music weren't very good, which it is, this record would get my respect just because it's somebody trying something different. Risk-taking always goes a long way with me. Big props to my brother Vince B. for turning me on to this one.
Prince Rama--Shadow Temple
Another new-to-me group. Originally called Prince Rama of Ayodhya, this three-piece group who were raised on a Hare Krishna compound in Florida released Shadow Temple
, their fourth album a few months back and it blew me away. Cosmic, occasionally acoustic droney psych-rock.
Roky Erickson/Okkervil River--True Love Cast out all Evil
This album is just honey. Roky sounds better than he has in years, which in itself is a minor miracle. Add to that this collection of songs is just amazing. I hope he continues working with the Okkervil River guys, because they're onto something great here.
LCD Soundsystem--This is Happening
A damned fine record, just like the other two.
Apples in Stereo--Travellers in Space and Time
When New Magnetic Wonder came out in 2007, Robert Schneider sounded like he was dipping his toes into the pool of 1970s Beatles-inspired groups (instead of the Beatles themselves) like ELO. With Travellers in Space and Time, Schneider has gone full-on into reconfiguring the Apples in Stereo sound from 1960s psychedelia to 1970s bubblegum prog disco. Influence comes not just from ELO, but also early Alan Parsons Project releases, Todd Rundgren, and groups like Klaatu. For some, this will definitely be a grower, but I was hooked from note-one.
I really didn't expect to like this album as much as I did. I dug Demon Days when it came out, but I kinda stopped caring a few months later. The more I listened, the more it seemed Damon Albarn Jamie Hewlett just didn't care all that much. Plastic Beach
, on the other hand, is beginning-to-end awesome.
The Society of Rockets--Future Factory
Another one that's new to me this year. The Society of Rockets sprang from the earlier Shimmer Kids Underpop Association. An L.A.-based new psychedelic combo with a couple of great albums. Future Factory
is the fourth Society of Rockets album, but so far it's only been released on vinyl and MP3. Heavy power-pop influence, like the bands on Numero's Yellow Pills: Prefill
compilation, but a little spacier.
The Swans--My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
Fuck yeah, new Swans album. Like the Gil Scott-Heron album above, I wasn't really expecting this one. I figured Gira had said all he had to say with the Swans a while back. Turns out I was wrong. Happily so. This is a helluva record.
Harvey Milk--A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Apparently, the story behind this one, is some dumbshit "fan" complained online somewhere that Harvey Milk's last album, Life...The Best Game in Town
, was too commercial (whatever the fuck that means). The result as this slab of punishing, sludgy doom metal.
Strong Arm Steady--In Search of Stoney Jackson
I didn't even know of this album's existence until I saw it at Tower Records in Japan. The new Madlib release. Don't really need to say more than that.
Ramesses--Take the Curse
Yet another new-to-me group. Don't know how I missed knowing about this group comprised of ex-Electric Wizard members. Doesn't really matter since I'm all over it now. Take the Curse
is Ramesses' second album and it's stuffed with brutal guitars, growls, grunts, and (unusual in metal) free-form jams.
Cee-lo Green--The Lady Killer
If "Fuck You" was the only good song on this album, chances are Cee-lo Green's The Lady Killer would still be on this list, but this record is just stuffed with greatness.
Arcade Fire--The Suburbs
The Arcade Fire have yet to disappoint me. The Suburbs
is a great, sprawling record that reqards repeated listenings.
Sabbath Assembly--Restored to One
And now to end this list with another what the fuck?! record. Restored to One
looks like a death metal album and sounds like a bizarre lost psych-folk record, like something by Black Widow or Coven, and that's kind of the plan. Restored to One is a collection of hymns written by the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a strange offshoot of Scientology with a weird theology involving Freudian psychology, Christianity, and bits and pieces of occult philosophy scattered about here and there. They were kind of a big deal in the 1960s and early 1970s, but faded away. Sabbath Assembly is Jex Thoth, Dave Nuss from the No-Neck Blues band and longtime Sunn0))) producer Randal Dunn. Well worth tracking down.
And that's 2010.
I'll post some thoughts on reissues in a couple of days, but unlike most years, this batch of reissues will be pretty slim.