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Last Active 09-24-13 10:04 pm
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02.08.14 Does Anyone Know Where I Can Find Out A12.29.11 International Year Of Forests
04.16.11 Happy Record Store Day01.06.11 Enter The Void
10.22.09 iare200906.16.09 3 Years Of My Life Have Been Sucked Awa
06.16.08 6/16/06

International Year Of Forests

I wrote this shit for my school's radio station's website but decided to copy/paste it here cause rrrrI've been dead for a while. Since I copy/pasta'd it it'll probably come off as kind of silly and rrrrpedantic but I'm too lazy to change anything
25Tyler, the Creator

There's no doubt 2011 was Tyler, the Creator's year. Or at least the first half was. The 20-year old made waves through much buzzed about appearances on Jimmy Fallon and at the mtvU Woodie Awards. His minimalistic music video for "Yonkers" in which he eats a cockroach, threatens to murder Bruno Mars, and simulates his own death by hanging caused just as much controversy. And then when Goblin finally came out, even more debate stirred around Tyler's alleged homophobia and misogyny. It was enough to make you forget that Goblin was its own standalone album, not just some media circus, and it seems by now that most people have. While Goblin is a fun, twisted foray into the mind of an angry teenager, at 73 minutes it's a little more than top-heavy. Still the potential, and swag, is there, so here's hoping that Tyler's next album trims the fat and earns some staying power.

I'm honestly not sure if this album was recorded in 2011. Yuck's debut is full of fuzzy riffs that sound like they're straight from Dinosaur Jr's garage, downbeat tracks that emanate from Elliott Smith's basement, and eclectic pop sensibilities that mirror Yo La Tengo. To put it short, the album is extremely derivative, but that isn't always a bad thing. Yuck is an extremely fun hit of nostalgia that should capture the excitement of anybody that grew up on 90s indie rock.
23Dirty Beaches

I honestly don't believe this album was recorded in 2011. So lo-fi I want to cry. It sounds like it was recorded on a cassette back in the late 50s, warped five or six times, and recently discovered at the ruins of an abandoned drive-in, but enough about the sound quality. The music itself channels the atmosphere of a demented sock hop, like something out of a David Lynch wet dream and, as the album title references, captures the isolation and beauty of a Terrence Malick film. Ultimately, Badlands is a album lost in time and space, that decided to make its home in 2011.
22Washed Out
Within and Without

This album is just cool. Like a frozen breeze on a hot summer day. It ended up being my unofficial summer album, not because I particularly liked it (I did) but because when listening to it I didn't even need to turn on the air conditioning in my car. Overloaded synths, half-stoned vocals, and a dark, dreamy atmosphere make this album the soundtrack to waking up in a cold sweat.
21Young Widows
In and Out of Youth and Lightness

On In and Out of Youth and Lightness, Young Widows attempt to advance their sound past the minimalist sonic barrages that occupied their previous albums. While Settle Down City and Old Wounds thrived on tightly-wound noise jams that packed a punch, Young Widows attempt to loosen the reins and explore the space beyond which they previously limited themselves. The results are mixed. Moments are still there, but often time the songs are too long for their own good. Oddly enough, they finally make the formula work by killing it on the longest track, closer "In and Out of Youth".
20Weekend Nachos

Much like Young Widows, Weekend Nachos have been progressively drawing out their sound since their debut album. Unlike Young Widows, Weekend Nachos play powerviolence, and they're just as uncompromising now as they were when they started, perhaps even more so. On Worthless, Weekend Nachos seamlessly transition from breakneck speeds to militant stomps and unsafe amounts of crushing distortion. However, the band manages to hit heavy lows without succumbing to the sort of cheesy, floor- punching breakdowns that are all too prevalent in modern hardcore. Also, the album features one of the most absurd/fitting cameos of all-time on "Jock Powerviolence? where Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy fame chimes in "I stopped trying to be cool a long time ago/I laugh to myself as I see you come and go/Make up rules for your friends to live by/I'll keep doing things my why while you fucking cry".
19La Dispute

This is my guilty pleasure of the year. I really don't want to like La Dispute. I hated their first album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, but they really improved on Wildlife. Vocalist Jordan Dreyer is still wildly over-the-top, sounding like he'll break down into tears at any moment and his lyrics could desperately use an editor, but on a number of tracks his stream-of-consciousness heart-on-his-sleeve technique really works, specifically "St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues" and "Safer in the Forest - Love Song for Poor Michigan". The rest of the band is extremely tight, providing a backdrop for Dreyer's vocals that are interesting and catchy without being distracting. And then there's "King Park" which is probably the song of the year. Even though I criticize the band for being over-the-top, and this is the worst offender, I can't help but love it for it.
18Touche Amore
Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me

Like La Dispute, Touche Amore wear their hearts on their sleeves, but they're much more direct and concise about it. While the shortest song on Wildlife is 2:19, the longest song on Parting the Sea is 2:21. Still, Parting the Sea is extremely diverse and each song packs a punch. While most of the songs are straightforward in their approach, the band manages to fit in subtle guitar riffs and drum fills to make each song feel complete. And while vocalist Jeremy Bolm's lyrics can be hit and miss, when they hit they hit especially hard, like on "Method Act" and "Home Away From Here", but when they miss it's just as bad like on "Condolences".
17Panda Bear

In retrospect, Tomboy was kind of disappointing. The first time I listened to it I was floored. Lennox had taken the incredibly spacious, dreamy, and warped pop sensibilities of Person Pitch and turned it into something much easier to digest. Just as Animal Collective has been getting progressively poppier and more accessible I welcomed a more straight-forward Panda Bear. However, after a few weeks I?d lost interest in the album. Although Tomboy is glossy and fun, it just seems to lack depth and really drags in the second half after the superb combination of "Tomboy" and "Slow Motion"
16Ash Borer
Ash Borer

It might be weird to hear, but black metal is cool now. Although once confined to the underworld of Norway and spawning a slew of murders and church burnings, it's made its way to America as a wave of intellectual thought: Colleges have taught courses on the subject, Liturgy frontman/professional douche Hunter-Hunt Hendrix released a so-called "manifesto", and a number of other bands have started blending black metal ideas with other genres to create America's own homespun version of the genre. Ash Borer have been one of the most successful, due to their commitment to those ethos. Released exclusively on cassettes, Ash Borer is fast, dirty, and loud. It strips black metal to its core, although it does stylize it a little bit with a rather dark, gloomy atmosphere, but it comes organically to the band. If you're interested in metal or black metal, Ash Borer is a great place to start.
Like Shadows

Ampere have been around for a while, in varying forms. Guitarist Will Killingsworth was in seminal emo band Orchid and a number of other projects, and has also worked as a producer for many upcoming bands. The guy works a lot, which I guess is the main justification for why Ampere has released less than 30 minutes worth of material in 7 years. 2011 marked the release of their first official LP Like Shadows, and they did not disappoint. Ampere is a hard band to pin down, as they fit so many ideas into such little time, but if you can identify all the different ideas, you should be able to appreciate it. Like Shadows is a cerebral, emotional, visceral beast, if you're up for the task.
14Atlas Sound

Bradford Cox has been extremely prolific in his recent career releasing an album every year, either under his Atlas Sound moniker or as a member of dream pop stalwarts Deerhunter, and Parallax continues that trend. With each release, Cox embraces his pop-sensibilities a little more, while still harkening back to his outsider pop quirkiness. Each song is undeniably catchy, yet just slightly off, but that only adds to their appeal. While each Atlas Sound release is impressive, it still lacks a certain intangibility that each Deerhunter release holds; however, it's clear who the driving force of the band is.
13Pulling Teeth

Although there was no hint of the fact at the release of Funerary in late April, the album became a self-fulfilling prophecy last week when the band announced it would break up after a final show in January. The punk/sludge/doom/thrash/everything outfit incorporated a number of different influences into their sound until all that was left in the end was a heavy riff-laden mass of noise and fury. Their 2009 release Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions was one of my favorites of the year because it made perfect use of the LP format by filling the A-side with fast, heavy punk songs and the B-side with slow, sludgy doom tracks, although at 23 minutes, it was a bit underwhelming. Funerary continues that A-side/B-side trend, but this time the album clocks in at a sizeable 47 minutes. Still, Pulling Teeth are just as exciting and fresh when trudging through a ten minute doom piece as they are shredding through a 90 second riff-fest.
12Chad VanGaalen
Diaper Island

Chad VanGaalen's been around for a while. He's been shortlisted for Canada's coveted Polaris Prize twice and helped to produce Women's Public Strain, which I guess is sort of irrelevant except that it's my favorite album from 2010. Diaper Island finds Chad VanGaalen combining the natural songwriting abilities and irreverent sense of humor found on his earlier material with a newer jangle/chamber pop atmosphere that he seemed to have found while working with Women. Although VanGaalen often likes to experiment, he's often best when he lets his simple melodies do most of the work, like on "Peace on the Rise" and "Sara". Although he seems yet to release a full album that truly capitalizes on his potential, Diaper Island is another solid release full of hit-or-miss tracks from VanGaalen.
11Laura Stevenson and the Cans
Sit Resist

Laura Stevenson has such a sweet and smooth voice. It works so well with the brand of Americana-infused indie pop found on Sit Resist. Each song is full of subtle, yet lush instrumentation that swirls around her frail girlish lilt and while each song features a resounding swell or upbeat nature, some somber, indiscriminate tone still remains. Perhaps it's just the lyrics, which conceal some air of despair or longing. Whatever it is, it's working.

To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure I've listened all the way through A I A all in one sitting. Although as an 80 minute ambient/drone double album, I'm not sure that was Liz Harris's intention. Grouper broke through in 2008 with her album Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill which mixed ambient and folk in a wonderfully ethereal, accessible aesthetic. A I A (which is split into two parts: Dream Loss and Alien Observer) does away with the melodic sensibilities of Grouper previous output and focuses on moods and tones. Dream Loss is much more atmospheric and experimental, while Alien Observer captures some of the melodies of Dragging, but moving forward with the ideas. Overall, it's a great album to fall asleep to, which is why I've never made it all the way through.
9Wu Lyf
Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

Wu Lyf is exuberance personified. They describe themselves as "heavy pop" and there really is no other simplistic term to characterize their sound. The songs are incredibly catchy, upbeat, and fun but also heavily layered and in-your-face. Frontman Ellery Roberts slurs through unintelligible syllables and sounds in a drunken shout, but lyrics don't matter when the core of your message is ?We Bros?. Roberts is complemented by a band of musicians playing a sloppy mix of dream pop, post-rock, and surf rock that?s just as messy and engaging as Roberts's vocals. When I first heard Go Tell Fire to the Mountain back in summer, I wasn't sure if it would remain one of my favorites of the year all the way to winter, because it seemed too superficial and sweet to stay as fun as it was in the summer heat, but in the end, it was too infectious to shake.
Empty Days and Sleepless Nights

Defeater just make some great, catchy-as-hell post-hardcore. There's supposed to be a whole mythology behind each of their albums, a story of two brothers, their junkie mother, and their deadbeat dad, but to be honest, they're a lot better if you ignore all that. Due to that, the lyrics are pretty bad, but if you can ignore them, or at least tolerate them, you can enjoy ten great post-hardcore tracks that jump all around with plenty of twist and turns and some really powerful climaxes. Although the album ends with a 4-track mini acoustic album, it may be best to ignore those as well, as they're rather generic and focus on lyrics (man, I am really hating on this a lot to put it in my top 10).
7Pianos Become the Teeth
The Lack Long After

When Pianos Become the Teeth released Old Pride in 2009, I thought their opening track "Filial" was one of the greatest songs I'd heard in the past few years. It perfectly blended the mix of post-rock and post-hardcore that bands like Envy had been searching for their whole career. The rest of the album fell kind of flat for me, but they became a band to look out for. And so with The Lack Long After, PBtT became the band they could have been. Each song soars and falls with grace and each track bleeds into one another with permeance. Not to mention that the album is also very strong lyrically as it deals with the death of frontman Kyle Durfey's father subtly and beautifully.
6The Men
Leave Home

After just one listen, I knew Leave Home was going to be one of my favorites of the year. It's just a hard hitting smattering of noise rock, punk, hardcore, no wave mixed and matched into a surprisingly cohesive collection of songs. Hailing, unsurprisingly, from Brooklyn the Men live up to their name with 41 minutes of fuzz, cymbal crashes, more fuzz, and shredded vocal cords. Every track on Leave Home is remarkably different, making reference to another influence without ever copying any previously existing band's sound.
5Youth Lagoon
The Year of Hibernation

Youth Lagoon is the moniker of 22 year old Boise, Idaho native Trevor Powers. While The Year of Hibernation has all the cliches of an indie album released in 2011 (i.e., recorded in a bedroom, remarkably lo-fi, reverb heavy vocals, anxiety-ridden lyrics) there's something remarkably sweet about the album that I can't shake. While other dreamy pop albums are washed in a sea of haze and distortion, there?s some extremely hooks and great lyrics on The Year of Hibernation. Songs start slow and disjointed, but after plodding along a beat drops and the song becomes something entirely new. It's a tried and tested formula, and it'll be interesting to see if Powers can make it work in the future, but on these 8 tracks it works extremely work well, and for 2011 that's all that matters.
Roads to Judah

As I mentioned earlier in my Ash Borer write-up, black metal is trending right now, and nothing makes that more evident than Deafheaven's debut LP Roads to Judah. The San Francisco five piece has taken black metal as a jumping point and incorporated a number of other influences from hardcore, post-rock, and shoegaze to create a sound that is amazingly immersive, beautiful and powerful. "Violet" kicks off the album with four and a half minutes of ambient noodling that wouldn?t sound out of place in a Sigur Ros song and then launches into a furious onslaught of blast beats and tremolo picking. Each subsequent song follows the formula of loud to soft, brutal to beautiful, each featuring a wonderful climax. To actually refer to the band as "black metal" would be to do the band, and the genre, a disservice. While the sonic influence is clearly there, the album is far too lush and emotional to be included in such a cold and calculated genre, but Roads to Judah shows where the genre may be headed.
3Pygmy Lush
Old Friends

During the late 90s to early 00s, Pg. 99 existed as a collective of musicians making intense, emotional hardcore. Their influence was incredible, but since breaking up the group has seemed to disperse into factions, still creating music wholly different from Pg. 99. One of those groups is Pygmy Lush, formed by Pg. 99's vocalist, guitarist and drummer. While Pygmy Lush is entirely different from Pg.99 in that they write and perform folk songs, rather than brash, angry hardcore, there still exists a heavy, gloomy atmosphere over every song. While it took Pygmy Lush a few albums to get their sound down and finally decide who they wanted to be, Old Friends finally finds them comfortable in their new skin. Each song is wonderfully orchestrated, beautifully written, and mysteriously dark. Almost every trace of Pg. 99 is gone, save for a crescendo here or there, and for a group of musicians to be able to make a great album in two very different genres, I?d say that's quite the accomplishment.
2Giles Corey
Giles Corey

In 2008, Have a Nice Life released Deathconsciousness. A massive double album filled with some of the gloomiest, heaviest, dreamiest, most beautiful post-punk/shoegaze/lo-fi ever recorded. (It may sound like I'm exaggerating, but it's truly one of my favorite albums ever.) Since the album came out, one of the two men behind the project, Dan Barrett, has worked tirelessly to create a record label, Enemies List Recordings, to put out more of the same. Nothing from ELR has quite touched Deathconsciousness, but in 2011 Barrett put out some of his own solo recordings under the name Giles Corey and came as close as anybody's come. Giles Corey is a collection of slowly burning, heavily brooding acoustic songs about depression and cult leaders from the 1800s. Barrett has self-described the music as "acoustic music from the end of the Industrial Revolution" and I haven't managed to come up with a tagline any more accurate. Each song as a rustic, ghostly atmosphere that seems lost in space.
1 Beau Navire
Hours/Life Moves

Beau Navire released an EP (Life Moves) and an LP (Hours) in 2011, and since I couldn't pick between them, and since they both combine to 38 minutes in runtime, I decided to cheat and name them, collectively, my favorite album of 2011. Life Moves is a mix of 6 incredibly messy, chaotic, emo songs while Hours is much more focused and streamlined. The album channels the intense, calculated chaos of late-90s emo like Jerome's Dream, Orchid, and melodic sensibilities of Yaphet Kotto and You and I. Every song is short on time, but undergoes a number of changes and creates a number of transcendent moments. The vocals are incredibly abrasive and unaccustomed ears may not be able to discern left from right, but anybody who's a fan of 90s emo, Beau Navire is a blessing. There's a moment in "Fitting Pieces" where after about a minute of aimless shouting and riffing a guitar suddenly enters the fray and sways and jumps in such an awkward rhythm, but the tone is so perfect and somehow it just fits beautifully. Despite all the chaos and fury, a lone riff breaks through to offer this beautiful clarity and understanding. Another moment occurs in "Cloud City" where after a scattered and messy first half, the song stops and the band comes together to produce this transcendent guitar riff. For me, those two to three second moments are what make music great.
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