Secrets of the Lost Satellite
Ken Andrews, the mastermind of 90s space rock, returns with another post-Failure release, the first under his own name. With essentially two different versions of each song playing at the same time (one Andrews' own electronica compositions and a live band's version), there is so much to listen to in each song, but it never gets too bogged down because of the superb production done by Andrews himself. Not many will hear about this album, but it stands beside many, more popular strong releases of the year. His songwriting is some of the best of his career, with "In Your Way", "Write Your Story", and "Without" standing out.
|14||The Pax Cecilia|
Blessed Are the Bonds
From a band that releases their music for free, The Pax Cecilia produced one hell of an album. From the sparse, chamber piano beginning of the album that finally explodes into something heavier at "The Progress", the album's overall progression is clearly its highlight. While the ambience in the middle drags the album down, it presents some of the most evocate moments of the year.
|13||Ghastly City Sleep|
Ghastly City Sleep
It seems typical, all of a sudden, for hardcore bands to make the switch to something lighter, often incorporating post rock into their sound. Ghastly City Sleep epitomizes this trend with the coldest sounding album of the year. Although "Ice Creaks" easily overshadows the rest of the album, this post rock release is the perfect soundtrack for watching snow fall.
The Solar Sea EP
From the ashes of Codeseven and Classic Case rises Telescreen, a band that combines the ideals of George Orwell with space rock. In a landmark year for self-released music, Telescreen presents the most creative way of selling music. Download the EP from www.telescreenmusic.com and you will get a unique link ID that you can give to anyone else, and the money that person spends goes to your PayPal account. If supporting this creativity isn't enough incentive, the music rules, with a great sense of variety and atmosphere throughout.
The Four Trees
The Four Trees, the first full-length album from the Massachusetts-based group, combines nearly every sound from post-rock into one album that flows coherently and logically. From ambient, textural drones to hard hitting riffs a la Pelican, The Four Trees breezes from style to style effortlessly. Unlike most post-rock bands, The Four Trees makes more sense as an album than as split into individual songs. There is definitely a natural progression. Their EP, You Are the Conductor, hinted at this broad-scoped songwriting style and executed it well, but this album shows the band has a much bigger vision than just an interconnected EP.
Untrue is the ultimate headphones album. I did not grasp onto this concept at first, and I kept playing it out of my computer speakers. I didn't get why it was so good. Then I tried listening on headphones, and the grimy atmosphere, the gloomy samples, and the forward-thinking style of this music finally hit me. If I had another two weeks, this album could rise higher on my list, but for now, it stays here.
For years, Oceansize have been creating some of the most rhythmically complex music today. While they never play at blistering speeds, never compose the most ear-catching melodies, and never use the most thoughtful instrumentation, Frames shows the band stepping up their game in those respects. Nearly everyone in the band plays two instruments, and they utilize this in many different ways, sometimes with three guitarists and sometimes with two keyboardists and one guitarist. With songs like "Savant? and "Only Twin", they attempt to convey melodic motives instead of relying entirely on rhythmic complexity, although Frames is their most complex work to date.
|8|| ||Terence Blanchard|
A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)
Finally, the artistic response to Hurricane Katrina has arrived, and how fitting that a New Orleans jazz musician composed it. The idea for the album came after Blanchard composed the soundtrack for Spike Lee?s documentary on the hurricane, and some of the music appears on the album. Combining Blanchard's penchant for symphonic orchestra and his jazz background, this requiem covers all bases of the Katrina issue, ranging from the most personal "Dear Mom" to the furthest-reaching "Levees." The Ghost segments of the album serve as retrospectives to the heyday of New Orleans with energetic jazz numbers that anyone might have heard on Bourbon St. Blanchard?s trumpet-playing is intensely emotional and musical, and his compositions back up the improvisational aspect of jazz.
What can I say about In Rainbows? It is arguably the biggest album of the year, partly because of the free-market capitalist style of selling the album and partly because it is Radiohead, but mostly because of what the album symbolizes. For ten years, fans have waited for the follow up to OK Computer, and they received Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief in return, none of which really answered what OK Computer established. In Rainbows finally achieves that goal in its dark, schizophrenic atmosphere and the guitars? sudden return to prominence. Still, the stark minimalism represents a path that the band could follow for years to come.
|6||Between the Buried and Me|
The members of Between the Buried and Me are the Franz Liszts of metal, making Colors their version of Liszt's Sonata in B Minor. Purely virtuosic in nature, Colors met two opposite reactions, those who celebrated its complexity and those who criticized it for a lack of musicality, often saying it exists purely to show off that yes, the members of Between the Buried and Me can play their instruments. While it plays a little on the long side, the entire album flows as one while flying through multiple genres per song. The last five minutes of "White Walls" are worth the entire listen anyway.
Easily the best debut album of the year, Paul Marshall's Vultures presents some of the best quiet folk in a long time. Immediately, he conjures images of Nick Drake, except instead of playing for a corner in the wall, he?s playing to a quiet venue full of avid listeners. Unlike other recent vocal artists, who sacrifice their control for emotional catharsis, Marshall remains under control throughout the entire album, his guitar technique and voice always perfect. Overall brilliance.
An album that takes the shred of Between the Buried and Me, multiplies it by ten, and puts it in a jazz-fusion setting with more coherent composition. What more needs to be said?
|3||Minus the Bear|
Planet of Ice
Minus the Bear have always been fun, groovy, and at times hilarious, but with Planet of Ice, they decided to push their limits with a more serious album. Inducting Alex Rose into the band as a permanent keyboardist, the wealth of sounds the band uses expands heavily on this album, from the seductive "White Mystery" to the perfect progression of "Part 2." A stunning acheivement.
The Alchemy Index: Vols. I and II...
Technically two EPs, this release is the first of two that will complete Thrice's Alchemy Index, a dedication to the four classical elements. Fire and Water, clearly contrasting elements, present two opposite sides of Thrice's sound. The former expands upon Thrice's well-rehearsed heavy, post-hardcore sound. With complex time signatures and electronic experimentation, the EP is a short taste of some of the band?s best work yet. The latter dives into new territory, something that only songs like "Atlantic" implied. Using the digitalized Kid A soundscapes of songs like "Digital Sea" and "The Whaler", Thrice composes some of their most beautiful music yet. Still, I'm even more excited for the next release.
Matthew Cooper, under the moniker of Eluvium, composes the most evolved and full album of his career by combining two of his greatest strengths: warm, electronic chords with accessible solo piano melodies. He accomplishes what many of his contemporaries cannot, true album flow, with incredible aptitude. In closing song "Repose in Blue", Cooper orchestrates a fireworks show. Nothing could give more closure to such an epic album.
good list, good to see some Eluvium love
Yeah Copia ruled. As did 2, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13.