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01.02.13 Balcaen In 2012: 25 Best Releases12.28.11 balcaen in 2011: 25 Best Releases
05.24.11 albums with circles on them : ranked

balcaen in 2011: 25 Best Releases

you know what's better about everyone's lists this year comparable rto last year? no rexaggerated interjections from kanye west. come ron, we KNOW you put that shit there last ryear. probably in the top 5. rand then you regretted it. anyway, happy new year sputnik. love, rMartine
25The Mountain Goats
All Eternals Deck

-John Darnielle's vivid, storytelling lyrics hits the top notch again on YET
ANOTHER Mountain Goats release. Not exactly what sure to write here. Can
the Mountain Goats release anything genuinely bad here? It echoes all the
blithe (and the morose) qualities I always look for in warm folk albums.

- My second favorite emo release of the year is this short and candid EP
that caught me by surprise in the last week. As nostalgically enchanting as
CityCop's overall sound is, I can't help to commend their ingenious use of a
classical guitar to bring latin vibes to genre that has either been dead or
beaten to a pulp by imitators.

- Jazzy indie pop, suitable to both romantic dinners and tea with your
grandparents. Dan Bejar creates a smooth and sultry atmosphere greasy
80s Casanovas in white suits would be jealous. This album is the
equivalent of swifting seducing a lady to bed on your 5th glass of scotch
while Sinatra is playing. It?s still a sleazy one-night stand, but damn! You
are one slick motherfucker.
22The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble
From The Stairwell

-Something I reviewed this year (here:
Ensemble-From-the-Stairwell/) and didn't quit my nights with it for quite
some time. From the Stairwell is a winding passageway led by delicate
reserve. If I ever wanted to know what it would feel like to visit the dark
beatniq at the bottom of an endless staircase, filled with characters both
untrustworthy and full of tempting bad ideas, here it is.
Subvert the Dominant Paradigm

- Disfiguring grindcore, the kind that fucking dares you to keep up with all
the sounds you love as they destroy them in a whiplash sequence of fury
incomparable to any grindcore album I've lost face to this year.
20The Weeknd

-Dare I say Abel Tesfaye has made it cool to like R&B? and did it with a
ridiculously disciplined work ethic Having dropped a trilogy of (free!)
mixtapes in the last 9 months? ...And nary a bad track on any them, it?s not
surprising at least one of them has been finding its way onto everyone's
year-end lists. Sexiness and production mastery aside, this guy's vocal
ability could qualify him to be one of the Jackson 5?
The Golden Age of Apocalypse

- Psychedelic jazz fusion made by some dude who has worked in a myriad
of unlikely genres. For that reason, I'd put this up there with most inspired
albums of 2011. There are few things I have listened to lately that have
been as funky as well as soulful as this number. Perhaps if it was longer?
18Boris with Merzbow

- Two Japanese acts with A LOT to offer collaborate for the ???th time. If
you miss the days when Boris was droning your brains out, this is reprieve.
Merzbow's techno-static shows surprisingly calming results when aligned
with along a crunchy guitar tone and rugged percussion, you'd almost think
they were on the verge of making a punk album. AngelofDeath, keep
writing reviews for awesome shit and generally just being a nice bro on
No Devolucion

- OF COURSE an iconic band would break up the year they release an album
I could really get into. It might just be that Geoff Rickly's vocals finally
seemed to have settled on NOT whiny for this release. No Devolucion has a
monolithic feel of solidarity, launching out dark, pounding anthemic tunes
with post-rock influences as well as the quieter, gloom of An Empty Glass,
right after a love song told in terms of electromagnetism.
16The Weeknd
House of Balloons

- I?m a dick but here's two albums by The Weeknd in the same list. All
sexiness still applies, only House of Balloons cranks up the sleek factor and
shows off the writing of a dude you?d mistake for a shallow douchebag in
any other context that didn't involve exposing his weaknesses and
reflections on club life as if it was some sort of spiritual retreat. Thanks to
Tyler Fisher for great reviews of both TW releases on this list.
Roads to Judah

- Black metal for people who don't really like black metal, hence being
touted as a post-black metal release. 4 tracks span the length of about 40
minutes in this dizzying landscape filled with walls of sound cut up by
timely, solemn guitar interludes.
RIP SeaAnemone
14Crash of Rhinos

- My favorite emo (the Cap'n Jazz brand of emo, mind you) album of the
year, not lacking in the splashy cymbal crash department, American Football
noodlery, and chockfull of gang vocals to remind you that it is totally okay to
be reckless for the sake of fucking great times. Altogether, a catharsis
worthy of considering the line 'I HAVE A FUTURE IN FAILING!'
Lucidity brought this one to me. Thanks man.
13Tartar Lamb
Polyimage of Known Exits

- The second album of duo Toby Driver/Mia Matsumiya (Kayo Dot) exploring
exactly how queasy you can make someone feel with only violin and an
electric guitar. Totally formless in its inception, the follow-up to Sixty
Metonymies is as convoluted as they come and becomes increasingly
sinister over the 40 minutes it takes for this avant-garde jazz album to
crawl around inside your home like the spiders you never see.

-Jazz-tinted minimalism from a polish composer. Accessible for anyone
curious about the genre, wide enough to swallow the most leery. Often
lead as if improvised, Glimmer is the album an old unsettled house would
make if it had its own private ominous orchestra.
11Kendrick Lamar
Section 80

-Uses racial slurs to discourage racial archetypes. Nah but for real, hip hop
with atypical hooks that infect your brain when they finally click. Intellectual
musings in hip hop never feel this genuine and they especially never sound
this well-produced.
10And So I Watch You From Afar

-Math Rock. Balls out. I could leave it at that, but I like to write a ton of shit
with weird descriptors. Zealous. Frenetic. Guitars more fun than they should
be. Total fuckery. Frenzied. The Energizer Bunny. Shit dude, this is on
everyone?s list. Do I have to go on?

- The first hip hop album I latched onto this year for same reasons I latched
onto Kno's solo record last year. Flawless lyricism , a mix of flows that
would impress (or top?) the greats of the genre, the smoothest of beats
and something rather dreamy, though I'm not really sure how it got there.
You know, I think even the anti-hip hop could find solace in this release.
8Born Gold

-Is it possible to understand Born Gold without having danced topless and
recklessly on the day of the rapture at one of their live shows with all of
your best friends? Probably. It doesn?t matter though, because if you have
the slightest understanding on how to dance topless and recklessly on any
given day, you will understand why Bodysongs is on this list.
7 Psychic Babble
My Brother's Ears, My Sister's Eyes

-I reviewed this as my first video review and I fucking sucked at it. In brief,
Colin Frangicetto has dug himself a cubby hole and named it shrug rock. I'd
say this is the product of being inspired by being quite uninspired, in an
endearing sense that suggests placid resignation. That was a lot of words,
in Layman's terms, Psychic Babbles make me feel like my capacity to
suspend belief is the real enlightenment here.
6Olafur Arnalds
Living Room Songs

- One song a day, recorded in one take in the contemporary composer's
living room in his Reykjavik apartment. Far too affective to have been
shared with anyone but those present in the room when it was recorded.
Didn't think it was possible that I could feel undeserving to hear music, but
here Arnalds humbles me.
Thank you to Eli (Xenophanes) for writing a more than worthy review for
this EP.
Old Raves End

-One of the only reasons I haven't completely written dubstep off as the
cancer of electronic music (and Deviant keeps writing good shit about it).
Full-on immersive into all things both warped and conventionally beautiful,
which I didn't think was possible until I heard Old Raves End. I can't say
I've had an easy time finding many albums this refreshing? swimming-
alone-in-the-Adirondacks refreshing. Damn, I just got reminded why I
spend far too much time looking for new music.
House of Stone

-A brilliantly executed tribal folk album following a poignant story of strain
put on 5 siblings whose indigenous heritage is being threatened after the
murder of their father. All unorthodox instruments, except one classical
guitar, lined up with Morgan Sorne's shrill vocals make for one of the most
distinctive albums of the year.
3Giles Corey
Giles Corey

- Considerations of death, brought to you by the guy from Have a Nice Life,
accompanied by a book that takes as long to read as it does to get through
the album. If endless tribulation is serenity, this is the most relaxing album
you have ever heard. Not quite one for a light-hearted day. And fuck, as
much as I dislike Chan, this made for one kickass review.
2Kaizers Orchestra
Violeta Violeta, Volume I

-Reviewed this LP earlier in the year (here:
Violeta%2C-Volume-I/) and didn't shut up about it for a few months. Think
gypsy-tinted The Dear Hunter a la Tom Waits. Oh and they sing entirely in
some obscure Norwegian dialect. I swear this is awesome.
1Trophy Scars
Never Born, Never Dead

-I don't feel as if I could write something to do justice how much this album
has meant to me this year. I would probably just sound like a weepy
pregnant woman. Go read Hanson's review. Another reflection on time,
death and love. I wouldn't ask trophy scars for anything else but they gave
me more anyway. My favorite post-hardcore band goes half-psychedelic
blues and demonstrates a grandiose orchestration accompanied by a full
narrative of stories nothing more but human.
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