Well, its been awhile since I started this, mainly because I landed myself in the hospital and my grandmother died, so its been hard to get to write much. But here it is, the continuation. Hopefully everyone who is following this diligantly will wait a few more days for the conclusion, but let's be honest, who is really?
6) Blonde Redhead - 23
Blonde Redhead have never been the most groundbreaking, original band out there, and things haven’t really changed all that much. However, on 23 they have found a sound that sounds so much less forced and approximated than their earlier releases for Touch and Go. Their evolution into a 4AD group has been the best thing that has happened to the band, even if they are sticking fairly closely to the 4AD formula of swirling guitars and breathy vocals. There is still a level of angst present in their music, especially in Amedeo Pace’s songs. So much so that in a way this album seems like the darker cousin to last year’s Asobi Seksu album. This is just one more reminder that the shoegaze genre is not as dead as it has been pronounced to be.
7) The Conformists - Three Hundred
By now, the wait for Three Hundred has become just as infamous as the music that it contains. However, unlike other albums that have gone through label hell recently (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which has become the indie media’s go-to example for this kind of thing) this album sounds like it has just emerged from the hellish struggle it has gone through to even see the light of day. These tracks were recorded at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini in 2005 and the band has been playing them live for at least as long, but this music does not feel the least bit old or outdated. There is no one else doing what the Conformists are doing, such raw, fucked up, and ultimately hysterical ejaculations. Three Hundred makes you hate people.
8) LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Since moving to New York City last year, I have spent unbelievable amounts of energy trying to assimilate into a culture that I only vaguely feel a part of. I’ve worked on my expressionless stare, learned to cross streets before the lights tell me its safe...and tried as hard as I could to get the jokes in “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” If I worked hard enough I could become jaded enough to be brought down by the city that has seemed like my savior ever since the move, and maybe then I would be qualified to be a true New Yorker. Luckily Sound of Silver is much more than some silly kid’s soundtrack to getting out of the midwest. Some of these songs even come close to touching his earlier singles, which is a feat that could not be said of LCD’s self titled album. “North American Scum” to “All My Friends” is one of the best song sequences this year. The bass synths on “All My Friends” are some of the deepest and moving sounds produced in the 00s. I am still one of those kids that thinks New York still exists, though, despite all of my hard work.
9) The Clientele - God Save The Clientele
God Save The Clientele is the antithesis of Sound of Silver in that instead of glorifying the City, The Clientele seem much more content in quaint suburban evenings where nothing much happens, but that’s the way everyone likes it. The struggle to balance these two lifestyles has been the most prominent _____ in my life during the past year. The haze that enveloped The Clientele’s earlier albums has been lifted almost completely with God Save The Clientele, but with that change have come more interesting, engaging melodies and orchestration that fits the band’s aesthetic quite well. With each new album The Clientele releases, I get scared that this might be the one where they lose their spark, but with each album I am reassured that even though they are evolving, it isn’t necessarily a negative change. This is one of the most consistently rewarding bands of the past 10 years and it is hard to understand why they haven’t gotten more recognition for their greatness outside of a few good Pitchfork reviews.
10) Stars of the Lid - And Their Refinement of the Decline
There has only been one time where I have stayed awake during one whole disc of Stars of the Lid’s And Their Refinement of the Decline. Not that it isn’t an exciting album that is complex and spectacular, but rather I feel so comfortable whenever it is on that I’m transported to a place that can only really be understood while asleep. One of my main criticisms of most ambient music is that there is very little sense of the artist in the music, that drones cannot be filled with as much sorrow or disgust, happiness or joy, as other types of music. Stars of the Lid have shattered that notion, and have evoked all of those emotions in ecstatic ways. And Their Refinement of the Decline is overwhelming, but that just gives us more to discover over time, more to reward us in the end.