If you're expecting typical quiet-LOUD-quiet-INSANELY LOUD-quiet / guitar squall-heavy Mogwai, yer in for a surprise. This one (mostly) back-burners the guitars in favor of pensive, haunting, minimal minor key piano instrumentals. Still as weighty as anything in Mogwai's catalog, and works well as a cohesive album despite also functioning as a soundtrack piece.
Cyclopean - Cyclopean EP
Features two dudes from the legendary Can, including my favorite member, drummer Jaki Liebzeit. (Fellow Can alum Holger Czukay once said of Liebzeit that "His deepest desire was to become a human machine... and he found the right guys to enforce that. He was The Can, he was the central figure; we all played around him.") Cyclopean is four tracks of knotty, rocksolid, deceptively minimal krautprog, characterized by odd instrumentation, subtle dynamic builds, and intricately interlocking performances by a supremely talented quartet of musicians.
Lotus - Build
This album was described to me as "poor man's Holy Fuck," which sounded like it could be kinda cool, since even the least inspired parts of Holy Fuck's last two albums are interesting. Sadly, it turns out it's more of a "poor man's Ratatat" type situation on this record, which, if you've heard the last couple of Ratatat releases, is a very, very bad thing.
So, my goal was to post reviews for every '12 album I heard (about 80 or so) before posting year-end lists, but that ain't gonna happen, so here you have the first part of the "Jaleppies," aka my year-end best-of lists. Part 2 will probably be published Wednesday morning and will consist of the year's best albums, and Part 3 will be random stuff. Enjoy! (Or don't! I don't care! I'll be in Puerto Rico beetches!)
[Note that in a few of the entries below, two songs have been combined into one single entry. You can probably figure out why, but just in case you can't, it's because the songs run together on the album and as such they sound dumb when played apart from one another. Thank you for your patience and understanding.]
1.) Fang Island - "Asunder" (edit)
2.) Lower Dens - "Lamb"
3.) Melvins - "We Are Doomed"
4.) Lower Dens - "Brains" > "Stem"
[Note - I shot this video]
5.) Dan Friel - "Valedictorian"
6.) Tame Impala - "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"
7.) Torche - "Kicking"
8.) Guided by Voices - "Keep It in Motion" > "Tyson's High School"
9.) The Men - "Oscillation"
10.) Dum Dum Girls - "Mine Tonight"
11.) Beach House - "Myth"
12.) Raveonettes - "Young and Cold"
13.) The Men - "Turn it Around"
14.) Melvins - "The War on Wisdom"
15.) Baroness - "Green Theme"
16.) Two Gallants - "Willie"
17.) Sleigh Bells - "Comeback Kid"
18.) Mount Carmel - "Swaggs"
19.) Pelican - "Ataraxia" > "Lathe Biosas"
20.) Fang Island - "Chompers"
21.) Tame Impala - "Music to Walk Home By"
22.) Guided by Voices - "Hangover Child"
23.) Van Halen - "She's the Woman"
24.) Six Organs of Admittance - "Even if You Knew"
Two Gallants - The Bloom and the Blight -- 6 or so years ago, on my now-discontinued "other" music blog, I wrote the following in my review of Two Gallants' What the Toll Tells:
Part of me wishes these guys would just bite the bullet and pick up a
kickass rhythm guitarist, but on the other hand that could severely fuck
up songs like "The Prodigal Son." Hmmm. What the fuck do I know.
Best to leave well enough alone, I guess.
Well, not to say that the bandmembers read my blog (or that anyone read it, for that matter), but they seem to have inadvertently, sort of, taken my advice - not by "hiring a kickass rhythm guitarist" (then they'd be Three Gallants, silly), but by upgrading their guitar tone from "wiry" to "earth-shaking." [Note: if the newly beefed up guitar doesn't sound like your idea of fun, fear not; the ballads are still roughshod and acoustic.]
Best songs: "Willie," "Halcyon Days," "Ride Away," "My Love Won't Wait."
Raveonettes - Observator-- This album features great melodies, gorgeous harmonies, disturbing lyrical topics, and excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT production. "So," you may ask, casual listener, "what sets Observator apart from every other previous great Raveonettes release?" Well, not much, which is what MAKES it great. Duh.
Can - The Lost Tapes box set -- A music journalist whom I both like and trust (hmmmm... so by process of elimination that has to be Mark Prindle) said something to the extent of 'this collection has stuff on it that rivals Can's best work.' Well, I'll assume he never got past the very first track, because that's really the only thing on here that rivals "Paperhouse" or "Spoon" or "Vitamin C" or "Halleluwah" or whatever. There is JUST enough good stuff on here to make this worthwhile for the casual Can fan; I can't speak for the Can die hards simply because I ain't one. Spoiler alert: you WILL hate Malcolm Mooney more than you already did after listening to this. Ten straight minutes of Mooney barking "ARE YOU WAITING FOR THE STREETCAR" is enough to make the Dalai Lama punch holes in the drywall.
Best song: "Millionenspiel," "Graublau," are the best studio pieces, and a couple of the live ones are worthwhile, too.