by: Paul McEldowney
Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (Jagjaguar)
Ya'll probably know who this is. Justin Vernon builds off his already established brand of melancholic falsetto-soul-folk with a more expansive and hopeful sound (maybe he's starting to get over his ex-girlfriend?) and more complex and orchestral song arrangements. The album's also not just a total bummer like sad folk can easily be and is not as monotonous as his debut For Emma, Forever Ago. He's not just a dude with a beard and a guitar; With this album, he shows off his song writing potential without undermining the way his songs strike those certain chords. hehehe. The last track is amazing.
Black Lips - Arabia Mountain (Vice)
New album by garage rock giants Black Lips. They are as raw and obnoxious as ever; every track is a soundtrack to a bar brawl against a beach pop band.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Fat Possum)
A favorite of 2011! Refreshing funky/souly 60's garagey psych-pop in the same vein as an elephant 6 band except with way more funk. Think like Sly and the Family Stone or Jackson 5 or James Brown, which nowadays is much weirder to imagine than the 60s influnenced lo-fi hypnagogic beach pop that is so en vogue at the moment. Probably the most exciting thing i've listened to in the past few months. The vocals are kinda captain beefhearty too. What an awesome band.
John Maus - We Have Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves
A favorite of 2011! Perhaps the anti-deadmau5 in many respects. It is self-aware inter-dimensional and deeply personal lo-fi warbly cathartic synth-pop. Like Love Is Real, much of the album is brutally tounge-in-cheek as the hit Matter Of Fact is driven by a classic Maussian line 'pussy is not a matter of fact'. Maus continues his exploration of the album as a collection of playful de/re-generative meditations or spiritual and maybe political work-out tapes, producing music that is psychologically and sonically challenging yet accessible in its celebration of the conventions of pop music.
White Fence - Is Growing Faith (Woodsist)
Undeniably catchy and well crafted warbly lo-fi psych-pop with influences from the likes of Kinks and Syd Barrett. Total AM hit after AM hit. This dude's also in Strange Boys and Darker My Love.
Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital (Sub Pop)
Fun booty-bumping bombastic and obnoxious and somewhat industrial dance-punk by Dan Broekner of Wolf Parade, and his wife Alexei. An onslaught of aggressive keyboards and tight drum machines match the confidence of Broekner's vocal performance. While that description may construe the album to be intimidating, It is as abusive as electro-pop can be, really. All in all it's catchy and anthemic.
Glasser - Ring - True Panther Sounds
A late add; This came out last October but better late than never. Dreamy hypnotizing ornate pop from LA's Cameron Mesirow. Building off a number of EPs and high profile tours with the XX and Jonsi from sigur ros, her debut album features a seductive heavenly vocal omnipresence complemented by a hi-fi concatenation of propulsive tribal drum poly-patterns and sparkly synth tones.
Kindest Lines - Covered In Dust (Weird)
Synthy 80's style post-punk in the vein of New Order and the Cure. Like Cold Cave, Kindest Lines use heavy dark synth tones and industrial drum loops which contrasts with Brittany Terry's dreamy vocals. While mostly upbeat, the album features gothy undertones yet being highly danceable at the same time.
1,2,3 - New Haven (French Kiss)
Melodic folk rock with scruffy raspy vocals. It's a little westerny too in a good way. Giddy up.
The Chain Gang of 1974 - Wayward Fire (Modern Art)
Celebratory electronic dance music with just enough self-aware cheesiness. Less chillwave and more da club club.
Blanck Mass - Blanck Mass (Rock Action)
Debut solo album from John Power of Fuck Buttons. It's all much more patient, cinematic, and sound-scapey rather than the dancey electro song writing approach which is featured on Fuck Buttons' Tarot Sport. At the same time, the album maintains that wall of sound soul crushing sound that Fuck Buttons is known for. Super sedative.
Rene Hell - The Terminal Symphony (Type)
Definite pick of the week for its originality and complexity. Completely diverging from the popular camps of ambient-drone-glitch or new-agey synth-scapes, The dimensionally motivated Rene Hell, more like earlier Autechre, is super abstract and weird without being alienating. While often void of melody there is a sense of triumph from the exploratory feel of the album that is just magical. It's like imagining worlds. Wow.
World's End Girlfried - Seven Idiots (Erased Tapes)
Holy Moly, World's End Girlfriend goes all out on his 10th album. From the first track I am blown away, there is so much much going on. It's totally symphonic with heavy digitial deconstruction all throughout. The songs go from high energy glitchy post-rock to some sort of avant-jazz classical dance hall piece. And it gets way funky too whattt. It will melt your mind.
Ezekiel Honig - Folding In On itself (Type)
Super down-tempo and low-key. It's a diary of field recordings, minimal dampened glitch-tronica blurring the lines between sound art and pop music. Beautiful and introspective. Has some dubby moments a la burial, but definitely too abstract to be considered electronica or dub.