Friday, 24 December 2010

Good Grief Next Thing You Know I'm Going To Do One Of Those 'Best Albums Of 2010' Posts

This is my 'Best Albums of 2010' post.

TOP 13!

That's right! My lucky number's up, y'all. Now, then, in no particular order, and with vids from youtube whenever I could.

Nina Nastasia - Outlaster - I cannot foresee a time when Nina Nastasia releases an album that isn't one of the best albums of the year. I just cannot believe how good it is. And by 'it', I mean everything she does. Her position as a cult artist is one of those things that makes me look around the world and wonder why the heck all these people are taking stupid pills. SERIOUSLY! PEOPLE! THEY'RE CALLED STUPID PILLS! They ain't gonna make you any smarter! Stop taking the damn things already.

Kimonos - Kimonos - I wasn't sure that I was going to like this, despite the fact that it's a side-project of Mukai Shutoku, leader of my favourite Japanese band Zazen Boys. It's really good though, a fun electro-pop album which sounds like a whole bunch of great 80s groups, and having Leo Imai sing most of the lyrics makes a nice contrast to Mukai's voice.

Sleigh Bells - Treats - It's just a button pushing riot, this album, and most of the time they're just hammering on the button marked 'rock'. It also has one of my favourite ever 'proper' versions of a demo, where 'Infinity Guitars' sounds pretty much identical to the demo until the end when they just TURN THE VOLUME UP AND ADD MORE GUITARS. YES.

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz - I finally just stuck my neck out and decided that I really like Sufjan.

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Almost every track on the album is over five minutes I think, and yet it never drags. How is that possible? Pop masterpiece. Also the GOOD Fridays stuff was really, really, really good too. Goddamnit, Kanye was so good this year! Except this new Christmas song... that's... mmm, okay.

Janelle Monae - The Archandroid - Holy wow, this is a great album. It would have been great without the sci-fi concept, but of course the sci-fi concept makes it even better. A sci-fi concept would make anything better.

Big Boi - Sir Luscious Leftfoot - I think possibly I like this album more than anything by Outkast that I ever heard. Not sure, but maybe. Maybe I need to listen to more Outkast. Almost certainly I do, but this is fantastic.

Tokyo Jihen - Sports - Again, a couple of so-so singles meant I wasn't sure I was going to dig this record. But the singles grew on me and it turns out that almost all the other tracks on the record were much better anyway.

Buffalo Daughter - Weapons of Math Destruction - Buffalo Daughter are still more advanced than you. However there are no videos of their new music on youtube.

Mass of The Fermenting Dregs - Zero Comma, Iro toridori no Sekai - It's like this keening, longing rock music that's both fighting and punching and staying detached from the fray at the same time.

Wovenhand - The Threshingfloor - I'm not sure what you thought life was like, but actually it's hard. A hard, cruel life, and the harvest this year is going to be even harder, and even more cruel and all the time a vengeful, cruel, hard God is breathing down your neck, and the only thing you can do is get right with God and somehow that makes a great album of hypnotic depth. I'm regretting not putting the last Wovenhand album on my end of year list last time.

Deftones - Diamond Eyes - Bills has been banging on about them for years. So I picked up the album, didn't like it after one listen and somehow ended up listening to nothing but for like two weeks now. Actually it does that same brutal physicality + dreamlike transcendence that Mass of The Fermenting Dregs do, except while sounding completely different. And like I said, it doesn't sound like the Cure, it sounds like Tears for Fears, but metal, and that's excellent.

El-P - Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixxx3 - I spent a while hunting for this earlier this year, and then found only recently that I could pay to download it from the DefJux website. Which of course, would be the easiest option. In a way I wasn't sure I should put it in here because on first listen it just made me hanker for a vocal album, not just an instrumental one. Then I realised that it's still one of the best albums of the year, so.

Honourable Mentions

Albums that each had three amazing songs on them, but sadly that isn't enough to get in the hallowed top 13:

Kele - The Boxer
My Chemical Romance - Danger Days
EGO WRAPPIN' - Naimononedari no Dead Heat

Stuff that isn't albums but then why should that matter in this, the world of the future?

Ash - The A-Z series It was released on CD too, but I'm pretty sure it worked better as a track by track thing. Many, many great songs, and so fun to get a new one every two weeks.

Kanye West - GOOD Fridays - That was some good shit to be giving away for free every week.

Perfume - Fushizen Na Girl / Voice / Nee - All three singles from Perfume this year were amazing, all three were from commercials and none of them are on an album yet. That'll probably be one of the best albums of next year I reckon.

There you go! Good year for music! More good music next year please, thank you, good night!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sometimes I listen to music. Japanese music!

Sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I write about that experience. This will be one of those times. You have been warned.

It being December and all I'm starting to think about 'Best Albums of the Year' which always depresses me. Not because there are no good albums mind you, but because I can never remember when albums come out. Who really can? How can you judge an album that you've lived with for ten months in the same way as an album that has only just come out? Ah, but I'll end up doing it anyway, you'll see. For now though - recent listening. Oh, and I'll make it about recent Japanese music shall I? Yes I shall.

I am, as they say, 'in the bag' for Mukai Shutoku - the brains behind Japanese indie royalty Number Girl and (for my money the best band in Japan right now) Zazen Boys. But I wasn't totally sold when I saw he was doing a more electronic two man side-project with Leo Imai, a Japanese-Swedish singer. I needn't have worried. Kimonos first album is a really solid, enjoyable electro-pop album with roots in a lot of great 80s synth-pop. There are elements of Zazen Boys' recent, more spacey stuff, but mostly Kimonos are doing their own thing, and I've got to admit I kinda like Leo Imai's voice. It certainly works well having his voice and Mukai's higher, more neurotic voice together on some of the songs.

Also, geek point here, although it's Mukai playing drums in the video there it's actually the dude from Deerhoof playing them on the record. Then, I think that's the only song with live drums on the record, so he's not really a major part of it.

The new Perfume song is pretty awesome. Yeesh, there's a lot of crap in the charts at the moment and Perfume are one of the few groups that keep me sane when I (as I repeatedly do) sit down to immerse myself in the various top 40s. I think the last three singles from Perfume have been separate from their last album, Triangle, and they've all been terrific. Also, they may all have been used in commercials, make of that what you will.

A friend lent me the 1997 Denki Groove album A, which is the first time I've properly sat down to listen to that Japanese electro institution. It's a helluva fun album, kind of oddball and off the wall without being annoying, and it's a pretty good mish-mash of every electronic-type genre you can think of from that deliberately tooth-achey loved up stuff above, to more ambient tracks, to more hammering, shouting tracks. They're a pop band, basically, which is why they're so popular I suppose! And why Pierre Taki is on the Febreze commercials in Japan.

I was also listening to a bunch of Monobright stuff, coz they're pretty awesome. The new album is much like the second one - the singles are by far the stand-out tracks but the rest of the album is fun too. No good videos on youtube though, hence, nothing to accompany this paragraph. Hum something to yourself, doesn't have to be Monobright because chances are you don't know who they are. The guy from Beat Crusaders joined them now too! What the hell's going on with that?

Other than that, the march of the '48 Series' continues - soon there will be nothing in the chart but Johnny's boy-bands and AKB48 affiliated girl-groups. Seriously, it's getting to the point when I cheer to see someone like AAA having a top ten single because they aren't Johnny's or AKB. I don't know where my priorities lie anymore. I'm all turned around, and better go lie down if I want to come up with a Western music counterpart to this post anytime soon.