Musings :: Bill Cosby to Release Rap Record

You SEE, THEEE-oh, the HIP-HOP is a moral sewer, you see, with the suggestive dancing with hippin' and hoppin' and bippin' and boppin'. You see, we had the jazz MU-sic back in my day, THEEE-oh, we didn't have the dope-pusherrrrrs and the soldier boys with their crankin' and their supermen. Why don't you get yourself some JELL-O pud-ding with the flavors and the chocolate and tastes so good in your mouth and tongue, you see. ROOOO-DEEEE!!!

Bill Cosby Working on Rap Album [via allhiphop.com]
House of Cosbys [via Channel 101]


New Noise :: Aloha: Light Works

Light Works (Polyvinyl)
Verdict: 6.4.
RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins

Light Works is an astutely appropriate title: The seven tunes on the mini-LP (or really long EP) are profoundly quiet, eschewing Aloha’s trademark prog-rock clamor for plaintive, heart-on-sleeve indie-pop built on pristine, plucked acoustic guitars and pastoral piano figures. Indeed, “Too much of anything is wrong,” which Tony Cavallario muses on “Passengers,” is much less a lyric and much more a statement of purpose; to call Light Works sparse is an understatement. Quasi-prog arrangements and refined architectural elements go out with the old; sad-bastard, Plans-esque sentiment and palpable wuss-pop come in with the new. Indeed, fans of latter-day Death Cab for Cutie will eat this shit up — though, to its credit, it’s much headier and a much more refreshing listen than anything Death Cab’s done since The Photo Album, most especially "Body Buzz," which doesn't aspire to anything more than steady trot, but its end-of-summer-romance aesthetic is at once picturesque and gorgeous in its low-key splendor, making perfect use of piano and organ accents (not to mention yet another brilliant performance from drummer Cale Parks). But Aloha’s greatest strength was its beefy, quadraphonic ornamentation; the adventurous listener was rewarded with the efforts of an adventurous band. Now, the adventure is gone. In short, Light Works isn’t good, but it isn’t bad; it’s decidedly middle-of-the-road. “I must admit, I’ve slipped a bit,” Tony Cavallario croons on “Broken Light.” Maybe you have, Tony. Maybe you have.

Aloha - "Body Buzz" [from Light Works]
Aloha, Light Works [eMusic]
Aloha [MySpace]
Aloha [Polyvinyl]

Musings :: Death Cab for Cutie Name New Album

Ben Gibbard: "Narrow Stairs — now that is an exciting title! Huh. That's funny. I can't feel my pulse. Shouldn't I have a pulse? Could this have something to do with the bland, watered-down tripe I've been releasing since We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes?"
Chris Walla: "No. You're fine. Now let me get back to my solo record."

Death Cab for Cutie Name New Album [via deathcabforcutie.com]


Tube :: Nada Surf

Before I even start talking about these videos, I would like to (respectfully) inform Nada Surf bassist Daniel Lorca why he doesn't get too much facetime in these videos. Here's a hint - it rhymes with 'red socks.' Apart from questionable hair decisions, I'm pretty excited about Barsuk releasing the new Nada Surf album Lucky on Feb. 5th. Weight Is A Gift and Let Go are two of the best straight-up pop/rock albums of the Aughts. The few promo tracks released thus far haven't completely won me over, but admittedly, their previous two albums were growers for me, so I expect about mid-February I'll be driving down the road, singing these songs at the top of my lungs like an all-girl road trip.

Two (!) videos from the album have dropped recently, and 'Whose Authority', the first one presented here, is far and away the best. Why, you ask? Because the Jonathan Krisel-directed video features none other than Michael C. Maronna of Pete and Pete fame! Man, I haven't seen that guy since those Ameritrade ads. Thankfully, he's not quite as grody in this video where he bike messengers the hell out of some packages in New York. I dig it. You will too. And can someone please get Maronna more semi-serious work like this? I think he can take it.

The video for 'I Like What You Say' is pretty darn good too but loses huge points with me because of the whole cutesy animated indie rock video virus that's been going around for the past two years. At least it doesn't involve unwashed hair, though.


New Noise :: The Field, Sound of Light

Here's the thing about music that's designed to fit a purpose: It is (or at least should be) judged against Eno's Music for Airports. Above, you'll see Stockholm's Nordic Light Hotel, the core design element of which, according to its website, is the Northern Lights. And the hotel (or at least the marketing firm the hotel employs) has asked a very strange question, at least for a hotel (or at least the marketing firm the hotel employs):

What does light sound like?

"This question," the hotel's website reads, "inspired our musical concept called 'Sound of Light.' However, the idea of creating music inspired by light was only the starting point for the project. The goal was to portray our entire hotel through music but our main idea was simply to produce a far out record that made great listening. To realize this ambition we decided to invite recording artistes to interpret our hotel experience and express it by making a record. One record for each artiste, to give them the space they need to fully develop their interpretation." The first of such artists was fellow Swede Axel Willner, known to the electronic music community as The Field. In essence, Sound of Light is Music for Hotels, and, moreover, Music for the Northern Lights.

Most, if not all, of Sound of Light falls into a fairly simple pattern, endemic of most electronic musicians: Sample-hold-repeat, with bells and whistles (literally and figuratively) orbiting around the central beat of the song. However, this is an advantage, as it makes the breaking Sound of Light down into four long tracks, each clocking in at or near 15 minutes long and delineated further into particular times of day, more palatable, as Sound of Light is designed almost narratively in structure.

"Morning" kicks off with a stuttering-yet-lock-step synth-and-drum-machine groove similar to Amnesiac-era Radiohead and explodes into what could essentially be called a chorus that recalls the reverent techno of Daft Punk. My only quibble with "Morning" is that, as a narrative element, it seems mislabeled; perhaps it's just my mornings, but "Morning" is far too upbeat and caffeinated, far too sunny. Regardless, there's a gorgeous break around the eight-minute mark where the beat reverses swims against the tide; a remarkable distraction from the relentless dance groove.

"Day," narratively, is much more fitting — another unyielding high-hat beat runs throughout the song, which is accented by clicks and clacks eerily reminiscent of computer keys. The machinic pounding found later builds like a Tinkertoy Tower, eventually crushing itself under its own weight — just like a day at the office. "Evening," then, is its antithesis — playful (with synthesized female cooing) and a loping dance beat. It starts out fairly dull, actually, like background music for "upscale" mall stores such as Express. (Uhh, not that I've ever been in there.) But it, like its three companions, unfolds spectacularly, gradually adding piece upon piece (laser beam synths, hisses of static) without losing itself, ironically maintaining a skeletal minimalism. Not surprisingly, "Evening" is also the most playful — the most fun, if you will — of the four tracks, and the most likely to be found bumping in an actual danceclub.

"Night" is the most explosive, a nearly beatless song that interlopes arrythmic synth tremors and high-hats around its vast interior. Indeed, it sounds almost hollow, like the reverbed echo of a canyon in which every sound is peripheral. Because of that, it's the one that's also the most calming, like staring into a clear night sky on a crisp night.

So is listening to Sound of Light like viewing Aurora Borealis? (Or, for that matter, even staying in the hotel?) Having never seen the lights (nor been to the hotel) myself, I can't say. But I'd imagine that it'd be a breath-taking, awe-inspiring experience. Sound of Light is neither, but it's a damn fine attempt. Each of the four tracks on the EP — and to call it an EP is almost egregious, as it's a hair over an hour long (longer, even, than Music for Airports) — unfolds gorgeously, as if guided by unseen mathematics and programmed to burst into one million tiny pieces of light on a night sky. The Verdict: 7.8/10.


Get Out! :: BJ Barham @ The Whig :: 01.11.08

Please apologize my recent lack of posts, but holidays + mini vacation + (new job x 2) = Tug has been short on time recently. I did want to take the time, however, to tell you guys about a guaranteed barn-burner going on tomorrow night at The Whig. You've heard me talk about American Aquarium many times before, so it should be no surprise that I'm excited about a solo tour by their lead singer BJ Barham. Now you've heard me extol the virtues of American Aquarium, and how they're a boisterous, hard-drinking explosion of a band, and while that may sound hard to pull off for an acoustic solo act - if there's anyone who can do it, it's Barham. While I've heard it said that all Southerner's are natural-born storytellers, Barham inherited the trait in spades plus the added bonus of being a smooth talker. Look to hear songs from American Aquarium's upcoming record plus some old favorites. The highlight of the night will be that one song that I always forget to ask the name of, but you'll know he's about to play it when he introduces it with, 'This song is about a whore...' Oh, wait. That's lots of his songs.

Head to the band's myspace page to see if Barham's coming near your town. Especially if you're in the Charleston area Sunday and want to swing by and see my boys (and girl) at the Tin Roof. Tell 'em Tug sent you.

American Aquarium Lover Too Late (live in Charleston)


Musings :: Decoding Soulja Boy

"Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)"
Soulja Boy

Soulja boy off in this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat soulja boy1 / Then Superman dat ho2 / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy)

1. Crank dat Soulja Boy: Verb. 1. Masturbating an erect penis.
2. Superman that ho: Verb. 1. The act of ejaculating on your sexual partner's back and then stick the sheets to him/her; when she wakes up in the morning he/she has a cape.

Soulja boy off in this hoe /Watch me lean and watch me rock / Superman dat hoe / Then watch me crank dat robocop1 / Super fresh now watch me jock / Jocking2 on them haterz, man / When I do dat soulja boy / I lean to the left and crank dat dance (now you) / I'm jocking2 on yo bitch ass / And if we get the fightin, then I'm jockin2 on yo bitch ass / You catch me at yo local party / Yes I crank it3 everyday / Haterz get mad cuz / I got me some bathin' apes4

1.: Robocop: Verb. 1. The act of ejaculating semen into a bucket and then placing it on your partners' head.
2.: Jock: Verb (Intrans.). 1. To attempt to imitate one's particular style. 2. To engage in flirtatious behavior.
3. : Crank it: Verb. 1. Turn up music to an unreasonable volume. 2. Masturbate.
4. : Bathin' Apes: Noun. 1. A ghetto shoe and clothing company originated from Japan.

I'm bouncin on my toe1 / Watch me supersoak dat hoe2 / I'ma pass it to arab3 / Then he gon pass it to the low (low)/ Haterz wanna be me / Soulja boy, I'm the man / They be lookin at my neck / Sayin it's the rubberband man4 (man)

1.: Bounce on my toe: Verb. 1. To attempt to keep one's balance while masturbating.
2.: Supersoak: Verb. 1. To completely cover one's sexual partner with semen.
3.: Arab: Noun. 1. Here, a Soulja Boy collaborator.
4.: Rubberband Man: Noun. 1. A drug dealer. 2. One who is able to perform fellatio on oneself.

Watch me do it (watch me do it) / Dance (dance) / Let get to it (let get to it) / Nope, you can't do it like me / Hoe, so dont do it like me / Folk, I see you tryna do it like me / Man, that shit was ugly

Soulja boy off in this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat soulja boy /Then Superman dat hoe
Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy)

I'm to clean off this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat roosavelt1 and supersoak dat hoe (x10)

1. Crank that Roosevelt: Verb. 1. Perform a typical lean-and-rock dance that involves swinging your hand over your lower stomach while thrusting your pelvis and legs forward in one swift motion. 2. To fornicate.

I'm to fresh up in this bitch / Watch me shuffle, watch me jig / Watch me crank my shoulder work / Superman that bitch

Soulja boy off in this hoe / Watch me crank it, watch me roll / Watch me crank dat soulja boy /Then Superman dat hoe
Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy) / Now watch me do (crank dat soulja boy)

Summation: No matter what it's about, "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)" blows.

New Noise :: Smashing Pumpkins, American Gothic

Can we just throw this tripe on Gilmore Girls and be done with it? Verdict: 3.8/10.
Smashing Pumpkins Issue New EP Today [Pitchfork]
Smashing Pumpkins - "Rose March" [via themodernmusic.com]


The Year in Review :: Part Four: Denouement

In which indierocket! editor Patrick counts down his favorite records of the year. More...

1. Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans)
Mad genius Dave Longstreth and company rewrite, reimagine and recontextualize Black Flag's seminal classic Damaged, showing that the problems of the past — remember, Damaged came out in '81 — are still the problems of today. But Longstreth — replaying the album essential from (an albeit very damaged) memory — and company turn Black Flag's calls to arms into Baroque meditations, utilizing snaky guitar lines, Dirty South beats and other compositional curveballs to abet Longstreth's beautiful, melodic tenor. The words are the same, but the message is different: Damaged was pissed off; Rise Above is hopeful. That, to paraphrase Frost, makes all the difference.
Dirty Projectors - "Rise Above"

2. The Twilight Sad, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (Fat Cat)
It's s#!t being Scottish was the grand sentiment of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting (well, that and heroin is bad for you), and no Scottish rock group in recent memory has captured that gloomy sentiment like The Twilight Sad. A Sunny Day in Glasgow it ain't: Anchored James Graham's thick Scottish brogue, The Twilight Sad crafted an epic, guitar-driven and appropriately titeld shoegaze masterpiece filled to the brim with torrents of reverb-washed guitar riffs, subtly powerful drumming and twinkling, hypnotic melodies rooted in Scottish folk. Trust me: When "Cold Days from the Birdhouse" bursts into high gear, you'll get it.
The Twilight Sad - "Cold Days from the Birdhouse"

3. Pillars and Tongues, Protection (self-released)
Sometimes surprises come in the most wondrous of places. It was in a small town in Indiana that I discovered Chicago trio Pillars and Tongues, who expertly mash together three of my favorite musical genres: Stately post-rock, haunting slowcore and challenging Chicago free jazz. Protection's tunes veer back and forth between restrained beauty (a la The Dirty Three) and wild, thrashing, chaotic jazz (think the electric cello work of Fred Lonberg-Holm). Protection is practically perfect in every way.
Pillars and Tongues [MySpace]

4. Love of Diagrams, Mosaic (Matador)
If Kim Deal fronted Wire, the result would have sounded a lot like Love of Diagrams. Mosaic, the Aussie trio's American debut, doesn't reinvent the post-punk wheel, but it doesn't have to: It expertly recalls the pioneering godfathers of the genre (Wire, Burma, Gang of Four) and evokes the skilled blend of malaise and fury of The Pixies. Yet it's no stale period piece, working spellbinding magic with tracks the likes of "The Pyramid" and "The Pace and the Patience."
Love of Diagrams - "The Pyramid"

5. Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO/XL/self-released)
Forget all the digital release, pay-what-you-want bullshit associated with In Rainbows. You would've plopped down $20 for this at your favorite record shop and you know it. And it's worth every penny — In Rainbows finally does what no Radiohead album since OK Computer has been able to do: Blend the band's electronic tendencies with its three-guitar orientation with absolute aplomb. The record's also Thom Yorke's most lyrically harrowing yet, as evidenced on the absolutely gut-wrenching "Videotape."
Radiohead - "House of Cards"

6. Battles, Mirrored (Warp)
"People won't be people when they hear this sound," Tyondai Braxton — through pitch-shifting manipulation — croons on "Atlas," one of Mirrored's standout tracks. But perhaps he should've said "People won't be people until they hear this sound": Mirrored is possibly the most sonically adventurous record of the year, bringing dinosauric prog rock into the digital age. Nothing on Mirrored — from the precise, kinetic drumming to the intricate guitar loops and phrases to the highly processed vocals — is an afterthought; it's a human exercise in being inhuman, a masterful melding of man and machine. This is the future of music, and the future is now.
Battles - "Race:In"

7. Electrelane, No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure)
Sure, No Shouts, No Calls doesn't break any new ground, but what's the shame in just recognizing it as an excellent record. No Shouts, No Calls finds Electrelane at its best since The Power Out, blending girl-group soul and Krauty art-rock with ease and grace.
Electrelane - "To the East"

8. Yesterday's Universe, Prepare for a New Yesterday, Vol. 1 (Stones Throw)
Sure, Madlib — nee Otis Jackson Jr. — churns out more music than a vinyl-pressing factory. But his Yesterday's Universe project is the diametric opposite to his Yesterday's New Quintet, looking forward while looking backward, blending the finest cuts of free-jazz skronk, baile funk, thick soul bass, hip-hop beats, post-bop piano, sitar drone and synthesizer solos to create the most groove-conscious record of the year.
The Otis Jackson Trio - "Free Son"

9. The Engines, The Engines (Okka Disk)
Chicago free-jazz is not for the faint of heart. But while The Engines embody some of the hallmarks of the Vandermark sound, they cull the right ones and perform them perfectly. The overblowing and blustery unison horn lines are kept to a minimum, relying on the quartet — each of whom are accomplished composers and Vandermark sidemen — to lock into vicious steamroller grooves. Sure, The Engines can rev with the best of 'em, but like every good engine, it's best when it just purrs along.
The Engines -

10. (tie) Baroness, Red Album (3D)
10. (tie) Boris and Michio Kurihara,
Rainbow (Drag City)
The two best heavy records of the year couldn't have been more opposite: Baroness' new-millennium metal meets in the middle ground between Mastodon and Kylesa, amping up its epic, brutal dirge with intelligent, indie-rock-rooted melodic accents. All hail the new lords of smart-metal. Across the Pacific, Japanese sludgelords Boris teamed up with national guitar hero Michio Kurihara to create an unlikely monster: A sludge-metal record filled with psychedelic sunshine; an organic, heat-driven record, the knife-like tones of which cut a shining swath through the din.
Baroness -
Boris and Michio Kurihara - "Rafflesia"

11. Burial, Untrue (Hyperdub)
Burial's danceable grimestep is a little too active for Eno's definition of ambient music, but it still comes pretty close. Untrue is like looking out onto a Minnesota lake in the dead of night in the dead of winter (and we're playing up death only slightly facetiously): Its production is icy, sleek and absolutely gorgeous in its stark simplicity, and angelic voices blow about like snowflakes in the wind. Close your eyes and it's just like December in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Burial - "Near Dark"

12. Ours to Alibi, Beacons (self-released)
Atlanta's Ours to Alibi did something I never thought possible: It out-Explosions-in-the-Skys Explosions in the Sky. From the opening cello riffs of "The Dirt is a Womb" to the resounding coda of "Weary, We Fell Upon Land," Beacons takes the listener on a journey through post-hardcore-inflected post-rock.
Ours to Alibi - "Beacons"

13. Meneguar, Strangers in Our House (Troubleman Unlimited)
Dude, it's Meneguar. I Was Born at Night was retroactively one of my favorite records of 2005 (having heard it in 2006), and Strangers in Our House expands upon its jittery energy expertly. The NYC quartet sounds a little less like Q and Not U and a little more like its own band — and that's a good thing.
Meneguar - "Bury a Flower"

14. Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (Temporary Residence)
Just because Ours to Alibi beat them to the post-rock punch doesn't mean that Explosions in the Sky aren't still the kings of transcendent, cinematic American post-rock. They made that Smashing Pumpkins tour worth going to. Bonus: The attached remix disc, which contains bang-up remixes of "The Birth and Death of the Day" (by Justin Broadrick of Jesu) and "Catastrophe and the Cure" (by Four Tet).
Explosions in the Sky - "Welcome, Ghosts"
Explosions in the Sky - "Catastrophe and the Cure (Four Tet Remix)"

15. Kickball, Everything is a Miracle Nothing Is a Miracle Everything Is (Houseopolis)
Kickball's ABCDEFGHIJKickball was among my shoula-beens from last year, so it makes sense that this Pacific Northwest trio cracks this year's list with another set of attractively unwieldy indie rock tunes, each of which burst with authentic nervous energy. Everything also wins massive points for having three of the best truisms of the year, each occuring in "Fight": "If you fight / It's automatically a fight"; "If you don't believe in ghosts / You won't see ghosts"; and "If you build / A house on the beach / It's automatically a beach house."
Kickball - "Fight"

16. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
Everybody's saying it, but it's true: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the best record Billy Joel never made. While Ga doesn't recreate the absolute magnificence of Girls Can Tell or the strutting glam-rock brilliance of Gimme Fiction, it still showcases frontman Britt Daniel at his leanest and meanest, crooning like he never has before, most especially on "The Underdog," the finest (and, truthfully, the most Billy Joel-biting) of the lot.
Spoon - "The Underdog"

17. (tie) Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass (Definitive Jux)
17. (tie) Ghostface Killah,
The Big Doe Rehab (Def Jam)
Aesop narrowly edged out El-P for best indie-rap record of the year; Ghostface takes the mainstream crown.
Aesop Rock - "Keep Off the Lawn"
Ghostface Killah - "We Celebrate" (feat. Kid Capri)

18. Les Savy Fav, Let’s Stay Friends (French Kiss)
Les Savy Fav, we were never not friends. That said, you sound as good now as you did on The Cat and the Cobra. Glad to have you back.
Les Savy Fav - "What Would Wolves Do?"

19. Dinosaur Jr., Beyond (Play it Again Sam)
Fuck it. There's definitely something in the water in Massachusetts. The only post-millennial rock reunions that haven't been utter embarrassments have come from the Bay State (see: Pixies, Burma). Continuing this trend is Dinosaur, which reunites the original lineup of Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Emmett Jefferson "Patrick" Murphy III for the first time since 1988's Bug. Beyond finds Dinosaur in fine, furious form; it's as if they never tried to kick each others' asses on stage.
Dinosaur Jr. - "Been There All the Time"

20. Thurston Moore, Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace)
True, this ranking might be a reflection of how little I actually digested the Sonic Youth frontman's first solo release since Psychic Hearts. But you know what? I like Trees Outside the Academy a lot more than I liked Rather Ripped. The unusual chord structures and bizarro tunings are still there, but there's a folksy ruminence that permeates the record; a simple, western-Massachusetts charm that enhances Moore's particular quirks instead of suppressing them. Bonus points for "Thurston @ 13"; I know I wasn't that cool when I was 13, and you damn sure weren't.
Thurston Moore - "Wonderful Witches"

21. Band of Horses, Cease to Begin (Sub Pop)
Again, this falls under the caveat of "Just because it's disappointing doesn't mean it's bad." On the contrary: Cease to Begin is a delightful and logical follow-up to Everything All the Time. The lush, reverbed guitars are still there, and Ben Bridwell still has a knack for ear-catching, easily hummable indie-rock melodies. Whereas Everything All the Time was stricken with themes of death and triumph, Cease to Begin is a darkly romantic record, most especially in the shimmer of "Detlef Schrempf." (I have to say, though, that I was a little disappointed to find absolutely no reference to the German sharpshooter actually, you know, in the song.) Dig that beautiful artwork, too.
Band of Horses - "Detlef Schrempf"

22. Bridge 61, Journal (Atavistic)
Again, Chicago avant-jazz can be a difficult thing to get into. And this Ken Vandermark-led quartet doesn't make it particularly easy. Journal is filled with all the guttural, atonal sax-skronk you'd expect from Vandermark, and while that's all well and good (after all, Vandermark's a legend in his own right and, as you'll recall, a MacArthur Foundation-recognized genius), Journal's strength is found in the supporting players: Jason Stein's bass clarinet work masterfully complements Vandermark's difficult phrasings, and Nate McBride's bass is best when it's in searing, snarling orbit around Tim Daisy's outstanding drum work. And, indeed, it's when McBride (who alternates between acoustic and electric bass) plugs in that the ensemble really soars, most especially on the spy-movie-riff "Various Fires (For This Heat)" and the appropriately hard-hitting "Shatter."
Bridge 61 - "Various Fires (For This Heat)"

23. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start, Worst Band Name Ever (self-released)
Sometimes somber, sometimes sunny, always earnest indie rock a la American Football (or really early Jimmy Eat World) from this New Jersey quintet. That's all there is to say; one of the most absolutely pleasant discoveries of the past year.
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start - "Boise"

24. Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhounds (Touch and Go)
What, you thought Steve Albini was going to put out a record this year and I wouldn't put it on my year-end list? Foolish reader, don't you know that Albini's the smartest man in rock history, and that Shellac's angular angst gets my fists a-pumpin'? (Aside: Albini, as I've learned from the Electrical Audio message boards, is a much better poker player than I am.)
Shellac - "Steady as She Goes"

25. Jesu, Conqueror (Hydra Head)
Sounds like icebergs fucking. “Conqueror” is one of the most achingly beautiful epics in recent history — slow, emotional, breath-taking and destructively heavy.
Jesu - "Conqueror"

26. Menomena, Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
Basically makes it on the strength of "Wet and Rusting" alone, but that doesn't mean the rest of the record — especially "Pelican" and "Rotting Hell" — ain't any good.
Menomena - "Wet and Rusting"

27. Low, Drums and Guns (Sub Pop)
So apparently the biggest thing to happen to Alan Sparhawk between The Great Destroyer and Drums and Guns was a nervous breakdown. Hey, whatever works — Drums and Guns is yet another fine record from the Minnesota slowcore giants. Delicate? Not as much as Things We Lost in the Fire. Austere? Not so much as The Great Destroyer. Hypnotic? As fuck.
Low - "Murderer"

28. Dethklok, Dethalbum (Williams Street)
Call it heavy meta: We know it’s supposed to be a joke, but what does it say when an animated band rocks harder than just about every metal band in existence? There’s more life in these songs than in anything Cradle of Filth’s ever written. And it’s as witty as it is heavy.
Dethklok - "Hatredcopter"

29. Between the Buried and Me, Colors (Victory)
Dude, I hate just about everything Victory Records (which by now has the 15-year-old-girl-into-shitty-emocore market pretty well rogered) has ever put out. But this Raleigh quintet is the exception that proves the rule. Epic sonic-clusterfuck mathcore for the thinking man.
Between the Buried and Me - "Prequel to the Sequel"

30. No Age, Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat)
Weirdo Rippers absolutely rips, weirdly, even. No Age accomplishes something very few lo-fi duos manage to do: Sound bigger than the sum of its parts. Weirdo Rippers is hardly an album; it's an all-out blitzkrieg of fuzz-rock, filled with chugging chords and fantastic feedback.
No Age - "Everybody's Down"

31. Wu-Tang Clan, Eight Diagrams (Street/Universal Motown)
Dude: Wu-Tang ain’t nothing to fuck with. And even though the Killah Bees have depreciated into a squabbling, O.D.B.-less mess, they can still kick out some sick-ass rhymes.
Wu-Tang Clan - "Wolves"


The Year in Review :: Part Three: Quandary

In which indierocket! editor Patrick ruminates upon albums he didn’t pay enough attention to this year. More...

Against Me!, New Wave (Sire/London/Rhino)

Hey, signing to a label doesn’t mean you’re a sellout! Just about everything this Florida agit-punk quartet’s put out since ...is Reinventing Axl Rose has been filled with killer, sharp-tongued, fist-pumping anthems, and New Wave is no exception. Mostly, I didn’t listen to this because I gave it to a friend of mine.

Black Francis, Bluefinger (Cooking Vinyl)

Dear Mr. Charles Kitteridge Thompson IV: As a rabid Pixies fan, you know I love you. But I just didn’t get around to listening to Bluefinger. I’m sorry. But it’s not like Bluefinger is Teenager of the Year or anything, is it? No harm, no foul, right?

Bowerbirds, Hymns for a Dark Horse (Burly Time)

No, I don’t like freak-folk. But I like Phil Moore and Beth Tacular. (Plus I was a huge fan of Moore’s other band, Ticonderoga. Plus, Bowerbirds’ freaky folk is married with California sunshine-pop to a delightful degree.

Dälek, Abandoned Language (Ipecac)

I never watched Doctor Who. I also failed to listen to Abandoned Language. Serendipity? Perhaps. But I liked Absence.

Steve Earle, Washington Square Serenade (New West)

Steve Earle is awesome. Jerusalem is badass. ‘Nuff said. That said, I didn’t listen to this.

Earth, Hibernaculum (Southern Lord)

I like Earth. I daresay I love Earth, based on the little I've heard. And, if nothing else, I respect the hell out of the legendary Seattle drone-metal group. But while "Ouroboros is Broken" set the standard for drone-metal in 2007, that was the only track I heard from Hibernaculum.

The Field, From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt)

Sing me Swedish techno: This made so many year-end lists that I’ll probably regret not listening to it.

Interpol, Our Love to Admire (Capitol)

I wasn’t a fan of Antics, so I avoided Interpol’s third release. But I loved Turn on the Bright Lights, so I feel bad about it. Dig that cover art, though.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone)

Chalk this one up to a classic case of “Hey, I loved that one song, but I never listened to the whole record.” The title track is a modern soul tour de force, but that’s all I know.

LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver (DFA/Capitol)

Given its position on just about every year-end list ever, I’m actually ashamed to have not heard this entire record. As such, I have to keep it out of the big list, despite the unquestionable awesomeness of “North American Scum” and “All Your Friends.”

Lupe Fiasco, The Cool (Atlantic)

This one was a lot simpler: It came out in mid-December, and I just haven’t had time to digest it yet. But if it’s anything like Food and Liquor, it’s getting the shaft by being stuck on this list.

Madlib, Beat Konducta Vols. 3-4: In India (Stones Throw)

I’m sorry, I was too busy listening to the Yesterday’s Universe disc.

Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic)

Hey, “Dashboard” was pretty cool, wasn’t it? And that guy from The Shins was on it a lot, right? Maybe I just really want this to be good.

The National, Boxer (Beggar’s Banquet)

Another record I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t listened to all the way through, mostly because it topped several of my friends' lists.

Okkervil River, The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

Ditto. And I really like Okkervil River's first record.

Sigur Ros, Hvarf/Heim (XL)

This mostly good, sometimes boring Icelandic post-rock band kind of pushed me away with Takk... and flew too far under my radar this year, despite a heavy push from my boss.

Stars of The Lid, And Their Refinement of the Decline (Kranky)

Refinement received so many comparisons to Eno and Glass that I’m genuinely surprised that I didn’t listen to this.

Kanye West, Graduation (Roc-A-Fella)

Here’s my theory: Dropout was A New Hope; Late Admission was Empire. Therefore, Graduation is Jedi — not as good as either, but still a nice way to wrap things up.

The White Stripes, Icky Thump (Warner Bros.)

Yet another case of a band with a disappointing follow-up (Get Behind Me Satan) to a record I adored (Elephant). I hated The Raconteurs, too. But the single was banging. Perhaps I gave them one too many A-list sneers this year. Should’ve listened to this one; I generally enjoy The White Stripes.