Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Best Albums of 2010 (so far...)

I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time introducing this list. I talked about at least 12 of these records at length in our recent two-part, five hour "Year in Review 2010: First Half" podcast, so if you're in need of a little bit of context or commentary you can look there. I've also reviewed a number of these albums, so you could also search the archives here if you're so inclined. Needless to say, this has been an extraordinarily deep year for music thus far. I could easily have rounded-up 15 other albums worthy of your time and money and no one would bat an eyelash at the selections.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dusted's Mid-Year Roundup 2010

Dusted are always good for singling out some underrated or overlooked records on their various lists throughout the year, and their 2010 'Mid-Year Roundup' is no different. Granted, there is some overlap between their picks and what will be on my personal half-year list-- most of which I previewed on the latest End of Radio podcast, and an official version of which I'll be posting in the coming days-- but it's always good to give the spotlight over to some records that will inevitably be overshadowed by whatever upstart lo-fi act is currently riding the hype machine. I've even reviewed a couple of these records-- and plan on reviewing at least one more-- so the curious should follow the appropriate links to find out more. I've got the list of ten after the jump, but head over to Dusted to check out the individual write-ups.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Podcast: End of Radio #25b - Year in Review 2010: First Half (Part 2)

"For this very special, two-part edition of the End of Radio podcast, regular host Jordan Cronk is joined by InRO Editor-in-Chief Sam C. Mac, and together they present their individual lists of the year’s best albums so far. (This show contains each host's 5 through 1 picks, along with an "overrated albums" discussion.)"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music Review: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

"I’m not sure the full effect of Before Today can properly register in 2010 without the critical deployment of a little bit of historical context, so let’s back track for a second. I saw Ariel Pink and his band the Haunted Graffiti perform live sometime in the summer of 2007, and it was one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. I honestly wasn’t expecting anything less, as by that point Ariel Pink had already built up a reputation as one of the most frustratingly singular artists of the mid-aughts. Adding to the retrospective perplexity of the evening was the fact that Beach House opened that show, drawing maybe two dozen onlookers before the Haunted Graffiti tripled that by the time they took the stage. Which is to say that the Ariel Pink name has always carried with it enough curious caché —at least amongst Los Angelenos—to attract a decent crowd, most of whom are probably hoping to catch a glimpse of this guy’s ever-elusive genius.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Best Films of 2010 (so far...)

The first six months of any given year are traditionally seen as the time when studios dump whatever leftovers or lower-tier children's fare they have lying around onto an entertainment deprived community of undiscriminating filmgoers. However, it's also the time when a lot of the films on the prior year's festival circuit finally make their way stateside, meaning there is plenty of quality material out there for those so inclined to seek it out. With that in mind, I'd say that 2010 has started out particularly strong, though I appear to be in something of a minority opinion there, even amongst fellow cinephiles. What I see, though, is a broad range of very good art-house and foreign product, to such a degree that a number of films that I've quite enjoyed-- including Fish Tank, Best Worst Movie, Father of My Children and The Ghost Writer-- couldn't even find room on this list of the fifteen best.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Podcast: End of Radio #25a - Year in Review 2010: First Half (Part 1)

"For this very special, two-part edition of the End of Radio podcast, regular host Jordan Cronk is joined by InRO Editor-in-Chief Sam C. Mac, and together they present their individual lists of the year’s best albums so far. (This show contains each host's 10 through 6 picks, along with some Honorable Mentions.)"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Music Review: Ellen Allien - Dust

"Her newest album may be called Dust, but it was 2008s Sool that reduced the Ellen Allien sound to rubble. Here was a record that not only evidenced yet another 180 degree aesthetic turn in career defined by them, but after hitting something of a popular peak with 2006s equally laudatory Apparat collaboration Orchestra of Bubbles, also saw Allien retreat inward, only to emerge with a hollowed-out document of ghostly tech-house and dimly lit vocal exhortations. The album confused a lot of listeners; I thought it was one of her best and most focused efforts of her entire career. Title notwithstanding, Dust once again represents a change in direction from its predecessor, only this time back toward textures and techniques already pretty well established in the Allien oeuvre. As such, arriving as it does two years after such an alien document as Sool, Dust can’t help but feel a little overly familiar by comparison. Luckily, Allien’s retained enough of her near unparalleled ear for melody to withstand what is ultimately something of a water-treading album.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Essentials (Music): The 2000s

1980s1990s • 2000s •

The Avalanches / Since I Left You (2000)
Boredoms / Vision Creation Newsun (2000)
The Clientele / Suburban Light (2000)
Clinic / Internal Wrangler (2000)
Gas / Pop (2000)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor / Lift Your Skinny Fists... (2000)
Les Savy Fav / Rome (Written Upside Down) EP (2000)
Modest Mouse / The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
The New Pornographers / Mass Romantic (2000)
Radiohead / Kid A (2000)
Sigur Rós / Ágætis byrjun (2000)
Circulatory System / Circulatory System (2001)
Constantines / Constantines (2001)
Daft Punk / Discovery (2001)
Destroyer / Streethawk: A Seduction (2001)
The Dismemberment Plan / Change (2001)
Fennesz / Endless Summer (2001)
Fugazi / The Argument (2001)
Tim Hecker / Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again (2001)
Herbert / Bodily Functions (2001)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists / The Tyranny of Distance (2001)
Life Without Buildings / Any Other City (2001)
The Microphones / The Glow, Pt. 2 (2001)
The Mountain Goats / All Hail West Texas (2001)
Múm / Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today is OK (2001)
Jim O'Rourke / I'm Happy, and I'm Singing, and a 1, 2, 3, 4 (2001)
Prefuse 73 / Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives (2001)
Radiohead / Amnesiac (2001)
Stars of the Lid / The Tired Sounds of... (2001)
The Strokes / Is This It (2001)
Super Furry Animals / Rings Around the World (2001)
Unwound / Leaves Turn Inside You (2001)
Acid Mothers Temple / In C (2002)
Black Dice / Beaches & Canyons (2002)
Boards of Canada / Geogaddi (2002)
The Books / Thought for Food (2002)
Deerhoof / Reveille (2002)
Kevin Drumm / Sheer Hellish Miasma (2002)
Ekkehard Ehlers / Plays (2002)
Enon / High Society (2002)
The Fire Show / Saint the Fire Show (2002)
Interpol / Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)
Iron & Wine / The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002)
Isis / Oceanic (2002)
Philip Jeck / Stoke (2002)
Liars / They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (2002)
Mclusky / Do Dallas (2002)
The Notwist / Neon Golden (2002)
Sigur Rós / ( ) (2002)
Sleater-Kinney / One Beat (2002)
Songs: Ohia / Didn't It Rain (2002)
Sonic Youth / Murray Street (2002)
Spoon / Kill the Moonlight (2002)
• ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead / Source Tags & Codes (2002)
Max Tundra / Mastered by Guy at the Exchange (2002)
Keith Fullerton Whitman / Playthroughs (2002)
Wilco / Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Ellen Allien / Berlinette (2003)
Angels of Light / Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home (2003)
Animal Collective / Here Comes the Indian (2003)
William Basinski / The Disintegration Loops I-IV (2003)
The Books / The Lemon of Pink (2003)
Boris / Akuma no Uta (2003)
Broken Social Scene / You Forgot It in People (2003)
Califone / Quicksand/Cradlesnakes (2003)
Cat Power / You Are Free (2003)
Deerhoof / Apple O’ (2003)
The Exploding Hearts / Guitar Romantic (2003)
Lightning Bolt / Wonderful Rainbow (2003)
M83 / Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts (2003)
Manitoba / Up in Flames (2003)
Menomena / I Am the Fun Blame Monster (2003)
Mu / Afro Finger & Gel (2003)
The Rapture / Echoes (2003)
The Shins / Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
TV on the Radio / Young Liars EP (2003)
The Unicorns / Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2003)
The Wrens / The Meadowlands (2003)
Animal Collective / Sung Tongs (2004)
Devendra Banhart / Rejoicing in the Hands (2004)
Björk / Medulla (2004)
Charalambides / Joy Shapes (2004)
Excepter / KA (2004)
Fennesz / Venice (2004)
The Fiery Furnaces / Blueberry Boat (2004)
Magma / KA (2004)
Mirah / C'mon Miracle (2004)
Joanna Newsom / The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004)
Zeena Parkins & Ikue Mori / Phantom Orchard (2004)
Brian Wilson / SMiLE (2004)
Xiu Xiu / Fabulous Muscles (2004)
Akron/Family / Akron/Family (2005)
Animal Collective / Feels (2005)
Antony and the Johnsons / I Am a Bird Now (2005)
Bob Drake / The Shunned Country (2005)
The Mountain Goats / The Sunset Tree (2005)
Orthrelm / OV (2005)
Sufjan Stevens / Illinois (2005)
Chad VanGaalen / Infiniheart (2005)
Keith Fullerton Whitman / Multiples (2005)
Wolf Parade / Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
Belle and Sebastian / The Life Pursuit (2006)
Califone / Roots & Crowns (2006)
Danielson / Ships (2006)
Destroyer / Destroyer’s Rubies (2006)
Grizzly Bear / Yellow House (2006)
Tim Hecker / Harmony in Ultraviolet (2006)
J Dilla / Donuts (2006)
The Knife / Silent Shout (2006)
Liars / Drum’s Not Dead (2006)
Mission of Burma / The Obliterati (2006)
Joanna Newsom / Ys (2006)
Subtle / For Hero: For Fool (2006)
Sunset Rubdown / Shut Up I Am Dreaming (2006)
TV on the Radio / Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
Scott Walker / The Drift (2006)
Animal Collective / Strawberry Jam (2007)
Battles / Mirrored (2007)
James Blackshaw / The Cloud of Unknowing (2007)
Burial / Untrue (2007)
Deerhunter / Cryptograms (2007)
The Field / From Here We Go Sublime (2007)
Frog Eyes / Tears of the Valedictorian (2007)
Kemialliset Ystävät / Kemialliset Ystävät (2007)
Nina Nastasia & Jim White / You Follow Me (2007)
The National / Boxer (2007)
Panda Bear / Person Pitch (2007)
Pantha du Prince / This Bliss (2007)
Pissed Jeans / Hope for Men (2007)
Jessica Rylan / Interior Designs (2007)
Shining / Grindstone (2007)
Stars of the Lid / And Their Refinement of the Decline (2007)
Supersilent / 8 (2007)
Yellow Swans / At All Ends (2007)
Flying Lotus / Los Angeles (2008)
Fuck Buttons / Street Horrrsing (2008)
Gang Gang Dance / Saint Dymphna (2008)
Grouper / Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (2008)
Lindstrøm / Where You Go I Go Too (2008)
Paavoharju / Laulu Laakson Kukista (2008)
Portishead / Third (2008)
Arthur Russell / Love is Overtaking Me (2008)
Chad VanGaalen / Soft Airplane (2008)
The Walkmen / You & Me (2008)
WHY? / Alopecia (2008)
Wolf Parade / At Mount Zoomer (2008)
Women / Women (2008)
Animal Collective / Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
Emeralds / What Happened (2009)
Dirty Projectors / Bitte Orca (2009)
The Flaming Lips / Embryonic (2009)
Viviane Houle / Trieze (2009)
Mount Eerie / Wind’s Poem (2009)
Marissa Nadler / Little Hells (2009)
OOIOO / Armonico Hewa (2009)
Polvo / In Prism (2009)
Sunn O))) / Monoliths & Dimensions (2009)
A Sunny Day in Glasgow / Ashes Grammar (2009)
Sunset Rubdown / Dragonslayer (2009)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Music Review: The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter

"In 2010, is there even such thing as a casual Fall fan? Those brave few who have attempted such a one-way relationship with Britain’s most ornery and volatile post-punk band have invariably and inevitably been snuffed out by the sheer onslaught of material, which has continued unabated for over thirty years. For those keeping track at home, Your Future Our Clutter is full-length album number 28 (!) from Mark E. Smith and whatever backing musicians he hasn’t off and fired yet. And you know what? Therein may lay the secret to Your Future’s success as a curiously strong late-period Fall record. For the first time in what feels like forever, the line-up for this album is identical to its predecessor, 2008's already quite solid Imperial Wax Solvent. I certainly don’t expect it to last long—we are, after all, barely three years removed from a Fall record (Post Reformation TLC) which employed the amendment “TLC” as an abbreviation for “traitors, liars and cunts”—but, as always, it’s best not to get hung up on just when (or how) Smith will inevitably disband this group, but to simply savor the riches of this present incarnation. With that in mind—and with little chance at this point of converting the skeptical—it might be easy to overlook that Your Future Our Clutter may be the best Fall album in a decade. And on the off-chance you disagree with that assessment, I still don’t feel it inappropriate to label this the most progressive and focused batch of songs Smith has collected in quite some time.

Podcast: End of Radio #24 - 'Ten Seconds of Forever'

"For the latest edition of the End of Radio podcast, your co-hosts Jordan Cronk and Jon Staph randomly spotlight ten songs from across the rock spectrum, discussing their personal connection with each sub-genre (from prog, to glam, to indie J-pop)."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Music Review: LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

"In the early 2000s, when ironic posturing was the new slackened repose, James Murphy felt like a godsend. At this point, it’s probably a waste of a word count to spill any more ink on LCD Soundsystem’s epochal run of early singles, topped in grand fashion by “Losing My Edge,” a bibliographic document of Murphy’s many hipper-than-thou influences and reference points (most of which he's spent the last eight or so years reiterating ad-nauseam—I get it, dude loves him some Talking Heads). In the past, however, the music has usually been strong enough to make all this tolerable—unless, of course, overt reverence happens to rub you the wrong way. Still, there comes a point when lyrical irony spills over into blatant condescension. Which is to say that on This is Happening, LCD Soundsystem’s third full-length, Murphy ratchets his pedestal up so high, I’m amazed he didn't get a nose bleed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Before Today"

I haven't actually listened to this myself yet, but it's high on the anticipation list and I'll probably end up reviewing it in a couple weeks time. Being Ariel Pink, I'm sure it's frustrating and inspired in equal measure.