To say it's been one hell of a year is as understatement. What did I do? Got married, went on honeymoon, started NFR LIVE!, smashed up the BBC airwaves and won that competition, met, spoke to, shook hands with loads of incredible people who shall be named at a later date and listened to a huge amount of amazing music that shall be named now: >>>
50. Wooden Shjips – Wooden Shjips 35. Earth– Hibernaculum
Five tracks of throbbing kaleidoscopic weed-smoke drone that instantly find their groove in 'We Ask You To Ride', introducing an album that sits in the foggy headspace of 60's West-coast psych-rock, rolling around in the sun-baked blues trance for just over half an hour.
49. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
In Sound of Silver
47. Jonquil– Sunny Casinos
Oxford's Jonquil create a feral, fractured folk that's a bit mangy round the edges, scruffy like it's slept in the gutter for months. Barely-there vocals are set back into the mix, surrounded and supplanted by the rushing sounds of pianos, guitars, drums and percussive paraphernalia that add to the bare bones of some already wonderful tunes.
46. Mammatus– The Coast Explodes
After being underwhelmed with their previous self-titled album, this huge slab of heavy drone burst into my brain with the opening track 'Dragon Of The Deep Part Three (Excellent Swordfight)'. A totally storming monolithic album imbued with the perpetual brewing menace of black thunderheads on the horizon.
In a rougher, wilder, more atmospheric and eloquent record than its' predecessors
44. Tomahawk– Anonymous
No more proggy metal for Tomahawk it seems, as
43. Bergraven– Dodsvisioner
In a year where Xasthur was conspicuous by his absence of especially great records,
42. Patrick Wolf– The Magic Position
A pestilent surge of debased feral rock and roll. Its noise clad to a striking form hammered out violently on drums and screwed up electronics, guitars dragging Neanderthal knuckles across the charred surface, weirdly effected vocals piercing through the miasma. But yeah, this is rock and roll for sure.
40. Blood Of The Black Owl- Blood Of The Black Owl
Glassthroat Recordings / Bindrune
Any album that has three minutes of distant wolves howling in the wind deserves attention. Or maybe it's the 74 minutes of relentless doom laden pitch black riffs surrounding it that can't be ignored. One of the two, or even both. Yup.
39. Bill Callahan – Woke On A Whaleheart
Until I saw
38. Gui Boratto– Chromophobia
Brazilian producer makes psychedelic minimalist blog-house record of the year. Not that I'm totally sure what 'blog-house' is but it's a phrase that turned up all over the err..blogosphere this year. For an album with such a metronomic beat, this never gets dull, considering the label, due to the subtly produced constantly shifting scenery flowing past the gently pulsing engine.
37. Modeselektor– Happy Birthday
Ram-raiding through dance genres like nobodies business, and featuring the most impressive/disgusting belch on record, Modeselektor release a unique vision cast from acid-dub, trance, hip-hop, IDM, electro and well, whatever else you can pick out of it yourself really. Having worked together for 15 years, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary pretty much know each other as intimately as any partnership and the results are fortunately, as much fun to listen to as they must have been to make.
36. High On Fire– Death Is This Communion
A band ostensibly formed as a platform for
Hex tried to twist the old Earth into an
34. Mammal– Lonesome Drifter
A record that is by turns ambient to the point of non-existence and cruelly harsh,
33. Tivol– Interstellar Overbike
Last Visible Dog
Pedal to the metal leather-clad, diesel stinkin' Finnish freak-noise blasted out over two huge space-jams of cosmic disorder and intergalactic chaos courting. This record doesn't really let up in density at all, the only times the guitars part is to allow the synths to come strafing into the void with their lazer guided melodies.
32. Deepchord Presents Echospace – The Coldest Season
I'm still not sold on Burial. What I hear when I listen to Untrue is nowhere near as convincingly formed as this record.
31. Lietterschpich– I Cum Blood In The Think Tank
Heart & Crossbone
Rock and roll based noise has never been the same since Wolf Eyes tore it up so hard with Burned Mind a couple of years ago, but Lietterschpich have added an extra sort of turmoil to the mix – an element of humanity and vulnerability. Not the kind of things Wolf Eyes would ever allow to creep in.
30. Voice Of The Seven Woods - Voice Of The Seven Woods
The debut album of the Manchester based Rick Tomlinson, is an electrically revved psychedelic mind-melter of a folk album. Coming off the back of several self-released 7"s and CDRs, it's a freakish hybrid of fuzz-tone guitars, acid acoustics, blown-out psych-rock and kraut rhythms that keeps burrowing its way further into my brain with each listen.
29. JohnnyTwentyThree- JXXIII
The only band JohnnyTwentythree really remind me of is
28. Caina– Mourner
The work of the lone underground Sussex-based black metal visionary
27. Heavy Winged – On The Marble
This is the first appearance of Heavy Winged in my list and this release is the most unfettered, noisy and downright unyielding of them all. Reasonably short by Winged standards, first track 'Concrete Glass' concludes after a bewildering six minutes of atonal scree and polymorphous feedback screeching. Very Japanese, but not in the least bit derivative, this trio do not normally go in for such furiously blown out indecipherable walls of noise but this is as in keeping with their greater vision as the beat driven shapes of the other two albums still to come.
26. Om– Pilgrimage
This is not an album of music created through conscious thought and rehearsal, it is cosmic reverberation ciphered through human hands, already existing outside of the mortal sphere, the flesh a mere conduit for the galactic energies pooling themselves in the records grooves. Meditative and transcendental, Chris Hakius and Al Cisneros have locked into another set of super-massive riffs, and though it may not feature my favourite Om track (which would be 'Rays Of The Sun - To The Shrinebuilder' from the Current 93 split 10" Inerrant Rays Of Infallible Sun. Though Unitive Knowledge Of The Godhead comes a pretty close second) it does contain the most variety and depth of any of their releases so far.
25. Alcest– Souvenirs D'Un Autre Monde
Alcest is the solo incarnation of
24. Heavy Winged – We Grow
Not Not Fun
Probably the most beautiful looking record released all year, the deep heavy marbled blues of the vinyl resonated through into the music itself. A murky oceanic turbulence, the groaning of ships hulls, the clatter of collapsing rigging, strings dragging across wood, flesh caught in the centre, at the mercy of the elements imposing themselves on it's frail, vulnerable nakedness. Standing up to Heavy Winged without succumbing is an impossible feat.
23. Efterklang– Parades
The Leaf Label
Parades takes it's time in spreading the peaks and valleys across its entirety; the choral vocals swelling over the microfauna of strings growing out of the digital landscape, the euphoria naturally unfurling in an elegant display of restrained beauty. Some people are still making albums that aren't a collection of songs which have to show the bands full hand the whole time.
22. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Panda Bear makes me tolerate the beauty in the Beach Boys harmonies because I don't have to think of
21. The National- Boxer
The National have in
20. White Hills – Heads On Fire
Fuck Off & Di
Turn up, head down, trance off. Pretty much must be what the band ethic around the White Hills is every practice. Signed to Julian Cope's label they have put out three increasingly heavy albums of pure unrestrained drugged out Spacemen 3, MBV style freak-drone. The air at the edges of this record crackles with energy, a pulsing, persistent never-ending torrent of opiated luminescence. It's noisy, direct and it plays the best bits over and over and over and overandoverandoverandover…………
19. Gnaw Their Tongues – Spasming And Howling, Bowels Loosening And Bladders Emptying, Vomiting Helplessly
The complete synthesis of noise, metal and electronics, Gnaw Their Tounges epic soundscapes recall Atari Teenage Riot at their most pulverisingly, misanthropic severest, and Burning Star Core at their bleakest. Stretching the boundaries of speed and excess is what the lone Mories does best, but he breaks it up with haunting samples and entrancing drone. The complete works of the metal and extreme electronics communities bottled in one potent elixir.
18. Caribou– Andorra
At first this seemed like a similar album to Grizzly Bear's Yellow House and I never paid it as much attention as that, until one day something just popped around the first verse of 'She's The One' when Dan Snaith's voice breaks just a little and the strings are swelling up pretty behind him, then I was finished by the little chugging mandolin after the chorus. After that it seemed like some long lost Perfumed Garden relic and the rest of the album came into focus that beautifully realised.
17. Gravenhurst– The Western Lands
The thing I like most about this album is that I have no real idea of what it actually is. It is a music that defies easy categorization. Could it be post-folk? Who really cares when the music herein is of such luscious, melody oriented hues? The flickering instrumentation, the graceful lines, swallowed by ferocious feedback and volatile percussion reappear as dignified twilight acoustic tunes the other side of the fury. ="">It could all be quite confusing, were it not on Warp – a sign that something not quite of the ordinary is occurring.
16. The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
With their full-force white-out guitars, cacophonous percussion, brusque Glaswegian accent and stories of children on fire The Twilight Sad are only a small side-step from fellow countrymen like Mogwai and Arab Strap. But there is a greater sentimentality working between the sheets of noise that does not just rely on the power of the music or the sinisterly day-to-day mundane recounted in the lyrics. It is traditional folk music filtered through nostalgia and modern cynicism plus a shit load of effects pedals giving it a unique aura and a unique voice.
15. Klaxons– Myths Of The Near Future
Polydor / Rinse
Forget all that crap about nu-rave and listen to Klaxons for what they really are: Not some scene inducing media glitch, but a legacy of post-punk's enduring aesthetic of fetishising sonic iconography and imbuing it with dangerous modern daring. They take their sound from sonic reverberations hidden in apocalyptic hieroglyphs, in demonic scripture, mythical rhetoric and human hedonism, binding them into an album that's a detailed ritual of progressive guitar dance. Who'd have expected that then Reynolds?
14. Wolves In The Throne Room – Two Hunters
I made Wolves' debut album my number one last year and this is gifted with the same deftly deployed atmospheric brilliance as that, so the question I should ask is why isn't this as high in my list. It's not an enormous progression is the real answer. This is a subtle, nuanced reworking of a template which is pretty much theirs alone, but just as Mogwai and Godspeed emboldened their sounds with a more pronounced confidence after their debuts, so to have Wolves In The Throne Room.
13. The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls With Sand
After 9 years, The Angelic Process have come to an end with K.Angylus's broken hand sealing their fate. This album is as fitting an exit as any. With his wife, M, this mysterious couple forge harrowing romantic poetry from an almost impenetrable wall of feedback. Each song building swiftly, lifting from the spine of a slow metronomic drum beat, thick soft noise shrouding the ascent, vocals surfacing between the waves. A huge sound and hugely fulfilling experience.
12. Aluk Todolo – Descension
French black metal krautrock noise - a sub-genre containing surely only this one band. It must be the only black metal album to feature a slide blues guitar riff too. A deeply immersive experience that hisses through four James Plotkin mastered tracks, all heavy industrial clatter, dark ambience and teutonic groove. The sleeve credits only drums bass and guitar, but how they conjure the crumbling landslides collapsing all over this record with those three elements is a mystery and goes a ways to creating the aura pervading it.
11. 65 Days Of Static - The Destruction Of Small Ideas
A band that keep pushing to produce something new, creating new angles and opening up different headspaces, 65 Days Of Static are now on their high octane drum battery and hurricane force effects phase. One of the most carefully produced albums this year, the sound of each drum padding, thumping can be felt connecting solidly, the crackle and hum of impending guitars swelling like pregnant pauses fills the room before the peaks burst the calm apart. When it's quiet, it's very very quiet and when it's loud it's scary.
10. Deerhunter– Cryptograms
A noisy little acid-fried post-punk indie-disco comedown-meltdown bastard of a record. Like when Outhud flipped out all kaleidoscopic and made your eyes bulge, this is that all over again but with more tone wash and fuzzbox. Big lakes of ambience sit between the motorik riots, keeping them apart or there'd be bitchfight blood shed and this record never lets itself dip into the undignified (unlike Of Montreal, but that's a whole different thing). Until 'Heatherwood' drops it's shoulder at the end and comes right at you.
09. Bone Awl – Meaningless Leaning Mess
This two piece have been going since 2002 but I only discovered them in February when they released their debut album Meaningless Leaning Mess. Their fourteenth release. Ridiculous! Seven demos, three eps and four split singles later they spit this violent ball of spiky fisted, black crusted metal spite out. It's not too different to the addictive canon preceding it, but it sees the production even more overdriven, blown-out, the buzz burning that much fiercer, the eyes stretched wider, more frenzied, ragged throat screeching that much coarser, cymbals splashing their tinny crashes that much shriller. And the world shrinks that much smaller. If it is actually possible, this one could be even faster too, getting through 18 blistering tracks of hyper kinetic lo-fi scree in 38 minutes. Buckle up cunts, things are about to get very grim indeed.
08. One Unique Signal – Tribe, Castle And Nation
One Unique Signal from Brentford, Essex; the grey-skied rain-cloud Stooges spinning off the dual axes of Joy Division and Spacemen 3. Bleak. Bleak, oppressive, the concrete walls of a city shot through with slices of light like gaps between buildings. Urban paranoia, environmental sickness, the threat of violence, the will to escape. Tribe, Castle and Nation embodies it all, releasing the bands' response to the oppressive through taught star-scraping drone rock, using angled breaks in rhythm like elbows in faces, a survivalists handbook to the mean streets.
07. Heavy Winged– Taking The Veil
Students Of Decay
First released in 2006 on Terrastock as a run of 20, then re-released on Students Of Decay who then only upped the run to 100, but it was enough to get them to my ears and this was my first encounter with a band that would consume me for the entire year. I blew the amp at The Greenhouse Effect at the first Not For Resale LIVE! with 'Through The Shimmer' and from there my relationship with this band was cemented. The other HW records in this list are dynamic in their own right, but this is an incredible trip over two near-half-hour tracks that suck the air from the room and the light from your eyes. And then it peaks. Holding it for 15 minutes, the driving surges buckle up into peaks, iridescent displays of showering feedback coursing from busted pedals, screeching through the wonky reels of an aging 4-track, driven by urgent propulsive drumming. Dance music for the fearless it is vital sounding and all-consuming to be in the presence of.
06. Cobalt– Eater Of Birds
Holy shit, holy shit holy shit….Sometimes words fail and one is rendered a completely awestruck gibbering mess. After threatening their enemy with "One thousand strikes of the skull hammer" and leaving just a brewing tension between the drums and guitars the vocals drop back in on the appropriately titled 'Witherer' starting off a four minute build of searing tribal drumming that the guitars lock onto, layering up riff on riff, cruising at immense velocity, the vocals drawling in their guttural rasp. Absolutely do not fucking mess with this band. Ultra heavy is not all this album is. It contains three heavily effected, slightly disturbing acoustic passages all titled 'The Ritual Use Of Fire'. No need to expound on the importance of that element in its creative and destructive guises. Comprised of just two people – Erik Wunder on drums and Phil McSorely on guitar, both adding vocals – this is a primeval, primordial jam session of the most singularly minded crushing heaviness. Not only that, but it grooves so damn hard, reliant on the drums pushing the guitars on; it's a rarely heard interplay of the purest, most intimate form, that is invigoratingly world eating as a result.
05. Monsters Build Mean Robots - Monsters Build Mean Robots
Nice Weather For Airstrikes
The name is striking. Think about it for a while and it conjures a harrowing doom-laden image. Monsters Build Mean Robot's form of electronic oriented post-rock is formed of mostly instrumental songs with politically nuanced titles such as 'The Freedom To Fire Those Freedom Rockets', 'thisiswheretheoilcomesfrom.com' and 'Sometimes We Sit And Stare At Passing Tanks.' The intensity which that context lends the peaceful hum and whirr is palpable, becoming bolstered with guitars that really get noisy only the once for the peak of 'Chimes Break Through Light To Reach Us'. A truly powerful, graceful, restrained and haunting record.
04. Bon Iver– For
Justin Vernon abandoned his former band DeYarmond Edison and in the Winter of 2006 went out into a log cabin in the woods of Wisconsin where he lived for three months, keeping the fires going and spending long days considering his place in the world. Long recording sessions began and out of solitude and reflection came nine songs of brittle delicately anguished beauty. Lead by an arresting voice that sometimes feels awkwardly intimate, whispering close to your ear fears of frailty, inconsequence and vulnerability, this album captures on tape the sound of a soul wrestling with itself, the reverberations of the natural world and the quietude of life alone inside four wooden walls.
03. Future Of The Left– Curses
From the ashes of McClusky and Jarcrew rises a phoenix of bewildering shapes and sounds. Humorous, spiteful, vengeful and almost always obtuse, Curses is one of those albums that transcends the sum of its parts. Shouty angsty vocals with a comedian's timing, angular guitars driving like reckless yoof, broken fist pounded keyboards, create a whole with tangible character, harmonising vocals (anyone for a nice campfire round of "Colin is a pussy?") and songs that build into roaring stomping mechanistic beasts. Tracks like 'The Lord Hates A Coward' and 'Small Bones Small Bodies' grind forward, touching dancefloors, but most generally not giving much of a shit about anyone as they leave a trail of psychedelic devastation in their wake.
02. Wold – Screech Owl
The village is in ruins and the shadows standing over the smolder hold swords burning red with fury. Opex on battle strings, Obey on scourge and Fortress Cookedjaw on poetry, vocals and devices. Twilight figures courting owls, dragons and cosmic energies. Fiercely intense, catastrophically harsh, this album is an expedition into some of the most unforgiving regions of sound imaginable. Taking the naturalistic form of BM to the furthest extremes they themselves say that "Wold venerate our ancestors and cultures through myth and existence, and remain open and reflective to other effective metaphors", whilst simultaneously deploying the Satanic element in another ideological statement; "Wold solemnly swear to adhere to the law of the Self" this band embody the truest essences of the genre whilst absolutely destroying it's legacy and creating a whole new one from critically red-lined fractured buzzing, festering riffs boiling under ragged shrieks and garbled incantations.
01. Of Montreal
Five pieces of advice that will probably improve
5) Don't call your relationships 'Love Projects'. I'm fairly sure that kind of language is a bit of a turn off.
4) No violence. Paying someone to batter your Ex is going to get you a reputation that you won't shake even with the help of the 'Booty patrol'. Vicarious battery is still battery.
3) Don't select your Love Projects on the basis of being high at a foreign festival and discovering you have both read the same book. More is required.
2) After a tiff, don't go off and console yourself with black metal. It won't endear you or make you mysterious; it'll makes you seem like a scary freak.
1) Generally, your relationships with girls will have a greater chance of succeeding if you are NOT A SCREAMING QUEEN! to begin with.
35. Earth– Hibernaculum