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50. The Notwist - The Devil, You + Me
Indie Electronic Older Than Postal Service, But That Would Be The Best Comparison
Shoegaze/Dream Pop (Not Their Best, But Still Awesome)
Electronic/Ambient/Worldsy From Ex-Throbbing Gristle/Coil Member
Indie Oldies From Sweden
Indie Electronic Sounds Like Efterklang’s “Tripper”(My #1 Album Of 2004) On Repeat
44. Lisa Nordström - 7 States Of Passion
Experimental Pop From Sweden
43. Syd Matters - Ghost Days
Indie/Folk Electronic From France
Electronic/Ambient Landscapes Molded From Guitars (His Best Yet)
Indie Electronic, This Will Be The Next “MGMT”
Experimental Pop, Both Psychedelic and Twinkly
Electronic/Ambient/Shoegaze With A 4 Count
Electronic/Ambient/Shoegaze With A 4 Count
Shoegaze/Dream Pop/Ambient/Drum and Bass
Shoegaze/Dream Pop/Electronic Crunchiness
Shoegaze/Dream Pop Sounds Like A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Shoegaze/Dream Pop/Ambient Bliss
24. Woven - Designer Codes
Electronic Alt-Rock Where Deftones Should Have Gone
23. Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill
Shoegaze/Dream Pop AMAZINGLY THICK & LUSH, BUY THIS
22. Soundpool - Dichotomies & Dreamland
21. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
IDM/Trip-Hop/Thick Bass With “Clanky” Elements
20. Son Lux - At War With Walls And Mazes
Part Notwist, part Gregor Samsa, part hip hop, all intriguing. Son Lux came late in the year for me, but with bewilderment comes appreciation. Which is why I‘m sure this album deserves to be high-up on this list.. Son Lux has opened for artists like Emmylou Harris and Sufjan Stevens, on top of remixing songs by artists like Beirut and Castanets. Ryan Lott (Son Lux) has many musical influences; his day job at an ad agency, his playing classical piano since age six; his guitar talent; and playing drums under the pop and jazz genre. On "At War With Walls And Mazes" Ryan mixes all of these elements quite nicely. Good chill-out, head-bobber, atmospheric-indie-electronic music.
Welcome to the future. This is Nico Muhly. He will be/is the direction of new classical music. He is, the “new” Philip Glass. I first came across Mr. Muhly from Ben Frosts’ music label Bedroom Community. I then came across Nico Muhly in Joshua (amazing score, amazing movie). Now his third release, second official, Mothertongue. Which begins where the 1976’s “Einstein On The Beach” left off, with a dash of Americana-folk. If you are at all a Philip Glass fan don’t think twice about buying this album. He’s worked with Philip Glass. He went to the same school (Julliard) as Philip Glass. He ISN’T Philip Glass though. Nico Muhly brings an interesting flare of electronics and vocal sampling that begs the attention of the listener. Be in a mood for abstract-classical music and give Mothertongue a go.
When they find me dead, I want “The Colonnade” to be on loop. This is more than just ambient music, its raw amounts affection and despair. A Kranky release, so you know it’s amazing. At times sad, at times provoking, at times too human. One note, endless amounts of reverb, waves of synths, piano, and airy transitions. Next ambient album you buy, should be “In Between” distinguished and disconsolate.
17. Paavoharju - Laulu Laakson Kukista
To me this sounds like a child’s toy being played with over broken radio waves spread all over the earth. Pieces of scattered civilizations attach themselves to each other to create unity in dream like states. This is what Gang Gang Dance should have released. I‘ve never really cared too much for world music, and I wouldn’t consider Paavoharju true to that sense, but its definitely a cousin to the genre. Fairytale presence, classical gems, and worldsy influences mixed together by a “DJ Shadow(Pre “The Outsider” days) sound-a-like“.
Starts with a twinkle. Ends in a loud horrifying crash. I really can’t compare Fuck Buttons to anyone. Perhaps reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle? They are unique in a sense. But the sounds they play are somehow familiar. Mixing estranged guitar loops, “sui generis“ bleeps, and other effects nicely. In the background of the madness a small, but fierce vocal talent urges to rip past the “static“ sound. Fuck Buttons would be best described as an alluring desert made from layers upon layers of noise, brilliance, and annoyance or "Experimental-punk-tronic-ambient-world-noise music".
15. Coil - The New Backwards
I’ve loved Coil for years. Since last years “Part Two: The Endless Not” by Throbbing Gristle I’ve been on a search to complete the entire TG related artists/side projects catalogue. This is a huge task, that to be honest with you, I doubt I will ever be able to conquer. Nor could I afford it. Most of the items in this coveted “true to the truest sense of industrial” catalogue ranges from $40 and up. Yeah, its ridiculous. And yes I am a sucker for wanting it all, but damn, ITS SOOO GOOD. Coil have this game they play on their fans where they only release limited numbers of everything. Making it nearly impossible to find all the great releases they have. Seek out “Selvaggina Go Back Into The Woods“, if you can. It’s an amazing live album. ~Thanx Mp3 Fiesta, Я люблю Россию. Look it up;) Anyways Coil released an album titled “The Ape Of Naples” in 2005, which is probably their best album ever.” The New Backwards” is simply b-sides from that album, that until now have not been released. “The New Backwards” is one of the last albums recorded at the original Nothing Studios(Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails) in New Orleans before Katrina destroyed it. It is also some of the last documented evidence of John Balance’s genius. Coil is not for most, and I know at times they can make the listener feel squeamish and uncomfortable, but to me, they are perfect. Experimental-industrial from one of the most important bands in industrial music history ever. No make that ALL music history ever. I hate that you don’t love Coil yet.
This was surprising upset “#2” for me. In NO WAY is this a bad album. It’s quite astonishing actually. The production, writing style, thought process, ALL improved on this album. Compare this to any other “indie” act out there and it’s a 9+ album. Compare this album to previous Deerhunter albums, its, well, its “different”. As mentioned above production value has increased nearly ten-fold on this album. But it’s the “raw” “untouched” “punk” attitude of older Deerhunter that I miss. I am glad to hear this is still Deerhunter and not Atlas Sound (whom I also love). I had a fear he would just mix the two styles. Rather than straight forward lo-fi Shoegaze, its loud, up-beat, indie-oldie music. Deerhunter are still relatively fresh to the scene. And they are still emerging as one of today’s “most important”, yeah I said it, indie bands out there. Listen to “Calvary Scars II/ Aux Out” ..I believe they are just on the edge of releasing their opus.
Listen to “Taniec”. It’s no surprise that Jacaszek’s “Treny” made it on a lot of peoples year-end lists. Distant mechanized-bells pulsate underneath weeping violins, plucked cellos, angelic humming of Maja Sieminska(listen to “Taniec“), synth thrusts, more plucked strings, and reverberated pianos. Compare this to Julien Neto. Or Max Richter. Or Arve Henriksen. Get a good pair of headphones, find a desolate forest, go on a walk, don’t return. You’re witnessing the most delicate haunting ever. And seriously, listen, to “Taniec"
12. Gregor Samsa - Rest
If you haven’t listened to Gregor Samsa yet you may want to reconsider. If you like Efterklang, Sigur Ros, A Silver Mt Zion, Cyann And Ben, etc. you will find your new obsession is Gregor Samsa. “Rest” Is Gregor Samsa’s third full length. Once you’ve become obsessed with this album go get the “rest“, its all outstanding music. The same lush and thick layers that were on previous albums are still present here, a little more production value has been added. Even though this band has gone though nearly 30+ members they still grow tighter. Piano is the main instrument here. But it’s the small twinkles, plucks, slams, bangs, and held down notes in the background that create a gorgeous stage presence for all. Gorgeous and emotionally drenched post-rock. I expect these guys to be huge, and I could be wrong about that, but I shouldn’t be. It seems Gregor Samsa’s got a grip on me..
Standout Tracks: Ain Leuh, Abutting, Dismantling, Jeroen Van Aken, Rendered Yards, Pseudonyms, Du Meine Leise
Crystal Castles are a modern day Atari Teenage Riot. It was pretty obvious from 2007’s hoots and hollers that Crystal Castles were gonna blow up in 08, but I did not expect them to actually live up to that hype. Fun 8-16bit electronica bleeps and blurps over electro-clash style drumming with a dash of hardcore Punk and Disco. Great for the dance floor, car ride, morning get to work on time theme music, and any other fun event really. I believed I listened to the songs “Magic Spells” and “Courtship Dating” ten times in a row the first time I heard them. Oh, and don’t worry, the last track, “Tell Me What To Swallow”, will let you catch your breathe from the "dancey-chaos", ..only to take it away from you again. Its really hard not to love how effective this album is.
Standout Tracks: Alice Practice, Magic Spells, Xxzxcuzx Me, Air War, Courtship Dating, Good Time, Reckless, Tell Me What To Swallow
What a pleasant surprise this was. I have long considered myself a Gorillaz junkie. Their too catchy and fun not to respect them. On top of writing these incredibly awesome head bobbers they have also given us many other hidden gems. Check out “Hong Kong” from the album “D-Sides“. On "Journey To The Wesr", they pick yet another simian moniker. This is an opera, an animated opera. About a monkey’s journey to the west. Which I’m hoping comes to DVD soon. This is not stereotypical Gorillaz style. Its traditional Chinese-Folk music with hints of hip-pop and western classical influences. Really pretty music for a really pretty part of the world. This album was also used in conjunction with the 2008 Summer Olympics held in China. This is not the Gorillaz. This is Monkey, a concept, a journey, a breath of fresh air. Try out the song “Heavenly Peach Banquet”, if you are not awe-struck by this song, well, I just feel sorry for you, I guess. It’s great to hear major pop artists trying something as unusual and experimental as this.
9. Twine -Violets
I was glad to hear Twine was still around when I read about this release. Their self-titled 2003 album was one of the first Ghostly albums I ever owned. Its basically ambient field recordings, with guitar, clicks, cuts, and synths. Minimal ambience at best. On “Violets” they redefine themselves as more than just sound sculptors. They are now wave designers. Not just waves of music, but brain waves. On “Endormie”, guitar plucks set a backdrop to a broken civilization, while the voice of Cranes vocalist Alison Shaw adds the always precocious/cute side she’s perfected so well. The sounds on this album are very smooth with hints of dream pop. From disturbing family moments, to moments of serenity. This album is all over the ambient map, it could make you paranoid, or it could put you to sleep. I’m right in the middle of those two. "Violets" was well worth the wait. This is superior ambient music to most. If you don’t mind, Twine would like to sweep you away.
The only other Windy & Carl album I had was “Consciousness”, which is just ok. But hopefully, their weakest. I thought I would give them another go with “Songs For The Broken Hearted”. One of the best decisions I’ve made all year. Once again, another Kranky release that’s absolutely mind blowing. This is one of the most lush, brilliantly layered, one-note beautifully-held albums I’ve heard since M83’s “Dead Cities..” This is a slow-core band playing underwater on Quaaludes. If you’re a fan of Slowdive’s “Pygmalion” consider this it’s “Ambient Sequel”. If you are a fan of the Shoegaze/dream pop genre do not hesitate buying this. Prepare to be tucked in by Windy & Carl. Don’t worry, they’re gentle.
I’ll go ahead and admit it. I’m a huge Bradford Cox fan. I can appreciate everything he’s done for the music scene so far. I can appreciate all of the free mp3’s he likes to give away too. I can appreciate that I have over 140 Atlas Sound songs. Not to mention the other 100+ Deerhunter songs. He’s released so many EP’s and mini albums on line that are just soo damn amazing. So I was extremely excited for this album. In no way did it let me down. I’ve listened to “Let The Blind…” the most out of any other album that came out this year. This is NOT Deerhunter. This is lo-fi dream pop experimentally influenced with somewhat of a garage rock aesthetic.
This was surprising upset “#1” for me. I knew he was going for more of an 80’s influenced album. I knew he could do it perfectly. He did, but it’s the monster epics and layered synths from the earlier releases that I miss. Saturdays = Youth has the same problem Deerhunter has with “Microcastle“. Great album, but compared to older masterpieces, a let down or “different“. I also believe M83 is just on the edge of releasing yet another opus. But in my opinion, the more I listen to “Dead Cities..” the less I believe it will ever be topped. I would like to say I am 100% satisfied with this album, but that would be a lie. I don’t consider it bad at all though. It's just really different from what I was expecting. I will have to say the vocals on “Up!” are a bit of an “acquired taste”. Other than that every song serves its purpose and then some. Another thing about this album is, although not as good as previous efforts, its got some of the most well written M83 tracks (Skin Of The Night, Too Late) on it. It’s a new “Dawn” or Era for M83 and I’m ready to join, but I might always look back and wander.. Ive seen M83 four times now, and I can tell you I am seriously obsessed. This may be my favorite band(of all time?). So I will always have the HIGHEST expectations for any new M83 release. I will forever and always be happy and /or obsessed the minute I hear about new M83 releases as well. IHEARTM83.
Standout Tracks: Kim & Jessie, Skin Of The Night, Graveyard Girl, Couleurs, We Own The Sky, Too Late, Dark Moves Of Love, Midnight Souls Still Remain.
5. Sebastien Tellier - Sexuality
Seriously why isn’t Sebastien Tellier more famous in the states yet? America is so far behind on amazing music going down in France as we speak. On “Sexuality” Mr. Tellier enlists the help of
Standout Tracks: Roche, Kilometer, Pomme, Une Heure, Sexual Sportswear, Fingers Of Steel, Manty, L’Amour Et La Violence
I was introduced to Rio En Medio when they opened for Devendra Banhart. It was, indeed, an amazing show. At that time Rio En Medio had only released “Bride Of Dynamite” , which was terrific freak-folk gem. On “Frontier”, their second full-length, they have perfected a completely new style in folk; "Experimental Synth-Folk". If Midaircondo joined forces with Dead Can Dance sung by Marissa Nadler this would be their offspring. Pretty folk, great sampling, disturbing field recordings, non-sensical chants, frozen-cold synths, and reverberated magic. Please, even if you dislike “Folk” music, just try and give this one a shot, If you are an older, more comfortable soul, this should be right up your alley. Oh, and If your car windows are frosted over in the morning, take this with you.
Standout Tracks: Ferris, The Umbrella, The Diamond Wall, Venus Of Willendorf, The Last Child’s Tear, Fall Up, Nameless
You have no idea what you're getting yourselve into. Once Miko’s “Enchanting Magic-Spell” begins it won’t let go until the end. Your memory will be scarred with relaxation and youthful curiosity. You will only want more. Sound is bent and blended over guitar loops. Playful twinkles and windy atmospheres act as elements of glitter shaken from Rie Mitsutake over indulgent voice. There aren’t necessarily “real” lyrics throughout “Parade‘s” entirety but there’s a better sense of story telling then if there were more. There's lots of humming, and chanting. The drumming on this album can go from perfect simplicity to youthful playfulness. This is the most relaxing lullaby you can ever give to yourself. I had one of those “moments” I always talk about with this album. “Jagajaga” is one of the best tracks of the year. A surge of Krautrock is trying to escape underneath a modern electronic landscape. “A.M.” seems like the good theme song to start or end a day that was/will be pleasing to you. I hate when people tell me I’m acting like a child. It’s acting like a child that I think truly gave Rie Mitsutake her inspiration to create “Parade“. I get chills thinking to myself how 100% perfect this album is. File this beauty under one of the cutest/most relaxing albums you will ever hear. Gorgeous mind-altering tranquility, manifested through a truly adolescent individual with enough intellect and sensitivity to stop anyone dead in their tracks. Thank you Miko, I owe you one.
Here are some 2008 albums I haven't checked out yet,
but I will,
and I'll let you know
what I think:
The Caretaker - Persistent Repetition Of Phrases
Emeralds - Solar Bridge
Rod Modell - Incense And Blacklight
Optimo/Various - Sleepwalk
Aaron Martin - River Water