Top 10 Albums of 2015: #10-6

December 24th, 2015 | Features | 1 Comment

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2015. It was ok year. Not the greatest, not the worst. I’d say that applies both to my life personally, and the albums that came out. Here were some I liked in order.

10. Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire

If I had to say why I liked this album in comparison with other Lightning Bolt albums, I would have to take some more time to diferentiate them. As it stands, this was definitely an album I listened to and liked a lot this year, my first as a resident of Brooklyn. Lightning Bolt, even though they’ve moved back to Rhode Island, are so emblematic of Brooklyn. Like, the good Brooklyn, the cool Brooklyn – basically Bushwick, or Williamsburg ten years ago. It’s scrappy, minimal, badass, tattooed, noisy, young, experimental, ferocious. Don’t ever change, LB. At least not too much.

9. Bjork – Vulnicura

Vulnicura is relatively low on my list because I always kind of lost interest as the album went along. But even so, I can’t deny that this contains a wealth of gorgeous and astoundingly honest music. Definitely one of my favourite Bjork albums. The orchestration is incredible, and Bjork‘s vocal performances throughout thoroughly moving.

8. Frog Eyes – Pickpocket’s Locket

Sometimes a great band is rewarded by a lack of success. Whereas mediocre bands may blow up briefly, then spend the rest of their careers trying to live up to the moment in time they’re forever associated with, a great band that exists in relative obscurity, but with a dedicated fanbase, can keep pushing itself and developing over time, untethered to a particular time or sound.

I saw Frog Eyes at the too-cool-for-school venue Babys All Right in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago. It was amazing how honest and real Frog Eyes seemed compared to so many of the other shit hot hipster bands I’ve seen play the same stage in the last year or so that I’ve been living in NYC. I think maybe it had to do with the fact that Frog Eyes was older than most bands that play there. They’re at the age when people have a family and a mortgage and stop caring about looking cool. It was just refreshing.

I always felt like Frog Eyes could (in some alternate universe with more critical discernment) have blown up a couple years ago, but didn’t and have been kind of persisting in that void of disappointment ever since. Listen to how much slower, and less energetic their albums have become – though ultimately I believe that’s been for the better. They’ve made the best albums of their career in that void, including Paul’s Tomb, Carey’s Cold Spring, and this year’s Pickpocket’s Locket. Putting dollars and cents aside, maybe the lack of great, big success for this great, little band has been better for everyone in the long run.

7. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness

Another wonderful Julia Holter album of striking composition and impeccable arrangements.

6. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons

An album that caught me with its cool title and kept with me its deep swirls of beautiful sound. I spent a lot of hours listening to it while studying.

Check back tomorrow for #5-1!

Valiska

December 5th, 2015 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

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A trip to ‘the old country’ inspires a glacial set of compositions from modern-classical Calgarian experimentalist Valiska. (via Weird Canada)

Germaphobes

November 27th, 2015 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

germaphobes

Some goofballs called Germaphobes from my hometown of T-dot, Ontario made some nice tunes. (via Aux.tv)

Blood Moon // Ancient Ocean

November 22nd, 2015 | This Is New York | 0 Comments

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Blood Moon‘s Ancient Ocean is another album that caught my eye at Academy Records, where I think they had it on the shelf where the staff put what they like. It came out in June, so I’m a bit late on this…

Essentially the full-length vinyl debut of prolific Brooklyn-via-Louisville composer J. R. Bohannon, Ancient Ocean is a beautiful work consisting of four long ambient pieces. Admittedly, when I hear that something is ‘ambient’ I usually think ‘boring’ and pass on it. But nobody told me this was ambient music before I checked it out (based on the cool band and album name+cover), so I just fell into it. And ended up really liking it.

Ancient Ocean sounds like the album cover looks: somber, aery, ornate. Synth and violin tones emanate, roll and collide like layers of heavy, engulfing fog. There’s a great depth to it. I like to listen to it while doing my law school reading.

The Nature Zine

November 15th, 2015 | Print | 0 Comments

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I’m a big fan of zines. They’re an obsolete media form, but I cherish them in the same nostalgic, idiosyncratic, non-sensical way I cherish vinyl and cassettes. My favourite place to find them in New York is at Bluestockings book store, especially because the store often has really interesting ones about political and/or ideological stuff. I found the Nature Zine there, and since I love reading about nature and nature-y stuff, especially before I go to sleep these days (it calms me down), I’ve bought all three volumes of the Nature Zine as I’ve been able to find them on Bluestockings‘ shelves.

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Each volume of the Nature Zine is a collection of short essays, photos, recipes and other miscellaneous writing relating to the natural world. The most interesting pieces are the essays (the recipes have more than three things and are therefore too daunting for me). The best are those that get philosophical about the way we, as humans living in the modern world, relate to what we’ve termed ‘nature’, examining the social and political repercussions of this. But a big part of the charm of the Nature Zine (and most zines in general) is its collage-y mix of everything into one compiled work, so I’m glad the zines are not just essays – even if the piece about how to identify venomous snakes wasn’t that interesting to me. It’s very possible somebody’s life will be saved by that, so, you know, it might be good that its there.