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Best of 2011: PST

Posted by Billy Gil, December 14, 2011 06:30pm | Post a Comment
Oh hey! It's time for some top 50 album love.

1. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
 
Longtime devotees of Anthony Gonzalez’s M83 got to see him make good on the promises of his previous albums, all of which are great in their own way, on this unabated masterpiece. Across two albums’ worth of material, Gonzalez’s childlike ethos spreads across synth pop dreamscapes taken to arena-level sonic and emotional territory in a way that never feels trite or untrue. If he overreaches, he does it in the best way possible.

2.  Toro y Moi – Underneath the Pine
 
Chaz Bundick’s second album is a light-year’s jump over 2010’s chillwave capsule Causers of This, an album that seems to take a young lifetime’s worth of backseat radio listening and picks just the choicest bits, whether its early hip-hop or psychedelic rock or cool jazz, filtering it through Bundick’s too-cool specs.
 
       3. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
 
PJ Harvey’s perfect instincts have guided her through the starkest of emotional territory with only the most necessary accompaniment. She continues that trend here, on an album reflecting on war and England’s history in a way that feels loose and not heavy-handed, aided by strangely fitting samples and tasteful effects, but still allowing for the emotional sucker punches she’s so adept at (“I’ve seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat” in “The Words That Maketh Murder” is one for the ages).

4.  Dirty Beaches – Badlands
 
Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai is a master of minimalism. Over pitch-black surf riffs he plays and then samples, he breathes, whispers and cries tales of teenage longing inspired by ’50s rock ‘n’ roll (“Sweet 17,” “True Blue”), unearthing the dirt beneath the saccharine. At only eight tracks, two of them wordless, Badlands is the year’s most beguiling release.
 
       5. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
 
Hip-hop that feels worlds removed from the realm of hip-hop, this forward-thinking album manages to stay fun while its psychedelic tones intimate something more cerebral and transcendent.
 
      6. Real Estate – Days
 
While Real Estate seemed primed to take the throne as leaders of the reverb pack with their self-titled debut in 2009, this glorious jangle-pop opus puts them more in line to grab the torch from the departing R.E.M.
 
        7. Iceage – New Brigade
 
Real noise punk from Danish teens that rocks so hard it puts just about every other band alive to shame in comparison.

2011: That Which Doesn't Kill Us Makes Things Longer

Posted by Job O Brother, December 13, 2011 11:03am | Post a Comment
vintage father time
"Why couldn't I have been the year with Obamacare?"

Oh, 2011! Can it be it’s only been a year since I knew ye? This was a year of firsts: The first time I had a kitten who liked to lick new, clean plastic with an almost fetishistic zeal; the first year I lived in Los Angeles without working the floor at my beloved Amoeba Music Hollywood (I miss you, desperate holiday shoppers!); the first year I grew more than one grey hair at the same time (I blame you, traffic on Fairfax!)

It was also the year I suddenly, and without any obvious explanation, decided I loved and wanted to see any and all films of the horror genre. This came as a surprise to me. My boyfriend accuses me often of only liking films where nothing ever happens – preferably with a lone clock ticking in the corner of an otherwise quiet room. It annoys me when he claims this, mostly because I cannot defend myself.

The horror section in Amoeba Music’s DVD section provided me with many hours of happy judging-a-book-by-its-cover moments. Some gems I was hypnotized by were…

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