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50 Favorite Albums of 2011

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 18, 2011 12:00am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. As you may know, I've worked in Hollywood for 8 years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. This is my extensive list of 2011 releases that I fell in love with or had hot and heavy affairs with this year.

50 Favorite Albums of 2011



  1. Wild Beasts Smother

In 2008, Brit quartet Wild Beasts released their shaky-legged -but- stunning debut, Limbo Panto. In the four years since, the band has released two thoroughly dazzling masterpiece full-lengths of deceptively delicate indie rock, lyrically bent towards looking in the dark recesses of the heart and libido, largely sung by co-vocalist Hayden Thorpe in his trademark falsetto. Smother finds the band adding a new restraint to their arrangements that allows the tension in the lyrics to hit with hair-on-end chills. It is a singular LP by a singular band that I expect will eventually reach a Radiohead-level stratosphere. 

Continue reading...

Black Light District's Best Dark Music Albums of The '00's

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 23, 2009 12:45pm | Post a Comment
Last week, I posted Black Light District's year-end best of list, which was a breeze to compile compared to reviewing the last 10 years for this week's post -- the 20 Best Dark Music Albums of The Decade. I had to whittle away many great titles, but I believe these records have proven to be or will prove to be dark classics for years to come. See ya next year, kids...

1. Coil – The Ape of Naples / The New Backwards (2005/08)


John Balance’s passing was one of the great tragedies in the music world this past decade. It was especially sad to see one of his greatest works be released posthumously. The recordings on The Ape of Naples and its (later-released) sister album, The New Backwards (collected together in the limited Ape of Naples LP box set), date back as far as 1993 when the band was briefly signed to Trent Reznor’s Nothing label, but went unfinished until 2004 when the group returned to the abandoned material for their new album. Gorgeous Funeral-Folk, third-eye electronics and captured transmissions from beyond The Threshold.

Listen: Coil "Fire of the Mind"




2. Diamanda Galas – Defixiones, Will and Testament (2003)

Diamanda has been scaring and thrilling me since I was a teenager and first heard the double-miked insanity that is Plague Mass
. Her wrath is visceral and unrelenting, and is not something I would like to incur. EVER. She once referred to her voice as “an instrument of inspiration for my friends, and a tool of torture and destruction to my enemies.” And that is exactly how she uses it on Defixiones, Will and Testament -- which not only stands as one of the best albums of the decade, but also as one of Diamanda’s ultimate masterpieces. This album is meant to give voice to those lives lost in the Armenian, Assyrian, and Anatolian Greek genocides which occurred between 1914 and 1923 via Galas’ other-worldy four-octave voice, piano, tape and minimal electronics. Harrowing, devastating, emotionally eructative, yet scholarly focused. The album, for its weight, intensity and scope, has no peers. 

                                                                  Listen: Diamanda Galas "Holokoftoma"





3. Nový Svět - Chappaqua (2001)

The now-defunct Austrian duo, Novy Svet, while largely associated with the Neofolk genre in the early part of this decade, was a truly singular band. Their post-industrial sound included bits of wonky lounge, Mediterranean folk, minimal wave, electro, krautrock, dark ambient and jazz. Their lyrics are sung in everything from English, Spanish, and German to Italian, French and even Esperanto. One’s inability to pin the duo down to one genre is a testament to their unique genius. While nearly any one of their 11 full-length albums could have made this list, Chappaqua is the first stand-out amongst their many stand-outs. It is the early masterpiece in their catalog for its unnervingly sinister ambience and dark romanticism -- sounding like nothing else in the year 2001, before, or after. 
                                                                 
                                                                  Listen: Nový Svět "En Posesion De Te"




4. The Knife - Silent Shout (2005)

Music for a David Lynch film that doesn’t exist but should from weirdo Swedish Brother/Sister Duo.
The Dreaming-style weirdly-pitched and occasional Eastern scale vocals, memorable melodies, bizarre story-telling and general eerie atmosphere make this one of the darkly defining and classic albums of the decade.

Listen: The Knife "One Hit" 






5. Subtonix – Tarantism (2002)

Subtonix was one of the only Deathrock bands to do it right this decade. They reclaimed the flame and moved the genre forward. Combining elements of Christian Death, X-Ray Spex, Fuzzbox and feminism with a Gothic Horror aesthetic at now- legendarily frenzied live shows, this is the one LP they left us with and it holds up with the classics from the original 1980’s Deathrock-wave.


Listen: Subtonix "Berlin 1930"




6. Cold CaveLove Comes Close (2009)


Like Subtonix were to Deathrock, Cold Cave is to Synthpop. Love Comes Close is an infectious slab of 9 inspired Darkwave and Synthpop anthems. Cold Cave couldn't have timed their debut any better either, with Synthpop bound for a big comeback with the release of BBC's stellar documentary Synth Britannia. Read my review of
Love Comes Close from earlier this year here.

                          Listen: Cold Cave "Heaven Was Full"






7. The Vanishing – Still Lifes Are Failing (2004)

After Subtonix, saxophonist/vocalist Jessie Evans (then Jessie Trashed) moved on to the more synth-heavy band, The Vanishing. Starting out with a relatively traditional Deathrock-vibe, the group eventually evolved into a more hypnotic dark electro/industrial sound, which can be found on the intense Still Lifes Are Failing. A record very much of its environment, Still Lifes funnels all the fear, war, excess and confusion of the last decade into a tight yet frenetic set that moves from the paranoid to the celebratory and back in under an hour. One of the best live bands of the decade finally was able to distill some of what made them so special live into a studio record. 

                                                                 Listen: The Vanishing "Still Lifes"






8. Wolves in The Throne Room – Diadems of 12 Stars (2006)

Epic, transcendental Black Metal that set the new bar. Folk, Goth, Shoegaze and Blackened Metal collide on the debut (and still the band's best as a whole) from the Olympia, Washington forest-dwellers. As important to American Metal’s evolution as Weakling’s Dead As Dreams.

Listen: Wolves In The Throne Room "(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars" PART 1
                                                                 
                                                                 PART 2




9. Rome – Masse Me
nsch Material (2008)

Honestly, any one of Rome’s records could have made this list, but I do believe Masse Mensch Material is the strongest of
masterstrokes from this young yet wonderfully prolific “Chanson Noir” collective. Rome built its foundation on Neofolk but has brazenly forged its own path, consistently improving and evolving on each consecutive release. They came out of nowhere and knocked all the hapless hushed neo-strummers on their asses and then kicked them into the dirt. The band further evolved on their 2009 release, Flowers From Exile (#7 0f 2009), adding poppier melodies and expanded instrumentation such as flamenco guitar to their soundscape. This definitely made Mensch the closing of the first chapter in the Rome story, and also effectively made it the band’s strongest effort as a ‘post-Industrial’ or ‘Neofolk’ outfit. Also, none of frontman Jerome Reuter’s peers can compete with his classic gothic tenor. 
                                                                
Listen: Rome "Der Brandtaucher"




10. Ruby Throat – The Ventriloquist (2007)

Stellar debut from Katiejane Garside's Folk-Noir project with guitarist Chris Wittingham. Ethereal pyscho-sexual musings to stark transgressive murder-balladry to sixteen-minute-long Apocalyptic/Psychedelic folk tracks. An amazing new peak for Garside, an already consistently powerful artist.


Listen: Ruby Throat "Lie To Me"




11.  Weakling - Dead As Dreams (2000)


Listen: Weakling "Cut Their Grain And Place Fire Therein" PART 1
                             
PART 2











12. Der Blutharsch - When Did Wonderland End? (2005)


Listen: Der Blutharsch "So Bring Your Iron Rain Down"









13. Bain Wolfkind – Music For Lovers & Gangsters (2005)


Listen: Bain Wolfkind "I Only Get Turned On..."

 









14. Ludicra – Hollow Psalms (2002)
 
Listen: Ludicra "The Final Lamentation"





 






15.  Piano Magic – Disaffected (2005)


Listen: Piano Magic "Night Of The Hunter"














16. Turn Pale – Kill The Lights! (2003)


Listen: Turn Pale "Lights Melt Away"

 












17. Cult of Youth – A Stick to Bind, A Seed To Grow (2008)


Listen: Cult of Youth "Torch of Man"


 










18. The Gault - Even As All Before Us (2004)


Listen: The Gault "Bright White Blind"

 












19. Spiritual Front - Armageddon Gigolo (2005)


Listen: Spiritual Front "Love Through Vaseline"














20. Tor Lundvall - Sleeping And Hiding (2009) 


Listen: Tor Lundvall "Falling Trees"











Honorable Mentions:

Nachtmystium – Instinct: Decay
(2006)

Derniere Volonte – Devant Le Miroir (2006)

Crebain – Night of Stormcrow (2003)

Of The Wand and The Moon - Sonnenheim (2005)
 
Pest - Ad Se Ipsum (2002)




Black Light District's Top Dark Music Albums of 2009

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 16, 2009 01:22pm | Post a Comment
Folks at Amoeba Hollywood like to refer to the area in the store where the Goth/Industrial and Metal Sections reside as the "Dark Corner."  Black Light District is sort of a virtual extension of The Dark Corner (as well as its former resident, the Experimental section), so the year end lists here reflect those flavors and also include those darker-leaning titles from the creepier nooks in the rock section. Next week, we'll examine the 20 best of the decade. Now without further adieu...2009's greatest from the darker realms....


1. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close (CD/LP) [Heartworm/Matador]

Love Comes Close is an infectious slab of 9 inspired dark-wave and synth-pop anthems. Cold Cave couldn't have timed their debut any better either, with synthpop bound for a big comeback with the release of BBC's stellar documentary Synth Britannia. Read my review of Love Comes Close from earlier this year here.

Listen: Cold Cave "Heaven Was Full"



2. Tor Lundvall - Sleeping & Hiding (LP)
[Dais]

Come-down album of the year! Need a soundtrack while hiding in a secluded cabin in the forest? A score for floating or drowning? Astral-projection? Look no further! Nods to Pygmalion-era Slowdive and Steven Reich....Gorgeous.

Listen: Tor Lundvall "Falling Trees"







3. Fever Ray – S/T  (CD/LP) [Rabid]

Fever Ray (aka The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson) makes very filmic music. Dark & neon, not unlike Shriekback's contributions to Michael Mann's Manhunter soundtrack but with pitched-down vocals that sound thick and woozy like a NyQuil trip. Psychedelic, creepy, perfect.


         Listen: Fever Ray  "Keep The Streets Empty For Me"






4. Piano Magic – Ovations (CD/LP) [Darla]

Piano Magic call in heavy-hitter Gothic Godfathers Brendan Perry and Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance for their tenth LP, Ovations. Perry's vocals help the album reach its apparent goal of sounding like an O.G. 4AD release, recalling not only DCD but Cocteau Twins, and This Mortal Coil while also lovingly mining Gloom Pop and Shoegaze territory. Ominous, foreboding, and quite beautiful. Frontman Glen Johnson was on a roll this year, also releasing his stellar solo LP, Details Not Recorded.

            Listen: Piano Magic "Recovery Position"
 
                                                                                                                        Listen: Piano Magic
                                                                                             featuring Brendan Perry "The Nightmare Goes On"



5. Ruby Throat – Out of a Black Cloud Came A Bird (CD) [Sleepslikewolves]

Katiejane Garside became quite prolific this decade with three separate projects running in tandem with each other; the long-running Queen Adreena with former Daisy Chainsaw cohort Crispin Grey, her solo project Lalleshwari, and her Folk-Noir duo with guitarist Chris Wittingham, Ruby Throat. Out of A Black Cloud... is Ruby Throat's sophomore release and was released in a limited run this past November (no fear, a standard CD edition is on its way soon). Black Cloud finds Garside's unsettling and psycho-sexual fairytale-stylings covered in ethereal-psychedelic dream-wrap courtesy of Wittingham's instrumentation. Her voice is equal parts PJ Harvey, Alison Shaw (Cranes), and Hope Sandoval -- though sometimes a bit of Diamanda's babelogue madness creeps in.



6. Jessie Evans – Is It Fire? (CD/LP) [Fantomette]

Jessie Evans (Subtonix, The Vanishing, Autonervous) reinvents herself as the sultry siren with the orgy-inducing maracas. Budgie (Banshees, The Creatures) and Toby Dammit (Swans, Iggy Pop) show up for the party. See my review from earlier this year here.

Listen: Jessie Evans "Blood & Silver"





7. Rome – Flowers From Exile (CD) [Trisol]

The extremely prolific, self-proclaimed "Chanson Noir" group’s most accessible, textured, and varied album to date. Intricate neofolk arrangements of Flamenco guitar, strings, spoken-word samples and eerie & subtle synths ordered around electronic beats and acoustic percussion. Dark, longingly romantic balladry with deep tenor-Leonard Cohen-via-Andrew
Eldritch vocals from frontman Jerome Reuter. Top Notch!

Listen: Rome "We Who Fell In Love With The Sea"



8. Der Blutharsch – Flying High!(CD/2LP) [WKN]

The Austrian apocalyptic-industrial collective Der Blutharsch’s most seamless and cohesive of its “rock n’ roll” triptych. Read my review from earlier this year here.










9. Funeral Mist – Maranatha (CD/2LP)
[Norma Evangelium Diaboli]

It’s certainly not groundbreaking in the Black Metal genre to hate on religious dogma, but Funeral Mist’s sole member Arioch (aka Mortuus, current lead vocalist for Marduk) makes a gloriously blasphemous racket when he gets his hateration on. Youngsters, take note: Black Metal should be increasingly more like this -- with trumpets and sick-ass choirs!

Listen: Funeral Mist "Anti-Flesh Nimbus"



                                                                                
10. Current 93 – Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain (CD/2LP) [Coptic Cat]

Current 93 adds another landmark to its immense discography. This is David Tibet’s greatest masterwork since Of Ruine Or Some Blazing Starre or The Inmost Light trilogy. Heavy, doom-laden guitars and occasionally-treated vocals accompany Tibet’s feverish tales of apocalypse. It also features the oddest of odd guest appeances, including cameos from Rickie Lee Jones and Erotic Film Star Sasha Grey. Also check out the AMAZING Andrew Liles’ Mono-mix of the album, Monohallucinatory Mountain.

                          Listen: Current 93 "April 26 2007"



11. Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade (CD/2LP ) and Malvolent Grain (12"EP/CD-R)
[Southern Lord]



12. Andrew Liles – Ouarda (CD)
[Dirter]



13. Former Ghosts – Fleurs (CD/LP)
[Upset the Rhythm]



14. Xeno & Oaklander – Sentinille (CD/LP)
[Weird]



15. Amesoeurs - S/T (CD/LP)
[Profound Lore]




16. Yoga – Megafauna (CD/LP)
[Holy Mountain]




17. All Hail The Transcending Ghost – S/T (CD)
[Cold Spring]




18. Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light (CD/LP)
[Secretly Canadian]




19. Cobalt – Gin (CD)
[Profound Lore]



20. Yellow Tears – Don’t Cry (LP)
[Hospital Productions]




Honorable Mentions:

Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With The Stars (CD/2LP)
[Candlelight]

Throbbing Gristle - The Third Mind Movements (CD)
[Industrial]

Worm Ouroboros - S/T (CD)
[Profound Lore]

Les Paradisiers – More Tales From The Garden (LP)
[Disques de Lapin]

Beherit - Engram (CD)
[Spinefarm]

Birth! - S/T (Cassette)
[This Head Is For Burning]

Habitat – Code Gray (CD-R) 
[Self-Released]



Best Compilation of 2009:


Various Artists - Pagan Folk und Apocalyptic Psychedelia
(CD)
[Steinklang Industries]

Excellent  (and inexpensive!) comp of the ever-growing traditionalist, pagan and psychedelic movements within the Apocalyptic Folk genre. Features exceptional tracks from The Joy of Nature, Jahrtal, Allerseelen, Sangre Cavallum, and TONS more. All songs are taken from releases on the Ahnstern, Heimatfolk, Percht and Vrihaspati labels. An amazing rainy day listen.


 



Best Reissues/Vault Releases:

1. Bauhaus -
In The Flat Field & Mask Omnibus Editions
(CD Box Sets) [4AD/Beggars]

2.
Skinny Puppy – Last Rights (2LP+CD) [Nettwerk]

3. Coum Transmissions – The Sound of Porridge Bubbling (LP)
[Dais]


4. Sixx - Sister Devil (CD/LP)

[Nuclear War Now Productions]

5. Cold Cave – Cremations (CD/LP)[Hospital Productions]

Honorable Mention:


Death in June - Symbols & Clouds (Box Set) [NERUS]