Top Electronic Albums of 2009

Posted by Oliver / Matt / Jordan, December 22, 2009 11:33am | Post a Comment

A Certain Distance
Ghostly International

Dj Sprinkles
Midtown 120 Blues

Patrick Cowley

Matias Aguayo
Ay Ay Ay

Moritz Von Oswald Trio
Vertical Ascent
Honest Jons

Telefon Tel Aviv
Immolate Yourself

Holger Zilske

Daniel Wang
Presents Balihu
Rush Hour

Three EP's

Dirt Crew

my top 50 albums of 2009...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 15, 2009 01:20pm | Post a Comment

thieves like us play music
Thieves Like Us
- Play Music (Shelflife)

This was one of those albums that I was excited about before I even heard it. I knew I would be falling in love with this one from the review alone. And the love only got stronger as time went on. I couldn't get enough of this one! It may not seem like much at first, but it truly is fantastic. I still don't know too much about this band. All I know is that they are from Sweden and they like New Order. The album is that sort of dark and new wave style but it doesn't really fall into one genre alone. Favorite songs on the album are "Fass," "Miss You," and "Drugs in My Body." The label Shelflife has put out good albums before, but nothing as good as this. I had really big hopes for this band this year to catch on in America but I don't think they ever really got that big here, which is the fate of many bands that I have fallen in love with before. They might just be a bit too weird or dark and slow. The album does not hit you over the head at first but it does get under your skin and the songs are catchy in their own special way. I highly recommend it. They do remind me a bit of the album by The Teenagers that I fell in love with last year, just without the silliness. A fantastic little album.

listen to "Fass" by Thieves Like Us...


buy the CD at

the pains of being pure at heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart -
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (Slumberland)

This album still gets me all happy and giggly -- even just looking at the album cover or saying the band's name out loud. The album cover reminds me of Strawberry Switchblade or My Bloody Valentine but The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sound more like Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura. This album is 100% pure twee pop, like nature intended it to be. The songs are cute and adorable but they are also so much more than that. They all tell a story and bring you into a different world, like watching your favorite movie when you are sad. This album can cure any bad mood...unless you hate twee music. Then it might make your mood a bit worse! But even then I think you might have a hard time not falling in love with this album. I saw them live at the Echo not too long after the album came out and it was a great show but I think they still had some stuff to work out. It was just hard to capture the brilliance of the album in a live setting. It is one of those records meant to be listened to in your own bedroom, music for those of us that grew up with The Cure and The Smiths; for those of those that fell in love with The Softies and The Aislers Set in the 90's. Slumberland was the perfect label for this band to end up on -- I really couldn't think of a better label for them. I have been a big fan of Slumberland for a while, since it brought us albums by The Softies, Boyracer, Velocity Girl, The Aislers Set, Henry's Dress, Lodger, Rocketship, and The Crystal Stilts. The Pains are one of my favorite discoveries of the year. I am happy to have them in my life.

listen to "Young Adult Friction" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart...

buy the CD at

Continue reading...

out 4/7 and 4/14...doves...bat for lashes...erasure...junior boys...juan maclean...

Posted by Brad Schelden, April 24, 2009 10:55pm | Post a Comment
bat for lashes
These last couple of weeks all seem to be weeks spent waiting in anticipation of new albums by some of my favorite groups. It is always exciting to first hear that second or third album by the bands that you fell in love with when their first album came out. It doesn't always work out like you had hoped -- that experience that you have when you first hear that first album by a new band can never be replicated. For some bands, the first time you are hearing them might be their second album, so then when you finally get around to hearing their first album it is sort of like going back in time, experiencing something that already happened. It is your first experience with the album but not your first experience with the band. Two of my favorite albums from 2006 were So This is Goodbye by The Junior Boys and Fur and Gold by Bat for Lashes. They both have new albums out this month. It is the second album for Bat for Lashes and the third for The Junior Boys. That first Bat for Lashes album seemed to come out of nowhere. One day I had never heard of them and the next day they were my favorite band. Bat for Lashes isn't really a them -- it is just a her. Natasha Khan is Bat For Lashes. The new album does not disappoint. I have been listening to the single "Daniel" over and over again for the last couple of months. She is sort of a mix of Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, and Bjork. A nightmare for anyone not fond of the weird dark female singers, but a great new artist to fall in love with for those of us who like the weird ladies.

This new album is called Two Suns. It is one of those super sad albums that manages to somehow also have some joy and happiness hidden inside of of those albums that has the ability to make you cry but yet you still keep going back to, like a really good dark movie that you can't stop watching. I didn't get a chance to see her tour for the last album but I will be making an effort to see her this time around. She is playing at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on June 13th and at the El Rey in Los Angeles on June 16th. I will be there for sure. I really do love the album cover as well. It is a nice combination of Stevie Nicks and Rozz Williams from Christian Death, but it also sort of makes me think of the cover of some Goa Trance album. I recommend you get some Bat For Lashes in your life. But start with her first album if you have not yet enjoyed it. Bat for Lashes also does a great cover of "The Forest" by the Cure. You can find it as the b-side on the 7" for "Daniel, and it is also on the Cure tribute album that came out a couple of months ago called Perfect as Cats. There have been about 20 Cure tributes but this one is a bit different and is actually very good.

The new Junior Boys album is called Begone Dull Care. This album is yet another one of my current favorites. It is the reason that I have not been able to spend as much time as I would like with some other albums that have come out recently. I keep coming back to it. The first song on the album "Parallel Lines" is a nice intro to the album, but the best song on the album comes two songs later-- "Bits and Pieces" made me fall in love with the album. It is just one of those songs that has already marked this month for me in my memory. I am probably about to wear out this song. I tend to do that too often. I wish I could cherish it more and only listen to it sparingly, but instead I listen to it over and over again until I finally get a little sick of it. Lucikly that has not happened to me just yet. I still have a couple more weeks to go with it. I always go for the albums with the most synth and electronics. Junior Boys are great at creating playful electronic songs. They don't necessarily make me want to get up and dance, they just make me feel good. The songs are the nice and mellow synthpop that I have come to expect from the Junior Boys.

The new album by The Juan Maclean got me to forget about the Junior Boys for just a bit. I had heard that it sounded like a Human League album before I actually got a chance to hear it myself. Being a big Human League fan, this only made me more excited to hear it. I was looking forward to a more modern sounding Human League, but this albums does really sound like a Human League album. Like, exactly. I love it. The song "One Day" is one of the best on the album. It could have easily been a single by Animotion, The Thompson Twins, or The Human League. I always love the songs that have the back and forth male/female singing. I don't know why, but I love it every time. The contrast just sounds great up against each other. I am quickly filling up my list of my favorite songs of the year, and it is only April. I do like the whole album a lot, but I keep going back to this song. It will be just like that Junior Boys song, only I don't see myself getting over it any time soon. Juan Maclean is actually John Maclean. He was in the great band that was Six Finger Satellite. The Juan Maclean goes in a much different direction, but it works for him. With a little help from DFA and James Murphy he sort of found himself with The Juan Maclean. This is his second album as The Juan Maclean but I actually like this one better. I am going to happily be going back into a Human League phase soon thanks to this album, but for now I will just keep listening to this Juan Maclean album. For sure this will be one of the most fun dance records of the year.

I really would have been satisfied for the rest of the year with the albums that have already come out so far. I didn't need any more. I still have some quality time that I need to spend with the albums that came out towards the end of last year. There are even some albums from 2008 that I am still discovering. My coworker just turned me onto Telefon Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago. Somehow I escaped through last year without having listened to their new album until now. Immolate Yourself is now one of my favorite albums from last year that I fell in love with this year. It is one of those albums that I feel like was made especially for me, as if I just thought it up myself, combining different elements of all sorts of bands I love and putting it all together on one album. The band is very similar to M83 -- dark and super interesting electronics. One of the main members of the band also just died under some mysterious circumstances very recently. It makes me sad I didn't get into the band earlier. It also gives the album an extra layer of darkness. It is a brilliant album and already has a very special place in my heart. It reminds me of Bark Psychosis as well. Good sad stuff.

But it does get even better. The album that tops them all is the debut album by Thieves Like Us. I have managed to quickly fall deeply in love with this band in a matter of weeks. It is getting to the point where I don't want to listen to anything else. I still hardly know anything about this band, I just know I love them. I got really obsessed with that album Reality Check by The Teenagers last year. It reminds me of that, just without the humor. A bit more dark and intense, but still super catchy. Two of the guys in the band are from Sweden and the third is from the United States. That is about where my knowledge of the band stothieves like usps. Their Wikipedia page even got deleted. There are so many great songs on this album -- you can quickly fall in love all of them. I am warning you now that this album is super addictive. They have elements of lots of different bands, but it is hard to really compare them to anything. Maybe they remind be a bit of the Legendary PInk Dots mixed with some New Order. You just have to listen to them. I have big hopes for this band. My favorite song is probably "Fass," but I really, really love "Miss You" and "Sugar and Song" as well. I just want everyone to love this album as much as I do. Part of me wants to keep it as my little secret, but I know Thieves Like Us already has tons of fans and I am sure all those fans will keep spreading the word about how great this band is. You can visit them here on their myspace page. Here are some videos of their songs as well. You must fall in love with them like I have. I don't know how you can't...

"Drugs In My Body" by Thieves Like Us...

"Fass" by Thieves Like Us...

also out 4/7...
doves kingdom of rust

Kingdom of Rust by The Doves

erasure total pop

Total Pop! Deluxe box set by Erasure

Positive Rage by Hold Steady

Now We Can See by The Thermals

Miroir Noir DVD by Arcade Fire

score! 20 years of merge

Score! 20 Years of Merge Records

Repo by Black Dice

Leaves in the Gutter by Superchunk

Tentacles by Crystal Antlers

Telekinesis! by Telekinesis!

Atlantic Ocean by Richard Swift

casiotone for the painfully alone vs. children

Vs. Children by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

Jigsaw by Lady Sovereign

Scramble by The Coathangers

also out 4/14...

One Foot In the Grave deluxe version by Beck

Gentlemania by Kevin Blechdom

bill callahan

Sometimes I Wish I Were an Eagle by Bill Callahan

death cab for cutie ep

Open Door EP by Death Cab For Cutie

Sleepwalking Through the Mekon by Dengue Fever

Fortress Round My Heart by Ida Maria

Fantasies by Metric

You Can Have What Want by The Papercuts

Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian by Prefuse 73

Swoon by The Silversun Pickups

telepathe dance mother

Dance Mother by Telepathe

Filth by Venetian Snares

Dos by Wooden Shjips


Belong's October Language: 2006 treasure of static and buzz

Posted by Mark Beaver, March 13, 2009 02:07pm | Post a Comment

I get a strange thrill out of stumbling upon albums that sound exactly like what their cover suggests -- in this case, the ancient decaying photo of a pioneer-era buiding, probably from Belong's hometown of New Orleans; the spaces where the color saturates and the many spots where all color and image have been wiped away by time and the elements. October Language is the aural equivalent.

Compared to electronic frontiersmen like Fennesz and William Basinski, Belong (composed, for this recording, of conspirators Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones) make sounds that seem to be in the process of disappearing even as they first appear. The opening track, "I Never Lose. Never Really." begins with a tone like hearing an orchestra muted through the walls of a building, as if the swelling adagio would come through crystal clear if someone would just open the right door. Then it all begins to descend beneath an increasing tide of swirling static.

I find the whole album to be, essentially, meditational. There is a profound silence at the center of it, not unlike modern classical compositions by the likes of Arvo Part, Toru Takemitsu or Henryk Gorecki. The focus on electronics and instruments more often associated with Rock makes October Language more immediately reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless than anything within the Classical tradition.

There are very few vocal tones on the album, another factor that pulls it away from the Rock genre, and the pure focus on the build and wane of the sound and atmosphere places it among my favorite listens of the last few years.

Look around for it. For now, you'll find it cheap. If they keep producing albums of this strength, I don't imagine their out of print work will remain so for long. Belong also released two vinyl-only works in 2008, the one-sided, etched 12" Same Places (Slow Version):

and the 4-track 12" ep Colorloss Record: