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Old 12-30-2012, 03:48 PM   #21 (permalink)
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3. Marcus D - Melancholy Hopeful


Hip-hop, rap and everything else in between has had decades to solidify itself in the minds of millions across the world: the connoisseurs of the style will tell you one style or discipline is better than another, that Gucci Mane can oust Ghostface Killah at the drop of a match, and so on an so forth. But from my perspective, hip-hop is yet another genre where the real meat is not provided by who raps or by what is said...but rather by the sonic composition which underlies those surface hooks.

In that regard, Seattle's Marcus D is the sort of bedroom producer some of you probably know in real life: young, savvy, and something of a prodigy once you get him into a studio with his laptop and some good recording equipment. That being said, what makes him interesting is whom he derives his musical inclinations from -- Jun Seba, AKA Nujabes, deceased in a horrible car accident back in 2010 and the undisputed king of jazz-rap production. His solo material is at this point legendary even among people who aren't normally into hip-hop, and his collaborations with rappers like Funky DL and Substantial pretty much defines how jazz-inflected lyrical beatage sounds today.

Melancholy Hopeful is Marcus's sophomore record, funded entirely through Kickstarter, and I'm really damn happy it got made at all in all honestly. It's a record that feels and sounds, in every sense imaginable, like the kind of LP Nujabes himself would have created if he'd continued making music. Not the point of imitation exactly (less piano, more urban groove), but considering that many of the rappers featured here are people who have worked with the deceased maestro in the past (Cise Star, Shing02, Substantial, Funky DL), its hard to listen to this and not feel a bit...well, melancholic. This isn't a tribute record, but Marcus's choice in collaborators doesn't feel coincidental either.

But what can I say really that others couldn't point out immediately upon listening? The songs themselves are excellent for the most part, featuring a lot of sax, brass and the occasional violin flourish, held together by a dreamlike progression that dances from cut to cut with different tempos, atmospheres and arrangements. There's three instrumentals here, one featuring Emancipator! And whilst the overtly self-conscious lyrical nature of jazz-rap sometimes gets a tad glaring ('Streets Lament'), there are some real monsters here like the R&B flavored 'Fly' and the dazzling 'Night On The Town', where all the album's guests come together to craft the best hip-hop number of 2012, hands down.

Perhaps the first jazz-rap record to emerge in the wake of Nujabes's death that actually comes up to eye level with the best stuff he did while alive, Melancholy Hopeful is also a powerful release from a very promising young producer. One can only salivate at what the future holds in store for him if the quality displayed here is of any indication.






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Old 12-31-2012, 04:50 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I didn't even know that Melody Gardot record was out, so thanks for that! I'll be straight on that. Theres a few albums here I haven't heard of as well, so looks like this is a thread to pay close attention to.

Great work, Anteater.
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:24 PM   #23 (permalink)
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mojo: Didn't know you were a fan of her: awesome! I'm still surprised more people don't talk about her around here though, especially now that we're at the end of the year.

2. Motorpsycho & Ståle Storløkken - The Death Defying Unicorn


There's something deliciously liberating about a band just cutting the fuck loose and attempting to record something as grandiose and psychedelic as some of the great early 70's jazz entrepreneurs were prone to do once the acid dropped and the coke went up like smoke. Conjuring this sort of demon, complete with lots of free jazz zaniness amidst the crushing tides of sound, illuminated by moments of zen like serenity and vocals that get under your skin....its certainly no walk in the park, especially when 95% of music listeners out there have ADD and probably don't give much of a **** to begin with about your music.

I suppose that's partly why I have nothing but respect for a band like Motorpsycho, who took flight in the late 80's as a enterprising, adept psychedelic grunge band in Norway around the same time as Soundgarden and Nirvana were coming into their own here in the U.S. Unlike their westside peers though, Motorpsycho have never stopped evolving or recording new, oftentimes fascinating material for the better part of the last twenty years. Simply put, they are the quintessential Indie rock group of the modern era, worshiped in their own country as gods...but probably deserve a larger international audience.

Moving on to The Death Defying Unicorn, its a double LP done in collaboration with jazz keyboardist Ståle Storløkken (of Supersilent fame) and functions as a spacehopping fable of sorts for its titular character expressed through the fractal lens of musicality that sounds more at home on a Sun Ra or Black Sabbath record than something that Motorpsycho would have done in the past. Heavy, fuzz blasted riffs collide with squealing saxophones, lilting orchestral strings and unsettling vocal extrapolations straight out of an acid folk extravaganza....and its a journey unlike any other I've had this year.

When you listen to The Death Defying Unicorn for the first time, keep in mind that these guys were cutting their teeth at bars covering Husker Du and Sonic Youth before I was even born. That they've gone from that to this in the space of two decades is nothing short of frightening....and magnificent.

P.S. -- HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!






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Quote:
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I'm bald, ja.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-31-2012 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:55 PM   #24 (permalink)
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1. The Panic Division - Eternalism


And thus we arrive at 2012's #1 record of the year for me -- a pop masterpiece that blends the best of 90's alternative rock and pop punk with the synthesized magnificence inspired by 80's hook masters like Tears For Fears and Mr. Mister....all courtesy of some jack-of-all trades musical genius living in San Antonio in my good ol' home state of Texas by the name of Colton Holliday.

Although he was originally the lead vocalist of post-hardcore group Carbon 12 Theory back in the early 2000's, The Panic Division is Colton's musical baby: he's involved heavily in every aspect: he sings, shreds guitar, writes the songs, and produces everything on top of that. Due to this, Eternalism is a goddamn Archon of a record, monstrously infectious and consistent to the point of worship. It is unlike anything else out there right now, and yet appeals to anyone with a taste for both the 80's and 90's in equal measure.

The songs themselves are bubbling pockets of pop perfection, boiling with all kinds of neat details and grit under all the dazzling layers. Colton's voice overseers the whole shebang, suspended somewhere between Roland Orzabal and that guy from All Time Low, a narrator whose inflections and delivery morph to fit the needs of whatever song is blasting. Variety is present in many a viral flavor: 'Marching Tide/Silver Rings' is a straight up frat-jam with killer melody, while the New Romantic in you might find yourself fist pumping a bit to 'The Labor Of Love' and 'Too Young To Fall' despite yourselves: they'd have sold out arenas two decades ago in a heartbeat.

At this point I'm merely rambling, but here's a little secret: it's really, really, really ****ing hard to do a good pop record, moreso than anyone generally appreciates. But as Herculean as that tends to be, it's even harder to do something as melodically sublime as Eternalism. It blows every other 80's nostalgia trip from the last ten years out of the goddamn water, and does so with mercurial ease.

And that, brothers and sisters, is where the road ends in 2012 for me.






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Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
I was called upon by the muses for greatness.
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I'm bald, ja.

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Old 01-03-2013, 02:39 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Cool list. Wish I could find that Brian Auger and Twelve Foot Ninja. Downloaded some old stuff of each.

Ne Obliviscaris was pretty cool too.

Still checking into some 2012 albums.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:26 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Cool list. Wish I could find that Brian Auger and Twelve Foot Ninja. Downloaded some old stuff of each.

Ne Obliviscaris was pretty cool too.

Still checking into some 2012 albums.
Well, you and anyone else here are free to PM me with album requests....because I obviously own all of them.
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:44 PM   #27 (permalink)
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With the main list out of the way, I can now focus on a couple of other records that, while very good in their own right, didn't quite punch through to my top spots for one reason or another. Enjoy!

Glass Kites - S/T


For those of you hankering for some of some ambient, post-rock melancholy comfort food generally provided by bands like Radiohead, Mew and Sigur Ros, Canada's got a hot new commodity for thee...and they are kites made out of glass!

That being said, these guys have some insane promise despite coming out of pretty much nowhere last January. Vivid production work, gorgeous hooks & song progressions, topped off with a lean mean running time of 36 minutes made this an album I returned to periodically throughout last year. I've already introduced it to a couple of people here on MB, but now the rest of you get to enjoy it too! Start with 'Terra' directly below -- what a monster!

Also, you can buy the album at a price of your choosing from their Bandcamp -- http://glasskites.bandcamp.com






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Old 01-09-2013, 01:28 PM   #28 (permalink)
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The Night Flight Orchestra - Internal Affairs


No matter what decade you call home as far as musical taste is concerned, its hard to escape the 70's. Everything you like generally has one root or another in the era, from hard rock pyrotechnics to New Wave to your favorite electronic music. What a surprise, then, to find that a supergroup comprised of members of Soilwork, Arch Enemy and Mean Streak had come together and created the best damn love letter to FM radio that I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Bruce Springsteen, Boston, The Bee Gees, Toto....this is the stuff that dreams are made of, and elements of all these great bands are wonderfully present and bursting forth on The Night Flight Orchestra's debut record Internal Affairs.

Every song here, 1 to 12, is the best highway cruising single that you've never heard before. You have your suites (the rollicking 'Siberian Queen' and bar-hopping odage 'Transatlantic Blues') your groovy West Coast rockers ('California Morning', the crazy catchy 'West Ruth Ave') and even a heartland anthem here and there ('Green Hills Of Grumslov'). Great variety, great hooks, topped off with some excellent production. Turn this sucker up! It nearly cracked my own top 12....perhaps it might do the same for the rest of you!






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Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
I was called upon by the muses for greatness.
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Originally Posted by Frownland
I'm bald, ja.

Last edited by Anteater; 01-09-2013 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:20 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Susanne Sundfør - The Silicone Veil


Well, I won't beat around the bush: Fiona Apple bored the living fuck out of me in 2012, as did about 90% of what ended up on NPR and Pitchfork's Top 2012 lists. We don't (and shouldn't) celebrate artists just for being arty: we celebrate them for making art that isn't pretentious for the sake of impressing your fedora-wearing amigos and isn't shoved up its own avant-garde asshole (such as Swans The Seer: people bitch about Yes and Tales From Topographic Oceans, and yet they can sit through 30 minutes straight of Gira's endless repetitive noodling and treat it like a spiritual orgasm. It's a good record, but that's still a double standard, folks: give me a break!)

That rant aside, Susanne Sundfør is a babe from the land of the ice and snow who'd normally get pigeonholed in the generally "quirky/Indie" sphere of female singer-songwriters who magnetically attract critical acclaim in the same way that Daniel Day Lewis attracts Academy Award nominations. That being said, this girl is in a league of her own. Partly because she can actually sing in tune, and partly because the songs themselves on this 3rd studio outing, The Silicone Veil, from the arrangements to the production style to her choice of instrumentation, are gorgeous even when they don't knock your socks off. Think Depeche Mode meets the lovechild of Bjork and Joanna Newsom and you'll have some degree of comprehension on how this clicks together.

The YouTube videos below can instill a more thorough appreciation of her particular sound than I could in words, but nevertheless: this is a beautiful album that's slipped under a lot of people's radars for the last couple of months....don't let it slip through yours! It nearly made my list after all.






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Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
I was called upon by the muses for greatness.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
I'm bald, ja.

Last edited by Anteater; 07-16-2013 at 11:16 PM.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:03 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Knives Out! - Black Mass Hysteria


"Oh fucknuts, another supergroup..." sighs a reader as he comes to the bottom of page 3 on Anteater's amazing and life-changing 12 For '12 thread. "That smooth jazz stuffz he reviews is so orgasmic...but I hate heavy music!! Damn you Anteater, damn you!!"

However, my dear disappointed readers, how can anyone hate a musical camaraderie made up of former members of Dog Fashion Disco and Nothingface, destroying your speakers via a high-fi, hi-intensity level of thrashery that sounds like early Deftones on crack cocaine?

These industrious troublemakers, appropriately aggressive under the moniker of Knives Out!, have been diagnosed with a severe yet deliriously fun case of sonic schizophrenia that punches holes through all manners of sound based confinement. The listening equivalent, as the title track affirms, of "riding a headless horse into a non-stop suicide". Good thing I brought a saddle!

And what is my professional opinion, you may ask? Well, if you missed this violent tour-de-force back in 2012, be sure to snap it up immediamente I say! And if you happen to be nursing an old flame for late 90's alternative metal and a certain red-faced breed of experimentalism...well, you might just fall in love again before the day is through.






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