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Old 12-29-2014, 11:56 PM   #21 (permalink)
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5. Seven Impale - City Of The Sun



Put On A Playlist With: John Coltrane, MuteMath, old school Krautrock, Jaga Jazzist, Motorpsycho

My favorite jazz-related album of the year, and an impressive example of what happens when the right people decide to accommodate old school fusion elements into the context of a contemporary rock band ensemble. To put it another way, they're a jazzy Swedish bunch of classicists locked into a dirty Krautrock groove from the turn of the 70's, and it's goddamn glorious to hear these guys jump back and forth between order and chaos and still manage to hold the whole thing down through sheer discipline and variety.

And when I mean variety, you will be surprised: there's a shadow of '69 King Crimson hovering menacingly around 'Oh, My Gravity!', but then we go into a headon collision between Tool and early Soft Machine in 'Windshears'. Aren't jazz-rock records normally a bit more one-note or random in pacing? If I didn't know better, I'd say these guys actually know how to write songs! Some tasty and very noisy space rock bass runs show up in 'Extraction', along with some xylophone and Hammond organ, but my favorite song also comes with the best title I've seen this year - the 14 minute 'God Left Us For A Black-Dressed Woman', which starts off as a doomy folk dirge before leaping headfirst into more psychedelic territory. Couldn't ask for a better finish really.

The biggest star of the show, however, may in fact be vocalist Stian Řkland. His performance throughout these tunes lies somewhere between Steven Wilson and Radiohead's Thom Yorke in tonality and range, but he's a perfect fit for this strange, sun-soaked ode to the cosmic jazz of a bygone time.

Great jazz-rock groups with equally compelling frontmen or women are hard to find in any given era...hopefully Seven Impale will stick around!


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Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

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Old 12-30-2014, 01:06 PM   #22 (permalink)
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This is amazing.
Loved it too. In my Top 10 of the year after checking it out.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:21 AM   #23 (permalink)
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4. Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre - Northlands



Put On A Playlist With: early Pink Floyd, Genesis (1970-71), Camel, The Pineapple Thief

For those looking for an ideal musical companion in 2014 for one of those late night drives where the rain keeps on coming and there's no moon in sight, Northlands was more than up to the task as you follow a nameless protagonist to his deadbeat hometown in northeast England where unfinished business awaits.

As far as the music here went, there's a lot of M's to be had: minimalist, melancholy, mesmerizing. The last of these adjectives refers to ReGenesis frontman Tony Patterson: when you combine his tired yet strangely moving voice with flutes, a few trip-hop flourishes, some jazz horns and the organic groove of a rock band the result is a concept record that really hits you if your in just the right emotional frame of mind.

Taken into the greater context of all the albums I've ever listened to or bought though, I can say with conviction that this is one of the best pure 60 minutes of tuneage I've ever sat through start to finish. The 24-minute opening cut 'Northbound' is gorgeously cinematic and orchestral in places, and the 'I Recall' section that comes right around the midway mark is one of the best three minutes I've had in music, period. Those harmonies! But side two has some very strong numbers too, including the jazzy 'A Rainy Day On Dean Street' and the Floydian penultimate number 'So Long The Day'. There's also a rock solid balance between the instrumental and vocals cuts throughout this recording, a quality that elevates this beyond Floyd's swansong 'The Endless River' and its ilk for me.

I find it a point of irony that an album which sounds so at home with cold weather, rain and the stark beauty of the North ultimately proved to be warmer and more human than a lot of other lauded releases these past twelve months. Highly, highly recommended.


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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-31-2014 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 01-01-2015, 05:07 PM   #24 (permalink)
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3. Skyharbor - Guiding Lights



Put On A Playlist With: TesseracT, Hum, Karnivool, Deftones

As TesseracT's Altered State from last year demonstrated, so called "djent" metal could be a very very beautiful thing if the right ideas were in place. As good as that album was though, it almost feels like a warm up compared to this sophomore outing from multnational ambient metal act Skyharbor, a group who have such a keen grasp on dynamics that listening through Guiding Lights sometimes feels like someone hooked me up with a tube of adrenaline that never stops delivering.

For starters, guitarist Keshav Dhar is just full of good ideas. Bringing on original TesseracT frontman Dan Tompkins full-time, for instance. Or those killer melodies on 'Allure' and 'Evolution' that would give the best early noughties alternative rock groups a run for their money and then some. Top off the package with one of the best mixing jobs I've heard in ages and you've got yourself the perfect soundtrack for the game room at your next hi-fi frat party.

I know this one probably came a bit under the radar for some of you, but if you have even the slightest ounce of interest in albums like Sound Awake by Karnivool or some of Devin Townsend's groovier razmatazz, this album will be your crack for a couple of weeks guaranteed. It certainly helped end 2014 on a strong note for me.


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Old 01-03-2015, 11:18 PM   #25 (permalink)
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2. Work Of Art - Framework



Put On A Playlist With: Toto, Journey, Tim Feehan, A-ha

Pure 80's radio-rock perfection, 'nuff said. I've reviewed some of this Swedish melodic rock power trio's previous material in the past, but I couldn't lay enough superlatives on this latest release even if I had a dictionary in front of me. Guitarist Robert Sall has a songwriting and performance sensibility at this point that I'd argue is right on par with Toto's Steve Lukather and other L.A. axe heavyweights like Michael Landau and Dan Huff, all of whom are considered the elite among elite. Guys who have played on hundreds of albums basically. Couple that with the dominating vocals of Lars Safsund and the expert drumming of Hermin Furin...the results are superb.

Smply put, Framework is the ideal AOR album: every song has a kick-in-the-face immediacy in the hooks department, is painstakingly put together and never falls too far back into cheese. Even the obligatory power ballad 'Hold On To Love' has such a tasty arrangement that you can't help but like it just the teensiest bit, and I've got high standards when it comes to my schlock damn it!

The thing that's most interesting about Work Of Art at this point is you can tell these guys are so technically skilled that they could be doing jazz-rock or even progressive rock stuff if they wanted to. Robert Sall's guitar and synth leads are pristine and technically challenging, Safsund has a lot of range and versatility, and any band that can cut as good an AOR opening set as 'Time To Let Go' and the infectious Journey-esque 'How Will I Know' is capable of blowing a few minds if they set out to do longer songs.

All that being said, as much as I'd love to see these guys start moving into a more experimental direction, I can't deny that Framework is one of the best albums in the AOR style since atleast the early 90's. Their last two albums were quite strong too, but these guys have refined their particular brand of melodic science to the point of lethality...and I'm just happy to have been along for the ride.


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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 01-04-2015 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:52 AM   #26 (permalink)
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1. Dream The Electric Sleep - Heretics



Put On A Playlist With: Jeff Buckley, Ride, Mew

Have you ever wondered what sort of music Buckley might have made if he hadn't died in '97? None of us are prophets, but when I heard this amazing album I think I had a glimpse of what might have been. Hailing from the humble city of Lexington, KY, Dream The Electric Sleep (or DTES for short) are a four piece group who combine the best elements of rock's various stylistic divergences (alternative, indie/math rock, progressive, grunge and even shoegaze and sludge) into a hybridized whole that could move the hearts of many...if the various audiences of the world would only turn a moment to hear.

From the opening gallop of the title track to the soaring, triumphant finish of 'Ashes Fall', a vibrant dynamis glimmers and beats unrelentingly at the heart of Heretics that subtly but surely propelled it to the top of my pile as the year went on. It was a gradual climb: there were times when other albums and artists loomed over these guys by miles, and yet still this album would find its way onto my stereo, my outings, and sometimes even by accident. Little things about it: the eerie Jeff Buckley-esque vocal acrobatics of Matt Page, that killer bassline on 'How Long We Wait', observations on cultural change from the highest of scale in history all the way down to the individual....this is music that gradually sinks into you over time without the aid of an easy hook. It's there at the forefront of your collection before you've even thought about it.


Sometimes the best LP of the year isn't the weirdest, the catchiest or the most publicly lauded: sometimes its simply the album that draws you back like a mystery time and time again when everyone else has already shown their cards. There's a nuance, details beneath the energy that reach just a bit deeper than other things you might have heard that year. In regards to 2014...I guess that was Heretics for this ant-eating putz.


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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 01-05-2015 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 01:20 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Ways to get Goofle interested:

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Downloading.
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2. What was the strangest/best/worst party you ever went to?
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:43 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Work of Art have a new one? Excuse me while I head to my vendor!
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:44 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Work of Art have a new one? Excuse me while I head to my vendor!
I actually ended up liking parts of this new one even more than In Progress, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:42 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Pop/Art was amazing--right down my alley sound-wise. Probably my AOTY. Thanks, Ant!
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