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Old 12-14-2017, 07:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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17. Anubis Gate – Covered In Black


Genre: Power Metal, Progressive Metal, Experimental Metal

Sounds Like: All the usual names...but with a twist


Listening to prog/power-metallers Anubis Gate on Covered In Black is an experience that always feels like your perception is slightly out of step, challenging you when you least expect it and forcing you to adjust to its own "sense" of normalcy.

Background-wise, this is a concept record of sorts that deals with people who've been ****ed over and left to rot in underbelly of society and their experiences / mindsets / etc. (killers, soldiers discarded by their governments, those at the bottom of the bottom who struggle to survive). Lyrically obtuse at times like many proggy metal albums tend to be, it doesn't stay within the lines either: Dream Theater this ain't. There's weird Middle Eastern melodic progressions, other instruments that come in and out, oddly timed choruses and minor melodies that wind together into an manifold flavored stew that tastes better as you continue to eat.

The "odd" elements in question would include the inclusion of a cello solo on opening stormer 'Psychotopia', the cinematic Indian instrumentation that litters 'The New Delhi Assasination' and 'Operation Cairo" and lots of electronic music touches that rear their heads even on straightforward proggy/power metal cuts such as 'Black' or 'The Combat', which rank as the most conventional numbers even though they get by on sheer catchiness.

I suppose the bottom line is that for those of you that are looking for something off-kilter in the prog. metal world but felt the genre was out of new ideas, Covered In Black is a great reminder that there are still plenty of bands out there willing to blend the conventional and unconventional in an effective way...and even explore some pretty emotional subject matter to boot.



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Old 12-15-2017, 10:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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16. Circuit des Yeux - Reaching For Indigo


Genre: Avant-garde, Folk, Acid Rock, Chamber Music

Sounds Like: Tim Buckley, the weirder side of Ennio Morricone soundtracks, Scott Walker, Roy Orbison, Nico, Lina Perhacs, After Dinner


Out of place and out of time, the voice of Haley Fohr is really something to behold amidst the eerieness and dread that her cocktail of 70's acid folk rock, experimental chamber music and an almost David Lynchian uncannyness in regards to "pop" sensibility evokes. Still, I find her sound is a hard one to define even when she's operating in an obvious mode (she's got a bit of country and Americana at her most acoustic). To these ears, I'd say she's a rather unique force in today's musical landscape, possessing an adventurous spirit that reminds you at times of Bjork...except songs like 'Black Fly' and the synth-percolating 'Paper Bag' are wayyyyyy better than anything the Icelandic queen of weird has done since the mid 90's, maybe ever.

Thematically, this album was born out of Haley's personal experience of a close shave with death (she collapsed in her home, convulsed, vomited, etc.) and, in some ways, this album intimately captures her fear of that moment in her life where it could have all ended. This makes the overall experience a beautiful (and at times disorienting) listen, but it also means you have to be in a particularly thoughtful frame of mind where it can sink into you, much like a classic Krautrock album or something along those lines.

All this being said, this album may be #16 on my list but it could have just as easily been #1. It has a profound, possibly sinister power that grew on me even as some of the other avant-garde stuff I jammed out to this year fell away. Go get this if you haven't already!



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Anteater's intelligence and utterly impeccable taste in music knows no bounds. Thanks to him I went from Communist to Libertarian overnight!
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What Ozzy was to Black Sabbath, Anteater is to MusicBanter. I am in awe of his majesty.

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Old 12-15-2017, 11:28 PM   #13 (permalink)
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This sounds kind of like the late 60s psych rock band United States Of America or something. This is a great list, I haven't heard any of these so far, and most of these bands I haven't even heard of.
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:38 AM   #14 (permalink)
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This sounds kind of like the late 60s psych rock band United States Of America or something. This is a great list, I haven't heard any of these so far, and most of these bands I haven't even heard of.
I'm like that dog that starts digging in the middle of an empty field and ends up uncovering buried treasure. Glad you are finding new things here!


15. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland


Genre: Progressive Rock (the real stuff)

Sounds Like: King Crimson, early Gentle Giant, Motorpsycho, Can, Karnivool


Like many others in 2017, I have been awed and astounded at King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's rapid (and highly quality) release schedule over the course of 2017. They're making a big splash, getting a lot of attention, and they deserve every bit of it. It's not like they are musically reinventing the wheel or anything: they sound a LOT like Motorpsycho, except with more of a Bob Welch-era Fleetwood Mac + 1970-71 Gentle Giant fixation. However, they do what they do so well that they can't help but stand out. Vocals, production, songwriting - everything's inventive, fresh sounding and very much on the money when it comes to execution. And at the end of the day, execution is the only thing that ultimately matters in an album.

Polygondwanaland is their 4th release this year, accompanied by a bold proclamation that it would forever be FREE in every sense of the word. Evidently, I could start up my own record label tomorrow, put this album on CD, and start making money off it without legal repercussions. Looking at the music industry today as a massive chessboard, its one helluva move to make as they continue to rise up in popularity.

Amidst all this rigamaroll, perhaps the least surprising thing about Polygondwanaland is that its arguably the best of the four albums they've released this year. The songs flow like a great suite on the back of Lucas Skinner's bouncy Rickenbacker basslines, undulating in a symphony of flutes, fuzz pedals and even what sounds like a Mellotron. Another standout is the skittering, almost Tool-esque 'Horology' near the tail-end of the runtime...well, Tool as interpreted by King Crimson in 1970 perhaps. Easy to love, hard to hate. Unless you hate fun or something.

Anyway, these guys are moving up in the world. Wayyy up. And I'm glad to be part of the ride at this point.



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Top 25 Albums of 2017

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Anteater's intelligence and utterly impeccable taste in music knows no bounds. Thanks to him I went from Communist to Libertarian overnight!
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Old 12-19-2017, 01:51 PM   #15 (permalink)
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14. Yazz Ahmed - La Saboteuse


Genre: Middle Eastern Jazz Fusion

Sounds Like: Alice Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Jaga Jazzist, Rabih Abou-Khalil


British trumpeter Yazz Ahmed has one helluva portfolio, including the likes of Radiohead, Swing Out Sister and Lee "Scratch" Perry, all respective royalty to different audiences outside of the traditional jazz world. So when she goes full hog with an Arabic scaled jazz-fusion extravaganza like La Saboteuse, you can't help but be awed at how meticulous and fluid her compositional approach can be. Her particular kinks lean towards the cinematic at times, reminding me of film noir in skittering numbers like 'The Lost Pearl' or throughout the Third Stream-esque swing that 'Organ Eternal' brings to the fore. This is an album that always feels as if its in real motion despite the variety of tracks at play here, and any jazz album that sounds like it has a pulse is certainly a point in it's favor.



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Top 25 Albums of 2017

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elphenor
Anteater's intelligence and utterly impeccable taste in music knows no bounds. Thanks to him I went from Communist to Libertarian overnight!
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord
What Ozzy was to Black Sabbath, Anteater is to MusicBanter. I am in awe of his majesty.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-20-2017 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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13. You'll Never Get To Heaven - Images


Genre: Dream Pop, Ambient Pop, Shoegaze

Sounds Like: Julee Cruise, School Of Seven Bells, late 80's Cocteau Twins


This dynamic duo out of Ontario are the stuff that dreams are made of, no pun intended. I'd pit them somewhere between the classic rosters of 4AD and the better New Age sounds coming out of Windham Hill. Or to put it another way, this is a sound borne out of the unlikely pairing of the former label's most beautiful explorations (Cocteau Twins coming to mind particularly) and the most tranquil ideas of composers like Steve Roach or maybe Tim Story from the latter label.

That's not to say these ideas are always stirred up and made inseparable. On cuts such as the title track or the pulsating 'Beyond The Clouds', you get prominent bass and a dreamy, almost chillwave undercurrent that fits the calmest corners of the indie pop spectrum. Some are purely ambient spectacles, such as the sinuous 'Shadow Garden' or closer 'Rain Copy'. Beautiful in their own way, but their vaguely New Age vibe requires the right mood.

For lack of a good cheesy analogy, sometimes I think music can be like going to the ocean at the wrong time of year. If you are there to surf, you won't appreciate the beauty of the sea when the waves are barely moving. You want to ride a big wave and feel some energy, but sometimes you just gotta chill when the opportunity comes along to do so. And in the case of this fine album, 39 minutes of calm might just be what the doctor ordered at the end of a tough day.



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Top 25 Albums of 2017

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Quote:
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Anteater's intelligence and utterly impeccable taste in music knows no bounds. Thanks to him I went from Communist to Libertarian overnight!
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Originally Posted by The Batlord
What Ozzy was to Black Sabbath, Anteater is to MusicBanter. I am in awe of his majesty.
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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12. Mew - Visuals


Genre: Alternative Rock, Synth-pop

Sounds Like: Pet Shop Boys, early A-ha, The Pineapple Thief, Sigur Rós, M83


Denmark's favorite alternative rock export have always been a fascinating group to follow since they first made a big splash in the indie world with 2003's Frengers, an early highwater mark for people wondering what the best elements of Live, Radiohead and Johnny Hates Jazz might sound like if you sprinkled in some protein powder and set to Blend. From that point onward, Mew's trajectory has seen them bounce back and forth across the wide spectrum of their sound between abject weirdness and a soaring, Eurovision-tinted sense of melodicism.

Fourteen years later however, I think they've finally done a record that hits that balance they've always strived for with Visuals, a record that fundamentally sees them embracing their 80's synth pop roots moreso than on anything they've done up until this point. Their overt experimental tendencies (the calling card of founding guitarist Bo Madsen, who left the band before this album's recording) are mostly smoothed out here in favor of flexing their considerable hookcrafting muscles. Hell, we even get some synthwave elements of all things on '85 Videos', which is as a good a single as they've ever done in their 20+ years together. Fans will be torn over the more radio friendly direction: is this a simplification compared to previous ambitions or a needed refinement? Probably a bit of both, but even a proghead like me can appreciate a touch of levity. Plus there's a friggin free jazz sax solo at the end of 'Carry Me To Safety', so you can't be mad for long at the shift in direction.

European to a T and a fairly breezy listening experience overall, this was a pleasant surprise this year and a reminder of just how good this particular aesthetic can be when executed with flair and a sense of fun attached.



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Top 25 Albums of 2017

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elphenor
Anteater's intelligence and utterly impeccable taste in music knows no bounds. Thanks to him I went from Communist to Libertarian overnight!
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord
What Ozzy was to Black Sabbath, Anteater is to MusicBanter. I am in awe of his majesty.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-21-2017 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 12-22-2017, 09:51 PM   #18 (permalink)
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11. Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time


Genre: Hip-Hop, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap

Sounds Like: Big Boi, Kendrick Lamar, Notorious B.I.G., Mint Condition


A soulful, snarky Southern hip-hop opus if there ever was one, Big K.R.I.T. (AKA Justin Scott) has been a busy boy for the last decade, putting out some stellar mixtapes amidst interesting but mixed bags in regards to his official LPs. That's not to say there isn't a lot to like there, but the more spontaneous approach on collections such as 4Eva N A Day back in 2012 demonstrate a surprising elasticity that even some of the biggest players in the game don't have. Plus that whole Southern drawl of his is a big plus.

So in respect to brevity, this album is a double album and it is, frankly, the best I've heard in hip-hop in what feels like forever. Is it a game changer like some people believe To Pimp A Butterfly was? Jury's out on that one, but this album has a particularly fascinating progression from track to track where the material seems to get more and more interesting the deeper you go, especially some of the especially gospel-tinged bangers on side 2 ('Keep The Devil Off', 'The Light') and so on and so forth. There is production here you will get lost in, reminding me at times of the swampy swing the boys over at Cunninlynguists love to dabble in. The structure is likely intentional, with Side 1 being more typical and Side 2 being more exploratory of what make Big K.R.I.T. tick behind all the bluster.

Perhaps the highest point on the overall proceedings is the one-two punch centerpiece of 'Get Away' and the instrumental "title track" of sorts 'Justin Scott'. The former is a soulful banger tinged with a deep sense of desperation and the latter is a synth-laden orchestral instrumental that really captures Justin's aspirations without a single verse. And that, my friends, is the sign of a good hip-hop album: when you don't need to rap at all to communicate the soul.



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Top 25 Albums of 2017

Top 25 Albums of 2016
Quote:
Originally Posted by elphenor
Anteater's intelligence and utterly impeccable taste in music knows no bounds. Thanks to him I went from Communist to Libertarian overnight!
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Batlord
What Ozzy was to Black Sabbath, Anteater is to MusicBanter. I am in awe of his majesty.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-23-2017 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 12-23-2017, 07:10 AM   #19 (permalink)
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11. Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time


Genre: Hip-Hop, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap

Sounds Like: Big Boi, Kendrick Lamar, Notorious B.I.G., Mint Condition


A soulful, snarky Southern hip-hop opus if there ever was one, Big K.R.I.T. (AKA Justin Scott) has been a busy boy for the last decade, putting out some stellar mixtapes amidst interesting but mixed bags in regards to his official LPs. That's not to say there isn't a lot to like there, but the more spontaneous approach on collections such as 4Eva N A Day back in 2012 demonstrate a surprising elasticity that even some of the biggest players in the game don't have. Plus that whole Southern drawl of his is a big plus.

So in respect to brevity, this album is a double album and it is, frankly, the best I've heard in hip-hop in what feels like forever. Is it a game changer like some people believe To Pimp A Butterfly was? Jury's out on that one, but this album has a particularly fascinating progression from track to track where the material seems to get more and more interesting the deeper you go, especially some of the especially gospel-tinged bangers on side 2 ('Keep The Devil Off', 'The Light') and so on and so forth. There is production here you will get lost in, reminding me at times of the swampy swing the boys over at Cunninlynguists love to dabble in. The structure is likely intentional, with Side 1 being more typical and Side 2 being more exploratory of what make Big K.R.I.T. tick behind all the bluster.

Perhaps the highest point on the overall proceedings here in the one-two punch centerpiece of 'Get Away' and the instrumental "title track" of sorts 'Just Scott'. The former is a soulful banger tinged with a deep sense of desperation and the latter is a synth-laden orchestral instrumental that really captures Justin's aspirations without a single verse. And that, my friends, is the sign of a good hip-hop album: when you don't need to rap at all to communicate the soul.



#11 Nice I liked the album also. Second best album of the year for me. Really cool review also, been a Big Krit fan since "Krit Was Here" mixtape.
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Old 12-23-2017, 02:48 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Why did you change the title of your thread, Ant?
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