It's too early to tell the best of the year and I'm way too poor to have bought all the albums I want to hear this year, which eliminates many possible contenders. So this is really just a review of what I've bought so far and what's been going on since I abandonned this ol' blog.
Black Dice - Repo
Well, it's a Black Dice album (that means it's great). Compared to their last release, Load Blown, which was actually just a singles compilation, it's certainly more consistent. There's actually quite a few vocal samples used on this one and they're integrated pretty well into the BD sound. And the tracks are longer and shorter than on older albums. Overall, not a huge change for the group, but a nice progression and an enjoyable album.
Dirty Projectors - Bitte, Orca
I've only listened to it once so far, but it's promising. This is the first release by DP that I've bought, so I can't compare, though I've read several times that it's their "most accesible." And it is for the most part. It is pretty much a pop record that integrates various influences, such as punk, funk, classical, soul, etc. It's interesting for sure and after the first listen I couldn't remember a whole lot, a good sign. It's going to take many listens to penetrate this album, as it is very detailed and nuanced. One more remark: some of the lyrics seem kinda cheesy-romantic.
Isis - Wavering Radiant
I love Isis, and I've finally acquired all their full-lengths. This album seems to be another step of slight progress of the general and often-imiated Isis sound, with some added touches of proggy keyboards. The question I've wrestled with concerning Isis is: is this band "metal"? And I don't have a definitive answer. WR doesn't resolve the issue. Early Isis albums Celestial and Oceanic were heavy and incredibly loud, but since Panopticon, they've moved into post-rockin'-spacey-loud/soft-dynamic-sprawling territory, though still retaining the bear vocals and heaviness. I may not be able to answer the question if Isis is metal or not, but the more important question is: is this album good? And I definitely think it is. The songwriting is still about the same, maybe a bit more concentrated, a bit more dense. The production is quite good, it's clean, but not too clean. The sound is warm and flowy. I'd say it's for fans of the band, it won't win over new fans unless this is the first they've heard of Isis.
Kylesa - Static Tensions
Everything about this album is a notch above their previous album Time Will Fuse Its Worth. Tighter songs, more fluid genre fusion, musicianship has been stepped up, more variety in vocals and melodies, better utitlization of their two drummers and so forth. At first I was hugely disappointed with this album because Kylesa is just so awesome and fun live and the album seemed to lack the energy and spirit of the live experience. But much time has passed and I can't remember the specifics of the live show anymore, so the album officially rules now.
Pelican - Ephemeral EP
It's great. I love to hear that Pelican are getting heavier and more distorted again. The post-rockisms are toned downed, as are the cock-rockisms from City Of Echoes (not that that album wasn't good). And there's a track with Dylan Carlson on it! Neato! I've very curious to hear the next full-length.
Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions
They couldn't have picked a more appropriate album title. This is a totally new direction for the band, and certainly a welcome one. Attila is back, there are two different choirs, there's tons of new instruments, but it all stays in the Sunn O))) template, i.e. - loooooooooow and slooooooooooooow. All four tracks have totally different characters, but they are united by the infinite drone. It's a nice addition to the band's highly innovative catalogue.
So what else is there?:
>>Michael Jackson = dead, not entirely surprising, not a total loss either, he pretty much wasn't
musically relevant anymore. I will always love "Billie Jean" though.
>>I'm not into the hype surrounding the band Phoenix. Yeah, "Lisztomania" is kinda fun and catchy, but there's not much more to say than that. Why don't they sing in French? If they did, I probably like them better.
>>Animal Collective still sucks.
>>I still am completely ambivalent towards Sonic Youth.
>>Death Magnetic wasn't the apocalypse, but it wasn't the second comming either (did Metallica have a first comming?)
>>My favorite metal show on WBGU, Auditory Demise, has met its.... demise. It's a shame, but there's some new shows to carry the torch(e).
>>Latest Decibel has Immortal on the cover. Good story, I think I'm going to move to Blashyrkh.
>>Summer Shows: Mastodon/Kylesa/Intronaut, Isis/Pelican/Keelhaul, Enon/some locals bands that weren't so good
>>Shows I'll miss due to being in BG: Converge/High On Fire, Kylesa/Saviours, Os Mutantes (I don't think I go to this anyway, but I wanted to mention that they've made a new album and are touring now with Sergio Diaz the only remaining original member)
>>I heard that the Misfits will be in BG sometime this year, which I'm perplexed by.
>>That new HBO show "Hung" has "I'll Be Your Man" by the Black Keys as a theme song, and it's very fitting.
That's all for now, I'm going to try to update weekly.