Sunday, 6 December 2009

Best Of The Decade Part 2

Two days in a row!!! Wow!!!

Serialization continues today with albums 6-10:

06. Boris - Akuma No Uta (2005)

For me, this is the definitive Boris album. Boris' identity is made up of various styles and sounds, all heavy and awesome. And this album perfectly encapsulates all of that. It starts with an almost 10 minute drone, which is one of the most beautiful "songs" Boris has ever done. And then a good portion of the album is pure rock and roll that sounds both old-school and contemporary at the same time, also including some of Boris' psychedelic swirl-y-ness. The title track helps to book-end this album, bringing back the drone (and the riff from the first track), but blending it together seamlessly with the more straightforward rock and roll. This may not be a perfectly consistent album, but there are no clunkers or tracks to skip, and it shows Boris' range as a band with a unified production quality.

07. the Bug - London Zoo (2008)

I kind of hated this album at first. I was bothered by the use of so many vocalists. It felt fractured, as if each song belonged on a different album. But that's really what makes it special and exciting. There's a lot of different voices, but the beats (and politics) provide consistency. I think listening to the songs individually actually helped me appreciate the album as whole. Each one has its own character, but they fit together like a puzzle. Some songs are good to dance to, like opener "Angry," while others may be best listened to with headphones, like "Too Much Pain." My favorite track is easily "Poison Dart," which has a great melody that is practically unsing-along-able (doesn't stop me from trying, though). It's just a great listen, as parts or as a whole.

08. Burial - Untrue (2007)

It does a disservice to the whole album when you listen to the songs individually. There are several transitional tracks that really help to achieve the atmosphere of Untrue. The actual songs are rather dark on their own, but outside of context, they seem far more joyful and danceable than they really ought to be. This album should be listened to in the dark, alone, and in a state of unease (maybe while walking down a city street at night on headphones). There is nothing fun about it, and that's actually a good thing. Getting away from the mood, Burial's plan of attack is really something else, uniquely his own. The song structures feature heavy repetition and very subtle variation and building up of textures and tones that would initially seem not to go together. It all does fit, though and it's refreshing and daring. The nontraditional vocals really set Burial's work apart: he uses them so delibrately to evoke emotions and leaves the words nicely ambiguous. It's all some kind of post-industrial nightmare with soothing yet haunting, often wordless soul vocals. And I still can't stop listening to this record.

09. Cat Power - You Are Free (2003)

What I like so much about this album is that it is so hard to pin down genre-wise: is it indie rock, rock, country, folk, blues? I don't quite know. Sometimes it goes in favor of one genre, and then abruptly changes. The songwriting is varied and always interesting. There's a good mix of instruments and it seems like an awful lot of just plain tinkering around with sound and form, but no song falls flat. I remember reading criticisms that it may drag on a bit or sounds too same-y, but I just don't hear that. Each song really sounds different to me. I like that Chan Marshall finds a balance between being both unpolished and sophisticated. She sings her melodies perfectly, but still in her own voice. The songs are both personal and universal; the listener doesn't feel trapped too much in her world, but is still welcomed.

10. Converge - Axe To Fall (2009)

Converge churns out another blistering metalcore assault, but this time with many a collaborator, who just give the album that extra umph. This album is just a little bit more interesting and different than their last two. It's a refinement of the already highly refined Converge sound, but it certainly adds some new details with the new blood. The last two tracks would just seem odd and even out-of-place if it was Jake Bannon singing them. It was certainly a wise choice to bring in Steve Von Till (Neurosis) and Mookie Singerman (Genghis Tron), as their styles of singing suit the direction of those particular songs much better. There's usually an acknowledgement for Bannon and Ballou when talking about Converge, but one aspect of the band that always impresses me is the drumming, courtesy of Ben Koller. The speed is incredible, sure, but the patterns are always interesting and perfectly appropriate for the songs. Some extreme metal drumming is just so blah, but there's always something to keep your attention in Converge's music. Now if only I could go see this band live...

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