Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Decade Part 4

These write-up were written mostly in alphabetical order, so some of them were meant to be read directly one after the other (those ones start with "....").

16. Enon - Grass Geysers...Carbon Clouds (2007)

....And right on to a band where the bass figures prominently. That bassline in "Colette" could get even the most uptight idiot onto the dance floor shakin' his/her derrière. In all seriousness, this album is seriously FUN. They keep the songs short and to the point, injecting little Pixies-isms to stay interesting and slightly less poppy. But make no mistake, this is a pop record and a near perfect one at that. This is probably Enon's most upbeat and polished record, but for some reason I just think I'd rather die than not have to capacity to listen to it. It always puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance. I realize Enon haven't pioneered this sound or style, but it's really the execution, the "how," that makes this band special and enduring. There's enough ROCK and rawness to separate it from standard radio fare, but it's so refined and chiseled that no second is wasted on pointless excess.

17. Erase Errata - Other Animals (2001)

Erase Errata's debut record really stood out to me when I first stumbled upon it, probably in 2003. This was probably when I was starting to get into bands that have a degree of noise to them and was exploring the old-tyme New York no wave sound. EE take that sound and really modernize it: there are actual songs there and the recording doesn't sound like total garbage. I know those bands were sort of anti-musical, but would it have killed them to compromise just a little? Or were they just total brats/self-indulgent losers? Anyhoo, this album has a great realness and insanity to it, but it doesn't get so lost in its self-imposed trappings. The lyrics are often bizarre and amusing, detailing the foibles of our current society. It's so energetic and refreshing, though subsequent albums from this band seem to have lost some of the grit and charm that makes Other Animals so enjoyable and rockin'.

18. Fugazi - The Argument (2001)

This album goes on my list by default, being that Fugazi is one of my favorite bands overall. But really, it probably could've made this list without such bias. Fugazi continue their evolution on this record, finding a very balanced and warm sound. They've matured very gracefully. It's not lacking in the energy and anger of their more famous albums, but it's tempered with a mellowness and maturity. The singing by both vocalists is the most tuneful of the whole Fugazi catalogue and the production gives way to a very warm and almost blurry sound, contrary to their drier early work, like Repeater (and even up through End Hits). It's just another dimension to a band that has never made the same record twice and constantly continued to push themselves. If Fugazi never ended their "hiatus," I don't think it would really matter to me since their "latest" record is such a triumph.

19. Hella - Hold Your Horse Is (2002)

"Less is more" is probably one of the most frequently used phrases to describe Hella on their first full length, Hold Your Horse Is, but I'm hard-pressed to come up with another appropriate cliché. The two musicians on this record are not only interesting and unique players, but more importantly, they are so in sync with each other, and the result is a handful of tight, impeccably executed songs. I don't even know if this should be called "rock" music, being that so much is decidedly beyond the trappings of conventional rock, particularly the guitar playing, which sounds more like a synthesizer playing a guitar tone than an actual rock guitar. A good comparison of Hella on this album would be Black Dice, though that's a band that takes rock elements even further outside of a rock context. I suppose you could just call this noise, but it's so organized and controled that it hardly resembles Merbow. Maybe it's better to let genres fall by the wayside since Hella has traversed quite a few more over the course of their catalogue.

20. Isis - Celestial (2000)

Let me start by saying that this is actually the first Isis record I bought. I wanted to start from the beginning. And I bought it when Oceanic had just come out and was all hyped up. Now that I own all their full-lengths, I can safely say that I think this is one of their best and it's obviously a favorite of mine. This album really started the whole "metalgaze" sound, which has become pretty stagnant at the end of the decade, save a couple bands taking it in a new direction. The major draw on this album is the songwriting style that Isis seem to have already perfected on their debut plus the awesome sludge sound. The production is kind of bad, I acknowledge that, but I think the muddiness works in favor of the metalgaze style. It just sounds heavier and rawer. Later Isis album seemed to clean up a lot of the mud and I enjoy them for their progress and refinement, but Celestial is what made me fall in love with this band and it always draws me back in, thinking about how interesting the metalgaze sound was before it reached its saturation point.

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