Okay, I pushed this up until I was able to consume a bunch of the New Music Life Raft stuff I still have sitting around thanks to Mr. Brown and a few others. This isn’t a ranked list; in other words none of these are necessarily better than another, they’re just the five best albums I heard that came out this year. Right, let’s get into it:
A) The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night – The reigning metaphor for this album in a ‘twelve second elevator pitch’ is My Bloody-Valentine-meets-The-Pixes-meets-The-Beach-Boys. That doesn’t really do the sheer magnificence of the Besnard Lakes’ sound a lot of justice, but as I am wont to say, it gets us in the ballpark for discussion’s sake. Jangley and sometimes arid like the spurs on Doolittle, haunting and ethereal like MBV’s better moments, and all wrapped up in gorgeous vocal harmonies a la Brian and the boys. A beautiful and endearing album. Thank You guys.
B) The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – Now That’s What I Call Steampunk, Vol. #1 – I’ve written a lot about these guys this year but with good reason. Besides the welcoming hook-and-jab of their Grind/Crust/Thrash/Punk explorations The Men… have comprised a sound, look and voice I can only describe as charming. ‘Steph(v)enson’ might be the funniest thing I heard all year. Keep ‘em coming gents, keep ‘em coming.
C) Mike Patton – Mondo Cane – How long did Patton fans wait for this? A long time. But I’ll be damned, as someone who follows almost everything this man does, and for an artist with such a diverse and amazing oeuvre, Mondo Cane stands as possibly the most impressive thing Patton’s done since Fantomas’ Delirium Cordia. Mondo Cane, if you don’t know, is Patton and an orchestra performing 50’s and 60’s Italian pop songs. A handful of, of course, Ennio Morricone tunes scatter across the colorfully bombastic long player. It is probably the closet thing to Disco Volante-era Patton we’ve had in a while, with the emphasis on the beauty and not on the madness. Nice to hear those golden pipes in such good form after so long.
D) Grinderman – Grinderman 2 – Another one I’ve run on ad nauseum over, but with good reason. Nick Cave once again arrives in your home by way of temporarily displaced air molecules captured as 1’s and 0’s (or analog waveforms if you purchased the vinyl) and commences to track his muddy boots across your carpet, break your good china, and kick you in the genitals (sonically speaking of course).
E) Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles II – This has probably been my most repeat go-to album all year. Electro-synth-pop from inside a dark and dangerous abandoned insane asylum, I wasn’t too hot on Ethan Kath and Alice Glass’ first album, but II is so dark and frustrated and beautiful that it both scares me a little and makes me want to plow head-first into the night and find adventure.
Runner-ups were The Ocean Collective’s Heliocentric & Anthropocentric (released about 6 months apart this year but essentially two cycles of the same story) and Dave Sitek from TVOTR’s Maximum Balloon.