The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
It’s kinda funny. The first time I heard The Decemberists, I thought they were awful (and I wasn’t exposed to a bad song, either: 16 Military Wives). Then, slowly, Picaresque became one of my favorite albums of last year. That didn’t happen with The Crane Wife – I loved it right away. Honestly, the album seems a little scattered: a 12 minute prog rock song…, a funk-ish electric guitar fest, a minimalist accoustic song, a hard rock song…maybe it’s just me though. Still, an excellent album that I haven’t tired of since I got it in August.
Isis: In the Absence of Truth
I seem to ask this question a lot: is there a genre name for this kind of music? Not that it matters. Isis is fantastic no matter what their music is called. This one seems more accessible than their other albums, but it still retains the depth of their past releases. It’s like a combination of post-rock and metal – how can you not like that?
Russian Circles: Enter
Another band in the vein of Isis and Pelican. They sound an awful lot like Pelican to me, but rather than being sort of “hit or miss” with their songs, all of them are excellent. My goodness, Death Rides a Horse is one of my favorite songs ever on the opening alone. Sludgy, instrumental metal. Very very good.
Agalloch: Ashes Against the Grain
This deserves a top ten mention on Not Unlike the Waves along. You can listen to it by going here
. If you don’t like, you’re not allowed to read this blog anymore. Just kidding. Mostly. I don’t really know what to call Agalloch either. Progressive doom metal? Beats me. This one has lost some of the acoustic guitar work of The Mantle, but if you want that you can always go listen to Nest.
Pineapple Thief: Little Man
I resolutely ignored Pineapple Thief after the 12-10 Stories Down nonsense, up until a couple months ago. 12 Stories Down was decent, but it started to grate after a while. Little Man is quite different. The acoustic and distorted guitars of the previous albums are strangely lacking. But hey, when you produce something this good, I can forgive a lot. All I can say is, there better not be a “Littler man” at the beginning of next year.
Progressive doom again. I admit that this is the only Novembre album I have and I haven’t even looked for other ones. Odd, considering I think this is a great album. The vocals are what really impresses me about this band. I have no idea what much of what he’s saying means, as a good deal of the vocals are in Italian. The title track and Comedia are the standouts.
I hesitate to put this on the list, as I haven’t really listened to it that much. It’s just fascinating music to me, though. Post-rock-ish, but you wouldn’t really call them a post-rock band. They sound similar (that’s probably backwards) to Bright Red Paper (not that that helps anyone). Vocals pop up on just one song, the title track, which is my favorite song. This is another band I only have one album from.
Calexico: Garden Ruin
Now we’re on to the third band in a row that I have exposure to through only one album. In a genre (indie rock) that I have little experience with in general, no less. Still, I like this album. It’s not one that gets listened to a lot, but a solid record. All Systems Red and Letter to a Bowie Knife are the standouts.
Daylight Dies: Dismantling Devotion
DOOM! Ahem, sorry. That’s about as articulate as I’m going to be with this one. Crushing riffs and dark melodies. Fantastic.
Tool: 10,000 Days
An album that almost ended up on both my Most Disappointing and Top Ten lists. I had really high hopes for this one. An album like Lateralus will do that to a person. What they delivered was pretty uneven. The Wings songs and their focus on atmosphere are excellent. Jambi, Right in Two, and The Pot are all good songs. Vicarious is decent. Rosetta Stoned and Intension are pretty lackluster. The problem is that Tool’s last two albums have been albums. I don’t pick songs out of Lateralus or Aenima and listen to them on their own (which isn’t to say there aren’t songs you can do that with on those albums). This one? I listen to Jambi and the title track or maybe Right in Two and move on to something else. It’s by no means a bad album; after all, I do consider it one of my favorites of the year. From any other band it might be a positive sign for the future. For Tool? I’m not counting the days until their next release.
Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
This album has the occasional redeeming moment, but they’ve few and far between. The songs are catchy, but in a fairly shallow way. It’s just not very interesting.
The Mars Volta: Amputechture
Admittedly, I really liked this album at first. As seems to happen with me and every TMV album, though, it worn out its welcome after a short period of time. I was struck when I first listened to it by the lack of the sort of ambient filler of Frances the Mute. What I noticed after a while was that they had simply replaced the ambient noise with something approaching music that simply added nothing and went nowhere. The album surely has its moments. Those moments are just stuck in the middle of a lot of lackluster moments.
Katatonia: The Great Cold Distance
This album is pretty much the same kind of thing as Viva Emptiness: Cure-ish melancholic metal. For whatever reason, though, it never really hooked me. It’s still a good album (I’d say it’s 11 on that top ten list), but Last Fair Deal Gone Down and Viva Emptiness are two of my favorite albums and this one just isn’t up there.
Need More Listens
Mastodon: Blood Mountain
As the category indicates, I just haven’t listened to this one enough. I like it, but Mastodon has never produced anything that impressive (good, but nothing special). We’ll see.
Zombi: Surface to Air
I downloaded this, listened to it once, and promptly decided that it wasn’t very good. It finally “clicked” for me a week ago. It’s almost worth of the top ten, but 6 or 7 listens, 3 or 4 of which I didn’t really enjoy is not enough.