It's been quite a while since I last posted, but I knew I had to get some year end lists out. A lot has happened this year, both on a global stage and in my personal life (which is why I didn't post almost at all this year). I'll have a top 10 albums of this year list coming, as well as a top 5 disappointing albums of the year list. This list is dedicated to albums which I either first discovered this year, or albums that I rediscovered in my collection and were in heavy rotation throughout 2017. These are alphabetical, so no hierarchy here. Let's get right to it.
In preparation for the revival of Twin Peaks (if I did a top 5 disappointing TV shows) and for comparison with last year's Xiu Xiu project, I found myself listening to this a lot this year. The arrangements are sparse, but Badalamenti borrows from a lot of different genres to create a very surreal and creepy atmosphere for the show.
The Black Dahlia Murder- Unhallowed
In my ever continuing quest to delve into more genres of metal, I set my sights on death metal and metalcore this year. While I'm still not too much of a fan of the more brutal death metal, I found myself returning to melodic death metal like the Black Dahlia Murder. Maybe its because the mix is a little less chaotic, or the vocals are a little more varied, not relying on the death growls as much as others, but I found myself really enjoying this.
Converge- Jane Doe
One of the most celebrated metalcore records out there, and it's not hard to see why. The playing is pretty crazy, the drumming is ridiculous and the band seems to go down any avenue at the drop of a hat and yet drop right back into sync. Anybody who says punks can't play need to listen to this. In preparation for Converge's new album (stay tuned for this year's top 10), I was listening to a lot of their old stuff. This, along with You Fail Me, seemed to be the ones I returned to most.
Merle Haggard- Going Where the Lonely Go
I also tried to get into a bit of country this year, but didn't get too much further than Merle Haggard, and I really didn't need to. I looked this up since Myke C Town really recommended it on his Youtube channel (you should really check him out), and was blown away. If you ever wanted to wallow in self pity (did plenty of that this year), this is the perfect soundtrack. I wish a lot more country were like this, and a lot less like what I hear on the radio when I'm trying to find a better station.
Mayhem- De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
As I was getting into black metal, I originally didn't think too much of this record. I respected its place in black metal history, but kind of the same way I respect older rap albums; they seem a little dated or unoriginal now, even though they did the sound first. However, this all changed this year when I bought a copy on vinyl. I don't know if it had to do with the vinyl mastering, but when everything had more space in the mix, and I could better hear what was going on with the drums, it clicked for me. This record has some of the most relentless, insane drumming I've ever heard, and the riffs are killer.
I revisited a lot of Ramones records this year, but got particularly obsessed with 'Chainsaw' off this album. The wordless little intro to the song is catchy as hell. Also, for some reason the lyrics to 'Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World' never penetrated my mind until this year. For people who say Ramones are only pop, I'm not sure how many pop acts put themselves in the place of Nazis.
The Residents- Meet The Residents
Until this year, I found the sheer volume of the Residents output to be intimidating and impenetrable. A few months ago, I finally took the plunge. Starting where it all began, I basked in the wonderful weirdness of the Residents. I picked their first full length for this list, though I probably could have picked any number of projects. They are like the missing link between Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart; just as weird and humorous, but somewhere in the middle in terms of approach.
Stalaggh- Pure Misanthropia
I'm not going to even attempt to detail the story behind this group or its process, but if you're morbidly curious, you can read the disturbing account with a little research. If you're still down, prepare for some of the most unsettling noise you'll ever hear. It might not be as abrasive as a record from a power electronics act, but the layered screams of allegedly genuine mental patients for 45 minutes can really get to you. Pure Misanthropia is actually the director's cut of another record, Projekt Misanthropia, remixed and with 10 more minutes of pure auditory hell. This is not for the faint of heart.
The Unicorns- Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
This was an album I ripped from the libraries of my college radio station back in the day. When I saw that the album was getting another vinyl reissue, I jumped on the opportunity to revisit this record again. This is some great lo-fi indie rock with some sugary, catchy tracks with some morbid subject matter. It reminds me a little of early of Montreal, but with a little more conventional song structures.
Frank Zappa- Absolutely Free
Yes, I know this technically a Mothers of Invention album, but its all Zappa to me. Sitting in between Freak Out! and Lumpy Gravy in the Zappa oeuvre, I guess I can see who this record might get overlooked, but it is incredibly underrated. It continues the doo-wop parody and experimental nature that Freak Out! outlined, but starts to develop Zappa as a storyteller, with the mini opera 'Brown Shoes Don't Make It'. It also begins the Zappa tradition of references to his previous work, like the "Caravan with a drum sola" line, among others. If you're a fan of the other Mothers material, but this has slipped by you, you should fix that immediately.
So that's a bit of what I've been listening to this year. What albums did you discover or rediscover this year? Now off to finish my year end lists, and hopefully be a little more present on this blog.
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