Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Music Reviews 12/7/09 - 12/13/09 Plus, Top 10 Albums Countdown Begins!

I'm going to be revealing my top 10 albums of the year in the upcoming days, as it looks like 2009 is just about to wrap up. Now the process
is gonna be ran a little differently. For today's post I'm gonna pick a featured album that made the list. I'll likely keep doing this till we get to the top 5, which I'll unveil one by one starting from Dec 26th to the 31st.
Figure that gives it more of an official feel!

Featured Album!

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head(2009)
Genre: Psychedlic Rock, Shoegaze, Noise-Rock
Grade: A
Top 10 Albums of 09 Placement: #7
Favorite Tracks: "Ego Death", "In Your Heart", and "Everything Always Goes Wrong"

You wanna talk about being blown away. I have been hearing rave reviews for this album for a couple months now and I finally
got around to sitting down and giving it a proper listen. Much more aggressive feeling than their first album. Invoking both
fantastic elements of both psychedelic rock that would find itself at home in a 60's or 70's era, and combining it with the type of
frenzy you'd hear on a Sonic Youth record(minus the obscene length time that alienates some listeners), and you've basically got Exploding Head.
There are pure moments of mind-shattering noise that is thrown at you along the way as well, for instance in the opening seconds of both "Ego-Death" and
"Everything Always Goes Wrong". Expect these guys to keep making quality records for years to come, if they keep this up.

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt. II(2009)
Genre: East Coast Hip-Hop, Hardcore Rap
Grade: B

I digged how this CD started off by segwaying from the last track off Cuban Linx, North Star, into the intro track "Return of the North Star" which is produced by BT no less.
Very cool throwback to the original. While I must say this album seems to be getting just a bit overhyped by the usual online suspects(Pitchfork, Allmusic, etc),
it can't be denied that this is probably one of the most unrelenting most well produced hip-hop albums in ages. Raekwon and the rest of the
Wu-Tang Clan members that make appearances deliver some of the strongest rhymes they've ever come up with. While some of it is albeit a bit sophomoric
in a few songs, there are more than a few shining moments, such as the sampling of the classic mafia movie The Godfather's Theme in "Black Mozart".
Definitely worth checking out if you are a follower of the New York rap scene.

Bigelf - Cheat The Gallows(2008)
Genre: Progressive Rock
Grade: B

Easily one of the wackiest, most diverse prog rock albums I've heard in quite some time. It almost feels like an homeage to several different old
kinds of rock music, as Bigelf seems to channel everything from high-pitched harmonies and flamboyant guitar solos like something
you'd hear off of a Queen record, Black Sabbath circa Osbourne vocals, all the way to Electric Light Orchestra-esque ballads.
Cheat The Gallows's theatrics, while sometimes may seem a bit over the top, really come together and are executed very well. This is much different from any sub-par
uninspired radio rock you might encounter, and it's this kind of thing that proves that the traditional genre is far from dead. The album ends with an eleven minute track titled "Counting Sheep" which is a fitting conclusion to an album that goes all over the place.
Check it out!

Baroness - The Blue Record(2009)
Genre: Sludge Metal, Proggressive Metal
Grade: B

This band that hails from Savannah, GA is pretty much everything Mastadon wants to be.
The Blue Record has quite a lot to offer. The arrangement of these twelve powerful, often times anthemic sounding
tracks truly distinquishes itself from a lot of metal acts these days. It's got everything from Explosions in the Sky
producer John Congleton doing the mixing, capitalizing on every nook and cranny this "sludge metal" group carries under it's belt.
The acoustics, vocals and percussion on "The Gnashing" is an excellent example of a build-and-release technique leading up to one epic tale. The intro and outro for the record feature guitar solos
that hook you into quite the story before letting you go from one hell of a ride.

Fever Ray - Fever Ray(2009)
Genre: Electronic
Grade: B+

Take one half of Swedish renowned electro pop duo The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson, throw her in what sounds like
a dark vacation to some remote jungle full of primitive inhabitants, throw down some entrancing synthesized vocals
and you've got the self-titled release from Fever Ray. At times, it often has a sense of surrealistic ambiance about it that
you wouldn't normally hear from a The Knife record. You can see a few comparisons from Silent Shout here and there, but Fever Ray carries
a much darker more tribal connotation rather than it is poppy, so upon first listen you might feel a little alienated. However, you will sooner rather than later be engrossed into this fantasy setting.
"You speak softly, we are capsules of energy" just an example of one of the many
trippy and other-wordily kind of lyrics and beats you'll hear out of this one.

Emilie Autumn - Opheliac(2006)
Genre: Industrial, Classical, Gothic
Grade: C+

Emilie Autumn is one of the most eccentric characters I've come across in the music industry recently. She carries
a wide variety of talents, several of which are put well on display in her third full-length album Opheliac. It features everything
from a classical violin Bach cover, some very strenuous vocals, and even a bit of Autumn's poetic skills on the double-disc deluxe edition. Often
times these songs are quite chaotic sounding, such as the harsh screaming on "Liar" and "Dead Is The New Alive", as you'd expect with someone who described
this record as her "mad scene", Autumn once stated. It has a very theatrical presentation to it. Sometimes it feels rather self-absorbed at times, but overall
her talents really shine through, and ultimately outweigh it's flaws.

That about wraps it up for today's post! I'd like to remind you guys that my sister, Sara Crawford, just put out her first debut album "Unsent Letters" out today!

It is available for both digital and physical purchase at http://saracrawford.net/music and you can even preview the tracks on her website. She also has a 21 and up CD Release Party for it December 18th at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta. So if anyone's interested or wants to support local music, be sure to check it out!

All that being said, I'm going to leave you guys with one of my favorite songs off the featured album of today. Here's "Everything Always Goes Wrong" by A Place To Bury Strangers!


  1. You know, you should have listed Groundhog Day as one of your favorite movies and Dan Fogelberg among your favorite artists. You know, good taste stuff...