In the spirit of the Hype Machine, here are some music-related lists...
10 OF MY FAVOURITE ALBUMS FROM 2009:
The new Baroness and Mastodon albums need more time to grow on me, The Great Misdirect has been underwhelming, and Obscura's Cosmogenesis should be on this list but hasn't gotten enough burn on my laptop (do they still make stereos?).
10. Chimaira - The Infection
I've been a chump for Chimaira ever since The Impossibility of Reason, and this one is just so damn groovy it's hard to ignore (though many critics and fans do).
9. Baliset - A Time for Rust
A late addition, Greg Massi's project may still rise further up this list. For now, it's an eclectic, solid piece of music.
8. Psyopus - Odd Senses
Whacky, unlistenable noise to some and mind-bending technicality to others, this band has a habit of dividing people. I dig 'em, though, the music may need multiple listens to fully grasp (not in the proggy sense), but there's enough talent and songwriting skills somewhere in there to see a shape.
7. Scale the Summit - Carving Desert Canyons
Another instrumental band that has learned a thing or two from Cynic. Scale the Summit is a young band to watch out for, because Carving Desert Canyons isn't nearly the best they could do.
6. Callisto - Providence
Callisto is a Finnish metalcore band that decided one day that it was actually a post-metal band. Well, whatever they are, Providence is a really good album.
5. Exivious - Exivious
Members of (new) Cynic - i.e. Tymon and touring bassist Robin Zielhorst - and Textures make some Cynic-influenced jazz-metal. It's thoroughly enjoyable, with enough jazz, technicality, and Steinberger beauty to roll around in... with the caveat that it still reminds me too much of Cynic, however.
4. Collapse Under the Empire - Systembreakdown
I'm still yet to listen to CUTE's second offering of 2009, Find A Place To Be Safe, but if it's anything like the moody, electronic postiness of their earlier release, I'll expect nothing short of brilliance.
3. Mono - Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Stunningly beautiful classical-tinged post-rock. By the time the first song was done, I had already recommended this album to at least one person.
2. ISIS - Wavering Radiant
Takes a few listens to get into, but between Aaron Harris' drumming, the sludgy guitars, and grinding Hammond is a gorgeous piece of music. Many people don't seem to, but I love this album.
1. maudlin of the Well - Part the Second
Funded entirely by fans, motW's return is as beautiful as it is bold. I knew this would be special as soon as I heard the opening beats, and it was so until the piano played its final note. Download it for free here.
3 2008 ALBUMS I'M STILL DIGGING:
3. Russian Circles - Station
Some folks still appear to not enjoy this album very much, but I'm in love with it. Brooding, gorgeously mellow, guitar taps, and metallic chugging, it's all good, baby!
2. Intronaut - Prehistoricisms
Listening to the 16-minute album closer, The Reptillian Brain, says all you need to know about this masterpiece. Epic... but not in the cheesy, Dream Theater sense. Intronaut moves on from the already brilliant Void to incorporate more jazz chaos, heavier riffs, and a groove hard enough to make me accidentally crack my forehead on my knees.
1. Cynic - Traced in Air
The only criticism I can ever throw at this beauty is that it had to come from the same band that released Focus. That album is so perfect that surpassing it is downright impossible. Traced in Air sure does come awfully close, though.
30 PRE-2009 ALBUMS DISCOVERED IN 2009 (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER):
Animals (Pink Floyd)
More enjoyable than Dark Side of the Moon in some places.
Akercocke somehow manages to meld brutality and beauty.
Are You Experienced? (Jimi Hendrix)
Why did it take me this long to get hold of Hendrix's best album? No idea, but I'm glad I finally got there.
Superunknown is more psychedelic, but Badmotorfinger has a whole heavier groove.
Bath (maudlin of the Well)
motW's first masterpiece, you need to listen to it to see for yourself what it is, because I just can't do it justice.
Choirs of the Eye (Kayo Dot)
Toby Driver went down a much more avant-garde road when motW dissolved in 2003, and this was the result (it would get more experimental, though).
Not really an album, but this was the year that I discovered Tárrega; when I heard Lagrima while I was quietly brushing my teeth one night in July. And it's music that's truly evocative of a warm, quiet, summer night.
Ghost in the Shell - Innocence OST
Hall of the Mountain Grill (Hawkwind)
Awesome space-rock from beginning to end.
Il ne peut y avoir de prediction sans avenir (RIEN)
The first album I truly loved this year. Explaining it succinctly is rather difficult, so I'll just tell you that you can now download it for free at Amicale Underground. I will say one other thing, though, the title track is fucking brilliant.
In the Nightside Eclipse (Emperor)
It's kinda difficult to be surprised by a fairly old symphonic black metal album, but this one still caught me unawares. I was expecting something good, but not quite Towards the Pantheon good.
The Inner Mountain Flame (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
Call me crazy, but I prefer this to Birds of Fire.
A masterpiece in extreme music, I'm ashamed that I never gave Enslaved a chance when I was originally introduced to them years ago (with a song from this album, no less). I have no idea what I was thinking, because this needs to be heard by anyone that likes black/viking metal.
Killing Joke (Killing Joke)
Energy. That's what I get from this album. Jaz's screams, the riffs, Dave Grohl's hard hits. One complete, pounding force, effervescentally spewing off colossal amounts of energy.
Leaving your Body Map (maudlin of the Well)
motW's second opus, released later in the same year. It's considered a companion piece to Bath, along with the Secret Song, and almost (almost!) as good.
Me Against the World (Tupac Shakur)
Tupac made this album just before he had to serve a prison sentence, and made it his most personal... and it's much better for it.
Moving Pictures (Rush)
From beginning to end, Moving Pictures is better than any other Rush album I've listened to.
Mr Beast (Mogwai)
The Mogwai EP gets a shout-out here for Stanley Kubrick alone. As for Mr Beast, it's a return to Young Team that still feels fresh and impactful.
Man, oh, man, what to say about this album... Chaotic... Technical... Avant-garde... Jazzy... Brutal... Amazing. I think I've got it.
Plague Soundscapes (The Locust)
Electrogrind or just plain grindcore, if you choose, the Locust, is fast, aggressive, noisy, and supremely good.
Sham Mirrors, The (Arcturus)
Right from the off, I loved this album. Besides the guitar work and awesome keyboard solos, Hellhammer's thunderous drumming and Garm's singing are just the nails in the coffin. Kinetic and Radical Cut are brilliant songs.
Again, not actually an album, but the band as a whole. Silverchair may be poppy and a little too popular for my tastes, but they combine crazily-effective melodies with good songwriting and make great songs.
Sky Moves Sideways, The (Porcupine Tree)
Latter Porcupine Tree just seemed to lose its appeal when I heard this. It isn't even the progressive element that does it, every song here is great.
Songs from the Big Chair (Tears for Fears)
It's a shame that Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had to split up, because this was well-crafted, sophisticated pop music that created promise they wouldn't get to deliver on before Curt left.
Outkast creates some entertaining music that combines smooth rapping with sweet melodies.
Starfish (The Church)
Elegantly-written post-punk. Under the Milky Way is another song for those warm nights.
Through Silver in Blood (Neurosis)
This album proves surprisingly difficult (much like Neurosis) to get into and really enjoy, but once you do, it's well worth it.
Viva Emptiness (Katatonia)
Katatonia's best album to me, Viva Emptiness is seriously melodic and yet still heavy enough to headbang to.
Wild Honey (Tiamat)
The album that would, as it turns out, influence motW to make the likes of Bath and Leaving your Body Map. It does need to be appreciated in its own right, though, because quite frankly, it is sheer excellence.