Amy’s Top 10 of ’10

It was hard enough for me to narrow down a list to 10 albums, and even harder to choose an order. Alas, with much contemplation, here are my final choices for 2010.

#10. Belle and Sebastian- Write About Love

They’re back! And still killin’ it with those same poppy tunes we know and love, I sort of want to go skip through a field of daisies with them…

#9. Noveller- Desert Fires

Noveller, AKA Sarah Lipstate, is a phenomenal guitarist (she was a part of Glenn Branca’s 100 guitars!) who loops and pedals her way through a dreamy, delightful album.

#8. Women- Public Strain

A collage of sounds non-traditionally creating catchy tunes.

#7. Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest

I’m all about the shoe-gazey fuzz, and these guys really know how to layer it on. Halcyon Digest is pure dark, catchy, fuzzy goodness.

#6. The Fall- Your Future Our Clutter

Their 28th album, and they still take us back to the mid-80’s…meaning they hung on to their original sounds of single-chords, lo-fi, and yells, and they still sound fantastic. I was tremendously impressed.

#5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti- Before Today

I’m liking the addition of a full band…and still full of pop dreams!

#4. Phantogram- Eyelid Movies

Not only can I relate to the title, this album just calls for a good mood. Listening to “Eyelid Movies” puts me in a place somewhere between slipping down playground slides and dazing out on the floor of a tiki hut opium den.

#3. Thee Oh Sees- Warm Slime

Jagged yips and yaws, psychedelic garage style guitars, messy lo-fi…I’m in love.

#2. Cocorosie- Grey Oceans

These two sisters will never cease to amaze me. This album is similar to their others, but they have added a whole new array of beats that truly compliment their crazy style.

#1. Gonjasufi- A Sufi and a Killer

World music influence, intricate, booming rhythms, soothing yet powerful vocals, and a hidden track! The first time I heard “A Sufi and a Killer” I played it 3 more times that day, and haven’t stopped playing it since. With mind blowing sound, this album is positively my favorite album of 2010!

So if you’re into avant-garde-post-punk-lo-fi-shoe-gaze-fantastic-dream-fuzz…do your self a favor and pick up these albums!

YearEnders: Adam Deverell’s top 10

Pure Pop reader Adam Deverell send us in his list with quite a few outside favorites from across the board.  I was specially psyched to see Thee Oh Sees and Wild Nothing on this list. If you’ve got a list, send it to us and get a chance to win a Pure Pop Gift Certificate. Thanks Adam!

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10.) Dunes “Dunes”

Sounds like a phone call from a ghost with a bad connection.  Very mysterious stuff.

9.) Las Robertas “Cry Out Loud”
Energetic distorted riffs which never fail to cheer me up.  The pace and tone of the songs have a strong sense of purpose racing to the finish line.  Great combination of angelic singing surrounded by a mammoth sound.

8.) Spectrals “Extended Play”
A mutated Beach Boys experiment that embraces reverb and echo.  Feels like an endless playground spiral slide.

7.) Wet Dog “Frauhaus!”
Refreshing and fun! Songs filled with surprising turns and tiny explosions of joy. Distilled uninhibited happiness of a foot tapper.

6.) Thee Oh Sees “Warm Slime”
The opening track says it all.  13 minutes of loud garage rock filtered through a hazy summer day of drunken bliss. Their secret weapon is the back and forth boy/girl vocals.

5.) Weed Diamond “Carry On + Sweater Kids” Abstract and non-linear concepts happening on this release. No, I can’t define what that means exactly.  All I do know is that Weed Diamond has underdog charm in spades.

4.) Eternal Summers “Silver” Great example of a 2 member band being absolutely in sync with one other.  They strip away all unnecessary production which amplifies just how strong the songs are.

3.) Frankie Rose & the Outs “Frankie Rose & the Outs”Takes inspiration from Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” aesthetic to create a spooky modern soundtrack. Beautiful vocal harmonies.

2.) Beach Fossils “Beach Fossils” Surf guitars elevated and executed better and above the sometimes silly “surf” genre cliche. I’m powerless to resist the hypnotic guitars that dominate and flow so well on this album.

1.) Wild Nothing “Gemini” Total euphoric listening pleasure.  No matter what mood, energy level I’m experiencing or time of the day this record always is perfectly compatible.  The melodies in the songs come so effortlessly, yet they really demand your attention.

YearEnders: My Top 5 (Tanner)


Here’s my list – I decided to narrow it down to 5 albums. It was hard to do as this year was a very good year for music, the influential rise of Witch House & Dubstep alone could populate a top 10 list with fantastic albums. This year though the more i’ve thought about it, the more i want to highlight the albums that have really resonated with me emotionally. So many arguments can be made the anthropological or technical value of an album like the universally loved Cosmogramma – but what matters for me is how it works as a soundtrack to my daily life, and though i’m sure there are no hard feelings, Flylo ain’t got nothing for me. These albums however do.

5. Salem – King Night

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels like shooting a big bag of heroin after listening to this gargantuan sludge beast of an album. If Kanye’s latest is the emotional 8ball (complete with moments of hysterical crying), King Night is the massive dose of Ketamine and heroin that finally brings me down. Wayyy down. To the point where blood red subbass rolling it’s uglies all over the screaming face of Oh Holy Night or lyrics like

“It’s like people say, we all gonna die
But me is different Im not tryin to be alive
I just try to get high
Baby I just I just I
pull the sheet over my face before I die”

Slurred and menacing over molasses-slow dirty south beats held under water by an industrial freezer synth bass and punctuated by samples of cars crashing. These are just what the good doctor ordered.  It’s a sound that always feels like it’s on the verge of it’s eyes rolling back up into it’s own head and passing out with a Malborough 120 in its hand, but somehow manages to be not only the soul transcendent offering from the whole Witch House scene to date, but one of the best albums of the year.

(See also Balam Acab, OOooOo, White Ring, etc)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeHtzs91Xm0

4. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II

Zola Jesus’s Nika Roza Danilova is the voice of the over-mother. Cold, powerful, emotionally and physically all encompassing – her drums pound like a determined heart and her synths continually rise and wrap round with thick blankets of cold, stifling love. (What? Me?Mother issues? Nah…)  I’m just saying, Stridulum II is the best sequenced, mixed and mastered version of Zola Jesus to come out yet. When Zola finally uncovered her voice and melodies from behind the wall of noise she showed us she was ready to take it all on, and showed us what was really there – angst, sure, but anger and violence turned out to be love, strong determined love – A woman hell bent to shield her lover from harm, to offer protection, to assure them of the end of suffering.

Stridulum II soars with leaden inevitability, there’s a deep core of strength, and even when she sings “You gotta help me out” on Manifest Destiny, you know she’s gonna make it regardless, and on the way she’ll rescue you, the kids, and anyone else she sets her love to.

(see also Zola Jesus)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlddZf9R0jU

3. Twin Shadow – Forget

This album was so close to being my number one, and depending on my mood, how much I’ve had to drink, how sentimental I let myself get – it can quickly run up the charts and stay on the top of my playlist for days.  Tight, melodically dazzling songs about romantic young love, dancing, ghosts, a voice that takes me back to everything that’s great about Morrissey but minus some of the whine and none of the falsetto yelping, shimmering synth lines, lean, choppy guitars, funky bass lines, swinging drum machines – everything in it’s right place. A true gem of an album that on every listen gives you a new favorite track, new favorite lyric ( “As if it wasn’t enough to hear you speak, they had to give you lips like that.”), and new favorite reason to let this one just roll on repeat.

(see also Wild Nothing, The xx)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUlVZKqs5oc

2. The National – High Violet

The National are my boys – I wanna sit in the back of a bar in a button-up shirt and jacket, tie askew, hair-line receding (faster and faster) – Whiskey in hand and listening to this album on repeat with these guys. They’d pick it and each other apart, laugh at it, downplay it, there would be quiet moments and deep draws, we’d go out and smoke cigarettes even though we shouldn’t – we’re getting older and there are fewer of us around these days…

Some have argued that it’s the same album they’ve been making for the last 3 or so, but that’d be ignoring the subtleties, the small but important changes, new skills learned, melodies refined – much like the common person’s life, when viewed from afar, seems the same, unchanging, monotonous – but we all know that upclose and person, we’re all constantly in flux, growing and straining.

The National are the soundtrack to my everyday, while the rest of the albums on my list are part of my escape from it, High Violet is the sound of the working week, driving to the doctor, the grey skies, late to bed, late to rise weekdays that bleed into weekends, domestic disagreements, quiet insignificant resentments, things we forget to do, things we wish we’d never done.

It’s an album about the cold, uncertain world and its uncertain people making uncertain decisions and its little, wiry special power is that it makes it all feel ok.  In fact, The National’s music lifts up all those moments in our mundane lives and drinks a sad toast to the secret drama and magic we give them.

(see also The Walkmen)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IIYjPlnCi4

Continue reading YearEnders: My Top 5 (Tanner)

YearEnders: Will’s Top 10 Albums of 2010

Where am I? Inside 2010 with James Murphy, that's where.

It’s bloody hard to go twelve months in new music without finding something that you dig, but 2010 was an especially good twelve months. For me anyway. Grand statements aside, it was much harder to narrow this year down to ten of my favorite releases than it was last year. So here we go with some honorable mentions:

I spent a good amount of time on a few mega releases. Beach House‘s Teen Dream leaked last November and still sort of feels like a 2009 joint rather than something out of this year. The duo cleaned off their basement haze pop dynamic into something all together shiny with beautifully minimal guitar and organ melodies, but Vitoria Lagrand’s voice, which was decidedly bigger than previous releases, is what really set things apart for Beach House this year. Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs happened. The record is huge and, for better or worse, it’s Arcade Fire (for better). Deerhunter‘s new record continues to push the group into indie dominance. I don’t really have much more to say about Holcyon Digest other than, just listen to those saxes on “Coronado” or the wordless chorus on “Revival” or the rhythm jam on “Memory Boy.” Sufjan Stevens returned to relevancy with two amazing releases–All Delighted People EP and Age of Adz–both shamelessly indulging in their unending pastiche of wondrous intricacy–Sufjan ever leading his army of musicians into the territory of beautiful inapplicability. Except when it’s just him whispering softly into your ear.

My number 10 spot was especially competitive this year. Here’s what didn’t quite make the list but you should check out anyway because they’re pretty good: Twin Shadow‘s Forget was a pretty pleasant pop music surprise. The record is a sharp playlist of synthpop songs with a contemporary fondness for the 1980s. Darkstar‘s North found an endearing place between synthpop’s immediacy and dubstep’s negative space. The group’s label, Hyperdub, certainly seemed busy this past year. Perfume Genius‘s Learning was another surprise, and a pretty special record, being a collection of ten highly affecting lo-fi piano tunes. Lo-fi in the right sense too, in that it feels and sounds like it was found by chance somewhere forgotten and dusty. Australia’s Tame Impala with their debut, Innerspeaker, created some analog psych-pop that sounds drenched in 1960s summer sun. Salem led the mid-year witch house (or whatever it’s called) charge with King Night and their blend of chopped and screwed hip-hop with heavy graveyard dream pop. But enough. Needless to say, it was an amazing year. On to the list:

10. Prince Rama – Shadow Temple / The Body – All The Waters of The Earth Shall Turn To Blood (Tie)

A tie (okay, so it’s not quite down to ten). I wrestled endlessly between these two, but it’s a fitting tie. Shadow Temple is a very straight forward record, unlike a lot of pseudo-experimental psychedelic rock records these days that get too bogged down with esoteric indulgences. Prince Rama aims to create a swirling wall of sound formed by synthesizers, guitars, chants, and wordless vocals, all propelled by ceremonial tribal percussion. And it does that. With great success owed to it’s momentous energy, distant melody, and a perfect balance of all these elements to leave the listener breathless on the edge of whatever state of transcendence the group creates in the record’s thirty-five minute span. The Body finds their own form of transcendence on All The Waters… (as apocalyptic and metal as it sounds) in a primal slow freak-out brand of sludge that combines classic downtuned droney riffs and cathartic “holy-shit” banshee screams with a layer of careful experimentalism made up of femm choirs, guttural throat chanting, and string arrangements that never get in the way of the devastatingly crushing noise.

9. James Blake – Klavierwerke EP

James Blake was a busy lad this year and he deserves some kind of recognition for it. Three very strong EPs all of which showed great diversity and a sense of linear evolution from clubby dubstep into something altogether unique, ending with a cover of Feist’s “Limit Your Love,” which points forward to a pop, vocal-based direction for the young Englishman. Klavierwerke is the third in the string of EPs and easily the strongest. The Bell Sketch and CMYK are both arguably dance crossovers, whereas Klavierwerke exists firmly between your noggin as a headphones-destined kind of record. It’s so minimal in places it’s almost cocky. James Blake gets constant props for his unique use of pitch-shifted vocal samples, but the element of his sound that struck me most, especially on this record, is how powerful his use of negative space, that often descends into flat out silence, can be.

8. Scuba – Triangulation

This year dubstep turned into post-dubstep and post-dubstep turned back into dubstep until that turned back into just being general electronic music maybe and then no one cared. I did a full review of this record for Purepop back in September and it has only continued to grow on me. Scuba’s Triangulation is the essential isolated-nighttime record of 2010, basically destined for some personal midnight walking choreography. As danceable as it is meditative, Scuba’s production is full of momentum and atmosphere, and there’s enough attention to detail to impress the most nerdy of production nerds.

7. Zola Jesus – Stridulum EP

Zola Jesus didn’t quite hit it big this year, but the two EP’s she released in 2010 has her, in my mind, destined for something great if she can follow them up with an appropriate full-lenth LP. She’s only 21, for one. And otherwise, she has a pretty distinguished voice that’s touted as operatically trained, and press aside, it is huge and gorgeous. Then there’s the music simply being damn affecting for some reason. It’s made up of overlapping synth melodies drowning in a thick wash of gothic black reverb. The drums and lyrics are perfectly simple. All to create a uniquely thick and immediate sound.

6. Teebs – Ardour

Ardour sounds like a record of beautifully musical found-sound. It’s a perfectly organic album that’s offset by its beautiful melodies of sparkling shimmering percussive samples with the right amount of Brainfeeder-style drum programming to weigh it down. Teebs seems anxious to show his audience glimpses of an aural paradise he’s discovered and brought back with him only to rough it up with huge kick drums and offbeat snare. It helps the songs barely ever cross the three minute mark, creating a sort of naturalistic flow that’s been pieced together with as much delicacy as which it was discovered.

Continue reading YearEnders: Will’s Top 10 Albums of 2010

Pure Pop Wants You…

…to submit your year end lists, mixes and thoughts.

It’s that time of year again everyone, and again we’re looking to our fellow pure pop fans to let us know what you were listening to this year. Submit your lists to us through our contact form, there will also be a way to upload your mixtapes if you’re a DJ, or have compiled some sort of mix – we havn’t worked it out yet, but it’ll likely be through the excellent soundcloud.com.

Submissions will be accepted til Christmas when our favorite submission will win a 20$ gift certificate. So if you wanna win put some time into those lists, descriptions, opinions, essays… We know you’re opinionated, here’s your soapbox.

Here’s just a taste of one of our favorite albums this year, we expect it’ll be showing up on alot of lists.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlAV2-eawaQ

The National turn Black Friday Violet.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpdadGCiBWA

According to the The National they’re going to turn Black Friday violet this year with a special edition release of this years critically loved release “High Violet” If you’re as big a fan of The National as we are, this reason to celebrate. You can watch the video above for all the details, but if you’re adverse to the you tubes i’ll give you the long short of it here.

2 New Songs: Wake up the Saints & You were a kindnesss

2 New Bsides: Walk Off & Sin Eaters

3 Live Recordings: Bloodbuzz Ohia, Anyone’s Ghost & England

Alternative Version of Terrible Love

all for a paltry 7.99

High Violet Expanded Edition will be available at Pure Pop exclusively in this area in limited numbers, if you’d like to reserve a copy, you can click here or on the link in the sidebar! For more information on the release go here.


Black Friday at Pure Pop

So if you haven’t heard, the Record Store Day folks have encouraged the record labels to provide some special limited releases on Black Friday.  Here is a rough list of what will be released.  Almost all these items are very limited & we start selling them at 10 am on Friday.  We will also have a bunch sales that will only be active for Friday thru Sunday.

33% off all used cds/tapes

20 % off all used lps

15 % off all regular priced cds

10% off all regular priced lps & gift certificates

Hope to see you down here this weekend pos-turkey hangover.

Michael

Turn, Turn, Turn

It’s been known since, well, at least the start of the postmodern era that cultural trends tend to repeat themselves and come in circles.  One thing that I don’t think is often explored though is the size of those circles (in terms of length of time between trend and re-trend) and the reasons why. My very non-scientific calculation:  about 25 years.  Why, you may ask?  Well, for several reasons.  Here are a couple.

1)    Popular culture is defined by 15-25 year olds.

It’s well known that the 15-25 year old demographic is huge when it comes to consumption of creative culture.  They’re also key to defining it as well, as youth is marketed to young and the young-at-heart alike. There has always been this strange desire by people in this age range to embrace the popular culture that existed right before they were born.  The 25th anniversary of Woodstock had kids in my high school wearing bell bottoms and tie-dyes and listening to Jimi Hendrix back in ’94, just like the high school kids of today are wearing neon pink leg-warmers, boxy, oversized sunglasses and listening to Depeche Mode ripoff groups.

2)    The groups that established the initial trends as 15-19 year olds have become nostalgic.

As a 30-something myself working the corporate grind, I understand the power of nostalgia more and more these days.  While I’ve tried to keep myself relatively hip and current, I still realized that my days of free youthful rebellion are beyond me and that it’s kids half my age who will be defining the culture.  The 25 year trend circle works well in that old fogeys like myself can say, in a condescending and patronizing tone, “oh you kids think you’re so original; we were dressing like that 25 years ago”.  And beyond the simple snark, it’s also a way for the older generation to feel their youthful cultural contributions appreciated and re-evaluated.

I think a good example of this phenomenon is the film Dazed and Confused.  Released in 1993, it captured the styles, sounds and imagery of the spring of 1976.  This film was a hit for not only the demographic that lived through that era, but also high school kids twenty years later, who found themselves both intrigued by the era’s difference, as well as the similarities, to their own.  I can remembered more than a few kids in my high school who looked a heck of a lot like clones of Randall “Pink” Floyd, Slater or Jodi.  There may have even been a Wooderson or two riding around the parking lot…

"Fixin' to be a lot better, man!"

From a musical perspective the film was a hit too, with two soundtracks that were both huge sellers, introducing a whole new audience to songs like Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone and War’s “Low Rider”.  These CD’s were probably the most frequently played albums at parties during the ’94-’95 school year, more so than albums of many of the new groups that were popular at the time.

Which brings me to the present day: we’re obviously on the tail end of the 80’s revival (much to the dismay of American Apparel, I’m sure), so what comes next?  Early 90’s hip hop and R&B revisitations?  Possibly; I think we’re starting to see that already.  A return to early twee pop?  Maybe, if this video is any indication of where the trends are heading.  My personal theory—a revised version of grunge.  Guitar based music hasn’t been hip for about a decade now (everyone’s “axe” these days seems to be a Casio keytar or MiniMoog), and I think that with the recent angst brought on by the economic downturn, a return to angsty lyrics, pounding drums and fuzz guitars might be in order right about now.

In that spirit, here is a rarity—footage of the first ever “music video” shot of the band Nirvana.  It reminds me of local basement noise shows that I’ve been to around here, and is a nice reminder of the classic phrase, “plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose”.  Enjoy!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30fJDAF62mg