Commence YearEnder list-making!

It’s that time of year again – Binge-eating, over-spending, egg-nogging and Pure Pop Year-ender-ing! The form is open and we want to hear from all of you on what you loved this year – Music is the main focus, but if you’re more concerned about books, movies or celebrity crushes, we’ll (begrudgingly) accept alternative lists too (as long as Baby Goose is on your list).

Lists will be accepted and displayed from now till the the New Year and one lucky submitter will win a 20$ Gift Certificate to Pure Pop! All lists must contain 5 entries, including all fields filled out to be published and/or gift certificated. (If you can’t find a youtube video, post some funniest home videos or rick roll us or something) Lets the lists begin!

Submit your YearEnder!

Staff Favorites you might have missed (Mid-2012 edition)

Every so often the Pure Pop brain trust squeeks out a list of some of our favorite under-achievers – this list, is one of those lists. Add your own under-the-radar-favorites in the comments.

St. Lucia – St. Lucia EP

Zammuto – Zammuto

Ty Segall – Slaugherhouse

Actress – RIP

Hunx – Hairdresser

Blues Control – Valley Tangents

Delicate Steve – Positive Force

Peaking Lights – Lucifer

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