Monday, January 18, 2010

Albums 2000-2009: 50-41

50. Explosions in the Sky - Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever (Temporary Residence, 2001)
Before they drove their style into the ground -- they have exactly two sounds, apocalyptic elegy and elegiac apocalypses wide-eyed pastoralism, both cranked up very loud -- before they became the go-to music to soundtrack narratives about high school football in small Texas towns, these guys made some martial, yearning music.

49. Mira Calix - Skimskitta (Warp, 2003)
Funny that, of all the name IDM artists on the Warp roster at the beginning of the decade -- Autechre, Aphex Twin, Plaid, Squarepusher, Boards of Canada -- Mira Calix (née Chantal Passamonte) would be the one to be making the most interesting music at the end of the decade. At the moment, she seems to be mining ambient found-sound terrain (creating mini-symphonies from insect noises), while her debut, One on One, exhibits an obvious indebtedness to the Warp sound (distorted bass beats in constant reconstructive flux) but dashed with invitingly feminine flourishes (lovely melodies, and above all, singing on IDM tracks). Skimskitta rests exactly between those two impulse, and I think it's Chantal's most fully formed and captivating record, full of the mysteries and wonder and mercilessness of nature.

48. Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans (Sounds Familyre, 2004)
Hippie indie pop about Jesus. With banjos! Which is to say, "The Transfiguration" has one of the loveliest arrangements I've heard in a long time, a pious answer to Spiritualized's "200 Bars".

47. Nelly Furtado - Loose (Geffen, 2006)
I keep wanting to dismiss Loose -- the calculated rebranding as a sexpot, "Promiscuous" sounding inexorably dated now -- but then I look at the tracklist again, and it's impossible to argue with how hard this album brings it. The other Timbaland tracks hit his usual touchstones perfectly (sinuous bhangra, shifting electro), the Spanish tracks are grimy and raw, even the drippy "In God's Hands" has that ghostly segue into "Wait For You." And may the hipster god strike me down for liking a Chris Martin-penned track, but "All Good Things" is the decade's "Kiss From A Rose."

46. Alizée - Mes Courants Electriques (Universal, 2003)
French bubble gum pop with cinematic Eurodance production. Win-win.

45. The Pipettes - We Are the Pipettes (Memphis Industries, 2006)
A revelation, when I first heard it. They say that their modus operandi is to reimagine rock music as though the Beatles never existed, but in fact, they spin out whole cosmos from girl-group harmonies, synchronized dancing, and polka dots.

Pull Shapes

44. Ladytron - Witching Hour (Rykodisc, 2005)
Two all-time, throw-your-hands-in-the-air dancefloor epics alone can make this a great album. And with all the filler on this album, that's exactly what "Destroy Everything You Touch" and "International Dateline" accomplish.

"Destroy Everything You Touch"

43. Kinski - Don't Climb on and Take the Holy Water (Strange Attractors, 2004)
I always thought of this album of outtakes, jams, and live performances as aggressively skronky, but listening to it again, it's downright pretty in places -- like a mellower, less dissonant Bardo Pond (they've even got flute on some of these tracks). Given where Kinski went with the greasy biker metal of Alpine Static, the gentle ambient psych is a glimpse into a much lovelier alternate universe. Lush psych.

Bulky Knit Cheerleader Sweater

42. Colleen - Les Ondes Silencieuses (Leaf, 2007)
Few artists create such pristine space out of such spare instrumentation as Colleen does.

41. Vapour Theories - Decant (self, 2003)
Bardo Pond's side projects often tend to be way more improvisational than I like -- and since they're already a fairly jammy band, we're talking really out there, maaaan granola-dude music -- but when they pare themselves down and really focus on a single vibe, wow. Alternately gentle, melancholic, or haunting, but always blissed/droned out. Makes me feel like I'm standing at the edge of a cliff, ready to fly.


momo said...

Once I get through my first week back at class, I'm going to give this a careful read/listen, because you're turning me on to a lot of music I would otherwise not get to hear. many thanks!

Leee said...

I'll look forward to hearing what you like!