As we approach the summer solstice it comes time to take stock of what I’ve been listening to as of late. I’m pretty happy on the whole with what’s come out this year. It’s definitely a more diversified mix this year than perhaps the early days of doing mid-year & year-end wrap ups but I feel like that’s been the progression. The longer I’m “out” of the music industry it seems the easier it is for me to embrace more, then again in 2011 some 70,000 releases came out, which is probably at least double what was being produced when I first started my professional career in it. Granted, the barrier to entry was significantly reduced with technology and it’s probably introduced more crap than ever before to sift through but the gems are still there, awaiting.
Some interesting observations of note:
1. It might be my imagination, but it seems like there’s been an inordinate number of “retro” bands releasing new material as of late.
2. The heavy technical stuff once again played a central role in my consumption – definitely NOT mellowing out in my old age
3. Somehow people will be surprised at the female selections, again, and they’ll be at the top of the list
4. Absent my usual suspects this top three is quite interesting top three, I’m quite impressed it was what it was when looking at my listening habits
5. I have NO idea what is actually due out in the second half of the year to look forward to, I’m kinda still overwhelmed from the first half (except Vision of Disorder, now that song out already, kills, just kills, did I mention is kills?!)
“And All Will Come to an End / Crucified” Obscura from Illegitation – So, the intro instrumental was there, right behind was “Incarnated” and then the Death cover, look, if you can cover Death and not make me yack, you deserve this spot.
“Comet” the Bouncing Souls from Comet – My Jersey Pride precludes me from disliking anything tBS does to begin with but what’s increasingly lovely about them is their music follows the same maturing trajectory of my life
“Feel Alive” Annake von Giersbergen from Everything is Changing – This woman can do NO wrong. Period. She just stunning every thing she sings and this is no different, and a great transition to the next group
“Travelin’ On” Norah Jones from Little Broken Hearts – If you know me I’m a sucker for Cello and this was my intro to the album so it biased me. I always hated the “jazz” mokier given to her, but I love her vocal approach and this works in that melancholy way that tears at me.
“Don’t leave me” Regina Spektor from What We Saw from the Cheap Seats – for the same reason I adore Tori, PJ & the Tiny, Regina is a heartfelt sigh every time she writes one like this. sigh…
“Against You” Lacuna Coil from Dark Adrenaline – Wow, did I just write that? best thing since the Comalies singles.
“Escape” Fireflight from Now – Big soaring melody crossed up by heavier spurts, sometimes awkwardly but somehow it works, always has, if for no more than ear candy on a soft spot of my listening
“Raining in My Heart” the Cranberries from Roses – I’d actually almost forgotten how much I liked this band until they came out with this opus, which makes a nice transition to the next section…
“the Wolf” the Cult from Choice of Weapon – Highly underrated to begin with but in the context of 2012 this will certainly fly under way too many people’s radar
“Plague Bell” Therapy? from a Brief Crack of Light – I like Therapy? but it’s been a while since I enjoyed a record top-to-bottom and although this isn’t their classic best, it’s the best of the latest to me
“the Anarchist” Rush from Clockwork Angles – It’s a beautiful Rush record, for me the best of recent memory, no disrespect to anything they’ve done, I just particularly like this
“Crusify” Paradise Lost from Tragic Idol – Hard to imagine how this didn’t follow up Draconian Times, which is the sound that suits me most in their catalog
“the Killing of the Sun” Candlemass from Psalms for the Dead – The vote isn’t in yet for me but when they get it right, it works and I appreciate it’ll never be Epicus Doomicus Metallicus again
“Reborn” Biohazard from Reborn in Defiance – I am going to catch holy-hell for this but I actually like this album! It’s not “Biohazard,” sure, but compared to what they’d been doing… well, on it’s own this is solid, fuck the name and the false legacy, enjoy it
Punk it up
“Boy, You’re Gonna Hurt Someone” Hot Water Music from Exister – Never could explain how the were ‘punk’ or ’emo’ since they’re pretty straight up to me, which is why the no surprises offering is so enjoyable
“All or Nothing” Pennywise from All or Nothing – Zoli from Ignite makes this song for me, and the album. I liked Pennywise and Ignite, the two together, um, yes please.
“the Neo-Libriterian Anthem” Anti-Flag from the General Strike – No one else makes hating the “man” sound so damned good.
“Stay on your Feet” MxPx from Plans Within Plans – There’s more than enough reasons to love this from the hook to the lyrics but honestly I’m also biased because they flew under my radar for too long and I’ve been personally reinspired by them as of late
Thrash it out
“Desolation” Lamb of God from Resolution – They make me feel justified in my want to round-house kick every asshole that forgets I already occupy that spot in the time-space continuum on my commute – that’s what good metal does.
“Weight of the Word” Shadows Fall from Fire from the Sky – I’ve been waiting YEARS for this record from them since they let the scene run over them on the Art of Balance and given the chance it could usurp a top spot from nostalgia I so adored them back in the day
“the Hurt That Finds You First” Meshuggah from Koloss – Say it, I dare you! It’s the same record as D.E.I. and every one since. Fuck You. When you write perfection and NO ONE can’t equal it, why not rinse & repeat a bit? It’s not ObZeN or Chaosphere, but still untouchable, so bring it on!
“Pheonix Rising” Before the Dawn from Rise of the Pheonix – the more they mature the more they fall into their own thing and this time it’s nearly bye-bye clean vox!
“Another Perfect Day” Another Perfect Day from Four Songs for the Left Behind – Ok, it’s an EP, but I adore what these guys do/did, so they get a pass
“Sick Fire” Tracedawn from lizardusk – I was a little hesitant to include this but considering I didn’t FFW through it enough to negate the number of listens, it made the cut, for now.
“a Vow to Conquer the Ocean” In Mourning from the Weight of Oceans – Um, Hello, Sweden? Yeah, we’d like you to put a moratorium on music so the rest of the world can catch up please. Yeah, especially metal, the epic, progressive stuff, you’re fucking the rest of us on, please stop.
And when all else fails, blow your mind
“Carriers of the Plague” Psycroptic from Inherented Repression – Oh, it starts so death metal epic and just develops from there with this cross-section of clashing genres that eventually wields a six minute into whatever genre you want to call it
“Abodement / Where Angels go demons Follow” Spawn of Possession from Incurso – Pointing out what I like on the song would take almost as long as the song does to actually pay through?
“Even if you Win, You’re Still a Rat” Anarchists from Daybreaker – They kinda pull out the Norma Jean-esque dysfunctional approach to ‘tech’ going on which I’m growning to enjoy from them
“the Beginning” I, The Breather from Truth & Purpose – It isn’t the staccato counter-balanced riffs diving into deep down-tuned breaks or the swirls of sound, it’s like with anarchists i’m fiendish for Norma Jean (ha – I can admit it at least)
Beneath the Massacre from Incongruous – Want someone’s attention, start an album with that “riff” and then kick the solo at 1:00 and see if it doesn’t illicit wide-eyes
“Elements and Spirit” Gorod from a Perfect Absolution – there’s a nice bridge at :36 that sets up some nice call-and-response work throughout the song that despite being “tamer” than most displays the grace they write with
“Global Flatline” Aborted from Aborted – yep 1:43, that’s how you just drop shredding into a song
“Divide Paths” Veil of Maya from Eclipse – ok bring on the djent breakdowns and tweaked DEP guitar runs along with some overlayed effects to make it sound deep, I know the call, now here’s the response, they do it well, if it weren’t cliche you’d like it.
and the best of the rest…
“the Sun and the Moon” Cursive from I am Gemini – someone once introduced me to them as the writers of one of the greatest break-up albums of all time and well, they’ve come a long way for me since those days
“Forever until it Breaks” Guided by Voices from Class Clown Spots a UFO – ok, it’s Dad rock, I don’t know how it happened either, but it did, so suck it.
“this Graceful Tragedy” Children of Nova from Impossible Landscape – After years of trying to reject this sound from the “indie” community despite how many other bands I love that do it, ultimately you can thank Ahleuchatistas for liking this now I guess?
“Dead Flowers” Demon Hunter from True Defiance – I’ve always been a little indifferent to most of DH’s heavier stuff (it’s the post-TFU that they’ll never be) but when the bust out the big melody mid-tempos I can’t help myself
oh yeah, and:
“Restless” Dreamscape from Everlight – No new Dream Theater? No problem … hello next best thing.
“Mirror Water, Lightning Night” Kayo Dot from Gamma knife – Do I even have to explain this? Good. Because I don’t want to.