Top Albums of 2011

ALTERNATIVE
Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (Hard Alternative Rock/Pop)
Portugal. The Man – In the Mountain In the Cloud (Indie/Alternative Rock)
Primus – Green Naugahyde (Alternative/Funk/Rock)
Puscifer – Conditions of My Parole (Alternative/Experimental)
Radiohead – the King of Limbs (Alternative/Experimental)
the Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You (Alternative Rock/Funk/Pop)
Rival Schools – Pedals (Hard Alternative Rock)

FOLK
Bon Iver – Bon Iver (Indie/Folk/Pop)
Eddie Vedder – Ukulele Songs (Folk)
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Indie/Folk)
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Indie/Folk)
Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts (Alternative/Folk)

HIP HOP
the Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II (Rap/Hip Hop)
the Roots – Undun (Rap/Hip Hop)
Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows (Rap/Hip Hop)

INDIE
Company of Thieves – Running from a Gamble (Indie Rock)
Stateless – Matilda (Electro/Indie)
Tune-Yards – W H O K I L L (Experimental/Indie)
TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light (Indie Rock/Alternative)
Vetiver – the Errant Charm (Indie Rock/Folk)
Yukon Blonde – Fire/Water (Indie Rock)

METAL
Animals as Leaders – Weightless (Progressive Metal/Instrumental/Djent/Fusion)
Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep  Dialogues (Progressive Grind Metal)
Chaos Divine – The Human Connection (Progressive Metal)
Circles – the Compass (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Corelia – Nostalgia (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy (Progressive Metal/Fusion)
The Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction (Progressive Extreme Metal)
the Haunted – Unseen (Melodic Death Metal)
the Human Abstract – Digital Veil (Progressive Metalcore)
Leprous – Bilateral (Progressive Metal)
Mastodon – The Hunter (Progressive Doom Metal/Rock)
Monstro – Monstro (Doom Metal/Hard Rock)
Protest the Hero – Scurrilous (Progressive Metal/Thrash/Punk)
Red Seas Fire – Red Seas Fire (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Revocation – Chaos of Forms (Death/Thrash Metal)
Scale the Summit – the Collective (Progressive Metal/Instrumental)
TesseracT – One (Progressive Metal/Djent)
Textures – Dualism (Progressive Metal/Djent)

ELECTRO
Bjork – Biophilia (Experimental/Pop)
James Blake – James Blake (Indie/Experimental)
SBTRKT – SBTRKT (Electro)

POP
The Black Keys – El Camino (Alternative/Blues/Rock)
Foster the People – Torches (Indie Rock/Pop)
Gotye – Making Mirrors (New Age/Indie/Pop)
Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting (Pop)
The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (Alternative Rock/Pop)
Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Electro/Pop)
Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do (Motown/Soul)
Mutemath – Odd Soul (Pop/Rock)
Sublime with Rome – Yours Truly (Alternative/Pop)

PROGRESSIVE ROCK
The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum (Progressive Rock/Alternative)
the Devin Townsend Project – Ghost (Progressive Rock/New Age)
Fair to Midland – Arrows & Anchors (Progressive Rock/Metal)
Opeth – Heritage (Progressive Rock/Metal)
3 – The Ghost You Gave to Me (Progressive Rock/Metal)

PUNK/HARDCORE
Glassjaw – Coloring Book (Post Hardcore/Punk)
Le Butcherettes – Sin Sin Sin (Punk/Alternative Rock)
Thrice – Major/Minor (Hard Alternative Rock/Punk)

MY TOP 10
1. Gotye – Making Mirrors
2. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
3. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
4. TesseracT – One
5. Radiohead – the King of Limbs
6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
7. Stateless – Matilda
8. the Black Keys – El Camino
9. Rival Schools – Pedals
10. the Joy Formidable – the Big Roar

Party on.

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My Best of 2009

10. Pearl Jam – Backspacer
9. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
8. Mos Def – The Ecstatic
7. the Devin Townsend Project – Ki
6. Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue
5. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
4. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
3. Miike Snow – S/T
2. Portugal. The Man – The Satanic Satanist
1. the Devin Townsend Project – Addicted!

Honourable mentions:

Company of Thieves – Ordinary Riches
Chylde – Now it Can Be Told
Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic
He Is Legend – It Hates You
John Frusciante – The Empyrean
Kylesa – Static Tensions
Lamb of God – Wrath
the Mars Volta – Octahedron
Thrice – Beggars
Alexisonfire – Old Crows/Young Cardinals
Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect
Muse – The Resistance
the Temper Trap – Conditions
Austrian Death Machine – Double Brutal
Behemoth – Evangelion
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Matthew Good – Vancouver
Apostle of Hustle – Eats Darkness
Balmorhea – All is Wild, All is Silent
Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
Clutch – Strange Cousins from the West
The Decemberists – the Hazards of Love
Dredg – The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion
Eminem – Relapse
the Junction – Another Link in the Chain
Katatonia – Night is the New Day
Killswitch Engage – S/T
Baroness – Blue Record
Megadeth – Endgame
the Red Chord – Fed Through the Teeth Machine
3 – Revisions
Blakroc – S/T
the Dead Weather – Horehound
Dethklok – the Deth Album II
ISIS – Wavering Radiant
Keith Merrow – the Arrival
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez – Old Money
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Porcupine Tree – The Incident
Revocation – Existence is Futile
Threat Signal – Vigilance
the Used – Artwork
Wilco – S/T
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
St. Vincent – Actor
Monsters of Folk – S/T

Accept it!

J

Music Review – Mastodon – Crack the Skye

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything so here I go. I’ll try not to be too biased with this one.

Mastodon are back again from near destruction with their latest ‘Crack the Skye’. I was in anticipation for this for many months dating back even to last year, this band had grown on me considerably since I first discovered them a few years ago, back when all I had of theirs was Leviathan.

The album comes on the heels of co-lead guitarist and vocalist Brent Hinds battle with a serious head-trauma injury sustained after an inebriated post-award show beatdown by Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down (allegedely). This caused Hinds to suffer from a serious case of vertigo and amnesia of the incident for about 8 months, forcing him to sit at home for the most part, only to compose with his guitar while he waited to get back to full health. This exile however, seems to have been of great assistance to the quality and creativity of this album.

I wont go into every track on the record but I will describe some significant ones.

Crack the Skye opens with the track Oblivion which is a solid-opener by their standards. It is somewhat taken-aback from previous offerings, reigning in the Thrash elements a bit and allowing for a more melodic and progressive nature, this is a recurring motif throughout the album. Brent said it best when he described the record as being their “Led Zeppelin 4”, as the bands seems to have taken quite a bit of an influence from the 70’s British Rock superstars, with lots more bluesy guitar solos and melodies.

Track 2 is the single “Divinations”. Another solid track which continues with what Oblivion started. This song has a great video too, with Hinds as the Abomonibal snow/cave man who kills and devours his band mates (who are the search crew for Hinds in the snowy mountains.) There’s nothing quite like Death by guitar.

The album continues with a constant momentum, progressive, melodic and heavy, with signature Mastodon riffs and chord progressions throughout. Although they take a few steps out of their usual realm, with the addition of keyboardist Rich Morris on several tracks who adds an interesting dynamic to their sound.

The lyrics on the album are said to be of concept, (which can be said of the music as well, most of the tracks seemlessly flow together.) They are supposedly primarily about Dailor’s sister Skye who tragically took her own life in her teen years, despite previous rumours that the album was a Rasputin concept. However I think they are isolated in certain songs, for instance ‘Crack the Skye’ obviously being about Dailor’s sister and ‘The Last Baron’ likely the to be referencing the Russian. The former track features guest vocals by Neurosis frontman Scott Kelly, returning again, previously appearing on their last album ‘Blood Mountain’. Along with Sanders & Hinds, drummer Brann Dailor is a large contributor to the lyrics of most, if not all of Mastodon’s albums and this one is no different. In viewing their ‘making of’ documentary he is seen working with both singers in the studio.

Mastodon have never had great vocal techniques on any of their albums, but ‘Crack the Skye’ is definitely their best yet in that regard. The same cannot be said of the instrumentals, which are masterful from all members.

With Brendan O’Brien behind the boards for the first time, he doesn’t seem to have tampered much with the band’s signature sound, and has done a good job maintaining the integrity of the songs.

Overall this is a great record start to finish, and the best Mastodon has ever done in my opinion. I can’t wait to check them out on tour this spring.

4.5/5 Stars

– Jon