Monday, January 04, 2010

The Secret Sun Best of the Zeros: Music


 And now, for my favorite albums of this godforsaken decade. A diverse sampling, all united in principle by attention paid to the pleasure of sound and music as an end unto itself. Most of it lies squarely in the psychedelic realm, meaning psychedelia as a principle and not a retro style. 


In no particular order...

Mastodon- Crack the Skye (2009): Sometimes I'm tempted to give up on metal entirely, since so few bands can hit the broad side of a tune anymore. I wasn't sold on Mastodon's debut, but this became a complete addiction. Like QOTSA, Mastodon captured the spirit of 70s metal/hard rock without succumbing to its well-worn cliches. Absolute genius, and one of the best albums ever recorded by anyone at any time.

Killing Joke - Hosannas from the Basements of Hell
(2006) The 2003 comeback was pretty epic as well, but the David Icke-on-meth lyrics and nu metal riff-o-mania rank it behind this grimy, greasy bombardment of occult noise. 

The mix is questionable and the songs are all at least a minute too long, but every time I took this album out on my walking tour of my Necropolitan neighborhood (there are six cemeteries in walking distance of my house and more bizarre symbolism hiding in plain sight than you would ever want to see) those filthy, arcane guitars would speak to me. 

 They told me terrible, unspeakable things.

Mission of Burma - The Obliterati
(2006) This was the decade of the post-punk comeback. This Boston legends came back before, but only at half strength. The Obliterati opened up a portal back into my youth, when Boston was still a city of the mind and not merely of the wallet. A veritable time machine of an album. Pounding, postmodern punk-prog. 

Album includes Rock's only love song to a Sumerian goddess.

Ladytron- Witching Hour
(2005) Here's an album that me and my girls all enjoyed together. An eerie synthesis of 80s electropop and 90s shoegaze, dressed up with minimalist yet extremely enigmatic lyrics dripping with witchy significance. Still haven't gotten into their 2008 followup

Near the Parenthesis- Of Soft Construction
(2007): While Boards of Canada dithered, San Fransciscan Tim Arndt stepped up to the plate and unleashed this amniotic addiction. Lush to the point of pain, hypnotic, dream-inducing, addictive, immersive, delirious. Works just as well inaudibly soft or teeth-rattlingly loud. Incomprehensibly obscure. 

His 2008 offering has some killer tracks but is not as consistent.

Wire - Send
(2003): Brit punk/post-punk legends disappeared up their own asses in the 90s but then stormed out of nowhere with their angriest, most aggressive album ever (as well as some equally great EPs). Same pop hooks, but a renewed commitment and a sandblasting punk-metal sound. Their 2008 followup Object 47 is just as good, if less attention-grabbing.

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
(2002) A stoner classic pulled out of an other-dimensional 1974 and polished with post-grunge elan. Dave Grohl drives it all along with his pounding kick-drum, which he brought along when he hogged the kit as an honorary Killing Joker the following year. I knew every song by heart the first time I played this album.

Me'Shell NdegéOcello - Comfort Woman (2003): A late discovery of an artist whose charms I'd been previously resistant to. Sort of a post-trip hop outing, with heavy doses of dub, psych and postpunk. Lush, rich, silky, spacey stuff with the requisite tunes to keep it from becoming an amorphous blur. Delicious.

Cliff Martinez- Solaris
(2002): Indescribable. An album I'd been waiting for all of my life. Hypnotic in its quiet intensity, transcendent in intent. I couldn't begin to imagine Soderbergh's film without it. Absolutely essential. Probably the one album on this list I couldn't live without.

Sigur Ros - ( ) (2002): One of those albums that makes an act's other albums inessential- at least for me. Not that I didn't like their earlier work, but this album defines Sigur Ros in my mind. Every note is painfully beautiful. In a better world, this would be a must-have for mindful music mavens. 

Albums #11-20 - David Bowie Heathen, Andrew WK I Get Wet, Stone Temple Pilots Shangri La-De-Da, Geordie Walker 2007 Demos, Sia Color the Small One, Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights, The Darkness Permission to Land, Kate Bush Aerial, The Go Team Thunder Lightning Strike!, Santogold Santogold

Singles: The Killers 'Mr. Brightside', TV on the Radio 'Wolf Like Me', MGMT 'Kids', Feist 'Mushaboom', Taxi Taxi 'Family Doctor', VHS or Beta 'Can't Believe a Single Word, Sia 'Numb', Stars 'The Night Starts Here', Beyonce 'Single Ladies', Interpol 'PDA'.