by: Paul McEldowney
Real Estate - Days – (Mute)
It's hard to believe that ten years ago P.O.D.'s album Satellite featuring the hit Alive was released. It is that song which begins 'Everyday is a new day; I'm thankful for every breath I take'. Everyone realized the religious undertones and was kind of weirded out (see King Of The Hill Episode, Reborn To Be Wild). And yet, building off the evangelical puritanism of bands like P.O.D, Real Estate's newest Days is a tension-less and probably secular (as secular as relaxing and having a good time can be) continuation of P.O.D.'s celebration of your day in a way that doesn't relapse into nihilism. And I'm talking about everyday life; it's all good according to their newest lazy hazy nostalgia pop masterpiece. One of my most listened to in 2011, it's pretty easy to let this album sit on repeat for days (hehe).
M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - Mute
I remember being in high school and one of the first songs I heard on KUCI was M83's Teen Angst from Beyond The Dawn Heals Us. Something about their attention to detail in an absolutely controlled melodramatic way was emotionally gripping and admirable, making them one of my favorite bands at the time. If there's such a thing as 'the bigger picture' beyond the abstract forces of the economy which makes the world go round, then to look at things through that lens, M83's sense of control and self-determined evolution which marks their progression from the more ambient Dead Cities to the bubble gum superficial pop of Saturdays=Youth is moving. M83's newest Hurry Up, We're Dreaming criticizes and caricatures this chronology and rhetoric of artistic evolution and progress in away that is positive and creative. This criticism that results is an after hours cosmically expansive perfected and self-aware retro-futuristic synth-pop, improving on the naive kitsch of Saturdays=Youth and bringing back an extreme sentimentality and larger-than-life wall of sound of Before The Dawn Heals Us. It's two discs and it's great.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Wolfroy Goes To Town – (Drag City)
Newest alt-country beauty from the legend. As minimal, dark, introspective and intellectually and emotionally illuminating as ever.
Phantogram - Nightlife – (Barsuk)
Infectious dreamy sample and beat heavy electro-pop which goes down way too dangerously easy.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yelstin - Tape Club - Polyvinyl)
Calm supermellowfied lo-fi and low maintenance indie pop. Down to earth and super catchy. It's got a fantasy-romantic early Of Montreal vibe to it too.
Class Actress - Reapproacher – (Carpark)
Immediately heavy and foxy club-ready new wave that leans toward more french acid house trip. As heavy and catchy as the beats are, standing out is vocalist Elizabeth Harper's performance and sassy 'tude. What a star.
Strange Boys - Live Music – (Rough Trade)
Grown-up down and dirty (still unsure what I mean by that) country tinged garage folk with those raspy vocals which just make you swoon. Unprecedented liberal use of harmonica by the boys club.
Gospel Music - How To Get To Heaven From Jacksonville, Florida – (Kill Rock Stars)
Toy instruments and fuzzy blanket anti-punk cardigan-pop perfect for the twee-as-fuck missed connections homepagers. Carefree, innocent, and socially inept from the bassist of Black Kids.
Forest Fire - Starting At The X – (Fatcat)
Gritty and dreamy inconsistent, in a good way, scatter-brained kraut-folk mind burners. It goes from mellow groovey dancehall to nonsensical psych-out to sad warbly romantic prog-pop. Slow and heavy as folk gets.
Hunters - Hands On Fire – (Aagoo)
Minimal sludgy garage pop two-piece from Brooklyn, with an emphasis on pop. Dueling vocal hook after hook mixed with old school grunge style guitars. Apparently former Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha was involved on the production end. This should not by any means be interpreted as a deterrent, but I have to admit this EP has a super dreamy component.
Yamantaka/Sonic Titan - YT//ST - (Psychic Handshake)
Operatic polymorphous refreshing psychedelic cult-style doom-pop that goes from angelic Cocteau Twins serenades to Boris style stoner metal freak outs. Super heavy and dreary, but at the same time hypnotic and beautiful. Spin this forever; It's amazing.