The Great Annihilator

I’m not even going to write a bunch of paragraphs.

Whenever, If Ever by The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die may just take album of the year from me.

WHOOPS WRONG BLOG

Jeff Mangum at Redford Theater, 01.12.13

As soon as I heard that Jeff was playing in my state on my birthday, I snatched up tickets asap. Woke up early for them and everything. Got them. Just got back from the show, so starting with the venue…

The Redford Theater looked like an older theater one would see in a 70’s movie on the outside. The inside was a lot different. It was spacious, held a ton of people, and had a great atmosphere. The stage was in the middle of what was like a replica Japanese building from the pre-1900’s, and had people of the matching style painted on to match. The ceiling was dark blue, and small lights shined like stars would, glowing and dimming like in the sky. Even a few shooting stars were spotted. The seating wasn’t A+, but they were comfortable enough to sit for a few hours.

The opening act was Briors of North America. Four guys. Two on guitar (though one went to banjo for one song and french horn for another), one on keyboard, and one on double bass. Three of them did vocals, and they really did some lovely harmonies throughout their set. All of the effects and their skill with the instruments were great. They knew what they were doing. They were sort of alt-country/folk like. My friend made a comparison to Fleet Foxes, but I think I actually enjoyed theme guys more. Set was ~40 minutes long, and I enjoyed it all. They also apparently only have six listeners on lastfm. Huh.

The next act was Tall Firs. Two guys playing guitars and singing. Not really much that I feel like I can say here. I found them alright at the start, but ended up finding them extremely bland, though I liked the concept. They also had a girl do guest vocals for their last song, I guess that’s a thing.

Jeff was last, of course. I was so hyped. Too hyped. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. He’s still got it. Did every song nearly flawlessly, invited people to stand around the stage, asked the crowd to sing along, played all of the big songs, and really just put on an amazing show. Bantered with the audience a little bit, too. I thought he would be shy, but he didn’t act like it at all. I can’t say much here either, because everyone knows Jeff. His show was amazing, and it was worth my 2.5 drive each way to see him. He’s still got the beard, by the way. Birthday was well spent.

2012 - Top 5 Albums

Not a bad year. Not amazing, but nowhere near terrible. This post isn’t going to exactly be long, sorry it took me so long to get to it. These are all my opinion and you shouldn’t yell at me if you think my taste is awful.

5. Death Grips - The Money Store

Death Grips always gets me hyped up for anything. I wasn’t huge on No Love Deep Web, but TMS had a ton of energy to it and some great tracks that’ll stay in my head for a while.

Best track - I’ve Seen Footage

Runner up - Hacker

4. Dads - American Radass (This is Important)

Emo rules. I haven’t listened to any other albums from Dads, but I’ve listened to American Radass a countless number of times in the last few months. It’s short, sweet, and simple.

Best track - Shit Twins

Runner up - Breakfast at Piffany’s

3. The Men - Open Your Heart

I feel like this album didn’t come out this year. But it did. Punky, full of emotion, and, well, it’s just a really good album. I feel like this album got enough attention this year that I don’t need to say much.

Best track - Open Your Heart

Runner up - Candy

2. Swans - The Seer

I love me some Swans. And when I heard that there was a new album coming out this year, I think I probably nearly shat myself. Preordered it on vinyl, listened to the leak, heard the demos on We Rose from Your Bed with the Sun in our Head. All that. Didn’t disappoint me at all. Hugely experimental, extremely long in track times and album length, and a lot of great moments. It’s not their best, but I really liked it.

Best track - Avatar

Runner up - The Seer/The Seer Returns (tie)

1. Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence

I’ve been a BtBaM fan for years. However, I didn’t exactly like The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues very much. I preordered this just because I’m a fan and I thought I’d give it a shot. I didn’t listen to the leak, the album arrived in the mail, and I listened to it.

Then listened to it again. And again. I love this album. In my opinion, they finally surpassed Colors. I’ve listened to this for hours and hours, and I’m sure I’ll listen for hours more. My personal album of the year right here, folks.

Best track - Silent Flight Parliament

Runner up - Bloom/Extremophile Elite (tie)

My top albums of 2012: Coming soon.

Kendrick Lamar’s new LP, and his first on a major label, good kid, m.A.A.d. city. As good as last year’s Section.80? Better?
No. Sort of.
gkmc is more or less a sidegrade of an album. It’s a very different sound, and they can’t really be compared directly. Trust that I’ve enjoyed this release a ton, probably about as much as I enjoyed section.80. However, gkmc takes off on a different road. The beats and flow make me think more of 90’s rap than something more current.
Good kid, m.A.A.d. city is about Kendrick’s teenage life. It explores various themes, including finding God, alcoholism, death of close friends, and drug use, all of which Kendrick ran into while growing up in Compton. The stories are mostly told through the raps themselves, but additionally, story is told through a series of skits between songs. Like most skits they do feel intrusive, but I really don’t mind because they progress the plot and are important to the core of the album.
The quality of the raps is mostly great, though there are a few tracks that could have used a little bit of change before release. Opinions are opinions though. He flows slower than in section.80, but it still has great flow regardless of speed. Kendrick has a kind of flow that I can’t really find from anyone else, and it really makes his stuff feel fresh. There are also several guest artists on the album, most notably from Drake and Dr. Dre. I’m not a huge fan of Drake, but he doesn’t bring the quality down one bit. Dre still apparently knows what he’s doing and does real well. There are a few other guests, but I’m not knowledgeable of them to really talk about them.
Overall, worth some listens. My first few listens, I really didn’t feel it. But the more I listened, the more it grew as the plot became more apparent to me and it greatly helped my enjoyment. Give it a shot if you like some good raps. Sample here.

Kendrick Lamar’s new LP, and his first on a major label, good kid, m.A.A.d. city. As good as last year’s Section.80? Better?

No. Sort of.

gkmc is more or less a sidegrade of an album. It’s a very different sound, and they can’t really be compared directly. Trust that I’ve enjoyed this release a ton, probably about as much as I enjoyed section.80. However, gkmc takes off on a different road. The beats and flow make me think more of 90’s rap than something more current.

Good kid, m.A.A.d. city is about Kendrick’s teenage life. It explores various themes, including finding God, alcoholism, death of close friends, and drug use, all of which Kendrick ran into while growing up in Compton. The stories are mostly told through the raps themselves, but additionally, story is told through a series of skits between songs. Like most skits they do feel intrusive, but I really don’t mind because they progress the plot and are important to the core of the album.

The quality of the raps is mostly great, though there are a few tracks that could have used a little bit of change before release. Opinions are opinions though. He flows slower than in section.80, but it still has great flow regardless of speed. Kendrick has a kind of flow that I can’t really find from anyone else, and it really makes his stuff feel fresh. There are also several guest artists on the album, most notably from Drake and Dr. Dre. I’m not a huge fan of Drake, but he doesn’t bring the quality down one bit. Dre still apparently knows what he’s doing and does real well. There are a few other guests, but I’m not knowledgeable of them to really talk about them.

Overall, worth some listens. My first few listens, I really didn’t feel it. But the more I listened, the more it grew as the plot became more apparent to me and it greatly helped my enjoyment. Give it a shot if you like some good raps. Sample here.

The Parallax 2: Future Sequence! Pretentious name, convoluted plot, and other things! Does it stack up, or did BtBaM really screw this one up? I’m going to assume that that’s why you’re reading this!
After the mediocrity of The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and the first single “Telos,” I was very wary about this album, but preordered the vinyl anyway because I’m a fan of the band. Before, I get into the rest of the write up, some backstory on the album.
Future Sequence is a concept album, and the sequel to the bands previous EP, Hypersleep Dialogues. The concept isn’t quite as insane as the Coheed and Cambria albums, but it’s pretty bizarre and I don’t understand most of it. Basically, the characters from “Swim to the Moon” (finale of The Great Misdirect) and a character mostly mention in unsung lyrics only found on the lyrics sheets, mostly from The Silent Circus and “Prequel to the Sequel” (off of Colors) are insanely far from each other in the universe, but are somehow connected. One guy’s (from The Silent Circus) planet is destroyed or something and leave to save the rest of humanity, while the other guy (from “Swim to the Moon”) is just sort of there and left humanity and now returns or something. Then it turns out they’re connected by being each other’s astral bodies or something weird like that, then there’s owl gods or something (from “A Fossil Genera” off of The Great Misdirect. The Night Owls) and I don’t really understand how it ends but I think everyone dies. Hypersleep Dialogues was the set-up, and Future Sequence is the action of the plot.
Now that that’s over, the album itself. This may be their most progressive album yet. A ton of guitar wankery, drum fills, and almost out of place breaks in the action, like Colors. Also sort of like Colors, most of the tracks flow into each other. Not all of them like Colors did, but most do. And I think they really got it this time. Many tracks flow into the next with no indication of another starting, and it’s extremely smooth. Done better than Colors. The breaks in the action aren’t as jazzy or full of accordion as in Colors, but they, to me, feel like a mix of circus music with classical (or romantic or baroque or something.) Musically, they’ve got the same sound they got from Alaska, but there’s a lot more time changes and breaks and it’s excellent. Truly well done.
There’s still plenty of screaming, which can definitely turn many away. However, this time around, there’s a lot more singing and spoken word. I love Tommy’s voice, so I’m fine with whatever. The album also took some keys from Tommy’s 2011 solo album under Thomas Giles, Pulse. I’m pretty glad to see some of those elements return, though they can be a bit strange. “Bloom” in particular is extremely weird for the band to do.
There’s a bit of a motif throughout the album as well. The phrase “goodbye to everything” come around several times, and is also the first track. The last track is also a reprise of the opener. It’s also spoken several times throughout the other tracks. I’m not quite sure of the meaning.
This is a lengthy album with a lot of things to cover, and I know I missed a lot. This is already long enough as is, however. I’ve got this to say though: I think this a strong contender to Colors as far as how much I like it. And I love Colors. Expecting a disappointing release, I’m thrilled to know I like it as much as I do. Fans should give it a listen, and I’d recommend newcomers who aren’t afraid of some metalcore to listen to it. The band’s really metalcore for people who don’t like metalcore, anyway. Give it a listen or five. Preview track here.

The Parallax 2: Future Sequence! Pretentious name, convoluted plot, and other things! Does it stack up, or did BtBaM really screw this one up? I’m going to assume that that’s why you’re reading this!

After the mediocrity of The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and the first single “Telos,” I was very wary about this album, but preordered the vinyl anyway because I’m a fan of the band. Before, I get into the rest of the write up, some backstory on the album.

Future Sequence is a concept album, and the sequel to the bands previous EP, Hypersleep Dialogues. The concept isn’t quite as insane as the Coheed and Cambria albums, but it’s pretty bizarre and I don’t understand most of it. Basically, the characters from “Swim to the Moon” (finale of The Great Misdirect) and a character mostly mention in unsung lyrics only found on the lyrics sheets, mostly from The Silent Circus and “Prequel to the Sequel” (off of Colors) are insanely far from each other in the universe, but are somehow connected. One guy’s (from The Silent Circus) planet is destroyed or something and leave to save the rest of humanity, while the other guy (from “Swim to the Moon”) is just sort of there and left humanity and now returns or something. Then it turns out they’re connected by being each other’s astral bodies or something weird like that, then there’s owl gods or something (from “A Fossil Genera” off of The Great Misdirect. The Night Owls) and I don’t really understand how it ends but I think everyone dies. Hypersleep Dialogues was the set-up, and Future Sequence is the action of the plot.

Now that that’s over, the album itself. This may be their most progressive album yet. A ton of guitar wankery, drum fills, and almost out of place breaks in the action, like Colors. Also sort of like Colors, most of the tracks flow into each other. Not all of them like Colors did, but most do. And I think they really got it this time. Many tracks flow into the next with no indication of another starting, and it’s extremely smooth. Done better than Colors. The breaks in the action aren’t as jazzy or full of accordion as in Colors, but they, to me, feel like a mix of circus music with classical (or romantic or baroque or something.) Musically, they’ve got the same sound they got from Alaska, but there’s a lot more time changes and breaks and it’s excellent. Truly well done.

There’s still plenty of screaming, which can definitely turn many away. However, this time around, there’s a lot more singing and spoken word. I love Tommy’s voice, so I’m fine with whatever. The album also took some keys from Tommy’s 2011 solo album under Thomas Giles, Pulse. I’m pretty glad to see some of those elements return, though they can be a bit strange. “Bloom” in particular is extremely weird for the band to do.

There’s a bit of a motif throughout the album as well. The phrase “goodbye to everything” come around several times, and is also the first track. The last track is also a reprise of the opener. It’s also spoken several times throughout the other tracks. I’m not quite sure of the meaning.

This is a lengthy album with a lot of things to cover, and I know I missed a lot. This is already long enough as is, however. I’ve got this to say though: I think this a strong contender to Colors as far as how much I like it. And I love Colors. Expecting a disappointing release, I’m thrilled to know I like it as much as I do. Fans should give it a listen, and I’d recommend newcomers who aren’t afraid of some metalcore to listen to it. The band’s really metalcore for people who don’t like metalcore, anyway. Give it a listen or five. Preview track here.

First time thoughts of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new (surprise!) album, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Going to make this one short and sweet, because I’m assuming you’ve already listened to Godspeed at some point if you follow this blog.
Strange thing I found is that unlike in F#A# or Lift Yr Skinny Fists (haven’t heard the other two), there are absolutely no words spoken, unless I missed them. No mention of an AM/PM mini-mart, or burning cars with no driver at the wheel. None at all.
The album is a bit shorter than most of their other releases, though it’s still a respectable length, just going past 50 minutes through four tracks. The first and third tracks are both over 20 minutes long, and are more the standard Godspeed tracks, though they focus less on crescendos moving towards a peak, and more constant energy with barely changing rhythm. I’d say it works well. Tracks two and four I found unusual, because they were really just droning parts. I would have said interludes, but the fourth track only leads to the end of the album.
I wouldn’t say this is their best work, but the album was still very good and I’d recommend listens from both newcomers and those who know their Godspeed alike. Plus, even if you hate it for some reason, I think it’s great that a nearly legendary band just sort of silently releases an album at a show. I love the idea.

First time thoughts of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new (surprise!) album, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Going to make this one short and sweet, because I’m assuming you’ve already listened to Godspeed at some point if you follow this blog.

Strange thing I found is that unlike in F#A# or Lift Yr Skinny Fists (haven’t heard the other two), there are absolutely no words spoken, unless I missed them. No mention of an AM/PM mini-mart, or burning cars with no driver at the wheel. None at all.

The album is a bit shorter than most of their other releases, though it’s still a respectable length, just going past 50 minutes through four tracks. The first and third tracks are both over 20 minutes long, and are more the standard Godspeed tracks, though they focus less on crescendos moving towards a peak, and more constant energy with barely changing rhythm. I’d say it works well. Tracks two and four I found unusual, because they were really just droning parts. I would have said interludes, but the fourth track only leads to the end of the album.

I wouldn’t say this is their best work, but the album was still very good and I’d recommend listens from both newcomers and those who know their Godspeed alike. Plus, even if you hate it for some reason, I think it’s great that a nearly legendary band just sort of silently releases an album at a show. I love the idea.

The new album by Swans: The Seer.
I’ve taken forever to get to reviewing this one for one reason: I wanted to listen to it with the vinyl track order, which I was too lazy to do because I’m a very lazy person. I’m not even going to wait until the end to say this, though. I love this album. It takes bits and pieces of their styles throughout the years and make them one completed work. The album is long, strange, and wonderful. Unlike most previous Swans albums, The Seer is extremely experimental. Even more than My Father Will Guild Me Up A Rope To The Sky. There are plenty of guest artists, including Ben Frost, Karen O., Akron/Family, and Jarboe(!), plus several others.
Instrumentally, there is an incredible amount of variation. The standard guitar, drums, bass, and the such are of course included. There are more instruments used than I can name off the top of my head used. Piano, harmonica, singing saw, some digitally made portions, and several others. Melodies range from simple guitar and vocals, to complex drum beats accented with the sounds of breathing, to complicated and noisy electronic sections with noises that may or may not be words. It’s an extremely interesting mix thrown about, and it works extremely well in this instance.
The one thing I can think of that is a slight let down is Gira’s voice. He’s lost most of the force in his vocals, and some of his singing ability as well. He still sounds good, but his voice isn’t as full and powerful as it used to be. He also hardly uses his astounding lows at all throughout The Seer. I suppose it’s not exactly his fault, as he’s starting to get a bit older and Swans is now over 30 years old, but I needed something to complain about, right?
I’d assume if you’re reading this, you’re either a fan of Swans, a personal friend, or just some person following this blog for some reason. This is to fans, though: I love the album. A lot of other Swans fans are let down and some downright hate it. It’s certainly different from any other Swans work, like how Soundtracks for the Blind is.
Fan or not, I give the album a huge thumbs up and suggest listening to it at least a few times. The album is incredibly long for this sort of project at just around two hours for only 11 tracks, but I feel like it’s worth every listen. Sample here.

The new album by Swans: The Seer.

I’ve taken forever to get to reviewing this one for one reason: I wanted to listen to it with the vinyl track order, which I was too lazy to do because I’m a very lazy person. I’m not even going to wait until the end to say this, though. I love this album. It takes bits and pieces of their styles throughout the years and make them one completed work. The album is long, strange, and wonderful. Unlike most previous Swans albums, The Seer is extremely experimental. Even more than My Father Will Guild Me Up A Rope To The Sky. There are plenty of guest artists, including Ben Frost, Karen O., Akron/Family, and Jarboe(!), plus several others.

Instrumentally, there is an incredible amount of variation. The standard guitar, drums, bass, and the such are of course included. There are more instruments used than I can name off the top of my head used. Piano, harmonica, singing saw, some digitally made portions, and several others. Melodies range from simple guitar and vocals, to complex drum beats accented with the sounds of breathing, to complicated and noisy electronic sections with noises that may or may not be words. It’s an extremely interesting mix thrown about, and it works extremely well in this instance.

The one thing I can think of that is a slight let down is Gira’s voice. He’s lost most of the force in his vocals, and some of his singing ability as well. He still sounds good, but his voice isn’t as full and powerful as it used to be. He also hardly uses his astounding lows at all throughout The Seer. I suppose it’s not exactly his fault, as he’s starting to get a bit older and Swans is now over 30 years old, but I needed something to complain about, right?

I’d assume if you’re reading this, you’re either a fan of Swans, a personal friend, or just some person following this blog for some reason. This is to fans, though: I love the album. A lot of other Swans fans are let down and some downright hate it. It’s certainly different from any other Swans work, like how Soundtracks for the Blind is.

Fan or not, I give the album a huge thumbs up and suggest listening to it at least a few times. The album is incredibly long for this sort of project at just around two hours for only 11 tracks, but I feel like it’s worth every listen. Sample here.

thesewhitewalls:

My copy of The Seer came today. Don’t like that the wrap is torn in the corner… But it was done so M. Gira could sign it.

(Source: steveswhitewalls)

rottenyoungearth:

Download Old Gray’s Do I Dare Disturb The Universe HERE.
-Jacob Rice

Recommended.

rottenyoungearth:

Download Old Gray’s Do I Dare Disturb The Universe HERE.

-Jacob Rice

Recommended.