Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Favorite Albums of 2012

2012 was an interesting year for music.  A-lot of artists came out of hibernation this year including Nas, BurialDesaparecidos, Behold... The Arctopus, Eagle Twin, and, most importantly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  There were probably some more that I'm forgetting, but you get the picture.  

Much like 2011, hip hop reigned supreme. Don't get me wrong, there were some good releases in other genres (and I'll talk some of about them), but imho, hip hop murdered it again this year.  There's lots of new blood in the rap game, and I'm loving it. 

I'm going to list my top 20 favorite albums (in descending order) of this year, as well as mention 5 up and coming artists and 5 other 2012 albums that I think are worth checking out.  
I will give a little review/blurb about each album. They'll tend to get a little more verbose as I get higher on the list.  
There will be numerous links to free (legal) album downloads, so prepare yourself for some fresh jams.  If there's anything on here that you seem particularly intrigued by, and I haven't provided a link to a full download of it. Drop me a line and I'll hook it up on the dl.  If there's something missing from this list that you think should be here, leave it in the comments. There were some big names left of this list that I'm sure will get me some heat, so I'm definitely willing to suffer some harsh comments, but don't be surprised if I comment back explaining why you're wrong :P  No, but really, these are just my favorite albums of this year.

Now, on to the reviews!   


20.) Deerhoof - Breakup Songs

Indie/Noise/Pop/Techno/Whatever band Deerhoof is at it again, slinging them catchy electro-rock jams. If you already like Deerhoof, you're probably gonna like this album.  It's not my favorite album of theirs, but it hits hard and fast, and you have to dance! Stream the entire album below






19.) BAD BAD NOT GOOD 

SO FUCKING BAD. These are some teenagers from Canada who do Jazz covers of hip hop songs. They FUCKING RULE.  They have tons of awesome colab videos on the internets, so peep them doing jazz songs with your favorite MCs. 
Oh, and all of their music is free! BBNG2 dropped this year and it's sicccccccck!  

  


 


18.) John K. Samson - Provincial  

John K. Samson is one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  He used to play bass and do the backup vocals in Propagandhi (when they were still good, back in the How to Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock days).  He is also the guitarist and vocalist of one of my favorite indie bands, The Weakerthans. He's released a handful of live and solo albums that never really caught my attention until now.  Provincial is an awesome indie/folk/rock album.  If you're into The Weakerthans, you will love this album. If you're into Rocky Votolato or Tim Kasher's work in The Good Life, you will definitely dig this. 

 




17.) Angel Olsen - Half Way Home 

Angel Olsen is a folk artist.  I'm kinda in love with her.  Half Way Home is the best folk album i've heard in a long time. Her voice is beautiful and subtle, yet powerful and emotive.  Not only is she awesome, but she lives in Chicago (in fact, I'm pretty sure she used to live in my old hood, Humboldt Park). I honestly can't even put into words how incredible this album is. Just listen to it.    






 

 



  
 16.) Conan - Monos 

Conan, if you couldn't tell by the name and album art, is fucking heavy. Like, barbarians-stomping-on-your-skull heavy.  They're a doom trio from the U.K. and they first caught my attention with 2010's Horseback Battle Hammer, which fucking blew me away.  Their newest release, Monos, serves up some more top notch, bowl-busting doom.  


 Listen to/purchase the album right here 


 


   


15.) Kendrick Lamar - Good kid, m.A.A.d city 

Kendrick is part of the Black Hippy crew, and last year he released a killer album, Section.80.  The follow up, Good kid, m.A.A.d city features some all star MCs (including the good doctor and MC Eiht) and is receiving alot of praise and notice.  Check it out if you're into some soul-full, intelligent, and catchy hip hop. There's a-lot of layers to the lyrical content to this album, so prepare to listen a few times before you "get it."

 
 

 
  

  


14.) UFOMammut - ORO: Opus Alter & Primum 
Psychadelic doom outfit UFOMammut dropped two albums this year (Opus Alater and Opus Primum).  Both are pretty solid. If you're unfamiliar with this band, they play a blend of space rock and doom metal.  For fans of tripppppppppppy riffage \m/. 
   








13.) Swans - The Seer 

I'm not even going to try and talk about Swans, or The Seer here. There's too much to say. Entirely too much.  If you don't know who the Swans are, you probably suck at music.  No seriously, you need to educate yourself, because this band is fucking important. They are post punk/post rock/drone metal/epic composition/fucking everything and nothing. Pretty much any and every genre you can imagine is on this album. This album is really challenging, but really rewarding. It's long as hell, and it's incredibly weird, but i dig it. If you're the kind of person who can get down with some of the weirder sides of the Melvins, or other metal/punk/experimental bands, then this is for you. 
 

 




 12.) Eagle Twin - The Feather Tipped the Searpent's Scale 

Doom duo Eagle Twin just released their first album since 2009 and it is exactly what you would expect: heavy fucking ballads of evil, mythical shit.  Dudes fucking jam HARD.  I saw them open for Earth a couple weeks ago.  Their guitarist stepped up his game from the last time I saw them open for sunn in 2009.  He used to have 4 pickups, each pair running into a separate amp (one bass, one guitar). Now he's got another pair (so 6 pickups, 3 amps total).  The tubes were glowing with metal brilliance and it was epic as shit. This album is pretty good.  I'm not as into it as I was their first album, The Unkindness of Crows, but I still really like it.  If you're into doom/drone, epic storytelling, and you like those HEAVY hitting drums of bands like Floor and The Melvins, you will dig this for sure. 



 




11.) Captain Murphy - Duality 

Who is Captain Murphy? No one knows. Personally, I think it's a bunch of different MCs, but we may never really know.
Production credits have gone to Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, Samiyam, Teebs, TNGHT, and Just Blaze, with guest spots coming from Earl, Azizi Gibson, and Jeremiah Jae. 
Tyler is definitely on there to. Whether or not he IS the captain or not, I'm not sure. But I know Tyler when I hear him. Duality is a trippy/crazy/funny/dark/awesome album and it has an awesome video to go with it, which can be viewed at http://captainmurphy.xxx/

The captain dropped a 34 minute mp3 version of the album on his twitter.

Check this shit out, it's hot and it's free!

10.) KTL - V 

Alot, if not all of you, will probably hate (or, more accurately, misunderstand) this album.  KTL is guitarist Stephen O'Malley (of sunn, Khanate, Burning Witch and numerous other doom/drone bands) and electronic artist Peter Rehberg (of M.I.M.E.O.). They make some heavily experimental music. It's drone-y, it's ambient, it's noisy, it's beautiful, it's disgusting, it's familiar, it's foreign, it's awesome.  
This kind of music is not necessarily fun for the listener (although it can be, with the proper training and skills of music appreciation).  The songs are long, and minimalist in structure, although they are comprised of layers and layers of sounds and instrumentation.  This is more akin to a meditative experience than actual rhythmic music. 
If you can approach this band (and all drone/ambient bands) with this in mind, you can have a very interesting and rewarding experience while listening to the vibrations and osculations of this album. If you go into this with an open mind, you will get something out of it, even if you don't like it.  If you find that you do enjoy this, I can/will gladly turn you on to more stuff like this, because it's kinda my main jam.   




 


 



9.) Flatbush Zombie – D.R.U.G.S. 


I don’t know what to say about these guys, other than that I love them and I can’t explain why.  They’re not doing anything cutting edge.  Their rhymes and beats aren't mind blowing or that inventive.  Most of their rhymes are about drugs and NYC and are heavily drenched in gore/horror film type imagery. None of this is new or refreshing, but the way they carry themselves and practice their craft is just really delicious to me for some reason.  I love the O.D.B. dark and crusty voice of Meechy Darko, and its contrast with the effeminate and high pitched stylings of Zombie Juice.  They first caught my attention in their feature on the A$AP Mob mixtape.  Honestly, this track was the only song on that tape that I still really dig (the whole things was a pretty big let down, considering how good A$AP Rocky's LiveLoveA$AP tape was last year)Then I heard them on a track with my personal man-crush, Danny Brown, and I knew I had to check these guys out for real. 
 Their songs are catchy and they have a lot of character.  I just dig it.  They're giving this shit away too. Cop it right here.

 
 

 




^This is one of my favorite songs of the year^



8.) Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! 

  
GYBE  is a post rock/ambient/drone/experimental band from Canada. They have released albums that have single-handedly defined the ambient music and post rock genres. Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend! is their first album in 10 years. It had alot to live up to. It doesn't disappoint. That feat, in and of itself, warrants it on lists of noteworthy albums of the year. Thankfully, it's not riding on name alone. It has enough of the classic godspeed sound to entice long time fans, and enough new methods to keep the album interesting and new. I'm not going to go to great lengths to describe the sound of this album, because you kinda just need to listen to it.  Like KTL, this album is more meant to be felt and contemplated, not rocked out to.  It is post-rock though, it's not full on experimental drone like KTL, so if this is your first attempt to get into ambient stuff, GYBE is THE place to start. 

The album begins with a faint, and almost undetectable drone. It progresses and more and more instruments being to chime in. It swells, and crashes into a full blown jam that grooves and trots along, almost in a teasing manner, and then each instrument leaves the room, one at a time, until all that's left are percussion and samples. 
The second track, is an all-string interlude. It reminds me of a cross between sunn and Philip Glass.  
The third track, my favorite, is an epic and a banger.  It bends and ascends, for damn sure. Just listen to it, it's fucking awesome. 
The last track is a lengthy outro of noise and drones, culminating in a cacophonous crescendo, that falls away, leaving a simple drone that closes out the album.


 



 You can download (in various formats) a live recording of most of this album, as well as some brand spanking new and amazing music (including a 40 minute heavy epic called Behmoth) from GYBE right here. I can't wait for their next album. I'm sure it's going to be amazing, and I am so unbelievably stoked that this band is back together. 

http://www.brainwashed.com/godspeed/music.html




7.) The Underachievers – Indigoism
 
***At the time of me posting this, this album has not actually been released yet (it keeps getting pushed back). But I personally feel that I have already heard enough of it to judge that it is one of the best albums of the year. Should it turn out not to be, I will update this post accordingly.***

THESE FUCKING GUYS RIGHT HERE. FUCK. No seriously, they're awesome. AK and Issa Dash are The Underachievers and they spit hott, freebased fire.  They're from Flatbush, Brookyln and are tight with the flatbush zombies and the pro era crew. Flying Lotus recently signed them to BrainFeeder too. Most of their lyrics are about psychedelics and philosophy. It's hard to describe them specifically, they are just sort of awesome rappers. They are quick, proficient, and deep.  Both these MCs go hard and fast, and the complexity and density of their rhymes are top notch.  The beats are modern in style, but show great variety, and always fit the lyrical content and flows perfectly. There's nothing too off the wall or experimental here. it's just a really fucking good trip rap mixtape.  




 


 


 





6.) Joey Bada$$ – 1999 


This kid is 17 years old and goes harder than anyone else in the game right now.  He rides the boom bat beats the whole way from the golden era to the pro era.  The complexity and density of his rhymes nearly rival Earl Sweatshirt, and his personality and flow are strong as hell.  This kid is gonna do great things, and I’m fucking stoked to see the genius that pours out of his mouth in the coming months. You can download 1999 (and lots of other pro era music) for free on their site http://theproera.com/music 



 


 


 




 5.) Ab-Soul – Control System


This cat is part of the Black Hippy (T.D.E.) crew (with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock).  I actually like him more than Kendrick (whom I DO really like).  I think he’s not as “serious” of a rapper as Kendrick (read: he doesn't take himself too seriously) and I think his music is generally more fun to listen to than Kendrick’s.  I first heard this guy on his track with Danny Brown (which fucking rules hard) and I immediately decided to check him out.  I have not been disappointed yet. Control System is a killer album with lots of variety in both styles and lyrical content.  You’ve got party songs, songs about gang wars, songs about his childhood (which was very interesting), love songs, and even a track about DMT.   


 




 


 


4.) Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction

I am so unbelievably angry that I had to miss these guys when they came through Chicago.  I even had tickets and I just ended up having to work late that night. If I don’t get a chance to see them sometime soon I don’t know if I’ll be able to live with myself.  Pallbear is a doom band from Arkansas that got picked up by Profound Lore after their 3 song demo (which is pretty damn good).  They approach doom in a new and refreshing way, while still paying homage to Sabbath and Candlemass.  This album has all of the classic tenements of doom, the low, slow, and heavy riffs.  The riffs are HUGE.  They have presence.  All the standard issue stuff is there.  However, Pallbearer brings something to the doom table that not many (if any) others have before:  melody and harmony.
The album starts off with an acoustic interlude that is haunting yet beautiful.  The dissonance on this album is few and far between. This album is HEAVY, but it’s majestically, beautifully, wonderfully so.  It makes you feel like you’re a devilish fiend, souring through the skies of hell with a smile on your face; whereas most doom sounds like you are a giant demon, trudging about in the pits and clobbering sinners with your club. The vocals are classic 70s/80s metal (a la Sabbath), beautiful, clean, and high pitched.  

This album moves along at a quick pace, and it’s only about 50 minutes, but every minute is jam packed with a wall of beautiful and heavy sound.  There isn’t much variety here, but there really doesn’t have to be.  It’s a Sabbath-worship doom album. It’s slow. It’s heavy. It’s psychedelic. AND it has fucking epic guitar solos. These aren’t your Dream Theater sweep picked arpeggio solos, they’re slow, heartfelt, expressively bent and sustained solos (much like the solos that Wata graces us with in Boris). These solos fit perfectly in with the overall tone and idea of what Pallbearer has to offer.  Don’t expect this to be one of those albums that changes the way you think about metal, but enjoy it for what It is: a new and refreshing take on doom. The whole album is on youtube, and you can buy the vinyl at 20buckspin

http://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/sorrow-and-extinction 

http://www.pallbearerdoom.com/

 



3.) Pile – Dripping



Pile is an indie rock band from Boston.  They blend elements of folk, post-hardcore, punk, and 90s alt rock. Think Curisve (circa Domestica), Fugazi, Modest Mouse, and the Pixies.   This album is full of the classic loud<->soft dynamic guitar/vocal stylings.  These songs are like a rollercoaster ride, full of beautiful singing, heartfelt belting and really honest and genuine lyrics stylings.  The guitars and drums fit this perfectly.  They hit loud and heavy, but also come across as soft and gentle when they need to.  The lyrics consist mostly of abstract/obtuse storytelling which is typical of indie rock.  They’re catchy and colorful and they paint a vivid imagine in your mind.  It's touching imagery.   
I’m going to keep this review short because I’ve never been very good at describing indie/punk rock.  It is what it is.  If you’re into the sound, you’re into it and you get it.  If you don’t; you don’t.  If you liked the post-hardcore, or the indie rock sound of the late 90s early 00s, you should definitely check this out.  It’s been on constant rotate for me since the first time I’ve heard it. Listen to and purchase all of Pile's music on their bandcamp.   


 


 


 


2.) Death Grips –  The Money Store 

“I close my eyes and seize it. I clench my fists and beat it. I light my torch and burn it. I am the beast I worship.”  
This is the chorus of the opening track to Death Grips 2011 masterpiece, Exmilitary.  I feel that this mantra defines Death Grips in more ways than one.  I got to see them live last week, and the passion and reckless abandon with which Zach Hill and MC Ride perform certainly conveys this.  The make the music they make for themselves, because they like doing what they do.  I'm not going to go into what it is they do exactly, because quite frankly, it's ineffable. If this is your first time hearing of Death Grips, you should honestly just go to their sight and watch their videos. I'm not even going to being to describe their sound.  It pushes too many boundaries, and too many many people's buttons, to even discuss anymore.

There’s been a lot of buzz about them this year.  Not only did The Money Store blow people away, but their second album of the year, No Love, Deep Web, was released in a storm of controversy.  The band self-released this album, against the will of their label, before it was supposed to be officially released.  Their label dropped them shortly afterwards.  There’s also some controversy surrounding the album cover, which is simply a semi-erect penis with “NO LOVE, DEEP WEB” written on it in sharpie.  Death Grips also fucked with their fans pretty heavily via twitter and reddit, releasing fake info about No Love Deep Web before the release, and playing a sort of e-scavenger hunt, sending fans to random payphones to answer calls providing clues about the album.  Honestly, I could care less about all of this shit.  No Love, Deep Web is a decent follow up to The Money Store.  It’s very minimalist in both musical and lyrical content.  It’s got a couple good tracks, and a couple mediocre ones.  I can’t really fault them for it though, not many bands can release two full lengths in a year in addition to going on a nationwide tour. 

The Money Store, on the other hand, is a dense and complex album with a cornucopia of sounds, themes, and styles.  I will do my best not to compare it to Exmilitary (which is still my favorite Death Grips album…I think it’s the most honest and raw of their releases, and I think it’s rough edges are what make it so great), but I must first say that Money Store presents a much more refined and directed sound than the older Death Grips material.  The beats are more vibrant. They’re catchier and less noisy.  There’s actually some tracks on here you could probably dance to, or at least move a little bit.  Exmilitary isn’t exactly an enjoyable listen. It’s harsh and demanding (which is why I love it).  The Money Store still asks things of the listener, but it entices you to follow it down the rabbit hole, whereas Exmilitary “ties the chord, kicks the chair, and you’re dead.” 

Describing the sound and vibe of The Money Store is near impossible. Is it hip-hop? Is it grime? Is it punk? I don’t know. You tell me?  It’s ugly.  It’s beautiful.  It’s dark. It’s funny. It’s disgusting.  It’s sexy.  It’s Death Grips.  Don’t try to understand it. Just listen to it.  

You can download ALL of their music (including instrumentals and remixes) on their sight for free. http://thirdworlds.net/main/death.html 

 


 
^check the drumming in this video^

 


 




1.) Krallice – Years Past Matter 


Don’t get me wrong, I love Krallice, but their last two albums (Dimensional Bleedthrough and Diotima) were seriously lacking in production quality/styling (the slash indicates the ambiguity of whether or not the shitty production quality was sheer laziness or an attempt to preserve kvlt-ness).  The instrumentation and songwriting on both those albums are excellent, because that’s what Krallice does; they write amazing songs.  


However, the dry, hallow, and lifeless tone of those albums never really resonated with me. I know, I know, “it’s black metal, it’s supposed to sound like shit, blah, blah, blah.” Well, I think it’s na├»ve and cowardly to think that modern artists aren’t capable of creating something that is simultaneously hi-fi and painful to listen to.  Look at Converge, their riffs straight up sound disgusting, but their mastery (or at least, their mixer/master-ers mastery) of their craft enables you to enjoy their hideous tones with all of the dynamics of the composition intact.  The same can be said about sunn O))). Their music sounds like industrial air conditioners falling endlessly down a well, but I’ll be damned if you can’t hear every little intricacy of their riffs – from the time the pick hits the string, until the oscillation passes through the neck, body, pickups, the amp, and then back onto the body of the guitar (completing the circle of drone) – everything is captured. The infinite ugliness is there, surrounding and consuming you.  It’s not bottled up and flattened out to the point that when you’re listening to it, you remember that it’s just a digital recording of the real thing that you’re listening to through your ear buds on a crowded bus on your way to work. 


 Krallice’s first self-titled album sounds fucking amazing on every front. It perfectly conveys the atrophied, agonizing, ancient aesthetic that is black metal, and it does so without flattening out and muddy-ing up the guitars and bass or burying the drums and vocals in the background.  The instrumental separation and fidelity was good enough to convey the masterful musicianship and composition without detracting from the “being impaled by a sharpened tree branch wielded by a druid” vibe.  Finally, Krallice has achieved this again.  Colin Marston, the bassist of Krallice and Gorguts (and also the guitarist of Dysrhythmia, and the Warr guitarist of Behold...the Arctopus) has finely honed his craft of recording/mixing/mastering. Hist studio, Menegroth, has been putting out some awesome records as of late, including one of my favorite albums of last year, Liturgy's Aesthetica.

Years Past Matter is a masterpiece of, what I call, “enlightened” black metal.  I say enlightened, because it’s black metal without all of the bullshit. It doesn’t have the… 

“I’m a naive white virgin trying to mask my ignorance and racism as pride in my heritage” 

or the 

“Look at me! I worship Satan! I’ve bet you’ve never met someone who worships Satan before! I bet this music upsets your delicate sensibilities and jostles the foundation of your Judeo-Christian ethos!”

…bullshit that most Burzum/Darkthrone/Gorgoroth-emulating bands soak their music in (in a failed attempt to cover up their lack of originality under the guise of “knowing your cult roots”).  Corpse paint is cool, and I get the whole “carrying the mantle, it’s tradition, etc. etc.” argument, but black metal takes the term “Revival” to a whole new level of absurdity.  Most black metal bands are playing the same riffs, through the same gear, in the same way as every black metal band that came before them.  It’s not even in the same ballpark as what some doom bands do (I’m looking at you Ghost). It’s not homage. It’s not worship. It’s unoriginality, plain and simple. And honestly, I wouldn’t care about it so goddamn much if black metal enthusiasts would just call a spade a spade and acknowledge that their genre is nothing but 5 riffs, and 3 drum fills just arranged in a different order in every song. I also wouldn’t care so much if Black Metal knights didn’t fight tooth and nail to disavow any new black metal band that tries to breathe life into this long decaying genre (i.e. statements like “WOLVES IN THE THROME ROOM IS NOT BLACK METAL, THEY SING ABOUT TREES AND THEY HAVE A GIRL IN THEIR BAND."), by approaching the aesthetic in a different way, or even, god forbid, trying to record an album that doesn’t “sound like it was recorded, in mono, inside of a trashcan.”  Ya know what? If thinking that there’s room for both innovation and decent production quality in black metal makes me a hipster, then I’m a fucking hipster.

NOW THAT I’VE DONE BEING A BUTT-HURT NERD. HERE’S THE REVIEW OF THE BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Years Past Matter is (like all of Krallice’s work) black metal without all of the bullshit baggage that makes the genre traditionally contrived, lame, and boring.  It takes all of the quintessentially dark, evil, and metal aspects of the black metal aesthetic and applies them to their unique style of songwriting.  These compositions are DENSE.  Layers and layers (and echoed layers) of complex and dexterous tremolo picking coupled with thick and cacophonous bass chords and arpeggios accented by a torrent of percussion that seamlessly blends the drumming styles of black metal, death metal, and prog.  There’s some riffs in there too.  There are definitely some riffs.  The vocals are the best they’ve ever sounded too.  Deep ominous growls plummet from Nick McMasterson as shrill shrieks escape from Mick Barr, creating a sparse, but poignant, vocal landscape.  
All of the songs fit together just as perfectly as the composition does itself.  This album is a fucking banger from start to finish.  These songs are dynamic, disorienting in one movement, and revealing in the next. Every single song is an adventure, exploring different sounds and conveying a different theme.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t experimental or anything; it’s just different.  It’s black metal with character and variety.  I was lucky enough to see Krallice at their most recent show in NYC, and they played the album almost in its entirety.  Their musicianship is even tighter in person.  This show was the closest thing to a transcendent musical experience that I’ve had since the last time I saw sunn.  T’was like being pummeled with a torrent of sirens’ songs, whilst an evil bard spun me a tale of his dark travels

You can listen/download/purchase Krallice's music from their bandcamp

 


 Here is a video of the last Krallice show. I was actually at this show, standing right to the left of the camera man and right behind the dude with the mic. :) 



***ARTISTS TO KEEP YOUR EYES ON***  

Other than stating the obvious, that you should watch for new tunes from Joey, Flatbush, Godspeed and the Underachievers, you should definitely keep your eyes on these 5 artists, as they dropped free mixtapes this year that were fucking crucial. 

1.) The Dirty Nil 

This band released what is, hands down, my favorite 7inch of the year. Every new song I hear from these guys is awesome.  They blend punk and garage rock seamlessly, and their sound harkens back to the golden age of 90s garage rock  a la Weezer (circa the blue album and Pinkerton).  If you're a kid of the 90s, you will most likely love the shit out of this band. 

You can download all their music for free, and they just started distributing their 7inches!



 

 

 
2.) Gorgeous Children 

Gorgeous Children is Face Vega (rapper) and Gila Monster (producer).  They somehow play a blend of trap and cloud rap.  I know, I know, that doesn't make sense.  All I can say is "listen to it."  The lyrical content isn't anything mind blowing. Neither cloud nor trap have rhyming proficiency as a centerpiece of their style, but Gorgeous Children is a good casual listening experience.  Oh, and these beats (alike a-lot of the lyrics) are pretty fucking dark (even if simplistic).  I dunno, it's got a vibe that I enjoy.   


You can cop their self titled album for free on their bandcamp.  
 


 

 


3.) Hot Sugar 

Nick Koenig is a weird, stoned, white kid (known as Hot Sugar) that makes some weird and nerdy beats.  He stayed relatively off my radar until he dropped a mixtape featuring Heems and Kool AD (of Das Racist). Their two feature tracks on this MidiMurder tape are awesome, and the kid's beats are pretty rad too.  Nothing amazing, but the kid is prolific, so I'm sure sooner or later he'll get the attention of some good MCs to work with. 
  


You can preview and download the tape for free right here.

 

 

 
4.) LIL UGLY MANE 

LIL UGLY MANE is fucking weird, mane.  He released MISTA THUG ISOLATION this year, and it's definitely a unique mix tape.  His beats/lyrics/persona are all dark/weird/awesome. I expect to see some more good shit coming form this dude soon. Check it out!  http://liluglymane.bandcamp.com/
  

 


5.) Oblivionized 

Oblivionized is a deathmetal band from England and they released my favorite ep of 2011, Abhorrent Evolution.  They've gone through some lineup changes, and their 2012 ep, Nullifying the Cycle was decent (but nothing special). They're back in the studio now though, and recording some new splits, so hopefully they'll be melting my face again soon. 


 

 

 I JU-JUST CAN'T STOPPPPPPPPPPPPOPOPOP

***Here are some other decent albums that dropped this year, that I think are worth checking out***

1.) Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II 

The band that invented drone metal released a new album this year.  It's lounge-drone. Yeah, that's a thing now. It's 2012. Get with it. If you know nothing about earth, you should really read up on them. Dylan Carlson is one of the most important guitarists in modern music. Know your history, kids. 



 

2.) Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine    

Chicago's own progressive black metal band, Nachtmystium, dropped another awesome album this year.  It's very unique (just like all of their stuff). It blends black metal and prog metal very nicely.  If you haven't check this band out before, I highly suggest you listen to their Black Meddle Part I and II albums.  There's a great Pink Floyd tribute and the vocals on this album remind me alot of  Hot Water Music. And. ANNNND. There's a motherfucking saxophone on this album. Yeah, black metal with sax. Deal with it.  


 






3.) Grimes - Visions 

Claire Boucher is a Canadian electro-pop/dance artist with a very strong sense of character an originality.  Her most recent album, Visions, to me, is a revival of 80s pop/dance music, with a new and refreshing twist.  It has elements of hip hop, noise, techno, and pretty much anything else you can think of. It's ethereal and dreamy and the beats are well produced and full flavored.  Her vocals are soft, distant, and even haunting at times.  If you're looking for an album to dance to, or just something light and popy, this album is definitely for you.  




   
4.) Mick Barr - ALL OF THE ALBUMS

Probably the most prolific guitarist alive, Mick Barr released another 10 or 20 albums this year under the names of Ocrilim, Octis, and Orthrelm.  Now that Krallice is on hiatus and Behold the Arctopus and Dysrhtmia are touring, I'm hoping Mick will tour as Ocrilim so I can see that inhuman bardic shredding in person again. 

Check out the bandcamps (linked below) to listen to/download this crazy experimental genius's latest work. 

Ocrilim


 
Orthrelm 

 

5.) Town Portal - Chronopoly 

Town Portal is a progressive instrumetal band.  Their style lays somewhere between King Crimson and Meshuggah. I dunno, It's like smooth heavy prog metal.  Nothing too groundbreaking, but still worth a listen for sure.


 

ONE MORE! LAST ONE, I PROMISE!

MOTHERFUCKING STEBMO!!!!!!!! 


Stebmo is the solo work of Steve Moore, a multi-instrumentalist (including piano and trombone!) who has performed with sunn, Earth, Ascend, and various other amazing experimental artists. He plays an interesting type of experimental jazz, and he's also an author and filmmaker. He wrote a short book called Plato, Pythagoras and Polyrhtthms that explains his musical philosophy (which I pretty much agree with). He is the current keyboardist of Earth, and he did an amazing set opening for them when I saw them a couple weeks ago.

If you're looking to listen to something with a-lot of philosophy and soul behind it, you should not only listen to his music, you should read his book, and eagerly anticipate the release of his movie with me!


Check out his website for anything/everything you need to know about vibrations! 

 


 






That's all, folks! I hope you enjoy this list and got some new free tunes out of it!