Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Serious news from Bruce Peninsula

blog posting on their homepage

Monday, December 27, 2010
Healing Power in 2011

Inhabitants of the Bruce Peninsula Multi-verse

As we close the door on 2010 we'd like to thank all of those who came out to our shows, took the time to explore our recordings and supported the BP vessel as it navigated the waters of a crazy crazy year.

So, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that our plans for 2011 are currently on hold.

Neil Haverty has recently been diagnosed with Leukemia.

The good news is that it is a highly treatable form of cancer that has a 95% success rate associated with Neil's treatment. He is supported by a wide network of friends and family who are standing behind him in this difficult time.

As for the band: We are not breaking up. We will not stop recording. But for the immediate future, all of our touring plans are cancelled while Neil works toward a full recovery.

What Neil needs most right now are positive vibes, well wishes, and love concoctions of the highest caliber. If you are a fan, friend or foe and would like to send Neil some healing power, please send all messages to : neilhaverty@gmail.com (p.s. it's his birthday this wed. Dec 29th)

Any other questions, or for a mailing address please email: brucepeninsula@gmail.com

If you'd like to help out, please help contribute to the research and care facilities at the Princess Margaret hospital here in Toronto.

Or donate to a cancer charity of your choice.

In other band news, our second record is completed and mastered. We also have an EP in the can and ready to go. We will continue recording, collaborating and excavating as Neil recovers.

Please stay tuned for a fundraising event, happening Sun. Jan 30th that will involve lots of great music, art, food, drinks and conversation.

We appreciate your continued support in this time of need.


Neil, at least I think, is the lead, Tom Waits-like singer from this band I have grown to really love over the last 6 months or so. He also obviously does a lot more. The good news is, obviously his odds of having a successful treatment are high. And the band still plan to go on, once he is able. And they also have music not only for their next full-length, but an EP as well, all recorded, mixed, mastered, etc.

But this obviously is a serious situation for the band and their friends and family, along with fans like myself. I can't help but think of Dean Magraw a bit reading that, and the great story of his overcoming cancer. I truly hope Neil holds a similar if not the same fate that Dean and any number of other musicians or people in general have with this situation.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mike Portnoy 2010 End-of-Year Lists

mp.com thread link

Top 10 CDs of 2010
(in no particular order):

1. Alpha Rev - New Morning
2. The Pineapple Thief - Someone Here Is Missing
3. Karnivool - Sound Awake
4. Periphery
5. Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders - Red Light Fever
6. Shining - Blackjazz
7. Pain Of Salvation - Road Salt One
8. Slash
9. Deftones - Diamond Eyes
10. Spock's Beard - X

And of course:
--- Transatlantic - Whirld Tour 2010
--- Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare


Top 10 Films of 2010
(in no particular order):

1. Black Swan
2. The Social Network
3. Enter The Void
4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
5. I'm Still Here
6. Get Him To The Greek
7. Paranormal Activity 2

(As always, I have a few spots still available for the late year releases that I haven't gotten to see yet)


Top 10 TV Shows of 2010
(in no particular order):

1. Lost (RIP)
2. Sons Of Anarchy
3. Breaking Bad
4. Eastbound And Down
5. Mad Men
6. Dexter
7. The Walking Dead
8. Rescue Me
9. Louie
10. Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Happy New Year everyone and looking forward to a fresh, exciting and positive 2011....


I guess it's worth passing along, even though I've posted before on his forum and/or here how his taste and mine have definitely gone in opposite directions overall, compared to 10, even 5 years ago. But, a few names on each I can claim to share. Karnivool maybe being one surprise. As I posted in that thread

it's amazing, I'd guess I saw more people check out Karnivool this year, more than any other year. Yet, in 2007 when Themata got distribution in the States, and last year when Sound Awake was originally released, I probably had to bump some topics (including other forums besides this one) 3, 4, 5 times just to get a response. Part of that could be the fact they played at SXSW and got more promotion in the US and Europe this year, and did more touring, more than any other.

I mean other than the 2 live shows I saw, I really didn't take-in much about them this year, but seemingly dozens if not 100's of people on the forums have caught on to them. It's too bad for me, as I still can't listen to Sound Awake all the way through. But 2011 there's supposed to be a new album coming, so hopefully myself and others interest will be carried over to when that record is released.

But the thing is, Mike never said A WORD about Fair to Midland that I recall. And Karnivool, outside of Australia and maybe New Zealand, are still not as big as FtM. But that's random luck I guess. The forum is probably not how Mike got introduced to Karnivool, but even if it was, he'll probably never admit to it. I just think more or less anyone whose a 'Vool fan has got to at least know/know-of Fair to Midland, if not regard them as close-to-as-good if not better.

Maybe in 2011, when the new FtM record finally comes, Mike and some others will catch-on more visibly, like the way the 'Vool did this year.

As far as the rest, namely not having a clue who this band Alpha Rev are, I'm curious about.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

8 for Infinity (Short Film) (2010)

8 for Infinity is an experimental short film written and directed by Michael Maxxis, which stars Jimmy Gnecco and David Carradine. Set in the Northern Canadian Rockies, the film is a metaphoric and visual piece about the fierce conversations that exist within. It's a journey into the world of truth that is revealed only when we dig deep inside ourselves. Deeply emotional performances, stunning 35mm cinematography, and a haunting score grab hold of your emotions and senses, never relenting until the final credit rolls off the screen.

This is a short film made by director Michael Maxxis who has shot I want to say at least 2 maybe 3 or more videos for Ours and Jimmy Gnecco. It also stars the late David Carradine, which if I remember correctly, was the last acting work he ever did before his death in 2009.

I certainly mean to see it. In the trailer there, Jimmy looks rather psychotic.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Long Distance Calling - Long Distance Calling (2011) (1.0)

12/21/10 4:17AM

I know it's a few days late, but here's the track list and artwork, trailer along with more about it.

1. Into The Black Wide Open
2. The Figrin D'an Boogie
3. Invisible Giants
4. Timebends
5. Arecibo (Long Distance Calling)
6. Middleville
7. Beyond The Void

LONG DISTANCE CALLING push the envelope even further this time out with the surprise guest appearance by Armored Saint/ex-Anthrax vocalist John Bush on “Middleville”.

However, John Bush’s guest-appearance is not the only reason that should encourage people to check out LONG DISTANCE CALLING.
In times of overproduction and compression in order to get a pumped up sound LONG DISTANCE CALLING went for the opposite and worked on an organic production that allows their music to breathe. Hence, the audiophile quintet headed to Hours Studios in Hannover where Celtic Frost, Donots, Paradise Lost, Eloy, Scorpions, Rolling Stones and many more produced some of their classic albums.
The self-titled album was recorded with Benjamin Schäfer who has worked with diverse bands such as Celtic Frost and Subway To Sally.
The result is a production that allows each instrument to unfold its unique sound and its waves to travel the air.
Instead of just cutting your eardrums it’s a 3d sound that surrounds you like a cozy cocoon.

After supporting bands such as Opeth, Katatonia, Dredg, labelmates And You Will Know Us By Trail Of Dead, Anathema, Coheed And Cambria, and Deftones they will finally play their own club shows again in order to give people the full audio-visual experience of “Long Distance Calling”:

10/29/10 12:04PM

myspace blog announcement

Release date new album / Record release shows posted!
Hey folks, after a lot of shows and touring since the release of „Avoid The Light“ in April 2009, we finished our new album “Long Distance Calling”, that will be released on February 18th 2011 in Germany (European release date is February 21st). We can´t wait to share this new songs with, so we decided to book some nice exclusive record release shows around the release date, where we will play the majority of the new songs as well as a lot of “old” stuff. Support comes from the UK band Maybeshewill.

Here are the German dates:


18.02.2011 Münster / Metropolis Club
19.02.2011 Köln / Underground
20.02.2011 Hamburg / Knust
21.02.2011 Dresden / Beatpol
22.02.2011 München / Hansa 39

European and UK tour dates will be announced soon.

More news on artwork, tracklist, formats, guest vocals, etc will be announced in the near future, stay tuned!

Cool Beans! I hope it comes close to if not eclipses the excellent/breakthrough record Avoid the Light. Guess we'll see. All that good stuff: artwork, track list, etc to be added.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Velvet Teen - Elysium (2004) (1.0)

1 Sartre Ringo 3:33
2 Penicillin (It Doesn't Mean Much) 4:42
3 A Captive Audience 5:56
4 Chimera Obscurant 12:50
5 Poor Celine 6:18
6 Forlorn 4:05
7 We Were Bound (To Bend The Rules) 7:42
8 (Untitled) 1:26

two eyes doesn’t mean double vision
i never questioned this stance but now
i’ve been seeing things
i can hear a voice in the distance
trying to turn my attention to their truth
someone’s moving behind the curtain
i point it out to my friends
but they don’t see a thing
i just keep my synaptic active
to prepare for the day that they do
cos this ain’t how it ends
and they’ll say*
let’s hear it
for the post-moderation
for tolled salivation
who cares so much about these things
availed denomination
the ‘so shall’ domination
*now i think it’s funny i feel distant
i’d run away if it’d make any difference
i’d look up my childhood crushes
but they’ve all have their own children since
and even if their hearts tarnish
they've gold wedding bands to hide the green
pearly gates to show from her past or his mouth
he too bears the burden of a bulbous belly
yeah, yeah, i know, i know this veil ain’t real
and still it never fails to fall or send me reeling
i awaken to the same ceiling
and i can’t seem to shake this sick feeling

i don’t need surgery to keep my smile fixed
ever confidant, never nervous
for i feel nothing
i work hard and come from a respected family
we take care of each other, we do
we won’t live until we shed this skin
oh, to be free again
a vestige interest in the instrumental moment
you’ll know it when
now all the pieces keep falling faster
your letters spelling disaster
i wish i was in paris getting plastered
cos all this masquerading’s started my façade fading
turned my quiet heart to hating
it is that we’ve been waiting for (it)
when they’ll say*
let’s hear it
for drained health and elation
brain cell annihilation
who cares so much about these things
pupil dilation
more light to the patient
*that every word that i’m speaking
will poison the chance that you’re listening
i know that you think you’d be missing out
with an answer
that we can’t make out or make up
but even if we black out and break up
it’s just a breath ‘fore we’re looking back, laughing out
cos every end’s a beginning, beggin' to get back in
you know i’ll come around, if you just let me sleep in
with each wave more violent than the last
i’ll keep my thoughts silent till they pass
we’re not ready yet
they’ll say you’ve got to build your tolerances now and then
make your heart a callus with thicker skin
i just can’t seem to shake this (sic) fealing

the more they interfere to forestall me
the clearer i hear her calling me, calling me
i must have struck a nerve cos someone’s following me
i pull over to the shoulder of the freeway
my history profiled on the licensed registry
the shepherd keeps a careful eye on his personal inventory
saying we’re the same

so come on, child, you’ve slept enough
and i know you’re tired but i’m waking you up
there is much to be done, and we’re right on the cusp
of this shit getting real, i’m mean really, really fucked
every sheep for the shearing waiting around non-plussed
trading branding irons for brand-name cuts
we were born in labor, baptized in dust
given life anew as a living trust
with every hair numbered and cross-referenced
for each soul they claim to save, they have added interest
with a price on your head, what you think matters not
every credit card statement, every lie you’ve bought
rates our exchanged faith for the next fiat
on the blotter paper, the blood don’t clot
it just bleeds you dry and then leaves you to rot
in a dead end job till at last you drop
into this old noose, with the rope drawn taut
left with your hands bound so they’ll never be caught
you may sabotage our education
to a calculated chaos born of confusion
a controlled market through the inflation
truly euthanasia to waste on the young
but, we’ve caught you now, and we’re cutting your funds
we outnumber you over a million to one
it’s a sharp weapon, but the point’s left blunt
there’s no skill to the game, no challenge to the hunt
with each target deaf, blind, and reticent
got your ducks in line for the same false front
cos when free will costs even ten percent
false tongues speak lies over catholic hunts
from the cathepsin to the cathexis
i’ll bear the stigmatic focus of the anti-catechist
with each catalytic pill slowly slitting my wrists
so when i raise my hand, see my bloody fist
may have killed brain cells, but i’ve kept my wits
and i'd rather go sooner to have known and said this
i’ve peaked at the end, where the answer sits
all the rest is just problems and more questions
hear the classes getting loud and the teacher getting pissed
in the end this pattern goes 666
soon my name’s showing up on every government list
free speech shouldn’t cost, let alone be a risk
so when i die young, it’ll prove me right
cos it won’t be pills, swear it won’t be the knife
no matter how hard it gets, i’m in this for life
and i’m never giving up till we make things right
god gave me this voice, so i can’t stay quiet
they can’t kill this love, i’ll come back to fight
to return each star and remove each stripe
from each prism cell, we’ll refract the light
to reveal each move, catch the thieves in the night
make them share what’s left and return our rights
though it may still shine from a hormone diet
this knowledgeable fruit’s grown overripe
and robbed his breath, birth absorbed he
when the planets line up, every eye shall see
that this invite-only disparity party
has brought enough despair to the already broken-hearted
in the wake of greed, in the name of flow-charting
leaving broken-homes where once were gardens
see it’s our pale horse that we’re riding in on
bringing pestilence as a plague of love
with hell at our heels and heaven catching on
it’s the hanged man, it’s the crux fiction
it’s the pentagram, it’s the pentagon
it’s david’s star, it’s the pyramid song
what was once upright
now is upside down
and isaiah, it’s a revelation
2368, 2701
means a way out
and if i can, you know i’m bringing everyone

A friend of mine on rateyourmusic told me to check this record out on multiple occasions, and I have gradually been doing so the past couple of months. And I have really been enjoying it more and more.

There's a sad, emotional quality with a lot of it. The expression in the vocals and the use of strings and some other chamber instruments. It kind of reminds me of The Antlers or Ours in some ways, almost if you stripped away their guitars and the emphasis on falsetto vocals, but added a lot of piano and strings.

Amidst all the end-of-year stuff of late, this record along with 1 other that I should be talking about soon in this blog, have come into my play-list and impressed me a lot. Just because it's the end of the year, doesn't mean I'm going to ignore good music, no matter when it was originally released.

I probably will be playing this a fair amount in the near future (I just ordered a copy of this disc off Amazon) but of course I cannot help but wonder what the rest of their music is like.

2010 Albums: On my radar, but not good enough

This is a LIST of a lot, but likely not entirely every record I heard, or meant to hear that weren't able to find their way onto my 2010 Albums Index.

In other words, it's a Turkey List. However, due to time, the actual hyperbole that should be put up in here about a lot of these, will be coming soon, but not just yet at this time.

Not bad, just not good enough to make the cut
The Dillinger Escape Plan | Option Paralysis
Antoine Dufour | Convergences
Envy on the Coast | Lowcountry
Jónsi | Go
Kayo Dot | Coyote
Lazerbeak | Legend Recognize Legend
Shining | Blackjazz
Tu Fawning | Hearts on Hold
Tunng | ...And Then We Saw Land

Disappointing follow-ups
Alter Bridge | Alter Bridge III
Black Mountain | Wilderness Heart
Brain Drill | Quantum Catastrophe
Demians | Mute
The Graduate | Only Every Time
Minus the Bear | Omni
Midlake | The Courage of Others
The New Pornographers | Together
Pain of Salvation | Road Salt One
Wolf Parade | Expo 86

Older artists not capturing glory of their past
Jon Anderson & Rick Wakeman | The Living Tree
Peter Gabriel | Scratch My Back
Jimi Hendrix | Valleys of Neptune
Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 | Propellor Time
Brian Wilson | Reimagines Gershwin

Not bad for what it is, just not enough of my thing at this point
Cameron Clarke | Falling
Cameron Clarke | Tired
Empires | Bang
A Great Big Pile of Leaves | Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?
Iron Thrones | The Wretched Sun
Jaga Jazzist | One-Armed Bandit
Shooter Jennings | Black Ribbon

Debuts that were not bad, but not as good as hoped
Crash Karma | Crash Karma
Kaura | That Which Defines Us
The Limousines | Get Sharp
Middle Class Rut | No Name No Color

Didn't listen to enough to grab me or weren't memorable enough to go back to often
Akryllic Love | Strawberry Palace
Alcest | Écailles de lune
Borknagar | Universal
Dark Tranquillity | We Are the Void
Eluveitie | Everything Remains as It Never Was
Field Mouse | You Are Here
Fond of Tigers | Continent & Western
Gloria Morti | Anthems of Annihilation
God Is an Astronaut | Age of the Fifth Sun
Mastodon | Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP
Moonface | Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums
Places and Numbers | Waking the Dead
Sufjan Stevens | All Delighted People EP

Bad Production
East of the Wall | Ressentiment
The Crinn | Dreaming Saturn
Shaolin Death Squad | Five Deadly Venoms

Mediocre studio recording, but better Live at least
School of Seven Bells | Disconnect From Desire

Overhyped Online
Foxy Shazam! | Foxy Shazam
Versa Emerge | Fixed at Zero

Unjustified hype in the prog and metal scenes online

Cloudkicker | Beacons
District 97 | Hybrid Child
James LaBrie - Static Impulse
Mutiny Within | Mutiny Within
North Atlantic Oscillation | Grappling Hooks
Periphery | Periphery
Spock's Beard | X

Circa Survive | Blue Sky Noise


The Alps | Le Voyage
The Deer Tracks | Eggegrund
Fishermans Mission | This Is Therapy
Jeff Martin & Steven Padin | The First Joke & Other Matters
Shaman | Origins
White Hinterland | Kairos

Derivative Metal
Fleshwrought | Dementia/Dyslexia
Slice the Cake | Cleansed

Jumped the Shark

Coheed and Cambria | Year of the Black Rainbow
Margot and the Nuclear So and So's | Buzzard
Murder by Death | Good Morning, Magpie
Serj Tankian | Unthinking Majority

Hipster Garbage

Arcade Fire | The Suburbs
Beach House | Teen Dream
The Besnard Lakes | The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night
Citay | Dream Get Together
Four Tet | There Is Love In You
Glasser | Ring
Gonjasufi | A Sufi and a Killer
Gorillaz | Plastic Beach
Here We Go Magic | Pigeons
LCD Sound System | This Is Happening
The Morning Benders | Big Echo
The National | High Violet
Joanna Newsom | Have One on Me
Malachai | Ugly Side of Love
No Age | Everything in Between
Phantogram | Eyelid Movies
Panda Bear | Tomboy
Sleigh Bells | Treats
Spoon | Transference
Tame Impala | Innerspeaker
Wavves | King of the Beach
Vampire Weekend | Contra
Kanye West | My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Yeasayer | Odd Blood

Didn't hear/maybe heard once

Arsis | Starve for the Devil
Beneath the Massacre | Marée Noire
Biffy Clyro | Lonely Revolutions
Barren Earth | Curse of the Red River (1x)
Chrome Hoof | Crush Depth
Evelyn Evelyn | Evelyn Evelyn
Haken | Aquarius
The Most Serene Republic - Fantasick Impossibliss EP
Nachtmystium | Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2
Ghostland Observatory | Codename: Rondo
Gogol Bordello | Trans-Continental Hustle
Kraan | Diamonds
Kula Shaker - Pilgrims Progress
Motorpsycho | Heavy Metal Fruit
Prince | 20Ten
Shearwater | The Golden Archipelago
Six Gallery | Breakthroughs in Modern Art
Suckers | Wild Smile
Susanne Sundfør - The Brothel
The Unwinding Hours | The Unwinding Hours

2010 Album Index 50-31


Before the oncoming review/hyperbole, I think it might be good to review the past few years lists.

11. Kiss Kiss | The Meek Shall Inherit What's Left 4.5-stars
10. note. | my city of ghosts, stars and hours 4.5-stars
9. Local Natives | Gorilla Manor 4.5-stars
8. Long Distance Calling | Avoid the Light 4.5-stars
7. Pure Reason Revolution | Amor Vincit Omnia 4.5-stars
6. Umphrey's McGee | Mantis 4.5-stars
5. dredg | The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion 4.5-stars
4. The Dear Hunter | Act III: Life and Death 4.5-stars
3. Mew | No More Stories 4.5-stars
2. Soundscape | Grave New World 5-stars
1. Kevin Gilbert | Nuts/Bolts 5-stars

8. Kacica | Mosaic 4.5-stars
7. Wolf Parade | At Mt.Zoomer 4.5-stars
6. Mutyumu | Ilya 4.5-stars
5. Bend Sinister | Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers 4.5-stars
4. Burst | Lazarus Bird 4.5-stars
3. Ours | Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy) 5-stars
2. The Stiletto Formal | !Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta! 5-stars
1. Apes and Androids | Blood Moon 5-stars

10. 3 | The End is Begun 4-stars
9. Karnivool | Themata (US) 4-stars
8. In Vain | The Latter Rain 4.5-stars
7. Kiss Kiss | Reality vs. the Optimist 4.5-stars
6. House of Fools | Live and Learn 4.5-stars
5. Fair to Midland | Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell Three Times is True 4.5-stars
4. Oceansize | Frames 4.5-stars
3. Between the Buried and Me | Colors 5-stars
2. The Dear Hunter | Act II: The Meaning of and All Things Regarding Ms.Leading 5-stars
1. Kaddisfly | Set Sail the Prairie 5-stars

So, looking at those lists, each year had something great about it. 2007 had a really nice race between the top 3-6 records especially. 2008 had 1 record come out of nowhere, and then a couple of records coming in late that have been staples since. And 2009, while wasn't filled with perfection, had a lot of depth.

2010? sort of was not as deep nor not quite as top-heavy. It was a year where 1 record did kind of come out of nowhere, and another even before it was rather impressive. And then the rest of the year nothing really gave a hint of getting close.

Maybe I'm selfish or picky to want a race? I dunno. I do know, I found myself hunting and hunting (or hoping often) that something would blow me away this year, and while some of the records surprised me, and new bands showed up on my radar, it really didn't have quite the drama or memorable competition that those last 3 years did I guess.

I must not forget, 2010, will also be known, a bit like 2006. There was 1 record I got to hear in 2006, that got pushed back until 2007. That record was Kaddisfly's Set Sail the Prairie. And 2006 really was the last weak year I have felt for new albums, until 2010. Had the Kaddisfly album been included, it would have made 2006 seem a fair amount better. 1 great record can do that. And 2010, the same sort of thing happened. A great record (although I'd question if it'll ever get to the level of that Kaddisfly album, but who knows) I got to hear for many months, knowing it was pushed back until the next year.

In other words, 1 album would have certainly helped the depth and the way I see 2010 now. But as a result, that record will make 2011 all the more better. And 2007 was all the more better with the Kaddisfly record being included. So we'll see.

But I suppose 2010 will be known, from my experience, for a few things. The djent fad in Metal. It's all over the place the way "post" "math" and even "stoner" have been the last 5-7 years especially. How long it lasts? I dunno. But like those others, it's only valued when used with well written songs/compositions. And most of it ain't.

2010 also was the year I probably came across more music with tambourine-toned splash and crash cymbals. Poor production. A mixing and mastering flaw I've been hampered by for a few years, but I think this year more than any other, I've noticed more music suffering from it. Many of the 'core and any hard rock and modern metal albums have it. I suspect it's just being unaware and using mediocre software to mix. It's interesting, I did hear a few records within those genres that had totally clean splashy cymbal mixes. If only the people doing that mixing and mastering work would publish something online and give it to every band on Facebook, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Spotify, Grooveshark and yes, still Myspace. Perhaps a lot of these terrible mixes would be a thing of the past.

2010, was also of course for myself, the year I probably experienced the hype-machine more than ever, from artists I've known longer than more or less 95% of their fan-base by years end. I'm referring to of course Local Natives and Warpaint.

I probably will think of 2010 for those 2 bands more than any others. And how all the lemming-hipsters jumped on their bandwagons and started pigeon-holing them pathetically. Comparing them to artists they sounded next to nothing like. And along with that, I being someone who have done a ton of cross-posting and spreading the word, received very little if any credit from those blogs, bandwagon-fans, and most importantly, media-resources, frankly I wish would-have, and still should give me some credit for.

The band's themselves know I've been around as long as I have. Local Natives do of course. I've seen them 5 times the past 3+ years in concert in Minnesota. They know me, they know my name, they likely also have seen this blog many times. But expecting them to name-drop me, isn't what I would hope-for. But receiving some level of credit would be nice, but I guess I've learned that's not how the hype-machine works. At least in my present activities.

very much the same, save for the fact my time is a little shorter only going back to March of 2009, and really not until around the time of that School of Seven Bells show in October 2009. But still, I told a lot of people, posted on many forums and blogs about them long before they even were known at Pitchfork, and received very little credit.

The dj's at Radio K though, specifically Kayleigh and Kari would know. I told them about Warpaint and Local Natives before Pitchfork hijacked who and how they got fed to their public.

I hope within 5 years, Pitchfork is where Myspace is now, if not worse. It's the most despicable website for music, and it's brainwashed far too many music fans into becoming Hipsters. Hipfork.

I guess I can learn that having your favorite band get swallowed up by that evil community, while it gets them success and money, really, ultimately is not necessarily for the better. As sad as it is, I almost would rather a band breakup than find themselves fall into their trap. But perhaps the day Hipsters become Un-Hipsters or irrelevant as they should be, the idea of getting grabbed onto by a large group may not be so bad. As long as people like myself have a chance to steer their narrow-taste away from the wrong places, then those artists will have a fighting chance to avoid being ruined. But, that of course remains to be seen for now.

Here's the list.

50e. Apparatjik | We Are Here

Members of Mew, a-ha and Coldplay made up this rather cryptic project. It ended up sounding kind of like Mew doing more electronic music with a bit of an 80's New Wave influence. I guess my best recollection of it, the 1st 4-6 tracks all seem to work and flow well, and the 2nd half or at least last 1/3 of the album doesn't hold up quite as well. Still interesting, and something to ponder what the future holds for this project.

50d. Black Milk - Album of the Year

Consistently engaging and flowing. As for Hip-Hop, this guy is probably become one of my favorites, in my recent, yet still limited at this point, re-exploration. What i enjoy about him is he tends to incorporate jazz and other rock elements in well. Tastefully, to fit the songs. And some of the lyrics and pop-culture references are something that gets my attention. The piece with someone questioning the title had maybe the funniest of them all.

50c. Avenged Sevenfold | Nightmare

Mike Portnoy of course replaced the late The Rev, and there was a lot of emotion coming in through much of this record. The title track and especially "Save Me" are the most significant and moving tracks just from memory.

Putting aside all the controversy with Mike being in the band, and then leaving Dream Theater, this is some of the best work he's done as a drummer in many years, even if the parts were mostly written by The Rev.

Also it can't be ignored, it was nice to see this album go #1 on Billboard, probably the 1st time a band I like has had that recognition, other than maybe Muse last year. And a band Portnoy is involved with, it seems even more unbelievable. I suppose losing a band member can lead to martyr-ism. It's sad it's come to that, but still nothing to forget.

50b. Dean Magraw & Marcus Wise | How the Light Gets In

This album almost means as much to me and Dean's fans as himself. I've been fan of Dean and his vast talents for nearly 10 years, which is only about 1/4 of his career. But the guy is brilliant, and as significant a musician not only in Minnesota and the Jazz, Ethnic, Folk, Blues and Rock world, but in music in general.

He's been battling cancer for longer than I've known him. But he never found it to be hampering his ability to play and record music until a couple of years ago, when what I guess was in remission, came back. But now nearly 2 years later, he is alive and kicking thanks to modern medicine, support from his family and friends. And fellow musicians like Marcus Wise.

This album was written and recorded while he was undergoing intermittent cancer treatments. And honestly, the finished result reflects the struggle yet optimism that comes across here. It's a healer of a record. And the dynamics and flow totally fulfill what Dean was going through. Some of it almost comes as atmospheric or post-rock like in some ways.

It's wonderful to hear and go back to for an escape or connection with Dean. I hope this ends up as the next chapter in a highly prolific career, that is far from over.

Suggested: Portals, Entrainment, Jade

50a. In Vain | Mantra

2007's debut The Latter Rain, was one of the most significant records that got me interested in Extreme Metal. It's one of those highly-layered, highly-perfected records that I just got to enjoy more and more. The styles, and fulfilling experience of so many of the pieces worked wonders. Progressive blackened death metal of a sort. The guitar work, vocal variation, tones in terms of sound and moods, etc. It really had a ton to enjoy.

So, this was a really big deal to me, to follow-up. I suppose I had a bit too lofty of expectations going-in. How this would compare, etc.

It ended up reminding me of what happened with Karnivool's follow-up Sound Awake in some ways, the songs and album overall came across too long and self-indulgent. Prog for the sake of prog at times. I mean they did what they wanted to do, but for what I like in music, something with a lot of extended, drawn-out sections, doesn't lead me to want to listen to all that often.

The sad part is, there's still some beautiful melodies and bone-crushing riffs on this thing. They just were not composed or refined the way they were on The Latter Rain or other great progressive metal songs were.

Suggested: Captivating Solitude, On the Banks of the Mississippi, Wayakin (The Guardian Spirit of the Nez Perce) (the last 3 or minutes is nice with the Native American narrative with piano and strings)

49. Henry and the Nightcrawlers | Henry and the Nightcrawlers

This is a new project from Vancouver musician Henry Alcock-White, who is formerly of Bend Sinister, which ever since reading about his departure from Bend Sinister, I was curious on what he was leaving one of my favorite bands for. Well, this is not exactly Bend Sinister, but just on this 5-track ep (which I guess only 100 were printed, 1 of which I won in a contest), they show a lot of what I love about Bend Sinister still. The catchy-ness, and hooks namely. A comparison to Elvis Costello makes sense to a point, but I just sense there's some styles Henry never got to explore entirely with Bend Sinister, that his band does here.

Now, they also released a full-length a few months ago which I have yet to hear. Hopefully I will be able to soon.

Suggested: Amberly, On a Week Night

48. Water & Bodies | The Rain City Sessions Part 2

The 2nd release from the new project that has 4 members of Kaddisfly. I enjoy a lot of these tunes, although I guess I never was as addicted to them as much as their last, Self-titled EP from 2009. But, I'd be lying to say I didn't enjoy these tunes. "To the Sun" "Hard to Pin" and "Bizarre" all stand out in ways among them.

Maybe part of my feeling is, sure, this is great, but what happens on the upcoming 1st full-length may impact how good they are. Part of the problem listening to EPs sometimes, it's kind of a tease. But who knows, maybe this EP will be looked higher upon over some time. Certainly, being a Kaddisfly fan, I enjoy this and am optimistic to where they are going.

47. The Chap | Well Done Europe

Indietronica group from the UK, in some ways an answer to Apes and Androids over there. Although, in listening to more of their music, they seem more and more distinctive to me. They are rather tongue-in-cheek lyrically and politically I suppose. They use sarcasm effectively, and more or less don't take themselves or their music too seriously.

How this record compares to say, the record I was initially drawn to them by, 2008's Mega Breakfast, I suppose is it doesn't have as many go-to or standout songs, but it has maybe more depth. A little bit of greater than the sum of it's parts I suppose. Some of the songs from memory I think of it for would be "Well Done You" and "We Work In Bars" and "Nevertheless, The Chap."

However, like some other records this year, and some of their other albums, I have still yet to fully investigate them to how I'd like. A lot of things in their songs are subtle, they aren't necessarily noticed until more time is spent with them. In other words, they are growers; the tortoise, rather than the hare.

46. Pat Metheny | Orchestrion

The idea behind this record, having instruments including drums perform the material Pat composed, like an old-fashioned, automatically playing piano, really sounded intriguing. And the idea is still rather forward-thinking. Pat being as progressive and evolving an artist in music, the past 50 years.

However, the music itself didn't end up being all that different than a lot of his material in content/composition. That is probably why I didn't end up listening to it all that much.

But it still contains some good material, for what the music is/was. I would just say, it didn't break a whole lot of new ground as far as listening. Now to witness in person, or even some of the footage he filmed, makes it more interesting at least.

45. Laura Veirs | July Flame

I know her best in guest appearances on the The Decemberists records, mostly as a vocalist I recall. But I have listened to her solo records and enjoyed them a bit in the past. This album I enjoyed a little bit more. Why? maybe after seeing her live it helped. The title cut namely, reminded me of Annie Haslam in some ways, and some other tracks had nice subtle melodies. "Summer Is the Champion" for example, is a nice almost power-pop track. And "Wide-Eyes, Legless" got some radio airplay, I grew to enjoy it every time I heard it.

44. Adebisi Shank | This Is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank

I loved their debut album This Is the Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank from 2008, so much so, I paid a bit extra to import the thing. That record is/was and incredibly addictive, less-is-more energy fest. Math-rock done, frankly, the way it should be done.

Quirky especially. This band are in some ways, the king of quirky.

So I was naturally pumped to hear this next album from them, even though I wasn't aware it was coming until a few weeks before it dropped.

I rated it at 4-stars originally, and that may still make sense. However, I for whatever reason, didn't go back to it like I would have thought, especially like their 1st lp. I suppose some of the annoying comments people made saying it was just a Battles ripoff, or even just a rehash of their 1st album got me to shy away a bit from it. And, I'm not sure it's quite in the league of their 1st record, but I also recall some of it being a little different. "Genk Shank" for example.

or just re-reading a description:

The 40-minute album certainly is steeped in Japanese influence from the band’s three tours there. It’s a dizzying album of mostly instrumental music, not really a rock album as such, as the first album was. It’s more varied and sounds like nothing anybody else is doing anywhere. Vocoders, synths, marimbas, guitar riffs that would be comfortable sound-tracking a level on a vintage platform game, big drums and even some ’80s bass-lines

So, Vocoders, Japanese influence, marimbas, etc. Doesn't sound exactly like a rehash, nor Battles. I suppose part of it was the style in general, is rather mood-ish, and that 1st album was like the epitome of less-is-more. This album, I don't recall giving the consistent energy or flow. But in the long run, maybe it'll be all the more better because of that.

43. Jeremy Messersmith | The Reluctant Graveyard

Somewhat of a worthy, yet still a bit different follow-up to 2008's The Silver City. I think the orchestral part of this record was one of the reasons I enjoyed it. Although, that may have been more in the short term. It was billed as a 60's psych influenced work, and it was to a point.

Like the new Broken Social Scene album, this from a rating/quality standpoint, remained in the same place the whole year. It has good, but not amazing songs, and an album without any bad or skip-able tracks.

At least the Sufjan comparisons, might be worth stripping-away to a point.

: Violet, Dillinger Eyes, A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard

42. Broken Social Scene | Forgiveness Rock Record

I honestly don't have a ton to say about this, other than the fact it's their 1st new full-length album in many years, and I recall liking it more than the two "Presents" albums. The blogs and radio stations went to bat for it big-time in their p4k worship.

However, it ultimately just gave me a mid-level feel. The songs were good but not great. But I recall not any being poor, which I suppose allows it as-a-whole to be put higher than some records (The New Pornographers and their new album Together) that didn't find this list.

Although in most, better, deeper, years for me, this record would not have been this high, but that maybe says something about how much 2010 lacked in terms of depth. But, at the same time, it might be worth revisiting this again just to see how much further it could go. This could be one of it not their last records for all I know. I do wonder if they'll ever match let alone top 2002's You Forgot It In People, the album that got me into them originally.

41. Enditol | Enditol

This is one of those progressive core or "djent" bands that does enough from a songwriting standpoint, I was impressed by. The chops are there, yeah, but so are the twists and mix of vocal styles and melodies to allow them to stand out enough.

I guess on one hand, the whole tech/death/core and even "prog metal" style has become thin with me for everyday listening, that a band really has to stand out even more for me to appreciate them. I have got to either be in the right mood, or listen to their record and just feel after wards that I didn't just hear something I've checked out a few dozen other bands do as well.

This record works in less-is-more, because the style has been done before, no question. But this record only clocks in the 30-minutes or so range. That can work better, than some of the longer winded albums some of these bands put out, that seem to be repeating the same ideas over and over.

The djent and tech/core scene should take notice of this band and that album, and that scene would be a lot less repetitive. Also, unlike so many of those recent bands and albums, there is no production issue with the cymbals clipping. I'm already more interested in a band who can avoid that.

: Monoculture, Huath, Exerminans/Heavenvain

40. Bend Sinister | Spring Romance

This picks up a bit from where 2008's Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers left off. Catchy, power-pop-type songs with twists. The money the band was awarded for winning 3rd place in Vancouver's "Peak Performance" project/competition, this is part of where it went, along with the work they are spending/spent on the next full-length lp, which hopefully will be out soon (2011).

Suggested: Spring Romance, The Little Things, Things Will Get Better

39. Skeleton Staff | Solipsism

Another power-pop band to like from down-under. If you like the The Dissociatives or Silverchair, this band may be worth your time.

38. Field Music | Field Music (Measure)

Long record, but still consistent. Pretty much slightly better than the sum of their parts. I think they may be a bit better live though.

37. Walking Sleep | Measures

Previously known as The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra this album was anticipated by myself being a fan of the previous name groups' ep Escapements. While I never got attached to this record, it still included enough work to like. One of those albums that has a couple of ear-worm songs, and the rest being good enough within the whole thing. Many songs sort of take twists that by the time they finish, you're surprised you liked them.

36. Averse | The Endesque Chants

Not a short record, and has consistently poor 4C, but there still was a lot to like here. We didn't see Ne Obliviscaris release their debut lp in 2010, but at least this group did. This worked pretty well in the progressive black metal style, with strings and other textures.

35b.Renaissance | The Mystic And The Muse

What a wonderful return! Unlike many of their peers, they manage to make new music that fits and excels with the tradition and spirit of their best work of the past. I really was highly surprised and impressed here. The title track alone made this a much bigger deal than I expected. Slightly Gothic, and still orchestral and progressive. This was one of the best surprises of 2010. Of course the tour date I saw in Chicago helped. Plus a full-length is anticipated for 2011.

35a. Ihsahn | After

More proggy, and adding saxophone to black metal can work as they proved here.

34. Annuals | Sweet Sister

"Loxtep" is probably still my favorite track on this, however the whole thing works well, pretty much like nearly all of their other releases. I like some of the "jungle" or Caribbean element to parts of this especially. This will have to tide fans like myself over until the next full-length, which hopefully will come in 2011.

33. Cyclamen | Senjyu

This projects/album as I understand, has members from the UK and Japan, and features as guest appearances from members of the late progressive metal-core group SikTh, along with Periphery and TesseracT.

I was impressed by the Dreamers EP from 2009, enough to be pretty optimistic about the full-length they would release.. And honestly, unlike some of folks pigeon-holing them to more or less be a 2nd or 3rd rate version of SikTh and Envy, I honestly did not hear all that much similarities between those two.

This is more of a "post" or ambient record, with a few songs that go into 'core or extreme metal. But the bulk of it, doesn't carry that style at all. However, it's a record I've put on only 3 or 4 times, but enjoyed each time a little more. There's a pretty good flow to it, nice dynamics, the Japanese vocals work well with the guitar textures especially, along with some subtle melodies within. I probably will go back to this record more in the coming years, and may appreciate it even more.

32. Dead Letter Circus |This Is the Warning

A somewhat long awaited debut record, from this band from down-under. I've felt more or less since hearing them, they are the 2nd best band doing heavy college-prog from Australia, and at least close to the same class with Karnivool and Fair to Midland among some others (Oedipus, Opus Dai). Which gives them something, because there's dozens of other generic Tool/Chevelle inspired bands attempting to do this kind of music that suck all kinds of ass.

However, this record wasn't short, didn't have perfect production (a fraction of the songs at least I heard cymbals clipping , of course), and still seemed to be a bit repetitive. To a point. I guess about half of it, has songs I really enjoy, and maybe even more have at least a section. "The Drum" and it's insane outro stands out as this album's biggest highlight.

So, as for a debut album, this still works overall, but I still think this band can be better than what came out here, if they think about album structure and varying the base of their sound a little. Although they should be able to, given many of the tracks open with some electronic or ambient texture I recall.

31. Grammatics | Krupt

The final release of this groups career apparently. Sad, yet at least they went out on a high note. Very much of the quality if not better than 2009's Self-Titled LP. It does make you wonder what their next full-length would have ended up like. Maybe a reunion happens down the road.

Suggested: "Stalinesque"

2010 Album Index 30-16

30. Jimmy Gnecco | The Heart

I am a huge fan of this man's music. His voice, songwriting, his live shows. And his band Ours. And so, I was naturally rather intrigued with this, his 1st solo album. Jimmy has toured as a solo act for many years, over a decade I believe. And he's got dozens if not hundreds of songs that have never been recorded or released. Some are for Ours, but a lot of them are or fit the music he is releasing under his own name.

Now, based on that, I hoped for something close to the quality and addictive-ness of an Ours record. Sadly, it didn't really happen, at least at this point. This album does have some good songs on it, that are on par with much of the best music he's ever written. Namely "Bring You Home" "The Heart" (the guitar outro is sick), "Days," "Darling," and "Gravity." And that was all well and good. But the meat of this record ends up coming across how I feared. Singer/songwriter, sensitive and lyrical.

I know people love that, including more or less the majority if not most of the hardcore Ours fans. But those people are also into folk artists like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. Me personally? I'm rather picky about those types. And while when Jimmy does that style I prefer it to those, I guess overall, I can't often get attached to it.

Also the fact, you hear some of the undesired swallowing audio, along with just some hopes dash-ed, I just struggled to desire to put this album on a lot in 2010. I will say, the solo show I saw him open for Greg Laswell was one of the best shows I saw in 2010, and the material that kind of bored me on the album, didn't so much at that show. But Jimmy's always been a superior live performer. But hopefully with his next solo work, it'll grab me more. And of course music released under the Ours name I still am totally looking forward to and optimistic about. But for a debut solo album, this is about 3.5-star album, which for many would be rather good, but for Jimmy Gnecco, it's a bit lower than I can I say I would hope for.

29. The River Empires | Demos/Unfinished/B-Sides

This is the overflow or extra work that as it's titled, were unfinished demos and b-sides from the work Jessy Ribordy mostly did with the 1st The River Empires record. I have only gone through this collection maybe three times thus far, but the best thing I can say about it is, while a lot of these tracks I follow why they didn't end up on the record, it's still of the quality of The River Empires album in a lot of ways.

For one, the demo of "A Dimmer Lux" I think I may like even more than the version on the album. The orchestral and vocal arrangement is wonderful. I might also say the same about "The Curse of Maybel Cains" demo. I suppose it helps, when you hear a new version of a song you already love, it adds more appreciation and depth for what they did with that song.

The other pieces that never were released vary, from nice ideas, to songs that I wouldn't be surprised could have been written within what came out with The Gloomcatcher, and thus may be used with future works in that project. Although, I'll confess, only having listened to this about 3 times, some of those I'm still digesting to know how I feel about them. The Dear Hunter early demos I grew to appreciate even more, to the point I really still wish they'd get released/recorded in some format. Perhaps these will come out on a new printed/hard-copy version of The River Empires (Epilogue) at some point.

28. The Gloomcatcher | Slow Chorale

This was born out of the overflow of ideas Jessy Ribordy of The River Empires had in writing the music for TRE's 1st album. But this music didn't quite fit with TRE's story/concept and style in a lot of ways. Jessy uses more electric guitar, and a bit less of a nature-like feel to the songs.

But as it turned out, it ended up being an entirely new concept. In a way, it was a similar approach with arty kinds of music, tying in to a story. That story is about a trial that is taking place in the deep south in the late 1800's.

The music, while it wasn't exactly like Jessy's other group Falling Up, it probably shared a little more in common than the bluegrass/folk/classical musical combination of the project it came from.

It wasn't as addictive as The River Empires either, but it was released the same day, and I ended up listening to it a fair amount still, especially early in the year. My favorite parts of it, remain the 1st 2 or 3 tracks: "The Rising Cain" "Hooks in the Rafters" and "The Devil's Forecast." Although, for mood, I guess the whole album works best at once.

The thing that I will remember about this, is it being a free download with The River Empires download purchase. And at 1st, I almost enjoyed it as much. The time and even buzz about this, compared to TRE, almost short-changes my feeling here. I should probably go back to this album more in the future, without thinking about TRE's. That, and the fact there is apparently some new material expected next year from TGC (as well as TRE and Falling Up in fact).

Suggested: The Rising Cain, Hooks in the Rafters, The Devil's Forecast, The Slow Chorale

27. Punch Brothers | Antifogmatic

Another welcome recommendation from a friend. I guess this group made a splash a few years ago with Punch, their debut record. This band includes members of Nickel Creek and Leftover Salmon I believe. So it's kind of known among those circles, and Bluegrass music in general.

This is pretty much all-acoustic music, but that hardly takes away from it, using acoustic guitars, violin (fiddle?) among other instruments. The crescendos and dynamic sections, namely with the vocal harmonies, really impressed me at times. I suppose the one thing that bugs me about it, is at times their lead singer seems to channel some of those whiny/emo singer/songwriter sensitive types, I almost feel like I'm hearing Conor Oberst or Elliott Smith. But those sections don't seem to last, as I'd say every track those do happen, the song takes a cool turn for the better and I'm not as annoyed by it by the end.

One of a handful of names doing progressive folk/bluegrass I got into in 2010 (The River Empires, Bruce Peninsula, The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra). I imagine 2011, I may get even more into them, as I still have yet to hear Punch and I understand it's 40-something minute suite piece.

Suggested: When in Doubt, The Woman and the Bell, Welcome Home

26. Distrails | Dry Flies

Wonderful, sad, textured. This band/project is so great sometimes. Immensely beautiful, and emotional. This 4-track EP is what was recovered from the loss of what was a full-albums worth of material that was written and disappeared when the groups computer/hard-drive crashed a couple of years ago. I can't say enough great things about this project. I absolutely love the textures they use. Like with 2008's Virginia Creeper EP, the 4 tracks on here leave me wanting to keep going back to them, and also wanting more music from them.

25. The Apples in Stereo | Travellers in Space and Time

I caught on to these guys back in 2007 with New Magnetic Wonder. And they remain my favorite, and probably the one project I keep close tabs on, on The Elephant Six record label. They do the power-pop/The Beach Boys-influenced music, frankly a lot better and more accessibly than every group on that record label. Although, I can't deny, the material that came before New Magnetic Wonder has never grabbed me nearly as much as that record and now this latest album of theirs.

The title makes me think of some kind of Scifi space-rock (or space-pop?) opera. And in a lot of ways, it was that. But maybe so lyrically. The opening and closing voice-over sound-bytes make me think of Douglas Adams and Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And I recall asking Robert Schneider about that when they played a show last Spring, and he didn't deny the influence.

But I suppose the best thing to say about this album is its consistency and lack of extended length (unlike many of the The Elephant Six releases, including some of the Apples work in fact). One track, "No Vacation" the lead vocals sounded an awful lot like Roger Joseph Manning Jr. of Jellyfish, so much so, I suspected it was him singing on it. But it turned out it was John Ferguson of Big Fresh who/whose band opened for the Apples and has now become a member. Another track "Dignified Dignitary" I always think of Matt Mahaffey and sElf.

Along with their use of vocal-effects (vocoders), catchy vocal harmonies, textures, piano, and the flow, this probably is my favorite thing they've ever done. Even though I was only, mostly into it earlier in the year.

Suggested: No Vacation, Dance Floor, Dignified Dignitary, It's All Right

24. Journal | Unlorja

This is/was one of my favorites, in fact probably favorite new Metal band of 2010. At least with a new release. I probably played it 5 or 6 times, but may have even more, had it not been for the length. The last track is a 30 minute narrative thing over some instrumental music. I suppose not having the time or desire to go back to that each time was part of why I didn't play this album as much as I might have liked. But the rest of it is really well written, progressive metal-core of a kind. Some djent? yeah I suppose, but the way they use it is a lot more effective than the laundry list of other bands especially in 2010 (including Periphery). Although their base sound is more rooted directly in prog and technicality. I like how they mix up the vocal styles and some transitions. The dynamics work well, kind of like how Between the Buried and Me or Painted In Exile use them, in segues/transitions to change the mood, etc.

Not a ton more to say, other than I probably will play this more in the future, and am curious what comes next for this band. The Metal and Metal-core scene needs more bands like this.

23. Orphaned Land | The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR

This is one difficult record to evaluate. Was it addictive? no. Were there memorable songs/sections? yes. Was it as good or as cohesive as their last record, 2004's Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven? no, not exactly. Okay, enough with the jeopardy. It's like it had enough well written, interesting, and sonically impressive music, that I had to buy it, the special edition with the documentary. But it didn't give me reason to go back to it a ton. Part of it obviously was it's length being well into the 70 minute range. Part of it was the concept, which compared to some in-your-face concept albums, it wasn't terrible or beaten-to-death to the point of repulsion. However, there definitely are some songs where the concept almost gets more important than the song, at least for a few minutes.

I suppose if you look at it like Extreme's III Sides to Every Story, or just as 3 EPs, it doesn't seem so long. But then it comes across as having a few great songs on each EP.

I guess I see this as a solid record, with a couple of outstanding songs in "Disciples of the Sacred Oath II," "Barakah" and "Sapari." And the other dozen or so songs have moments of greatness worth getting to. But it ultimately falls into mood-record territory for now, because of it's length and intensity. Perhaps in a year or two, especially given how long this band have gone between records (5-6 years), this album may have some extra room for growing. But I'm not expecting it to ever get as far as Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven has with me, but who knows. The mixing work and keys Steven Wilson contributed are admirable, but I do wonder a bit how different it would have been had he actually produced it with them in person (it was done via email I guess).

22. Negroni's Trio | Just Three

I heard something on the local Jazz station one afternoon driving home a few months ago, and was amazed by how precise and intricate their music was, especially their drummer. The dj almost made the piece out to being from a debut album. Well, that wasn't the case, but I believe it was the track " Sabado en la Noche" which was the closing track on this.

I might compare this album in a way to the new album from The Reign of Kindo, where it has that one exceptional song, and the rest is not really filler, but more subdued.

This band play a new style of Jazz I haven't heard all that much of. Either that, or I might call them sort of a hybrid of bop, Afro-cuban and jazz-rock. Or just, a different kind of fusion. They are 3 members and 3 instruments mostly. Piano, drum and bass. But they do make the most out of those, even with how stripped-down this album can sound. Acoustic-jazz in a way.

Now, I'll confess, when checking them out, I heard some of their earlier music, and I may find that to be even greater than this album. But for now, this record and they remain my latest, favorite group in jazz and most new artists I've heard.

And their drummer Nomar Negroni, the son of the group's founder/pianist Jose Negroni, is one of the most fascinating drummers I've heard in a long time. I can't deny, I almost got flashbacks of Paul Wertico at times hearing him.

Suggested: Sabado en la Noche, Just Three, Emotions, Fingers

21. Timbre | Little Flowers

This is a wonderful record. A breakthrough perhaps even. Timbre has such a pretty voice and the way she uses harp and vocal harmonies among other elements on this are just sublime. I revisited this album again the other day and it reminded me why I loved it. It just has so much calm and beauty. Timbre is a flower. And pretty much this album is full of blooming flowers. Maybe I've found a greater love for non-traditional rock music in 2010 with The River Empires, Bruce Peninsula and her. Although I was 1st introduced to her when she was on tour with Brooke Waggoner, playing harp with Brooke. And I came to learn she played with Anathallo and Umbrella Bed, two groups I was already a fan of. So I'm hardly surprised she made an album of this quality.

I honestly think this is a highly overlooked record for 2010, and the folks who caught on to The River Empires, Emanuel and The Fear, and maybe Sufjan Stevens for the 1st time, should check it out. It's really wonderful and without a song worth skipping.

Suggested: I Will Go Plant Little Flowers, The Wind May Be Beautiful

20. Judgement Day | Peacocks / Pink Monsters

They opened for dredg a few years ago and impressed me and many others on that tour. They also played on dredg's last album The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion. And I picked up a couple of their discs at the show after seeing them.

Instrumental string-metal. They use no guitars, nor any vocals. Yet this music is awesome and falls into that style. The artwork and concept behind it, being they had these 2 artists work on a painting that layered over and over again, kind of fit with the music (and vice versa since, the painting was made from taking-in the music they were writing).

I enjoyed it, really the week of/right-after I saw them live, headline in the Spring. And while I was impressed by a lot of it, I didn't find myself going back to it as much as I maybe should have. But in revisiting it again, I can say it is one of the more overlooked records of 2010. And it's best moments, are frankly, stunning. They sound like some big orchestra at times on here. The peaks, ebbs and flow pretty much got my jaw-dropping enough to not appreciate it even more now.

I think more folks, namely fans of Apocalyptica and dredg of course, really owe it to them-self to hear this record. Technical, Instrumental shredding without guitars. Almost Pat Metheny-like in that way.

Suggested: Excelsior, Peacocks / Pink Monsters, Mark of Vishnu, Genosha

19. Timmy Sean | Songs From & Inspired By Noisewater

I dig Power-Pop when done well. And clearly, Timmy Sean listens to a lot of it. This is one of the more impressive Power-Pop records, especially for a debut, I've heard in many years. While I don't sense he's re-inventing any wheels, or even the power-pop genre, the songwriting quality is consistent throughout this record.

I guess the best thing to say, is this album captures what I love in bands like Jellyfish, recent Silverchair/The Dissociatives and Queen especially; even one track the melody reminds me of David Bowie's Life on Mars. He's kind of the newest, best kid on the power-pop block, and succeeds better/greater than some others. The hooks, vocal harmonies, production, and earworms happen more or less throughout the whole record.

Suggested: Wait, Can't Stop the World (this song could have easily been written by Silverchair), What You Do, Noisewater Overture

18. Anathema | We're Here Because We're Here

This album I liked the 1st time I heard it, but it slipped my mind somehow. But in now revisiting it, it's as good if not better than I remembered. Steven Wilson I guess mixed or produced? The moods, riffs, textures, and the samples with the music especially have me more on board with them. It's a little bit like The Antlers record last year, melancholy in some ways. They hit the emotional button on multiple occasions here, I can't help but succumb to it's power and beauty.

17. 22 - Flux

The newest kid on the college-prog block. This is a debut record, that doesn't seem to be too known, perhaps outside of their native Norway. But it's not another one of these core, pop, or punk groups who call themselves progressive, or wear their influences blatantly on their sleeves. They are more like Sound & Shape, where it's clear they listen to The Mars Volta and Muse, but they have managed to mold those influences into their own sound to a point, and maybe more importantly, just managed to write good, memorable songs.

They're bass-driven at times, their singer has a poppy almost "emo" sounding voice, although that doesn't matter to me if comparing them to the singer of Panic! at the Disco for example, or even Matt Bellamy.

Given it was barely a month ago when I 1st heard them, I'm still discovering how good a record this is. But it doesn't have any songs I skip, and leaves melodies in my head. Modern prog done well.

Suggested: I Am That I Am, Plastik, Kneel Estate, Susurrus

16. The Reign of Kindo | This Is What Happens

The follow-up to what has become a rather addictive debut album in 2008's Rhythm, Chord & Melody. The 1st track to introduce this record being "Out of Sight and Out of Mind" totally got me excited for this album. It has one of those time-changing shifts that I love this band for. I guess that track ended up being the most addictive and memorable on this album. However, this record wasn't exactly RC&M Part 2. What it is/was more of a subdued collection of tunes, that varied from track to track. It was more Bop or jazz-centered. Not as focused on chops, but on mood. But in a lot of ways, it was good for that reason. A worthy yet a bit different follow-up. It'll be interesting to see what they do after this.

Suggested: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Nightingale, Psalm" (the guitar echoing texture namely, and string arrangement) Battling the Years, Now We've Made Our Ascent (reprising the melody from "Till We Make Our Ascent" from RC&M)

2010 Album Index 15-1

15. Everything Everything | Man Alive

One weekend last Summer this band had 3 or 4 singles, remixes and eps being buzzed about, at least on one website I frequent. I checked out their background out of curiosity, and among the bands they got compared to, Yes was one of them.

So, I immediately checked them out and got rather addicted. Although the Yes comparison only makes sense to a point, I think in the complex vocal arrangements mainly. Their music had this odd, quirky, and still catchy element to it. You can't understand much of anything their singer says, but maybe they share that aspect with Yes to a point as well. Nonsensical lyrics, that are more used to how they actually sound, rather than from a literal standpoint.

So, I got wind of this album dropping in August and really enjoyed it for a few weeks I recall. It was without a track I skip, and the energy especially kept drawing me back to it.

Some people didn't follow the comparisons I made with them to Bloc Party and Foals, and I think I compared them to those two bands, mostly due to the fact they are British like those 2 groups. But they also share a dance-able element with both of them, as well as using textures and having a post-punk element in their music.

And with Steven Wilson's endorsement in his year-end list, and a few months ago in fact, some people are coming around on them. I guess for a debut record, this will be among the more noteworthy in 2010, but hopefully their next record will go even further with some new found attention. A good, recent case in point would actually be Foals and their latest.

Suggested: Photoshop Handsome, Suffragette Suffragette, MY KZ, UR BF, Schoolin’

14. Pure Reason Revolution | Hammer and Anvil

A rather fast follow-up to 2009's slightly less-prog and more electronic sophomore release Amor Vincit Omnia. This record originally seemed to be a combination of both AVO and their well-liked Floyd-ish debut The Dark Third. But over a bit of time, it came across more similar to the former. More electronic or industrial even, which in some examples really worked well; "Blitzkrieg," "Open Insurrection" and "Last Man, Last Round." However, a good chunk of the songs in the middle gave me this generic 80's New Wave/Synth element and left me a bit sad. They almost didn't sound like PRR in ways.

But, I went back to this album again the other day, and among the 4 tracks that really bugged me, I'd say two of them "Valour" and "Never Divide" are okay enough, that I'm not as sour about them. And 4-stars is acceptable.

I guess the closing trilogy of songs "Blitzkrieg" "Open Insurrection" and "Armistice" I enjoy so much each time I play this thing, it's not as disappointing as I initially felt. I get goosebumps hearing those every time. "Armistice" almost reminds me of Doves. Also tracks like "Black Mourning" and even the opening Tom Bellamy-written piece "Fight Fire" add more to how good this album is.

However, with two 4.5-star albums, previously, this is still a little bit of a step down for one of my favorite bands. I still wonder if a lot of this album came from ideas never finished on AVO. And given how soon after it came (less than 2 years), its quality might have been hurt due to pace of the writing and recording. Questions to ponder but probably never answered. Clues may only come with of course in what they do next. Of course we'll see.

13. Oceansize | Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up

Going in to 2010, this probably was my most anticipated album. Oceansize had released 3 lps and some eps and singles previous to this, namely the Music for Nurses along with those 3 other records, pretty much showed how consistently good they were. But none of them were absolute masterpieces. They all are damn close though.

So like a few other groups I really enjoy, I feel it's not a matter of if, but when their definitive work is made. I thought, maybe finally this was going to be it.

Well, it wasn't. It was rather good though, at least the best work on it is. "SuperImposer," "Build Us a Rocket Then...," "Oscar Acceptance Speech" and "Silent/Transparent" are all some of the best songs the band has written. The textures and emotional impact are there. The opening cut "Part Cardiac" and "It's My Tail and I'll Chase It If I Want To" I would say also work well on this album, enough to not hurt it or it's flow.

But the ballads namely are what killed this thing.

The 1st or 2nd time through, I came to the thought, I know this is the kind of album the band wanted to make, but not the album they could make. So it's a bit of a double-edged sword. As an artist, you're supposed to be selfish, and for that I totally applaud them here. But the bottom line is, I don't desire to play this album as often as I anticipated, nor do I even think it's as good as their others, in the end.

Perhaps a few years from now, those ballads will fit nicely in here and it'll be seen at least on par with Everyone Into Position and Frames if not eclipsing them somehow, but knowing how highly talented this band are, I can't get past the fact they could have made an album I got more attached to, and did not here. But, who knows, maybe with their next one? Not that it's totally fair, but I can say right now, Mew have surpassed them and Pure Reason Revolution in terms of the best or my favorite modern prog groups in the last couple of years. I guess ultimately, I'd love to view all 3 of those groups equally, but No More Stories / Are Told Today / I'm Sorry / They Washed Away // No More Stories / The World Is Grey / I'm Tired / Let's Wash Away is better than both of their most recent works by a decent amount.

However, if it were any other band, this album deserves any and all praise it got. It still 4-stars and like I said, it includes some of their best, most moving songs to date. Those songs include those goose-bump sections namely, and for that, it still places pretty high on my list. The average good Oceansize song is so much better than the average band x or y song, it warrants being placed this high still.

12. Revere | Hey! Selim

The long awaited debut record from this UK group. I guess in revisiting it again recently, the 1st 5 or 6 tracks especially really stand out to me in quality and mood. The record gets a bit darker in the 2nd half, but overall, it still includes pretty much all good songs.

I'm probably a bit guilty for not playing it as much as I'd like. Why? I guess maybe due to not finding as many new things about it, or perhaps just the mood. But as I did just revisit it again, I may try and give it even more deserved time in 2011 to see just how far it goes. They're definitely a talented band, and one doing the College-Prog thing rather well at times. Using strings, trumpet, xylophone, and various dynamics. Are they then UK's answer to Kiss Kiss or Anathallo? the press compare them to the Arcade Fire of course, but I definitely think they're more worth my time than that. I suppose one thing that could help them and this record is it getting distribution in North America among other territories. Maybe 2011 will see that happen along with the band working on a new record.

Suggested: As the Radars Sleep, We Won't Be Here Tomorrow, The Escape Artist

11. Jazzkamikaze | Supersonic Revolutions

This is this danish band's 3rd album, but I guess much different their previous two. The name Mew can't be avoided of course. They come from the same country of Denmark. And there are elements of Mew's music on this record. But I guess it doesn't hurt it for me. They do combine jazz elements (soprano saxophone namely) really well with pop and prog here. And it's a consistent album, one that I enjoyed initially, and only recently came to realize how consistent it was.

Given that, I probably will want to go back to it even more, along with their back catalog and the album they are expected to release in early 2011. But for now, not a ton of people know who this band is still, so it definitely finds the Overlooked category right now.

Suggested: Bring Back Spring, Acropolis.

10. Emanuel and The Fear | Listen

A friend of mine told me of this group last Spring, and compared them to Apes and Androids among others.And that comparison got me curious. They were sort of a rock orchestra doing a rock-opera in a way. Or at least this album almost came across that way at 1st. I guess I attribute a lot of that to the female vocal character parts. But also the almost Show-tune tribute track "Dear Friend."

But given some time, this album/band sounded less conceptual. But the chamber element was there, along with the dramatic synths.

But the bottom line was, after hearing this album a couple of times, I was pretty floored by a handful of tunes, namely probably 2010's best track in "Jimme's Song (Full Band Version)" "Guatemala" "Ariel and the River" and "The Finale."

“I don’t wanna to do nothing but be in a rock band/I don’t wanna get a job/I don’t wanna be a man...I don't wanna do nothing at all”

that chorus never leaves your head.

The rest of the album got better with time, but sadly not enough of it for this thing to really grab my attention every day. I thought it was going to, but it only did to a point. I really thought at the time (last Spring) this was an album that could challenge for album of the year. I guess the biggest reason why it didn't was the sad example of hearing their singer Emanuel Ayvas swallow into the microphone. Namely from tracks 11 ("Whatever You Do") through 15 ("Simple Eye"), but even some of the other songs it was notice-able. I just have a hard time getting through hearing that now-a-days. I would guess if not for that one flaw in a percentage of the songs on here, this album could have been a classic record potentially, because the other parts of those songs are good. And like I said, a lot of the other tracks only grew well with time.

So the end result was a promising group with a good debut album with a handful of great songs on it. And much hope for the future. Apes and Androids isn't around anymore, but this project fills their void to a point. We'll see what happens in 2011 when their next EP is expected. And in the mean time, if there ever is any justice, "Jimme's Song" will become a track played on radio and web play lists for years to come. But will it? Has The Dear Hunter's "Red Hands"? sadly no. That shit still needs to change. It's-going-right-under-their-noses. It's remains their loss, not mine.

9. Foals | Total Life Forever

Antidotes, their debut album from a few years ago was good, but to me, always sounded blatantly like other bands. Battles, Minus the Bear, and especially their fellow Brits Bloc Party namely. But the songwriting was still good enough, despite this, I enjoyed Antidotes a bit. But hearing they had a new record, I didn't expect a lot more than what I got from Antidotes.

However, the 1st initial track/single shared online "Spanish Sahara" didn't resemble the Antidotes sound all that much. It was more of a building, epic, almost prog-piece. And it was so good, it ended up being my favorite part of this new record, and one of the best songs of 2010. I just love the way it leads to that climax. "I'm the fury in your head, I'm the fury in your bed, I'm the ghost in the back of your head." That part is just HAUNTING. I get a cinematic reaction to it. Some movie or story comes in and almost transports me from my workplace, to some horror or scifi thriller or something.

But beyond the stellar "Spanish Sahara" this was a damn consistent record. The radio stations and blogs kept pimping the 2nd single "This Orient" which as it turns out, I think it probably is the worst song on this album. While tracks like "Blue Blood," "Black Gold," "Alabaster," and "After Glow" are all rather memorable. But I'd say the whole thing is worth playing, 1st and foremost, instead of said amazing songs alone.

I was supposed to see them live the same night Janelle Monáe and Menomena were also in town. It didn't happen unfortunately. But like Menomena, I don't think I will pass up another chance to see these guys live. That and their next work definitely are something I look forward to, as this clearly was one of it not the biggest breakthrough album of 2010.

8. Warpaint | The Fool

Long awaited by myself, and it ended up coming out, frankly, a lot different than I expected. I adored this group and their ep Exquisite Corpse for many months in 2009 into early 2010.

Exquisite Corpse had this incredibly dreamy and textured element on every track, I got sucked in and was seduced so easily by them. It didn't hurt how attractive they were as well. It's pretty rare to find an all-girl band, doing prog especially.

So, going-in to hearing this, I was hoping it would have much of those qualities. And it did to a point, but the compositions were a lot more organic sounding I guess. The vocal lines were not as catchy, save for the single "Undertow" I guess. However, I think with the stripped-down approach and more atonal and percussive style of writing, the band have evolved or "progressed" in a lot of ways.

This record is more of a grower, but unlike some groups who put out an ep I love, and then disappoint with the full-length, I think this record could stand the test of time more so. Why I say that is how in-depth and longer-lasting the songs seem to be. It's less-is-more, and more-is-more at the same time. You don't notice a lot of things the 1st few times hearing it.

I suppose it may depend on what they do next, to see how it holds up. But they kind of have effectively made 2 kinds of releases, within their style. They can be melodic and dreamy, and be laid back and dreamy. They can do complex vocal arrangements ("Billie Holiday"), or do stripped-down singer/songwriter stuff (see "Baby"), and have the voices for it.

Maybe I'm still drinking their cool-aid a bit, but I can't be down or feel disappointed here, even with how thrown off I was initially by the difference in this album. I guess Exquisite Corpse also was a case where the songs were modified and refined for many years, the end result reflects that. These songs, to a point were as well, but maybe not as much so. The band hopefully has reached stable lineup finally now (Stella being the latest in what is a handful of different drummers they've had, over the years), and have found their sound and who/what they are in many ways.

Now, if they only would just come back and play a headlining show in Minnesota. I could use hugs again from them ;] (Hopefully in 2011).

: Undertow, Composure, Bees, Majesty, Set Your Arms Down

I have a lot more to add about them, but not here, but in another entry. The whole web-hype thing and Local Natives.

7. Agalloch | Marrow of the Spirit

Great flow to this record. They use repetition with builds exceptionally well. The one blemish is actually a part by many other reviews considered the most unique or progressive part of this album. The whispering vocals the 1st 5:50 of the 4th piece "Black Lake Nidstång" in particular the swallowing and how HIGH IN THE MIX I cannot stomach hearing. Much like on the Emanuel and The Fear, Cloud Cult, and Jimmy Gnecco (briefly) albums from this year, along with Sufjan Stevens and Anathallo from years past, I am kind of disgusted by the sound of hearing a singer swallow. Particularly a male singer.

But beyond those nearly 6 minutes, I enjoy more or less the rest of this record. Their mix of guitar textures and layers in folk, prog, black metal, and post rock seems to blend wonderfully. In a way, how good this album turned out, is an unexpected make up for no albums from the likes of Ne Obliviscaris and Subterranean Masquerade in 2010. And the lack of quality of the new In Vain record as well. This album may force me to re-check much of their back catalog now (beyond The White EP which I already know and enjoy very much).

6. Menomena | Mines

Like Oceansize, this was rather high on my anticipation list. I appreciate this band and their skill for songwriting. 2003's I Am the Fun Blame Monster remains a favorite of mine, and my appreciation for it continues to grow every year. And I'd say 2007's Friend and Foe, some of the same about, only to a bit lesser of a degree.

So naturally, I couldn't get more excited about another release from them. And the result did not disappoint. Am I speaking from a fanboy's perspective? perhaps a bit. But the fact is, every track on this album I enjoy. It's the musical/album definition of consistent.

Now, understanding how it was made, and where the band were at, was the only chink in it's armor I suppose. It was made or at least written through email. The band are not really on good terms I guess. And their impending break-up, I am preparing for. Although nothing has surfaced publicly about that, that I know the last few months. But I'm not going to forget about it, as I've been through too many other similar situations where bands end/hiatus unexpectedly. And this case, I can at least be aware of it to happen soon.

But this album, if it is their last, does not taint their legacy. There's the Brent Knopf tunes which I all love (Killemall, Sleeping Beauty, Intil), the Justin Harris tracks (Taos, Bote, Queen Black Acid, Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy) and Danny Seim ones (Tithe, Lunchmeat, Five Little Rooms, Dirty Cartoons), at least from a lead-vocal standpoint. I would assume most if not all of said pieces were written by those who sang the vocals. Although I can't be sure, but like many songwriting teams who have multiple singers, Menomena seem to function that way.

But each and every track on this album has the quality and thought put into it for me as a fan, to enjoy. Are there many ear-worms or catchy hooks? only a few, namely on "Killemall." I also really love the slide guitar on "Tithe" for example. But Menomena are not a pop band. They're a prog band. People don't call them that, mainly because the p-word is something their critics and audience don't care for. But they've always been a group whose executed experiments with texture and dynamics to success. And Mines is not an exception to that.

And if in fact it is their swan song, I have come to grips with it being a great way to go out. Brent has Ramona Falls, and Danny has Lackthereøf, no matter what transpires beyond this point. But Mines, at least for now, is a record I'll hold as significant as any in the year 2010.

6. Sufjan Stevens | The Age of Adz

I've enjoyed Sufjan Stevens music in a mood-music kind-of-way for many years. Illinois and a few of it's tracks like "Chicago" and "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" are two of the most memorable songs he's written and probably of the 2000's. But like Sigur Rós I've never become thoroughly attached to anything he's done. Maybe one reason being, you hear him swallow a lot in his music. But also the fact, despite all the instrumentation he uses, his music overall, always seems or comes across as being too lite and folk-y for everyday listening for me.

Well, this album was not lite or all that folk-y, at least to the extent of his previous work. It was synthy and more in your face at times. I guess to be honest, the 25 minute epic "Impossible Soul" is largely what put it over the top. That sucker works like magic at times. It really is of the tradition of many prog epics, with movements or sections, that segue quite well. Even the auto-tune vocals part. I can't forget how someone said it was his calling-out to Kanye, lol. Almost mocking him, and if that actually is true, it is all the better and more funny at the same time.

But maybe the most brilliant, epic part of it is the repeated chorus

It's a long life, better pinch yourself, Put your face together, better get it right, It's a long life, better hit yourself, Put your face together, better stand up straight ,It's a long life, only one last chance, Couldn't get much better, do you wanna dance? It's a long life, better pinch yourself

Get your face together, better stand up straight

Boy, we can do much more together, (Better get it right, get it right, get it right, get it right)
Boy, we can do much more together, (Better give love, give love, give love, give love)
Boy, we can do much more together, (better get it right, get it right get it right, get it right)
Boy, we can do much more together it's not so impossible, It's not so impossible

and some of the instrumentation that follows. It's definitely a case of a phrasing and MELODY that is milked, but totally works, that you can't get it out of your head, in a good way. It's Sufjan I guess talking to himself/looking at himself in the mirror. But I think it's most thought-provoking quality is the inspiration I can draw from it.

However, this record included some other enjoyable material as well. "Vesuvius," "Get Real, Get Right, ""Now That I'm Older," "Too Much" and "I Want to Be Well" and it's "I'm not fucking around" lyric.

The whole thing works extremely well start to finish. I guess it probably could go even higher, but I only got addicted to it for a few weeks, and to a point, it still felt like it needed to be heard with the right mood. But I wouldn't be surprised if it receives a lot more headphone time from me in the coming years. Also the fact he and the band looked a bit like posers on national television, kind of throwing me off a bit, contributed to how often I've put it on down the stretch here.

4. Cloud Cult | Light Chasers

2010 was in a lot of ways, the year-of or the year-for Cloud Cult. This album I guess was labored over for a countless number of days/hours, and the end result shows that.

Cloud Cult are from my hometown of Minneapolis/St.Paul, and I have known about them for many years. Finally in 2008, I got into them a bit with Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes). I however, meant-to since, but never got around to exploring their back catalog.

They are prog in a lot of ways. The media will never call them that, but they are. Baroque and Chamber rock/pop. They use a lot of non-traditional rock instruments and textures namely.

This album is a bit of a concept, which on the surface looks or sounds like an almost Scifi, spaceship journey story. But it actually is metaphorical for the experience lead singer/writer Craig Minowa and his wife Connie's experience with the birth of their new child. A lot of it is inspired by the hugely sad loss of another child the couple had 8 years ago. So, the huge level of emotion is totally understood when taking this album in.

From a musical standpoint though, it's the most cohesive thing I've heard from the band (I've still only heard only about half their catalog). The string arrangements, guitar riffs, vocal lines and harmonies, and segues between each piece. It really works incredibly well on a compositional level.

To top it off, finally seeing them live, probably stapled it as significant an album and group I enjoyed in 2010. That show in November was totally energetic and at times breathtaking. Not to mention the fact I saw the sound-check, got free pizza and talked to the band, after losing my ticket to the show, I was lucky enough to get placed on the guest list.

It's only flaw, like many others on this list, is 2 tracks, you hear Craig's swallowing on the microphone. But the amount of time is limited, it doesn't hurt the experience of listening to the album really (skipping 2 of 16 tracks).

All the things you'll love, All the things that may hurt you, All the things you shouldn't do, And all the things you want to...They're calling your name...travel safely."

"There's so much energy in us"

Suggested: Room Full of People In Your Head, There's So Much Energy In Us, Running With the Wolves, Unexplainable Stories, Exploding People

3. Janelle Monáe | The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

I wrote a detailed review of this back in the Summer explaining my situation, doubting her and if I'd like it. And eating crow, of some kind, in a rather enjoyable way.

This record was terrific for many reasons. Maybe 1st and foremost, the energy. I love a record that gets me going. And the 1st 8 or 9 tracks at least, totally get my blood pumping. Then the different genres explored and the melodies being rather memorable. The songwriting is mature beyond her resume, although given how many years this record was spent leading up to, I'm not too surprised.

Janelle obviously loves her funk and r&b, but she also must enjoy her classic and psychedelic (prog?) rock as well. Some of the guitar tones and textured arrangements remind me of the likes of Pink Floyd and Genesis. Along with some elements of Disney Soundtracks, and the dreamy side to an artist like St. Vincent.

The concept is rather cool too, and not stereotypical really. I have yet to read through the booklet, but I guess it references or is inspired by a story like Metropolis. The whole Android and Man vs Machine canon. And it's funny, but I cannot deny, the Apes and Androids comparison, the more I get to know this record and her, makes sense. Is this album as good as Blood Moon? no. It may never come close, but it's still appealing to me as a huge fan of A&A's. And that may be as much a reason why I got into this as anything. And the story/concept, which began with her debut EP, is supposed to continue on, so that's a good reason alone to look forward to what she does next.

Suggested: Cold War, Faster, Dance or Die, BaBopByeYa

2. Lehto & Wright | Children's Songs

This is in a way their most ambitious work. This group have been around for a decade and have a rather prolific output, but this album is in a lot of ways something they were building towards. The 32 minute instrumental title piece/medley is something they obviously spent a great deal of thinking about, using transitions extremely well.

(All Tunes Traditional, Arr: Lehto and Wright except as noted)

The Rigs of London Town (Sing by Charlie Wills, from the Rounder CD,
Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales: Songs of Seduction)

Introduction (including Prelude No. 5 by Manuel Maria Ponce)
Emerrode (Piers Hellawell)
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 No. 1. Von fremden Lándern und Menschen (Robert Schuman)
The Blue Tail Fly
Blackberry Blossom
The Peeler's Jacket
Children's Song No. 1 (Chick Corea)
Children's Song No. 7 (Chick Corea)
Gearrchaili Bhaile an Mhuilinn
Máramarosi Tánc (Béla Bartók)
Buckinghames branle
Stack the Rags
Children's Song No. 15 (Chick Corea)
Katonanóta (Soldier's Song) (Béla Bartók)
Prelude No. 5 (Manuel Maria Ponce)/Rigs of London Town (Reprise)
After the Rain (John Coltrane)
Albatross (Children's Song) (Steve Lehto)
The Rain Song [Excerpt] (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant)

it's not short, but it hardly feels that long. I would guess there's maybe only 1 or 2 parts of it that drag, but each time hearing it, I got more and more used to them. The 18 minute closing piece "Betsy Bell and Mary Gray" is also a very well thought-out composition, with great transitions and segues that capture various moods.

The 1st 2 shorter pieces "Wasn't that a time" and "The Broomfield Hill" are both memorable as well. Why this record has stood the test of time and is placed as high on my list as it is. It also as I originally predicted, probably the most overlooked record of 2010, at least among the progressive rock scene. The only thing that may justify that is the fact they are more known in the folk scene and just in Minnesota. But I don't follow why those two factors should have anything to do with it's lack of recognition or just distribution. O well, sometimes these things take years to finally receive their due.

1. The River Empires | The River Empires (Epilogue)

This record has stood the test of time. It really was so unique and original, it continued to leave more and more to be explored. Great, masterpiece-type records do that. They leave you with a continued sense of curiosity and exploration.

The whole template that was set up with this band/project being that is the 1st 2 released volumes of an epic fantasy/scifi story being told, that originally was intended to go along with a series of 3 films. And now has been modified to either a television program or mini-series (or perhaps both), just lent to how in-depth it was just to listen to.

Each and every one of the 29 tracks on it, has it's own identity in some way, including the little movements and shorter segue pieces. The instrumentation is incredibly tasteful and well-thought out. The production is pristine. And at 88 minutes in total, guess what? it doesn't feel long. It never has, and I don't imagine ever will.

I suppose part of why this record was such a focal point for 2010 for me was it was a wonderful breath of fresh air, and the fact it was released rather early in the year, it allowed for a lot of time to take-in. But also due to the fact, it never had any competition, if that holds any explanation. There was nothing even close to as good as it was. Nothing as unique really. Sure, the Lehto & Wright album is great, but as far as what I get most from everyday-music-listening way, this record just seemed to call to me more and more.

Details specifically, I'll mention those go-to tracks I suppose:
Three Tigers, A Toast to the Snake King, A Dimmer Lux, The Curse of Maybel Cains, Theon the Fox, Marching of the Clocks, From Outside the Cellar, Our Neighbor, the Earth, Witches Blossom.

But really, it's probably the cohesiveness and flow of the whole thing being it's greatest quality. Yeah having Casey Crescenzo on board certainly was/is a big deal, even with the limited amount of singing and I suspect songwriting he did. I can't deny, Jessy Ribordy seems to really have something special with what he's doing here. The whole concept of this project, and the music itself. Even with the limited amount of visibility of it, he's clearly made this a priority, and created it as perfect as it could be made. That is why it took so long to be released. He wanted it to be released the right way/best way. And on these 2 volumes, it was.

I think this project is worth 1000 or a million words, at least at the point when it's done. Five more releases will come, and the soundtracks and story presumably will be told. What is the story about? it's a mystery and told in a different world. It's about two children, Mars and Brighton who, during one particular summer, find a glass bottle with a message in it that changes their lives forever. The world it's about may include things like genetic hybrids of animals, very earthy, nature-like elements. There's a reason why the music is largely based on folk and bluegrass music. That kind of music fits with green, soil-based environments. And I really think combining that with chamber instrumentation and progressive rock intricacies, makes for a truly fulfilling recipe.

The only thing is, knowing this record is as rewarding as it is, and there's five more to go, being able to continue this quality may be their only real challenge ahead. That, and everything that happens with the television series. But it being the "Epilogue" release, it's the final 2 volumes in the telling of the story, as well as a outline or template for what will come. And the records I guess are to be released chronologically in reverse. So the next release titled "Mars/Brighton II" will be Volume 5, and Volume 4 is set to follow that one, etc.

It should be very intriguing to follow over the next 5+ years. But no matter what, this long awaited debut will stand as the best release I heard in the year 2010.