Top 10 of 2013

Words: Christopher Laramee

Solaris OST

Eduard Artemyev – Solaris: Music From The Original Motion Picture By Andrei Tarkovsky (Superior Viaduct)

Finally available after years in the wilderness, this classic of hissing synth washes and choral madness is THE reissue of the year, no doubt. The best sci-fi soundtrack of all time.

I Am The Center

Various Artists – I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990 (Light in the Attic)

Light In The Attic continues to prove their steez as one of the best reissue labels on the planet. The beautiful packaging and the blasted drool contained in the grooves hits all the sweet spots. Essential if for no other reason than exposing folks to Michael Stearns’ jaw-dropping Planetary Unfolding album from 1985, this gem also includes heavy hitters from Iasos, Laraaji, and Constance Demby, amongst other treats. OMMMMMMM…….

7 Days of Funk

7 Days of Funk – 7 Days of Funk (Stones Throw)

Snoopzilla (nee-DOGG) and boogie king Dam Funk together for a whole album? YES PLEASE. This one fullfills all expectations easily and is Snoop’s best foot forward since Dre’s The Chronic 2001. Smooth? I’m still on the floor as I type this.

Hawkeyes

Hawkeyes – Poison Slows You Down (Meat Tooth Recordings And Snacks)

The four-guitar, bass and drums instrumental wall of fuck from Kitchener/Waterloo’s Hawkeyes made me breathe cement, and I liked it. Being epic and subtle with this much firepower at your disposal is a hell of a trick to pull off. Screw the stoner/doom tag, this is elemental ROCK of the highest order. Best thing to come out of Canada this year.

Ketamines

Ketamines – You Can’t Serve Two Masters (Mammoth Cave Recording Co. / Southpaw)

The other Canadian release that floated up above the rest was YCSTM. With more spit and snark from TO’s K-dawgs, this record’s a real clear shot of tunes, tunes and, yes, more tunes. If Hawkeyes made me breathe cement, these dudes made me inhale Scotchgard.

Carlton Melton

Carlton Melton – Four Eyes EP (Blackest Rainbow)

Oakland’s finest continue cloud-bursting on this four-song release for the great Blackest Rainbow label. Vistas. Smog. Glimpses of space through the streetlight. In a year when the word PSYCHEDELIC gets bandied about with worrying and unjustified frequency, here’s the real deal, people. HEADBANDS ON.

White Hills

White Hills – So You Are, So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey)

The latest effort from the hardest working band in America didn’t blow me away on first listens, but lately it’s been stapled to the turntable. Building on their strengths and using the studio to maximum effect, this one just takes off like a motherfucker, with Dave W’s guitars shearing the speakers AND ears of the listener. “The Internal Monologue” is the best pure drone whirl anyone put out this year. Kudos!

The Ballasted Orchestra

Stars of the Lid – The Ballasted Orchestra (Kranky)

Speaking of drone, here’s one of the greatest albums of the last 20 years, tweaked and brought up to speed. Anyone who “likes” atmospheric music, head music, DRONE stuff, if you don’t have this one already, well, check your papers. Don’t wanna Dad anyone, but come on, get with it! Your third eye will thank you!

The Cult of Dom Keller

The Cult Of Dom Keller – The Cult Of Dom Keller (Mannequin)

This one is a compilation of tracks from previously released CD-Rs. What really gets me is how well it hangs together as an album listen. The Cult Of Dom Keller is the best thing, along with Mugstar, Hookworms and precious few other groups, that the UK has issued forth in awhile. Their thing involves a dark and distorted wall of sound that doesn’t forget a certain melodic sense, while simultaneously making you realize most of the boring shit-gaze currently making the rounds is, well, shit. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3, et al, yeah, everyone’s doing it these days, but none anywhere near the quality these gents have. Buy now.

Krang Rats

Krang – Rats Flying Planes (Self Released)

Duane Allman fucks with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop? A chance meeting of an eagle and a spaceship on a McDonalds rooftop? All this and more, my friends. Two tracks of hard broom-age that mos def make those cold prairie nights a little more tolerable. Hell, they’ll do it for you wherever you hang your hat. I smell their sweat on my tape.

Pure Pleasure :: Six releases, old and new, that punched my ticket this year

Words: Christopher Laramee

White Hills – The new lords of space rock

Carlton Melton
Photos of Photos
Agitated Records
2012

This San Franciscan three piece came out of nowhere (for me) and blew my head clean off. Spaced synthscapes and burnt riffs for days, these guys up the ante and stand out in a BIG way in a scene crowded with delay-soaked longhairs. Check out their back catalogue for more sublime raunch. John McBain (Monster Magnet) plays, and also mixed and mastered the thing. DO NOT IGNORE THIS ONE!

Pharoah Sanders
Karma
Impulse
1969

This one’s been in my racks for a couple of years and I never gave it a proper listen. My mistake. The true post-Coltrane godhead of reed-destroying madness, Karma surprises with some quiet, interstellar passages, and Leon Thomas’ scat/spoken narrative guiding you through the storm of rattled percussion and hot tongues. Pure pleasure, from start to finish.

The Chinese Restaurants
River of Shit 7″
S.S. Records
2010

Wow. That was my first response. Props to my man Ben for the tip on this one (and Carlton Melton). Along with the Soggy 2LP reissue, this is one of the best PURE rock releases in quite some time. Lo-fi? Yup. Noisy as all fuck? Sorted. Obama samples? Check. Now, do we got a song which is a straight version of THEM’s “Gloria” with new lyrics called “Queen of the Skanks”? Absolutely, my friend! What are you still doing reading this?

Curtis Mayfield
There’s No Place Like America Today
Curtom Records
1975

Can’t quit this one. An under-appreciated classic if there ever was one. A reflection of mid ’70s urban decay and collapse that only lets in some light occasionally, this album should be as revered as Marv’s What’s Going On. Stark as daylight drums rise from the floorboards and try to pull you down with them. Down where, you ask? Down to hell, bro. And guess what? It’s just a few blocks down the road. As topical today as it was then.

The Men
Immaculada
Self-Released
2010

Just got this one a few weeks ago. I sure dig the two records that came after, but this one pulls my goalie in a real wicked way. Hmmm, let’s see what comes to mind. Black Flag circa My War, uh, Boston’s lost heroes The Swirlies, some KARP, and uh, well let’s just say there’s a bit of amplifier abuse happening here. The second song “Problems/Burning Up” kills the lights and goes for the lapels with a LOT of subway swagger. Worth checking for that one alone.

White Hills
Frying on this Rock
Thrill Jockey
2012

The new lords of space rock come correct yet again. I find it disgustingly strange that this band has yet to break the whole fuckin’ scene wide open and be hailed as the King and Queen they rightly should be. I guess being one of the top live acts in the world and putting out ROCK MASTERWORKS with alarming regularity doesn’t count for shit these days. Mark my words, when that douchebag from KINGS OF LEON (I dunno, you pick which one…) is drooling in his own barf behind a Denny’s dumpster a few years from now, these fine folks will be in their crystal palace recording concept albums about Rasputin rising from the dead or something like that. That’s the world I want to live in.