Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Top 12 Albums of 2012 Numbers 6-4

Part three of my four-part series on what I feel were the 12 best albums released in 2012 is today's post.  Many great full-length albums were released this year, which made choosing only 12 for this list a chore.  It has been an exceptionally fun chore so far.  If you have been following this series, you will know that I have detailed seven remarkable albums already.  We have three more for your listening pleasure today.

6. Mono-For my Parents.  This Japanese post-rock group flies under the radar for the most part, even amongst post-rock circles.  With "For my Parents" they have released an instant classic.  This album straddles the line between post-rock ambiance and orchestra in a way few other bands can manage.  From start to finish, this album certainly sounds like it could be a film soundtrack, all while retaining classic post-rock atmospheres and complex, looping melodies.  Mono is in my opinion one of the best post-rock bands in the world.  "For my Parents" is as good as it gets.  It doesn't get stale with repeated listens and sticks with the listener long after the exceptional play-length has run its course.  This is simply an album you have to hear.  Check out the track below.

5. Anathema-Weather Systems.  Progressive rock is truly a wide world of unusual-sounding music that follows few standards as far as song construction and melody goes.  Anathema has been around for a lot longer than one might think, having started out in metal with their first release.  "Weather Systems" shows a lighter tone, flush with dreamy melodies, atmospheres, and progressive brilliance.  Most tracks are light progressive rock wrapped around introspective pianos and soulful acoustic plucking.  The vocals are astounding, providing an even deeper layer of beautiful melody and emotion.  You don't have to be a fan of progressive music to enjoy this release.  That is the beauty of it.  This music should appeal to a wide and diverse range of musical tastes.  It was difficult to decide on the right track to share with you, but I have chosen this one.  Listen to it below.

4. Silversun Pickups-Neck of the Woods.  This was a highly anticipated release that was a very rewarding listen.  Upon listening to the first track, any and all concerns over the quality of the music were swiftly washed away.  "Neck of the Woods" is an alternative masterpiece, condensing head-nodding rhythms and subtle atmospheric nuances into a well-rounded indie-alternative rock sound.  It is unfair how often this band is compared to Smashing Pumpkins.  This is mostly due to the vocal work, which sounds better and better each time you listen to it, whereas Billy Corgan's vocals became nasally annoying far too often.  Most tracks begin with slower tempos and build toward a climax while incorporating acoustic passages and profound shoegazing moments.  Silversun Pickups is a difficult band to classify under any single genre, and that is what makes the music so remarkable.  This is an outstanding, hooky alternative release that is as memorable as any other.  Since we have already shown you the fantastic lead single, Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings), here is another standout track.  Thank you for reading and enjoy!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Free downloads from Skypilot and Arundel

Today's post is a randomness and a free music post.  To explain how this happened, let me start by saying I had never heard of either of these artists.  I was looking for Snow Patrol on bandcamp, and no I did not find a page pertaining to them.  What I found instead was a new EP by an Australian indie rock outfit called Skypilot.  The cover art was interesting and I had time, so I decided to listen to a couple of tracks. 

Skypilot crafts a similar sound to Snow Patrol with a more subtle approach to atmospheres and catchy melodies.  If you are familiar with the music of Snow Patrol, this requires no further explanation.  Skypilot adds atmospheric production and some electronic nuances to their indie rock sound, but stays shy of full-blown electronica sounds.  Much of the music is guitar and drum driven, owing to the somewhat more mainstream style of sound the band produces.  I still count myself in the 'interested' category to this band, as well as Snow Patrol.  I have not heard everything they have done, but if Skypilot's debut EP is indicative of how they will sound, I will definitely be looking for their next release.  Check out the full stream from the Skypilot bandcamp page below.  This is a 'name your price' download with no minimum.  Skypilot asks you to donate $7.00 or so if you can, but it is not mandatory. 

After browsing Skypilot's page, I discovered that Skypilot's singer is involved in another project called Arundel.  Arundel does not really deliver a similar product to Skypilot.  Their new EP is a very diverse and eclectic listening experience.  The cover art for this EP was the first thing that caught my eye.  Arundel's sound ranges, depending on what track you are listening to, from simple harmonic ambiance to funky indie pop, to groovy nu-jazz and trip hop.  This is an interesting listen, because the first track does not prepare you for what the second track will bring, nor does the third track pose any similarities to the second.  Some of these tracks are duet-styled pop and soul singing that is exceptionally well-rounded.  It is something you have to hear to believe.  Arundel also hopes you will donate some cash to their dream of making it big, but they are totally fine should you decide not to offer a small donation.  PayPal and I hate each other, so I was not able to contribute.  Check out the bandcamp stream of Arundel's new EP below.

Tomorrow I will be back to my top 12 albums of 2012 with three more fantastic releases in numbers 6-4.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Top 12 Albums of 2012 Numbers 9-7

We continue today with our series on the best albums released in 2012, regardless of genre.  The rules are simple: That I select what I feel are the 12 best full-length albums released in 2012.  Yesterday we featured the outstanding new works from Sybreed, Between the Buried and Me, and Katatonia.  Today is an even more eclectic mix.

9. Two Steps from Hell-SkyWorld.  This was a close one.  In the preliminaries, the latest album from Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters was in this slot, but upon hearing the brand new public album by Two Steps from Hell, I was compelled to move them into this slot instead and reward Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters an honorable mention.  "SkyWorld" is a 22-track epic orchestral masterpiece chock-full of orchestral and choral ensembles including electronic samples and percussion sections.  This is trailer music, in that it sounds just like something you would hear in a movie trailer or a film soundtrack.  In short, if you are a fan of film scores, you will definitely dig this new album.  Check out another track from "SkyWorld" below.  We have previously raved about this album before, so check our older posts for a full review.

8. Dead Can Dance-Anastasis.  I have never really paid much attention to world music, but this one shook me to wake me up to the world of world music.  This Australian duo began writing intriguing new wave and world music in the 10980s.  "Anastasis" is their first album in over 16 years, so it was long in the making and hugely anticipated.  It lived up to the hype by combining eastern and African drum and percussion sections with orchestral synths and fantastic male vocals.  This is a difficult album to beat for any producer of world music and should be a standard in the genre for years to come.  Take a listen to the track below and enjoy!

8. Alcest-Les Voyages De L'Ame.  I have always been a big follower of metal.  I believed Alcest to be an average black metal band before I gave their sound a chance with their newest release, which came out earlier this year.  This French band showcase an impressive range of sound, melding mind-bending atmospheres and looping live instruments atop metal and post rock drumming and clear, stretching vocal lines.  Many consider this band to be a "blackened shoegaze" or "metalgaze" band, but this terminology doesn't quite describe the mood and energy present in this release.  In reality there is very little metal to be heard in this album and plenty of introspective shoegazing to go around.  Enjoy an amazing track from the newest Alcest album below.  As always, thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Coheed and Cambria-The Aftermath: Ascension

Today we have a guest post for you, courtesy of our friend and fellow blogger, Marin Sabin.  Visit his blog at and find some great metal music.

Hello all,
Today’s album review is the latest effort by Coheed & Cambria titled The Aftermath: Ascension which was released on October 9, 2012. In case you are not aware on this wonderful band, here is some background from a previous blog I wrote on the band

            Coheed and Cambria is an American band from Nyack, New York that formed in 1995. They are truly one of the great contemporary bands that consistently release great music. One problem: Coheed and Cambria doesn't quite fit into any one genre, they could be included in heavy metal, progressive rock, post rock, and alternative rock. Their sound is like if Rush met Pink Floyd, and then mated with Iron Maiden. The driving forces behind the band are lead singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez and lead guitarist Travis Stever. All of their albums are concepts based on an original tale called The Armory Wars with each album progressing the story further. Their album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is one of the best albums that I have ever heard.

Their latest album follows the story line of the Armory Wars, and is their best album since Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. This latest release may be in the running for best album of the year. From the beginning to end, there isn’t a more complete album with the highlight of the album being “The Key Entity Extraction, I-IV” and “Mothers of Men.”

I would highly recommend that everybody go out and purchase this album. You will not be disappointed.

Here are a few of the tracks that I enjoy from the album.

First, "Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood the Cracked" 

Second, “ Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher”

Finally, “Mothers of Men”

I hope that you have enjoyed my guest spot,

Marty Sabin

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top 12 albums of 2012: Numbers 12-10

Picking the top albums of any year can be a tricky business, especially when you don't ascribe to any one genre of music.  Literally thousands of new albums are released every year, and from such a large pool, every list will be very different.  The following few posts will be my picks for the top 12 albums of 2012.  I will pick the very best of each full-length album I have heard (in my opinion) and briefly review it here, as well as embed players of a select song from each album.  This is a fun activity both to write about and to read about.  So, without further ado, here are numbers 12 through 10 on my end-of-year list.

12. Sybreed-God is an Automaton.  Sybreed has, over the years, crafted a unique sound the embodies elements from both extreme metal and new wave music.  This new genre is dubbed 'deathwave'.  Vocals switch between uplifting and soaring clean vocals to vicious screams amid chugging metal riffing, blast beats, and near constant synths to give the music a powerful, epic vibe.  Sybreed has released three full-length albums, and this is their best effort yet.  The music sounds dark and is extremely riveting.  The eye-catching cover art was created by Seth Siro Anton of Septicflesh, who has a distinctive style.  Check out the track I have selected below.  This illustrates what Sybreed is all about in my opinion.

11. Between the Buried and Me-The Parallax II:Future Sequence.  This full-length album is a follow-up to the band's previous EP, "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogs".  This disc is a progressive behemoth that is flush with energy and emotion.  From face-ripping roars to melodic cleans, the vocals are as good as any progressive metal band.  The energy of the music is powerful progressive metal with death-like leanings and peaceful melodic passages.  Upon listening to the song below, you should understand why this album made my year-end list.  It was highly anticipated from the get-go and did not disappoint.

10. Katatonia-Dead end Kings.  Katatonia has roots in mostly solemn, doom metal.  The new dist presents these elements of doom and mixes them with more refined progressive rock tendencies.  This album is fantastic from start to finish and does not contain a single poor track,  Each song is rich with melancholic melody and strong baritone vocals unlike any other band.  This Swedish band knows how to make high-grade music that toes the line between genres.  The track below is indicative of the entire record's sound.  You will be hooked. 

Thanks for reading, everyone and stay tuned for part two of my list coming tomorrow!

Monday, December 3, 2012

New tunes from Jessica Bailiff and Mutiny Within

Today's new music post is going to cover two completely different artists, both of which just happen to have new material either already released or in the pipeline. 

When one thinks of solo shoegaze artists, he or she needs only to reference Jessica Bailiff.  Bailiff released her new album "At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky" a few months ago.  This release not only caught her fans by surprise, but her record label as well.  Bailiff has a low, melancholic voice on this song, which helps to define the music as hers, as opposed to Tamaryn.  This song is similar in style to Tamaryn in that it incorporates looping reverb passages throughout its lower tempo.  It is pretty repetitive, but this does not have a chance to get old, as the song is less than four minutes long.  This is an interesting track to say the least, and the cover art is outstanding!  Check out Take Me to the Sun (So Warm, So Ready) below.

Mutiny Within is, at first glance, nothing more than another American metalcore outfit, but this label is ingenuous at best.  Atypical of most metalcore in that it uses mostly clean vocals with a few accentual screams, this is a good track that shows decent growth from the band's previous releases.  Mutiny Within has a new record called "Synchronicity" coming soon, and this track debuted just the other day at The NewReview.  While the NewReview page has apparently been taken down, the soundcloud link still exists.  Unfortunately this track does not have an embed option.  To listen to the new track, Embers, go here.  Sorry for the brief nature of this post.  We will return with more substance tomorrow.  Until then, thanks for reading, and as always, enjoy!