Best of 2017: Albums

Here's a bunch of round slabs of music I enjoyed very much the past twelve months. 2017 produced tunes from old favorites, a few new faces, and a couple of reissues. There's actually one or two albums that could be considered metal so that's a bit of change for me. Somehow artists keep making creative stuff in this zany world we now live in.

As always any album had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot. The only exception is the Viki Victoria record that came out at the very end of 2016. I figured it deserved to be on the list for this year because it would slip though the cracks otherwise. And if you are one of those types who needs a definitive album of the year, then that honor goes to Vanishing Light by C. Lavender on Hot Releases.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. Ama Divers - Shadow Seeking Sun - No Rent Records/Rent Hike
02. Caterina Barbieri - Patterns of Consciousness - Important Records
03. Marcia Bassett & Samara Lubelski - Live, NYC - Feeding Tube Records
04. BIG|BRAVE - Ardor - Southern Lord
05. The Body & Full Of Hell - Ascending A Mountain Full Of Heavy Light - Thrill Jockey
06. C. Lavender - Vanishing Light - Hot Releases
07. Del Paxton - All Day, Every Day, All Night - Top Shelf Records
08. Demen - Nektyr - Kranky
09. Aaron Dilloway - The Gag File - Dais Records
10. Flying Saucer Attack - In Search Of Spaces - VHF
11. Kwka - Frontier - Nonexistant Records
12. Le Creuset - s/t - R & D
13. Martina Lussi - Selected Ambient - Hallow Ground
14. Pharmakon - Contact - Sacred Bones
15. Pod Blotz - Disappear Here Live CD - self released
16. Robedoor - New Age Sewage - Hands In The Dark
17. Pauline Anna Strom - Trans-Millenia Music - RVNG Intl.
18. TALsounds - Love Sick - Ba Da Bing
19. Tether - Mirror Finish - Hot Releases
20. Various Artists - Oz Waves compiled by Steele Bonus - Efficient Space
21. Viki Victoria - New Victorian - Midwich Productions
22. White Suns - Psychic Drift - The Flenser
23. Wolf Eyes - Undertow - Lower Floor Music
24. X.Y.R. - Labyrinth - Not Not Fun
25. Yowie - Synchromysticism - Skin Graft


Best of 2017: Cassettes

I did the math to figure out my favorite tapes of 2017. As it has been for the last few years, I listened to more cassettes than anything. There's something wonderful about having a physical object to listen to. In terms of sonics, I like music made with synthesizers, electronics, tapes, drones, and things that are either fake techno or what is probably real techno. Whatever makes up this weird little universe that is noise, I suppose.

I capped any label at two tapes, which made it tough when selecting from Constellation Tatsu, Hausu Mountain, No Rent, and Not Not Fun. I really like what Unifactor is making and I look forward to their future releases. For the tape labels that are only putting out stuff by dudes, you guys need to try harder next year to include some variety in your batches.

As always any tape had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot. And if you are one of those types who needs a definitive cassette of the year, then that honor goes to Transverse Presence by Zaïmph on No Rent Records.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. Lea Bertucci - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air - NNA Tapes
02. Black Hat - Impossible World - Hausu Mountain
03. C. Lavender - Serpentine Fever Dream - Primitive Languages
04. Canada Effervescent - Ridin' America - Constellation Tatsu
05. Kate Carr - The Story Surrounds Us - Helen Scarsdale Agency
06. Filthy Huns - Forever Beast - Not Not Fun
07. Fin - Ice Pix - Hausu Mountain
08. Forest Management - The Elevated Quiet - Constellation Tatsu
09. Future DZ - Bongo Hymns - Unifactor
10. Gmackrr - La Dépendance Électrique - Spring Break Tapes!
11. Kevin Greenspon - Mood Recovery - Bridgetown Records
12. Hainbach - Violin Forms - Ultra Violet Light
13. Chris Libutti - Climbing Backward - Limited Resources
14. Missing Organs - Old Speakers - Umor Rex
15. Sylvia Monnier - Stock Shot & Addictive Sling - Sacred Phrases
16. Multa Nox - Living Pearl - NNA Tapes
17. Pool - Jim Day Upholsterer - No Rent Records
18. Radiator Greys - Life In The Blast Radius - Devine Records
19. Liz Roberts & Henry Ross - Death Knell - Unifactor
20. Jack Taylor - Somnii - Dinzu Artefacts
21. Tree Branch Twig - Beneath The - Full Spectrum Records
22. White Poppy - The Pink Haze Of Love - Lone Hand
23. Valise - Thistles & Covenants - Devine Records
24. Video Salon - s/t - Not Not Fun
25. Zaïmph - Transverse Presence - No Rent Records


Best of 2016: Albums

If nothing else, 2016 delivered a lot of great music. A bunch of my favorite bands and musicians released new slabs of vinyl or compact discs so that made me happy. There were a few newcomers and reissues in there as well. I've kept the CD trend rolling from the last year or two. It's a more practical and affordable format in all honesty. I'm a little surprised I didn't find an indie rock band with guitars that plays short, catchy songs this year. As tired as that type of sound can be, I usually stumble on to at least one because I do like to hear melodies to balance out the other stuff. I know I left a couple of albums out, but I wanted to keep the list at a manageable size. As always any album had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot. And if you are one of those types who needs a definitive album of the year, then that honor goes to Unicorn Hard-On's Dream Machine.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. The Body - No One Deserves Happiness - Thrill Jockey
02. MV Carbon - The Sun Will Turn On You - Discombobulate Records
03. Suzanne Ciani - Buchla Concerts 1975 - Finders Keepers
04. Cellular Chaos - Diamond Teeth Clenched - Skin Graft Records
05. Cloud Becomes Your Hand - Rest In Fleas - Northern Spy
06. Sarah Davachi - Dominions - JAZ Records
07. The Dead C - Troubled - Ba Da Bing Records
08. Max Eilbacher/Alex Moskos/Duncan Moore - SEF III - Ehse Records
09. Ekin Fil - Being Near - Helen Scarsdale Agency
10. Glitterbust - s/t - Burger Records
11. Good Willsmith - Things Our Bodies Used To Have - Umor Rex
12. Horse Lords - Interventions - Northern Spy Records
13. Machine Listener - Endless Coil - Tusco/Embassy Press
14. Prostitutes - Ghost Detergent - Spectrum Spools
15. Matthew Ryals - We Could Make The Ride Better For Everyone - Behind Glass Records
16. MJ Guider - Precious Systems - Kranky
17. Secret Boyfriend - Memory Care Unit - Blackest Ever Black
18. Umberto - Alignation - Not Not Fun
19. Unicorn Hard-On - Dream Machine - Untergang-Institut
20. Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music - Timesig
21. Zaïmph - Between The Infinite And The Finite - Yew


Best of 2016: Cassettes

There were a lot of good tapes released in 2016. It was a little difficult narrowing things down, but once I hit twenty I stopped adding to the list. I know I left a few quality releases off that maybe on a different day would have been on here. I also tried to keep it one cassette per label, although Hausu Mountain is on here twice and could have easily had more. Not Not Fun and Umor Rex are slightly underrepresented and Constellation Tatsu probably should have had at least one tape on the list. As always any tape had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot. And if you are one of those types who needs a definitive cassette of the year, then that honor goes to Denying The Other by Radiator Greys on Hausu Mountain.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. Lea Bertucci - Axis/Atlas - Clandestine Compositions
02. Bodyshrine & Streetcleaver - split - Noise Dad Tapes
03. CAO - Marginal Virgin - Opal Tapes
04. Kate Carr - It Was A Time Of Laboured Metaphors - Helen Scarsdale Agency
05. Cloning - Gimerack - Refulgent Sepulchre
06. Forest Management - Acclimation - Amethyst Sunset
07. Ice - Scream Club - More Records
08. Maar - Absolute Delay - Umor Rex
09. Yves Malone - Today Is The Last Day Of The Rest Of Your Life - Field Hymns
10. Jake Meginsky - Seven Psychotropic Sinewave Palindromes - NNA Tapes
11. Sean Pierce - Transit - Motor Collective
12. Plagues - Of Ash & Relic - New Forces
13. Pod Blotz - The Voltaic Eye - Nostilevo
14. Quiet Evenings - Oak & Lead - Adversary
15. Radiator Greys - Denying The Other - Hausu Mountain
16. Scraps - T.T.N.I.K. - Not Not Fun
17. Sound Out Light - Currents - Lillerne Tapes
18. Stroker - The Bitch - No Rent Records
19. TALsounds - Lifter + Lighter - Hausu Mountain
20. Witchbeam - Accidental Sirens - Mistake By The Lake


Best of 2015: Albums

Unlike 2014, I did buy enough albums this year to pick out a decent list. 2015 felt pretty good overall with a lot of bands I like releasing strong records. It was similar to 2013 in some ways. I pretty much had my top five for the year by June, thanks to Container, Drainolith, Sightings, White Poppy, and Zaïmph. I went back to buying CDs a little more out of the convenience of the format. As always any album had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot. And if you are one of those types who needs a definitive album of the year, then that honor goes to Lightning Bolt's Fantasy Empire.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. Lea Bertucci & Leila Bordreuil - L'Onde Souterraine - Telegraph Harp
02. Bitchin Bajas & Natural Information Society - Automaginary - Drag City
03. Dave Borden - Music for Amplified Keyboard Instruments - Spectrum Spools
04. Container - LP - Spectrum Spools
05. Drainolith - Hysteria - NNA
06. Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals 2015 - Drag City
07. Steve Hauschildt - Where All Is Fled - Kranky
08. Helen - The Original Faces - Kranky
09. Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire - Thrill Jockey
10. Night Court - Law & Order - Not Not Fun
11. People Of The North - Era Of Manifestations - Thrill Jockey
12. Positive No - Glossa - Little Black Cloud
13. Quarterbacks - Quarterbacks - Team Love
14. Sightings - Amusers & Puzzlers - Dais
15. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love - Sub Pop
16. U.S. Girls - Half Free - 4AD
17. White Poppy - Natural Phenomena - Not Not Fun
18. Wolf Eyes - I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces - Third Man
19. Yarn/Wire & Pete Swanson - Eliminated Artist - Distributed Objects
20. Zaïmph - Two Aspects Divided - Yew

Best of 2015: Cassettes

2015 continued my trend of listening to more music on cassette than on any other format. I dig tapes and all the bands I like often only release tunes on cassette so I'm going to continue support them. I kept my list at one tape per label, although I think next year I'm going to relax that a little. Chondritic Sound, Hausu Mountain, Not Not Fun, and Refulgent Sepulchre all made it hard to pick out a single release. As always any tape had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot. And if you are one of those types who needs a definitive cassette of the year, then that honor goes to the Adderall Canyonly and Yves Malone split on 905 Tapes.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

01. Adderall Canyonly & Yves Malone - split - 905 Tapes
02. David Burraston - T.H. Cycle - Cassauna
03. Chapels - Night Thoughts - Obsolete Units
04. D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. - Killing Is No Murder! - Opal Tapes
05. Drainolith - Moskos Reads The Zonal Poets Vol. 1 - NNA Tapes
06. Rachel Evans - Cradle Songs - Adversary
07. Forest Management - Dusk Memory - Mistake By The Lake
08. Form A Log - At A Festival - Wobble Heist
09. Gnawed & Velvet Curtain - split - Maniacal Hatred
10. Head Dress & Wether - split - Phinery
11. Hunnie Bunnies - The Milk Album - Refulgent Sepulchre
12. Immortal Beings - Mars 1266 - Dub Ditch Picnic
13. Inferior Passions - Any Day - Chondritic Sound
14. Jupiter Jax - Visitors - 100% Silk
15. Jake Meginsky - Kasper Struabe Stencil Cycles - Mantize
16. Mister Matthews - Eyebrows & Collarbones - 2:00 AM Tapes
17. Opaline - Memory Drain - Constellation Tatsu
18. PCRV & Brown Piss - split - Chaotic Noise Productions
19. Pod Blotz - Human Division - Nostilevo
20. Prostitues - Mandarin Siblings - Centre Tapes
21. Skullcaster - Revaluation - Holodeck Records
22. Some Pepper - Nightshades - Decoherence Records
23. TALsounds - All The Way - Hausu Mountain
24. various artists - Chrysanthemum Maps Vol. I-III - Vaald
25. X.Y.R. - Mental Journey To B.C. - Not Not Fun


Best Of 2014

Once again here is a roundup of what I thought were the best releases in the last twelve months. I bought more cassettes than anything last year. I think it boils down to the fact that the bands I like the best are often only releasing their music on tape. Also my cassette player is at work and I'm there 40 hours a week so you can see how that comes together. I sort of didn't buy a lot of albums in 2014, almost to the point where making a list to twenty was difficult without including everything I bought. It makes me wonder about those individuals that have longer best of the year lists. I know I missed a few things, but that will happen. I mostly tried to keep it one item per label, but Drag City, Not Not Fun, and Spectrum Spools dominated things this year. I did keep it to one tape per label and one tape per artist. There were a few bands that were extra prolific in 2014.

As always any item had to be released in the calendar year and I had to listen to it a lot.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

Top 20 Albums Of 2014

01. Bitchen Bajas - s/t - Drag City
02. Child Abuse - Trouble In Paradise - Skin Graft
03. Dan'l Boone - s/t - Drag City
04. Daughters Of The Sun - Ride To Die - Not Not Fun
05. Del Paxton - Worst. Summer. Ever. - Secret Audio Club
06. Donato Dozzy & Nuel - The Aquaplano Sessions - Spectrum Spools
07. Form A Log - For The Record - Bathetic
08. Gang Wizard - Important Picnic - MIE
09. Good Willsmith - The Honeymoon Workbook - Umor Rex
10. Grouper - Ruins - Kranky
11. Mesa Ritual - s/t - Sige
12. Mincemeat Or Tenspeed - Waiting For Surfin' Bird - Decoherence
13. Motion Sickness Of Time Travel - Ballades - Hooker Vision
14. Brett Naucke - Seed - Spectrum Spools
15. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden - Sacred Bones
16. Profligate - Finding The Floor - Not Not Fun
17. Prostitutes - Petit Cochon - Spectrum Spools
18. Puce Mary - Persona - Posh Isolation
19. Telecult Powers - Black Meditations - Experimedia
20. Timeghost - Cellular - Load/Chondritic Sound/Nexykl

Top 25 Cassettes of 2014

01. Alterity Problem - Doing My Rounds/Checking Some Rounds - Brian's Tape Label
02. Andrew Kirschner & Waterword - tour tape - self released
03. Ancst & D/A A/D - split - Yehonala Tapes
04. Jeremy Bible - The Journey Of Enoch - self released
05. Sindre Bjerga - Future Jazz Loops - Fabrica
06. Matt Boettke - Richmond Tape Club Number Eight - Richmond Tape Club
07. Bromp Treb - Abuse. Abandon. Abort. - Yeay! Plastics
08. Chapels & VWLS - split - House Of Alchemy
09. Corporate Park - Engineered Obsolescence Vol. 1 - self released
10. Ford Foster & William Watts - split - Opal Tapes
11. Fluxbikes & Quidditas - split - Hausu Mointain
12. Khaki Blazer & Quicksails - tour tape - self released
13. Ligature - The Stranger - Chondritic Sound
14. Millions - The Message - 905 Tapes
15. Mincemeat Or Tenspeed & Unguent - Haunted Haus Tour split - Refulgent Sepulchre
16. Mutwawa - s/t - Ormolycka
17. Pulse Emitter - Alien Vacation - Expansive
18. Radio Shock - Romanse Is The Death Of Intellect - Suite 309
19. Regional Curse - s/t - Not Not Fun
20. Static Park - Until Then/What Net - Turmeric Magnitudes
21. Timeghost & Laurie Amat - Pattern Emerges From Putrid Sludge - Nexykl
22. Topdown Dialectic - Topdown Dialectic - Further
23. various - Ohio Volume One - A Soundesign Recording/SKSK
24. White Resin - Spirit 1992 - Vaald
25. Zaïmph & Yek Koo - I'interieur De La Vue - Obsolete Units


Best Of 2013

These are my favorite albums and tapes of 2013. My two big rules are that a release has to have come out in the calendar year and that I have to have listened to it a lot over the past twelve months. I don't really have much to say about 2013 to sum it up. I listened to a lot of things that fall under the broad generalization that is noise. That's what I've been into lately and those are the shows that I like going to the best. At the same time, I think my listening covers a variety of different sounds so it isn't just twenty versions of the same thing.

I bought more tapes than anything, which is why I made a separate list of cassettes. It feels like a dick move to include something that was released in an edition between 25 and maybe 100 in a list of more available albums. Maybe it is that limited availability that is part of the appeal. You feel like you've found something special. I'm happy about tapes. No need to over think the matter.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

Top Twenty Albums Of 2013

01. Alterity Problem - Don't Hate To Investigate - She Sells Records
02. Lea Bertucci - Resonance Shapes - Obsolete Units
03. Cellular Chaos - s/t - ugEXPLODE
04. The Dead C - Armed Courage - Ba Da Bing!
05. Form A Log - The Two Benji's - Decoherence
06. Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat - Kranky
07. High Wolf - Kairos: Chronos - Not Not Fun
08. Human Beast - Venus Ejaculates into the Banquet - Load
09. Noise Nomads - Ernest Thrasher - Feeding Tube Records
10. Pharmakon - Abandon - Sacred Bones
11. Pod Blotz - Glass Tears - Clan Destine Records
12. Pulse Emitter - Crater Lake - Immune Recordings
13. Robedoor - Primal Sphere - Hands In The Dark
14. Russian Tsarlag - Gagged In Boonesville - Not Not Fun
15. Secret Pyramid - Movements Of Night - Students Of Decay
16. Sightings - Terribly Well - Dais Records
17. Pete Swanson - Punk Authority - Type
18. Unicorn Hard-On - Weird Universe - Spectrum Spools
19. Wolf Eyes - No Answer: Lower Floors - De Stijl
20. Yo La Tengo - Fade - Matador

Top Twenty Tapes Of 2013

01. Lea Bertucci - tour tape - self released
02. Bleaching Agent - Stride For Stride - Opal Tapes
03. C. Lavender - Fortitude in Wintamanoth - Ecstatic Peace!
04. Chasms - Silicone Islands - Orange Milk Records
05 Cliffsides - Spirit In The Mountain Temple - Hooker Vision
06. Aaron Dilloway and Jason Lescalleet - Building A Nest - Hanson Records
07. Interference - Down Chanson - Vaald
08. Isolde Touch - Polyvalence - Further Records
09. Metalux - Paw The Elated Ruin - Obsolete Units
10. Justin Meyers - Albuterol Auteur - NNA
11. N Colyar P/Wish Fulfillment - split - self released
12. Patricia - Body Issues - Opal Tapes
13. Pod Blotz - Timeless - Dungeon Taxis
14. Derek Rogers/Good Willsmith - split - Hausu Mountain
15. Secret Boyfriend - Skin On The Clock - Price Tapes
16. Some Pepper - Ice Is Alive - Refulgent Sepulchre
17. Stag Here - Angel Tech - Space Slave
18. Timeghost - Threshole45 - CVSS
19. Unguent - Dusk Desk - I Just Live Here
20. Zaïmph - Evolucao - Dungeon Taxis


BJ's Fest & Black Pus.

There's a couple of shows coming up in Fredonia and Buffalo this week.

BJ's hosts their annual BJ's Fest event on Thursday and Friday. Evening number one has Sleep Close Death, The Malones, Del Paxton, and Mr. Boneless. The second night is loaded with Summer People, Goldmines, The Greek Favorites, Cattle Drums, Nomads, and Batista. Some of the bands are local to Fredonia and Buffalo with others coming from the ambiguous upstate area of NY as well as Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Things get going around 9:00 PM both nights. There is a $3.00 cover for 18 and up with a $1.00 cover for over 21. No dicks. Or backpacks. BJ's is located at 51 West Main Street in Fredonia, New York.

Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt and Black Pus.

Brian Chippendale, the drummer for Lightning Bolt, will be at the Slyboots School of Music in Buffalo on Saturday, May 4. Chippendale is doing a tour for his Black Pus solo project. His newest album All My Relations is available now on Thrill Jockey Records. Black Pus is similar to Lightning Bolt, only with just drums, the famous headset microphone, and an oscillator run through effects pedals.

The show features the C/V Duo and Tuurd as opening acts. The C/V Duo consists of Pat Cain and Scott Valkwitch churning out some heavy jams with saxophone, electronics, and guitar. Tuurd hail from Rochester and play sludgy doom noise, like all those bands you wish you were into back in the 1990s but were scared of at the time.

The Slyboots Drumming Ensemble will also be playing.

Black Pus was originally scheduled for Soundlab. I've heard a few things through the grapevine about problems that they have been having with "The Man" recently. I'm thinking that unfortunately this means the days of Soundlab are done. It would be a shame if the place is closed because it was my favorite venue in Buffalo. They always had bands I liked, the crowds were friendly, and the sound was great. The location was away from the main downtown party zone, which was an added bonus. Unless the Sabres were playing and then parking became tricky. Buffalo seems to be losing all of the good places to see shows.

The doors open at 9:00 PM. The show is all ages and the cost is maybe $7.00 so don't be a cheapskate. Slyboots School of Music is located at 350 Ellicott Street in Buffalo, New York.


Best Of 2012

These are my favorite albums of 2012. I stick to my rules that a release has to have come out in the calendar year and that I have to have listened to it a lot over the past twelve months. It's better to keep such a list as an honest reflection of what you were excited about playing repeatedly. There's no need to cram a bunch of stuff on there just so you can feel up to date with all the other critics. If it is a good album in 2012, it will still be a good album next year and hopefully many years down the road. Music takes time to understand. Just because something earns a lot of critical acclaim at the end of the year, doesn't make it an important album. It doesn't mean it's horrible either.

It's hard to come up with stuff about the records you like without sounding dumb.

The list goes band/album/label for those with questions of that nature.

Aphid Palisades - III - Hooker Vision
This is the duo of Ryan Connolly and Lee Tindall. They play the type of warm, blissed out drone that totally fascinates me. I sometimes fear that maybe I'm buying the same record over and over made by different people, but as long as I keep liking it, I'm not concerned. Hooker Vision is a mostly tape label run by Grant and Rachel Evans. They are putting out some amazing music right now.

Black Thread - Dead Antlers - Tusco/Embassy
I've been revisiting the music of Flying Saucer Attack over the last six months and realizing how far ahead of the game they were in the 1990s. I liked what they did with their lo-fi home recordings and use of feedback. The description on the Tusco/Embassy website included a FSA reference so I figured I should buy the tape. I made the right choice as Dead Antlers is a great cassette full of manipulated tape drones and electronics.

Cotton Museum - Hatching Extraction - Tasty Soil
In addition to making some sick and twisted noises, Chris Pottinger is an artist who draws all sorts of sick and twisted creatures. He even included an exact drawing of his live set up with the art for this album. That right there is brilliant. I think he might have taken your typical person standing at a table full of samplers, synths, and effects pedals to the next level by physically moving the table around the room during a show. I'm not positive on that, but it sure felt like something different was happening he played Buffalo.

Drainolith - Fighting - Spectrum Spools
Alex Moskos, the former AIDS Wolf guitarist, cranked out a killer slab of whatever happens next. For as much as I hate the blues, this might be described as some sort of post-blues. I'm not sure exactly how to easily sum up Fighting and I think that's a big part of the appeal. It also might be the exact record a person would need to make after AIDS Wolf ended.

Dick Neff - Dork Morph - self released cassette
Dick Neff is the one man band of Lance Simmons. He plays drums and analog synthesizer run through guitar effects pedals. The music is reminiscent of early Lightning Bolt in ways, but that might be picking the easiest way to describe it. The songs are energetic and fun. There's also not much in the way of web presence, which makes Dick Neff even cooler. You have to experience the show in the real world and buy a tape from Lance.

Grass Widow - Internal Logic - HLR
I still like the idea of early 1990s indie rock and Grass Widow made a record that references that time nicely without being needlessly nostalgic.

Moon Pool & Dead Band - Human Fly - Not Not Fun
Moon Pool & Dead Band is the effort of Nate Young from Wolf Eyes and Dave Shettler. They play all sorts of synths, drum machines, and other assorted electronic devices that make sound. I've been really getting into records made with analog synths over the last couple years and this fits nicely into that category.

Moth Cock - s/t - Tusco/Embassy
Doug Gent and Pat Modugno from Kent, Ohio created this backwoods type of noise that could only come from the mysterious parts of the Buckeye State. They use a variety of woodwinds and horns run through a bunch of effects pedals. They also throw in chirps, bloops, and bleeps to add to the weirdness.

Outer Space - Akashic Record (Events: 1986-1990) - Spectrum Spools
John Elliott is the man behind the analog synthesizers of Outer Space. He runs the Spectrum Spools label. He also works 40 hours a week in factory. Basically, he's awesome.

Pak - License - Price Tapes
Somewhat reminiscent of Metalux, Pak is music made from tape loops and effects with a few vocals. I don't know much about the band and I'm fine with that. Price Tapes has a digital download option on their website which gives you the convenient way to get the music from a tape to your iPod so I've been listening to License a lot when I go for a walk.

People Of The North - Steep Formations - Brah/Jagjaguwar
Sparse. Atmospheric. Static. Repetitive. Wonderful.

Running - Asshole Savant - Captcha Records
Running are a trio from Chicago that play skuzzy and noisy punk rock. I randomly bought their first album at Spiral Scratch in Buffalo earlier in the year. I found out they had a new album out when I asked a friend in Chicago about the band. They stopped by Buffalo in November on a tour with Cave and did a pretty good job at tearing things up.

Pete Swanson - Pro Style - Type
The former Yellow Swan resurfaced last year with three releases, I Don't Rock At All, Man With Potential, and Man With Garbage. As many in the noise world have done recently, Swanson has started to explore techno. This is the most finely tuned of his explorations and feels like older Yellow Swans type stuff with beats. It's also coupled with the more atmospheric nature of what that band evolved into. It's a smooth ride. Gabriel Mindel Saloman, the other half of the Yellow Swans, has a record out this year called Adhere on Miasmah. It's music for a dance piece by choreographer Daisy Thompson.

Windy & Carl - We Will Always Be - Kranky
I've been listening to Windy & Carl for years now and this might be their best album ever. It's very consistent from start to finish and has that warm drone sound that I mentioned earlier as liking a whole bunch.

Zaïmph - Imagine Yourself Here - Yew
I was a little late getting into the work of Marcia Bassett, but I've been correcting that problem lately. This was the first release on her new label Yew. It's a sprawling two song record of soundscapes built from electronics and guitar textures with some haunting vocals thrown in for good measure.


The Honorable Mention Pile:

I didn't get a bunch of these albums until December and I wouldn't feel right about including them in my best of the year list. I normally avoid shopping for tunes at the end of the year, but this year I did with some great results.

Chrome Jackson - Chrome Forest - Skin Graft
Container - LP - Spectrum Spools
Blues Control - Valley Tangents - Drag City
Aaron Dilloway - Modern Jester - Hanson
Femminielli - Carte Blanche Aux Desirs - Night People
Koi Pond - So Higher - Sonic Meditations
Lightning Bolt - Oblivion Hunter - Load
Normal Love - Survival Tricks - ugExplode
Pedestrian Deposit - Kithless - Arbor Infinity
Sand Circles - Motor City - Not Not Fun