Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Handsome B. Wonderful's Thirty-Eighth Annual List of the Top Ten Rock Albums of the Year

New Muses before Quetzalcoatl returns pretty please with rawk on top.

Standard disclaimers apply. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

1. SubRosa, No Help for the Mighty Ones. There is space. In this space, vintage My Dying Bride & sludge, doomed, carry on a torrid love affair, letters written on degaussgoth'd violin from one to the other, the acapella House Carpenter (think Pentangle, who of course furnished a version), the sprawling, hauntingly crushing Attack on Golden Mountain, & everything in between, in that space. The vague desert rock/PJ Harvey punk-grease & spirituals both old & their own found on the demo & the debut have been transmuted into the gold of vastly more assured songwriting, & long, long lines, a collection of signs once bricolage in a yellowing box of difference now a united signifier of a unified disorder. Bleakness never sounded so sweet.

2. Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, Blood Lust. If I'm a sucker for anything, it's smart chicks & riffs. This platter is missing the former, but the latter, Sweet Ingrid Pitt, a veritable toe-tapping, finger possession of air guitar infection, a confectioner's bloodied sugar straight with a chaser of acid-glazed old school spook. I wanna buy these blokes some cheap circus fare & a beer or ten, the expensive brands. Yeah, you heard me.

3. Rome, Die Aesthetik Der Herrschaftsfreiheit. Haven't had the chance to truly wander through these three volumes of thirty-six, check back in a few years, but I can tell you this: overachiever Jerome Reuter's whole raison d'être is still the confluence of art & people & the state & politics, & searching the bloody aftermath for a new that's always been old inside we just refuse to know whilst civilized by a suffocating plastic wrap, via recent folk aesthetics (The Spanish Drummer, Seeds of Liberation, You Threw It At Me Like Stones), hearkening-back martial reverb (Our Holy Rue, Dawn and the Darkest Hour). This unrepentant cynic will buy this highfalutin' bullshit over the vacuous bullshit of They every day with my last nickel. A fucking meisterwerk still unspooling.

4. Witch Mountain, South of Salem. Wonder no more at the question on everyone's mind: if Hendrix ditched both late-period preponderance of blues & the impediment of the coffin, deciding that his best course of action was to embrace necromancy & doom out whilst ditching the cavalcade of Janis Joplin clones for someone with actual soul in lieu of  histrionic drunken belchings, here's the answer.

5. Negative Plane, Stained Glass Revelations. I'm a little organ, short & stout, here is my pedal, here is my announce DRAMATIC PAUSE of your death, holy awkwardness, Batman, that almost rhymed, & you know this is meaty, beaty, big & Bigby's Crushing Hand but with the V, S, M sharing a tinge more sparkly-torch-dank cosmic tomb singe than the debut flesh-wrecker. Children, you know when & where to spin this, Robert Plant once crooned it.

6. The Wounded Kings, In the Chapel of the Black Hand. Shambling over crumbling early-era Cathedral molten chord flagstones, new voice Sharie Neyland's Marianne Faithfull in Hammer Horror dress though she probably wears jeans on stage like any of us would, no cleavagey slut bomb but classy mad priestess whose hymns flatten, but the claustrophobia breathes, Steve Mills & Alex Kearney exhaling sleepytime dread that gifts a second wind & who doesn't love being scared? Spooky fucking noochies, birds & blokes.

7. 50 Foot Wave, With Love from the Men's Room. Look man & manette, five free Kristin Hersh-led stocking stuffers released throughout the year, I said free, frisky & heavy & dramatic, from the Kyuss-kiss of Grey & Free Fall to the chunky bass-stomp of A Rushing, how the hell someone continues to spit out her best work in the newest half of a three-decade career is due to soul-selling or talent or a third thing.

8. Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestial Lineage. Bells & whistles in other hands are here even more seamless & violent than on Malevolent Grain: the discernible mountains & the mazy, leafy crunch below, isolation & its blasting catharsis, its purifying rituals. White noise about trees? So much more than that, a veritable soundtrack for solo darkthroning, the only communing going on is with everything but homo sapiens. Black metal is beautiful.

9. Loss, Despond. Zero guesses as to how this sounds. Gaze into trauma, & trauma gazes back, how many clocks has it been since we have last spoken, wine is fine, but whiskey's quicker, suicide is slow like existence. One suspends disbelief when facing the fantastic; here, disbelief gives up the ghost of resistance, willingly. Vast swaths of black, broken by unexpected shifts of tempo & even pitch, render time out of time & into an endless state of stasis; clock after clock yet nothing changes, ever.

10. Boss de Nage, II. The Great Frisco Freakout. Hypnocreep riff cycles alternating twixt black & gaze & spattered by howls of vituperative Baudelaire/Bataille homage. Not one of you would like it & I don't all of it since Georges ain't my most favorite of frogs but you should at least some of it because you're often angry at the disturbing parts of your cranium or plain angry at something, for reasons both apparent & not, pointless or not.  

11. Esoteric, Paragon of Dissonance. Variations on a theme, but when the theme is motherfucking arctic molasses hacked-out graveyard earth despair, I don't need to say another thing but I will, c'est-à-dire, you either get sixteen-minute marches funèbres or you don't, & if you don't, there's the dance floor.

NR. Opeth, Heritage. Whatever aspersions have been cast, they carry no weight with me, nor does hindsight exegesis. What does, comes from the band; what was unique has been lost. If Mr. Akerfeldt wishes to recreate a darker 1972 on this well-crafted slab, he's more than welcome to, & therein lies the dilemma: the style is one I've affinity for, thus its mention at all, but even the Opeth of Watershed is dead; it punches the gut much less often than any of their previous works. I shall of course continue to revisit &, perhaps, revise.

Gasp, not thirteen? As I shift from shiftless crypto-middle age into greyhood, I find my preferred aesthetic palette richer [I saw those eye rolls], wizened old sagedom & such, whilst fewer new things have hooked this meat though I don't know if these strains are related, mutually exclusive, or blood enemies, whether I've become pickier within each subsubgenre or it's the usual suspect of lazy or 2011 has simply been full of synaptic pathways drowning in existential dilemma, something I'd prefer not to admit in a public place though I suppose I just did.

I don't care 'cause if I get around to these, cool [see: 2010's self-titled debut from Worm Ouroboros, a monster not heard until the calendar turned], if not, cool [most of the rest], I can't give something a handful of spins & that be the end of it, a list of fifty is bullshit, you can't half-ass zoning out to art, so, sorry for now: Earth, Wild Flag, Blood Ceremony, My Dying Bride, Ulver, Amebix, Hate Eternal, Ulcerate, Old Silver Key, The Gates of Slumber, Hammers of Misfortune, Junius, Grayceon, Helrunar, Fen, Yob, Graveyard, Marduk, Moonsorrow, Nightbringer, Altar of Plagues, Bon Iver (just checking to see if you're paying attention), Finnr's Cane, Enslaved, Aosoth, Orchid, Serpent Venom, The Devil's Blood, & a bunch I found or had recommended but see the preceding.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I guess it's time for me to head back home to Columbus, where I left the speakers...

that girl said...

I'm assuming that the Orchid is question is not the screamo band The Kids below me listened to when I was at KSU?

Whee Kristin! and other "female rockers" that aren't Hegemonic Masculinit "groupies."

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

Scrooge McDuck!

Anonymous said...

I see no entries from Zamfir, master of the pan flute.

Didn't his agent pay you the required tribute?

Randal Graves said...

if, and don't be wasting sonic waves on hippie crap, dammit.

thatgirl, ah, no.

Oh, those chicks, like their manly forebears, are simply the products of advanced technology and savvy marketing for mass consumption. Do not be fooled by their siren song(s)!

karl of the österreich, do you really think Zamfir would deign to associate with these mere mortals? Does Apollo sit among men, don't answer that?

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

You're famous!.

Could you get me Rat's autograph, please?



Demeur said...

Where do you find this stuff Randal? Most of the Seattle garage bands had their homes foreclosed on a long time ago. And record stores? What's a record store?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Oh, and get these autographs while your at it, R.G.

susan said...

This year's list may be shorter than those from other years but Nyarlothotep knows you've done a wondrous job of sorting through the dross to find the gold. I'd like to say I'll be searching for a few of these albums myself but I did appreciate reading why you enjoyed each and every one of them. I must admit to being curious about Witch Mountain because I did wonder a time or two where Hendrix might have gone next - coffin impediment notwithstanding.

Jim H. said...

I have much listening to do. Is this in best to worst order or the other way around?

Beach Bum said...

[I saw those eye rolls]

Screw'em if they can't take a joke.

Randal Graves said...

tengrain, I don't want to be famous, unfamous me right this minute.

demeur, the first rule about troo kvlt is never talk about troo kvlt.

if, no, I think I'll be scoffing at them instead.

susan, ask, & ye shall receive. 'tis heavy, but still can make you shake your groove thang.

jim, well, the former, but only when compiled yesterday. Wishy-washy is for cleaning clothes & DC bullshit meisters, but #9 might be #1 tomorrow, as Joe once said, yadig?

BB, surely you can't be serious.

Tom Harper said...

Britney Spears and Toby Keith both have new albums this year. How could they not be on your list? You need to branch out and start listening to something besides that blood-curdling screeching heavy metal.