Each week, COSMIC TONES offers an examination of movements in Psychedelia and
all sorts of eclectic music from around the world.
Then to Now, it's all here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Best of last year...

I originally wrote this up for 1190 to post for their year-end dj picks (which is still worth checking out), but turns out they wanted lists, not reviews, so good on me for not reading directions. I'd like to tell you all to never read directions because it would sound cool of me to say something like that, but you'd ultimately lose a lot of precious time that could otherwise be put to use facebooking. So, read the directions.

...But my time is now your reading enjoyment and musical enrichment (let's pretend).
2010 saw some good shit, so here's what I originally composed to show others that may be interested:

These are not in order. Not even close. This isn’t even a real list. I just took some stuff I liked a lot, but figured others might not have already written about. Because as well as it’s all really really good, we can’t have a dozen reviews for The Age of Adz, Phosphene Dream, Brothers, This Is Happening, Before Today, etc.
These (as well as those^) are all still winners though.

Gonjasufi: A Sufi & a Killer
~ Let’s not kid ourselves, this album is absolutely bizarre. It is positively one of the strangest things I’ve ever I had a recording of, but here’s the catch: it’s not weird for the sake of weird, it actually works. It is on this list simply because it is some of the most utterly creative and artistic works that 2010 has to offer. I’ll admit, I started laughing the first time I heard Sumach Ecks voice crackling over the stripped-down hip hop beat, dusty toy organ, and psychedelic guitar lines. This whole outing blends some pretty unbelievable and far-flung characteristics, (I’m talking rap and acid rock and DISCO + a thousand other things) yet somehow remains cohesive, and instead of disjointed – like this review – is actually quite listenable. The dubby/echo-y textures, coupled with Ecks’ eerie vocals throughout, produce an undeniably heady feel, and make this record one of the truest examples of psychedelia in recent memory, so be careful. get it or buy it.
Beach Fossils: S/T
~ Beach Fossils makes pop music. But unusually, that is not the headache you’ve come to know it as in 2010. As pop music, it is naturally catchy. But “catchy” is an understatement. Actually, to simply say that it’s an understatement would be an understatement. But take heed! If the words “catchy” and “poppy” throw you, don’t pretentiously stomp out yet. With songcraft feeling equal parts warm and fuzzy as it does haunting and ghostly, this is lo-fi perfection. In a year of immense critical acclaim for bands like Surfer Blood, The Drums, Best Coast, Tennis, etc., this is somehow probably the most underrated surf-centric indie debut of its ilk, even though it’s probably the best. But “underrated” holds little water in this topic – so pick it up – and if you don’t like it, well… you’re probably wrong about other things too. get it here. support it here. (scroll down)
Junip: Fields
~ José Gonzáles is an apt musician and a captivating songwriter, but instead of being a borderline sedative like much of his other work, this “Junip” outfit makes for a truly engaging experience. The original elements of his beautiful folk guitar and spellbinding lyrics are still there, but now everything is less hushed, more brazen, and consequently more full sounding. Now I am in no way ripping on the solo stuff, but the band is an extremely welcome addition here because it just works so damn well. We now have lush soundscapes with deep (standup?) bass backgrounds, tribal(ish) drums, and a slew of other sonic proliferations (like the tip-tap-tapping of what sounds like a glass cup on “Howl”) that I can’t always put my finger on, keeping the LP entirely interesting from front to back. Sometimes fuzzy and dark, sometimes clean and ethereal, the organ accents really seem to be what get me, but the whole package is super awesome. Enjoy it with tea. get it here. be a good person here
Soundway Records Presents:
The World Ends: Afro Rock And Psychedelia In 1970s Nigeria
~ Does anything more really need to be said about a new release from Soundway?
The underlying answer seems to be no. So I won’t say much.
Basically, Miles Cleret is the one of the few MAC-DADDIES in terms of the upper echelon of this culture of ultra-rare record collecting in the modern day. But unlike certain other purveyors of this fine music, you’d never (as far as I’ve ever seen) catch him sounding pretentious or highfalutin about his business. If you read his astonishingly in-depth liner notes, you can tell he takes all this stuff very seriously, but in a way that is accessible for all listeners to grasp. He writes for the indulgent cratedigger, and the casually interested listener alike. But mainly, he tirelessly seeks and writes about these lost scenes to preserve them. This 3 LP set documents some of the most explosive and creatively exuberant times the world of music has EVER seen, which somehow, faded into the dusty annals of history at an impossibly quick rate. While this is nothing new for the great people at Soundway, it still holds up on its own as a standout release of 2010.
1-Dimensional download here.
Hold it in your arms here

Being posted here on january 27th, 2011,
this list of 2010 music is surely the most overdue you'll have read - so be warned, it's practically unfashionable by now.