25. Wu-Tang Clan-8 Diagrams [SRC/Loud]
8 Diagrams is east coast hardcore rap that doesn't sound like
There are no accessible monsters on here like “Criminology” or “Bring The Pain.” Then again, this isn’t another Cappadonna album or a return to Bobby Digital. 8 Diagrams doesn’t fit into a world of iPods and individual downloads. From the opening dialogue on “Campfire” to the heartfelt, albeit too long, closer “Life Changes,” it demands your full attention. Whereas the best example of Wu-Tang’s glory days is found on the new Ghostface album The Big Doe Rehab, the future of what Wu-Tang and all its members could be walks quietly throughout 8 Diagrams. That is if they ever stop bitching.-Zilla
It takes a certain type of record to truly feel right in Los Angeles. Something shapeless, druggy and dumb. This is it. For about two weeks earlier this month, I drove around town bumping nothing but Wooden Shjips. It seemed to cause everything to move in slow motion, weird chanting and sinister organs and heavy traffic, extraordinarily stoned, this turned up loud. Hanging my head at the failed reality stars and all the iron and concrete until I was ready to scream, this album was the only thing capable of pacifying me. It allowed me to breathe and I'm not sure if it would or could make as much sense anywhere else. In their wild-eyed haze Wooden Shjips somehow captured the fuzzy neon drone and soft apocalypse of wintertime Los Angeles. I suppose I should send them a fruit basket or maybe just an eighth.
Maybe I'm just being lazy but I really can't write anything about From Here We Go Sublime. Not because I have nothing to say, but rather because someone else so perfectly and succinctly captured the feelings engendered by this record. So instead, here are my friend, Theon Weber's words From Here We Go Sublime that appeared in this year's Stylus Top 50.
“I may not be qualified to describe From Here We Go Sublime. Here's what I know. It is a minimal techno record from Sweden; Sweden is a country in Europe; when this record burbles at me through its Elysian haze I want to dance but can't move; it's a little worried about loss but 4/4 reassures everyone and that's why they call it common time. I know less about minimal techno than I do about Sweden but when “Silent” bops its muffled way through me I know some of God's thoughts, and the rest are details.”
22. Black Moth Super Rainbow-Dandelion Gun [Graveface]
No really knows very much about Black Moth Super Rainbow and I like it that way. Pithy interviews and prosaic liberal arts college backgrounds couldn't do anything but deflate the extraterrestrial mystery of their music. When I saw them live (opening for Aesop Rock of all people), they insisted on being cloaked in darkness, a band of shadowy figures writhing in the half-light, backed by a projection of Richard Simmons leading a bunch of porcine senior citizens down the road to fitness and glory. I kid you not. This is how Black Moth Super Rainbow roll, in the hinterlands between whimsical absurdity and Kafka dreams. Like if a Moon Safari-era Air squirted a vial full of liquid acid into their pupils, decided to stop making seduction music for the thinking man's frat boy, and go to a carnival instead. Dandelion Gum is music as color, all mellotron fantasias of bright blue iris, and candy apple reds, sweet cotton candy tufts of songs that lack grit but always satisfy. It gets a hold of you like a drug and you keep going back to it again and again, even though you probably should've gotten sick of it by now. There's a story in here somewhere. Some nonsense about witches in a forest in Pittsburgh. I'm not sure if I really want to know more about that either. Pittsburgh is frightening enough without witches. The point is that Dandelion Gum resonates because underneath the record's lazy rainbow drift, you get the lingering doubt that at any moment you're going to have to wake up from this pretty dream.
All you need to know about the Clientele can be gleaned from the fact that their frontman's first name is Alasdair. With a name like Alasdair, you are fit to do a variety of things: host a masterpiece theater, found a church of Satan, even lead a rock n' roll band. In fact, the only thing really unifying people with the name Alasdair is that when Americans hear them speak, they will inevitably think them more intelligent than they are. Granted, Alasdair MacLean, lead singer of the Clientele, is actually Scottish, but he was raised in England, the band is based in London and most importantly, they sound so quintessentially British that you expect their albums to be written in conjunction with an imaginary Oscar Wilde screen adaption (who, yes, I know wasn't English but you see where I'm going with this).
The Clientele are mannered almost to the point of caricature, MacLean's voice rarely rises above a whisper and his melodies have a delicacy that evokes china tea cups in prim drawing rooms. But where it should come off as dull, overly manicured pop, MacLean's songwriting abilities continually transcend his extreme Anglophilia. With each album, the Clientele's arrangements grow more shimmering and intricate, the lyrics more evocative and on “Bookstore Casanova,” the band even lightens up so much that you'd think someone slipped a shot of rum into their Darjeeling. Cheers.