#11: The Legendary Pink Dots - Your Children Placate You From Premature Graves
Okay, so I admit I had not heard anything from this very prolific band until this year. Then, magically, they release this album (actually, and another one before it) just as I hit my peak interest in them. This brooding heartbreaker sounds like Pink Floyd wearing Goth makeup and playing Magazine's Permafrost while flirting with Gong. Cold, cold, cold, but sometimes playful stuff. Like a Canterbury scene that recognizes the malicious side of the gentry. It is definitely magnetic though, and it might be because of the layered approach I proselytize for so fervently. Any music this orchestral and patient tends to pay off in the end, but I warn you that you have to sit down and listen to it without interruptions, preferably in headphones. Feathers at Dawn.
#12: Herbert - Scale
Oh, Matthew Herbert. After so many full-lengths and some stellar production work, this guy somehow breaks onto everyone's radar. Scale hits that point where the wild, and I mean savage, experimentation behind the sounds melts into an almost tangible listenability. This album is the key to loving music again if you've ever gotten bored with (or sad over) the year's offerings. No one reading this probably has, but I'm trying to say that you should give this to someone as a gift this holiday season, and just about anyone will do. Good job, Herbs, and keep it up! Moving Like a Rain.
#13: Hot Chip - The Warning
I have to admit, I still don't know the exact track list of this CD. I mean, I listen to all of my Hot Chip at once, this along with Coming On Strong. Still, I think I can tell which songs are from which disc. This is another one you can find on the Hype Machine, and I recommend remixes of them and by them. This music has the power to get you moving, get your dancing friends moving, and get your non-dancing friends asking, "Hey, what is this?" and then attempting some awkward jolts and shudders vaguely in time to one or two beats. You can't make a dancer out of everyone, but Hot Chip comes close to it. If you're looking for some hot up-and-comers to follow for years, these guys have more promise of staying power than a lot of my favorites.
#14: Aceyalone with RJD2 - Magnificent City
The seedy underworld of whatever city Acey finds so magnificent comes to life in RJD2's instrumentation. One of my favorite producers matched with a very capable, intelligent rapper who raged against gangsta on the West coast from the beginning--it made my expectations high, to say the least. I was not disappointed. Very smooth, and very thoughtful, this album may take two or three listens to get in your head, but once it's there, you want to be walking the streets of a jazz club-lit city. Disconnected.
#15: The Knife - Silent Shout
What can I say but that I have the same story as everyone else. Fortunately this album appeals to that darker side that is so apparent in this year's list. I should add that the cringe-worthy moments (usually most apparent when watching the insane videos) really make me smile. Critically, the album hasn't stuck out as smiley (smileable?), but I am, I guess, tickled by the tension of wondering whether The Knife are geniuses or just seriously off their rockers. Probably both. Hype Machine and YouTube them, please.