#21: Sunn 0))) / Boris - Altar
No collaboration but this could capture the eerie groans that haunt the stone walls of an abandoned sepulchre. At the same time, any drone music manages to make good background music for reading (and sleeping). Why does this one make it to #21? Sunn 0))) has mastered the drone, but the addition of Japan's eclectic producer Boris fills out the instrumentation to further play on dissonance and layers. Rather than the simple low drone with a play of less-low drones found on other Sunn recordings, Altar builds rich, if baroque, swells that reach much higher than the earthy bottom layer and become rather inspiring. The album is wintry, the perfect companion to a Bergman movie, but only for those who, like me, actually get a spirit-lift from plumbing the depths of cold and hollow sounds. There are lots of people whom this music might depress, but I recommend it otherwise. The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep).
#22: Love is All - Nine Times That Same Song
When my car died, I bought a station wagon with a CD player. None of my MP3 CDs would play, of course, so I burned this album out of some recent downloads. Expecting some soothing, innocuous Scandinavian pop, I'm pretty sure my reaction was something like, "OMGWTFBBQLOLZLOLZ!!!11" I had to take the disc out and come back to it. When I did about a month later, it stayed in my player for about a week. Considering there are only ten short songs, that's quite a bit of anything for a week. All I can say is that the music drives me to pounding on the wheel, while the vocals are too cute in a very intense and untrustworthy way. Ageing Had Never Been His Friend (Yes, it is spelled that way).
#23: The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance. If you've visited where I live this year, you will know that danceability has been and important part of our music in the common room. Somehow, this album never made it out there--likely because we all listened to it plenty in our rooms. If you want dance-punk, and if you liked the last album from The Rapture but thought the vocals were a little...strident...give this one a whirl, because almost every song on it is party music, and the vocals are either toned down or just blend better into the dancier stuff. Look for them (and others for whom I don't include a track) on The Hype Machine.
#24: Tapes 'n' Tapes - The Loon
This is the debut album of Minneapolis' Tapes 'n' Tapes. There is a definite sound going on here, but it's hard for me to pin down what I like. The album keeps my attention by shifting among several styles and approaches to plain good rock, but it's fluid enough to keep on while I work. This is one of the few recordings that gives me no idea what the guys in the band are like, whatever that means. I guess I can recommend it if you like early college rock. Cowbell.
#25: Wizardzz - Hidden City of Taurmond
Brian Gibson of Lightning Bolt joined Rich Porter to become Wizardzz. This album has less pounding scree than Lightning Bolt usually delivers, but it's not exactly smooth. Feel free to call it noise, but little can replicate the feeling I get from listening to this on repeat in the car on summer nights. Not for the faint of heart. Jelipper-Lilly Field.