I only got into them when they released their album before this one - 2005's The Woods - though that didn't quite stick with me.
My Top 10 albums so far, 1 month into the year:
1. Lights & Motion - Chronicle Post-Rock, Ambient
Like Explosions in the Sky's structured progressions and majestic crescendos mixed with Sigur Ros' cinematic ambience and delicate melodies, it's post-rock in "cinematic crescendocore" form at its best, where you could easily imagine a scene or a story unfolding - complete with its ensuing emotions and tugs at your heartstrings - just by letting yourself get wrapped around by the music.
2. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love Indie Rock
The fiery guitar hook of the title track, the wicked drumming on "No Anthems" that makes you do wild air drums yourself, the catchy chorus of "Hey Darling" you sing along to with reckless abandon, or the epic, anthemic closing track of the album... No cities to love? Maybe. On this album though, there are many.
3. Lupe Fiasco - Tetsuo & Youth Hip-Hop
I feel like the best hip-hop albums are those that are either able to lyrically provide a more chilled-out and level-headed perspective regarding typical rap themes; or, musically add elements not usually seen in hip-hop beats to make the material sound fresh and different. Lupe Fiasco succeeds on both those aspects with this album.
4. Aphex Twin - Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 Electroacoustic, IDM
A collection of some of the most warm and organic electronic music I've heard. It's beautifully dark and rhythmic - musical enough on its own way - but definitely a masterstroke of production and sound engineering, having beein done almost entirely with just a standard acoustic drum kit and an oddly-tuned grand piano.
5. Angelus Apatrida - Hidden Evolution Thrash Metal
They bring the glorious thrash from the 80's into today and along with it are modern-sounding chunky and meaty riffs emphasized by the clear, huge-sounding production values. Maybe not as memorably melodic as the thrash metal greats, maybe a bit too much Megadeth influence in parts, but Hidden Evolution is fast, heavy, and an enjoyable 50 minutes or so.
6. Viet Cong - Viet Cong Post-Punk
Not sure what to say about this yet, honestly, but I like it.
7. Joshua Radin - Onward and Sideways Singer/Songwriter
There's the kind of smooth and sensitive folk-pop that is so sad and heavy that it feels like weeping on the gutter of a city street after a late night of drinking. Then there's the other kind - one that feels like taking a breath of fresh air while watching the sunny Sunday sunrise in the country. This is that kind of smooth and sensitive folk-pop. It sounds like if Damien Rice took a chill pill.
8. Subterranean Masquerade - The Great Bazaar Progressive Metal
A mix of songwriting/structure that's reminiscent of classic Dream Theater, with a lot of arabic folk influence that harkens to Orphaned Land, then some use of woodwinds that reminds me of Jethro Tull circa Songs From the Wood, and a soft-heavy dynamic with clean and growled vocals that can easily be compared to Opeth. Unlike a lot of prog acts that throw so many musical elements in the blender for a jumbled mess of music, Subterranean Masquerade intriguingly hits all of its cues perfectly in spite of the wealth of influences they bring to this record.
9. Mikky Ekko - Time Pop
Vocally, I can see a lot of comparisons being made to Sam Smith. But musically, this is a much more varied collection in terms of style and pace than anything Smith has out. A nice mix of R&B, rock, and folk coming together as an easy and satisfying pop record with Ekko dishing out a multitude of accessible hooks and anthems that I could definitely see hitting the mainstream charts.
10. Archgoat - The Apocalyptic Triumphator Death Metal
Hated this at first. The production is so damn stuffy and muddy, which exacerbates the deep, throaty vocals that sounds as if the words were being vomited out. But if you stick with it long enough, you start to appreciate the music as this thick and doomy wall of sound - with a nice sort of doom-vs-death soft/slow-heavy/fast dynamic - and realize that even if you don't dig the production or the vocals, there's little fault to be seen as far as the actual instruments and songwriting is concerned.