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Tag Archives: Atlas Sound

2011 Albums of the Year

John Maus

I’m not a great blogger that is for sure. The start of the year witnessed my streak of blog posts and reviews, until summer came and my time and resources went elsewhere. Now, at this year’s end I am back to give you my input of 2011 in music:

2011 was a fruitful year, although this year lacked a definitive “best” album (like last year’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) it featured numerous quality releases. The list I’m writing for you here was limited to just ten, leading me to leave several albums I found great off of this list. Trends that began in past years continued, specifically the small-imprint trend, growing in quality and quantity. The exodus from bedroom to studio has continued from bands in the independent music scene, few artists are releasing anything that sounds like it came from modest production efforts. Listen to the production in albums like Bon Iver or Father, Son, Holy Ghost, they’re deep, round, and spacious. Yet on another hand, artists are still borrowing sounds of the past and re-appropriating them as their own, although now in ways that blur the past and the present. An example would be John Maus’ release; We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, this album sounds natively 80s, but, is it really? Despite synthesizers turned all the way up, nothing in the 80s could be related without argument. Better yet is Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never project, in his latest album, Replica, he samples 1980-90s daytime/late-night television commercials (which sounds like) straight from VHS. The final result is a creation that romanticizes one’s feeling of nostalgia.

Here are my top albums of 2011…

*Best of 2011*

10) Girls
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
[True Panther Sounds]
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09) Drake
Take Care
[Cash Money]
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08) Shabazz Palaces
Black Up
[Sub Pop]
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07) Bon Iver
Bon Iver
[Jagjaguwar/4AD]
Bon-Iver-Album-Cover

06) Gang Gang Dance
Eye Contact
[4AD]
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05) Atlas Sound
Parallax
[4AD]
alb_Atlas-Sound_full

04) Destroyer
Kaputt
[Merge]
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03) Future Islands
On the Water
[Thrill Jockey]
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02) Oneohtrix Point Never
Replica
[Software/Mexican Summer]
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01) John Maus
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
[Ribbon Music]
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Here is a list of my twenty favorite songs from 2011. These are listed in alphabetical order.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears
Atlas Sound – Te Amo
Cass McCombs – County Line
Death Grips – Guillotine
Destroyer – Blue Eyes
DJ Diamond – Horns
Drake – Doing It Wrong
Ford & Lopatin – Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)
Gang Gang Dance – Glass Jar
Girls – Alex
Jay-Z / Kanye West – Otis
John Maus – Hey Moon
Kids on a Crime Spree – Trumpets of Death
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
Laura Marling – Sophia
Nicki Minaj – Super Bass
Oneohtrix Point Never – Up
Thee Oh Sees – The Dream
Tom Waits – Bad as Luce
2 Chainz – Spend It (Remix) (Feat. T.I.)

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LogosFinding an album in a “used bin” which hasn’t been released yet should typically throw up a few black flags. This was the case when I discovered the latest Atlas Sound album in a record store on the Penn campus. Luckily for me and my eight dollars, the album must have been placed there mistakenly and I became the benefactor of such a mistake (the most likely case in my finding it there was what I bought was actually a promotional copy). This specific album had been my most anticipated release during the preceding months. In the first place, lead-off single “Walkabout” features guest Noah Lennox (Panda Bear of Animal Collective), another track features Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, and the album itself is the solo project of Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox. The last Atlas Sound album, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, has played a minimum of 43 times on my iTunes (not to mention that I own the record on vinyl as well).

Logos lives up to the precedent set by Let The Blind… immediately with its first two tracks. “The Light That Failed” and “An Orchid” sound like what could have been b-sides to Let The Blind… These two sound hazy and lonesome. But, excitingly for the listener, the third track “Walkabout” brings in new sounds for the project. This song is upbeat, fun, and vibrant. According to the press material that was sent to promote the album, Bradford Cox and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) collaborated over their European tour to create the song. It takes what is typical for Panda Bear, specifically pop melodies, and loops them into what is a bona fide summer dance track.

Following “Walkabout” are two tracks that unveil the folk side of Bradford Cox. “Criminals” and “Attic Lights” both tell stories while being toned down much in the way in that the album’s first two tracks are presented. The eighth track, “My Halo” is another which could be bunched into this grouping. When I saw Atlas Sound live, Bradford Cox actually performed “My Halo” using a harmonica. In a recent interview with Pitchfork Media, Bradford Cox reveals that he has been listening to Neil Young as of late, the influence is definitely visible throughout Logos.

Returning to the upbeat quality of “Walkabout”, the sixth track of the album “Sheila” is the most blatant pop song of the entire record. Yet the song is quite deep despite its upbeat guise. The songs plays on themes of longing and death, but most importantly the song is about living. After “Sheila” though the album plays into its centerpiece. The eight and a half minute “Quick Canal,” featuring vocals and words by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, is a dizzying and cryptic opus that proves to be a beautiful segue onto the album’s latter half. This latter half is also the most electronic sounding part of the album. “Kid Klimax,” “Washington School,” and the eponymous “Logos” continue with the vibe that “Quick Canal” started.

What makes Logos so entirely satisfying is that it offers a pot pourri. Call it pop, electronic, or even folk, they’re all here and they all melt together into a fantastic and wholesome album. The album paces itself along the same lines of the latest Deerhunter full-length, Microcastle. Microcastle is beautiful, sampling genre after genre to create a sound of its own. The same can be said with Logos.

Near the end of the aforementioned Pitchfork Media interview, Cox says that he wants to develop a fanbase that will stay loyal no matter what direction he or his band decides to take. He is well on his way. The fact that another “digital 7′” was released under his Atlas Sound moniker just last week on the Deerhunter blog, which sounds completely different from Logos and is completely amazing, shows the musical genius that is Bradford Cox.

(Reviewer’s Score: 4.2/5)