Vuk’s Top 10 of 2009

1. Converge – Axe To Fall

All I have to say is, damn did I call it. Not that that’s much of a revelation, considering Converge have managed to dwell on the top 5 of every extreme music publication, since the prolific Jane Doe tore through the virgin asshole of the extreme music scene, and gave it something it will never forget. But this time they’ve really done it. They’ve really done it, and it shows. Playing shows with Mastodon and Dethklok is a pretty big deal for a bunch of dudes in a hardcore band, but if there’s anything that’s been fueling a band of 20 years, it’s passion. No, this isn’t me riding their dick. You try doing something for 20 years, while releasing genre-defining material with every release, and having 100 other obligations. Most people can’t even do the first part.

2. Mastodon – Crack the Skye

I never thought I’d see the day Mastodon went full-out prog on my ass, but lo and behold. Crack the Skye was a very peculiar case for me, because I somehow went from hating it, to worshipping it. Now I just sit and wonder how I could’ve been so stupid, because this could very easily be the band’s best since Remission. Hinds has always written phenomenal riffs, but his leads on Crack the Skye would even have David Gilmour creaming himself. From verse to chorus, to everything in between and beyond, this is one of the most rewarding listens I’ve had all year – and I say rewarding, because every time I listen to it I enjoy it more. It’s true that the drumming is a lot more modest than on previous releases, but this was definitely Brent’s album. If anything, these guys are the band to show that technicality can be constructive, and Crack the Skye is the best instance of that yet.

3. Japandroids – Post-Nothing

Two greasy dudes from Vancouver who don’t play their instruments all too well, probably drink a bit too much, and play a hybrid of garage rock and old school emo – now to me that already sounds good in theory, but for some it may not. In which case, Japandroids are probably as real as music gets. Raw, energetic, emotional; what more could you want? I don’t know if I expect much else from this band, because it feels like a one-off kind of thing, but even so, it’d be a damn good one-off.

4. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career

If you don’t want to marry Tracyanne Campbell the second you hear her singing on this album, something is wrong with you. I don’t care what your beliefs are concerning sacred unions between two people; this record calls for peace, love, and happiness, and it demands it.
I can’t complain either, because every time I listen to My Maudlin Career, I just can’t help but fall in love with it all over again. It’s like a female-fronted version of the Zombies, with all the themes of heartbreak, true love, the desperation for romance, and so on. Sure, it’s cheesy, but its sheer naivety is incredibly captivating.

5. Pyramids with Nadja – Pyramids with Nadja

To put it bluntly, this is just a beautiful fucking record. Most post-rock and ambient material seems cursed with the whole cliché of “the sound of the end of the world”, but this stuff is just beyond any form of humanly description. Yes, I kind of applied a cliché after hating on clichés, but seriously. Rather than sounding all epic and emotional, it has this very omniscient air to it; almost stream of consciousness, yet slowed down. Okay, just listen to it.

6. Pianos Become the Teeth – Old Pride

I didn’t know whether I should care about this album at first. Everyone was going nuts over that “Houses We Die In” song, when it really wasn’t that great, so I kind of just sat this one off at first. As always, curiosity called and I gave it a try. Surprise, surprise – I was blown away. They really got their shit together on this one, because there’s actually ambiguity to the more emotional stuff, rather than pretty much telling everyone your mom died of cancer. I also didn’t hear the American version of Envy that I expected. They have some really interesting vocal patterns going for them, it’s a very well-produced album, and they know how to capitalize particularly well on their more dynamic side. I see good things a-brewin’ for these guys.

7. Baroness – The Blue Record

I’ve never been a huge fan of Baroness, but they seem to be on the same page as Mastodon nowadays, which is fine by me. I mean The Blue Record is no Crack the Skye, since they each put emphasis on different things, but I can appreciate anything that rehashes that 70s prog rock feel, properly. There’s a lot more stylistic variety and technicality on this album, yet it’s brilliantly composed. Its genre-hopping is what makes it a little less memorable than Crack the Skye, but maybe I’m just getting too critical.

8. Thursday – Common Existence

This was definitely the most underrated album of the year. While it was quite positively received by press, I didn’t notice too much talk about it either, and it would certainly deserve some. It features Geoff Rickley’s strongest vocal performance yet, and an ever-maturing Thursday playing stuff that the emo kids don’t get. If there’s one thing I’ll never get, though, it’s why the hell the mix of “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain” is so poorly done on the album itself, as opposed to the version on their split with Envy. That’s actually the only factor that accounts for it not being higher up on this list.

9. Pulling Teeth – Paradise Illusions/Paranoid Delusions

I tend to forget that this release is technically a 7”, because it’s such a strange and obscure listen, for a group of guys that were a seemingly regular hardcore band an album ago. Not since Converge have I seen a hardcore band that actually layers their music – though in a different way – and thinks about atmosphere. Of course, atmosphere doesn’t take away from how heavy the album is either, because it is heavy as fuck; and trust me, that’s heavy.

10. Mother of Mercy – Mother of Mercy

You’ve got to love your MOM. She cooks you dinner and tells you not to do drugs. I would be pretty scared of my mother if she was remotely affiliated with Mother of Mercy, because this is pretty brutal stuff. Very simple, thrashy moshcore, but it’s intelligent and very well-written. Plus you have Let Down’s vocalist, who is probably one of the most unique in the hardcore scene, as of now.



7 Comments

  1. About time someone put Mastodon that high up.

    • Vuk Varicak wrote:

      Hopefully their next one will be just as good, or better. I remember Brent saying something about the next one already being written, and more along the lines of Blood Mountain and Remission.

  2. mellow wrote:

    once again

    the great misdirect?

    • Vuk Varicak wrote:

      I wouldn't put that in a top 20, let alone a top 10. I love early BTBAM, but Colors and The Great Misdirect were just terribly written. Great parts, but both were put together so badly.

  3. mellow wrote:

    once again

    the great misdirect?

    • Vuk Varicak wrote:

      I wouldn't put that in a top 20, let alone a top 10. I love early BTBAM, but Colors and The Great Misdirect were just terribly written. Great parts, but both were put together so badly.

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