The sound of misery, loneliness, isolation, and dread recorded in what feels like a frozen forest as the sun seems absent completely from your gaze. This is the record of winter and all of that she evokes. If that opener is a bit hammy for you I understand, but it’s something that I think is befitting to describe what The Mantle is and it is this sort of spooky dark record that is as wonderful as it is harrowing. To think that all of the experimentation Agalloch does on this record works as well as it does is something pretty amazing— this is a band that brings together the harshness of black metal, the droning gloom of doom metal, the movements of progressive metal, the haunting beauty of neofolk, and the textures of post-rock to create something that I could only describe as perfect. For all of those people unaccustomed to harsh vocals that this record supplies then it certainly creates a challenging listen, but if you think about the desperate emotion that ranges from rage to misery it becomes all very vital to the album and to suggest they don’t is a fit of ignorance and selfishness.
For me this is the epitome of, as I mentioned before, all of the depression and desolation and misery that comes with the beckoning call of winter.
Favorite Track – “A Desolation Song”[First added to this chart: 01/07/2018]
I thought I was real special when I first discovered Carissa’s Wierd, as if some pompous sense of adolescence could hold over “true” qualities of music above others that happened to be my peers—I would look at the threads dedicated to sad and depressing music requests and I would hold up this band as if it were a badge of honor. I suppose such ignorance and arrogance comes with a lot of things and at that time I was still skulking in my sadness of my mother’s death when I was around thirteen-years old. “Songs About Leaving” gave me solace as I found company in my misery as this powerful depressive indie rock record spoke to me, and whilst the antagonistic cynic from my adolescence is gone this record stays not as a badge of honor but as a reflection and admiration. I think it was my first experience with the slowcore scene, and I think it’s still one of the most special records created within the alternative music scene. Musically it’s lyrically well-fashioned with all that you would expect out of a slowcore record—misery, sadness, reflections on who we are and who we were, and perceptions of others. The instrumentation is vibrant with colors of blue and gray, and I really appreciate everything about it musically despite the connection I reflected upon in the first half of this description. It’s special.
Favorite Track – “Ignorant Piece of Shit”[First added to this chart: 01/07/2018]
John Darnielle’s masterpiece. Immaculately produced, “Tallahassee” is probably the greatest piece of folk expressionism in the 21st century. Perhaps it’s not as introspective as Darnielle’s “The Sunset Tree” which details the songwriters struggle within childhood and the nostalgia that he retains from it, but the sort of literary storytelling of marriage and the complications told on this record’s soul is hardly lyrical fodder. In a way it’s a concept piece that could be gathered from multiple directions as there are apt analogies, descriptive points of view, and a lot of soul to the songwriting present here. As I mentioned, the production is pretty crisp here, which is a step up from the sort of lesser fidelity of “All Hail West Texas” thus bringing The Mountain Goats into a newer and more sublime era.
Favorite Track – “No Children”[First added to this chart: 01/07/2018]
Rilo Kiley’s follow-up to their debut is probably the best thing they’ve ever done, as they skirt the line between Cardigans-esque indie pop and the folk/country overtones amongst indie rock guitars. This one was one of those records I had to find while traversing discographies backwards after initially finding them interesting enough to indulge my curiosity. The record is really lyrically great as Jenny Lewis speaks the lines with such heartfelt sincerity. The way the sound comes to a near-perfect point here and it kind of leaves a picture of tragedy as what the band would become before ultimately disbanding later on—but her solo works are worth listening to, at least, so not all hope is gone on that front. But yeah, I really enjoy the way everything comes together on this sophomore release that was produced by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes.
Favorite Track – “Paint's Peeling”[First added to this chart: 01/07/2018]
Beck’s “Sea Change” reminds me of the slow winding down period that autumn represents, a sort of transitional period where we are looking forward but still holding on to the year we’ve had. It also happens to be my favorite Beck record out of the artist’s vast discography and I wager one of his best for my money. This is at the point where Beck isn’t experimenting too extensively or playing deconstructive folk music anymore, and it’s all great music to sit down and let take you on a trip for a good while so I can really vibe off that atmosphere which is prevalent here. The production is lush and I can’t honestly get enough of it, which is why I suppose I really quite like “Morning Phase” as it’s sort of the second cohesive fit to this record.
Favorite Track – “Lost Cause”[First added to this chart: 01/08/2018]
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