Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eli's First Annual Year End Album Tournament

Welcome, welcome, to Eli’s first annual “Year End Tournament.” Here I indulge in egregious amounts of pretentious tomfoolery, all in attempt to wrap up my final thoughts on music in 2011.

Round 1: Thrice - Major/Minor vs. Nujabes - Spiritual State

This round is definitely the saddest of the rounds, as it symbolizes the loss of two great musical entities.One, from death, and the other from a separation. Although they really can’t be considered “alike,”both have in their own ways changed the face of music forever.

Round 2: Beau Navire - Hours vs. Pianos Become The Teeth - The Lack Long After

Next up is the battle of the emo heavyweights, Beau Navire and Pianos Become the Teeth. Although thelatter has been a force to be reckoned with for the last few months, Beau Navire really hit one out of the park with their superb sophomore release.

Round 3: Maybeshewill - I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone vs. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver

This round is a bout between two of my most anticipated 2011 releases. Maybeshewill, yet again, stunned with a post-rock record that shows that this band has what it takes to be one of the best in their genre. And Bon Iver, well, it’s Bon Iver. Need I say more??

Round 4: The Antlers - Burst Apart vs. The Dear Hunter - Color Spectrum

I really wanted to love The Antlers’ latest a lot more than I did, but hell, even a less than stellar outing is still a damn fine album. That being said, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the highly anticipated, behemoth of a musical experience that is The Dear Hunter’s Color Spectrum.

Round 5: Laura Stevenson and the Cans - Sit Resist vs. Ulcerate - Destroyers Of All

Now there really isn’t anything linking these two albums together. The lovely indie-folk of Laura Stevenson and the Cans’ Sit Resist is very, very different from the dense and heavy death Metal of Ulcerate. But what they do share is an incredible high quality. However, as fine an album as Destroyers of All was, it couldn’t overtake the almost-too-charming Sit Resist.

Round 6: Bjork - Biophilia vs. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Bjork seldom lets me down, with even her worst release, 2007’s Volta still being
somewhat enjoyable. This is why her latest, Biophilia, had no problem overcoming the very respectable Helplessness Blues.

Round 7: WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain vs. Giles Corey - Giles Corey

WU LYF just barely made the cut this year. If it weren’t for Muzik Dizcovery’s very own Ali Welford, I probably wouldn’t have given this another shot. Well, I listened, and by God he was right. The band’s confounding debut is a marvelous record, but it just couldn’t overcome Giles Corey, which is an album that has yet to leave me.

Round 8: Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 vs. Kashiwa Daisuke - 88

Tim Hecker has been getting an obscene amount of praise for Ravedeath, 1972. And really, how couldn’t he? The album is the most stunning ambient recording this side of Stars of the Lid. It made quick work of Kashiwa Daisuke’s lovely little piano ditties.

Round 9: Beau Navire - Hours vs Thrice - Major/Minor

I loved Beau Navire’s fresh approach to emulation. As paradoxical as that may seem, Hours is a chaotic and beautiful reminder of why I fell in love with the genre in the first place. But for all my love of this band and their latest, this round goes to Thrice, and their scarily solid Major/Minor.

Round 10: Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver vs. The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum

Bon Iver and The Dear Hunter. A man should not have to choose between such wonderful acts, especially when 2011 saw both of them at the top of their game. And as much anticipation I had felt heading into the massive record that The Dear Hunter would release, that was trumped by Bon Iver’s undeniably superior sophomore album. The self-titled made me believe that Justin Vernon was more than a flash in that pan, and that he truly has some musical legs to stand on.

Round 11: Bjork - Biophilia vs. Laura Stevenson And The Cans - Sit Resist

The battle of the femme fatales. Oh yes Bjork, you’ve had my heart for years, and you no doubt always will. But Laura really swooped in and knocked me off my feet with her charming and cute brand of indie-folk.

Round 12: Giles Corey - Giles Corey vs. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

I still listen to "Blackest Bile" regularly. It’s bleak, haunting melodies still find their way into my headphones, and I can’t see it disappearing anytime soon. And as much as Tim Hecker really shocked me, his album has not stuck with me like “Giles Corey.”

Round 13: Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver vs. Thrice - Major/Minor

Bon Iver, it’s been such a good run. And honestly, If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have not expected you to make it this far. Don’t get me wrong, I loved your debut, but I simply could not fathom it being topped. Well, here I stand today, proven wrong. You’ve exceeded my expectations in every way possible, and for that I thank you. Regardless, Thrice’s near perfect release still stands tall.

Round 14: Laura Stevenson and the Cans - Sit Resist vs. Giles Corey - Giles Corey

Laura seems to be duking it out with albums that don’t really fit. The depressive and dark Giles Corey is polarizing to say the least in regards to the bubbly, upbeat Sit Resist. Still, once again, Laura makes short work with her opponent, and heads to the next round.

Round 15: Laura Stevenson and the Cans - Sit Resist vs. Thrice - Major/Minor

*Cues dramatic music*

And so we’ve arrived to the final round. There has been many a fierce battle between some incredibly wonderful bands, but there are two in particular that really had no difficult time getting here. Both Laura Stevenson and the Cans and Thrice kept on trucking up to this point, and it’s easy to see why. And as freakishly near perfect as Thrice’s release was, it simply couldn’t top the one album that I simply cannot, and will not stop listening to.

That’s right. Sit Resist is without a doubt my top album of the year; a charming, lovely, and addicting affair that has catapulted Laura Stevenson right into my heart. Everything from her peculiar but engaging lyrics, to her sublime songwriting makes Sit Resist an utter marvel. I hope you enjoy this victory, Laura Stevenson and the Cans, for you deserved it.

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