An article by The Silent Ballet Staff


80) Hummingbird | Our Fearful Symmetry
Unknown

Fluid Audio

Becalming, despondent, ominous, and hopeful are the words that can be used to describe the atmosphere of Hummingbird’s Our Fearful Symmetry. With a blend of measured piano, expansive soundscapes, and dulcet strings, the album captures solitude and nostalgia with poignant use of sound and noise. Although the artist's identity remains a secret, it is evident that Hummingbird is a talented, expressive musician. Whether drawn to the music’s beauty or mystery, fans of ambient/experimental music will find solace and enjoyment in the music on this album. (Tom Meagher)

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79) Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson | Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson
Norway

How is Annie

In 2005, deep in a renaissance of sorts for emerging post-rock talent, a young, curiously-named collective from Bodø, Norway captured the attention of many with a brilliant and understated record. Now, in a new decade, Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson re-emerges, older, wiser, and delivering a self-titled sophomore effort that has forced every follower to kick himself for letting the band slip into archival oblivion. Everything that made the band's debut great remains sharply intact on this two-part album—the clean melodies and catchy sensibility of indie rock, the shoegaze atmospherics and buried vocal mechanics of post-rock, and even the playful titles. But as much of a back-to-basics affair as it is, Youth Pictures has also evolved to emphasize the sentiment of maturity over excitability and introspection over catharsis. For a band unjustly neglected during its hiatus, Youth Pictures goes a long to way to securing the Norwegians a permanent spot in the playlists of many. (Mac Nguyen)

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78) RiLF | Ferris Wheel
Japan

Ricco

It is the biggest, slowest, flashiest, most romantic ride at the carnival, and it perfectly encapsulates RiLF’s sound. Ferris Wheel is a gorgeous daydream of a record, dipping its feet in post-rock, shoegaze, ambient, and maybe even a bit of trip-hop – anything modestly-paced and cathartically voiced. The album is hazy, alluring, warm, and, yes, it is every cliché associated with the above mentioned genres, but it is bright and big enough that it is impossible to resist. It is the top of the wheel; Ferris Wheel is beautiful and huge, but it is never intimidating. The album ends as gracefully as it begins and carries this lightness throughout, demanding to be ridden again and again. RiLF is understated but entirely essential. (Calvin Young)

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77) The Non | Tadaima
United States

Self-Released

When people think of Oklahoma, they probably do not think about amazing instrumental music. People might think about that damn song from that damn musical, but that is another story. Well, Oklahoma City’s The Non demands that people change the way they think. Tadaima, the band’s sophomore album, is a gorgeous blend of post-, symphonic, and indie rock styles. Tracks like “Bhaba” and “Mimsy” lead the pack, reaching for lush, arpeggiated heights. On the list of “bands to watch,” The Non ought to be right near the top. (Tom Butcher)

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76) James Blackshaw | All is Falling
England

Young God

It would seem that James Blackshaw can do no wrong. For years now, the London guitarist has been composing and releasing solo work that reeks with a simple beauty, and All is Falling is no exception. Though the instrumentation shifted from his standard acoustic 12-string to electric guitar and piano, Blackshaw’s trademark sound is in place, hypnotizing listeners with its pastoral yet sophisticated qualities. The arrangement of this record as a continuous suite enhances the organic nature of Blackshaw’s playing and extends the eight tracks into a single coherent experience. (Lee Stablein)

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75) Lorn | Nothing Else
United States

Brainfeeder

Nothing Else is one part dub step, one part indie hip-hop production, and one part IDM. It is a masterful original work with origins that arose from a synthesis of many influential styles. Alongside the down-tempo beats, moody and often haunting melodies fill out the sound. Circus organ riffs on “None and Island” and spacier melodies on “Glass and Silver” create dark, yet interminably beautiful melodies that exist in a totally symbiotic relationship to the beat substrate supporting them. Nothing Else is an album that makes the listener bob his head, yet it induces a moment to sit and ponder the world’s mysteries as well. This is a must for any beat junky, dark music lover, or those intrigued by music that elicits a range of emotions through expertly crafted and uniquely composed melodic content. (Greg Norte)

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74) Jaga Jazzist | One-Armed Bandit
Norway

Ninja Tune

Every bit as hypnotizing as the spinning wheels of the titular slot-machine, One-Armed Bandit continues Jaga Jazzist’s long-running attempts to reconcile post-rock and jazz, although this long-awaited full-length leans heavily to the latter. Sprightly casino-keyboard motifs keep the proceedings lively while all matter of guitars, horns, and synths interject, sometimes chaotically while several voices compete over rollicking, driving beats. It is all busy and teeters on reckless, but it is never sloppy; One-Armed Bandit is actually entirely fun, lively, and truly colorful. If the listener can keep pace, it is a wildly fun ride. And even for those who cannot, it is nonetheless a thrill to stand back and try to sort out the massive ensemble going full-bore. (Calvin Young)

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73) 52 Commercial Road | A Wreck Provides an Excellent Foundation
England

Self-Released

This London quintet made more than a few ripples with its brilliant, self-titled debut. With A Wreck Provides an Excellent Foundation, 52 Commercial Road has returned bigger and more polished. A study and love of all the greats in post-rock are evident, but without that sense of copying that is so abhorrent. Besides, 52 Commercial Road covers so much ground that the overall feeling is fresh anyway. It is a shame that the violin, so gorgeously played on the band's debut, is less prominent here, but in general the instrumentation is excellent. Horns and sampled drums play particularly good supporting roles to the main set-up. Whether it is a rocker like “Kadmar” or the more contemplative “Tape,” every track, and indeed the album, flashes by with expertise and passion. (Matt Gilley)

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72) Clint Mansell | Black Swan
England

Sony Masterworks

With a sizable helping of the themes from Tchiakovsky’s Swan Lake and a healthy dose of modern interjection, Clint Mansell fashions yet another top-notch soundtrack in his work for Black Swan. The soundtrack has all the flow and change in mood of the original ballet, functioning in much the same way. There are some distinct Mansell touches here, like the minimalist string build of “Lose Yourself”, or the quiet piano on the following cut, “Cruel Mistress”, both of which combine with his fantasia on Swan Lake to create a dynamic, moving suite of music. Though it carries with it all the drama and action of the film, this soundtrack, like Tchaikovsky’s ballet, stands on its own as an intensely enjoyable venture in classically inspired music. (Lee Stablein)

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71) Ufomammut | Eve
Italy

Supernatural Cat

There is an advert for an olive oil butter substitute that states a link between an olive based diet and longevity of life in Italy. With this solid base of research, I can only conclude that Ufomammut must have been consulted as part of the study. Eve is dripping in psychedelic pulses portraying the rebellion of the first woman on earth to her creator for bringing knowledge to man. Filled with moments of atmospheric noise and crushing riffs, it is easy to forget this group of Italians has been together for eleven years. The music is unforgiving yet accessible, and it crosses many genres with effortless transitions. There is a perfect mix of riffs and dense ambience molded into perfect cohesion across the album. Whatever Ufomammut has been eating, let us hope it keeps it up. (Gary Davidson)

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Top Albums: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71| 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Top Tracks: 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-01