An article by The Silent Ballet Staff


30) Efterklang - The Soft Beating
Efterklang’s latest album, Magic Chairs, is a bit of a grower, especially if one is not expecting the more song-oriented focus of the album compared to the band's earlier work. “The Soft Beating” beautifully makes use of the group vocals and instrumental aspects of the band within this new framework, and it reveals this change as an evolution and not a rupture. It is an essential component to the album—a keystone to deciphering Efterklang's direction and intention. The track captures the magic of Efterklang as a group, and of Efterklang as a live experience, and if this road-montage/sing-a-along does not inspire joy, than there may be no way to cure the dejected listener. (Joseph Sannicandro)

29) Teebs - Arthur's Birds
Teebs' Ardour contains many sounds and styles, but his eclectic mix really shines in “Arthur’s Birds.” With electronica flourishes in the beginning of the track, it then proceeds to evolve into ethereal, otherworldly instrumentation set against a hypnotic beat. There is more than a hint of trip hop present as Teebs mixes together IDM with gentler forms of electronica. "Arthur's Birds" engages the listener with an ever-changing array of chime-like electronic sounds, emphasizing the musical subtly that adds to the track's accessibility and the beats that give the track its depth. Regardless of one’s preference for music, this is worth a listen. (Thomas Meagher)

28) Mouth of the Architect - In Your Eyes
Could any band pull off a cover of Peter Gabriel’s classic 80s tune with such aplomb, let alone a metal band? While it may be derided by the more hardcore fans of the band and genre as too populist, in reality, “In Your Eyes” highlights Mouth of the Architect’s skilled songwriting and compositional craft. While it offers a change of pace to the tracks that precede it, “In Your Eyes ” is still heavy, with that low hum of feedback and guttural scream still in existence. However, the beauty of the track comes with the wailing guitar riff and multi-layered vocal harmonies, striking a perfect balance between melodies of chugging riffs. John Cusack and his boombox would have loved it. (James Ould)

27) Flying Lotus - Galaxy in Janaki
There were few albums as exceptional as Cosmogramma this year, and choosing a specific track for nomination is pretty hard. Yet “Galaxy in Janaki” represents, to some extent, everything that put Flying Lotus in the electronic spotlight of various ‘zines—dashing smoothly through experimentalism into the prettier sides of turntablism in the form of an acid jazzy melody that is initially only hinted at and then appears fully… only once. It is surrounded by electronic beats and broken sounds that could have escaped from Autechre’s latest works, and yet there is no tension or aggression, only an amazing space-hop full of sci-fi daydreams infused with cool. Do not miss experiencing Flying Lotus on top of his game. (David Murrieta)

26) Eluvium - The Motion Makes Me Last
Watching musicians move from album to album as they create a body of work can yield some fickle fans. Sound too much like a previous record, and be criticized for playing it safe. Take a huge departure, and risk having people only talk about that seemingly left-field move. So, yes, it was surprising when Matthew Robert Cooper grabbed the mic for his latest Eluvium record. But, on “The Motion Makes Me Last”, the vocals contain a quivering humility that is as honest and entrancing as previous, wordless works like “Under the Water it Glowed”. Even on a lyrical level, lines like “I’m a vessel between two places I’ve never been” do the near miraculous of saying something specific but suggesting even more—a task so rarely achieved that it is what drove many to ambience in the first place. It seems appropriate, then, that it is a master of abstraction that points us back to the specific. (Bryan Parys)

25) Kayo Dot - Calonyction Girl
Not all music has the power of truly leading a listener into the darkest places of the body and mind. The desperation of “Calonyction Girl” is continually highlighted by a very expertly arranged set of instruments that play, each at their own time, on solitary themes, on the utter and complete loneliness of facing death. Sudden, spastic sax blurts, goth bass, and violin melodies drown in despair alongside the lyrics, taking the unwary listener with them directly into a vision full of phantoms that cry out, time and time again, for nothing. “Help me, I’m disappearing…” and all we can offer, all we can say, is a hope rendered tender with a lie. (David Murrieta)

24) Oceansize - Oscar Acceptance Speech
Oceansize’s latest album took a lot of the band's fans by surprise with the shorter track lengths, more restrained songwriting, and increased focus on melody. However, it is the longest track on the album that definitely steals the show. “Oscar Acceptance Speech” brings to mind such classics as “Ornament/The Last Wrongs” and “Music for a Nurse” but avoids the epic ending and goes for the more minimal and emotionally vulnerable approach. The track is an ode to flow and beautiful songwriting, as every single word uttered and layer added makes a world of difference in the overall scheme of things. The heavy section is perfectly placed, the vocal harmonies are rich, and the ending of reverbed strings and piano leaves the listener in a state of contemplation. A complete work in and of itself, and one that demands the attention and acclaim of anyone lucky enough to hear it, "Oscar Acceptance Speech" is as perfect a song as any this year. (Mohammed Ashraf)

23) Oneohtrix Point Never - Nil Admirari
“Nil Admirari” starts with a mechanical birth, with the primal, electronic roar of a computer demon that fires its machine gun breath toward a clear soundscape of peaceful drone. The contrast is unnerving and attractive, noisy and yet harmonious, a shriek of pain and pleasure that is one of the year’s best aural descriptors of the sublime. Its improv-like structure subverts any expectations of unending walls of noise or blissful ambient, pushing the track ever farther into the domain of mad psychedelics, of magical disruptions and dark science; as an introduction, it turns us to a world of tainted electronica, of a calm technological nightmare in which we no longer recognize ourselves without those weird blips, without those soothing hums, without all those retro-futuristic symbols that sustain our dreams of utopia. (David Murrieta)

22) The Monroe Transfer - Goodbye, Faithful Kingdom!
When an album arrives sewn into a pouch, one hopes it is going to be something pretty darn special. And Trials is exactly that: a mixture of the exuberant and experimental, liberally laced with post-rock flavors, and never more effective than on the stellar opening track. A cello base starts things off, low and languid, setting the stage for an entrance of violins. Their counter-melodies elevate the track into the arena of yearning and hope. Each time we conclude that the track has reached its apex, another stringed instrument is laid on top, until by the end we are whirled from the dungeon into the large open entrance atop the moat, and into the fields beyond. (Richard Allen)

21) The Ascent of Everest - Return to Us
Nashville’s The Ascent of Everest earned its place in our music libraries back in 2006 with its freshmen full-length and returned this year to remind us not to give up on a somewhat tried and tired breed of music. Set after a whispering three minute introductory piece, the track instantly reminds us of something forgotten, something lost in the shuffle of excess and the shallow search for pristine newness. It embarks with percussion that does not swell so much as state itself in full form from the onset; something from which everything else, like quickening orchestral strings and oscillating vocal harmonies, are nurtured and then let loose on their own after a cohesive fruition is reached. The effort becomes a call back to what once was—a yank to the primitive—where one can listen and internally sway to a six and a half minute reminder of how good it can feel to be lost in the undercurrents of great post-rock. (Jon Brooks)


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 | 10-1