Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

I wasn't planning on uploading anything until January, but I got a hold of this and I figured I should probably upload it to the blog. John Darnielle, the nucleus of The Mountain Goats, is a fantastic songwriter and storyteller. As much as I enjoy his work, I will say that Get Lonely, his 2006 release, put me to sleep. In comparison, Heretic Pride is like a shot of adrenaline, and is in every way unlike any prior release from The Mountain Goats. Darnielle incorporates a full band for the majority of the record, and a few of these tracks sound downright aggressive. Worth checking out if you're a fan of the group, but if you haven't heard The Mountain Goats yet I'd suggest starting with some of the older lo-fi records.

- Steve

Download Heretic Pride

Friday, December 21, 2007

Best Albums of 2007

Welcome to the very first (and hopefully not the last) OngakuBaka Top 10 albums of the year list. Before we jump right in to our picks, I’ll explain the guidelines for the selection process.

1. These records are in no particular order.
2. No live records, “Best of” collections, box sets, or re-issues. The albums chosen had to be material released in 2007. Yes, we know that Black Mountain record is awesome but it doesn’t drop until 2008, so it didn’t make the cut.
3. Like our top 5 album covers of ’07 list, this is a joint effort. If Dan and I didn’t agree that an album deserved to make the cut, it didn’t make the list.
4. And yes, we know we cheated a little.

Things like this always come with criticism, but don’t badger us because you’re pissed that we left that shitty Interpol record off of the list, or a variety of other things that didn’t deserve the praise that they received this year.

With that said, here are our honorable mentions for 2007:

Pissed Jeans - Hope for Men
White Stripes - Icky Thump
Health - s/t
Jesu – Conqueror
High On Fire - Death Is This Communion
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
Adult. - Why Bother?
The Ponys - Turn the Lights Out
His Name Is Alive - XMMER
Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
The National - Boxer
Radiohead - In Rainbows
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
Phosphorescent – Pride
Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals
The Ohsees - Sucks Blood
Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm
Caribou – Andorra
Frode Haltli - Passing Images

…and now without further ado, the top 10 records of 2007:

1. Liars - Liars

I don't even know what to say about this album, other than it rules. Any fan of the band knows that each release has sounded drastically different from the last. Their sound (for this album) has progressed into a perfect mixture of all previous albums, with solid song structure, strangely danceable songs, ghostly vocals, organ/synth showcases, and, of course, the usual experimentation. A good variety of tracks here.

2. Numbers - Now You Are This

...similar to their 2005 release in ways, but with a louder Krautrock influence. Sounds a little like the huggable vocals/guitar rhythms of Deerhoof mixed with a louder version of the incessant buzz heard on any Broadcast album. You'll like it a little more after each listen.

3. The Go - Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride

The bands coming out of Detroit these days seem to be perpetually stuck in the year 1969, which is just fine by me. Howl On the Haunted Beat You Ride is a fun little throwback pop rock record, and most of these songs wouldn't sound out of place on a Nuggets compilation. This is some great warm weather music, and definitely worth a download.

4. Raccoo-oo-oon - Behold Secret Kingdom

This album has the potential to be the best psych-whatever album of 2007. With droning guitars, blaring saxophone, and reverb drenched vocals, Raccoo-oo-oon's sound has developed into something truly interesting. Imagine Comets on Fire, Acid Mothers Temple, and a harsher Animal Collective in a 3-way of epic proportions. If you're looking for an album that is capable of holding your attention, or for something that makes you feel incredibly badass while cruising in your car, than this album has your melted face written all over it.

5. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam + Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Warning: Before you listen to this album, throw out every expectation you may have. Ignore previous albums and side projects. There's no doubt this is AC, and standing alone, this album is wonderful, but listeners expecting to hear something that lives up to the greatness of Feels (for example: me) will be thoroughly disappointed. I'm currently on my second spin of the record, and, fortunately, it is already growing on me. It almost sounds like an adolescent version of Feels, with a strange innocence to both it's lyrics as well as it's sound.

Download Strawberry Jam

According to, "The third solo album fron Animal Collective's Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) is completely unlike its predecessor, as it is both upbeat and electronic, sounding like a spacey, 21st century Beach Boys album."

Download Person Pitch.

6. King Khan & The Shrines - What Is?! + Mark Sultan - The Sultanic Versus

The problem with the entire garage rock genre is that most bands are derivative as hell; completely content with stealing some riffs from The Sonics and then calling it a day. King Khan and his many side projects may not be the most original music you'll ever hear, but Khan is light years ahead of his contemporaries. He seems to be heavily influenced by not only British invasion R&B acts like The Kinks and The Animals, but groups like Funkadelic and Sly Stone, as well as Motown. Overall this record (and the same goes for King Khan's 2004 release with The Shrines, Mr. Supernatural) is a lot of fun and really catchy. If you haven't already, make sure to download The King Khan & BBQ show record I posted a few months back too.

Mark Sultan (a.k.a BBQ of the King Khan & BBQ Show) is gradually becoming one of my favorite songwriters in quite a while. His blend of rock & roll, punk, R&B, and surf music is nearly flawless. The one man band has delivered another rock solid album that, although isn't quite as good as his work with King Khan, is entirely killer.

7. A.A. Bondy - American Hearts

Talk about a huge surprise, this album came out of nowhere and haven't been able to stop listening to it for almost a week now. A.A. Bondy is Scott Bondy, former frontman of the mildly successful and utterly forgettable band Verbena. Apparently the guys in Verbena were really holding Scott down because his first solo outing, American Hearts is absolutely incredible. Bondy plays well crafted folk tunes with sparse arrangements that really allow his great lyrics to be at the forefront of the songs. I could not recommend this record enough, it's really the sort of record that you could play for almost anyone and they'd enjoy it. Download this immediately and then go out and buy ten copies and give them to your friends.

8. A Place to Bury Strangers - A Place to Bury Strangers

Shoegaze of the late 80s and early 90s is back with a vengeance. A Place to Bury Strangers are the self-proclaimed loudest band in New York, and I doubt there is anyone out there who would dispute their claim. The band's frontman custom builds his own "Supersonic Fuzz Gun", "Interstellar Overdriver", and "Total Sonic Annihilation" pedals which are used by bands such as Lightning Bolt, Wilco, and TV on the Radio. What makes the band so great is that they aren't loud for the sake of being loud. Underneath the layers of reverberated sound is some incredibly catchy tunes. Their self-titled debut is one of the best, if not THE best release of 2007, and an essential addition to my record collection.

Download A Place to Bury Strangers

9. The Besnard Lakes - Are the Dark Horse

It's hard to deny how good this band actually is. Their comparisons to Arcade Fire was an immediate turn-off for me and I never bothered to download the album (well that and the fact that I would always mistakingly read their name as "The Barenaked Ladies"). Well, after seeing the badass album cover, I thought I would give it a try, and this is really good stuff. A mixture of The Beach Boys, Olivia Tremor Control, and Black Mountain would be more appropriate comparisons. Just because they are from Montreal, have a piano, and are led by a married couple, doesn't mean they deserve to be compared to such a band. With their more inviting vocals and catchier hooks, they have solidified Arcade Fire as an incredibly boring band. So if you're a part of the Arcade Fire bandwagon, hop off that one and head over to The Besnard Lakes'. The track "Devastation" makes this album well worth the listen.

10. Boris with Michio Kiruhara - Rainbow

After getting a chance to see Boris and Michio down in Ohio, I started listening to this album pretty religiously. Only a few tracks pack the punch of releases such as Pink, Heavy Rocks, and Akuma No Uta, but Boris and Michio Kurihara have created a well-polished psych rock album in the vein of Michio's band Ghost.

Download Rainbow

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Top 5 Album Covers of 2007

Not much to write here, these things sort of speak for themselves. The rules for this list are simple:

  1. These are in no particular order
  2. The records had to be released in 2007 (I suppose this is obvious)
  3. This is a combined list, so Dan and I had to agree on every selection in order for it to be eligible for the list
  4. The majority of these records are actually really good, but audible turds in pretty packages are still eligible for the list.

The Besnard Lakes - …Are the Dark Horse

World's End Girlfriend – Hurtbreak Wonderland

Menomena – Friend and Foe

The Angelic Process – Weighing Souls with Sand

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O – Acid Motherly Love

The OngakuBaka Christmas Extravaganza

Sufjan Stevens - Songs For Christmas

A nice five disc set with plenty of interesting takes on Christmas classics as well as some original compositions. This is a good alternative to the standard Time Life Christmas album fare.

Download Vol. I

Download Vol. II

Download Vol. III

Download Vol. IV

Download Vol. V

My Morning Jacket - Does Christmas Fiasco Style EP

This might be one of the only Christmas records that I could listen to at any point during the year and not get annoyed. A couple of original tunes as well as a Nick Cave cover and an Elvis cover. If you're a fan of MMJ, you'll love this.

Download Does Christmas Fiasco Style EP

The Beatles - Fan Club Christmas Albums '63-'69

Every year before Christmas The Beatles would hit the studio and then hit the bong so that they could send out a special holiday record to the members of their fan club. While actual songs are often few and far between, the amusing rambling and storytelling make these a worthwhile download.

Download Fan Club Christmas Albums '63-'69

V.A. - Reggae Christmas From Studio One

The problem with Christmas albums is that most Christmas albums suck ass. So when we got a request for a reggae/dub Christmas record, I had a hell of a time tracking down something decent. For those of you who don't know, Studio One is the reggae equivalent to Motown records, pumping out the best that the genre had to offer. With that in mind, this is probably your best bet for some Jamaican inspired Christmas tunes.

Download Reggae Christmas From Studio One

- Steve

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Pink Mountaintops - S/T


I certainly prefer Black Mountain, but I certainly enjoy Pink Mountaintops. Although 2006s Axis of Evol is also an enjoyable album, it's pretty easy to come across on other blogs or file sharing programs, so I figured I'd post the 2004 seft-titled release. This release also sounds the most Black Mountain-ish, only with sexually frustrated lyrics. Cum on blouses, 69ers, and sex with mountains? Good stuff.

- Dan

Download The Pink Mountaintops

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Clikatat Ikatowi - Orchestrated & Conducted By

Clikatat Ikatowi just might be one of the best bands you've never heard. During their brief existence in the mid-90's these guys apparently put on a legendary live show. I couldn't tell you from first hand experience (shit, I was probably 12 when they broke up), but I will say that this LP is still a great example of their explosive energy. Mario Rubalcaba (who now plays in The Black Heart Procession) is one of the best drummers to ever sit behind a kit, and Scott Bartoloni (formerly of Heroin) is almost equally impressive on guitar. This album is one giant crescendo after another of anxiety and nervous energy that absolutely pummels the listener, but never at the expense of song structure. Technically impressive, undeniably catchy, highly recommended.

- Steve

Download Orchestrated & Conducted By

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The New Sound of Numbers - Liberty Seeds

I had been searching for this entire album for quite some time now, and finally came across it about a week or so ago. I had heard three or four tracks, and knew they had connections to Circulatory System and the Elephant Six collective, so was anxious to hear the rest. It was released in October of last year, and is pretty much everything I had hoped it would be. Reminds me of the slightly awkward and out-of-tune but equally awesome sound of the late 60s/early 70s from bands like Silver Apple, Fifty Foot Hose, and Soft Machine. Don't mistake their looping rhythms for repetition, treat the vocals as simply another instrument, and prepare yourself for an aural acid trip.

- Dan

Download Liberty Seeds

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals

I never bothered to upload this when it first came out becasue it was pretty widespread when it first leaked, but I'm running out of enjoyable 2007 releases to share. When I read that they described their own sound as "Middle Eastern-Psych-Pop-Snap-Gospel" I was a little leary. Perhaps it would be more appropraite for them to describe their sound as fucking sweet. After the initial shock, it took about a half-second for their sound to grow on me, and it turns out their description is exactly right. Whether you enjoy it or not, it's hard to believe this is the bands debut album. They have a very well developed sound that will easily stick in your memory. For fans of the Phosphorescent record I posted a while back, and most certainly Animal Collective.

- Dan

Download All Hour Cymbals

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Storsveit Nix Noltes - Orkideur Hawai

Although I don't listen to Balkan/Eastern European music hardly at all, I've always appreciated the genuine sound of groups like A Hawk and A Hacksaw and this band from Iceland. Grap a partner, break that Beirut album in half, drink some vodka, and get fucking crazy. Now check out these incredibly hammered dudes acting incredibly homosexual in this strange video I came across entitled "Balkan Nipple Dance"...

- Dan

Download Orkideur Hawai