More than a bit later than I had originally intended, but it's here all the same; my usual roundup of monthly tracks for October. Aren't you excited?? ...that's okay, I probably wouldn't be all that excited either. In any case, let's get on with it; and as usual, please feel free to suggest anything I may have missed.
Crystal Castles and Robert Smith - Not in Love
This is one where I am yet to hear anybody express a disliking for; it feels like Smith's vocals couldn't possibly be more well placed throughout the shuffling verse, but when that bright, overpowering chorus hits, it somehow sounds even better. While their second LP from earlier this year definitely proved the duo to be more than the flash in the pan act their debut made them seem to be, this ridiculously captivating collaboration has proven them to be quite a growing force in the indie electronica field.
Kno - La Petite Mort (Come Die with Me)
On Kno's solo debut, he masterfully combines a storyteller-like flow reminiscent of Atmosphere's Slug with the emotional, heartfelt subject matter of Kid Cudi - except he succeeds far better than Cudi ever did, with this track being a prime example. Over a dark yet seductive beat, Kno examines death (in one of the many shades taken throughout his consistently impressive album, Death Is Silent) without once coming across as self-pitying or shortsighted, always offering insight and always explaining why he feels what he feels, and is thinking what he's thinking. With a flow, beat, and lyrics this good, it's a wonder why he hasn't taken off.
Be My Enemy - Disintegration
Another solo debut, this time from Phil Barry (half of the mighty industrial unit Cubanate from the late 90s), caught my ear in October, and it's a fuckin' scorcher. It may not be anything particularly new, but This Is the New Wave (and Disintegration especially) is a stomping, furious affair that is going to be every good industrial DJ's secret weapon for some time.
Digitalism - Stratosphere
While the electro duo's long awaited new single Blitz has been met with mixed reactions (and I personally found it painfully average), its parent EP of the same name is also home to the delightful Stratosphere. Gentle, hazy, and toying with its layers just enough to keep its simple elements interesting all throughout its length, this is a fun and downright euphoric house-y jam that's got my faith in the group still going strong.
Agalloch - The Watcher's Monolith
"Epic" is a term thrown around far too liberally these days, but it's always been closely associated to this progressive black/folk/post/whatever-you-want-to-call-it metal group, and appropriately so. Not only is this typically long (clocking in at an anything but lean twelve minutes), but offers such depth that each listening gives a new perspective, and a song of this length that is able to ceaselessly grow on you deserves quite a lot of credit. An excellent set-up that threatens to meander but never does, a blasting, raging midsection, and a beautiful, piano led conclusion. Great stuff.
Sufjan Stevens - I Want to Be Well
It's a wonderful thing when an artist capably moves on past their trademark sound, but it's even better when they create a bridge of sorts and blend their previous element with the new - and that's exactly what Sufjan Stevens (someone else who is no stranger to the "Epic" tag) does on I Want to Be Well. The woodwinds battling against the subdued, almost danceable glitches on this track could be one of the best musical moments of the year for me, it's just so cleverly implemented that it becomes one of those songs where you're baffled by the idea of someone not liking it. For anybody underwhelmed with the All Delighted People EP, this glorious standout off of The Age of Adz should be a breath of fresh air.
Trophy Scars - Sad Stanley
Post-Hardcore has become a very large blanket term for bands embracing hardcore's energy, but Trophy Scars just might embody the very term with their new EP. Dropping the punk tendencies in favor of bluesy jams, jazzy playing styles, and progressive song structures, but maintaining that aggression has made their latest release an endlessly fascinating one. Sad Stanley finds them taking on blues quite strongly, but without sounding like anything but a hardcore band with more ideas than any one group could possibly have. It's the perfect representative of Darkness, Oh Hell.
Skrillex - Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Speaking of bursting at the seams with ideas, Skrillex's latest release offers an ungodly meld of beautiful melodies and a downright filthy wobble, registering somewhere in between dubstep and house. Considering that this is barely even a mid-tempo track, the sheer energy it gives off is insane, boasting relentless glitches and some the deepest, dirtiest synths around.
Ulcerate - Dead Oceans
Any death metal fan who is unfamiliar with these guys needs to be formally acquainted ASAP, and Dead Oceans is a great example of why. Off of their highly anticipated new album to be released in early 2011, Oceans is both blistering and groovy, with some of the best and most intricate drumming you're going to hear in this genre (which is admittedly is a claim and a half, but still). Rousing beyond belief all throughout its seven minutes, and a bit more straight-forward than their previous album, it's got me looking forward to what's coming next.
Deadmau5 - Sofi Needs a Ladder
The house community is teeming with anticipation over Deadmau5's upcoming compilation 4x4=12, and its first official single has only heightened the sentiment. While there is a bit of a difference in opinion over Sofia Toufa's rather in-your-face vocal performance (with many fans preferring the original instrumental, You Need a Ladder), there's no argument that the beat is spectacular. Starting out with pounding psychedelia that gives way to Joel Zimmerman's trademark thick, dirty sounding bass, Ladder is a damned exciting track, one that frankly makes me feel as though I could use a ladder myself.