Twenty Years In Music – Part Five

Here it is. The finale of this weeks blog detailing my favourite album from every year I have been alive. So far I have traveled from 1993 to 2008, just leaving 2009 to 2012 to cover. 2013 is still an open competition, producing some amazing albums already from the likes of Tesseract, Steven Wilson, Karnivool and Biffy Clyro.

2009: The XX – ‘XX’

There were so many options I had to whittle down my original shortlist into an even shorter list before I could decide. In the end I decided that the debut album The XX just outshone the fierce and varied competition. Amongst that competition were Rodrigo y Gabriela, Biffy Clyro, Karnivool and Lamb Of God. A very honourable mention has to go to Steven Wilson for both Porcupine Tree’s tenth studio effort and his first solo album, which, if Wilson hadn’t already appeared three times, would probably get this spot.

The XX’s debut is one of the most original albums I have ever heard, turning bright pop melodies and electronic beats into a dark, atmospheric album, that makes you want to cry and dance at the same time. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim share vocal duties, often using them to create a dialogue across the band, shown perfectly on ‘Infinity’. ‘Islands’ showcases the bands abilities at their best; combining both uplifting and mellow sections with beautiful vocal duets.

2010: Deftones – ‘Diamond Eyes’

‘Diamond Eyes’ is an album made by a band with a reignited purpose and direction, and as a result, was almost unanimously acclaimed. Deftones, as discussed in a previous blog, are probably the nu metal band that is going strongest a decade on, reinventing themselves twice, once with 2000’s ‘White Pony’ and again with 2010’s ‘Diamond Eyes’.

There are no weak tracks on the album; each a valuable slice of Deftones’ unique metal sound, offering thumping guitar riffs and effect laden dreamy passages in the same song. Vocalist Chino Moreno is able to follow the guitars, using both screams and a beautiful clean voice to good effect. Deftones have progressed a long way since their rough and confused debut ‘Adrenaline’ and have continued to impress with 2012’s ‘Koi No Yokan’.

2011: The Pineapple Thief – ‘Someone Here Is Missing’

I knew exactly what album would be here before I’d even written 1993’s choice. The Pineapple Thief’s eighth full length effort saw the band, which is led by multi-instrumentalist Bruce Soord, finally break into media recognition. This album is the most radical sound change they have ever undergone, opting for a more electronic-based rock similar to the likes of Radiohead, turning away from their standard, mellow, progressive sound.

Unusually, most tracks are under five minutes, with the band opting for more traditional song structures, whilst still keeping many of their progressive aspects shown best in ‘Preparation For Meltdown’ and ‘So We Row’. ‘Someone Here Is Missing’ makes use of a lot of keyboards and synths, often allowing them to become the main driving force of certain sections found in ‘Nothing At Best’ and ‘Show A Little Love’. If this record was released by either Muse or Radiohead, it would be one of the most highly celebrated albums of the year and probably go straight to number one, it’s just a shame that The Pineapple Thief are still relatively small.

2012: Anathema – ‘Weather Systems’

Anathema started life as a doom metal band, yet these days play a very ethereal progressive rock, much like peers Katatonia (not to be confused with the Welsh, Cerys Matthews fronted, Catatonia). ‘Weather Systems’ is an album based around a suite of five songs of the same name, sandwiched between with the two parted ‘Untouchable’ and two other songs.

The album is carried mainly by rich orchestration, acoustic guitars and piano; the rock aspect of their music barely surfacing. Vincent Cavanagh, Daniel Cavanagh and Lee Douglas all share vocal duties, producing beautiful vocal harmonies on top of the incredibly well written music. ‘The Storm Before The Calm’ is a nine minute epic, showing off both of their sides, beginning as a haunting rock track, before transforming into a beautiful ending. The last two tracks ‘The Lost Child’ and ‘Internal landscapes’ feel slightly out of place on the album, as they are when the band produce long, winding progressive tracks, which juxtaposes against the seven other, more focused pieces. Nevertheless ‘Weather Systems’ is still a brilliant record.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this blog please like, comment and subscribe to email updates. The previous four parts are linked below:

Part One: https://rockatlantic.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/twenty-years-in-music-part-one/

Part Two: https://rockatlantic.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/twenty-years-in-music-part-two/

Part Three: https://rockatlantic.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/twenty-years-in-music-part-three/

Part Four: https://rockatlantic.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/twenty-years-in-music-part-four/

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