25. Shrinebuilder—s/t (Neurot) The advance word on the Shrinebuilder sessions (almost a year ago this week!) was that something really special had gone down between Crover, Wino, Cisneros and Kelly. The hype turns out to be reality, as Shrinebuilder delivers a perfect blend of all the participants’ bands. Sounds like everybody brought riffs to the table and put some serious thought into piecing them together. This was the holy mountain for stoner/doom fans this year.
24. Makajodama—s/t (Laser’s Edge) The archetypal “stunning debut” from this Swedish instrumental outfit that bridges Canterbury and Krautrock and post-rock (an increasingly useless label that I’m beginning to despise), creating a tasteful-yet-rambunctious sound that time travels somewhere between 1969 and 2009.
23. Clutch—Strange Cousins from the West (Weathermaker) After releasing a raft of killer albums last decade, Clutch were rewarded by having their record company go tits up. Clutch still have a full tank of gas, though. They dropped the keyboards that threatened to turn them into a jam band, especially in a live setting. Strange Cousins... is back to basics while still honing that heavy blues style they’ve pursued since Blast Tyrant. “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” should find a place in the set list from here on in.
22. Kylesa—Static Tensions (Prosthetic) Warpig had a number called “Melody With Balls,” which is a daft title (hey, it was 1970), but the phrase sums up the last Kylesa album very well. Review here.
21. Upsilon Acrux—Radian Futura (Cuneiform) I remember seeing (probably in a mid-70s vintage World Book “Science Year” volume) a picture of a web spun by a spider on LSD. That’s how I visualize Upsilon Acrux songs...at first. After many listens all the micro-sections start to flow together into a logical whole. It’s still pretty twisted logic, mind you, and I’m sure Radian Futura, with its half-hour centrepiece "Transparent Seas (Radio Edit)," will always be a challenging listen. Someday I’d like to figure it all out, but right now I treasure my job, my 6 to 7 hours of nightly sleep, eating, and being married.