The ATH Top 50 Albums of 2015

Albums ListYear-end lists are everywhere…and I can see why they’re important to people. But, seeing as we generally walk off the beaten path more often than not, our list of the Top 50 Albums of 2015 is in no particular order, save alphabetically. It seems pointless to rank one piece of art higher than another, especially when the four of us at ATH all have varying tastes. We just put this list together of the albums we loved the most this year. Are we saying they’re better than records by Grimes or Kendrick Lamar? No, we’re just saying that these are the records we loved more than others. So, you can read on for what we thought was hot.

Also…put links to individual stores where you can buy the albums from the bands…as that’s how we all survive in this music world.
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The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door

The-Black-Ryder-The-Door-Behind-The-DoorRating: ★★★★½

The Black Ryder consists of Aimee Nash and Scott Von Ryper, who hail from Australia, but have recently relocated to L.A. Back in 2009 they released their first album, Buy The Ticket, which earned them some recognition as they premiered their self-proclaimed “rhinestone drone dark rock” music. The Door Behind The Door is a dramatic and gorgeous exploration of this genre, complete with standout tracks as well as an intensifying growth over the course of its duration.

If you were to listen to the first and last track of this record, you would be mystified as how one could lead to the other. Opener “Babylon” is a swirling and twisted slow core jam, complete with heavily distorted guitars that rip through the mix for a brief introduction. Then the band moves into their sweet spot: a sometimes-hazy wall of dark sound comprised of detailed and alarmingly subtle nuances that move you. Take one of my favorite numbers, “Let Me Be Your Light” for example. This number slinks in with its whirring sound and slowly takes off, the transparent vocals of Aimee Nash giving the whole number a juxtaposition between the lightness of her voice and the heaviness of the instrumentation. Infectious, deeply moving, well crafted, this song, as well as the rest of the numbers, hit you in a place you didn’t even know existed.

By the end of the album, there’s an overall shift from the heavy rock that The Black Ryder rolls in with to a beautiful and elegant refined orchestral sound; the very opposite of the historical progression of these genres. However, this transition feels nothing but natural and right for the band, as even when they dwell on the noisier side of things, there are signs of this elegance that creeps into the mix even in the beginning of the album. Like a well crafted novel or movie, upon second or third listen all the way through, you notice these subtle moments of foreshadowing embedded in the mix on moments like “Let Me Be Your Light.” Once you revisit the album, these moments become ever more apparent, calling your attention to the precision and intricacy that this band have done so well. When you reach the stirring last number, “La Dernier Sommeil (The Final Sleep),” you are ready for the tune, but still overwhelmed by its instrumental grace and fluidity.

The Door Behind The Door is a sprawling, constantly changing and progressing work from this duo that resembles a walk down a winding path, one which continuously gives you a breathtaking view with each curve you round. At 54 minutes in length, it begs you to simply sit down and do nothing but listen, letting the music wash over you in waves, though if you’re not careful it’ll sweep you away in the best possible way.

 

Continuing Love Affair with The Black Ryder

blackPretty sure this is the umteenth time I’ve written about The Black Ryder, and if they release a single for every song on their new LP, then I’m going to write about it.  There are parts of the album that have this shimmering shoegaze, but there are other pieces that unleash this hazy beauty, like the track below. It’s a really drawn out track, sprawling with this floating melody for just over 4 minutes.  As if my love wasn’t enough, the band has been awarded the opening slot on some of the JAMC tour dates, so people are taking notice of the act.  Look for the Door Behind the Door on February 24th via the Anti-Machine Machine.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/04-let-me-be-your-light.mp3]

Download: The Black Ryder – Let Me Be Your Light [MP3]

Another Tune from The Black Ryder

unnamed (1)I’ve hit up the Black Ryder before, but today’s the day where I really hope you fall in love with the band. My favorite part of this song is the restraint shown in the carefully crafted atmospherics that back the tune; you could easily turn things up volume wise and make the track twice (or three times) as noisy.  But, in holding back, they provided the perfect space for the gentle coo of Aimee Nash, who maintains this incredible softness within.  It allows for the song to really reach the next level.  They’ll release The Door Behind the Door on February 24th via the Anti-Machine Machine.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/185609823″ params=”color=ff9900&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Touch of the Gaze from The Black Ryder

blackieThere are a ton of artists that have been able to rehash the shoegaze efforts, and some have done it quite well, though my ear thinks that this tune from The Black Ryder is precisely what I think of when I recall the genre.  Guitars craft this huge wall of sound that wraps itself tightly around the dense haze of Aimee Nash’s vocals.  That wall of noise echoes and rings while a deep drum beat pounds in the far off world the band created.  Look for them to release their new effort, The Door Behind the Door, on The Anti Machine Machine on February 24th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Santaria.mp3]

Download: The Black Ryder – Santaria [MP3]