Best of 2011 Day 1: Ethan's Top 10

It's finally here! We've reached the end of yet another year, and as is the custom it's now our duty to try and make some sort of sense of the good, the bad and the outright ugly and put it all into list form for your consumption. Why do we do this? A need for some sense of order? A byproduct of our secret desire to have bands fight it out Hunger Games style for the title of SUPREME MUSICAL OVERLORDS of the year? Who knows.  

Now, here at ChunkyGlasses, we all have some wildly varying tastes. Sure there is a common ground, but the phrase "what in the f@#$" has been thrown around quite a bit this year (more often than not by me) as we've made our journey through the musical landscape that 2011 has presented us with. With that in mind you won't ever see an absolute top 10 list. We like too many types of music for that. Instead we're going to give you our individual lists and let you take from that what you will.

So let's get to it. First up we have Ethan's list for the best albums of the year.

Hope you've got your dancin' shoes on.

- Kevin

#10: EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

Grungey, dark, emotional and hard hitting.  EMA takes her time, this is an unrushed album so full of slow builders that it is hard to believe that it is only 37 minutes long.  At times the pacing is maybe even a little too slow.

Synthpop on the Rocks: Ladytron @ The 9:30 Club - 10/11/11

Words: Ethan   Photos: Kevin

My first exposure to Ladytron was around 2003, when I was firmly in the clutches of the electro-house surge that accompanied the electroclash boom of the same time.  In that moment, Ladytron's Light and Magic seemed to me to be so tight, so timely, and just so right.  Unfortunately I lost track of Ladytron after that.  So, years later, having rediscovered the band, imagine my surprise that not only had they survived The Great Electroclash Wave of Aught-3, but that in 2003 their best work was actually yet to come.  Catching myself up since then, I've developed a deep appreciation for their tight production, strong sense of groove, and icy aesthetic.

This is all by way of saying that I was excited to see Ladytron perform live for the first time on Tuesday, October 22, 2011 at the 9:30 Club.  Ultimately, while I wasn't disappointed, I certainly wasn't blown away either.

Ladytron's fifteen song (including encore) set touched on each of its LPs, with the heaviest focus being placed on Gravity the Seducer (4 songs) and Witching Hour (5 songs!).   Unlike in some previous Ladytron tours, there were no guitars in this stage setup.  Instead, all four band members (Daniel Hunt, Reuben Wu, and singers Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo) parked themselves in front of an arrangement of synthesizers, while being admirably supported only by a live drummer.  The technical execution by the band was essentially flawless, and the live drumming added  a tremendous amount to the sound, supplying a much needed element of excitement in contrast with Ladytron's carefully cultivated aloofness.

Review: Ladytron - Gravity the Seducer

At moments while listening to Gravity the Seducer, Ladytron’s fifth full length studio release, I can’t help but feel like the sinner on the day of the Rapture: left behind. While there are productions on this album that exceed anything else Ladytron has done in terms of complexity, structure, and fullness of sound (see the truly epic “Ambulances,” which builds from a sparse beat and ethereal vocal into a full-body rocker), I’m unfortunately left with the feeling that Ladytron might be outgrowing me, and that’s a little sad. Ladytron’s Daniel Hunt has stated that he considers this the group’s “most perfect” record to date. While I wouldn’t presume to argue the point with him, I expect that I won’t be the only fan of their previous work left scratching his head at times by this latest release.