Best of the Decade: Michael Mitchell’s Top Twenty Albums

Best of the Decade: Michael Mitchell’s Top Twenty Albums

To celebrate the end of the decade throughout this week we are sharing personal lists of our twenty best albums from between 2010-2019. Starting with Michael Mitchell’s list below.

  • Beach House – Bloom (Bella Union, 2012)

    All I can remember thinking when I first heard a track from this album was, “What 4AD band is this and why have I never heard it before?” I was somewhat right since this came out on Ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union label. Sheer dream-pop brilliance. Top tracks = Lazuli, Myth, Wishes

  • Bear’s Den – Red Earth & Pouring Rain (Communion Records, 2016)

    This is an album that I never skip a track on. It’s also an album that I have played at least once a week since it came out and I don’t think that will stop anytime soon. Emotional and witty lyrics combined with sharp well produced instrumentation create an immensely pleasurable album. Top tracks = Dew on the Vine, Gabriel, Emeralds

    1. Big Bliss – At Middle Distance (Exit Stencil Recordings, 2018)

      The saviors of NYC RnR. This album lives in my soul. The Race brothers & Co. have given us such memorable hooks and goosebumps in a little over a 40 minute span that you can see how it will last forever in you. Song after song, it only gets better and better. I simply cannot recommend this enough. Top tracks = Answer, Constants, Richard Race

    2. Black Marble – It’s Immaterial (Ghostly International, 2016)

      Every time I play this album I get so many different sensations that flow through me. Somehow Chris Stewart has created music that forms it’s own beautiful head space where you can live alternatively for a few minutes and come back unwilling to accurately describe the experience for fear your words cannot sum up the beauty. Those who know, know. Top tracks = Collene, Frisk, Woods

    1. Body of Light – Time to Kill (Dais Records, 2019)

      This hit me over the head like a brick and said, “Remember when music like this ruled the world?” It’s time for it to again and this should be the album to usher it back. The Jarson brothers have created the top album of 2019 and it should not be ignored. Their blend of Gothic\Dream\Synth\Punk\Coldwave is infectious, danceable and slinky but best of all, fun to sing along to! Top Tracks = Don’t Pretend, Violent Days, Fear

    1. BECOMING///ANIMAL – A Distant Hand Lifted (Trost Records, 2017)

      Gordon Sharp (a.k.a. Cinder) can do no wrong in my eyes. Whether crooning on This Mortal Coil songs, belting out rage on early CINdYTALK or making my fillings vibrate with the high pitched frequency experiments that band would later export. It was no wonder when I learned of his latest venture with bassist Massimo Pupillo as BECOMING///ANIMAL that I would be excited. It defied every expectation, especially as he sings throughout the album. Something which he’s not done on a CINdYTALK release in quite a few years. There are four long, ringing, dark, brooding tracks here that always leave me wanting more. It’s a gift I’ll always cherish. Top tracks = When the Night Loses Itself, Doorway to the Sky

    1. Death Valley Girls – Darkness Rains (Suicide Squeeze, 2018)

      In an age where so many people have forgotten the actual heart and soul of what it means to not only play Rock and Roll but what it represents, thank God there is Death Valley Girls. They are the real deal and it doesn’t take much to figure that out. Just drop the needle here on their third album and you will feel what real rock music is. Larry Schemel’s guitar shines as bright as Bonnie Bloomgarden’s voice and a solid rhythm section of Nicole “Pickle” Smith on bass and Laura “The Kid” Kelsey on drums (with some help from Ex-Hex’s Laura Harris on drums too) who tie it all together. Listen to danger again. Top tracks = More Dead, Disaster (Is What We’re After), Abre Camino

    2. Drab Majesty – The Demonstration (Dais Records, 2017)

      Some albums just change your life. In my case there are quite a few but each one changed it in some significant way I don’t need to get into here. However, I feel like everyone I’ve turned on to this album have had it change them in some way. Whether there is some magick in the grooves or not, this band has hit upon a sound where Goth meets Synth-Pop and they gang up on Dream-Pop and turn it into a Heaven’s Gate drone. It has to be heard to be believed and even after hearing, you may not believe it. But you’ll keep going back. Top Tracks = Dot in the Sky, Cold Sould, 39 by Design

    3. Roky Erickson and Okkervil River – True Love Cast Out All Evil (Chemikal Underground, 2010)

      We lost this pioneer of psychedelia this year and he will never be forgotten. Not only for the small but influential body of work he made with The Thirteenth Floor Elevators but all that followed in the wake of them, especially this album. His voice is so pure, so weathered, so soulful here. Captured like no other work he produced before or until his untimely end. An album to be experienced, not merely listened to. Top tracks = Ain’t Blues Too Sad, True Love Cast Out All Evil, Birds’d Crash

    4. Eyeless in Gaza – Everyone Feels Like a Stranger (Ambivalent Scale Recordings, 2011)

      Formed in 1980 by Martyn Bates and Peter Becker, the Nuneaton duo have released music that defies classification as mere Post-Punk or New Wave. It’s a style all their own. Martyn’s voice makes angels weep and Peter’s multi-faceted instrumentation creates timeless classics. Showing no sign of slowing down, this album (with a little help from Martyn’s wife Elizabeth S.) instantly became a favorite because of it’s consistent delivery of songs that stick to the soul. British music simply does not get better than them and this is the top jewel in their crown. Top Tracks = Childhood Knives, Dance of Hours, Endless Trees

    5. German Army – Mangas Coloradas (Muzan Editions, 2018)

      The California duo of Peter Kris and Norm Heston consistently deliver astounding modern Industrial music through the vehicle that is German Army. The stars perfectly aligned for this release and a dark masterpiece is the result. This cassette and download only release synthesize everything you need to know about them. A glance at Discogs through their releases will prove overwhelming as they have material released on a regular basis, but look no further than this. Brooding atmospherics, mysterious rhythms, found vocal and tribal flourishes paint these sixteen tracks in such a way that you will not be the same after one listen though. Top Tracks = Tamazight, Mzab, Kabyle

    6. Gitane Demone Quartet – Substrata Strip (Dark Vinyl Records, 2018)

      Ex-Christian Death chanteuse Gitane Demone has never sounded better than she does on this album. Her voice is so full of emotion as she sings of tragic events, friends and war. No, it’s not a downer. The music is gorgeous and ferocious and soulful. Rikk Agnew’s guitar is unparalleled, Deb Venom’s bass and keyboards are such a backbone and Paul Roessler’s keys and programming are as much the paint on the canvas as Gitane’s voice. One of the most emotionally charged albums on this list. Top tracks = Amarathene, Prayer for Peace, Retrospekkt

    7. Hypnopazūzu – Create Christ, Sailor Boy (House of Mythology, 2016)

      This better not be a one off collaboration! Teaming Current 93’s David Tibet and Killing Joke bassist / producer extraordinaire Youth may seem somewhat unlikely but after a few moments into the first track it is easy to see that they are as perfect as peanut butter and chocolate. Tibet’s vocals lately have lacked a certain passion that sparks up from time to time, but on this channeling, his intensity has never burned brighter. Youth has built music and atmosphere so chillingly perfect. It’s percussive yet lush, orchestral but simple. Enigmatic for lack of a better word. These two together send magickal chills through my soul. Top tracks = The Crow at Play, Sweet Sodom SingSongs, Your Eyes in the Skittle Hills

    8. Ikon – Everyone Everything Everywhere Ends (Nile Records Australia, 2014)

      The preeminent Goth band of the twenty-first century, Australia’s Ikon have forged a path often imitated but never lived up to. Chris McCarter’s melodies and lyrics here showcase why they are the current rulers of Gothic music. Guitarist Clifford Ennis also shines having co-written a few tracks and lead vocal on one other. Originally released as 2 CD’s with the original album and a bonus disc of outtakes and alternate versions, the recently reissued disc from Dark Vinyl includes 4 bonus tracks not on the 2 disc set. There were also multiple color vinyl version too. What’s a collector to do? Top Tracks = Blood of Love, Stolen, Black Noise

    9. Inade – Nine Colours of the Threshold (2018)

      The last decade was devoid of a lot of new material from German Dark Ambient pioneers Inade. There were several live albums and collections and the odd one off track and then they dropped the reason why they are the leaders in their field. Nine Colours of the Threshold build spacial frontiers that you can not only meditate and lose yourself in but can also feel unsettled and small. Their music is vast. It echoes and reverberates creating a pulsating invisible barrier around your skin that won’t dissipate without literally shaking it off. Top Tracks = Über dem All, Beyond All Thoughts and Entities, Hoel Dath

    10. Korine – New Arrangements (Born Losers Records, 2018)

      All it takes is to hear the first few notes of the opening synth sequence to be hooked on Philadelphia’s premier band Korine. They are the perfect example of a band taking the Synthwave aesthetic and pushing it forward without being kitschy. Trey Frye’s use of old and new technology blend in an incredible fusion around Morgy Ramone’s dynamic vocal. Trust me when I say, these guys will be exploding soon. Get in now and you can say you knew them when. Top Tracks = Captive, Elegance & You, Heaven’s Servant

    11. Nový Svět – Mono (Reue Um Reue, 2015)

      Nový Svět have been a band that I have loved for years but they remain so shrouded that it’s not easy to keep track of them. So when this was released on cassette only in an edition of 200, I had to act fast. For a band with more riddles than the sphinx they do sell out quickly, so they have to be a little more well known than many give credit to them for. Their lo-fi mix of modern folk with electronic treatments and avant-garde swag make them a band I always return to when I need something challenging but elegant. Top Tracks = Tierras Secas, Perfetta Solitudine, Cerca

    12. Slowdive – Slowdive (Dead Oceans, 2017)

      The comeback album of all comeback albums. I really don’t need to go on and on about this one except to say if you haven’t heard it, why in the hell not? They have managed to make a 22-year gap between albums feel like a mere blip. It’s the perfect marriage of where they left off with Pygmailion’s experimental electronica and their classic Shoegaze sound. They have been missed and this album is evidence of why. Hopefully they are back for good now. Top Tracks = Star Roving, Sugar for the Pill, No Longer Making Time

    13. Spettro Family ‎– Per Svegliare Un Sonnambulo (Reue Um Reue, 2015)

      Steve Spettro’s long running project, Spettro Family, should not be lingering in the shadows. The “Horror Electronics” of this amazing Italian artist should be as mainstream as Michael Myers. This album in particular of his entire canon sticks out to me more than likely because it was my introduction to his experience. Released on limited cassette only, Reue Um Reue created a stunning package with the artwork and typography that compliment the music contained within. It’s the soundtrack to a movie you will create in your head while listening. Then after this movie, create sequels by diving into the rest of his catalog. You will not be sorry. Top Tracks = Manhattan Baby, Haunted Zurich, Huntsville

    14. David Sylvian – Died in the Wool (Manafon Variations) (Samadhisound, 2011)

      After confusing and alienating many fans in 2009 with his highly experimental album, Manafon, David Sylvian didn’t let his detractors get to him. This is beyond a ‘remix’ this is a ‘reinvention’ of five tracks originally found on Manafon with eight new compositions across two CD’s. Using a string quartet through most songs and many famailiar faces like Kenny Wheeler, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jon Hassell, Sylvian creates a modern classical tapestry years ahead of the curve. No, this isn’t easy like his earlier solo output. There is no verse-chorus-verse. This is such a mature composition that made many scratch their heads wondering what the hell he was doing. If that is you, go back and listen again. It could have just been the initial shock of something new. You will be rewarded with what I feel is the strongest album he’s ever done. Top Tracks = The Last Days of December, Snow White in Appalachia, A Certain Slant of Light

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