Nathaniel Noton-Freeman’s top picks of 2013

Our guest today is our friend and Ambient/Acoustic artist Nathaniel Noton-Freeman. If you are unfamiliar with his work, please check him out on bandcamp or facebook.

Click the album art to visit the artist’s website/Facebook/bandcamp/etc

Solium Fatalis – Solium Fatalis

“Thick and blistering death metal from my New Hampshire based friends. This album has killer riffage, excellent production, and a massive and expansive sound that few other metal albums manage to capture. It seems that Jim Gregory (guitarist) somehow managed to find an album’s worth of death metal riffs that weren’t written in the 90’s and make a complete release with them.”

B.A. Canning Band – Normal Life

“Psychedelic Country/Folk is a genre that I’d never heard of (and one that may not actually exist outside of this band) but they’re certainly deserving of this categorization. This album takes country and folk style playing and adds an element of surreality and dissonance that I have never heard captured in quite this way before. “Normal Life” is a voyage into a just-slightly different parallel universe where nothing is exactly as it seems. Guitar players B.A. Canning and Sky Reuben performed fantastically on this album, and manage to recreate the experience 100% when playing live.”

Noahs Heark – Little Tree EP

“This EP by Ziyad Habib is something that I consider to be truly special. His musical voice is incredibly unique, and every time I listen to this album I feel as if I’ve been taken directly into his head and am experiencing life through his eyes – a world filled with bright sunlight, floating islands, and small animals carried on turtleback.”

On Wings Of Wax – The Empty Bed

“Adam Kluga writes progressive metal riffs that don’t really sound like other progressive metal riffs. His music is beautiful, moving, and complex. It can be sludgy, heady, and at times incredibly light and airy. Adam combines melody with rhythmic concepts in a way that feels fresh and enlightening, and his next release due in 2014 promises to be an even deeper exploration into that sound.”

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

“Boards of Canada’s previous albums are probably some of my favorites in existence, and Tomorrow’s Harvest is no exception. It’s different, though – it seems to look toward a bleak pseudo post-apocalyptic future filled with information farming, data mining, and government surveillance, and away from their nostalgia-drenched sound of the past. The instrumentation is more complex as well – it does away with the single beat/single synth/samples formula of the past, and ushers in a more expansive, less beat-driven sound.”

Deafheaven – Sunbather

“I would place a portion of the responsibility for the sound of Russian Circle’s new album, “Memorial” on Deafheaven’s “Sunbather”. This album has a place in the 2013 top ten of almost everyone that I know, and I think it’s definitely deserving of such. For those not in the know, this album is characterized as a hybrid of black metal and major-key post rock. In some ways, this reminds me of what Mastodon did with “The Hunter” – the frequently major key music is unexpected but surprisingly well executed, and somehow still heavy as heck. I’d also like to give massive kudos to Deafheaven’s drummer – that guy’s stick work is ridiculously clean.”

And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures

“This album is bright, sunny, and jubilant. The riffs are incredibly catchy and driving, the musicianship is stellar, and I keep coming back to this album again and again. I especially love the inclusion of simple vocals, and never fail to shout A-MB-U-LAN-C-EA-M-BUL-A-NC-E along with the track.”

TTNG/This Town Needs Guns – 13.0.0.0.0

“My first experience with this album came while seeing them open for ASIWYFA, and all of the songs from that show stuck in my head in such a way that my first listen to the physical album already felt nostalgic. That being said, the complex instrumentation of this group still manages to feel fresh and exciting with every listen – they blend complex noodling with memorable hooks that end up in exactly the right places every time.”

The Safety Fire – Mouth Of Swords

“At first glance, this album reminded me a lot of “Grind The Ocean” – The Safety Fire clung heavily to their double-picked melodies and rhythmic ideas, but as I listened further into the album I discovered a much more varied and polished instrumentation. In many ways, this band’s first two albums remind me of Periphery I and II – the first album was a little poppier, straightforward, and immediately exciting. The second begins to combine rhythmic and melodic elements much more seamlessly, and this results in a more mature but less overtly flashy sound. It’s also worth noting that the production of this album also felt a lot more organic than the previous release.”

Plini – Other Things/Sweet Nothings/I

“Plini is one of the freshest new guitar players on the block. He combines progressive metal riffage with indie rock and jazz fusion to create a thoroughly exciting and enjoyable listening experience. His level of guitar virtuosity will some day approach that of Guthrie Govan, and I simply can not wait to hear more from this promising young artist. I kept wondering “why is this guy only releasing these short EPs?” but upon further inspection I realized that he’s put out three of them in 2013, and I think this more than qualifies to make my top-ten albums of the year.”