The best music of January 2011

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For all our recent complaining about how January is the month when we're left staring warily at shipping crates of utter shit here at Impose HQ, there is still plenty of gold. We just went through way more latex gloves to sift through it all this month. And you don't want to know our average latex glove consumption. (Hint: we buy wholesale.)

Best release of January 2011

White Fence, Is Growing Faith (Woodsist)
For all the retro-graded releases of the past few years, no one has the chops to bust the space-time continuum and yoink unmitigated crate-dug morsels from the past like White Fence. Tim Presley's Golden ear fluidly re-imagines early 80s Residents-style outsider bedroom skronk alongside florid paisley pop, carrying a healthy songwriter's wit through the process.

Best music of January 2011

International Jones, Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos (Mixtape)
International Jones is an elder statesman, with one foot still in streets and the other stepping into a Executive Maybach. Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos is a 13-track mixtape built around the horn blasts of blaxploitation's pusherman music and International Jones' reinvented flow, still gruff, but smoothed out from the relaxation of over a decade of the finest greenery.

Schoolboy Q, Setbacks (Mixtape)
Despite the top shelf guest spots, Schoolboy Q goes in hungry with a teeth-gritting bravado denouncing broke rappers that want to claim they know hip hop.

SSPS, Highly Sensitive Safeguards Secure (Obsolete Units)
Dark times call for dark minimal synth dirges, so get out your Illuminati cheat sheet and ride the wave.

Al Lover, Safe As Milk Replica
Created in the madness of all-night binges on booze and creative juices, Al Lover's Safe As Milk Replica is a distorted reworking of Beefheart's 1967 debut LP Safe As Milk with his Magic Band. Al Lover understands the only way to make a Beefheart replica is by being intentionally gritty, no Pro-Tools plug-in tricks, just fingers drumming on the MPC.

Tapedeck Mountain, Secret Serf EP (Lefse)
Tape Deck Mountain is from San Diego. We love TDM because they sound nothing like the beach culture brats that make up the So Cal sound.

Nite Jewel's remix of Silk Flowers' “Frozen Moments”
Some heavy shit that simply destroys.

Isaiah Toothtaker, Illuminati Thug Mafia
Isaiah's latest burner is inspired by internet meme Antoine Dodson's famous threats to a bedroom intruder. Dodson's effeminate voice took the venom out of his threats, but Isaiah, on the other hand, is a tatted-up former bare knuckle street boxer and drug pusher. He received his tattoo tutelage from the Hell's Angels before opening his own shop Staring Without Caring. Unlike Dodson, who's just a real life loony tunes character, Isaiah is well connected and casually brandishes a hammer in his grip while rapping to the camera.

Milk Music, Beyond Living 12-inch (Self Release)
Here's a band without a website that need's to cut the hermetic bullcrap and go beyond the bare essentials of a page. The Beyond Living 12-inch EP is played with a devoted “no bullshit” policy in mind. Milk Music has no problem telling you exactly which bands its referencing, but in their unabashed homage they've managed to nail it.

SP-33, Escape From Tha Carter
If the mash-up leads to our societal demise (and it just might), SP-33's Escape From Tha Carter deserves to be one of the worshiped sounds in our dystopian future. SP-33's sonic vision of instability is loose transmissions from Lil Wayne's Tha Carter and interviews over the grime-ridden synths of John Carpenter's Escape From New York score.

MEN, Talk About Body (iamsound)
JD Samson might be one of the most important people in music right now, it's time we start talking about her and her Men more.

Madlib, Low Budget High Fi Music (Stones Throw)
For the past year Madlib has been mixing up the medicine with his Medicine Show series, giving us sounds from Brazil and Africa, taking us through the chambers of Jazz and the gritty disco of Black Soul. Madlib's Medicine Show carries on with its 11th installment, Low Budget High Fi – an unearthing of salvaged music from a fire.

Natural Snow Buildings, Waves Of The Random Sea (Blackest Rainbow)
The drone has been scaled back a tad in lieu of folk leanings, beautifully highlighted by sequencing between field recordings, soft, acoustic guitar strumming/finger-picking and Mehdi Ameziane’s fragile vocals. The brisk “Abduction Dream” is one of the more gripping songs on here, a dark clatter of feeling just like its title suggests.

Deerhoof, Deerhoof vs. Evil (Polyvinyl)
Deerhoof vs. Evil, the latest eclectic offering from the San Francisco-based four-piece is surprisingly their most accessible album to date, and quite possibly their best. Veteran listeners shouldn't be too frightened; they haven’t completely withdrawn their honed experimental roots, but rather enlarged their sound and furthered their contention as the most diversified groups around.

Destroyer, Kaputt (Merge)
Song for song, this is not just the greatest thing Bejar has produced, but it’s evidence of his progression and climb to the top. As a singer and songwriter, he’s mastered the fine art of restraint; knowing what words to sing, and knowing exactly when to sing them. He’s running laps around nearly every other lyricist, and the composition of the music is note perfect, right down to the soft rock saxophone (which is an album highlight).

Smith Westerns, Dye It Blonde (Fat Possum)
2.0 Smith Westerns. At the end of the day, the best way to describe Dye it Blonde is 'self-assured'. It’s filled with grandiosity and stylistically rich textures that guys this young shouldn’t be making. I was joking with a friend the other day about how I felt the Smith Westerns should be playing these new songs at a venue like Terminal 5 as opposed to the smaller places in Brooklyn. In a few years, I have a feeling my expectations are going to be far surpassed.

Cloud Nothings, Cloud Nothings (Carpark Records)
Recorded entirely by Dylan Baldi, the release does justice to the band's live show: fast, precise, pop glee.

Monster Rally, Coral (Gold Robot Records)
Channeling the same scrappy sampling sentiments as Al Lover, Monster Rally unearths the underground wells that birthed hip hop and made unforgivable monsters of the DJ Shadows of the world. But Monster Rally's on a gentle mission. No dance floors will be cleared by some misunderstanding between the green vinyl this new LP is coming out on next week and a well-meaning DJ: this is home grown, home-friendly music that will be your surrogate sun in midwinter, and your heat wave when the season turns and you don't need a coat to get out of bed to use the bathroom. (Shut up LA, just enjoy this all year round in the shade.)