Best Albums of 2009: #27, Crystal Antlers' Tentacles

Rank: #27
Album: Tentacles
Artist: Crystal Antlers
Label: Touch and Go

If nothing else, Crystal Antlers' Tentacles is one of the loudest records you've (hopefully) heard this year. With their debut full-length, the Long Beach-based band employed a structured, calculated chaos. For all intents and purposes, Tentacles shreds through itself, combining organs, waling vocals and spiraling guitar solos into a mash-up of noise, psychedelia and garage rock. And yet, with all of these clashing, haphazard noises coming at each other for the entirety of the album's 40 minutes, it all makes sense upon its conclusion.

Known in the Long Beach-Los Angeles area for their stunningly loud and enthusiastic live shows, the band tried to convey that same scattershot energy on the album, and as you could have guessed, succeeded mightily. Between the crazed and persistent organ that pulses through songs like the intro "Painless Sleep," and the high-pitched solos thrashing about in the foreground (see "Time Erased"), it's a wonder you can make out anything. Though lead singer Johnny Bell's searing shriek is essential to the tracks, it is this cacophony of noise that really drives the album, and peaks the listener's interest. The dizzying heights grab you, rather than scare you away, and by the closing notes of the busy closer "Several Tongues" you're more than happy to endure it all over again.

Best Track: "Andrew" (via Pitchfork)

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