2013 Year End List

10 Dec

2013’s Year End List in random order of course

1.Iceage-You’re Nothing

Iggy Pop himself says the only band that sounds dangerous right now is Iceage. He is absolutely correct. They certainly don’t look dangerous, but their minds are in some weird plane, which leads to odd playing and fantastically dark noisy sections. Few songs were as captivating as the closing track and symbolize the dischord of modern times better than You’re Nothing.

2. Jagwar Ma-Howlin

I’ll argue Jagwar Ma is the band I have the highest hopes for on the list. They have the most potential to do such a wide variety of things. As much as I enjoy the acid-house electronic, rock feel of this album, I can’t help thinking about what cool thing the band might do next, whether it’s a new album, remixes, or even just guest appearances.  That’s a testament to how good the album is.

3.  Savages- Silence Yourself

I’ve certainly talked about them more than any other band of the year. Has a sensational balance of great songs on both sides of their record. Loud, in your face, buzzing post punk just happens to be something that I really like, so it seems a no brainer that this band and album are great.

4. Kanye West-Yeezus

No mainstream hip-hop albums have sounded like this. The only hip-hop that really sounds like it is Dalek or Death Grips. Even still they never knew how to organize, produce, overproduce, reduce like Kanye.  It’s probably the only album of the year that provoked such a varied reaction and became the one album that was defended, recommended, or reviled by music fans.

5. Speedy Ortiz-Major Arcana

I like Sadie Dupuis and her lyrics. Has as good an opening 3 songs as any album this year.  Sounds like one of the best grunge records in 1993.

6. My Bloody Valentine- MBV

There’s a new MBV album and it ADDS to their legacy? It turned out to be true and it is as listenable, deep and rock out as a shoegaze album can be.

7. Boards of Canada- Tomorrow’s Harvest

Boards of Canada made a new album…do we really have to explain why its on here? Actually since Campfire Headphase was so disappointing, I wondered if long form albums played to BOC’s strengths. Turns out they do. There’s still some magic left in those synths. In fact the moody electro scapes of this one rank amongst their best, if not their most consistent full-length album.

8. Daft Punk-Random Access Memories

I like that they made the dance record they should’ve made in 2004 in 2013.(Because realistically Human After All was the most heartbreaking follow up since Air’s 10,000 Hertz at the time.) The slow burn italo they do so well on RAM would’ve gotten them an insane amount of street AND club cred at that point, but in 2013 it is out of step with every single dance trend going. That’s a good thing and they produced the hell out of it so it sounds like a great lost time capsule we dug up from outside Danceteria.

9.Camera Obscura-Desire Lines

Their 5th great album in a row(fulfilling the great critic, Steven Hyden’s fascinating theory in the process) something even their excellent twee predecessors Belle and Sebastian haven’t done.  Maybe more of a mid 80’s sophistipop version of twee, which ends up serving as a bigger stage and production for Tracyanne Campbell’s melancholy.  As much as I like this one, it doesn’t move me as strongly as their previous recordings have.  It makes my year list, because good Camera Obscura is better than most bands’ best days.

10. Disclosure-Settle

They certainly didn’t reinvent the wheel as much as they found a spare. Grabs from the good school of dance(house, acid-house, dnb) as opposed the awful school(EDM) and includes the best survey of British singer vocals/samples(nouveau heavy hitters like Aluna Francis, Lianne La Havas, and Jessie Ware) we’ve seen since Mark Ronson put out Version a few years back.

11. Mazzy Star-Seasons of the Day- It’s the fourth Mazzy Star album you always wanted.  If you didn’t like them before it won’t sell you. If you like Beach House, but don’t own any Mazzy Star, you can just as well start with this one. Dream pop’s best band.

Favorite local record-Mirror Travel-Mexico.

I really liked them when they were Follow That Bird. I could never understand why the name change until I actually heard this. They sound like a very different band.  Still kinda surfey, still kinda noisey, but with more maturity and occasional wisfulness.  They remind me of a moodier version of Bleached.

Most disappointing album of the year- Those Darlins-Blur The Line

I love Those Darlins, I don’t love this album. It certainly is an ok release. However, they took away all the cool things that made them sound like a Southern version of The Runaways!  Jessie Zazu still reminds me of Joan Jett’s adorable brattier Southern cousin and she definitely brings the sass and charm. But, where are the cool sneering glam rock guitars? Where are the big Southern power riffs? Where’s all the rhythm and swagger? I have no idea where all the things that worked so well on Screws Get Loose, went on this album…Even worse it strips away much of the witty countrified romps that made their first self titled album a good listen. This band still has me as a fan, but this one left me as disappointed as any record this year.

Most unnecessary album of the year(tie)- Fall Out Boy/Black Flag

Fallout Boy-Save Rock and Roll

If you ever claim a Fallout Boy album is good or on your top 10 list as a critic, your critic card must be revoked.

Black Flag-What the

I don’t need to listen to it. “Black Flag” without Morris/Rollins/Robo/Dukowski involved at all isn’t really Black Flag.  Just go listen to Off’s newest record instead.

Best live gig-Savages- The Parish

They played so well live that is has actually affected my view on the record. And makes me wonder why there isn’t just a really awesome live version of it out. It was a masterclass in an hour of post-punk rock and roll.

Random songs I liked this year(from bands who don’t have albums on the list)-

Haim-Falling(only because Don’t Save Me was on my list last year)-Great bass line, those super produced drums, and hopefully a replacement for the array of bad pop jams clogging the airwaves. Don’t Save Me is still probably their best song though.

A$AP Ferg-Shabba- 8 gold Chainz like I’m Sha Shabba Ranks is as memorable a chorus as there has been this year.(The video = even better)

Chelsea Light Moving-Lip-Thurston Moore making what essentially a great noisy skate video jam.

Quadron-Favorite Star-Did R&B better than anything Weeknd/Janelle Monae did.

The Knife-Full of Fire-The whole album is uneven, but this song is brilliant and unhinged. Karin Dreijer hasn’t been this passionate vocally since her days in Honey is Cool. The beat and progression of it all is just totally jank as well. That’s probably why it made for great dance music.

Awkwafina NYC Bitches-No one’s keepin it more real than Awk. Someone’s gotta give voice to native New Yorkers, why not an Asian rapper from Queens who is developing a pretty good flow.

Diana-Strange Attraction-I tend to be fairly bored with 80s revivalism(because seriously bands have been making those records longer than the original decade). I do like the heavier Depeche Mode esque of production of this song though which mixes well with the Canadian new wave melody.

Wild Belle- Shine- I feel like Wild Belle’s whole album does have great songs that I probably won’t play very often, but every time it will sneak up on me and I will remember “This band is really good, why don’t I listen to them more.” Which makes them 2013’s answer to Love is All.

J.Cole-Let Nas Down-I like his album simply because it hits a frenzied horn loop that makes for a really good 90s East Coast vibe that = really listenable. This is still probably the best song on probably the pop-rap record of the year.

Major Lazer-Bubblebutt/Get Free-The video gets it a mention…the song is kind of terrible. However if Get Free doesn’t count on last year’s songs then downloading the reggae greatness of that one is a must. Get Free is a brilliant song.

And here is a twitter link to the spotify playlist with some of these great songs.(since it’s a pain to link to spotify via a direct link.)


So much media buying…

8 Aug

Yep, that erratic, dreadful about posting Nomoretvparty blogger person is back.

I wanna briefly talk about the current guerilla marketing trends used by some of the major and major indie labels for record releases this year, because I think it’s a trend that is both impressive and absolutely dire. (And we won’t even go into how that marketing goes into overdrive for major tours/festivals/the SXSW Hulu Stride Gum party in a warehouse)

This is simply about how buzz has been building for a format that has lost all currency in the Spotify/iTunes landscape, the album. For example, on the huge PR funding campaign, Daft Punk and their new label Columbia paid for short teaser ads that appeared on programs like SNL. These ads literally just flashed their iconic helmets, until they finally released the same ad with a snippet of their new single, which we would eventually be called “Get Lucky.” Then they released more at hugely attended and phone-laden events like Coachella banking on the crowd to spread the word of a mystical video showing the robots and Pharrell singing this new single we had only heard a part of. It all played out in a smart fashion, but for an album that will probably sell decently by current standards was it a smart investment?

As a music listener, I can say it actually worked. Was there really that much clamor at the beginning of the year for a new Daft Punk album? Perhaps. But could you really bank on a band that made “Human After All?” That album was seriously one of the biggest disappointments of the last decade.

But, all of sudden these cryptic ads appeared. Daft Punk were back. And then there was music…music that sounded like the best song that they had done in a decade. All of sudden you HAD to hear this album. They had teased you with that 15 seconds of Italo-influenced disco. Everyone was talking about this new Daft Punk. (Why they didn’t make an Italo album in 05’ when that was a thing again, I’ll never know).

And then there was Boards of Canada. They pushed it in an even more cryptic fashion that jives with the band’s image. Record Store Day releases printed into the single digits. Secret codes also dropped in snippet videos and then shockingly enough a television ad. Let me say that again…there was a TELEVISION ad talking about Boards of Canada. Then a website was launched that had more news about the record release had to be cracked with these codes…

It was all brilliant and engaged with the audience and credit to creative, but unlike Daft Punk it was all totally unnecessary. Daft Punk are a band that realistically should fit with exactly what is happening in the major pop musical force that is EDM.(And yes it is a pop musical force, a shitty one, but there are people seriously like that bollocks.) In some ways records like Discovery and Homework are at least partially responsible for that school of dance music, but their momentum was seriously gone. If you could name me more than 2 songs on their last album, I’d be shocked. They certainly didn’t release singles or remixes that kept them in the ether. You needed something to remind you just how much you liked Discovery or Homework. You needed to remember that despite a lot of people ripping them off, Daft was a band that had something to say and create that as a music fan you needed to hear. (Which they did, R.A.M. is a really well produced anti-EDM/old person dance album that I really dig.)

So the buzz created was definitely a success.

But, a group like Boards of Canada? If any band doesn’t need sleight of hand it’s Boards of Canada. They’ve made being slow moving hermits part of their mystique. You EXPECT them not to do anything for five years at a time. Their last album, while partially disappointing, certainly didn’t cause their cult of fans to abandon them. And that’s what it is, it’s a cult of fans, their albums are not going to be that widely crowd-pleasing.

Here’s how you advertise Boards of Canada’s new record… There’s a NEW ALBUM by Boards of Canada coming out in 2013. That’s all any of us card-carrying members of the BOC cult need to know. I don’t need cool creative codes or Adult Swim albums to sell me, just say “you know those bonkers brothers in Scotland that made Geogaddi… they have something NEW.”

In this case I’d almost rather see those ad dollars just go to the band’s pockets. The ideas were cool though.

And that leaves us with Magna-Carta Holy Grail, which is a new low in the “I have a number 1 album on the charts” game. Samsung bought a million copies and gave them to their phone owners, which came in the form of a personal info accessing app.  Oh not to mention all those TV ads, paid for by Samsung during the NBA Finals(EXPENSIVE ad real estate mind you), filled with Jay-Z discussing just how many ideas he has about releasing this album.

How about putting that into the music? Instead of making soul-coasting, hip-hop versions of late 80s Rolling Stones records that have one decent song and lots of uninspired excess, make something that really pushes your skills/ideas/soul. And to top it off the app didn’t even work for that many people, due to server crash and general downloading malaise!

In short the buzz did kind of work, however the implementation and motivation let it down majorly.

While I don’t want to see this become a standard or necessary for a band’s success, I would argue that these marketing moves did in fact do something that was good for the industry. They got people talking about albums. People probably would’ve just gone to some webstore or random dark portal and downloaded it, but here they were engaging with the idea of an album. We had to think back to what we liked about those artists. Could they do it again? What’s that small sample they are playing now? It sounds cool, is it on the ALBUM?

There was mystery and imagination again like when you couldn’t stream every song instantly or only had the liner notes to inform you about who this band is. That feeling is one you don’t get to experience as often as a music fan anymore and is increasingly valuable…even though it was all prompted again by record companies dropping mad dollars.

People say they like Best of Lists…2012 version

16 Dec

PJ Harvey-Let England Shake
This is the first PJ album that did not make me wish she would return to the power-trio Rid of Me, angry Ms. Harvey I love so. Adventurous sampling and instrumentation, hypnotic songs, and thematic lyrics made it the album of the year.

Kurt Vile-Smoke Ring For My Halo
Vile is the new Tom Petty according to some, but in reality he’s just continuing the absurd roll he started with Constant Hitmaker. There’s just so many great lazy slurred Americana songs on this album, that it’s almost a greatest hits collection.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi-Rome
Ennio Morricone meets Air meets the earnestness of Norah Jones. Oh and it’s also Danger Mouse soundtracking an imaginary 70s Italo film, which makes for a great listening experience.

Jessica Lea Mayfield-Tell Me
Very young, absurdly talented, and came out with an album that reminded me of an electro-sexual version of Lucinda Williams.

The Go Team-Rolling Blackouts
There are few albums I listened to more than this oddly enough. The saccharine explosion, scrappy raps and punchy horns are every thing you expect from this band, the long-lasting appeal of the songs are still a surprise though.

Yes you like Galaxie 500, yes you like Yuck. Like the album, a couple of super-memorable songs mixed with some perfectly ok, that sounded far better live, which helped me understand the greatness far more.

Cloud Nothings-Cloud Nothings
It was consistent, indie pop goodness, which made for an album that didn’t have a single song I didn’t like on it. And new Albini-esque single No Future/No Past only enhances its power.(Yes this song is on the next album, but still I’m rating and I’m allowing it to boost the score.)

Regina-Soita Mulle
I don’t know Finnish, but the wistfulness and smoothness of this album just works so well. A welcome surprise.

Girls-Father, Son, Holy Ghost
I didn’t like this when I first heard it, but once I realized that the band isn’t so shoegaze and more from The La’s school of jangle pop I got it. It’s a bit top heavy, but also has one of the best first sides in a long time.

Kanye West and Jay Z-Watch The Throne
Finally a hip hop album that you can roll out to! Enough shitty rappers, backpackers, and skaters/rappers. I want something that embodies the arena-rock era of hip-hop in the same way Toys in The Attic by Aerosmith does. And like Eli they deed it.

Wild Flag-Wild Flag
Carrie Brownstein is the lead on everything(no one stops her rock moves, seriously), the players are all pros, and it’s a great big 70’s rock out. That’s more than enough to get on this list. Something Came Over Me, could be my favorite song of the year as well.(It’s top 5 at least)

Biosphere- N-Plants
Strange coincidence and context aside(the album is about Japanese nuclear plants pre earthquakes), this was a really great ambient album in a landscape where those albums don’t come along that often. Fits beautifully with great IDM and ambient records of the past, so it must be good.

Those Darlins-Screws Get Loose
I just like how they sound like The Runaways sloppier more drugged Southern cousins. This album continued the great tongue in cheek madness of the last album, just with more rock and less country which always=win.

Laura Marling- A Creature I Don’t Know
She is a folk star, on her way to being a folk icon. Why don’t you have this album? Oh because you’re American, and we don’t respect her like we should. At least this album sounds like she’s having some fun finally.

At least Noel Gallagher

28 Oct

understands that dance music is on the wane.

Cover Version: Take Your Head Off My Shoulder by Blake Babies

25 Oct

Juliana Hatfield is one of the most star-crossed singers of modern times. Seriously, she should’ve been the biggest star in the world, and I’m far from the only one that said that. Even in her heyday, people exalted her genius on magazine covers and critical acclaim. And then between the universe conspiring against her and her general own fragile sensibilities something would happen to just stop all of her momentum. I mean “My Sister,” “Universal Heartbeat,” “Spin the Bottle”, all stand as classics of the era. There was an awkward cuteness and plucky attitude that worked so well on record that an array of pretenders (Veruca Salt) totally xeroxed each step and attempted to make it their own to far more acclaim.

But then I discovered something…

Juliana Hatfield wrote a lot of great songs before that…on a cluster of albums that I didn’t really know about until a few years ago. I mean sure I had heard she was in some band called Blake Babies, but how was I to know they had actually been a fairly prolific recording and touring band? Well I suppose it’s my job to know these things…but part of the greatness of being really into music is discovering things you don’t know about. Even things you should…

How was I to know that with a bit of backup in the form of jagged yet poppy guitarist John Stohm and damage dealer and drummer Freda Love, that Juliana Hatfield seriously punched with the great indie rock bands of the day, and made every one count. In fact she almost sounds strong with her girlish pitchy voice that’s trying to rise up and free her soul of the entire daily shit that brings her all this emotional baggage. Of course it’s a battle she’ll lose, like anyone that lives and dies by their sensitivity, but man does it make for some great songs.

I could go on and on about how the song “Out There” is one the most fantastic hit/non-hits of the 80s.There’s no reason that song shouldn’t slot in on classic radio between “Here’s Where The Story Ends” by The Sundays and “There She Goes” by The La’s. The jangly opening chords, the produced drums that appear on like every record of the era, it all just sounds like pop greatness. And then there are those depressing harmonies that belie the cheeriness of the song itself. Only Juliana Hatfield could create an anthemic moment out of a self-exaltation like “I know it’s stupiiiiid” and make it sound like the kind of truth you’ll believe and sing, but never actually follow.

This resignation stands in total contrast with the earlier Blake Babies track “Take Your Head Off My Shoulder.” Again Juliana and co tell us just how much she both loves and is fed up with love. But, in this case the whole starts with a simple old-school 50’s rock and roll intro as opposed to the Byrds-ish chime used so effectively in “Out There.” Freda Love seems shot out of a cannon, with a quick simple rhythm that just lets Juliana go off. She just vents in these brilliant rhymes, all hyped up almost out of breath until the chorus…

That chorus, which of course is a take off of “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka. (Even though when Blake Babies do it, it kind of sounds like a warped version of the Leif Garrett cover) It’s a revelation. Seriously, what is potentially less punk than Paul fucking Anka? Second it’s the kind of feminist irreverence that the impending Riot Girl movement would try to refine into rock and roll defiance, and here’s this pitchy singer from Boston being lovelorn but actually sticking up for herself. None of the new wave girls stood up for themselves, not even Aimee Mann. And all the punks and post-punks never really admitted to being in love. They might allude to it, but they always wanted to show they were as tough as the guys.

“ Take your head off my shooooulder. I’m asking you to. I’m tired of all your charm. I’m tired of waiting on you.”

But, Juliana Hatfield loves. I mean really loves. And in one of the best sub 2-minute songs ever, right there with “Three Girl Rhumba” by Wire and “Beverly Hills” by The Circle Jerks, she wants you to know just how much she loves and that because she loves, she will not be taking shit anymore. Rarely have truer words of self affirmation been spoken.

Yes backlogged news

21 Oct

Mazzy Star is back!!! Oh wait actually they never technically broke up according to Hope Sandoval. With the recent dream pop revival of the past few years and a successful solo tour by Sandoval herself, now might just the time for a return. However if they tour, I’m expecting them to play moments from all three of the previous albums.(ok an all Among My Swan show would be the top.)

This should be the big news of the week, but of course everything got trumped by The Stone Roses “return.” Now I quote this, because I’m still not sure Squire and Brown can make it 6 mos without getting into another fight again. I’m also not sure Ian can sing all the old songs…However, I want it all to work. Every person in England wants it to work. And a selected brilliant group of American tastemakers want it to work. If you haven’t heard the first album, drop what you are doing and do it now. So great news.

CSS-La Liberacion

21 Oct

CSS second album took all the great cleverness of album one and turned it into a badly wrtiten moody late 80s college rock mess.

And yet album number three, La Liberacion also feels sloppy…but sloppy in the good way. In fact the title track is one of my favorite singles, because it sounds like Menudo makes a punk record. Whereas the other tracks kind of sound like Menudo makes a new wave album.

(Yes I know Menudo actually made a new wave record,  which is noteworthy because it contains “Hold Me,” a bonkersly awesome underrated single of the period.)

Anyway, the album is ok, containing such platitudes as “I Love You. I Love You Too.” Much of it falls in the perfectly ok but forgetable category which places it in stark contrast with the title track and Lovefoxx’s recent turn with Kavinsky on the Drive Soundtrack.

So the new Justice album…

21 Oct

Audio Video Disco seems to take an array of unhip influences such as AC-DC, The Alan Parsons Project, Yngwie Malmsteen and attempts to fuck them into Daft Punk records. Surprisingly the album works because it forgets the rules of Moroder and turns their french disco into something that could easily be soundtracking Tron and the denouement performance in Revenge of The Nerds.

But, seriously it’s kind of a good album, I found myself actually enjoying the experience, there’s some earnestness within all that grandiose cheese and quite frankly any band that tries to make their synths sound different deserves respect in this Foster the People(yes they really are the Jesus Jones of modern times) laden dancefloor era.

For a band that could’ve written themselves into irrelevant…I find myself willing to vouch for Justice’s ability to bring the good times. Will it just napalm the dance floor? Probably not. That may be exactly why I like it…But, then again like the creators of this album I also have an array of Yngwie and Alan Parsons on my iTunes.

Quick remastered blog review.

16 Oct

Foster The People are just the Jesus Jones of dance rock/post-post punk/disco punk/whatever discographers decide to call the last decade of bass heavy rockish bands.

Ok They Got This Wrong:The Worst 90’s song is

7 Sep


I’m sorry Rolling Stone readers you got it wrong.(of course you are Rolling Stone readers in 2011 so I am not surprised) Barbie Girl by Aqua is a bad song, but at least people have some semi fond memories of it. And at least the chick singer was hot. And there is no possible way that it is worse than this song which no one ever requests, sings at karaoke, or potentially enjoys with fondness as it passes across the airways at a shitty Starbucks.

Seriously, you and I both know there is nothing more neutered or absurdly shit as the Spin Doctors. Two Princes is the most Godawful of the lot…watch it at your own risk.